Twitter Quick Starter for Small Business

Twitter is not just for the “kids”. Small businesses are growing their businesses by using Twitter and other social networking platforms to connect with their customers, grow leads and increase the awareness of their brand. Social media marketing is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to market to your target audience of current and prospective customers. That’s why small businesses are doing big business on Twitter.

Twitter Small Business StatWhat is Twitter? (In case you didn’t know)

If you don’t know about Twitter here is the short version of the long story: It’s a short message multi-media communication platform (or a microblog) that lets you publish messages (tweets) of up to 140 characters and people who follow your profile are sent those tweets. The content of these tweets can be text and links to web sites, images, video and even podcast. You can follow other Twitter users and their tweets will show up on your page like a newsfeed. Additionally, people can search for information in a variety of ways making it possible for people who do not follow you to see your tweets as well. If they like what you are tweeting, they will follow you to get more good tweets.

Twitter Small Business Stats2

Set Up Your Twitter Account

Here is where you tell the story of your business and present your brand. That is why it is important to be as detailed as possible and fill out your Twitter profile completely. You want to be found off of Twitter, so it’s very important to remember to fill in your location and website. Stay consistent with your images, logos, and other marketing material to reinforce your other online platforms such as websites, ads and social network profiles. Everywhere people see your company online there should be no second guessing if they are in the right place, and there won’t be if everything is always the same.

As part of your branding you will also want to stay consistent with your username and profile images. When choosing your username, try to stick as close as possible to your company name if it is not available. Also avoid odd punctuation that would make it difficult to type on a mobile device. You get two images to support your brand so use them well. There is the Twitter profile photo that you see next to every tweet where you will want to use a headshot of a real person at the company (recommended as it adds a human touch) or company logo that will show up next to every tweet as well as on your profile page. Then there is the twitter profile header which is the large background photo you can customize to further support your branding.

Your bio is the one or two line text space in your header where you have to tell people what it is you do. As a business owner or marketing professional you need to be able to tell your story in 160 characters. Think of it as the elevator pitch of your elevator pitches. It’s a very short story. Approach it as either an intriguing teaser or a succinct benefits package description. But either way whatever you write is going to encourage people to either look for more information or go to the next thing on their internet path.

Learn How Twitter Works

Each social network has its own way of doing all the same things, so take a little time to familiarize yourself with the way Twitter does things. For messaging Twitter gives you several options:

You can Tweet… this is the message that goes out to all your follower’s feeds and stays on your timeline.

SayMore_Twitter_TweetYou can Direct Message (DM)… a private message you send to another Twitter user and only available if that user follows you. Works like other messaging except you still can only use 160 characters.

You can Reply… use @OtherUsersName at the beginning of your tweet to reply to a message in a tweet that will be seen in both the feed of both your followers and that profiles followers. Example: @CKadala Thanks for giving me the link to local marketing tips.

You can Retweet (RT)… click on retweet button of any tweet you see someone has posted to send it out to your followers.

Twitter Quick TipYou can designate Keywords… by using the hashtag (#) symbol in front of a word with no space between the two in your tweets you can let the Twitter search engines know what your tweet is specifically about so when people search those keywords or topics your tweet will show up in the results. Example Tweet: Get all of your #copywriting needs fulfilled in one place. www.buffer.com/5i2k43. Now if someone searches copywriting this tweet will show up in the search results. It may be in line with 30,000 other tweets about copywriting but it will be there.

Second Become a Follower

What is happening on your Twitter profile is two things: You are posting tweets and receiving tweets from people you follow. You will create an un-readable mess of randomness in your feed if you indiscriminately follow any and everybody on Twitter hoping some will follow you back. If they are not potential customers, what is the point of following them anyway? To get the most out of Twitter make strategic decisions on who you follow.

SayMore_Twitter_Follows

If you are using your twitter for business, then follow people in your professional network, suppliers, vendors, partners, related groups and professional organizations. Follow your customers, competitors and neighborhood businesses to stay up to date on what’s going on with them. Twitter has a “Find Friends” feature on the “Discover” page that will go through your email address books from Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and so forth to find the profiles of people you know. Also use the “Discover” page to find industry influencers to follow to populate your Twitter feed with useful information on things directly affecting your business such as marketing, sales, and services.

Third Become Someone to Follow

Here is the trickiest part of Twitter – figuring out what to tweet and how often. There is no one size fits all formula for the best way to do this but in general you should assume that people are not following you just to see pictures of your cats or links to your coupon page. Try to get a good handle on the fact that your post should be either educational (helpfully informative) or entertaining, and only then lightly sprinkled with tweets that market and promote your business. Something in the 80/20 rule will keep you from over-promoting yourself. So if you post 21 post a week, then 16-17 of those should be useful tweets and four or five promoting your business, product or service.

