Which Social Networks Should Be a Priority for Your Association?

With limited resources and a wide variety of social networks to choose from, many associations find themselves asking, “What should be the number one social media outlet to pursue?”

Unfortunately, there is no easy way of answering this because each social site is so unique. They each provide their own benefits, and associations would be able to use and benefit from each of them in different ways. Here is a breakdown of how you can use four of the top social media channels.

  1. Social_Media_Image_PurchasedYouTube. This requires low management maintenance. Whenever you create a video, you should upload it and share it with your audience in different ways. You can embed it into your website, email marketing blasts, share it on other social networks, embed it into online profiles, and have QR codes direct to them. If you enjoy being creative with your marketing efforts and you tend to be more of a visual person, preferring to give a face to a name and show your audience how your association can help them, YouTube should definitely be a utilized channel.
  2. Twitter. Twitter requires the most management, but also has the most benefits. First of all, its outreach and engagement opportunities are very extensive. There are many tools out there that can help you search for leads and existing contacts (contact me if you need help with this!). You can also initiate relationships by following people, and if they know you or have heard of your association, they will typically follow you back and interact. You can also embed your Twitter feed with your personal and Company Page LinkedIn updates (more on that in just a minute). Some tools even let you update your Facebook through Twitter. By syncing up social networks with each other, it can cover a lot more ground with just one post. Another benefit with Twitter is its hashtag feature. The best examples of hashtag usage would be during events. If you go to an event, attendees and vendors are able to include the hashtag (such as #BestEvent) within their tweets, which will make their posts show up in the #BestEvent Twitter feed. This is a great way of finding people at the show, engaging with them, and simply sharing your experience of the show with others. However, be mindful that there are a lot of tweets out there, so you must be consistent with your posts in order to position yourself as a thought leader who provides information but who also engages with their audience as well.
  3. LinkedIn. This network requires low management and has a more professional setting compared to others. Everyone should belong to this network because LinkedIn members appear within or close to the top five Google searches when their name is searched for. This helps encourage connections and relationships and it makes it easy for members and prospects to find you. Personal profiles also give you the capability of sharing your website, social networks, more information about your association, and many other types of information. If people want to learn more about you professionally, LinkedIn gives them the chance to do so, and then gives them the option to connect with you. While you are on LinkedIn, if your work email has its own domain, build a Company Page for your association. This gives the opportunity for all of your coworkers/employees to be under one network. LinkedIn Company Pages also give you the opportunity to promote your services, update members, and connect prospects with sales reps and more! You can also keep it updated by posting regular Company Page statuses. I would recommend sticking with 1-3 status updates each week to start, and try to focus on association news/industry news that your target audience would be interested in.
  4. Facebook. Facebook requires a medium level of management. My recommended amount of posts for Facebook is 4-5 posts per week, possibly a little more if there is an event happening that you are participating in. Sharing industry-related information in different mediums, such as photos, YouTube videos, blog posts, or articles, is a great way to engage with your Facebook audience. Your audience in this channel usually consists of existing members who enjoy being a part of and trust your association, and prospects who are interested in your organization, events, and services. Facebook fans usually join your page in order to stay in the loop with what is new. Posting pictures and YouTube videos of members and workers at your association is also great content and allows your audience to better connect with your organization. This social network is meant to focus on humanizing your association. So if you have an existing dedicated fan base who is online and wants to stay in the loop, Facebook may be your top priority.

At the end of the day, every association has its own unique audience. Think about where your audience is and how they enjoy learning about the type of services you have to offer. Once you discover these key components, determining which social media networks are the right ones for your organization will become more apparent. No matter which one you choose though, each network is great for enhancing your association’s search optimization. The more you update them, the higher they will rise in search results, plus, the bigger your networks are, the more potential you have of sending members and prospects to your website.

Evaluating Your Organization’s Target Market

Have you taken a good look at your organization’s target market lately? If not, it’s time you did. One of the keys to running a successful business is identifying the needs of your customers and making sure you provide for those needs. As the saying goes, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know, and there’s never been a better time to ask.

Why You Need to Re-Evaluate Your Market

Business sectors are always growing and changing. Perhaps a sector will see a shift in demographics such as attracting more people of a certain age bracket or gender into a field. Perhaps as as time passes old issues will get resolved and new ones will come to the fore. There may be changes in the law or in technology, or simply in how things are done. It all adds up to a changing face for the business sector at hand.

For your organization, that means the field in which you operate is changing. If you want to show your customers that you understand their current needs and concerns, you need to get up to date with what is happening in your field – and with your audience.

idea_lightbulbHow to Get Answers

There are two main places to go when you want to re-evaluate your market – your business sectors and your customers.

