mardi 31 décembre 2013

Why Social Media Inactives Have No Impact On Social Business Value

There has been so much talk about how social networks have user abandoning accounts or creating multiple accounts and only using a few. The conversations have centered around three schools of thought: 1) investors are getting ripped off 2) social advertisers are getting ripped off 3) businesses using social media are getting ripped off.

In short: what’s the business value of social media considering the inactives?

To put it politely, you’re asking the wrong question.

Here’s why.

Every single media type has heavy users and light users. People move in and out of media types as per their time and interests allow.

That doesn’t mean social media has no business value any more than it means that no other type of media captures 100% of the attention of 100% of the people.

Social media gets the grind because the activity of these users can be TRACKED. But no one tracks how many subscribers never actually open a magazine. No one tracks how many people turn on the TV only let it become background noise.


Because there is NO WAY TO TRACK IT.

But because it IS trackable in digital and social media its now being used by nay sayers who say that its a rip off? What?!

Don’t sweat the small stuff, people. This isn’t new.

Social media platforms aren’t ripping off their investors or advertisers anymore than any other media company who places its value on subscribers. Is my local newspaper who delivers me a daily newspaper even though I only subscribe for the weekends ripping off its advertisers? One could argue that they are adding value to their advertisers on the off-chance that I’ll actually open the newspaper on any other day besides Saturday and Sunday.

But here’s the big rub: social media isn’t just a form of media. The business value of social is different than other forms of media. It’s differentiating feature: it’s a form of conversation.

Social media is an opportunity to tap into and create passions, interests and ideas of individuals. To know your people truly, not just in the way the media company wants you to see them.

If all you’re doing is basing your choices on numbers of users, their ages or their incomes, you’re really missing the point AND the value to a business. In social media, you get to have a conversation and you get to tap into interests and passions in a whole new way. If you choose not to have that conversation as a business, then why not just run a print ad and call it a day?

Just because you can track it doesn’t make it a liability, it provides you with an opportunity for immediate feedback. In traditional media you invested big bucks before you found out whether your message resonated. Today? You can make immediate changes. And we’re focusing on inactives? C’mon. Let’s get real.

Tweet: Just because you can track it doesn’t make it a liability, its an opportunity for immediate feedback

Investment in social media for business is about investment in relationships.

Relationships are hard to put on a spreadsheet. Passions are hard to put on a spreadsheet. But that’s the very investment you’re making in social media.

If you’re advertising in social media, you’re still investing in relationships.

Look, I’m a BIG fan of ROI (as you can see from this blog). But let’s not examine the numbers as a liability, but an opportunity.

Social media makes all businesses potential publishers.

Social media eliminates the middle man and becomes the distribution point AND it provides the platform for two way conversation. Name another form of media or advertising that does that.

Still think its a rip off?

Can social media platforms make money for their investors? Yes. Just as other media companies did and will continue to do (albeit in a new and evolved way).

Can businesses make money advertising on social media? Yes. As advertisers have in the past and will continue to do.

Can businesses make money investing in social media conversation? Yes. As we’re seeing for the first time ever, and will continue to see. Some businesses are better at it. Some never will be.

So here’s what to do:

Don’t sweat the “inactive” people, focus on the active people. The people most receptive to your message.

The people who care enough to talk (good or bad) about your product or service.

And by the way, when a lot of people slam a business on social media, it’s almost like a cry for help. It’s better to share than to just walk away and never come back. There you have the value of the conversation.

Trust me, if you were able to convert only 25% of the potential passionate people, you’d be WAAAAY ahead of your competitors and you’d never think about the “inactives” again.

So, focus on the important stuff and forget the rest.

Focus on the important stuff: the passionate users and forget the rest.

Tweet: Focus on the important stuff: the passionate users and forget the rest.

That’s your recipe for 2014 success.

Now go out there and make it a great one!

PS: Thanks to Stephan O’Donnell at for the blog post which provided inspiration for this post.

via Business 2 Community

Good Will Towards All: Hating Stuff Without Being a Jerk

Good Will Towards All: Hating Stuff Without Being a Jerk image iuzeit1

Today’s consumers are armed with online reviews as they make purchasing decisions. Increasingly, when we make a purchase we submit our own two cents, sharing what we’ve learned with other potential buyers. But if the product or service failed us, do we blast the company? In these cases we need to remember the spirit of the holiday season and use a little good will when we write a negative review.

Here are five ways to land a punch with manners:

1. Keep your review relevant.

No matter the situation or experience, first and foremost always remember who you’re writing for: other buyers. Keep your review relevant. If your soul needs healing and writing it is the only answer, then invest in a journal. But for product and business reviews, stick to the facts. Give the who-what-when-where and how along with your experience.

2. Create a drama safe-zone.

“The chef is a pretentious jerk” doesn’t explain how the oxtail pasta actually tasted. Think about the specifics and address the root of the issue. Throwing out too many exclamation points (more than one) and all caps is a red flag for emotion overload. Readers will keep scrolling.

3. Consider the Impact.

Yes, there are times when there’s no excuse for bad service. An air-conditioning technician says you need a whole new system when only one small part was required. You should be upset. But before lighting up a review site for the small mom-and-pop business, call them first and ask some questions. Do they have an explanation? Everyone has bad days, and some places have bad employees. Do a little homework before torching a place.

4. Offer second chances.

Consider going back for another look, particularly for newly opened restaurants. It takes time for some places to find their legs. Most restaurant critics never visit a new place until it’s been open at least a month, and they always go back for two or three visits.

5. Never name names.

Lastly, remember everyone has a mom. Maybe even a kid. No matter the situation, stick to ambiguous titles. If this is so personal that you’re beyond that, then you may need to write your lawyer, not a review.

Negative reviews have their place, just as much as the good ones do. But, make mom proud and practice good manners – even after the holidays.

via Business 2 Community

Surviving the Shark Tank: An Interview with Julie Busha

Recently, I had the privilege of connecting with Julie Busha, the founder of the popular condiment brand Slawsa. Slawsa is a unique Surviving the Shark Tank: An Interview with Julie Busha image julie bushacross between a “slaw” and “salsa” that is all-natural, fat-free, cholesterol-free, gluten-free, low in sodium and kosher. Julie was featured on ABC’s Shark Tank, and though she didn’t receive funding, was the recipient of much praise from the “sharks.” Following the exposure of the show, she has launched an IndieGoGo campaign to raise money for expansion, which is open until January 4th. We discussed the sacrifices she has made along the way to build her company, her experience on Shark Tank, and Julie gives her tips for those looking to build a better career.

How do you define your “personal brand?”

I’ve historically been the “behind-the-scenes, roll-up-your-sleeves, get the job done type person.” Never in the spotlight and I prefer to let the results speak for themselves. In the agency world, my job was to make my clients look good in the eyes of their customers. I’m one that has extremely high expectations for not only myself, but for those around me. How does it impact your company? I think in terms of running a business, I see things very black and white, cut and dry. While I like to hear all options, I’m very decisive and I think that sense of purpose has helped my company grow in the most efficient way possible.

What were some of the biggest sacrifices you have had to make in building your company?

