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    4 Ways Women Business Leaders can Integrate their Social Media Persona with their Brand

    May 1st, 2012

    As the owner of a communications firm, I am often asked to evaluate the social media efforts of my clients’ businesses. I cannot stress strongly enough that social media is merely a vehicle for communicating the brand message and not a solution in itself.  As women business leaders get comfortable with communicating in the “cyber” world, the methodology that we use should sync with our overall communications strategy. The concept here is that the persona we use to engage online should be no different than the personality  we convey off line. In order to effectively and consistently have an integrated social media presence, you’d be well advised to hire a community manager.  But I caution you from experience – make sure that the voice of the company is well understood prior to engaging your customers and clients online.

    Here is a great list  from Pam Drayton to help you create and maintain an effective social media voice:

    Tips for creating your social media voice:

    1. Constantly be aware of your intended market and the Social Media vehicle you are planning to use. If you are selling medical hardware to brain surgeons you will not use the same communication techniques, words and terminology you would use if you are selling gaming systems to teenagers.
    2. Identify your target market before you settle on your voice. What is the age of your preferred market; what is their education background; where do they live, what are their values and beliefs. It is also very important to determine, and always keep in mind, what your target market wants or needs from you.
    3. Have passionate, but do not become overly emotional. There is a huge difference between telling your readers, “This is an exceptional, high-quality product that will perfectly meet your needs,” and “If you don’t buy this product, your business will fail miserably.”
    4. To follow that note, always be honest. And play fair. You may actually believe the product your competition is offering is nothing more than junk; but don’t actually say that. Instead explain how you believe your product is better.

    With written social media communications all you have is words. In order to precisely and authentically relay your message you must choose those words carefully, and use a social media “voice” that not only enhances your communication efforts but is in sync with your overall brand.


    6 Blogging Don’ts Women Business Leaders Should Avoid

    April 12th, 2012

    I have been blogging for about 18 months now and while I have enjoyed the writing,  I’ve also had an unexpected bonus.  I started blogging from my perspective of feminism vs. femininity in order to share my thoughts with other women business leaders and entrepreneurs – but soon learned that I really had to dig into my soul to make an impact. In doing this, I learned about myself and how to take those experiences and ask,”What does this teach me?” Needless to say, this had an enormous impact on how I am dealing with my recent diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. Blogging can be a wonderful experience and I thought I’d share these blogging tips from Jeff Hayden with you.

    Jeff  wrote the following list to help you avoid some typical business blog mistakes, and I think you’ll appreciate his tips along with his humor:

    1. Don’t write in the dead zone
      Commenting on breaking news is smart since timely relevance attracts interest. But there’s a definite timeliness window; fall outside it and you always lose. Either immediately post your thoughts on breaking news or wait months or years to let time and hindsight provide the spark for re-imagining the topic.
    2. Don’t play the catchy headline game
      Headlines need to spark interest, but misleading or over-selling is the blog kiss of death. Never write a post based solely on a catchy headline, and never tack on a click-generating headline unless those are the last clicks you actually want to generate. Be clear, straightforward, and whenever possible, include the benefit to the reader.
    3. Don’t write because it’s on your calendar
      Lots of experts say publishing on a schedule is necessary to establish predictability and build an audience. They’re probably right, but schedule or not, writing a throwaway post just to maintain a schedule is a waste of your reader’s time—and your time.
    4. Don’t try to be Bill Simmons
      ESPN’s Bill Simmons’s Sports Guy columns are a cool blend of sports, movies, TV, and pop culture, written without pretense of neutrality.  He’s arguably the most popular sports columnist in America—and one of the most imitated. If you’re struggling to find your style, just write like you speak. You may not build a huge audience … but you will build a long-term audience.
    5. Avoid writing “I Think” posts
      Qualifying words make sense if you’re a lawyer or working in compliance for a financial services firm and need to make sure you don’t make promises you have to keep. Otherwise, be bold and direct. Take a stand. Don’t share rambling, unfocused thoughts; provide solutions.
    6. Don’t preach to your choir
      Readers want to learn new things and take new perspectives. While you should never be contrary just for the sake of contrariness, write and respond thoughtfully and your readers will too, and they’ll gain respect for your opinions even when—sometimes especially when—they don’t agree.

