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What NOT to Do When Using Social Media for Your Business

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Using social media for business is not the same as using it personally. One insensitive post has the potential to ruin your business with negative coverage and a public backlash.

 

These are some of most common and damaging business social media mistakes:

 

Never build an audience that does not fit your ideal customer:

Your social media efforts should be focused on targeting your ideal customer and not those that don’t fit that profile.  Those managing your social campaigns must have a clear understanding of who is your ideal customer.  They need to execute a strategy that will appeal to and attract this specific group. Do not sacrifice your company’s overall marketing strategy for a few likes or shares from the wrong people. Doing so, will not generate revenues for your company and can generally harm to your reputation.

 

Never let an intern or consultant have free reign over your accounts:

As an established business, you have already spent time building your brand, your message and the proper tone for all your business marketing. Do not allow a temp ruin all your hard work with a bad post or poor idea. If you cannot handle your social media in-house, make sure that whomever you hire, has very specific guidelines on how to post for your business. Additionally, it is a good idea to make sure that you are the administrator and manager of all of your accounts.

 

Never delete bad reviews or complaints:

It doesn’t matter if the review or complaint is unfair, you do not want to remove it. Hiding negative feedback makes your company look like it is hiding something larger. Instead, use complaints as an opportunity to publicly fix problems. Just make sure that you are respectful and kind in your responses. Negative feedback coupled with a positive public response from your company can actually benefit your business.

 

Never ever argue or attack:

Complaints do happen.  Customers are occasionally unfulfilled by your offerings, or a customer can simply be having a bad day and your company ends as their target.  Do not under any circumstances publicly argue with or attack a customer. If you need to have a full discussion with an upset customer, always provide them a contact number or email address so that you can resolve the issue privately.

 

Never let pre-scheduled posts continue after a crisis:

This makes your company appear extremely insensitive. Cancel or postpone posts until a respectable amount of time has passed.

 

Never neglect the “voice” your company has carefully cultivated:

Your company’s online personality has been carefully crafted.   After you identify your ideal customer base, make sure your message appeals directly to them. Make sure that your posts will engage the right people with the right voice and message.

 

Never limit your posts to just promotional content:

You are a business and you are looking to sell something. Everyone knows that. Everyone is constantly bombarded with marketing messages that can become very annoying.  Mix it up with posts that are fun or more personal making sure they fit your company’s brand and ideal customer.

 

Never forget the purpose of the platform:

Social media is called SOCIAL for a reason. Ask questions, solicit feedback, and make sure to answer questions and comments directed to your company.

 

Never misuse a hashtag or meme:

Using trending hashtags is a great plan but only if these hashtags relate to your business. Don’t use trending hashtags or popular memes to attempt to insert yourself into a discussion that has nothing to do with your company.

 

Social media is a fantastic tool for building and interacting with a loyal customer base. It also helps your company stay relevant in today’s fast changing consumer landscape. However, the wrong moves can significantly damage your business and brand.  Do not allow these social media fails to create liability for your business when the right kind of meaningful social interaction is easy to do and offers real benefits for your business.

Tips to Maximize Social Media & Online Presence

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Social media has really taken the narrative control from the business and given it to the customer. There are simply too many options in today’s worldwide marketplace and those businesses that have learned to adapt are the ones that are going to continue to grow in our hyper-connected world. In reality, social media is a powerful tool that can drive business growth, but only when used correctly.

 

Regardless of the size of your business, here are 20 tips that will help to maximize your online presence:

  1. Make sure that your posts are not just informative but also interesting or playful. Additionally, make sure that your content is eye catching so that people will stop and look.
  2. Video is always the top dog on social media so try to pepper in videos as much as possible.
  3. Shine a spotlight on customers to show them how much you appreciate their business. Post customer testimonials and make sure that you respond to each and every one of them.
  4. Make your customers part of your business by encouraging them to photograph themselves using your products or services to share with their own followers.
  5. Make clever or funny memes that relate to your business.
  6. Insert yourself into a larger conversation by creating content related to a national holiday that everyone is already talking about.
  7. Make yourself an expert in your industry with tutorials or other educations videos.
  8. Put together an interactive series (video, calls, and/or web chat) to engage with your customers on a regular basis. Let them ask you questions and make sure that you give them compelling reasons to “attend” your sessions.
  9. Figure out what your customers are talking about and strategize how you can solve their problems or address what they are looking for.
  10. Launch limited time offers and exclusive discounts to your followers. Get creative with your giveaways to help grow your followers. Also, make sure that you tie your giveaways to other online events or promotions.
  11. Team-up with other like-minded businesses to offer better giveaways or promotions that help both businesses.
  12. Make sure to promote any of your business milestones. People want to have a personal connection with the businesses they give their money to make sure they can get to know you and celebrate with you.
  13. Go “live” and create hype around your new products, in-store events, tutorials, and more. These videos really help humanize your company as well.
  14. Use “stories” to boost your post to the top of people’s feed without having to pay for it.
  15. Make sure to follow up on any comments or complaints posted to you because they sought you out and are looking for a response from you so don’t disappoint them.
  16. Make it easy for someone to find, call, email, or order from you directly from your social media.
  17. Connect with and get involved with your local community. People feel good about buying from companies that care.
  18. Always remember to reward loyal customers. Create a database and send out periodic reminders for discounts for events such as birthdays or anniversaries.
  19. Put together a referral program that incentivizes people for referring customers.
  20. Utilize social media influencers to help generate buzz about your products or services.

