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Contrary to what some may think, it takes more than a camera to make a YouTube campaign work — you need the right YouTube influencer. From visual planning to collaboration, choosing the right content partner can bring your brand to the top.

As a savvy marketer, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to connect with your audience and grow your bottom line, so why not YouTube?

What’s not to love about fan engagement and authenticity with native video marketing campaigns? It seems like the perfect solution.

Unfortunately, however, it’s not as simple as slapping a video on YouTube and praying for popularity. YouTube users’ diversity matches any marketing demographics’, and they’re even more discerning about what they’ll watch. Each subset has unique characteristics and desires that you need to tap into to build an audience for your product.

Take Honda, for example. The car manufacturer created a stir this summer when it heavily slashed its TV spending in favor of a music-oriented YouTube channel called “Honda Stage.” Executives were highly optimistic about the venture — which was supposed to serve as the linchpin of a wider branded entertainment web effort — but the campaign didn’t deliver, garnering less than 50,000 views within 24 hours of its release.

YouTube isn’t so much about the content as it is about the personalities and distribution. Indeed, it almost doesn’t matter what video you upload — it will do infinitely better if you upload it to a channel with a lot of subscribers.

Honda went wrong by trying to elbow its way through the mass of YouTube creators, rather than hitching a ride with someone at the front of that crowd.

In other words, if you want to be successful on YouTube, don’t pick up a camera. 

Reap the Benefits of a Content Partnership

If you’ve paid attention to the shifting digital marketing environment, you already know that YouTube is worth your time. The platform’s revenue grew 51 percent in 2013 and accounts for more than 6 billion hours of viewership per month.

What you might not know is how effective content partnerships can be in helping you make a human connection with those numbers. YouTube partnerships help you:

Produce authentic and enthusiastic branded content. At the end of the day, content creators control the YouTube platform and the media that’s uploaded on it.

Viewers trust that YouTube influencers won’t sign deals with brands that aren’t accurate representations of their values. This creates a powerful level of authenticity and trust between the stars and their audience, which is extended to your brand.

Further your reach into desirable demographics. Taco Bell wasted no time in partnering with YouTube star FreddieW on a Fiery DLT commercial that gained more than 1 million views. The ad aired across ESPN, CBS, MTV, and more, and it showcased the tangential benefits of working with a YouTube star: access to a stellar social media network.

By partnering with one YouTube influencer, a brand like Taco Bell rides the wave of popularity into his large social media footprint. It also expands its reach into the star’s desirable 18- to 35-year-old demographic, which makes up 30 percent of YouTube video views every month.

Increase engagement with native content. Kmart has also embraced YouTube video marketing, creating its own YouTube show “First Day,” featuring popular Internet star Molly McAleer. The show, now in its second season, features outfits and costumes exclusively from Kmart. It costs a fraction of major network shows or network TV airtime and focuses on the most promising numbers out there: native ad space.

Over the past 15 years, display ad engagement has fallen from 9 percent to barely 2 percent. Compared to the 25 percent likelihood that a consumer will look at a native ad, it’s clear which strategy provides the biggest advantage.

Partner With the Right YouTube Talent

There’s always a caveat, isn’t there?

Don’t expect to see these benefits unless you take the time to identify and nurture a relationship with the right YouTube talent for your brand. Use these four tips to ensure that you connect with a partner who will deliver authentic content that aligns with your marketing goals:

1. Start the Planning Process With YouTube in Mind

It’s the brands that reach out first that connect with the best and brightest rising stars. Plan your marketing process with YouTube in mind from the beginning.

2. Align Your Brand With the Right Content Verticals

Content verticals run YouTube, and audiences are driven to these verticals based on level of interest. To stay relevant, understand what type of content your audience is interested in, and identify the right YouTube star for that topic.

3. Make the Message Clear

The most effective campaigns are organized around a clear marketing message. The more focused your message is, the more likely your content creator can relay it effectively to the audience.

4. Don’t Control — Collaborate

YouTubers devote a lot of time and energy to planning their videos to maximize engagement and audience retention. Rather than risk destroying that creative element, view work with YouTubers as collaboration — not outright ownership of the content and creative idea. By fostering a dynamic relationship with a content creator, you won’t limit yourself to one-time partnerships or limited campaigns.

