3 Mistakes to Avoid on Social Media that Could Damage Your Online Reputation

Many small business owners do not feel it’s important to integrate social media into their business and this is often due to incorrect beliefs surrounding social media. The truth is that used correctly, social media can enhance the reputation of your business as well as boost your productivity. Since for many small businesses and entrepreneurs their business is closely connected to them as individuals, social media can enhance your personal reputation as well.

Despite numerous benefits for incorporating social media marketing in your business, there are some mistakes to avoid on social media in order not to damage your online reputation. Let’s explore three of those mistakes.

Inconsistency with Your Personal Brand

Inconsistency with your personal brand is a mistake you should avoid. Keeping your brand consistent across all social media platforms is one way to manage your online reputation. This means that you should use similar or the same headshot, the same logos and banners across all platforms, as well as the same information about you and your business.

By inadvertently leaving something off or being inconsistent with your description, you may confuse someone or make them think you’re being less than honest. This could affect how others view you. It’s also important to double check to make sure that everything you say and do supports who you are and how you want to represent yourself as online.

 

Not Keeping Personal & Business Separate     avoid damage to your online reputation management

It’s almost impossible to be anonymous on the Internet because various sites require that you sign in via Facebook, Google, Twitter, WordPress, etc. in order to make a comment or participate in online discussions. The challenge is knowing where to draw the line between your personal and business life because it really is important to keep your personal and business separate.

It is true that people do business with people they know, like, and trust, which means that even when doing business online it’s important to reveal something about yourself so that your market will get to know you. However, just as it would not be normal or acceptable for you to discuss certain aspects of your personal life at a networking event with other business owners, you would want to exercise caution in how much you reveal about your personal life while using the Internet to market your business.

The 2011 Cone Online Trend Tracker survey revealed that 4 out of 5 consumers changed their minds about a recommended purchase based solely on negative information they found online. This highlights the impact that negative personal or business information can have on your small business.

Over sharing on Social Media

Keep in mind that you do not own any of these social media platforms and although they each have their individual privacy settings, which allow you to control what others see, you have no way of knowing who has access to see everything you post. Pictures are among the most damaging on social media because they can be quickly shared with others.

Before you post a picture, ask yourself if this is something you would mind seeing this on the front page of the New York Times. Stop and consider that rather than making you likeable, over-sharing often repels people who may wonder why you feel it’s important to share intimate or very private details on social media.

It’s becoming more frequent to read something in the news about someone who said something that was taken out of context or said in jest that gets someone into a lot of trouble. People have lost jobs, clients, and even entire businesses because of making some of the above mistakes on social media. Don’t become a statistic.

Do you need help in monitoring your online reputation, get your copy of “The Small Business Guide to Online Reputation Management” today.

 

 

3 Ways to Assess Your Online Reputation

Small Business Guide to Online Reputation ManagementIn order to decide where you’re going, you must know where you are at present. This is true with your online reputation. Before you can monitor and take control of your online reputation you must do an assessment so you know what’s already out there on the internet about you. Once you assess your online reputation, you can then initiate strategies so you’re notified when you name or the name of your business is mentioned, and identify what you need to do to protect your online reputation.

What do prospects see when they search for you? What type of information have you unwittingly put out about yourself that could damage your online reputation?

Today, we live in a very politically divided society. Depending upon your audience, something that seems very small could offend the wrong people causing your business to lose untold amounts of revenue.

Another area that people often overlook is the potential damage that photos can bring. Remember that none of us live in a vacuum, and what may appear to be ‘normal’ in your world may be highly offensive to others. A recent story highlights the importance of exercising caution when posting photos online. Some persons may say that the matter has been blown out of proportion, but public opinion matters.

How do you begin to Assess Your Online Reputation

Use Multiple Search Engines

Do not limit yourself to searching on just one search engine such as Google. Remember that people use other search engines such as Yahoo!, Ask.com, Bing and more. Start with your name and the name of your business, then move on to keywords that you want to rank for. Make no mistake about it, when people hear of you or meet you they are doing a search on you, so it’s important to know what they are finding when they visit the search engines.

