Pros and Cons of Offering Customer Support via Social Media

Pros and Cons of Offering Customer Support via Social Media

Today, customers expect service from multiple locations in multiple ways. Providing customer service via social media really is no longer a choice. If you have social media accounts for your business, you have no choice but to also answer questions, deal with issues, and do “customer service” communication on the platforms where you exist. Otherwise your customers will get frustrated with you for not answering their questions.

There are both advantages and disadvantages with offering customer support via social media, of course, and these are detailed below.

1. Pros

There are a number of positives about performing customer service on your social media accounts that you should know about. These pros really do overcome the negatives.

Your Business Will Grow

Today consumers want to talk to you on social media because that’s where they are. They use social media more than the telephone to deal with everything. When you are good at answering and responding on social media, it will make your business grow. As consumers see – in a very public way – how you deal with issues, they’ll be that much more likely to want to purchase from you.

Your Brand Will Expand

One of the reasons you even start a social media channel is to get brand recognition. The better you are at updating and sharing with your audience, the more you can expand your brand. Dealing with customer service on social media causes content to be produced that offers even more information for the consumer before they choose to be part of your client roster.

Social Media Is Inexpensive

This is the very best thing about using social media. In most cases it’s basically free to start, other than perhaps some social media monitoring tools that you might want to use like Buffer or Hootsuite. In any case, the cost is very low compared to traditional customer service means such as a call center.

2. Cons

Of course, nothing is perfect. There are pros and cons for everything you do for your business. Thankfully all of these cons can be controlled by having a process and a system for ensuring that you are able to answer questions in a way that doesn’t look bad for your brand.

Your Actions Live Forever

Online, as you know, your actions really do last forever. Even if you delete something, there are ways to find it. People also take screen shots and use them against people. So, create a system, have standardized responses, and rules of the road for any person dealing with the public.

You May Miss Some Issues

Social media is not very linear. It can be very hard to be sure every last question was answered and every situation was dealt with. Again, if you create systems and standards, you will be a lot better off and be less likely to miss as many issues.

Too Many Channels May Cause Confusion

When you have many social media accounts, someone may ask the same question in multiple places – which can make you feel as if you’re always answering the same questions. You’ll have to work out a process to deal with this and keep track. But, it is something you can control as long as the process is in place.

As you see, with these pros and cons, you can clearly count on the fact that you will need to do some customer service on social media if you have social media accounts. Therefore, you need to set up some sort of process and system to make it work for your business.

Tips for Successful Business Networking

Tips for Successful Business Networking

Choose a Networking Group That Works for You

One of the most important ways to get ahead in the world is to make connections with other people. These connections can lead to opportunities and joyful situations for everyone. You might meet someone who can help you boost your business to the next level, or if you’re not married you might meet your future spouse. Here are some tips on how to choose a networking group that's right for you.

Ask Your Contacts

You already have contacts that you work with on a regular basis such as vendors, contractors and colleagues. Simply ask them if they’re part of any formal networking or mastermind groups that you can check out. Be sure to ask them what types of people are in the group, and what the goals of the group are.

Know Your Reason for Joining

Before you join any group, it’s important to figure out why you want to join a networking group. For example, do you want to find customers or do you want to find partners?

goal Set Goals

When you find a group to join, set some goals. For example, if you want to get new customers you’ll need to ensure that you talk to people who can become customers. Get them on your lists, and market to them via the list. What goals do you need to set to accomplish that?

Do Your Research

Check out the leaders of the group, what the group stands for, and as much as you can about the membership. The members are very important but so is the leadership, so leave no stone unturned.

Find out the Goals of the Group

Each networking group usually has a goal of some kind. Sometimes the goal of the group makes it impossible for you to make a name for yourself, because they don’t allow members to network freely.

Know the Costs and Fees

Many networking groups are free, but others have a cost to join. They may have membership fees up front, and then of course you may need to pay for other expenses such as travel, food, and so forth in order to fully participate in the networking group.

Try Out Some Events

When you’ve done enough research to feel that the networking group is a good one, try out some events. You might have to buy a membership in some cases in order to go to an event, but it will be worth it if you’ve done your research.

Ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask members and leaders questions about the networking group so that you can be sure it’s the right one for you. Ask members how long they’ve been part of the group. Try to identify the movers and shakers in the group, because you want to become one.

Participate Once You Join

The biggest factor once you’ve picked a networking group or two to join is that you need to participate in the group. Volunteer, host, talk to people, and do all you can to make yourself known within the group.

Networking is a very powerful way to make your world bigger and better. You can meet all sorts of people that will help you and that you can help on your journey in business and life. But, first you must choose the right group for your needs. You might even need more than one group based on your goals.

How Often Should You Attend Networking Events?

Networking events are wonderful ways to learn more about your industry, get to know movers and shakers, and even become a mover and a shaker. There are many reasons to attend networking events that you should consider. But, if any one event doesn’t fulfill at least a couple of these factors, then there is no need to go. Attend as many events as you can afford and that you’ve researched, to fulfill at least a couple of these reasons to attend.

To Increase Visibility

The more events you can afford to attend, the more visible you and your business will become. Visibility helps your business because the more known you are, the more people trust you.

To Be the Expert

As someone who is going to a lot of events, you can be the expert for your niche at the event. Answer questions, be open, honest and transparent, and people will start to see you as the “go to” person for that niche.

To Build Relationships

Knowing people online is great, but meeting them in real life is even better. Getting to really talk to someone in person, see their face, shake their hand or hug their neck builds relationships beyond what you may have thought a business relationship would become.

statistics-1020319_640To Stay on Trend

In-person events are usually a lot more up to date on the trends than other types of events. You’re going to learn so much about what’s happening right now, what’s in the news, what’s hot right now and more.

To Connect with Key Influencers

Most key influencers attend a lot of live events. They do it because it keeps them a key influencer. You can’t be a key influencer and remain unknown or anonymous. You must meet people in person and meet them a lot.

To Learn from Others

Most networking events offer some form of learning opportunity. If you open your mind and listen to everything anyone says, as well as the speeches given, you’re going to learn so much from others about your business.

partnersTo Find Partners

One really great way to find joint venture partners is at networking events. Most of the time a person who will spend money going to a networking event isn’t a scammer, is likely pretty honest, and could even be a potential serious partner for your serious business.

To Improve Your Marketing Message

When you go to a networking event you’re forced to work on your “elevator pitch,” know your value proposition, and talk about your business. Talking it out helps you make your message even better.

Attending networking events is a really great way to build your business, learn more about your business, and make the right connections. If the events you’re choosing from fulfill some of the reasons to attend and it’s within your budget to attend, you should do it.

 

Top Internet Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

Top Internet Marketing Do’s and Don’ts

Do: Diversify Your Business Offers

If you’ve been in business a while, you may have reached the top of your growth curve unless you find a way to diversify your offerings. If you want to keep growing, you’ll need to find a way to offer more to current customers or offer more to a new audience. There are various ways to diversify your business offers that make sense.

Fill in the Gaps When you organize your products in order from entry level to highest cost products, can you identify any gaps in your offerings? For example, your income stream might look like this: website/blog, affiliate products, your own products, and courses and training. You could then add in coaching and memberships to the mix successfully.

open other locationsOpen Other Locations

If you have a business focused on one location (whether digital or brick and mortar) and it’s profitable, figure out if your business is duplicable. For example if you’ve written one book, why wouldn’t another book do as well? If you have one store in the north side of town, can you open another in the south side?

Teach Others to Do What You Do

If you’ve made a good business for yourself and it’s something other people can do, you can create a course to teach others how to do it. You can then even help them set up the entire business.

Create a Joint Venture

Working with someone who sells complementary products or services can help you get new ideas for more products. Breathing new life into your business with a new person involved can help you become more creative.

Sell Complementary Products/Services

For example, if you sell a course to build WordPress websites, you can offer a done-for-you opportunity to that same audience. They may then decide, even upon learning how to do it, that they’d rather pay someone.

