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Friday, October 30, 2015

How to use social media to create happy employees

Did you know companies with happy employees outperform their competition by 20 percent?

LinkedIn has carried out research to say that 58 percent of employees are proud of their company and are glad to tell others about it, especially on social media.

This is great news, as happier employee’s means happier customers, because they pass on their energy & passion in everything they do, including customer support.

But how can you create happy employees on social media?

In this article, we will go over six ways your business can create happy employees on social media that will help to boost your productivity, customer support & employee satisfaction.

1. Embrace your company culture

The first thing your business needs to do to create happier employees on social media is to embrace its company culture. This means sharing a culture in the office that supports your company’s vision and values.

Part of showcasing this culture involves spotlighting your employees. This not only helps your employees to feel valued, but also shows others outside the organisation what the company is like to work for and attracts those who share the same vision.

Here are some ideas to help you out:

Share content of the office environment
Share behind the scenes access of what your employees are working on (with approval)
Share new ideas your employees have come up with for the business
Share facts about your employees
Share events & special occasions that happen within the company
Here’s how Shortstack have embraced their company culture & shared a special occasion in their office when one of their employees had just got engaged.

2. Empower Employees

A happy employee is one who feels appreciated by the company for what they do and their contributions. On social media, a great way to show your employees this appreciation is to empower them to make key decisions in the customer’s best interest.

When communicating with customers on social media – especially with support – this means giving your employees the freedom to resolve the customer’s issue in their own way. Of course your employee will still be following company guidelines, but they are now able to add their own personality and flair to enhance the experience.

This helps to reduce response times and increases efficiency, as the employee is not waiting for approval. This also allows employees to then create a unique experience for the customer that they did not expect. This positive experience leads to increased word of mouth, trust, and loyalty.

Here’s how the resort Gaylord Opryland created an unforgettable experience for one of their customers by empowering their employee to take action by surprising her with two spa radios while she was at a conference.

3. Spotlight Employees

Another great way to value your employees is to encourage them to share their thoughts and expertise with your social media community. After all, the company has done the hard work in training them, now it’s time to have a little faith in the job they’ve done.

You can achieve this on social media by giving your employees the spotlight and allowing them to showcase their expertise and personality through content creation on your social channels. You can also give them creative job titles in line with their personality to let them really own the process (i.e., Chief of Customer Awesomeness).

However, you want to make sure before they create any content that it is in line with the company’s culture & values.

This is not only a great way to please your employees, but it also helps them to get more involved with the company and its goals. Here are some ways you can get your employees more involved on your social channels today:

Live Q & A via video or status update
Give them an opportunity to blog
Share their new ideas & thoughts with your community

Here’s how Post Planner have adopted this practice and spotlighted one of their employees, allowing them to share their expertise on their blog.

4. Establish Clear Communication

Having clear communication is key to creating happy employees on social media, as this helps to streamline their tasks & increases efficiency.

Open communication means the employees should be able to communicate with all departments or individuals in the company, which helps them to escalate queries or tasks that need approval to the correct individual or team without any delay.

One way to establish this is to create an escalation policy. This is simply a document that will outline the key contacts and their job roles in each department or team.

Having open communication on social media also means the company should be transparent with their employees about any developments and their vision. This means letting employees know about all changes, news, events, or even launches.

Having this transparency in the company helps to build employee trust, as they know exactly what to expect from the company, rather than hearing it elsewhere online.

5. Do Not Micromanage

Trust the employees in the organisation to carry out their roles effectively, which means not micromanaging every task they do.

It’s understandable that companies want to protect their reputation on social media, and therefore want to approve all comments and content. However, adopting this practice actually uses up more resources, wastes time, and becomes counter-productive.

To create employee happiness in your company, you want to give employees the freedom to carry out their role to the best of their ability. This means giving them the freedom to engage with your community on social media.

This is a great way to build rapport with the company as well as humanise the brand, as it allows the social media community to get to know the employees in the process, which also helps to develop those long-term relationships.

To ensure everyone in the company is on the same page, the best way to start this process is to create a social media policy so all employees are aware of best practices on the company’s social channels.

Here’s how Best Buy have adopted this approach by giving their employee the freedom to talk with fans:

6. Welcome Feedback

It’s not enough to just listen to the views of your employees to create a happier workforce. The secret truly lies in taking action on the feedback they provide about your social media community.

Your employees offer the company the perfect way to get direct feedback on how well your company is performing on social media. They engage with fans and customers on a daily basis and are therefore able to gather insights and feedback on what is working and what can be improved.

Taking action on this feedback is the perfect way to not only show your employees you value their contribution and opinions, but to also allow you to find new ways to innovate & engage your social media community.

