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52businesses Launch Week!

For the past few months, I’ve been planning a new business idea “The Social Media Manager Network,” which was recently accepted into the 52businesses Program (which is helping a new business to launch each week for a year).

And today was day 1 of my week!

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So I woke up early to meet the team on Freret St. at the 52businesses bus. We discussed plans for our projects and outlined our major challenges and opportunities.

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My inspiration for launching this project: 

As a solo social media manager for the past few years, I’ve invested a lot of time and money into continuing education resources.

Why?

So that I can be awesome.

Have they all paid off?

Definitely not.

For the thousands of dollars and countless hours I’ve put in, a lot of it has been a bust.

So that’s where this new project comes in. Not only will it be a hub of quality, curated continuing education resources for social media and community managers, but it’s also going to provide a space where we can gather, ask each other questions, and learn from each others successes and failures.

Major challenges:

1. Creating a membership-based site that is exclusively for professionals to maintain the integrity of the give and take support system – but without isolating small businesses and bootstrapping startups who are also looking to learn.

2. How do I set this up? As an LLC? Should I run through my existing company or create a new one?

3. The name “social media manager network” is WAY too long and NOT sexy. So we need a new one.

So after the meeting we grabbed lunch and started tackling the name issue, which took us well into the afternoon where we reconvened on the roof of the bus:

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The end result: 3 very badass potential concepts:

socialtribu.ne ”The Social Tribune” – the idea being that the social media manager of a tribune is someone chosen by their clients/employers to protect the online reputations of the brands they represent.
pros: good story element
cons: still not very sexy
name: available
sexysocialmedia.co ”none of the bullshit, just sexy,curated, resources and ideas.”
pros: SEXY
cons: confusing
name: available
theSocialCoop.com / theSocialCo-op.com “a curated membership-based marketplace for social media managers”
pros: interesting + story/tie in
cons: some people could read “co-op” as “coop” and could be confusing?
names: available
So I’m going to sleep on those, and just sent them out to my amazing team of curators – the top social media experts that I know – who signed on to help ensure that this project is top notch. Once we’ve got a consensus, it’s on to step 2: business formation and name claiming + new logo.
If you’ve got some thoughts or ideas  on which would be the best fit, I’d love to hear from you!
Stay tuned – it’s going to be a rad week:)

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You Need a Makeover!

You! Yes, you! Stand still laddy!

Did I just hit you with a Floyd reference? I believe I did. Anyway pay attention, this is important.

I want you to think about your Facebook/Google+/Twitter, whatever profile you have, from a customer’s point of view. Now, imagine you’re that customer. Say you’re looking for clothing retailers to follow on Facebook. Are you gonna follow the guy with the boring profile who used the generic Facebook cover photo? (The customer’s face when they see that page? See below)

Or are you gonna follow the guy with the RAD PICTURES that looks like he actually gives a damn, and spent money on his image? (I mean how great is that picture!? It’s a pub – so they want to project a fun image! Bravo! Mission accomplished!)

I thought so!

“But I’m a busy business owner!” you irritably grumble. “ I don’t have time to figure out how to make the best impact with my images, nor do I want to buy expensive software, learn how to use it, and fumble through a design for myself!”

Well guess what! We know how to make the best impact, we already bought the software AND we know how to use it! I want you to look at these pictures and tell me what they all have in common:

 Does this not just give off a suave vibe?

 THEY MADE THEIR PROFILE PIC LINE UP WITH THE COVER! I CAN’T EVEN!!

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Yes, we all love Katy Perry, but look at the design!

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This is a comedian’s page, how cool is that cover!

Your profiles are the first thing people see. They’re going to google your store, or your target keyword, and your page will pop up. Do you want to grab their attention and make them stay, or bore them away? I mean, not to toot my own horn, but look at this shiz:

 We comic booked ourselves. You know you want to follow people that fun right?!

Bottom line is this: you know you need an updated image, let us do it for you. We will custom create content for one profile, or five! You give us your logo and any additional images you want used, tell us what colors you like, font preferences, and describe the image you want to project in three words. We run with those guidelines and will create something for you that you’ll be ecstatic to upload! Check out our new social graphics services.

 

Sound good to you? Fill out this form to get started.

 

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the english maven

The Girl Behind the Quill: Tips and Insights from Copywriter Lianna Patch

I sat down with Lianna Patch (a.k.a. The English Maven) to find out why copywriting rings her bell, how to properly pronounce her first name, and how she can help YOU be more amazing than you already are…

the english mavenWhat draws you to copywriting for the web?
It’s so common to see boring, unoriginal web copy. It’s everywhere we look. I want to create online content that makes people say, “Oh, shit, this is awesome…and now I want to buy this product.”

