Thursday, February 24, 2011

Facebook: Just for kids? Think again! 2010 Demographics

Facebook: Think it's just for kids?  Think again!  2010 Demographics

I've talked to hundreds of business owners over the past few years... and one "myth" continues to become the topic of conversation in regards to using Facebook for their business.  They'll say to me "it's just kids who are using it... and that's not my audience".

Well... I intend to keep this article short and sweet.  I'll simply let the numbers in the graph below tell the story.  Make sure you pay attention to the percentage of increase over 2009.  It'll definitely change your mind.

Facebook 2010 User Age Demographics
Facebook 2010 Users Age Demographics and Percentage of  Increase over 2009

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Twitter - 5 Tips for Beginners

Using Twitter but think you should have more followers?  Afraid to use Twitter because you don't think you'll have any followers?  By following the five basic steps below, you'll go a long way in changing all that.

  1. Utilize Your Other Online Profiles
    Most everyone has additional online profiles such as Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc...  Regardless of how big or how small... use it to springboard into Twitter. If it’s a blog, mention that you use Twitter in your posts or articles.  Link to Twitter from your profile and contact pages. If you’re on Facebook, there's a tool available to link your Tweets to Facebook. Include it on your website, in your email signature, on your business cards and anywhere else you have the opportunity.
  2. Start Following Others
    Look for businesses and people with similar interests and start following them.  By following others, you let them know you exist, so they can find you with one click.  Sure, some may find you through Twitter directories... but it's better to get out there and start following.  This will lead to others seeing you and following you.  When this happens... make sure you follow them back.  One important note:  Twitter is full of spammers, PR junk, and companies that follow you in the hope that you will follow them back.  Don't follow them. You'll get nothing butt annoying Tweets that equal the junk mail you get via email and snail mail.  That's one reason why I discourage the use of automated services or scripts to add followers.  Keep a watchful eye on your follow list and you'll get the most out of Twitter.
  3. Tweet, Tweet, and Tweet Some More... Oh... and Don't Forget to "Re-Tweet"
    The more active you are on Twitter the more likely others will find you and begin following you from within Twitter.  Every Tweet comes up on the Twitter Public Timeline... so increasing the number of Tweets can help you appear more often there.
    A word of caution however... Tweeting too regularly about nothing worthwhile will cause you to lose followers. Pace yourself and leave room for others to respond.  Twitter can actually become quite confusing once you have too many trains of thought going all at once so stick to one topic at a time and create pauses between them to let others interact.
    Re-tweeting another person’s post can be viewed as an act of kindness.  Those who Tweeted will appreciate it and will be more likely to do the same for you. However, don't expect someone to retweet your content just because you retweet theirs.  Remember, retweeting is about providing value to your followers.  Generally, people will not retweet your Tweet unless it's informative or helpful to them or their followers.
  4. Your Tweets Should Have Value
    Tweeting on a personal level may be fun... and for many that’s as far as it goes. However, if you’re interested in growing your Twitter influence and audience you need to provide your followers (and potential followers) with value. It’s the same principle as growing a blog.  If you help enrich people’s lives in some way they'll be more likely to follow you... want to additional information from you... and pass the information along to friends, co-workers, and colleagues.  As a result your Tweets, re-tweets, and replies should "matter".  Of course you can toss in a few personal tweets and have some fun with it, but unless you’re providing something useful to people (information, entertainment, news, education etc) they probably won’t follow you for long.
  5. Tweet During Peak Times
    These times will vary depending on where you live and who you want as your audience.  It may mean being awake when you'd rather be sleeping... but Tweeting during peak times will increase the chances of your Tweet being visible to your audience rather than get buried and lost beneath all the other Tweets that come in and begine to push yours to the bottom of the list.

In November 2010 there were an estimated 175 million Twitter users with an average of 500,000 being added each day.  It's never too late to start.  Don’t stress about your numbers.  It WILL take time... but if you follow the steps above and genuinely connect with your Twitter followers... the rest will take care of itself.

