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!

LinkedIn: Your More Than Capable Digital Business Partner

  • mannette
  • August 6th, 2019
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There’s so much more to this app than showcasing your past work experience!

“I’ve never really looked at LinkedIn.” 

“I’ve been told my business needs to be there, but…I just don’t know how it works.”

“Isn’t it just an online resume?”

I often hear these and similar refrains from business owners, potential clients, networking attendees, and…well, the list goes on and on.

LinkedIn seems to be this distant social media cousin that no one’s quite sure what to do with. Most people I talk to get into a good marketing groove with other applications like Instagram or Facebook and LinkedIn just isn’t a part of their conversations.

I’m here to open your eyes.

LinkedIn may not be the most popular social media tool, but don’t be fooled! This application has teeth and can help your business get noticed, generate leads, and build partnerships that take you to the next level!

There are more people are on LinkedIn than you think

At least 500 million people use LinkedIn, and 260 million of them log in every month.

If those numbers aren’t impressive enough, here’s another – 45% of those people are in upper management. 

LinkedIn is also the most used social media platform amongst Fortune 500 companies. 

This means that creating a profile and/or a business page on this application offers a great opportunity to market yourself, your product or service to the right people. 

These ‘right’ people are the all-important decisions that sign service agreements and get you paid.

They are CEOs, Directors, Vice-Presidents, District or General Managers, and Principals of small to large businesses or corporations. They are the people that make major decisions about money allocation and spending. 

Let’s say I told you about a great networking space, less than a 1 mile from your home, where the top 5 CEOs in your industry stopped by every single day to mingle, meet new people, find new business solutions, and maybe, make purchases. 

Would you make it your business to be there E-V-E-R-Y D-A-Y? 

Well, that’s LinkedIn.

While they aren’t online every day, out of the 260 million business people logging in every month, there’s SOMEONE available for you to connect with.

So, here’s the take away from your last 2 minutes of reading. 

If you’re a business owner, especially in the business-to-business market, you NEED to have a presence on this app. If you’re not there, you’re missing a huge opportunity to grow your brand and your profit.

Take advantage of a space that’s not content-saturated

Only 1% of LinkedIn users log in and do more than make connections and like someone else’s posts in their feed.

Translation: users are missing huge business-building opportunities!

LinkedIn is similar to other social media applications in its ability to help you present yourself as an industry expert. There may be 120 similar businesses on LinkedIn, but if you’re the only one actively providing valuable information and resources to a network, you stand out. 

If you’re in the hospitality industry, conventional wisdom tells you to connect with all of the general managers, directors of sales, revenue managers, and management company executives you can find. 

Most people would take just enough time to request or accept a few connections, then like, comment “Great post”,  or share an industry article they found once a month. 

There’s so much more to do! 

To make more of an impact, you might also consider sharing:

  • Tips on how to increase revenue during a slow season
  • Data on customer meetings expectations
  • Video of behind-the-scenes preparation for an upcoming event
  • Any of this information in an industry group

Simply having a login and profile isn’t making the most out of the application. Offering content gives you the opportunity to market your company and ideas alongside Fortune 500 companies sharing this space.

Use the application as an industry monitoring tool

LinkedIn also offers you the capability of keeping an eye on influencers and industry changes. By connecting with or following industry leaders, you can maintain a grasp on hot topics and trends that can inform your content, in-person conversations, and business decisions. 

Let’s go back to the hospitality example above. If you’re interested in doing business with Marriott International, you might decide to follow the company page, as well as its CEO, Arne Sorenson.

This allows you to see what the company deems important and what the CEO is involved in. Has he been honored in any way? Did he give his own views on the future of the industry 20 years down the road?

In addition, LinkedIn has now fully vested in using hashtags to index content. So, you can also search and follow hashtags like #HotelTrends, #HotelRevenue, or even #ArneSorenson. Likewise, if…no, no…when you produce content and include hashtags, others can use them to find your posts or articles.

The tags are placed to the left of your desktop homepage and under your profile pic with smartphones. You can simply click a hashtag to view the types of content posted under that topic.

Linkedin can open your business to so many growth opportunities. But in order to take advantage, you’ve got to be there and be active.

Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are great, but LinkedIn, if utilized correctly, can work as your long-term business partner!




Your layoff can produce life!

  • mannette
  • July 22nd, 2019
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Your layoff can produce life!

“I’m here to tell you that your position has been eliminated…”

“Wait…what?!”

I really don’t remember much of what he said after that.

Termination was the last thing on my mind that Monday in March several years ago. I NEVER imagined that the area manager, unexpectedly zipping through the property early that morning, was THERE – FOR – ME. ??

If you’ve ever been laid off, you know how surreal it can be in those first few moments immediately after. Somehow, you’ve got to gather yourself, get up from the chair, and walk through your now-former place of employment without falling on your face.

Good luck with that.

One week before the layoffs. Ignorance is bliss!
Notice my work badge hanging in the background.

So, now what? My recently, but happily-divorced, brand-new mother-self wasn’t quite sure what to do. That job gave me stability after divorce and, until that moment, I hadn’t worried about money. In the blink of an eye, it all changed. To make matters worse, I hadn’t seen it coming. 

I had a child to care for and bills to pay! I had a mortgage to maintain! How was this supposed to work?

image of the author and her child.
Her first Halloween a few months after she was born.
I’d rushed from work to spend it with her.

After the sting wore off, a realization set in. A self-assessment was long overdue. Big decisions were looming and I had to be honest about who my ‘work self’ was.

Here’s what I came to terms with. 

I’m easily restless. Doing the same job over and over again aggravates me. It sucks the life and joy out of my day. Running on a schedule and punching a clock for someone else is just painful. So, while the layoff was a shock to the system, it wasn’t completely unwelcome.

I was ready for something new and I saw a HUGE opportunity. 

Options, Options, Options

I’d wanted to work for myself for a very long time. I dreamed and daydreamed about it and the itch just wouldn’t go away.

I’ve tried several ventures over the years, but I remember at one point trying to sell Mary Kay Coooos-metics. Imagine trying to sell makeup when you just really don’t care about makeup. ???

That doesn’t work too well and it most definitely didn’t work for me.

It did, however, give me a taste of working by my own rules, in my own time, and striving to reach my own goals! 

BEST – FEELING – EVER!

So, a few weeks later, while sitting in the kitchen feeding my then two-year-old and contemplating next steps, I made a decision to change my focus.

Why not help people just like me?

I pivoted into a totally different industry and began helping business owners build their online presence. I started by designing small business websites and quickly moved to teach entrepreneurs how social media integrated with their sites to increase business. 

That led to my love of social media. This new digital phenomenon was great from a personal perspective, and I also saw how it could help small business owners thrive in ways they couldn’t before. It opened doors for entrepreneurs who didn’t have a budget for magazine, newspaper, and television ads.

Now, small business owners can get their product or service in front of thousands of potential customers…for $10! Before social media, even an ad in the local city or county newspaper could run you $500!

As for me, it allowed me to thrive in a space and place I’d created for myself. It felt wonderful, crazy, scary, overwhelming, and peaceful all at the same time.

I found purpose in helping other small business owners build their own online space in the social mediasphere.

Author at various networking events.
I’m not where I want to be, but the journey
getting there has been incredible!
The people I’ve met and the
opportunities I’ve been offered – AWESOME!

Entrepreneurship can be tough, euphoric, and tear-inducing.

Calling it overwhelming is an understatement.

We’ve got 20 things to do in one day… every day, and sometimes we need help.

Allowing someone else to manage the pieces we aren’t so good at or just don’t have time for allows us to thrive.

So, if you need help finding your social media ‘space’, connect with me.

I can help you create and implement a strategy and free up your time to focus on other parts of your business.

Send me a message or schedule a time to talk

Let’s get this done!

The holidays are here!! It’s time to start marketing your products and services like never before! So what’s your plan? How do you intend to grasp and hold your customer’s attention so they purchase your product? How will you stand out from all the other social media posts crowding their feed?

Before you go to Facebook or Instagram, create 20 quick ads in an attempt to find the right audience, take a step back! There are a few simple, yet effective, ways to direct and keep your customer’s focus on you. Here are three tactics that always work.

