With nearly a decade of demonstrated advertising prowess for companies of all sizes in all industries, Facebook has proven to be a serious digital marketing presence to any business that has invested some time and money.
As the digital landscape changes, however, so does Facebook. With the full rollout of its Live video tool in early 2016, Facebook gives businesses a new way to showcase themselves. By providing a fast, simple way to send a message in real time to everyone on your feed, Facebook Live shakes up marketing methodology in a positive way. But how can you “go Live” in a way that boosts your marketing?
The Basics of Live
Facebook Live is a way to stream live video. Rather than putting time and effort into a conventional video advertisement, individuals and businesses now have the chance to transmit a live feed over Facebook. Similar concepts have existed in the past, like Vine, but never before has a live video application integrated so seamlessly into a predominant social media network.
Fans are already proving the concept's worth, with Facebook studies indicating that viewers are 10 times more likely to interact with a live video than a static posting.
Why Live Works
Images or video of an event or occasion definitely carry merit as a marketing tool. But Live video takes things a step further, bringing your audience into the action – or should we say, “interaction”.
Getting an inside peek into ideas, events, and special occasions can drive interest, prompt engagement, and create a sense of loyalty. This helps you to build strong relationships with your target audience. Viewers spend three times longer watching Live videos than standard Facebook videos, providing a truly premium way to generate attention.
When Live Works
Facebook Live is most effective when you have something to actually show your audience. A tour of your office might turn a few heads, but the kick-off to a big event is far more likely to attract attention.
Take, for example, this Tough Mudder training event. The brutally intense obstacle course is popular nationwide, and a live video from Coach T. Mud really drives home the energy and spirit Tough Mudder participants need to succeed. In addition to an inspiring fitness-centered message, the Coach also mentions the name of the event, the streaming location, and where to follow Tough Mudder online to learn more. All of this keeps social media viewers feeling like a part of the action.
Regularly scheduled streams can succeed as well, as the pros at Benefit know. With their weekly Tipsy Tricks Live stream, cosmetic stylists use results from audience polls to create curated video content to maximize viewer interest.
Elevate Your Live Performance
Small business marketing can take many forms, especially in today's digital-centered world. Keep in mind, though, there still could be merit to the old-school way of thinking in the advertising scene, most notably in the local marketing space.
While geographical keywords and local directory listings are effective, putting yourself out there in the community can be a valuable opportunity. Doing good in your city, whether a big gesture or a small one, is well worth the effort, particularly when you want to leave a lasting impression.
If you're seeking a way to combine marketing potential, philanthropy, and community involvement, few gestures mean more than sponsoring an area youth sports team. Here's how your business can win big with this simple, affordable act.
Increases Brand Awareness
Whether you've been in the area for a while or are a brand-new startup looking to make a name for yourself, the more you can do to promote your brand, the better. Sponsoring a sports team is a highly effective way to do this, putting your company right on the backs of many members of the local community. This opportunity places your company logo and name in plain sight, creating new ways for community members to draw associations with your corporate identity.
Expands Your Reach
When you want to reach a new audience, sponsoring a sports team can be great option. With an easy, effective opportunity to place your business name in front of an attentive market, your sponsorship will put all eyes on your business. Your athletes, their families, their friends, their friends' families, and even their competition will all see your name (and logo, if you have one), putting your company in the minds of those who may never have noticed otherwise. Plus, you can put your company name on the lips of dozens in the community. Best of all, once you make your initial investment, the team provides the visibility for you.
Helps the Community
When you want to make an impression in your community, it's important to show that you care about where you live and work. Every company has to start somewhere, and when you emphasize the value in where you launched your brand, those around you will be far more likely to remember you fondly. Your local area is your best bet for the start of a fan base, so the more involved you are, the more credibility you can establish in your neighborhood.
Offers Good Value
A highway billboard can be a huge investment, but a sports team usually isn't. Instead of spending thousands on posting ads around town or skipping an opportunity to advertise altogether due to budget restraints, consider a sports team. Sure, the backs of the players aren't as big as a 14-foot high and 48-foot wide billboard on the side of the highway, but it will still be plenty visible.
Better yet, sports team sponsorships generally only cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars – a much better rate than most advertising alternatives. While rates vary wildly from one league or team to another, some youth t-ball teams can be as low as $250 to $600 a year. Teen or adult leagues may be more, closer to $5,000 to $10,000. But even this amount can be a bargain over other options.
Whether you know it or not, how you act can build goodwill, influencing customers in your favor. In fact, 85% of consumers have a more favorable impression of a product when it supports a favored charity. Furthermore, 92% are more inclined to switch from one brand to another when a company supports philanthropic causes. When you do good for others, good things happen to you.
