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    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Make Social Media Fun

    November 6th, 2011

    As a woman business leader and the owner of a marketing firm, I take my job very seriously, but I always welcome the unexpected laugh and am intrigued by the “unusual.” Like most people, I am drawn to humor and fun.

    I came across this great post by Vicki Flaugher that really puts online engagement in perspective. It all comes back to being authentic.

    1. Use more pictures and video
      Instead of just your blog posts, resource links and business how-to tips, add pictures and video. You can grab them from Youtube or Flickr, but it’s even better if you create them yourself. Keep it light, relevant, and real.
    2. Capture candid moments
      Taking shots while things are happening now and sharing them in real time is powerful. No more staged photos in a business suit with crossed arms. Make me want to be where you are. Make me feel something. Share your experiences with candid shots.
    3. Kids, kitties, and nature
      These emotional triggers, used responsibly, can give people time to take a deep breath in their busy day. Those breaths are when we reflect on what’s important and who matters most to us. Caring is the currency in social. Demonstrate this value by giving people respite in their day with cuteness and “ahhhh” breaks.
    4. Hobbies, philanthropy, and sports
      Letting people see the inner you gives them insight into your character and values. People will feel they know you better and subconsciously assign traits to you via association. It makes you fun to know. And fun is good. It is very, very good.
    5. Music, book clubs, travel, and fashion
      Vicarious living is a sport for most of us. The way the Internet connects us lets us explore food, exotic locales, and new experiences with a click of a button. As the world becomes flat and more global in connection, this ability to share will only become more and more valuable. So share, share, share. It will pay off.

    In being social for business, there is still a line that you don’t want to cross by being too flippant. But  humor and spontaneity are easy and compelling online tactics that you can use to bring out your personality. Here is one of my favorite blogs about staying authentic: “5 Branding Steps Women Business Leaders can Use to Remain Authentic.”


    How Women Business Leaders Can Turn Their Personal Brand Into a Business

    November 4th, 2011

    The more connections that I make online, the more I enjoy this virtual life that I am creating. I run a communications firm, have a strong interest in the social sector and am drawn to the feedback I receive about the useful information I provide through my blog for women business leaders. I have often wondered how to leverage this virtual identity and turn it into a lifestyle.

    I came across this interesting post from Penelope Trunk with some useful tips on creating a business out of a personal brand.

    1. Build a brand that stands for something
      It can be anything, really, but it needs to have a life of it’s own, besides just your name. This way you can take the part of it that is not just about you and grow it. In my case, my brand was my unique take on career management.
    2. Find your paying customers
      Most brands have brand enthusiasts, but not all enthusiasts have money. You need to focus on the demographics that are energized by your brand vision but also have money to spend as a result of that.
    3. Figure out what your ultimate goal is
      If you want to sell the company, and ultimately go do something else, then you need to have a vision special enough that someone else can incorporate it into their own company—as an acquisition.
    4. Accept the reality of a paycut
      To build something big, you have to take risks, and one of those is hiring people to help you. You are probably used to siphoning all the extra cash in your business to your own bank account. Now you will have to start putting that money back into the business because you need high growth to fully leverage a brand’s established market presence.
    5. Check your ego
      Building a great brand about your own personality and intellect is a huge achievement. But to get to the next step in your career, you’ll need to let other people get out in front of that brand. One of the most rewarding moments in my own company was when my co-founders started going on TV to talk about our field with equal authority to my own.

    Because branding is part of my business, I am always interested in passing along information to help other women business leaders nurture and grow their brand. For more about branding, please read my blog, “5 Branding Steps Women Business Leaders Can Use to Remain Authentic.”


    6 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Be More “Likeable” With Social Media

    November 2nd, 2011

    Have you ever wondered why you are drawn to some people and not to others?  What are the factors that make one person more likeable than someone else? When people think about whether they “like” someone or not, most take into consideration basic compelling human characteristics such as kindness, concern, authenticity, care and compassion. As you plan your social media and interactive branding strategy, don’t forget to add these “likeable” characteristics to all of your online and social communications.

    These tips from Dave Kerpen’s article, “6 Ways to Become Likeable with Social Media,” examine the best ways to garner a positive social image.