Obviously, the personal sacrifices (which I did not vocalize to the Sharks). Back when I was recruited to help someone else build his company, I put in the extra hours and effort in because that is what was required…hadn’t had a vacation since 2006. Now that I have launched my own company, I can’t imagine I do, but somehow I’ve put forth more energy. Putting off starting a family is the biggest sacrifice (especially since I am now 35) but I want to be in a position where when we do start that family, I can not feel I am taking away from growing my company. I can do both, but just need to get my company to a place where I can do both. Of course, the financial risks/sacrifices are far beyond what most people will ever comprehend doing themselves. But greatness does not come without sacrifice and when you know you can build something great, giving up the perks in life is what’s ultimately going to get it there. Hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy those perks later as there is no better feeling in the world than waking up each day eager to grow a brand.

What, if anything, did you learn from being on the “Shark Tank?”

I don’t know that I really learned anything. It’s obviously a great opportunity for any entrepreneur but none of the Sharks really gave me any advice on what they thought I should be doing. They didn’t find faults in the company…instead they just decided to not invest and I think much of it stems from the fact that 1. They usually want to have a good understanding of the industry in which they are investing and 2. They want to be able to use their assets (Lori to get on QVC, Daymond to plug in his overseas manufacturing, Mark & Robert to rely on their tech background) and honestly, I don’t think they felt they could offer either. I do need to take compliments better. I have such high expectations of myself, I always feel I need to be perfect. Not getting the confidence of a Shark to offer a deal I took very personally for weeks.

Where do you hope to be down the line?

Obviously, I’m not going to be content until I get Slawsa into every grocery store, stadium and hot dog cart in America so I realize Surviving the Shark Tank: An Interview with Julie Busha image Slawsathis is just the beginning of a long journey. You always have to be looking forward so I’ll be in development of the final two flavors this winter and a secondary 3-sku line in 2014. Obviously, my priority is growing awareness and trial and to keep growing household penetration. What is the ideal position for Slawsa? I think ultimately, Slawsa has the potential to have the greatest market share in the relish category. It’s healthier, more versatile and more flavorful than a pickle relish. We just need to educate consumers to think about what a relish is or could be versus the traditional.

Can you give 2-3 key pieces of advice to young people who are looking to take the next step in their career?

First and foremost, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. People are shocked that I gained placement of Slawsa in nearly 5,000 stores within two years because it’s so far from what is considered possible for a start-up food manufacturer on a limited budget….but not once did I believe it couldn’t be achieved. Sometimes you just have to dive in the deep end head first and make it happen. Secondly, put yourself in a position to take advantage of opportunities. Both my husband and I worked our way up in our respective industries and being fiscally responsible is what allowed me to leave an industry that I loved to take the leap of faith to become an entrepreneur and put so much financially into my company. We don’t live beyond our means and while that seems strange in our “borrow and spend” society, that’s the best way to do something great. I’m a “go big or go home” type person. If I had to rely on a second income and just dedicate myself to Slawsa in the evenings or weekends, there would be no way we’d be as far along as we are now. It requires full-time efforts and making those financial sacrifices earlier in life allows me to do so without worrying about sucking valuable marketing dollars out of the company to pay myself. The third piece of advice is to put as much away in retirement as possible at a younger age as it will pay back dividends in the future (likely when you realize the government won’t be able to support you). You should never have to rely on outside support. Put yourself in a position where money is never an issue if you lose your job, launch a company or whatever it is you want to do.

Thank you to Julie for taking the time to share her story with me. If you are interested in the Slawsa product, check out the website, or visit the campaign to donate to its growth. Best of luck to Julie in the new year!

via Business 2 Community

Google+ is Content Marketing on Fire

Google+ is Content Marketing on Fire image 2013.12.30 Fire

Sustainable communities are often described as ecosystems in which everyone gets what they want.

This explains why Google+ is steadily gaining momentum for attracting the attention of a wider audience than even Facebook, and quite possibly one that will prove to be more powerful for content marketers

Over the past couple of years we’ve watched as the Google+ community has evolved from predominantly technophiles, to an increasingly mainstream audience that includes regular small business owners like you and me.

In a worldwide web that is driven by content, there are three big reasons why ignoring Google+ any longer is to risk online irrelevance.

#1 – Search Drives the Web

It goes without saying that Google+ should merit your attention simply because Google itself controls approximately 67% of search here in North America, and Google+ is clearly the favorite son of the search giant.

A significant reason for paying particular attention to Google+ is that content mentions within Google+ seem to merit search rankings that are even higher than the original source.

While this is an observation that many of us have noticed in recent months, it turns out there is data to support it. According to, the number of plus ones on Google+ rate second only to the overall page authority for determining the search ranking of a site. Is this surprising? It shouldn’t be.

When you consider that Google’s mission is to deliver the most relevant search results as quickly as possible, it stands to reason that those infused with social context will be more relevant than static content.

#2 – Google+ is An Identity Service

It has been evident for Google+ would prove to be an identity service. The first clue to this was in 2011 when Google Profiles instantly became Google+ About pages for personal accounts. It was handwriting on the wall for things to come.

Then Google Places became Google+ Local. And most recently, YouTube videos and comments are by default now automatically published to our Google+ profiles.

Are you noticing a trend here?

It is clear that Google+ is the service that will integrate content from all of the Google properties, and by design, as much of everything else as possible.

What’s fascinating is that all of this is being done very quietly, and that may be because the tech oriented Google+ community tends to embrace change. Unlike the Facebook community, the general thinking seems to be: “let’s see what we can do with this.”

The bottom line is unlike Facebook, the Google+ community trusts Google+. This all dates back to the beginning when Googlers (Google employees) were active on the platform for the specific purpose of learning how to improve the Google+ learning experience.

This collaborative approach is one that you may wish to consider for your business in 2014. It’s certainly part of my strategy.

#3 – Social Context is Authority

One of the recent search benefits that enhances the Google+ social experience are the automatic hashtags. Some people are using hashtags and others are not. Therefore, Google+ is taking the liberty of appending your content with a hashtag to give that content some searchable context.

Make it your business to pay attention to which hashtags Google+ decides are relevant – and why. This will not only help you to better choose hashtags for Google+, but also for other social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

It seems logical that there are topic areas that Google would like to drive more traffic to. This is the win-win. If several hashtags seem appropriate for your content, why not use the one Google+ chooses to establish your authority by having your content rank more highly?

Additionally, if you have not yet activated Google Authorship you will want to make that a priority. Here is a quote from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt on why you should claim authorship of your original content.

“Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified results). The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

It stands to reason that relevant hashtags attached to your Google+shared content will further define your authority as a subject matter expert in those specific areas.

SEO used to be about links and keywords. Now Google+ is layering in Authorship, shares, +1′s, and relevant hashtags to provide additional social context to that content marketing equation.

I couldn’t be more excited about Google+. How about you? Please leave a comment to share.

2014 may be the last opportunity to dedicate resources currently allocated to other channels to make the most of the Google+ opportunity before it ignites.

All the best for an outstanding New Year!

Photo Credit

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In the New Year Really New?

In the New Year Really New? image iStock 000009912732XSmallIt’s been a while since I have been to a water park. There is nothing better on a hot summer day. There are all kinds of rides where it feels like you are in control of the directions you are headed, but when you really look at it, you are really just going with the flow of the water. After all, these rides are designed for thrills, but safety is also a concern. It only appears that you in control, but in the end, the water flow controls you. That’s the way business can be at times.

