Leveraging the power of content and social media marketing can help elevate your audience and customer base in a dramatic way. But getting started without any previous experience or insight could be challenging.It's vital that you understand social media marketing fundamentals. From maximizing quality to increasing your online entry points, abiding by these 10 laws will help build a foundation that will serve your customers, your brand and perhaps most importantly your bottom line.
1. The Law Of Listening
Success with social media and content marketing requires more listening and less talking. Read your target audience’s online content and join discussions to learn what’s important to them. Only then can you create content and spark conversations that add value rather than clutter to their lives.
2. The Law Of Focus
It’s better to specialize than to be a jack-of-all-trades. A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy that attempts to be all things to all people.
3. The Law Of Quality
Quality trumps quantity. It’s better to have 1,000 online connections who read, share and talk about your content with their own audiences than 10,000 connections who disappear after connecting with you the first time.
4. The Law Of Patience
Social media and content marketing success doesn’t happen overnight. While it’s possible to catch lightning in a bottle, it’s far more likely that you’ll need to commit to the long haul to achieve results.
5. The Law Of Compounding
If you publish amazing, quality content and work to build your online audience of quality followers, they’ll share it with their own audiences on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, their own blogs and more.
This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches. Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online.
6. The Law Of Influence
Spend time finding the online influencers in your market who have quality audiences and are likely to be interested in your products, services and business. Connect with those people and work to build relationships with them.
If you get on their radar as an authoritative, interesting source of useful information, they might share your content with their own followers, which could put you and your business in front of a huge new audience.(Top Social Media Marketing SMM Companies In World).
7. The Law Of Value
If you spend all your time on the social Web directly promoting your products and services, people will stop listening. You must add value to the conversation. Focus less on conversions and more on creating amazing content and developing relationships with online influencers. In time, those people will become a powerful catalyst for word-of-mouth marketing for your business.
8. The Law Of Acknowledgment
You wouldn’t ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don’t ignore them online. Building relationships is one of the most important parts of social media marketing success, so always acknowledge every person who reaches out to you.
9. The Law Of Accessibility
Don’t publish your content and then disappear. Be available to your audience. That means you need to consistently publish content and participate in conversations. Followers online can be fickle and they won’t hesitate to replace you if you disappear for weeks or months.
10. The Law Of Reciprocity
You can’t expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don’t do the same for them. So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others.
-Inforiants.blogspot.com, August 24, 2017
Creating a Business Plan sounds complex, perhaps even scary, and it's true; it can be. But for many people, this can be a really simple and efficient way to begin. For most businesses, it is a matter of having a cohesive set of goals, principles, and practices.
When approaching any business or marketing plan, I like to start with an incredibly easy and effective method, you probably remember from grade school, "The W's." The W's take you to your most fundamental business objectives simply and efficiently. Your "W" words are: WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.
Start with WHAT: What type of business are you? What are you selling? Is it a service or a product? And, what differentiates your business from other businesses like it? What are your views, your goals, your expectations? What is your vision?
WHO: Knowing "who you are" as a business is essential, of course, but beyond your own identity, who are you selling to? Who do you imagine buying your product or service? Knowing your demographic is absolutely essential to any business.
WHEN: Knowing when your business will open and creating a timeline is important; finding a way to stick to that timeline is essential. Many businesses open their doors when they are unprepared to make a lasting impression, and based on my observations, it can often be devastating in a small, local community like Fredericksburg when a business opens before it's "ready." Know what you need as far as setting up a limited liability corporation, a corporation, etc., as well as any federal, state, and local permits and licensing needs, and make them a priority. When opening a business in Virginia, you will need a federal permit for serving food, alcohol, or firearms, and for any other licensing services, check DPOR.com. You will need to create your company, get a tax ID number, set up business accounts, have any inventory or tools you might need, and schedule any real-estate related needs you might have, a "grand opening" is often a great tool locally, and timing all of these things properly is more important than just about anything. What is it they say? Timing is everything....
