Category Archives: business

Keep Tweeting During the Holidays

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Merry Christmahanakwanza…Twitter?

With the holidays in full swing it’s easy to put your business social media accounts on the back burner. However, understanding how to engage with your Twitter audience during the holidays can be of great use to your business.

Have fun with your posts 
Since it is the holidays you can have more fun with your tweets. Post pictures of your office holiday party or what you are excited about for the New Year. This helps show your followers your business’/ brand’s personality. Use the hashtag #happyholidays to promote your brand with a trending hashtag. A Crimson Hexagon study showed that twitter holiday influence continues to increase until Christmas Eve. Also, try to relate your industry to the holidays. Many businesses continue right on through the holidays. Tweeting about having a happy holiday season is a great opportunity to include a link about your products and services.

Fewer tweets means more attention.
It’s true that a lot of people take off the last couple weeks December, but not everyone. Many professionals continue to work and check their social media accounts throughout the holidays. Fewer people tweeting means that your posts will get more attention. Also, work tends to slow down giving people have more time to give their social media accounts the due diligence they deserve. 

Scheduling your posts
Even is you’re out of the office for the holidays you can still keep up with your social media accounts. Use a platform like HootSuite to schedule holiday tweets before you leave. It’s a great way to promote your business and/or brand while still being able to enjoy your holiday vacation. 

-NP

Part One: What does our visual culture have to with your company?

 

It’s no secret that with the rise of social media, a highly visual culture has emerged. High quality, sharable images reign supreme online. One of the biggest mistakes a company can make when posting or distributing a press release/product/general announcement is to do so without an image.  It’s like throwing a needle in a haystack. There are several reasons why.picstitch

Picture-focused social sites like Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook show how valuable photos are because of the “sharable” factor. Posting images can help increase engagement.  For example, photo posts account for 93 percent of the most engaging posts on Facebook. They average 53 percent more likes, 104 percent more comments and 84 percent more click-throughs on links than text-only posts. Check out how American Express uses strong visuals to “capture” and engage its audience. The page is interesting and makes you want to stay and explore.

Social media isn’t the only online space to consider when it comes to photos.  According to PR Newswire, a study analyzing more than 10,000 press releases showed the more multimedia you include in a press release distribution, the more views it receives.   In my experience, pitching releases is easier when you have accompanying photos. Editors know they increase readership and will be more likely to run your news.

Also, images are proven to affect local searches. Consumers are more likely to contact a business if there are accompanying images attached to any news/company blog site because it simply grabs their attention.

Aside from distribution and social media, maintaining a visually pleasing company blog and website are equally important.  Most companies have a specific goal in mind when it comes to their home page: to drive website traffic to it.   The most successful websites use photos in a way that makes cross posting on social media a breeze. You don’t want to make your social media sites look great only to drive traffic back to a stark website with nothing to see.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to use photos in each capacity – for media distribution, social media and your company website. 

6 Tips for Email Marketing

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Content marketing is one of most important trends in public relations this year. It’s all about promoting your business to followers with useful content. A great way to do that is through email marketing. But, are a few things you should know before you start.

First, think about the direction of your message/content. What type of information do you want subscribers to see?  Is your content beneficial and informative?

Choosing a Platform: Choose an email-marketing platform. This is essential because you do not want your emails to automatically go to spam if you are sending them out to a large group of people.  Email marketing platforms like Constant Contact and MailChimp are an easy and inexpensive way to help build and polish your content and keep it out of the spam folder. Create multiple test emails and send them out before you choose a particular platform. See what you like.

Finding Contacts: You should already have contacts ready to go to start a marketing campaign. However, you want your contact list to expand. Think about who would be interested in the services/ information you have to offer. Do your research and build a good contact mailing list. In addition, make sure it’s easy for potential subscribers to sign up for your email service – whether that be on your website or your social media platforms.

Crafting your Email: Make sure your emails are written and designed so that they are clear and concise, and the design is mainly neutral colors. Emails should be a “readable” length and if they are too long the will more than likely not be read or read all the way. Try to make it so that your reader only has to scroll down one or two times while reading any given email.

Integration: The key to growing your influence is integration. Create a Twitter account, a Facebook page, etc. for your newsletter. Make sure to advertise your social media when the newsletter goes out. Also use your social media sites to tweet or post updates from your newsletter. Post or tweet a link to your newsletter subscribe button as well. 