Are you big into resolutions? Resolutions are generally life changing goals, that you give yourself permission to not fully achieve. The top three are; Lose Weight, Get Organized, Spend Less & Save More. Based on the website Statistic Brain – 45% of Americans make resolutions and succeed 75% of the time after one week and less than 50% of the time after 6 months. So why do some continue to try to set goals over and over again that they know have less than half a chance to become realized? Tradition. Every day is just another opportunity to succeed, and January 1st is just another day… so what’s the big deal?

I tend to look at New Years as a continuation of what we learned and experienced last year, and an evolution into what you propose to achieve in the coming days, months and year. When it comes to what you have learned and experienced, perception is reality. What’s even more of a reality is data. I not only use Quickbooks as a financial tool, but as a business planning tool. You can pull reports like this year versus last year to see what you actually sold versus spent.

An example is that I wrote a book last year, and was able to to sell close to 500 in 6 months. That equated to almost 10% of new income. Other services like video and audio production were down significantly. Websites and consulting were up 25% while training and custom web programming were down 25%. Why is this important? It felt like some of those numbers were way different as the year progressed, but the numbers tell a very different story that that perception.

Change Happens

What I have learned over the years is to make plans, but respond to trends. Sometimes those trends are not as obvious while you’re in the heat of the battle. Here are three things you can to to get a better grip on riding the waves throughout your next business year:

  1. Review Last Years Data Trends – Track everything you can. Review your books at least quarterly if not monthly, and compare them to the prior year. Also, if you are in networking groups, track the leads and business you have given others and the leads and closed business they have given you. If you are starting to make money on certain products or services, spend more time marketing them. If your networking group is not giving you as much business as you are giving others, then it’s time to find a new one.

  2. Modify Expectations Based On Those Trends – Keep an eye out for business trends. What are people buying from you? What are they inquiring about? How are people finding you and your business? Through referrals, internet, social networking or smoke signals? Keep track of and review everything and make adjustments based on the data you are seeing. Otherwise you may miss trends that can help you capitalize on the current flow.

  3. Be Aware Of, And Remain Fluid To Changes – Be prepared to toss away plans and react to the trends and changes as they happen. 365 is a lot of days. Many factors can create new and interesting circumstances. If Facebook went away tomorrow it would change my business considerably. You have to be flexible and willing to adapt to make the most of the opportunities (or even crises) presented to you throughout a years time. A plan consists of goals, but systems can be fluid. Create systems that can flow with change.

In the New Year Really New? image 4586 101413 gs45861When you jump on a water slide, you can stick your arms and feet out and change the flow of where the water is trying to take you. Use your data, knowledge and intuition to help create the path that gives you the best and enjoyable ride.

Did you make any resolutions last year and how did that work out for you? What are your plans for this coming 2014? I wish you much success, health, prosperity and joy for this upcoming year… and would love to hear your insights and thoughts?

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Customer Service Is Everything (Infographic)

For the most part, one bad customer service experience is one too many, and we’ve got the stats to back it up. Even just a single unhelpful customer service representative can send consumers over to competitors without a second thought. The average dissatisfied customer is likely to tell more than 20 people about their bad experience and will likely cease doing business with that company. So if customer service is such an important part of business, why do so many corporations seem to fall short in that department? Just 26% have well-developed plans for improving the quality of their customer service. We see time and time again that as an enterprise grows, its customer service department becomes less and less effective.

Compared with one another, the customer satisfaction ratings of specific companies that many of us deal with daily might surprise you. Heading off in the personal computer department is Apple with 87% customer satisfaction rating, one of the highest on our list. But Apple’s iPhone 5 falls behind Samsung Galaxy Note II and Galaxy S III in smartphone manufacturing. Verizon is currently the top rated wireless provider with a satisfaction rating of 73%, while T-Mobile is at the bottom with just 68%.

As a whole, however, customer satisfaction in a variety of industries seems to be on the rise. In the past year alone, health care, energy utilities, transportation and accommodation & food services have all gone up and average of 1 point.

Customer Service Is Everything (Infographic) image the state of customer service

Take a look at this infographic for the state of customer service and let us know in the comments, are you satisfied? Don’t forget to like and share!

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5 Tech Tools for New Year Resolutions

Guilty Pleasures Are Even Sweeter When Shared

Guilty Pleasures Are Even Sweeter When Shared image chocolate cake

Our guilty pleasures keep our lives interesting; and sharing those delights just adds to the fun. So, do your friends a favor and share with them in a way that inspires them to discover life’s hidden gems.

The pop star Rihanna showed us just how to do this a few years ago following her Grammy win for her hit “Umbrella.” In the middle of a media interview she was eating a brownie. At one point, she stopped mid-sentence, looked at the camera, pointed at the brownie, and said something to the effect of: Screw you, Personal Trainer Guy. I earned this. I’m eating now.

While our indulgences vary, good friends support one another to every last brownie bite – or even better, point them to the exact location of the best brownies in town.

Why Does “Bad” Feel So Good?

The Huffington Post asked close to 80 celebrities about their favorite guilty pleasures. Most of the answers were pretty standard: reality TV, chocolate, ice cream, burgers. But, then a few bucked the system, like Lenny Kravitz, who said, “I don’t have any guilty pleasures. Whatever I do, I’m all right with it.”

No matter your vice, the beauty and power of a guilty pleasure is that it’s your own. A rebellion. A secret shared by you and that 57th gaming session of Halo. A guilty pleasure is something you should whole-heartedly own up to. Consider it self-perseverance.

Kelly Goldsmith, an assistant professor at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, looked at how guilt often enhances pleasures. Her research was inspired by a dalliance with Weight Watchers, which made her ask: Does food taste better when you feel guilty eating it?

Of course, it does. After some research that hopefully involved a crude amount of Twinkies, beer and a hostile rejection of point-based eating systems, Goldsmith found that guilt is linked with pleasure “because oftentimes when we experience guilt, we experience pleasure.”

Furthermore, the greater the guilt, the greater the pleasure. Goldsmith says, “When pleasure’s activated, guilt is activated, and so in our brains, over time, those two become connected.”

Own Those Indulgences, and Share Them

Why do we feel guilty about the things we like the most? According to research, it’s connected. So, let indulgence be the essence of the “work hard, play hard” trade off. You’ve earned. Own it.

Acknowledge the little things that inspire you to work harder and to persevere through any number of life’s many responsibilities, knowing there’s a carrot at the end.

Guilty pleasures are our own personal rebellions. Be a rebel and eat that brownie. Better yet, share your favorite guilty pleasures with others.

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The Role Of Timing With Your Marketing Strategy

As the greatest rock and roll band of our time, The Rolling Stones, say … “Time is on our side”, especially when it comes to creating a winning content and marketing strategy. You can have the greatest blog posts, videos, infographics, slides or resources in the world, however if you do not consider the role of timing you may miss out!

The Role Of Timing With Your Marketing Strategy image il 570xN.400607665 ouib

Timing is something you have complete control over; deploying content, responding to an inquiry, and keeping the user experience as simple as possible. Timely response, execution, user experience and content delivery can help you build a strong foundational approach to your business’s content, customer service and business plan execution.

5 Tips To Create A Timely Marketing Strategy

1. Enable Your Content To Be Found Quickly. With 89% of people starting their purchase process using a search engine, you need to structure your content in a way that it is quickly found. SlideShare, blogging, YouTube videos and infographics all have keyword and structure nuances that will help increase their ability to be found more quickly. Help your potential readers save time and effort by using fundamental search strategies so they can easily find and engage with you.

