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5 Posts authored by: Joel Comm

Social media marketing is a broad term covering everything from targeting detailed demographics on Facebook to threading tweets on Twitter, shooting video, and rustling up audiences on YouTube.

 

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Yet despite the constant conversation about social media marketing, one platform that’s often overlooked is Pinterest.

 

The platform has more than 250 million visitors every month with 84 percent of them turning to Pinterest specifically when they’re trying to decide what to buy. It’s popular with millennials, and it’s particularly popular with females. For any business, but especially businesses that target women, it shouldn’t be overlooked.

 

One of the reasons that Pinterest has such a dedicated, engaged audience is that it’s easy to use. Another important difference between Pinterest and other platforms, particularly for use in social media marketing, is that it operates more like a search engine than a social media site. Interaction with followers is less important than a steady flow of content properly keyworded. But like Instagram, and unlike Google, Pinterest is built on images.

 

Images are “pinned” to themed boards created by the user and can be shared or “repined” and commented on. And, since the platform tends to be both highly visual and instructional, adding text to your pinned images is often more impactful than the post caption itself in terms of audience engagement.

 

According to Lauren McManus of CreateAndGo.com, a consultancy for bloggers, text should have no more than two or three fonts and colors, but should emphasize the important words.

 

“The headline has to be click-worthy,” she says.

 

Pinterest is also unusual among the social networks in delivering better results for pictures of objects than for pictures of people. Users are more likely to be looking for purchase or design ideas than for selfies of their friends.

 

Format is important too. Pins should have a 2:3 ratio and be no more than 1,500 pixels long. 

 

“Pinterest has said that they will cut off pins at 1,260 pixels,” Lauren says, “but if you keep the majority of the text in the top portion of the graphic, then there usually won't be an issue. Our longer pins from the past still perform well.”

 

Businesses should create their own boards that they fill with relevant pins. Those pins could be product images or even form a kind of mood board related to the services the business sells. Farmers Insurance, for example, has boards that cover family life but also places pins that look like print adverts and promote insurance policies.

 

The real challenge in using Pinterest, as for many social media platforms, is building the audience. One option is to join a group board, a place on which lots of contributors place pins. “Group boards with lots of followers are great for exposure,” says Lauren. “But niche group boards are also very important as relevancy is key in the Pinterest algorithm for associating content with yours.”

 

Businesses should avoid boards with a virality score below 1.0, though, which means that a pin is shared for every pin added. Tailwind, an app that brings pinners together, has also proved to be useful.

 

Group activity is one vital step towards audience building on Pinterest but so is a steady flow of new content. Lauren recommends posting at least once a week and as often as two or three times a week. “Once you build up an audience, you can slow down,” she says. “You can also freshen up older content with new graphics. That's a great strategy.”

And of course, repinning other people’s content gives your audience new content easily while spreading your views to others and increasing the chances that your own pins will be shared.

 

But it’s the keywords that are most important. Users on Pinterest search for images and ideas so keywording your pins and placing them on properly keyworded boards is vital for being seen and growing organically. It sounds technical but adding terms to images is still more fun than targeting demographics and can be no less effective for small businesses.

 

While it may be tempting to stick to platforms that are familiar there is a huge benefit to experimentation. Small businesses, particularly those selling goods online, should explore Pinterest as a great option to reach potential customers in a new and fresh way.

 

Related content:

The Social Media Time Suck: How to Pick your Platforms

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

It’s never been easier for a small business to connect with customers and leads. Open a Facebook page, target some advertising, and within a few days a business could have thousands of followers all within its market area and matching its customer demographics.

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That’s valuable and it can bring sales. But it’s no replacement for the word-of-mouth recommendations that come from networking.

 

These are two very different strategies. Online networking gives you the lightest of contacts with a large number of people. Offline networking gives you deep, powerful relationships with a relatively small number of people.

 

While networking on social media can provide sales, networking in the real world can give you loyal customers who return to you again and again. Those customers also act as advertisers, sending the people they know to your business.

 

But networking doesn’t just increase sales. Networking ensures that businesses that need help with the Christmas rush or over the summer break have people to ask when they need temporary staff. Instead of advertising and interviewing, they’ll be able to call a contact and ask whether their friend’s student offspring is coming back from college and needs some work.

 

When they need an insurance policy, a good connection can tell them where to turn. If a business owner is looking for a new location, networking can put them in touch with people who know of outlets for rent and who understand the market area.

 

And if the city decides to make changes that could affect their business, networked owners will hear about those changes, and have the channels to influence them before they’re fully implemented.

 

Social media marketing is about sales and branding. Networking is unique. It’s about information, which is no less valuable.

