There are many problems that are encountered by business owners throughout the course of managing their business. All entrepreneurs must be prepared for solving problems that come their way. However, creating a startup is not an easy task.
New entrepreneurs are usually not prepared for the problems coming their way. The first thing to do is to understand that problems are an everyday part of every business and then face each problem with determination and a proper solution.
Here are some common faced problems in new businesses and their solutions.
Money is known to be one of the major causes of problems that can lead business to failure. For a new business, the biggest mistake is expecting instant profit. Young and eager entrepreneurs start up a business with little money, assuming they will earn big and then invest that money again in their business. It is significant to understand that you cannot get an instant profit at the start of your business. Experts advise not to expect much profit for at least two years. Always prepare for the worst case scenario. Before starting a business, ensure that you have enough money to sustain you at least up to two years. Start slowly and patiently.
The phrase ‘time is money’ holds true, especially for a business. It is essential for new businesses to manage their time wisely. Planning everything in advance and ensuring everything is done on time is very important for the prosperity of any business. Ensure the schedule you are making is achievable and stick to it. Give yourself enough time to perform a task with accuracy. Plan your future projects. Make adjustments accordingly. Utilize calendars and planners to make sure you don’t miss an appointment or a deadline. Spending time effectively can actually save you money and even earn you more revenue.
3. Lack of Knowledge/Skills
This is one of the top most mistakes made by entrepreneurs. It is important that you have ample knowledge about the industry you are entering, your competitors, your target market, current trends, advertising and marketing techniques as well as financial know-how. You must possess the skills needed to start up a new business. If you are not prepared, educate yourself. Do proper research, ask other business owners, read relevant books and websites. You may end up with a huge loss if you start your business without having the required knowledge and skills.
4. Information Overload
The only thing constant is change! This phrase is true as well as change is continuous and we witness it happening all around us. Today, information keeps changing. New facts and data keeps emerging and replacing old beliefs and trends. Due to this information overload, it gets difficult to find effective solutions. It becomes a challenge for a new business to sort through this data and come up with good decisions. However, one easy solution is to look for the authenticity of the data. Check its references, and the writer. Learn to use keywords to narrow a research topic. Start asking successful businessmen about their experiences. Learn from them.
5. Lack of Direction and Planning
This problem prevails because of not creating a thorough and detailed business plan. Many young entrepreneurs are so excited about setting up their very own business that they fail to prepare a proper business plan. It helps in focusing on the goal and mission of the business. It determines the financial situation of the business, the roadmap to follow, market research and analysis of the competition. A business plan is basically an investment to your business.
6. Working in the Business rather than Working on the Business
Usually entrepreneurs get so worked up with the paperwork, satisfying customers and doing all the necessary things in keeping the business running. They fail to fulfill some other equally crucial tasks. It is important that you take a day or even a few hours to analyze your business. Determine which area needs attention, do an inventory review, review cash flow of your business, review payrolls and employee benefits. It is also important to update your corporate minutes, your contracts and your agreements with stakeholders annually. Hold meetings with your managers and other employees to connect with them.
Unfortunately, there are many new startup companies that stick to the age old book rules. They don’t try to create an innovative culture, even majority of the big businesses struggle with innovation. People get accustomed to the work culture and they don’t think outside the box. Businessmen and employees stay away from change and resist whatever changes that take place in the company. The best thing to do is to be open to innovation. When bringing a change, ensure that all your employees are prepared for it. Discuss it with them in a meeting, tell them how important it is to be innovative, make them understand how beneficial it will be.
8. Trying to Do It Alone
Coping with everything alone is also one of the most common mistake new business owners make. They believe that they can manage everything and don’t need any advice or help form anyone. Initially, they do seem to be successful in this strategy as the cost is low since they handle everything. However, as the work starts growing gradually, the workload takes a toll on the new entrepreneur. Mistakes start being made and the quality of work starts decreasing. You may even start losing customers soon. This is why this strategy is not successful in the long run. Hiring two to three employees is more beneficial for a start up business. It is better to pay a small amount to your workers than lose double the amount in the future.
9. Getting Clients
For a new business, it is difficult to attract prospects and retain customers. With a small marketing and advertising budget, new entrepreneurs are unable to reach out to a wider audience. Potential customers are usually hesitant to going for a new business. They prefer going for companies that have experience and a large customer following. However, the good news is big companies charge more. There are many clients and customers who are looking for companies that provide cheaper, but good quality service. Providing excellent service to them will ensure that they remain your customers and even recommend you to others.
10. Poor Marketing
Apart from a detailed business plan, a marketing plan is also important for any business. Once you have a clear idea about your target market and your competition, you can allocate a budget for advertising and promoting your business and decide which medium to advertise through. You can also decide your product pricing through target market analysis. Make sure you that your pricing can be easily afforded by your target market and that your advertising effectively reaches them.
It’s been a long time since a major hurricane hit Southwest Florida. Over a decade, in fact; since then, we’ve been very lucky to have avoided a major storm.
But that could be drawing to a close – and the complacency we’ve fallen into over the past 10 years could come back to bite us this year.
It’s called ‘hurricane amnesia’, and it happens when people go for years between hurricanes. We become less cautious and less prepared, which means we’re not nearly as safe as we should be. It’s just in these moments, when we let our guard down, that a hurricane strikes – and catches us unprepared.
That could happen this year. Experts are predicting anywhere from a “near-normal” or “above normal” season, with 14 named storms and up to eight hurricanes (and as many as four strong hurricanes with wind speeds of 111 mph or above).
Now that the hurricane season is officially here – it started yesterday – it’s time to ask yourself: do you have hurricane amnesia?
Just ask yourself the following questions:
Do I have a hurricane evacuation plan?
Do I know where I’m going if a hurricane is approaching?
Do I have enough supplies to last at least three days away from home, and ideally a week after a storm?
Is my home outfitted with the latest in hurricane-proof technology, like storm shutters and impact windows?
Is everything in my yard secured and/or fastened to something sturdy?
Have I made sure my trees are free of dead limbs?
Am I up to date on hurricane insurance?
If you can’t answer these questions, or if these questions indicate that you’re not quite as prepared as you should be, you still have time to fix things and get prepared before we get deeper into the season.
Protect your home and protect yourself by taking action today.
