Friday

Deciding if you should outsource your social media efforts

Social media marketing may take up a considerable amount of time if a user fails to plan their efforts properly. More business owners are including social media marketing as part of their overall business plan and their marketing plan. In many cases, some are trying to determine whether they should keep their marketing efforts in hour or whether they should outsource their social media efforts. When this happens, there are some things that should be taken into consideration.

Time considerations

Before making the final decision to outsource social media marketing efforts, it is a good idea to determine if someone has the time to fill this role. Social media marketing involves more than scheduling updates and sending them out via automated services. Typically in order to maintain a successful social media plan, followers must be vetted, regular updates must be made and content must be prepared and disbursed. For many companies, the added time burden can take away from other primary functions of the business.

Proper plan and expertise

Social media marketing requires a business have a plan in place that includes creating and developing lists of followers. In addition to the time necessary for attracting new followers, there must be well written, well thought out, quality content. Some business owners may not have the needed expertise to implement a successful campaign. Content must be written on a fairly regular basis to provide followers with information that will ultimately intrigue them to learn more about the products or services offered by the company.

Managing multiple accounts

One of the primary reasons why a company should consider outsourcing their social media campaigns is that the best approach for many campaigns involves numerous accounts. Each social media site will have different terms of service, restrictions and other rules that must be adhered to. Hiring someone who has previous expertise may help avoid some of the common pitfalls involved with the various social media platforms and avoid potential problems.

Great social media marketing campaigns are well managed, provide timely information to followers and includes well written content. Outsourcing social media efforts can help a business owner launch successful campaigns without taking away from efforts in house in other parts of their business. Finding a social media expert who has the skills and time needed to dedicate to a well-run, carefully crafted marketing plan can provide significant advantages for most business owners. In many cases, outsourcing social media campaigns can be more cost effective than trying to train someone who is already on staff to handle the marketing plan on their own. Hiring someone with existing expertise can save not only time, but money.

Thursday

Five ways to reduce clutter at the office

Many people celebrated the "information age" by discussing how nice it would be to have less paper in their office. However, what was never taken into consideration was the number of people who are still living in an era where they feel that unless it's on paper, it doesn't exist. There are a myriad of things that can cause clutter in the office, paper being one of them. There are five tips to reduce clutter at the office that is caused by paper:


  1. Don't ignore it - Clutter isn't going to go away. In fact, if you continue to ignore it, chances are it's only going to get worse! If you have files that are piling up on your desk (and beyond) put them away! It is usually most helpful to set aside some time each day to take care of all of your filing. This will at least begin to reduce clutter at the office.
  2. Sort it out - For many people, paper is a necessity and not just an annoyance. Sort your papers by level of importance - do this groups that you can handle easily. For instance, you might have a pile that is for paper you have to save, paper that you have to read, paper that is questionable. Don't waste time or space making a "junk pile" just keep a wastebasket or shredder nearby and get rid of it.
  3. Scan it - If you have papers that you are just unsure if you are going to need later, why not consider scanning it to a CD Rom and storing it. For many, this is a great answer. Make sure that as you name files of scanned papers, that you can identify them later. This is also a great solution for paper that you know you are going to need but, may not need the hard copies of. This is a great clutter-reducing technique as you've preserved your documents and reduced the space to store them.
  4. Reduce junk mail - There are hundreds of ways we get on junk mail lists. You can take control of your junk mail by requesting your name be removed from mailing lists. There are number of stop junk mail services that are free and/or low cost. This will not occur overnight, but it can make a significant impact in reducing clutter at the office.
  5. Be sensible - Many of us have magazine subscriptions, newspaper subscriptions, and other professional subscriptions that we get on a monthly basis. Find out if they are available online. This is a great way to reduce clutter at the office. In addition, an online newsletter or magazine is the "green" way to go.

There are many causes of clutter at the office, paper being only one of them. However, these five ways to reduce clutter at the office caused by paper will help you keep your work area free of excess paper. For most people, taking the time to reduce clutter at the office will lead to greater productivity.

Image credit: By Yinan Chen (www.goodfreephotos.com (gallery, image)) [Public Domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Flex-time will not attract new hires

Flex-time is considered an employment benefit that allows employees to start work later in the morning for the purposes of missing rush hour traffic, meeting family obligations, or simply not having to wake up at early hours.  While there are certainly is a work life and home life balance to be met, flex time does not always solve these issues.  Here are some of the reasons that flex time will not attract new hires:

Flex-time late arrivals

While initially the idea of arriving at work at a later hour (say 10 a.m. versus 9 a.m.) may initially sound like a good idea, the reality is that for many flex-time workers this will mean working until 6 p.m. instead of 5 p.m.  When flex-time openings are advertised they generally will advertise the hours that are flexible. It does not take long for someone to see the downside of getting out of work at 6 p.m.

