Come get these Black stock image jewels!

  • mannette
  • June 16th, 2020
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Representation matters.

It just does. It matters in how you view yourself. It matters in how the world perceives you. It matters in how your audience views your product, service, and your company. 

When I was coming up in the 70s and 80s, it was a normal occurrence in many Black households to be pleasantly surprised – okay, shocked – to see African-Americans in mainstream tv commercials or magazine ads. Imagine that it’s so rare to see yourself in media spaces that you almost can’t believe it when it happens.

Seriously…there would be whole conversations about it. 

How many of you remember…

…counting the number of Black people you saw in a Coke commercial or the number of times you saw a Black family on an episode of Richard Dawson’s Family Feud? How about counting the number of Black people you saw on a Saturday morning episode of American Bandstand because after watching Soul Train, you were still in a dancing mood, so you headed over to that other network to see what musical group was on and to see if you recog…wait…no…who are these people? Never mind.

Me and my Black doll…somewhere around 1976 or ’77?

Anyway, in 2020, we still live in a world where White is the default in marketing and advertising imagery. This is clearly evident for small to mid-sized marketers attempting, on small budgets, to find images that help communicate and represent their brand. Many stock image sites either lack relevant images of Black people or the ones they offer are so cheesy or aged that it’s just painful to search through. There have been a few times I’ve decided to go without an image because the pickings were laughable.

Thank goodness Black photographers and creatives took this issue into their own hands and created spaces to house real, elegant, relevant, every day, ‘make me wanna’ buy some of your stuff’ images of us. Cause yeah, Black folk pose in the street, drink tea, dig our feet in the sand, hug our Daddies, eat ice cream, walk our dogs, smoke cigarettes (I mean really…stop that), hang out with our friends, type on our laptops, open Christmas presents, and look gazingly into the sun, too.

These sites feature images that honor the way we see ourselves, through our own gaze, instead of relying on the perspective of ‘other’.

Larger, more popular sites finally caught a clue and expanded their offerings, giving us even more options to choose from. Some of their images are still questionable, but hey…baby steps, I guess.

Take a look at the top 5 list I’ve compiled and get what you need! If you need more, download this stock image resource guide.

Oh! None of these sites have paid me to feature them, soooo…

nappy

www.nappy.co – This site offers lots of images in shades of brown from folk all over the African diaspora. It’s a beautiful thing! Everything on this site is free. Find an image and download it.

Images courtesy of nappy.co

CreateHER Stock

https://createherstock.com/ – Founded by creative Neosha Gardner, this site is loaded with images perfect for your product, service, blog, or website. There’s a collection of over 3000+ free images (after offering your email) called The Stockpile. If you need more extensive offerings, you can pay to play for as little as $10 per month. 

You can also get unlimited access and unlimited downloads for $99 annually. That’s a pretty darn good deal!

Images courtesy of createherstock.com

eye for ebony

www.eyeforebony.com – This is another site offered up by a group of creatives that saw a need and decided to act. Led by LaShonda Brown, EFE provides $25 bundles of 25 lifestyle photos, including “Yoga”, “T-Shirt Mockups”, “In Love”, “Blogger”, and more. You can try a few images for free by signing up for their newsletter with your email address.

Father’s Day is coming up…check out the “Father & Son” bundle!

Images courtesy of eyeforebony.com

Pexels

https://www.pexels.com/ – I’ve used this site for several years, but sometimes was less than impressed with their offerings for people of color. But lately, they’ve upped their game and it’s lovely!

About a week ago, I posted content thanking online design and publishing platform, Canva, for increasing the number of African American images available. After digging a little deeper, I’ve discovered that Canva acquired Pexels and Pixabay, which would explain the sudden onslaught of beautiful, brown images. They also offer stock videos, so please take a look!

Images courtesy of Pexels/Canva

Black illustrations

https://www.blackillustrations.com/ – Sometimes an image just won’t do the trick. There are times you need an illustration, customized or not, to adequately portray brand, product, or service. There are a few free packages for download, but others come with a nominal fee and are well worth it.

