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Three ways to keep social media civil

Whether it’s a customer who’s unhappy with the quality of the product received from the company you work for or a friend who doesn’t agree with your political opinions, you’re going to deal with conflict on social media. Handle the situation poorly, and it could cost you your job or your best childhood pal. Handle it well, and your reputation will rise with your boss and your friends.

In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to respond defensively when you feel wrongfully attacked, especially from behind a screen when there aren’t any face-to-face consequences. Giving in to that urge to lash out usually backfires, though, and makes you look bad.

To keep social media civil—and keep your job and friends—try these three tactics.

PAUSE. Before doing anything, pause. Step away from your smartphone or keyboard and take a few deep breaths. Reflect on what was said. Try to put yourself in the other person’s position. Did they make any valid points? Could you understand why they would be upset about the situation? Write down some notes, so you’re clear on what transpired and can calmly respond.

LISTEN. Most people just want to be heard. There’s a lot of noise in our world today. We’re all so busy sharing what’s going on in our lives that we’re not always listening to others. In the case of the customer who isn’t happy with the quality of a product, ask them to tell you what they don’t like about it – and listen to what is said. There could be a problem that affects other customers that this concern is cluing you into. Even if there’s not, let the customer know that you regret that they’re disappointed and that you’d like to correct the situation if possible. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, but be sincere in your empathy and your desire to do what you can to fix the situation.

AGREE TO DISAGREE. Sometimes, as is the case with political leanings, you might have to agree to disagree and move on. That’s easier to do when you’ve stepped away from the argument for a little bit to calm down and you’ve really listened to the other person’s point of view. Hopefully, by then, you’re able to respect each other’s opinion without shifting view points and can move on to topics that you have in common.

Of course, if a conflict escalates to threats or individual attacks, you may need to end all contact, after discussing it with your boss if it’s a work matter or with the authorities if it’s of a personal nature.

In most cases, thankfully, it won’t come to that, and you can moderate conflicts respectfully.

Four easy Twitter tips you can put into action today

With short attention spans, a limited number of characters and a flood of content, it’s tough to grow your Twitter following organically. Original, engaging content is a must, of course, but beyond that there are some quick tips you can put into action today to reach your target audience.

Repeat Your Content – Tweets are rapidly lost in the fast-moving feed, and your content is only seen by a fraction of your followers each time you post. To improve engagement and reach more people, recycle your content on a regular basis.

Don’t Hesitate to Ask – There’s no need to be shy. Ask for those likes, shares and retweets every now and then. Research has shown that spelling out ‘retweet’ gets more results, so go ahead and use up a few extra characters in this case.

Get Visual – Visuals are more eye-catching, and people retain information that’s presented visually for a longer period of time. Make the most of this by creating your own unique imagery using free tools like PicMonkey or Canva.

Hashtag Smartly – Using trending hashtags in your tweets is a great way to make your content discoverable. But it can also be a minefield if you piggyback a hashtag that has a double-meaning related to something inappropriate. Use Twitter’s Advanced Search to research hashtags before using them.

An engaged Twitter following goes beyond developing brand awareness and industry authority. It can lead directly to sales. Focus on providing useful content and genuine interaction. And try a couple of these tips to give your tweets a little extra juice!

What Facebook’s editing change means for businesses

Mistakes. We all make them.

Luckily Facebook graciously gives us the chance to fix them on our posts with the edit feature.

Correct that bad spelling. Replace that inappropriate word. Update that link that went to the wrong webpage.

However, all your fans and followers knew you’d made that typo even after it had been fixed. How? By the tiny gray “Edited” label on the bottom of the post.

Facebook reportedly changed its editing system a year ago, although it appears to be taking some time to cycle through users’ feeds. The label has been removed, and now if you want to know if a post has been modified, you’ll need to go to the post’s drop-down menu in the upper right corner and view the edit history.

The problem with this comes down to authenticity, which is so important for businesses. The more virtual we become, the more we want to interact with companies we perceive to be genuine. We crave transparency, and hiding the “Edited” label doesn’t deliver that transparency.

Thankfully, there are many other–and better—ways to be authentic online, so it’s hardly a make-or-break situation. But it is thought-provoking: How do businesses maintain that authentic connection with their audience as further changes are rolled out to the social networks?

