Thursday, October 28, 2010

Savvy Social Media Apps for Newbie Social Networkers

This is one of the most comprehensive social media-specific blogs that review web applications, social networking tools, Twitter apps, etc. SocialWebtools- anything and everything you've ever wanted to know about social media tools is right at your cyber fingertips. After browsing this site, I realize I still have a LOT to learn about social media apps. However, this is a great place to start for newbies who don't know anything about social media tools or where to start.

Here are a few tips to consider when downloading social media apps.

  • Make sure you are actually going to USE the app and think about if the tools/apps will really save you time with your social media goals. 
  • Search online for more information about the apps to see if they are a good fit for you and your business.
  • Don't jump on the apps bandwagon. Just because everyone is downloading trendy apps to their iPhone doesn't mean it's the best tool to use for your business goals. 
  • Don't duplicate tools or apps - there are many apps that do the same exact thing so pick and choose accordingly.
  • You don't have to spend hundreds on apps - there are plenty of free apps online so don't think you have to spend a ton of money for useful apps.
  • Be careful when downloading web tools from sites - only download from trusted sites such as CNET (this site  has helpful software and apps reviews). 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The True Value Behind Business - Enlightened Business Summit Day #2

I'm participating in the Enlightened Business Summit this week. It's a week-long telesummit showcasing truly inspirational business speakers and NYT bestsellers. I've been blown away by the presentations and it's only Day #2.

As I've mentioned before, I work with hospitality-focused businesses so Chip Conley's presentation, the mastermind behind Joie de Vivre Hospitality, really resonated with me. Chip has also been the fabulous MC for the Summit.

I like Chip's message because he speaks to the small business owner. Even though his company catapulted the charts and is touted as the second largest hotelier in the U.S. and the first in California, he tells it like it is - and he's enlightened. There's a reason why he's THE guy when it comes to the boutique hotel industry.

The theme of the conference is to raise the consciousness of business professionals across the world - it's time to shift and think about new, innovative ways to do business. It's time to steer away from outdated business mode and look at WHAT really matters in business - values, culture, leadership, emotions, dreams, energy, etc.- yeah, scary stuff! But it's not that scary. Globally, we need to work together to make this shift and it's happening - one micro step at a time.

Chip brought up some points that hit the nail on the head for me. He shared that 'the most neglected fact in business is that we are all human.' It's time to throw away the "I must be perfect" name badges and join the imperfect human race, and learn from our mistakes.

He also talked about a huge factor that I think gets lost, especially for new small business owners and freelancers. He pointed out that if you start a small, new business, that you should pick a small niche and serve that niche effectively. I couldn't agree more. He started with a small niche - boutique hotels that had a funky edge to them - and he grew it into a huge business, Joie de Vivre.

Start small equals grow big is a concept that 'gurus' out there need to take to heart in their own messaging. Many "six figure" super stars proclaim that newbies (especially copywriting and marketing giants) can make MILLIONS if they target large corporations. Take a page from Mr. Conley. Did he hit up the Marriotts and Hiltons? No, he stuck with the little guys and that niche thinking worked! His company's successes are proof that niche marketing really is the way to go for small businesses.

Highlights from his presentation that really hit home:
  • Are businesses measuring the right things? Are you measuring the "intangibles?" Are you measuring customer and employee satisfaction?  Company culture?  
  • Reputation does MATTER! Be aware and treat people better. 
  • Your actions as a leader are magnified much more than you realize! 
 I've been really impressed with the incredible line-up of speakers...stay tuned...will be sharing more highlights and feedback throughout the week!

Monday, October 25, 2010

How to Save Face on Facebook

I've been devouring articles and ebooks lately. I came across this comprehensive list of easy tricks and tips related to Facebook. Facebook constantly changes its rules and settings, but this is a general to do and don't list to get you started. 

My favorites are: 'share nicely' and 'walls aren't for sharing personal details' - my biggest peeves when it comes to Facebook. Check out this comprehensive list by Hazel Grace Dircksen, founder of the SocialBees group on Facebook and Biznik.

How do you save face on Facebook? Any tips that this list missed? Please share. 



Friday, October 22, 2010

How to Refresh Your Business Image in 5 Easy Steps

As I drove around my small northern California town this week, I noticed a lot of "Going Out of Business" signs. Unfortunately, this is the norm for many local, small businesses based on the U.S. economy. It's sad to see long-time businesses closing their doors.

