7 Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media

Social Media

By Dawn Papandrea

You’ve probably heard all of the success stories by now. Their message? You need to get on board with social media to grow your business. But for every company that achieves success, there are thousands that aren’t leveraging the power of social media in quite the right way. Here are the top seven things they’re doing wrong, that you want to do right.

1. Boycotting social media

If you’ve avoided setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter profile for your small business, using the excuse that social media is a passing fad, it’s time to join the crowd. These platforms, and others such as Google+, are here to stay (or at least they’re here until the next big thing comes along), and they’re where your customers and clients are spending a lot of time.

2. Expecting immediate results

Sorry, but you can’t assume that once you announce to the world that you’re on Facebook, you’ll triple your sales. Social media is all about brand awareness, engaging your customers, and building a community–and that takes time!

3. Sounding like a commercial

People will lose interest in your stream pretty quickly if you use your pages to promote, promote, promote. Instead, think of what value you can give to your audience. Perhaps it’s a special discount code for your fans or followers, or a tip of the day that’s related to your product or service. Once you become a trusted authority, people will stay connected, and you’ll be top of mind when they’re ready to purchase.

4. Not engaging or responding

If you aren’t actively conversing with your network, you’re wasting your time. Make it a point to answer questions about your business, or address customer service issues, in a timely manner. Even something as simple as sending out a happy birthday message to your users will let them know you care about them.

5. Letting an intern run your social media

Don’t pass the responsibility of your social media efforts off to someone else, unless you’re sure that person is a good representative of your business. While it’s true that social media can take up time, it’s vital that it’s done properly.

6. Being all business, all the time

As relationships develop, it’s great to let your hair down. Let your clients get to know the person behind the brand. For example, many companies on Twitter make it a point to use an employee’s photo, instead of the company logo.

7. Not targeting the right people

When you’re starting up your pages, it’s great to add your friends and family, to get your numbers up. Ultimately, though, you want to attract your target market. Do this by letting your customers and clients know that you’re on social sites. Add the links to your email signature and to your business cards. Put up a poster in your storefront. And give people an incentive to connect, by offering something of value, like a contest or coupon.

By avoiding these social media mistakes, you’ll reach more new people, and strengthen relationships with your existing customers. And those are results that you’re sure to “like.”

A Little Known Secret to Webinar Success

secret
Want to know a secret?

By Eric Brown, BodyWorkBiz.com

THIS IS A SPECIAL GUEST POST BY ONE OF OUR ANYMEETING USERS. WANT TO WRITE FOR THE ANYMEETING BLOG? GET THE DETAILS.

I know that you’re reading this on the AnyMeeting blog, so I don’t have to tell you about all the great reasons to host webinars.

Whether it’s to generate leads and build your list, promote your products or services, or sell your expertise, webinars are an effective way to connect in a personal and powerful way with a targeted audience. But sometimes the process of getting sufficient numbers of people to your broadcast can be a daunting one:

  • You may not have a large network of contacts
  • You may not have the resources to reach the people you want to connect with
  • You may be an expert in your field, but you may not be great at marketing or selling

The bottom line: You need help getting audience members in your virtual seats.

Whatever your situation may be, the easiest way to overcome those obstacles and to get the viewers you need is by partnering with an individual or organization who already has a relationship with your target audience.

You can leverage your partner’s resources in a variety of ways to ensure your success. They’ve invested a great deal of time and money to develop and build a relationship a large network of customers, members, employees or volunteers. By partnering you can leverage those existing relationships and borrow the trust and reputation your partner has with their network. You don’t have to start from scratch.

Just because you’re leveraging their resources doesn’t mean that you’re using or taking advantage of your partner. The secret to a successful partnership, also called a joint venture, is ensuring that everyone involved comes away a winner: You, your partner and their network. There has to be value for all three parties.

Let me give you an example of how this works. A number of years ago I was working at developing leads for a web-based project. To grow our list fast, I looked at partnering with a large industry association. This association had an annual conference and I knew that the number of attendees had been dropping, so I offered to help them by hosting broadcasts of some of their top speakers. These broadcasts would be offered for free to their entire membership and they would give the association members a chance to get a taste for the topics covered. It also allowed some of their top presenters to showcase their knowledge with the goal of whetting the members’ appetite for more at the live event.

