social media for business

WAY OUT WEDENESDAY: Leveraging a Virtual Assistant for Your Business

In the 50s, the popular phrase, "Way Out" meant "innovative."  impact Virtual Services loves that era, the phrase and its meaning.  That is why every Wednesday, we devote our social media communication to innovative ideas through the "Way Out Wednesday" BLOG Series.

This week, how to leverage a virtual assistant or Virtual Executive Administrator (VEA) to build your small business is our focus!

IMPACT VS TECH TUESDAY: 5 Best Technologies for Your Business!

Tech Tuesday

  Some say, the key to getting rich is... starting your own business.  Founder and CEO of impact Virtual Services did just that in 2006, "It's a risk.  It's a leap of faith," Fisher said.  "But if you set yourself up with the right tools for success, the possibilities are endless!"  Our friends at Lifehack.org agree.

Here is their top 5 Best Technologies list for your small business to increase profit and stay ahead of your competitors:

1. Augmented Reality Devices

2. Wireless Conference Rooms

3. The Internet of Things

4. Cloud Computing

5. Wearable Technology

 

Full Article

impact Virtual Services exclusively hires its Virtual Assistants/Virtual Executive Administrators from within the U.S.  Its global headquarters is located in Madison, Wisconsin.  CONTACT SALES TEAM to hire your new VEA!

As Facebook Constantly Evolves, Are You Keeping Up?

Facebook, how you love to constantly keep me on my toes!  Updates to my cover photo, updated formats to my timeline, how does one ever keep it all straight?  How will this affect my business page?  What’s going to happen to my logo and important company contact information?  If you are anything like me and your head is trying to grasp all of the new implementations from Facebook’s most recent updates released March 10, 2014, then worry no further.  I have done some homework and am pleased to come to the rescue.  Well… something like that!

What are some of the major updates as of 3/10/14?

  • Cover photo settings
  • Category adjustment
  • Timelines

Cover Photo: FBLet’s start with the easiest change and the one that will affect you the most!  This would be that big, bold, beautiful cover photo that is one of the first things someone views when they click on a profile.  It illustrates “this is the purpose of my life or the theme for my business.”  Cover photos can incorporate information like your logo and/or business name, or just be a stand-alone image of an everyday interest.

If you are wondering what has stayed the same and what has changed, here is what I’ve found.  The size of the photo has stayed exactly the same, but the photo positioning has been moved higher from where it originally had been.  This means that any company name or reference on your photo will need to be re-positioned closer to the bottom of your uploaded photo if you desire taking this adjustment into consideration.

Previously, you may have had your logo and company information centered over your picture, which with the new update, would now bring it higher and less likely to see without clicking on the picture itself.  Placement of logos and company info will now also need to be integrated into the area of the picture you would most like showcased.  The good news is that you are allowed to edit and reposition your photos, as you could do before.  This always helps with any final touches to your final layout.

Category: Are you an artist, a local business, some form of entertainment, or public figure?  These are just a few of the page descriptions that you can choose from when creating your page.  When you pick the correct page type for your business or fans, this actually helps your fans or clients find more out about you and exactly what they want to know about you or your business.  It also helps with your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and can increase marketability with your search appearances on Google, etc.

Now take some time to look at your own page info.   Do you have the proper page type established (a few were mentioned above)?  Once you do, you can break it down further into specific categories.  If you have done this already, do the categories you’ve chosen currently emphasize the focus or brand of what your company represents, such as “websites and blogs,” etc.?

If not, the good news is that you can always update this section.  This area is also where you can write a short description of your business for others to read.  If you haven’t done so, you might as well update everything at this point.  To edit, simply click on “Update Page Info” underneath your cover photo.  Categories will be more noticeable in the new update, so you want to ensure that you have the right type of business, etc. as your selection.

Timelines: I find that the new timeline feature is actually quite handy, especially if there is something in particular that you’re searching for and you have an idea of when it occurred.  It’s now a more streamlined look where there are two columns.  The left hand side includes information about the brand or company, and the right column is the page’s timeline.  In previous versions, both columns served as the timeline and posts were staggered between the left and the right columns as users scrolled.  This update makes navigation very simplistic, especially when you know exactly what month/year that you want to visit.

It’s important to stay engaged……. As with life, social media is constantly throwing curve balls and changes.  Luckily, the developers of Facebook recognize that it’s used world-wide, by individuals of all ages.  Nothing is going to be too complicated or people would stop being so dependent on the product.  Small changes keep us engaged and eventually, we all figure out how to make something work.  When all else fails, there is always the Help section to pinpoint an answer.

