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LinkedIn to Grow Your Business

Running your own business can be challenging. There are so many components to consider from staffing, to marketing, and all the minutiae in between. It can get overwhelming. That’s why we love LinkedIn for small business owners. Not only is it a great place to network with other like-minded professionals but it is a forum that can help your business grow. Read on to find out more about how LinkedIn can help your business.

There are two major ways that business leaders can use LinkedIn to help grow their business. One method is the passive method of joining LinkedIn to read what others are posting, hunt for products, services, or employees for your company, and even keep the business page up-to-date. The other is a more active approach where a business owner or leader joins groups, participates in discussions, and posts articles that encourage interaction. Which method you choose is up to you and your business’s needs.

Either way, your business can benefit from your participation on LinkedIn. Here are three ways that LinkedIn can help promote your brand and your status as a businessperson.

Solidify Your Professional Status

Since LinkedIn is a social media platform, it is important that those who hope to make their mark in their chosen industry contribute engaging and interactive content. In this way, professionals can “show what they know.” For example, if your field of expertise is in marketing, your business profile and content on LinkedIn can showcase your successes through posts, blogs, and sharing articles. LinkedIn is a great place to illustrate to others in your field that you are an innovator or, at the very least, a business leader who is on-the-rise.

Connecting With Other Professionals

LinkedIn is the perfect social media platform to expand your business circle. LinkedIn hosts thousands of online groups, enabling professionals to network within their respective niches. Participate, add content, exchange information, and engage with others who are in your field or who are vendors that help support your type of business.

Give and Get Endorsements and Testimonials

LinkedIn enables your peers to endorse your skills and write up recommendations, and you can do the same for them. People who are searching for networking connections or job candidates will take these recommendations into consideration.

If trying these methods is not your thing, you may still want to consider trying LinkedIn advertising. Paid advertising on LinkedIn is still a relative bargain and can get your business in front of your market quickly.

If you are interested in joining LinkedIn or expanding your reach, get started on LinkedIn by finding out how LinkedIn works, creating a LinkedIn login, and if you’re not already a member create a great LinkedIn profile that focuses on growing business. Contact the Enterprise Center page for help getting started.

Accessibility in the Digital Space

Your business office is probably physically accessible for clients or employees who have a disability. The accessibility components might include handicapped parking, curb cutouts, ramps, or elevators. This is not news, though. In 1990, the United States Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act, commonly referred to as the ADA. The ADA mandates that public and private spaces be made accessible to individuals with disabilities. But is your company website digitally accessible? 

What Does Digitally Accessible Mean? 

If you are not quite sure what it means to make your business or business website digitally accessible, whether it is viewed on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop, then read on. According to MediaWire, Digital Accessibility addresses the ability of people with visual, auditory, motor, or cognitive disabilities to access electronic resources such as the Internet, software, mobile devices, e-readers, etc. It also includes people with changing abilities due to aging or illness. Basically, digital accessibility is technology put into place to allow a wide range of users to easily navigate the digital space.

Think for a moment about your digital correspondence and website. Are there text or audio alternatives for someone who can not visually focus on small letters? Can your website be navigated without using a finger on a touchscreen but rather the arrows of a keyboard? Is the text written in an easy-to-read font and color? These questions probably have you thinking about how someone with a physical, cognitive, or sensory impairment views or navigates your digital world. 

How Can You Make Your Website or Digital Correspondence More Accessible? 

Thankfully, as technology evolves, so too does the assistive tech that can help make the digital world easier to manage. Assistive software has come quite a long way since the digital world came on the scene. Now, there are technologies or programs that include: programs for screen magnification, screen reading, speech recognition, text-to-speech, Braille printers, Braille scanners, touch screen displays, oversized mice, and oversized joysticks. 

Another example of universal design that can adapt easily to different users’ needs or preferences is the alt text tags for graphics or videos. For the hearing impaired, videos are unusable. For the visually impaired, images on a website are extraneous. Alt text provides captions for the hearing impaired trying to watch a video and audio alternatives for the visually impaired. 