In any industry, the challenge presented by online marketing is turning prospective customers into enthusiastic brand fans on a tight budget. That’s where the benefits of strategic YouTube content partnerships and native video marketing come into play. Get more engagement on a smarter budget by embracing YouTube content partnerships — and the reach that comes with them.

Social media buzz alone is not enough to build and retain customer loyalty. Buzz is great for attracting new customers, but in order to keep them, you need to develop a long-term strategy. Staying power is what encourages customers to stick around.

In today’s social media-laden world, significant emphasis is often placed on social media buzz.While it is important to develop a presence on social media platforms, social media buzz alone is not enough to build and retain customer loyalty. Buzz is great for attracting new customers, but in order to keep them, you need to develop a long-term strategy. Staying power is what encourages customers to stick around.

In a report cited by Marketing Profs, brand impact, value-to-price ratio, and service and product delivery accounted for less than 50% of customer loyalty. The remaining percentage of customer loyalty was attributed to the customer’s sales experience with the brand.

So, if it is not the buzz that you create on social media, or even your great product or service itself, what exactly is it that drives customer loyalty to your company? According to Forbes, the primary reason that customers stay is recognition. Customers want to know that they are appreciated. When you take the time to build a sales experience where customers feel recognized, welcomed, and have a hassle-free experience, they will choose to return to your business again and again.

All of that is not to say that you cannot use social media to drive customer loyalty. It simply means that social media buzz alone is insufficient. Rather than just relying on buzz, you need to harness the power of social media to interact with and engage your customers to provide the type of sales experience that will encourage them to stay with you.

Listening to Your Customers

Social media listening is an excellent way to tune into what your customers are saying and give them what they want. Obtaining customer feedback regarding their needs and wants is a vital part of building a loyal customer base. Not only is this important for providing the right services and products, but it can also be integral to establishing repeat sales. From tweets to Facebook posts, consumers today are able to instantly voice their opinions. While this can be disconcerting, it is valuable in terms of helping companies to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. For example, social media listening is effective in learning what your customers are saying about new products or services. The data derived from social media listening can also help you to identify what you are doing right, including mistakes you may be making. Understanding both your strengths and weaknesses is vital to building a long-term successful business.

Where do you turn to ensure that you are in the loop regarding what customers are saying about you? There are numerous products/tools available to streamline the social listening process. Many times,companies tend to focus solely on a single medium,when they should concentrate on the big picture. Sendible is one example of a social listening media tool that lets you do just that. Along with monitoring social media channels, Sendible also features mentions across the entire web. Sprout Social has also become recognized as a popular social listening tool. With Sprout Social, you can tap into brand mentions, new fans on Facebook, new Twitter followers, and unique visitors. This tool also includes an “Assign Task” feature that allows customer inquiries to be assigned to specific team members for faster responses and satisfied customers.

Social media can also facilitate building stronger customer relationships. In today’s digital world, the old adage “the customer is always right” takes on an entirely new perspective. One complaint from a customer can quickly go viral. With careful listening, you can address potential issues while leveraging the opportunity to demonstrate the strength of your customer service. Even in situations where a customer has a negative experience, it is possible to transform it into a positive one by noting and responding to the customer’s feedback. This is a golden opportunity to not only protect your brand, but also improve brand loyalty.

Rather than being afraid, it is important for companies to embrace the power that social media offers by making it easy for customers to find them on various platforms. An easy sharing app on your content encourages customers to share and engage with your brand.

Responding when there is a problem is not enough. The beauty of social media is that it allows you to conduct two-way conversations with your customers. In the past, marketing was simply disseminated in a one-way manner, thus providing no way for companies to interact with their customer base. Today, that has changed, and customers are certainly well aware.They have come to expect a response from the brands they give their business to. Forbes reports that 71% of consumers who receive a quick response from brands on social media were more likely to recommend that company to others.

Customer Loyalty Programs

By taking the time to respond to comments and thank customers when they share your content, you can build relationships with your customers. That is precisely what drives customer loyalty programs.

