How to Use Social Media for Your Business

by Sean Bryant on October 1, 2014

Social media can generate customer engagement and additional income for your company. The key is to choose the right social networks for your business. For example, Facebook has a broad audience and is driven by media (images and videos) and Twitter, while it also has a broad audience, is primarily text- driven (links). LinkedIn on the other hand, is a professional networking site. Social media networks may also be industry driven. If you own a restaurant for example, you may want to use Pinterest to share recipes and images of food to garner likes and shares. Check out these social media marketing tips to enhance your social presence and grow your customer base.

Choose the right social media networks for your business

Each social network has its own set of rules and a distinct audience. It’s important to find the right ones to focus on so you aren’t wasting funds on a media plan your target audience isn’t engaged with. Social media networks include, but are not limited to:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

When engaging on these platforms, keep in mind what posts will potentially drive the most traffic. Will an image on Twitter boost user response? How can you improve your posts on Facebook to drive not just engagement on the platform, but also traffic back to your website? Are Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram, which are media driven, the right venue for you or will you find your product or service doesn’t fit as well here as on other social media outlets? Finally, can you use LinkedIn to develop business connections or cultivate new prospects? Examine the core elements of your business and do some research to find out where your industry is engaged and where your customers are engaged. For example, an accountant or real estate agent will likely fare better on LinkedIn than they would on Instagram. Narrowing your focus is critical to proper customer engagement, budgeting and avoiding overwhelming yourself with social media. Choose two or three platforms, preferably the ones your audience uses, and spend the majority of your time, effort and money there.

Social media marketing tips

You want to put your best foot forward when you’re using social media in business, which will mean you need to adhere to some best practices and develop a basic understanding of the platforms and audiences with which you’ll be interacting. The timeliness of these platforms and the sensitivities that can sometimes be heightened make it important to always be tactful, professional and courteous when you engage with customers, advocates and antagonists.

Use these social media marketing tips to help your business get off to a good start in the social sphere.

  • Follow the guidelines for each network. You may need to resize images to make sure they fit your chosen social media network. The dimensions of a Facebook cover page are 851 x 351 pixels, while a Twitter header page is 520 x 260 pixels. Photos and assets you want to share on these networks may also need to be adjusted, or you may be creating assets specifically for these networks. This could require additional budget. When sharing content, make sure links are current and active so users do not receive an error.
  • Engage with users. Always keep your target audience in mind. Your community wants to hear from you. Most importantly, they want to know you’re listening to them. Respond quickly to questions and pass deeper issues to customer service or the appropriate team member. Don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback either – it’s important to understand what they want or need from you.
  • Post regularly. Don’t stay silent. Create a social media marketing calendar and stick to it. Whether you’re posting promotions, notable industry articles, or assets you’ve created yourself – it’s important to stay relevant in the space. It’s also important to respond in a timely fashion to questions or concerns from customers.
  • Stay engaged, keep your tone light, and position yourself as an authority in your industry. Remember, social media is about being social, so it’s important to show your human side as well as your business side. However, it’s also important to avoid becoming so casual no one takes your advice seriously.
  • Don’t give in to the “Haters.” You won’t please everyone all of the time and it’s better to keep a composed front than to be known for retaliation.
  • Consider hiring a professional to handle your social media. If you’re not savvy at social, you may want to hire someone who is. Whether it’s an individual or an agency, a dedicated resource can make managing social media simpler.

Create a social media strategy for your business

As with any element of marketing, it’s important to have a well-defined social media strategy for your business. Before you sign up for any social networks, you’ll need to lay the groundwork with a promotional calendar, the creation of social assets and more. Follow these steps when using social media for business:

  1. Allocate funds for advertising. No matter how in depth your social strategy will be, it’s important to make sure it’s properly funded before you begin.
  2. Create a posting schedule. How much will you post and when?
  3. Monitor all social networks. Consider downloading a tool that lets you review engagement from multiple sources at once.
  4. Test assets and platforms. What works for your company and consumers and what doesn’t? See what types of posts have the most likes, retweets or shares and try to create more of these posts in the future.

Open a business checking account to fund your business’s social media strategy

Social media is an investment in the growth of your business. If you plan to implement a social media strategy as part of your overall marketing initiative, make sure there’s room for it in your marketing budget. Consider opening a business checking account to handle the costs of a social media employee or agency, social ad spending, asset creation like videos, images, eBooks and memes, and social media monitoring platforms. Once you learn how to use social media, you can measure your return on investment. However, keep in mind that using social media for business is more about customer engagement with your brand and may not immediately impact your bottom line. If you’re going to engage in social, you need to be willing to stick it out until you see results.

Sponsored content was created and provided by Citizens Financial Group.

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Is Your Job Costing You Money on Auto Insurance?

by Sean Bryant on September 25, 2014

Car Insurance

You know insurance is necessary, but it can also be expensive. You want to get the best price you can, but without sacrificing coverage. There’s no lack of television ads and bulk mail letters promising lower rates and more fun. But who can you trust?