GREENWICH, Conn. – May 11, 2016 – Chief Executive magazine released its annual Best & Worst States for Business survey and CEOs again rated Texas as the No. 1 state in which to do business – abut No. 2-ranked Florida continued to steadily edge up in qualitative measures.
Florida “has aggressively moved ahead on key issues, like rebuilding ports, without waiting on federal support,” the report says.
North Carolina, Tennessee and Indiana rounded out the top five, and Ohio ranked as the biggest gainer, rising from No. 22 in 2015 to No. 10 this year.
The Best & Worst States for Business survey captures the sentiments of CEOs on a range of important issues. The magazine calls the CEO opinions “crucial” because their judgments drive investments in offices, factories and other facilities that bring jobs to a region.
In addition to the overall state rankings, Chief Executive’s 2016 Best & Worst States for Business survey also presents individual category rankings, including quality of life (Idaho), tax policy (Wyoming), workforce quality (Utah) and best communication of business incentives (Arkansas).
“This has been a particularly volatile year,” says Marshall Cooper, CEO of Chief Executive magazine and ChiefExecutive.net. “Business leaders are challenged with everything from the growing talent shortage and skills gap, to digital transformation to discerning how the presidential election will impact their business.”
© 2016 Florida Realtors®
In an upsetting blow to marketers everywhere, research indicates that over 70 percent of marketers failed to deliver quantifiable results for their efforts in 2013.
While there’s much to be said for experimentation with new tactics, there’s also a harsh reality here: A huge majority failed to track and attribute marketing spend to closed business. As budgets continue to increase, this tracking is critical to understanding whether your content strategy is effective. Without a means of evaluation (or by ignoring the data you have, which is even worse), you’re letting your gut dictate your content marketing decisions, instead of letting your audiences’ preferences determine your direction.
How can we turn this ship around?
In short, all marketers need to become agents of ROI.
You need to focus on game-changing, rise-above-the-noise tactics that not only deliver creatively, but also lend themselves to better tracking. You need to find ways to collect meaningful insight from your content and become diligent in your analysis of the resulting data. You’re looking to capitalize on trends you see, and course-correct where you can to become more effective and prove real content marketing ROI. Essentially, you’re content hacking.
Luckily, just as online video content is becoming the most expected and popular format, it’s also one of the most measurable content media you can add to your mix.
Why is video different?
Video content lives in players or containers, so it travels differently than text assets do. When syndicated across the web, you can still access audience engagement metrics from your video players. This isn’t necessarily true with a white paper or other assets, which are typically delivered in a PDF format. You may not know whether the person who downloaded your eBook actually read it (despite giving them a high lead score), but with video content you can see exactly how a viewer engaged.
With that said, how can you become an agent of ROI with video content? Here are some best practices:
1. Track attention span to discover which assets deliver the greatest value: By using a video marketing platform to collect video engagement data, you get to see exactly how your assets are performing. Just a glance at the attention span data below clearly tells me which video campaign was more appealing to my audience on the whole:
As you can see from the two images above, the second video maintains about 60 percent of the audience right to the end, whereas the first experiences a massive drop off in the first 10 seconds. If I were looking at this visual data in a post-mortem analysis, I’d know that Video 1 was not successful, and I’d want to look into why.
Data may not always tell such an exaggerated story, but once you look into something like a steep drop-off at the start of your video, you might discover revealing audience preferences or behaviors. For example, we noticed there was a steep drop off for one of our first home page explainer videos. With a look at the data and some reflection, we realized the audience was probably abandoning the content so quickly because the video was set to autoplay. When someone arrived on our site, they were instantly trying to discover where the noise was coming from in their browser and fumbling to turn autoplay off (maybe for lack of headphones, quiet office areas, etc.). Once we turned off autoplay, the video maintained a strong attention span. This is only one example of the kinds of things you can discover, and this type of data represents your audience’s digital body language. Overall, viewers’ attention span per video can be a great indicator of purchase intent.
Discoveries like these will ultimately give you clues as to how your video strategy can be better tailored to your audience’s real preferences — an analysis and evaluation process that will lead to more repeatable success.
Tip: A good rule of thumb is to aim to maintain over 60 percent of your audience straight to the end of your videos, where they’ll encounter your call to action. If your video data indicates lower performance, look to make adjustments.
2. Use prospects’ video views to influence lead scoring: Video can also help you become an agent of content marketing ROI in that it contributes to more accurate lead scoring within your marketing automation platform (MAP). You might currently score your leads based on text-asset downloads; however, this doesn’t factor in the video assets individuals have consumed — which means you are missing out on valuable audience data.
Consider this example: Two prospects come to your website. Prospect No. 1 hits a few pages and downloads a white paper. Prospect No. 2, however, hits a few pages on your site, watches two overview videos, and then watches a 4-minute product demo and 15 minutes(!) of a recorded webinar. This prospect should get a way higher lead score for the volume of high-value content consumed in a short time frame. Unfortunately, your MAP probably doesn’t track this prospect’s interaction with video as an out-of-the-box feature.
If you aren’t pushing video data into individual contact records in your MAP, you’re flying completely blind when it comes to knowing how your videos are influencing your customer’s next steps — extremely revealing data that can indicate their interest or purchase intent.
Tip: Start tracking individual prospects’ video viewing history as part of their lead score. This will help you attribute conversions to specific pieces of content and clue you in on any existing content gaps along the funnel.
3. Connect video engagement data to your CRM: Video data can be pushed to a CRM, like Salesforce, just like engagement data can be pushed into your MAP. The data appears directly in a contact’s record, allowing you to see which videos they’ve watched and for how long. Once a viewer hits a certain threshold or percentage of content consumed, you can set triggers (or tasks) in your CRM so, for example, your sales team could be alerted to call a lead and ask them questions related to the context of the videos you know they’ve watched.
This CRM connection makes you an agent of ROI instantly because you can pull together pre-configured reports that list which videos have been responsible for the most amount of new business. Reports like the ones below demonstrate a clear connection between money spent on your video campaigns and the ROI they bring in to your company:
Regardless of the industry you’re in, you’re likely on a constant search for tools and resources to help you learn new skills and brush up on concepts you’ve already learned to propel yourself up the career ladder.