Illustrations courtesy of BlackIllustrations.com

When you begin checking out these options, you’ll undoubtedly find some of the photos across multiple sites, and that’s okay! However, each site has its own dynamic and multidimensional flavor, just like Black people. So, get yourself a cup of coffee or tea, pick up your laptop or smartphone, or tablet and get to work curating fantastic images of color for your creative projects!

There are just a few sites I’ve come across and used over the years. If you’d like the full list, download it here.

Women’s History Month is a great time to not only review our fabulous past, but to also take a look at where we’re headed.

Podcasts are the perfect place to start focusing on what’s happening NOW!

They’ve taken over as the digital media resource ‘du jour’. And why not? Podcasts let you hear great perspectives on a myriad of topics while staying focused on those things you need to get done. That could be working out, driving to work, grocery shopping, or writing this blog…you get what I’m saying.

Whether you’re looking for business advice, need help destressing, or maybe just want to hear a great conversation between friends, there’s something for you!

That being said, here’s my contribution to Women’s History Month! 

I’ve compiled a small list of Black women-created podcasts covering the gamut of topics from entrepreneurial encouragement to recognizing the importance of self-care in your mental health.

So, scan the list. Check out a few episodes of each one and see if you find one that makes you giggle a little or think more deeply.

Enjoy!

Carol Sankar – The Confidence Factor

I first became aware of Carol Sankar a couple of years ago when I ran across an article she’d written for Forbes Magazine, “Why Don’t More Women Negotiate?”

The Confidence Factor podcast
The Confidence Factor

Well, that title got my attention, ‘cause honey give me my money! 

I started searching out more information and began following her on a couple of platforms.

Turns out, she has a podcast called The Confidence Factor. It’s appropriately named after her company, The Confidence Factor for Women in Leadership, built to educate, influence, and empower women in the c-suite. 

Why this podcast? What makes Carol Sankar’s podcasts interesting are the lessons she weaves throughout her personal anecdotes. They’re loaded with thoughtful and sometimes funny stories shared of the journey building her business. In the midst of this Women’s History Month, her perspective is needed. Listen up! 

I personally love episodes entitled, ”You’ll Always Be Broke if You Do This” and “You Are Never Too Old to Dream”.

Speak Easy with She` Jones

If you’re like me, you’ve received social media notifications from a family member, friend or acquaintance announcing their new podcast. Some of them are great…and this is one of them!

Speak Easy with She` Jones podcast
Speak Easy with She` Jones

She`, her husband Carlos, and other guests discuss some of the same topics on her “SpeakEasy with She` Jones” podcast that you’d talk about with your own family and friends. Is social media ruining relationships? Are PWIs better than HBCUs? Why did Snoop Dogg handle the whole ‘Gayle’ thing the way he did (and why is Bill Cosby speaking on anything…from jail)? 

I love the informal tone of the interactions. It makes you feel like you’re hanging out with friends or family you haven’t talked to in a while. There are truly some laugh out loud moments!

Why this podcast? It’s just a good, easy conversation that you might have with friends, sitting around and sipping wine on a Friday night. After dealing with all the things you do within a week, it’s cool to just kick back and shoot the sh** for a little while. 

Sit back and have a chill conversation with She`.

Elayne Fluker – Support Is Sexy

I’m always on the search for women who make a habit of uplifting other women in business. The entrepreneurship journey is NOT easy and sometimes you just need to know that someone understands. So it’s no surprise that it was the name of her podcast that really caught my eye. Not the “sexy”, but the “support”.

Support is Sexy podcast image
Support is Sexy

If you’ve ever gone down the road of small-business ownership, no further explanation is needed.

In her Support Is Sexy podcast, Elayne interviews women whose stories cover a wide range. There’s one guest whose life experiences led her to open an international hotel, though that just didn’t seem to be her original path. She interviews another who used hard-knock life experiences to support the forward movement of other women. Then there’s a very personal episode of Elayne sitting in a room of other successful women…and that doggone self-doubt of her own value began to creep in. Ouch! Been there, done that!

UPDATE: Since I published this blog, I saw a LinkedIn post from Elayne commenting on her…UPCOMING TELEVISION SHOW! She is SHINING! Connect with her to get further details on this venture!

