Effective Social Media Practices for Small Businesses

When it comes to social media, there are several effective practices your small business should consider. Check out this recap of a recent COSE WebEd Series webinar for tips and tricks to maximizing engagement on your social channels and scroll to the bottom for the full presentation.

Contrary to popular belief, social media in and of itself is not a strategy. It’s a tactic that needs to be folded into your existing marketing strategy.

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    During the most recent episode of the COSE WebEd Webinar Series, Kasey Crabtree, president of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the American Marketing Association, highlighted that there’s been a jump in social media use by adults from just 20% to close to 70%, led by Facebook, with Instagram a close second. With that in mind, Crabtree laid out some tips businesses could employ to maximize their social media ROI.

    Be authentic

    Authenticity is a key factor when it comes to social media. One of the reasons social media was so popular early on was that people were draw to the sense of authenticity. Businesses then started to move in on social media and capitalize on that desire for authenticity.

    When it comes to Gen Xers (ages 35 to 54), 85% want to know that the brands they support are authentic—and they know when you’re being real and when you are not. If you’re a business owner, nobody is going to have the same passion about your business as you do. When you bring that passion to your social media personality, it can come across as being truly genuine. If you’re unable to do that yourself then Crabtree suggests that you partner with someone who can help you get that passion into words or photos on your social platforms.

    There are two main ways to go about increasing the authenticity and passion in your social personality.

    Authenticity Tip No. 1: Showcase happy customers. Sometimes this comes naturally just by having a good product or service that satisfied customers are willing to post about—and you can then share those testimonials with your larger audience. Sometimes it might require putting the idea out there or directly asking a happy customer to participate. So find your passionate customers and showcase their posts, and your audience is sure to love the passion you exude.  

    Authenticity Tip No. 2: Put your genuine feelings on display. Your genuine feelings can touch other people—especially when accompanied by a proper visual at the right time. Sometimes you have to take off that business façade and allow yourself to be a little vulnerable. If you can let that part of what you put out there, then people will respond.

    Stay mindful of best practices

    When it comes to posting, Crabtree indicates that, in addition to being authentic, there are five other best practices you should consider.

    Best Practice Tip No. 1: Be brief. These days, most people are looking at stuff on their mobile devices. Shorter posts are more likely to keep your audience engaged, and will also hopefully require less effort, time and editing.

    Best Practice Tip No. 2: Be quick. Get to your point early in the post—because, again, everyone is busy and flying through everything.

    Best Practice Tip No. 3: Encourage engagement. Ask questions to get people involved. What do you think? Which do you prefer?

    Best Practice Tip No. 4: Give a call to action. Make sure it’s something relevant to your product, but give your audience a directive that achieves your goal. Don’t be too sales-y but make it clear what you want people to do—go to your website, sign up for an event or register to join.

    Best Practice Tip No. 5: Increase impressions. Always make sure to tag a company or another person, or use a hashtag when possible. This will naturally help increase how many people view your post.

    Match your voice to the channel

    Not all social media platforms have the same feel and characteristics. So your personality on that platform should correspond appropriately. Here’s a breakdown of each one and how you can best utilize them to accomplish your goals.

    Facebook: Probably the social tool you’re most familiar with, Facebook is seen as the friendliest, most community-oriented platform. Facebook presents the opportunity for the longest posts and is the best option for posting videos. With Facebook, it is important to use some sort of visual with each post. If you are just using text, your post will have little opportunity for viewing. Also, your important posts will rarely be seen if you aren’t putting money behind them. A professional should be able to help you decide how to best use money to boost your posts.

    LinkedIn: Known as the professional platform, LinkedIn is the best place for networking and posting or looking for job opportunities. You can show some personality but depending on your profession, people might expect you to be more businesslike.

    Twitter: If you haven’t tried Twitter before, Crabtree advises doing a practice run with a fun, safe name and follow people and observe how to get a feel for how it works. Be smart and avoid talking politics, religion and sex unless those topics are your niche. People love talking about sports, pets and food so those are all safe topics.

    Instagram: This is a photo-based platform and people must follow you for you to be consistently seen. With Instagram, people search a lot via hashtags and might find you easiest that way. Crabtree indicates that, of all of the platforms, you want to make sure you especially don’t over-post on Instagram. When it comes to your business, stick to posting photos of more universal interest. Don’t get into posting a ton of your family for your professional site. Be sure to crop and use filters for best framing, and of course be sure to use hashtags as well.

    Hire a pro

    Do you know how to stay up-to-date on social media stuff and do you even have the time to do so? It’s an ever-changing landscape of technology and it can be time-consuming and overwhelming to figure out.

