How to Stay Engaged with Your Audiences During a Crisis

How to Stay Engaged with Your Employees and Clients During the Coronavirus Pandemic_title slide

Struggling with how to stay engaged with your employees and clients during this unsettling time? Keep these tips in mind while creating your communications.

Employee Engagement Tips During a Crisis

How to Stay Engaged with Your Employees During a Crisis

First, reassure your employees regarding their pay. During a crisis, consistent income is vital to helping people stay calm and positive. If there are any changes, be transparent and communicate them as soon as possible. While everyone is frazzled, try not to make a knee-jerk reaction to a crisis. Can you implement smaller changes now to avoid laying someone off? Try to protect your employees’ pay as long as possible.

Along these lines, be transparent with your employees about the current state of your business. Don’t paint a rosy picture if you’re struggling or the crisis is impacting your operations. Your employees are adults, so they want you to be straight with them. Remember, you’re a team and you’re all in this situation together.

If your operations have been impacted, set expectations for your new reality but offer flexibility. Change scares people, so try to work with employees while you’re implementing new procedures and workflows. Are your employees working from home for the first time? Help them feel comfortable in their new environment, so they can be productive and contribute to the business.

Employees need to believe that their organization is able to handle the crisis. Here are some tips to make that happen: How to lead in times of crisis | Fast Company

 

While you’re adjusting to your new normal, communicate changes and updates to your team so everyone’s on the same page. However, let your employees do their job. It’s easy to over-communicate during stressful times, but bombarding your staff with emails ultimately won’t solve anything. It can actually hurt your operations and make your team less productive.

In addition to communicating changes and updates, help your employees through this unsettling time however you can. Change can be hard, so reach out to your team and offer your help to navigate their new reality. Whether it’s tech support or upgrades while working from home or sending a care package to show your appreciation, remind your employees that you’ll get through this challenging time together.

One way that you may be able to streamline your operations and help your staff work through changes is to utilize cloud-based collaboration tools, such as Trello or Basecamp. Find a solution that fits your needs, so your team can work together wherever they may be. Video calls and Google Hangouts can also facilitate connection and help your employees work together on projects.

Finally, encourage your team to take care of themselves during this stressful time, including their physical, mental and emotional health. They’ll be much more productive if they’re in sound mind, body and spirit, so do what you can to assist them with their efforts—especially during a crisis when people are stressed out.

Whether you surprise and delight staff members with a delivery to their home or give them a day off, show them that you care about them as people and how they’re coping with the crisis. Besides being the right thing to do, it will help cement employee loyalty when things return to normal (or your new normal).

Client Engagement & MarketingTips During a Crisis

How to Stay Engaged with Your Clients During a Crisis

A crisis hits—your company, your industry or the world. Should you continue to engage with your clients? Yes, and here’s how.

First, communicate any changes or updates that affect your clients. You don’t need to email them every day or every time you update a workflow unless it specifically affects them. While your clients will appreciate your transparency during this tough time, they won’t appreciate spam at any time.

If a crisis has affected your community, country or the world (like the novel coronavirus), respect that your customers may be working from home with different availability and preferences, especially communication. While they may have been happy to jump on a call before, now they may prefer an email or message on Facebook. A Zoom call may need to be scheduled, so your customers can ensure their children are entertained or dogs are in another room. Listen to your customer’s current needs, so you can continue to deliver an impressive customer experience.

You can remain in touch by offering relevant, valuable resources, tools and tips based on what you do. Don’t feel the need to provide a play-by-play update of what’s happening. Stick with providing information your customers can use during the crisis. For example, during the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people are working from home—many for the first time. Are you a veteran at working from home? Share tips to help your customers new to this environment adjust and feel more comfortable. Remind your customers that we’ll get through this unsettling time together.

Good Communication Can Save Your Brand During Quarantine | Entrepreneur

Should you still market your products and services? Yes, as long as they are relevant and you use good taste. Don’t joke about a crisis, or try to take advantage of people during a time of need. (You should never try to take advantage of people, but it’s an especially bad idea during a time of crisis.) Any short-term gain is more than offset by the long-term fallout. Base your marketing efforts on what your customers (or prospects) are asking for during this time.

Finally, make sure your tone is empathetic and appropriate. When people are scared or hurting, they’re less likely to think jokes are funny or appreciate your sarcasm. Let your customers know that you’re ready to support them through this crisis however you can. And by however you can, insert actual ways you’re supporting them that make sense for your business. If you’re in a position to host a fundraiser for your community, put one together. If you can donate goods or services, do it. If you can stay open to serve your community or audience, do that. Remember to review all communications, including scheduled content, to make sure it’s appropriate during a crisis.

