Social Media Isn’t Your Problem

Social media isn’t your problem.  You think it’s your problem, but it really isn’t.  If someone sat you down and showed you how to set of a few platforms, upload videos and photos, schedule posts, ask for likes and comments, and return the favor, you could do it.  It is much simpler than what business owners imagine it to be.  Granted, it does require a little finesse, above average writing skills and time –obviously — but, social media isn’t your problem.  Knowing how to engage with social media… that’s your problem.

Be honest, how many of us thought that just setting up a Twitter account and a Facebook account was going to be enough for our business?  We thought if we had one or two pictures, the business contact info and a little somethin’-somethin’ about the business, people would visit and magically all on their own, convert themselves from visitors to customers.  How well did that work out for us?

First off, “enough” is the word we never want to use in business.  Businesses that are doing just enough are going out of business.  So, let’s unwrap our heads around this idea of “enough”.  Secondly, treat social media like a person.  A person who we are conversing with — well, in person.  Aside from the spam bots, there are people out there behind those profiles, likes and comments.  Talk to them as if they were sitting right across the way.  Social media and online marketing are such a staple in conversations for businesses that I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I bring it up.  But so many business owners — home kitchen chefs, garage engineers, bathroom mixers, attic artists, and back yard scientists — are not even giving their ideas and businesses a chance because they’re failing to use social media the right way.

LinkedIn — Don’t just accept or extend an invitation to connect.  Communicate.  Yeah, we may have over 500 connections, but if you don’t message, endorse or share worthwhile information, then those 500 plus connections are meaningless.

Google + — Yeah, many of us have added someone or something to a circle, but what does that mean?   What makes that circle and those group of people special or relevant?  Get personal and personalize.  Not everyone wants the same thing even if it’s from the same company.

Twitter — Just about everyone and their mama has a Twitter account.  But it sucks when people start un-following us and we have no idea why.  Maybe you’re not conversing enough or at all!  Twitter is all about the conversation.  So get to talking.  Ask questions, answer questions, search what your customers are looking for and share — again — useful info.

Facebook — The Godfather of social media, right?  If that’s case, then this is the social media we should be crafty with.  Visually.  If we don’t know exactly what to share on Facebook, log on into our personal account and see what our friends are sharing and reading.  Then see what their friends are sharing and reading.  We’ll find memes, photos and videos dominate Facebook.  So, get visual but remain informative.

Social media isn’t the problem, it’s all about how well we use it for our business.  If you took the time to build the business, take time to market the business.

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The Tortoise and The Hare

You’ve heard of Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare.  The hare was faster but cockier and the tortoise won because, as the moral of the story pointed out, slow and steady wins the race.  Let’s think about that for a second.  Slow and steady.  Really?  Slow and steady wins the race?!  I don’t know what Olympic 100 meter dash Aesop ever watched, but slow and steady never got anyone the gold.  But, fast and reckless usually gets you no where quick, so which of the lesser evils is really worth our time?  What’s the method here?  Fast and reckless or slow and steady?

I don’t necessarily believe in those overnight successes.  One day a couple of friends had a great idea for a business and the next day, there in the millions with revenue.  Wow, right?  Not saying it isn’t possible, just highly improbable.  Look at Amazon and how long it took Jeff Bezos to get it where it is today.  Yet, working at an even pace, opportunities are going to pass you by because you’re too focused on maintaining speed — “maintaining”, when the core of business is anything but.  The tortoise didn’t win the race because he was slow and steady.  He won the race because he was persistent.  He never deviated off the path.  When the hare stopped to shoot the breeze — yeah, I’m paraphrasing here, I know — the tortoise kept going.  He never stopped forging ahead.  I’m taking the fable and making it more cliché, I know, I know, but go back and re-read the story.  Google it online.  When did the tortoise ever stop?  When did the tortoise ever get side-tracked or goof off?