Why this podcast? No matter how successful your business, every female entrepreneur needs to know someone feels her pain and Elayne gets that. Sometimes, hearing incredible stories of success or insight can give you just the right amount of motivation to keep you on your own path of discovery.

Discovering Strength with Erin Myers

Self-care. It’s the buzz phrase of the day, and with good reason. We are a nation of overworked, under-rested, and just overall stressed out and ever-chasing-happy folk. Did I cover it all? Probably not, but hang with me for a moment.

Discovering Strength with Erin Myers podcast
Discovering Strength with Erin Myers

Erin Myers tackles these challenges through the prism of her faith. With her Discovering Strength podcast, she uses her faith and experience with personal challenges as an inspiration to those others. She specifically talks about how her battles with abuse, divorce, childhood trauma, and “motherwounds” have taken their toll. But she uses those same battles to help others overcome and prosper.

One of my favorite episodes is part of her Reset and Refresh Series entitled, “What’s that prayer life look like?”

Why this podcast? When I need a pick-me-up, a word of encouragement, or a word from the Most High as encouragement, I can depend on Erin to shine a light in that direction.

Now, if you’re like me, you won’t have time to check them all out or listen to your favorite podcaster more than once a week. But, do yourself a favor and reap the personal benefits of taking in the light of at least one.

Check out Monica’s recent blog on getting better results on the LinkedIn platform! You can also connect with or follow her on LinkedIn or Facebook.

My advice remains the same – be active and engaged.

However, in regular conversations with current and potential clients, I’ve noticed a trend. For many,  what passes for ‘engagement’ isn’t truely…engagement. When completing my usual onboarding reconnaissance for people who tell me they’re relatively active on the site, I quickly realize our definitions of ‘active’ and ‘engagement’ don’t line up.

Let me explain. 

If you’ve made the decision to ramp up your LinkedIn engagement in 2020, yay you! But please… clearly define what that means. Engagement is NOT spending 20 minutes a day scrolling through your feed, finding posts that pique your interest, and hitting the “Like” button. I mean, the ‘Like” is appreciated, but how have you really engaged in a meaningful way that will add to that particular conversation or impact a thought process? What connection did you make, literally and figuratively, with that half-second act?

Not much, if any.

So, what should you do?

SAY – SOMETHING.

When a post impacts you in a way that inspires you to ‘like’ it, that means you’ve surely had a thought about the content, however brief that thought may have been. So, go to the comments section and inform your tribe of that thought. It’s okay. You can do it…there’s no right or wrong answer. It’s a discussion. It’s a conversation. It’s ENGAGEMENT.

Let’s say the post REALLY resonated and gave you pause. Share the post and give even more details on your thoughts. Tell your audience why this subject is important to you. Communicate your past experiences with this topic. Let them know why you agree or disagree with the previous commentary. Tell people what you think…they’re interested to know.

Get in there! Dive in! Allow followers and connections to see YOU and what you can add to the conversation. This is the beginning of true engagement. This is the beginning of know, like, and trust. This is how potential customers begin to see you as an expert in your industry.

What other tactics work for you to ramp up LinkedIn activity?

If you need help decided how to engage in a way that helps your business, let’s talk!

4 Ways to Improve Your Small Business Communications

  • mannette
  • October 18th, 2018
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While most people don’t recognize it, taking shortcuts with your small business communications can be detrimental to the success and growth of your business.

We’ve all done it, whether typing an email or responding to a text.

Well, here’s my story.

I recently created content for my social media consulting business. As part of the strategy to increase my exposure and awareness, I reached out to a few of my connections via LinkedIn Messaging in hopes they would click the link, like the content, and forward to their own connections.

Two days later, I hadn’t received any new page traffic, let alone likes. What happened? Why didn’t they click the link? Did they even see the message?

Of course, I went back to review the message and confirmed that quite a few of them saw it. So, what was the problem?

*Scanned message, scanned message, sca…GASP!!!*

A BIG OLE, FAT, FUNKY TYPO!