2. Deliver Content On A Regular Basis. Whether it’s the evening news, the morning newspaper, or the Sunday Football games, we all expect content we know and love to be delivered consistently. We like our expectations managed so there is consistency in our lives. Leverage customer expectations by updating your social media channels and blogs. HubSpot notes companies who blog 15 or more times per month get 5X more site traffic. Now THAT is “return on consistency”!

3. Be A Quick and Easy Read To Save Your Reader Time. There is no right length for a blog post or a piece of content. However, a good rule of thumb is a 500-word blog post takes about 2 minutes to read. Two minutes seems to be the attention span of many readers. Also, readers like to skim content and get to the point that is relevant to them. If you need more words to get your point across, then use more words, but take your reader’s time into consideration.

4. Make It Easy For Readers To Share Your Content Quickly. Good content gets shared and reaches a relevant and incremental audience to your present network. ShareThis research indicates most content is shared on a mobile device, with consumers twice as likely clicking and sharing content through a mobile device, than a desktop device. On a mobile device, Pinterest and Twitter are the networks, aside from Facebook, where content gets shared the most. So your content needs to be mobile-optimized for reading and sharing to save time and reach more customers more quickly.

5. Respond To Content Inquiries, Comments And Affirmations In 24 Hours (within an hour if there is a complaint). When customers use Twitter to express a customer service concern, eConsultancy reports that 72% of them expect a response within an hour. And, when they ask a brand a question, 53% of them expect an answer in an hour. So, you can put time on the side of your marketing strategy by quickly building up a reputation for quick social media response!

Do you have a timely strategy to share? If so, please share below. Or, reach out to me directly on, LinkedIn or Twitter. And, I will give YOU a timely response.

Get the moves like Jagger and strategically think about the timing of your content, customer response and marketing execution. This approach will help you to create and manage the expectations of your readers. Time is on your side, yes it is …. so use it to your marketing and content advantage, and your customers will come running back … yes they will.

Picture source: Etsy

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New Year’s Resolutions For Marketers In 2014

New Year’s Resolutions For Marketers In 2014 image 20146For the most part, New Year’s resolutions are a joke. No, no, don’t deny it. We’re all going to be in the gym for the months of January and February and then spend the rest of the year eating nachos. But marketing resolutions are different. We stick with them because as lazy as we are when it comes to getting washboard abs, we’re obsessed with finding ways to be better marketers. So here are some New Year’s resolutions for marketers that you should add to your list for 2014 next to “stop procrastinating.”

Measure Everything

With the release of Google Universal Analytics in 2013, analytics are on the minds of marketers now more than ever before, but plans may not necessarily be in place to take advantage of the kinds of tools that enable you to measure everything. In 2014, make it happen. Measure everything. A/B test everything from PPC ads to landing pages. Measure clicks, conversions, phone calls, social media interactions. The more data you collect, the more insight you have into what works. Don’t just measure the basics: measure everything.

Make More (and Shorter) Videos

In 2013 we learned that content is the kingdom, and video is the king of the content. It shares extremely well, and 90% of users say that seeing a video about a product is helpful in the decision making process. If marketers are serious about content marketing, making more videos is a no-brainer, but there’s also another piece to that puzzle: making sure the videos are short. When you first get into creating videos as part of your content marketing strategy, it’s easy to let them run long: you have so many good ideas! But shorter videos share better and are more successful at keeping the viewer’s attention. Aim for 60-90 seconds and pray for virality.

Get Serious About Mobile

You may have been planning to make your site responsive for some time now, but let 2014—preferably early 2014—be the year that it actually happens. We recently wrote about how mobile is gobbling up all other platforms when it comes to advertising, and it’s true: as ad spend on TV, radio, online, etc. decreases, ad spend for mobile increases. It’s time to be blown along with the winds of change. Mobile is the future. Don’t waste any more time resisting.

Engage With Your Audience

This resolution is something that is often touted for social media, which is good. Broadcasting isn’t the best way to use social media: engaging with your followers is key. But this should be considered when it comes to your website and customer service as well. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your website has all the information a visitor would ever need: they will still have questions, and they will want a way to contact you. For example, 43% of all ecommerce transactions that begin with a web search end in a phone call and there is a 10% increase in click-through rates for PPC ads that contain a phone number. Giving your customers and prospects the option to engage with you means good things for your business. Resolve to give them what they want.

With all the other resolutions you’re making this year, we’ll cut this list short. But as you move into the new year with your eye on the prize, return to these four goals. 2014 is going to be an exciting year for marketers: stay ahead of the curve.

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Public Relations Pro Shares Success Tips to Find Work

Julie Du Brow’s public relations business of 12 years was dipping by 2010 as the recession picked up steam. Faced with fewer long term, and smaller, clients she was concerned, getting worn out, searching, and in need of a new source of income. In a world of “meant to be”, Julie married up her volunteer work in the green space and her resume to land a great part-time job via a job board. Today she is a permanent part-time Communications Specialist at The Bay Foundation in Santa Monica, California and this position is attracting new and exciting clients for her public relations firm, DubroWorks.

Julie began her job search by exploring the postings on the UCLA job board (her alma mater), looking directly on company websites and setting up alerts on Indeed. She applied to several job postings including the one for her current position. What she learned can help others.

No Response Is Not Always a Dead End

In August, 2011, Julie applied to her current position via a job posting on Indeed and she did not hear anything from the company until October. It turns out that Julie’s resume arrived at the end of their search and The Bay Foundation had already settled on another candidate. By October, that lead candidate fell through and Julie’s resume got its first glance. Several interviews and two weeks later she started. A killer thank you note that nailed her interest in the firm, passion for their work and included media ideas kept her candidacy top of mind.

Last Minute Interviews Can Take Some of the Pressure Away

When the call came in, they asked Julie if she could interview the next day. With very little time to prepare, she studied their website and annual report to create a list of questions, but she was far less prepared than she would normally be. Moreover, it was clear that The Bay Foundation is a science based non-profit in water conservation, an area with which she was familiar but hardly knowledgeable.

Worried that this would hurt her chances, Julie told her interviewers “I don’t have all the answers because of the short notice and I need to really delve into and learn this arena.” She also took a chance and indicated that, if hired, her job would be to bridge the scientists’ work into much clearer and simpler language so that non-scientists, the general media and public, could understand their stories. Both approaches signaled honesty and a desire to learn for the interviewers—key factors as it turns out.

Public Relations Pro Shares Success Tips to Find Work image julie du browKeep Your Job Search a Little Broad to Maximize Your Chances

Julie decided that it didn’t take a lot more time to search for jobs that matched her background as well as those that hewed to her hobbies. For her that meant jobs in the green space. Using Indeed, she set up four different alerts in the Los Angeles area and it was the one of these that surfaced the position with The Bay Foundation.

A Part Time Job Can Be Good Business Development For Your Own Business

Julie’s work with The Bay Foundation connects her with partner organizations on certain projects. Some of those firms have approached her for short-term assignments, often related to projects with which the Foundation is involved. With the approval of her management, Julie has been able to bring in new business to her consulting firm. This virtuous employment circle has clear upside for the Bay Foundation as it results in cohesive messaging for several of the key constituencies in the water conservation space.