Do small businesses need to scale back their social media automation?

As a small business marketer, you have a full plate every day. Your to-do list keeps getting longer. Thankfully, automating your social media takes a bit of weight off your shoulders. It ensures that you’re sharing content consistently, staying active on the right platforms and ideally connecting with your audience.

But can too much of a good thing become a bad thing? Only if you aren’t using it wisely.

Be careful about what you automate. Canned replies that come across robotically or auto-resharing of inappropriate posts can lead to PR disasters. When a blunder happens, any efficiency gained from the automation is lost to the time and money spent trying to recover from the setback.

What’s a small business to do?

Use automation for the core content but make sure your engagement is handled by humans. Your audience craves real, human interaction. Interact genuinely with fans and followers by giving individual responses. Limit your promotional messaging and focus more on listening to what people are saying on your social channels. Then respond appropriately, as a real person. Be mindful of your messaging around current events. Newsjack and hashtag very carefully, if at all. Remember that you’re building relationships – and measure every interaction against that goal.

Automation still has an important role to play in social media management. But businesses need to remain personally involved with their fans and followers.

Three ways to use social media for word-of-mouth marketing

One of the best forms of marketing occurs when a happy customer shares their good experience with others. People trust recommendations from friends and family more than they trust advertising by companies.

Word of mouth is a powerful way to boost sales, and social media presents the opportunity to multiply this person-to-person sharing exponentially.

The key to creating experiences that are worth sharing is to focus on engaging with your audience, rather than on adding followers.

Start by being present. It’s not enough to post glossy product pics or motivational quotes. Really listen to what your audience is saying. Respond to what you’re hearing. Be part of the conversation. Use social media as a customer service tool as well as a sales tool.

Give your audience something to talk about. Ask for feedback on packaging. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses. Invite them to name your next product. Query them about what they’d like to see next from you. Create a custom hashtag to tie the community together and give fans a way to talk to each other.

Add a charitable component. One of the best ways to inspire people to share is to do good. This type of consumer-driven charity is very powerful because it’s a win-win. When your customer buys from you, they know that they’ll be supporting an important cause at the same time. Run a campaign where you donate a percentage of your proceeds to a charitable organization you’re passionate about.

For word-of-mouth marketing to be successful, it’s got be authentic. So make sure that any shareable content you create or any interaction you have is genuine. It’s a two-way street. When you build your community this way, your social media followers become ambassadors for your brand, which is the best kind of marketing there is.

Use social media to pack your next event

You’ve got an event coming up, and you want to fill every seat. How do you throw a champagne event on a beer budget? With social media!

Here’s how.

  • Have a unique, event-specific hashtag. The key here is to research it first. You need to make sure it hasn’t been used before or associated with something negative.
  • Encourage attendees to tell the world they’re going. After they register include a “share on Facebook” button. Or write a tweet for them — with a call to action, like “Click to Tweet.”
  • Answer back when your biggest supporters talk about the event on social media. Engage them in conversation.
  • Offer discounts through social media and create social contests.
  • Before the event interview the speakers or attendees and post those interviews on all your social media platforms. Ask the interviewees to post on their platforms, too.
  • During the event give people a reason to take photos and share, share, share. For example, have a box of cool photo props available by the step-and-repeat.
  • Give a sneak peak behind the scenes by sharing snippets of video.
  • After the event, put any presentations up on SlideShare, releasing them once a day to keep people engaged.

With these easy tips, your next event is sure to be a success.

Going Viral: Give luck a hand by stacking the deck in your favor

Every marketer wants their content to be a hit and “go viral.” Viral content gets your brand in front of huge numbers of people, which can result in an impressive boost to your bottom line.

There’s no set formula for making your content go viral. A lot depends on luck. But there are some things you can do to push your content in the right direction and increase the chances of your content going viral.

Make a connection. Emotions are what motivate people to act. So making an emotional connection is a powerful way to influence behavior. When crafting your content, strive to make it resonate with your audience by incorporating emotional imagery and words. People will want to spread your message.

Partner with influencers. Find influencers by researching well-known blogs in your niche or tracking popular hashtags on Twitter. Before reaching out to influencers, comment on their blog, share their content, include them in a round-up post or thank them for their insights on social media. Once you’ve established a relationship, message them to let them know you’ve created content they might like. If they like it enough, they might share it with their followers.