As your career progresses, don’t underestimate the power of networking. Most people think of networking when they’re on the search for a new job, but you don’t have to be job-hunting to benefit from the power of your peers.
After all, it can be a refreshing and enlightening experience to have a conversation with those in your industry. Perhaps you’re considering a return to school for an MBA, the same dilemma facing the main character in the second episode of our Engineering.com video series.
Before you commit to the substantial time and money needed to pursue another degree, consult with some of your industry peers about their own experiences. Going back to school is a sizable investment. Will it pay off? Or are there other options when it comes to enhancing your professional development?
If you’re not sure where to look for networking resources, it helps to reach out to your co-workers for ideas. Seek out related groups in your community, or consider joining a professional association. And for online networking, you can’t beat LinkedIn Groups. LinkedIn is also a great source for updated event listings, giving you an invaluable opportunity to meet your online connections in person for further discussion.
You may also want to seek out a mentor. This person can not only give you career advice, but can also offer a valuable perspective on what you can do to move ahead and take your professional development to the next level. Some workplaces offer mentoring programs. If that sort of assistance isn’t available at your office, consider approaching a prospective mentor to see if that person would be interested in meeting up for occasional conversations and feedback sessions.
By making these sorts of valuable connections now, you can help achieve your professional development goals. Regardless of your industry or current job situation, it’s critical to not only consider your present job situation, but where your career is headed so that you can plan accordingly for the future.
Ever stopped to think about why social networking is important? Wonder how social networking can help you? In today’s VOX Daily, Dave DeAndrea gives you four amazing reasons as to why participating in the online world via sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook will make you more visible, engaging, and relevant in the voice over industry.
By Dave DeAndrea
I’ve eavesdropped on a few conversations between Voice Actors regarding social networking and something I commonly hear is, “That’s such a waste of time.” I’d mention these people by name… but I’ll refrain.
Because you’ve never heard of them. They’re not on “the grid” of social networking.
Question: Is it possible to be a successful Voice Actor without utilizing social networking?
Answer: Absolutely. But let me offer 4 reasons why I believe that social networking is worth the investment of time.
1. Recognition (For crying out loud! It’s free exposure!)
There are lots of ways to get your name out there and most of them cost money. Why not take advantage of the many ways to connect with other actors and clients that don’t cost you anything but a little bit of time between auditions and sessions?
When I finally got the Jeep Wrangler I always wanted, I quickly learned that I had inadvertently become a member of a secret society. Other Jeep People would wave a friendly acknowledgment as we passed each other… an unspoken understanding that we shared a common interest (by the way…this NEVER happens when I drive our minivan).
As Voice Actors, we’re not likely to spot others that share our common love of VO outside of workshops and conventions. Most of us don’t walk around with a microphone, so it’s great to have places online to go where we can meet people who “get it”. And that leads to…
Social networking sites can be wonderful places to learn and find solutions to problems. More often than not, there’s a tech guy lurking in the “logged in” list who’s more than happy to help you figure out where that annoying high-pitched noise is coming from… a VO Veteran who’d be willing to offer advice on your demo… a fellow actor of the opposite sex who’d love to try that 2-person conversational audition with you. And who knows? You could be a great resource for someone else.
This one is HUGE! I’ve been on the giving and receiving end of this key career component.
A client may have already hired one of your VO buddies, but it’s a multi-voice project… so the client asks them if they know anyone who might be good for one of the other roles. I know I’m over-simplifying this, but they can’t recommend you if they don’t know you.
And what about securing an agent? Maybe you know an actor that the agent already represents. You can have “referred by (insert name of Voice Actor whom the agent represents)” in the subject line of you email inquiry or you can put “seeking representation.” The former will get you listened to… the latter will get you deleted.
Are you wondering what 2015 might look like for social media marketing?
If the changes in 2014 are an indicator, there will be a lot more changes in 2015.
To get a grip on what the near future may look like, we tapped the knowledge of 28 social media pros.
Here’s what they had to say.
#1: Video Becomes the Content of Choice
In 2015, video will dominate as the social media content format of choice. Further, regular video segments, like podcasts and blog posts, will come into their own as a form of content that drives social engagement and other marketing goals.
Let’s look closer. In August 2014, Facebook surpassed YouTube in the number of video views via desktop according to comScore. It’s important to note that YouTube still has more views across all devices. As of September 2014, Facebook attracted a billion video views per day, a roughly 30-fold increase since July.
Based on SocialBakers’ data, video posting moved away from YouTube towards Facebook in 2014. While these results still show YouTube ahead, the trend favors Facebook.
Also, Facebook videos receive significantly more shares than YouTube. This makes sense because sharing and engagement are at the heart of Facebook interactions.
YouTube is the best-performing social media platform to drive trackable sales,according to AOL’s Convertro research. It’s the first, last or only platform touched.
Earlier in 2014, Convince and Convert’s Jay Baer introduced his Jay Today, a 3-minute video. Baer cross-promotes and posts this content.
Here’s how nimble marketers can jump on this 2015 video trend:
Create your own regular video episodes. Take a page from Jay Baer’s playbook. His cost is under $125 per episode!
Provide the five key types of content your target audience seeks. Use Marcus Sheridan’s “They ask, you answer” approach. Record your employees who know the information, but are challenged to put their words in print.
Get your customers into the act. Videos captured with a smartphone are much easier than writing a review. Make it easy for customers by setting up an area of your establishment to encourage them.
#2: Information Density Creates Hurdles
To me, there is one mega-trend that is like an enormous hammer forging nearly every idea and innovation in our marketing world today: Fighting through information density.
By 2020, the amount of information on the web is expected to increase by 600% (and some believe that number is low!). The challenge of cutting through the content shock and earning a share of the limited customer attention span is the marketing challenge for the foreseeable future.
This reality is behind important shifts occurring in the next year:
Business migration away from Facebook. The drop in organic reach has been apocalyptic for many businesses. Why? There’s too much content on Facebook and the company is forced to ratchet down the reach. We’ll have to either spend a lot more money on Hollywood-quality content, a lot more money on advertising or both. This will force some businesses to reconsider Facebook as a viable channel and enable a migration to less noisy venues.
Emergence of new content forms. As the web adapts to and adopts these new realities, it will drive innovations that help businesses stand out. I predict that we’ll see some interesting new content forms develop in 2015. A couple of areas ripe for innovation are interactive video and new types of short-form visual content.
