What To Look For Before Hiring a Social Media or Web Design Company

Don't be afraid to take a closer look!

Don’t be afraid to take a closer look!

Lots of people claim to be web designers or social media experts nowadays, but before you decide on a company to create your website or handle your FB business page there’s a few things you should look for. Remember, a cheap but poorly designed website will cost you more in the long run than making a solid investment on a well designed, mobile friendly site upfront.

With website builders like DudaOne, Wix and Weebly, there’s no excuse for an outdated looking website these days. Make sure the person you’re working with is experienced, knowledgeable and has an eye for design. Last but not least, make sure your web designer or social media guru knows how to write. Many web designers use copy writers which is a sign they know what they’re good at… and what they’re not.

Here are the three key things to look for when hiring a virtual assistant or web design / social media company:

1. Check out their work – if you don’t like the websites they’ve designed already, they probably aren’t the best fit for your business.
2. Review their copy writing – typos and grammatical errors should be a red flag.
3. Ask for references – if the individual or company does good work they should be able to provide you with a list of happy customers to talk to.

If you don’t feel 100% confident in your web designer or “virtual assistant,” chances are you should go with your gut. Your FB business page is the voice of your company and your website is a reflection of your business so you don’t want to put anything out there that isn’t your best.

~Rachel

The Best in Social Media this May

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One of the easiest ways to grow your business and increase your sales is to constantly learn from others. With today’s technology it’s easy to find new ideas, infographics that show recent statistics, or articles written specifically for small businesses. Whether you run an eCommerce store, manage a franchise, or run a local business, staying up to date with technology, best practices, and industry standards is key to your success.

In this post, I want to share some of the best articles and resources I’ve found via social media for both eCommerce and small business. There’s something to learn from each article, statistic or photo and I hope you’ll find them useful!

  • Negative Reviews – If someone was unhappy about a product or service, the internet makes it very easy for them to write you a nasty review for all to see, whether it’s via your Etsy shop or your local Yelp page. Learn how to turn a negative situation into a positive one with this article from Business 2 Community.
  • Mobile-geddon – If you haven’t heard about Google’s new algorithms and how they’re negatively affecting websites that aren’t mobile friendly, click here.
  • Common Twitter Mistakes – Unfortunately, not all social media platforms are created equal and I see lots of people joining Twitter, with little knowledge of best practices. Just like Facebook, the 80/20 rule is key! Learn to avoid sounding overly promotional with these simple tips from Time.
  • Facebook is Still Number One – Don’t believe people who try to tell you Facebook is on its way out, teens aren’t even using it, it’s just a waste of your time… They couldn’t be more wrong and statistics show that Facebook is still, by far, the number one social media network for teens and people of all ages. See what research shows about Facebook’s true popularity and click here to read more.
  • Mistakes to Avoid with Your Etsy or eCommerce Shop – Bad product photography is probably the number one thing to avoid, but you may be guilty of some other bad practices without even knowing it. See what the experts have to say with this brilliant article.

For more small business tips and insights, be sure to follow me on Facebook andTwitter!

~ Rachel

Boost Your Brand with Summer Sales and Networking Events

Colourful hanging sales tags with optional transparent shadow

Sales are a great way to attract new customers and if you’ve got a local storefront or office building, what better way to let people know about your products or services than to host a sale as part of a local event! Here are some ideas to consider.

  • “Beat the Heat” Sale – Similar to a “beat the clock” sale, start your prices low and raise them back to normal as the day progresses or gets hotter. You could also do a one-day only “beat the heat” sale on a particularly hot weekend this summer and simply discount all products or services.
  • Memorial Day or 4th of July Sale – Discount items of your choosing on either of these major shopping weekends. Use patriotic coupon codes like REDWHITEBLUE or AMERICA. Local businesses, get in the spirit with special discounts on your services, throw in a free miniature American flag with every purchase over $50, have your staff wear red, white or blue etc.
  • “Christmas in July” Sale – This is a fun one! You can put all of your Christmas items or cold-weather clothing on sale to move old inventory. If you’re in the service industry, advertise a special price for your standard services, but only if scheduled or completed on July 25 (or the day of your Christmas in July sale).
  • Host an Event – If you’ve got a local storefront or office but don’t have a major advertising budget, host an event to let people know about your products and services. If you’re part of your local Chamber of Commerce or Business Coalition, offer your parking lot or storefront for the next business mixer, or contact the local blood bank to find out about hosting a blood drive. These are great ways to get potential customers in your doors and it doesn’t cost much on your end. Simply provide snacks, set up a display table etc. You may even be able to find another local business who’s willing to donate food or raffle items. At the end of the day, the money spent is well worth the networking opportunities!