A few colorful words flew out of my mouth – words that I won’t type here. I sat there for a few moments with my head in my hand thinking, “Really, Monica…really?!” It wasn’t the typo itself that upset me, more than the immediate awareness that I hadn’t taken the time to review and edit the message before sending. I had to be honest with myself. This wasn’t the first time I’d communicated with someone on LinkedIn without first reviewing the message.

My next thought – “I have GOT to do better”.

It’s so easy to get caught up, distracted, or just way too busy to review the communications we send out to the world.  But, here’s the reality – passing up the 5-minute review on a piece of content that’s supposed to represent you and your small business can have serious consequences. It can mean the difference between a potential customer clicking a link to review your story, or deciding to move on. I mean hey, if you can’t be bothered to double check your own stuff well, you know the rest.

So, I’m being transparent in hopes that we can do better together! Take a look at four ways to help you purposely slow down, review what we’ve written, and make better impressions to your digital network.

Don’t Use Your Smartphone to Produce Important External Communications

Listen, I get it. It’s 2018 and technology’s convenient. Why wait to get to a desktop, laptop, or even your tablet when you can just whip out your phone, download an app, and thumb that note or response from wherever you are?

The problem with using our phones is that they provide a huge opportunity for mistakes. Small screens, smaller keyboards, and fat fingers can be a recipe for disaster! Okay, your fingers don’t even have to be fat! But, how many times have you sent a note from your phone and it went to the wrong recipient, you forwarded the wrong document, or auto-correct just went completely off the rails?

I know these things could also happen on your computer, but my experience has been that smaller devices increase the error probability. And while I haven’t found any science to back this up, handling business on my phone seems to project a false sense of urgency – a need to type faster and get the task done with super-shero speed. My advice? Wait until you can get to a device with a larger screen so errors are easier to spot.

Use a Word Processor to Create and Review the Content

And this leads to my next suggestion. Whether you’re responding to a social media comment, completing an online job application, or sending a note to potential customers, typing your masterpiece into a word processing application first can be a simple, yet extremely useful step in making the best impression possible. We all know Microsoft Word, but the online or smart phone versions, along with other free options such as Google Docs and Zoho Writer, is just as effective in correcting spelling and grammatical errors.

Now, I know some of you are already saying, “Just download a grammar checking app like Grammarly or Ginger to give it a once over”. True, but for me and my GenX brain, there’s nothing like reviewing my email or message right there in all of its full screen, black and white glory before sending it into “can never take back” oblivion.

Use a Talk – To – Text App

Talk-to-text apps are not a new thing but can be really helpful in making sure you communicate your best…to a point. I love my Google Text-to-Talk app, but, do I trust it completely? Absolutely not!

You’ve still got to take time and review what you’ve created before sending anything of importance to anyone. I typically use the app to create a short message, then make manual adjustments and corrections.

Have Someone You Trust Review for Errors and Flow

It’s a simple and old school concept with no fancy-schmancy technology needed.

Ask someone you trust to review your content for accuracy, grammar, spelling, and flow. Is everything spelled right? Should it be “access” or “assess”? Does your message make sense, or are you rambling a bit? A second set of eyes can be a lifesaver from the pain and embarrassment of an unnecessary typo or misguided thought forwarded to the masses.

Don’t have any wordsmiths in your life that you trust with your business communications? Hire someone. You can hire a freelancer from Upwork, Freelancer, or Guru for a few bucks to review and edit your work. Rates can vary depending on the work and freelancer experience, so buyers beware, but it’s definitely a viable option.

Now, say it with me, “We’ve GOT to do better!” Building a small business is a huge, complicated, and game-changing experience. However, we can alleviate a bit of the challenge by simply committing to better communication.

How do you keep your small business communications errors to a minimum?

Linkedin has proven itself to be a great tool and resource for building business relationships. It can connect you with past colleagues, introduce new connections, and offer industry insights from experts and influencers. Sounds like the apps “About Us” page, doesn’t it.