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Watch your Ps & Qs... and your WTFs & OMGs...

Keep Your Personal Profile Clean and Professional

Sure it's great to have fun on Facebook and Twitter.  And despite your best efforts to keep your privacy settings in check, your information will inadvertently leak out via friends and family... meaning that your seemingly insignificant photos, videos, status posts and game playing choices can have a negative impact on your future.

In August 2009, released a survey indicating that 45% of employers use Facebook and Twitter to screen job candidates... a more than 100% increase from the 22% recorded in 2008.  Another 11% plan to start using social networking sites for screening.  2,600 hiring managers participated in the survey, which was completed in June 2009.  Of those who conduct online searches/background checks of job candidates, 29% used Facebook, 26%used LinkedIn and 21% used MySpace. One-in-ten (11%) searched blogs while 7% followed the candidates on Twitter.  Although no recent surveys appear to have been released, one need only to use common sense to conclude that as social media and social networking continues to grow, more employers will be using these sites to screen potential employees.

Be mindful of the information you post online and how you communicate directly with employers. Thirty-five percent of employers reported they have found content on social networking sites that caused them not to hire the candidate.

Here are the top 8 reasons employers who were surveyed disregarded candidates after screening them online:
  1. Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photographs or information – 53%
  2. Candidate posted content about them drinking or using drugs – 44%
  3. Candidate bad-mouthed their previous employer, co-workers or clients – 35%
  4. Candidate showed poor communication skills – 29%
  5. Candidate made discriminatory comments – 26%
  6. Candidate lied about qualifications – 24%
  7. Candidate shared confidential information from previous employer – 20%
  8. 14% percent of employers have disregarded a candidate because the candidate sent a message using an emoticon such as a smiley face while 16% dismissed a candidate for using text language such as GR8 (great) in an e-mail or job application.
Does that mean you need to STOP using social media?  Absolutely not!  In fact, just the opposite is encouraged.  You need to realize that you CAN leverage social media when advertising your skills and experience.  18% percent of employers reported they found content on social networking sites that caused them to hire the candidate.

Here are the top 7 reasons why employers who were surveyed hired candidates after screening them online:
  1. Profile provided a good feel for the candidate’s personality and fit – 50%
  2. Profile supported candidate’s professional qualifications – 39%
  3. Candidate was creative – 38%
  4. Candidate showed solid communication skills – 35%
  5. Candidate was well-rounded – 33%
  6. Other people posted good references about the candidate – 19%
  7. Candidate received awards and accolades – 15%
“Social networking is a great way to make connections with potential job opportunities and promote your personal brand across the Internet,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “Make sure you are using this resource to your advantage by conveying a professional image and underscoring your qualifications.”

Haefner recommends the following DOs and DON’Ts to keep a positive image online:
  1. DO clean up digital dirt BEFORE you begin your job search. Remove any photos, content and links that can work against you in an employer’s eyes.
  2. DO consider creating your own professional group on sites like Facebook or to establish relationships with thought leaders, recruiters and potential referrals.
  3. DO keep gripes offline. Keep the content focused on the positive, whether that relates to professional or personal information. Makes sure to highlight specific accomplishments inside and outside of work.
  4. DON’T forget others can see your friends, so be selective about who you accept as friends. Monitor comments made by others. Consider using the “block comments” feature or setting your profile to “private” so only designated friends can view it.
  5. DON’T mention your job search if you’re still employed.
Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of between May 22 and June 10, 2009 among 2,667 hiring managers and human resource professionals (employed full-time; not self-employed; with at least significant involvement in hiring decisions; non- government) ages 18 and over. With a pure probability sample of 2,667 one could say with a 95 percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 1.9 percentage points. Sampling error for data from sub-samples is higher and varies.