WHERE: Location of your business is obviously a very important factor. Learn about the basics of commercial real estate (which I will be posting shortly, btw) because if you plan to do anything besides work from home or online, you will need to know quite a bit more about real estate than your average homebuyer. Commercial real estate and Residential real estate are often separated for a good reason; they are fundamentally very different, and not understanding your real estate terms can make the process of opening your business that much more difficult. Some things to consider as far as your particular business are based upon your type of business and how you plan to gain new customers. Visibility is naturally a big concern, and for certain types of businesses, is something that will make or break you. Retail businesses, tourism-related industries, and certain service-based businesses need visibility more than others. If your business does not have the same level of demand for visibility, choosing real estate that is a little more out of the way can save a small fortune, and that money can be used instead to bring customers or clients in through alternative methods (like social media;)) But that is something you will need to think about in particular depending on multiple factors. Also, pay close attention to what other businesses are around you, and make sure you're not putting yourself at a competitive disadvantage.
WHY? Ask yourself, Why would I use my business as opposed to another business? Why do I feel there is a need for this business? What are you trying to accomplish? Is it all about profit, or are you trying to make a statement, share something new and different, or change your community? Or maybe you just don't want to work for anyone anymore, and that's okay too. The important things are to understand why YOU personally are opening this specific business, and why someone would patronize your business. The answer to this question is where you start your marketing plan and the place from which you build your "brand."
AND..... the one "w" that has never fit in, and yet carries so much of the weight... How?
HOW? How do you plan to start your business? Do you have cash, do you need a loan? Financial planning is key, as well as creating a company structure and management methods from finance to day-to-day hiring, logistics, and management policies. Start with the list you created with your "W's" and go about finding out how to accomplish each individual task. Prioritizing is absolutely essential!
-Anne Morgan Pates, March 28, 2017
"Think positive," "Believe in yourself, "Believe you can, and you can," those kinds of cliche, self-help aisle sayings stop meaning much of anything after you've heard them a few times, right? But in reality, through science, we've been able to prove that your mindset can have incredible effects on your performance and achievement. In 1988, Stanford psychiatrist, Carol Dweck, published a long-term study based on a variety of theories pertaining to the way people of all ages learn. She coined the term "growth mindset" (as opposed to a "fixed mindset.")
The studies were based upon multiple "learning situations" in which the experimental group was taught about the research on brain plasticity, and how it has shown that the connectivity between neurons CAN create new neural networks or strengthen existing ones based on EXPERIENCE. These experimental groups were compared to control groups, taught traditional memory and ability theory as it currently stands (in most classrooms and even in the business world.) The results were overwhelming. The "growth mindset" group, by understanding the malleability of their own brains, showed a 200-300% increase in productivity and achievement.
So what does that mean for us? Does it mean that if I think I'm a rocket scientist, I'll be one? Maybe not. But as many other little girls experience in grade school, I was one of many whose fixed mindset said, "I am bad at math," and therefore, I never challenged myself, tried particularly hard, etc. in math, believing that it was pointless. It wasn't until I got to college and there was a great deal of pressure riding on a particular math class, that I realized with just a little bit of extra work, I could take my "C" math grades to "A's" - and I did.
A "fixed mindset" leads to a desire to APPEAR smart, and in general, they tend to do so. However, this is mostly because they avoid challenges, often give up when an obstacle comes up, see trying and making effort towards something they're not good at as pointless or fruitless, and are usually unable to take criticism, no matter how useful or constructive it may be. And most importantly, it often leads to people feeling threatened by the success of another. Alternatively, a "growth mindset," is the belief that intelligence can be developed, leading to a desire to learn and improve oneself, and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist despite setbacks or obstacles, see hard work and effort as the path to mastering a skill, and most importantly, find lessons and inspiration from the success of others rather than jealousy and resentment.
