Facebook & Video = Small Business Advantage

videoplayer

Are you using video to the advantage of your small business? Does the idea of using video to promote your business sound intimidating?

While you do want anything you present about your business to be of good quality, you can use video without breaking your budget. By starting with simple educational videos to allow potential customers to have their first experience in dealing with you, you're well on your way toward accomplishing the goals of know, like and trust.

Facebook recently published these 10 Tips on getting the most out of sharing your videos via their popular social media channel.

Stay tuned for an update on our VoiceMatters' clients are using video to generate new leads and strengthen existing customer relationships.

Coming to Our Senses: Using All Five to Reach Customers

Reaching customers via all five of our senses - taste, touch, sight, sound and smell - brings to mind old school gimmicks like Smell-O-Vision

The Psychology of Social Media

This snippet of a podcast by "Hooked" author Nir Eyal speaks to the "almost psychologist" in me. Fascinated by what motivates human behavior, I began my college studies as a psychology major. In the end I realized my strengths were writing and communicating, and I changed majors. It was all helpful, as a good understanding of what makes us tick also makes for effective marketing.

In this segment, Eyal talks about the "user's itch," the internal need that compels someone to click Facebook over Twitter, or post a photo to Instagram rather than Pinterest.  It's an excellent reminder to think more deeply about the user experience. Listen to the full podcast here (track #4). 

Business Owners: Don't Let Facebook as Paid Media Scare You

Today's news that Facebook has surpassed 2 million (yes, that's right, million) advertisers should convince any business owner that Facebook should now be shifted to the "paid media outlet" column. 

Does that mean you have to completely ditch the "social" aspects of this social media channel? No, of course not. My clients still benefit from relating directly to their audiences, sharing news and useful information. I also recommend that they continue to share the posts of organizations/pages as appropriate, making sure to tag the page being shared, as a means of community building.

However, with strong organic reach a thing of the past, it pays to, well, pay. If you're unsure about fitting this into your budget, try a few boosted posts for the minimum of $5. With proper targeting, over time, you will increase your exposure and interaction. Let those posts work smarter for you not harder.

Twitter for Business

Twitter came up in conversation at this morning's meeting of the Indian Valley Chamber of Commerce's Marketing & Membership committees, leading me to realize that I never got around to uploading slides from my recent seminar on Twitter for Business. Let me correct that error now, reiterating that Twitter is a terrific tool for networking and learning.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to me some more about Twitter and its role in growing your business, please connect!

Facebook for Small Business: Surviving the Next Adjustment

Yes, Facebook is once again making changes affecting how your brand's posts are viewed in the Newsfeed. Starting in January 2015, posts that are solely or too promotional in nature will be seen far less by Facebook users.

What constitutes "overly promotional?" According to Facebook, this:

  • Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
  • Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real context
  • Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

Hopefully you've been shying away from this kind of content anyway, given that within this year Facebook has been adjusting their algorithm to both monetize (aka decrease your organic reach to the point where you're willing to pay to boost posts and/or create ads) and encourage posts that include value for the consumer. 

Why this seemingly drastic transition? According to Facebook (by way of Hootsuite's blog):

“As part of an ongoing survey we asked hundreds of thousands of people how they feel about the content in their News Feeds. People told us they wanted to see more stories from friends and Pages they care about, and less promotional content.”

While the initial reaction is to moan about yet another Facebook algorithm change, is this such a bad thing? Not if you're already following a good content marketing strategy of being helpful and sharing information that is valuable to your audience. Does this mean if you share any promotional content, it'll be invisible? Of course not. But you might need to put some money behind it, or make sure the news of your promotion is included within a broader context of the value of your business.

One of my clients has great success with contest-themed posts, but they are created to be of interest to the customer base. When I experimented with a similar contest on another client's page, it fell flat. Why? It wasn't as relevant to the people who liked their page.

Brands should already be considering Facebook as a monetized platform rather than a home base. Given the ability to target your audience with precision - and even have decent results with as little as a $5 boost depending on your goals - this could be a welcome change to your content marketing strategy.

Above all else, brands should remember the social in social media. Be helpful. Create community. Be of value before someone needs your service and guess what? You'll be on their mind when they're ready to use your services.

 

Twitter Works.

I confess. I might have a Twitter problem. I'm one of those "two-screeners" watching the Phillies game, the Oscars, or the latest episode of The Good Wife, glancing occasionally at my Twitter stream to see who else might be sharing the experience.

I also firmly believe that Twitter works for building business relationships - from networking to customer service. Ann Handley's recent experience with JetBlue proves that Twitter can be a mechanism to provide exceptional customer service. Read all about it here in her post, Twitter Helps Me Get My Lost Book Back, and What You Can Learn from It.