Some users have physical difficulties navigating a website using a cursor alone. Digital accessibility means that websites are now able to be navigated using only the arrow keys on the keyboard. 

When the ADA was created in 1990, the Internet as we know it now did not exist and there is now a great need for updated laws concerning accessibility in the digital realm. The ADA requires that “places of public accommodation” be accessible to the disabled. Most businesses are now beginning to access their digital accessibility. Do you need to reassess your website in business digital realm? Check out our workshop on this topic on October 17, 2019. 

Instagram for Business 

Imagine being able to connect and interact with one billion people about your business. As of 2018, Instagram reached the 1 billion monthly active users mark (TechCrunch, 2018). There are more than 500 million active users using the mobile photo sharing platform daily! If you haven’t tapped into this social media network yet, it’s not too late. Read on to find out about how Instagram for business can get your brand noticed. 

Why Use Instagram? 

The question should really be “Why not use Instagram?” Instagram is currently developing and evolving rapidly. Being a part of that growth is a way to help your business do the same. Once used mainly by teens and young millennials, Instagram continues to grow as one of the most popular social media platforms, and the data tells us that’s not going to change anytime soon. If your target demographic is anywhere between 20 or 30 years old, then Instagram is the place to advertise, post, share, and comment (Oberlo 2019). In fact, of all the social networks, Facebook and YouTube have more daily active users than Instagram. 

If that is not enough to convince you to hop on the Instagram bandwagon for your business, then this one just might. More than 80% of users follow business accounts on Instagram. That means that 200 million Instagrammers actively visit business profiles everyday. They click on photos, share videos, and tap into “stories” to find out what is new with your business – every single day. 

Getting Started 

If reaching your target audience through Instagram seems like it might be a good marketing strategy for your company, you can get started here. When you sign up for an Instagram account, be sure to create a business profile. Business profiles have access to tools and features that help create a business presence on the platform. Once you have signed up through Instagram, you will want to add details about your business, including your name, username, profile picture, website URL and a short biography. Be sure to include contact information so your followers can connect with you. 

Before you start posting photos, videos, or stories, you will want to come up with a calendar and strategy of what and when you will post. Is your goal to teach others about your business, highlight products, introduce services, connect with consumers or, maybe, give some insider info that viewers love? Decide what your ultimate goal is so your posts can have a direction. 

As for when to post, we suggest that you take a look at the metrics on when to post to get the highest engagement. Sprout Social offers up some pretty compelling data on when to post on Instagram. In general, these findings show that the safest time to post are Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m–3 p.m., while the peak times during the week are Wednesday at 11 a.m. and Friday between 10-11 a.m. These windows of high engagement can likely help to generate even more likes and engagement, especially for brands that just starting out.

Tips to Engage Your Followers 

One of the biggest mistakes that businesses make when adding Instagram to their arsenal of social media platforms is to treat it like Facebook or Twitter. Instagram is less wordy and more visual. Be prepared to show what you do or who is in images or videos rather than words. This means getting creative and looking at what you do from a different lens, per se. 

Get smart about hashtags to expand your reach. Instagram has always been big on hashtags, and they’ve always been an effective way to expand your reach on the platform. Now, Instagram allows for 30 hashtags per post and Instagrammers can now follow specific hashtags, meaning that they can keep tabs on relevant conversations by using hashtags alone.

In order to add to people who follow you, or at least follow your hashtags, collaborate by mentioning them with the @ sign in your posts. Take into account that not everyone is monitoring hashtags on social media, so tagging an account is usually a better choice if you want to get noticed.

Just like any other social media platform you will want to analyze your efforts. Check out the metrics often so you can see how certain posts are doing. Change your strategy according to those numbers. 

 

If you need more info on Instagram check out our workshops. The Instagram 101 workshop is on October 1, 2019, with more workshops offered all the time. 

 

Facebook for Business Tips 

Trying to reach your target audience through social media? Or maybe you are trying to expand your audience to include other demographics? Facebook for Business is a great place to start, especially since it now has over 2.23 billion monthly active users. 

