Category Archives: Branding

Crafting and DIY | Business Using Social Media

 

Crafting and DIY | Business Using Social MediaIn the past few years, the online crafting community has expanded tenfold. With the success of sites like Etsy, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Instagram, Flickr, and with the popularity of blogging, arts and crafts is no longer just a summer camp activity—it’s a thriving, all inclusive economy.

With increased opportunities for exposure, simple web designs for commerce, and unlimited inspiration—small crafting businesses are springing up everywhere and they are succeeding. The crafting communities are supportive, encouraging, and loyal; the customers value the authenticity and unique nature of products that are handmade, original, and that cannot be reproduced or purchased at a chain retailer or department store.

When our economy took a dive, many people were laid off or lost hours at work—and many women, in particular, had to allocate new resources. Some that perhaps saw crafting and DIY projects as a hobby, were now utilizing their skills not only to create things instead of buying them, but also as viable side businesses. And as the trend grew, savvy entrepreneurs enhanced their businesses using social media.

Crafting and DIY | Business Using Social Media

On Pinterest, the “DIY and Crafts” category is one of its most widely used. And Etsy is designed exclusively for those who hand craft, sew, upholster, restore, paint, draw, crochet, and make jewelry. Instagram and Flickr offer artists the opportunity to show, and not just tell, people about their products. And now, with the new video plug-ins on Instagram, and apps like Vine, crafters can create promotional videos and engage with thousands of people, for free.

If you are just getting started with social media, there are dozens of avenues that you can use to propel your hobby into the realm of prosperous businesses. On Pinterest for example, creatives have a chance to engage in some fun marketing ideas. One way to use Pinterest as an indirect tool is to start a collection of your favorite things and incorporate some of your own items into “style guides” or seasonal “must haves.” For instance, if you create and sell jewelry, it would be helpful to include a collection of your pieces with handbags, shirts, and summer sandals to inspire people to buy.

You can share these collections via your social media networks and blogs. This method says, “Here’s how my items go with current fashion trends,” rather than “buy my necklace and earing set.”

Once you start selling your merchandise, you can invite customers to share photographs they’ve taken of themselves wearing or using your products and feature the photos in a contest.  Offer the winner some free goodies, and it is guaranteed that person will not only return for more, but he or she will tell other people about your product and online site or shop.

Crafting and DIY | Business Using Social Media

Finally, with sites like Tumblr, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook etc, you can utilize hashtags that will incorporate your photo or marketing phrase into a collection of other similar photos or phrases in the same category. Let’s say you’re selling hand sewn onesies for newborn babies, you can hashtag your product #babies #moms #parenting, and your product will show up any time another user searches in that category.

Social media sites provide extremely high conversion rates for small crafting businesses, and when you consider how simple they are to use—you’d have to be nuts not to put your marketing energy into developing a social presence.

 

By Sasha Novikov | Creatine Marketing

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Do You Need a Social Media Education to Execute A Social Strategy?

Do You Need a Social Media Education to Execute A Social Strategy?We’ve heard of students majoring in Social Studies, but Social Media Studies? That’s a new development, even for us. At Creatine Marketing, we are in the business of digital marketing and social strategy, but last year, while we were in the process of seeking out new employees, interviewing them, gauging them for experience, and putting them to work— some interesting questions came up.

Mainly, everyone was curious about what kind of training, education, or experience qualifies a person to create an effective social media strategy. How do you hire the right person for the job and instill the proper skill sets necessary to develop a social strategy? Now that we are in the market for new interns and employees again, we’re attempting to answer some of those questions and offer our readers and clients some insight into the various methods of obtaining a social media education, or experience in the field.

A common misconception is that the average social media user is sufficiently qualified to carry out a successful marketing campaign. Many businesses make the mistake of finding someone who uses Facebook every day and trusting him or her with the responsibility of creating a strategy, developing a focused direction, managing a budget, and controlling access to major accounts and passwords. Being an individual with a few social media accounts does not prepare you for analyzing engagement, interacting with thousands of fans daily, measuring SEO metrics, or meeting with clients to discuss and execute plans for branding, reputation management, and content creation.