Well, here’s what’s also true. From a purely social media perspective, LinkedIn has left us hanging. In many respects, it lags behind its social media counterparts in implementing relevant innovation. It can leave users frustrated and perpetually searching out ways to do one thing or another, only to realize that the app doesn’t do one thing or another.

Don’t get me wrong – LinkedIn’s use and value are undeniable! But there are some definite head-scratching sticking points.

Native Video

So, let’s just start with the obvious – native video. We’ve been hoping for it, wishing LinkedIn would get with the program and create the option that has quickly become the norm for other platforms. We’ve been reading and hearing about its pending arrival, lamenting its power to everyone who’ll listen. Native video is ‘the’ thing to increase engagement, and make you the cool kid on your connection block.

And then, it happened! It was rolled out to a select few in August 2017 and all was well with the world – except that it wasn’t.

It’s January 2018 and my timeline is consistently filled with connections wondering when they’ll get the native video option. I’m always surprised by the comments since I received access really early on. I wasn’t super active on the app at the time, but knew, and still know, many active users who are waiting. The comments inevitably lead to more questions – “Did iPhone users get it before Android?”, “Did premium users get it before others?”, “Did U.S. users have access before the rest of the world?”, and “Maybe they launched it on the west coast first”.  Who knows!

I reached out to LinkedIn to ask the “who gets it first” question but received the canned “We’re working to release it to everyone soon” response.

Company Pages

While the company pages feature continues to increase in significance to the business community, it lacks a few basic, but key features important to companies attempting to increase awareness and engagement on this platform.

Again, let’s start with the obvious – native video is not available on company pages. Now, this may not be a big deal for larger companies with access to large marketing and production budgets. But for the small business owner working to get traction and basic awareness that their page even exists, increased engagement from native video can mean everything.

Now, this next limitation is a bit mind-boggling and I just truly don’t understand why it is what it is. With LinkedIn Company Pages, there is no way, on desktop or mobile, to edit your posts.

Let that sink in for a moment.

How many times, either personally or professionally, have you had to go back and edit something you’ve posted? If you’re like me, ALL THE TIME. Unfortunately, LinkedIn Company Pages doesn’t give you the opportunity to do so. Misspell something, want to add a tag, or simply add a sentence to your already lovely post? You’ll need to delete what you’ve already posted and start all over again.  I don’t know what else to say about this, other than I just don’t understand why this simple option isn’t available. Come on, Linkedin. Help us out.

Another company page issue is the lack of messaging ability. So, a potential customer comes to your company page, like what they see, are really interested in your product or service, and want to reach out to get more information. Well, outside of clicking a company provided email link to connect externally or leaving the app for the company’s webpage, they can’t. Not that connecting externally is a bad thing, as business owners ultimately want to drive website traffic. However, isn’t LinkedIn’s goal to keep as much traffic as possible on the app?

According to some industry experts, messaging apps and/or functionality will be the technology most useful in reaching, marketing to, and communicating with customers in 2018. In October 2017, ZDNet contributor Liam Tung wrote about the smart messaging feature that’s now available. This is great for quickly communicating from your personal profile, although I would love to be able to personally choose available response options.

I’d be happy with just having basic messaging functionality between companies and the public, but with this feature being the next ‘big’ thing, I can only hope LinkedIn quickly upgrades availability and functionality.

Groups

What happened to the vibrant community that was LinkedIn Groups?  They used to be such a huge part of the LinkedIn app, but now they’ve been relegated to obscurity under the ‘Work’ tab, on desktop and can only be found through search on mobile.

I’ve read points attributing the loss of Groups’ significance to many things, including a few from Social Business Psychologist JD Gershbein. He’s considered everything from LinkedIn internal controls like SWAM (this concept, by the way, is a real head-scratcher), to the increase of knowledge information that can be received right on the personal profile wall.

Whatever the case, I’m hoping that things turn around for Groups. It was, and should be revived as, a great platform of true connection and concentrated industry knowledge sharing.

LinkedIn has been my application of choice lately and I look forward to spending lots more time getting to know the features beneficial to myself and clients. I’m hoping LinkedIn will power through and introduce more timely, and basic, options so we can take advantage of the latest and greatest professionally, as we do personally.

