© Can Stock Photo Inc. / philipimage Selfies are no longer the domain of duck-faced teenaged girls. (That’s not an insult. It’s a description. Google it.) They’re gaining in popularity among adults and businesses too. Selfies are a way of showing customers and potential customers a “behind the scenes” look at your business. They also are an effective way of telling your business story. In addition to selfies, photo bombs can be lots of fun as they are extremely shareable content. Photo bombs start off as portraits, similar to selfies, but the person in the foreground is upstaged by what’s going on behind him/her. Here are 5 types of selfies/photo bombs you should take for your business and post to your social streams: Your History A selfie of the business owner in front of something historic about the business or the year it opened. Good ideas include standing in front of an old picture of the business from way back when, standing in front of a former owner’s portrait, or the first dollar made in the business. If you founded the business yourself, recreate a picture of you taken when you first opened and display them side by side. What Makes You Unique (and the same) This picture is all about showcasing your personality but remember it is for business as well. Try taking a shot in front of a favorite collection or hobby, a picture of you in your favorite spot in town, or you enjoying your favorite meal. When you post it ask a question of your audience, so while it appears to be about you, you are opening it up to a greater connection with them. Have fun with it. For example, taking a picture of you in the morning with your coffee/favorite mug. The caption could read, “You should’ve seen me before I had my first cup. Anyone else unapproachable before their morning coffee?” You and Your Right Hand Not literally. This selfie is a picture of you and the person (or people) who helps you beyond measure. It could be someone who works for you, or a vendor partner, your entire team, or your best customer. The point of this selfie is anything but self-serving. Show some appreciation on a grand level. Mention how thankful you are for that person in the post. Answer the Most Common Question Asked of Your Business This selfie is a unique way of answering the most commonly-asked question you hear in your business. For instance, if you are always asked your hours take a picture of yourself Vanna White style showcasing your open sign and listing your hours. Make it funny and you’re more apt to see shares. Show the Busy-ness This idea is more of a photo bomb than a selfie but sneak up on your employees hard at work, or sneak into a meeting and take a picture of yourself with them in the background. The key to this shot is the caption you use when posting it. Something funny like, “This team is always hard at work, regardless of what I’m doing.”, makes people laugh. Let’s face it, people identify with jokes about hard-working employees and their bosses. Selfies and photo bombs lend a humorous air to your social media shares. They delight your audience and show a fun side of your business. All social media posts should either educate, entice, or entertain. With selfies you have the last one covered brilliantly. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Memberclicks. She’s just a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
© GraphicStock People buy from people they know, like, and trust. While you might be in the right place at the right time when someone is up against it, and they may buy from you once without knowing, liking, or trusting you, for them to return, you’ll need more than luck. Know and trust generally come along when you establish yourself as a likeable business with a human behind it. It’s difficult for people to like you if they don’t trust you, unless you’re a villain and then being untrustworthy is your business. For most of us, that is not the case. You can’t like someone you don’t remember, so let’s get to work on establishing the like part of the sales equation. Share Your Reason Think of how filmmakers or storytellers get us to like the main character. One of the ways is that they place him on a quest, or up against a challenge, that we want him to succeed in. Often it’s one we identify with. Share your reason for doing what you do. There’s probably someone in your audience or potential audience who can identify with your convictions and story. Passion is contagious. Find Commonalities In order to find commonalities, you need to share things about yourself outside of your business and how it came to be. Share your likes, be positive. Share what you love about your community or your love for bacon. Be genuine and people who see your social media posts or read your content, will begin to identify with what you’re sharing. They’ll jump in and say “me too” and you’re one step closer to getting them to like you. Ask Questions If they’re in your store or business ask them their opinion on something and really listen to their answer. On social media ask what they think or what their preferences are. Involve them in your rebranding by crowdsourcing some of your marketing decisions. People like being involved and if you really listen to, and then act on, their advice, they’ll remember it and like you more because they see you as someone who values what they think. That’s all a lot of us are looking for. Anticipate Your Customers’ Needs As a business you are in a position to help, whether it’s helping someone look better, feel better, be entertained, or whatever it is you do for your customers. But you are also in a position to solve problems or answer questions. Use your content and social media to help customers with problems they face in their lives. If you run a boutique, you can create posts about unique gifts for the women in your life. If you are a CPA create helpful checklists of things people should track throughout the year for effortless taxes. Be helpful. Anticipate what your customers need and then give it to them. If they know they can count on you, they will return again and again. In today’s competitive market place it’s hard for your product alone to set you apart. Often it’s the things behind your product that will help you make a name for yourself. It’s the service, personality, and assistance you provide. These are the things that make people like you and they are also what keeps people coming back. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager’s Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