    I have certainly learned a lot during my blogging career so far. And I have appreciated to advice from industry experts like Jeff. If you’d like more tips on blogging, here are a few of my favorites, “10 Questions Women Business Leaders Should Ask Before Starting to Blog,” and “Women Business Leaders: 3 Tactics for a Better Business Blog.”


    Women Business Leaders: Does Your Social Media Voice Match Your Brand?

    April 8th, 2012

    As a woman business leader and business owner, I am often asked if I “do social media.” I could liken this question to, “Do you do in-person meetings?” Social media is merely a communications channel that should sync with your overall branding efforts. A company is like a living thing in that it has a “persona” or personality that should be understood by the entire team in order to be effective across all channels. This brand personality should be extended through the voice both on and off line.

    Here are some things to think about when planning your brand’s social media strategy I’ve condensed from an article by public relations professional Mickie Kennedy:

    Whether you realize it or not, your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media profiles all play a key role in your branding efforts. Unfortunately, too many companies have a social media voice that doesn’t fit with their brand.

    Here’s an example. Recently, 7-Eleven posted a Facebook update (they’ve since deleted it) that was seemingly poking fun at mentally ill people. Obviously, the person who made this update on behalf of 7-Eleven didn’t understand that this type of humor didn’t fit with the brand’s voice.  It was a clear example of the company’s social media voice not matching the brand.

    There’s nothing wrong with showing some personality with your social networking. It’s a good thing, but it also has to make sense within the structure of your brand. If you’ve created a brand that’s seen as serious and thoughtful and you have a silly, funny social media voice, it just won’t ring true with your customers. It will confuse them and undermine your branding efforts.

    How can you make sure your social media marketing meshes with the rest of your branding efforts?

    It all comes down to training the person who is managing your social media accounts on the voice of your brand. That person needs to understand what your brand is about, what kind of image you’re trying to create, who your target audience is, and how you want them to interact with and perceive your brand.

    I’m not saying you need to run every Tweet and status update through a committee for approval, but you do need to remember that everything you post influences how others see your brand. Consistency is the key to building brands customers trust and connect with. Maintain that consistency in everything you do.

    I agree with Mickie’s thoughts on maintaining a cohesive “brand” throughout your marketing and social efforts. Does it make you wonder about a brand when its social voice is disconnected  from its overall brand voice?


    3 Websites to Help Women Business Leaders Think Like Innovators

    April 5th, 2012

    If I have learned anything over the years,  it’s that change is inevitable. At times, we are totally at the mercy of the “stuff” that happens to us, whether it’s the economy, the environment or as I have just learned, my recent bout with breast cancer. Each day, we have the opportunity to choose how we react to unforeseen or extenuating circumstances.  And, as women business leaders, it’s essential to assume the innovator role when looking at creating change from within and moving yourself or your company into new territory and uncharted waters. But no matter what the catalyst, I always feel genuine excitement  in precipitating effective change.

    Here are three websites Small Business Trend founder Anita Campbell collected, offering tips that I hope may inspire your business creativity:

    1. Don the Idea Guy
      Don “the Idea Guy” Snyder is an author, speaker and freelance innovation consultant who helps businesses brainstorm and otherwise inspire creativity. His to-the-point blog posts cover a range of topics, such as how good innovators are like Silly Putty and the three roles you can play in any brainstorming session (Pirate, Politician or Painting). These aren’t academic posts you’ll have to wade through—they’re fast reads to give you a jolt of energy in the morning. In fact, one of the nice things about Don the Idea Guy is his focus on not just inspiring you, but actually motivating you to get things done.
    2. Creativity Central
      The man behind Creativity Central, Martin Baker, describes his blog as a “repository for all things creative—creative thinking, innovation, ideas and brainstorming.” A former award-winning creative director who has worked with client companies of all sizes, Baker is also the president of Inotivity, an innovation firm that helps clients accelerate the development of new ideas. If you like Creativity Central, check out the Inotivity blog, where recent posts have included innovation lessons from Nobel-Prize-winning physicist Richard P. Feynman. You can read these posts in 15 minutes or less, but they’ll have you thinking and pondering long after.
    3. Innovation 360 Institute
      This global innovation management consultancy uses systematic innovation methods and leadership development to help companies of all sizes become more innovative. Although Innovation 360 primarily works with businesses that are based or have a presence in the Middle East, its website offers a wealth of knowledge companies anywhere can access to help develop their own innovation strategies. You’ll also find information on related topics such as creativity, business model design, change management and entrepreneurship. You’ll need to set aside some time to get the most from these tools—but the results will be well worth it.

