The 4 Bare Essentials of Keeping Up with Your Online Presence By Catie McClure

One of the biggest problems professionals today face is finding the time to learn how to and maintain their social media presence. Even though most professionals know that it is imperative in today’s business world to have a strong social media presence, some still are far lacking in keeping up. The vast landscape of the social media industry doesn’t really provide a viable solution for the lone the busy professional and small business.

On one hand the social media industry offers a wealth of information on how to properly conduct your social media activity for every social media platform known to man, this wealth of information is more than slightly overwhelming. The current solution to this problem is to either struggle along insufficiently or hire one of the countless content management firms or consultants to do it for you for a pretty steep price. Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticizing the social media industry as it is my bread and butter as well, but I am saying that I understand that these solutions can be a bit suffocating for the lone entrepreneur or small business.

In an attempt to provide some small solution to these problems, I am writing a series of posts on what the busy professional can do on their own and still maintain a sufficient social media presence without making other areas of their business suffer. Below are the bare essentials in getting started and maintaining a sufficient online presence:

1. Make sure your profiles are complete. To see a couple sample profiles, you can check out my LinkedIn profile here www.linkedin.com/pub/catie-mcclure/26/149/784/en or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mvbsllc?ref=bookmarks. 

2. Complete a content calendar. Do this at least every week, biweekly or ideally on a monthly basis. Create one that best fits your needs. If you know you can designate 5+ hours once a month to compile a calendar for the month ahead, that is ideal However, if you can’t then just make sure you put something together on a weekly basis. For a sample content calendar email me at Catie@mymccluresolutions.com and I will send you a sample.

3. Designate time every day or at least every other day to checking in on your social media platforms. Even if it is just 15-30 minutes a day. Give each platform a minimum of 5-10 minutes. Just enough time to skim the news feed, share relevant information your followers might like to know about (just be sure to give credit where credit is due), post some of your original content you made ahead of time and comment on one or two of your associates posts.

4.  Blog. Yes. The dreaded word. However, blogging is essential to the online presence of businesses today and the need seems to only be growing. Even if you can only bang out one per week or even every other week. Just do something. For ideas on how to find topics when you need to whip up a post quick send me a quick email at Catie@mymccluresolutions.com.

To keep your momentum going, it is my suggestion to follow these steps for a month and as you become better at creating content and more efficient in your management, add to your efforts a little at a time. The best way to expand your efforts once you have this list down, is to write a list of goals or priorities for what you want to get out of your online presence and start incorporating them into your plan and content calendars.  Before you know it, you will have smoothly running internet marketing machine!

About the Author

Catie McClure has been providing internet marketing and administrative services to various industries since 2010. She specializes in social media management and content writing in addition to her extensive sales and administrative experience. Prior to starting her own consultant firm where she manages a team of administrative assistants and content writers and managers, she was a licensed, Massachusetts Real Estate Salesperson for 10 years specializing in buyer agency and customer care while working under companies such as RE/MAX and Coldwell Banker as well as being an integral part in a local real estate startup that is still successful today. Catie believes the best clients are educated clients and works diligently to make sure her clients stay apprised of the latest marketing trends based on their industry. When she is not assisting clients, she enjoys yoga, road trips, reading and spending time with her husband and 4 boys. For more information on Catie’s services at McClure Virtual Business Solutions, email her at Catie@mymccluresolutions.com.

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Best blogging practices for Realtors by Sharon Tully

It seems that Blogs are here to stay; I can’t go a day without reading one or finding out someone I know is starting one.   When did they become so ingrained in daily life?  By doing just a little bit of research, I found out that the term “blog” was coined in the late 1990s.  It evolved from the online diary and came from the expression “web log”.

Since blogs are now acceptable forms of social media, it’s time to weed out the good from the bad so they can become useful business tools.  It’s easy to know when you like a blog.  It grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go.  But knowing how to structure a blog to make it effective is the key to success.

While a good business person wears many hats, it’s the wise one who knows when something is out of his/her area of expertise.  When it’s time to call in a partner for a particular need, there’s some homework to be done first.  A small business may be in need of administrative services but is not ready to hire a full-time staffer.  Virtual assistants and other business support services are available to meet the needs of that particular business.  McClure Virtual Business Solutions is one such company that can provide support and help you grow your business.

Continuing on the topic of blogs, professionals in this particular area know that the tone of a blog needs to be casual and conversational.  They know how to open up a discussion to garner comments.  In addition, they can create a content strategy so the blog fits into the bigger marketing picture of a company.  Real estate clients of McClure Virtual Business Solutions, for example, benefit from the business expertise and specific industry knowledge offered.  MVBS can help realtors find their ‘voice’ for their blogs so that there’s a personality that comes through to make a connection.  Their dedicated professionals help the good business person wear a few less hats so he/she can become a great business person.