Use Social Media for Searching

More and more people are using various social media platforms like a search engine. For example on Twitter you can use the Advanced Search feature to find out what’s trending, connect with friends and Influencers, discover topics of interest, and much more.   Try searching for keywords, your name, the companies name, the product name and more on each social media network. It’s a great way to monitor the buzz about you and your company.

Social media is very important today when it comes to your online reputation. Not only do you want to monitor what others say about you, but you need to be cognizant of what you’re saying and doing on social media. Too many people have hurt themselves by what they put on social media, forgetting that this can be viewed by thousands of people and more.

Set up a Google Alert

Google Alert lets you select various keywords, company name, personal name, and more. The results are sent to your inbox from news, blogs and social media when any of the terms you selected is used. It’s a great way to monitor when something is being said about your company as well as keep up-to-date in your niche. You can be sure to comment on blogs that are about your niche, as well as comment on discussions in which your product, service, or business was discussed.

Go A Couple Pages In

Most people who search for your information won’t go past the first couple of pages, but you should go in 10 pages and beyond just to be sure about the results. Search for your company name, your name, your product, the brand, your handles and user names as well to find out what’s being said about you or what you’ve said about you. You could find that there is information on the internet that you placed there without thinking.

Rather than simply worrying about your online reputation, it’s important to take action because consumers will do their research before spending money with you. During your searches if you find things that you’d rather not be out in the open, there are things you can do to either remove or bury the results. Of course, it’s important to remember that although you may remove something, pictures, for example; someone else may already have downloaded them.

An important reminder is to disable personalized search results as you are doing your research. This means that if you are searching on Google, you should be logged out of gmail so that you will see what others see.

And now I invite you to get your copy of my very own ‘Small Business Guide to Online Reputation Management” a 55-page document comprised of four Modules that take you through establishing your personal brand – the foundation of building your online reputation –  to how to implement the strategies to take control of your reputation.

 

 

Customer Loyalty and Retention Begin With Current Customers

Customer LoyaltyCompanies allocate huge amounts of money to advertising, and their primary purpose is to attract new customers and clients. Being innovative is a requirement for doing business and it makes sense that businesses implement innovative strategies to continually attract new customers or clients to replace ones who leave as well as widen their customer base.

On the other hand, what about current customers? Would it not make sense that customer loyalty and retention should begin with current customers? These same companies have thousands of customers whom they overlook when they offer promotions and incentives. Doesn’t it make sense to encourage customer loyalty and retention in your current customers?

It’s likely that almost everyone reading this has or know someone who has had a similar experience and it begs the question, “What are these companies thinking? “Have they not heard of customer appreciation?” “Doesn’t customer loyalty and retention mean anything to them?”

Joseph Jaffe, in the book Flip the Funnel: How to Use Existing Customers to Gain New Ones stated that, “If we’re able to elevate retention (customer service, dialogue, and customer outreach…) to the point at which it becomes a strategic imperative at the expense of the traditional acquisition efforts from an optimization and budget allocation standpoint…then maybe, just maybe, we’ll be able to do business for the better.”

Customer loyalty is something that can grow exponentially when it’s shown to the customer. There are lots of testimonials and stories that demonstrate how customers are motivated by the loyalty shown to them by the company so that they would not think of doing business elsewhere. Yes, people can be motivated by money as in discounts. However, when this is enveloped in a way that demonstrates that the reason for the discount is in appreciation for their being loyal customers, it engenders even more loyalty. The need for recognition and appreciation has been met.

Customers want to know you appreciate their business and that you value them. No customer wants to be viewed as an interruption of your day. The need to be appreciated is a basic need of all humans, and your customers no less.

Instead of paying thousands of dollars to lure new customers, wouldn’t it be a less expensive proposition to do whatever is possible to keep your current customers happy? Interestingly Brian Woolf, the author of Customer Specific Marketing-The New Power in Retailing and a loyalty marketing expert, noted in his research that only 1% of new customers become the best customers of a business. It means that it would be in the best interest of the business for customer loyalty and retention to begin with existing customers.