I hope these tips are of assistance the next time you click on your profile and see that something doesn’t seem just right.  Rest assured, all it takes is a small tweak and you will be back to normal in no time at all.  Heck, the reality to writing this is that it’s already most likely old news, as we all know Facebook loves to throw new changes at us when we least expect them.

Speaking of which, it looks like Facebook is coming out with yet another update June 24…stay tuned!

Staying Ahead with LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a great way to stay in touch with current colleagues and make business connections. However, like other social media tools, developers are constantly changing and upgrading the site to stay competitive and give users even more great ways to interact. The following article offers a brief summary of some of the most recent changes to this site and how they might affect current LinkedIn users. New Criteria for a 100% Profile Having a LI profile that is 100% complete plays a significant role in search engine rankings. In the past, a profile would be deemed 100% only after all the vital information was completed, which included the need for at least three recommendations. While having valid recommendations is a great resource on a LinkedIn page, often this requirement would lead people to obtain recommendations from friends and family members. The recommendation requirement has now been replaced with the need to have at least 50 connections.

Absence of Tweets Up until just recently, LI users who also had a Twitter page were able to automatically feed their tweets to LinkedIn. While this function gave users the ability to easily and regularly populate two social media sources at one time, it was not always with business relevant content. While you can still send LinkedIn updates to Twitter, you will not longer be able to share your Tweets on LinkedIn.

Updated Profile Layout In addition to the above changes, LinkedIn is also in the process of updating its current profile page layouts. There will be many small changes, however one of the most noticeable will be the larger profile picture. This makes finding a good picture even more important. Using a casual cropped photo might still work, but the larger photo makes it even more important to find a relevant photo or even professional headshot.

In addition to the larger photo size, the summary content is also going to play a more important role on your LI page in coming days. It will no longer be appropriate to repost a copy of your resume’. Instead, content should be search engine optimized to make it easy to find your page. It is recommended that you take the same care with the content of your LI profile as you would with a website. This means your page will have an appropriate mix of keywords to help it come to the top of the search engine heap.

Finally, other elements of the page layout are also being updated. For example, job titles will no longer appear in the brief overview next to the photo. This space is reserved for the names of current and recent employers, as well as educational institutions. Furthermore, contact information, including websites, email, Twitter handle and phone number, are now located behind the contact button beneath the profile photo.

Today’s social media tools create a whole new way to conduct business. While five years ago a profile on LinkedIn might have seemed like a passing fad or another fading business trend, this online networking tool is proving itself to be a relevant and vital way to conduct business in the 21st century.

What You Need To Know About Google+

Google+'s growth exceeds expectations! Google+ is expected to hit 400 million users by the end of 2012 based on an expected 625,000 new users per day.

By the end of 2011, Google+ had grown from 10 million users on July 13th, 2011 to 62 million users by December 27, 2011. In 2011, social media experts were predicting it would have more users than Twitter & LinkedIn in a year, and may even reduce the number of active Facebook users.

That is not to say all news is good news. Just because Google+ is amassing sign-ups, doesn't mean everyone is participating. Even some of the individuals with the largest network (aka Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder) have not posted or interacted through the site. It has been reported that roughly 1/3 of Google+ users have abandoned their Google+ accounts before ever posting.

So what is Google+?

Are you looking to create a personal account? JOIN Google+

Want to create a business page? Create a Google+ page

In some aspects Google+ is very similar to Facebook or LinkedIn in that you can create a profile, add connections, see what your connections are up to, instant message/video chat, receive other website feed information (similar to RSS feeds), and mark items you like with a "+1" (Google's equivalent of the Facebook "like").

What makes Google+ different is that you can organize your connections into circles. And with those circles, tailor how individuals see specific messages, posts, comments, etc. Not just turn on or off certain features to a group (like Facebook or LinkedIn) but actually post items JUST to one group and maybe post something else to a different group. The ability to TAILOR your messaging is what sets Google+ apart from the rest.

At the end of 2011, Google+ introduced pages, similar to Facebook pages, that are specifically targeted to businesses.

The +1

Think of this as the Google equivalent of Facebook's "like" button. View the introduction video.

Many applications and websites are already integrating this new type of marker, including the popular website builder WordPress.

If you are a logged in member of Google+, you can see the +1 in action by searching on Google for anything. If you like a site, click the +1 to the right of that site, and you just gave that site your public stamp of approval. You can even add a comment about why. You can easily see your own +1's under your Google+ account information in its own tab. They can be public or private, or only available to your "circle".

All of those +1s really add up. You can even add a button and tally to your website to show off your aggregate +1 recommendations.

+1 search allows you to take it one step further by customizing the search results you see depending on the recommendations posted by yourself, your friends, and your Google+ circle. Just like with Google Place Search allowing nearby businesses and websites to show up first in your search list, Google+ allows recommended (+1'd) content to show up first, as well.