Fighting through filters. New apps and filters are emerging to help consumers make better content choices. One example is Zite, which filters content for you as it learns about your preferences. As more people turn to these apps to sort the clutter, the marketer’s attention will turn toward the new challenge of getting messages through these new filters.
These are just a few of the many implications of this trend. The conversation on the web will turn from “content” to “ignition”—how do we get our message to cut through and compete?
Mark Schaefer, educator, consultant and author of Social Media Explained: Untangling the World’s Most Misunderstood Business Trend.
#3: SlideShare Becomes the YouTube for Business
Instagram is to Facebook as SlideShare is to LinkedIn. In other words, look for SlideShare to emerge as the key social network for business professionals to find and share bite-sized pieces of content while on the go in 2015.
SlideShare is currently where you create, distribute and consume presentations, and it’s a great tool for B2B marketers to do content marketing for their target audience. Good presentations drive page views, leads, SEO juice and often long-lasting evergreen content. In 2014, SlideShare added video capabilities for LinkedIn influencers. In 2015, SlideShare will extend video to their entire audience. Watch for SlideShare video to become YouTube for business.
If you’re a B2B business or a marketer who represents B2B clients, make sure SlideShare is squarely on your radar for 2015.
Dave Kerpen, CEO of Likeable Local, chairman of Likeable Media and author ofLikeable Leadership: A Collection of 65+ Inspirational Stories on Marketing, Your Career, Social Media & More.
#4: YouTube Declines as Social Networks Embrace Hosted Video
Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will show preferential treatment to video content that is hosted on their own platform. This means that marketers will be uploading original video content to each social network (and not just short videos).
The social networks will give extra exposure to uploaded videos because they keep users on the platform longer and provide unique advertising opportunities. This distribution of video will radically transform the way marketers work with video.
Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner and author of Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition and Writing White Papers: How to Capture Readers and Keep Them Engaged.
#5: Social Conversions Become Easier
Social micro-conversions will become an active and successful strategy with every business in 2015.
Currently, businesses look to promote on social media, direct traffic back to their site, introduce a call to action and then drive the visitor through the conversion. The needed behavior is rife with trouble, because it requires the consumer or prospective business to take many steps.
I believe we’re going to see a lot more methods across social media that provide direct action through engagement. It may be a purchase through a tweet, mobile click to call, a Facebook registration or a Pinterest purchase, which bypasses the funnel and drives the social user directly to a conversion.
Some of the technologies will be integrated directly into the platforms, but others will be available through third-party applications. Either way, the ability to convert will be drawn closer to the audience and the activity.
This is a fantastic evolution in social media, because of the apparent lackluster conversion performance that companies are seeing when attributing conversions directly to social media activity. I believe its impact is vastly underestimated by businesses right now. By minimizing the steps and complexity, the conversion can be accomplished much easier. As a result, we’ll see a growing improvement in social media conversion performance and attribution.
#6: Paid Ads Become Unavoidable
In 2015, social networks will continue to find ways to push businesses into their advertising programs.
We already know that Facebook plans to stifle organic promotional posts in the news feed starting in January 2015, and that Twitter hasn’t ruled out implementing a Facebook-like algorithm for their news feed. Instagram is still busy expanding their advertising platform, and since they’re owned by Facebook, an algorithm that limits organic posts from businesses and brands could easily be added into the mix.
Hence, social media marketers who might have avoided social advertising in 2014 will be forced to embrace it in 2015.
Kristi Hines, freelance writer and professional blogger.
#7: Local Search Expands Google+
The rise of Google+, through Google Local Search results, will be a phenomenon in 2015.
Google has created the infrastructure to enable businesses to easily appear in Google search, and so many businesses still haven’t claimed their listings.
Once they have five reviews, the stars will be shown. The ‘star game’ will start to play out in 2015: authentic reviews will rise to the top and small businesses will have the chance to shine.
Even though stars are generally not considered to be a main ranking factor, we may all be surprised by their importance in search. By coincidence, above, the listing with the most stars is showing first in the local listings box. Yet generally, stars are considered as social proof, which in turn allows people to feel trust in their decision to click. More stars, more trust.
Combining this with the ability to access good-quality local data through tools such as Spheres (will be live by the end of December 2014), many offline businesses will be taking their first steps into social media.
Once this happens, further social media services can then be supported, including content sharing across multiple platforms.
Google is not in a hurry to bring business into their ecosystem, but this time next year will see a push where it gains even more ground and connections back into the real world.
Martin Shervington, author of The Art and Science of Google+: A psychological, user friendly and sometimes even humorous guide to this new social layer and a marketing consultant.
#8: Tech Innovations Change Marketing
I don’t think we’ll recognize the future of social media! It’s hard to know what will have a greater influence on social media in the future—hardware design or software innovation?
With hardware innovation like Oculus Rift and D-Wave’s Quantum Computer popping up seemingly overnight, there’s no telling how hardware will affect the way we interact on social. And it most certainly will affect it, making engagement more intuitive, more in-time and more realistic than ever. Imagine what fully experiential quantum data integration will do to social interaction. The most active post on my Facebook page right now is a raging debate over having chips implanted like they’re doing in Sweden.
And then you have folks like Dr. Mark Sagar who recently introduced the first fully responsive, CGI, artificial intelligence baby.
I was sitting in the audience as his baby evoked very real emotional response in myself and in those around me. The future is here and the hashtag is #CrazyCreepyCoolTech!
What hopefully will remain the same, as the future of social spirals into the stratosphere, is the necessity and continuation of true engagement and connection. Whether these technologies will make them easier or more difficult, and whether people will rebel or adopt, remains to be seen.
#9: Silos Break Down
In 2014, there was still a massive disconnect between brands and consumers due to a misuse of social media as a communication tool at the brand level and a misunderstanding of who the customer actually is.
This will be the year brands wake up to the reality that social media is a relationship-builder and not a one-way bullhorn. They will embrace the conversation, knowing that in order to establish meaningful connections, they must break down the social media silo they have created.
Brands will also recognize that the continued humanization of the brand is essential. As digital marketers, we talked about this at length in 2014. However, I continue to see brands speaking at consumers rather than with them. The mental shift to “tell a story,” not simply push a message, will happen.
