Google + and Your Marketing Strategy

From one of my recent posts you might think that I consider social media a time waster but for business owners.  It certainly may be if you do not stay focused and blur the lines between work and play.  But it is becoming increasingly important to become involved in social media if you are a small business owner.  Since social media can take up a considerable amount of time and resources, you need to plan accordingly.  One aspect of planning is to look into the demographics of each social network since there are many social networks and some may better fit your niche than others.

Facebook is probably the best known, and it is the largest social network globally but to my surprise I discovered that based on overall users Google + is the largest US social medic network.  So I will start  a series of posts on the demographics of various social media starting with Google +.

  • Google + has 5 billion Active users (globally) and while not all are active on the network, their presence on the network personalizes their search experience.
  • 26.1% of women and 24.5% of men have a Google+ account.
  • By age globally (from the Dec 10, 2013 Global Web Index Study): 16-24 (20.7%), 25-34 (24.9%), 35-44 (24.9%), 45-54 (17.8%), 55-64 (11.7%)
  • 5 billion photos uploaded each week
  • Most importantly for business owners, Google Plus generates much more brand engagement than you might think. Recently Forrester studied more than 3 million user interactions with more than 2,500 brand posts on seven social networks. Brands Google Plus posts generated nearly as much engagement per follower as their Facebook posts — and almost twice as much engagement per follower as their Twitter posts.

If you want to learn more or put your business on Google Plus, here are two videos to get you started.

Easy to Follow Google + for Business Guide

 

How To Set up Your Google + Business Page

 

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Social Media: The Great Time Waster

While it’s true that social marketing is a powerful technique that all online (and offline) business owners should explore, it’s also true that much of what we do on these sites is most definitely not work.  But when you make your living online, it’s far too easy to justify time spent on social media as being “work.”

Yes, you may have to market your business on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but you are wasting time when you just can’t pull yourself away from that Facebook game that has your attention, or the beautiful photos of yummy desserts you want to make.  Even agonizing over the special access to some marketing guru’s new product (that has no relationship to your business) that will be at a special price but only until midnight, is a time waster.

Schedule Your Day

Not all social media is bad. It’s a great way to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends, and yes, it’s an important business-building tool as well. So rather than try to eliminate it all together,  make it a regular, scheduled part of your day.

For example, catch up on your Facebook feed over coffee, then log out and get to work. Or browse Pinterest while you eat lunch. For actual work-related social media tasks, schedule a time during the work day to log in, update your status, respond to questions, and check up on your competitors. The key here is to actually schedule this as you would any other business-related task, and not to let this “work time” turn into a chat with a friend or relative..

Segregate Your Tools

One way successful entrepreneurs separate work from play is by the tools they use. When on the computer in the office, they avoid Facebook and other social media sites because they’re working. Instead, they limit their use of social media to off hours by only visiting the sites on their mobile phones or tablets.

By adopting this type of policy, you create a boundary in your own mind. After a few weeks of practice, you’d no more think of hopping on Facebook from the office computer than you would consider wearing your bathrobe to the grocery store. The two activities just don’t go together.

Let Someone Else Handle It

If you really can’t stay focused on work once you’ve logged into Pinterest or Facebook (they’re just so distracting!) consider letting someone else handle your social media accounts. You can create updates ahead of time, then simply turn them over to a virtual assistant to schedule. Then once a day or so (maybe from your iPad rather than your office) you can log in and respond to your followers.

Take a Sabbatical

Finally, if you’re not using social media as a marketing tool, consider taking a sabbatical. Simply make a deal with yourself that you will not log in or check any social media site for a month or a week or even just for a day. You might just be surprised to see how much time you really do waste playing Candy Crush.

If you eventually decide that you should be using social media as a marketing tool (and you probably should be), adopt the “Schedule Your Day” model or the “Segregate Your Tools” model  right from the start.

Overcome Distractions; Stay Focused

This is the third and last (for now) of my posts on overcoming distractions. To stay focused on your business be sure to read my two previous posts on Time Management and Taming the Email Monster.

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Time Management Techniques for Small Business Productivity

If you are looking for a better way of managing your time, colleagues, friends with a background in the business world,  and Google will suggest several techniques such as: Getting Things Done. The Pomodoro Technique. Time boxing. Stephen Covey’s urgent/important matrix.

But which ones are best for cutting through the overwhelm and really managing your to-do list? Well, like most things, which system or technique works best is mostly a matter of personal choice. However, there are some things you should know about each one that might make choosing easier.

Getting Things Done

Developed by David Allen, Getting Things Done, or GTD, is a system designed to help you know at a glance exactly what you should be doing right now. The idea is simple: For every item that lands in your “inbox” (which might be email, a phone call, a letter, or just a passing comment from a spouse) you make an immediate decision to either do it, delegate it, file it, defer it, or trash it.

