Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Scientific Guide To Writing Popular-- And Shareable-- Headlines for Twitter, Facebook and Your Blog

Your company has a Facebook page as well as a Twitter account, but not much action happens on either of these websites. You might just be asking yourself, "how can I write great headlines for social networks?" Fast Company, has found a scientific guide on great headline writing for Facebook, Twitter and even your blog. When it comes to Twitter, finding the right headline for your tweet is one of the most important tasks one must do. Come up with two headlines for an article that you think will perform well. Tweet both of these headlines roughly at the same time, but at least an hour apart. Compare the data and decide which headline to settle on. Here are two examples: 
As you can tell, the second headline got way double the amount of clicks and has more potential as compared to the first post. Buffer's algorithm identified it as a top tweet. After 200,000 link containing tweets were analyzed, tweets that contain more verbs and adverbs had a higher click-through rate as compared to noun and adjective heavy tweets. Another technique that is very successful is asking for a retweet. Tweets in timelines with an "ask to retweet" increased retweets by 311%. Curious to learn what the top 20 most retweetable words are and how to improve your Facebook posts? Click here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

10 Mindsets of Successful Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs come in all different sizes, shapes and colors. They all have a different mindset that helps contribute to their success. Perhaps this mindset has to do with their personality or the field they've chosen to work in. Here are some examples of mindsets from 10 well-known and successful entrepreneurs.
  1. Reach out to the customer first. According to Greg Gianforte, it may seem like product development should come first, this is the wrong approach. After to moving to Montana with his family, he decided to focus on the tech sector which he had a lot of experience in. Instead of unveiling a new prototype for a product, he started by getting on the phone with potential customers. This led to conversations about what kind of product they would buy.
  2. Find a new market for an existing product.  Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records surely did not invent Rock 'n Roll, but his small Memphis label will forever be linked to its beginnings. He established this studio and record label as a way to capture the interaction of both country and blues music, which he was already familiar with as a DJ. He eventually discovered musicians such as Elvis, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis.
  3. Use networking to build your business. Many entrepreneurs are aware of the importance of networking, but few know actually how to do it. According to Jason Nazar, CEO of Docstock.com, he owes part of success to his networking efforts. He used networking to raise $4 million in startup funds. According to Nazar, first, measure the return on investment you are getting from your networking efforts. Second, make sure you give something of value first when making connections instead of trying to ask for something in the beginning. 
  4. Give without expecting a return. Author James Altucher believes that opportunities come your way when you offer something without looking for a payback. He regularly sends out ideas to people whom he would like to do business with and asks for nothing in return. Sometimes he won't even receive a response, but sometimes, when he does, the results are magical.
  5. Keep control of your vision. Jack Ma, founder of Hong Kong's wholesale eCommerce site, Alibaba, keeps debating going public with an IPO, but Ma wants to keep a tight control of his company. This is a difficult task especially when investors enter the picture and want to have a say in your business. Ma believes in his vision for his company and the culture he has created to get the job done.
  6. Understand the power of brand. Filmmaker George Lucas, saw there was so much more to Star Wars than a pop culture phenomenon. To George, the first trilogy of films and the three additional movies that followed became a powerful brand. This brand became a spring board to lucrative licensing deals from live attractions, toys, memorabilia, and even video games.
  7. Focus your energy on what's good for your business. Jay Z owns a nightclub, a clothing line, a sports franchise and even has a few best selling albums. His success is based in part on his focus. He refuses to spend time on anything that does not expand his entrepreneurial ventures. 
  8. Always maintain quality control. From the age of fourteen, Lionel Puoilane, had an obsession with the quality of bread that bore his family's name. He later became world famous for the artisan crafted bread baked in wood fired ovens. As international demand for his bread grew, he continually refused to mass produce his product. He insisted that each loaf still be hand crafted by a baker personally trained in his techniques.
  9. Set your product apart. The idea to create a product that stands alone is nothing new. In 1783, the Primrose brothers promised to produce crystal as fine as any in Europe leading to the Waterford brand being born. The brothers had a technique of combining both glass and minerals to produce crystal that actually "sings"when tapped with the finger became renowned. Their crystals are also known for deep and ornate carvings created by skilled artisans that give it a distinct appearance. 
  10. Take Ownership. Oprah Winfrey experienced success as a broadcaster and even in the entertainment industry even before launching the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986. After some initial TV and radio jobs, she hosted a successful chat show in Baltimore and later a show in Chicago that beat Phil Donahue in local ratings. It wasn't until after taking ownership of her talk show from ABC that Winfrey's entrepreneurial skills became coming into focus.
To read more about successful entrepreneurs and their mindsets, click here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

