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Blog Tag: social media

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  • Are Your Harnessing the Best Strategies for Your Social Media Channels?

    Social media is a must for today’s marketers, but knowing exactly how to market on each social media platform can be overwhelming. About 30 percent of millennials say they engage with their favorite brands on social media, so not having a specific strategy will at best be ineffective, and at worst damage your brand image.

    You only have so much time in a day, so utilizing your social media marketing time to the best advantage is important. Fortunately, there are some strategies you can implement that will improve your overall social media outreach and make your efforts more successful.

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  • Best Practices for B2B Companies and How to Convey Them on the Web

    Promoting B2B business online

    Marketing a B2B company can sometimes be a challenge. When you’re trying to get another company to buy your products or services, it isn’t quite the same as marketing to a consumer. If you want to make a strong connection online, you need to know the correct way to portray your B2B business.

    There are a few best practices any B2B company should follow when promoting themselves online. Here are seven of the ones you need to know.

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  • How Does Social Media Marketing Affect B2B Businesses?

    Social media provides an excellent platform for marketing efforts, helping drive user engagement and acquire leads. Plus, 92% of B2B marketers utilize social media in their marketing efforts. As a result, marketers who do not embrace social media tend to fall behind the competition regarding reach and exposure.

    Although many perceive social media outreach as more suitable for business-to-community (B2C) outreach, the proliferation of businesses on social media has narrowed the divide between B2C and B2B. Social media aids tremendously in connecting with both consumers and other businesses. Seven strong social media strategies a company should incorporate into its marketing efforts include the following.

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  • How Free Services Lead to Increases in Revenue

    Giving away goods or services sounds a bit counterintuitive, doesn't it? After all, it costs you time and money to offer services to others, even if just in the bandwidth used by your site. However, providing free services without expecting anything in return may lead to an increase in revenue for your business.

    One of the highest levels of human interaction involves reciprocity — whenever someone gives you a gift, you feel as though you should give them one back. This type of mutuality drives business, but smaller companies often overlook mutual benefits in their marketing efforts.

    Think of your free services as a "give, give, give, get" marketing model. Not everyone you offer a free service to will buy from you, and that's okay, because some will. Offering free services leads to an increase in revenue over time and examples show companies using the principle of reciprocity effectively.

    1. Attract Browsers

    In an ideal world, every person who visited your website or popped onto your social media page would become a customer. In real life, very few people who land on your page convert into actual leads. You have a few seconds of their attention to grab them and collect their contact information. If you offer a free service, they're much more likely to share their email with you so you can make a deeper connection later.

    2. Establish Your Expertise

    No matter what industry your business falls under, you must establish that you're the authority in your field. You know more than the competitors, stand out in areas others don't and you connect with your customers on a level higher than other brands in your genre.

    Offering something free that ties into how much you know not only establishes you as an authority but enacts the reciprocity principle so buyers will think of you when they're ready to buy.

    wishpond establishes their expertise in matters of marketing to promote their all-in-one platform solution

    Wishpond establishes their expertise in matters of marketing to help promote their all-in-one platform solution. Webinars are free for anyone to watch and include topics such as "Collecting and Nurturing Leads with Your Website & Email Marketing" and "How to Get Thousands of Clients Using Sweepstakes and Contests." Wishpond doesn't ask for anything to view the webinar, but they do point out how their services help business owners grow their contact list and client base.

    3. Gain Social Media Shares

    One of the ways reciprocity works is when you give someone something of value, and they want to tell others about your generosity. While the person may not be in the market to buy what you offer, they are more likely to share your resources with others via social media and word-of-mouth marketing. It doesn't cost you much to provide a free service, such as a webinar or a free guide, but the results can drive traffic to your site and give you increased brand recognition.

    4. Offer Free Information

    For businesses where customers invest a chunk of money in your brand, offering a free quote may entice them into sharing their information and investing time in your business. If you run a service business, free quotes are often expected and may keep the competition from overtaking you.

    garrety glass offers a free quote on their landing page

    Garrety Glass offers a free quote on their landing page. The call to action (CTA) button is larger than the other buttons on the page and invites users to "Click to request a free quote." They also offer a look at some other projects they've completed in the area in case you'd like to see some of the work they've done before contacting them for a quote.

    Offering a free quote gives the user something without expecting anything in return. They may or may not buy the windows from Garrety Glass, but they're more likely to if the company spends time with them showing how they can meet their individual needs.