Tortoise and the Hare

Better yet — let’s look at this from the hare’s perspective.  Yeah, he didn’t win because he knew he could and was kind of showing off.  I think he even took a nap while the tortoise was catching up.  And as a result, he lost.  But that’s not to say he didn’t finish.  He got to the end of the race too, just last (you really can’t call is second place if there’s only two participants).  He had the speed, the capability and plenty of time. He just didn’t manage them as wisely (how often do some of us do that, HELLO!). I’m gonna keep reiterating this.  The tortoise won, but the hare finished.   Technically, it can be said that both finished.  The prize for winning was just getting there first.  But what the’s point of being first?  MySpace came before Facebook, yet who’s number one now?

Decide if you’re more like the tortoise or the hare.  Some of us know we got the chops to get the job done, we just don’t always discipline ourselves well enough to be ahead of the game.  Fair enough, we need better will power, we can admit to that.  While the rest of us are path-driven.  We know where we’re supposed to be and where we need to end up.  That’s all that matters.  And as long as we focus on staying the course, we’ll get to where we wanted to be.  It’s a bit of a tunnel vision problem.  But, then what?  We’re first.  Doesn’t mean we’re the best or that we even matter?  We’re just first.

So, again, are you the tortoise or are you the hare?

Driving Traffic To Your Business Blog

I love it when I read articles that share “secrets” about how to gain more followers, become an influencer or expert in your industry or drive traffic to your website or business blog.  But have you noticed that all the secrets sound the same?  Like you’re getting the same information from every resource, every article or link — and none of really tells you how.  ‘Write compelling content’, ‘Ask questions’ and ‘Engage with everyone who writes, comments, follows’ or whatever.  Okay, check and check.  But nothing’s changed.  Now what?  Now you stop listening to the same stupid advice.

I’m more concern with driving traffic to my business blog because if people like what I have to say and share, they’ll find me and my business on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and wherever else I’m present.  But how do we drive to your business blog?  We gotta be stuck to social media like white on rice, but only for no more than an hour a day –everyday (until it can passively drive traffic on its own).

Good content will get noticed, but how does it get noticed?  YOU have to share it first.  Share it on your Google + profile, share on Facebook.  Join LinkedIn groups and share it there as a discussion topic.  Crawl up everything social media site you have time for (which hopefully not more than 10 sites unless you’re social media marketer, then that’s different) and get noticed.   If you’re asked to give a description, take a piece of the article or blog you’ve written and make that the description. Sites like BlogEngage, BizSugar and StumbleUpon are great for that.  It doesn’t require you to think up something new to say and gives the reader a piece of the blog enticing them to read further on.  When your blog hits your Facebook Page, share it from your Facebook page to your personal page.  Be proud of it.  You wrote it, own it.  And make sure to invite friends to like your Facebook page too.    On Twitter, share your link to your blog in conjunction with someone’s else that’s similar to your topic with their name in the tweet.  People like seeing their name mentioned and will retweet it.  Which means their followers will see your blog link too.  On BizSugar, go ahead and submit your blog or article.  Then turn around and comment on at least 5 other submitted blogs that are interesting to you.  You’ll notice that you’ll get some comments back and some views on your blog site as a result.

You can continue to listen to the same advice with the same empty gaps of information that leaves you confuse as to why how.  Or you can really do the leg work that will return results.  Understand you’re not going to get a 1,000 views right off the back (or hey, maybe you will, who knows), you have to build an audience that wants to return and read what you have.  And these are the best techniques to position your business blog to have that effect.

 

Are We Taking Lessons From Our Elders?

Has technology given us the mindset, ‘out with the old and in with the new’?  Just because it’s the latest craze or a rising trend, is it better?  Is everything digital better because it’s where business seems to be going?  Have we taken any of the important lessons from the generation of business owners before us?  And before them?

