• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • Duo Consulting
    Michael Silverman on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • A great way to start marketing your company is to start blogging. Topics and ideas that are creative and eye catching will generate great interaction for your company. Don’t get writers block when thinking of topics and ideas to write about. If you take the time to think about blog topics, you might be surprised to find it is easier than you think.

    A great way to start marketing your company is to start blogging. Topics and ideas that are creative and eye catching will generate great interaction for your company. Don’t get writers block when thinking of topics and ideas to write about. If you take the time to think about blog topics, you might be surprised to find it is easier than you think. Follow our 5 creative ways to come up with blog topics to prove that you are truly a leader within your industry.

    1.     What are common questions that people ask you?

    Are there any specific questions that you hear more often than others? What does everyone what to know about your field? Many times you can write blog topics about questions that you hear multiple times. Answer these questions in a blog and share it with your followers on social media.

    2.     Use other bloggers to generate ideas.

    If you have an idea for a blog, chances are someone else has already written about the same topic. Start by reading another blog and think of questions that you may have after you finish it. Are there other ways that you can add to or improve it? There are many ways you can take others ideas and turn them into your own. Do NOT plagiarize or even slightly reference another blogger without citing the source.

    3.     Use your email inbox.

    Imagine how many emails you receive on a daily basis. Do you find yourself answering multiple questions or find an interesting title in your inbox? Turn it into a blog! These subjects and questions that your clients, colleagues and peers are sending and asking you are perfect for blog topics. Take 5 minutes and scan your inbox for titles that stick out to you.

    4.     Use your coworkers and employees as a resource.

    Use the creative mental library that your coworkers have on a daily basis. If you are working against the clock, it is very valuable to use others to help generate ideas and topics for you to write about. This incredible resource is untapped until you ask the simple question, “Do you have any ideas for a blog topic?” Most of the time they will pause and think of great topics, but shortly after they will surely give you great insight.

    5.     Search your competitors

    Another great way to find what topics work well in your industry is to search through a competitor’s blogs. They are in the same boat as you in thinking of blog topics. It may not be far off to think that other companies are searching through your blogs to see which ones are shared the most and have the most valuable information.

    If you often have writers block when thinking of creative ways to come up with blog topics, take these simple tips and use them. Find which ones best fit you and your industry. If you are a smaller company and do not have many colleagues to bounce ideas off of, use our other tips. We take these tips to heart in creating each and every blog so that we can be sure to share the most unique and valuable information for our followers. You can too!

    Improving your business’s security is certainly not easy, but it’s best to start with what many consider the first line of defense. Passwords can protect your accounts and business data, but only if they’re used effectively. Hackers like an easy target and having difficult-to-crack passwords can persuade them to look elsewhere.

    Protecting your company seems more difficult than ever these days. It feels like every week there are new stories of companies becoming victims of security breaches that not only affect revenue but can severely damage a business’s reputation. Most business owners will say that securing company data is one of their top priorities, but there’s still a question over how to do it most effectively. In fact, many businesses may overlook one of the simplest yet most powerful ways to foil hackers--the use of passwords. It may sound like a strategy that’s all too basic for today’s high-tech age, but passwords remain an effective deterrent to security breaches, provided they’re employed in a manner that maximizes their effectiveness. That means you have to know the tricks to what makes a good password and how best to manage them throughout your company.

     

    The first steps towards creating a good password is to ensure it’s a strong one. Simply using a loved one’s birthday or the name of your first pet isn’t good enough and can easily be cracked by hackers. A strong password should follow some very basic guidelines. First, it should be at least eight characters long, preferably more. The general rule is that the longer the password, the more difficult it is to figure out. Second, passwords should include capital letters, numbers, and symbols to make each password all the more unique. Third, passwords should be changed on a regular basis. Even if you think you have a really strong password, changing it ensures that hackers will be kept guessing. And fourth, you should use different passwords for every account you have.