    5. Give a Bonus

    One way of enticing customers into ordering from you now is offering a bonus if they do so. There are any number of offers you can provide, including buy one get one free or additional add-ons for one of your services or products.

    In one study, an author looked at the difference between offering something for free and something for a penny. He offered a chocolate kiss for a penny and then for free. The value of the chocolate when offered free was perceived as higher. The moral is that you don't have to provide something which costs your business a lot of money, but if you offer it free, it has instant value.

    Whatever you offer does have to actually create value for your user. Offer something that makes their lives easier or helps them in the industry you're already in. Make sure the bonus is relevant to your business. Don't give away golf tees when you own a restaurant.

    6. Try Before You Buy

    Free trials are another way of attracting users, particularly if you sell software, a service or some type of food product. When the user tries the item, they're more inclined to buy it as long as it meets or exceeds their expectations. If the sample is free, they tend to think, "Why not?" Then, if the item is valuable to them, they're likely to buy.

    7-11 gives free samples of Slurpees on specified days

    7-11 started giving out free samples of their Slurpees on specified days and saw their sales skyrocket. The brand put no limitations on the free sample cups, other than the size of the samples. However, people could refill their cups or get as many samples as they wanted. People didn't, though, instead they purchased full-size Slurpees after tasting the treat and made other purchases as well.

    7. Establish Goodwill

    There is something to be said for establishing goodwill in your local community. Have a presence at a local event and give away something free to build a positive brand image. If you sell heating and cooling systems, give out hand fans at the local fair. Offer free trials of your product at a booth at a trade show. Give back to local charities.

    Your brand is more than merely the products you sell, so giving something away should also reflect the values and concerns of your top executives and what you stand for as a company.

    Offering something for free for a limited time creates a sense of urgency where users feel they must sample your offering and share their contact information before the offer goes away. Be careful here that you don't just say something is limited and then offer it for five years. Users don't appreciate feeling duped, so if you want to provide a limited freebie, make sure the number and period are minimal. You can always offer something else later.

    Rise Above the Competition

    Today's global marketplace is highly competitive. Successful businesses find ways of standing out from other brands. Offering a freebie is one way of attracting attention and drawing in new customers. Not only will you attract new customers but the principle of reciprocity will make them more inclined to buy from you in the future.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

     

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  • How High-Quality Images Boost Your Branding Efforts

    Have you ever visited a website with images that didn't relate to the website or were extremely poor in quality? Your first thought was probably that the site wasn't very professional, and your overall impression may have been extremely negative. Today's mobile devices and PCs have higher screen resolutions than ever before. People expect sharp images and photos that aren't grainy.

    Around 77 percent of B2B marketers say branding is a critical aspect of their growth — images are only one part of that branding, but they make a huge impact.

    When it comes to branding efforts, the last thing you want your brand associated with is low-quality images. Fans of your brand should immediately expect high-quality, sharp images that draw them into the topic at hand and keep them interested. Your photos need to enhance the overall image of your brand and your professionalism.

    Here are six things to keep in mind as you boost the quality of your images and tie them into your branding:

    1. Choose Relevant Images

    Although stock photo sites abound, these images aren't always specific to your brand. If you want to tie your pictures to your branding, you must come up with guidelines for them so that they're immediately recognizable as part of your company. They should also highlight your products and services rather than showing a random person doing something generic.

    Truskin Naturals add splashes of natural images in a way that highlights their skincare products

    Truskin Naturals takes it to the next level by adding splashes of natural images in a way that highlights their skincare products. Note the high resolution of the photos and how they look almost as though you're there in person. The three-dimensional effect of the water splashing up is a powerful branding message about the natural ingredients used.

    2. Show off Your Brand

    As a business owner, you hear so much about not self-promoting or ramming your product down people's throats. However, remember that it's okay to show your product in images and add your logo. Most people follow their favorite businesses on social media, so let people know you're a business — they have to know before they can follow you.

    3. Evoke Emotions

    One of the best ways of connecting with your customers is via emotion. Figure out what emotion you want users to have when they land on your website and what images best convey that emotion. If you're looking for a feeling of warmth and home, determine what images best depict that emotion. A good measure of the emotion evoked is the one you feel when you first look at the image.

    Superior hardwoods uses images that show the superiority of their products.

    Superior Hardwoods of Montana has a customer base seeking high-quality products for their homes. Any images of their offers should show off the superiority of their products. The company achieves that goal from the moment someone lands on their homepage. The pictures of a gorgeous log home and rugged interiors featuring beautiful woods evoke a feeling of warmth.

