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5 Ways To Protect Your Online Image In An Instant-Access World

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One of the most essential components of running a successful blog, brand or business is risk management, but that no longer applies strictly to financial or legal liabilities. These days, it’s also important to protect and maintain a positive professional and personal image. Financial and private scandals influence public perceptions, and they can be damaging to your brand; the proliferation of online reviews and other forums that allow information to be broadcast worldwide in a matter of seconds makes it even more imperative to take control of the narrative of public discourse.

Here are two metrics to keep in

  • 80% of potential customers were influenced not to do business with a company due to negative feedback from previous customers
  • 68% of consumers are more influenced by bad reviews than good reviews

Whether you’ve been the victim of a smear campaign or you simply want to monitor and control your public image, here are five ways to spot potential problems, do damage control and turn almost any situation into a positive reflection of you and your business.

Reputation Popular Ranking Honor Branding Concept

1. Google Yourself

One of the first things that a potential customer is going to do is search your business online, whether they’re looking up your website or reading customer reviews. In order to maintain a positive reputation, take the time to look at your business through the eyes of a consumer. You should make it a practice to Google your business at least a few times a week, even daily, if possible. Check for negative mentions in public forums, unfavorable reviews and false information.

While you can’t have negative information removed from search results, you can mitigate those negatives by creating a positive online image that will eventually sink any negative mentions lower in the rankings.

2. Take Control of Your Business Profile

While you’re in control of business information that you place on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook, there are other online consumer information sites and mentions that you have little to no control over. Platforms like Yelp and independent customer reviews may also be using false information that you can petition the site manager to correct or remove. Another great way to accomplish this, is through claiming your business in Google.

It’s a good idea to try and counteract negative mentions by engaging with the source directly, correct erroneous business info and to try and clear up any misunderstandings and make amends with customers who have had a negative interaction with you or your business whenever possible.

3. Choose Your Battles Wisely

It’s an unfortunate fact that some people live to create controversy and stir up trouble for their own amusement. Online trolls are never going to go away, and entering into a debate with them will only draw attention to what they’re saying and increase their presence. If someone has a legitimate complaint, address it quickly and diplomatically. However, when someone’s just out to make trouble, avoiding direct engagement will often diffuse the situation. People’s online attention span is short, and the occasional troll bait will disappear from the public radar as soon as the Next Big Thing takes its place.

4. Spend Time Creating Good Will

Social media isn’t a replacement for an intelligent marketing plan, but it is a great plank to add to your overall public relations platform. Businesses that are proactive and engaged online can head off potentially negative interactions by creating and maintaining an active social media presence. This will give you an opportunity to hone your public image while allowing the public to see you as a company who cares about its customers.

Setting aside even an hour a day to engage your customers, respond to their concerns and show appreciation for their patronage will go a long way toward creating a positive public perception of you and your company. It’s also a vital line to direct communication that will alert you to potential PR concerns early on and allow you to take a proactive stance to diffuse the situation.

5. Deal With Problems Honestly and Immediately

No matter how much of an effort you make toward fostering good will, you can’t make everyone happy. There will always be someone who is dissatisfied – whether or not they have a legitimate concern – and it’s up to you as a conscientious business owner to address such complaints with integrity and in a timely manner.

Even if you are at fault in the situation, taking the time to address it honestly will show that even though you’re a business owner, you’re also a human who sometimes makes mistakes, and you’re real enough to own them.

So, what do you do if someone is slamming you or your business online and you can’t handle the problem yourself? There are several companies that do nothing but perform damage control for their clients. For example, professional damage mitigation practices, like Reputation Defender tweets and others, are proactive measures that can help you head off or neutralize problems; you can also hire a full-time PR person. However, the best solution is to remain aware that anything you say or do publicly – even privately, in some cases – can come back to haunt you, and conduct yourself accordingly. Cyberspace can be a lot like Las Vegas: whatever happens there stays there.

To learn more about protecting your personal name, blog, brand or business online, I also recommend you take a look at these 97 reputation management resources that were recently featured on Zac Johnson’s blog.