I offered to take care of all the logistics with the presenters and take care of the entire production of the webinars. All the association had to do was send several emails to their members. The emails promoted this free webinar series. Members could hear and even interact with some of the top industry experts at no cost. If someone wanted to attend all they needed to do is fill out a form with their name and email address and they were immediately sent the webinar details through an autoresponder.

The results: After just four one-hour webinars I had built an email list of over 3,000 people, all of who were prime prospects for my other offerings.

I did not have to send the promotional emails. I did not have to prepare the presentations or develop educational materials. The time I invested was minimal. All it cost was a couple hundred dollars to set up a small website and a small monthly fee for an autoresponder.

Everybody walked away happy. The association got some great promotion for their convention, the presenters got wider exposure, the association members got to hear experts they would not normally have an opportunity to hear and I grew my prospect list in a really big way.

So next time you decide to offer a webinar, think about utilizing partnerships to help ensure your success. Think about the individuals or groups that already have relationships with the people you want to reach and come up with ways to partner where everyone can walk away a winner.

What organizations could you partner with for your webinar? Share your ideas in the comments.

What My First Social Media Webinar Taught Me

Computer Girl
Your first webinar can be scary, but you'll get the hang of it

By Anita Hovey, Twirp Communications

THIS IS A SPECIAL GUEST POST BY ONE OF OUR ANYMEETING USERS. WANT TO WRITE FOR THE ANYMEETING BLOG? GET THE DETAILS.


My first webinar on anymeeting.com was interesting for so many reasons, not the least of which was the fact that I was having a conversation with people I had known in cyber space for years. I offered a free webinar about Facebook features and tactics to my e-friends from the papercrafting community as a means for me to test out the anymeeting.com platform. I was scared to schedule a “real” webinar until I had done a test run and the papercrafting community has given me so much, this seemed like perfect way for me to give back a little something. Here are some observations from my first webinar.

Talking to Yourself
It’s really hard to concentrate on what you’re saying when you’re staring yourself in the face…and that face is time-lapsed just a tiny bit. Once you get moving and get on to the slidehow or screen-sharing portion of the webinar it’s much easier. At first I put the screen share up, but I quickly realized that sometimes the screen share just isn’t that interesting. You have to remember to come back to your face when there’s really nothing happening on the screen. I tried to switch back to my “talking head” during long explanations so at least the audience would have something dynamic to look at. After a little while the switching back and forth became intuitive and I learned to look at other parts of the screen when my face was on-screen.

Talking to an Invisible Audience
It’s really hard to talk to yourself for two whole hours when there are no faces looking back at you. Because this was a free webinar I opted for chat only and I didn’t enable any voice inputs. I missed the instant interaction I was used to with in-person workshops because:

  1. You can’t tell if they’re awake.
  2. You can’t tell if they’re listening.
  3. You can’t even tell if they’re still in the room!

To overcome this, when I asked a question I would simply wait for the answers to pop up in chat–it didn’t take very long–and then I would continue. At this point I would always make sure the screen was showing me reading or waiting, so the audience knew I was still there and not “timed out” or something like that.

Ummm, Errr, Ahhhh
I still say “um” a LOT. I don’t know if the participants noticed it, but I sure did. Years ago when I was on the public speaking team in high school my English teacher worked really hard to get me to the point where I didn’t do that. Now it’s back and I’m disgusted by it. I always notice it in other people, so it really bugs me when I catch myself doing it. Better preparation will prevent that next time.

Doing the Necessary
Sometimes you just have to do something…it can’t wait! I was scared to death to touch my nose when it got itchy because I didn’t want anyone thinking I was doing anything gross. You can always pull up a screen shot at that point, I guess, but I didn’t think of that in time.

Overall, my first webinar went very well. The participants learned a lot and so did I. Another win-win.

Have you given a webinar? What was your experience like? Share your thoughts in the comments.