Building a strong customer loyalty program is not something that happens overnight. Instead, it takes time to deepen customer relationships. Another way to facilitate this goal is to provide your customers with valuable information. By creating and sharing information via social media that helps your customers to become more effective or efficient, you will become recognized as a valuable information source.

The more that you can tune into your customer base and respond to their needs and wants, the better positioned your company will be to retain customers. Social media buzz is a great launching point for attracting new customers, but it takes much more than that to get customers to stick around. 

With the company's new program FbStart, app developers can work with Facebook and its partners to turn their ideas into something that can be easily downloaded and desired by all. Oh, and did we forget to mention it's completely free?

Over the past few years, Facebook has literally taken over. Reportedly spending over $22 billion in acquisitions, the social media titan has expanded its presence through companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Parse. Now, with its extensive arsenal, the company has taken to teaming up and tackling a bigger business venture involving startups.

With the company's new program FbStart, app developers can work with Facebook and its partners to turn their ideas into something that can be easily downloaded and desired by all. Oh, and did we forget to mention it's completely free?  

Free "Goodies" Could Take Your Startup to the Next Level

FbStart was originally open only to developers who attended the annual f8 conference. It is now open to any developer with an app that has been live for more than 30 days on the Apple or Google Play app store. With applications pouring in from over 60 countries, Facebook has already accepted over 500 developers, and more than half are coming from outside the U.S.

Once accepted, Facebook and its partners put the lucky company in one of two main tracks: the "Bootstrap Track" for startups that are newer and less established on the market (an $8,000 package of tools and services) or the "Accelerate Track" which is for more established and start-ups that are already growing (a $40,000 package with preferential status). Also, both will receive free Facebook Ad credit totaling five hundred dollars. 

How Social Networking Can Help You Create the Next Candy Crush

While most of the apps are not worth much now, they could be potential "gold mines" for future advertising.  Facebook's Vijay Shankar wrote about the FbStart program in a blog post saying, "Facebook will offer events, programs, and best practices for participating developers, with the expectation of year-round opportunities to engage with the Facebook team. By providing mobile app developers with the essential services you need to get your business up and running or to take it to the next step of growth, we're hoping to help expand the overall app ecosystem."

Building a $70 Billion Dollar Industry Even Bigger

The start-up program intends to help developers "build, grow, and monetize their apps using Facebook," along with the help of its partners who will help "with product testing, recruiting, customer care, video conferencing, document management and more." Tapping into this estimated $77 billion dollar market could mean big bucks for not only Facebook, but companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon; all of which have also been trying to increase their presence in the mobile world.

According to a recent study conducted by Ad Age and RBC Capital Markets, about 84% of respondents reported using Facebook as their dominant social-media marketing channel. Most people have realized that desktop websites just won't cut it anymore, and that using mobile sites to help with marketing is crucial to reach customers. Starting your own site and making sure to have it optimized for mobile devices is a detail that many businesses are beginning to realize is of the utmost importance.

Apply Today, Start Growing Tomorrow

Have more than one app you want to kick-start into high gear? Submit them both. Is your app not integrated with Facebook yet? They don't discriminate. While spots are filling up at an impressive rate, there is still some room left in Facebook's new venture. The first batch of developers expects to "graduate" as early as April 30, 2015. Apply today and watch your app grow.

Here's a complete list of current FbStart partners:

  • Adobe – Creative Services
  • Parse – Cloud Services
  • Appurify – Mobile App Testing
  • Asana – Project Management
  • Blue Jeans – Cloud-based video collaboration service
  • Desk.com – Customer support app
  • Hootsuite – Social media monitoring
  • MailChimp – Email marketing
  • Proto.io – Mobile app prototyping
  • Quip – Mobile Productivity suite
  • SurveyMonkey – Online survey platform
  • Transifex – Localization
  • UserTesting – Usability testing
  • Workable – Recruitment
  • Appmethod – Cross-platform app building 
  • Braintree – Mobile payment platform
  • Get Satisfaction – Online customer connection

You can visit developers.facebook.com for more information and applications. 