Look to brands like Charmin, Oreo and Barkbox as prime examples of social media done right. Each one has created a fun, entertaining and interactive brand persona. They understand their audience and work to deliver content that is targeted and consistent in message, voice and branding.
But brands won’t make this shift on their own. To succeed, they must align themselves with the correct individual who can transform their vision and mission into a vibrant online personality. Gone are the days of knowing “a little something” about social media and claiming expertise.
In 2015, brands will ask potential social media marketers: Can you create a voice and inspire customers to take action or do you simply publish pre-created content? Do you have a deep understanding into integrated strategy and can you lead a team efficiently and effectively? That distinction will become glaringly evident as brands seek top talent to put a face on the brand.
While most brands will not transform overnight, there’ll be a significant push and willingness to embrace risk in order to get there.
#10: Campaign Focus Shifts to Experience
In the information-driven and consumer-empowered world, relationship capital is the only business metric that stands the test of time. Brand love and customer advocacy is what takes care of the business bottom-line. To truly earn the trust and loyalty of educated, tech- and social-savvy, global, connected millennial consumers, it isn’t enough to distract them with short-term dazzle campaigns. To ignite and keep customer advocacy long-term, companies need to show that they care by repeatedly enabling meaningful experiences.
But to do so, they need a full 360-degree view of their customer, located centrally and accessible to any department within the company. That way—no matter where the customer comes from, who (s)he reaches out to and what the issue is—the company can enable the best experience possible at every touchpoint. Businesses also need to employ people who not only possess the right skillset, but also the right mentality; people who are passionate about serving their customers. And last but not least, they need to have integrated technology that can support the cohesive company-wide strategy.
It will take time and effort to accomplish. Executives will need to work on breaking the internal silos (not the easiest task), bringing the right people and technologies on board and establishing the integrated processes internally. But in the fast-changing digital era, where just having a great product isn’t enough anymore to gain a competitive edge, relationship-building and experience enablement is the only answer to not only business survival, but long-term prosperity.
Ekaterina Walter, Global Evangelist at Sprinklr and a bestselling author of Think Like Zuck: The Five Business Secrets of Facebook’s Improbably Brilliant CEO Mark Zuckerberg and The Power of Visual Storytelling: How to Use Visuals, Videos, and Social Media to Market Your Brand.
#11: Paid Media Becomes Necessary
In 2014, we witnessed several changes in the way businesses are forced to approach Facebook marketing—first with the drop in organic reach, then the death of the like-gate and now the announcement of how Facebook plans to reduce the amount of promotional content coming from brands in the news feed. We should not be surprised if other networks eventually follow the same path.
In 2015, we’ll see the rise of paid media. Small businesses will have to get more educated about how to accelerate the distribution of different types of content at different stages of the sales funnel if they want to survive.
But we’re past the like-collecting days and more businesses are understanding the need for a well-designed structure that delivers different types of content to segmented groups of their audiences at the right moment in the marketing cycle. The best way to control the potential reach and manage the segmentation is through paid media.
There are two key things we learned this year that we need to consider in 2015: you can no longer rely solely on organic reach to make a significant impact, and paid media leads to more conversions than organic media.
Your focus should be on learning more about the individuals in your audience, as well as understanding how to segment your prospects, whether there is already a connection with your business or not. Plus, establish who needs to see what and when, and determine how you’re going to deliver each specific message.
#12: Republishing Grows Reach
Facebook spent 2014 tightening the noose on social marketers, and with an algorithm change taking effect in January, shows no signs of stopping in the new year. On top of that, other networks like Twitter continue to grow more crowded, which means getting noticed in a feed or a timeline gets harder and harder all the time. Therefore, reach for individual posts is dropping.
Anyone with a Facebook page can tell you that reach has plummeted, and the reach on any given post is a fraction of what it would have been a year or two ago. That’s why in 2015, marketers will focus on getting cumulative reach by republishing their updates multiple times. Instead of posting an update once and hoping for the best, they’ll post an update again and again. Instead of trying to take out one large slice of pie, they’ll take multiple smaller pieces that add up.
Republishing updates like this may improve reach in more ways than one, because it can afford marketers more time for one-on-one engagement. By spending less time writing unique updates that may or may not hit their targets, marketers will be able to dedicate more time to interacting live with their fans and followers, encouraging the type of engagement that Facebook values and rewards with more consistent organic reach.
#13: Campaigns Become Platform-Agnostic
We’re going to see marketers shift their focus back to “platform-agnostic marketing.” Savvy marketers are realizing that the social space is becoming increasingly fragmented, and creating unique campaigns for each channel is difficult and expensive. For the last few years, you could create a campaign just for Facebook and get good results. But now your audience is everywhere—Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and others—each with different reach and engagement.
Along with increased fragmentation, marketers are seeing increased costs to just to have their messages seen. There isn’t a free ride anymore. To get the most from your marketing dollars, you’ll have to be in more places at the same time.
The best bet is to have one clear goal (increased engagement, sales, data collection, etc.), and then be “everywhere.” In 2015, marketers will create centralized platform-agnostic campaigns that achieve these goals, regardless of where the audience comes from.
#14: Fans Demand Personal Interaction
Next year will see increased demand for personal interaction with fans and followers. This means that fans today want to get to know the people behind the logo or brand and want to see who it is they’re engaging with.
Companies that have already grasped this concept are not only seeing a lot more interaction on their content, but also building up a higher level of trust. This approach lets their fans know there’s a real person behind the company who cares about what they have to say and is there to respond.
A great example of this is demonstrated by Gary Vaynerchuk, who started up a new online video series called the Ask Gary Vee Show.
The aim of the show is to highlight current topics in the world of social media and answer questions submitted by fans through the hashtag #AskGaryVee. Where the show separates itself from others out there is that Gary presents the whole show face to face, with the camera giving his followers that personal interaction as he reads out loud and answers user-submitted questions.
This is a great way for Gary to consistently engage his fans, since they can submit questions through using the hashtag and then tune in to see if their question got answered. The key to building these stronger relationships in 2015 is going to come from personal-style content. More importantly, companies will need to respond to their communities in a timely manner.