About CareerBuilder
CareerBuilder is the global leader in human capital solutions, helping companies target and attract their most important asset – their people. Its online career site,, is the largest in the U.S. with more than 23 million unique visitors, 1 million jobs and 32 million resumes. CareerBuilder works with the world’s top employers, providing resources for everything from employment branding and data analysis to talent acquisition. More than 9,000 Web sites, including 140 newspapers and broadband portals such as MSN and AOL, feature CareerBuilder’s proprietary job search technology on their career sites. Owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI), Tribune Company, The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), CareerBuilder and its subsidiaries operate in the U.S., Europe, Canada and Asia. For more information, visit

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

No Business Page on Facebook? Why??

No Business Page on Facebook?  Why???
Here's what you're missing out on!  These are simply current stats taken directly from Facebook's press room as of Saturday, Feb. 12th, 2011.

People on Facebook:
  • More than 500 million active users
  • 50% of our active users log on to Facebook in any given day
  • Average user has 130 friends
  • People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook
Activity on Facebook:
  • There are over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages,
    groups, events and community pages)
  • Average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events
  • Average user creates 90 pieces of content each month
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog
    posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.
Global Reach:
  • More than 70 translations available on the site
  • About 70% of Facebook users are outside the United States
  • Over 300,000 users helped translate the site through the translations
  • Entrepreneurs and developers from more than 190 countries build with
    Facebook Platform
  • People on Facebook install 20 million applications every day
  • Every month, more than 250 million people engage with Facebook on
    external websites
  • Since social plugins launched in April 2010, an average of 10,000 new
    websites integrate with Facebook every day
  • More than 2.5 million websites have integrated with Facebook, including
    over 80 of comScore's U.S. Top 100 websites and over half of comScore's
    Global Top 100 websites
  • There are more than 200 million active users currently accessing
    Facebook through their mobile devices.
  • People that use Facebook on their mobile devices are twice as active on
    Facebook than non-mobile users.
  • There are more than 200 mobile operators in 60 countries working to
    deploy and promote Facebook mobile products.
If you don't think you can benefit from something in this list then you're not thinking clearly.  Doesn't the success of your business rely on building relationships?  What better way to do just that?  It's time for you to tap into the Facebook audience.

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Avoid the #1 Mistake! "Facebook Page" vs. "Facebook Profile"...

Avoid the #1 Mistake!  "Facebook Page" vs. "Facebook Profile"...
For years now, businesses have been using Facebook to successfully market to the Facebook community.  However, I can't tell you the number of businesses and non-profit organizations I've worked with where I've had to explain to them that they need to scrap their page because they set it up incorrectly.  In some cases, countless hours have been dedicated to these pages and they've been online long enough to accumulate hundreds of "Friends"... and therein lies the problem.  Your Facebook presence for your business or organization should NOT have "Friends".  If it does... then it's not a "Facebook Page" for your business" but rather a "Facebook Profile".

What's the difference you ask?  "Facebook Profiles" and "Facebook Pages" have different key features.  Most importantly, what you're able to do to promote your business or non-profit organization using a "Facebook Page" is not available with a "Facebook Profile".  This will absolutely limit your ability to promote your business or organization.    Here are a few key points to understand before you get started:
  • Business pages allow other users to "Like" the page... however, those who "Like" your page will have limited access to your individual profile page. This is a good thing.
  • Profile pages have a "Friends" list.  These are people you've accepted or have accepted you after friend requests and confirmations have been exchanged.
  • Business pages have "Fans"... otherwise considered "Followers".  These are people who have chosen to click the "Like" button on your business page.  Anyone in the Facebook community can "Like" a "Facebook Page"... and in most cases, your business "Facebook Page" will contain "Fans" who will not be found in your "Friends" list on your "Facebook Profile" page.
  • Business pages can have an unlimited number of fans.  Personal profile pages still appear to have a limit of 5000 "Friends".
  • Business pages allow "Status" updates... just like your "Facebook Profile"... however, this information is shared only with your fans.
  • Business pages allow: pictures, videos, discussion board, applications, wall posts, and other interactive elements.
  • Business pages allow you to promote your page in a number of ways including "Suggesting to Friends", "Add Like Box", "Send an Update" and more.  Facebook profile pages do not have these capabilities.
Although it can prove to be a bit challenging, I strongly encourage you to treat your "online" world as you do your "offline" world... and keep your personal life and your business life separate.  By using a personal profile page for your business, you're opening yourself up to potential issues, embarrassment, and even loss of business.  You may have a friend in your list who posts something questionable, off-color, or embarrassing.  While you and your "real" friends may see the humor or the irony... there will be other "friends" in your list who you've confirmed for business purposes... and they may be offended.