Client Communication Tips During a Crisis

We hope these tips help you navigate the uncertain times we find ourselves in or a future crisis. Want to download our tips in a single presentation?

How to Stay Engaged with Your Employees and Clients During a Crisis

Still unsure? We’re here to help with all of your employee and client engagement needs. Contact us to discuss your needs, or leave your questions or additional tips in the comments. We hope you’re staying safe and following the guidelines issued in your area. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Your Communications Captain,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about your communications, your marketing needs or work from home tips):

 

 

Social Media’s Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Summer may conjure up lazy days at the beach, but social media platforms have been busy debuting new features. Here’s a summer roundup of features you may have missed, so you can incorporate them into your social media strategies.

Social Media's Sizzling New Features You Need to Know About

Is your brand utilizing all of the new features on your favorite social media platforms?

Instagram

It started in May with an improved inbox. More than 150 million active daily users converse with businesses through Instagram Direct each month, so the platform added more tools for business owners to manage these conversations. You can now star important messages for follow-up, and IG is testing quick replies. In addition, messages now come directly to your inbox instead of languishing in the oft-forgotten Pending section.

Related: Making it Easier to Do Business on Instagram

Then, the popular platform went crazy and introduced five new features in a month! Everyone is talking about IGTV, Instagram’s new platform for long-form vertical video content. It’s available in the upper right hand corner of your app (next to Instagram Direct), or you can download the standalone IGTV app. Will IGTV become a major competitor to YouTube or fade away over time?

Other new features that may benefit your business include group video chat (now available in Instagram Direct), music and question stickers in Instagram Stories and an updated Explore page. The new stickers can help you show personality, draw more eyes (and ears) to your Stories and increase engagement with fans and customers.

Related: 5 New Instagram Features to Help Grow Your Business this Summer

LinkedIn

LinkedIn continues to expand its features, so it’s important that you maintain an active presence. It’s no longer enough to post a resume and forget about it. Even if you’re not actively pursuing new employment, this platform presents a multitude of opportunities: making professional connections, strengthening relationships, seeking new clients and establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field.

We enjoy pulling a quote from an article to highlight an important point and encourage conversation, so we’re excited to see LinkedIn make it easier to do. Now you can highlight a quote, right click and share it to your feed or message it privately on mobile. It will automatically include a link to the article along with your quote as the caption.

LinkedIn's new capabilities

Another exciting new development is the ability to save drafts directly on the LinkedIn platform. Say you’re browsing articles and find three that you’d like to share. Share them, write your caption (or pull a quote) and save as a draft. You can share it at a future date in order to share your content at optimal times for your audience.

The Posts & Activity shortcut (now available on your account drop-down menu) is an easy way to see what you have shared recently with your network. The built-in translator will come in handy when connecting with professionals across the word, and video captions help you communicate with viewers even when they’re watching your video silently, which people commonly do today.

Twitter

Not to be outdone, Twitter has been rolling out new features too. The platform announced it will begin showing related topics in its Trending Topics listing, which could help you tap into trending news. The related topics can give you a more complete view of the trending discussion, so you can see if a tie-in to your brand is appropriate and what additional hashtags to use.

Twitter also removed millions of accounts from follower numbers, cracking down on suspicious and spam accounts. Remember that active, targeted followers are more important than quantity, and don’t ever buy followers. This update will help make follower counts more accurate and add more legitimacy to influencer marketing on Twitter.

Finally, Twitter is making an effort to improve users’ experience by adding the ability to dock videos, so you can keep watching while you scroll. This may lengthen the amount of time viewers watch your videos or even boost views overall.

Facebook

Meanwhile, Facebook has made changes while trying to climb back into users’ good graces. The beleaguered social platform removed its Trending section to make room for future news experiences, such as exclusive video news content on Facebook Watch.


 

The social giant also introduced Keyword Snooze to help users further control their News Feed. This feature allows users to temporarily hide posts with a specific keyword or phrase from people, Pages and Groups for 30 days. It joins Facebook’s other News Feed controls: See First, Hide, Unfollow and Snooze.

Speaking of Groups, Facebook introduced Subscription Groups, so admins can charge for the content they provide group members. This could be a new distribution option for your brand’s premium content, such as in-depth tutorials, live streams of event sessions and video coaching sessions.

As we were compiling this roundup of new features, some platforms dropped even more new features.