#15: Social Media Goes Niche
In 2015, I foresee the rise of a smaller, more personal social media trend that focuses on niche groups and specific, shared qualities or interests.
We’ve always shared with specific people or to small groups through “dark” channels like email or text messaging right alongside our broader social media sharing. In the coming year, I predict that this type of sharing will begin to get more notice from marketers and app developers.
The emergence of new, more focused social media networks like Ello and This—even Facebook’s experimental Rooms—as well as the explosive growth of apps like Snapchat that allow users to target a specific social media audience, indicate that this groundswell may have already begun.
Combine this with the increasing challenge of getting noticed in Facebook’s crowded news feed and the announcement that a Twitter algorithm is likely on the way soon, and the stage is set for some big changes in the way we communicate socially.
#16: All Social Networks Offer Paid Visibility
The majority of the social networks will copy Facebook’s model for displaying information to their users. That means other social networks will begin filtering what posts your friends or followers see.
Why? Because there is a lot of noise on these social sites, which causes users to decrease their engagement. Sure, as a user, you can unfollow or unfriend certain people. However, if the majority of their posts are great, you still want to see what they have to say. You just don’t want to see the junk.
In addition to improving user experience, this model can help these social sites generate extra income. For example, any additional revenue that publicly traded companies can squeeze from their users means higher stock prices.
Although most people or companies won’t pay to guarantee all of their posts are seen by others, larger companies will. Paying for the visibility of their content will ensure they are getting traffic and the brand exposure they’re looking for.
If you want all of your content to be seen without having to spend any money, share high-quality content or updates on a regular basis. Also make sure the majority of your followers are interacting with your content. For example, if you don’t know half of your friends on Facebook, you can’t expect them to be as engaged as your real friends would be. For this reason, you may be better off unfriending those users. Having interested followers will produce higher engagement rates, which will prompt the social network to show your content to more people.
#17: Marketing Requires a Combination Approach
No longer will there be social media marketers who focus on only one network. They will be extinct!
Integrated social media marketing will become a “must” for implementation. For too long marketers have been doing “Facebook marketing” and “Twitter marketing” plus other marketing in isolated silos. As we’ve seen in 2014 with Facebook reach, if a business focuses on only one social platform, changes to that platform can be disastrous. Therefore, the importance of integrated marketing will headline 2015.
Smart marketers will need to use a combination approach. They’ll need to focus on multiple social networks and the ways to use them in power combinations. For example, sharing on Twitter a video or image your brand posted to Facebook can add value to the Facebook post. Marketers will have to find ways to weave together and drive social traffic from one network to another.
Brands need to think cohesively about their “online social marketing plan” that uses their website as the foundation for great content and then integrates cross–social platform sharing to enhance reach and boost engagement from one platform to another.
Below is a great example from Peg Fitzpatrick. She starts with a great blog post on her website, which is then socially shared.
In this example, Peg shares to Google+ and refers back to the post on her website. It also incorporates a “Pin it for later” convenience option that when clicked allows the user to pin the image to his or her own board on Pinterest. So it includes multiple social networks for sharing, all of which drive back to her website where she has email opt-in forms to grow her email list.
This is the integrated, synergistic online marketing approach that marketers will need to implement in 2015.
#18: Visual Content Ups Its Game
Visuals, visuals, visuals! This will be the year we see marketers take images and videos to the next level. Over the past couple of years we’ve seen visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram skyrocket in popularity. Plus, more recently, videos have become more popular on Facebook.
We’ve also seen tools come on the scene that make creating awesome visuals super-easy and fun to do. Canva has made image creation a breeze and mobile apps such as PicStitch and Wordswag put the power of creating interesting images and videos for Instagram right in our pockets.
No longer are great images limited to businesses with huge budgets for professional photographers and graphic designers. Now, businesses with the smallest budgets can create images for their content. This is a good thing because consumers will expect higher-quality images. In the early days of Pinterest and on Instagram almost anything could get attention with repins or likes. Now there’s so much competition on these platforms, not just any image will do.
Great visuals also go a long way in helping people establish trust with your online presence. Have you ever been to a doctor’s office with outdated furniture and old magazines in the racks? Unless you’ve been seeing that doctor for a long time, you might question his or her professionalism. Not using images in your content or using bad outdated ones can reflect negatively on your business. People could think of your business as less professional or less reputable.
On the flipside, when it comes to videos, I predict that we’ll see them become less produced and more relaxed and natural. There’ll no longer be a need to set up a studio with a production crew for every video you create. Social media audiences will find the spur-of-the-moment videos created on a smartphone more relatable and engaging.
#19: Marketers Take Control of Content
We are tribal by nature. As such, I believe there’ll be a continual move toward common-interest communities that fuel our innate need to tell stories and communicate as a group. This includes Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, group boards on Pinterest and Google+ communities. Hashtags will also continue to shine on Instagram and Twitter as a way to stake our claim to a topic or niche and build community by curating content around that topic.
When you establish a group on any of these platforms, both the founders/admins and the people who join the group actually want to find each other. They are looking for conversations about mutual interests. They want to see your content in a place where they’re not distracted by main news feeds.
It’s not surprising that many businesses are reporting the benefits of establishing a Facebook group separate from their Facebook page. As pay-to-play becomes more of a necessity for having your content seen on Facebook, the popularity of groups brings a degree of control over what content we share and how we communicate with each other.
In my experience, the best communities are those that focus on sharing content and helping each other instead of being about promotion. If you build trust as someone who brings people together and guides them to share and support each other, you’ll build relationships with the people who matter most to your business, without giving “reach” a second thought.
#20: Hashtags Build Collaborative Communities
This will be the year of the collaborative community. On- and offline there is an opportunity to build relationships and expand our sphere of influence from communities outside our own. We should become more relaxed about sharing what we do and who we know. I call it “lead with giving.” In this evolution of how to do business, everyone wins.
The hashtag is the anchor of the social media revolution. A single hashtag connects a conversation across Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. From these conversations, a community can quickly be formed; people with common interests are united. These conversations are also the place where businesses conduct their most powerful market research.
Today, even when you can’t physically be at an event, you can still join the conversation, thanks to the hashtag. Be a part of the conversation before, during and after the event to get the total experience!
Build your community through your expertise and your experiences. This mindset will help transform how we receive information and how we communicate our knowledge. Make 2015 #InstaAmazing.