Where did you come up with the name “The English Maven”? Do people ever call you that in real life?
A friend of mine came up with the Maven moniker. He had it on his own business card (among about a thousand other descriptors; he’s a talented dude). We were tossing around business names, and he joked, “What about ‘The English Maven?’” and it stuck.

People do sometimes call me the Maven in real life. I secretly love it. Free advertising!

Speaking of what people call you – could you please provide a phonetic pronunciation of your name for our studio audience:
Lee-anna. It’s “anna,” like “banana,” not “Ahhhhh-naaaaahhh,” like you have something wrong with your uvula and your dentist is poking it.

What do you think are some major things people overlook or mistakes people make when preparing copy for their websites?
People will spend a ton of money on a gorgeous new website design, and then use the same old copy they wrote in 2002, before Google knew literally everything about us. It doesn’t fit with the new site design or their brand’s personality, and it doesn’t convert visitors into customers.

And, of course, people forget the “ask”. You have to actually tell people, “Click here and do this thing,” otherwise they just slide off the page like pudding, and go look at cat pictures or porn.

Any advice you have for those people?
Hire me. And if you’re not going to hire me, hire someone else and SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.

Just kidding. Copyblogger has a lot of good free writing resources.

Who are your favorite types of people to work with?
You! Obviously. And by that I mean someone who keeps up with the latest developments in her industry; loves her business; and appreciates the value of well-written copy.

How would you describe a potential client that should just avoid knocking on your door completely?
No age ranges or income levels are disqualified, but if you have the mindset of “This is exactly what I want to see and I am not open to hearing suggestions or exploring options,” you’re probably better off writing your own copy.

What was your inspiration behind creating Charm School?
I sometimes do a stand-up comedy open mic that’s close to my house, and for a while I was focusing on pet peeves. With Charm School, I wanted to remind people that a higher standard for etiquette still exists. Also, I was using a borrowed iPad to make those illustrations, and having a lot of fun with it.

Could you share with us your favorite page or quote?
OMG, now I have to sit here and think exhaustively about all of my favorite books.

Okay, here’s a good line from the original gangster of copywriting, Mr. Claude C. Hopkins, in his book Scientific Advertising: “We cannot go after thousands of men until we learn how to win one.”

That was in 1923. Dude was a genius.

Anything else you’d like to add?
Like everything, good copywriting takes practice! I’m constantly learning and trying to improve my skills.

Want to learn more from Lianna about how you can use your social media and web copy to wow your audience and generate leads?

Join us on March 21st for an afternoon of strategy, good times, business-changing advice, and probably drinks to follow.


SIGN-UP

SIGN UP NOW (space is super limited, y’all)

lianna patch - the english maven

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6 Inbox Tools and Strategies That Save You 3 Hours per Week or More in your Inbox

Sanebox

Problem: Inbox overload/email confusion

Solution: This auto sorts what’s important and what’s not and only shows you the super important stuff that you need to take action on. Everything else goes to a @sanelater folder that you can look at later. If there’s something you never want to see in your inbox again you can drop it in the @blackhole.

Price: Free 1 month trial (with link above) then $5/month

Boomerang

Problem: You don’t want to send email to clients at 8p.m. on a Wednesday or 2p.m. on a Saturday because you don’t want the stress of them contacting you 24/7 – but you also don’t want to forget to respond and you’ve got time right now.

Solution: Boomerang is a Gmail plugin that lets you schedule your email to go out an hour from now, a day from now, or on a specific day and time. BONUS: you can also set a message to “boomerang” back to you if you don’t hear back from someone on a particular email.

Price: Free for up to 10 emails/month

Google Calendar

Problem: Meeting requests/info are taking up valuable email space!

Solution: Utilize your Google calendar to send calendar invites (you can include dial in info for conference calls, location etc. within the info fields) and you can even set reminders to go off to let you know that you’ve got a meeting coming up!

Price: Free

Google Tasks (already set up)

Problem: Unread emails sitting in your inbox because they are “action items.”

Solution: Within the email that is an action item/task, click the “More” arrow at the top and then select “add to tasks.” your tasks box will pop up at the bottom of the screen so that you can see your task log (you can also add these manually).

 

Inbox Settings

Problem: You’ve got read and unread messages all mixed up with nowhere to go and manual filtering is a pain.