Give your strategy a checkup from the neck up! 

Can you believe half the year is almost over? You’ve been implementing your social media strategy for almost 9 months.

How’s it going?

If you haven’t tackled it already time to review those platform analytics to determine how well your strategy is working.  After all, you’re not posting all that content just to post something, right?

If you are, we need to talk.

Audit Your Achievements!

Most small business owners have heard of a social media audit, but most don’t really know what it is, nor have they ever completed one. No worries! Here’s a quick explanation.

An audit is a complete review of your social media presence. It gives you the opportunity to take a look at what’s working or not, what revisions are needed, and what strategy may need to be nixed altogether. While you should complete a social media audit at least once a quarter, now is the perfect time to take a snapshot of your performance and the impact on your business.

A few questions to consider when reviewing your performance numbers are:

  • Have you achieved the number of followers desired?
  • Have you published the amount of content you originally scheduled?
  • Have your posts received the engagement you were looking for?
  • Is your content driving enough traffic to your website??

Your platform insights and analytics tools can help you determine what’s happening.

Keep in mind that you can only view performance data for Facebook and Instagram if they’ve been converted to business accounts. Twitter allows analytics for everyone.

Facebook

To check your Facebook content results, go to the “Insights” tab at the top of your business page.

Facebook Insights lets you review information specific to your business page like:

  • Post impressions – The number times your post was shown in someone’s timeline
  • Page and posts reach – The number of unique viewers who viewed the post or page
  • Page and posts engagement – The number of clicks, likes, shares, or comments on the post or page

Instagram

Instagram analytics is also available for business accounts, but can only be accessed through the mobile app. From mobile profile page, you’ll notice the analytics icon, which looks like a line graph,  at the top of the page.

You can review measurements important to your business, such as:

  • The number of followers you’ve added this week over the last
  • The demographicsc  of those followers
    • Percentage of men vs. women
    • Age range
    • Follower location
  • Engagement for each specific post (Likes, comments, impressions, reach, etc.)

Twitter

Twitter also has a great analytics tool that can be used to chart your course. This tool allows you to see:

  • Your top tweets over a self-selected range of time
  • Your follower demographics, based on
    • Interest
    • Household income
    • Age range
    • Even the type of TV they watch

Most social media apps have some form of analytics. Use the data to determine the success of the strategy you created at the beginning of the year. Is it working for you? If so, great! Do more of the same! If not, take a step back and make the needed adjustments.

Not sure what those adjustments are? Connect with me. I can help!

Edited and September 13, 2018.

Yayyyy! My social media accounts are live… now what?

  • mannette
  • February 7th, 2017
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Congratulations! You took the huge step of building your small business’ social media accounts. You’ve crossed a Girl thinking what to do nextmajor milestone! But now what?

Once you’ve put all the energy and effort into creating new accounts, the real work begins. If you thought to choose a profile or cover image and writing your bio was the difficult part, think again. Now you’ve got to be   S-O-C-I-A-L. You’ve got to say something. And not just anything! You’ve got to post high quality, interesting, and engaging content on a consistent basis… yep, all the time.

What’s your plan?

It can seem overwhelming, but don’t lose heart! Take a look at a few pointers to help you begin an engaging and beneficial relationship with your audience.

Write for Your Audience, Not Yourself

Remember when you researched your audience to determine who they were and the best way to market to them? The same applies here. Consider your audience. What do they want to see, hear, or talk about? What online ‘voice’ resonates best with your? Will they engage with you more if you’re serious, casual, funny, or a combination?

We have a tendency to write from our own perspective, considering only what WE think is relevant. This is not the best tactic. Your content is your product to potential customers until they trust you enough to actually spend money.  So, find out what’s relevant to your audience and then give them your insight on those topics.

Be Relevant

How do you know what your audience thinks is important? How do you know what they’ll find interesting? How can you find out what they’re discussing amongst themselves? It’s called social listening. Go where your audience is and see where their issues lie. By hanging out online where they hang out, you can discover the problems are they struggling to solve. A simple Google Alert will give you more insight than you could imagine. Set up an alert for your industry or niche and find out who’s communicating what. Join online social media industry groups and communities. What topic is constantly discussed? Whatever it is, that’s your content…that’s what you talk/write about!