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As an active entrepreneur and blogger, my topics of discussion are mainly on business strategy, tech startups and motivating others to succeed. You can read up on my latest content at BlogReign.com.

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Attract More Instagram Followers with Kicksta

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With its incredible reach and unparalleled level of user engagement, Instagram has quickly become the social media platform of choice for brands, agencies and influencers alike. But because of this remarkable popularity, it can prove challenging to get noticed and to gain a substantial following, especially if you feel like you’ve hit a plateau. How can you reach new audiences and convert them into a loyal fan following?

If you’re interested in getting real followers who will actually engage with your content, you might want to give Kicksta a look. It’s an automated platform that will free up hours of your time, so you can focus on creating awesome content, curating real relationships, and converting your newfound connections “into more gigs, paid partnerships and sales.”

What Does Kicksta Do?

Instagram, like all other social media platforms, is predicated on two main tasks. First, you need to create the kind of content that users actually like and engage with. This is true whether you are a brand hoping to attract new customers or an influencer looking to extend your influence (and land more branded content deals). There’s certainly no shortage of resources online that can help you achieve just the right Instagram look.

The second part puts the “social” in “social media.” It’s all about engagement. It’s not enough to treat Instagram as a means of broadcasting your message to the masses; you need to engage with actual people too. And if you want to grow your following, you need to engage with users who are not already following you. That can be very time-consuming to do manually, because you want to seek out individuals who align with what your Instagram account is all about.

What Kicksta does is zero in on these potential followers, “liking” one or two posts from each of these users. The goal is to get their attention. When they see that you’ve liked their post, they may come around to check out your page. And when they see that you have the content they’d like to see, they might start following you. Organically. This automated process repeats at scale, so you can continue to grow and attract real followers each and every day.

You Are Not Buying Followers

There are at least a few key factors that differentiate Kicksta from seemingly similar services. You’re not playing the follow-unfollow game. Kicksta will not go around following accounts on your behalf and then unfollowing them if they don’t follow back. This is a practice that’s questionable on a number of grounds. Similarly, Kicksta is not going around posting canned comments on random posts (i.e., “Great post! Check out my account for similar content!”), because that can easily be interpreted as spam. You’re also not “buying” followers, which is against the Instagram TOS.

Instead, the objective is to appear as organic and natural as possible. When you first get set up with Kicksta, you enter your own Instagram credentials. Then, you provide information about the audience you’re trying to attract. With the “Creative” plan, you can target up to 10 accounts whose followers might be interested in following you. For instance, if you’re a food blogger, you might target other food bloggers.

If you upgrade to the “Professional” plan, you can target up to 40 accounts; you can also target based on gender, location, and hashtag. The “likes” appear organic, leading to “real” Instagram growth, because the targeted users are following you of their own free accord. This automated service frees up several hours from your week to focus on other efforts.

Navigating the Dashboard

Getting around the user interface with Kicksta is a relatively simple affair. You can connect and manage multiple Instagram accounts if you’d like too, but each will need its own monthly plan.

After connecting and selecting your account, you’re shown a general overview where you can review the engagement on your most recent post, your best performing post and your worst performing post. From the main navigation, you can also click to see all your posts to see how many likes and comments they received. More importantly in the context of Kicksta, though, is adding your targets for the tool to decide what posts to “like” on your behalf.

Clicking on “targets” shows your current targets, and then adding a target is as straightforward as adding the username of the account whose followers you’d like Kicksta to engage with. Once targets are added, you can toggle them on and off. You can also see the performance in terms of conversion rate and overall quality of the target. With these two features, you can experiment with what targets work best and only enable those.

There is also a section with analytics where you can review followers gained for a defined date range, as well as your net followers gained day-to-day.

But Does It Actually Work?

It’s important to note that Kicksta cannot guarantee any specific number of followers, because users are real people and they’re choosing to follow you on their own. What they can guarantee is that they’ll consistently keep up with liking one or two posts per user; you need to have the quality content they desire if you want them to follow you. In other words, your mileage may vary.

Kicksta shares a number of case studies on their website to illustrate some of their notable success stories. These include a bridal company that generates 50% of their revenue through Instagram, an e-commerce giant that drives 15% of their online sales from the platform, and an influencer who grew from 2,000 followers to over 12,000 followers in two months using Kicksta.