Many years of volunteering in the green space also has the potential to bring in revenue. The agencies and design and engineering firms for water and green building overlap in many cases and her professional experience in one has led to cross-industry introductions and discussions about consulting work.

We like to think that what goes around comes around. Volunteerism and environmental activism make the world a better place. The economy forced Julie Du Brow to reconsider her “business model”. Something as random as a job board merged her personal and professional lives and both are the stronger for it.

Photo source

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B2B Marketing Tips – A Survival Guide to the Holiday Haze

As the year ends, folks tend to be pretty sluggish time when it comes to their work. Their minds tend to wander to thoughts of family, dinners, or simply lounging about the office. It’s not exactly the best state of mind for talking business. Emails. Phone calls. Websites. Even professional social networks. None of these really suit the seasonal mood.

But then again, that’s exactly why B2B marketers can be at their busiest this time of year. (Assuming they’re not caught up in the same post-holiday snooze.) The trick lies in keeping the campaign alive without killing this mood.

Here’s one suggestion: treat the whole thing as if you were making greeting cards. Think about how fun it could be drawing all those trees, candy canes, and Santa Claus faces. You can design B2B marketing campaign in the same way. That way, your mind won’t end up slipping while still connecting with potential clients and boosting year-end sales.

  • B2B Marketing Tips – A Survival Guide to the Holiday Haze image Santa dogRecreate yourself online. Try to change the colors of your website to match the colors of the holidays. Make sure it’s not too distracting either. Think of what your office might look like around Christmas and New Year’s. Don’t just stop at your website either. Deck your social media pages as well. Finally, your email templates need to match these changes both in terms of looks as well as content. (e.g. work-related tips prior to Christmas breaks)

  • Be flexible in your appointments. Don’t be too pushy when trying to set an appointment. Both your marketers and your sales reps need to keep this in mind. Make sure not to set any dates too soon either. Most likely, you’ll need a follow-up strategy the moment the next work year starts. You can even include this in your broadcasted messages. It can assure prospects that they won’t want to think too much about doing business with you while their minds are still on the season.

  • Stay true with your updates. Disappointments are at their worst during this time of year. Nobody likes hearing the sad story of the kid who didn’t get anything from Santa. It’s the same when your clients aren’t told of any inconvenient scheduling beforehand. Should there be any conflicts or important changes to note, let them know immediately. Whether through it’s an established CRM system or manual email, your first priority is to get the message straight to them.

In short, combine seasonal redesign with a stronger emphasis on good lead generation practices. Particularly, don’t be pushy about getting the appointment or the sale right in the middle of the holidays. Just go along with the flow without necessarily getting caught up in it.

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5 Ways to Protect Your Mobile Device From Prying Eyes

5 Ways to Protect Your Mobile Device From Prying Eyes image 5 Ways to Protect Your Mobile From Prying Eyes

Do you know how to keep your phone from the prying eyes of exes, strangers, cops, other officials and even your own spouse? Here are five tips to keep your mobile device safe and secure.

Common Sense

When it comes to the police, cooperate; this will lessen the chance of mobile confiscation. Though you aren’t required to talk to the police without an attorney present, and don’t need to fork over your passcode or give up your phone just because they ask for it, don’t be a pest, either. In general, police need a warrant to search your phone.

Lock Down Your Phone

Encrypting important data is crucial for those who want to keep prying eyes—be they the police, a vindictive ex or a nosy coworker—from gaining access to their mobile device. The method of encrypting varies from one mobile device to the next, but here are some guidelines:

  • Android and iOS phones come with native data protection for encrypting. Take advantage of this. Remember, other models also offer encryption features, and the user needs to learn how to access these features.

  • Lock your SIM card so nobody can access the SIM without a known PIN.

  • Don’t always use the same phone; switch them up.

  • Protect any videos or photos you’ve taken with your mobile device by saving them, then sharing them immediately to provide a backup.

Store in a Cloud

Cloud storage enables you to store your data (videos, pictures, files, etc.) in a virtual storehouse which can be purchased or leased through a hosting company.

To store photos or videos, enable Camera Uploads on DropBox (Android, iOS). You can do the same with Google Drive. Each mobile device has a different way of shunting your valuable data to a cloud for cyber storage.

For Facebook enthusiasts, cloud storage can also be done via your mobile’s Facebook app.

iOS users can use AutoSnap to upload any image that’s taken with it to Facebook, DropBox, Twitter and Instagram. Just link the app with any social accounts that you have.

Live Broadcasting Yourself

  • Livestreaming puts anything you record on your phone onto the Internet; here, the phone acts as an inputting tool rather than a storage tool.

  • Justin.Tv (iOS, Android) is the leading livestream app, and the service is free.

  • UStream (iOS, Android). This livestreaming app focuses more on quality than on easy access. The service offers many broadcasting options.

  • Veetle (iOS, Android). This company is smaller than Justin.Tv and UStream, but has an advantage: free, easy integration with social media, plus some other perks.

Use a VPN

When surfing the web on your local computer, mobile or tablet on a free, unprotected public network in a hotel, airport or coffee shop, your data is vulnerable to “sniffers.”

That’s where a Virtual Private Network (VPN) comes in to protect your data between your laptop, iPad, iPhone or Android and an internet gateway. This kind of VPN creates an impenetrable tunnel to prevent snoopers, hackers and ISPs from viewing your web-browsing activities, instant messages, downloads, credit card information or anything else you send over the network.

Image via Shutterstock

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Collaboration, Project Management, and Social Business: 2014 Trends to Watch Out For

The myriad goals of a successful business can seem pretty fractured when put under the microscope. Much like being the kind of person who “does it all,” the ideal company model requires dabbling in countless initiatives. Measuring project management goals against collaboration software needs, the race to be more social and globally aware and efficient, to drive an innovative culture, grant employee autonomy, be economically responsible, support engagement — not to mention please your customers and make money — is daunting. The pressure can cause a crash-diet response in organizations that leaves them struggling to understand priorities, and failing to accomplish much of anything they’ve set out to do.

However, 2013 taught us a lot about balance and the importance of realistic, transparent approaches. Here are 6 trends to watch out for in 2014.

1. Collaboration will Migrate from ‘Initiative’ to Strategy

This is already the case for many companies, but we often see a disconnect between what it means to implement collaboration software and what it takes to foster a collaborative culture. The raw truth is that it’s a combination of the two, and deploying collaboration programs successfully will require continual feedback, integration across the business, and cultural change agents.

2. Mobility will Make a Move

The BYOD movement continues to make a huge impact on the way employees work, interact, and access company data. This trend will continue in the new year, particularly for higher-level company members who spend more time on strategic discussions than non-immediate task management, and who, as a result, require mobile devices to be successful. This next year will also bring more cross-platform integration and proprietary applications as add-ons to primary platforms.

3. Disparate Teams will Triumph

As industries become exponentially global, so will teams and partnerships across organizations. Communication, already paramount, will become entirely critical. As a result, the need for tools that go beyond webinars and teleconferencing will bring about several innovations in work, task, project, and collaboration management.

4. True Resource Management Pipelines will Become a Reality

As project management schedules, data, costs, and other elements become more centralized and iterative, a top-down view of project needs and potential risks will be possible. With the integration of task and time-management tools, stakeholders will be able to more accurately predict the consequences of things like scope creep, costs, interdepartmental resource distribution, and employee bandwidth.