All of this being said, I believe that to an extent, we all have natural talents and abilities, and often we are born with propensities toward success or failure in certain areas. I just wrote my last entry on how business owners should focus on their strengths, and hire help with their weaknesses! And I say this because by knowing one's strengths and weaknesses, and also knowing your brain's ability to adapt, you are given the opportunity to strengthen those weaknesses. It is all a matter of self-awareness and understanding. A literal "belief in one's self and abilites" - may sound cheesy, but it does allow us to understand our own learning experience, and the fact that with work and effort, we are all capable of improvement and increased achievement - even when it comes to something we just "know" we are not good at.
How does one achieve a "growth mindset?"
1. Interpretation and effects of failure. "FAILURE." The word itself scares me (personally), perhaps it brings me back to some moment in my childhood when I began to believe "wow, I am really not good at x,y, or z." But, failure can be a wonderful opportunity to understand what one needs to change or improve upon, and is a sign that current methods are not successful. Failure, and one's reaction to it, is one of the key aspects of a fixed versus a growth mindset.
2. Your brain is a muscle, and like any other muscle on your body, it can get stronger, but to get stronger... must be used. And like any other muscle, our bodies do have physical limitations, yes. But, at the same time, everyday exercise and muscle-building can make an incredible difference. If the most weight I can carry at once is 80 pounds today, I may not ever be lifting 500, but I can certainly improve significantly over time. You've probably been able to see results in your physical body, and while the brain doesn't get bigger with exercise, its strength is also a matter of training.
3. Remember that (with an occasional exception) successful people do not just fall into success. Success usually comes after multiple setbacks or even the dreaded "failure." It is not something you are born with or are not born with. It is not some "unattainable" and unique gift, but a result of hard work and open-mindedness.
To learn more about growth mindsets, take a quiz as to what kind of mindset YOU have.
-Anne Morgan Pates, March 22, 2017
Play to Your Strengths
People who regularly use one of their personality strengths in a new way every day for a week have higher happiness and lower depression levels in the long term. To identify your own strengths, answer the following questions:
1. What are some everyday things that you enjoy doing -- what would you say you enjoy the most? And why?
2. Thinking back to when you were younger, what were the best times you can remember? What were you doing?
3. When you feel the most energy, or feel "alive" what is it that you're doing? Can you connect certain activities or similarities between things you enjoy and find a common denominator?
Know your strengths, and know your weaknesses. Being aware of them can help you exponentially in life, particularly as a business owner. "Micro-management" happens when a manager or boss is unable to disengage from certain tasks that they are not "great" at doing, and end up spending too much time and energy on trying to compensate for that. So, conversely, KNOW YOUR WEAKNESSES, and as a business owner, don't allow them to become your downfall.
Try some of these questions.
1. When you have had a job situation go badly, (and besides blaming a person or people) make a list of the things that you could have done to improve the issue. If it does revolve solely around people, perhaps examine why these work relationships went badly, and what could have improved it.
2. Look for patterns that might not be obvious, but for example, an employer continually having problems with employees not pulling their weight, as well as failure to collect debt owed are two things that seem unrelated, but this employer has a hard time with confrontation or asking for money. This owner has a hard time creating boundaries in their business life, and needs to hire an employee-manager, and an accountant, even if it's part-time.
3. At lastly, but perhaps most importantly, realize that we all have weaknesses. People who say "nothing gets done right when I don't do it myself," that is a weakness within itself... especially as a business owner. Delegating, management, confrontation, focus, technology, networking, customer service, aesthetics.... everyone has a weakness or 2! Even YOU!