SOURCES

http://www.echoditto.com/

http://activerain.com/

http://www.brokerageu.com/real-estate/business/marketing/content/blogging-best-practices/

http://realestate.about.com/od/whyblog/

https://mccluresolution.wordpress.com/

Four Tips for Choosing the Right Social Media Management Company

In today’s internet saturated business world, it is imperative that a company have a solid social media presence. Many businesses choose to hand this responsibility over to a management or consulting company that specializes in maintaining social media accounts for clients.

Not all consultants can deliver all the successful social media interaction they promise, so knowing what to look for when choosing the right company for you is very important. According to Social Media Management Mavens: “generally, a good social marketing agency is one who can give you a fresh approach, offer unmatched skill, and provide solid advice for your business as a whole.” Here are four qualities to consider when choosing the right social media management for you:

1. Professional Presentation: This company will be controlling your online presence and the way you are presented to the users of social media networks. Tim Parker of Intuit advises: “Make sure their [writing] voice matches your company’s style — and that they have a solid grasp of proper spelling and grammar…Typos do not come across as professional.” Your potential social media manager must have the same commitment to quality that you do.

2. Dedication: You want to get the best out of this service, so as Social Media Mavens recommend, evaluate the potential companies’ “enthusiasm.” To ensure that your social media campaign is managed correctly, the service provider must be as devoted to your company as you are. The Mavens advise: “The right social media agency will eat, sleep, and breathe your brand. They will be a team dedicated to make your business shine, and they will love what they do!”

3. Social Media Presence: Does the company maintain an effective social media presence for itself? Is it monitoring itself as it promises to look after your interests? It is important to consider questions like these asked at PRWeb: “What social media networks have they used to craft their own social media influence?” and “Are they active members of any professional social media focused organizations or blogging communities?” Your potential management company should have the social media presence you envision for your business.

4. References: Finally, as Tim Parker at Intuit suggests, ask for references! As with any service you pay for, be it plumbing or snowplowing, it is wise to not take the provider’s claims of expertise and success at face value. Parker advises: “working with an individual, [the person should] provide three to five professionals references…. working with an agency … ask to speak with previous small-business clients to make sure that you won’t be ignored in favor of larger accounts.” Consider the references and ask to see other pages the service manages. Conduct your own review.

In essence, it is vital when choosing a social media management company to consider the role that social media plays in your potential service provider’s business. Remember the importance of presentation, dedication, social media presence, and above all, references!

SOURCES:  http://www.socialmediamanagementmavens.com/how-to-choose-a-social-media-marketing-agency

http://blog.intuit.com/employees/10-tips-for-selecting-a-social-media-manager/

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/8/prweb11004538.htm

http://social-media-marketing-services-review.toptenreviews.com/

http://www.itworld.com/software/350457/how-choose-social-media-management-service

Five Points for Planning your 2014 event or fundraiser by Toni Earls

Five Points for Planning your 2014 event or fundraiser

If you are planning an event for your business in 2014, now is a great time to get started. Whether it is a networking event or a fundraiser, staying on top of your planning with a checklist will aid your efforts immeasurably. Keeping yourself organized is fundamental to the success of an event. Consider these suggestions when planning yours.

1. Be clear about the purpose of your event, whether it is a fundraiser, a networking opportunity, or something in between. The Fundraising Authority recommends: “Before doing anything else, you must decide what the purpose of your event is. Is this truly a fundraising event? Or does it have other goals?…details for your event will depend on knowing what goals you are trying to achieve.”

2. Begin preparations early on, at least 3 months out for a large event, according to Marriot. Their comprehensive checklist includes these beginning steps: “…develop the program and budget. Book meeting site and support services. Check calendar of local events to avoid conflicting or inappropriate dates.” You can also use this time to contact attendees and if necessary, make travel arrangements. The more thorough and detailed you are at the start, the less likely you are to encounter problems closer to the event.

3. The importance of your marketing is highlighted by the Fundraising Authority’s checklist. “You need to convince your supporters that your organization and event are worthy of their time and money. Draw up an entire marketing plan for the event.” Whether you are a small business looking to network or a non-profit hoping to fundraise, it is imperative that you orchestrate a persuasive marketing campaign to entice people to your event. “ ‘Getting the word out’ [methods] include…mailed invitations, direct mail, phone banks, word of mouth and the event host committee.”

4. Remember, people won’t come and/or they won’t donate if you don’t ask. Event 360’s advice is applicable in a fundraising or a networking event planning situation. “The golden rule of fundraising is: You raise money when you ask for it. You don’t when you don’t. ASK! Make a list of everyone you know and everyone you come in contact with during the course of a day – everyone is a potential donor.” There are also many potential guests for a networking event in this pool of people. Be judicious about your requests but don’t hesitate to cast a wide net.

5. Finally, remember that the influence of your event doesn’t end when the tables are cleared away and the lights are shut off. It is important to follow up with clients or donors, and to thank them for their attendance. Fundraising Authority advises: “Make sure that the organization takes the time to send thank-you notes to everyone who is involved in your event, including contributors, volunteers, staff and vendors.”

