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2016
Steve Strauss

Social Media 101

Posted by Steve Strauss Jan 27, 2016

You know the drill by now, you have heard the steady drumbeat:

 

  • “Social media has changed the game!”
  • “Social media is the future!”
  • “If you want to succeed in business today, you must fully engage in social media!”

 

However, let’s say that you’re like most small business owners. In which case, you most-likely have a personal Facebook page, you watch videos on YouTube (by the way, did you know that YouTube is the second most popular social media site after Facebook?), and maybe even check out Twitter now and then (even if it confuses you).

 

If these traits sound familiar, you likely don’t use social media much, or at all, for your business. According to the most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, less than half of small business owners use social media to keep in contact with their customers.

 

This is understandable, because most entrepreneurs are so busy running their businesses that they don’t have the time, patience, or inclinations to learn something new like social media. However, it’s also regrettable because social media truly is a game-changing, powerful tool.

 

One of the huge benefits of social media is that it allows you to save time, and at no cost. Other key benefits it can help with are:

 

  • Building your brand
  • Finding new customers
  • Engaging with current customers
  • Sharing your message
  • Resolving issues
  • Marketing your business

 

The problem is not that you are unaware of these potential benefits, but rather, as indicated previously, that figuring out how to jump on the social media bandwagon might seem overwhelming and time-consuming.

 

If you want to jump on the social media bandwagon, it’s never too late.

 

Here’s how to get started in social media for your business, in four easy steps:

 

Step 1: Determine your purpose: What is it exactly that you want your business or brand to gain by beginning to engage in social media? Wanting to become known as a thought leader is much different than wanting to get more customers. Take a look at the list of benefits above; there are many different potential benefits to becoming engaged in social media. Pick one or two.

 

Step 2. Decide which site fits that goal: You will notice that I didn’t say to choose the site that is the best, easiest, or most fun for you. No, what you want is to choose the one site that will best help you accomplish your goals listed in Step 1.

 

Generally speaking (and this is very general), the top social media sites have different benefits:

 

Facebook: Because it is the most popular and the “friendliest,” Facebook lends itself well to businesses that run promotions, for example, press “like” to get clicks, and press “like” to interact with their audience. You can start creating a business Facebook page here.

 

Twitter: Because Twitter limits what you can say to about three sentences (140 characters at the most), it is better suited to short blasts of information. As such, it can be a great tool for professionals wanting to establish credibility.

 

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the granddaddy of B2B social media sites. If networking is your game, then LinkedIn is the name. If you don’t have a LinkedIn page, you can get one here.

 

YouTube: People love watching videos online. If your business is visual or otherwise lends itself to a video presence, creating a YouTube channel would behoove you.

 

Pinterest: Pinterest too is a visual medium, and one that is populated more by women than men. If that’s your audience, go for it. Learn more here.

 

Instagram: Favored by a younger demographic. Start here.

 

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You get the idea. The different sites cater to different interests and demographics. Pick the one that fits your business goals best.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss


Step 3: Jump into the deep end of that one site: If you are just getting started in social media for your small business, pick that one site that best fits your goals and learn it inside and out.

 

The next step is to set up your business profile on that site and begin to share some content; meet new people, those who you would not normally meet. Share your expertise. Have a contest. Dig in.

 

Step 4: Notice your results: Getting results from social media is not a quick process. It takes months to build up a presence and get fans and followers. Give yourself the time necessary. Don’t expect miracles, but do expect results. After three months, take stock. Alter course if necessary.

 

Once you have that one site down and the goals you listed in Step 1 are within reach, then venture into a second social media site. Repeat the

process.

 

Good luck!

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporati

 

Keeping_Talent_body.jpgBy Cathie Ericson.

Any small business owner knows that employees are the backbone of their business. Unfortunately, amid the day-to-day responsibilities of running a business, it can be all too easy to overlook their career development needs. Without the established career track typically offered by larger companies, your best employees could conclude there is no upside for them and leave to pursue other opportunities.