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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

4 Tips for Effective Business Card Design

4 Tips for Effective Business Card Design

Monroe County, Tennessee includes the communities of Coker Creek, Madisonville, Sweetwater, Tellico Plains, and Vonore
We're all aware of the fact that paper products are slowly being replaced with electronic presentations and online technology.  Phone books have long since been replaced by search engines. Magazines are begrudgingly focusing on their online content.  Books are being replaced by eBooks with the introduction of devices like Apple’s iPad and the Kindle. However, one item that still remains strong in a paper format is the business card. 

Perhaps one day the business card will become extinct.  For now however, business cards remain the primary method used to quickly and effectively exchange information between two individuals. As a result, business card design is still as important as ever.   For every well-designed business card out there, I see numerous business cards that are examples of poor design and ineffectiveness.  In this article, I’ll share a few tips to help you design an effective business card.
  1. Have One Focal Point... Know Your Purpose
    Before you consider a design ask yourself: "What is the purpose of this business card?"  Most people will immediately answer: To share my contact information.  While this may be the basic purpose for some, it may not be for others
    For example, a photographer may be looking to meet new clients.  Chances are, he/she will not be hired without that potential client (and business card recipient) seeing their work. Perhaps, then, the main purpose of the card should be to direct the recipient to their online portfolio, and only that.
    In this case, showing only the url to a portfolio is a unique way to present the business, and the resulting simplicity will pique the interest of the recipient and hopefully result in more follow-throughs to the website. After the recipient has viewed the portfolio, a well-designed website will allow the viewer to easily contact you.
    You want to give people a reason to continue to look at it and draw them in.  If you have more than one business or you provide more than one type of service, consider a separate business card for each business or service.
  2. Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

    A common mistake, especially amongst small business owners with small budgets, to try and “maximize” expenses. While this can seem to make sense, it can actually hurt you as it leads to information overload when it comes to design.  There's a tendency to want to fill every inch of space with contact info, mission statements, summaries of their business, and the like. I understand the reasoning – the more information presented, the better your client or customer will understand my business, and the better chance I have at getting their business.  Unfortunately information overload leads to ineffective design.
    With that in mind – simplify your business card design. Design to the purpose of the business card. Be self aware and understand that while you may think that your vision and mission statements are incredibly interesting, they might not belong on a business card. Keep in mind that a standard business card is 2 inches by 3.5 inches and you don’t need to fill that space with the company’s life story.
    The point of a business card is to present a company’s basic information to the recipient in an easily digestible manner and in a manner that visually reflects your business. Overloading a business card with information that can come later in the developing client relationship is a mistake that should be avoided. Remember... a business card is not a business’ biography.
  3. Know Your Audience

    Like it or not, people will judge a business quickly and on a few factors. Things like the ten second elevator pitch, the logo, and the business card are very important when making that first impression with a client.  With that in mind, say you're an interior designer who has clients with very fine, high end tastes.  What card stock do you think these cards should be printed on? Probably a high-end, heavy duty stock.  Do you think you should be using a well-designed, classy typeface or a free, playful typeface with curly serifs?  Probably the former.  All these elements are picked up on, either consciously or subconsciously, by the recipient of the card. The impression the client gets from the design of the card can be the difference between a follow-through phone call and the card going in the garbage.
    The high-end business card design is a somewhat typical example, but think outside the box a bit.  Say you're a an environmental non-profit group. It might be worthwhile to explore printing the card on recycled paper, or printing smaller-than-standard size cards so as to reduce waste. The main point here is: know your audience, know their tastes, and create a design that will appeal to them.
  4. Use the Back of the Card