It’s common and arguably normal for this generation of business owners to hop on the band wagon and coast our way from app to touchscreen to social media.  Everyone’s using it so it must be where we need to plant ourselves and our businesses, right?  After all, why would sites like Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn boasts about how many active millions of users they have if it wasn’t for our attention?  And it’s not just social media sites that keeps bombarding us with what’s new and happening.  What about all these wonderful sites that can solve this or organize that for us?  Digital offsite storage, mobile accessibility to documents, online video meetings with clients and employees –we’ve got it all!  There’s almost nothing we can’t do away from our office or on the go.  So how in the world did earlier generations of business owners take care of business?

Everything seems much easier these days because all we have to do is slide our finger across a screen or push a button and let the magic unfold.  We let machines take care of it.  Not too long ago, people were the machines (there were computers back in the day, but they were hideous and bulky) and they were also the magic.  They got the ball rolling and took care of business and it wasn’t at the push of the button.  They kept it simple and worked with what they had:

  • They stretched every dollar and reused everything they could to make it last longer and go further.  Nothing was wasted.
  • They kept in touch with their customers and clients in the most meaningful way: calling or hand written notes/ letters.  Nothing like hearing the sound of another person’s voice.
  • They hunted for deals.  Rather than spend their hard earned dollars on what was new, they looked for the better deals, things that worked for what they need and would hold up.
  • They tapped into their networks for additional resources (this still hasn’t gone out of style).  We never really know who we know who might know where to get what we need or knows of someone who knows where to get it.  Short version:  We know someone who’s linked to what we need.
  • They understood value.  The value of their money, the value of their service, product, time, customer, customer’s time and information.  Anything they saw as a benefit was of value.  And they appreciated it.

Before we throw ourselves at the next big thing thinking it’s going to take our business to heights we’ve only dream about, take a lesson from those who mastered and grew their business without all the bells and whistles.  Much of the time, we just have to keep it simple.

So Instagram Wants to Sell Your Photos

If you don’t use photos or photo sharing social sites like Instagram for your business, then you probably could care less about this news.  And rightly so.  But if you’re in the business of taking photos, or using personal photos for your company, this is somewhat a slap in your face.  And small business owners are a little tired of getting pushed around.

But before everyone starts rushing to delete their account, let’s look at this rationally.  If millions of users delete their account in response to te latest news that Instagram is granting itself the right to sell its users’ photos before the January 16th date, in which this policy is suppose to take effect, then Instagram has pretty much shot itself in the foot.  And if they don’t have millions of accounts to pull from to offer bigger busineses and organizations for photo purchases, they’ve loss both the supply and demand (ideally).  No more ‘muss’, no more fuss.

Back to the little guys.  Would we be charged a fine or penalty for using our own photos because we didn’t purchase it from Instagram and acquired written permission?  Could we be subject to face copyright infringement issues for using our own work?  When would we be notified that someone or some company has purchased a photo we took?  And could we use that transaction for promotion  and advertising to our benefit (since we’re not getting a check)? 

Now that Instagram has figured out a way to profit on everyone else’s contribution, what is the best option for businesses, freelancers, and the self employed who uses Instagram as tool for operation, marketing and exposure?  Well, we  could hold out as long as we can to see if Instagram will fine tune their policy about selling our photos without compensation or notification.  And if not, delete.  The only one who should profit off our work (time, energy, contribution, etc.) is us.

 

 

Be The First One Or Have A Lasting Impression

It’s not always important to be the first one.  It’s important to be the first one that comes to mind.

Think about some of the biggest social media platforms many of us use today.  Which would you say was the biggest social site that millions of people were using at any one time to share stuff with others and connect with friends?  MySpace.  Which social media site now boasts about having one billion users?  Facebook.  Who started first? MySpace.  And despite their IPO debacle, which site is still flourishing with visitors, postings and uploads?  Facebook.

So ask yourselves again, is it important to be first or the first one that comes to mind?

