Posts Tagged ‘Social Media’


Work Your Biz Wednesday: How to Run a Successful TweetChat

Learn how to run a successful TweetChat for your business with these tips from the host of the longest running TweetChat that has ever been on Twitter, Melinda Emerson.


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: The Truth About Negative Online Reviews

?????????????????????????????Are you in denial about negative online reviews of your business? I know plenty of small business owners who don’t list their companies on review sites like Yelp! Others are listed, but never bother to check their listing to see what kinds of reviews their businesses are getting.

While I can understand the impulse to hide your head in the sand when it comes to online reviews, here are four reasons why playing ostrich isn’t a good thing.

  1. Your potential customers are reading online reviews, so you should be, too. A whopping 79 percent of U.S. adult Internet users check online reviews sometimes or always before they buy something, a survey by YouGov reports. Just 7 percent never do. Online reviews have become essential to both online and offline shoppers, so if you aren’t checking them, you’re in the dark about how customers view your business.
  2. The reality probably isn’t as bad as you fear it is. Yes, we’ve all heard horror stories about bad reviews going viral. However, the YouGov survey says Internet users are far more likely to post good or mixed reviews than negative ones. Just 21 percent say they’ve ever left a bad review, compared to 54 percent who have left a good one and 59 percent who have left a mixed one.
  3. Even the negative reviewers aren’t out to get you. Tales of vengeful competitors posting bad reviews of small businesses get a lot of attention in the media. In reality, though, 88 percent of reviewers who write bad reviews do so to prevent other customers from having a bad experience, not out of vengeance. About one-fourth leave bad reviews to help get over their anger, while 21 percent do so hoping the business will take steps to remedy the problem they’re complaining about.
  4. Which leads to the fourth and most important reason not to ignore negative reviews: Bad reviews are a valuable tool for growing your business. Negative reviews show you what you’re doing wrong (or what the customer perceives as wrong, which is pretty much the same thing). They offer a chance to make it right and then share what you’ve done with the world. If you can convince an unsatisfied customer you care about their experience and you’ve got their best interests at heart, you just might earn a customer for life—one who will evangelize your business to their friends, family and online connections.

Did you ever think so many positive things could come out of one negative online review?


Mondays with Mike: Productivity Killers – Apps You Should Prohibit in the Office

I don’t consider myself a dictator, but I do operate on the principle that no one cares about my company as much as I do.  I keep up on current research, and I’ve experimented with ways to boost my own productivity, and one thing is certain:  there are applications that have NO business in your workplace.  Assuming that you don’t run your office in order to entertain your employees, here are some apps that you absolutely must banish from the office:

  1. social-mediaSocial Media.  Facebook., Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr … not a single one of these apps belongs in your office (with the possible exception of the staff who handles social media for your company.)  They’re colossal time-suckers, and in addition to offering your staff games, quizzes, and celebrity news to occupy their work time, these platforms also offer a window into your office that you can’t control.  Do you want your competitors knowing that your customer service reps have the highest Candy Crush scores in the industry?  These apps – used on company time – provide absolutely zero benefit to your business.
  2. Media Players.  While it’s technically possible to come up with a legitimate business reason you might need YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Google Play on your computers, the odds are much greater that these apps will be used to divert your staff’s attention from their work.  Don’t make it harder than it already is for your staff to stay focused.  Have your IT folks block these apps from your company computers.
  3. Addictive Games.  The aforementioned Candy Crush, as well as Angry Birds, Words with Friends, the notorious Flappy Bird – all of these games are expressly designed to keep us playing longer than we’d planned.  While we all need breaks in order to stay productive, it’s much better to stand up, walk around, and get a change of scenery, rather than wasting half an hour trying to match up candies on a smartphone.  Games like these do not belong in the office.  ßSee the period?
  4. Illegal Sites.  It should go without saying, but prohibiting your staff from accessing pornography and gambling sites from the computers you own is just common sense.  Not only are these sites productivity slayers, but they also often contain illegal material that you could be prosecuted for.  Head these problems off before they start.
  5. Interoffice Chat and Text.  Now you may balk at this one, but I’ve found that almost never have these apps made my staff more productive.  You not only run the risk of your message not being conveyed as clearly as it could be by simply walking down the hall and delivering it in person, but you also wind up with off topic material that distracts your employees from their work.  An icon that chimes each time a new message comes in is a distraction that requires recovery and refocusing time to overcome.  Just eliminate it altogether.

Employee satisfaction is hugely important to me and other successful entrepreneurs who know that keeping good people on staff is cost effective.  What I’ve learned, though, is that while you may ruffle a few feathers by banning Facebook in the office, it’s always worth it.  If you’re serious about pushing your staff to produce work they’re proud of, you’ll be able to create that culture by banishing unwanted distractions.    