While Social Media does have its place when building your community, there are other areas you need to focus on in order to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. This article will show you where your attention needs to be drawn to and why it’s crucial to your on-going success.

These days community building seems to have a major focus on Social Media. How to attract followers in their thousands, how to be available 24 hours a day to engage with your audience and how to listen socially, are all topics you’re likely to come across. Search any popular search engine for the term “Online Community” and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.

While Social Media does have its place when building your community, there are other areas you need to focus on in order to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. Today I’ll show you where your attention needs to be drawn to and why it’s crucial to your on-going success.

Social Media and Owned Communities

Before I dig deeper into the benefits an online community can have for your business, it’s important to define what’s meant by the term “Online Community”.

In this instance I’m not talking about a Facebook Group or a list of engaged users on Twitter. In this day and age, it’s simply not enough for you to post the odd Tweet here and there or a couple of updates on your Facebook Page.

To really be successful, you need to have a more comprehensive approach to social business. This will involve using your company website as a central hub for communication, having dedicated forums where you can communicate directly with your customers and a functional internal communication system to ensure your staff are all on the same page.

Essentially you’re taking your Social Media efforts to the next level. You’re upping your game to something with far more potential.

Online Communities and SEO

There are many benefits to building online communities. One of those being the SEO benefits it can have for your organisation’s website.

Google algorithm updates such as panda and penguin removed many of the old ways of ‘doing SEO.’ They represent the lengths to which Google will go to try to weed out poor or low-quality content.

Everyone who wants their websites to rank well within search engines and are looking for an approach that will overcome the inevitable issues which arise every time they change something. They want a way of doing SEO that goes beyond just chasing algorithms – something which building online communities does.

Building an online community can be a better approach than its digital marketing alternatives, because it’s authentic, genuine and provides valuable information.

Online Communities and Relationship Building

Community building brings you what no other SEO or web marketing effort will - relationships with real people. Word-of-mouth is and continues to be the most trusted form of advertising available to businesses and in order to thrive today businesses must earn attention and build an audience, a.k.a. a community.

By doing so you are opening up to industry influencers, colleagues, people who will read and share your content (which also raises the profile of your brand), current and potential customers and more. By attracting those customers at a lower cost you are beating your competition, finding new niches and verticals for your business, and, above all, building a much better business.

Not only this but by building an online community, you actively create a network of online supporters and friends via the targeted distribution of valuable content - it’s the most sustainable approach to marketing on the web.

Overall it’s time to stop thinking about online communities as just another social network to update. Forget about Social Media for a second and think about some of the best conversations you’ve had in the past, conversations that go over the 140 character limit.

Those are the conversations you need to be having both within your organisation and with the customers you serve. Conversations that build awareness, influence and value. Your website should be at the heart of those conversations, creating connections that will nurture trust with your customers that will last for years to come.

The traditional funnel has worked well to drive sales using traditional marketing media, and there is no reason it should not work with today’s online media, particularly social networks.

The traditional funnel has worked well to drive sales using traditional marketing media, and there is no reason it should not work with today’s online media, particularly social networks. If you’re a professional marketer or salesperson, then you know all about sales funnels and how important these are to the success of your business.

For those of you who may be wondering, a funnel is a conceptual model that represents the customer’s journey from the time he or she first hears about the product to the moment of purchase. Our job as marketers is to optimize the funnel, in essence get as many people through as possible.

Funnels 101

Traditionally, funnels have been a 6-step process consisting of the following stages.

  1. Making people aware of your product

  2. Providing prospects with information to get them to consider your product

  3. Allow people to build attachments to your brand

  4. Allow people to purchase your products

  5. Reward customer loyalty

  6. Convert customers into brand advocates

Now keep in mind that the concept of funnels was first introduced just before the 20th century and it has held up quite well even to this day. But for your online marketing to truly benefit and take off, you need to update your funnels to take advantage of 21st century marketing channels. This is particularly true for social media marketing.

The New Funnels: Dealing With Distraction

The metaphor of calling them “funnels” may not even be correct any more. In the past, marketers have strived to “shovel” people into the top of the funnel; the funnel is then expected to do its thing and sales are supposed to trickle out through the other end. But this model assumes that buying behavior is linear, and it definitely is not.