This method is far more effective than carrying out market research, as it allows the company to gather feedback in real time. A tip here is to collect this feedback from your employees on a regular basis to help ensure you keep up with demand & the latest changes on social media.

Friday, October 23, 2015

The 4 Worst Tips I Got When I Started My Business

I started my company, Headbands of Hope, as a college student. Having zero business experience, I leaned on outside advice to get started and all my questions answered. During this time, I received some of the best advice that I’ve carried with me since then. A lot of the success we’ve had today is because of the incredible people who lent their voice and expertise to help build my vision.

But with so many people talking in your ear, there’s bound to be some bad advice. I didn’t know it at the time, but below are four pieces of advice I’m glad I didn’t listen to:

1. Start with funding.

A business professor told me to start talking to investors and get funding to start my business. Instead, I did everything I could to be as frugal as possible and use my own money to grow organically. Looking back, I’m so glad I didn’t jump at the idea to give up equity so early, especially when I didn’t need it.

I started with minimal inventory and as we got bigger, was able to buy more.

There are a ton of businesses where funding is a necessity in the beginning, but really take a good look at your idea to decide if yours is one of them.

2. Find a partner.

I came up with my idea by myself through a summer internship. One piece of advice I got was to find a partner who I trusted to go in with me on the business. A lot of great businesses are run by partnerships, but I don’t think it’s a necessity to a successful company. If anything, I really enjoyed being 100 percent in control and building my idea exactly the way I envisioned it.

Having a business partner can be great for productivity but if it’s not there, don’t force it.

3. Have an exit strategy.

Before I even made my first sale, I was asked what my exit strategy is. I haven’t even started, and I’m supposed to know how I’m going to finish? I had goals and dreams for the business and where I wanted it to go in the future, but I didn’t have an answer to if or when I wanted to sell it.

One of the biggest mistakes I see entrepreneurs make is using the potential sale of a company as a primary motivator. If the heartbeat of your business is to eventually cash out, then your decisions are based on that and not your values or customers.

Focus on creating the best company you can. If you end up selling your business down the road then that should be just the cherry on top of your career.

4. Don’t dream too big.

I remember sitting in another business professor’s office and telling him about my idea of a socially-responsible company that gives headbands to kids with cancer. He asked what my dream was for the business. I told him I wanted to be the leading headband company and eventually donate headbands to every children’s hospital in the U.S. (which we just completed a month ago).

The professor told me I needed to think smaller and more realistic. He suggested I think of Headbands of Hope like the LIVESTRONG bracelets -- a one to two year fad with only one style of headband and then call it a day.

Today, we have over 100 items and are releasing new designs monthly. We’re in more than 300 stores across the U.S. and Canada and have a booming ecommerce site.

I understand he wanted me to simplify my idea and be more “realistic.” But I try to keep my reality close to my dreams instead of separating the two.

As an entrepreneur, almost everyone feels compelled to tell you how to run your business. No matter if this is your first business and you’re starting with a blank slate (like I did) or you’re a serial entrepreneur, it’s important to be open to ideas, but also tp develop a filter for the pieces of advice that should be let go.

Facebook Adds Public Posts To Search, More Frequent Updates May Be Coming

Facebook has announced some incremental search improvements and a new “channel” for its newsroom (Search FYI) that will provide updates on the evolution of search at Facebook. This suggests to me that we’ll be seeing more “search activity” going forward.

In a blog post announcing the improvements, Tom Stocky, Facebook’s VP of Search, said that the company sees “over 1.5 billion searches per day and over 2 trillion posts in our index.”

Facebook said that as of today users will see or be able to:
  • More timely and more personalized search suggestions (There apparently will be a real-time dimension to the suggestions, as with big stories or news events) 
  • The ability to search public posts, as well as friends’ posts (In December, the company rolled out the ability to search friends’ posts) 
  • Search public conversations

About the latter item, Facebook said, “When a link gets shared widely on Facebook, it often anchors an interesting public conversation. Now there’s a new way to quickly dive into that discussion. With one tap, you can find public posts about a link, see popular quotes and phrases mentioned in these posts, and check out an aggregate overview of sentiment.”

These updates are going to be first available in (US) English for iOS, Android and the PC. It’s mostly about mobile, however, which drives 87 percent of daily active usage and 76 percent of ad revenue (Q2).

