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    About  STL Black Biz. Eleanie Campbell is an avid writer, social service advocate and a blogger previously featured on Thy Black Man, Angie’s Diary and as the creator of The Phoenix U...

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Checkout our latest articles on tips, trends and valuable information for your business.
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Black Biz Web Series

Read featured articles on how social media plays a vital role in business, marketing and reaching your customers.
The Money's In the List How many times have you attended an expo, book signing or some type of event and there on the table lies a simple form asking for you name, email address and maybe your phone number. As a business owner do you have an email list? Well if not you should. Have you ever heard the saying "the money's in the list?" Well it is and how is that you might ask?  The names from you email list or not just a list of useless names unless you actually use them. What you can do with your invaluable list.
  • Let your customers know when new products come out.
  • Let your customers see what you go through in building your business.
  • Feature your customers to your other customers or businesses to other businesses or customers.
  • Use your email list for giveaways and upcoming event.
So now that you know you've practically got a gold mine in the palm of your hands start putting it to use.    
-The Money’s In the List
Small Businesses Aren't Readily Using Social Media. Could this be you? Believe it or not in this day and age of heavy social media usage some business owners are not taking advantage of what social media has to offer. Nearly half of small businesses don’t actively use social media to promote their business—and 25% say they have no plans to do so in the future.

Those are the findings of a new study released by research firm Clutch, which polled more than 350 small businesses of varying sizes to arrive at these results.

But the poll also revealed that small business that are utilizing sites such as Twitter and Facebook to boost their online profile are pleased with the outcomes. Of those with active social profiles, 38% said they plan to increase employee time dedicated to social media in 2015, while 30% said they plan to increase spending on social advertising, and 12% had plan to increase spending on an outside agency or consultant to help them step up their social media game,according to the report.

“If small businesses want to compete, they have to be participating in social media,” Mike Rosa, director of marketing at online marketing agency 180 Fusion, said in the release. “More and more, people are becoming a little bit wary of traditional advertising. They’re much more likely to take referrals and reviews from people that they know and trust, which can be found on social media.”

Credit Black Enterprise and Clutch Co.

-Small Businesses Aren’t Readily Using Social Media

How to use social media to boost your brand. You’re probably aware that social media is sort of a thing now. It can help your business in all sorts of ways, like connecting you with clients and prospects, getting your content out there and handling customer service issues. But social media is particularly important for that nebulous yet crucial thing we’ve been talking about this month: branding.

Using social media to establish, bolster and promote your brand isn’t difficult per se, but it requires planning and intention. Here’s how to you can nurture your brand through social media.

Start with the right platform

Remember: Social media will probably not get you the results you want if you’re not on the right platforms. So before you even dive into branding pools, you need to make sure you’re jumping off from the right diving board. It comes down to knowing your demographics and knowing which social media platforms they use.

You should also use a platform that’s most beneficial to you. Our social media specialist, Jill Jones, breaks down platforms thusly:

Facebook: This is more of a content-centered platform, so if your brand is heavy on the content and/or wants to brand itself through content, Facebook is ideal.

Twitter: Twitter is a hybrid – it’s a platform for content, sales and customer service. It’s sort of the all-around branding platform.

Instagram: Unsurprisingly, a visual branding platform. Great for companies that promote lifestyles and lifestyle-related products, more difficult for service providers or B2Bs.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn is all about very professional branding, but Jill encourages small businesses to focus their efforts elsewhere since brands that do well on LinkedIn are generally much bigger with a wide reach. However, if you are your brand, LinkedIn can be valuable for networking.

Consistent visuals

Your brand’s voice and aesthetics need to remain consistent not just across social media platforms, but also across social media and your website. It might be tempting to create a Facebook brand, a Twitter brand and a website brand, but it’s not the way to go – it will just be confusing.

Your profile picture should be the same on any and all platforms you use – and that picture should be your logo. Your cover photo should be something illustrative of your brand – an office location or your product or service in action.

This example from Joe’s Farm Grill is perfect: Their logo is their profile picture, and the cover photo illustrates their fresh, healthy food.

LeadPages is another great example. For their cover photo, they chose an illustration consistent with their brand aesthetics and added their tagline. Notice how their cover photo sticks with their color palette.

Consistent voice and compatible content

The brand experience is not solely a visual one – voice and content tie your brand aesthetics together. That means you need to be consistent in your content and your voice. Don’t vary your voice by platform, and don’t vary your voice much from your brand’s website voice. So it’s important to have an established brand voice before you start social media – or as soon into the process as possible.