8 Intelligent Reasons Why Entrepreneurs Should Bootstrap Startups

One of the earliest, most critical decisions an entrepreneur must make is whether they should raise outside capital through investors or self-fund a startup by bootstrapping. Your business's chance of success and your relationship within the company can be determined by how you decide to fund your company. Here are our top five reasons why you should consider bootstrapping:

  1. Creative Freedom- Bootstrapping allows for a company to have freedom without having an "outside" voice trying to protect its investment. When you bootstrap, you are the creator and that voice. Bootstrapping allows for more control over your business in the beginning. 
  2. Better Products- Bootstrapping allows for one to have a better control of their products and services. The pressure of having a shorter runway will allow business owners to get their products right since every last dollar matters.
  3. Smarter Decisions- Lets face it, you are more cautious with your own money as compared to someone else's. Bootstrapping with incentivize you to intelligently grow you business and ultimately become a better manager. 
  4. Faster Progress- There is usually less time to get your company up and moving because there is less cash being used. This is one of the greatest motivators to quickly build a product and offer it to the market. Iterating and rapidly testing are both cost-effective and efficient ways to help your product. 
  5. Higher Stakes, Higher Rewards- You are your only stakeholder when bootstrapping. You retain equity as well as control. It also aligns your incentives with the success of the company, allowing for ownership to remain clear and manageable. 
To continue reading if bootstrapping is the right way to fund your business, click here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

3 Reasons Your Employees Should Use LinkedIn

A few months ago William Arruda wrote an article about why business owners should make their employees use LinkedIn. He believes it can help promote the company and products. Unfortunately, he found that many employers block LinkedIn on the company’s internet. The reasoning behind this
is the employers are afraid their employees may hunt for other jobs, get recruited, or socialize while working on their dime. Yes, this could very well happen but Arruda believes LinkedIn can be used as a positive amenity to your company if used the proper way by your employees.

Let me introduce Arruda’s 3 ideas as follows:

1. Increased Visibility for your Brand

Arruda believes that every employee is a brand ambassador because “when your employee’s ‘like’ and ‘share’ status updates, they make them visible to their contacts.” This will get your company’s page more views, which means even more followers. A study done by BrightEdge found \ “companies that have a greater portion of their employees on LinkedIn have more followers on their company pages.” Employees that comment on your communication increases the visibility to others which could very well help you get more views, followers, and consumers. Having your employees use LinkedIn gives your company more Google value because there are more places to find out about the company online. Having employees used LinkedIn is a great way to help attract your target audience.

2. Consistent Brand Ambassadors

People will look at your employee’s LinkedIn pages believes Arruda. If you help your staff build captivating profiles it will not only help them, but it will help your company. As mentioned above, it makes your employees brand ambassadors. It highlights the specific skills and talents of your employees and this will positively promote your business. The more your employees use social media to participate in your brand community, the more they become a part of your company’s distinctiveness. This is a great way to connect and build trust with clients because it humanizes your company. Have ALL of your employees use LinkedIn, not just your sales people.

3. Improved Morale

If your employees cannot access LinkedIn on your company’s network, it shows that you do not trust them. Arruda believes your employees will be more dedicated to the company if you show trust; they will be less likely to want to leave. By using LinkedIn your employees can learn and keep up-to-date with one another and other departments not only teaching them new skills, but also creating a company bond. Endorsements may help your company out tremendously because it will be viewed by an even bigger audience on the other person’s LinkedIn account. Praising an employee on LinkedIn makes them and your company look great. This will also give your employees even more confidence leading to an even better work performance.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Good vs. Bad PR

Good PR

In October 1982, 7 people were reported dead in Chicago after taking extra-strength Tylenol capsules. The packaging of the product was obviously tampered with; officials had found traces of
cyanide in the extra-strength Tylenol capsules which had caused the deaths.

Johnson & Johnson took responsibility by taking action to notify consumers about what was going on in a promptly manner; then they recalling the product.

Then in February 1986, there was another death reported from a different Tylenol product. All Tylenol products were taken off of the market until the company made sure there was nothing in the product that could be harmful to humans.

Taking action promptly and being honest makes you more credible and trustworthy which could save your business.

Once Johnson & Johnson was certain that all of the Tylenol products were safe to take again they reintroduced the products.

Before they reintroduced the products officially, they had tamperproof packaging created to ensure a safe product and to bring back trust in their once trusting consumers. They also had coupons for Tylenol products to get consumers to buy their product again. They decreased the price of the product and some medical providers created presentations on Tylenol to ensure safety with consumers.

This is a great example of how Public Relations and an efficient Crisis Communication Plan can save your business.

Bad PR

In the spring of 2012 Dole Food Co. issued a recall on a certain salad product that posed salmonella risk. The recall was in effect but Dole failed to address the crisis effectively using social media.