5 Ways to Prevent Boring Webinars

Boring
Follow these tips to make sure your webinar is not a snoozer

By Angela Stringfellow

Few words in a busy professional’s world can cause such deep sighs and rolled eyes as “webinar”. The virtual meeting held via the Internet is often perceived as a schedule buster, a mundane exercise in futility, a manager’s way of keeping tabs, a corporate executive’s way of hearing his or her own voice.  It’s only mildly comforting that 200 of the company’s best are feeling the same way; each receiving the same mandatory “join” invite.

In that moment when you realize you’re not alone, you also quickly realize that a webinar of such magnitude is going to lead to either a very boring, moderator-driven call or complete chaos with participants speaking over one another, asking the same questions over and over, or providing too much information and extending the length of the call indefinitely.  Is it really necessary, and more important, is it really effective to have this kind of meeting?

Webinars are a crucial tool in the business world. They provide mass audiences with crucial and timely information in situations where emails cannot convey the importance, the urgency or sometimes even the emotion that is needed.

For many, putting together a successful, interactive online meeting is a daunting task. Here are five tips to help make your next online collaboration a success.

1. Moderator Interaction: Nothing is worse than listening to a moderator speak for two hours straight.  It is essential for a successful remote meeting to have some sort of interaction among the participants. Whether it be through instant message or verbally, ask participants questions. With larger groups it’s often difficult to see if everyone has interacted, so it’s up to the moderator to call on participants to answer questions. By keeping the participants on their toes, they’re more likely to retain the information being presented.

2. Best Practices/Questions: Allow the group to share best practices or ask questions of other group members. Often, the moderator has the expertise on the topic, but the participants are in the trenches.  For example, in a sales environment, management may know the figures, the analytics and strategies, but the sales professionals know the market and the ins and out of the field.  They are able to share best practices with one another or ask questions of their colleagues.

3. Preparation: When working with a large online group, providing the attendees with necessary documents prior to the meeting is essential, unless breaking or bad news — like corporate down-sizing or mergers — is being shared.  If it’s simply a sales plan or projections, send the slide presentation or accompanying files ahead of time.  This will help attendees come prepared, with questions already formulated, which will help with interaction.

4. Keep an Open Mind: People are going to be multitasking as the meeting is taking place.  There will be moments when information is missed.  If the moderator calls on someone who missed the question because he was attending to another matter, give that person a do-over, a mulligan.  Allow for one mulligan, one trip to Bermuda or one siesta with no questions asked.  Then, perhaps, pose the next question to that same person.

5. Follow Up: Assign someone to coordinate the questions and answers that are raised during the meeting and to get them to the participants as soon as possible.  There is nothing more frustrating that being told that the answers to the questions presented will be emailed shortly, then nothing comes.  Following through with requests and sometimes demands, will build trust among the participants and they will be more willing to participate again.

In addition, provide opportunity for feedback. Let the team members have the opportunity to share their thoughts and views on the meeting.

With the advances in today’s technologies and more and more opportunities available for remote meetings, the days of traveling to meeting centers is quickly coming to an end.  Creating a forum for meetings is essential. Creating one that fosters teamwork and interaction is paramount.

What do you do to keep your audience engaged during webinars? Let us know in the comments.

4 Tips for Small Office Design

Small workstation
Big things can come from small spaces

The secret to employee productivity, creativity and increased profitability can be found within the walls of your small business, quite literally.  Don’t overlook the importance of your office space and design; learn what you can do to foster a creative and productive environment.

1 Paint Your Walls Blue

Blue is the hue that ignites creativity and productivity. How?  People tend to associate blue with the sky and freedom, igniting a feeling of exploration which in turn enhances creativity. If painting your walls sounds a little extreme, try adding some blue hue accents or art work around the office.

2 Ditch the Cubicles

Make your office environment as transparent and open as possible; employees enjoy free flowing communication, and opportunities to interact with their colleagues. Bring in some couches to create a lounge area, separate from the work area, giving employees a place to relax and unwind for a bit. This can get the creative juices flowing, leading to creativity and productivity.

Don’t have the funds for couches and other office furnishings?  No problem…

3 Hit the Second Hand Stores

It’s time to get creative by bargain shopping in second hand stores and online. You can try Craigslist for inexpensive and unique pieces. Create a space that’s fun and colorful.