As a small business owner, solo-professional, or entrepreneur you recognize that your customers and clients have a large number of options of where and with whom to do business. What do you currently do to encourage customer loyalty and retention? Do your customers and clients know that you appreciate them? I’d love to hear your responses and experiences.

 

What is Your Unique Selling Proposition and Why You Need a USP

Unique Selling Proposition Identifying your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is one of the most challenging features of being an Entrepreneur or Small Business Owner. Why is this? What is a Unique Selling Proposition, and why is it important?

Mashable reports that there were over 500,000 startups in 2012 and based on various headlines, that number is set to to rise significantly before the end of 2014. With those huge numbers in mind, and adding them to the 23 million small businesses in America alone, it becomes critical for business owners to clearly identify what makes them unique.

What is a Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is a statement that explains how your business is different from everyone else in the same market. What makes you stand out? It tells your customers how and why you are in a better position to meet their needs instead of your ‘competition.’

Can you see why it is “one of the most challenging features..?”  As a business owner you know what you do; you do it well, but it takes time and diligence to determine what makes YOU different from everyone else. What gaps do they fail to cover that you cover? What need do you fill better than anyone else?

Why You Need a USP

Whether you refer to others who provide similar products or service as competition or ‘coopetition’, they will always be there. In fact, if you were the only one providing a particular product or service, that would be a red flag that you may not bee in profitable market.

You need a good USP that will stay in the minds of those in your market so that they will think of you when they need your service or products. This must be clearly and concisely articulated so that it will contain the biggest benefit that your clients and customers will receive from doing business with you, as well as an emotional reason to do business with you.

Why include an emotional component? Because until your customers are emotionally connected with you, you do not have loyal customers and your goal should always be to build the relationship with your clients and customers so that they remain loyal to you.

What are the Elements of a Good USP?

  1. A good USP is memorable so that it sticks in people’s mind. This way they think of you first when they need your products or service.

  2. It addresses specific needs, solves their problem, and makes the lives of your target market easier.

  3. It connects with your customers and potential customers emotionally as it addresses their fears, frustrations, worries, and desires.

Remember that while a clearly defined Unique Selling Proposition is an asset in a crowded market, you also want to use your USP to establish your brand in the minds of your customers and potential customers.

Do you need help developing your Unique Selling Proposition, I can help you solve that problem.  Contact me at http://yvonneajones.com/contact-me/ or send an email to yvonne [at] yvonneajones [dot] com so we can schedule  time to talk and I’ll also send you a copy of my report.

Time Management Tips for Entrepreneurs: Manage Yourself to Manage Your Time

Time Management for Entrepreneurs“Time management is really a misnomer – the challenge is not to manage time, but manage ourselves.  The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” ~ Stephen Covey.

Time is the great equalizer.  We all have the same 24 hours in each day. What makes the difference is how we use the 24 hours we’re given. You probably could think of quite a number of persons who seemed to have accomplished a great deal in their lifetime, and often in a short time. They did this within the framework of 24-hour days.

Are you discouraged with how little you seem to accomplish while others seem to accomplish a great deal more in a short time? If you do, you’re not alone as I’ve felt that way at times. What are some things that could be holding you back?

Seeking perfection. One person will spend 30 minutes writing a great blog post on a topic in their niche with which they’re familiar.  They lay the facts out in a clear, concise way that appeals to their target audience.  The other entrepreneur will spend two hours doing the same thing.   Did the person who took longer write a better post?  Perhaps they wrote more details with the goal of having a perfectly written article.  But did the additional time bring more value to readers?  A personal assessment would determine if this was so, but striving for perfection when no one expects it of you could cause you to be less productive than you could be.

Lack of organization: Disorganization is a huge time-waster. Searching for papers, documents, etc. is great waste of time – yours and others. There is no question about it that to make good use of your time, you must stay organized. No fancy storage system is required, but having a specific place for certain things will allow you to find them immediately when you need them rather than running around searching here and there, frustrating yourself, and wasting precious time. Your lack of organization may affect others so that you end up wasting their time as well.