Right Place, Right Time

If you’re a small-business owner who’s been even remotely interested in social media, you should first understand that choosing the right social media platform is critical to communicating with your audience. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give you is this – Don’t jump on the bandwagon of one platform or another because it seems everyone else is there. Find your audience and work there.

For example, Instagram is still really hot right now,  but I can almost guarantee no one is looking for an attorney on this platform, meaning it’s not their space. Online clothing retailers and boutiques are trending right now, but Twitter is not the best platform if you’re trying to showcase your product. Take a look at this infographic with suggestions on the best platform for your industry and content.

Now that you have a better idea of your ‘right place’, you should also be aware of the right time. Here’s a quick tip. Most social media applications have built-in analytics that allows you to review your content’s past performance. This same data reveals your followers’ behavior, too.

Facebook and Instagram data will tell you what day and time your followers are typically active on the application. Use this to your advantage and post during the times they’re typically thumbing through.

Facebook Insights

In addition to best times and days, Twitter data also provides detailed demographic information about your followers, like your followers’ average household income, where they might spend their money, and even their possible interests.

Twitter Analytics

Know, Like, and Trust

As business owners, we sometimes get tempted to create a post or social media ad, slap a product image on it, post it, fully expecting the audience to be wowed. Why wouldn’t they? I mean, it’s a great product, right? Except that 30 days later, you haven’t sold a thing!

What happened? Well, it could be a myriad of things.  But, consider that your potential customers don’t know you, don’t like you, or simply don’t trust you enough just yet to spend money. So how do you fix that?

Open up a bit and let them in.

When you’re creating content, how much of your true personality shines through? How much does the audience really get to know you? How much do they really know about your company and why you do what you do?  

Remember the old adage ‘people buy from people they like and trust’?  That idea may be old school, but it still applies 100%. A couple of really quick ways to do that include:

  • Offer your true personality and share company culture
    • For example, if you’re selling branded T-shirts, communicate why or how you came to sell them. Explain why you do what you do.  Post behind the scenes images or video with employees filling orders or your creative process.
  • Speak in the second person, allowing the audience to feel you’re speaking directly to them and your shared experience.
  • Before you try to sell something, offer ‘value’ content, meaning information that benefits your audience

The 80/20 Rule – Offer Value

Which brings me to the next point. You must consistently provide more than just purchase opportunities. At the beginning of the holiday season, October through early November, only about 20% of your posts should promote your product. The other 80% of your posts (yes, the MAJORITY!!) should provide value and are great opportunities for your audience to get to know,  like, and trust you.

Consider this – if your audience has no idea who you are and comes to only recognize you as a product-pusher, they’ll eventually become frustrated and irritated with your posts, making it easy to ignore and tune you out. From that point, it’s not a huge leap to unfollow you, altogether.

Valuable content is a great way to elevate their knowledge and relationship with you. Offer information that, in some way, makes the audience’s life easier. This blog you’re reading right now is a great example of that! It offers you, the small or mid-sized business owner, as you try to create your best social media, holiday posting strategy.

So, how do you offer value? Remember the earlier mentioned t-shirt company? They might consider taking their latest t-shirt design and offering ideas on how to pair it with a certain jacket or boots for the holiday party season. While this type of post still includes the t-shirt, it’s not directly telling the customer to buy, buy, buy. Couple that with great images or video of someone on their team putting those items together and voila! They’ve created a great value post!

As the holiday season progresses, you can then wrap up your holiday promotion post. Starting around mid-November your posts can be as much as 40% promotional.  Going into December, you can wrap it up even more to 50% promotional posts.

The bonus of following the 80/20 rule? Your followers will come to view you as an expert or trusted resource of information! If you’re a trusted resource, followers are more apt to anticipate what you’re going to say next and later, make a purchase!

Video, Video, Video

It’s pretty common knowledge now that content including video has better engagement then that without. According to  WordStream, social video generates 1200% more shares than text and images combined, no matter which social media application it is. A few other statistics to consider are:

  • 64% percent of consumers make a purchase after watching branded social videos
  • Video drives a 157% increase in organic traffic from search engine results (SERPS)
  • Viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it in a video compared to 10% when reading it in a text.