Write a Book

A really great way to offer a new product or service is to write a book. Once your book is published you can use the book as the start of a course, speaking circuit, how to and more.

speakingJoin the Speaking Circuit

A great way to diversify is to create a speech or talk and join the speaking circuit. When you start speaking to audiences you’ll find new offerings start coming to your mind, as you try to give the audience what they need and want.

Expand Your Target Market

Another way to diversify is to find another target market. For example, if you have training for moms to learn to work from home, you could rebrand the same training with a few tweaks for almost anyone if you take out the mom part. For example, you could rebrand it as ways for retirees to work from home.

When you think about your offerings today, you should be able to organize them in a way that makes it easy to figure out where you have gaps and where you can expand and do more. You’ll increase your profit and grow your business smart if you give this a lot of thought and research.

Don't: Leave Your Email Signature Blank

A good email signature is about as important as a good business card. After all, many times the first information anyone gets from you is an email. Providing the additional information in your signature will help you solidify connections, build new connections, and help move people to your social media and even get them on your various mailing lists if they’re not already.

It’s important to take time to make a professional-looking email signature instead of leaving it blank or maybe worse, incomplete or unattractive. Today, there is a lot of good software available to help you make attractive email signatures that will be more noticeable to recipients.

A good business signature on your emails should consist of:

  • email signatureYour name – The name you’re known as online.
  • Your business name – Your main business name.
  • Your slogan or catch phrase – It’ll help them know what you do.
  • Social media links – The ones that are relevant to the audience.
  • Your website link – Your main website link.
  • Your phone numbers – This is optional and only necessary if people need to be able to call you.
  • Your address – In email marketing you’re required to include a business address.

A bio link

A great way to extend the signature is to include a link to your online biography.

A map (when relevant)

If you have a local business, a link to a map to show where you’re located can help.

Your email address

A link to your email address; even though the email comes from your email address this is helpful.

A vCard (optional)

This is an electronic file you send along with the email that people can download into their contacts info. There are cases that attachments aren’t a good idea; you be the judge.

An offer

This is a little extra optional boost to your business. You could include a link to your calendar to request an appointment instead.

In addition, you want it to look really good. You want your branding to appear in the signature space. Today, this is simple to do using HTML. There are software programs that will help you create a signature. You can use HTML to manually create it, plus you can use online services like Xink.

When you include this information on each email, it will give recipients of that information a chance to connect with you in other places. Plus, the offer is a great way to bring private email recipients into your email list, social media networks and more.

It’s super-important to include an email signature because it’s part of your business identity, and email is one of the most important aspects of your online business marketing endeavors. Unfortunately, so many people think the email signature isn’t necessary and seems to have low value. This is just not true because email is the main way that we communicate today in business, with few exceptions.

Think of it this way – if someone reads your email, the little added extra way that you can stand out is at the bottom, which is your email signature. This is a reminder of who the email is from and gives a little extra information about you and your business that can help your readers trust you even more.

Do: Watch Your Virtual Body Language

You’ve likely heard the jokes about miscommunication via online methods – whether it’s email, social media messages or chatting online. The reason is that text communication is missing the verbal body language cues that in-person communication affords.

Interactive technology can often be deficient in allowing communication to occur without misunderstandings. But, you can end those problems by understanding what your virtual body language is telling your customers, and learn how to fix it when needed.

emojisProper Use of Emojis

Today, even if it feels silly at first, it’s important to use smiley faces, frowns and so forth to help you get your point across. People tend to read tone into messages without knowing the tone that you really meant. If you’re sure how you’re coming across to your audience, conduct a survey and ask them, or ask trusted friends to read over a few of your messages to see what they think.

Your Profile Image

Does your profile image or other images of you represent the type of personality you want people to see in you? If you’re not showing your face, or have dark pictures, people will see your personality differently than if you have images that show your smiling face and your eyes.

Using the Right Terms

One way to expand your virtual body language is to use the right words. You may need to use more flowery language than you would in person to help draw a picture of your words in the minds of the reader. This can help tell your story in a better way so that there is no room for misinterpretation.

Add Video

videoNow that the technology is nearly ubiquitous, it’s time to bring video into your communication with your audience. This is going to help them look into your eyes, see your expresses and learn more about you. However, remember that even with video there still are missing components to the communication puzzle that you would have in person.