Many business experts say how necessary it is to create something original, have an idea that no one has done or tried before.  However, none of our ideas are as original as we think they are.  They are built on the foundation and ideas of others but are just construed to fit our own unique vision.  Take the smart phone.  What was it predecessor?  The cell phone.  And what came before that?  The cordless home landline.  And if we were to continue this time travel trip, the rotary phone and the operator (and now-a-days, an operator is one of the few live people we talk to after we get sick of the automated customer service).  We’ve gone from having to crank the numbers around with our fingers to simply tapping the screen to make a phone call.  That’s not including the thousands of available applications that keep us  connected to everything.

 Apply this same perspective to your individual ventures.  Now,don’t go out and take other people’s ideas (there is a little thing called copyright infringement).  But think about what it is that you could do better that will leave a lasting impression in your field.  Yes, MySpace is still around and so is Bebo and Hi5 (for those of you that remembered those social sites too).  But it’s Facebook that’s make the splashes and created a ripple effects.  Most of us, if not all of us, are in industries where someone or some company is producing the same product or offering the same service, whether they came first or we did.   It’s up to us to be the first one that comes to mind.

Are You Working Your Small Business Blog?

Just about every small business owner knows the value of social media these days, whether or not we’re willing to jump on the band wagon.  As small business owners,  we know we can use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to share and engage with our clients.  We can share anything and everything from photos, videos, specials, discounts and upcoming products and/ services.  We can even respond to our customers’ feedback in real time getting a better understanding of how a client really benefits from our products or services.  But these tools are easy to self teach and quite often, we have to.  But of all the tricky social media tools available to us, the most seemingly daunting one is blogging.

There are dozens on top of dozens of articles, if not more, that discuss how important blogging is for any small business out there.  It’s a tool that will allow you to develop a community of people in your industry or target market.  It’s an instrument you can wield to showcase your knowledge and build you niche.   And, it is another platform that be can utilize in making important connections, not just with the people we’re supplying business to, but other small business owners and entrepreneurs.

We know we need a blog and we know we need to blog.  If’ it’s your first time blogging, don’t overwhelmed yourself.  Make is simple, make it honest.  Who are you and what are you providing in your blog.  Many experts and experienced bloggers will tell you, your business blog should provide value to your readers.  In others, don’t make the blog about your business all the time.  In fact, don’t make it about the business half of the time.  Make it about the customer, their needs, their problems, and ideally, a solution.    But this, we already know, or should know or are getting to know.  Keep in mind, prospect and current customers aren’t the only individuals reading your business blog.  So are other business owners (you know, when they have the time to read).

So often, small business bloggers will take all the correct and necessary steps in building a blog.  They’ll set up a blog, set a schedule, consistently write posts and articles on interesting topics they are familiar with, if not an expert on, and publish it.  But that’s not it.  Yeah, you may have done your homework, interviewed some  folks, wrote a really intelligent and engaging post, but it still falls short.  Why?  Well, one of 2 reasons.  One, you may have not linked your blog to any other social media tools you also use.  Or two, you may not have allowed readers to follow or share your posts.  What good is spending the time to write your blog  if you are the only reading your magnificent piece?

So, SHARE.  And give others the opportunity to share.  Set up a Pinterest account, link your blog to Twitter Facebook, maybe even a secondary blog site.  Add it to Google+.   And don’t forget to comment on other business blogs.  Why?  Because it allows people to find you and read your blogs.  That includes liking and following other bloggers too.  You gotta give a little to get a little.

Here’s a simple call to action:  Continue to write your wonderful informative pieces for your business blog.  If you don’t have buttons for people to like or share your blog posts, get them.  If you don’t have accounts with those buttons for people to like or share your blog posts, get them as well.  Again, don’t overwhelm yourself, but put your business out there.  Next, turn around and find 5 other bloggers who you think have written great articles on their related business topic.  And tell them.  Tell them with a like, tell them with a StumbleUpon, tell them with a tweet, a comment or a follow.  Or even tell them with your blog.

Make your small business blog work for your small business.