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Social Signals & Search – Reading the Tea Leaves

Social media is a focal point for brands. One of the most compelling reasons is because their marketing team, agency and/or consultants have convinced them that being social is required to compete.
Brands are also pursuing social because search engines are paying attention to social signals.
This leads to two important questions:
  1. Do social signals matter to search? The simple answer is yes.
  2. How important are social signals in search? This is the burning question many are attempting to answer.
Due to the nature of search, there is more speculation than definitive direction on how search engine algorithms are weighing social signals in search. So, as with any other new trend, we're left to dissect the information available to us and interpret it as we do for any other aspect of search. So, let’s take a look at what we have to work with.

Google and Social Signals

Google launched “social search” in 2009. Although Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts hasn't written about social signals as part of Google Plus Your World since January 2012, there is evidence that Google is paying close attention to social signals, on and off Google properties (Google+, YouTube, etc.).

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How to Generate Quality Traffic With Display Advertising

For a few years it seemed that “display advertising” had become something of a dirty word for many in the Internet marketing community.

Perhaps they only tested contextual targeting on the Google Display Network (GDN) – throwing a few keywords up and hoping for the best? Maybe they tried some large buys from a demand side platform (DSP) and didn’t see the best ROI? Or maybe they signed on with a self-service DSP only to find the platform was confusing and lacking in features?

Whatever the case, there are so many options available for display advertising that you should be out there testing.

Google is pushing the envelope with their offerings on the GDN. But that is just one display network! Peel back the curtain and you will find a big world of networks, DSPs, and remarketing services – all of them offering their own special sauce of algorithms, self-service platforms and generally raising the bar for the entire industry.

Google AdWords – Google Display Network (GDN)

The GDN is the most well-known display network given that it is a part of the Google AdWords platform. However, the consensus among an alarmingly high percentage of advertisers is that GDN doesn’t work. My gut instinct is that the advertisers crying the loudest know the least about how to leverage the range of GDN features to target their customers.

So, if it has been a while, here is a sampling of the myriad ways you can tweak GDN campaigns to generate quality traffic – and yes, conversions:
  • Contextual Targeting: This is the basic foundation of the GDN. Input some keywords that are relevant to your product or service, and Google will match your ads to websites. This is where a lot of advertisers stop. But you have to dig deep. Segment your keywords. Google has given us the ability to bid on individual keywords. Review placement performance reports and exclude poor websites. Add demographic settings to gain another layer of relevancy.
  • Placement Targeting: Cherry-pick the websites that are most relevant and/or convert the best. Layer on keywords, demographic settings for even more detailed targeting.
  • Topic/Category Targeting: Need to increase your ad reach? Try Topics or Categories relevant to your product or service. This will open you up to a much larger portion of the GDN. Be sure to control performance with site exclusions, keyword targeting, and demographic targeting.
  • Remarketing: Where do I start? The possibilities are endless! Tag your website and landing pages. Segment those visitors into audiences. Create targeted ads. Voila! – watch the conversions come in!
  • Search Companion: Bridging the gap between search and display, Search Companion is a unique feature for the GDN. You create a campaign leveraging keywords you would normally target on search. Google will cookie anyone searching for those keywords on Google.com – regardless of whether they click your ads. You can then target ads to those searchers on the GDN. This is an extremely relevant way to run display ads!
  • RLSA: Otherwise known as “remarketing lists for search advertisers.” This is another way Google is bridging the gap between search and display. RLSA functions like typical remarketing, adding a cookie to anyone who visits your website. However, instead of triggering ads on display, your ads are remarketed to these visitors on Google.com. Unfortunately, this beta test is closed. Ask your Google rep for more details.
  • Similar Audiences: Already running remarketing? Great! How can you gain even more impressions, clicks, and conversions? Run ads on audiences that are similar to your existing remarketing audiences. Google reviews your audiences and will match you to an audience that expands far beyond those visitors who have already been to your website.

5 Ways to Use Video to Connect With Customers


You’ve probably noticed the surge in online video. It’s being touted as the hottest content marketing trend, Harlem Shake videos have saturated the Web and it makes us all wonder if more video isn’t just what we need to stand out.

But there’s a difference in seeing the power of video and truly using video to push your brand further and make it more connected.

I sit in a lot of conversations about online video. It’s not only something I’m particularly interested in, but it’s something my agency considers a core and beloved part of our marketing mix. So I’ll admit, sometimes when I hear the current conversation about video I get a little stabby. Because while marketers are starting to understand how great video is, they’re not truly using it.

It’s time to push your video marketing to the max. Sure, video is a great vehicle for those unboxings, the product views, and your customer testimonials, but that’s not all video is capable of.
Below are five different ways to use video.