Prospects often leave the funnel at some point, most likely distracted by something else. But it has happened, and more often than you may think, that the same people who get off the funnel find their way back into it and may even complete the journey all the way to conversion and purchase. Quite frankly, it looks more like a Rube Goldberg machine than a funnel.

Social media provides the means to direct people to the mouth of the funnel. This is a fact that we do not need to dwell upon because social networks have demonstrated time and again that what they do best is get people to connect.

But when people get distracted and leave, social media also provides the stickiness so that they don’t wander too far away and you can reel them back in, provided your social media accounts are optimized and your engagement strategies are topnotch.

The key to driving people through your social media funnels is engagement. Interesting and relevant content provides the awareness that attracts prospects. Engaging content provides the enticement that keeps your prospects coming back. Provide great content on a consistent basis and you have the framework for building trust between yourself and your prospects.

There has been a subtle but definite shift in the way companies use the internet, social media and other marketing channels, and also in the way that people search for what they need. Using inbound marketing tactics has helped many businesses succeed where others have failed. If you feel like your business is suffering, have a look at our checklist and see if it's time to make the switch!

Inbound marketing is reshaping how businesses present themselves online!

This remarkable series of techniques allow virtually any business to create a powerful online presence that drives sales, while lowering their overall marketing costs! It's a one-two punch that puts a global audience within reach of even the smallest startup business.

Is it time to think about inbound content marketing techniques? We've got ten signs that your business is ready to move into the future with inexpensive and effective online marketing!

Ten Reasons That It's Time To Embrace Inbound Marketing

I. Decreasing Foot Traffic

First of all, inbound isn't solely for online sales! More and more people are researching products and businesses through mobile devices, even while they're driving around. A strong inbound campaign makes it easier for them to find your doorway when they want a local shop in your industry.

II. A Stagnant Website

Virtually everyone has a website, but is yours actually creating value? Your website can be a powerful marketing tool, but it takes inbound techniques to build that value. Inbound allows you to reduce the costs of your website, while increasing its productivity.

III. Poor Lead Conversions

Inbound means targeted marketing. Instead of the "shotgun" approach of traditional mass-market advertising, you can select the best customers to bring into your website. Imagine a fisher with a net that only catches the fishes he wants. That's inbound marketing.

IV. High Customer Acquisition Costs

Accordingly, one of the strongest arguments for inbound is that it creates customers that are far less expensive to acquire, often half or less what traditional sales techniques cost. That translates directly to more profits and a faster positive ROI on your marketing investments.

V. Unengaged Customer Base

Engagement is currently a watchword in marketing. The companies that do best online, are those which have an active and engaged customer base who genuinely like the company and their products. The outreach you gain with inbound marketing makes this far easier to achieve.

VI. PR Challenges

On the flip side, inbound and social media marketing also allow a company to quickly mitigate PR problems. Inbound marketing allows for near-instant response to changes in perceptions, and innumerable ways to shift a discussion the way you want it to move.

VII. Marketing/Sales Rifts

It's a traditional problem in businesses that their sales and marketing departments frequently dislike each other, or even become outright hostile. Inbound content marketing forges a closer bond between them, because they're sharing data and customer information throughout the process.

VIII. Industry Respect

Succeeding in global business is about more than just your customers, it's also a matter of how your own company is perceived. Maintaining a quality blog and other other pieces of content allows you to contribute ideas to your industry. Creating a blog that's read by other influential industry figures will increase your standing and your reputation as a trendsetter.

IX. Rebranding Efforts

Because this is a holistic discipline, it's excellent for rebranding efforts. If it's time for a major image change, the data-driven techniques behind inbound content marketing will take you far. They'll help you identify target markets, reach out to them, and construct a "whole body" corporate image that appeals to your most-qualified buyers.

X. Desire For Global Reach

More than anything else, content marketing puts you in touch with the world. Currently, more than a third of the entire human species is online. That's more than two billion potential customers. Any business can succeed with a customer base that large, and content marketing is the best way to reach out! 