4 Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff

Bigger isn’t always better. Small businesses with small office spaces are at a huge advantage. Studies have found that small offices spaces increase the exchange of information, create a positive social environment and actually increase job satisfaction.

What do you think of these tips? Have your own? Share them in the comments.

AnyMeeting Achieves 875% User Growth, Releases Ad-Free Version

HUNTINGTON BEACH, CA–(Marketwire – Nov 10, 2011) – AnyMeeting, the completely free web conferencing and webinar service, today announced 875% user growth over the last 12 months. By addressing the web conferencing needs of the small business community, AnyMeeting has grown to over 75,000 customers. The company is venture backed, with $780,000 in funding from Tech Coast Angels, Pasadena Angels and Maverick Angels….

Taking the next step in expanding the service to a broader spectrum of small business users, AnyMeeting has just implemented an ad-free version in response to requests from users, who would like to have the option of removing the ads from the meetings they host. The feature set for the ad-free version is exactly the same, the only difference being that no ads are displayed.  See the complete press release on MarketWire.

AnyMeeting Offers Ad-Free Option

Mad-Men
They aren't happy about AnyMeeting's new ad-free option

Taking the next step in expanding the service to a broader spectrum of small business users, AnyMeeting has just implemented an ad-free version in response to requests from users, who would like to have the option of removing the ads from the meetings they host. The feature set for the ad-free version is exactly the same, the only difference being that no ads are displayed. Our CEO, Costin Tuculescu explains:

“Through our ad-supported model, we have been able to provide a no-cost solution to small businesses that is just as good as the paid solutions on the market. Now, with our ad-free solution, we’re able to deliver the same feature set, without ads, at a price point that is very attractive for small businesses.”

Pricing

Customers can easily change from ad-supported to ad-free and vice versa on the AnyMeeting website. AnyMeeting offers two inexpensive levels for the ad-free version, 25 attendees for $17.99 per month and 200 attendees for $69.99 per month.  To remove ads, Log in to your account and click “Account” to go ad-free. If you are not already AnyMeeting customer, simply sign up for a free account to get started.

Five Apps to Help You Manage Twitter


Twitter
Tame the bird

By Anita Hovey, Twirp Communications

THIS IS A SPECIAL GUEST POST BY ONE OF OUR ANYMEETING USERS. WANT TO WRITE FOR THE ANYMEETING BLOG? GET THE DETAILS.

 

Twitter…you either love it…or you’re indifferent. I have yet to hear of someone who is actually using it a decent amount and hates it. Businesses of all sizes and across all industries are using Twitter to reach new customers, build relationships with loyal customers, create new customer experiences and increase brand awareness. As far as social media goes, Twitter has a lot to offer. It can be a lot of work to get a handle on it though. Here are my five favorite Twitter helpers.

1Mr. Unfollower is a great little Twitter account. All you have to do is follow @unfollowr from your Twitter account and follow the directions you receive. Each week you will get a digest of all the accounts that have unfollowed you. I like it as a means to see if I’m still interesting to people. I check to see that nobody I am REALLY connected to has unfollowed me becuase that would mean I did something really wrong probably. Most of the time it is businesses who are looking for a follow-back and are out of my area. A lot of the accounts are suspended users, meaning they were probably bots or spammers. I don’t worry about who’s in the list too much, but it’s nice to know I hardly ever lose a real friend.

2. Tweriod will analyse your Twitter account and tell you the best times to tweet based on when most of your followers are online. You can get a free Tweriod analysis once a month and there are paid upgrades available. This is useful for everyone, but especially for businesses who want to tweet out today’s specials. You want to hit as many followers as possible to spread the word. Once you’ve got your Tweriod analysis, you’ll want to check out my next tool.

3. Buffer helps you spread out your content-based tweets so they are posted at optimal times. A quick set up tells Buffer when you prefer to tweet (perhaps based on your Tweriod analysis) and then you simply add your tweets and RTs to your Buffer queue from a button in your browser bar. I don’t use this nearly as much as I could, but it is a great program. They are unveiling Buffer for Facebook soon, too.