Twitter Small Business Stat3

Business to business enterprises will approach this differently than business to consumer. Some will remain strictly professional while others will benefit from showing the human side of their business. The magic formula changes but the ideas is to give the people what they want so they follow you to get more of it. And do that without turning them off with over-marketing of your business. A good way to promote yourself on Twitter is to provide useful content on your blog that you can link on Twitter which sends people to your website. If it’s really good content you can expect that person to click around your website and see what else you have to offer. If you are stumped on what to write on your blog remember that people are searching the internet a billion times every day looking for answers to their questions. Answer the most asked questions in your industry to become the go to website for industry information. And link back to those post in your Twitter account to drive more traffic.

Now What?

There are dozens of tricks and tips for advance Twitter users but this gives you the information you need to get started. The best way to learn the ropes is by trying and learning a little more everyday. It may seem overwhelming or simply silly at first, but once you get everything from the “why” to the “how” to stick in your head (and take advantage of all the automated applications that allow you to quickly run your Twitter account) you will be pleased by how little it takes to get more traffic, more leads and more customers with your Twitter presence.

Follow me on Twitter @Ckadala for daily insight on managing, marketing and growing your small business.

SayMore_Twitter_ckadala_Chantelle_KadalaCheck out our SERVICES to see how we can help your business.

Best Business New Year’s Resolutions Posts for 2015

Best Business New Year’s Resolution

Blog Posts for 2015

by Chantelle Kadala

best business new year resolution postsWhere did the time go? In just a blink we are a week into 2015. What?!?

If you haven’t decided what things you are going to do different this year, then you are missing the New Year’s resolution bandwagon.

Maybe that is on purpose – you’re an Original and never follow the bandwagon.  But even a Maverick like you needs to make some business decisions if you want this year to be better than the last.

Following are some the best New Year’s Resolution so far for 2015. There are some common themes like DELEGATE and MORE MARKETING. And one was such a shock to me that I had to include it (let me know if it shocks you too).

So much to do. And you can’t do them all. But DO something different in 2015.

Plan. Commit. Prepare. Execute. Make this the best year yet!

 

 

Best New Year’s Resolution Blogs of 2015

Yahoo Finance: The One New Year’s Resolution All Business Owners Should Keep

The importance of your annual marketing plan. Big business does it and so should you.

 

Forbes: Business New Year’s Resolutions Every CEO Should Make

Successful business owners (and CEO’s) focus on these impactful activities.

 

DB Squared: 10 Business Resolutions You Should Make for the New Year

No nonsense, actionable steps to a better year for your business from a top business finance site.

 

All Business Experts: 5 New Year’s Business Resolutions

If you are going to do only five things, then this list is the only one you should read.

 

Say More Services: New Year Resolutions for Your Small Business

Resolutions that make you a better small business owner. (Look at that…Already started on my marketing!)

 

Bloomberg Business Week: 6 New Year’s Resolutions You Could Actually Keep

This is an odd-ball pick but if you need someone for #3, then I can be that one friend.

 

American Express OPEN Forum: Make New Year’s Resolutions for Your Business

OPEN Forum knows business, so pay attention to these three resolutions to make big changes.

 

Pitney Bowes Blog: 10 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Owners

Specifically for you small business owners! Quick read – 10 tips and done.

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Don’t forget your FREE 2015 Marketing Calendar Template!

No sign-up download in excel for your small business.

7 Most Overlooked Deductions for Your Small Business

Are You Missing Any of Your Small Business or Micro-Business Tax Deductions?

Small Business Tax DeductionsBy Chantelle Kadala As a small business owner, it is important to take every tax advantage you can get. Filing your taxes without investigating all the deductions available to you could be leaving thousands of your dollars in Uncle Sam’s pocket. According to the Internal Revenue Service, “To be deductible, a business expense must be both ordinary and necessary. An ordinary expense is one that is common and accepted in your trade or business. A necessary expense is one that is helpful and appropriate for your trade or business.” You’re a business owner so at least a dozen expenses immediately spring to mind that fall under this umbrella. Make sure you are getting every deduction you can by reviewing this list of small business tax deductions that may not immediately come to mind but you should look into before you file your taxes:

1. Continuing Education

Full-time students know they get a tax break but if you went to school (in the year you are filing) to take courses that pertain to your line of work, you can deduct expenses such as program cost, travel expenses and course fees.

2. Health Insurance

If you have less than 25 full-time employees and you pay at least 50% of their health care premiums then the Small Employer Health Care Credit is for you and you need to take advantage.

3. Start-Up Cost

On your business’ first tax filing you can deduct up to $5,000 of cost incurred before your opening day such as expenses from exploring business opportunities.

4. Cell Phone

That thing you are on all day and night running your business. It is part of your business property and its cost should be filed accordingly.

5. Running your business out of your home?

If so, based on the percentage of the entire home’s square footage used as space or office dedicated solely to your business, you can deduct expenses including mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, repairs, and depreciation.