#21: Paid Media Becomes the Norm
Paid media isn’t going away. In fact, budgeting for paid media will be more important than ever, as it will be more integrated with earned and owned media.
This year, we saw social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram introduce ads to a number of businesses as they strove towards monetization. Next year, we can definitely expect them to make a worldwide rollout.
The use of social media will only continue to rise as the number of people who join these social media channels climbs. We can expect organic reach to continue to decline as the volume of content on these networks increases.
To make up for the decrease in organic reach and to get content across, businesses will need to pay to play or watch their content wash away. Soon the idea of free attention will vanish and paid media will be the norm.
I believe this is a natural progression, since there are only a number of things we can see at any single time.
The increasing competition to get content across will in turn evolve paid media into another level, as businesses try to satisfy consumers’ thirst for good content. Native advertising and sponsored posts garnered a lot attention from businesses this year. We can expect better integration and coherence with its platforms moving forward.
While most people might find this disturbing, I think if paid media continues to evolve, we might just get good actual content.
#22: Visual Marketing Explodes on SlideShare
The recent upgrades to SlideShare put it in place to be the hottest social platform in 2015. LinkedIn owns SlideShare.
LinkedIn started delivering solid traffic to blogs in 2014, as well as on-platform publishing. SlideShare will seal the deal as a viable social platform, proving that LinkedIn is no longer just for finding a job.
SlideShare offers an easy way to create an enhanced version of a blog post or repurpose a presentation. Building your visual brand across the web has proven to be a powerful piece of the branding puzzle. A great SlideShare can help showcase your expertise and build thought leadership.
Solid features of the upgraded SlideShare:
- Upload infographics to SlideShare
- Download leads from views of your SlideShares
- Keynote author status for select accounts, offering special features and wider exposure
- Customizable profile page
- Clickable links at the end of the presentation, which direct traffic to your website
- Integration with Haiku Deck, so you can create a presentation directly in SlideShare
A fun way to showcase a SlideShare is to make a GIF of your presentation using GIF Deck. Embedding a SlideShare into your blog post or post published on LinkedIn is a snap with the provided embed codes. You can also add them into your next email blast. And they look great on mobile!
With its versatility, link-building opportunities and lead gathering, it’s hard to deny SlideShare’s value to your content marketing bottom line. Add SlideShare to your content marketing plan and see how it can boost your visual marketing in 2015!
Peg Fitzpatrick, co-author of the upcoming book, The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users and a social media strategist.
#23: Social Marketers Become Selective
Social media is becoming increasingly competitive and complex. If it was possible to be a social media expert three years ago, it’s definitely impossible today. And it becomes even worse as we enter 2015.
Specialization is unavoidable. No one can be a Facebook expert, Twitter expert, Instagram expert and Pinterest expert all at once. On top of that, the advertising options offered by each of these platforms are becoming so complex that mastering them requires an enormous amount of testing, experimenting and learning.
You can’t do it all (let alone do it all well), so you’ll have to make choices.
As a consequence, business owners and marketers will have to change the way they approach social media and be much more focused on the things that work for them, while getting rid of the ones that don’t. Will 2015 be the year you’ll delete your Facebook page, remove your Instagram account or stop your Facebook advertising? Maybe.
In order to do that, measure your results on social media to make sure you invest your time well.
Take a step back. List the social media efforts that paid off back in 2014 and the ones that didn’t. Then make some hard decisions, based on what you can measure.
The only way to handle the growing complexity of the social media marketing world is to be selective. And you need the right data to make the right choices.
#24: Direct Buying Becomes Mainstream
In 2015, both Twitter and Facebook will introduce the Buy button and we’ll see significant sales happening through these platforms. I don’t imagine that you’ll be buying products for a few hundred dollars, but you will hand over micro-payments. For example, it makes perfect sense for authors launching a book to offer it for sale directly on Twitter and Facebook.
We know that Twitter and Facebook are already testing this out. I think that they both will partner with Stripe to do all the payment processing.
LinkedIn will follow with a similar payment system, but I don’t see this happening until 2016.
As people get used to handing over smaller amounts of money, Facebook will develop a marketplace for products and services in years to come. Why not go shopping with your friends online?
Ian Cleary, founder of RazorSocial.
#25: Social Media Marketers Rebrand
The popularity of the search term “content marketing” is gradually catching up with “social media marketing,” and service providers will react by broadening their services and repositioning their brands.
This trend started with SEO companies a few years ago when content marketing emerged as the most sustainable (and safest) way to improve search rankings. But as demand for content marketing services grows, social media marketers will be next to jump on the bandwagon.
Companies looking for content marketing services will need to look deeper into the history of each service provider to learn the legacy and favorite strategies of each. In other words, the branding of marketing companies will converge, but the “flavors” of the providers won’t.
Content marketers with different backgrounds will continue to focus on different channels.
Social media marketing backgrounds drive results through content, connections and micro-targeting through social ads.
PR and communications backgrounds drive results through strategic messaging and high-level outreach.
- Search engine marketing backgrounds drive results through technical on-site fixes and tactical outreach.
But in the end, the demand for social media as a specific service will continue to exceed the demand for content marketing services in 2015.
Andy Crestodina, principal and strategic director at Orbit Media and the author ofContent Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing.
#26: Businesses Embrace Owned Digital Assets
In 2015, I believe there’ll be a renewed focus on building and growing owned digital assets such as websites, blogs and communities. Social media has offered tremendous content distribution and engagement opportunities over the past few years, but it’s become much more noisy, expensive and difficult to reach your audience. Additionally we don’t own our space or our connections on social networks, and the rules are changing constantly.
To reduce these risks, businesses will seek out alternative avenues for content distribution, such as creative partnering, influencer marketing and niche content-sharing platforms to achieve more targeted visibility and engagement. Also, content curation as an “owned” content strategy becomes more prominent and acceptable.
This will be the year of social media awakening as more businesses realize that owned digital assets build greater long-term value with less risk.
#27: Video Creates Engaging Experiences
As humans, we each define a positive experience differently. When we have experiences that go above and beyond expectation, we want to share them and engage our friends and followers. To benefit from this innate behavior, companies need to think through and create world-class shareable experiences for their audience.