Solution: Go to “settings” at the top of your email inbox page and then go to the “inbox” tab and change the settings to look like this (remember to hit “save” at the bottom):

Automate Typical Responses

Problem: Having to retype the same basic message over and over again.

Solution: Create “canned responses” that will auto populate an email. To do this, go to your email settings then click the “labs” tab and then enable “canned responses.”

 

Whenever you want to save an email as a canned response, click the down arrow within your email (beside the trash button) then select canned responses then select “new canned response”

To access this response again, just click the down arrow within an email, go to canned responses and select the one you want to use!

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Mastering advanced Social Media Search

Advanced search provides an opportunity to build stronger win-win business relationships with both present and potential customers

Fast and efficient social media networking is about finding what you want quickly: potential new jobs, future employees, business competition and perhaps the latest info on a specific someone.

To become a social media sleuth, don’t shy away from using advanced search tools offered by social media giants Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It’s the best way to dodge irrelevant results and cut straight to the information that matters most — especially for your career.

Read my guest post on Brazen Careerist to find out more tips on how to master:

  • Advanced Facebook navigation tips
  • Twitter search’s hidden world
  • Harnessing LinkedIn search tools

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Maximize your Email Marketing Potential

How to Grow your Email Marketing List

In recent years, online marketers have shifted their focus to new marketing methods, email marketing being one of them. When you want to put your name out there and be heard, emailing your customers can be a powerful tool, if you use it right.

 

One of your most valuable business assets will be your email marketing list. If you want to grow your revenue and create loyal customers, this is the way to start. And it’s such a simple process! All you need to do in the very beginning is make people sign on. To grow and expand your list takes time, so be patient! It doesn’t happen overnight! You have to keep your focus and keep working at it!  It will pay off as long as you know what you’re doing, or if you know someone who knows what they’re doing. A misstep could harm your brand, so you have to be careful. This is where Conversations comes in. We want to show you how to grow your brand. And we have the technology. We can rebuild it (your brand.)

Here at Conversations.be, we can teach you new tricks, share tips, inspire you, and grow your online presence/brand. Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

 

You gotta have Mojo Baby!

Who doesn’t love gifts! Offering gifts to entice people to join your list is a great way to expand your brand! Just asking someone to sign up is a little tacky, and comes off as desperate. But if there is an incentive involved, it doesn’t seem like a one way benefit. You scratch their back, they’ll scratch yours. You need to come up with something that has general, mass appeal. Who doesn’t love Amazon gift cards! Be creative! You are trying to provide these people with a good reason to let you bother them with emails, so make it worth it!

More Cowbell

Don’t misunderstand us, people generally DO want to sign up! They just need a good reason. It is your job to provide them one. After you’ve got them hooked, and have their email in your list, it is your responsibility to not waste their time! They are taking time out of their day to read what you have to say. There is an unspoken trust with email marketing. But we will lay it out for you here, free of charge. Consider it a gift! You provide good stuff and they stick around. If it’s garbage, there is a handy little unsubscribe link at the bottom. Under no circumstances are you to give them any reason to click that link!!!!! You want to expand your reach, not shrink it.

 

You’re gonna need a bigger boat

Never underestimate the power of a good deal. If giving everyone that signs up an actual gift is out of your budget, then offer a discount! Choose your most popular item or service and tell new subscribers they get a percentage off. If this is starting to sound like battle plans, congratulations, you are in the right frame of mind. There are thousands of other businesses out there. They are your competition, and you are “fighting” for your customer’s attention. We can help with that. Consider us your battle strategist!

 

If you build it, they WILL come

What if I told you that literally millions of customers were already assembled, waiting for you to reach out to them? Exciting right!! Guess what?! That’s called Facebook. Twitter. Google+. The masses are already assembled. Nine times out of ten, people are going to check a business’s Facebook page for reviews and additional information. If you don’t have one, then you’re losing out on customers. Our goal is to maximize your audience. We will make it worth your while, we promise.

 

Say. My. Name.

If you’ve ever been to any type of event where someone is marketing themselves, think back to their table. What is one thing that every one of those people had in common? Business cards out the wazoo! Right?! And why? Because for every person that picked one of those cards up, a connection was made. Even if they just read the card, and threw it away! In this day and age, when we are all about technology, business cards may seem old fashioned. We can assure you, they’re not. Take the time to get business cards made, and pass them out when the opportunity arises. You could even print a coupon code on the business card to provide them with another reason to sign up! The possibilities are endless.