Really, the only way you’ll know whether it works is to try it out yourself.

How Much Does It Cost?

As mentioned above, Kicksta offers two monthly pricing plans, depending on the level of growth you desire.

The $49 Creative plan promises “moderate” growth with smart filters and up to 10 targets. The $99 Professional plan (discounted from $149) increases the target count to 40, adding in gender targeting, hashtag targeting, location targeting, blacklisting, premium email support, and live chat support. There’s a 14 day money-back guarantee on both plans, no questions asked, and you can cancel at any time.

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Top 10 Tips to Run a Perfect Expert Roundup Post for Your Brand

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Perfect Roundup Post

Roundups are common – it’s been happening for a long time now.

However, running one isn’t that simple.

It requires the right ingredients – Good Topic Selection, Outreach, Presentation and Sharing.

But that is just the basics. What makes a roundup success isn’t an easy to cook recipe. It will need a lot of dedicated effort, several weeks of emails and follow-ups – too much editing and coding and finally a lot of sharing.

Here’s a small guide on how we run roundups and receive several thousand social shares – once it goes live.

Social Experts

1) Topic Selection:

Roundups end up getting several thousand social shares on an average but much of that depends on the topic that you have selected. Spend enough time to thoroughly research titles that generates a lot of attention. This title must be related to the site where you are going to post the roundup – else there will be little benefit of it.

Think of what your target audience wants to hear, for example for a finance blog – “43 Millionaires Share their Tips on How to grow your Money Quickly” – In short, relevant, catchy and actionable.

Do note that you have to find enough willing influencers on the niche to justify the roundup.

2) Email out Reach

Once the topic is decided, start the outreach process. Look for list of sites related to your niche and send them an email.

Use Google and search for terms related to your roundup, see what sites comes up. Look up their email ids and contact details and send them a basic pitch email.

This is the first pitch and it should be small and catchy. People hardly have enough time to read more than a few words – no point sending them huge paragraphs. Simply email them a small line about yourself, tell them that you are hosting a roundup where you need their participation. Let them know that your past roundups have received several thousand social shares and that should be enough for the first pitch.

When they reply back send them all the details. Keep the email small and mention everything in points – for example, where the post will be published, names of a few huge influencers who will participate, the question and the deadline.

3) Social Media Outreach

Outreach shouldn’t be limited to emails only. There are facebook groups, LinkedIn groups etc. which are very active and have good discussions. Use those places, post a small update and ask people to participate in an upcoming roundup. You will receive several replies from these groups and these are excellent places for promoting the roundup too.

These are the same people who will share your roundup once it goes live and these groups will send you so many social shares too.

To learn more about what’s working for other big name sites and branding that have completed their own roundups, and have seen massive results with social sharing, check out these 21 examples.

4) Using Lists

If you are someone like us who likes to carry out these roundups regularly then it is best that you use an email service like Mailerlite, Aweber, MailChimp etc. and start making a list of people who likes to participate in roundups.

Send an email and ask for participation when you are carrying out the roundup.

Every time someone sends you their roundup entry, make sure to ask them to sign up for the roundup list – that way they won’t ever miss out on the next roundup you will be doing.

5) Direct Submission

People like to participate in places where they find entries from other familiar people. If they see a word document with some entries from people they know, they would want to add their own entry as well.

For this you can use the G Suite or use Guest Crew status updates like we do. This way, when you add a status update people will both participate and tweet it out as well – which results in more participation.

5) Formatting

How you present your roundup is totally up to you. Here are a few quick tips to format a roundup for success.

At the top of the roundup before you get into the expert answers – make a small list of clickable names, that way people can quickly reach the expert that they want to read. This hashtag navigation is very important.

Once you start formatting the roundup make sure to include a small image of the expert and next to the image – post a tweetable answer. Post the longer answer below it, that way it becomes more readable.

Do note that many people prefers small roundups where less than 15 people participate like this one published at MYUKMailBox – just make sure to keep the formatting in the same style.