5. Big Data will Help Drive Social Business Decisions

Better approaches to gathering and analyzing enormous amounts of data will translate into a deeper understanding of fluctuating customer sentiment, needs, and behaviors. As a result, businesses will be more adept at pinpointing issues and using predictive analytics to address change and deliver value to their users.

6. The Power of the Crowd will Deliver Interaction

Shareable content, vibrant communities, engaging activities, and overall consumer experience will be the primary drivers behind organic brand evangelism. Quality will prevail over quantity when it comes to building audiences and social bases, as well as more accurately targeting new customers and emerging markets. These highly-personal, customizable interactions will be the key to improved ROI and sustainable growth.

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4 Ways You Can Become a Stalker

4 Ways You Can Become a Stalker image BI Images 31

I have recently decided to become a stalker, and I think you need to do the same.

Say what?

Before you go thinking I’ve lost my mind and am about to become some kind of creeper, let me clarify that I’m only using the word “stalker” as a euphemism for a methodical approach to expanding your professional network!

Why You Need to Network Every Day

For many people (me included), the thought of going to a networking event to “make small talk” with strangers holds very little appeal. Having said that, over the last year, one of the most important realizations that I have made is that, even though I run an online business, networking with others is a “must-do” activity…which is why I have included it in my content marketer’s daily activity checklist (free download).

When you spend time getting to know other people, you are creating all sorts of opportunities. Here’s just a few:

  • You can learn from them

  • You can get referrals from them

  • They can help you to promote your content

  • They can help you to promote your products

  • They can introduce you to other people who can do the same

Obviously, to get results from your networking, you need to go into it with a “help others firsts” mindset, and you actually need to target the right people – and that is where having a Stalker List comes into play.

How to Create a Stalker List

4 Ways You Can Become a Stalker image notebook listIn a post I published the other day, I described how you can use Followerwonk to help you build a list…but what I neglected to mention was a few other ways to do it…plus, in today’s post, I want to share with you how to use it.

In addition to using Followerwonk, you might also want to try some or all of the following ways:

  • Go to Amazon and find a list of authors who have written books that would be of interest to your audience

  • Google terms like “top 50 social media influencers” or “top 50 marketing blogs”, etc…

  • Copy the title of a blog post that would be of interest to your audience and then search on Twitter for people that have shared that post

  • See who some of your favorite influencers are following on Twitter

One thing to keep in mind. Keep your list short, probably no more than 20 names. Then, as you start to get traction with some of them, you can move them onto a “maintain” list and add some new people you’d like to get to know.

How to Use Your Stalker List

One you have you list, you should do the following:

  • Follow them on Twitter

  • Circle them on Google+

  • Connect on LinkedIn

  • Friend on Facebook

  • Comment on the blog

  • Share their content

  • Retweet their tweets

  • Comment on their Facebook page

When you do reach out to these people, don’t be creepy. Don’t adore them. Instead, find ways to add value to their conversations. Treat them with respect and have confidence in what you have to offer. You won’t become pals with all of them, but some of them will end up becoming valuable business allies, and when that happens, the benefits can be incredible.

What do you think?

Do you have comments or questions? Please use the comment form below. If you have a strong opinion one way or the other, I’d like to hear it.

4 Ways You Can Become a Stalker image DMH Book Offer7

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5 Steps to Invest in a Trademark

5 Steps to Invest in a Trademark image copyrightA trademark is often an important investment in protecting the intellectual property of your business. Obtaining a trademark involves five steps:

Search for Conflicting Trademarks

Your first step is to make sure there are not any conflicting trademarks. You should search on the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s website to see if there any conflicting trademarks that have already been registered. Then work with an attorney to run a more comprehensive search. Even if a trademark has not been registered, it could still have superior intellectual property rights over yours if it was being used prior to your trademark.

In addition, if the USPTO rejects your application due to a conflict with an existing mark, filing fees will not be refunded.

Start an Application

Once you have confirmed there are no conflicting trademarks, you will need to complete a trademark application. You will need the following to dates to complete the application:

  • Date of first use of trademark in commerce anywhere

  • Date of first use in interstate or foreign commerce

Prove Your Trademark

The trademark application also requires a trademark “specimen,” which shows the trademark being used in commerce in the class of goods or services for which you are applying for the trademark.

Select Its Class of Goods/Services

You will need to select the class of goods or services you would like to register the trademark.

You should be strategic in selecting the class of goods or services to register the trademark, as there is an additional filing fee for each class of goods or services in which you register the trademark.

Include a Contact Address

Finally, you will need to include a contact address for the trademark registration.

It is important to remember that anyone can view this address if they search for the trademark on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website once the trademark application has been filed.

If you have any questions or would like help in obtaining a trademark for your business, contact your current lawyer — or feel free to reach out to my law group at (415) 633-6841 or

Disclaimer: This article discusses general legal issues, but it does not constitute legal advice in any respect. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented herein without seeking the advice of counsel in the relevant jurisdiction. Bend Law Group, PC expressly disclaims all liability in respect of any actions taken or not taken based on any contents of this article.

Doug Bend is the principal of Bend Law Group, PC, a law firm focused on small businesses and startups. He is also the General Counsel for Modify Industries, Inc. and tIFc LLC and a Legal Mentor in The Hub Ventures Program.

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4 Ways Social Media Helps You Land Awesome Links

When you hear about marketing opportunities using social media you might not immediately think of link building. Traffic, clicks, conversions – all these things come to mind with social media marketing, but for the purposes of link building social media sites can work quite well into a strategy.

Many tout link building as one of the hardest and most important parts of search engine optimization. According to a June 2013 Moz survey, link features, meaning external links, how many, how high-quality, and where are they coming from—is the 2nd most important cluster of Google’s algorithm.

4 Ways Social Media Helps You Land Awesome Links image seo rank factors 2013 links

With that, here are 4 tips to help you leverage social media to uncover awesome link building opportunities.

1. Form relationships.

The main purpose for a social networking site is to get social. It’s where we go today to meet new folks, share information, collaborate and learn. If you take this principle into consideration when developing a link building strategy you can start looking for opportunities to form relationships with your existing followers.

RELATED CLASS: Twitter Tactics for Higher Engagement & ROI

Rand at Moz suggests using sites like FollowerWonk to take an examination of your existing followers and conduct follower outreach. Who follows you and who happen to be the most influential bloggers or run successful websites in your niche? If they already follow you there’s a good chance they really do know who you are. With a bit of personalization and maybe a light pitch to get a link who knows you may have a shot at earning a link. Do this research on all your social profiles—not just Twitter.

2. Find guest blogging opportunities.

Similar to follower outreach, the ability to find guest blogging prospects are just a few short clicks away. I’ve used this tactic in the past with a simple tweet/Google+/Facebook post, “anyone looking for a guest blog post for their _____ blog?” Doesn’t hurt to ask! Or use this principle in another way by conducting a Twitter search to see if anyone has used the words “need guest blog post” or “write for us” in a tweet. Don’t forget about Twitter advanced search or Google+ search to dig deep into updates on social media.