Tracking your Emails: Many email-marketing platforms will allow you to track your emails. You can see how many people opened it, what links they clicked on, etc. Every week you should be tracking your progress. See who’s opening your emails and what they are doing after that. Are they clicking on your links? What type of links get the most hits? All of this is important in maintaining a successful email marketing campaign. Use the statistics you collect and modify r accordingly. Remember, email marketing is all about what the subscriber wants to see.

Be Consistent: The key to all content marketing is consistency. Plan out which days and approximately times you want your email to go out. When you start your email- marketing campaign write a welcome email to let your subscribers know what they can expect from you.

– Niki Perri

LinkedIn for B2B Marketing

 

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Everyone knows LinkedIn as a social networking site for professionals looking to network, specifically through job seeker- employer relations.  However, LinkedIn can be used for more than just finding employees for your business.  It’s a great platform for business-to-business marketing. 

All social media sites are great outlets for promoting your business; but what makes LinkedIn different is the professional atmosphere it brings to social networking.  Attention for your business does not have to compete with Instargrammed pictures of food or political rants that may clog up other businesses’ or client’s news feeds. 

One of the ways LinkedIn can help market a business is through building a strong brand image.  Doing things such as posting your company’s logo onto an Internet banner and adding your company blog to your profile are good ways to promote your brand.  Use the about me section to detail the product/ services your business offers.  Another great feature is polls.  Polls allow your business to engage with other businesses, clients or professionals.  They show that you have an interest in other’s opinions- not just your own. 

Take videos that show what your business is up to or what the average day in the office looks like and upload them on your page.  Also, something unique to LinkedIn is the recommendation feature.. Ask another business to recommend your business and build up your reputation.  All these things help create awareness and improve brand reputation. 

Another way to use LinkedIn for marketing is simply by posting. Post what’s new with your business, events that are happening at your company and interesting factoids about your industry, etc. to show your presence and visibility within the industry.

Show your expertise. LinkedIn also offers Q & A chat-rooms that let businesses/working professionals ask questions related to a particular field or topic.  Answering questions and offering up advice regularly shows other users that you’re involved and know the field. Just don’t get the questions wrong.

LinkedIn is also a perfect avenue to promote events like conferences and tradeshows. While many companies post large-scale events through Facebook and Twitter, you are more likely to reach your true target audience through LinkedIn. 

Join key groups.  Your business can create up to 10 groups and can be a member of up to 50 groups.  Joining groups allows you to better connect with people and other businesses.  This lets you really hone in on your target audience and identify the best group opportunities. Location and industry- based groups are the most effective to connect with other businesses. Beware of spam groups that are not monitored or well maintained.  Once you join/create a group, contribute to the conversation and get your business out there.  Simply posting through your own account does not guarantee that the right people will see what you post.  You may have people or businesses in your circles that are not necessarily in your field.  By joining a group you can be sure that the right people will see, connect and engage with your business. 

Don’t forget to connect your Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites to your LinkedIn account to maximize social media presence and visibility.

– Niki Perri

@neperri

 

#Hashtags on Facebook

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It isn’t a secret that Facebook usage has been steadily decreasing throughout the past years as Twitter’s popularity continues to increase.  Capitalizing on Twitter’s business plan, this month Facebook introduced hashtags, Instagram’s 15-second video clip, and a new ad structure that will eliminate more than half of sponsored ads.  While the new ad structure and Instragram videos are good ways to keep up with competition, hashtags on Facebook might not be. 

There is no question that hashtags have been immensely successful on Twitter becoming a social media and PR/ advertising staple to create trends and generate buzz.  Therefore, it comes as no surprise that other social media sites would want to cash in on this function.  Facebook users have been posting status with hashtags for months, despite the face that hashtags were not linked to anything.  Now that Facebook has decided to utilize hashtags there are several problems with it. 

There is a reason why hashtags have been so successful on Twitter.  Twitter has a 140-character count.  This means that you can only use 3 or 4 hashtags in a tweet before you run out of space.  This draws more attention to those specific hashtags.  Facebook, on the other hand, has unlimited space which means #hashtagsfordaysss. Letting users post unlimited hashtags means the power and purpose of the hashtag is lost in a sea of endless characters. 