If pictures can improve or worsen your online reputation, can you build genuine social connections without knowing what someone looks like from the outside? That’s what Nick Soman set out to discover after he recovered from an illness that kept him lonely and isolated in the hospital for four months.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? It’s easier said than done, particularly on social media. A professional-looking profile photo impacts your success on LinkedIn. There’s a 37 percent increase in engagement when Facebook posts include photographs. Recent research even found that women find other women who post “sexy” pictures as less competent, and less physically and socially attractive.

So if pictures can improve or worsen your online reputation, can you build genuine social connections without knowing what someone looks like from the outside? That’s what Nick Soman wondered when he lay paralyzed, lonely, and isolated in the hospital for four months in 2009 from a paralytic illness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome.

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Soman recovered from his illness after six months of therapy and got to work on the Seattle-based anonymous chat app with ex-Amazon colleague, Richard Luck, who is the platform’s co-founder and CTO. Reveal Chat launched in September with help from former Facebook, Amazon, and Virgin America executives.

So if you’re looking to chat anonymously with someone, simply sign up through Facebook. Then choose whether you want to connect with a female, male, or anyone. You can opt-in to get push notifications when others are looking to chat. Either way, chats begin totally anonymous. You’ll only see the other person’s gender, age, and distance.

“Business is about making something people want, so we talk to our users constantly through the app to learn how to make them happy,” Soman said. “We’re learning that connecting anonymously makes it easier to be yourself.”

Since its launch, the app users have sent more than a million messages, with both men and women returning. While Reveal is especially popular among college students who like to have three to five chats going at once, a variety of people are using it, including job seekers. Plus, the app is getting attention from brands and marketing folks, as it offers a pretty unique way for them to get connected instantly with real people for feedback.

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“I’m proud to say that people are using our app to make connections of all kinds,” said Soman. “Last week a 30-year-old woman emailed us, “Thank you for building this app. I have always been lonely with no one to chat with after work. Now I have someone that I can chat with, and he is there to talk about mundane things. I particularly like that the relationship we have is not romantic or inclined toward dating. We are just two people who happen to talk every day about the things that are not important but make us feel connected.”

A 20-year-old guy wrote, “I just wanna say thank you because I met the girl on this app that I'm in a relationship with. I just wish we could see all the messages we sent back and forth so I could see the first things we said to each other and what days we started talking. But I have this app to thank.”

As Reveal’s focus is to keep improving the user experience for now, monetization is in its future as long as its user base continues to grow. “The more users we have, the better matches we can make. I expect to grow our user base into the millions in the new year.”

Until then, sign up for Reveal Chat on iOS and look out for it on Android in the next few months.

A luxurious workspace like Google’s acts as an advert for new recruits, as do the people who work there. A company’s best asset is its employees, so it is important to attract the best candidates – and to keep them. Of course, not all companies have Google’s budget. For businesses wishing to give their employees the VIP treatment, but don’t have the resources for their own swimming pool, there are some simple steps you can take.

Google’s new London office is due to open in 2016 – and the internet is already buzzing about what looks like one of the most VIP workspaces in the world. Mashable reports that it will have an open-air swimming pool, an indoor football pitch, a climbing wall and a roof garden – all in the very heart of London. Add to that free lunches and a design that allows employees to cycle right into the building to store bikes, as well as the major transport hub of King’s Cross station on its doorstep, and you will have some very happy Google staff.

So why is this 5-star luxury so important to Google? Not only do they want to hire the very best employees, but they want to retain them too. Highly-skilled workers, especially in the tech industry, are in demand across the globe, and keeping your staff (who you may have trained up at great expense) is vital. So providing a state-of-the-art workplace shows you appreciate your team. They will stay with their employer longer, feel a greater commitment to their company, and are likely to talk about the great organization they work for.

A workspace like Google’s acts as an advert for new recruits, as do the people who work there. A company’s best asset is its employees, so it is important to attract the best candidates – and to keep them.

Of course, not all companies have Google’s budget.

For businesses wishing to give their employees the VIP treatment, but don’t have the resources for their own swimming pool, there are some simple steps you can take.