Taking on more than you can manage: Most of us have a natural desire to help others, and we also have a problem saying, “No.” We often take on much more than we can comfortably handle and find that by saying “Yes” to too many things we actually become unproductive. How is that possible, you may ask? The answer is simple: Time spent on one thing is time away from another. This goes hand-in-hand with the questions small business owners and entrepreneurs should keep asking themselves, “Is what I’m doing taking me closer to my goal?”

If the task is something that could easily be done by someone else, and is not in line with your goals, whether these are personal or business goals, and is actually robbing you of time you had scheduled to work on these goals, it is not an effective self-management decision.  In order to practice good self- management, you should have a plan or strategy for the various aspects of your life and sticking to your plan in order to reach your goals shows a measure of self-respect.

When you manage yourself to manage your time no one can tell you exactly how you should do this since everyone’s circumstance is different. Further, there are people who can set schedules and live by them, while others like to go with the flow.  However, it’s important to remind yourself that to the extent to which you practice good self-management it’s to that extent you’ll make good use of your 24-hour days, be productive and reach your goals. 

Incorporating these time management tips for entrepreneurs can help you make the most use of the portion of your 24 hours that you allocate to your business on a daily basis.  And don’t forget to include time to have FUN in your business!

Many books have been written on the topic.  Here is a Kindle book you may find an easy read: 10 Minute Time Management by Ric Thompson.

Relationship Marketing: Essential Key for Customer Loyalty and Retention

relationship marketingThe success of your business depends on customer loyalty and retention. If you have been in business for any length of time, or have been observing successful businesses, you recognize that relationship marketing is an essential key to customer loyalty and retention.

Television, radio, and newspaper ads all have their place, and are still effective for many businesses. However, for small businesses especially, impersonal advertising cannot be the primary way for communicating with your customers, and consumers in general. Customers do not want to be spoken to. They want to be spoken with and be made to feel that their voice is heard when they do business with you.

Large and small businesses recognize that having a personal relationship with the customer is what makes the difference in the results they experience. This, in fact, is what sets them apart from their competitors. The removal of “us” and “them” and replacing it with “we’ encourages a partnership so that customers feel they have a vested interest in the business.

3 Reasons Why Relationship Marketing is Essential to Your Business

Profitability:

  • In their book, Leading on the Edge of Chaos, authors, Emmet C. Murphy and Mark A Murphy noted, “Depending on the industry, reducing your customer defection rate by 5% can increase your profitability by 25 to 125%.

  • In a survey conducted by Dimensional Research key findings of the study illustrated that customer service not only affects revenue, but has a long lasting impact, with customer service ranking as the No. 1 factor influencing how much a consumer trusts a company.

Build Trust:

At a time when people seems to have lost trust in big businesses, it’s more important than ever to develop the personal relationship with customers so that they clearly understand that you, as the business owner, genuinely care about their welfare and not just see them as a means to a profitable end. Ian Gordon wrote in Relationship Marketing, “”A meaningful relationship starts … when supplier and customer see that it is in their interests to get together for the long term.”

When you make your customers feel that the relationship is one of a partnership and you depend on them for their support, it in no way diminishes your role. Instead you increase the level of loyalty that your customers will give to you. The reality is that in our social world, customers know the level of power that they hold, and if you can harness that power to support your business, it puts you in a favorable position.

Create Your Own Research Team:

Who better to get feedback from than the persons who are already using your products or service? Research can be expensive and time-consuming. It can also be less than accurate if you’re not targeting the correct demographic or pyschographic market.

Your loyal customers and clients are in the best position to share with you ideas and suggestions as to how your product or service could be better and the impact changes and enhancements could have on their lives.

This is not a new concept because large organizations are using this strategy. Starbucks, for one, created a website: My Starbucks Idea where their customers can share their ideas and comment on the ideas shared by others. Genius! They even show the ideas that are being implemented. Can you see how this type of relationship would endear you to your customers and build customer loyalty?

So, would you agree that relationship marketing is an essential key to customer loyalty and retention? It takes time to get a smooth-running system in place, but the returns will be worth it when your funnel is filled with loyal customers and clients.