Opt for imagery. Posts with images or video are more likely to be shared. It’s easier to create an emotional connection (see above) with visuals. Plus, people retain more information when content is paired with visuals. Create an infographic, turn a PowerPoint into a slideshow, or use your smartphone to record a behind-the-scenes video.

Not every piece of content you craft will become a viral sensation. But when you include these approaches in your content strategy, you’ll help turn the tables in your favor and improve your chances of going viral.

How to reach more customers, without adding more minutes

Do you ever wonder how much work you could get done if you could squeeze a few more minutes into each day? You could probably reach a handful of extra customers, or polish your sales pitch. You might even be able to take that power nap you’ve been longing for.

Unfortunately, time is fixed. No matter how much you wish on a star, you can’t add an extra tick to your tock. But that doesn’t mean you can’t extend the reach of your business with the hours you have.

Think for a minute about this number: 50 million. It took radio 38 years to reach an audience of that size, even with the help of Little Orphan Annie. When television came to town, it took 13 years to reach the same crowd. But communication continues to improve. The Internet hit the 50 million mark within 4 years. And Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, achieved 100 million users in just 9 months.

So what’s the point? That it doesn’t always take more time to reach more customers. Its about tapping into the right technology. Social media has dramatically changed the information landscape, opening the door to business in ways that would have been unimaginable just two decades ago.

Think about it. When’s the last time you cracked open the Yellow Pages when searching for product or service information? It’s been a while, right? Well, it’s been a while for millions of other people, too.

Have you defined and redefined your online marketing plan to keep up with the constant changes of social media? Without one, your chances at a solid online presence may be lacking. If you’re still sort of on the fence, consider these benefits of a solid online presence:

  • Increased brand awareness
  • More visitors to your online and offline doors
  • A broader reach in audience
  • An increase in sales

Believe it or not, 90 percent of all purchases begin online. Customers do less window shopping and more virtual browsing. The trick is making sure you are found in the places where your customers shop. Give it a thought. You may not be able to add minutes to your day, but you can still reach more customers.

Here’s why you should think before you post.

With only 140 characters or a couple lines of text, getting a social media post perfect is important. It can be tempting to throw something together and forget about it. Sadly, this tends to be too many people’s social media strategy, and it’s not a very good one. Those two lines of text are extremely important and can make or break a company. Here are some questions you should ask yourself before you click post.

Has someone else read over it? When you’ve read two lines of text over and over, you’re bound to miss something. Typos are not a good thing. You lose a lot of credibility when you have the wrong there, their or they’re.

Are you the only one who thinks this is funny? A bad joke gone wrong can cause a lot of heartache. While humor is good, use it wisely. What is funny to you may not be funny to everyone else.

Does it have a photo? With a few exceptions, your post should always contain a photo. Even on Twitter, photos help increase engagement and are more likely to be looked at. Images draw people in. It’s going to be what catches their eye and what makes them look at your post.

Ultimately, the one question you should always ask is how the post will impact your or your business’s image. Does it add value? Does it align with the company? What are you really trying to say? All-in-all, make sure you think before you post!

Here are some tips for increasing your email open rates.

Crafting the perfect email to send to your large list of subscribers can be intimidating. Saying just the right thing, making it look perfect and everything in between takes a lot of work – and it can be frustrating when your open rate is low. Here are some tips to get more people interested in reading what you have to say.

Segment your lists. Ask them when they sign up what type of content they would like from you and then send them that! If a person only wants to know about deals and specials, they won’t even touch your emails after a while if you only send them updates about the company.

Send email blasts only when you have something really important to say. People will start to flag you as spam if you flood their email folder with daily, sometimes even weekly, emails that have little to no importance to them. If you are sending relevant information, they will look forward to reading it.

Say it in the subject line, but in as few words as possible. Remember, most people are going to be reading their emails on their phone, and this means limited room for a subject line. Put the most relevant information up front so people have no doubt what your email is about, but make it interesting enough that they will want to read it. It’s easier than you may think. You just have to think about it differently.

If you’re sending the right people the right messages, then your open rate will increase. Make sure your messages are on target, relevant and what your customers want to read.

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