    1. Listen first and never stop listening
      As tempting as it may be to join the conversation, keep in mind that communication is 50 percent listening and 50 percent talking. Your customers want to be heard and social media provides a channel that really allows you to listen on a large scale.
    2. Be authentic
      As organizations grow large, they develop processes and models to enhance efficiency. Social media provides an opportunity to reverse this trend and actually ‘be human’ in dealing with customers.
    3. Provide value—for free!
      The more valuable content you can share with your fans and followers, the greater the trust and reputation you’ll build with them. Share your expertise without expectation or marketing-speak, and you’ll create an even better name for yourself.
    4. Share stories
      Every brand has at least one story to tell. Social media allows you to share stories with your customers, prospects and the world. Remember, stories humanize brands and make them ‘talk-able’ online and off-line. And they can be told by anyone—customers, employees or management. They just need to be real.
    5. Admit when you screw up, and then leverage your mistakes
      Being able to say “I’m sorry” when you make a mistake goes a long way toward making up for your error. Companies are made up of people and everyone makes mistakes.
    6. Consistently deliver excitement, surprise and delight
      On social media, you’re not just competing with your real-life competitors; you’re competing with all of your customers’ friends and the brands they’re connected to. So the way to stand out is to create as many “Wow!” moments as possible.

    These are great tips to think about when starting and growing your social media presence. Here’s another blog that offers some good ideas for creating a social strategy: Jay Baer’s Social Media Integration Strategies for Women Business Leaders.


    10 Questions Women Business Leaders Should Ask Before Starting to Blog

    October 28th, 2011

    If you are reading this  — you probably know that I am a frequent blogger. I got started because I knew that my point of view as a woman business leader might provide value to others. Blogging allows me to share my passion for mentoring and my interest in finding unique ways to improve my professional life. My assumption is that others would feel the same as I do and find value in my opinions.

    After more than a year as a professional blogger, I think these “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before you Blog,” by Joe Pulizzi, provide a great starting point.

    1. Who would the primary reader (subscriber) of your blog be?
    2. What do you want to tell them? (What’s your story?)
    3. Do you understand the key informational needs of that person?  What are their pain points?
    4. Are you hanging out online where your customers are? Do you or can you make a target hit list of blogs or sites that your customers frequent online?
    5. Are you leaving comments that add to the online conversation on the blogs you cover?
    6. Do you have a firm grasp on the types of keywords to focus on that your customers are searching for?
    7. Do you follow those keywords using Google Alerts or watch their usage on Twitter?
    8. Can you commit to blogging at least two times per week? Content consistency is key.
    9. What is your ultimate goal in starting a blog? One year from when you start blogging, how will the business be different?
    10. How will the execution process work within your company, and how will you market the blog?

    If you liked this post, you might find a few of my other blogs on blogging interesting too: “Successful Blogging Tips for Women Business Leaders” and  “Women Business leaders: 3 Tactics for a Better Business Blog.” The most valuable advice that I can give you is this: find your passion and remain authentic.


    Women Business Leaders: Embrace Change to Evolve and Rebrand

    September 8th, 2011

    As a woman business leader and owner of a strategic marketing firm, I find the notion of rebranding very exciting. It draws on past successes and legacies while giving you a visionary direction. Rebranding for business success has become a hot topic as companies integrate technology into their marketing matrix. We are presented with the opportunity to reevaluate not only our brand, but also our corporate strategies. When you consider rebranding, you look to the future with the understanding that change is inevitable … and it forces you to plan and move your company forward.

    Carolyn M. Brown offers some interesting considerations for rebranding your business, and I’ve listed her suggestions here:

    1. Be Ready for Change
    2. Determine Your Mission
    3. Talk to People
    4. Measure Your Total Market
    5. Research the Competition and Seek Allies
    6. Rethink Your Customer Base
    7. Improve Your Product Availability
    8. Determine Suitable Solutions
    9. Create an Action Plan
    10. Communicate Clearly and Effectively

    Read Carolyn’s entire article, “How to Successfully Rebrand Your Business,” for more details, or for additional blogs about branding: “7 Personal Branding Strategies for Women Business Leaders,” and “3 Ways Women Business Leaders can Create Brand Superfans.”


    Women Business Leaders: 5 Questions Your Business Website Must Answer

    August 19th, 2011

    I own and run an integrated brand marketing firm, and since last fall, I have blogged about the value of maintaining brand consistency and executing brand values through all channels for women business leaders and entrepreneurs. The same principle applies when we are designing websites. There are so many ways clients are getting their information that it’s easy to forget that, above all, your website must be functional and informative.

    Here are some questions put together by Tom Pick, from his article, “5 Questions Every Business Website Must Answer,” that business owners should consider when evaluating their website.