Instagram Adds Active Status Notifiers to Fuel Real-Time Connection
Facebook Adds Option to Merge Instagram Contacts into Messenger
Bring Your Conversations to Life with New Updates in LinkedIn Messaging
Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter partner for ambitious new data project

Watch for more insight on these new features and how they can help you build your brand and connect with your communities in future articles. What new feature are you most excited about? Does one or two platforms work better for you than the others? Do you utilize different platforms for different reasons?

We would love to discuss social media marketing with you! Leave your comments below, contact us to discuss your needs or connect with us on social, so we can stay in touch.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

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Understanding Social Media Etiquette with Real-World Scenarios

Google social media etiquette, and you’ll retrieve over 4,000,000 results (at the time of this writing). Clearly, it’s a topic that resonates with people, and in the ever-changing, real-time realm of social media, it’s easy to understand why people are confused on what’s appropriate and what’s not. Throw in trying to balance personal and business accounts on a variety of platforms, and we have a free-for-all on our hands.

Not sure if something is appropriate online? Translate it into a real-world scenario.

What can you do? When you find yourself facing a social media conundrum, translate it to a real-world scenario. For example, it’s popular nowadays to send new connections an automated sales pitch, er message, asking for favors left and right: retweet my pinned tweet, buy my book, follow me on a plethora of other platforms (where, coincidentally, your new connection blasts out the same exact content at the same exact time). You may find yourself wondering, ‘should I do this too?’

OK, let’s translate this behavior into real life. You stop in a coffee shop to get your fix, and strike up a conversation with a guy behind you in line. (It’s amazing the people you meet in coffee shops!) When you get to the counter, you ask the nice gentleman you just connected with to buy your latte. Of course! Who doesn’t do that, right?

If you think that’s nuts, I’m with you. You wouldn’t do that, and chances are, neither would anyone else. However, people do this every day in the digital world and think it’s not only acceptable, but expected.

Social Media’s Nice, But It’s Not IRL

But, here’s the thing. It blows people away online too, and not in a good way. Trying to become a thought leader in your field or connect with experienced industry professionals to learn from them? Don’t immediately hit them up for favors upon connecting, or you’ll be viewed as just another leach.

That may sound harsh, but it applies to networking in person or online. Connections aren’t things waiting to be used, they’re people to build relationships with. When you approach someone or make a new connection, look at how you can bring value to the relationship — not what you can get out of it. Eventually, this person may be able to help you, but not if you approach him or her immediately asking for favors.

Don’t Ask To Pick My Brain. (And 11 other tips for building a strong professional network)

Talk to influencers in any industry, and they’ll share tale after tale of people constantly hitting them up for favors. They usually want to help others, because people helped them get where they are today. But they’re people, and they don’t like being used.

So the next time you’re thinking about doing something online, remember to translate it into real-world (or offline) behavior. Does it sound crazy? Then move on. It’s easy to forget that we’re still dealing with human beings in our fast-paced, digital world. (Unless you’re talking to a chat bot, but that’s a subject for another blog post.)

Share Your Thoughts

Do you agree with this post, or is our online world a different place with different social norms?

What are your thoughts on sending automated messages to new connections?

What’s your best coffee shop story?

Straddling the offline and online worlds,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media etiquette, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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4 Tips to Communicate Clearly With Emojis

When emojis burst onto the scene, people rejoiced. These colorful characters were fun and broke through language and cultural barriers. In 2015, the Oxford Dictionaries cemented their place in our language by selecting an emoji — the Face with Tears of Joy — as the Word of the Year. Predictions of a future with little to no text were widespread, and businesses (who hadn’t already) started using this popular form of communication. Sounds perfect, right?

Are you communicating clearly with emoji or being misunderstood?

Over Coffee by Drew Herron via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 // text & graphics added by author

Not quite. As a recent study discovered, emojis can be misinterpreted just like other form of communication. The first problem is that the same emoji can display differently on different platforms (Apple, Samsung, Google, etc.). In addition, two people can look at the exact same emoji displayed identically and interpret it differently.

Should your brand stay away from all things emoji? No, but you need to exercise caution like you do with any form of communication.