    Innovation is a term that is used frequently,  but not necessarily used correctly. What does innovation mean to you? Please share with us your innovative stories and your business may end up being featured in one of my upcoming blogs.


    Should Women Business Leaders Ask Potential Employees for Social Media Account Information?

    April 1st, 2012

    Social Media has taken communications and information sharing to a whole new level. It has advanced the way we communicate and share ideas — which has greatly enhanced our knowledge base and access to information. But should we as a culture use social media as a tool to extract personal information from those we may want to work with … and then use this information to form potentially biased opinions (whether we think they are or not)?

    Here are some potential pros and cons to “social media profiling” compiled by HR executive Tresha Moreland. As women business leaders, we should consider these issues carefully before requiring job seekers to divulge their social media account information in the interview process:

    Pros:

    • This will enable police, correctional and military agencies to tell if prospective candidates are engaged in unlawful activity, not yet caught.
    • It allows employers to see if a candidate has the propensity to bad mouth customers and/or workplaces.
    • It is easier to keep up-to-date records when people automatically update their social network profiles.

    Cons:

    • Social networking profiles may include information that is unlawful to ask about during an employment screening process, such as gender, age, national origin, and so on.
    • It is no different then asking for someone’s house keys. It could be considered violating an individual’s privacy.
    • A good and legal screening process such as background and reference checks, already in place, is meant to uncover unsavory activity and most importantly convictions.

    On a very personal note: I fled from South Africa in the early 1980s, motivated by my lack of individual privacy and my personal feelings that people should not be judged by the color of their skin. So to me, asking employees for access to their personal Facebook information reeks of “big brother” tactics, and I find this most distasteful.

    What do you think about this?  Should employers ask job seekers for their social network user passwords and account information as a requirement for applying for a job?


    3 Ways Women Business Leaders can Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility

    March 9th, 2012

    There is much discussion about  life/work balance for women business leaders. I have found that incorporating personal principles and beliefs into my professional life has been most rewarding. I believe that business entities will benefit from incorporating  and maximizing the opportunity they have to “do good” by taking a strategic approach to social responsibility. I would suggest that women business leaders can lead the way in ensuring that social responsibility is integrated into the very core of the business that you operate  — from your team to your clients – what a great opportunity to lead by example.

    So how can your growing company do good in ways that are also good for business?  Here are some easy-to-incorporate tips from  an article by Lynley Sides:

    1. Tie your brand to your social mission as early as possible
    Start now.  Create a brand that makes people feel good about affiliating with it.

    Cause-conscious consumers and employees see themselves as investing in you, not just exchanging money for products or time for a paycheck. If buying your product makes customers feel good and enhances their identity, you’ll be able to command a price that includes that value. You’ll also set the bar higher for your competitors.

    2. Spread the word
    There are lots of ways to give back. You can:

    • operate sustainably
    • treat people well
    • make environmentally friendly products
    • give to worthy causes

    No matter how you integrate social responsibility into your business, it’s important that you let people know right away. The earlier you communicate social responsibility as important parts of your value proposition, the better job they will do at differentiating your company, and the more value you will build as a result

    3.     Make your customers your partners
    Perhaps the easiest way for most growing companies to be socially responsible is through giving.  And if it’s done right, giving can do more than help good causes and create goodwill. It can drive real value for your business. Consumers are nearly twice as likely to buy or recommend a product if it’s affiliated with a cause they care about. And when they’re empowered and engaged by your brand, they will purchase and become advocates for it, sending their friends and colleagues to buy from you too.