What is really happening and why are these businesses closing up shop? Could they have saved their business? Was their marketing non-existent? Obviously, it comes down to dollars and cents. However, marketing is an integral part of any business - small, medium or large. But what does it take to shape things up on the business-front? Do what any celeb does who has taken a nose-dive in the public eye - re-invent yourself!

If you teeter on the edge of closing up shop, check out these five marketing steps and see where you stand. Could you do something different with your marketing strategies? Is it time to bite the marketing bullet and embrace change?

Last year, I helped one of my clients, a local tax & financial consultant, basically re-invent her business image. This marketing overhaul included working with a web designer to create a new company name, logo/slogan and brand-spanking new website. As the copywriter, I wrote strong, cohesive copy that tied back to her new branding.

What did she learn from "refreshing" her business image? After twenty plus years as a local tax & financial consultant, she wants to remain competitive in the local market and attract new clients/bring in new business. She realized her old name and slogan weren't working - it was time to spruce up and super-charge her image - and it's definitely working.

If your business teeters on the edge of closing up shop, check out these five easy marketing steps and see where your business stands.

1. Don't create a cryptic-sounding company name and slogan. If YOU read your slogan back to yourself and can't understand it, then it's definitely time to go back to the drawing board. If you have no idea what your company or slogan means, then how do you expect customers to understand what you're all about? What worked 30 years ago probably won't work in 2010. However, "don't fix what's not broken either" - if your slogan is what really makes your business, don't change just for change sake.

2. Apply the "KISS" rule to your marketing messages - whether it's an ad or tweet. Keep it short & simple.

3. Make your message sound believable and forget the hype - when you send out email campaigns, leave out the spam-sounding headlines. Don't make promises you can't keep and don't go overboard with the wording - goes back to the above "KISS" rule. Steer clear of confusing language and use easy-to-read bullet points and attractive graphics in your emails.

4. Be creative. Make your company look enticing & sound attractive - whether it's your store front window or marketing brochures. Would you shop at a store that promises quality merchandise but the brochure includes unappealing, washed-out photos of that same merchandise? I know I wouldn't shop there!

5. If your message sounds boring and uninteresting, forget holding customers' and clients' attention for long. As a copywriter, this is where I suggest descriptive words come into play. As a consumer, I'm more apt to check out a day spa that paints me a picture of "picturesque, meandering forested paths while sipping Earl Grey tea" as opposed to "kick back & check out our cool day spa in the mountains." Also, what you write in your marketing messages isn't about what YOU like or want - it's what interests your customers and what appeals to them.

It's time to get inside customers' and clients' heads - think about how to describe, promote and market your features, amenities, products and services that will keep you on the map - literally! With online marketing, it makes it SO easy to have a strong marketing presence between websites and social media. Use these tools to your advantage and don't let technology pass you by! It could be a matter of saving your business!


Monday, October 18, 2010

Why You Don't Have to Spend Thousands on Video Marketing

As a copywriter, I know this sounds strange but people don't want to read a lot of text. They also are busy and don't have a lot of time to sift through updates and content. Yes, you don't want your content to be boring, but in the cyber world "flashy right-now-wow" video is a winner every time! 

We live in a world filled with sound, color and speed - from video games to surround-sound movies. We want loud, daring special effects and we want to be entertained. Not only do social media users want to be entertained but they don't have hours in their busy schedules to be entertained so you have to make it QUICK!  You really only have a few seconds to make a lasting impression.

Here's the good news - you don't need to spend thousands on fancy video editing equipment or have hi-tech knowledge to create a powerful video marketing campaign. Do you have a digital camera that has video capability? Then you're all set because that's really all you need! 

  • For shorter videos, keep the length between 60 to 90 seconds and do NOT read from a script.
  • Bullet points/outlined points are handy to have, but don't sound like an amateur and read in a monotone voice from a canned script. 
  • Be innovative and creative when making videos - interview a leading expert in your field and/or use humor (but be professional!) 
  • Remember the video isn't for YOU - it's for your audience so keep them entertained! 

There are  handy, easy-to-use widgets such as Yubby  that won't cost you a penny. There are also free video editing software available such as iMovie (for Macs) and Movie Maker (Windows-based).  Between YouTube and other free video hosting sites, video marketing is a no-brainer- even for the most novice of video producers and social media marketers!