© GraphicStock Maybe you’ve heard the old saying, in order to win the lottery you first have to play. That’s about the extent to any advice someone can give you on how to win. Yes, there are superstitions out there and number theories, but in the end, the only way to guarantee you could win the lottery is by playing. The same can be said for viral content. There is not guarantee your content will go viral but if you do these things, it could go viral. While I can’t make any guarantees about lightning striking in the viral content lottery, I can tell you if you create content your audience finds valuable or entertaining, you’re more likely for it to happen. Here are a few suggestions on how to create content people love: How to Create Content with the Best Chance of Going Viral Again, I use the word chance. That’s all this is. Create great content, perhaps others will share it. Your best chance for viral is going to be an image or video. While it’s possible that a moving written story will be shared virally, it’s less likely to do so since images and video garner the largest numbers of shares on the Interwebs. Frankly, video is probably faster to produce nowadays than writing a coherent sentence. Interview Your Customers Product or service endorsements will rarely go viral, even in video form. What does go viral is something that will entertain your audience. How can a customer video be entertaining? Easy. Chose an entertaining subject. Most often that won’t be your business. Dr. Jerry Copeland of Pediatric Dentistry in Tampa, Florida often interviews his pint-size patients. Sometimes he uncovers shocking and comical discoveries. This post garnered 138 views in 3 hours. If your business involves pets or kids, you have an unfair advantage because of the cuteness factor. However, all you need to do is provoke a reaction with your content. It doesn’t have to be cute. For instance, someone in pest control could take a video of a really scary creature. Hum the Jaws theme and post away. Whoever you film – pests not included – make sure you respect their privacy and get written releases before recording. Use Shocking Images Weather, natural disasters, the biggest spider you’ve ever seen, these are all examples of images that immediately elicit a response. Sometimes the response is so great that it’s physical. Humane societies like to show pictures of dogs who have been rescued from dog fighting rings. These pics make you feel something instantaneously and the images often stay with you for a while. Use Tags Assuming we are no longer talking about shocking pictures but nice looking ones, tag people wherever applicable. (Do not tag famous or well-known people who aren’t in the post just to make them look at it. You are not the first one who thought of this and you’re not making friends this way.) Tagging calls people’s attention to the picture and may cause them to share it if they like it as much as you think they will. If you choose poorly, they will remove the tag and hold it against you for a very long time. To avoid this trouble altogether, you can ask your audience to share their own pictures with you. Provide a call-to-action or even a theme for the picture and ask your following to submit them to you or post them on your page. Use Teasers Sometimes it’s morbid curiosity that causes clicks and shares. This morning the local ABC affiliate shared a picture of a 5-foot cottonmouth snake along with the caption, local woman finds snake in children’s play area. What happened next is amazing. Maybe you also saw the picture of two middle-aged men in suits, holding hands with a caption that read something like, the bride’s father grabbed her stepfather and what happened next didn’t leave a dry eye in the house. In both of those examples you can’t help but click. Did the snake eat the family dog? Did the mom whip it around her head and fling it off into the neighbor’s lawn? Did the dad profess he had a secret crush on the stepdad all along or did he do something that defied how we envision dads and stepdads relating? We have to know. A Final Thought about Viral Content All of your content should entertain, educate, or inspire. Most shares come out of the entertain and inspire categories. While your audience will dictate the details of what you share (you must always keep their interests in mind), generally you want to keep your content light for the most mass appeal. People go on to social media for an escape not deep thinking. A Facebook stream is more akin to grocery store sensationalist magazines than it is a Paris salon (the literary and philosophical hangout, not the beauty parlor.) Keep this in mind when creating content. If you want to have weighty discussions, Medium is your place. If you want it to go viral, keep it simple and broadly appealing. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manger Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