Do You Need a Social Media Education to Execute A Social Strategy?Social strategy aids companies in communicating with their customers via digital channels, and the goal of a campaign created to function online is not too far off from the objectives of other marketing campaigns designed for radio, print, or television. A strong background in marketing, advertising, communication, sociology, business, or consumer relations is highly valued in this field. Whether you learn these skills in a classroom or from years of experience as an independent entrepreneur, they will ensure your success when developing a strategy for your business or other clients.

Universities and colleges now offer courses in digital media, online strategy, social media, web analytics, search engine marketing and more. Even Harvard offers a course called Digital Marketing: Social Media and Online Strategies. Because the field of marketing has dramatically shifted with the rise of social media and the increase of devices, platforms, and applications, companies are recognizing that it takes the right person to head their social media marketing department.

Do You Need a Social Media Education to Execute A Social Strategy?It is also important to remember that a degree or university education is not the only qualifying factor.  Many companies can train the right employee to understand the importance of branding, promotion, research, writing and distributing content, keeping an open dialogue with customers, managing bad press, and mastering effective communication. Additionally, digital marketing is a constantly evolving field and, because of the continuous metamorphosis, social strategists need to be the kinds of people who adapt quickly. This kind of skill is hard to teach.

Individuals from a wide variety of education and experiential backgrounds are taking on roles with social business components—social strategy, community management, and managing social campaigns. While formal courses may not be the most productive route in an ever-changing field, jumping in with no experience is even more harmful to your company.  If you are truly interested in being successful in social media and digital marketing there are books, blogs, articles, podcasts and plenty of online information offering introductory and in-depth knowledge about the field.

By: Sasha Novikov| Creatine Marketing

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What Your Startup Should Be Sharing on Social Media

Humanize Your Business by Sharing the Right Content—

I’m not even going to start by asking if you’re using social media to promote your startup, that should be a given. But what about strategy? Are you standing out, while staying true to your mission statements, goals, and personality? Why not go simple and self-brand? This will help advance product recognition and general brand awareness, create connections, build a reputation, and eventually reach your target audience.

However, I am consistently hearing that many companies are concerned about drowning in a sea of content, so I’ve compiled a few tips to aid you in creating and sharing material that will make your business stand out.

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Make it Personal

The anonymity of the world-wide-web allows many people to lurk in the shadows, hiding behind a profile pictures and a status. This isn’t the Wizard of Oz; we are ready to find out who’s behind the curtain. Users want a peek into your personal life, and it’s important to show your followers that you’re no different than they are. You may have children; you probably take trips, you wait in lines, and take pictures of your food—just like they do. Posting pictures that offer your fans some insight into your business—personal and professional– is a great promotional strategy.

Odds are, You’re not Perfect

It isn’t easy to start a new business. It is trial and error every day, and demonstrating what works for you and what doesn’t can be very insightful to aspiring entrepreneurs. Swallow your pride, and remember that it’s admirable to divulge the mistakes that you’ve made along the way. Those experiences are relatable, and even though it may be difficult to admit your blunders, showing how you’ve learned from them is a sign of growth.

What your Startup Should be Sharing on Social MediaOpen a dialogue in which you and your fans, followers, and friends are able to discuss your experiences in order to overcome and work through their own obstacles. Be honest about what you may have done wrong, what could be done better, and how you resolved the issue or attempted a new approach. Create a safe environment in which ideas are shared; where other industry professionals and individuals can communicate and learn from one another.

If You’re Interested, So are We

Read, share, read, share, read, share—it has become as natural to us as breathing in and out. Keep this in mind,anyone can write an article and throw it up online; links are ubiquitous and if you’re posting too many, people will start to ignore you—just like they ignore your links. Unfortunately a simple repost isn’t showcasing the content, or you, in the best way possible. If you find an interesting article, video, or link you think is worth sharing, copying and pasting the title won’t help establish you as an expert. Try contributing your own opinion. When you add a quote or reference of your own, it helps to differentiate you as an industry leader and trusted source of information, not just another voice in the crowd.