Thursday, October 14, 2010

Why Companies Need to Closely Manage Social Media Updates

I just read a good article on Social Media Today, 10 Ways Offline Businesses Can Use Social Media. I agree with many of the points brought up in the article. However, I disagree with #4 - about putting your company to work when it comes to social media. Sometimes "too many cooks in the kitchen" can ruin a company's social media marketing campaign. 

I think it depends on the size of your company. If you are a one or two person business, then it's very likely you'll be managing your social media accounts. In larger companies, it's not a good idea to have ALL your employees involved in social media marketing.

I think it's great that companies want to create a positive buzz about their brand, products and services. However, there needs to be a united front when it comes to a company's social media marketing message. As a copywriter and online marketing consultant, I think this is very important that posts/updates are written cohesively with a clear message in mind - and your target market in mind. 

However, it's up to you - the company decision maker - to decide your course of social media action. If your business is more casual and niche, then it might be prudent to include your employees in your social media frenzy.

Here are a few tips to pass along if you decide to allow your employees to post social media updates: 

  • Make sure you either have a meeting or send out a memo as to what messages/updates are deemed appropriate and what's not appropriate. Obviously, you don't want your employees using inappropriate language or trashing competitors - so make sure you spell out CLEARLY your expectations/social media update rules.  
  • Send examples of published posts to employees so they can get a feel for tone and messaging. You don't need to dictate verbatim what they should write, but messaging needs to remain cohesive - this is imperative when it comes to social media marketing.
  • If anyone breaks the company's social media rules, they should be taken out of the mix altogether and not be allowed to post updates anymore - that's just good business sense. Online reputation is everything! You don't want a rebellious employee posting drunk holiday party pictures as a joke to be the demise of your company! 

As I previously mentioned, I don't think it's a good marketing idea for larger companies to have their employees go crazy with social media updates. It could be counter-productive to their job duties,  and employees already spend enough time on their personal Facebook accounts as it is.

I recommend that companies invest in a trained social media marketing consultant, or leave it to their sales, marketing and/or communications staffs to create editorial-driven, professional social media marketing campaigns.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Why It's Time to Give up Toxic Gossip in the Professional World

This weekend I heard an excellent teleseminar presented by author and speaker, Susan Shapiro Barash, about how gossip damages friendships and relationships.  I've seen this happen on professional social networking sites such as LinkedIn. There is this constant  juvenile back stabbing mentality that is fueled by competition and jealousy - it just needs to STOP. I have written blog posts about this in the past and it's a topic that is not addressed enough.

We all have been the gossiper or the one being gossiped about at some point in our lives. Whether it's been in our social or profession circles, gossip is just toxic and hurts a lot of people and ruins reputations. 

Social media makes it easy for people to easily gossip about other companies, employees and clients. It's one thing to create a positive buzz about your products and services and company brand, but it's another to be a virtual gossip and slam other people and companies online. 

After listening to Susan, I realized that the tips she provided cross over to our professional relationships. It's time for the professional world to drop toxic gossip - "if you don't have anything to nice to say, don't say anything at all." I'm not advising against expressing your opinion or standing up for your beliefs and ethics. However, don't stoop to a negative level. If you earn a reputation as an online gossip (or even an offline gossip), no one will want to do business with you or buy your products or services - not to mention they will stop inviting you out to lunch!

Another tip: Take an inventory of your relationships. Are you hanging onto clients or colleagues who are toxic and aren't making a positive impact on your life or business? Ditch them! They will only drag you down in the end and think about your ROI - is it really worth their drama?

Think of it this way - would a good friend or ethical business colleague/client turn around and text something about you or post something in a group email IF they were a true friend or business partner? The answer is a resounding NO.

When it comes to gossip, it could potentially ruin a person's professional reputation - whether the rumor is unfounded or not. Think before you type (or speak). Would you want someone talking about you in an unfavorable way? We all are working hard to build our professional reputations. It doesn't help when someone gossips about you behind your back - whether online or offline.

Keep the online "word-of-mouth" clean, light and GOSSIP-FREE! Leave the gossip to the celebrity tabloids who have way too much time on their hands. 

Therese Pope, Copywriter/Content Developer & Digital Buzz-icist

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