© GraphicStock Do you track the number of sales you make along with the revenue? Of course you do. How do your numbers look? Are you increasing or remaining the same? Hopefully you’re not down this year but if you are, these may be some of the reasons why and what you can do to fix them: You Can’t Compete on Price I’m making a broad generalization here, but as a small business you can’t compete on price with the big chain stores just as I can’t compete with writers who are overseas and on Fiverr. I don’t want to. Neither should you. If you make price your differentiator there will always be someone who can underbid you. There are plenty of businesses looking to take a hit in one area in the hopes they will get additional business in the future. That’s exactly how large retail and grocery stores work. Better differentiators for small business include customer service, a unique product, a unique way of doing something, or even a value ad. If you are a small business, find something other than price to differentiate your business. Your wallet will thank you. You Have no Differentiator When kids open a lemonade stand, it’s all about location and need. They need a good location to be successful and people will stop when they need a drink. That’s fine until the kid next door opens a lemonade and hot dog stand. Now they and their competitor share a similar location, both are just as easy to get to, and the first lemonade stand has a limitation on its business – nothing to eat. Assuming they don’t get into a pricing war, the first stand better come up with a way to differentiate. If not, they’ll likely lose business. You’re Not Making Your Customers Feel Special Customers will buy from you without that “special” feeling until someone comes along who competes with you AND makes them feel special. There are tons of ways to make your customers feel appreciated everything from providing the happiest, best, most attentive service to giving away special previous customer discounts. Find a way to appreciate them and they’ll be more likely to return again and again. You’re Unreponsive When customers like your shop and enjoy your brand, they want to connect with you. If they try to do so on one of your social media profiles and you are unresponsive, they will read that as uninterested in them. Millennials especially want to be able to provide direct feedback to businesses on social media. If you’re not active on there or not responsive, you’re sending a message without ever writing one. 2016 is right around the corner. It’s time to review 2015 and decide what you want this upcoming year to look like. If you’re worried about your sales numbers this year, or just want to see them improve next year, follow this simple advice and make 2016 The Year of Your Customer. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog. She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
© Can Stock Photo Inc. From 2014-2015 the number of Twitter users grew by 50 million, and it’s estimated that close to 1/5 of Internet users have Twitter accounts. The average Twitter user follows 5 businesses so if you’re not trying to reach your customers on Twitter you’re missing an opportunity. Twitter is easy enough to understand, just share something 140 characters or less. You can share links, images, or videos. Here are a few other tips for businesses just starting out on Twitter: Use Hashtags Twitter is as hard to follow as the ticker tape on a stock page. It’s a constant barrage of messaging, particularly for those accounts that follow a lot of people. Hashtags, or pound signs (#), help people search for the information they want. Using an appropriate hashtag can expand your business’ reach and help potential customers find what they’re looking for. Employ one specific to your business and use hashtags that are relevant. For instance, Jake’s Jewelry Store might use all, or any, of the following hashtags in tweets with images of gifts for mom: #jakes, #mothersday, #gift. You can also use popular hashtags of trending topics, when applicable, like #marchmadness or #50shadesofgrey. Share Images This tip applies to most of social media but Twitter will display images prominently in the stream so it’s a good way to get your followers’ attention. Rise Above the Noise Find ways to stand out from others who are merely posting articles they’ve written. Ask questions. Have conversations. Thank people for sharing your content. One of the easiest ways to create loyal followers, at least initially, is through commenting on what they share – either by providing your own opinions or asking them follow-up questions. Avoid sending out automated thank you messages to new followers. While the concept seems nice – thanking them for following you – they come off as exactly what they are, robotic. Plus many Twitter users don’t check their messages box because of the large number of these they receive. In addition to finding customers and potential customers on Twitter, it’s good to connect with influencers in your industry or audience such as mommy bloggers or niche bloggers. Follow the Golden Rule To follow back or not to follow back. That is the question and the answer for business is follow back, or do unto others as you would like them to do to you. There are exceptions to this rule. Twitter will cap you at 2,000 following (people you follow) if your followers (number of people who follow you) are not fairly equal. For instance, if you followed 2,000 people but only 500 followed you, Twitter will not allow you to follow any more until those numbers get within (about) 200 of each other. Twitter won’t tell you the exact number that it takes but you will be limited until those follower numbers rise. You also don’t want your followers and following number too far off of one another because: If you are following too many people, and a relatively equal number is not following you back, it looks like you’re not sharing worthwhile information. On the other hand, If a lot of people are following you and you’re only following a handful, you look like a bit of a jerk. That’s okay for reality TV stars but people who are using Twitter for business should be a little more congenial. You can manage your Twitter followers through tools like ManageFlitter, Followerwonk (a Moz app) or Friend or Follow. Many of these tools can help you tell which accounts are spam bots or fake accounts or inactive accounts. (You don’t want to spend time engaging those.) They also help you isolate influencers in your area. There are pages and pages of tips written on topics like Twitter for business but the best thing to keep in mind is your humanity. Don’t make it all about your business and be gracious. Find ways to connect with people on a more personal level and imagine every tweet you’re sending could be seen by your grandmother, unless you’re in the type of business you don’t want your grandmother to know about. Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and Memberclicks. She’s just a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.