 

We want to help you, help yourself. We will coach you. You are not alone. As social media marketing expands, there will be more and more people looking for answers, that are just like you. If anything you learn from us helps you expand your business, then we are glad to have helped. We said earlier that it takes hard work. And that’s true. But maybe, just maybe! We can make your lives a little bit easier.

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Grow Your Email List to 1k (how and why you need to)

A healthy, growing email list keeps new and loyal clients in the loop about your upcoming products, services, webinars, and site launches. If done correctly, these email marketing efforts will impact sales more than any other online efforts – and you’ll spend less time making it happen.

The problem: You need people to actually sign up or “opt in” to your list. The days of uploading random excel spreadsheets of contacts or having your assistant input all of the email addresses from your stack of business cards are long gone.

Firstly, you’ll turn people off who MIGHT have been interested if they feel spammed or marketed to without their permission. Secondly, you are much more likely to get caught in the spam filters of people who DO care about your message if those who don’t are marking you as spam in their inbox settings or unsubscribing at a high rate.

So how do you get people to sign up?

First, you need to offer them something of value – a reason to sign up.

It’s also a good idea to let them know what you’ll be emailing them, and what the frequency of those emails will be. And you want to start with the end goal in mind.

For example: earlier this year, I had a goal of growing an email list from zero to 500 – full of startups and entrepreneurs interested in building a social media strategy. So – I created a 50 page “how to” guide, put an opt in box on the front of my website and set the download link to auto-send to anyone who signed up. The results? An instant 150 signups in the first week and a steady 2 or 3 per day ever since.

But signups weren’t the actual goal – what I wanted was to build up the consulting side of my business, specifically my digital strategy sessions.

Because $375 isn’t just a drop in the bucket for most startups and entrepreneurs, I know that I need to show potential clients the value of working with me. So that’s where the strategy guide comes in. So far, I’ve gone from one strategy session per month to one or two per week.

Brilliant, right?

I’d love to also tell you that I came up with this strategy ALL BY MYSELF, but I actually got this list building tactic (along with several others that I’ve grown niche lists with) from Jenny Shih.

Jenny mastered the art of list building and then created this really fun, super informative course called “Get Your First 1000 Subscribers” that also includes a private facebook group where we all give each other feedback on our opt ins, driving traffic through guest posting, etc. If you’ve got $200 to invest in training like this, I’d highly recommend it. (And if you don’t you can do what I did and split the cost with a friend; that way you each only pay half, but both get access to the training – and bonus: you’ve got someone to talk to about your process).

 

 

 

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Cloud Based Storage Options: Dropbox or Google Drive?

I’ve been evaluating my online toolbox lately – checking into new things, looking at how I use my regular tools and the value I get from them v. what I pay for them.

Cloud based storage is by far one of the most important things I pay for.

Dropbox has to be one of the most valuable tools that I use. Not only is it quick and easy, but it’s cloud based and files are accessible on mobile. BUT – is $10/month v. Google Drive’s FREE similar service worth it? 

Which is easier to use, which offers more space and which is best for you? Read on, homeslice.

How To Earn More Dropbox Space

When you sign up for Dropbox you’re given 2GB of free space, which is great to start, but you should definitely add more space to take full advantage of this application.

You can always acquire space the old fashioned way by purchasing account upgrades, and fortunately smaller monthly Dropbox plans are pretty inexpensive to start.  For example, you can order a Pro monthly plan and pay as little as $10 a month for 100GB of space or you can go all-out and purchase a whopping 1TB worth of space.  A terabyte is exactly 137,438,953,472 bytes.  That’s a lot of space!

The other way you can earn more space is through Dropbox’s referral program, which is a great avenue for startup marketers on a budget.  For every successful referral made, you earn an additional 500MB of space.  Plus, it’s an interesting and effective way to start working on your affiliate marketing skills too!

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Your Flexible Storage Option

Google’s cloud-based storage application, Google Drive, has definitely given Dropbox a run for its money, but it still doesn’t compare in terms of function and flexibility for what I need.

For example unlike Dropbox, all documents in drive are opened in Google Docs, which means you have to go through the extra step of converting your file to .doc if that’s what you prefer.  Plus, Dropbox’s user-friendly sharing options currently eclipses Google’s drive’s more limited sharing capabilities.  If a new client or team member joins a shared folder you created, that folder will instantly sync with their own Dropbox account!