    4. Know Your Message

    In one study of Facebook, brands that posted about once a week — between one and five times — doubled their engagement rates. Posting regularly to whichever social media platform you choose allows consumers to count on your brand and increases the likelihood that they'll look for your posts.

    Make sure you know what message you'd like to convey. Whether you're posting content, showing off an infographic or sharing someone else's post, make sure it matches your brand message. If your message is that you help customers overcome a specific problem, every photo you share on social media needs to align with that message.

    5. Be Authentic

    Have you ever seen an ad for a piece of real estate that didn't even come close to measuring up to the actual property? Nothing frustrates consumers more than an image that looks far better than the product is. While you do want to highlight your products in the best light, don't make them look like something they aren't.

    If your handbag is smaller than the average purse, make sure other elements in the photo highlight its actual size. An unhappy customer is likely to tell others how unhappy they are. They also aren't likely to order from you again if you trick them into thinking your product is something it isn't. Be upfront and honest — even with your photos.

    Gerber uses creative backgorunds in their images that shows their products true to scale and size.

    Gerber makes sure they aren't dishonest about their products since they make baby food and parents would protest loudly. Note how their images use creative backgrounds but are true to life as far as size and scale. They don't try to make their foods look like something they aren't. Instead, they let the product do the talking.

    6. Hire a Professional

    This tip is crucial — if there's one thing you should invest in, it's your images. Go ahead and hire a professional photographer who specializes in product shots. Your images will take on a personalized and professional quality that your competitors may lack. Professional-quality photos alone allow you to stand out from the crowd.

    Even on a limited budget, you can still find a couple of solutions to hiring out your images for your site and social media. Work with a photographer on a contract basis, only adding new pieces as your budget allows. You could also seek out a student at a local school who's getting ready to graduate and just wants to add to their portfolio. They're likely to work for a fraction of the price of an experienced photographer.

    If your budget doesn't even have room for a student, take free online photography courses and invest in the best camera you can afford. Study what other brands create and come up with ideas of your own. Even a small improvement in the quality of your images is a positive boost in the right direction.

    Revamp Your Brand Image

    If you've used images in the past that don't reflect well on your brand, slowly replace them a little at a time as your budget allows. Set up some basic standards and messaging for images going forward. Invest in the image content for your brand and attract new customers while keeping the old ones. Pictures are indeed worth 1,000 words — or maybe more — so choose the ones you use for your brand carefully.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • How to Accurately Appeal to Potential Customers

    What is that special “it” factor that makes some businesses more appealing than others? In a perfect world, you would put out a tweet or an ad and customers would instantly flock to your store or website. However, in the world of marketing, you have to do some very specific things to make an impact and grab the attention of potential customers.

    There are some specific psychological triggers you can use to appeal to potential customers. Figuring out what makes your target audience tick is the main component of appealing to them. Here are seven ways you can stand out to the exact people you most want to reach.

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  • How To Highlight Your USP On Your Website

    A Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is a factor the seller presents to the target audience to convey why a product or service is superior to competitors. You can verbally mention a few advantages during a radio or television ad or show images that get your point across in print media.

    So how should you go about calling attention to a USP online within your website? Keep reading to get tips, as well as case studies from brands that excel at this.

    Showcase Industry-Related Knowledge

    Perhaps you sell a product easily obtained almost anywhere, but it’s an item that has varying levels of quality depending on the source. Since the late 1800s, the De Beers diamond company has used the slogan, “A Diamond Is Forever.” It has successfully established itself as a brand able to provide enduring jewelry that matches that phrase.

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  • How to Improve Your Video Marketing Campaign on a Limited Budget

    Everywhere you look these days, there are videos promoting brands. The world is saturated with video, whether it is on television, websites or social media channels. You might worry that you can't compete with big players because creating video marketing campaigns is costly. While creating a video can be expensive, you can also create one fairly inexpensively on a limited budget.

    Experts predict that by 2019, 80 percent of consumer internet traffic will be video viewing. When you consider that number, it's a no-brainer that you need to implement videos into your marketing campaign. Here are eight key ways to improve your video marketing even if your budget is mere pennies a day.

    1. Focus on the Unique Selling Proposition

    If you only have the funds to create a single video, really hone in on the quality. Make sure you get across your unique selling proposition (USP). Before you can create a successful video, you have to understand its purpose. What message do you want to get across to the consumer?

    blendtec videos mix unusual items to see if their blenders will take abuse

    Blendtec does a series of videos titled "Will It Blend?" where it tries to mix unusual items to see if its blenders hold up to extreme abuse. In the video screenshot above, the tester tries to blend Justin Bieber merchandise. He also attempts to blend a computer keyboard, Amazon Echo, iPad, iPhone and glow sticks.