What does this mean for your business?

Want to get recognized and be at the top of search lists? If your customers are recommending you through +1s, you have the advantage over other sites in your area, and will show up closer to the top of your consumers search lists.

In conclusion...

Everyone seems to agree that Google+ is here to stay and is looking to be the newest social media powerhouse. After all it IS Google!

So get on, create an account and your business page, play around and keep an eye out for upcoming articles on Google+.

Personal Online Networking

Looking for new online networking opportunities? Think about personal networking to build your professional network and web traffic.

Everyone knows Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but those are just the leaders of the social networking pack. When it comes to building connections to drive traffic, exposure and conversion, there are hundreds of options.

Social sites are consistently being added to Google's real-time search results, which is key for your activity getting picked up and brought to relevant searchers.

Many of these sites and other personal networking sites will be unfamiliar to the masses. But not for long.

It is estimated that "personal networking" generates more than 150 million unique visitors per month, 100 billion page views, and 5 billion overall visits. The time spent on these sites is also drastically climbing, with a 6% increase from March to April 2011.*

The use and definition of "personal networking" will vary from person to person and business to business based on many factors, but it is a hard category to overlook in the world of online exposure.

Here are some recommendations on sites with the highest potential: **

  • Pulse.Yahoo.com
  • Wikia.com
  • Tagged.com
  • Yuku.com

Define Your Contacts

From these statistics, it is not a leap to identify that you SHOULD create a personal networking plan, but how do you go about it? Start by identifying your network contacts and creating a process to follow to build your network.

  • Keep in mind that asking your current contacts for help, recommendations, and support is a great place to start.
  • Break your contacts into two tiers.
  • Tier-One Contacts will be your hottest and closest current, past, and present colleagues and friends. These are going to be individuals you have the closest connection to. You can even go as far as to include vendors, consultants, recruiters, bankers, venture capitalists, and others whom you have established a relationship with.
    • The goal of the Tier-One Contacts is that this will be your highest point of influence when you want to start utilizing your network. These are people who can help you make new connections, or if you are in the job market, help you find a new job.
  • Tier-Two Contacts will be your casual contacts. The people you know through a friend of a friend, or whom you have not had close relationships with. Consider realtors, developers, publishers, attorneys, accountants, investors, professional organization associates, friends of friends, and more.
    • The goal of the Tier-Two Contacts is to extend your reach. Make your network more all-inclusive so hopefully you can start to develop relationships outside your normal contact zone and create Tier-Two relationships into Tier-Ones.

Once you have defined and developed your network, use it! Do you need to drum up new business for yourself or a client? Are you looking for a new job? Are you interested in expanding your business? Then personal networking could be one of the keys to success!

References: * Compete.com ** Website Magazine

5 Tasks a VA Can Do To Help Your Business

Think of a Virtual Assistant (VA) like any assistant, but with lower costs, no overhead, and more capabilities.  Anything you could wish for an assistant to handle for you, a VA can handle too.  Here are some great items that you can easily hand off to a VA.

Think of a Virtual Assistant (VA) like any assistant, but with lower costs, no overhead, and more capabilities. Anything you could wish for an assistant to handle for you, a VA can handle too. Here are some great items that you can easily hand off to a VA.

  • Repetitive/Daily Tasks - We all have them. Each business and individual is different, but there are certain tasks each of you do every day for yourself and your business. Think about your day and write down tasks you find yourself doing day in and day out. These tasks are IDEAL for a VA to do for you. With a little direction, you could be saving a few hours each day and maximizing the time you have to work on other tasks.
  • Correspondence – All of us correspond with our clients/customers and potential clients/customers daily. Much of this correspondence is basic, template, and very repetitive. We also have many questions to ask our clients/customers each day. This correspondence takes time and can be a process. Both of these types of correspondence can be easily outsourced to a VA. Let the VA know what information you need, who you need to contact, and send them on their way. Some good examples of correspondence are:
    • Follow up on billing related issues
    • New project start questionnaires
    • New client information
    • Project or task related questions with clients
    • Calendar coordination and planning
    • Drafting and formatting letters and emails
    • And much more!
  • Website Maintenance & Monitoring – Do you have changes to your website pages? Want to post new content and/or images? Need to promote an upcoming event? If you can update your website, so can your VA. Giving your VA insight into your business and interests can help them craft content for you, investigate content areas your audience wants to hear, and ensure content is kept up to date, so you don’t have to! Do you have a contact form on your website? Your VA can monitor that too.
  • Social Media – It is hard to find time every day to send out tweets, update your Facebook page, respond to messages and discussion threads, accept or reject LinkedIn invitations, create and post blog articles, and generally interact with your clients/customers online. Keeping all the social media outlets up to date takes time. If this is something you don’t have, or you find yourself falling behind, having a VA control your social media can be key for you. Don’t lose the opportunity to connect, but instead trust someone to manage those connections and keep you informed with what is going on.
  • Finances/Billing – Often I hear people complaining that their receipts are in a pile waiting to be sorted, they need to file an expense report, or need to follow up on outstanding payments from customers/clients. These are simple tasks that a VA can do for you.