    Take advantage of the extra real estate on the other side to add valuable information about your business.  Perhaps a map to your location, key points about your services, discounts, coupons, or any call to action that will add value to your business card.
A business card is actually a form of self marketing that is designed to communicate details about you and what your company does. A well designed business card is critical to any business. A good card is created to draw attention and encourage sales. If your business card cannot convince people to buy from you or make you stand out in the market, then your card is not as effective as you think it is.

Monroe County, Tennessee includes the communities of Coker Creek, Madisonville, Sweetwater, Tellico Plains, and Vonore

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Avoid 10 Common Business Card Design Blunders

Monroe County, Tennessee includes the communities of Coker Creek, Madisonville, Sweetwater, Tellico Plains, and Vonore
Avoid 10 Common Business Card Design Blunders
Written by William H. Wells III for local Monroe County, Tennessee Newspapers
You don't have to be a Fortune 500 company to have an effective business card that captures attention and inspires someone to want to know more about you and what you offer. By being aware and avoiding these ten common blunders, you'll have a business card that gets noticed and increases your number of referrals, clients, and customers.
  1. Miniscule Print
    Have you ever received a card that has a huge graphic taking up half the card and print so small you can't read the phone number? Well, I have. Too many in fact. And after straining my eyes and holding the cards under bright lights, trying to "crack the code," I eventually pitched them into the trash.

    Make your name, phone number, web site and address easy to read. Business people are busy and won't spend more than a few seconds trying to decipher your information. Most don't carry magnifying glasses in their back pocket either.
  2. No Physical Address
    Perhaps you don't want to give your physical address because you work from home.  Unfortunately, holding back on contact information is harmful and hints that your business is not well established or reputable.  Consider getting a post office box or asking a colleague if you may use her business address for your mail. Create a suite number to create an image of professionalism and longstanding.
  3. Slick Texture
    It is often recommended to have a business card that "feels" different from everyone else's so it stands out. The problem that arises with this practice is some of these cards cannot be written on.

    Last week at an event, a gentleman gave me his card and struggled to write some additional information onto it because it was made of slippery plastic. He did his best, but by the time I got home, the information was gone.
  4. Blank Back
    The back of your business card is prime real estate. Something that very few people use. Use this valuable space to print a coupon, offer a special report or complementary consult.
      Create an offer that inspires action such as, "Present this card for a 25% discount on your first visit." or "Bring this in with you and get a free oil change."  This gives people an added reason to hold onto it.
  5. No photo
    Placing your picture on your card makes you more memorable and instills a stronger sense of connection. As people look at your card time and again, they begin to feel like they know you and are more apt to get in touch with you.
       Imagine collecting 50 to 100 cards at an event then trying to remember who's who. Your picture creates instant recall while others may be quickly forgotten.
  6. Incongruence
    If you offer a web design service and don't have a web site of your own listed, your card will raise red flags in people's minds. I recall meeting a gentleman who introduced himself as a web designer and gave me his card.  When I asked him why he didn't have his web site listed, he said he didn't have one.
    If you want to sell a Ford, drive a Ford. If you want to sell cell phones, have one and make your number available. If you want to sell toll-free service, make sure you have your toll-free number on your card.
    You have to walk your talk and demonstrate that you live, eat, breathe and firmly believe that what you offer is of tremendous value to others, starting with yourself.
  7. No Benefits
    A graphic, your name and contact details don't do a whole lot to create a memorable impression, and by the time new contacts get home with your card, they may have forgotten what it is you do.
       Create a tagline or something memorable that expresses a benefit and states exactly what business you're in.  For example, a local delivery rep may have "Your important business packages delivered same day or get twice your money back!" That's grabs a person by the eyeballs and makes it very clear what the business does.
  8. Not Unique
    Ninety percent of the cards you collect look the same.  After all, how creative can you really get?  Well, you'd be surprised...