 

Today, customers demand that companies notice and engage directly with them. Making your business more approachable and more open to your customers will really pay off in the long run. The easiest and least expensive way to do so is through good quality social media posts and diligent direct communication with your target audience. If you can make them feel like they are part of your business journey, they will not only come along for the ride but they will bring friends!

Rules for Social Media Success

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Social media is an integral part of most of our day to day lives. It seems like everyone is on social media from celebrities to businesses to everyday folks. As a business, if you want to succeed in today’s world, you must be on the social media platforms that target customers and you must learn how to use it properly.

 

Tips:

 

  • Have a specific goal

Social media is a great way to engage your customers.  If you run a business, it will also generate leads.   You need to specifically define your social media goals and select promotional techniques that will achieve it.

 

  • Select one platform

It is a great idea to have a presence on all social platforms that you think are relevant to your business.  To be truly successful on social media, you should select the one platform that provides you the best exposure and become an expert on that platform.

Every platform has its own unique target audience or users.  For example, LinkedIn is geared more towards working professionals, Yelp is better for the service industry, Pinterest is more targeted at the creative community, and so on. Select the one platform where you know your customers are and spend your energy on it. Learn the ins and outs of how that platform works, get to know the benefits and drawbacks, and truly attempt to connect with your audience there.

 

  • Get ready to pay for it

In today’s hyper-connected world, if you aren’t paying the platforms you simply will not gain the exposure you would like to have. You need to budget in social media ad campaigns.  Otherwise your information, and business, will become buried in the worldwide marketplace. The good news is that these types of campaigns don’t need to be super expensive. You only need to spend a few dollars a day to promote a post, tweet, or video and gain the following you are seeking.

 

  • Hire expert help

It is always best to hire an expert who specializes in the social platform of your choice. They can help you properly setup and run ad campaigns, measure the success of the campaign, target the correct people, and help make tweaks or suggestions for improvement. This is money well spent.

 

  • Be ready to fail

Typically, you will end up running multiple ad campaigns at the same time and most of which will fail miserably. That is ok, not every campaign will be a hit (even if you are paying a pro). You will need to try different tactics and methods to hone in on the ones that work the best for your offering. Do not be discouraged when the first few campaigns don’t go as well as you expect.

 

Gaining a loyal social media following that helps you grow your business is not quick or simple.  With the proper techniques and the right team, you can achieve your business goals. Make sure you are utilizing the correct platform, become an expert at it, hire the help you need so you can focus on the business side, and don’t be too discouraged if the results don’t come immediately.

 

By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Part 3

 

There are many challenges with any business, including a home-based business.  To help ensure your success, establish your brand, get the word out, and build your reputation Below are some tips for Branding and Marketing your Home-Based Business:

 

Identify your target market:

You are more likely to gain business if you have a clear idea of who your target customers are or will be. You need to research potential customers and determine who may be interested in your product or service, identify the specific demographic you want to reach, review your existing industry competitors, and identify the characteristics that you want to highlight about your products and services.

 

Make sure that the products or services you offer match the needs of your target clients. Find what makes your business stand out from your competition and highlight it. Determine how you will fulfill the promises you make to your customers and how you will you make them connect personally with your business. When you are able to help people relate personally to your business, they are more likely to gravitate toward your products and services.

 

Create an awesome website:

In our technologically advanced world, your business will need a unique URL (web site address) and user-friendly website that is mobile friendly. If you are web savvy you can certainly create your site yourself but hiring a professional to get it up and going is usually your best bet. A professional will know exactly what your site needs, help you write the site’s content, and make sure it is optimized for search engines.

 

Whether you hire a pro or you decide to go it alone you will need:

A domain name or URL name:

This is your site’s address on the Internet (i.e. google.com or amazon.com). Write out a list of 5 or 6 URLs you would like for your business, as your first choice may be already taken. It is best to select a domain name that is short, easy to remember and ties in with your branding. Avoid hyphens, special characters, or numbers.

 

A website host:

Your website will need to be located on a server or “host” in order to be viewed on the web. There are plenty of reputable web hosting companies out there. Do your research and choose the one you feel is right for you and your business.  If you plan to grow your business with online sales, make sure you select a company that has the capacity you will need as you grow. Try to avoid the cheapest options, they are cheap for a reason.