    2. Get Your Customers Involved

    Ask your customers to upload their video testimonials to social media. Customer testimonial videos are among the most effective marketing tactics. These days, almost everyone has video capability on their cellphones, so ask your favorite customers to upload testimonials. Offer them a loyalty prize or discount, or host a contest to encourage them to create the testimonials.

    3. Go Live

    If you aren't already using Facebook Live videos, now is the time to get involved. About one out of every five Facebook videos are live, and live videos are watched about three times as long as non-live videos. Viewers tend to expect a more casual approach for live videos, so you won't be expected to have professional quality production. A live video is great to stream from an event you're attending, capture a speech you're giving to a local crowd or create buzz and excitement about a drawing or other marketing pull.

    martha stewart live streams holiday preperation videos

    Martha Stewart is the queen of housekeeping tips, and she proves that point in a live-streamed video that provides information on prepping for the holidays. The video features tips for outdoor decor. She uses her own branding by using Martha Stewart products to create the decor and explaining where viewers can buy these items, such as Home Depot.

    4. Get on YouTube

    If you're going to spend money creating a video and making it the best it can be, put that video on YouTube. YouTube is often overlooked as a social media channel, but has more than a billion users. If you want to reach a new audience, YouTube is a good bet. Something that is even more exciting about placing a video on YouTube, though, is that you can make it shareable. Others can embed your video on their own websites and share it on social media. You'll gain access to more than just YouTube viewers.

    5. Create a Sense of Urgency

    If you want a video that urges your customers to take action, create a sense of urgency in the viewer. The goal of your video should be to get the user to take some type of action as soon as they finish watching the video. The goal might be as simple as signing up for your mailing list or more specific, such as buying one of your products.

     quincy compressor video shows viewers how to prevent a catastrophe

    Quincy Compressor offers a film that introduces you to Daniel, a man trying to enjoy a day out on the lake fishing. The only problem is that Daniel's compressor at his business failed. The focus is on the catastrophe and how Daniel could have prevented it, urging the viewer to take action before they face a similar issue.

    6. Solve a Problem

    One of the most powerful things you can do in a video is solve a problem for the consumer. The Quincy Compressor example accomplishes this as well as the sense of urgency. The problem may be one that the consumer isn't aware they have until you point it out. To solve a problem, you must first understand your target audience.

    Why do most people buy your product or service? More than likely, the reason they buy is the problem your product solved. Know your target audience so the solutions you offer become clear and you can play them up in your marketing videos.

    7. Be Yourself

    Allow your personality to shine through in all the marketing you do for your brand, but especially in videos, which should entertain the viewer. Even a low-budget video can grab the attention of consumers if it is unique enough. You might not yet be able to afford an expensive marketing firm to come up with a campaign for you, but you know your brand better than anyone else. You can come up with something fun and interesting on your own for now.

     saddleback leather  shows off its sarcastic side to reach consumers

    Saddleback Leather does a good job of showing off its sarcastic side in its marketing videos. The leather company is a fairly small business compared to some of the bigger players, so this shows clearly how you can still reach consumers and make your video memorable without spending a fortune.

    8. Study Videos

    One of the best and cheapest ways to improve your videos is to study what other companies are doing right. Take the time to dig into videos online and look at the script, the tone, and even the angles and lighting. You may even want to invest in a course on Udemy or a similar site and learn some of the ins and outs of video production. While studying in this way doesn't replace years of education, you can pick up enough tricks to improve your videos and your bottom line.

    Improve Your Video Marketing

    Even small changes make your videos better and attract more customers. At the end of the day, improving your brand image and attracting new clients is the key to success. You may have a tiny marketing budget, but you can invest your time in creating something worthwhile for your brand. You don't have to spend a fortune to create an impact.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • How to Instill a Positive Company Culture and Receive a Strong Return

    Company Culture

    Millennials have entered the workforce, and generational stereotypes may create a clash that isn’t beneficial for positive work culture. At the same time, the generation labeled “narcissistic” isn’t unreasonable with all of their desires, such as requesting a flexible schedule. Their willingness to speak up encourages other generations to do the same.

