Social Media Success? It’s More Than Just ‘Likes’

More than Likes

If you judge your business’ social media (SM) success solely on how many likes you can drum up, you’re only looking at a tiny piece of the puzzle. There’s a big disparity when it comes to optimizing your ROI with SM, with a number of marketers jumping full force onto the social media bandwagon, but falling short where it matters most: Actually looking at the data to seeing how successful they are.

Forbes reports that a 2012 industry report revealed that 86 percent of all marketers say SM is key for business, but are they making the most of it?

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Alleged New Teen “Smoking” Trend Has No SM Presence (Yet)

e cigarettes

There was a time when teen smoking was the ultimate for any bad boy (or girl), which of course led to a lifetime of addiction. The good news is that the teen smoking rates, and adult rates, have been dwindling in recent years. This is in part due to the influx and popularity of e-cigarettes which have been touted as a great tool to wean smokers off of their addiction. It’s safer with less nicotine, zero smoke and tar, and smokers don’t get the death stare from passerby who want no part of that second-hand nonsense. However, leave it to teenagers to come up with a brand new “trend” that’s worrying parents across the nation.

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How to Choose the Best Social Media Cover Images

Dealer Authority Facebook

Stop right now before you settle for a pre-selected Google+ cover image just because it’s there, it’s easy, and it was hand-picked by Google so it has to be a winner, right? Wrong; picking from a limited assortment of cover photos shows that you’re either lazy or uncreative, both of which don’t bode well for you whether it’s a business or personal social media (SM) profile. Like it or not, your cover image is just as important as your profile image and it depends on what type of vibe you’re after to determine the direction you should head.

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How Social Media Can Serve Your Business

Server

Though most of us use social media as a way to keep up with friends or take photos of what we’re eating, it’s increasing its value and importance in many other fields. Specifically, social media and technology are helping businesses become more productive and do things that might once have been unimaginable.

It gives the little guys a chance to compete with Fortune 500 companies, and customers the ability to find everyone in between. If your company is looking for a change, but has yet to hop on the social media bandwagon yet, here are some reasons why you should strap in for the long haul. [Read more…]

5 Practical Social Media Tips You Can Use for Your Business

Silver Bullet

Now that we’ve inhabited the Web 2.0 world for a while, social media marketing has earned its rightful place in company marketing plans. Since the proliferation of social networking sites in the early 2000s, social media marketing has catapulted from a mere option to a key factor for businesses of all sizes.

Today, more and more small businesses and large brands are taking advantage of various platforms’ power and influence, with stats and case studies to justify their usage.

Here are five tips for business owners and entrepreneurs who are willing to tap into the marketing heft of social media marketing.

1. There’s no silver bullet

Just because the term “social media marketing” has huge buzz, doesn’t mean it’s a cure-all. As with other essential components of effective marketing plans, you need to invest time and energy not only from a strategic perspective, but also on a day-by-day tactical level.

It’s not enough to say you’ve hired someone to handle social media marketing. As a business owner, you need to equip that individual with the tools to do the job properly, and not become frustrated if you don’t see results overnight. The process is labor-intensive and requires motivation and guidance from the senior level of a company, on an ongoing basis.

2. Build your social network traffic

Businesses nearly double their online traffic after they pass 1,000 Facebook likes; and they generate more than 100 percent more web traffic if they have a minimum of 51 to 100 followers on Twitter versus those with 25 or fewer.

With regard to consumer purchases, most online users rely on social media to guide their buying decisions, or purchase a product or service on a recommendation. Most social media users are also more likely to buy a product or pay for a service with a firm that’s connected with all the major social networks.

In addition, LinkedIn business pages have the most number of generated customers, ahead of Twitter and Facebook.

3. Build trust via online reputation

Having a visible online reputation creates an instant transparency and credibility. In many instances, when a company pitches clients or another company to obtain their business, the latter will first check out that company’s and their executives’ profiles on social networks, including Klout (which ranks one’s social influence across all networks).

This due diligence supports a level of trust because they can review not only how active you are but also who has recommended and worked successfully with your firm in the past.

4. Engage with your followers

Because your followers voluntarily opt to receive your marketing messages on major social networks, don’t waste that opportunity: engage with them on a regular basis.

If you’re to be successful on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and others, you must constantly engage with your followers through conversation, unique offers, and question-and-answer sessions.

Showing your followers you truly are interested in their feedback is using these user-generated platforms for the purpose they were intended.