You also need to have content that’s compatible with your voice and who your brand is. If you run a photography business andyou also happen to be a huge fan of UFC … you shouldn’t go posting UFC-related content on your social media feeds. It’s not consistent, and it will just confuse people.

Be consistent in person

If your brand looks fun, you need to be fun in person. Say you run a photo booth company, and your social feeds are great: you look fun, exciting and like the best thing that could happen to any party.

But if you show up and you’re sort of flat in person, or aren’t very social and aren’t smiling and talking to people, your actual persona will be inconsistent with your brand. So when you’re creating that social media persona, make sure it’s something you can maintain in person.

What isn’t helping is hurting

One of the most common social media misconceptions is that if it’s not helping, it’s at least not hurting. False. If it doesn’t help, it hurts. If you don’t update for a while because you don’t have anything to say, not only does in not help you – it hurts you.

The same is true for inconsistent posts. Jumping on social media trends that don’t relate to your brand just because they’re trendy isn’t good social media. If you run a family photography business, you shouldn’t be posting #wcw or #mcm (Woman Crush Wednesday or Man Crush Monday) because it’s not consistent with your brand. Of course, if you’re in the lifestyle, fitness, fashion, beauty or other industry that work with celebrities or use them as inspiration, you can leverage those trends to your advantage.

Forget trying to be trendy – keep your social media pages as extensions of your brand. That doesn’t mean you should forgo trends all together, just be selective about the ones you do jump on. For instance, if you run that photo booth business, you can provide tips for using your selfie stick (trend!) on a Friday night.

Just as non-social branding, it’s about consistency, using the right channels and sticking with who you are. Don’t think that just because social media seems fleeting that its impact to your brand will be fleeting, too.

Thanks to Infusionsoft.

-How To Use Social Media To Boost Your Brand
Are Hashtags Really Necessary? First of all what is a hashtag? A hastag is a word followed by a hash mark #, that is used to identify a specific topic to search for. This hashtag is searchable by others. Once the keyword Once a keyword picks up enough momentum it becomes known as “trending.” Trending isn’t simply a matter of becoming the most popular hashtag on the networks. Each users’ trending topics is different based on their location and social connections. How do you use hashtags? You simply use a hashtag in a social post by adding the # sign before a word. Spaces or a no no. If you want to differentiate between words, use capitals instead (#BlueJasmine). Using hashtags is fine, but too many is not a good thing. Don't add too many hashtags and over-tag. Also it is important not to use hashtags on tweets relevant to the topic. Where can you use hashtags? Facebook: Facebook have just recently popped up in June 2013, but it's not really popular as much as other social sites.  Nevertheless, clicking on Facebook hashtags will take you to a list of posts containing the same hashtag. Instagram: Hashtags can be used to complement photos shared on Instagram and help you discover new accounts and pick up followers. Some hashtags were created specifically for Instagram photo challenges — #ThrowbackThursdays, for example, encourages users to post retro photos. . Google+: When you click on a hashtag in Google+, the search results will include the original hashtag as well as posts with similar tags and keywords. Google search results display on the left side of the page, while hashtag results from within Google+ appear on the right. Google also gives you the option to search within Facebook or Twitter. Tumblr: Tumblr posts have a special “Tag” section where you can enter tags. These tags function like Twitter hashtags, organizing posts by topic, but the hash symbol is inserted automatically. Hashtags included in the main body of a post are not transformed into links. Pinterest: Use Pinterest hashtags to mark and search for content. Click on the hashtag in a pin description to navigate results that contain the exact hashtag, plus pins with the same word or phrase in the description. Why should you use a hashtag? When someone clicks on a hashtag on any of these social networks, they’ll automatically be shown all other public posts that include the same hashtag. This is incredibly valuable for a small business because it can expose your content to a wider audience, and help your business get found. If someone does a search on a social network, or Google, for a hashtag you used, your post — and potentially even your profile — can be found by someone you never would have reached without hashtags. This happens all the time. Hashtags are widely used to search for content within social networks and search engines, which means hashtags give you a great opportunity to get your information in front of potential customers without paying a dime!
-Are Hashtags Really Necessary?
4 Unique Ways To Make Your Brand Stand Out. Entrepreneurs should always consider ways to stand out when creating a business. What makes your brand unique? Is it the company name? The service or product? The tagline? According to a recent survey of 1,000 people for North37design.com -- makers of handmade, one-of-a-kind bags made from recycled sailcloth -- more than half of Americans are drawn to celebrities who love to surprise their fans by . their appearance and keeping them guessing what's next. The survey revealed that stars with a distinctive style that stand out from the crowd don't just attract attention, they endure. Celebs such Lady Gaga, Madonna, Rihanna and Katy Perry top the list of the "Most Unique Celebrities." Related: 9 Reasons Taylor Swift Is a Savvy Business Leader (Infographic) As a business professional, your goal is to create a brand that consumers fondly remember and will recommend. With this in mind, here are lessons from four unique female celebrities to help you build an enduring brand.