Ask Questions

Asking questions allows you to converse with your audience, which is what ‘engaging’ means. Remember, people like to talk about themselves and share their opinions. This is a great way to not only engage your audience, but also find topics for your next posts.

Stay On-Topic

While it’s a good idea to show your personal side (it simply makes you more human…more personable), remember that your followers follow you for a reason. They’re interested in your mutual niche/industry and your opinions and expertise on that subject. So, make sure your content remains focused. Most definitely use your personality, but don’t drift into too many off-topic discussions. Stay focused on the issue at hand.

Check out my Social Media Post Launch Checklist for more tips on making the most of your step into the social mediasphere!

MonicaAnnette is an Atlanta-based social media strategist focused on helping established small businesses cross the sands of the mediasphere.

5 Things to Consider For Your 2017 Social Media Strategy

  • mannette
  • December 11th, 2016
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2017 is almost here!

I mean, in just a few short weeks, we’ll be ‘Happy New Yearing’ all over the place!

Are you ready?

Is your business ready?

Whether you’re a seasoned business owner preparing for a new year, or a brand new entrepreneur launching your business for the first time, social media must be part of your marketing plan. And like all things ‘small business’, you’ve gotta’ have a strategy to reach your social media goals. Try answering these 6 questions as you consider 2017.

1. What social media goal didn’t get achieved in 2016?

At the beginning of 2016, business owners created social media goals for each platform. More followers on Twitter, increased website traffic from Facebook, more conversions from Instagram – the goals were so fresh and new! Fast forward 6 months, and there were a few things you either didn’t get to, couldn’t focus on the way you planned, or results just didn’t materialize. That’s okay. Things happen, plans change, and sometimes you have to re-group in business. Why not add that unachieved goal to your 2017 list? Just be sure to weigh and update the goal so that it fits the coming year’s new objectives. You may have to tweak the tactics a bit before transferring it from 2016.

2. Did your chosen social media platforms work well for your business 2016?

If you didn’t reach your social media goals in 2016, what was the cause of the performance gap? Were you on the wrong platform for your industry? Maybe you didn’t understand how to use the platforms you chose? Listen, not every social media platform is created for every business. There is lots of data today revealing which platforms work best in certain industries. But, to get a more specific picture, you could begin by reviewing your platform’s performance analytics. Did you gain the number of followers or increased post clicks on Facebook? Did you get the engagement you were looking for from potential customers on Twitter? Did your platform and strategy attract the influencers you were seeking on Instagram? If you didn’t get the results you were searching for, you can focus on other platforms, change your strategy, and/or reach out to a social media specialist for help.

3. What topics are trending in your industry?

There are always hot topics trending in a particular industry. In the auto industry, it may be the next Tesla’s release date. In the mobile industry, it might be the next new phone or feature. Whatever the case, those hot topics can provide loads of content to write and/or post on.  Be sure you ‘listening’ to the buzz and contributing to the conversation to remain relevant and attract new customers. You can begin by creating Google Alerts on your topic and get regular updates about your industry topics and hot-button issues.

4. Is your social media campaign part of your traditional marketing strategy?

Don’t make the mistake of trying to create a social media plan in addition to your traditional marketing plan. Social media shouldn’t compete with your traditional marketing, or just enhance it. It should be a key, integrated component. Creating your 2017 marketing budget? Social media should be a line item, not a side note. It can legitimately help you sell more products, grow your customer base, and ‘listen’ to what customers are saying about you and your industry.

5. Do you need help creating your strategy?

As small business owners, we often try to handle ALL aspects of our business; be a jack of all trades. We handle the sales, the hiring, the marketing, the accounting, the IT, etc., etc., etc. In addition to the fact that none of us are experts at everything (and if you think you are, just stop it), we run the risk of falling short of customer expectations if we try to do it all. Social media is no different. It’s not something you learn over the weekend during your ‘down’ time. It doesn’t work well and is typically not effective that way. Reach out and ask for help. Sure, you could Google every aspect of social media marketing, but at what point will you run your business?