Nextiva Tuesday Tip: Give Your Customer Service a Checkup

Is your customer service up to par? Even if your business starts off with stellar service, it’s easy for your standards to slip as your business grows and you become less hands-on with all aspects of the company. Plus, consumers’ standards for service are higher than they’ve ever been,–and they have many options if your business doesn’t live up to their expectations.

How can you make sure your customer service stays stellar day in and day out? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my website user-friendly? Can customers easily tell what to do when they visit your business website? Make sure key information, like your business’s phone number, hours, address and directions, are visible right near the top of the home page.
  • Stocksy_txpc1714160lD3000_Small_130635Is my physical location welcoming? A clearly-marked entrance; an inviting store window or lobby; and employees who make eye contact, smile and greet customers with a friendly welcome as they walk in the door all combine to kick the customer experience off on a positive note.
  • Are my employees empowered to give great service? If employees have to “get a manager” to make any exception to a rule, irate customers are likely to get even more annoyed. Set parameters, but within those guidelines, give your employees leeway to make their own decisions about how to satisfy a customer.
  • Are my employees educated about my product or service? These days, customers can instantly turn to the Internet on their smartphones to get a wealth of information about the products you sell—and the other companies that sell them. It’s crucial your employees know your wares thoroughly so they can answer questions, make suggestions and offer expert advice before customers turn to your competitors.
  • Do I listen as well as talk on social media? Social media is a great way to engage with customers, but make sure it’s not a one-way street. Don’t just share info about your business; also listen to what customers are saying about your business. If what they’re saying is negative or critical, or if a customer is asking for help, respond immediately and take steps to make changes.
  • Do I offer lots of customer service options? Customers today want choices in everything—even in how they communicate with your company. Offer as many options as possible for how you provide customer service—from in-person and by phone to email and live chat. If you have something for everyone, you’ll keep everyone happy. 

Work Your Biz Wednesday: Market on Social Media

Build a social media empire for your business in just one hour per day! Learn how with these 5 tips from Melinda Emerson, The Small Biz Lady.


Networking for People Who Hate Networking

I may appear regularly on radio and TV, but I’m not all that different from other people when it comes to networking.  The whole concept of establishing any relationship with total strangers and then converting them into treasured resources can be overwhelming.   Still, with a clear understanding of what networking is really all about, anyone — from the life of the party to the shyest wallflower — can develop a great business network.

Here are four tips that can even help those of us who hate networking develop the valuable business relationships they need.

Leverage Your Current Network

If you have family and friends, you already have a network.  But you probably don’t recognize that these people can help with your business issues.  If you need assistance solving a specific problem or finding new customers, talk to the people that you know. Remember that they have connections, too. A simple introduction is all that you need to grow your own network.

But don’t stop with your close contacts.  You probably interact with many people every day, and you know them well enough to ask for help.  One person that I know has been going to the same spa for years.  One time, she brought some business brochures and asked if she could place them on the reception counter next to other promotional items that they already had on display.  With their permission, she got some calls from people already primed to purchase her services while avoiding the pain of cold-calling.

Do Not Fear Networking Events

The thought of facing countless people that you don’t know may seem overwhelming, but a little advance planning can simplify the effort.  When you find an event that you believe may help you, start by contacting the organizer at least a few days before the meeting. That person can make introductions for you ahead of time through email or social networking.

On the day of the event, you may enter a room with hundreds of people, but you know which people to seek out. When you introduce yourself in person, you will instantly see a friendly look of recognition on their faces.   You can feel more comfortable conversing with new friends, rather than trying to break the ice with total strangers.

Leverage Social Media

Social Media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook have blurred the lines between real relationships and virtual connections. But these tools eliminate the need for face-to-face or phone contact as a preamble to establishing business contacts.  Set up one or more free accounts and start making connections.

If you pay regular attention to your social media accounts, you will get to know quite a bit about your new friends. Then, when you find someone with mutual interests and concerns, consider making your conversations more private to find out if you can help each other in your networking efforts.

Aim for Quality Over Quantity

????????????????????????????????????????Networking is not an all-or-nothing proposition.  It is better to find a few people with whom you can develop a mutually-beneficial relationship than to collect an impressive stack of business cards.  So, even if you are at a conference with thousands of attendees, find ways to do your networking in small chunks.

For example, everyone has to eat, so ask a few people sitting near you in a late-morning session to get together for lunch.  Instantly, you create a small group of people who share your interests without the embarrassment of trying to ask a single person to go out with you. You may or may not become lifelong friends with your new lunch buddies, but you will know that each business card has real meaning for you.

Whether you are an introvert, an extrovert, or somewhere between, you may have discovered your own tricks to increasing your list of valued business contacts. Please share them below.