Visual Creatures
In 1996, Bill Gates said, “Content is King,” and the quote has become one of the single most overused and misapplied phrases in commercial Internet history. Humor me here, but I think, that seventeen years later, it’s finally time to retire the saying. I’m not saying you need to drag all of your brilliant Word documents into the recycling bin, but you should consider mixing it up with some graphics and videos.

Human beings are highly visual creatures, which explains the exponential success of social media platforms like Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest. Visuals are a powerful way to show, not just tell people about your brand and personal story. Share interesting and unique photos of your staff and coworkers, events that you’re attending, or projects your team is working on. Personal photos help your followers get to know you, but don’t over do it; there is a fine line between your personal and your business networks—potential clients do not want to see photos of your drunken escapades (even if they are hilarious to the rest of us).

Words of Wisdom

Whether they comes from Shakespeare, your grandmother, your pastor, or Lady Gaga—when you come across some words of wisdom, share them, tweet them, pin them, and Instagram them. Everyone loves a good quote, and fans will usually participate somehow when you post one, either by “liking” what you’ve shared, or sharing it somewhere else. Also, many insights can be summed up in a sentence, which will help you introduce and expose others to a whole new interesting world they have yet to discover.

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Create a Space for Constructive Criticism

Piggybacking off the last point, I want to reiterate the importance of using social media to receive feedback on every single stage of your product life. At the starting line, your social networks will validate your ideas—or show you where they could use improvement. Once your product is launched, the platforms can be used as a low-cost promotional tool. Don’t refrain from talking about your product, but please don’t let it be the only thing you talk about. Find a balance between your promotional and your conversational, or personal posts. Share the information that is relevant to the feedback you’d like to receive without exposing your followers to all the strategy and information you’ve gathered along the years.

Jokes and Memes

Viral content is social media gold. Memes are fun, light-hearted, and human. They are created by other Internet users, and are often right on the pulse of what is trending and popular online. You can even create some yourself to suit your own needs, but again, it’s important to strike a balance. When you are timely and selective with jokes and memes, it testifies to your awesome sense of humor and to the fact that you don’t live in a world of your own. I would just suggest refraining from the use of political or disrespectful content so people don’t get the wrong idea of who you are.

In the end, when it comes to social media, there’s no magic potion. Just try a little of everything until you figure out what works best for you—and then write about it! Ultimately, the more time you invest in discovering and sharing relevant stuff, the better the outcome and the more likely you, and your startup, are to succeed.

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The Conscious Commander, The Modern Manager, The Diplomatic Director

How You can Mold Employees Without Offending or Creating Resentment

The Conscious Commander, The Modern Manager, The Diplomatic DirectorWhether you run a Fortune 500 company, own a local coffee shop, coach little league, or hold a respected position in your community—being a leader sometimes means you have to correct and guide the people you are in charge of. But how can you encourage the behavior that you desire without offending people or arousing animosity? Also, are there ways to get your employees or friends to do what you want, need, and expect without attacking their ideas and damaging your relationship?

In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote and published a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People; it quickly became a best seller and is still popular amongst business leaders and communications specialists. The book is packed with advice and short stories that are meant to help foster successful communication in the office and in life outside of work as well. I want to focus on Part Four, where Carnegie teaches us how to speak to others respectfully, how to manage a group of people tactfully and honestly, and how to improve work ethic and stimulate enthusiasm for any project.

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation|

Be constructive and diplomatic. If you notice your employees could be doing something better, start by pointing out what he or she is doing well—then get to the areas that require improvement. As Carnegie puts it, “Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is pain killing. A condemnation is easier to hear when preceded by a compliment.

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly |

Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills one day at noon when he came across some of his employees smoking. Immediately above their heads was a sign that said “No Smoking.” Did Schwab point to the sign and say, “Can’t you read? Oh, no not Schwab. He walked over to the men, handed each one a cigar, and said, “I’ll appreciate it, boys, if you will smoke these on the outside.” They knew that he knew that they had broken a rule – and they admired him because he said nothing about it and gave them a little present and made them feel important. It’s hard to keep from respecting and appreciating a boss like that.