I invite you to visit my website and download your copy of “STOP Losing Your Best Customers: Time -Tested Tips to Grow Your Business with Customer Retention.”

Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below this post. Thank you. 🙂

Why Define Social Media Goals for Your Business

social media plan for businessFor the most part, small business owners and entrepreneurs recognize that social media is no longer just an option; it’s a necessity.

One of the most significant benefits of social media is that it can be used as a marketing tool. However, in order for it to be an effective tool you must determine your purpose and define social media goals for your business.

It’s important to keep in mind that this is one way to attract customers and prospects and you can do so strategically by building a relationship with them and providing value. At the same time social media platforms allow you to deliver superior customer service in real time, and remove barriers to communication and problem-resolution.

Key Factors to Consider

1) What are the main advantages you want social media to provide for your business? For example, if your main objective is to increase sales and revenue, then your goal should be to improve your brand positioning and awareness.

Create consistent, authentic content that gives people an in-depth look at what you can offer. This will also help to build and improve your online reputation. Companies that consistently update their content and check in with their followers are typically thought of as a reliable business, and therefore are more likely to attract followers.

2) If you want to convert your social media followers into paying customers, you’ll not only want to provide valuable content, but consider offering incentives, such as free samples, service coupons, or anything else that would give people a reason to become paying customers.

Create a Goal List

A goal list may simply be a spreadsheet that you can refer to from time to time. This will outline the milestones that you want to achieve from using social media and a plan to achieve those goals or milestones.

Having this simple step in place before you get started will help you define your social media goals and the process of reaching those goals will be more clear-cut and attainable. While social media can be advantageous to businesses, without proper planning it can become confusing, unfocused, and a huge time-suck.

Do you have a Social Media Action Plan in place for your business?  Would you like help to develop a strategy to make the most of your time on social media and grow your business?  You’re invited to contact me and schedule your complimentary Breakthrough Strategy Session by filling out the quiz on the Home Page or through the Contact Form.

3 Ways to Know What Customers are Saying About You Online

 

know what your customers are saying about you onlineDo YOU know what your customers are saying about you online? It seems that the frequency with which small and large business are coming under attack from negative publicity is increasing. Perhaps they appear to be increasing because they make the news and spread across social media rapidly. How about the thousands of small business and entrepreneurs whose story may not come to light quickly?

Managing your online reputation is one of the most important elements of online marketing success. Small business owners from all different types of industries are realizing just how much social media and online reviews can affect their ability to generate new customers, as well as keep their existing customers.

It’s important to keep track of what customers are saying about you online so you can manage your online reputation and adequately adjust elements of your company to better fit the needs of your customers.

But how do you do that when the world wide web is so huge? It can be a daunting task! The good news is that there are ways to acquire this information through current technology.

Here are three of the easiest ways to know what customers are saying about you online so you can gain control of your reputation:

Google Alerts

 

Google has a powerful tool that sends you emails every time a new page or result is posted about you, your business, or uses certain keywords or topics. You can easily subscribe to Google alerts through RSS and track everything that comes up about your company. This will let you know when new information is posted that mentions your name, your company’s name (or any other parameters you setup), such new articles, press releases or reviews.

 

BoardTracker

 

As I dug deeper into the topic of Online Reputation Management, I discovered that large chunks of the information released about companies, include small businesses, come on message boards. It can be difficult to manage the activity on forums and boards, however, there is help. BoardTracker is an application that was created to keep track of any mentions of your company on any discussion board or forum. This will allow you to address negative complaints or posts and to build a better dialogue with your customers.

 

Remember that huge ‘snafus’ can be avoided if customer concerns are addressed promptly and in the correct way.

 

Social Media Alerts

 

With the increase in social networks, many business owners are finding that these sites are some of the most influential when it comes to their online reputations.

 

To stay on top of what people are saying about your business on social media, sign up for alerts for each platform that has this feature. You can also use hashtags to see what’s being said about your company on social media sites.

 

These are just three starting points for businesses that are serious about getting to know what customers are saying about you online. Keeping track or monitoring is an important element, right after you assess what, if anything is already out there.