Once you’ve made your decision (based on the task itself and the time it will take to complete) you either do the thing or note it in your “trusted system” for retrieval – and completion – later. Devotees of GTD spend hours developing their own trusted systems, which can consist of paper planners, expensive software, or just a few note cards and a pen. In GTD, the tools are entirely up to you, it’s the methodology that matters.

The Pomodoro Technique

This method is a boon to those who find themselves easily distracted. The principle is simple: Set a timer, and get to work. Typically, proponents of the Pomodoro Techniqe use a simple kitchen timer (often shaped like a tomato – or pomodoro, in Italian) set for 25 minutes. During that time, they focus only on the task at hand. When the timer goes off, they take a 5 minute break, then set the timer for another 25 minutes.

Each 25-minute set is called a pomodoro. Once you’ve completed four pomodoros, you take a 20 minute break, before beginning the cycle again.

Time Boxing

Time boxing is a simple technique  that is often used in project management and software development for tracking  progress.  It can easily be adapted to a small business or to personal use.  Time boxing is about fixing the time we have available to work on a task and then doing the best we can within that time frame.  This method can help  you avoid procrastination, circumvent perfectionism, boost creativity, and better utilize gaps in your day.

Since we often procrastinate when we have small tedious tasks to do or uninteresting projects to accomplish.  So set a specific amount of time and Time box all the tasks to get them done within that time period.   If your tendency is perfectionism, then setting a specific amount of time and making a decision not to exceed that amount of time means you do the best job you can do in that time period.

On the other hand, if you have a project to do complete, but you don’t know where to start or how much time it will take and maybe you are overwhelmed, give yourself a time period of 30 – 120 minutes (or a time range that works for you) and commit to working on it for that entire time period.  This commitment is to work on the project, not to complete it or reach any milestones.  In this case if you become focused on the task, are making progress, and have the time, feel free to exceed the time range you originally intended.  Often we have gaps in our day between appointments and other commitments.  Use these gaps as time boxes to do tasks that realistically fit the allotted time.

Urgent/Important

Stephen Covey’s brainchild provides an easy way to prioritize your work. Begin by dividing a piece of paper into four sections (two rows by two columns) and assigning a level of urgency/importance to each quadrant. The upper left is important but not urgent, the upper right is urgent and important, the lower left is neither urgent nor important, and the lower right is urgent but not important.

Now take your to-do list and assign each item to a quadrant. For example, grocery shopping might be important but it’s probably not urgent. Fixing your client’s broken website is both important and urgent. Answering the phone when your mother calls for the fourth time is urgent, but not important.

By dividing up your task list according to these priorities, you can easily see what you need to be working on next, and what can wait until the urgent and important items are cleared from your schedule.

Entrepreneurs who use these techniques or other available strategies to manage their time get more work done than many others do.   Of course, these methods can and should be tweaked to fit your own needs and lifestyle. The bottom line is this: you have to find a system that works for you, and that is compatible with your style.  An incompatible technique will become another distraction that will cause you to lose focus rather than become the productive business owner you know you can be.

 

 

 

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Tame Your Email Monster

Email Monster

Email Monster

Is the Email Monster one of your business problems?  How much time do you spend reading and responding to – or simply deleting – emails? How much unread email currently clutters your inbox? If you’re like most entrepreneurs, the answer (in both cases) is far too much!

In fact, if you were brave enough to actually time yourself, you’d very likely find you spend two or even three hours each and every day just dealing with email. No wonder you feel like you don’t get anything done. You need some strategies for building an email system that will tame the monster.

Auto-File Your “To Read” Emails

We all do it. We open an email, realize it’s a newsletter we love, an important announcement, or information about an upcoming event, and we close it with a well-intentioned, “I’ll read that later.” The trouble is, when later comes, we either can’t find the email, or don’t even remember that we wanted to read it.

What if you had a folder on your computer where all your “to be read” emails waited just for you to come by and discover them again? How empty would your inbox be then? Through the power of filters and folders, just about any email client can take care of this task for you.

Simply set up a folder called “To Read” or something else equally clever, then create an email rule or filter (as Gmail calls them) to deliver certain messages to that folder when they come in. Make a rule for your favorite online newsletter, email from your college alumni association, your local chamber of commerce, or even your sister.

But here’s the trick to it: You have to actually schedule time to go and read these emails. Don’t let them just pile up in there, because all that does is move the problem from your inbox to your “to read” folder. Make time to read them, then respond, file, or trash accordingly.

Turn off Notifications

Are you easily distracted by email? You’re not alone. That little red number declaring the number of unread emails, or the pretty little chime that announces the arrival of a new message is an invitation to click over and see what’s new.

Turn it off. In fact, turn off the automatic checking for email if you can. That way you can purposefully decide when to go read your email, rather than being notified of a new message every 5 minutes.

Unsubscribe

Chances are you’re on multiple mailing lists – and most of them you probably never read.

Click the unsubscribe button. Be ruthless. You can always sign up again if you miss the content, but for now, eliminating those emails from your inbox will save you a lot of time and trouble.