Another problem is that hashtags do not have any privacy settings.  This means that anyone can view your hashtags.  This is great for businesses that want to gain a larger audience through Facebook.  However, this is bad news for people that constantly put hashtags on their personal Facebook accounts just for fun.  Not only are new hashtags linked together, but old hashtags people or businesses might have posted are now linked. This means if you hashtagged something you shouldn’t have, you need to go back and delete it. 

Hashtags are also not available on mobile devices.  This posses a significant problem as mobile technology is increasingly become the communication method of choice.  Facebook has always been on the slower end of updating their software to be compatible with mobile technology, unlike Twitter which some people might remember started out as a SMS messaging system before going on the Internet. This means that consumers will not be able to click on the hashtags through their smartphones, and PR/ Marketing teams can’t hashtag on the go. 

Finally, there is no clear way of filtering hashtags.  Unlike Twitter, Facebook businesses and personal users do not know which hashtags are trending which makes looking for reach slightly more difficult.  Now it’s definitely not impossible to find out how many hashtags your business or event got, but you have to go on Twitter or even Yahoo to find out if your hashtag is trending.  Even then you don’t know if it was trending on Facebook. 

Now there are positives to having hashtags on Facebook. Businesses can now go and search the hashtag they created for a specific event and find how many hashtags they got.  Before it was extremely difficult to find buzz about a businesses event on Facebook.  However, a set back is that you cannot find out if that hashtag has been used before.  Also, with the lack of privacy hashtags have businesses are able to reach out to a larger and potential untapped audience via Facebook.  Hashtag specific advertisements are soon to follow which can help businesses advertise even more.  This will help replace pesky and sometimes too personal sidebar advertisements.

Most of these problems, aside from the unlimited character space, pose only minor setbacks for Facebook, especially since the hashtag has only been available for a week. These things can be solved with software updates. However, as Facebook becomes more like Twitter the question I have is, what’s the point? If Facebook continues to morph into Twitter, why have two Twitters? 

– Niki Perri

@neperri

DIY PR? Not when success is crucial

Can the average entrepreneur just starting a new enterprise serve virtually every business function — CEO, bookkeeper, secretary and PR person? The president of a Chicago-based boutique PR firm seems to think so.

In a recent column, she posits that DIY PR makes good business sense for a young start-up company. Money is likely tight, so handle the job yourself and reduce costs, she tells entrepreneurs. She is right about immediate money savings, but I have serious questions about the longer-term results.

Granted, I’m in the PR business and like to think that most of my industry colleagues and I can do a much better job than someone not trained to handle the media and other aspects of the job.

The column’s author suggests that the entrepreneur can better target his or her market than a PR firm that simply blasts press releases to a multitude of editors and bloggers. Maybe that’s the way her firm handles PR, but that’s not the norm for a professional, experienced agency.

Rather than approach 500 potential media outlets, she counsels entrepreneurs to spend time targeting the top 10 to 25. That’s good advice and something any reputable PR firm would do as well.

Once targets are identified, she suggests the entrepreneur take just 2-3 hours a week to develop a media list, write a press release, pitch the media and follow up. For someone not trained in PR to accomplish that much in three hours would be virtually impossible. Most PR professionals would be hard pressed to condense that much work into such a short time.

Then when the media comes calling, she tells the entrepreneur to drop everything to meet the reporters’ schedules. Forget about that meeting with your investors for the next round of capital.

In my 20+ career, I’ve worked with a number of start-ups and have been willing to work for less with the idea that the retainer will grow as I help the business mature and develop. There are many other PR professionals willing to do the same. I have more than one story where my partner and I have helped a start-up business make contacts with more and bigger investors because of a favorable article in a local newspaper, TV station or trade journal. I think we more than earned our money.

The idea that PR can be handled by anyone is ridiculous. The vast majority of PR people are trained professionals that can bring about results — most often for a reasonable fee. Would our Chicago PR person also suggest that an entrepreneur serve as his or her own DIY attorney or tax accountant?

I doubt it. It’s time that PR practitioners stand up and demand to be treated with the same dignity and respect as other trained professional service providers. We deserve it. We’ve worked hard and proven ourselves time and again. We allow our clients to do what they do best — run their businesses without having to worry about PR.

Ideas such as DIY PR are great for the PTA. Let’s keep them there.