5. Printing and social media

No longer purchasing from third-party print shops, companies have assumed much of the responsibility for printing their own content — in the form of brochures, flyers, and promos. Owners are much more in control of the content they present to the world.

Hard copies are being generated out of the feedback from the firm’s social network engagements. It’s a smart move to follow up on your social media marketing successes by referencing them in your print media as well.

Recommendations for in-house printing

For your company’s printing needs, a great resource for any small or large business is XPDrivers.com. Lexmark’s current printer drivers can resolve driver conflicts, improve a computer’s stability, and restore communication within your company’s network of printers.

Using this website’s service will save your company money and prove an effective use of your time, so you can refocus on the larger responsibilities of social media marketing.

Tweet for Help! Solutions to Your Business Problems

Many business owners are aware that Twitter can benefit their business in a number of ways. One is by drawing attention and traffic to your brand and website. Another is the fact that it makes for inexpensive and swift marketing.

What many company leaders fail to realize, however, is that Twitter can also prevent setbacks to your business operations. This is possible on a number of levels.

Interaction helps

One setback you might experience is when your clients and customers don’t seem to have much to say about your business. This is often due to the fact that too many business owners assume Twitter is just a tool for marketing and not for interaction.

This can really hold your business back. Your firm’s Twitter presence is necessary to help you maintain your clients and help you build your business.

By being active on Twitter, sharing links to articles that are relevant to your business, and encouraging your customers to share their feedback and ideas with your company, you are building a positive professional reputation.

Customer feedback

When your company is seeing lower profits or any other discouraging development, one way you can use Twitter to stop that is by asking your customers for their feedback. You can fight future doldrums by reading what your customers and clients have to say and acting on their suggestions and concerns in advance.

Twitter might not be able to help you in the case of a power failure at your store or a lost shipment in the mail, but it might be able to help you minimize unhappy customers by thinking ahead and tackling the issues a particular customer raises head on before it affects other customers.

Communication is key

One of the best things Twitter has to offer your business is direct access to your clientele. Let’s say something happens at your place of business, such as a fire or a system failure. You can let your clients know right away that your company is temporarily shut down for this reason.

You can also use this to keep them informed when your business will reopen, when the firm is going to be closed for vacation, when it’s going to be in the midst of renovations, and when sales and specials are going on.

Your Twitter feed can keep clients in the loop and pleased by your consideration for them. You can avoid setbacks such as clients not knowing your business was closed when they need something right away.

Keep it clean

One of the setbacks your business could face is flack from your followers on Twitter or downbeat messages from the people you follow. You can prevent this kind of problem with by modifying your Twitter account and following only upstanding, influential people with positive posts.

Additionally, it might become necessary to remove people from your list of followers who simply cannot keep their negative, inappropriate, or explicit comments under control. If your business is frequently being tagged in posts that use profanity and other inappropriate content, it can have a negative effect.

Traditional methods

Of course, Twitter is not the only way you can manage issues with your business. While Twitter is a handy tool, traditional methods such as a great IT company that can fix your servers in case of a shutdown, or a generator to help you maintain power in case of an outage, are just as important for the success of your business.

Your success depends largely on your ability to avoid and recover from setbacks, make your customers happy, and keep your business in full operating mode. Twitter can help, but a clear mind, good business sense, and employees who are invested in the success of your company are what make the real difference.

How to Submit a Winning Scholarship Application

In 2012, college students graduated with an average of $27,000 in student loan debt, according to numbers released by the Institute for College Access and Success.

Analysts expect this number to rise, as students continue to max out their loans and schools raise tuition rates. Loans can be financially crippling to college graduates who carry substantial interest payments and long-term debt. Student scholarships and loans can help lift this burden, since they don’t have to be repaid.

This guide will walk you through the basics of writing a top-notch scholarship essay, so you can fund your education more easily.

Find a good fit

There are thousands of scholarships to choose from, but only a few will be right for you. Don’t waste your valuable time by writing essays for scholarships you have no chance of winning.

You can dramatically increase your chance of landing a scholarship by picking the ones that suit your interests, minority status, talents, community, and field of study. The Federal Student Aid website is a great place to start.

Federal grants and scholarships tend to be released on a needs basis for students and families from low-income backgrounds, and you will be competing against a significant number of people. Local scholarships offered within your town or district can drastically reduce the competition, so investigate different organizations.

Return to the prompt

Most merit-based scholarships require an application essay. As you create a response outline, you’ll want to revisit the prompt frequently.

It’s easy to get off-topic and ramble about unrelated subjects. If you have a difficult time reining in your writing, just get your ideas onto the page. Go back with a highlighter and mark all the text that ties in with your essay prompt.