Go Live and In Person

The fact is, nothing can change the fact that full communication can really only happen in person. If you really want to take your online persona to the next level, take it offline. Start going to and participating in live in-person events and your fans will start understanding you better than ever before – even when you’re back online.

Accept the Differences

Remember that online communication via technology does suffer from lack of information, whether unconsciously or consciously received. This applies to video, simulated in games with avatars, text such as with chat and email, or even over the phone.

Most of us are very dependent on the myriad of social signals that are communicated mostly unconsciously to each other in person. We try to take that online and often are abject failures at it because we want it to be the same. But, it’s not the same, so we need to go further and try harder to be expressive in a way that gets our point across and lets our clients know who we really are.

Creating a Memorable Virtual Handshake

Creating a Memorable Virtual Handshake

Creating an amazing digital relationship takes a lot of time and effort. You’ll need to pay attention to all your profiles, who and how you engage with people online, and show people who you are by the information you share with others. There are a lot of ways to do all this, but these are special ways to make sure your audience remembers you. After all, it’s really about building relationships.

A really memorable virtual handshake is more of a journey you take people on through time than a one-time thing. Online it’s imperative that you do all of these things if you really want to be successful.

Be Transparent

It’s important that you don’t hide things and you’re very transparent about who you are, what you do and what you’ve done. Plus, you want to have a digital trail following you that shows the proof of everything.

quality-1714288_640Be Yourself

No one can be someone else for long without their real personality slipping out. Never try to be someone you’re not. If you like to work all night and sleep all day, be that person; don’t fake it. People will love you for you.

Show Competence

When you say you can do something, do it. When you say you will do something, do it. Also, you want to do it very well when you said you could. You want to be above reproach and criticism.

Be Relevant

Always remember to stay relevant within your niche and within your audience. You don’t want to do something in one area differently than you do it in this area. For example, if you have a reputation of being a mom who works in her jammies, don’t use pictures of you in a three piece suit if it’s not relevant.

Maintain Long-term Relationships

When you can keep relationships going for the long term, it brings a lot of legitimacy to your brand. People will trust you more when you’re surrounded with other known and trustworthy people.

Network Strategically

The fact is that your network’s strength is directly related to how successful you will become in your business. If you have developed strong relationships with others, you’ll see the benefits in your business.

contactsDiversify Contacts

Try to increase your circle of connections so that you know people in all fields and areas. That way, when you need an expert for something you can find them. Knowing a lot of experts can make you a go-to person.

Over Deliver

Always give more than your audience is expecting. When you do that, they will never forget you. Whether it’s an extra Facebook Live event, a short mini-course, or something else entirely that you can add-on to your offerings, ensure that you wow them every time.

It’s very important to remember that everything you do online can be tracked and traced. If your actions aren’t backed up by evidence, it’s going to be difficult to make a real impact online because everything on the internet lasts forever and follows you forever.

Is Business Not Profiting Like It Should? Check These Things Now

Is Business Not Profiting Like It Should? Check These Things Now

As a business owner, you sometimes discover that even though you think you’re doing everything you should, you’re just not making the kind of profit you thought you would. This is not that uncommon and there are things you can check to improve your profit with just a few tweaks.

Know Your Gross Profit Margin

businessThe first thing you should always know at the drop of a hat is what your basic gross profit margin is and then how that compares to the industry average. The formula to figure out your profit margin is calculated as follows:

Profit Margin = Net Income / Net Sales.

Once you figure that out, you can check it with industry standards.

Dig Deeper and Review All Your Prices

It’s also important to look at the prices of your products or services together and individually. Look at whether you’re making a profit off every single product or service you offer. If the profit is lower on certain items than others, or even at a loss, note that so that you can fix this problem later.

Increase Your Prices

pricingIt’s very important as a small business owner that you learn that you should not compete on price. It’s also important that you stop offering discounts without a strategic means to increase profit. For example, it’s okay to offer two or three price points with different value points, but don’t just blindly give someone a discount without a plan.

