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Monthly archives: January 2015

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    Despite its popularity, social media can still be intimidating and confusing, especially for small businesses. The most common reasons my clients aren’t doing social media are lack of time and resources or lack of understanding. Even marketing-savvy clients sometimes struggle with where to begin. Here are some key insights I regularly share with them:

    1. Do it right, or don’t do it at all

    If you’re not ready to commit to the best practices of social media engagement as part of a marketing strategy, consider skipping it completely. This just means starting small and doing a couple things really well rather than trying to do too much or not do a good job at anything.

    If you go too broad, lack valuable content or don’t maintain the channels, this will reflect poorly on the brand and could cause a negative customer interaction — the opposite of what you want. Even a small social media presence that’s done very well will still add value to your marketing portfolio.

    1. Always start with a plan

    If you don’t have a plan for using social media channels, you’re likely going to flounder or be quickly overwhelmed. A plan should include some goal setting, content ideation, media calendar, best practices for customer engagement and general posting practices. It should also include a budget to curate, collect, manage, write, review, post and manage information. he beautiful thing about social media is instantaneous feedback — you know what’s working and what’s not.

    You should have a plan and metrics in place to gather this information and make decisions from your findings. Knowing that plans may change and evolve throughout the year is an expected part of the process, but starting with a plan will give guidance and benchmarks to refer back to as you grow.

    1. Social media is an active relationship

    Along with creating the plan is managing the plan. Some clients don’t account for the time and resources it will take to manage their social media channels. Social media is not a “set it and forget it” tool like a print ad or TV commercial.

    It takes active, genuine engagement and interaction with customers to reap the benefits of the tool. Not only should social media be a dialogue with your consumers, it should also be an active dialogue within your company. Those who are managing social media channels should keep leadership updated on success stories, customer feedback, ideas and metrics of these tools.

    1. Start with leadership

    Gone are the days when you prepare a marketing plan in January and execute for the rest of the year. Things used to change on a monthly or weekly basis, based on sales, media metrics, online volume or consumer engagement data. Now they change on a daily, even hourly, basis. Leadership has to trust those people managing their social media channels to be engaged and responsive in a nanosecond, or the window of opportunity to be responsive will be closed.

    Red tape, executive reviews and long approval processes do not fit into the fast-moving world of social media, and most businesses have not adequately adopted new processes to accommodate the speed of execution. If your leadership team is still struggling to understand social media, how to use it, or why you should use it, then start small, share updates regularly and give your efforts time to prove their value.

    1. Know what you already have

    Understand your target customers and engage them in the right place at the right time with the right information. You cannot simply replicate what others are doing — not even your competitors. Social media content should be original, unique, relevant to the reader and align with your brand.

    Content can come in many forms, such as blog postings, articles, videos, photos, whitepapers, industry and company news, or exclusive content. You probably already have an arsenal of materials that you could post. They just need to be packaged properly for social media posts.

    1. Consider the channel

    When planning for social media content, think about what channel is being used and what message is being posted there. For example, Facebook may be a place where you post several times a week and could feature materials ranging from a newspaper article to team celebration photos.

    Don’t be afraid to get personal when appropriate since social media users expect a chance to see the human side of organizations. LinkedIn may be best suited for more credible content and thought leadership on various subjects related to your business or industry.

    1. Social media is evolving and nobody’s doing it perfectly

    Just when we think we understand social media channels and apps, a whole new breed of tools pops up overnight. The truth is, even the savviest firms feel the pressure to keep up and stay ahead. Even prominent companies that have been at the forefront of the social media movement have stubbed their toe a time or two — Apple, Kenneth Cole and even Facebook itself included among them. Learn from their mistakes and be willing to make a few of your own.

    Follow other companies that you like, both in your industry and outside, to see what they’re posting and to generate ideas for your own social media efforts. It’s never too late to get in the game!