— JD

Twitter: @jdaum

 

Don’t Let Your Company Get Spear Phished, FBI Warns ASIS Group

If, as a company executive, you allow your employees to send and receive email and permit them to surf the Internet, your corporate network will be attacked by malicious hackers.

That’s the word from an FBI computer scientist who addressed more than 125 attendees Thursday at the ASIS International Region III annual seminar in San Diego.

With all the information about a company that executives and other employees make available on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, “we give them everything they (hackers) need. That’s what makes our job so hard,” said the FBI’s Darren Bennett.

He said corporations are frequently being targeted with a practice known as spear phishing. This involves an email often sent to one employee, addressed from someone within the company in a position of power or trust. Typically, the mail requests information such as login IDs and/or passwords. A variation of spear phishing involves an email from the IT or human resources department asking an employee to update his or her username or password. Once the hacker has that information, the entire network may be compromised.

The realistic-looking emails are produced from information easily lifted from social media sites, Bennett said.

“If you are just a worker bee in the company and get an email from the CEO, you might want to question why,” he said. “If you have any doubt about the email’s authenticity, contact your IT folks to have them check it out.”

In cases of spear phishing, firewalls and anti-virus programs offer little to no protection. What does work, Bennett said, is an IT organization that constantly monitors the corporate network and investigates cases of heavy traffic or data in the middle of the night. Also, employees need to be encouraged to immediately report any network problems or suspicions they may have about emails received.

“And if your network is successfully attacked, do whatever you have to do to repair the problem — even if that means changing every password,” he said.

The two-day event, concluding today, also included a number of security equipment manufacturers showcasing some of their latest products. Here’s a quick look at a few:

Axis Communications displayed its P-12 Network Camera Series that includes miniature HDTV cameras. The cameras’ design allows them to easily blend in with a variety of environments, making them ideal for discreet and covert surveillance in retail stores, offices and ATMs.

PCSC showed its Fault Tolerant controller series that brings automated system recovery for access control systems. If a primary controller fails, an alternate controller automatically takes over the duty.

Salient Systems demonstrated its CompleteView comprehensive video management software solution supporting IP, analog and hybrid camera surveillance environments. CompleteView is scalable from entry level to enterprise applications.

Everybody’s a Twitter expert (well, maybe)

 

Everyone’s jumping on Twitter these days with links to blogs offering advice about how business owners can use the platform to greatly increase profits.

Read them and you’ll know how many Tweets to post each day. Well, maybe you will. Some say three, others say six are better.

There are supporters of posting between 8 to 10 a.m. ET (a little early for anyone living west of Kansas), while others say 1 to 3 p.m. ET is the sweet spot. Longer or shorter tweets? They each have their supporters.  Is a single hash tag enough? Are four too many?

All this points out what I’m learning from running three Twitter accounts and helping out on another — there are no one-size-fits-all solutions.  Every business, every industry is different.

One tweet I read recently really hit home. A woman complained about an online job posting for marketing position that required a minimum of 10 years of social media experience. I assume that job will go unfilled for the next few years. Ten years ago there was no Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram or other major social media platform.

Anyone involved in social media is still a pioneer. Run from anyone who tells you he or she knows exactly what will work for your business. Instead be ready to work with someone willing to experiment and take reasonable chances to find the program that works best for you.

There is no doubt social media can be a huge PR and marketing boost. So go ahead and read these ‘experts.’ There is a little something to be learned from each blog — including this one.

Of course, that’s just my humble opinion.

— JD

Twitter: @jdaum

 

Small Businesses Say Social Media Helps Them Grow

Small business owners are catching on to social media in a big way. And many of them are reporting some impressive results.

A recent survey of 614 U.S. small business owners showed that 90 percent are actively engaged in social networking sites. And about three of four said those sites are as valuable — or more so — than in-person networking.

More than a third of the respondents said being found by new customers was the most valuable benefit of social media. Impressively, 78 percent said that over the past year they gained a quarter or more of their new customers through online or social media channels.

But the large number of available options — Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Groupon and other channels — is overwhelming for many small business owners.

This is where an experienced social media consultant can help. Choosing the right channels and then keeping them filled with regularly updated, quality content can make the difference between social media success and failure. The same holds true of a company website, which one in four of the survey respondents said was an important business driver.

The time has come when a small business owner not engaging or properly using social media is at a competitive disadvantage.

Click here for more details on the recent survey sponsored by a small business online community.

-JD

Twitter: @jdaum