According to the Center for American Progress, the cost of replacing an employee is 20 percent of their salary. But as any small business owner knows, the repercussions of a valued employee leaving can be far more than financial; a great deal of institutional knowledge is literally walking out the door.

Here are five ways small business owners can keep their best employees energized:

1. Share your vision.

“Many times a small business owner will have a long-term vision for their company but fail to communicate it to their high-potential employees, which can leave them wondering ‘Is this all there is?’” says Donna Lubrano, a former small business owner and adjunct professor at Northeastern University. She advises starting the discussion during the on-boarding process, by determining their goals and discussing how their role contributes to the bigger picture.  


2. Work with them to define a career path.

Once employees reach six to 12 months of tenure, they often start wondering what their future job track looks like, says Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO of Uniquely HR. Even if a promotion isn’t possible, she recommends offering options for stretch assignments, cross-functional training, and lateral moves, which can often be more available in a small business. “The first step is to understand how your team members define growth, then map out how you can support them,” she says. “Think about career growth as something that's employee-led and company-supported.”


Keeping_Talent_PQ.jpg3. Support external learning.

Allowing your employees to stay up-to-date on best practices and skills won’t just develop their career, it will also benefit your company. Craig Bloem, CEO and founder of LogoMix, advocates paying for your employees to attend training, events, and webinars to build their knowledge base. And, think beyond their current job function. “If your employees are interested in learning about something that could help the company as a whole, even if it’s not directly related to their field, push them to explore that path,” he says. “It can break up the day-to-day monotony that can creep up on even the most dedicated employee.”


4. Talk to them.

Don’t be blindsided with a resignation because you just assumed everything was fine. Devote time to meeting with employees one-one-one, away from the office, for say a coffee or lunch, to find out what’s on their minds. And ask questions, says Lubrano. “Find out how things are going and what's working and what's not. Ask if they are getting burned out, and what they need to stay motivated.”


5. Don’t assume they have to move up.

Your star sales or IT employee may want to stay in that role, rather than move up to management, says Richard Hayman, former owner of a family tech firm, and now a CEO coach. “

 

Too many business owners have career tracks which require employees to become supervisors or managers, but often we end up losing a good tech or sales person and getting a not-so-great manager,” he says. Hayman says allowing employees to stick to their core competencies, can often benefit them—and the company—in the long run.


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

Radio_Ads_body.jpgby Robert Lerose.

 

Advertising on the radio might seem dated and old-fashioned in the age of social media, but radio is still a potent medium for selling products and services. Renée Black, an account executive at Nancy Marshall Communications, an Augusta, Maine-based communications agency, has these tips for creating radio messages that cut through the clutter.

 

1. Engage your audience right away.

Unlike television or the Internet, radio is typically in the background. Most radio listeners will be in their car or doing something else when your message comes on. On top of that, radio ads are short—usually 30 or 60 seconds. To make that time count, begin your ad with a hook or captivating statement that commands immediate attention.

 

2. Give your ads the human touch.

Your ad should feature people that listeners can connect with. One classic approach is to identify the problem that your product or service solves and then show the solution in human terms. For example: instead of telling that your paint store stocks hundreds of colors, show how you helped a customer choose a color that brought her room to life and made the experience easy.

 

Radio_Ads_PQ.jpg3. Your ad should reflect your listeners.

"Your listeners must be able to see themselves in your ad," Black says. "You may find it helpful to create real personas of your own customers." Otherwise, Black suggests using these categories to come up with realistic characters: methodical (swayed by statistics and facts), humanistic (driven strongly by emotions and feelings), spontaneous (spurred by quick decisions or impulsiveness), and competitive (the early adopters who want to be first in their peer group).