6) Tweetables

People like to share content and making catchy tweetables make the process simpler. When you pitch your question to an expert, always ask for a smaller answer which will be added to the tweetable. Most people will send their small answer but some won’t. This is where you need to edit out a small sentence from the longer answer and make a tweetable out of it.

While making the tweetable, include your own username – so that when someone tweets it out, you will get a notification too.

7) Graphics

Canva is the best option here – or you can use a graphic tool if you are blessed with more talent.

Try to make a graphic for every entry you have received. Simply include the image of the expert, their tweetable answer as a quote in the image and mention some details of the site where the roundup is published and the name and website of the expert on the graphic.

Place the graphic below the tweetable and chances are that most people will use the graphic for sharing the answers.

While Canva is great for creating visuals, it’s also easy to create animated white board and explainer videos as well. A perfect tool for this is mysimpleshow.

Through their drag and drop video creation tool, it’s quite easy to take the information provided by your experts, add in a photo of the expert, and then have an animation video created with all of the information already presented in your roundup. The great thing about this is that it can greatly improve the overall branding and reach of your content, while also making it easier for the experts to share with their social audiences as well.

If putting in the time and effort to create your own video isn’t something you are interested in, you can also refer to their full service site at simpleshow. Through this premium service, their brand can create completely customized and professional videos to match the look and feel you are going after.

This is the ideal solution for bigger brands that want exposure from their expert roundups. The build it your own solution at mysimpleshow is also ideal for freelancers that might be doing all of the expert roundup outreach and work, then looking to upsell a premium package even further.

8) Sharing it out

At this point the entire roundup is ready. This is where you need to start sharing the roundup.

While sharing, make sure to carefully tag the experts on every social site where you will share the roundup. You will receive many social shares if you tag carefully. Don’t limit the sharing to only social profiles, share it on the groups that are related to the roundup, share it further on forums where it is relevant. Ask your friends to share it further.

When it comes to running a successful expert roundup and promotion campaign, there are many tools to use to your advantage. Outside of the traditional WordPress plugins and social sharing methods we are all accustomed to, you can also look for other working methods — such as outreach tools, Facebook Groups, email finder tools, and also automation follow-up tools.

9) Outreach and Letting them know

Finally, send the experts who have participated – an email with all the details of where the post is published and a few quick links where they can share the roundup further.

Don’t be pushy while asking for shares – simply give them the links to make the sharing process easier.

10) Keep sharing further

This is your roundup and you should be the one to keep the sharing going – everyday after the roundup is published and socialized.

Do note that most people are busy and they can only share when they have enough time on their hands. This is where you need to fit in. Use the tweetables you have created and start tweeting it out – at least 10 tweets a day. This will take several days to complete and your roundup will keep getting social shares in the coming weeks.

Roundups are so far our best marketing method, it does takes time – most roundups take a full month of time to get it ready and published but they are always worth their time and effort.

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15 Unconventional Social Media Tactics That Encourage Engagement

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Just about every brand is on social media nowadays, but not all of them know how to use it effectively. It’s not enough to have a profile on multiple platforms and post content regularly. You need to provide the right kinds of content and posts that will make your followers want to react, share and comment.

To find out what works, we asked a panel of Young Entrepreneur Council members for their favorite lesser-known strategy for boosting a brand’s social media engagement. Here’s what they had to say.

1. Hold Contests and Giveaways

A great way to drive engagement and social growth is via contests and giveaways. “Tag and win” contests are a great way to drive action and at a relatively low cost. We use these to gain new followers and build brand awareness. It is a good idea to make it as easy as possible to enter and share with friends, as this will drive the viral nature of the post and go much further.

Baruch Labunski, Rank Secure

2. Promote User-Generated Content

User-generated content is a great way to encourage social media engagement. If you come off as being too promotional or professional, you give off the impression that you’re only there to do business. Encouraging customers to develop their own content allows businesses to show off their products from a more personalized point of view will increase engagement by highlighting your customers first.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP

3. Create and Share Useful Infographics

A great way to drive up engagement for image-based social networks, especially if your business is based on written content like mine, is to post infographics. If they contain interesting information presented in an aesthetically pleasing manner, readers will be inclined to reblog or retweet your posts. Small businesses can easily find freelance designers to help make them on sites like Fiverr.

