Tag Archive for Small Business

Are Social Media and Word-of-Mouth the Same Thing?

I have seen a lot of articles recently in response to a small business survey conducted by Hiscox, a small business insurance provider, which surveyed US small business leaders on their social media usage.  Hiscox found that many of these business owners weren’t using social channels to promote their businesses and products.  In fact, the results of the survey showed that only 12% of the business owners described social media as a “must” and 47% indicated they did not use social media for business purposes at all.  The survey also concluded that 50% of the business owners said that word-of-mouth marketing was essential to their business.  This is where things get interesting…and heated!

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Product Review: Sprout Social

Here at NxtGen, we are always looking for affordable, yet effective, social media solutions that the everyday small business owner can use.  For the past several months, we have been testing out a few different Social Media Management tools.  Today I am going to share my thoughts with you on one of those tools: Sprout Social.

Review: Sprout Social is a social media management tool that allows businesses to efficiently and effectively manage & grow their social presence across multiple channels and turn social connections into loyal customers.  Overall, I really like this tool.  You can easily connect your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Gowalla accounts and manage them all from one convenient location.  They even recently added the ability to connect your Google Analytics account, which is a really nice feature.  For business owners that don’t have the time to waste checking and updating several different social media sites, and don’t have the budget to pay a high priced consultant or service, this is a great tool.  You can easily update all your social networks in one place, find new customers with their advanced search technology, monitor conversations taking place across the web either about your brand or your industry, and easily organize all your social media connections in one place, complete with history, notes and more, using the address book feature.  They also provide really great analytics that give you detailed information on followers, influence, engagement, clicks and more – all in colorful, intuitive charts & graphs.  You can review the data right from your browser, or you can create branded PDF reports with the click of a button (data can also be downloaded in CSV form).  But even better is the price!  For the average small business owner out there, who only needs to manage one account (one account handles up to 5 identities), the Pro Plan is only $9/month!  And for those businesses who need to manage multiple accounts, or are looking for a little more in depth analysis, their Business Plan is still an affordable $49/month. Both plans come with a 30-day free trial.  See graphics below for more detailed information on what is included in each package. Read more

Building An Online Community: Part 3 – Nurturing Your Community

Welcome back for the final part of our series on how to build an online community.  In our previous posts, we talked about Choosing the Right Platfrom and Growing Your Community.  Now we will            discuss the critical step of nurturing that community that you have worked so hard to build.

Have you ever seen the show “Yard Crashers” on HGTV?  It is a backyard remodel show, where the host waits at home improvement stores looking for the perfect weekend warriors who could use his help. People go in thinking they’re just buying a bag of mulch, but instead come home with the host and his team, who completely transform their landscape.  It happens to be one of my favorite shows on TV right now (and I don’t even have a backyard.  Go figure), however, at the end of every show, I am left wondering, “what now?”  What happens when the experts all leave and these people, who previously neglected their yard to the point of it needing a complete makeover, are left to handle it all themselves?  Building a beautiful, lush, garden is hard work, but it all goes to waste if you do not continue to care for, and nurture it.  Well, the same can be said about your online community.  You can put all the hard work, time, and effort in the world into picking the right platform and building your community.  But if you don’t continue to nurture that community, it was all a giant waste of time.  Here are a few key tips to focus on once you have built out your community.

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Baby steps

Over the past week, I have been watching one of my twin sons start to crawl.  It has been an amazing experience for this first time dad, as I watch him grunt and struggle to just move an inch or so.  He would get frustrated, take a break and start up again.  He has not figured out how to use his knees yet, he is really just sliding across the carpet, but he can get where he wants to go now.  His crawling is really exciting for me, but I would guess that you the reader really do not care about my son learning to crawl.  As I watched him do it, the thought of  SEO came to mind.    There is no magic bullet for SEO.  No matter how much money you spend , it is the time that is put into it that will make it a  successful or unsuccessful venture.  The strategy is not born overnight, it takes a lot of work, and trial and error to accomplish the goal.

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How Running a Small Business is like Running a Marathon

This past weekend I was supposed to complete my first Half Marathon.  To be honest, I am not the greatest runner.  Especially when it comes to long distances.  I never understood why people would put themselves through the torture of running for 13 or 26 miles straight.  I had never planned on running one myself, until a few months ago when a good friend of mine somehow convinced me that running in a half marathon together would be fun.  And you know what, I actually started to look forward to it.  I was excited about the thought of doing something that not everyone could say they’ve done.  And then came race day…

We had chose to run this specific race because we thought it would provide the optimal running weather.  I mean the middle of May is supposed to perfect spring weather, right?  Well, when we woke up on race day it was 40 degrees, pouring rain and the wind was blowing so hard, it nearly knocked me down a few times.  It didn’t take us long to decide that this was not how we wanted to run our first half marathon.  I must admit, I was a little disappointed in how things worked out.  But as we started to discuss the next race we would try to conquer, and looked back on our training, I started to realize that there are a lot of similarities between running a marathon and running a small business.  Here are my thoughts:

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