A business page on Facebook has never been easier to create and maintain. Let’s take a closer look at what you need to do to get going on Facebook and some tips to keep users returning to your page. 

Create a Business Page 

Follow this link to create a business page. To get started, choose a Page category either business or community depending upon your needs. From there, you will be prompted to add a cover photo. We suggest something familiar such as an image of your office, logo, or products. Choose wisely because this icon image will appear every time you post. From there you will want to fill out all of the business information sections including a short description of your business, hours of operation, phone number, website address, and a link to Google Maps so customers can easily find you. 

Once the page has been created, you can customize it for your business with tabs that make sense for your field. For example tabs could include: your posts, your photos, reviews of your business, special offers, community events, important dates, or videos. Get creative! 

Posting to Facebook 

Now the fun begins! You can start posting on your page and start gathering Facebook likes, friends, and followers. Be sure that each time you post you are doing it with content in mind. You should not just post randomly and without purpose. Have a content brainstorming session that will help you come up with the top things you think your customers will want to read. For example, include links to articles in your field, pictures of your office or product, employee spotlights, specials and discounts, insider tips, or maybe infographics that can easily be shared. It’s really up to you whether you want to be informative, funny, creative, or thinking outside the box. 

Create a Social Media Calendar 

In order to not overwhelm your readers with too many posts or multiple posts a day, it is important to create a social media calendar. A simple list of what you will post on specific days will help you stay organized and keep you from over posting the same topic. Remember, Facebook allows you to schedule posts whenever you want, or you could use a social media manager like Hootsuite

Respond to Readers 

Facebook recognizes companies that respond quickly to readers with a “Very responsive to messages” badge below your Page’s cover photo if you have a response rate of 90% and a response time of 15 minutes over the last seven days. That means that you are on the page often and maintaining connection with your clients. 

Post at the Best Times for your Audience

According to research published on HubSpot  there is data out there on optimal times to post on Facebook. The best time to post on Facebook is 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday. Other optimal times include 12:00–1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays and 1:00–4:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays. Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, and weekdays from 1:00–4:00 p.m. tend to see the highest clickthrough rates. On Fridays, Facebook use spikes by 10%. Since people tend to be happier on Fridays, marketing guru Neil Patel suggests posting funny or upbeat content to match your audience’s mood. The worst time to post on Facebook are weekends before 8:00 a.m. and after 8:00 p.m., according to SurePayroll’s research.

Do you need more information about Facebook for Business? Consider attending our workshop on September 26th. 

 

Social Media – Where to Begin 

Yes, everyone is doing it! Social media is a beast and if you haven’t gotten on board yet, then you may not even know where to begin. What channels should you choose? How often should you post? How can you know if your campaign is successful? Let’s take a closer look at how to get started on a social media campaign. 

Determine Your Goals and How to Measure Them

Before you even login or download an app, start brainstorming with your team about what your goals are. Do you just want to increase brand awareness? Or perhaps you want to drive more traffic to your website? Maybe you want a way to connect with your target audience and supply them with deals and savings? Social media may be your way of generating leads. 

Once you set out your goals, you will be able to determine how those goals will be measured. Google Analytics can help as well as the individual page manager section to each social media platform like: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Those stats can tell you how many people are engaging in your social media posts as well as how many likes, shares, and retweets. 

Know the Pros and Cons of Each Platform

Get to know what the basics are for each type of social media and whether they attract your target audience. For example, Instagram tends to attract millennials and is visually based. Facebook, on the other hand, draws in an older crowd that are looking for content sharing. LinkedIn is more business connection-based. Twitter can be a mix but leaves out the longer content. Before you start setting up your profile or business page, make sure the platform you choose is the right one for your demographics and your service/product. Find out how much advertising costs and what the return is. 

 

Make Your Posts Worthwhile 

Viewers on social media have become quite savvy and are mostly against pages that advertise constantly, or sound like a robot. Be human in your posts and give the readers something worthwhile to read. Make it worthwhile by adding content that your followers will be interested in, or by running promotions/discounts for followers who mention a post. Do something to get your followers to engage with you by retweeting, sharing, or commenting on your posts. 