The TRUE value in staying on top of what is being said about your business lies in how you handle your findings. Will you take actions that will further improve your reputation?… or will you simply ignore them?



These and other points will be discussed during my interview by Gary Loper on Thursday, April 24
th, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. To get the call details, register at http://ow.ly/vXCil. The title of the discussion is “Assess, Monitor, and Take Control – Strategies to managing your online reputation.

Relationship Marketing: How to Use Social Media to Build Relationships with Customers

relationship marketing on social mediaRelationship marketing is a strategy designed to foster customer loyalty, interaction and long-term engagement. Developing strong connections with customers is the goal of relationship marketing and this means that the information provided to customers and clients should be directly suited to their needs and interests so as to encourage open communication.This approach often results in increased word-of-mouth activity, repeat business and a willingness on the customer’s part to provide information to you the business owner.

How to Use Social Media to Build Relationships with Customers

Social Media Marketing is one of the many marketing strategies that small businesses should be engaged in, and when done effectively, can increase your customer base, give you a position of authority in the marketplace, and increase your brand recognition.

In all likelihood, your customer or clients and prospects are already using social media, sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google +, and Pinterest. The challenge for business owners is to identify where the majority of customers and prospects have an active presence so that they can be there as well.

The benefits to using social media to build relationships with customers are many.

1)      Businesses that are active on social media and are using effective social media marketing strategies are able to connect directly with their existing customers and work towards developing new customers.

You are able to connect with your customers in real time and in a more dynamic and personalized way.  Direct interactions and contact with customers that’s engaging, interesting and co-operative both help to build up customer trust and create customer loyalty.

You have the opportunity to make your customers feel appreciated.  When you do this on a social media platform that they use every day, you will see an increase in repeat customer transactions!

One of the purposes of any business marketing campaign is to reach out to as many potential customers as is possible. Social media websites are extremely popular with online users, meaning your business will have access to a very large number of people to market to.  It also means that your message can reach large numbers of prospects at the same time. Take a look with me at some of these statistics –

Recent studies have indicated that Facebook has more than 1.26 billion users and that more than 2.5 million websites have directly integrated with it. YouTube sees more than 1 billion unique users each and every month, and Twitter has more than 1 billion users itself! More than 525 million people are currently using Google Plus and that number grows everyday as well.

2)      Social media allows you to create attention for your services and products. Any time your business offers a new product or service you will want to bring as much attention as possible to it. Social media marketing allows your company to showcase your newest products or services all over the web. It also lets you create a vast network of interested parties, through which you can create this attention.

3)      Social media allows you to interact with your customers.  With social media you can do more than just showcase your latest advertisements to your customers. It lets you interact with them. Online users are always bombarded by banners and advertisements, so they want to see something different. You can update them on what’s happening in your business and how you and your products can support them.  This also provides you a forum to address customer service questions and address concerns before they become bigger issues.

Understanding how to use social media to build relationships with customers is an integral part of doing business and one that should be included in marketing your small business.  It can be confusing to do it alone.  If you’d like to get some help on using Social Media to build relationships, please go to my Home Page at http://yvonneajones.com and complete the Quiz. I will get back to you within 24 hours.

Build Relationships with Customers and See Your Business Grow

All lasting business is built on friendship” is a quotation from Alfred A. Montopert.  Do you agree?  Every successful business is built on relationships.  It may not appear to be a realistic statement, but in reality when you do a careful analysis, you’ll see that the gradual progression starts from when you build relationships with customers, become their friends, or at the least someone they trust, this opens you up to clearing a path that can lead to business growth and success.

This is the kind of relationship that businesses should seek to develop with their customers from the outset.  Small businesses especially can get an even greater handle on building relationships with their customers as they have the advantage of being able to communicate with a smaller group of people. If they are a brick and mortar business, they have the further advantage of face to face contact.

Loyal Customer and Raving Fan

Recently I was at a networking event and a gentleman began talking about his bank.  He went on and on and the expression on his face was a delight to see.    Read more>>>

How do you manage customer relationships in your business?  Do you have a system or do you just go with the flow?

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