In short, be purposeful in your event design. Plan ahead and keep abreast of the situation throughout the events planning stages. Market your event like it is a new product and don’t be afraid to ask people to attend or to donate, depending on the situation. Most importantly, remember to say thank you when it is done.

SOURCES: http://www.thefundraisingauthority.com/fundraising-basics/fundraising-event/

http://www.marriott.com/Multimedia/PDF/check_time.pdf

http://www.event360.com/assets/files/Event-Fundraising-Checklist.pdf

Are LinkedIn Endorsements Taken Seriously? By: Britney Balg

LinkedIn introduced the endorsement feature last year as a way to appeal to people who use their site on a mobile device and have limited time. It offers a recommendation feature, but this can take 10-15 minutes to complete and requires real knowledge of the skills you are validating for your connection. On the other hand, the endorsement of a skill takes one click of a mouse and you can even add skills that your connection doesn’t list on their own profile. So what does this say about the value of this feature? Opinions vary as to the value of endorsements. Those who don’t like this feature object to how mindless it is to endorse someone. It doesn’t require any thought or real knowledge of a person’s skills. Another reason people don’t like this feature is because they may get bombarded with notifications about being endorsed by someone. When you go to see what they endorsed you for you are then prompted to endorse them back. On the other hand, some people think this feature is wonderful and a great solution to making the site more on-the –go friendly.

Everyone is busy these days, and more and more people are using their smartphones to do their social media. These are the people who think the endorsements are a great idea and really convenient. And they are right, they are very convenient because it only takes two seconds. LinkedIn users just need to realize that there is a right and wrong way to use endorsements, so follow these guidelines when using the endorsement feature.
• Hide endorsements from people who have no real knowledge of your skills.
• Only endorse people for skills that you have witnessed first hand
• Don’t have too many endorsements for skills that don’t pertain to your current goals.
• Remember that just because someone endorses you for something, doesn’t mean you have to endorse them back, it makes it less meaningful.

IMAGE: LinkedIn Logo ( Published on 01-07-2010 0:00 a.m. )

Why Should You be Using LinkedIn Groups? by Britney Balg

Many business professionals have started tapping into the resources that LinkedIn has to offer. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, you can use LinkedIn to make direct connections with potential customers. Whether you are an Open Networker (you connect with anyone) or a Trusted Partner Networker (only connect with people you actually know), LinkedIn groups are a very good way to create quality connections with real potential clients.

You may already be involved in a LinkedIn group and find yourself contributing more than a lot of other members. If this happens you should think about starting your own group. LinkedIn groups are the most powerful aspect of the whole site if used correctly. If you start your own group you can actually direct people to your company blog or other website. Being the group leader makes you a very desirable connection, someone with proven knowledge of whatever your group is about. The more valuable connections you can make, the more your business will grow.

Just like every other aspect of social media/networking, there are rules to how to use groups professionally. You don’t connect with groups to bombard the group connections with advertisements or spam, that’s not what the groups are meant for. Groups are about community contributions, relative information to the group subject, and general knowledge or tips to help others grow their business. The idea is that everyone contributes valuable and appropriate content, which adds to the group’s credibility as being a group of real professionals. So unlock the potential and get your group started, it could do wonders for your business.

Linkedin

4 Things to let your Virtual Assistant Handle by Britney Balg

If you have elected to use the services of a Virtual Assistant (VA) you have thought through how much it will save you over having an on-site assistant. You’ve probably thought about how nice it will be to not have to deal with the hiring/firing process or having to carry all the insurances associated with a full time employee. But what can a VA actually do for you? Every VA offers different services but these are 4 things that most Virtual Assistants can do.

Bookkeeping:  It’s one of the easiest things to hand over to your Virtual Assistant. You will have to relinquish some of your control but if you find the right VA it won’t stress you out because the job will get done right. Having your bookkeeping needs taken care of will allow you time to focus on bigger parts of your business.

Online Research: Online research can  time consuming and difficult to some. Outsourcing this task to your VA will free up a lot of time for you.  The results can be put into a simple format for you to easily take the information you want from it.

Database Creation/Maintenance: Creating a database is easy if you know what you are doing but can be difficult to get going if you are inexperienced at it.  You can give your VA your information and in no time they can create a database to meet your needs. If you have already made your own database from time to time you will need to update and maintain it. You could even set up scheduled maintenance with your VA so you never run into any problems accessing and using your database.

Social Networking:  Social networking is one of the most important things when it comes to promoting yourself or your business. Like anything else though, it is very time consuming. It is 24-7 networking. So it is nice to have someone to help you keep up with it. Multiple usernames and passwords, remembering to update, re-post, tweet, and doing it all on time are all things a VA can take care of for you. It takes away a lot of the stress of social media.

Remember, every VA is different. They offer many other services that may be advantageous to you.. Look at what things seem to cause stress or cause snags in your daily business and let your Va take over. Learning how to utilize your VA will make the most of your time and your dollar.