    Hiring a professional will help you:

    • Keep up on changes;
    • save you time and aggravation;
    • figure out “pay to play” so that you’re making the most out of the social media algorithms when it comes to your dollars spent; and
    • determine how to best go about advertising on social media.

    You’re (probably) not a plumber so you aren’t going to do your own plumbing. Get in touch with a marketing professional and plan out a marketing strategy that makes sense for your size and type of business. Even if you are a marketer yourself, it’s best to incorporate the perspective from an outside person into your overall strategy.

    If you would like assistance in finding the right professional for you, COSE can help.

    View the full webinar presentation below. And click here to get caught up on past COSE WebEd webinars.


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    Next up: Election 2016: Analyzing the Results

    Election 2016: Analyzing the Results

    From the election of a new president to measures that support the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, voters across Northeast Ohio had a lot of things to consider on their ballot this year.

    From the election of a new president to measures that support the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, voters across Northeast Ohio had a lot of things to consider on their ballot this year.

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    And now that the voters have spoken, it’s time to interpret the results.

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s 2016 Election Report provides a comprehensive analysis of the 2016 General Election results on GCP priorities, the Northeast Ohio business community and economic development in our city and region.

    In addition to commentary on the presidential and U.S. Senate races, we discuss the outcomes of voters’ decisions on Issue 32, the proposed 0.5 percent City of Cleveland income tax increase, and Issue 108, the four-year renewal of the 15-mill operating levy that supports the Cleveland Metropolitan School District and its high-quality charter school partners.

    Learn more about the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s advocacy efforts.

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    Next up: Election Day Recap: Ohioans oppose marijuana, limit monopolies, approve redistricting reform, back arts and culture

    Election Day Recap: Ohioans oppose marijuana, limit monopolies, approve redistricting reform, back arts and culture

    Ohioans took to the polls and took action on a number of statewide ballot issues. Up for consideration was a bellwether marijuana legalization issue, redistricting reform, a measure to limit monopolies and oligopolies, and a tax renewal for arts and culture. Here’s a rundown of how everything played out.

    Ohioans took to the polls and took action on a number of statewide ballot issues. Up for consideration was a bellwether marijuana legalization issue, redistricting reform, a measure to limit monopolies and oligopolies, and a tax renewal for arts and culture. Here’s a rundown of how everything played out:

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    Marijuana Legalization

    Ohio voters on Tuesday rejected a ballot measure, Issue 3, to legalize recreational marijuana.  

    Small business owners were troubled by this initiative and the rest of the country was watching.  After all, recreational marijuana use in the U.S. is new and uncharted territory and the four other states (and the District of Columbia) with legal recreational marijuana were first medical marijuana states for an average of 12 years.  Would this specific pro-legalization effort lead to a more challenging evolution for Ohio and essentially turn our state in to the nation’s “test dummy” while the rest of the country gets to watch from the sidelines?

    In the end, the electorate understood what business owners have professed all along—data, research, and experience from other legalized states have raised real concerns about both the impact of legalizing marijuana in the way proscribed by Issue 3 and the impact legalized marijuana will have on our state. 

    “Today’s vote showed that Ohioans understood that ‘Responsible Ohio’s’ ill conceived effort to own the Ohio marijuana business was absolutely the wrong approach for our state,” said Steve Millard, President and Executive Director of COSE.

    Issue 3 would have created a constitutional oligopoly for the 10 marijuana growing sites and groups connected to funding the campaign.   

    “While in this election the legalization of marijuana was defeated, we are likely to see additional attempts over the next few years on this issue.  In some ways, this campaign was a wake-up call to employers to begin to think about how they prepare for future legalization and to consider what they should already be doing in their workplace to protect customers and employees from the effects of drug use in the workplace. Even though the immediate threat of legalization has subsided, we will continue to work with, educate and support employers about what they should be doing today to ensure they can maintain a drug free workplace.  The advocates for legalization will be back and employers need to work a little more urgently to ensure they are well prepared for the potential of legalization,” said Millard.

    In separate, but related news, Issue 2 would make it more difficult for special economic interests to create monopolies, oligopolies, or cartel rights for themselves to the exclusion of other similarly situated Ohioans. While the margin of victory was smaller for this issue, Ohioans did choose to enact this protection for Ohio’s constitution, potentially thwarting future attempts from investor groups like ResponsibleOhio.  COSE supported the passage of Issue 2.

     

    Fair Districts for Ohio

    COSE supported Issue 1, an Ohio bipartisan redistricting commission amendment that will make for a fair, transparent state legislative redistricting process. The issue was approved by voters in a landslide and will create a bipartisan panel called the “Ohio Redistricting Commission” and enact a more collaborative, inclusive process for drawing state legislative districts in Ohio. Some supporters of state Issue 1 have vowed that they will look to put a similar proposal dealing with Congressional districts on the 2016 ballot.