6. Automobile

Obviously, if a vehicle was acquired solely for business purposes, you already have it on your list of deductions. But if you have a personal car, and you use it in your business, you can use it as a deduction. You just have to divide your expenses based on actual mileage. Check with the IRS for current Standard Mileage Rates.

7. You can NOT deduct personal expenses but…

If an expense is for something that is used for both personal and business you can divide the total cost and deduct the business portion. Here you need to be careful with your math so referring to Chapter 4 of IRS Publication 535 Business Expenses can give you the allocation rules you need to follow.

Other Deductions to Consider

•Retirement Plans (yours and your employee’s) •Rent on any property you pay for your business to use that you do not own •Interest on money you borrowed for business activities •Taxes directly attributable to your business (federal, state, local and foreign taxes may apply) •Insurance that is for your business or trade.

I.R.S. Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center

As a last note, in my experience there are few things on this earth more tedious than filing your own small business taxes but remember you don’t have to do it alone. There are two smart things you can do: Go to the source, IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center, to search and reference the dozens of resources available or hire a professional and tell them which deductions you are looking for (and then deduct the tax preparation fees next year!).

DON’T FORGET TO GRAB YOUR FREE 2015 MARKETING CALENDAR TEMPLATE

2015 Marketing Calendar FREE

FREE Marketing Calendar Template for 2015

The free download of the 2015 Marketing Calendar Template in Excel is so 4 years ago!

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Responding to Negative Online Reviews – Small Business Tips PART 4

THIS IS A 4-PART SMALL BUSINESS SERIES

How to Respond to Negative Reviews Online

Receiving a negative review on a site like Yelp or Local.com means that people who utilize your services or products are active on that site. So you need to be active as well and not ignore the issue because that bad review will be there as long as the site is there.

Take Control of Your Online Reputation
Take Control of Your Online Reputation

Almost all local review sites give the owner a space to publicly respond to reviews. Google Places, Yahoo Local, Trip Advisor, Yelp, Insider Pages, Merchant Circle, and SuperPages all allow responses and most of these will allow owners to edit and delete reviews (except for Yelp which seems to stay in litigation about this very issue) so reach out to customer service on these sites and see what exactly they can do to help you with a negative review.

Previously in “Responding to Negative Reviews Online – Small Business Tips Part 1” we spoke about the reactionary steps your business can take to combat negative reviews on local review and rating sites. Now we will address what you can do to set your business up for success and avoid negative reviews when dealing with customer review websites.

 

PART 1 – Do This and Not That

PART 2 – Composing – Number 1 – 3

PART 3 – Posting – Number 4 – 6

PART 4 – COMBATTING NEGATIVE REVIEWS ONLINE

 7.  Register or Claim Your Businesses: Take ownership of your business pages if they have already been created on sites. This allows you to have quick notification of comments as well as advertise your services ensuring your page has the correct hours, physical address, website and phone numbers. A previous blog, “Real Estate Agents Pay Attention – Yelp Tips for Gaining New Clients” has information on setting up a business for marketing success on Yelp.

If someone goes to the Local.com, Merchant Circle, or Insider Pages websites in your city, looking for what your business provides, do you pop up in the listing? Even with no reviews, this is free advertising for your business. Additionally many of these sites let you offer coupons or purchase sponsored placement where your business pops up first no matter your ranking in customer satisfaction.

8. Review Other Pages: There is a real good chance there is at least one other company out there that is providing the same services and products that you provide (even if yours are infinitely better). Search for these companies the same way a customer would search for your type of business on a review site. Make note of what customers feel your competitors are doing right and doing wrong. Try implementing winning components into your products or services. And also study how your business is set up to avoid the mistakes that other business have made.

9. Avoid Complaints: This no-brainer isn’t the number one tactic to combatting negative reviews but it should be. Know the experience your prospects and customers are getting from your employees at every stage of your businesses sales cycle. Do you have an employee handbook that details your businesses expectations and guidelines? Can you provide your managers, customer service agents and client-facing employees with written instructions and scripts to utilize when dealing with dissatisfied customers directly?

Customer Service Management is just one part of Reputation Management but it is the part business owners have the most control over.  Use online and in-store reviews to find areas of improvement and areas of celebration in your customer service.

10. Consider Getting Help: There are many Reputation Management solutions out there and they range in price and services, and sometimes you just want to call in the experts.  Search for a company that analyzes your current reputation and develops a plan to improve it.  They should also monitor where your name shows up online, and use SEO, positive reviews and other marketing tactics to improve your ranking in search engines.  I’ve seen plans from $100 a month to $1500 a month so you really can find a plan to fit your budget when considering the money saved by freeing your time from monitoring your online reputation and the avoid loss of revenue from a bad online reputation.

What else would you like to know about Reputation Management? Leave a comment.