Simply changing one three-letter word can often spell the difference between failure and success in changing an employee’s behavior without arousing bitter feelings. Many peopleThe Conscious Commander, The Modern Manager, The Diplomatic Director begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but” and ending with a critical statement. For example, “Sam, I’m really impressed with your work on this presentation, but if you had worked harder on the last part, it might’ve made a stronger impression.”

In this case, Sam might feel encouraged until he hears the word, “but”. He might question the sincerity of the original praise. This could be easily overcome by changing the word “but” to the word “and.” “Sam, I’m really impressed with your work on this presentation, and with some more focus on the ending, it will be that much stronger.”

Calling attention to one’s mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.

3. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders |

No one feels comfortable taking orders from a barking, power hungry, boss—or even a sweet, calm one for that matter. Try giving suggestions, rather than demands. Instead of, “Do this or Do that,” or “Don’t do this or don’t do that,” try, “you might consider this,” or “do you think that would work?” Always give people the opportunity to do things for themselves—that way they can learn the proper ways to complete tasks and can learn from their mistakes.

A technique like this makes it easier for a person to correct his or her errors and can save a person’s pride. It makes an employee feel important and encourages cooperation instead of rebellion. Resentment caused by a brash order may last a long time—even if the order was given to correct an obviously bad situation.

Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable, it often stimulates the creativity of the person or people whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

4. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to |

What are your options when a person who has been a stellar employee begins to turn in work that is under par? You can fire him or her− but that is only a temporary solution. You can berate the worker, but this will definitely incite resentments. The average person can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.

If you want to improve a person in a certain area, act as though that particular trait were already one of his of her outstanding characteristics. Assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make extraordinary efforts in order not to leave you dissatisfied.

5. Make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest |

Good leaderThere are many tasks that will seem banal, difficult, or pointless to your employees− but you are the leader, and you have a method. Sometimes by making something seem like an honor, your employee will feel like he or she is doing you a favor− and that feeling of importance will make for wonderful motivation. But be sincere; do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person.

Make clear exactly what you want the other person to do, but remember to be empathetic− ask yourself, “what is it the other person really wants?” Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest and match those benefits to the other person’s wants.

Finally, when you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he or she will personally benefit. You could give a curt order like this: “John, we have customers coming in tomorrow and I need the stockroom cleaned out. So sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves and polish the counter.”

Or we could express the same idea by showing John the benefits he will get from doing the task: “John, we have a job that should be completed right away. If it is done now, we won’t be faced with it later. I am bringing some customers in tomorrow to show our facilities. I would like to show them the stockroom, but it is in poor shape. If you could sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves, and polish the counter, it would make us look efficient and you will have done your part to provide a good company image.”

He might not be thrilled to complete this job either way, but he will feel better than if you hadn’t pointed out the benefits and just demanded he complete the task. Assuming you know your employees take pride in their work and are interested in contributing to the company image, they will be more likely to be cooperative.

It is naive to believe that you’ll always get a positive reaction from the people you lead when you use these approaches, but research and experience have shown that individuals and groups will be more likely to work with you and not against you if you use these principles. And, honestly, even if you increase your successes by a mere 10 percent, you have become 10 percent more effective as a leader than you were before – and that is your benefit.

By Sasha Novikov, Published on Jeff Pulvino’s blog.

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I Like You; Therefore, I like your Work. [Building Your Reputation]

I Like You; Therefore, I like your Work. [Building Your Reputation]Do you care about being liked? Most of us do. As an adult you eventually adopt the “you win some, you lose some” mentality− but as a businessperson, it is important that people hold positive associations to you and your company so that when they see you or think of you or your brand, it is with a mental smile.

Your reputation follows you, not only when meeting with clients or customers face-to-face, but also on the Internet. At the end of the day, being liked does matter. The way that you are regarded by others can affect your business the same way it can affect your mental and physical health. People who are liked have larger social networks, which, in their personal lives, provide them with more emotional support− and in their professional lives, provide them with increased levels of success.