Why Work with a Solo Communications Consultant?

Working as a solo communications professional has its challenges, like any other career. Sometimes, the challenge is to help potential customers understand that just because your consultancy is run by one person, it doesn't mean that their needs won't be met. 

In my case, I pull together a team that suits the needs of the client's project. The process is the same as when I was an advertising account executive or directing non-profit communications - determine the needs of the project and assemble the appropriate team. I have web developers, printers, writers and graphic designers within my network to provide the same experience and solid results for my clients.

It looks like I'm not alone in my solo consulting world. Kellye Crane of Solo PR Pro points to a new study by MBO Partners on the State of Independence in America, which finds that the solo work force is here to stay and is growing each year. Read her full recap here.

Solo consultants are often seasoned, savvy professionals who are more than prepared to partner with you to achieve your business goals.

As you look toward planning for 2015, what are your marketing/communications/PR goals? Want some help looking at where you've been and the progress you want to make in the coming year? Contact me - I'd love to learn more about your business and how we can achieve results together.

Singing to a Full House: Blogging, Content Marketing and Social Media

I've spent most of the day today working on client blogs. It's fun and, of course, benefits them by sharing news, establishing thought leadership and boosting their SEO efforts. Blogging is a great component of content marketing, allowing a company to educate and establish trust with an audience. But the audience first has to find the blog. That's where social media comes in and where I turn it over to Jason Falls' recent piece on social media as the conduit for content marketing:

Social media is how you can take your content marketing – a blog post, a webinar, a white paper, a video, a contest, hosted event – and deliver it to a relevant and willing audience.

If it’s good enough, they’ll share it, you’ll drive interest, traffic or sales, and all will be well with the world.

Read the full article here.

Instagram Debuts Hyperlapse

Instagram has just unveiled a new feature - Hyperlapse. It will allow Instagram users to shoot a video using their mobile device's camera and upload to Instagram.

The Hyperlapse feature is currently available only on iOs. It is expected to be available on the Android platform "soon" and there are no current plans for Windows phones.

Stabilization for Hyperlapse from Instagram from Instagram on Vimeo.

 

As Wired.com points out:

Using clever algorithm processing, the app makes it easy to use your phone to create tracking shots and fast, time-lapse videos that look as if they’re shot by Scorsese or Michael Mann. What was once only possible with a Steadicam or a $15,000 tracking rig is now possible on your iPhone, for free. 

Imagine the possibilities for creating content to promote your business. 

Facebook Focuses on Discouraging Click-baiting

You've seen them. The short headlines designed to intrigue you, encourage you, sometimes even scare you into clicking the link to read the whole story followed by the disappointment of not much "there" there.

Similar to the sensationalized local broadcast news teasers - "You won't believe what vegetable causes belly fat!" Or "If you have this in your home, you could already be in trouble." - these "made you look!" headlines are known as "click-bait." 

Facebook is once again adjusting the newsfeed algorithm to discourage this practice in favor of content that people actually spend time engaging with and will be measured by time spent reading the content as well as how many people "like" or share the content.

While the general consensus can be to groan about yet another Facebook newsfeed change, this one has the potential to improve the quality of your newsfeed.

For businesses using Facebook as part of their social media strategy, it reaffirms the overarching strategy of attracting new business and retaining customers by establishing trust and being helpful. Be the answer to your customer's question.

You can read more about this newsfeed change here or reach out to us, we'll be happy to help you strengthen you business' message and customer relationships.

Happy Independence Day, Small Business Owner!

Well, ok, I'll wish a Happy Independence Day to all of us in the United States, but a special "independence day" to those of us who have embraced the all-American spirit of can-do and started a small business.

According to a recent study by Manta, small business success is on the rise and 72% of small business owners are happier with the freedom being the boss provides, even if 21% did acknowledge that they also carry more responsibility and less independence as a result.

As the infographic below shows, two of the largest barriers to small business success are economic conditions and marketing to find new customers.  

Courtesy of MANTA.com

I started my small business providing integrated marketing services and public relations to meet the needs of the small business owner who knows marketing is essential to success, but that hiring an employee or creating an in-house department doesn't fit the budget.  Let's talk about how we can help each other banish these barriers to small business ownership freedom and make every day Independence Day.

 

Is Your Online Refrigerator Stocked? How to Find Fresh Content

Summer is finally here. This usually means trips to the farmer's market and refrigerators stocked full of fresh produce from local farmers. You have everything you need to create a delicious summer menu.

This may sound strange, but finding fresh content to share on your blog and social media channels isn't all that different.  Even when the big sale is over or that long-term project is complete, there's always something to talk about via everyday occurences and items all around you. 