Email Ninja

Email Ninja

Getting a handle on email is one of the toughest things for busy small business owners, but with a little planning and some self-discipline, you can start using email as the powerful tool it is.  As a email ninja your old monster will no longer be stealing much of your time.

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Happy Labor Day

1880'sBy the 1880’s life in the United States was changing from agrarian and small town to industrial and urban.   Some farmers were the original “halfpreneurs” doing both farming and running a small business (making carriage wheels, barrels, rope, from their barn or house.  In the small towns and cities, most business were run by one person or a family, things were changing.    With the growth of the industrial revolution came factories, and  a need for workers to run the machines, fix the machines, build the factories, build the roads for workers and materials to get to and from the factories.  Manufactured goods meant for the first time ever the ordinary person might buy all the premade clothes or shoes they could afford.  The day when only the self-employed tailor or shoe-makers could outfit you had come to an end.  Of course the need for a skilled tailor or cobbler never went away, but if you need one today, they might be difficult to find.  In the 1880s organized labor began to call for a holiday to celebrate the work of U.S. workers.  In 1894, Congress declared Labor Day, a national holiday.

Consultant, picture imageBut if you are reading this blog, you probably have some type of small business of your own or want to start one.  The U.S. laborer working for organized labor certainly contributed to the building of this country, but so didn’t the village shop owner or crafts person .  So if you are one of their successors (or want to be) with your online goods or services  or a craft or service you provide from home or “office”  don’t forget to celebrate your labors as well for you may have discovered what the “employed” have never considered or taken seriously.

” Your real security is yourself.  You know you can do it, and they can’t ever take that away from you.”   — Mae West

“People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are.  The people who get on in this world are those who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”     — George Bernard Shaw

“No amount of money, no matter how much it is, will ever compensate you sufficiently for remaining in a job that is drudgery and robs you of your spirit, or one that prevents you from fulfilling a dream.”     — John Kehoe

“You miss 100% of the shots you never take.”     —  Wayne Gretzky

 “A musician must make music, and an artist must paint, and a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself.”    — Abraham Maslow

 “There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”     — Christopher Morley

 

                                So ……………………….

labor day 14

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Interested in Starting a Membership Site – Deal from Ryan Lee

If you are looking to start a full time or part time business on the Internet that involves creating and selling information or product or you would like to start a membership site, Ryan Lee is the “guru” who can help you get started.  I have been to two of his conferences for starting memberships sites (continuity).

For a brief time, Ryan is offering all his products at an unbelievable low cost.  ryanlee.com/all    Be sure to scroll down the entire page.

No, I am not an affiliate.  Just passing on good deals to my followers and potential followers.

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“Why Focusing on Your Budget Will Not Bring You Wealth – and What Will”

By Marcia Bench
Every day, you see them – a program to help you coach better, a new software, a social media marketing program, or how to use video in your marketing – as well as prospective mentors you would LOVE to work with… and then the “b” word comes up: “But…I don’t have the money.”
Sound familiar?
Yes, part of this is B.S.O. syndrome – not getting distracted by Bright Shiny Objects that are good, could add value, but too often end up being another download you don’t read, or another info product that sits on your shelf.
But there is another issue here that we each need to look at carefully: the role of our budget in determining what we do or don’t make commitments to or purchase/invest in for our businesses.
We’re trained to (a) set a budget, (b) keep our spending within that budget, and (c) save up for extraordinary expenses.
But here’s the problem: when you’re starting a business, waiting until you have saved up to fund things like the V.A. help you need for that next launch, or the software that will let you deliver your previews at multiple times, defers your return on investment – to your detriment!
As many as 80 percent of new businesses don’t make it past the first year – and one reason is because they never let go of this way of thinking.
Yes, you need to be financially responsible with your income and expenses – I’m not saying not to keep an eye on the bottom line!
But when you decide you want to say YES to an investment that’s needed for your business growth – a virtual assistant, a mentor, or a software program – the first place to look is NOT your budget!
Instead, here is the successful entrepreneur’s way of approaching these issues: I know I need an additional $400/month to pay that V.A. to support me. So what program can I create, market and fill between now and their start date so that I can pay for their services?
In other words, most people have it backwards!!
FIRST you make the decision to have the thing you need – knowing it will yield many times its cost in dividends over time. THEN you decide how YOU – through your business – will generate those funds. It’s amazing how the money shows up!
That’s the ONLY way I could have paid triple my normal rent this summer (being in Oregon while paying for Arizona rent too), hired a new coach for the new year, and paid for the first two trips to the east coast. If I hadn’t thought it was possible, or waited till I had saved the money, I’d still be waiting…but the experiences are happening, we’re thriving – and it’s all due to this mindset.
Try it on this week with the next step YOU want to take – and let me know on my Facebook page how it’s going, ok?

“Marcia Bench publishes the widely circulated ‘Inspire!’ ezine biweekly to over 8,300 subscribers. If you’re thinking about becoming a coach, or are a coach who wants to add a new specialty or reach more people with your passionate message and services, join Marcia atwww.inspiredbusinessinstitute.com.

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