The first place consumers will look to when there is talk of a recall is the company’s website. According to Brandon Uttley from ragan.com, “A press release about the Dole recall was posted on


the FDA’s website Saturday, April 14. Dole posted a press release on its own site that same day but [it was] buried.” That’s great that Dole posted a press release about the recall but it did not do the consumers any good because it was too hard to find on Dole’s website. The other problem with Dole’s crisis communication plan according to Uttley was “the recall did not appear on any of Dole’s social media channels until about 1 p.m. EST Monday.” That is two days after the press release was allotted.

Companies should always take the time and make the effort to post about crisis’ on their own website and then on all other social media that company uses. It shows the consumers that you care and are taking responsibility for the crisis.

Companies must be prepared to respond 24 hours a day and seven days a week. If your company does not respond as soon as possible it will lose credibility therefore consumers.

Dole’s website was hard to navigate through. Always make sure your company’s website is easy to navigate so you can readily access important news such as a crisis.

Make sure you have a social media presence. Have a Facebook, Twitter, a blog, etcetera. Remember to monitor what others are saying on these social media sites as well so you are in the loop of what is being said about your business.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Contructing a Crisis Communication Plan

When a crisis arises, time is of the essence. It is important to communicate as fast as possible. Companies suffer from crisis because they do not have a plan enacted beforehand. Creating a crisis communication plan will ensure your company more security.

When creating a crisis communication plan think of all the worst possible scenarios that could happen. It is better to be prepared for the worst, than not be prepared at all. According to Ready.gov, “hazards that could cause injury, property damage, business disruption or environmental impact should be addressed.” Ready.gov states that you should first perform a risk assessment.

Risk Assessment

A risk assessment is the process of determining all the threats that could jeopardize your small business. Threats such as injury, property damage, business disruption, environmental impact and more. Once you have verified all possible threats, you must predict the outcomes if these threats were to ever occur. To determine what could possibly happen if a threat would take place, you would need to perform a Business Impact Analysis (BIA).

Business Impact Analysis

A Business Impact Analysis predicts the outcome of a crisis and collects information on how the business will recover. Ready.gov explains by executing a Business Impact Analysis it will allow you to understand “the basis for investment in recovery strategies as well as investment in prevention and mitigation strategies.”

According to Ready.gov, the Business Impact Analysis (BIA) should detect financial and operational impacts.

Ready.gov also suggests when conducting a Business Impact Analysis (BIA) to use a BIA questionnaire. The government website suggests surveying those “with detailed knowledge of how the business manufactures its products or provides its services.” It also suggests having employees classify “potential impacts if the business function or process that they are responsible for is interrupted.” The website says the BIA should also “identify the critical business processes and resources needed for the business to continue to function at different levels.”

According to Ready.gov the BIA report should “record the potential impacts resulting from disruption of business functions and processes.” Circumstances causing substantial business disruption should be evaluated in terms of financial impact, if possible. Ready.gov says, “These costs should be compared with the costs for possible recovery strategies.”

Hazard & Prevention Deterrence

It is highly recommended that every business should create a hazard & prevention deterrence program. This could prevent accidents such as fires, chemical spills, and more. Machine breakdowns can be prevented by following the maintenance and inspection provided by the manufacturer.

OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) provides more resources to evaluate and improve the safety of the workplace.

Deterrence assists in preventing unlawful activity. One way to prevent criminal activity is to keep outside and inside lights on at night.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Power of Social Media

In a world filled with forms of social media that allow anyone to post anything, businesses must take extra precaution. Unfortunately, the media likes to focus on the bad more than it likes to focus on the
good. This can be detrimental for small businesses. Libel or slander could be just enough to destroy a small business. There are ways to protect your business by responding and acting appropriately in a timely manner. Always know what is being said about your company. Use the internet to your advantage and by all means “creep." Check Twitter, Facebook, or just type in your company reviews on the web. Expect malicious comments, but look for trends. For example, if there are a lot of people posting about a defect in your product, you should investigate your product further.

1. (Social media platform/spokesperson) say you are investigating

2. Actually do it

3. Fix product if needed

4. Announce that the product is fixed

5. Promotions / begin selling product again

Remember, keep the 24-Hour News Cycle in mind. Basically, the news never sleeps, there is always something coming up in the media about someone or something. As mentioned above, you should always be checking social media outlets so you know what is being said about your company. You want to be able to put a stop to rumors or lies about your company and being on top of everything will make this process much easier. You want to catch the bad ideas that people are writing/ speaking about and get the spokesperson or website to say something that will keep good relations with consumers. The public is fascinated with scandal. Determine rumors/problems early on and you will have a better chance protecting your company.

 
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