 

4. Have a memorable call to action.

Radio ads should ask the listener directly to take some kind of action. Black warns that a hard-to-remember 800 number can turn off an audience, but a catchy phone number or simple website address works much better. Rewarding listeners who act promptly—such as giving them an added benefit or discount—will frequently boost the response rate.

 

5. Maintain an up-to-date website.

Make sure that your website fulfills anything that is promised in your ad. "Your website is the best possible means of differentiating your company from your competitor," Black says. "A strong website is your best partner for a strong radio campaign."

 

6. Be consistent in your branding.

It's prudent to refresh your ads, but don't radically change things that the listener has come to associate with your business. For example, you can put new twists in ads during a campaign, but keep your company's spokesperson or tagline the same.

 

As many small businesses have discovered, advertising on radio can be a stealth way to win customers and separate yourself from the competition.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

Productivity_Habits_body.jpgBy Robert Lerose.

 

Ask business owners across different industries and they'll probably all agree on one thing: there never seems to be enough time to get everything done. The search for the ultimate workplace strategy is never-ending. John Paulsen, a former small business leader who ran a San Francisco-based production company, recommends these habits for being more productive in your own business.

 

1. Revise and prioritize your project list daily

At the start or end of each day, rewrite your To Do list from scratch—don't just cross off completed tasks or add new ones. As you revise, put the tasks in priority, with the most important projects at the top. The completion of key jobs will energize you throughout the day to keep moving forward.

 

2. Tackle big projects one piece at a time

Projects that are large in scope can easily paralyze you. Instead of trying to wrap your arms around the whole assignment, divide the work into smaller, manageable parts that can be completed one at a time. The added benefits: you'll train yourself to assess the steps you need to take, you'll see your progress on a daily basis, and you'll stay motivated as you cross off each item.

 

3. Don't procrastinate

Taking the first step on a new project is usually the hardest—but take it right away. Then, dedicate time in your schedule for this project. Discipline yourself to avoid distractions, such as email, phone messages, in-house meetings, and the ever-present lure of the Internet. Keep this project time nonnegotiable.


Productivity_Habits_PQ.jpg4. Focus on one thing at a time

Studies have shown that multitasking—trying to handle multiple projects at the same time—is actually counterproductive. Not only that, but constantly shifting your attention to a new task every few minutes actually erodes your future ability to concentrate. Better to zero in on a high priority item for a specific amount of time without interruption.

 

5. Schedule some downtime

Working continuously hour after hour without break diminishes our creativity and productivity. We actually accomplish less the longer we work. "Studies find we are at our most productive when we focus intensely on one task for under an hour, then take a brief break," Paulsen says. "Take a nap, or get some active exercise—both are good for your focus, creativity, and productivity, and also good for physical health (and that improves long-term productivity)."

 

6. Share the work

Delegate tasks to your colleagues, including important items. They'll get to share in the success of your company (which can inspire their productivity in the future) and you'll get time to take a satellite view of your business to think, plan, and strategize.

 

Making even a few changes and following through on new habits can impact your productivity and sense of accomplishment.


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

 

Chip_Cards_body.jpgBy Jennifer Shaheen.


EMV chip-enabled credit cards were introduced in October. These cards—named for Europay, MasterCard, and Visa, the companies that created the standard—feature an embedded computer chip which generates a single-use code for each transaction, making them more secure than the previous generation of swipe strip credit cards. EMV chips also support near-field communication, which is the technical name for what happens when customers pay using a digital wallet app on their smartphones, such as Apple Pay.


There was widespread concern among retailers regarding the timing of the introduction of the new technology, as the roll out came at the beginning of the busy holiday shopping season. One of the biggest worries:  adoption hurdles could be costly. However, perhaps motivated by the knowledge that they’d be held financially liable in the event of a customer data breach, some of the nation’s largest retailers, including Wal-Mart, Target, and Home Depot moved forward and began accepting the EMV chip enabled cards.