1. Katy Perry: Appeal to a broad range of clients.

Katy Perry
Katy Pery
In some ways, Katy Perry is like many pop artists of today: She can sing, she’s considered beautiful, she has a unique personal style and she has serious business acumen. One of the reasons she stands out, though, is that she appeals to a relatively large fan base appealing to a mix of cultures, races and genders. Not only will you find teenagers snapping up her music on iTunes, but those same teenagers’ parents are enjoying Perry’s music, too. Having a niche audience can have its benefits, but it might potentially help your brand's bottom line if you appeal to others outside of your target demographic. Beverage companies do this very well. For example, Coca-Cola owns brands (either fully or partially) all over the world that appeal to local tastes and they actively market to a wide age demographic. Social media strategist Caitlin Burns has said, "Understand your audience. It’s important to know who you’re targeting. What do they do? When do they live online? So when planning a marketing strategy that includes social media, think about ways to potentially attract a larger audience."

2. Lady Gaga: Own your business style.

Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga
From “hatching” from an egg for a performance to wearing a dress made of raw meat, there's no doubt that whatever she does, Lady Gaga is unique and always embraces her style. Turns out, that is a good thing. According to the above-mentioned survey, 53 percent of Americans say a famous person's unique style means they totally "own it." The same should be said of your business. Once you decide on your niche and brand, "own it" across all platforms. Be clear about the audience you want to reach, the services you offer, and how you plan to share your brand's message. Be consistent with all of the above. Like Lady Gaga, with her new look and sound singing alongside music legend Tony Bennett, the brand is new and consistent. No more meat dress days or poker faces.

3. Madonna: Reinvent your brand.

madonna
Madonna
Image credit: Madonna Facebook
One of my favorite showbiz icons, Madonna, 56, was the queen of reinvention when I was younger, changing her look and sound regularly. Madonna went on to become the role model for Lady Gaga and so many other artists today. Related: Living in an Entrepreneur's World: 7 Inspiring Lessons Learned From Madonna When it comes to reinventing your brand's image, don't be afraid to make changes.  The change can be something as simple as updating your website template or tagline. After attending a business seminar last November on how to craft a 30-second elevator pitch, I realized my company's goals had evolved and I changed my company's tagline. In my recent piece, Score More Customers With Your Website With These 4 Tips, I outlined ways to keep your audience engaged on your site by changing your website template and colors and making it mobile friendly. It’s a simple, yet effective, way to freshen up your brand.

4. Rihanna: Survive and thrive after a public misstep.

rihanna
Rhianna
Just like the rest of us, celebrities make mistakes and deal with indignities. The difference between them and us is that they are under the constant scrutiny of millions of strangers. I recently viewed the BET Awards and watched Rihanna and her ex Chris Brown sit in the same room together six years after going through a very public domestic violence altercation. In 2009, the two were front-page news when it was revealed that Brown had beaten his girlfriend. Humiliated before fans, family and friends, Rihanna was subject to the public's relentless opinions about whether she should stay with Brown or leave him. In business, if brands suffer a public setback or have to deal with a humiliating experience, both customers and competitors are watching to see what they do next. "A brand should understand people will be looking for you to fail in your public setback. The question you then should ask is, 'how do I ensure that the misstep does not happen again?'" says branding and marketing expert Jeremy Goldman, author of Going Social: Excite Customers, Generate Buzz, and Energize Your Brand with the Power of Social Media. "Show that you have thick skin, and 'lean into the situation.' Acknowledge the misstep. Every situation is different. If it is appropriate, add humor to it. Humor is a way to deflect, to acknowledge the mistake without making the mood too heavy. If there is irreparable harm, then it should be handled another way." Being unique has made these standout celebrities wealthy and has gained them loyal followings. And while some people say they would rather blend in and not draw attention to themselves, 43 percent of those in this survey say they would be pleased if someone told them their style was unique. I firmly believe that being unique in life and business is a good thing. Guillaume Fournier Montgieux, CEO of North37 Design, the brand behind the survey says, "It's great to be different. It helps you to stand out and define who you are in a sea of people who want to be the same."   Credit for article Entrepreneur.com. http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247926
-4 Unique Ways To Make Your Brand Stand Out
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