    That last point can be the source of a lot of headaches for business owners and IT departments. When businesses have dozens to hundreds of employees, and each employee uses multiple important accounts, providing a strong, unique password for each account can be a real challenge. One way to make the workload easier is to have each employee responsible for his or her own passwords, no matter how many accounts they have. This requires a great deal of trust on the part of the business owner, but that can be increased with the right education and training. Once employees know what constitutes a strong password, and once they’re aware of the security threats out there, they’ll take the responsibility seriously and make sure their passwords prevent outside attacks.

    If you prefer a more hands-on approach to company-wide password management, however, there are numerous tools out there that can aid you in the task. Password management applications and programs help business owners keep track of all the passwords used by employees for business purposes. They can also help individuals remember all their passwords by keeping them in one location. It might seem like an unwise strategy to store all your passwords in one place, but as long as you have a strong master password that gives you access to them, the alternative of using only one password for every account could be even more dangerous. In addition to that, having two-step authentication to access your password manager is a good idea. Password applications can also randomly generate a strong password, so you don’t have to spend effort on coming up with a unique code for every single account you have.

    As mentioned above, there are many password managers to choose from to help you improve your network security. 1Password is a popular program that stores passwords while also accessing passwords that are already on the user’s web browser. LastPass was one of the first password managers to debut back in 2008, and it works with web browsers as an extension, remembering the passwords you use for your accounts. Passpack is another handy program designed with businesses specifically in mind, where managers have tighter control over who has access to certain passwords.

    Improving your business’s security is certainly not easy, but it’s best to start with what many consider the first line of defense. Passwords can protect your accounts and business data, but only if they’re used effectively. Hackers like an easy target and having difficult-to-crack passwords can persuade them to look elsewhere. With your passwords well taken care of, you’ll be able to focus on other aspects of security, making for a much safer environment for your business.

    There was a time when outsourcing was considered something reputable businesses “just didn’t do.” Times have changed, though, and now many companies have realized that outsourcing isn’t just an option -- it’s a necessity.

    There was a time when outsourcing was considered something reputable businesses “just didn’t do.” Times have changed, though, and now many companies have realized that outsourcing isn’t just an option -- it’s a necessity.

    Demands on business owners have never been greater. To stay competitive, we need to do more with less time, money, and resources. Some tasks simply can’t be delegated because they’re too sensitive or require expertise only the CEO can provide.

    Social media is one area of your business, though, that can be easily managed by a team of experts working under your direction. Outsourcing your social media needs to the right team is a no-brainer that will free up your valuable time while knowing your customer engagement is being professionally managed to your standards.

    Show me the talent

    There are many benefits to outsourcing, which we’ve covered before. One of the best kept secrets of hiring a professional team to manage your social media presence is how much high-quality talent you’re able to access.

    “Many entrepreneurs struggle to find highly qualified, budget-friendly team members. This can be particularly true if you do business in a major market, such as New York or Los Angeles. The cost of highly-skilled labor in these markets can be pricey,” says Matt Keener, President of Keener marketing Solutions.

    Even if you’re not interested in offshoring,” notes Keener, “you can still outsource tasks to lower-cost parts of your own country. For example, many of my clients recruited me because my hourly rate is lower than comparable marketing consultants in their own cities. The cost of living in Indiana is lower than most major metropolitan areas so they’re able to get an MBA on a more attractive budget without sacrificing quality.”

    That’s right, your social accounts can be managed by some of the brightest minds in the industry simply by outsourcing your staffing and talent requirements to professionals. As an added bonus, Keener points out, if someone on the team isn’t a good fit, you won’t have to spend hours looking for a qualified replacement. The outsourcing company handles all the details for you.

    Quality over quantity

    What you say on social media is as important as how often you say it. When you’re busy, it’s tempting to toss a whole bunch of mostly-interesting posts into a queue on Hootsuite and let your accounts self-populate while you tend to other things. Scheduled posts are handy and a consistently updated timeline is vital, but the hands-off approach is like letting an answering machine take your sales calls. It’s bare-bones engagement without the personal touch.

    Outsourcing takes your social media presence to the next level by making sure there’s always someone behind the curtain ready to post timely, relevant content. Someone who’s ready to respond to followers right away on social channels and reach out to you immediately if a customer needs assistance.