Additionally, looking through Twitter for users who are tweeting about news and topics in your industry may uncover some great bloggers you never knew existed. Check out their profile which often will link to the blog they manage, look onsite to see if they accept guest blog posts and suddenly you’ve found great prospects for guest blogging.

3. Uncover unlinked brand mentions.

I’m a big proponent of searching for unlinked brand mentions. I am amazed at how many instances of a brand there are online that don’t contain a link, but publishers are willing to update the page with it if I ask nicely. Uncover these mentions using search engines within a social media site. Sure you’ll uncover a tweet or status update that has the brand name mentioned, but maybe it’s also a link to an article or news story about the company. After some clicks and reading through the piece you may discover an unlinked brand mention contained in the post.

RELATED CLASS: Tomorrow’s SEO: 9 Critical SEO Skills You Need to Succeed

4. Get ideas for content marketing & link building strategies.

Last but certainly not least social networking sites can provide great ideas for content marketing and link building strategies. Reviewing the things your competitors are doing with content marketing or link building is evident when conducting research through social media. Look for popular promotions that receive a lot of likes, RTs or +1s. Find out about new partnerships, press or industry news by monitoring social activities. Each of these are great ways to uncover awesome new link and content marketing strategies.

These are just a few of the benefits that social media provides to us link builders out there. How have you used social media for link building? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Gain better visibility in the search engine results by optimizing your social media content.

Watch How to Optimize Social Media for Search , and learn how to optimize Facebook, Twitter and more for search visibility, and how your social network profiles can benefit from search optimization. Get instant access now .

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3 Reasons Customer Service Management Software is More Critical Today

Customer service management software and CRM focuses on providing more efficient ways to unify business activities to carry out more effective customer service actions contributing to a better service experience.

3 Reasons Customer Service Management Software is More Critical Today image customer service crm3Technology is helping businesses face many of the challenges they face as they try to maintain or build market share. One of the most helpful tools they’re using to help clients and keep revenue high is customer service management software.

Using CSM applications is more important than ever given the extent of globalization enterprises face the constant need to integrate great customer service into the technological marketplace. The Shopify website, for example, has a number of resources for service management professionals to learn more about customer service solutions.

This growing need to use technology to improve efficiencies and cut costs, opens the door for customer service management software and CRM to help customer service managers streamline service and organize support operations. These 3 reasons are key reasons why service management software is a wise investment in your organization.

1. Customer Service Management Software Helps Manage Customer Expectations

Consumers, like you, have some expectations about what they’re going to get out of the business-customer relationship. As outlined by Unitiv, at a most basic level, they expect that their products and services will be delivered intact and on time, at the competitive price agreed and with high quality. They also expect that if there is a problem, you’ll be available to help them resolve it quickly and with respect.

Customer service management software can alert you when there is a problem with an order, such as the item being delayed or out of stock. It also can provide basic information about the transaction, such as when it happened. Some programs can automate tasks related to sales, as well, such as sending confirmation emails.

You also can track what’s being done to resolve issues and what the status of a transaction is. This helps you respond faster to your customers when they contact you, giving you the information you need to keep them up-to-date. You also can offer different compensations, such as a discount, based on what you see happening and what you know the customer wanted to receive. All this makes your customers feel more comfortable working with you, building loyalty.

2. Service Management Software Streamlines Handling Customer Complaints

Good customer service management software usually streamlines your team’s ability to resolve complaints, simply because you have more information when you need it and don’t have to do everything manually. It also can make follow-up easier, such as generating an automatic confirmation email when a representative logs a support ticket.

Subsequently, you can help more customers and have time to get to the heart of the problems that are occurring. If you resolve more issues well, customers’ opinions can go up and word-of-mouth conversations likely will be positive. Sales likely will go up or at least remain steady as a result.

3. Software is Key to Giving You Insight On How Customers See Your Business

In general, failure to meet your customers’ expectations and resolve their complaints translates to negative brand experiences. At best, this means you lose customers and have to spend money finding others. At worst, it means customers openly spread word of what the poor service, damaging your brand reputation. Social media lets people do this in just hours.

By contrast, when you use customer service management software to improve what customers go through, they feel good about your company and are more likely to come back. They’ll tell others about what happened and recommend you, boosting your sales without any additional marketing effort from you.

Are you getting the most from your CRM, CSM, or service management dashboard?

Ultimately, you should be asking yourself the following questions to gauge if you’re getting the most out of your service management tools:

  • Can your customer service management system track customer interactions in real time and address sub-par customer service experiences?

  • Can you provide your teams real-time customer information so that service agents can make better, more informed customer impacting decisions?

  • Can you link customer interactions from pre-sales, order process, fulfillment, and post-order support?

  • Are you seeing accelerated customer service case resolutions with better customer service ratings?

  • Are you seeing improved customer service responses and better response quality and accuracy?

  • Are you staying on top of your team’s day-to-day performance and have access to real-time customer service agent case data to help service agents with training and feedback closer to the time the case took place?

The connection between customer service, retention and referral is why experts recommend viewing your customer service team as a primary marketing platform. Organizing the activities that make up running customer service effectively and delivering efficient customer service is critical to the long-term success of your organization.

Customer relationship management begins by bringing in the right people, training them to do the job it right, and then supporting them and the management of the team with the right customer service management software solution to give the the necessary insight to do customer service right.

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How To Use Vine Or Instagram Videos To Sell Your Products (with examples)

Creating short, captivating videos of 6 to 15 seconds is the latest trend around social spheres these days. And, with over 40 million registered users on Vine and 150 million active users on Instagram, it’s a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

How To Use Vine Or Instagram Videos To Sell Your Products (with examples) image How To Use Vine Or Instagram Videos To Sell Your Products

For business owners like yourself, this is a great opportunity. Various top brands are already including Vine and Instagram in their social media marketing campaigns and so should you. And, to help you do that, we’ve prepared a list of 10 different strategies that you can follow, which will show you how to utilize Vine and Instagram videos to build your brand awareness and sell your products to a wider audience.

Showcase your products

Granted that it’s only for 6 seconds (15 on Instagram) but if you can use that time wisely and create a visually appealing and engaging video, Vine and Instagram can be a great way to showcase and promote your current line of products to your followers.

Sephora, the cosmetic chain store, recently posted this Vine on its page where it does just that. The video manages to provide a snapshot of its latest cosmetic items and still be engaging by providing helpful gift ideas for the holidays.

And, it doesn’t always have to be physical products. World-renowned chef Jamie Oliver uses all of 15 seconds in his Instagram video to promote his TV show Jamie’s Money Saving Meals.

Product Launch

Videos are a great way to unveil a new product to the public and Vine and Instagram can be used for the same purpose to great effects. They create instant buzz and can be an inexpensive way to launch and market your latest product.

Jeni’s ice cream recently used Instagram video to announce the launch of a limited edition holiday sorbet – Feuerzangenbowle.

Meanwhile, Hewlett Packard, the technology corporation, created not only one but a series of Vine videos to promote its launch of new HP Office Jet Pro X printer.

Teasers for Products

If you want to create anticipation and get your audience excited about new products, Vine and Instagram can be the perfect medium to create video teasers and capture their attention. This strategy gets people talking about your brand and ensures that customers will revisit your social media websites in order to find more information about your products.

Taco Bell teased its customers with this clever Instagram video when it was launching its newest variant of Doritos Locos Tacos.

