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2015

Social_Media_Mgr_body.jpgby Erin O’Donnell.


Today, social media is an integral part of any company’s marketing strategy, and it’s worth the investment to hire a professional.

 

Effective social media management is a hybrid of marketing, public relations, customer service, and data analysis. Here are the key traits to look for in a job candidate, either full-time or on an hourly basis:

 

The ability to tell a story

Social media tells the story of your brand, so look for someone with strong writing and communication skills, says Jasmine Sandler, CEO and founder of Agent-cy Online Marketing in New York City. “The biggest challenge any company has is engagement in marketing. If you’re putting out boring stuff, there’s no engagement.”

 

Strong blog posts made on a regular basis help drive both website traffic and search results, says Kathi Kruse, owner of Kruse Control Inc., a Los Angeles digital marketing firm specializing in the automotive market. “If you can tell a story with an image, video, or the written word, you’re going to get a lot more people connected to you,” Kruse said.

 

Experience in community management or customer service

Social media is interactive, so you need someone who can build community with a professional but human approach. Kruse says intangibles like patience and emotional maturity are key, because this person may be your first line of defense in a crisis. Ask how they would handle poor online reviews or negative tweets about your business. Kruse advises business owners to respond to all social media feedback, but not always right away. It’s better to respond calmly later than to inflame a situation with a heated exchange.

 

Social_Media_Mgr_PQ.jpgA head for strategy and ROI

A social media manager must go beyond tactics and flesh out a strategy, Kruse says. Ask how the candidate has used the business applications in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other channels to mount a campaign and meet goals. Even the best content will go nowhere if it’s not promoted effectively, Kruse says.

 

Sandler says a social media professional needs to be savvy about traditional marketing, public relations, and advertising practices. And he or she should be able to analyze the data produced by social media metrics to hone strategy and track progress toward goals, she adds.

 

The cost of a social media manager

According to the career website Glassdoor, full-time social media manager salaries range from about $35,000 to $80,000; average is about $51,000. Social media strategist Mack Collier, who surveys consultants about their rates each year, finds most charge $1,000 to $2,000 a month for basic monitoring and reports. For strategy creation and integration, expect to pay $10,000 to $15,000 to establish a plan.

 

The cost of not having a professional in this role is poor social media management that puts both your sales and your credibility at risk. “There are conversations going on right now about your business,” Kruse says. “Do you want to help craft that narrative, or do you want a competitor or the public to do it?”

 

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

 

 

Data_Security_body.jpgby Jennifer Shaheen.


Protecting customer data has to be among the top priorities of a small business owner. Hackers and thieves have been known to deliberately target smaller firms because they know security measures tend to be less robust and inconsistently implemented than those at larger corporations. Here’s what you need to do to protect yourself:


Minimize the amount of data you store and who has access to it

Be mindful about the type and amount of customer data you accept and store. The less you store, the smaller your risk exposure. For this reason, the majority of business owners don’t store credit card information, choosing instead to pass that data along to card processors who have more robust security systems. However, more general data, including customers’ home addresses, birthdays, and purchasing history still have value and must be protected. Restrict access to this data to those employees who have a legitimate reason for it, and routinely monitor when and how they access that information.


Ensure all web applications are secure

If you’re using a cloud-based system to record and store customer data, make sure the web application you use to access this information from your computer and smartphone is secure. An easy way to determine this is to look at the browser address bar. Secure applications will display a “https:” rather than a “http:” at the beginning of the web address.

 

Also, be sure to check the web application’s policies and terms of service thoroughly to determine what use they’re making of the data you store. Free applications in particular make money by mining the data stored on their sites and selling it to advertisers. Choosing an application you pay for should ensure your data is not used this way – but you’ll want to carefully read the terms of service to be absolutely sure.


Data_Security_PQ.jpgChange passwords on a regular basis

A Verizon RISK study found that 76 percent of data breeches involve weak or overly simplistic passwords, such as “password” or “1234”. Make it a policy for employees to change their passwords at least every 90 days. The best passwords are at least eight characters long, contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and characters. Discourage employees from using their own name, the company name, or any other easily guessed information as part of their password. And although it sounds obvious, make sure employees know not to keep their passwords posted on or near their keyboards or monitors.


Consider data liability insurance

Data liability insurance, also known as cyber insurance, protects policy holders against lawsuits from customers or employees impacted by a data breech, and in some cases, compensates for lost income that occurs as a result of a hacking event. To determine whether you need data liability insurance, talk with your insurance agent about costs, what specific protections are being offered, what data you’re storing, and the consequences of a breech. This analysis will help you assess whether or not you need to spend the money for this type of protection.


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

 

How_SBOs_can_use_Vine_body.jpgby Jennifer Shaheen.


Do you love Vine but aren’t sure how to make it work for your business? You’re not alone. The six-second length of Vine videos has been a significant hurdle since many brands have not been able to figure out how to share their marketing message effectively in such a short time frame. Luckily, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It’s totally fine to put your own spin on approaches that have proven to be effective for other companies. Here are some tips to make Vine work for your small business:


Embrace the homemade feel

The beauty of Vine is that the videos don’t have to be fancy to be effective. In fact, the homemade aspect to them is what makes Vines so attractive in the first place. It’s a good idea to spend some time watching Vines prior to making your own. Doing so will enable you to familiarize yourself with the platform’s unique feel and quell any concerns you might have about your filming technique or production values.


Show you’re ready for business

Use Vine to demonstrate that you’re ready, willing, and able to deliver exactly the experience the customer is looking for. For example, in six seconds, a restaurant could show, in rapid progression, the dining room, a chair pulled out, the lovely table, the menu, and a plate of delicious food.


Unboxing: Great for e-commerce

Your customers can be your best salespeople. Encourage them to create and share “Unboxing” Vines, which showcase their excitement and happiness as they unpack their latest delivery—your products. Suggest a hashtag (#YourCompanyNameUnBoxing) and include prompts to create these Vines via your other social media platforms, your website, and in packing materials. Don’t forget to share the best Unboxing Vines with your own followers.


How_SBOs_can_use_Vine_PQ.jpgDemonstrate product features

Put your employees in the spotlight by having them demonstrate one or more of your product’s best features, such as how much sports gear can be packed in a bag or how quickly a particular blender crushes ice. There’s a lot of power in visually presenting your product the way the customer will actually use it.


Explain the how-to

How-to Vines are among the most popular, as amazing transformations are explained in three or four simple steps. For example, a garden center could show how to transform a few flats of annuals into a cheery window box or a prom retailer could highlight a blue jeans to ball gown transformation.

 

Use these techniques to get started on Vine and remember to have fun. Social media experts say the most popular Vines are quirky, playful, and put a smile on your customers’ faces.

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Touchpoint Media LLC to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Touchpoint Media LLC is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Touchpoint Media LLC. Consult your competent 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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