Since videos are likely the easiest ways to share a moment, video marketing will take off in 2015 in ways we’ve never seen before.
Video gives us the most context around people, companies and things over any other online medium. Start thinking about video as experiential. This is where 3D glasses and video start to give us the ability to play with video and experience stories, shopping and interactions in new ways. (Remember that Facebook bought a 3D company in 2014.)
It seems like loyalty and its definition have changed overnight. Customers who want different things will expect and deserve a personal experience in 2015. So give them unique, engaging experiences. And use video and creativity to do it.
#28: More Apps Support Anonymity
The web has gone back and forth on anonymity. In the early days, everything you did online was anonymous. But that eventually moved to you having to use your real name because of hate messages, bullying and even crimes. If you weren’t going to say what you had to say using your real name, the web decided you probably shouldn’t be saying it at all.
In 2014, anonymous social media apps such as Whisper, Secret, YikYak and Facebook Rooms emerged and gained popularity fairly quickly. Once again, we can air our grievances with little risk of real-life consequences.
That is why a social media trend in 2015 will be anonymous apps.
We want to go back to the days of yore when we could go to a website, enter anonymously and make friends with like-minded people. We want the serendipity of making new friends around the globe, without necessarily knowing any of their demographic information. We want to be able to say what’s on our minds without having the backlash of the social media mob.
Of course, nothing we post online is really anonymous, but these social networks will continue to gain steam, and more will be introduced because we like the veiled privacy of it all.
This is a huge announcement, guys. Circle your calendars — April 21, 2015.
Google made an announcement today regarding their mobile search algorithm. In an unprecedented move, they have announced the exact date that they intend to change their mobile organic SERP algorithm to more heavily weigh “mobile friendliness” as a ranking signal. That date is April 21.
Here’s an excerpt from the Feb. 26 announcement on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, with emphasis in red (mine):
Google blog about mobile friendly search
Update from Feb. 27: Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller addressed questions about the mobile friendliness announcement in a live, hour-long “office hours” Hangout On Air this morning. Scroll to the bottom of this post to watch the full video.
In Google’s history, I can NEVER remember them naming a DAY that they WILL be making an algorithm change. Unprecedented. Their language is also telling: “have a significant impact in our search results.”
This is a game-changing announcement. We need to treat it as such.
What Is Changing?
Prior to this, the mobile rankings for a website were usually tied to the ranking strength of the desktop site. If you ranked well on the desktop SERP, you usually ranked well on the mobile SERP as well. Google has always alluded to the fact, however, that the mobile-friendliness of your website could (would?) impact your organic rankings. This is Google definitively following through with that promise.
Starting on April 21, we can assume that mobile-friendly sites will see a dramatic boost in rankings, especially in spaces where their competition has not taken the time to get their “mobile houses” in order and do not enjoy the mobile-friendly distinction. To be clear, this blog article specifically talks about mobile search rankings — NOT desktop rankings.
What We Don’t Know (Yet)
Although the language of this announcement indicates that this is a change to mobile search results, there has been speculation that mobile friendliness will also impact desktop rankings in the future. (Some believe it already does to a small degree.) While this announcement stops short of indicating that this will occur on April 21, if mobile usability doesn’t begin to effect desktop rankings on that date, one day soon, I expect it definitely will.
What Google doesn’t indicate in their announcement is if the mobile-friendly ranking shift will apply on a site-wide or page-by-page basis. This distinction is especially important for websites using dynamic serving or separate mobile sites that contain mobile versions of some (but not all) content. We do know that the “mobile-friendly” label in SERPs is awarded to individual pages on a domain. It is not an all-or-nothing annotation. So the question is this: can we assume (always dangerous with Google) that the mobile search algorithm will judge website pages on their individual merits as well? Or, if the percentage of mobile-friendly pages on a domain is too low, will the entire domain see a demotion after April 21?
What This Means for YOU
We’ve expanded on the advantages of responsive design in the past. Responsively designed websites have a one-to-one relationship between desktop and mobile pages because they are one in the same. As Google’s preferred method of serving content to mobile users, we can assume that responsive sites will be favored by Google in search results going forward, and this is the first real step in that process.
If going responsive before April 21 is not an option for you, it is of vital importance that you consider the mobile solution you have in place and address its deficiencies as soon as possible. Google has gone to great lengths to help webmasters identify mobile site pitfalls and issues by adding things like the Mobile Usability Report to Google Webmaster Tools. That report details mobile usability errors that are specific to your domain. Google has also released the Mobile Friendly Testing Tool, which will analyze a URL and report if the specific page has a mobile-friendly design. Use the tools and resources available to earn the mobile-friendly badge across your website.
Recent research by Return Path found that the percentage share of email opens in the UK across mobile, desktop and webmail platforms was heavily weighted in favor of mobile, with 62 percent of Return Path UK client emails opened that way. This was well ahead of any other country tracked; the U.S. was some way behind, with a 48 percent share of opens coming via mobile.
Due to increased importance of mobile email marketing, marketers should be keen to uncover new email marketing tips to make their efforts more effective. Here are some of the priorities named for 2015:
- 53 percent surveyed said achieving higher click-through rates and email interaction.
- 20 percent said building a holistic marketing plan (integrating social, mobile email, and more).
- 14 percent said improved data collection and management.
- Another 14 percent said increased use of email marketing tools to improve results, such as split testing and automation.
A greater focus on data collection and email marketing tools could be a boon for marketers. A study from Howling Mad found that when it comes to email marketing, quality of data, segment selection, and subject line represent “the holy trinity” of success.
Split testing can help marketers gain useful data to inform their campaigns, but for many brands, it’s an underused tactic. Howling Mad reports that about a quarter of email marketers never split test their subject lines. About half of marketers only test subject lines on some of their emails. Those that do split test tend to only do A/B splits, when they could best testing many more options to empower their findings.
Given just how important subject lines can be, it’s surprising that more email marketers aren’t taking split testing seriously.
Once a consumer clicks the subject line of an email, it’s the content’s time to sing. Split testing can be invaluable to content marketers hoping to more effectively target content. By showing some visitors one version of a landing page or email, for example, and another set of visitors a different version, marketers can gauge how much time visitors spend on a page, where they move on to, and more—all of which can help optimise content.