Take these strong sentences and illustrate them with examples, such as major academic projects or awards. You have a limited number of words to use for your scholarship essay responses, and you shouldn’t waste them.

Collect supplementary materials early

A spreadsheet can come in handy here. First, make a list of all the scholarships you’d like to apply to. Sort them by due dates — earliest to latest.

Now make a list of the supplemental materials you’ll need for each application. Teacher recommendation letters and official transcript copies can take a few weeks to collect, so plan ahead. You don’t want to be caught the night before a deadline without a vital piece of your application.

Ask for edits and reviews

If your application requires written responses or essays, then you’ll want to ask someone for critical feedback. Contact your teachers and ask them to edit your writing. They can point out the strengths and opportunities in your application.

Work with these mentors closely during the revision process. Ultimately, you want to submit the best personal essay you can write. If you solicit editing help from someone, don’t forget to send them a “thank you” letter and keep them posted on scholarship news.

Follow up

Examine the terms and timelines of the scholarships you’re applying to. If you submit the application online, you should receive a confirmation email that acknowledges the committee has received it. If you are ever in doubt, email the organization directly. If they haven’t received your application, it’s better to find out early rather than after the deadline!

It can be nerve-wracking to wait on a decision, but you shouldn’t try to rush the committee to a decision. Most organizations post dates for a response. If they haven’t contacted you within a week after the announced date, then follow up with a polite inquiry.

As a college student, you can minimize your financial burden by prioritizing scholarships over loans. Work with your former teachers and mentors to hone your essay-writing skills.

Tailoring your scholarship search to your strengths will increase your chances of obtaining college funding and help you avoid debt.

4 Easy Ways to Get Fit With Social Media

Social media is everywhere, and it’s part of pretty much everything we do these days. Many people can’t even choose which restaurant to eat at without consulting social media and websites like Yelp. Some of us fear the world is putting itself at the mercy of social media.

It’s more than just a waste of time, though: you can harness the power of social media to help you achieve your goals. For example, getting fit can actually become a bit easier thanks to social media, and you’ll find that your fitness efforts pay off more if you leverage your social sites the smart way.

1. Get help from others

So it’s hard for you to lose weight, is it? Of course it is, because it’s hard for pretty much everyone! Why not get others to help you lose weight and get in shape? If you employ your social media, you’ll find that even complete strangers can be a huge help!

Get on your Twitter page, your Facebook Wall, and any other social media sites you use, and post something to the effect of “I’m trying to lose X-amount of weight in X-amount of time.” Your friends will encourage you, and they’ll give you advice, tips, and tricks on how to keep up with your weight loss regimen.

2. Get fit-spiration

“Fit-spiration” is the name given to motivational posters, pictures, and quotes that promote fitness — an increasingly popular trend in social media these days. You can find this fit-spirational content everywhere, and you might be surprised by how much it can help you.

On those days when you’re having a hard time staying faithful to your diet, exercise program, or supplement regimen, get on your social media sites and look up those fit-spiration pages. You’ll discover an array of beautiful and inspiring posters that will help to motivate you to keep up your efforts.

3. Find healthy recipes

One thing that makes fitness a challenge for many of us is the diet that accompanies a serious weight loss program. Few people enjoy eating a diet full of “rabbit food”; most of the people that need to lose weight and get in shape tend to prefer a heartier diet.

Cutting those hearty foods from your diet is hard enough, especially if you don’t know how to cook well.

If you need help with planning that menu, get on your social media sites like Pinterest or Tumblr and check out all the healthy recipes there. You’ll be flooded with dozens of delicious ideas for ways to make all your least favorite rabbit foods just that much tastier!

4. Make a promise to others

One of the most challenging aspects of trying to get in shape by yourself is that there’s no one to hold you accountable when you’re on the verge of quitting your diet or exercise program. If you turn to your social media, everyone in your online circles can be a fitness buddy.

When you post to your Facebook Wall or Twitter feed that you’re going on a diet or fitness program, you’re making a commitment. With your friends helping you out and motivating you to keep going, it’ll be much easier for you to resist the temptation to quit or cheat on your diet. Make it public to stay committed.

The truth is that social media sites can be your best friend when you go on a diet. Whether it’s to find antioxidant-rich supplements like Tibetan Goji Berries, coming up with new and improved exercises for weight loss, or just keeping yourself faithful to that tough program, social media sites can give you that extra helping hand that maybe you need to keep going.