Social media can be a bear. There are lots of moving parts that should be optimized to work together and help you realize your business goals. MonicaAnnette can help you create a strategy that works toward meeting those goals. Shoot me a note and let’s get started planning your online customer engagement.

3 Steps to Gain Twitter Followers That Matter

  • mannette
  • November 17th, 2016
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Twitter BirdsRemember the last time you googled “Increase Twitter Followers”? Now, think of how overwhelmed you were trying to wade through all the blog posts, articles, and videos promising astronomical growth results for your Twitter profile.

As of today, that google search yields 5.9 million results, including:
• Super-Secret Strategies for 5,000 New Followers!
• How to get Free Twitter Followers!
• Gain Twitter Followers Quickly!

It all sounds great and hey, many of them actually work to add more followers. But, before you begin researching how to add 10,000 followers in a day, ask yourself WHY you want to increase your following. What’s your purpose for creating a Twitter profile? What are your Twitter goals? What will an increased following do for your small business? If yours is a personal Twitter account and the goal is simply lots of “Twitter love”, then by all means, have at it! On the other hand, if this is your small business account and you need to make an industry impact or grow your business, I’d caution you to try a different approach.

Your social media and/or Twitter goals should be directly related to your overall business objectives. A large Twitter following, just for the sake of having a large following, will not benefit your business. You should have a clear understanding of how the followers you seek can benefit the growth of your business. Will they help increase your brand recognition in the right circles? Will these followers be at all interested in your business or your expertise? Will they have any interest in clicking through to your website to get more information or signing up to be on your email list? If the 1000 new followers aren’t doing any of these things for your business, you’ve attracted the wrong crowd.

Gaining the right follower for your business may require more energy and effort, but the benefits will show themselves in the long run.

Try one or two of these tips to get the right people following your brand.

Find your direct competitors, large or small, and follow their followers.

The people and/or companies in your industry have the audience you want, as they will typically share similar interest. The people engaging your competitors concerning their products or services will also engage your company. Follow them, engage them, and watch them follow or follow you back!

Use tools that can make that process easier, efficient, and more productive.

Tweepi is a free tool that helps you find relevant Twitter followers specific to your industry or interests. You can search for possible followers using your competitors’ handle, company name, interests, etc. Twitter will, in turn, notify them that you’re following them. More than likely, they’ll check you out follow back! From Tweepi, you can also create follow lists of influencers and can also tweet from the dashboard! Filters also help you choose accounts to follow based on location, number of followers, tweet count, and many more.

Crowdfire is a tool that also recommends accounts to follow based on interest and other followers you’ve selected in your industry. It also helps to manage your Twitter and Instagram accounts by communicating who’s following you, who’s not following back, who’s inactive, etc. One thing I love about Crowdfire is its curating feature. Based on your chosen interest, it will suggest articles to tweet and Instagram images to like. Both are great ways to garner more interest and gain followers.

Twitter Analytics is part of your Twitter account and provides lots of statistics that may be of interest in the quest to grow your following. You can see what tweets had the highest impressions, how many people visited your profile, engagement percentage for each of your tweets, etc., etc., etc. If you’re not sure how to use it, please take the time to do so. It’s a great way to get a better understanding of the kind of tweets that work well and garner more followers.

Add links to your tweets – they get better exposure

Remember that link you used to get to this blog? Yep, that one. Well, according to Salesforce research, tweets with links included receive 85% more clicks, or engagement. EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT! That means more people will click the link to your information and are more likely to follow you. So, every tweet you send out should have a link! You know what… don’t even consider this a tip. Consider it a tweet requirement!

Increasing Twitter followers is easy, but growing the RIGHT followers takes a bit more strategy. Remember, the end goal should always be to grow your business, In order to do this, you’ve got to engage people who are interested in what you have to say, which brings me to another topic – TWITTER ENGAGEMENT. You can multiply your following, but to move your business goal needle, they must engage with your content. We’ll talk about that in the next blog!

In the meantime, what tips do you have to gain better Twitter followers?