To make sure your organization is right on the pulse of what is happening in your field, make it a priority to stay up to date by keeping tabs on:

  • Social media
  • Related news topics
  • Professional journals and papers
  • Online sources of information such as blogs and forums
  • Face to face opportunities such as trade shows and networking

When it comes to your customers, you need to keep abreast of their current concerns by listening to them and asking questions. You can start by:

  • Paying attention to what your customers and others in your field are talking about on social media
  • Listening to what your customers tell you at networking events via email or any other time or method in which they contact you
  • Asking questions – from an informal question on Facebook to sending out a customer feedback survey, make time to listen and find out what is on their minds

By keeping as up to date as possible, you will be able to evaluate the needs of your audience and the sector in which your business operates. That all adds up to current and useful knowledge that you can use to evaluate what your organization offers and how well that fits in with the current landscape and needs. The result? You will stay relevant and establish your businessas a reliable source of information and support that understands what is happening here and now.

Marketing the Loans Businesses Need for Financial Security

In order to successfully run a small business, you sometimes need a little financial push in the back to get through a challenge or two.

With that being the case, those who lend money to small companies have it in their best interests to do as much positive marketing as possible to potential loan takers. When all is said and done, the marketing efforts should be professional, not over the top when it comes to trying to make a sale, and followed up with stellar customer service.

Another key focal point is what marketing vehicles lenders use to reach out to and potentially work with small businesses in need of loans.

Should they stick to more traditional marketing measures such as email, flyers and cold calling, or should they be more involved with social media and even mobile marketing in their pursuits?

The answer to that of course depends on which small businesses loan companies are targeting and what marketing options best suit their resources.

Using an Array of Marketing Techniques

Highway Signpost New CustomersTo start off with, get the background history on each and every small business you might be working with.

How long have they been around or are they a start-up? Do they have sound financial backing or have they demonstrated a struggle to maintain financial security? Is the industry they are representative of a solid one or does it have some cracks in it, notably financial issues?

These and other questions can be more easily answered using sound marketing practices such as social media (see more below).

Knowing who you are marketing to and their overall state is important before you ever draw up the financial loan papers.

Next, look at your marketing options, along with how you can best explain how the process works.

When you opt to pay for a small company’s future sales up front, make it clear in your marketing message the steps needed to do this, including what is then expected from the small business owner who is receiving the funds.

Make it known in your marketing outreach to them how easy the application process is, how soon the proposed funding will be in their hands, and what the terms of the flexible repayment options are.

Social Component

With more companies engaging in social media these days, it only stands to reason that you can potentially reach more clients with the different lending options at your disposal, options that you tout on your social networking sites.

Keep in mind that social media offers you a diverse audience, an audience that allows you so many marketing options.

If you don’t already have Facebook, Twitter or even Instagram accounts, set them up sooner rather than later.

Use such sites to showcase what types of lending plans you have available to the man or woman running a small business. While you can and should do this with text, don’t be hesitant to use imagery and even video too.

Although some folks may not think of a site such as YouTube of falling under the social media umbrella, the opposite is quite true.

With a well-done video presentation, you can highlight in a 30 or 60-second piece how your lending options cater to the small business owner. He or she can see this when you share and/or tweet out a short video of just that. As it now stands, more companies are coming to understand the value of sites like YouTube to call attention to their products and/or services.

Another avenue to travel down is looking into mobile marketing when you have lending opportunities for small business owners.

Mobile marketing has skyrocketed in recent years, with many experts predicting there is no end in sight to its possibilities in reaching consumers.

If you are opting for mobile marketing, make sure it is being done in concert with those you are offering to lend money to. The last thing you want to do is come across as too sales-focused, something that can quickly turn off a potential customer.

Lending funds to those in need can be a rewarding practice on several ends, notably your overall revenue.

When you effectively market what you have to offer and why your lending process is better than the competition’s, you stand to cash-in on more and more business.

Photo credit: BigStockPhoto.com

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers marketing and business topics on the web.

Can Automated Marketing Work for My Business?

Many marketing departments should consider using automated marketing solutions. While automated may make it sound as if you are using computers to take over the marketing department duties, there’s no loss of control with automated marketing, in fact you’ll gain more control than before. When done correctly, automated marketing platforms should be an extra pair of hands for your marketing person or department.

There are several different versions of software that will automate the repetitive portions of marketing, with many functions available. The sales effectiveness of a marketing department can be increased through the chosen functions. High powered software can help with everything from lead generation to lead qualification. Most of the programs are offered from Internet-based applications, though standalone software does exist. These locally installed programs will need an experienced manager to keep the application running smoothly. Internet based programs are either designed to be run without an experienced user, or are typically offered with a customer service and tech package.

Intelligence

AutoMKTQuite a few automated programs have a tracking function incorporated. These tracking functions are embedded into social media campaigns, web pages, and marketing emails to reveal the behavior of recipients or interested users by recording email – whether opened or following embedded links, social media link monitoring, and pages viewed. This activity allows the marketer to determine which products or services are more appealing to the majority of their target audience.

Automation of Marketing

The heart and soul of automated marketing is when the program helps move leads through the marketing funnel. At the top of the funnel are the interested browsers. Through emails, then follow up call reminders (to the marketing department), the software helps those browsing parties become sales leads at the bottom of the funnel.

Workflow Management

More sophisticated programs help manage the workflow in a marketing department. While the initial information needs to be input by a human, once entered the data can be created automatically. This data can include workflow, marketing calendars, budgeting, asset creating, and triggers for sales marketing campaigns or emails.