1.    Ask your employees

Simply asking your employees what would help improve your working culture can lead to greater engagement and better recruitment and retention levels. Creating an online suggestion forum can yield many ways in which everyday life can be improved for staff. From free snacks, carpool boards, and Ping-Pong tables, to anti-discrimination training, management initiatives, and team away-days, small changes can make the world of difference to making your staff feel valued.

2.   Create the Wall of Awesome

Dedicate the space in your office where you highlight the awesomeness of your employees and allow other employees highlight their peers in fun ways.

At Sprinklr we go as far as creating our own official hashtag we use in internal conversations to spotlight someone’s success. Ours is #PureAwesomeness. We also have a conference room called Awesomeness that always makes our employees and our clients smile.

When the company rebuilt its offices, leadership wanted to showcase the Sprinklr story and essence. Employees are what makes the company, so they dedicated the whole wall to employee photos. It is a nice representation of the diversity of the firm.

We also love to highlight the personalities of our employees on our social channels through “meet the team” posts. We are proud of the passionate people who work here and want to give a glimpse of who we are to our external tribe and our customers. Here is how our community management team shared my story on Twitter.

3.   Celebrate success

It sounds so simple, but rewarding success can boost employee morale and lead to more positive word-of-mouth both internally and externally. It can also mean better customer service as employees know that they will be positively affected when the company does well, and therefore feel more genuinely involved in providing the best service to customers. Rewarding success doesn’t have to be about big bonuses; public recognition in the form of internal awards, or even praise in a team meeting can boost morale. Just saying, “Thank you” more often can go a long way towards helping staff feel appreciated. Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com, a brand with one of the most loyal and engaged staff of any company, says that celebrations – both big and small – are a big deal at Zappos: “We truly feel that celebrating frequently the things we achieve is one of the best motivators around for getting that kind of achievement repeated. While we rack up some pretty big bills for happy hours and parties, we believe that every one of those dollars comes back to us threefold in employee engagement, which to us is really what success is all about.”

4.    Rethink your pet policy

Sprinklr offices are also pet-friendly. Whenever you hear “aaawww” and “ooohhh, you are so adorable,” you know that one of our hairy friends decided to do a lap around the office. Whether it is Oscar napping on top of the desk, or Bear dressed in the Halloween costume, they add a lot of lively energy to the otherwise routine day.

5.    Allow for flexible schedules

One reliable way of improving employee morale, increasing productivity and improving relations between management and employees, is to offer flexible working hours. This could be anything from offering more part-time positions, job-shares, flexi-time (either with core hours or without), extended maternity and paternity leave, and working from home.

Some companies go as far as offering unlimited vacation. In this case, some employees take very little time, some take more than usual in any given year (always with a good reason or for a good cause). But companies that offer this benefit always comment on how much commitment, productivity, and energy this policy brings to their culture.

Advantages? Employees who feel trusted to manage their own time are often more loyal and work harder. The reputation for a good employment culture attracts more applicants and helps a company recruit the highest caliber employees.

A company is its employees. Staff with high levels of satisfaction perform well in their jobs and offer better customer service. Improving your business culture won’t just benefit your employees: it will benefit your customers and ultimately, the organization as a whole.

Originally published in Inc.

So you are finally listening to the advice of your marketing guru, agency, etc. and are sending out an email newsletter on a regular schedule (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Now for the big question…are you compliant? If you aren’t following the basic guidelines from the Federal CAN-SPAM Act then you are putting your business and pocketbook at risk, to the tune of potentially $16,000 per violation.

So you are finally listening to the advice of your marketing guru, agency, etc. and are sending out an email newsletter on a regular schedule (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Now for the big question…are you compliant? If you aren’t following the basic guidelines from the Federal CAN-SPAM Act then you are putting your business and pocketbook at risk, to the tune of potentially $16,000 per violation.

What Is This CAN SPAM Thingy?

In 2003, George W. Bush signed into law the CAN-SPAM Act, which mandated national standards for the sending of commercial email to recipients. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the enforcer of these rules. CAN-SPAM is short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing. For the most part, this law has not been enforced as well as everyone had hoped it would. But this year, the new FTC Director of the Bureau of Consumer Trade has made it clear that they will start going after businesses who violate these rules. As you can see from her actions this year, it’s high on her priority list. That, combined with Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation for our friends in America’s hat, means it’s time to start paying attention to this.

