When I meet small business owners and tell them about my work with social media, a lot of them ask me how they should be using social media to grow their business. Before I answer that question, I usually ask them about what they’re already doing. The responses are often along the lines of:
“We have a Twitter handle and a Facebook page”
“I setup a Google+ page for my business!”
At this point, I have to ask them: But did you start by listening?
Listening is the most basic and the most underrated social media activity for any small business. And it’s important to start listening even before you decide which social networks to focus your business presence on.
Step 1: Know where your audience is.
If you’re ready to build a community online, the first thing you should do is figure out where your audience is.
Spend time listening on a few networks. Listen to discussions around industry trends, look for relevant keywords and conversations around your business and your competitors.
For instance, if I were running a local pizzeria, I’d listen to conversations about good food in and around town. I’d figure out where these conversations happen most often. I’d also check out a few specific foodie networks (such as Epicurious, Foodily or Open Source Food) to see if they are more popular among foodies in my city.
Once I have some idea which networks my business can benefit from, I’d focus my efforts there. Read more
Like most people, I usually decide whether or not to open an email from a company depending on what the subject line says. I’d even go a step further and form an opinion about the company based on how they word their email subject lines and how consistent or unique they are with this as a branding activity.
Lately, I’ve noticed many companies trying to experiment with their subject lines. Here are a few important things I’ve learned from watching these experiments and trying out some of my own:
Short subject lines go a long way
Depending on which email program your recipients use and their personalized display settings, they might not read a long subject. For example, my current display setting on Zoho Mail shows me the first 3-5 words of the subject.
The first few words are very relevant because those are the ones your recipient will almost always see. A recent study by Retention Science found that 6-10 word long subject lines tend to have the highest open rates. Keep your email subject lines short so they don’t get cut off.
Especially at an unintentionally awkward point:
“Summer’s here. Drown yourself in our soothing summer sorbet!”
“Summer’s here. Drown yourself…”
Oops! I’d just go with:
“Our soothing summer sorbet is here!” Read more
He wears a red suit, sports a long white beard, lives (and works!) at the north pole with a bunch of elves and eight tiny reindeer. That’s right, our busiest customer this season, is none other than Mr. Santa Claus himself!
While the rest of us are happy holidaying, Mr Claus is busy trying to make sure that the holiday is just perfect for everyone.
With a long list of demanding customers to satisfy, very little time to deliver gifts and an office that’s not only remotely located, but also freezing cold all year around, running the holiday business just can’t be easy.
And yet, despite all these challenges, Santa manages to get everything right for the big day. We asked him to tell us how he does this, and here’s our exclusive story of what goes on ‘behind-the-scenes’ at the North Pole office, in his own words…
2 weeks ago, we announced the #MyBizStory contest to celebrate small businesses and the stories behind them. We received hundreds of stories that amazed and inspired us, from a variety of businesses from all across the continent!
We felt like we were a part of these stories and meeting people behind-the-scenes of each business. We knew it would be tough to pick the best entries among so many great stories. So, we tried to judge stories on the basis of what they were about and how they were told. And of course, bonus points for stories with pictures!
First off, here are the 3 stories that won the iPad Air prizes (and the ones that didn’t, don’t worry, you still won a place in our hearts!)
Alexandria’s story touched our hearts. The story combined with the lovely painting, sends out a great message about compassion for life, art and humanity.
It’s Thanksgiving week, and you’re probably looking forward to spend the weekend feasting with family and friends!
But before we get to the weekend, let’s remember to spend some time saying ‘thank you’ to all those who’ve helped make your business what it is. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be so happy and successful doing what we love!
Say thanks to your team, all those people who work hard all year around to help you manage your business. You could hand out personalized thank-you notes to each team member appreciating his or her contribution to your business. Read more
With any software, even the smallest of changes can greatly improve the experience of users who have been using it regularly. And when there’s a whole bunch of such small, thoughtfully crafted changes packaged into a completely new interface, the result can be instant delight.
That’s exactly the kind of result we’d hoped to get, when we recently shared a sneak peek of our upcoming new UI for Zoho Invoice and Zoho Books. So, ever since the beta-release, we’ve been eagerly waiting to see reactions from customers who had early access to this new version. We had worked really hard on this new, re-imagined UI, and we wanted to see what difference it made to those for whom it mattered the most – our customers. This was quite a nail-biting period, especially for the teams who had worked for months to make the new UI a reality. They now waited patiently to see the results of their efforts.
Once the feedback started flowing in, we were really thrilled to see so much happy, positive receptivity for the new UI and the changes that came with it!
We love small businesses – they’re the reason why we build apps and host events aimed at helping small business owners all-year-around. But special days call for a little more!
And that’s why we’re celebrating Small Business Saturday, with a special contest for small businesses this month.
It’s called the #MyBizStory contest and it’s really fun and simple. All you need to do is, tell us a story. Tell us what makes your business unique – it could be a different way of doing things, something you’ve created or something you’ve believed in and followed for your business – anything that you think makes your business stand out. Read more