 

Building those networks doesn’t happen quickly or easily. But it does happen enjoyably because meeting people is interesting and fun. Local chambers of commerce might be ideal networking centers, venues in which people with shared interests swap information and advice. But they’re also social hubs where people with similar outlooks meet and talk.

 

They’re good places to start networking, but the value of a network depends on its nodes. Some people are just more connected than others. We all have friends who have huge contact lists and who seem to know everyone. It pays to build a relationship with those people.

 

They may be consultants whose work requires them to network at conferences around the world. They could be local activists whose volunteer work puts them in touch with the municipality and with other local service providers. Or they could be teachers who meet dozens of parents each year and manage to stay in touch with many of them.

 

Every community has individuals with extraordinary numbers of friends. Good networking should include identifying those people and building a relationship with them.

You can often find them by volunteering in your local area, by taking part in PTA events or by joining local clubs and schemes. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t enjoy—if you don’t like golf, don’t join a golf club—but look for activities that you find meaningful or important.

 

Most of a small business owner’s work involves creating products and making sales. That effort is made in the workplace and during work hours. Networking happens outside the store or office, and it happens after working hours.

 

But it doesn’t just make sales. It also makes friends.

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

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As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

There’s never been a tougher time to own a local business. Today, anyone can order the same goods they’d find in a brick and mortar store using their mobile phones from billion-dollar businesses with huge economies of scale. They can get those purchases delivered to their door the very next day, or even the same day, without ever leaving the sofa, let alone looking for a parking space or waiting in line.

 

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It’s no wonder chains as ubiquitous as Toys R Us, Payless Shoes, and Borders have all closed stores or gone out of business in the last few years while the value of Amazon’s shares almost doubled between April 2017 and April 2019.

 

The rise and convenience of Internet shopping mean local firms need to look beyond the simple exchange of goods for money as the foundation of their businesses. Any outlet can do that. They need to offer something that Amazon and other online businesses can’t deliver—and that’s a personal service.

 

They need to stop being stores and start becoming neighborhood institutions.

 

It’s a role some stores have always played. The owners of local hardware stores never just sold hammers and bags of nails. They also talked to their customers about the projects they were working on or the repairs they were making. They pointed them to tools better suited for the job and gave them advice about avoiding mistakes. That advice was both personalized and localized.

 

The value of that personal advice is why a huge company like Apple has expanded its Today at Apple sessions. Those creative lessons help customers to get more out of their iPads and Macs, but they also turn Apple stores, already best known for their Genius Bars, into personal learning centers as well as retail outlets.

 

They give people a reason to come through the door instead of buying online.

 

That’s exactly what local businesses need to do. They must expand beyond retail sales to include events and experiences related to the products and services they sell.

 

    • It’s always possible to buy clothes online, for example, but only a local clothing store will work with local designers and provide an outlet for students studying fashion at the community college.

 

    • Paint supplies are easy to purchase but only a local art shop can also run a class and provide models for local artists.

 

    • Anyone can work out alone but only a local fitness center can provide a personal coach and the camaraderie of working out with other people.

 

All those services allow the business to do more than exchange a good or supply a service. They build a relationship with a customer. They turn the customer into a friend. They make the customer feel welcome and they lead the customer to trust the business that they buy from.

 

Check out how Barebottle Brewing Company builds relationships with their customers in the Bay area.

 

The way for local businesses to compete with online businesses is to make use of their local advantages. Make customers feel welcome. Know their names and the problems that they want the store to solve. Give them an experience they just can’t get online.

 

When that happens people won’t just be willing to put down their phones and get off the sofa. They’ll want to visit you. They’ll want to do business with you.

And they’ll want to keep you in business.

 

Watch our videos about Nashville and Atlanta small businesses:

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

You’re not unique. Whatever you do, someone else is doing the same thing—or something very similar.

 

That’s how it should be. If your business really were the only one in its field, there would be a reason for that, and that reason is likely everyone else already discovered it’s a bad idea. When an idea is good it always has competitors.

 

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That truth is why hundreds of companies churn out almost identical glass and metal devices for making phone calls and connecting to the Internet. And although there is no shortage of car companies, it’s why they all offer similar solutions to the same transportation problem. And it’s why when venture investors hear an entrepreneur say they don’t really have any competitors, investors roll their eyes, shut their wallets, and assume the founder hasn’t done the research.

 

Everyone has competitors.

 

Successful businesses know how to stand out from their competitors.

 

One way to do that is to know your unique selling proposition (USP) —and make that USP clear to everyone else. When prospective customers think of your company they should know what you do, what your competitors do, and how you do it in a different way.