    Smart businesses know that outsourcing social media is the best way to easily enlist high-quality talent to help you put your best foot forward on all your social channels.

    Image: Steven Depolo

    A survey released today by Hootsuite and Nielsen validate the role of social for businesses. However, it also finds that companies don't know what to do with all of their social data, and that departments rarely collaborate on their social business strategies.

    A survey released today underscores the importance of social to business, but also reveals the challenges businesses have dealing with the amount and types of data produced by social.

    Social media software company and consumer ratings giant Nielsen surveyed employees in medium to large-scale enterprises across North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and found that while 88% recognize the importance of social, 60% have trouble taking their data and turning it into something actionable.

    The survey also revealed that the use of social is becoming more widespread in companies, but that departments are not always working together. Three of four respondents say that social plays an expanding role in their companies, but the majority (64%) concedes that aligning strategies across departments is difficult.

    “One of the things revealed by the survey is the need for education around social,” says Jeanette Gibson VP, Customer Success and Community at Hootsuite. “Companies need to learn how to drive their social data, how to understand it, and how to make it useful.”

    Gibson says that companies need foster more collaboration around social, and figure out how to connect it to their business strategies. “It was surprising to us how far behind some businesses are on making the shift from tactical to strategy,” Gibson adds.

    It is clear, however, that business understands the value of social for interacting with customers and influencers. A majority of the respondents (84%) view building relationships with existing customers as the inherent value of social media, followed by the ability to learn about the company’s reputation (81%), and to monitor external communication (79%).

    Additionally, 74 percent of organizations value social media’s capability in resolving customer complaints and questions.  “Businesses get that social is really about building relationship with customers—connecting with them and understanding their needs,” says Gibson.

    When I attend a conference, view a video or see a presentation, I look for something that is going to set my heart ablaze and send my mind wheeling. I wonder where I will be taken or how I will be surprised. Dan Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, explains the formula deployed to great success by Pixar. It goes something like this.

    When I studied literature, I was fascinated by form. By the words. Arrangement. Layout. And narrative. I loved the way that John Fowles would create untrustworthy narrators that led the story in new, unexpected directions. And I loved Antonin Artaud’s dangerous writings. Or Christopher Barnett’s language that was so revolutionary it broke the words. I was intrigued and excited by writing that would break the language and our expectations and then reconstruct things completely new. It was a disruption to thought and expectation and it blew my mind.

    But the best of these writers were not rampant destroyers of meaning. They were articulate explorers pushing the limits of language and the implicit bargain that writers make with their readers. Sometimes it would work and take us – together – on new journeys. And sometimes I’d throw the book against the wall and leave it to make its own way back to the shelf. The thing is, that the best of these writers were masters of their craft – and they’d work very deliberately to take us as readers on a journey – it just so happened that the by-product of that journey would be some form of collision or catastrophe of language. And in that way, the product of the writing was not the book – but the experience. Of reading. Co-creating meaning. Disruption.

    So when I attend a conference, view a video or see a presentation, I look for something that is going to set my heart ablaze and send my mind wheeling. I wonder where I will be taken or how I will be surprised. And more often than not, I am disappointed.

    There is no narrative. No journey to follow and become involved with. It’s just facts. Numbers. And opportunities for micro-naps.

    It’s a slow death being hammered by statistics.

    But it doesn’t have to be this way.

    Dan Pink’s book, To Sell is Human, explains the formula deployed to great success by Pixar. It goes something like this:

    Once upon a time <something happened>.

    Every day <life went on like this>.

    One day <something changed>.

    Because of that <the world was never the same again>.

    Until finally <a new world became the next chapter>.

    Now, I am not going to say that this formula will change your world. Nor that each presentation needs to be a masterpiece.

    But if your job is communication (and if it’s not, why are you presenting?), then do your audience a favour and wheel out the Pixar Pitch. You might just be amazed at the impact it has.

    PAISAN HOMHUAN / Shutterstock.com