Analyze Your Expenses

Sometimes expenses can get out of control in any type of business. Take a look at each expense and determine whether or not you really need it. For example, are you paying for a project management solution but you’re not using it? Even five or ten dollars can add up over time and really cut into profits.

Test Your Advertising and Marketing

Often, the biggest problem with profits is poor (or lack of) advertising and marketing. Remember that advertising is paid, such as running a Facebook advertisement; marketing is something you do organically, such as content marketing.

Push Sales Harder

Once you realize what’s going wrong, you can push sales harder by making better sales pages, running more advertisements, focusing on content marketing more and so forth. If you’re not asking for the sale, you’re not going to get the sale.

web designRedesign Your Website

If it’s been a while since you looked at your website objectively, you may want to check it out. Sometimes changing just one thing such as a drop-down menu or pop-under or slide can make a huge difference in sales.

Rein in Time Suckers

This is something that can get in the way of profits for many types of businesses. Likely online service-based businesses more than others, but if you’re spending a lot of time on social media without a plan, you are eating into your profits. Set a time limit and only use social media when you’re done with your paid work.

If your business isn’t profiting as it should, even though you have good sales and are working hard, checking these things and tweaking them can make a big difference. It will just take a little extra effort to ensure that everything is working well together.

Test Your Next Business Idea Before You Waste a Lot of Time

In order to test a business idea so that you don’t waste money and time bringing something no one wants to market, you need to make sure that there are enough people who will buy it, and then you’ll need to make sure they’ll buy it from you. Fortunately, you can do the research on your idea without spending much time or money.

Look At Your Competition

If someone else is highly successful selling what you want to sell, you can also be successful. Take a look at all their offerings, how they offer it, and start following their audience too.

Start Building an Email List

Don’t wait on building an email list. You can build it via surveys, offering a wait list, giving away a freebie, and other means. Don’t be afraid to collect information while you’re deciding.

Check Out Google Trends

With Google Trends you can look up almost anything to find out what the interest is online. If you want to sell vegan vitamin B12 supplements, for example, you can find out how popular they are.

Find Out Market Size

You can validate demand by learning what the market size is. What’s cool is you can use Facebook’s advertising platform to learn more about your audience, including how many of them exist. For example, you can find out if there are enough 28-year-old moms of twins that need your product.

Develop a Landing Page

Even if you don’t have anything to sell yet, you can create a website and landing page that collects information and email addresses on people who are interested in that type of product anyway. Just give away a free information sheet or checklist or something like that to get people thinking about the product.

for saleList It For Sale

Even if you don’t have the product yet, you can test market desire by listing it for sale without a way to pay. You can do this via listing sites like Craigslist, or you can do it via your landing page. Put them on a waiting list for the product, and you’ll have immediate sales if you decide to go forward.

Ask People to Pay in Advance

If you can get enough orders before you even have the product to justify starting the business, then why not? People use this idea very successfully when they use crowdfunding, or pre-orders for books and other merchandise. Don’t spend any money, because if you don’t move forward you’ll have to refund.

Focus on Solutions Not Problems

When you can come up with an idea that is something people already want, you usually can be sure that you have a winner. But, there is more to it than that, such as ensuring enough people want it to support your business, and whether or not you have the skills to see it through.

Doing this research in advance is imperative if you want to be successful in business. Taking any product or service to market before you have done your research is a waste of time and money. Be sure that someone wants it and that you can deliver it before you get too excited, and you’ll be glad you did.

How to Prepare Your Business for Future Growth

Believe it or not, growing a business takes more thought than just making more sales. You could end up in a bad situation where you’re making more sales than your business can support. It can cause a serious problem with trust from the consumer, and can actually totally ruin your entire business. Better to be ready for future growth.

Create Standard Operating Procedures

Every single business from a fast food restaurant to a service provider can improve their business by creating standard operating procedures. When you have procedures in place that are repeatable, you’ll experience smoother growing pains and even encourage growth.

Save Money for Higher Expenses

When your business grows, expenses go up. Whether it’s marketing and advertising, materials, costs for contractors and so forth, you’ll spend a little more on expenses. But, if you’re ready for the higher costs (which can sometimes kick in prior to experiencing the revenue), it’ll go smoother.