If you're on the hunt for an affordable, effective way to give back to your community, foster goodwill, and increase brand exposure, a sports team sponsorship is the perfect way to do it. By providing a minimal amount of funding to help an area team, you can take your marketing game up a notch.
Americans like telecommuting. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a government agency that reports labor-related data, 38% of workers in financial operations, business and management fields telecommuted full or part time in 2015. Plus, 35% of people in professional or related occupations did the same. With the growing popularity of the cloud and other technologies promoting remote work, an increase in these figures wouldn't be surprising.
However, telecommuting isn't for everyone. When asked how many days, out of a 20-work-day month, they would telecommute, 74% of U.S. workers said none, according to a survey by Gallup, a management consulting company. Respondents to the survey weighed the remote work pros and cons, and you should take some of the following pros and cons into consideration when determining whether to let your workers telecommute and how often.
Here are some of the costs and benefits of telecommuting:
Pro: Productivity Stays Up
Worker motivation arises as the key concern among employers. However, telecommuting can give staff more time to handle their work because they don't have to spend time on a commute. Also, they can avoid office distractions. Plus, Gallup finds 55% of Americans believe telecommuters are as productive as their in-office counterparts. And only 15% of respondents who have telecommuted felt they were less productive.
Con: Remote Workers May Feel Isolated
From office happy hours to team lunches, social events boost morale and collaboration. Telecommuters miss out on these activities and could feel less connected to their teams.
Pro: Businesses Can Save Money
Workers aren't the only ones who see cost reductions as a result of telecommuting. PGi, a collaboration software and services provider, notes U.S. businesses save $700 billion annually with just part-time telecommuting. For full-time remote workers, they pocket $10,000 per employee annually.
These savings include operational expenses like utilities and equipment. Also, your organization may take on fewer retention and hiring costs as telecommuters have an easier time with work-life balance.
Con: Morale May Decline
Joyce. E. A. Russell, vice dean and director of the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business' executive coaching and leadership development program, writes in The Washington Postthat morale concerns also apply to in-office workers. You must consider whether some staff will become less engaged if they can't work remotely but their peers can. Clear policies and guidelines around roles and tasks suited for telecommuting can help workers understand how an organization manages remote work.
Leaders must determine how the pros and cons work – or don’t – with their organizations, and then make decisions around telecommuting policies. Given the benefit's popularity, offering remote work opportunities can be a competitive edge for acquiring and retaining top talent.
Your workforce is the foundation of your business. Every business owner should know that regardless of market demand for your products or the value propositions of your services, neither will be worth much without the full support and effort of your employees. While the onus is on your employees to fulfill their job responsibilities, it’s up to you as an employer to provide a positive work environment in which they can do so.
It's vital that you make concerted efforts toward promoting employee morale. As online job board Monster points out on its blog, summer is a prominent season for worker turnover especially among seasonal hires (in sectors like retail, hospitality and dining). But in a more general sense, late spring and early summer bring pleasant weather and a sense of new beginnings, and dissatisfied workers could take that as a chance to find a new opportunity and leave your company. Let's look at some ways you can boost employee morale (and, in the process, combat burnout and turnover):
Celebrate achievements with enthusiasm
Just about everyone wants to be appreciated for their good work. But this requires more than a pat on the back or the periodic office pizza party. Entrepreneur magazine recommended employing more creative and interactive methods, such as creating awards for achievements given out in a workplace ceremony or published in a company newsletter or blog. Awards might include prizes such as gift cards or extra time off.
Promote work-life balance
As the jovial (and fictional) illustrator Stan Rizzo said in the "Mad Men" TV series finale, "There's more to life than work." To help ensure employee engagement and mitigate the likelihood of burnout, employees and employers must value the importance of a work-life balance.
Financial industry publication Forbes recommended managers and owners recognize milestones in employees' personal lives , including birthdays, children's graduations and so on. Staffers who believe their supervisors care for them as human beings and not merely as “assets’ likely will work harder and maintain a more positive approach to their tasks.
Additionally, Entrepreneur noted that company leaders should encourage outside-the-box innovation, be it work-related or not. If a worker has a project idea that goes outside their usual purview but could help the business, let him or her pursue it. Or if they play a sport or have an artistic pursuit in their spare time, encourage fellow employees to support it, whether that means cheering them on in a marathon or going to one of their band's gigs.