Improving security

So how have the new EMV cards been received? Results have been mixed. A recent survey by the Mercator Advisory Group, a research firm that focuses on the payment industry, reveals that 34 percent of credit card users appreciate the increased security that comes with the new cards.


Chip_Cards_PQ.jpg

Harbortouch, another payment industry research firm, reports that one in five consumers consider transaction time to be their top concern. Retailers and customers alike are on the same learning curve when it comes to using the new card readers correctly, and this can slow the checkout process down. Assuming no human error, using a chip card takes seven to 10 seconds, compared with two to three seconds for swipe cards.


Understanding your liability

High-profile security breaches in recent years led directly to the adoption of the EMV chip card standard. There are industry critics who say that even this level of enhanced protection is not enough. Many are advocating for a chip + PIN standard, similar to what is already in place in Europe.


For the moment, however, the EMV chip card is considered the acceptable minimum standard for any retailer or financial institution that wants to minimize their liability in the event of a data breach. All retailers are expected to be EMV chip card compliant by 2017, at which point customers will be used to a slightly slower, but much safer, checkout process.


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media Inc. to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media Inc. is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media Inc. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

 

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

In the past, a small businessperson could simply be a small businessperson. What I mean by that is that he or she could concentrate on their business, knowing that, for the most part, it would stay the same, year after year.

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

Today, that is not true. Just think about your business even five years ago. In all likelihood, while your website was important, it was not as vital as it is now and that is even truer when it comes to social media. Business is changing rapidly these days and you simply must stay abreast of latest trends so that you know where things are headed.

 

So let’s take a moment to look at the top trends in small business right now:

 

The changing nature of social media: Just when you thought you had Facebook marketing figured out, along comes this, a big change to Facebook. Last year, Facebook announced that “promotional posts” (especially by businesses) would get less airtime in newsfeeds. These include “(1) posts that push people to buy a product, (2) posts that push people to enter contests, and (3) posts that reuse content from their ads.”

 

What this means for small business owners is that Facebook is becoming a pay-to-play medium.

 

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss


The changing demographic nature of small business itself: For the first time ever, Baby Boomers are not the dominant demographic; Millennials are, especially when it comes to small businesses. For example, this year almost four million Baby Boomer small business owners are set to retire.

Not only are there now more Millennial versus Boomer small business owners, but also according to the most recent Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, these Millennial entrepreneurs are more bullish about both their own businesses and the overall economy as a whole than any other generation.

 

What this means for us is that your colleagues will increasingly be Millennial small business owners; folks who do business differently and have different attitudes than their older counterparts.

 

The changing nature of work itself: Not only is small business changing insofar as ownership goes, but it is also equally changing vis-à-vis employees.

 

The new watchword is “flexibility.”

 

For starters, as you well know, the 40-hour, 9-to-5 workweek is a thing of the past. Not only do we average 47 hours of work a week (according to Forbes), but employees increasingly expect to work when, where, and how they want, using their own devices. In fact, according to the most recent Small Business Owner Report, almost half of all small businesses surveyed said that they now offer telecommuting as an option. Employees want to be mobile, on the go.

 

Mobile is the new standard: In 2015, mobile searches outnumbered desktop searches for the first time ever. Not only that, but Google updated its algorithm to promote sites that are mobile optimized and ding sites that are not.

 

In 2016, the small businessperson must have not only a mobile-optimized website, but a mobile marketing strategy because that is where the eyeballs are.

 

Cybersecurity is more important than ever: The Small Business Owner Report also found that 59% of small business owners are very concerned about being a cybersecurity attack, and, they should be. 60% of all cybercrime is now directed at small business.

 

Emergence of the gig economy: Uber has more than one million drivers worldwide. Airbnb is the new way to travel. Swifto is an Uber-type dog walking business. TaskRabbit lets freelancers do your to-do list for you.

 

Welcome to the gig economy. This new business model is quickly taking root and seems poised to change much of the way we do business, and life.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

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