 

Put together your design:

The look and feel of your website should match your business and align with its goals. Choose colors that represent your company. Keep it consistent with any other marketing materials you have already created. Make sure to incorporate a compelling home page or landing page that captures your customers’ attention right away; use concise messages and make sure all photographs and visuals are of the highest quality; make sure that you are easy to find and use a navigational menu that helps your visitors move through your site with ease; avoid visual clutter and keep your content up to date; also make sure that you place strategic calls to action throughout your website (“sign up” or “subscribe” buttons placed in notable locations).

 

Set up your store and any online payment options (if necessary).

If you are selling products or services directly on your website, you will need to setup online payment options and connect them to your new website.

 

Last checks before launch:

Before you finalize and publish your website you will want to make sure that it loads as quickly as possible. You will also need to check and be sure that it’s mobile friendly as smartphones are increasingly used for online shopping. You want your website to be easy to use, accessible, and convenient for all your customers.

 

Create a matching blog and post regularly:

The blog ideally should be housed underneath your main website. Blogs are a great marketing tool for businesses as they help you enhance your social media presence, they help you establish yourself as an expert in your industry, they help increase your customer base, they increase your company’s visibility on the web, they help develop your brand, they help your brand build trust with your customers, they help you grow your email list, and they can be valuable for gaining better and more frequent customer feedback. Blogging can also help improve your business’s search engine optimization (SEO) by increasing your back linking, adding more frequent new content to your site, and increasing overall traffic to your website.

 

Create and regularly post to social media platforms:

Social media is a great way to market your business, website, and offerings to customers. Setting up an account is totally free and allows you to directly connect with you customers’ interests, opinions, preferences, and changing needs. Social media helps you increase your brand’s awareness, helps build your reputation, creates loyal followers, improves your SEO, and increases click-through traffic to your small business’s website (just make sure that all of your social media platforms link back to your website).

 

Collect email addresses and send out regular newsletters.

Newsletters are an awesome marketing tool to help you build trust and rapport with your customer base. They establish a regular communication channel that can lead to stronger business relationships. Use newsletters to showcase your expertise in your industry; share new products, services, or promotions; highlight your company, your employees, and your clients; you can also toss in a bit of humor or appropriate holiday posts to keep it interesting and not so focused on selling.

 

We encourage Veteran and Military Business Owners to join VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association.   There are not any dues or fees charged to our members.  Here is a link to join:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

 

Tips to Obtain Your First 1,000 Instagram Followers

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By Debbie Gregory.

LinkedIN Debbie Gregory VAMBOA VAMBOA Facebook VAMBOA Twitter

 

Starting out in social media for any business seems difficult but it really doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Building a large following takes time and effort but it should be fun. There are a few things that you can do to help increase your followers and below are some tips to obtain first 1,000 followers a bit more quickly.

 

  • Hashtags

Using popular hashtags is a great way to gain followers but the catch is the hashtag must be relevant to your business. Additionally, be sure to mix a variety of popular hashtags with some less popular hashtags so that you don’t simply get lost if there is a high level of competition for the tags.

 

  • Eye Candy

If your content is not interesting or visually appealing, people are not going to follow you. Invest some time and effort into the content that you post.  Take time and spend the money to have a professional photo shoot to build a library of high-quality photos to promote yourself on social media. Spur-of-the-moment smartphone photos are great occasionally but followers will be more willing to stay engaged if your content provides high-quality eye candy.

 

  • Engagement

Set aside a small amount of time everyday to engage with your followers such as liking their content, responding to comments, mentions, and private messages. This is also a good time to search for other accounts that you would like to follow. Simply liking a post is not going to cut it. Your like will get lost in the hundreds of other likes and will go unnoticed. Comments force interaction and tend to stay more visible.

 

  • Giveaways!

To build your following, consider a giveaway promotion. Many giveaways have multiple rules that help boost your account, reach, and engagement. Ask your followers to “Follow our account and tag two friends in the comments below.” By having people tag two friends, you will gain more attention and, hopefully, a lot of new followers.  Don’t add too many rules, make your rules clear, make sure to add an end date to the giveaway and keep on top of the promotion to engage those playing.

 

  • Account Setup

If are using a personal account for your business brand, we highly recommend changing it over to a business account. The business account provides you access to analytics and other benefits that are not available with personal accounts. If you are using a personal account and do not want to switch to a business account, make sure your personal account is set to public. This may sound obvious to some but you really need to make sure that your account is not private. Business accounts are automatically made public.

 

  • Instagram Insights

If you have a business account, you have access to Instagram Insights for your account. Instagram Insights doesn’t necessarily provide super in depth analytics, but it does give you basic information that can assist you in understanding your followers, their behaviors, and the best times to post for engagement.

 

In summary, gaining 1,000 followers will take time.  Remember to be patient, post consistently, post quality, and engage your audience!  Remember to leverage relevant hashtags, tag other brands and individuals, and consider hosting a giveaway. Taking these steps will help your account grow and boost your business.

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