Plan employee events
According to Entrepreneur, your company should consider participating in community service. That’s because charitable efforts can provide a lot of good. You help an organization that does positive work in your community and, on a broader level, you motivate your employees to promote a greater good. Whether it's a regional chapter of the American Cancer Society or a children's writing and tutoring program, your community is bound to have a nonprofit worth assisting.
Finally, don't forget to have fun, too. Whether your workers want to compete at bowling, go paintballing or simply have a ballroom-style party, the possibilities are endless.
The dangers of spending too much time sitting down are well documented, with articles in publications like U.S. News and World Report pointing out the problem. Many office-based workers acknowledge these hazards. But, as an employee, what can you do about them?
Should you use alternative furniture to alleviate the problems of traditional seating. Should you not sit at all? Should you take midday breaks to get some exercise? Or maybe you can eschew the usual meeting process for something that requires more physical exertion. Let’s review the pros and cons of these strategies so you can more easily pick what's best for your office environment.
Standing desks: Help or hindrance?
Several studies have shown the considerable benefits of desks with adjustable platforms that allow users to stand or sit while working. One, published by the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, found workers decreased their sitting time at work by 21% and sedentary time by 4.8 minutes per work-hour, when using them. A 2015 piece by U.S. News & World Report stated that one manufacturer of stand-up desks doubled its sales in one year.
Stand-up desks aren't a cure-all. That same U.S. News piece noted that if workers stand all day, they could hurt their lower backs. Additionally, if users of standing desks don't move and stretch their bodies from time to time while standing, they’re still at risk.
According to Huffington Post, standing desks are best used if workers acclimate to them slowly. Placing a mat underneath one's feet and ensuring the computer screen remains 15 to 30 inches from the face is also beneficial.
What about ball chairs?
Rubber exercise balls are also being seen in offices throughout the world as alternatives to desk chairs. The idea is that sitting on the ball requires extra muscle usage and thus prevents the user from excessive sitting while improving one's overall posture.
However, The New York Times's wellness blog, Ask Well, questions that assertion. While employees certainly burn more calories than they would in a usual chair, the news outlet noted that exercise balls don't actually help posture and can actually lead to back pain.
Walking & talking
The "walk-and-talk" is best known in popular culture due to Aaron Sorkin's political TV drama "The West Wing." But according to Harvard Business Review, walking is more conducive to effective thinking and creativity than sitting. As such, walk-and-talk meetings could help your employees. The publication recommended that walking meetings be held outside, if possible, so productivity is maintained and potentially improved while leaving the office setting.
Small business owners have found a powerful tool in social media, as they can now start and sustain conversations with current and prospective clientele easier and for less money. However, entrepreneurs need to ensure their social media activities are focused on driving customer engagement.
Let's take a look at some of the basic social media best practices shared among all platforms.
Timing and delivery
Inc. Magazine, an industry publication, suggests small business owners focus their efforts on being consistent. Rather than being highly active two days of the week and staying silent the rest of the time, companies need to take a daily approach to social media. Entrepreneurs will also want to be particularly active in their local environments rather than trying to reach customers located far away, the website explained.
According to the news provider, replies to posts from customers should be replied to swiftly. This is a critical point - not responding in a timely fashion, or simply ignoring a comment, can be extremely detrimental to a brand's image. This is especially true when customers post something negative, as small business owners need to ensure that they are addressing complaints on social media.
Inc. Magazine also noted that each social media platform should be filled with highly personalized content and interactive posts. Social postings should always be tailored to the unique preferences and behaviors of the businesses target market, rather than trying to be too inclusive. As for interactive posts, the website recommends using tools such as polls to get conversations started, and potentially hosting question and answer sessions with followers regularly.
Analysis and improvement
Small Business Trends, a website devoted to entrepreneurial tips and news, affirms that analytics should be used from the start of any social media campaign. According to the site, entrepreneurs should focus on understanding their key demographics, which types of posts are yielding valuable traffic and conversations, and how social-based referrals are impacting the bottom line. All of this data is relatively easy to acquire and analyze as each social media platform has a built in analytics tool which should be used to guide all campaigns going forward.
Do not hesitate to harness the power of social media - get moving today!
More Americans than ever before work from home due to the rising digital era of commerce and business.
Last summer, Gallup, a research and polling organization, reported the rate of U.S. telecommuters increased significantly between 2014 and 2015 to reach 37 percent of the workforce. A rapidly growing portion of the workforce works entirely from home whether they are self-employed or part of a company's staff.
If you work from home, there are tax and insurance implications that you must know to cover yourself.