Keep Them Coming Back

go the extra mile

Simple ways to create repeat customers

For small businesses, repeat customers are key. Without a major marketing budget, repeat customers are the best way to generate word of mouth referrals and reach new potential customers.

Whether you run an online business or operate a local storefront, customer service can only get you so far. Nowadays customers expect more than just a friendly face or professional ordering experience – it’s the little things that make the difference.

Here are some simple ways to create a stand out customer experience that’s sure to keep people coming back:

  • Be quick to respond. If someone calls your business for a quote or sends you a message via your online storefront or web contact form, be sure to reply asap. Chances are, if they’ve called or messaged you for information, they may have called or messaged someone else. Be the first to reply, even if you don’t have an answer – let the potential customer know that you got their message and you’re happy to get them more information. Remember that each of these interactions is like a first impression and you want to make a good one.
  • Provide some incentive. Show your customers that you value their loyalty and provide a coupon for their next order or date of service. Whether that’s a physical flier or an online coupon code they receive via email, give them a reason to shop with you again or call you the next time they need your services. (This is also a great way to ask people to like you one Facebook!)
  • Make it personal. Have you ever gone out to eat and noticed your waiter or waitress added a little thank-you note or smiley face to your check? When the service is great, that little extra something is the difference between leaving a five and two singles or a ten dollar bill. Add that “something extra” to your customer’s experience. If they place an online order, add a thank-you note to their package or include a personal message with their automated shipping confirmation.
  • Show that their opinion matters. Show your customers you care about their experience. Ask them to write you a review via your storefront or your business’ Yelp page. Not only are online reviews great for your business, they show your customers you value their input. If you’re on Angie’s List or Google+, customers can also write you reviews there!

When you go the extra mile for your customers, they’ll go the extra mile for your business. People are more likely to tell people about their experiences when they’re a.really really bad (“omg – Never shop at XYZ, they were awful…”) or b. really really great (“Wow! You’ll never believe they even gave me a coupon for next time!). Unfortunately, statistics show that middle of the road experiences just don’t cut it, so try some of these easy ideas today and keep your customers coming back for good.

~ Rachel

Rules of [Facebook] Engagement

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Facebook is the number one place to engage your customers, but so often we forget that engagement is like a conversation – it goes both ways. If you’ve hired someone to manage your social media pages, you don’t have to login everyday to post something original, but I do encourage you to login on a weekly basis to interact with others on your page’s behalf.

Posting great content is the first step in beginning the conversation, so after people like, comment or share your post it’s up to you – are you going to continue the conversation or let things trail off?

Here are some simple tips for using Facebook to network with others, build your audience and expand your brand. I bring you, the “rules of engagement.”

1. When someone comments on one of your photos or posts, comment back

Example: They say “What a cute idea.” You say “We thought so too!”

When your audience knows that you see and appreciate their comments or feedback, it makes them more inclined to like, comment or share again!

2. When someone asks a question – respond in a timely manner

If I manage your Facebook page and notice someone has sent you a message or asked a question I can’t answer on my own – I will send you an email asap. If you notice someone has commented on one of your posts with a question or sent you a direct message, be sure to reply in a timely manner – even if you don’t have all the information, let them know you’ll get back to them. Facebook is a great way to show off your customer service skills and spout your expertise so take advantage of any opportunity to interact with potential customers.