Set Up the Right Software

There are numerous types of cloud-based software that you’re going to need in your business. Whether it’s shopping cart software or a website, you need to ensure that what you’ve chosen is scalable. You don’t want to pay for more than you use, and you want to make sure it scales easily.

Use Automation Carefully

Today you can automate so much, from social media to even accounting. But, it’s important to choose which things should be automated and which should not. Generally anything to do with engagement should not be automated, and anything that keeps you from having to do data entry should be.

Put an Accounting System in Place

If you’re currently doing your accounting by hand and you want to grow, it’s going to be best to create an accounting system that is automated and done by a professional. You can do this with many programs, from Go Daddy Bookkeeping to QuickBooks to Quicken.

Identify Holes in Skills

Sometimes when you want to expand there is a problem when it comes to skills. For example, if you have a service-based business such as a website building business, you’re going to have to hire people like yourself in order to scale up.

social mediaImprove Social Media Accounts

As you seek growth, focus more on your social media accounts. Upgrade them, ensure there is a branding match across networks, and then hire someone to keep your accounts up to date and create a social media marketing strategy.

Make Contact with Appropriate Contractors

You’re going to have to hire contractors or employees as you ramp up your business and plan for future growth. It depends on the type of business you have, but if you make contact now and get to know people now, you’ll be ready.

If you’re not ready for growth, you can actually end up losing your business. The reason is that you could end up making promises you can’t keep, or having to turn away people due to lack of supply. This can be really hard to take. But, if you prepare in advance you’ll be ready for future business growth.

Persuasive Writing Techniques You Should Use

Persuasive Writing Techniques You Should Use

One of the most important skills you can learn when trying to improve your copywriting is the art of persuasion. Using persuasion with words is a skill that you can learn if you understand how to do it. Let’s go over some common persuasive writing techniques used by the pros.

  • Ask Rhetorical Questions

    This is a question that you know no one is really going to answer and doesn’t need an answer to get results. Instead, the question is designed to make the reader think about something important. “Do You Want To Triple Your Conversions?” No answer needed; of course you do, and here’s how.

  • Use Repetition

    You don’t have to go all infomercial on your audience, but repetition does help get a thought or idea into their minds. That’s why TV infomercials use the technique; it works. It might be irritating to some of you but it gets results. Using repetition in copywriting doesn’t have to be as caustic. For example, you can use repetition in placement of the buy button, offering several calls to action on one sales page.

  • Add Emotion to Your Words

    Use words that elicit feeling from your audience. You may want them to feel happy, sad, excited and even guilty. Using the words that bring out the emotion you want them to feel can help lead your audience down the path you want them to go. You can draw emotions by telling a story, providing case studies, and examples.

  • Provide a Little Hyperbole

    In advertising it’s legal to “blow smoke” a little bit. Don’t lie, but do exaggerate a bit in order to get your point across. Overstating that your solution is “the best” and “most in-depth” is not a lie, but of course you don’t really know if it’s true or not because you’ve not seen every possible solution.

  • Give Some Stats and Facts

    infographics_10076149-1115-allint-1_LBacking up your points with facts is an important way to get the audience on your side. People like statistics and facts used to back up your points because it helps build trust in your words. Find a way to tone down the stats by making them seem human, using examples that involve a story.

  • Describe It in Triplicate

    This is not about repetition; this is about using three descriptive words (adjectives) to accentuate your points. For example: “These simple, juicy, and flavorful chicken recipes will become family favorites.”

  • Be Personal

    Perhaps your English teacher said not to use personal pronouns in writing, but in copywriting you should definitely use personal pronouns. It’s about your audience, not you, so use “you” a lot in your copywriting. But, if you want to relate to the reader, you can also use “we” and “our” to draw them onto your side.

  • Acquire Alliteration Abilities

    Technically, this isn’t alliteration since normally you are supposed to use consonants and not vowels repetitively to make them sound out. A great example is the store “Bed Bath & Beyond.”

Don’t use every single technique in each page of copy or headline, but do pick out one or two to use in order to create content such as sales pages, advertising copy, and more that converts.