    - Use rounded corners
    - Attach a magnet to the back so it can be displayed on a fridge or file cabinet
    - Put a discount coupon on the back
    - Place a mini map to your location on the back
    - Make it 3D
    - If you're a lawn care company, make your card a packet with a few seeds inside
    - The creative possibilities are endless.
  9. Challenging Sizes
    Although creatively shaped cards and over-sized cards do stand out, they can pose challenges for those who use scanning software to import the cards into electronic storage devices.

    And, oversize cards don't make it into the standard business card albums or card holders.  Your card may stand out and stand alone, but it might also become lost or overlooked because it's not stored with others.
  10. Home Jobs
    No matter how hard you try, a home-made business card simply can't compete with professionally printed cards. Perforated and light-weight cards scream "cheap" and "amateur" and will lessen your ability to make an impact.

    Professional business cards can be printed inexpensively and go a long way to create an image of professionalism and quality for both you and your business.  Simple, inexpensive changes to your card can make the difference between boom or bust in the number of referrals and new prospects you attract.
Invest in creating an effective, professional card and you will be rewarded many times over.

Monroe County, Tennessee includes the communities of Coker Creek, Madisonville, Sweetwater, Tellico Plains, and Vonore

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Tighten Your Belt... But Don't Cut Off the Circulation!

Tighten Your Belt... But Don't Cut Off the Circulation!
Written by William H. Wells III for local Monroe County, Tennessee Newspapers
Is it just me?  Am I the only one who thinks we’ve simply gone beyond ridiculous?  Do we really need the daily news quips telling us that “the price at the pump went up a penny today” or “gas prices went down a penny overnight”?  Pain at the pump.  Costs for consumer goods and services have been on a sharp incline.  We get it.  Times are tough.  From consumers to small businesses to large corporations… no one is immune.  The light at the end of the tunnel is the size of a pin prick and the train is sitting motionless on the tracks.  But then… you’re not reading anything you don’t already know.   So what’s a small business owner to do?
The initial reaction for small business owners is to say “We’ll need to tighten our belts”.  Excellent.  An important first step in survival during trying times.  You’re off to a fine start.  The next decision is the one that will kill your business.  “We’ll need to cut out our advertising”.  WRONG!  That’s the worst mistake a small business owner can make!
Advertising is your lifeline to consumers and the money they spend.  Sure, consumers may be spending a little less.  But they’re still spending.  Wealthy or not, people still have needs.  Local residents have daily needs and emergencies requiring the purchase of goods and services.  New people continue to move to Monroe County and require goods and services.  Young people are growing up, moving out of the house, and becoming new consumers who need to pay for goods and services all by themselves.
So… what are your options?  Don't rule out newspapers, magazines, or the Internet.  Millions still buy newspapers... subscribe to magazines... and use the Internet.  Somewhere on those pages and on those sites is an advertisement for something.   Millions see those ads.  Recent consumer research shows that of people seeing ads for goods and services in newspapers, 67% do further research online to obtain additional information about that particular business.  Of that, nearly 70% actually make a purchase after finishing their research.
What about the Internet?  So you don’t use a computer yourself.  You may not need to.  But this isn’t about whether or not you choose to use a computer.  Nearly 90% of consumers use the Internet to locate goods & services.  If you're not a member of the Monroe County Chamber of Commerce, you're missing out on the more than 1500 visitors a day who visit our websites or are part of our social media audience.
Advertising is your flashlight in the darkness of tough economic times.  Keep your flashlight on and you’re visible in the pitch black darkness.  Turn your flashlight off and no one will ever know you’re there.  Cutting your advertising is like turning off your flashlight.  Those who need you and your goods and services will never know you exist.
Monroe County, Tennessee includes the communities of Coker Creek, Madisonville, Sweetwater, Tellico Plains, and Vonore

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