-Anne Morgan Pates, March 20, 2017
8 Tips For Higher Productivity
1. Work LESS, and Take a Nap
It might seem backward, and for most Americans "being busy" and putting in long work days, working overtime, etc. are seen as positive things. We seem to all have difficulty with MORE not equaling BETTER... but it's something we all have to understand as business owners and certainly as consumers as well. Many large companies have tried strategies that range from shortening the workday by several hours to offering "napping areas" around the office. And, generally, across the board, these strategies have proven to actually increase productivity. Quality over quantity is usually the goal, occasionally it's not applicable, but working shorter hours, without feeling tired and drained, will lead to higher productivity. Taking care of your health, your sleep, your eating habits, etc. are all important aspects that are often overlooked! Don't be fooled by the "MORE is MORE" mentality! I first noticed the problem with "overworking" in college when I was always up for social activities on weeknights while my friends were either not able to go out, or not able to do something social AND maintain good grades. It frustrated me a lot as I watched them spend 5 hours "studying" which meant - maybe 1 hour of studying, 4 hours of Facebooking, Instant Messaging, Googling, texting, basically, anything but actual focused studying. I looked at my own habits, which I have many others to thank for, which differed greatly. I spent an hour or two each day in the library, where I would work for far less time, but without distraction. And at the end of the day, they were not producing more work, better work, or getting better grades (generally speaking). No one with an 'hourly work mentality' will be successful. I have no proof, facts, figures, nothing except my own observations that tell me this. Whether it's school, career, personal life, working "smart" and efficiently is what personal experiences have shown will lead to success.
Which is the perfect segue into...
2. Remove Distractions!
I don't know if this is a problem for everyone, but it has been for me at times, especially while doing computer work! Someone messages me, the phone rings, the dog barks, an offer pops up and takes my attention away from my task at hand, and lands me in a place I didn't have any intention of going! Now, one out of a hundred times, this MIGHT lead to a new idea or some kind of inspiration, and maybe it's a call from a potential client, but more often than not, it just means simply - non-productive distraction. To combat this, I start and end each day/week/month by writing:
1. My priorities for the day, week, month
2. What specific tasks MUST be completed that day(...)
3. Then, a "check-list" or just, a list, of what I actually did accomplish at the end of that time.
I know, it sounds overly simple, but the more research I do, and experience I have, the more I see that when it comes to productivity, OVER-simplifying is hard to do. This is particularly true for start-ups, self-employed, and small business owners who have time and budget constraints, perhaps another job, and any other personal obligations.
3. Automate and Outsource
When it comes to automated and outsourcing marketing options, there seems to be a new one everyday. In fact, FXBG Marketing was created to help relieve that "social media" burden from business owners, while maintaining their "voice," vision, and local information. While we don't personally have our own automated system, part of what we do is find you the best system software and practices so that your business is professional, accurate, up-to-date, engaging, and essentially, productive! Trying to do all jobs as the business owner, might be a necessary place to start... but over time, start keeping track of how many hours you spend each day, week, month on certain tasks. How much income are those tasks producing? Maybe none directly, even, but they're still essential aspects of the business. This is where automated programs and outsourcing becomes key to the financial success of any business.
4. Centralized Database
Cloud, Dropbox, or any other central database for Graphics, Brochures, Logos, even Accounting information, Company Resources, Etc. are amazing things! And if you look at just about any successful business on any scale, they are using one of these systems. Especially once you start taking on more employees, and/or outsourcing media and marketing opportunities. Having to send graphics by email every time someone needs one, or trying to download them from sites you've posted them to might seem like a "good enough" solution, but trust me, if your business is growing, it won't be good enough for very long! You also can lose a great deal of quality when doing things in this way (especially when it comes to formatting and graphics) and sometimes, those small touches as far as formatting can go a long, long way! Don't lose that precious time you spent perfecting that visual - save it, make it available, and of course, accessible!
5. Know Your Options!
Being aware of your options, doesn't necessarily mean using them. It means weighing the pro's, the con's, and finding a balance for YOUR business needs. Many businesses are so quick to dismiss any "salespeople" or direct marketing materials, thinking that just based upon the fact that THEY are looking for YOU, means that it's not a sensible option. The thinking behind those types of mentalities must change if you want to grow!
For instance, if your business is ALWAYS in need of... airplane tickets, or printer cartridges, maintenance, IT support, trash removal, just about anything...., it's time to start looking into your options. If you're selling gifts and clothing out of a boutique, chances are, you're not thinking about office supplies as a "big deal." That is... until you have a customer in front of you, and you're running out of receipt scrolls! This is not a good look! And it's 100% avoidable. There are companies out there that will constantly monitor your business supplies, find you the best prices and promotions on those supplies, and then send them to you when necessary! Now, perhaps at this stage in your business, the cost of hiring someone to do this doesn't make sense. But, again, AWARENESS of the options is what counts! Because a day will come - whether it's a seasonal influx of business, or a sudden growth spurt, unexpected "busy times" come up, and knowing your resources is essential to any highly productive person, brand, business, household, everything. We make it our business to sift through the options for you, and often even come up with comparison charts so that you can see what types of services can really help your business grow, versus ones that might be completely useless in your particular field.