Days on - days off

Companies that offer abbreviated work weeks including four ten-hour work days and one day off typically have more stringent requirements for sick time, and may even limit vacation days.  In addition, for those positions that this type of flex-time arrangement is unavailable, it invariably will mean more work.  Another problem with this model is that for those employees who are paid hourly, one sick day on a day when you are scheduled to work can mean the loss of ten hours of pay.  This is a deterrent for most to accept this type of a flex-time model.

Overtime pay problems

Some flex-time models may require certain employees to work more than 40 hours in a seven day week. Depending on how the contracts are written, these hours may or may not be covered under overtime provisions.  Those who are seeking new jobs are often well versed in employment law and may turn away from flex-time arrangements because of these rules.

Seasoned employees versus new hires

New hires come into a company already dreading their first few days of work. Being hired under a flex-time work scheme when more seasoned employees may not have been offered this option can create an extra layer of politics to deal with.  New hires do not want to be treated different than their peers and flex-time hiring models often pit them against seasoned members of a team.

While flex-time may work for two parent families, single moms, or single dads, the pool of new hires may consist of new graduates or people who are reentering the workforce after their families are grown.  These new hires are generally not the ones who will be interested in flex-time arrangements meaning these schemes will not always attract new hires.

Tuesday

Cost-effective advertising methods for small businesses

Unlike a large businesses who often have a considerable budget for advertising, small businesses often are cash-strapped. This means they must find cost-effective advertising methods. This may sound like a monumental task but in reality, it is not as difficult as it might initially appear. For those who know how to make the most of their opportunities, there are several cost-effective advertising methods for small businesses that can be very effective.

Online advertising methods

Some of the most cost effective advertising methods for small businesses are found online. While many of us use social networking and blogs to share day to day information, both of these may provide several marketing options.

Facebook pages and promotion

Business owners can set up a free Facebook page for advertising their business. Once the page is set up, a business owner can then share the information on other social sites like Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and Foursquare. These tools will help a business owner get the information about their business out into the open and help develop strong networks.

Websites and blogs

Small businesses should never overlook the value of a well put together website and an active blog. Websites should be easy to navigate, offer a site map for easy access and use the proper keywords in order to raise in rank on search engines. Blogs should contain useful consumer information that targets the businesses audience and provides helpful hints, answers to questions and where feasible, current industry news.  Both websites and blogs must be well written and contain high-quality information.

Newsletters and emails

Small businesses can find big benefits in creating a great newsletter. These newsletters need not be more than one or two pages and can be sent out via email

How being involved in your community can help your business grow

Community involvement is one of the best ways to help a business grow. While most people do not get involved for this reason, there are numerous reasons why this is an effective way to develop new clients. One thing to remember about business ownership is that you do not operate in a vacuum. Local business owners have learned the value of contributing time and money to community organizations for numerous reasons.

Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most cost effective and reliable forms of advertising. Advertising is one of the key components to business growth and development. However, this is only one of the ways that being involved in your community can help your business grow. Here are some of the others.

Quicker identification

Business owners who are active in their community typically find that they are identified as a reliable provider of services or products by community members. This is a very good way to develop better name recognition. The more visible a company is in the community, the more likely they are to have their name recognized.

Better networking

Many local civic organization and business group members make a habit of doing business with others in the same group. This type of networking can result in an increased client base and also provide additional referrals. In many cases, members not only turn to other members for needed products and services but they may also refer their clients to fellow members.

Source of employees

When a business is thriving in a community, it is helpful to tap into the resources of the community to hire new employees. This type of responsible hiring not only helps the business develop a better relationship with the members of the community but it also allows them to give something back. Small communities in particular provide a sense of family and once a small business owner is accepted into that community, their business is likely to grow.

There are untold benefits of being involved in a community whether you own a business or not. However, for business owners, the benefits of community involvement include business growth. Once a company has made a commitment to settle in a specific community, it is nearly a requirement for them to become more involved in that community.  Being a reliable and good neighbor is a great way to develop relationships in the community and grow your business.

There are several ways for business owners to be involved in their communities. While it may cost time, energy and effort, the long-term rewards are numerous. Business owners who feel that they can be an invisible entity in a community may find that they are invisible to the point of failure.  Being involved in a community makes good solid business sense.