These four tips can leave you smiling with tears of joy instead of face-palming:

  • Plan Ahead: Are you thinking of utilizing emojis in an upcoming campaign? Do some research. View how your selected emojis display on different platforms and look into any popular alternative interpretations to the meaning you’re intending. It’s a lot easier to change your campaign than deal with a PR gaffe.
  • Be Careful Using Emoji that Display Differently: Maybe you have a dire need to use the grinning face with smiling eyes emoji, but be careful. This is one of the emojis that displays differently across platforms and can cause confusion and unintended responses. Try to stick with more universally displaying and understood emojis if possible. 👍
Same Emoji + Different Smartphone Platform = Different Emotion

Graphic courtesy of grouplens

  • Remember Your Brand Voice: Emojis are a part of your brand’s voice, so be consistent when you’re using them. The face with tears of joy emoji wouldn’t work well for a conservative brand or industry. Take your audience into consideration too; they may not use emojis or have any interest in them.
  • Don’t Forget About Hashtags: Trending and popular emoji hashtags, such as #WorldEmojiDay or #emoji can boost your posts and tweets. Remember to check out any hashtags first before jumping in. They could be about something completely unrelated to what you’re thinking, making it inappropriate to participate. Emojis are available as hashtags on Instagram, so use them accordingly to increase your reach.

Warning: Appropriate Hashtag Usage on Instagram Will Result in Major Traffic Increase

 

Emojis can help you break through the information overload and connect with your target audiences — if they use and understand the colorful characters. As with any communication, a little foresight, planning and common sense will help you communicate your message clearly and not get lost in translation.

Does Your Brand Speak Emoji?

What are your favorite emojis? What emojis would you like to see introduced?

Does your brand utilize emojis in its communications? Have you ever had an emoji miscommunication?

Speaking emoji (when appropriate),
Jaime

Let’s chat (about emojis, your marketing needs or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Easy: 5 Reasons Why It’s Worth It

Last week, we reminded everyone that social media isn’t free and recommended five ways to maximize your time and money. This week, we’re addressing another misperception.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

 

Social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it. We’re not talking about the act of tweeting itself or posting pictures of your kids on Facebook or Instagramming every meal you eat.

We’re talking about getting social for business, engaging your brand’s communities and developing long-term emotional connections. In other words, creating fans for life.

Related Reading: How Long Does It Take for Social Media Marketing to Start Paying Off?

Here’s 5 reasons why social media is worth it for your business:

  • Find New (Targeted) Customers: In a sea of 2.03 billion social media users*, someone is interested in your products or services. Find the right audience by utilizing hashtags, groups and platforms they’re using.
  • Delight Current Customers: 65% of customers leave over a single poor customer service experience.* Delight your current customers by providing amazing service via social media and beyond.
  • Participate in the Conversation: Customers will talk about you online and share their experiences with others. While you can’t control the conversation,  you can participate and give fans a firsthand account of what’s going on at your company.
  • Deliver Content Straight to Your Fans: 61% of people are more likely to buy from a company that delivers content.* Deliver value to your fans by creating content they love, and you’ll have a better chance of converting them into customers.
  • Turn Fans into Fanatics: Consider this: 53% of people who follow brands on social media are more loyal.* After converting fans into customers, make them fanatics for your brand by delighting them every step of the way. They’ll become your best advertising!

As we said before, social media isn’t easy, but it’s worth it if you do it right. Just remember that it’s a long-term addition to your marketing mix, not an overnight savior for your sales.

If you need help with your social media efforts, from strategy to management, we’d love to chat. There’s nothing that we love more than brands getting social — and getting it right.

Get Social on Social Media

Why is social media worth it for your brand or business?

How much time do you spend on social in a typical week?

Do you have a documented strategy?

What’s your brand’s favorite social media experience so far?

*Statistics via The Inbound Marketing Checklist: 21 Strategies for Growth

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, strategy or otherwise):
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Social Media Isn’t Free: 5 Ways To Maximize Your Time & Money

Social media isn’t free. There, we said it. It’s been said before, but no one seems to believe it. Even if you’re not advertising or boosting posts, someone (or multiple someones) is spending time strategizing, creating content, posting and engaging with community members. Or at least we hope they are.

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

How to become a SocialMedia Manager by Urs Steiner via CC BY 2.0

Social Media Isn’t Free

Time is money, something that entrepreneurs and small business owners say often but don’t usually take to heart. We try to race full speed ahead doing everything ourselves, trying to fit 30 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. That’s a poor long-term strategy that leads to burnout and failure.

How can you maximize your time (i.e. money) on social media?