    Companies need to avoid negative assumptions, and find out how to empower their new hires and existing employees in a growing and aging job market:

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  • Is Your Company Guilty of Inconsistent Branding Strategies?

    brand attributes

    A consistent brand image makes your business instantly recognizable to the public. Consider some of the larger companies out there and how their branding works. For example, when you think about Subway, does freshness come to mind? When you think about Nike, you likely think about fitness or sports. These brands have consistently advertised their companies in a way that creates a powerful image that stays with consumers.

    In a survey of 3,000 consumers, researchers found more people are looking for an omnichannel shopping experience, where they interact with brands across physical and digital platforms. As the way consumers shop changes, look for ways to present a consistent image across every channel where your company does business. Inconsistency may make you seem untrustworthy, and at best, will confuse your customers.

    Minor differences in marketing are sometimes tricky to spot, however. Recognizing where you're not consistent is one of the first steps to fixing your branding issues. Here are nine questions to determine if your branding is spot on or needs some work.

    1. Do You Have a Mission Statement?

    Does your brand have a mission statement? Your mission isn't what you sell, but why you run your company. For example, perhaps you saw a need for working families who want to put quick, but nutritious, meals on the table, so you started a meal kit delivery service. Your mission is to help families enjoy healthy meals that are easy to put together. You may need to brainstorm a bit to figure out what your mission is and what value you add to the world, but with a little work and collaboration with employees and leaders in the company, you should be able to come up with a solid mission statement.

    2. What Is Your Brand Personality?

    Some brands make a mistake because they have one personality on social media and another on their website or in person. You need to figure out what your brand personality is and use it in all interactions with your customers. Think about your typical customer — if you serve generation Z, your brand's personality is probably young and fun. If you serve baby boomers, you might be respectful and serious. Whatever your personality, define it and use the same tone across all content. That helps consumers develop a sense of trust that your brand is authentic and not playing games.

    3. How Do You Involve Current Customers?

    One of your best brand ambassadors is a customer who already loves your product or service. Reward your customers when they refer someone to you. A consumer who comes to you from someone they know is about 18% more loyalthan one who stumbles across your brand accidentally. Companies are sometimes uncertain about how to implement a referral program, so they avoid it. However, all you need to do is figure out the value of a new customer and share some of that profit with the referrer. Get your accountant involved if necessary, but figure out a way to reward your word-of-mouth marketers.

    As for consistency, when you have fans promoting your brand, you must develop a strategy that allows them to share the word about your company, but provides them with the materials that match your image. So, you might post memes on social media and ask followers to share, or you might send out an extra promotional item for them to give away to family and friends. Doing so helps you control the message.

    4. Does Your Team Have Access to Templates?

    If you want a consistent look across ads, social media posts and other elements your team designs, you must create templates different team members can use. Platforms such as Canva and Adobe Cloud allow you to develop a template any member of your design team can download and adapt for a new campaign. So, if you want all your hero images on your website to be a certain size, the template ensures that. However, you can go further and add a frame to all Facebook posts or add a specific font and size for text.

    5. Have You Created Document Guidelines?

    Write down your expectations for how your brand appears. Since your sales team may send out something different than your marketing team or leadership team, it's essential to develop some brand standards everyone in the organization adheres to. Place your guidelines in a readily accessible document and include details such as the tone of voice with examples, commonly used phrases, color palette, typography details and what fonts and sizes get used when and where. Add details to the document as you wade into new marketing outlets. Creating a document also makes onboarding of new employees much smoother, as you'll have references in writing of what represents your brand best.

    6. Do You Know Where Your Audience Hangs Out?

    Small businesses sometimes throw a bunch of marketing out there and hope something sticks, but this isn't the most effective use of your marketing dollars. You must first know who your target audience is, then you can look at factors such as that 55% of 18- to 29-year-olds use Instagram. You must study where your people hang out online, as well as where they hang out in real life, and come up with branding that reaches the right demographic.

    7. How Is Your Internal Branding?

    Did you know your employees are some of your best — or worst — brand ambassadors? They share details about where they work and what they do with family and friends. If you create excitement and consistent internal messages, that will translate when your employees go out into the world. Treat your employees like they're part of a family, and develop a company culture that reflects your mission and brand values. Going back to the example of starting a company to help working moms, how does your business help the working moms on your payroll?

    8. Who Are Your Brand Police?

    Have you ever seen a post go up on social media, only to have the brand remove it shortly after? This situation is a result of inconsistent messaging and not having the safeguards in place to protect your brand from hiccups. Ensure your company has consistent messaging by appointing a few people to police social media posts, advertising, communications with others and anything that goes out with your brand name on it. Ideally, your "police squad" should involve people who've been with the company for a long time and fully understand the values and message behind the name.