Oh Crap! What Do I Need to be Doing?

Believe it or not, there is a pretty simple set of rules to follow. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you are CAN-SPAM compliant:

  • Do not send to anyone that has not expressly opted into your email marketing list. While the CAN-SPAM act says there are no restrictions against a company emailing a customer or anyone who has inquired about your products or services, it’s a better policy to just ask for permission. In your online forms, it’s as easy as adding a checkbox that says “Subscribe me to news and offers.”
    NOTE: If you are medical practice, not only are you responsible for CAN-SPAM compliance, but also HIPAA compliance. The penalties for HIPAA violations are stricter than in the CAN-SPAM. You cannot email patients without their express consent.
  • No harvesting emails! If you are thinking about buying an email list, the same rules apply. If they have not opted into being marketing to by you, you should not be sending to them.
  • Make it easy to unsubscribe. Anything you send out needs to have clear instructions to unsubscribe and it needs to work! If someone does unsubscribe, you must remove them from your list within 10 business days. You must also list your postal address in the email so that if a subscriber chooses, they can write to you.
  • Communicate relevant content. If you are a bike shop, you should be talking about bikes and related topics. Your subject line and From address should reflect that.
  • Don’t be deceptive. Your From, To, and Reply-To names must accurately reflect who you are and your business. Subject lines must reflect the content in your newsletter message.
  • Be Responsible. Ultimately you are responsible for compliance, including actions taken by any 3rd party vendors you use. Even if they violate these rules while working for your, you are still at risk.

So What! I’m a Small Business and the Likelihood of Them Catching Me Is Slim

Not so fast. If you are reported to the FTC for non-compliance and they decide to follow up and investigate, penalties can be up to $16,000 on each email violation. That means every email address you improperly sent to can have its own separate penalty. It’s also considered a misdemeanor in criminal court. Still think it’s a good idea?

The bottom line is whether it’s you or your vendor sending message on your behalf, it’s worth a little due diligence to make sure you are doing it right. Make sure whomever is sending emails for your company (even if its your front office staff sending out to a group of 10 customers) is familiar with the CAN-SPAM laws and HIPAA guidelines if applicable.

Twitter chats can be a great way to utilize social media and build a relationship between a business and its audience. Unfortunately, people have short attention spans and Twitter has a lot of conversations going on simultaneously that can quickly distract your audience. Here are a few ways to make sure your next Twitter chat is a real success

Twitter chats can be a great way to utilize social media and build a relationship between a business and its audience. These unique 30 to 60 minute real time conversations that use a dedicated hashtag can really help in getting feedback on a particular service or product your company has to offer.

Unfortunately though, people have short attention spans and Twitter has a lot of conversations going on simultaneously that can quickly distract your audience. By simply picking a topic to discuss and promoting it ahead of time may not always get the kind of response and engagement you are looking for.

Here are a few ways to make sure your next Twitter chat is a real success:

 

Stay Current

By tying your Twitter chat into a current event that is topical will always get people expressing themselves and giving their opinion. People like discussing things in the news, especially topics that are controversial in nature. If you add some of that in your chat you may get more of a response and more people utilizing your hashtag.

Incorporate Multimedia

Pictures (and video) are worth a thousand words! It’s not just a saying. It’s a fact. By incorporating multimedia into your Twitter chat will not only keep participants organized but also engaged, and less distracted. One tool that that works well with Twitter chats for multimedia engagement is Nestivity. This community engagement tool enables users to organize Twitter conversations into structured “nests,” that includes a multimedia Twitter chat vehicle called Tweetcast.

Follow Up

Twitter chats are a great way to get people talking and engaging. But after that hour goes by what’s next? Make sure you get those people’s Twitter handles and follow them as your business. Then continue to engage with them by initiating one-on-one conversations right on Twitter. Personal touches go a long way, and by reaching out to them directly may turn them into brand ambassadors for future chats and perhaps even into new customers.

Twitter chats are a great, fun way for a business to engage with an audience. But for it to be successful, it needs a lot of organization and planning ahead of time.