Thursday, December 19, 2013

Social Media “Face Palms”: Be Careful What You Post

In 2013, social media is continually evolving—you can do more than ever online and the user base for all of these sites from Facebook to Google Plus is expanding. Kids as young as 13 and older adults as well are becoming daily, active users of social media. These platforms can be a great tool for staying in touch with friends, sharing personal and professional updates, and networking. But posts made in haste can get you in some hot water, whether you realize it immediately or not. Real life can bring us some “face-palm” moments; that feeling of “I can’t believe I said/did that”. This embarrassment is completely avoidable online if you are proactive. Once a post is out there, however, it is tough to do damage control. Here are a few basic rules to keep in mind to avoid posting something that will embarrass you or worse, get you fired.

If you don’t want your parents or kids to see it, you probably don’t want to post it. We all have moments where have a little too much to drink and maybe snap a flushed faced photo with a friend wearing a ridiculous hat and holding a beer.  Maybe writing about the great deal you got on a case of king sized candy bars (even though you’re on a low fat diet) seems like a good idea in the store, but the resulting comments of concerned family members may not be worth it.  There are a lot worse examples you can probably think of here, but the point is, once that awkward picture or questionable status is posted, those who you think won’t see it just might.

If you’re extremely angry or depressed about something, keep the details offline. It happens to the nicest of people—you have a disagreement with your significant other, a friend does something unexpected, or a major disappointment comes from out of the blue. While it can be tempting to vent on your page or to post something just to spite the person you’re conflicting with, do you really want your entire friends list to know this personal information? You probably won’t remember at the time that Jenny from 12th grade is friends with your friend; if she sees you lashing out, she might stick her nose in the drama. (You don’t want that, do you?) When emotions run high, people often construe the situation disproportionately and say things they don’t mean. Who knows when an important professional connection will see this and get the wrong impression? It’s best to stay away from your social media pages until the problem has subsided.

Whatever you do, don’t post anything negative about your boss, your coworkers, or your job itself online.  You can work for someone who is impossible, do a project with a lazy coworker, or have the worst day ever, but don’t post any details about these things online. It makes you look bad and more importantly, it can taint the image of your company. Even when you’re off the clock, you are still representing who you work for. So you’re the one in charge? It’s even more important in that case not to post negative things about your employees or company frustrations.

While these things may seem obvious, it happens all too often where people just don’t think about what they post until it’s too late. It’s ok to ask for advice, celebrate positive news, and talk to your friends and family through your social media pages. They can also be a way to make initial business connections and boost your company’s reputation. Like most things, social media can be used for good or for bad. When it doubt, don’t post it. Keeping your online presence clean makes your real presence all the more easy for others to feel confident in. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Customer Christmas Cards Do’s and Don’t’s

As a small business owner, you probably have a group of customers who are especially loyal and who really appreciate your business. You may want to send them a Christmas card. This shows that you really enjoy working with them and you can be sociable rather than all business, all the time. What should you include in a customer’s Christmas card? What should you avoid?

Send cards that are of high quality (files if the cards are digital, good quality paper if they are to be sent in the mail or given out). If your cards are cheap, that will send the message the that your company is cheap. Remember to be tasteful and sensitive to varying customer views and opinions by keeping the theme of the card tame and traditional. Also, be aware of different religious beliefs and customs. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so if you’re unsure, send out a Happy Holidays or Season’s Greetings card.

For the inside of the card, write a brief personal message and hand-write a signature. This really makes the card personal and memorable. If you don’t have a stamp, include a business card so the person remembers what business the card came from a few weeks down the road.

While address labels are convenient and work for mass mailings, that is exactly the message you do not want to send with your Christmas cards (that it is a mass mailing). Hand write the address of the recipient (you can use printed envelopes or labels for your business address in the top left corner). Always stick to professional tiles and use proper salutations.

When it comes to sending out the cards, send it to their business address unless you know them personally. Try to have all your cards in the mail by December 15th to ensure they arrive on time.

Christmas cards for your customers is a great personal touch that will not go unnoticed. Make it happen!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Should You Have an Office Holiday Party?

Around the time of Christmas and New Years, there are several events you’ll be invited to with friends and family. You enjoy this time of year, but it can be busy and stressful, too. Your employee team works hard, so they should get rewarded, right? Some businesses will decide to have a holiday party. It is a good idea? Should your business have a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party?