    9. Do You Look for Positive Associations?

    Be careful who you align your brand name with. You might have complete control over your image, but if you partner with a brand that suddenly has an image crisis, it can reflect poorly on you. Make sure you fully understand the purpose of any cause you put your name behind. Choose charities in keeping with your goals as an organization. For example, if your mission is to help those working moms, you might team up with an organization that provides free resources to single moms.

    Create a Stable Image

    Uniform branding requires attention to detail and making sure you monitor what people are saying about your brand and how you are communicating to the public. You'll spend years ensuring your branding is consistent — it's an ongoing job. However, the result is a brand consumers recognize and trust, so the effort pays off in the end.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • Seven Tech Leaders Who Changed the Industry (for the Better)

    Tech changes at a lightning pace, bringing us new capabilities with each year. You could argue man has invented items to make his life more comfortable since the beginning of time. In 2400 BC, someone invented the abacus, and in 1657, the Christiaan Huygens created the pendulum clock. But, the explosion of technological advances in the last 100 years is mind-boggling.

    Today, technology geniuses continue to change the world as we know it, improving our everyday lives and taking our tech capabilities farther than we ever thought possible. Here are seven leaders in the industry you may or may not have heard of.

    man adjusting tehnology wiring

    1. Bill Gates

    No list of tech giants would be complete without Bill Gates. He is best known for co-founding Microsoft and changing the interface of computer operating systems, so they were easy for anyone to use. The world likely wouldn't be the same today without the prevalence of user-friendly computers. Microsoft also introduced the world to the Xbox, creating a generation of gamers and changing the way we look at the world of computer software.

    Gates offers inspiration to future tech leaders because of his inventor's spirit. When something is new, the task of inventing a new method or ability from nothing seems daunting. However, if Gates hadn't left school and put everything on the line to see his vision come to life, the world would have missed out on modern software and many other inventions from this brilliant man.

    2. Ginni Rometty

    Ginni Rometty is the chair, CEO and president of IBM. One of her most significant contributions to technology is the way she's integrated artificial intelligence (AI) into other industries. In addition to focusing on new technologies are deployed for AI, she also is at the forefront of emerging technologies such as blockchain and quantum.

    On the personal side, Rometty has a passion for creating a better workplace for women. Under her leadership, the company implemented extended parental leave and a "returnship" program that allows women to return to the workforce with hands-on training. Rometty shows that women in tech can be tough, smart and caring all at the same time.

    young man using laptop

    3. Wai-Loong Lim

    Wai-Loong Lim, the founder of Y Studios, is known for coming up with unique interface and product design solutions, especially in consumer electronics and telecommunication. He has lived and worked in both Singapore and Canada, so he can communicate between the two cultures and accomplish tasks that someone without that background can't.

    Y Studios is also one of the few design companies with a focus on human/robot interaction and user experience with virtual reality (VR), AI and the Internet of Things (IoT). Lim points to cultural context as the basis of his designs matched with innovation in each industry.

    He'd like to be the one to start a movement where people value experiences over things. His goal is designing quality products that last so people don't have to replace them regularly but can spend that money traveling, helping others or seeing the world. Lim proves you can design high-tech products and still live a life of adventure.

    4. Reed Hastings

    In the 1990s, the way people viewed videos began to change. First, VHS tapes became obsolete. As DVDs took their place on video rental store shelves, Reed Hastings had a vision for a service that mailed your movies to you, so he co-founded Netflix. His bigger vision was a service where consumers could stream movies with no wait time whatsoever.

    Hastings still serves as the chairman and CEO of Netflix — he changed the way we view and rent movies. Gone are the big video rental stores of yesterday, replaced with streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime. Hastings' vision changed the way we experience movies and TV shows.

    laptop being used for technology monitoring

    5. Peter Thiel

    Peter Thiel is the co-founder and chairman of Palantir, a company creating software with the aim of connecting data and human environment. He is the co-founder of PayPal and runs a venture-capital firm called Founders Fund, where he's invested in famous technology companies such as Facebook, Airbnb and Spotify.

    Most people barely remember a time when you couldn't transfer money instantly online. Thiel is one of the first pioneers in digital currency. Imagine a world where you couldn't Venmo cash to your friends for pizza — it wasn't too long ago, actually. Young designers and entrepreneurs should take note that Thiel found success because he saw a need and filled it for consumers.