    1. Who are you?
      Unless your brand is a household name, at least within your industry, this is a critical element. Write about awards, media/analyst recognition, number/importance of customers, length of time in business, the experience of your founders, funding, growth and financial performance.
    2. What do you sell?
      While that is obvious to you, it  obvious to prospects unfamiliar with your company. Use keyword research tools to make sure you are using terms your prospective buyers use, and make it clear and concise. Do you sell a point solution or something that’s part of a broader product suite? Do you sell products only or also associated services?
    3. Who do you sell to?
      No company, especially a small business, can be everything to everyone. Make it clear who your target customers are. This will help weed out prospects who aren’t really qualified and enable you to tightly focus your web copy on your best potential buyers. Make it clear to your site visitors if they are “in the right place.”
    4. Why are you the best choice?
      This is where you differentiate yourself from the pack. Be as direct and factual as possible about your differentiators. Tell your prospects what makes your product or service uniquely suited to their needs.
    5. How do I buy from you?
      If a qualified buyer has landed on your site, this is the critical final question. What do you want the person to do next? Possibilities include downloading a white paper or report, signing up for a newsletter, contacting you for more information, following you on Twitter or Facebook, signing up for a free trial, viewing an online demo, or registering for a webinar. Keep it simple and clear. Test different calls to action.

    Today’s website visitor has little time to linger, so follow the advice above to help streamline your website and make it work better for you and your customers.


    How Women Business Leaders Can Make a Great First Impression in 30 Seconds

    July 28th, 2011

    As women business leaders, we know it’s impossible to avoid the “first impression” rule. We also know that as we walk into a room, we set the stage for others to make judgments about us. It is important for you to have a clear perception and understanding of who you are in order for others to see your authenticity.

    Here are some excellent pointers on how to create a positive impression I’ve compiled from an article by Lisa Earle McLeod.

    Open your body
    Very simple advice but true. Lisa says to take a deep breath and relax before entering a room. Your confidence will shine through.

    Smile
    You’d think everyone would do this automatically, but I often see more sour faces at meetings I attend than smiling ones! Lisa suggests you walk into a meeting smiling, and don’t wait for others to do it first.

    Leave the suitcases outside
    We’ve all seen the people struggling with briefcases and shoulder bags. Let your personality get the attention, not your baggage!

    Make eye contact
    Lisa says that while it’s important to seek out those in charge and make eye contact, scan the room and make that contact with everyone else, too.

    Be happy
    Yes, you want those in charge to know you are happy to be there too, says Lisa. You don’t have to suck up, just express your delight in being invited.

    Start a dialogue
    Rather than start talking about yourself, says Lisa, get them talking about themselves. It’s a great icebreaker and helps you get some good information up front.

    Be prepared, but don’t act scripted
    You want to have some answers planned, but be ready to ask pointed questions that show you are paying attention.

    Ask unexpected questions
    And speaking of questions, unexpected ones usually get noticed. You can try to add some humor, says Lisa, but only if you are really comfortable doing so.

    Don’t fidget
    Try not to fidget when making a first impression, says Lisa. It is distracting and makes it seem as if you are not paying attention.

    Be authentic
    I like this quote from Lisa, “Planning doesn’t mean being fake.” The goal, says Lisa, is to exude confidence and that comes from being prepared.

    The most important take away from these suggestions is that you understand your own uniqueness. If you don’t get it, how will you translate that to others? It’s not fair that we judge people in the first 30 seconds, says Lisa, but it is true. So, keep that in mind the next time you need to make a good first impression.


    7 Social Media Tactics Women Business Leaders Should Stop Doing Now

    June 28th, 2011

     

    As the owner of a strategic communications business, I continue to get requests for “social media strategies” from my clients. My advice is that although I believe social media is one of the channels for relaying a solid brand message, I also know it is not the panacea some would believe it is.

    So, as women business leaders and entrepreneurs gather data and get more sophisticated with their social media strategies, I suggest taking this advice from Kipp Bodnar’s article, “7 Things to Delete from your Social Media Strategy Now,” seriously to streamline your use of social media strategy.

    1. Get rid of that huge strategy document
      According to Kipp, the web moves quickly and that 50-page strategy document just holds you and your company back. Ditch the book and make your strategy document a quick and easy reference without including every nitty-gritty detail.
    2. Stop talking about your product
      In today’s social media climate, you need to give consumers what they want if you want them to keep coming back.  So stay away from creating a bunch of promotional content, says Kipp.
    3. Have clear objectives
      Too often, social media objectives are murky, at best. Kipp suggests having a plan for collecting the data and analytics so you can determine if you’ve met your goals.
    4. Create one profile per social media outlet
      A mistake many companies make, says Kipp, is to create many social media profiles for just one company. Community-building is so much easier when you have one community instead of eight or nine.
    5. Don’t use useless links
      Kipp is correct when he notes that many who dabble in social media think that linking their post to the home page is sufficient. It couldn’t be more wrong! Kipp suggests linking to a blog or FAQ page where the user can find relevant information without working to find it.
    6. Chuck the jargon
      In my business, we sometimes use more jargon than we need to. It’s fine to use within the confines of your business, but I agree with Kipp when he says using jargon is a no-no in social media. Remember that rankings are based on common search terms, not words that no one outside of your company uses.
    7. Don’t make assumptions
      I liked Kipp’s idea that content can be re-used for different platforms at different times. So, his point is that you can never assume that posting a blog means it’s done and everyone who needed to see it, did. Rather, that content could be re-purposed somewhere else to receive additional exposure.