    That’s a win for social good and a win for your business.

     


    5 Tips For Women Business Leaders to Add Social Media into Their Lifestyle

    January 13th, 2012

    For women business leaders to be truly effective with social media they must integrate it into their lifestyle rather than relegate it to an afterthought. I have found that the more I actively participate, the greater the rewards and impact of my efforts. I actually feel that balancing social media within my daily activities enhances my professional effectiveness.

    Adopting a social media lifestyle may not be for everyone, but Ali GoldField’s list of tips to add social media to your everyday life might give you some ideas:

    1. Coffee and Twitter
      For most of us, a morning cup of coffee is sacred. Try to incorporate tweeting with your morning coffee. Instead of reading the newspaper, read your stream to find interesting articles to share with your followers. If you still need to read the paper, know that most publications these days are online and make sharing with your networks very easy.
    2. Change the way you look at the world
      Instead of walking through your day with blinders on, as most of us do, focused on the tasks we need to get done, try looking at the world with a different set of eyes. Examine everything — images, articles, conversations you have with co-workers — and use it as fodder for posts, blogs and tweets.
    3. Blog on the weekend
      Blogging for business is an important factor to getting found online. It improves our SEO, increases our professional credibility and lets our audience know who we are and how we interact. Blogging can also be the most time consuming part of any social media plan. Save the blogging for the weekend when your schedule is more open.
    4. Set an alarm
      In adopting a social media lifestyle, it works to break your social media plan into bite-sized chunks, making it more manageable during the course of a busy day.  At first, it may take some time to incorporate the social media lifestyle into your work day so setting alarms to remind you to take social media breaks – which are just as necessary as a coffee or bathroom break — can help at the beginning.
    5. Be mobile
      I can’t stress enough how being mobile, whether it’s with an iPad, smartphone or laptop, can help integrate social media into your lifestyle. Whether it’s waiting in line at the bank, riding the bus or taking a five-minute water cooler break, being mobile help you to stay connected, with the ability to tweet or post right at your fingertips.

    Social media is a big part of my life and something I participate in both professionally and personally. For more on adopting social media to grow your business, type  “social media” on the search bar above.


    5 Social Media Mistakes and How Women Business Leaders Can Avoid Them

    December 6th, 2011

    As savvy women business leaders and entrepreneurs, we know that social media is here to stay. It is no longer a trendy way to engage customers but rather an essential component of any sound communications strategy. New media thought leaders like Brain Solis believe that if businesses are not embracing “disruptive” technology they will be left behind.

    Here’s a list of some common social media mistakes to avoid that I’ve condensed from an article written by Brian:

    1. Showing up isn’t enough
      Customers and prospects are busy, connected and interacting with everybody but you today. This requires an engagement program — that is, a plan for using social media to meet goals — that extends beyond the typical marketing of “follow us on Twitter” or “Like us on Facebook.”
    2. You can’t be everywhere, nor should you
      Many entrepreneurs are excited about technology and they overextend themselves because they want to be part of the latest trend. The key is to only be where your customers, prospects and those who influence them are.
    3. Authenticity and transparency are nothing without a connection
      The two magical ingredients to a successful social media effort are: authenticity and transparency. However, without delivering value, conveying a meaningful mission and vision, or establishing a connect-worthy presence, authenticity and transparency have nothing to reinforce.
    4. Talking to people isn’t a business strategy
      Some people run effective social media programs by listening instead of actually saying anything. But no matter if you converse with customers or not, you must have a purpose before you can engage. Don’t get caught up in only replying to brand mentions. Your real opportunity is to also engage and convert those people not already talking about you.
    5. Keep your core customers tuned in
      Companies believe that uploading a video to YouTube is the key to anything going viral. What they don’t know is 48 hours of video is uploaded every minute to YouTube. The chance of your video going viral naturally is basically nil. Remember, going viral only counts if it impacts your brand. If it creates lift, leaves an imprint or if it drives action or outcomes, that’s when you’re going viral.