    6. Mark Zuckerberg

    Mark Zuckerberg is a Harvard dropout, but it's unlikely he regrets that decision as one of the richest men in the world and co-founder of social media giant Facebook. Even though social media wasn't new when Zuckerberg arrived on the scene, he revolutionized the industry by providing a user-friendly platform meant to create opportunities for interaction.

    He also monetized social media in a way that drives business and website traffic in the current online marketing environment. Love or hate the platform, it is still the biggest social media site with more than 2.32 billion monthly active users. Zuckerberg proves you can make a path in an already established industry if you bring fresh ideas and ih3nnovation to the equation.

    7. Elon Musk

    Elon Musk, who founded companies such as Tesla and SpaceX, creates a buzz in the tech industry for his visionary ideas. Tesla produces energy-efficient vehicles, and SpaceX has successfully tested reusable rockets. His goal is to make space travel commercial in the near future. Musk has an impressive background with citizenship in South Africa, Canada and the United States.

    Musk has a passion for revolutionizing transportation in any way possible and has accomplished successful testing others said was impossible. He is an excellent example of going after your passions no matter what anyone else says.

    Find Inspiration From Everyday People

    Although the seven tech names above have accomplished great strides toward technology and made an impact on our society, don't overlook the little guy who knows a lot about technology. You can learn new methods and fresh ideas from anyone with an interest in tech. The seven influencers above are certainly influential, but dozens upon dozens of tech moguls are out there with something to teach.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • Start Up Business - Maintaining Social Media Presence

    girl searching social mediaSocial media offers the perfect platform for businesses to connect with their target audiences. A strong social media presence has become a necessity for businesses both large and small.

    The fact that social media sites such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and others have millions of active users makes it too powerful of a platform to ignore. A company can leverage the power of social media to create a strong bond with their customers, build a brand image, and see their profits climb exponentially.

    While the importance of maintaining a social media presence cannot be ignored, not all companies have the resources including time and manpower to manage a full-force social media campaign.

    The solution, however, is simple: Outsource!

    Outsourcing social media marketing provides many benefits. Here are five ways businesses can benefit from outsourcing social media management to an experienced firm.

    1. Get the Help of Experts

    When you outsource social media marketing to an experienced agency, you can leverage their experience, expertise, and knowledge in creating a strong social media presence. Companies that offer specialized social media services use tested strategies for creating an online presence. This makes the costs of hiring the experts worth it in the end.

    2. Create a Consistent Brand Message

    You should have a consistent brand message across different social media sites. An expert social media agency will tightly define the brand message and integrate it across multiple platforms. A consistent brand message is important to connect with customers.

    3. Social Media Analytics

    An expert social media agency can perform advanced analytics allowing you to gain more insights about your customers. You will know which products or campaigns get the most positive response from online users. The information gathered through social media analytics can help fine-tune your overall marketing strategy.

    4. Save Time and Effort

    While posting on social media sites may look simple, it's not as easy as it seems.  Managing multiple social media accounts is time-consuming. Creating posts and responding to users requires a lot of effort. There are a lot of things to look at to create the perfect post.

    By outsourcing the activity to an experienced social media company, you will be able to divert the saved time and effort of the in-house team to more important aspects of running a business.

    5. Dedicated Team of Experts

    When hiring a social media agency your business obtains the services of a dedicated and knowledgeable team of experts. The team consists of top-of-the-line social media experts, graphics designers, content marketing strategists, and certified digital marketing specialists. Their combined efforts will do wonders for your social media campaign.

    A social media consultant can take the pain out of managing a presence in the cyber world. The rewards of outsourcing to an experienced social media agency exceed the costs. If you want help in creating a social media presence, you can contact BCS Website Services by dialing 804-421-2400 today and book a consultation.

    Previous Article - Start Up Business - 5 Useful Web Services to go with your business website

     

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  • Why Your Employees Are Your Best Form of PR

    Figuring out how to get the word out about your business isn't easy or inexpensive. Advertising, even online, is notoriously difficult to track. You may never fully realize how successful a campaign was.

    In today's highly competitive marketplace, just keeping up with your nearest competition may be expensive. Across all industries, small businesses spend about 1.08 percent of their revenue on advertising. If you're just getting started or fighting against a competitor nipping at your heels, then your marketing costs may be higher. Your employees are a great source of word-of-mouth PR both to help bring in new customers and new hires. Here are six reasons why that is.

    1. Consumers Trust Their Recommendation

    One resource you may not have tapped into is your employees' ability to share what they love about your brand. Studies show that consumers are 92 percent more likely to trust a recommendation from someone they know rather than from the brand itself. Get your employees involved in talking about your brand. Encourage them to refer family and friends by implementing a reward program.