Sales or Spam?

Marketing emails are often sent to spam folders. This is due to over-sending, repeated emails, or material that is not relevant to customers. Potential customers can become non-interested parties very quickly if they find too many emails from any business in their inbox. To avoid this, create several different types of messages based on customer activity. Do not allow the emails to go out more than once per week and let customers choose their email preferences. Remember that having emails marked as spam too often can result in fines or even your website being blacklisted from your webhost or Internet service provider.

Can I Afford It?

For some small businesses the price of automated marketing can be prohibitive. Certain software can run over $1,000 per month. Companies with a high profit may not have a problem, as automated marketing can help generate more leads. There are many different solutions and some may fall into your budget range. If there are enough potential leads, the cost may be worth investing in automated marketing.

Would you like to learn more about marketing automation? Contact me directly and I’d be more than happy to assist you!

How To: Stay Focused While Working at Home

Working from home is appealing to a lot of people that have the option. It’s also very convenient if you have other obligations, children, or don’t feel well but still need to get work done for the day. Focusing can be a struggle due to so many temptations and other distractions in the comfort of your own home. Here are some important things to think about that will help you avoid these productivity killers.

writingTry to keep your routine. Whatever you normally do in the morning, whether it’s getting coffee, eating breakfast or exercising (assuming you are not sick), do so when you decide to work from home. If you don’t start your day how you usually do, you’re more likely to feel a bit off for the day. When you’ve finally completed the routine that you usually do before work, buckle down, open the computer and take the files out on a comfortable desk, or table, to start your work day.

It’s time to get the brain moving. Grab your coffee, put your headphones in, and get to work. Many of us can’t get much done with the television on, so don’t bother turning it on, helping to avoid unnecessary distractions. However, if you like to listen to music or put on some background noise that won’t distract you, then go for it. Again, just stay comfortable, and in return you’ll be focused and productive.

Lastly, make sure you have your schedule laid out for the day. You probably have multiple tasks that you need to get done during the work day so be sure to stay on top of them. While it’s important to work, don’t be afraid to take a break, eat some brain food, and collect your thoughts. When you have a clear schedule and you can see exactly what needs to get done, then you should have no problem staying on track.

Working from home is a convenient option if you can stay on task and stay focused. At times it is necessary for people with multiple obligations during one day and it is especially appealing to millennials. Younger generations think it’s great to have the option to work from home and have flexibility within their work place. Just remember to get comfortable, stay in routine, and get to work. Good luck!

Does Your Business Have a Technological Edge in Customer Service?

If your business wants to improve its customer service practices, then it’s time to take a technological approach.

From mobile outreach to social media, technology is helping businesses of all kinds take care of their customers’ needs.

Here are some of the ways your business can use technology to improve its customer service department:

Text Message Customer Service

With more and more customers carrying their mobile devices with them wherever they go, your customer service representatives could and should be just a text away.

By encouraging your customers to text their troubleshooting questions and product questions to your customer service team instead of calling, your business can handle more customers at once.

Handling increased customer support volume isn’t the only benefit of going the mobile route with your customer service.

Texting allows your service representatives to send links and trouble-shooting tutorials directly to your customers’ mobile devices, which is faster and more convenient than service calls.

Hosted PBX

Voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) has been around for a while, but it isn’t until recently that the call technology has found its place in customer service.

As the following article looks at, hosted PBX can help your business provide quality customer service & gain a competitive edge through a number of customer support features.

With hosted PBX technology, your business can take advantage of auto attendant features that allow you to customize business hours and off-hours greetings.

You can also use auto attendant to transfer calls to a secondary device when you’re away from your desk – all of which improve customer service interactions.

Social Media and Customer Satisfaction

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter aren’t just for socializing anymore. In fact, a growing number of businesses are using their social accounts to field customer questions and your business can do the same.

For starters, your business can feature a customer service section on its Facebook page and a customer support hashtag through its Twitter account.

Likewise, your business can also take advantage of new technology that allows you to transfer a social customer service conversation to a phone call or a live chat on your website.

Speaking of Live Chatting…

If you’re looking for a fast and efficient way to connect to your customers, live chatting is the answer. By including a live chat icon on the pages of your website, you can make it easy for customers to reach out at any point during their visit.

This is an especially helpful feature in terms of customer support.

Not only does live chatting allow customers to quietly and privately interact with your business, your customer representatives are also able to send helpful links and save conversations for future reference.

Future of Customer Service

The customer service technology mentioned above is already in full force in businesses across the globe, but exciting advancements in customer service tech are still on the way.

Many electronics businesses are experimenting with product sensors that actually notify customer service representatives when a customer is struggling with a device.

Likewise, online retailers are testing drones as a way to deliver replacement products and parts to customers with troubleshooting issues.

If your business wants to improve its customer service practices, then it’s time to take advantage of the technology mentioned above.

About the Author: Adam Groff is a freelance writer and creator of content. He writes on a variety of topics including customer service and communications technology.