All of this doesn’t mean you may not be involved in these activities, but often it takes a few simple questions from your VA, some training on what you and your business are all about, and the desire to want assistance. In the end, you’ll save time and make more money by focusing on what you do best, and not focusing on the nominal day to day activities that bog you down.

Read more about the benefits of a Virtual Assistants.

...and how VAs can save you money!

Learn More About LinkedIn Company Pages

Did you know that you can take control of your LinkedIn company page and post updates, job opportunities, company thoughts, FAQs and perspectives?  If not, here are some tips to get you started.

FIRST – Create/Complete/Update your company page

You can’t get started until you have one, and it won’t help you if it is out of date.  If you are looking to enhance your page, keep in mind that you can post images, videos and rich media content to support your on page text.  You can also and build out your products and services pages.

To get started on creating your company page, login to LinkedIn, click on the Companies tab, and click Add a Company on the right hand side.

NEXT – Build a following

This can be current employees, their friends, your friends, your customers, almost anyone.  Let your employees and clients know they can follow your company on LinkedIn, just like they can on other social media outlets.  To get in the mix of other companies and individuals, follow your peers, vendors, and other companies you interact with. If you want to be more direct, send an announcement to request people follow your page and provide them a few good reasons WHY.

SIMULTANEOUSLY – Provide value-add content and interact

People and other companies are not going to follow you unless there is a strong reason to.  Engaging people through job postings or company updates is a great start, but this may not create long-term interest of  your target customers or clients.  To do that, provide them with value-add updates that can help them and/or their business. Remember, social media is about attracting customers, but to attract customers it cannot be all about you and your business.  Instead it must be about them and their needs, and how you can best fulfill them.  Keep this in mind and provide helpful and value-add content to develop yourself as a thought leader and great partner for your followers, clients, and customers (potential or existing). Remember that questions are a great way to start a discussion and engage your audience. Help facilitate interaction with your company and start conversations with your followers.

IN CONCLUSION – Monitor your efforts

There is a great analytics feature to help you monitor who is visiting your page and viewing your information. This is just a straight numbers game, but to get information on who is engaging with your page, you can see this on your company profile. Pair those two pieces of information together and you should get some great insight on your company pages’ success.

Pinterest: Get the 411

From the creators, “Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.” What does this mean exactly? How can I use it as part of my business’ social media plan? We will answer some of those questions, as well as offer tips on how to use Pinterest for your business.

Pinterest launched in 2010 and is growing rapidly. Think of Pinterest like a digital bulletin board.  A place to capture pictures, cutouts from magazines, swatches of fabrics, things you like, things you want, etc., but in a virtual format.  Maybe you found an online store you like, and you want to post that.  When you “pin” anything to your board, your followers can see it and just like Facebook and Google+, people can comment on it, re-pin it to their board, like it, and much more.  Like Facebook or YouTube, content that is pinned can go viral.

Businesses can use it as a virtual catalog. Place all of your products on your board and link them back to your website. Then post pictures of your customers using your product, or feedback you have received on your products.  If you want visitors to get to know your company as people and not just a brand, try posting things outside of your business scope, and let your followers learn more about your company and employee’s interests. Are you located in a great neighborhood, participate in community outreach, or is there something else about your company that makes it unique? Post that, and interact with others that have the same interests.

Do you have a coupon, special or deal that is running? Post it to a deal board, or reach out to individual followers or groups with that offer.

To keep your followers’ interest, an initial pin to your board is not enough.  Follow your followers’ pins, give feedback, but try to be helpful instead of promotional.  In the end, what you want is to have people follow you, and have your followers interacting with your board and/or directing users to your company by posting your products, service, etc. as theirpinterests”.

As with other social media sites, make sure you are ALWAYS linking people back to your website and your contact information.

Pinterest is not ideal for all businesses.  If you can’t put your product or service in visual form, it will be hard to locate or upload an image to tie back to your company. But even outside of selling your actual products and services, as described above, Pinterest can actually sell your company and your brand, if there is something unique or attractive that you can visually represent and attract others to.

The best way to know if it will work for you is to TRY.  Give it a month or two and see if your website traffic, orders, or client list starts to increase.

Learn more about Pinterest and sign up! - http://pinterest.com/about/