    Direct sales companies figured out referral structures to perfection. Young Living is just one example of a direct sales company that rewards its distributors for bringing other customers on board by giving them free products and a percentage of sales.

    2. Employees Best Understand Your Product

    Your employees understand your product better than a third-party advertising firm. They work intimately with it day in and day out. It's also a smart move to provide samples to your employees. If you sell clothing, give each employee the latest shirt or a budget to order a certain amount of pieces for their personal use. Encourage them to tell others about what they're wearing. If you offer a service, have your employees test it.

    One thing top restaurants do that all businesses can learn from is let people test out their dishes so they know how they taste, how they're made and what is unique about each of them. Then, when a customer has a question, the employee is ready to answer from a personal standpoint.

    3. Develop a Culture

    Do you want your employees to feel highly satisfied in their work, so they strive to do their best, feel like part of something bigger and are more likely to stay long-term? Developing a company culture all leads to employees who are happier.

    You can create a strong company culture in several ways. Make sure everyone feels valued and free to add their input, spend time together doing fun things outside of work and show appreciation when someone does something exemplary.

    macallister machinery company puts safety first to build a strong company culture

    MacAllister Machinery Company offers an excellent model to study if you want to learn how to build a strong company culture. Anyone thinking about working there will notice they put the safety of their employees first, something that isn't always a priority in the industry. They also point to other elements, such as using a balanced scorecard to run their business and looking at innovative ways to solve common problems.

    4. Offer Profit Sharing

    If you want to encourage employees to help you advertise your products, offer a profit sharing program. The incentive is simply to get the product in the hands of more people and increase company profits. Employees then receive a percentage of those profits, giving them a strong incentive to promote your brand. No matter how much an employee loves their job, when the work day is over, it's not likely they will continue to promote your brand unless they have the incentive to do so.

    Profit sharing helps everyone feel that are part of the big picture and their effort is valued. When you offer incentives, you will begin to see employees go above and beyond to get results.

    5. Attract Top Candidates

    Attracting some of the top candidates in your field isn't easy. You're competing against giant companies that might have more funds to offer. However, you can stand out from them with an amazing company culture and lots of incentives. Not everyone wants to work for a Fortune 500 company or get lost in the shuffle of a big corporation. Focus on your strengths, then figure out how to encourage your employees to share those strengths with people they know who would be a good fit for your company.

    pure insurance offers a referral program and culture that translates to a referral rate between 40 and 60 percent

    Start an employee referral program so those who bring in new hires receive rewards for helping you find the best people possible to fill open positions. Pure Insurance offers a referral program and culture that translates to a referral rate between 40 and 60 percent. The majority of their employees come via referral from another employee, which is unusual. The way they achieve this is simply asking if their workers know anyone else who would be a good fit for the company.

    6. Empower Employees to Be Vocal

    Invest time and resources into training your employees to be a mouthpiece for your company. Training should include everyone from the manager of a department to the evening cleaning crew. Train employees about your company philosophy, how best to represent your brand and how to tell others about where they work.

    Training should include a full array of elements, including how to present yourself on social media. The last thing you want is someone giving your brand a bad name. However, with a little training, most people are capable of sharing info about your brand positively.

    Encourage Employees to Help With PR

    Most of your employees are probably quite happy to help spread the word about your brand, as it creates job security for them if you do well. They just need the encouragement and training to do so and know they won't get in trouble for mentioning the company. Use these six tips to start encouraging them to recommend your company to everyone they know.

    Lexie 1

    Guest Blog Author: Lexie Lu

    Lexie Lu is a freelance UX designer and blogger. She keeps up with the latest web design trends and always has some coffee nearby. She writes on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.

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  • Why Your Small Business Must Be Active on Social Media in 2017

    Participating on social media platforms for your business is no longer a question of “if” but “when.” Whether you have a large marketing budget or a small one — there’s not much that has the reach of social media.

    When you jump into social media marketing, it’s important to know how much time to invest in it. Too little, and nothing will come of your efforts. Too much, and its counter-productive. You must also know which platform is right for your brand and marketing strategy. If you’re doubting its power, consider that according to Social Media Examiner, 90% of marketers say social media is important for their business.

    With so many questions, it’s easy to dismiss social media marketing. It seems complicated, and, when you do get involved, you must choose a platform, then learn how to use it for business.

    Most social media networks are free, but most offer some paid perks for businesses. With some time, a bit of money and dedicated resources, you can turn your social media campaign into a win.

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