1. To Recognized Your Audience

Have you heard of Vsnap? If not, it’s a tool that allows you to record short video messages to share with your audience. The company views these video snapshots as a way for businesses to feel and act more human. And you know what? Vsnap actually practices what they preach.
  • Every time someone follows Vsnap on Twitter, community manager Trish Fontanilla sends them a video recognizing them and saying thanks.
  • When one of their community members tweeted they were having a bad day, Trish sent him a video message to cheer him up.
  • (If someone is chatting about them on Twitter, Trish will hop into the conversation and say hello when it’s appropriate, of course).
She’s actually become a little Internet Famous simply by using video to connect with the company’s friends and users. These videos may only take :30-:60 to create, but they show users Vsnap thinks they matter.
Using video for customer support or just to say “thanks” may not be scalable or appropriate for every business, but when can you use video to be more human?
Maybe it’s a video sent at the end of an event you’ve hosted where you thank people for attending and invite them to keep in contact. Maybe it’s a video message when someone completes their first order. Or their 10th. Or after they’ve left an impactful blog comment. Look for opportunities to be human.

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Friday, February 15, 2013

Matt Cutts on Finding Untrustworthy Links, Why Google Won't Kill Toolbar PageRank

After the rollout of the Penguin algorithm in April 2012, the infamous unnatural link warnings were sent by Google. It quickly became clear to SEO professionals that they would need to delete or dilute to comply with Google’s webmaster guidelines. But one question has plagued the industry ever since: “how do I know which links to remove?”

matt-cutts-webmaster-video-2013Google has released two new videos in its popular Webmaster Help series that shed new light on a couple of hot topics in the SEO industry: how to you identify unnatural links and why Google wont switch off the PageRank Toolbar feature.

Identifying Unnatural Links

A new video by Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts announces that Google will soon begin supplying example links that were detected as being untrustworthy.
“A feature that we’re working on and that we are in the process of rolling out, which I’m pretty excited about, is that we will basically give you examples. So as we’re building the incident, whenever a webmaster analyst is saying 'OK, these are links not to trust,' we’ll include an example link. You might get one, you might two, you might get three, but basically it will give you an idea of the sorts of links that we are no longer trusting.”

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A Guide to Getting Started With Analytics

Search Engine Watch covers a lot on the topic of analytics. From using Advanced Segmentation to get a better idea of you “not provided” and “not set” traffic to a wide array of specific subjects that are invaluable for advanced users.

Google Analytics
However, this post is intended for people who aren't sure where to start or specifically what the data means. This article will cover analytics from a beginner's perspective with explanations of five core areas, how to get to them, and what to look at while you're there.

Google Analytics is our analytics platform of choice for this post, though most solid analytics software will have similar functionality – you'll just have to hunt it down.

Need help with Google Analytics installation? Google covers how to install it here.

We'll start from the Google Analytics dashboard for your site.

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Make Content Marketing Work: 3 Tips to Activate Your Top Influencers

We discover, consume, and share digital content in radically different ways than we did five years ago. This fundamental change has been driven by the rapid adoption of social media and mobile devices.
Social media is both a content filter and a distribution channel. We discover and consume more content than ever because of social media.

What’s more, as people engage with and share this content with others, it sends strong signals to the search engines that improve its position in search engine results, which increases the content’s reach significantly.
In conjunction with social media’s impact on content discovery, the smartphones and tablets we carry around with us have expanded the time and spaces in which we read, watch, and share this content.

The net result of these changes is that we have more content to consume and more time to consume it in. Sounds like a win-win for consumers and marketers right?

Not so fast. The new reality is that the firehose of content consumers receive is highly filtered and curated through the digital connections consumers trust whether they be friends and/or subject matter experts. Look at your Facebook newsfeed or Twitter stream for examples of this.

Making your message stand out in the stream of content rolling past your target audience is a major challenge. So although we might be spending more time consuming and sharing content, marketers’ access to that time is increasingly limited.

In response to this disruption and the opportunities it creates for marketing through social media and search, content marketing is a hot topic among digital marketers these days. Content marketing involves creating unique content and driving discovery, engagement, and distribution of it through a combination of organic and paid channels.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Combining Content Marketing, Conferences & Viral Content In 3 Simple Steps

As conference season approaches and content marketing receives more attention from marketers, combining content and conference strategies is of increasing importance to us all. My last article touched upon the importance of holistic content marketing strategies across all online marketing disciplines.

With SES London just a few days away, these tips can help you best make use of content marketing strategies in line with your event strategy.

Content Marketing Meets Demand Generation At Conferences

When people plan for events and conferences many people think first about specific event strategy – demand generation, networking, exhibit space, and sales goals. Conferences also provide an ideal environment to leverage creative content and align that with your demand generation goals. The end result is far more sales and a far more efficient return on your investment – no matter how big or how small.

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