 

Measure Your Success

At regular intervals measure how your campaign is doing. How many more followers do you have? What is your engagement number like? Should you shift your content or offer more things that encourage followers? Your analytics page can help. 

Need help getting started on your social media campaigns? Check out our calendar of events. We often host workshops on social media and how to boost your business with an online campaign. 

 

Business Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

Social media feels like it is everywhere! Depending upon your age, field of work, and lifestyle, you may be on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, SnapChat, Twitter, or Pinterest. It’s hard to keep up with all of the posts, pins, tweets, and snaps!

The good news is that you really don’t need to be everywhere, but you do need to be somewhere. Read on to find out about your business and what you should be doing on social media by looking at some pretty common mistakes of social media marketing.

Failing to Have a Social Media Strategy

Social media may seem like fun and games, but for businesses it is actual work that needs to be carefully crafted and maintained. Companies need to find their niche and use that to drive their marketing strategy. Without a strategy there will be no understanding if your efforts are working. What’s worse is that followers will wonder what’s going on with your company if they try to interact on a channel and there are no replies. That would send a message that your business is not thriving in this digital age.

Failing to Understand the Target Audience

One of the main goals of any marketing department is to understand who is using your services or buying your products. Demographics are critical. What age, gender, education level, and/or location is drawn to your company most? Without knowing who your audience is, you will not be able to focus your social media strategy in the right areas. For example, LinkedIn tends to be a platform for professionals trying to make connections in the business world, whereas Instagram and SnapChat tend to draw a younger crowd with more visual content. Once you understand who you want to market to, then you can focus your efforts on the right social media platform.

Failing to Address Negative Feedback

We have all seen it on social media, a benign post gets a negative comment and the company does not react. This is sending a message that you either do not care about your consumers or you are not on top of your social media pages. Either way, it is not a good message to send to potential customers. Along the same lines, do not delete the message but rather respond quickly and courteously to show that you are responsive and want to correct any wrongs that may have occurred.

Social media is a full-time job where someone on your team needs to develop content, post it and, most importantly, follow through with comments made by followers. Don’t have a spare employee to spearhead this process? You may need to hire a social media consulting company or social media specialist who can nurture your presence online and steer you in the direction you want.

Drones for Business Use

Over the past several years businesses have cultivated new and interesting ways to add drone technology to their critical tasks. Amazon Prime Air Service is planning to offer fast delivery turnarounds with a drone prototype. Shell Oil Refinery uses drones to complete safety and compliance inspections. Walmart applied for a patented drone system to carry items around the store. And the British Broadcast Company (BBC) uses drones in order to broadcast events happening in real-time.

These companies are just examples of how business leaders have utilized unmanned aerial vehicles to bolster sales, get a jump on the competition, and be an innovator in the area of drone technology. Is your company considering using drones for transport, surveillance, safety, imaging, or any other reason?

The idea of using unmanned aerial vehicles is not a new one. In fact, the earliest unmanned aerial vehicle in the history of drones was seen in 1839, when Austrian soldiers attacked the city of Venice with unmanned balloons filled with explosives. As you can imagine, some of the balloons hit their targets, while others did not. Even then, drones had dangers associated with them.

Today’s businesses are looking for any means necessary to get ahead, cut costs, and make a name for themselves. Drones may fit the bill in many of those instances. However, there are some caveats to drone flying. Drone flying must meet the requirements put forth by the FAA – Federal Aviation Authority. Some of these requirements include an age requirement of 16, a remote pilot’s certificate, passing the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) vetting process, meeting a weight limit, conducting a pre-flight check, obtaining an operating license depending on the class of drone, and a myriad of flying rules once in the air.

In more recent news, commercial airline pilots have complained about having near misses with drones upon landing or having drones flying in restricted space. Know Before You Fly is a great place to start if you are looking for more requirements and regulations when it comes to drone use for your business. It is a great resource to connect with before you begin your business drone planning.