It can be fun and rewarding, but it can also be risky. If alcohol is served at the event, even at a location away from the office, it’s still a professional event. When drinks are involved, people tend to forget this. Rules still apply, and talking to your boss with a drink in his hand is no different than talking to your boss any other time. Then there’s the debate of attending or skipping it, and how long you should stay. To show commitment to the company, everyone should come for at least 30 minutes. Treat it as a “must attend” event, but if you’re the one inviting, don’t officially make it mandatory. Employees need to remember to dress professionally as well even if it’s not at the office.  People should stay away from business matters at the party—this is a time to socialize outside of work, and doing otherwise makes it appear as though they have an agenda.

General office party etiquette suggests you aren’t expected to provide a full meal, just light snacks. People should know that they may want to eat dinner beforehand. Just remember that if you choose to serve drinks at the party, there may be irresponsible people that will get intoxicated. Make it clear that if the party is on a weeknight, they are expected to show up to work the next day no matter what. Also remember that if the party ends early, some employees will go out to another venue afterward.

The choice of whether or not to have a party is ultimately up to you. But if you’d rather not take the risks involved, try offering a free office-wide lunch instead. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, so be sensitive to their needs as well. Overall, a short, low-key event such as a gift exchange over lunch tends to be the safer way to go.

© 2013 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Thursday, October 17, 2013

What Services Should I Outsource?

As a small business that is continually growing, it’s important to focus on the core services and products that make your business a success as well as the functions that best serve your employees. When new challenges arise and increased business comes into play, it may be best to consider outsourcing some of your tasks. If you’re a fairly new business owner, or you’ve never outsourced before, you may be wondering: What services should I outsource? Here are a few suggestions.

You can try subcontracting some of your marketing efforts. Marketing fuels small businesses because they tie in directly to sales results. But if you already have an extensive client base, focusing on current business may be more than enough to keep you very busy. This is where a public relations specialist or consultant can step in. You can find individuals who can focus on developing PDFs and flyers which customers can download from your website, conducting email campaigns, or social media networking. As you gain more employees, it can grow tougher to manage your own payroll. Unless you have an extensive accounting department, you don’t have to do your own payroll. Outsourcing this service will ensure you properly pay taxes and you can stop worrying about uncertain situations such as workmen’s compensation.  Finally, you may want to outsource your administrative support. Virtual assistants are a cost effective way to handle routine tasks in a business. Utilize this position for email and voicemail management, blog maintenance, invoicing, and other such tasks.

All of these are great ideas for reducing your internal workload while increasing company productivity. Surely you can think of other tasks that could be outsourced, but hopefully, this short list will get you thinking about it. No small business should have to do every job it takes to run a company without help, so take advantage of these types of resources. Make it happen!

© 2013 eMarketing 4 Business LLC

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Business Uses for Pinterest

Pinterest—is it really so unique it coined its own word? Maybe. What’s certain is there are some valuable uses small businesses can get out of Pinterest. While it’s not a necessity, it can serve as an effective marketing tool when used correctly.  If you aren’t familiar with this social media site, a user creates boards that they pin to. Pins are images associated with how-to’s and popular trends from another website or something you created yourself. You can have an unlimited number of boards for multiple subjects and you can re-pin items from anyone else’s board. It’s a method of organizing your interests, kind of like an inspiration/projects bulletin board. Now that you know what it is, try implementing these uses for a company Pinterest page.

Employee boards are great for companies that have visual representations of their work such as a salon, restaurant, or one with popular products. Each employee can have one board that they post to that will showcase their work. This not only organizes and displays some of your business’ best work but is also fun for each employee and a means of encouraging excellent performance. Consider, on the flipside, customer boards. They could post how they are using your products to inspire other customers. Similar to a blog but more visually dynamic, you could have a Pinterest board for ideas and tutorials, using your products. You can even hold contests that require the use of your products and services to create something new. (For example, an art project contest that uses a specific shade of the paint you sell).

Sharing a wide variety of content is effective here and you can link to your own work or blog as well as others in the industry. Finally, contests are a great method of interaction for customers and it also promotes your products while offering incentives for loyal customers.

Can you think of other uses for Pinterest? Try those out as well! In today’s social media connected culture, it can only help you. Make it happen.