 

In the smartphone industry, for example, Apple has managed to brand itself as the company that pays the most attention to design. It even has its own app store and its own operating system so it can retain control over the way the phone looks and behaves. Samsung? Well, that’s the non-Apple in the market. Its phones are also well designed—its curved edges and equally high prices make that clear. But it’s not dependent on Apple’s software or user experience, and it offers a look that’s just different from Apple’s well-known branding. Mi is best known for its low prices, and Blackberry is still touting its business-friendly keyboard.

 

Those differences aren’t huge. All of the devices made by these companies largely do the same thing. But Apple’s USP of “better design” is enough to help differentiate the company, and it’s consistent in all the company’s products. Whether someone buys an iPhone or a Mac, they know they’re getting that same emphasis on design and functionality.

That quality helps the company stand out, and it encourages consumers to choose Apple over competitor brands.

 

A set of features only does part of the work helping a company’s products stand out, though. It’s what happens when you put those features together that has the biggest effect.

 

That’s what creates the company’s voice.

 

One of the most prominent effects of social media marketing has been the deepening of the relationship between brands and customers. People now see marketing messages from businesses mixed in with updates from their friends. They hear their friends talking about their trip to the beach, then they hear a restaurant talk about their new menu item. Those messages need to fit that casual environment.

 

Even if your product is made by 20 other companies, you should be able to identify a set of characteristics unique to the products your company makes. They could be an element of your design, the warmth of your customer service, your emphasis on low prices, or anything else that sets you apart. No one business can do all of those things. Apple can’t be cheap and luxurious. Blackberry can’t be professional and fun. There’s always room for your business to carve out a strong USP.

 

One way to think about this is that you should know what those characteristics would sound like if you were to put them together in a person. You should know how your brand would speak, how it would dress and what it has planned for the weekend.

 

When you can give your products a unique experience and combine that experience with an authentic voice, you’ll have a company that has a real relationship with customers, and that stands out in a crowd like a friend.

 

     Read next:

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

If you want your business to succeed, you have to work hard. You have to hustle and grind. You have to burn the midnight oil, give up your weekends, and wave goodbye to your hobbies. While you’re building your business, you have to assume that that business will be your life. It’s going to be a long, hard slog.

 

This is the message we hear so often. We hear it so much that we assume the only path to success lies through sacrifice and sadness.

 

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It doesn’t have to be that way.. For many incredibly successful people, it isn’t that way.

 

Some of the biggest successes I’ve had have come while developing products where the process was so much fun that my team and I barely knew we were working.  We didn’t stay late at the office. We didn’t burn through weekends or miss school concerts to attend boring meetings. We just focused on enjoying ourselves and making something that we thought had a viable market.

 

We believed that a product that was fun to make would be even more fun to use. And we were right.

 

The same principle applies to every business and field. You don’t have to choose between enjoying yourself now and achieving success in the future. You can have both.

Start by finding the thing you love to do. That might not be the highest paying thing you could do, but as long as it pays your bills and puts a roof over your family’s head, it is the thing you should do.

 

Identifying that activity isn’t as easy as it sounds. Because we assume that work is hard, and fun isn’t work, we don’t always see the activities we enjoy can also become sustainable businesses. If you have doubts start slowly. Test the ground by selling your cupcakes at a food fair and checking the feedback, or by trying out a stand at an art fair. The more you sell, the more experience you’ll build and the greater your confidence will become.

 

You don’t have to rush into the business. Do it at a pace that feels comfortable.

 

You can also learn to say “no.”

 

So much of the work we do is work for others that we’d prefer not to do. Sure, you have to keep your customers happy, and it’s important to show your dedication sometimes. But the penalty for declining to take work that pays little and delivers large amounts of frustration is often much smaller than you’d think. It’s often a price you’d be more than willing to pay.

 

It’s not easy to say “no” to work. But once you start doing it—and your business life starts getting better—you’ll find it becomes easier to do.

 

But the most important way to build a business that compliments the life you enjoy is not to worry about the stuff that other people are doing.

 

Part of being in business is being in competition. But being the best isn’t the same as making the most sales, landing the largest number of new clients, working the most hours, or growing at the fastest rate. Its also about enjoying your life as much as you can.

 

Some other entrepreneur might appear to be more successful than you. They might appear to be taking on more staff, spending more on advertising, and building up a bigger following. But if they’re working more hours, spending less time with their families, and enjoying themselves less, then you’re coming out ahead.

 

Your business doesn’t have to be your life. But the two will always be connected. As long as you enjoy your business, you’ll be enjoying your life and doing good stuff.

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

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