Take a moment and look around your office or your store.  When was the last time you shared a photo or talked about the benefits of one of your products? Or when was the last time you shared a slice of office life? 

Our client, Chrysalis Hair Design, will from time to time feature their products in their Instagram and Facebook feeds. They recently redesigned their storefront to remind customers to take care of their hair in the sun and sand this summer. All it took was a simple photo to communicate this:

Maybe it's something you're working on today. Are you using summertime to plan for the fall? Talk about it.  What do you customers have to look forward to? 

Pampered Pets Grooming Salon and Spa is another example of how sharing the everyday activity of your business can yield solid results.  Here's another happy four-legged customer.

This sharing of content isn't random, it's a strategy in and of itself. The more your customers and prospective clients see from and about you, the more they will likely trust you, remember you, refer you, do business with you. 

Take a moment out of your day and tell your audience what's going on.  If doing so on an ongoing, consistent basis sounds like one more thing you'd rather not handle, we've love to talk to you. Reach out via email to info@voicemattersllc.com or give us a call at 267-236-3607.

 

Welcome, The Grand Theater!

It would be wrong to close the week without ringing the new client bell! It's a pleasure to announce that VoiceMatters, LLC will be working with East Greenville's very popular The Grand Theater in promoting their Silent Film Series featuring live accompaniment via their historic 1923 Marr & Colton 2/7 Theater Organ

 

 

New Phishing Scam via Google Docs Request

If you receive an email with the subject line "Documents" that asks you to log in to your Google account to download, beware. This is a new, very sophisticated phishing scam that's going after Google Docs and Google Drive users.

Symantec provides more details about it here.

As with anything via email, if it looks unusual, don't risk opening it. Check with the alleged "sender" via another channel to make sure it's legit.

Working Smarter: MightyText

Mighty, Mighty MightyText. Ok, now that I've placed The Commodores' "Brick House" earworm, let me share one of the tools that helps me to work smarter as I work hard for my clients.

MightyText is a free Android app that allows you to view incoming calls and texts on your computer desktop and tablet. It's most handy with texting, allowing you to respond from your keyboard as easily as you would an email. Since notifications are sent to your desktop, you also avoid the distraction of checking your smartphone from time to time. It even has a nifty feature that shows to what percentage your phone is charged.

For full disclosure, I have no relationship with MightyText or its creators beyond being a happy customer. 

You Don't Know What You Don't Know.

Establishing the value you bring to a potential customer is often the most difficult challenge in business development. There are so many DIY options out there - TurboTax brings tax preparation to your laptop so you don't need an accountant. Quickbooks and I are getting along just fine, thanks, no need to hire a bookkeeper. Everyone's using social media, so who needs to pay someone to promote my business on those channels. And on and on.

This can be true for some, in certain cases. But building a business is complex. It requires energy, focus, and strategy

Where is this post coming from? Well, 'tis the season - tax season - and in a recent meeting with my accountant we had the conversation that inspired this post. We talked about how each business has a rich value to provide its customers, that not everyone is able to do everything for themselves and end up with efficient and positive results. In one sentence, she said, "You don't know what you don't know."

Good one.

I don't know how to do what my plumber does, or my hair stylist or...so why should it be any different with your marketing and PR strategy? Money and time are precious to every business owner. While hiring a communications consultant may seem like an unaffordable expense, there's a certain expertise I bring to the table. Plus, when I work with someone, I partner with them. I want to see your business succeed not solely for the benefit of my bank account. I still believe that when your business does well, we all do well. I bring the experience in my field and the objective eye that best benefits you, and your bottom line.

My accountant, by the way, is Catherine Ponist. If you are in need of a firm that will guide you through the tax terrain of business ownership with calm, ease and expertise, contact her. I also have to thank my business coach, Paula Gregorowicz of The Paula G Company, for referring me to her. Paula is also excellent at partnering with you, providing a much-needed objectivity and knack for focusing on the productive "next steps" of building a business.

So, what is your "You Don't Know What You Don't Know?" Let's talk about it in the comments.

Telling Your Story: Business Events as PR Opportunities

One of my clients, A&T Chevrolet-Subaru, is both celebrating a 30th anniversary and undergoing a major construction project. As in, knocking down 2/3 of the building to create something completely new and, ultimately, better for business and their customer base.

Always working to be proactive rather than reactive, I advised a story pitch to both announce the great news of a local, family-owned business thriving for 30 years and assure passers-by that, no, the walls tumbling down was a sign of strength and not economic demise. 

Congratulations to the Allen family on 30 years of successful business and cheers to many more! Here's the story as it appears in the Perkasie News-Herald:

"A&T Chevrolet-Subaru" Drives into Renovations"

Jeff Allen & Bruce Allen of A&T Chevrolet-Subaru