4. Twilert is like Google Alerts for Twitter. Get e-mail digests about what is happening on Twitter for keywords, competitor accounts, events, or anything else you can search for on Twitter.

5. Manage Flitter is my most recent discovery, ironically thanks to Facebook guru Mari Smith. This app helps you organize and clean up your Twitter account by looking at who is not following you back. Let me be clear…I do not follow everyone back and I do not expect everyone to follow me back. Manage Flitter is easy to use to find inactive accounts. You can simply unfollow everyone, but that’s not how I use the program. I find Manage Flitter much more user friendly than some of its competitors and everything I need from it is free.

Are there other fabulous Twitter apps out there? Let us know in the comments.

Help AnyMeeting Raise Awareness About Men’s Health this Movember

Movember Moustache
It’s like the pink ribbon for guys.

You are invited to participate with us this Movember. Each November people from all over the world grow, or wear, moustaches to promote awareness of men’s health issues.

Moustache + November = Movember

There are 3 ways you can participate:

  1. Grow a moustache – If you want to join in, start growing on November 1st. If you are folliclely challenged like me then you can show your support by sporting one of these printable moustaches. No excuses girls.
  2. Upload a picture of your moustache to our Facebook page – We will be holding a best moustache contest on Facebook to promote awareness and connect with our community online. You can win a Perfect Shave Kit from the Art of Shaving (or a $100 Amazon gift card, your choice). Upload your hairy lipped masterpieces to our Facebook page between 11/1/11 and 11/21/11. Be sure to vote on your favorites and/or get your friends to vote for you. Voting begins 11/21/11 and a winner will be selected on 12/1/11.
  3. Join the Movember moustache team – Besides adding your moustache photo to our Facebook page, please join the official Movember charity page. You can participate as an individual, start your own team, or join the AnyMeeting team.

We look forward to viewing your masterpieces. Happy growing.

Need a moustache? Try one of ours:

How To: Price Your Product or Service

Price is right
The price is right Bob

By Ilona Dolinska-Reiser, CFA, Wealth Skills, Inc.

THIS IS A SPECIAL GUEST POST BY ONE OF OUR ANYMEETING USERS. WANT TO WRITE FOR THE ANYMEETING BLOG? GET THE DETAILS.

Working with entrepreneurs I often find they are uncertain about how to price their product or service.  Mispricing your product or service, at minimum, leads to frustration:  working hard, growing the revenues, but not getting what you want financially out of the business.

Wealth Skills recommends using three methods for pricing of product or service: cost based, market based and pricing for your desired income. Using all three methods for arriving at possible prices for your product or service may just give you the confidence and profitability you desire to have.

For illustration purposes we’ll use a simplified example. Let’s say you are selling 100 units of product/service per month that costs you $30.

Cost based pricing – pricing based on your costs. Let’s say you want to have 50% operating profit margin. This implies $60 price for the product or service (=$30/0.5). At $60 revenue per unit and your $30 costs of delivering product or service, you have $30 left as profit (a 50% profit margin)

Market price – what similar products or services are selling for. Let’s say the prices range $55-$75. Therefore the average is $65.

Pricing for your desired income – how much do you want to pay yourself from this business. In this case you sell 100 units per month, each unit cost you $30, for total costs of $3,000. Let’s say you want to pay yourself $5,000.  This would translate to $8,000 in gross revenue ($3,000+$5,000) or $80 per unit (=$8,000/100).

Usually, these three methods lead to different price levels. One method is not better than another. They are simple methods which help you think through pricing and profitability in your business.

Often times, pricing for the desired income yields a higher price than the other methods, but simply dismissing it as too high and settling for pricing based on one of the other methods means forgoing an opportunity to have what you want financially from your business.

If your product or service has a unique and different value (one recognized by your customers) it may be worthwhile to try to sell the product/service at $80, and be the high value, high price provider in your industry.

If you are not certain about the unique, differentiating value of your product, you could ask yourself if the costs could be sustained at a lower level: $2,500 per month total (lowered by $5 per unit), then you could price the product at $75 (within the market price) and have the desired income from the business.

I find that these three methods help entrepreneurs gain confidence in pricing their products/service, help them manage the financial aspect of business, and have the desired income level.