    The bottom line is that social media is a moving target, and you really can’t expect to set up your social media accounts and then let them sit. If you want to have an effective social media presence, you will have to put in the time and effort to do it well. Here are some other blogs on social media you might find helpful:

    “Social Media for Women Business Leaders Means More then Just Marketing,” and “Top 5 Facebook Strategies for Women Business Leaders.”


    Why Women Business Leaders Need to Develop a Niche

    June 15th, 2011

    The question every woman business leader and entrepreneur should ask is, “Who is my audience?” Without a clear picture of your audience, how can you market to that segment? It sounds scary to many business owners when you suggest narrowing their market, but it is necessary to develop that segment to increase sales and profitability.

    I found a great article by Marla Tabaka on “How and Why to Develop a Niche” that gives some great reasons why  developing your niche can help your business grow and prosper. Here are my thoughts on Marla’s suggestions:

     

    More effective networking
    Marla makes a good point when she says networking can sometimes be too broad. In other words, instead of asking your networking groups for leads in general terms, be specific. Asking your group to help you find a specific person will remind them of someone they may know who may fit your needs.

    More effective marketing
    The point here is to know exactly who your audience is, first and foremost. Marla suggests that to know your customer you must put in the time to research the segment you want to target. Know your niche, become the expert, and you’ll find greater success.

    Why choose only one niche?
    According to Marla, master one niche first, then when you have become the expert in that area, and only then, move on to other niche markets. I think this is great advice. Often times we try to do too much too soon, thinking the rewards will be greater. But spreading yourself too thin can result in failure.

    Choosing your niche
    Marla gives some tips on how to decide what your niche should be by asking yourself these questions

    • Who am I most passionate about working with?
    • Who will benefit most from my product or service?
    • What markets do I know the most about?
    • Who would be my ideal client/customer?
    • What customer/client gives me the most positive feedback about my work?

    Identify how to reach your niche audience
    There are myriad ways to market to your niche market. Make sure your website speaks directly to that niche market, start a blog as a niche expert, attend tradeshows and conferences geared to your niche market and develop your niche elevator speech so you are ready at a moment’s notice to speak.

    Enjoy being a niche expert
    As Marla suggests, enjoy being the go-to person in your niche.

    I thought these were some great suggestions, and I plan to utilize some of her ideas myself. Today more than ever, developing a good niche marketing plan can make or break your business, and paying attention to your customers or clients is essential if you want to succeed.


    3 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Create Brand “Super Fans”

    June 10th, 2011

    In my business I often rely on referrals, so it’s important to ensure that I not only have satisfied customers, but that I also help my customers become my advocates.

    Women business leaders and entrepreneurs can learn how to turn customers from satisfied and loyal into a virtual “sales force” with these ideas gleaned from an article by Matthew Rhoden. But first, Matthew describes what a “customer advocate” is:

    A customer advocate supports the brand

    According to Matthew, advocates differ from “satisfied customers” in that they support the brand through good times and bad, and will actively react to negative comments about the brand in the online community or by word-of-mouth.

    A customer advocate actively promotes the brand

    These advocates, says Matthew, openly praise the company, products and employees both internally and externally via social media and other channels. They provide feedback about service and quality and sometimes even feel as if they are brand protectors.

    A customer advocate is emotionally attached to the brand

    These customers, says Matthew, feel a sense of ownership in the brand and think of the brand as part of their inner circle.

    The question is, how do you take a loyal and satisfied customer and create a dedicated, persuasive brand advocate?

    Here are Matthew’s steps:

    1-Silence detractors

    If you identify and work with your detractors, you can get at the root of customer dissatisfaction. Then, says Matthew, prioritize the customers and customer pockets responsible for the negative comments, address the issues and correct them immediately.

    2-Build a solid and positive customer experience

    According to Matthew, customer satisfaction and loyalty are critical to the success of any business, so it is essential that every interaction your customer has with your company and its employees is positive. I agree, a happy and satisfied customer is your best customer advocate.

    3-Offer extraordinary experiences

    Rather than just rely on your loyal and satisfied customers to boost your brand, do something that will turn your average customer into an advocate by going above and beyond their expectations. I think that offering special perks, bonuses, coupons or “customer appreciation” cards are all great, but try offering something really different or out of the ordinary to create excitement and brand connection.

    It’s not enough to have a loyal or satisfied customer anymore. Today, more than ever, social media and the online community can help boost your brand, but it takes time and effort. Women business leaders and business owners who embrace this idea will be the ones who achieve the best brand success. Click on the link to read Matthew’s entire article: “Create Brand Superfans.”