Are you considering integrating drone use into your business? We suggest checking out our seminar on May 13 entitled “Drones for Municipalities: What You Need to Know in Order to Fly (Hands-on Workshop).” Check out all of Enterprise Center’s seminars on our events page.

 

Pinterest for Business

Chances are that if you own a business website, you also have links to social media or at least some presence on one or more of the social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter and LInkedIn are the common choices for many small and medium sized businesses. Have you considered Pinterest? Here are a few compelling statistics that may sway your social media choices.

  • Pinterest has 150 million users as of January 23rd of this year. Seventy million of them are in the United States. That is a lot of traffic that could be seeing your products and ideas.
  • Millennials use this social media platform as much as Instagram so if your target audience is in the age bracket consider becoming a pinner and poster.
  • 87% of Pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.
  • 93% of active Pinners said they use Pinterest to plan for purchases and 87% said they’ve purchased something because of Pinterest.
  • What’s unique about this mode of communication compared to most social media websites, is that it reduces the number of steps from discovery to conversion. This means that visitors from Pinterest convert into leads or sales faster than from other social media sources.
  • About 95% of the images were either pinned or re-pinned from the web which means you are building valuable links to your site daily.
  • The half-life of a pin is 1,600 times longer than a Facebook post.
  • The average pinner user spends 14.2 minutes pinning every time they log in.

Convinced? Check it out and see how it can work for your business at PinterestBusiness.

Common Mistakes of Social Media

Social media is fast becoming a cost effective marketing tool that can help increase traffic to your website, give your company brand exposure and convert viewers into consumers. So if you are jumping on the social media bandwagon and don’t quite know what to do, here are a few tips of mistakes to avoid as you navigate the social media world.

  • Failure to Make a Plan – Don’t just start tweeting, posting and pinning without having a plan. Knowing which social media platform is the best for your demographic is a good place to start. In addition your company should plan when and what to post. This may involve doing some serious research about who your target audience is as well what they will find valuable on social media.
  • Failure to Interact – Many companies post on social media without interacting with followers or fans. Don’t miss this opportunity to respond and speak with your audience. Interactions can build valuable relationships so don’t miss out!
  • Posting to No One –  While it is great to have posts scheduled and visible on your page or wall, it is more important to grow your followers. If you are posting with no fans, then you are wasting your time and money.
  • Having Incorrect Info on your Page – Have you updated your company profile lately?  Chances are something has changed on the contact information that could cost you customers.
  • Irregular Postings – Fans and followers tend to be creatures of habit. if they can anticipate when you will post whether it is weekly or daily then they are more likely to check in with your page. Postings should also include content that your readers will find meaningful, useful and valuable.

Social Media Analytics

So you own a small or medium sized business and you understand the importance of being a presence on social media. In fact, you have created business pages on the top social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Maybe you even have joined industry specific platforms like Houzz or Doximity. But how do you know exactly how well your pages are doing? What you really need to do is study the analytics of your pages and see if they are making an impact. Evaluating social media analytic data will tell you whether your pages are performing well or falling flat.

Analytics will help your company focus on what your goals are in regard to being on social media. For example, is your goal to increase “likes” or “tweets”? Is the goal to convert viewers? Is the goal to increase brand awareness?  Analytics can help you fine tune those goals and help you keep track of your performance. In addition analytics will help your company keep track of key performance indicators (KPIs). These can be broken down into: likes and shares your posts receive, replies and comments and (most importantly) clicks your links and content.

If you are a novice to social media analytics you will want to start with some research into what the numbers mean and how to translate those numbers into actions. Google Analytics is one of the most popular analytics tools out there. It can report most anything about your website and traffic, including all the necessary social referrals you’re interested in. One feature of Google Analytics is the ability to create custom dashboards of just the metrics that matter to you. In addition to Google, Buffer (a social media management tool) and True Social Metrics (a dashboard of analytics) can help you examine whether your efforts on social media or working or whether you need to go in another direction.