  • Think before you post. In other words, spend time putting together a strategy before you rush into creating a presence on a social platform. Think about the resources that you have (time, money, staffing), and factor that into your decision. Research your buyer personas to see which platforms prospective buyers are on, and talk to your current clients about which platforms they connect with brands on. Focus on platforms that fit your business niche the best.
  • Take advantage of holidays, special events and trends. We’re NOT telling you to use unrelated hashtags or run a special on an inappropriate holiday. However, you can reach new audiences by tapping into the marketing power of Small Business Saturday or jumping on the popularity of a trending hashtag. Just make sure that it’s applicable to what you do like the example below.

  • Get mileage out of your content. Repurpose content to fit other platforms, and continue to keep popular content in the rotation. It’s OK (and a good idea) to share a hot blog post multiple times, depending on the platform. For example, Twitter is a higher volume platform than Facebook, so it makes sense to share the same content at different times in different ways (i.e. a quote from the post vs. a picture tweet). Track your results, so you can see what works best with your audience.
  • Curate, don’t create. While original content targeted to your audience reigns supreme, it’s difficult to produce enough quality content to satisfy your audience all the time. That’s where content curation comes in. Find resources who are creating quality content that delivers value to your communities, and share it with them. There are a number of tools available to help with content curation, including Pocket, Buffer and Flipboard.

Related Reading: 11 Content Curation Tools Every Marketer Needs

  • Spend your advertising dollars wisely. If you decide to advertise, put together a strategy first and review your options. What are you trying to achieve? For example, it may make more sense to boost a specific post showcasing what you do than advertising your Facebook Page in general. A Twitter Card may work better for you than a Promoted Tweet, depending on your objectives.

Social media isn’t free, but it is worth doing if you do it right. Figuring out your objectives first will help you determine how to proceed in the social landscape. If you have questions, let us know. From strategy to management, we’d love to help your brand get social — and see the results.

Get Social on Social Media

What social platform have you seen the best results on?

What’s your favorite content curation or social media management tool?

What holiday, event or trending hashtag have you tapped into with success?

Feel free to leave your social handles and/or URLs in the comments below, so we can connect.

Let’s get social,
Jaime

Let’s chat (about social media, content marketing or otherwise):
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Why Grammar Still Matters (Even on a Smartphone)

Does your email signature on your smartphone contain the following disclaimer?

Sent from [insert smartphone model here]. Please excuse misspellings, typos and grammatical errors.

Sorry, it won’t save you.

This post is being typed on a smartphone, but I don’t expect you to excuse any errors. In fact, I’m embarrassed when I spot an error, even a minor one, in an old post.

Today, even in our 24/7, hyper charged world, grammar matters. Why?

Great advice from Grammarly: Spellcheck yourself before you wreck yourself.

1) It impacts your credibility.

Want to be a thought leader or subject matter expert? That’s hard when people struggle to read your thoughts. No matter the subject, readers will judge you for misspelled words and missing punctuation, which will change the conversation from what you had intended. Keep the focus on your knowledge, so you can impress.

2) Bad grammar makes you look unprofessional.

Go ahead: submit a resume, cover letter or business proposal with grammatical errors. You probably won’t be receiving good news. Business emails, texts and letters also reflect on you, so take time to proofread. It could be the difference between a thriving partnership or career and a missed opportunity.

Read: The Power of the (Red) Pen

3) It screams “stop getting social with us.”

We live in a digital world, so businesses need to get social to survive—and thrive. Customers, fans and prospects won’t share your posts if they’re chock full of grammatical errors. Already this week, I’ve been disappointed to see major grammar gaffes in posts I wanted to share, so I refrained. Lost advertising and missed opportunities don’t help businesses grow.

4) Bad grammar is bad for business.

In a recent Grammarly poll, 63% of respondents said they would hesitate to buy a product with grammatical errors. Several respondents even gave examples of what products they have passed up due to poor spelling or punctuation. Think about it. Wouldn’t you wonder about the quality of a product if there was a noticeable spelling error or poor grammar?

But I’m not a writer, you say. The fact is that most business professionals write more than ever today for the company blog, your LinkedIn profile or even an online portfolio. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of emails, social media and other communication.

Read: The Dos and Don’ts of Business Email Etiquette

So take some time to understand the writing process or find someone to handle it for you. Don’t laugh; it’s no different than taking your car to a mechanic to have it repaired or hiring an accountant to mind your business finances.

You’ve poured blood, sweat and tears into perfecting your craft. Don’t ruin it with bad grammar!

%$#^%#$&%

p.s. If you’re looking for a professional to craft your prose, or even spruce things up, we’d love to help! Not sure what you need? Let’s talk. We’ll be happy to answer any questions you have on the wonderful world of writing.

Your writing pro,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on grammar, writing, a new project or otherwise):
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