     

    Cuyahoga County Arts & Culture

    COSE small business owners have been long-time supporters of our region’s world-renowned Cuyahoga County arts and cultural institutions. And, our support of Issue 8, a tax renewal for arts and culture institutions in the region, was reinforced with voters overwhelming approval on Election Day.  The issue is not a tax increase and by supporting the arts and culture levy, it will continue providing for:

    • more opportunity for arts education and experiences for children and the future workforce;

    • a vibrant arts and culture sector that is helping improve our economy and allows for tourism dollars to funnel in to the region that may otherwise be spent elsewhere; and

    • a secure source of funding to support the operations, programs, and services of the County’s arts and culture community as these organizations provide jobs to the region and ensure Ohio’s cultural treasures are protected for future generations.

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    Next up: Elevate Your Sales Effort

    Elevate Your Sales Effort

    In our inaugural April sales and financials Resource Guide, our “Sales Doctors” Marvin Montgomery and Hal Becker prescribed a 5-step treatment plan to give your sales effort a much-needed booster. Want to keep the momentum going? Check out the following additional resources that can help you’re your sales trending in a positive direction.

    In our inaugural April sales and financials Resource Guide, our “Sales Doctors” Marvin Montgomery and Hal Becker prescribed a 5-step treatment plan to give your sales effort a much-needed booster. Want to keep the momentum going? Check out the following additional resources that can help you’re your sales trending in a positive direction:

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    • Sales Academy: Speaking of our resident Sales Doctors, Montgomery and Becker also lead a one-day Sales Academy designed to help your sales process more efficient. 
    • Selling tips for female business owners: Women business owners face an uphill climb in overcoming stereotypes, especially when it comes to sales. Here are seven seven strategies to help overcome these stereotypes. 
    • Leads to sales: Obtaining online leads is great, but that’s just the first step. After you have the leads in hand, you have to convert them into sales

     

     

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    Next up: Employer Notice: IRS Issues Federal Tax Reform Paycheck Withholding Guidance

    Employer Notice: IRS Issues Federal Tax Reform Paycheck Withholding Guidance

    On Jan. 11, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released Notice 1036, which provides guidance on tax withholding from employees' paychecks under the new tax reform legislation that was signed into law late last year. The IRS is “instructing employers to implement the new withholding tables by February 15, 2018”. 

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    Full text of the IRS notice is available here

    GCP leadership and staff worked closely with Congressional leaders to preserve key economic development tools, like the New Market Tax Credit and Historic Tax Credit, in the tax reform package that was approved.

    In addition, the newly revised tax code states:

    • C Corporations will be taxed at a flat rate of 21%, down from the previous 35% rate.
    • A new 20% deduction for eligible pass-through business income will be available through 2025.
    • Temporary tax rate cuts will be enforced on nearly all individuals through 2025, the top rate is lowered from 39.6% to 37%.
    • Business expensing will be expanded by raising the cap on deductible business investments and making HVAC equipment installed in commercial buildings eligible. 

    Supplementary tax guidance, from federal authorities, is expected in the weeks and months ahead.

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    Next up: Employer resource coming to aid business owners in navigating state regulations

    Employer resource coming to aid business owners in navigating state regulations

    In last week’s newsletter, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE made it known to all our readers that we plan to unveil a state regulatory toolkit for business owners in the near future.  While most understand that a certain degree of regulatory requirements can be a part of doing business, our members frequently convey to us how important it is that they are created and enforced in a way that does not pose an undue burden. Unfortunately, many businesses are not aware of the fact that resources are available to them when they are confronted with a state rule or regulation that impacts their operations in a negative way.

    In last week’s newsletter, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and COSE made it known to all our readers that we plan to unveil a state regulatory toolkit for business owners in the near future. 

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    While most understand that a certain degree of regulatory requirements can be a part of doing business, our members frequently convey to us how important it is that they are created and enforced in a way that does not pose an undue burden. Unfortunately, many businesses are not aware of the fact that resources are available to them when they are confronted with a state rule or regulation that impacts their operations in a negative way.

    Through in-depth discussion with our membership and with our partners at institutions like Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI), a solution was born and we’re busy putting the finishing touches on the final product. By producing a user-friendly online application—or a state regulatory toolkit—it will allow interested parties to directly connect businesses with resources that can help in this space.

    Stay tuned in the coming weeks, to learn more about how your business can stay informed, participate, provide feedback, and offer solutions when faced with a state regulatory challenge.

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