3. Use Facebook as a networking tool 

When you login each week, make an effort to see what other small business owners are up to. Facebook is a great place to get ideas, scope out your competition and build relationships. Make it a goal to do the following:

a. Like a new page each week. Maybe that’s a local restaurant you eat at or a store you shop at, a charity or foundation you support, or a business that’s similar to yours.

b. Comment on a photo or a post that speaks to you or relates to your brand.

c. Share something that inspired you. If you’re not sure it’s a good fit for your business page, share it on your personal page. When you share someone else’s content it’s a great boost for their page so choose a business or a cause that you support!

4. Last but not least – invite your friends and customers to like your page! 

Your friends and customers are the easiest way to grow your brand and build your audience. Maybe your friends know about your business but they aren’t sure how to find you online – send them an invite! Every time you login to your business page you will see an “invite friends” option. Do this on a regular basis. Don’t feel like you have to go through and select people one by one – invite them all. The more the merrier!

Tell your customers you’re on Facebook and ask them to like your page or write you a review! Simply include a flier or postcard in the packages you ship or tell people face to face when you meet them at craft shows or events. If you answer the phones for your business, remind potential customers to like your Facebook page before ending your call. You’ll be surprised how positively people respond!

~ Rachel

To Pin or Not to Pin

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Pinterest is such a great way to interact with potential customers but it can be a little intimidating if you’ve never “pinned” before. I manage numerous Pinterest accounts for my clients and I get asked questions like, well what should I pin? What boards should I be adding things to? These are great questions so I thought this month I’d take some time to highlight the dos and don’ts of Pinterest. There’s a lot of fun holidays coming up like St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and spring in general, so now’s a great time to learn a little more about the social networking site everyone is talking about! Here are my top 5 tips for maintaining a successful Pinterest page for your business.

  1. Plan Ahead
    Don’t just login and pin a bunch of newly listed products. A general rule of thumb – for every 1 product pin, be sure to pin 3-4 other photos, DIY ideas, etc. If you want to start a themed board for holidays or events, create the board at least one month ahead of time so followers have time to repin their favorites! Some ideas for spring include baby showers, weddings and bridal showers, spring decor, gardening, summer vacation ideas, money saving tips, and spring cleaning.
  2. Optimize & Cross Promote
    Many of my clients have their Pinterest page linked to their Twitter page which is a great way to optimize content and have it seen by more people, but be careful not to over-share. Only share your best pins on multiple platforms and be sure to give all of your pins a nice description. Use hashtags when relevant, but again, don’t over-do it. Stick to 1-3 hashtags and try to make one of them a trending topic. For example, #Vintage #Jewelry #ValentinesGiftIdeas.
  3. Pin What People Are Talking About
    Home décor, organization, quotes, fashion, kids, weddings and recipes are always popular on Pinterest! Find ways to connect your brand’s messaging to topics that are already popular on the platform. If you sell a variety of products that fall into the vintage or antique categories, consider pinning home décor ideas that show how to incorporate vintage and antique finds. If you sell craft supplies, pin tutorials and crafty DIY ideas that show your followers what your brand is all about. Try to make sure every board has a nice mixture of product pins and “other” pins.
  4. Quality Over Quantity
    When it comes to Pinterest, you will find some pinners have thousands of pins and hundreds of different boards but chances are they’ve been using the social platform for a long period of time. Don’t feel like you need to fill up all of your boards right away – stick to quality over quantity. With product pins, only pin your best photos! You might have a great set of vintage dishes for sale in your eBay store, but if you don’t have high quality photos, don’t pin.Pinterest should be considered a showcase of your best work. Similarly, when re-pinning DIY ideas, home décor and recipes, try to stick to pins that have a high number of “likes” and “repins.” Don’t waste time pinning an Irish soda bread recipe that has 1 like and 3 repins when you can find another one that has proven more popular with thousands of likes and repins.
  5. Connect With Your Followers
    After you’ve established your Pinterest page, go beyond re-pinnning and start following, liking and commenting on other Pinterest user’s content to maintain a conversation with your audience. This is a great way to build your fan base and show that you’re not just a robot – you are a person with a brand that has a message.

~Rachel