GlobalWorkplaceAnalytics.com, a consultancy firm, points out that compared to 2005, 103 percent more employed workers primarily worked at home in 2014. Additionally, the company states 2.8 percent of the total American workforce, or roughly 3.7 million professionals, do so at least half of the time. Of course, self-employed individuals are the most common group that telecommutes. This means that a growing number of individuals need to understand how to handle the tax and insurance matters involved.
Kelly Phillips Erb, a tax law specialist in Pennsylvania, published an article in GPSolo magazine, a publication of the American Bar Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting attorneys, regarding the potential need for increased insurance coverage beyond your homeowners insurance when operating out of a home office. A home office requires increasing business equipment coverage through a rider, and liability coverage is necessary in case any employees get hurt on the premises. Speak to your independent agent to ensure you have the right coverage. In that same vein, if businesses begin to allow their employees to operate from a home office, they must also understand the liability insurance implications of such a move.
Phillips Erb noted you will also want to understand any and all zoning laws that might potentially make your home office illegal. Commercial and residential zoning tend to be fairly distinct and segregated, so research the rules for your home proactively. In terms of tax implications, make sure you take advantage of the Internal Revenue Service's home office deduction by reviewing the page dedicated to explaining eligibility requirements.
If you run your business from your home office or have employee staff members who function remotely, make sure you focus on sustained productivity, which can be difficult, especially when first leaving the office. Monitoring and communication will be the most important matters when managing individuals in remote offices, and your own productivity should be kept in check when you start operating from home.
Social media has become one of the most important tools of all when it comes to building and maintaining customer relationships. Business owners need to have a strategy in place to manage activities on social networks. Social media management platforms can help drive success on social sites. Let’s look at key considerations to keep in mind before implementing such tools.
Should you use one?
This is a relatively easy question to answer, but one that is nonetheless important. If you only have a presence on one site, purchasing the software is likely unnecessary, as each social media website has its own unique management tools included with the account.
If you have more than one social media account – you’re on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, for instance –definitely consider using a management platform. When you have several, it can be difficult to manage and coordinate campaigns without one of these platforms.
Which platforms are most popular?
If you decide to leverage a social media management platform, consider one of the following options, which have the most users:
Social Media Today, an online publication devoted to social media news, lists several core advantages of leveraging a social media management tool, including the benefit of more-efficient and accurate handling of customer engagement across accounts. The site notes 42% of consumers now demand a response within 60 minutes of interacting with a company through social media. This would be nearly impossible without a management tool.
What's more, if you have several people assigned to managing social media accounts, one of these platforms can help to keep everyone on the same page, Social Media Today notes. The website explains that these platforms offer a means to gather business intelligence, and it’s the intelligence component that is certainly an important benefit. A management tool will provide deeper insights into posts, conversations, interactions and other activity.
With social media gaining in importance, the time is now to consider adopting one of these management platforms.
Workers' compensation is one of the more costly issues businesses in the United States face today. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a government entity devoted to workplace wellness, reports that employers spend roughly $1 billion each week nationally on injuries and compensation. That totals up to a significant amount: $52 billion annually.
Here are four ways your business can proactively prevent workplace injuries:
1. Alleviating bodily strain
The American Industrial Hygiene Association, a nonprofit organization committed to education and support of hygienists, suggests focusing on the most common injuries ─back problems, eye strain, joint pain and neck stiffness ─through more ergonomically correct workplace management. This might include spending more on ergonomic chairs, ensuring that all employees are comfortable at their desks, and adjusting light levels in the office and of computers to be softer on eyes.
2. Boost knowledge, awareness
The Insurance Information Institute, a nonprofit insurance research organization, recommends that companies enhance their workplace safety training regimens to better prevent injuries. Knowledge and awareness are two of the greatest weapons against workplace injuries that lead to compensation claims. Make sure your training carefully aligns with the specific risks and threats your staff faces on the job.
3. Use the 'ABC' method
The Minnesota Department of Health, the state's medical governance agency, argues the 'ABC' method can be highly effective in preventing workplace injuries, with that acronym standing for 'Administration,' 'Building Barriers,' and 'Communication.' Essentially, the entity states that leaders must take an intelligent and administrative approach to injury prevention. This can be done by implementing tangible controls that lower risks and constantly communicating with staff to see how the programs are playing out in practice.
4. Launch an employee wellness program
The Society for Human Resource Management, a professional organization for human resources professionals, notes that wellness programs have been used to not only reduce the cost of health care and rate of absence among workers, but also to cut down on injuries and disability payments. Wellness programs are among the most affordable, engaging and consistently effective approaches to improving worker health and preventing serious, costly injuries and illnesses.
Find a strategy that works best for your company’s needs and objectives. And make sure you communicate with managers and workers to ensure your injury prevention strategies are well-received.