6. Don't Be Afraid to Get Cheesy
Inspirational Quotes, Stories, Memes, Etc. get spread around the internet so quickly that we tend to pass them over just as quickly. But.... don't. Allow yourself to get "cheesy" sometimes. Get online, and search for inspiration, innovation, creative entrepreneurship, whatever it is that gets you feeling "pumped." Some of the best ideas I've ever had have sprouted out of some taboo "make your own happiness" type of inspiration. It's the ability to look at a quote, a couple of words even, and find meaning that applies to you or speaks to you in that moment.
Success doesn't happen because of a great idea or some type of "creative genius," lurking within us. Opportunities falling into your lap that will implement and capitalize on these "genius" ideas, without any work on your end, are pretty much guaranteed NOT to happen. What is the quote? "10% Inspiration, 90% Perspiration," or some variation of that saying, is true -and can be helpful at moments of frustration.
If it's meaning resonates with you. For me, it was that.... Yes, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of ground work must be laid to create a solid foundation for any business, but if you're just working yourself into the ground, that is not likely to lead to success either. Perseverance, for me, is continually finding new ways to increase productivity, build your business, and accomplish your goals as quickly and efficiently as possible. Constantly creating new ideas, trying them out, researching, talking to people, visiting new places, trying new things, using the endless information available to us online is great, but it's not enough. Resources are on the nearest bookshelf, and inside each person you meet.
Everyone needs a vacation. It's just how we're made. Companies encourage employees to take vacation. Why? Because it's been shown to increase productivity and rejuvenate the "spark" between you and your business. But, at the same time, they generally want you to wait a year to take that vacation. So, only take them when needed, but still take them. Remember when the end of summer would come when you were a kid, and the idea of a new school year held promises of .... perfect grades, great friends, new organization methods - color coded binders, notebooks, planners - it was (usually) exciting to go back to school after a whole summer off. And if not exciting, usually far less daunting. Remember that some time away from your loved ones, the comforts of your home, even your pets - almost always creates a renewed sense of appreciation and energy for these things. So, for those of you who have your own business, you know it's like your child, relationship, or anything else of value in your life, and the whole "distance makes the heart grow fonder" is true in work as well as at home. Especially when that work is something (like your personal life) that you're deeply invested in - mentally, emotionally, physically, financially. And, as with everything else, sometimes there is no replacement for just taking a break, or gaining a little distance.
Even business owners who do take vacations or breaks of any kind, a tiny fraction of them are actually able to disconnect 100% from their business when they do get away. Which is why the next one is important...
8. Employees: Training and Trusting
As your business grows, this aspect of your business will determine its' ability to grow - or not. Micro-management is probably the worst thing a business owner can do. If you read back through this article, or even look at other people's advice, suggestions, etc., you will notice a common theme. Being able to lead and delegate is not something just anyone can do well. And especially in our own business, it can be extremely hard to trust someone with the reigns sometimes. But, having one, two, even three trusted employees can take awhile to find, but recognize their value to you. If you're training and screening applicants properly, you should be able to leave for two weeks, leave a plan behind, and turn off your phone and computer. If you can do that, and your business is flourishing when you return, you've succeeded in "growing" your employee-employer relationship. And, ultimately, whether it's employees on payroll, a business partner, or outsourced work, finding these solutions is vital to the productivity and growth of any business.
-Anne Morgan Pates, April 14, 2017
Anne Morgan Pates was born and raised in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She attended Chatham Hall Preparatory School, Sewanee: University of the South, and University of Mary Washington. She graduated with a B.A. from U.M.W. in English Literature. She has worked in local real estate and marketing for seven years.