A Small Biz Blog Posts

call to actionYou’ve put all this time into crafting the perfect article or blog post. You’ve got a great headline, your SEO is spot-on, and you’ve nailed every point of your outline with, let’s face it, a certain linguistic genius. Your reader is enthralled, breathlessly gliding through paragraphs, and then… the article just ends. Full stop. The reader scrolls, scrolls, but that’s it. Disappointed, the reader heads off to see what kind of kitten pix are trending.

You have just committed blogging malpractice.

Don’t be that writer who leaves a reader hanging at the end. Instead, keep the conversation going with what are known as calls to action. In days of old, these usually were something like sending in a card (postage paid!) for a free trial subscription. You have a number of more interesting options in the Internet age for keeping readers engaged after they finish your article. But first, a couple of brief notes on…

Blogging Social Media

If you’re looking for the perfect gift for that small business owner in your life, 2017 delivered a wealth of great business books to choose from. The following Best of the Best list is a synthesis of best book lists from a variety of sites, including Forbes, Business Insider, CNBC, Inc., Financial Times, and others.

To get Amazon pricing and other information for each of these business books, click on the image or link associated with it.

1. Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change by Ellen Pao

In 2015, Ellen K. Pao sued a powerhouse Silicon Valley venture capital firm, calling out workplace discrimination and retaliation against women and other underrepresented groups. Her suit rocked the tech world—and exposed its toxic culture and its homogeneity. Her message overcame negative PR attacks that took aim at her professional conduct and her personal life, and she won widespread public support—Time hailed her as “the face of change.” Though Pao lost her suit, she revolutionized the conversation at tech offices, in the media, and around the world. In Reset, she tells her full story for the first time.

Books

If it seems like you’ve been seeing a lot more video on the social media platforms that you use, you have. Use of video is exploding across social media, with over eight billion videos (100 million hours of video) being watched every day on Facebook alone. Experts predict that number will continue to soar and that video will make up more than 80% of all consumer Internet traffic by the year 2020.

With this increase in video use comes an associated increase in the number of apps designed to help you more easily create and promote videos over your social media accounts. The following nine apps are all getting a sizeable amount of buzz in this area. If you’re looking for an easier way to make and manage videos for social media, give one or more of these a try. Many of these offer limited free versions or free trials, as well as well-stocked tutorial/example sections to help you get started.

Animato

Animoto is one of the easiest tools out there for creating and sharing videos related to business, photography, and family. For use with iPads, iOS, and Android, you can use Animoto to quickly set the tone for your video by utilizing their styles, adding one of 500+ background songs, as well as adding your own photos, video clips, and text.

Animoto offers three annual pricing tiers starting at $8/month for a personal account, or you can expect to pay double that if you want to instead pay month to month. There is also a 14-day trial available so you can check it out for free.

Blogging Social Media

vpn securityIt used to be that you could close your business at the end of the day, lock up, and go home secure in the knowledge that it was safe. The world, as they say, has changed. You’ll still lock your door, but these days much of business is data and digital driven, and with that comes a variety of security concerns. To fully protect your business, you’ll need to secure your digital door as well as your physical one, and that’s where a virtual private network, or VPN, comes in.

What is a VPN?

VPNs are an inexpensive yet powerful way to secure all aspects of your digital footprint. They can shield you from a wide variety of external threats to things such as email messages, company files, apps like Dropbox, passwords, and even the ravages of ransomware. VPNs not only protect the physical computers within the business itself, but also any external interactions with the system (such as when employees work remotely, or check email on public Wi-Fi). Virtual private networks really have become an indispensable tool which every business should be using.

How Does a VPN Work?

VPNs are all about safeguarding your data, but how do they do this? On their most basic level, VPNs assign you another IP address based on their servers, meaning that your location is masked when you are online. They encrypt data being sent through the servers, which makes it nearly impossible for people to spy on your emails, etc. With a VPN, your employees and clients can also get around geo-restrictions. For example, many countries have systems in place that block programs such as Google Mail, Skype, social media, and other apps and websites. With a VPN, you can bypass these restrictions.

Security

Wheel of Fortune organic reach meme
Improve your organic reach.

If you’ve tended a Facebook business page for any length of time, it’s a fact that you’re probably quite aware of: organic reach on Facebook, to be blunt, sucks, and has been doing so for a while now. There are a number of things you can do to try and turn this around, but first  (for the uninitiated):

What The Heck Is Organic Reach?

Organic reach is defined as the number of users who see your content when they check out their newsfeed or your page. Think of organic reach as non-paid exposure, as opposed to paid reach, such as with advertising. It used to be that when people liked your page, a significant percentage of them, via their newsfeed, would see much of what you posted. This free exposure has been getting more and more scarce for a number of reasons (*cough* Facebook makes money off ads *cough*), to the point where it may seem that the only way to get exposure for your posts these days is to throw money at the problem in the form of post boosts (we’ll take a look at Facebook advertising in a future post).

So The Only Solution Is To Buy Ads?

Not at all. There are actually a great many things you can do to increase your posts’ reach without spending a dime, such as:

Social Media

Instagram logoAt a glance:

-fast-growing social platform

-70% of users are women between the ages of 18 and 35

-photo-sharing app for use on iPhones, some Samsung and Android devices

-more of a brand-building than a marketing platform

 

Launched in 2010, Instagram was bought by Facebook and currently has 700 million active users a month (April, 2017). It is also growing fast. That 700 million is double what it was two years ago, with most of the users being female between the ages of 18 and 35. The majority of users also check their Instagram app at least once a day (59%).

Social Media

At a glance:

-80% of Pinterest users are women 25-45

-very much a visual platform… think lots of photos

-businesses that do best here are in the food, travel, DIY/home décor and fashion industries

-Pinterest buy buttons help to get conversions

Pinterest is the first platform on our list that is very specifically a visual platform (more on this in a moment). It’s only been around since 2010, but it has up to 175 million monthly users (as of April, 2017). The real stats here, however, come when you start looking at women and Pinterest. The overwhelming majority of this platform’s users (80%) are women between the ages of 25 and 45. 42% of women who are online are Pinterest users. Reread that sentence. If your target audience is women, you’ll certainly want to give this social media option a look.

Social Media

At a glance:

-it’s Google – good for search engine placement

-up to 110 million active users a month (unofficially)

-think a more professional Facebook

-did we mention it’s Google?

The New York Times created a bit of a meme in 2014 when they called Google+ a “ghost town”. Even now, more often than not, if you run across an article referencing Google+, “ghost town” won’t be too far behind. But is it? You won’t get any hard numbers from Google one way or the other, but some online sources peg its usage at around 110 million active users a month, while others say that up to 90% of people with profiles have never posted.

Social Media