We all have friends or coworkers who are quick to praise or condemn a particular experience at a restaurant, store, or other establishment using their social media networks. I can admit that I’ve even left a Yelp review or two. How can you, as an individual, ensure that social media has a positive impact on your business? Confident, honest, and engaging business people tend to notice a steady increase of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, or real-life customers.

If people are keen on you, they are more likely to help when you need a favor, for example− promoting your business through word of mouth, or via the web− both courtesies, which hold immeasurable power. When people like what you represent as a person, they are likely to identify with your brand, your ethical foundations, and your goals− and as your business ideals are often rooted strongly in your character, the people that like you as a human will extend those sentiments to your company and show their appreciation− these days, using social media.

Just like with your personal relationships, in your business affairs, simply getting along with people is not the same as being liked or respected. There is a fine balance that needs to be reached between meeting your needs and making sure they are inline with those of another. Whether you are trying to make new friends or solidify business partnerships, these tips will boost your “like” factor− tangible and digital.

  1. Don’t be boastful. Overemphasizing your success comes off as pretentious. No matter how fortunate you are, remember to stay humble. You don’t have to down play every single achievement, but there’s no need to make them overly apparent to everyone, each time you speak. Timing can be very important. If you learn to express your accomplishments in a manor that is nonthreatening, people are less inclined to write you off as arrogant. You can demonstrate that you are a competent person without being a show-off.
  2. Become genuinely interested in others. People can usually recognize someoneI Like You; Therefore, I like your Work. [Building Your Reputation] who is trying too hard to be liked. In fact, the desperation of approval is directly associated with phoniness. Remember, there is no need to put on a false front just to get people to like you. When you show interest in the activities, ambitions, and triumphs of those around you, they will feel appreciated and acknowledged. Not to mention, you may be able to learn something new. Be a good listener, ask plenty of questions, and encourage others to talk about themselves. When they bring up something you find interesting or a mutual passion you should begin a deeper conversation on that topic because it will make the other person feel important. But be sincere, do not interrupt when a person is speaking to you− there will be an appropriate moment for you to share your own stories and experiences, but not at the expense of someone who believes you are listening to what they are saying.
  3. If you are positive, your presence is positive. People can only stand a “Debbie Downer” in moderation. They are difficult to befriend because they make us uneasy. If you are overly critical, even your closest friends will find you unpleasant to be around. It’s fine to offer constructive assessments, but be ready to provide several solutions or ideas to resolve the issues you point out. What good is a cynic with no better cause? Most people do not enjoy reading the status updates of that one friend who is always whining and complaining− and that woe-is-me attitude does not translate well in the business world either.
  4. Smiling, it’s a simple salutation! Maybe my obnoxious alliteration will help you keep this one stored in the memory bank. A smile is like a decorative, “Welcome, I’m friendly” banner− on your face. It’s your first chance to invite someone into an interaction with you. Not only do you seem more open and nice, but you also feel better on the inside, and that is a proven formula for gaining people’s affections.
  5. Leave the judging to the American Idol panel. You don’t need to build your own reputation on the failings of others. Instead, let your own stellar qualities stand for themselves. When you root for the success of your coworkers, friends, or family, they will return the support. As a leader in your community, business, or social circle you need to accept and appreciate those around you− quirks and all.

I Like You; Therefore, I like your Work. [Building Your Reputation]In an age where every single opinion is tweeted and then retweeted, it is crucial to maintain a positive reputation in your personal life because that will echo in your professional decisions. This is especially true if you’re company is using social media in business because your character must remain completely transparent in order for you and your business to be perceived as authentic.

In reality, no matter what you do, what you say or look like, how you behave, dress, or what you believe− some people will like you and others won’t. But as a business leader, you need to increase your odds by following the methods in this article and working even harder to be reachable as well. Connect with others on a one to one basis by allowing them to penetrate your private bubble. Letting people get to know you, being nice, and caring about others− whether about their personal or professional endeavors− will ensure the same feelings from them in return.

By Sasha Novikov, Creatine Marketing

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