    As the owner of a strategic communications firm, I agree with Brian’s comments above. I also believe that as this medium becomes more sophisticated … so should your business approach. For more on social media strategies, see my blog “7 Social Media Tips for Women Business Leaders from 7 Experts.”


    Women Business Leaders: 10 Tips for Borrowing Authority From Social Experts

    November 22nd, 2011

    Given the choice of going to a cocktail party or staying home and networking, my inclination would be to socialize at home. Luckily, I am able to write and promote my blog for women business leaders no matter where I am. And now that I have been blogging regularly for over a year, I have penetrated several networks without the essential cocktail in hand!

    These tips from Vicki Flaugher effectively distill some excellent ways (both online and in person) to build, leverage and solidify your expertise and business reputation as well as your relationships.

    1. Write a blog post forwarding an opinion that either differs or supports or augments a well-respected figure in your industry.
    2. Get your picture taken with an industry celebrity at a live event you attend and post it on your social channels.
    3. Interview industry greats and post to YouTube (and your blog), with the correct tags that can add your video to the collective aggregate of videos about the interviewee.
    4. Make a valuable, community-sensitive comment on the blog of an industry heavy and link back to a specific, relevant post on your blog.
    5. Ask an industry heavy to write an endorsement or forward to your book or ebook. Ask behind closed doors and thank publicly when they say yes.
    6. Quote someone with higher street credibility than you have to show your alignment with his/her philosophy. You can do this on your blog, via retweets, or by sharing links from their blog.
    7. Participate in well-traveled niche hash tag Twitter chats where you can be seen with the top industry insiders.
    8. Go outside strictly professional events to connect yourself to industry heavies – philanthropy events, sporting events, and arts patronage events.
    9. Start a fan club (or LinkedIn group, or book club) that intertwines your interests with well-respected professionals who already have a digital platform
    10. Gain a speaking gig at the same event as industry greats so you can honestly say you shared a stage with them.

    Many of these activities will happen naturally, as they did for me. As you become more active in your industry, you’ll find the opportunities are endless. But it never hurts to be proactive!


    10 LinkedIn Tips for Women Business Leaders

    November 11th, 2011

    I am continually surprised – in a good way – by contacts reaching out to me on LinkedIn.  As a woman business leader and entrepreneur, LinkedIn is my professional “comfort zone.” Of all the social media platforms, LinkedIn gives you the ability to control and even manipulate your message. It is a “living brochure” for your personal brand.

    In this article, Guy Kawasaki provides some useful ways to maximize your exposure with some great LinkedIn tips:

    1. Acquire new customers through online recommendations and word of mouth
      Satisfied customers are the best source of new customers.
    2. Keep in touch with people who care most about your business
      Sites like LinkedIn help keep your business alive in the minds of the people who care most about your business
    3. Find the right vendors to outsource services you’re not an expert on
      LinkedIn makes it easy for you to find vendors through the network of your peers.
    4. Build your industry network—online and in person
      Search LinkedIn’s Groups directory to find industry associations and networks to take part in.
    5. Get answers to tough business questions with a little help from your real friends
      LinkedIn Answers and Groups let you find answers to vexing questions quickly by tapping into the wisdom of your network.
    6. Win new business by answering questions in your area of expertise
      Use the many forums on LinkedIn to share the knowledge you’ve gained in your area of expertise.
    7. Raise funding
      You can use LinkedIn to find mentors or potential investors for your startup.
    8. Network with peers in your industry for repeat business referrals
      With over 2000 groups dedicated to small business topics, you’re sure to find a relevant group to network.
    9. Convince potential customers of your expertise by sharing unique blog content
      Small businesses smart enough to create unique content on their expertise should link to it from their LinkedIn profiles.
    10. Keep your friends close and your competition closer
      Not only do company profiles give you unique insight into your competition, they also give you an opportunity to stumble upon potential hires.

    You hear a lot of “buzz” about other social media platforms, but I think it’s time LinkedIn got a little more respect. How have you used LinkedIn to grow your business connections?