Now, I understand that many people are just not comfortable using video as part of their content, especially if that means they’re in front of the camera! But, the numbers don’t lie. Including video as part of your content works wonders. Whether you’re recording a short product video, offering value as a way to connect, or simply creating a behind the scenes piece about your company’s culture, finding a way to use video when marketing to your customers can only benefit your business.

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.

The Best Social Media Target Audience You Never Noticed

  • mannette
  • April 27th, 2017
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Social media marketers are constantly trying to find the best way to reach potential customers. If you listen to the plethora of online ‘experts’, you’d think millennials were the target market of the century. They’re the tech savvy generation born and raised in the digital world. Surely they understand and navigate online activity more easily than everyone else, right? But, are they really the group that’ll whip out their wallet…or Apple/Android Pay and spend money with you?

NEWS FLASH! That honor belongs to Generation X.

Generation who?

I belong to Generation X. We are the smallest generation, born between the mid 60’s and early 80’s, and only number about 65 million to millennials’ 83 million. I was born in an age when TVs didn’t have remotes, cell phones didn’t exist, and wearing a seatbelt was only a suggestion. As far as technology is concerned, my college years were spent walking to the campus computer lab to sign up for a time to use the word processor. Rarely did anyone have personal computers in the early 90’s. Well, that one girl down the hall did, but she got tired of everybody knocking on her door during finals’ week.

Fast forward 25 years. Gen Xers have adapted to and embraced the world of technology! On any given day, our eyes are glued to laptops and tablets and smartphones – just like everyone else. And boy do we love our technology! According to a Nielson Social Media Report published this year, Gen Xers spend more time on social media than any other generation! They spend almost 7 hours on social media per week, as compared to Millennials’ 6 hours and Boomers’ four.

Hello! Can anybody hear us?!

Why, then, do marketers ignore Gen Xers and leapfrog their marketing efforts from Baby Boomers to Millennials? Some marketers claim its simple math. According to a 2016 Adweek piece, boomers and millennials get the most attention because they have the largest demographic. Again, while Gen X is 65 million strong, that’s small change compared to boomers’ and millennials’ 74.9 and 75.4 million, respectively. Others think it’s the middle child syndrome. Gen X’ers are bookended by two significant ‘revolutions’. Most Xers don’t remember the Civil Rights Movement or Vietnam from their boomer parents’ generation, and they aren’t the poster children for the digital age, either. For many marketers, these factors make it more difficult to define who they are, since there’s the accepted perception that there is nothing to make them unique. Instead of trying to figure out how to market to this multi-dimensional generation, they’ve been largely ignored by most.

Generation X spends money!

While they aren’t the largest generation, 65 million wallets are nothing to sneeze at. But, outside of just their demographic number, there are a few things that should make marketers sit up and take notice.

According to the same Nielson report, medium social media users are defined as anyone who spends 1-2 hours on social media per day. Remember, Generation X spends almost 7 hours on social media per week. Here are a few stats to get you thinking:

  1. 80% of online purchases are completed by medium social media users. Looking at the data, these users are a pretty even combination of millennials…and GENERATION X.
  2. In the past 12 months, 48% of medium social media users who made online purchases spent money for clothing, 33% purchased books, and 27% purchased airline tickets.
  3. With Generation X spending more time on social media than any others, marketers have more of an opportunity to reach  and sell to them.

Do your homework to understand!

Even with all of this data, you’ve got to understand more than just the numbers. Gen Xers have more disposable income to spread around. Millennials are generally focused on growing income and trying to determine their next career move. Boomers are in or contemplating retirement, so they may pull back the reigns a bit on spending. Gen Xers, in general, are in a stage of life where work is stable, salaries are stable, retirement accounts are stable, and they can afford to spend and splurge a little.

While Xers adapted to the digital world, they are more than comfortable with online shopping. They’ll still pack up the family and head to the mall or outlet to shop, but they are just as likely to put their feet up and search online for that leather jacket they can finally afford.

BONUS: Gen Xers tend to be more loyal than other generations. Translation:If they like your product, they’ll come back again and make additional purchases. Sales 101: current customers typically spend more money than new ones. Make sense?

So, don’t overlook the generation with money to spend by following the crowd or trends! Gen Xers may not be the ‘it’ generation, but have the dollars you’re trying to get.