A surprising factor in car insurance rates

Call the toll-free number and you feel like you are being sold, not helped, by the fast-talking voice on the phone. Insurance is too important for doing business like that. On top of it all, every insurer you speak with has different options to consider, making it very difficult to compare insurers in an apples-to-apples fashion.

Car insurance rates are based on your driving record and your age, right? How difficult could it be to get a good quote? The fact is, though, there are numerous factors that go in to computing your insurance rate. Did you know your occupation is even part of the calculation?

Job factors affecting auto insurance rates

Who should get the best rate on insurance, all other things being equal: Your family physician or your “mad scientist” neighbor who is always launching rockets from his backyard? According to the actuaries — the statisticians who compile risk management data — the scientist gets the nod. Why? Insurance rates are based on probability, and it is more probable the physician is going to get into a crash (too many hours on the job, perhaps) than the scientist.

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Investing in Real Estate – What to Ask an Expert

by Sean Bryant on September 22, 2014

Investing in Real Estate

A highly experienced investor can help you to calculate your potential the return on investment from each property, teach you to find homes with features that can increase a house’s value and explain how to determine the average rent or repayments in a neighborhood. The expert will also be able to predict the costs of necessary renovations and repairs.

Selecting a Location 

An expert will help you to choose real estate that is situated near vital amenities, such as shops, restaurants and health centers, and they may find properties that include a relatively large amount of land. Moreover, the expert can identify relatively inexpensive residences that are located near the beach and popular parks.

Analyzing the Market

Experts are usually able to provide a list of nearby houses that includes the price of each property, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms that every home has, the year during which each house was constructed and the overall size of a residences. You may also be able to see a chart that indicates the historical fluctuations of the values of homes in a particular area.

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Three Tips on Budgeting for a New Vehicle

by Sean Bryant on September 15, 2014

Budgeting for a new vehicle

Although you might not want to admit it, your car is starting to show signs of age. From mysterious creaks and oil leaks in the driveway to the odometer that is creeping up to 150,000 miles and beyond, your beloved car is probably getting ready to retire. While you know you need to purchase a new, or new-to-you, vehicle pretty soon, chances are good you don’t have a stockpile of money ready to pay for your new wheels. In order to make your new vehicle a reality, you’ll have to fit it into your budget. The following tips can help get you into your new ride:

Determine your down payment

Since making a down payment will help to lower your car loan amount, it’s wise to pay at least something up front toward your new vehicle. If you have some money set aside in savings, this would be a great time to dip into it. If you can take on any additional overtime or projects at work, even for a few weeks or so, you can apply the extra money you bring in towards the down payment. As The Nest notes, making a down payment will also mean you’ll pay less in interest during the course of your car loan, which will save you even more money.

Calculate how much you can afford

While you might be dreaming of owning that snazzy BMW Z4 you saw in front of the grocery store last week, chances are good your budget is a bit more in the basic Honda or Hyundai range. Before you head out to shop for new vehicles, it’s a good idea to determine about how much you can afford. Bankrate features a really cool car loan calculator that will help you estimate how much you would pay on your car loan. Just enter in the loan amount, length of the loan and interest rate to see how much you would have to pay every month.

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There was a time when I thought keeping accurate track of my net worth would be a daunting task. I figured that I would have to do research each month to figure out the value of what I owned, and how much my savings account was worth, and just where I stood with my investments. However, about two years ago my wife and I needed to get a new (to us) car, and I decided to figure out how it would affect our finances. I sat down at my computer for a little while and created a simple spreadsheet. Once created, I can keep track of my net worth with about 5 minutes of “research” each month. Here is how I do it.

The Spreadsheet

My spreadsheet is broken down into the two basic categories: assets and liabilities. Under “Assets” I have all the major assets (with the exception of vehicles because they depreciate too quickly), followed by twelve columns; one for each month. At the bottom I have a row for totals, and I have a row for month-over-month percent change.

Under the liabilities section I also have all the liabilities listed out, and the same total and percent change rows.

Beneath those sections is a total net worth row and a percent change net worth row.

Since my chart has been running for several years, I also have a final row that is the percent change since last year.

Confused? Me too. Here is a visual, it’s easier than it sounds.

Net Worth

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7 Reasons to Go For Your MBA

September 11, 2014

As a new or previous college graduate, you may have been relieved to finally earn your bachelor’s degree. However, many college graduates are now finding themselves heading back to school to obtain a higher degree due to the current job market. Here are seven reasons you should go back to school for an Master’s in […]

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How to Save Money When Working With Contractors

September 9, 2014
Contractor

Homeowners are faced with an ongoing list of maintenance and repairs, and many require professional service contractors. Adding a room onto your house, remodeling a kitchen or repairing a roof require some specialized skills and often become expensive. Fortunately, there are several things homeowners can do to save money when working with contractors. DIY or […]

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