Rolling Stone magazine regularly uses this same strategy to give audiences a preview of the celebrity that will be featured on its next month’s cover.

How-to Videos

Another way to increase brand awareness and provide value to your customers is through creating helpful tips. Short and creative how-to videos showcasing unique ways in which people can use your products can be both very effective and popular.

Oreo uses this identical strategy and has managed to become a fan favorite on the social media scene. In this example, it uses a short clip to show how to make Oreo popcorn at home.

The how-to video doesn’t always have to be product related. You can also use it offer others simple helpful advice like Lowe’s does. Here, it shows users how to keep their plants warm in the winter with the help of bubble wrap and burlap.

Go behind the scenes

Providing behind the scenes videos of your company to your customers is always a good idea. It gets them to know your business on a more personal level and makes you seem more transparent and relatable. This is a very easy strategy that any company can use to their advantage.

Ben & Jerry’s uses Instagram to provide their followers with an exclusive behind the scenes tour into their flavor lab which shows how their products are made.

Meanwhile, Marc Jacobs uses Vine to take fans inside its store and shows off the stylish prints and patterns worn by its employees.

Celebrate the holidays

Getting into the holiday spirit and making fun videos is another way to promote your products on Vine and Instagram. These videos will resonate positively with fans that celebrate the holidays and will work towards increasing your brand awareness among people from various different backgrounds.

For Christmas this year, Lowe’s made this short and sweet video that also managed to showcase its products.

Similarly, Starbucks made this fun little video on Instagram that utilizes the Christmas theme but at the same time also promotes its coffee.

Engage Your Audience

Vine and Instagram can also be used as a platform to engage with your audience and get them to market your products. Businesses can do this by encouraging them to create a video using their product and share it under a unique hashtag.

UK’s online fashion retailer ASOS asks users to submit videos of them receiving ASOS packages under the hashtag #ASOSunbox and then features the best videos on its official account.

GoPro is another company that features its users’ videos on its Instagram account.

Run Video Contests

Another surefire way to increase customer engagement with your brand is to organize a video contest on Vine or Instagram. And, if you want your contest to generate lots of interest and engagement it helps if you choose a trending subject that interests many people.

Dunkin Donuts was one of the first brands to utilize Vine to organize a video contest. It asked the fans to “Create a Vine on how DD Iced Coffee puts a spring in your step” and the best video was to win a year’s supply of free coffee.

On Instagram, Virgin America created a contest where people needed to submit their best dance moves under a specific hashtag to win the grand prize, which was tickets to a Giants game.

Share sales and promotions

Every brand announces sales and promotions from their social media accounts. But, Vine and Instagram presents you with a rather unique medium to announce such promotions that sets your business apart and excites your followers.

Urban Outfitters uses Vine to show the collection of jeans that’s on sale on their website. It’s different, eye catching and an effective way of announcing sales.

Similarly, to promote their upcoming sale, Nordstrom created a great video to show a customer’s excitement for the sale in a fun way with an iPhone and a pair of sunglasses.

Secret coupon code

You can also reward your loyal fans with secret codes inside your Vine or Instagram videos. You can share either a promo code for online purchases, an SMS code or even a simple phone number for your customers to call to buy a product.

Peanut Butter Co. used Vine videos to share a six-second video that ended with a downloadable coupon. The clip went viral with more than 300,000 views and 6,000 coupon downloads.

Walgreen also used this strategy on Instagram video to great success. This video not only promotes the discount coupon but encourages users to download its Walgreen app as well. Two birds, one stone.

People might easily dismiss Vine or Instagram as a passing fad but the numbers don’t lie. And, for your growing business, these videos are a quick and inexpensive ways to market your products. You should definitely use it with your existing social media campaigns. Trust us. You’ll thank us later.

How are you using Vine or Instagram to promote your business? Post links to your best videos in the comments below…

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4 Ways to Simplify Your Blog Posts, and Why You Should

Think for a moment about some of the blogs you visit most often. How many of those do you visit primarily because you enjoy the writer’s style and way with words? How many of them do you frequent because they have good, easy-to-digest information?

4 Ways to Simplify Your Blog Posts, and Why You Should image TwainQuoteSome logophiles do spend much of their blog-reading time enjoying the wordplay of their favorite writers, but for most of us — and especially in a business setting — we visit blogs to find information, not to hang around.

Keep that in mind when you write. Focus on making the information in your posts easy to find so readers can get in, find what they want and get out. Do that consistently, and readers (and potential clients) will recognize your website as a good resource that doesn’t waste time.

Here are four ways you can simplify and streamline your writing.

1. Let strong verbs do more lifting

Strong verbs — like mollycoddle, tease and praise — not only transmit specific actions but carry with them connotations, emotional attachments and common perceptions, adding to the meaning of the sentence. On the other hand, weak verbs — like was, had and went — carry no attachments and rely on the surrounding text for their meaning.

Your sentences will require fewer words and will contain more information if you use strong verbs, and readers will spend less time reading and more time absorbing information.

A quick example. This paragraph is perfectly grammatical but doesn’t use many strong verbs:

To come up with ideas for long-tail keywords, think about what kinds of questions your customers might have. Chances are that many of the questions you come up with will contain long-tail keywords. Once you’ve created a list, check to see how much search volume each keyword gets.

Stronger verbs transmit more information in less space and make the text more interesting:

To brainstorm ideas for long-tail keywords, consider what kinds of questions your customers might ask. Long-tail keywords will be hiding in many of those questions. Once you’ve assembled a list, analyze each keyword’s search volume.

Remember: Verbs drive your sentences; don’t let them idle.

2. Segregate data and interpretation

I wrote about separating text and data not too long ago, and it boils down to this: Some readers want your data, and some want your interpretation of the data. Mixing data and interpretation together wastes both readers’ time, so put your hard data in charts and tables, and reserve your text for interpretation.

Remember: Whether readers come for numbers or words, make it simple for them to find what they want.

3. Don’t make words more intense than they need to be

An intensifier is a type of word (usually an adverb) that intends to turn the volume up (and sometimes down) on a word. Some of the most common intensifiers — and the ones that editors most often delete — are very, just and really. Do yourself and your editor a favor and get rid of them. They’re only wasting your readers’ time.

When you add an intensifier to a word, it means you’ve either chosen the wrong word or you’re trying to avoid making an explicit statement.

For example, instead of writing

Google stock would have been a very good investment, but I just didn’t have the confidence to really put my money behind it.

Write this instead:

Google stock would have been an amazing investment, but I lacked the confidence to commit.

Remember: You would rather have someone describe your writing as outstanding rather than very good, so don’t describe anything else that way.

4. Use clear headings

For readers who need only one specific morsel of information, clear headings help them home in on that morsel, negating the need to skim from the beginning of the post. Yes, witty, pun-liscious headings might win a few smiles, but if those headings come at the expense of usefulness, avoid them.

Remember: Your headings are a map. Some readers want to enjoy the drive from beginning to end; others just want to make a quick stop somewhere along the way. Keep both types of readers in mind.

Good content is streamlined

No matter how well you know your audience, you will never know what they want from a blog post on any particular visit. They could be browsing through, looking for useful posts to read, or they could be dropping in to retrieve a half-remembered statistic they saw during a previous visit. They could be careful readers, speed readers or skimmers. A streamlined post is accessible to all of these readers, not wasting a second of their time.

via Business 2 Community