Work Your Biz Wednesday: How to get More Likes on your Facebook Fan Page

Find out ways to boost your Facebook fan page engagement and build your brand online with the C-Q-H-L approach from The Small Biz Lady, Melinda Emerson.


3 Essential Practices to Managing Your Company’s Facebook Page

Almost everyone is on Facebook these days. The social networking site famously attracted its 1 billionth user in late 2012 and has added millions more since. By December 2013, a reported 1.19 billion people checked Facebook every day. With numbers like that, chances are good that your customers are also on the site.

So how should you, as a small business owner, manage your company’s Facebook page? Jason McDonald, director of JM Internet Group, a social media and SEO consulting company in Fremont, Calif., offers a few key pieces of advice.

Make it fun

First, don’t treat your Facebook page like your Twitter page. Twitter is a perfect medium to send out a dozen messages a day, many of them advertising your company via coupon codes, etc. Facebook is much different.

“Facebook is friends, family, fun. If you can connect to that persona, great,” says McDonald. This means posting status updates with photos, lighthearted comments about current events and engaging with customers. It also means avoiding self-promotional posts as much as possible. According to McDonald, companies should only highlight promotional messages (i.e. discounts) every 10th or 20th post.

It can be easy to make your Facebook page fun if you own a pizza restaurant (McDonald recommends posting pictures of kids at a little league party or the scene at your restaurant during Friday happy hour), but what your business isn’t so lively? What if you are the head of an engineering practice or CPA firm?

“You can still make boring topics fun,” says McDonald. “If you own an engineering company, put up a funny picture once a week and have a caption contest to engage your followers. The caption with the most likes gets a gift card or industry book.

“Or post blogs and news from other places that have to do with your industry. Or post something everyone can relate to like how Mondays can be a bit of a drag. You will get tons of comments from people commiserating.”

Most importantly, think from the perspective of your customer. Ask yourself why your customer is logging onto Facebook in the first place, McDonald recommends. Many of them are coming to be entertained; make your page fun and your number of followers will increase.

Make sure you control your page

While you may assign the task of Facebook posting to a lower level member of your team, make sure that you still know your account’s user name and password to avoid a potential disaster. “If you assign control of the page to someone else and that person quits, he or she may take the page with them,” says McDonald. “As a business owner, it is a security issue. Take inventory of what you control.”

Set up a corporate page, not a personal page

Facebook is pretty serious about verifying whom you are when creating a new account. “They will kill your page if you set up a personal profile instead of a business profile by mistake,” he says. “Personal profiles and business pages are different things. Make sure you are setting up the right one.” 

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10 Actions to Avoid in 2014

This is the time of year that a lot of articles are written about what to do to get ready for 2014. Instead, this is a guide to the 10 actions to strictly avoid for next year:

  1. Avoid changing your strategy too quickly. All small business owners want to take action, but many times they make too many actions. It is critical not to change target customers, product release dates and employee compensation plans too often. It produces organizational whiplash!
  2. Avoid canceling your employee health insurance. With the delays in the Affordable Care Act, you have another year to make the decision. Check your renewal rates as well ask your broker to use the Healthcare.gov website to check those additional options.
  3. Avoid bad mouthing your competition. While this may seem like a viable marketing strategy, it almost never is. Customers want to hear what is right about your solution, not how the other guy stinks. A business culture that takes “the high road” is always more sustainable.
  4. Avoid buying more phones without a plan. Stop adding to the telecommunications chaos for your company. Ensure that all your devices are connected through a central voice over IP systems (VoIP) to have one seamless system that never loses customers.
  5. Avoid posting on social media when getting angry. While this may feel good at the time, remember those posts take on a life of their own once they are online. Write it out if you have to, but then never press the send button.
  6. Avoid growing yourself broke. Contrary to popular wisdom, growing a company too fast can actually put you out of business. Ensure you have enough cash flow to support any expansion strategy. While bigger may feel better, it is not always more profitable.
  7. Avoid bragging about your company’s achievements. In a social media world, customers really do not like people that brag. A better strategy is to highlight your customers’ many achievements!
  8. Avoid using business funds for personal use. Even during difficult times, this is a red line that should never be crossed. Keep a strict separation between funds for business expenses and your own personal needs.
  9. Avoid extending credit to customers that don’t pay their bills. Cash flow is the critical life line for your business. As a result, extend credit as a privilege, not a right. Remember, customers that do not pay on time are not valuable customers,
  10. Avoid borrowing more money when sales are shrinking. Never borrow capital when revenue is going down since you are then using that cash to only cover losses. This is also the best time to stay away from borrowing with family and friends, since the chance of successfully paying them back is very low.

What do you vow to stay away from in 2014?

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