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You’re also given the option of sharing through simple URLs for your files, providing another edge over Drive.  That’s why Dropbox is still my premiere method for storing and sharing images, since it’s a more universal option and clients don’t need an account to receive and download files.

Another key advantage that Dropbox has over drive is device compatibility.  As of now Dropbox is available for Linux operating systems and Blackberry devices, while Drive has not yet released compatible versions.  And while Drive comes complete with Android tablets and smartphones installed with Google Play, remember that you still have the option of downloading Dropbox too!

sooooooo – which cloud based storage system do you use and why?

 

 

 

 

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2 Essential Tools YOU NEED to Take Control of Your Inbox

Email is an absolute asset. But it’s becoming more and more of a headache and all out mess.

Because more and more vital communication, non-vital marketing and just about everything in between are now arriving to us via email, manually sorting, saving, clearing etc. is a HUGE time suck.

And ain’t nobody got time for that.

So here are the tools I use to keep my inbox in check – so that I can spend more time on day to day stuff like social media management, meeting with clients, and those blessed moments of “nothing to do right now” where I get to take my puppy Roux for a nice long stroll around the neighborhood…

Since I’ve started using these, I save about 2-4 hours/week on email filtering.

Sanebox

Is your inbox about to bust at the seams?  Do you get a sort of sick feeling in your stomach every time you open up your email program?

We’ve all been there:  your email count is over a thousand, some are unread because they are actionable, some are just random marketing newsletters you haven’t read yet but might one day, and some is just outright spam.

That’s where Sanebox comes in. Sanebox is an app that files those emails you don’t need  (but would like to save for later) in its special @sanelater folder.  And if there’s a few emails that you would prefer to never read again, your sanebox plugin can flush it down the @blackhole!

So the only thing that hits your inbox is real messages from real people that are actually important - and you can work with the app over time to train it to know exactly what you care about and exactly what you don’t.

You can try Sanebox for one month free of charge, but it only goes up to $5 a month thereafter. And it’s literally the BEST $5/month I spend, hands down, because it gives me back at least 6 hours/month.

Boomerang

Wouldn’t be nice if we could just schedule our emails in advance?  Wait, we can!  Boomerang is a great little plugin that sends out your emails on a set schedule.  And if you’re a real planner, you can even plan out your emails days, weeks or months in advance!

This really helps with the challenge of keeping an appropriate level of communication with your clients.  On one hand, you don’t want to give the impression that you’re accessible 24/7 by sending out emails to clients during dinner time.  But it’s also critical to respond and communicate in a timely manner.

So Boomerang takes the worry out of that “I should remember to email this person back first thing Monday morning” situation. 

Plus, you can even enable a special feature that “boomerangs” a message back to you when a client is taking too long to write back.  Like Sanebox, Boomerang gives you 1 month of freebies AND 10 free boomerangs/month until you have to upgrade to a standard $5 month plan.

The downside: It’s not mobile, yet. But I’m REALLY hoping that changes soon!

Okay, stop reading now and go download those things and then come back here and discuss how they’ve changed your inbox and your life:)

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[EFFICIENCY FRIDAY] Freshbooks for Billing/Expenses/Time Tracking

As part of my half new year resolution (absorb that for a minute), I committed to blogging once a week.

Which, as it turns out, is really hard when you’re blogging for multiple clients once a week.

And client blogs, naturally, take priority since they are signing the checks/keeping my lights on;)

So I’m taking advice that I give to clients who blog for themselves but find it difficult to commit once per week: blog what you know and pick a theme.

My new theme is time saving tools because I have A LOT OF THEM.

I’m calling the series “EFFICIENCY FRIDAY” because it sounds nice. And the caps lock makes it look important.

Actually, saving time IS important. So listen up.

First up is FRESHBOOKS.

What I use it for:

  • Expense Tracking
  • Invoicing
  • End of year Tax Reports/Exports
  • Client Tracking
  • Time Tracking

Why it saves me time:

For one thing, I put all of my business expenses on my business credit card, which I have plugged into my Freshbooks account and so it AUTOMATICALLY pulls in all of my expenses and categorizes them. Right!?

I also literally hit one button to export my end of the year reports to send to my accountant so tax time is less of a pain than it used to be. (But still really depressing when it comes to that part where I write the big check).

Oh, and there are mobile apps so I can take care of business on the go.

It’s also an easy to use web app so if for some reason I need to send an invoice or log something and don’t have time, my virtual assistant can go in and do it for me!

The Cost:

There’s a free version, a $20 version and a $30 unlimited version. I use the latter because it’s worth it. Check it out. 

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