Bryce Welker, Accounting Institute for Success

4. Offer Exclusive Group Access

To entice our audience to engage with our Facebook Messenger bot, we entice them to join by giving them exclusive access to a free Facebook group that only our Messenger subscribers will have access. It includes exclusive training and Facebook live speed coaching that can’t be found anywhere else. By creating a unique “club,” it keeps the right people in our group and increases engagement.

Bryan Kesler, CPA Exam Guide

5. Jack the News

Newsjacking is not “stealing the news.” Instead, it’s a valuable way for you to use a breaking story to shine a light on something you are doing at your business. While people are searching for the topic, new viewers will stumble upon what you are saying about the topic. It is a simple, cost-effective way for small business to generate tons of media coverage and social media engagement. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

6. Have a Virtual Party

Who said parties can only be offline? You can take your party online as well. We like to invite our customers, prospects and partners to join us for a virtual party. This is the easiest way to get discovered because when people share their voice, their audience sees what they are sharing as well.

Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

7. Add Facebook Messenger to Your Website Homepage

It’s really easy (and free) to install the Facebook Messenger widget on your company’s homepage. As live chat becomes the No. 1 communication preference for online customers, bringing Facebook’s chat capabilities directly to your site encourages more interaction with customers. Plus, it’s a clever way to draw them into your social ecosystem.

Eng Tan, Simplr

8. Thank Your Customers Using Video

We love to use video on social media to thank our customers. A short, 15-second post identifying a great customer by name can create an amazing ripple effect. That person will likely share it on social, which will then create positive brand awareness. A small business can do this with an iPhone — just dedicate five to 10 minutes a day to these posts and watch the shares stream in.

Yaniv Masjedi, Nextiva

9. Say Hello to Your Neighbors

As a physical location business, I love using Instagram’s geo-location feature. We can say hello to all the neighbors, to potential clients and to anyone who’s tagged themselves in or near our location. For example, I can see who’s nearby our massage studio based on who’s tagged themselves at the local gym, yoga studio or juice bar, and then “Like” and comment on their posts so they know we exist. – Rachel Beider, Massage Outpost

10. Focus on Image-Based Content

Several of my clients who are startup founders post images that are not necessarily about the product or service they sell but it talks about the industry they serve. For example, a pregnancy care app used to post images about newly born babies, which made them very popular. A picture is better than a thousand words — people always respond to something that is visually appealing.

Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

11. Join a Relevant Group

Creating and joining engagement pods or groups with a similar niche is one of the underutilized methods to gain more engagement within your social media platforms. It’s essentially creating a community of loyal supporters to follow, like and comment on every content that you post. This will work for both personal and business brands.

Fritz Colcol, Simply Thalia

12. Integrate Offline Promotions

If you have a store or retail related market, you can introduce items and posters within your store that will encourage people to engage with you via social media. It’s important to have a strategy in mind when you’re using social. How much promotion will you do? Discount offers? Value-driven content? Contests? Let people know you intend to provide this via social with in-person marketing items. Nicole Munoz, Nicole Munoz Consulting

13. Reach Out to Them First

I go through my followers’ followers and reach out to them on their pages. This means asking questions, commenting and retweeting their posts. I find that they then take the time to see who I am and discover what I do. This has significantly raised our followers in an organic way.

John Rampton, Calendar

14 Take Advantage of Polls

Using polls in your Instagram stories is a great way to simultaneously encourage engagement and tap into valuable customer feedback. Pose questions in a fun and light-hearted way. This is a great way to take the temperature of your community. Are they willing to take two seconds to engage with you? If not, it may be time to re-think your overall approach to social media.

Leila Lewis, Be Inspired PR

15. Share On-Brand Memes

Especially to the younger generations, memes are unique to our times and there is nothing like it in terms of engagement. Business owners sometimes have problems to not only understand memes but also to use them in successful campaigns. You need to have someone in the team that keeps up with pop culture and creates memes according to your brand, but you won’t regret it.

Brian Condenanza, Fluo Shoes

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