    {This article was originally posted in the October 2014 Business Journals publication}

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    Get Your Wheels On: Your 2015 Plan To Stay On Track

    As most of you know, New Year’s resolutions dissipate about 30-45 days into the year. As such, I decided to take a different approach to my “resolutions” in an effort to make them less intimidating and more productive. As I began creating a list of goals for both my personal life and my business, I actually found the process to be refreshing and inspiring, so I thought I would share with other readers. Here’s how I prepared them:

    1. Start With The Name

    Mine are called “goals” this year – not “resolutions.” It’s a simple but significant detail. Goals are something we deal with in business all the time – something we strive for, something that makes us better, and something to accomplish. Not all goals are accomplished, but we can usually find a way to learn from that, adjust as necessary, and move on. The word “resolution” carries with it so much weight and priority that we can get lost in what we’re trying to accomplish when we mess up – we feel guilty and then give-up. “Goals” seems so much more manageable – call me crazy. Choose a title that speaks to you and will make you feel inspired and motivated when you refer back to your list.

    1. Keep Them Handy

    Part of making these goals “stick” is to keep them handy – the ability to refer back to them and track your progress. I wrote out all my personal and work goals and I’m keeping them in my favorite mini-binder that’s my roadmap for daily life. That way I know I will see these goals on a regular basis to review what I have signed up for. Visually seeing something you are committed to helps reinforce the path you’ve set – and also gives you a chance to actually cross stuff off the list that you may have completed – yay! Look for a high-visibility place to keep them – like your desk, bulletin board, refrigerator, or smart phone. Staying engaged and motivated = big win.

    1. Schedule Your Check-Ins

    I also added check-in dates to my calendar at the end of every quarter. I labeled them “Quarterly Goals Review” as a reminder to myself to take a peek and see how I’m doing. This is something I usually do for my business, but hadn’t thought about for personal goals. This will also be the time to update or modify goals as needed. It’s not a failure if the goal wasn’t accomplished – it’s a reminder that you’re on the right path and sometimes the path winds in different directions. You need to be open to such changes and adjust accordingly. If I was reviewing “resolutions” I think it’s more black and white, and likely listed as a success or failure. That motivates no one – and the momentum disappears along with it.

    1. Categorize

    I divided my personal goals into four categories that I found most relevant: Head, Heart, Health and Home. Each has 4-6 manageable goals and actionable tasks tied to it. I was very aware of not making the list too long and cumbersome – again the ability to manage and stay motivated is critical. This also helps you really focus and prioritize what you want to get done, which is important.

    Goals for my HEAD revolve around fueling my passions and feeding my intellectual curiosity – like being more disciplined about reading books. I made a plan with the books I’ve been meaning to get to, which also forced me be thoughtful about selecting books that will give me the most value and insight. It feels good to have a roadmap in front of me knowing that I will get to those books sometime this year and the schedule will keep me clipping along.

    Under my HEART section, I listed goals and actions that will make me a better human being, more compassionate and nurture my soul. One of my tasks is to work on being more patient – to be more accepting, forgiving and encouraging – especially of myself. My quarterly check-ins will be a good way to be honest about my progress.

    My goals in the HEALTH section need little explanation, but they are really important to all the other goals on my list – without a healthy body, the rest matter less. One of my goals is to go to bed earlier, which involves wrapping up work and home chores, allowing one hour of reading time before bed. It’s specific, actionable, and measurable. It also ties to one of my other goals, and has already been tremendously helpful – proof that good work and accomplishments are the biggest motivator!

    My final section is HOME which involves organizing papers and projects around the house. The goals I created are often in my head as “things to get around to,” but the new handwritten list is a regular reminder that I want to get these tasks completed and it provides a quick hit list of things to do with some extra time on a Saturday afternoon.

    I haven’t completed my business goal setting for the year, but I will be deploying the same process because it works for me and the manner in which I get things done. Please share ideas or feedback if you have something that works for you!

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