Reflections on the Past Year During the Jewish Holidays

It seems like the only thing that’s constant these days is change. As the future is increasingly shrouded in uncertainty, it’s clear we must learn to cope with change.  Last year was a year none of us will ever forget.  The COVID-19 pandemic shook the world and touched each and every one of us.  The past eighteen months have certainly had its ups and downs, but the one theme I’d like to echo is how grateful and fortunate I am every single day to be alive and healthy.

Our family is Jewish and last week was Yom Kippur, the holiest holiday of the year.  It’s a day when we fast and have a lot of time to look back and reflect upon the year ahead.  I like to think of it as a blank book with 365-pages to celebrate the New Year. Our family has been very fortunate to have the flexibility to work from home for most of the year.  We sent our kids to summer camp and are hopefully returning to school fully for the 2021-2022 school year.  Most importantly we’ve all been fortunate to remain healthy.

The period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known as the “Ten Days of Teshuvah,” often translated as a time of repentance.  This period is seen as an opportunity for change.  We’re asked to think about the people who we may have harmed over the past year, either intentionally or accidentally, and whether it was by words or actions.  It’s a time when we’re invited to reach out to people and make up for our mistakes.  It allows us an opportunity to directly address anyone we may have wronged, seek forgiveness, and make amends.



The Jewish Holidays always make me feel grateful to be part of my local community.  We were fortunate to attend Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services at our local synagogue outdoors this year and see many of our friends who we haven’t seen throughout the pandemic.  It restored a sense of “normalcy” to be back together sharing Rosh Hashanah dinner with some of our closest friends in town and break the Yom Kippur fast with family and friends.  The Jewish holidays have been a part of the rhythm of time for centuries and many Jewish communities all over the world are gathering and connecting in solidarity.

Building on the idea of leaning into community, last year I was the co-president of a local club in my town, “Newcomers and Neighbors of Short Hills and Millburn.” It was eye opening to see the strength of our community uniting during dark times. Last year our club ran initiatives to give back, which included feeding front-line workers during the peak of the pandemic, sending holiday and Valentine’s Day cards to troops deployed overseas, supporting our local food pantry and other organizations through diaper and food drives, and more.  This experience is one I will cherish and reflect upon with pride as I continue to support the community around me. 

As a business owner myself I’ve certainly felt the bumps in the road throughout the pandemic, but I have adapted and embraced change within my own company, Marissa Pick Consulting.  I’ve learned several lessons, which have helped me to remain agile and hit the ground running this year.

  • Embrace Change.  I’m the first to admit that one of my worst qualities is embracing change.  I’m a self-described “Type A” control freak and I like to plan everything out as far in advance as possible to ensure I have as much control as possible.  Well, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, this forced me to tackle my issues with change headfirst.  I really struggled not exactly knowing when and where we could go and what the future would hold for school, camp, life, business, and everything else.  Change is scary.  People crave routine and rely on doing things the way they have always been done.  I like predictability.  I’ve learned to adapt and become more flexible this past year and focus much more on my communication skills.  Routines in our household have become a bit steadier with school, sports and schedules ramping back.  One of my goals for the year ahead is to be more flexible and really embrace and not fight change.  Whatever it will be, will be, so I may as well get onboard.
  • Address Mental Health. I’ve struggled with anxiety over the past few years.  Last spring, when it became apparent that lockdown wasn’t coming and going quickly, I found myself totally overwhelmed.  I reached out to family and friends for support and contacted my doctor to go back on my anxiety medicine.  The pandemic was an unprecedented time when many of us were balancing working, parenting, trying to be a teacher and keep it all together mentally amidst fear.  I was really scared and going back on medicine helped me better take on the world (most days, at least). I’ve found my anxiety to be an ongoing battle as we re-enter this “new normal” world where COVID is still very much a threat.  Since our two young kids aren’t vaccinated, we’ve tried to remain as cautious as possible.  My anxiety still impacts me, but I’m coping better than before.   I encourage you to reach out to your friends, family, or a doctor for help if you’re feeling anxious, depressed, or stressed to get the help you may need.
  • Find an Outlet to Release Energy or Stress. As a college athlete I’ve always tried to stay in shape, workout, and channel my emotions into a healthy outlet.  I’ve always enjoyed cycling and last year we swapped out our bike for a Peloton.  As often as possible, either after the kids finish school or activities, or in between client work, I prioritize time for myself to workout.  I love taking live classes and riding with friends near and far.  I am a competitive person and I love tracking my progress and pushing myself to work harder to understand how far I’ve come and how far I have to go.  If working out isn’t your thing, see if you can find something that helps you stay healthy and regularly releasing the stress we all carry around within ourselves.
  • Smile.  Life is overwhelming, and some days it’s hard to not get lost in the endless media circus of life.  The highlight of my day is having my kids run into my arms after school and telling me about their day.  Kids have a view of the world that is so innocent, pure and refreshing.  My boys are so inquisitive, curious and hopeful about the future.  They inspire my husband and I every day to smile and have fun and remind us that family comes first, no matter what.  Whatever it is that makes you smile, recognize it and make it part of your daily routine.

Thank you for taking the time to read my New Year reflections.  On Yom Kippur we say “G’mar chatima tova,” which in English means, “May you be sealed in the Book of Life.”  As the New Year begins in the Jewish world, I hope that all your wishes got sealed this Yom Kippur and wish everyone a sweet, happy and healthy New Year ahead.

I’d love to know what you’ve done to embrace change over the past year or so.  Please leave a comment below or send me a message via email.

The Future of Content Generation

If someone offered you a crystal ball that could tell you the future of content generation, would you want it?  As a member of The Upside, an award-winning community and accelerator for thriving consultants, I participated in a recent Clubhouse event discussing the future of content generation.  This got me thinking about trends for the remainder of this year and beyond.

Following an amazing discussion with Erin Halper, CEO of The Upside, and my colleagues Rebecca Orlov, Rachel Dorton, and Lisa Weiss, I asked my LinkedIn network to provide some tips and content marketing trends they were most excited about as we enter the second half of 2021.

As you begin planning your content marketing strategy for the remainder of this year, I encourage you to keep the below trends and tips in mind.  Overall, developing high-quality content that doesn’t necessarily require more resources was a major focus among the panelists. This can go a long way toward crushing key marketing objectives in 2021.

The Emergence of Audio Platforms

Back in April I wrote an article for Search Engine Watch on whether Clubhouse was really worth the hype.  Within the post I explored how brands can use Clubhouse to build an online community to further add value and drive engagement.  My key takeaway was that although it came onto the market at the right time, I’m cautious about its role over the long term.  As Twitter, LinkedIn, and other audio apps emerge Clubhouse will have to quickly adapt and make some changes if it wants to become a mainstream platform for brand marketers.

Although I remain interested and active on the platform, I’m cautious that it’s the “popular kids” hangout and the allure and interest is largely based around buzz.  Certainly, brands can and should listen into ongoing conversations and get ideas about the topics target audiences and tuning into and discussing.  The brands that listen openly to new ideas and have a pulse on the culture and content their market is exposed to will have a long-standing advantage and edge.

Margaret Molloy, the Global Chief Marketing Officer at Siegel+Gale added, “I expect to see more audio content from an evolution of live audio platforms including Twitter Spaces or Clubhouse as well as the expansion of podcasts.  The mobility and portability are so attractive as people recommence commuting or continue to do more exercise or even simply walking their dogs!”

Danielle Guzman, the Global Head of Social Media at Mercer added, “The rise of social audio will drive growth in a conversation-first approach to content.  Start with a conversation (aka social audio platforms) and use that conversation as fuel for your content plan, putting the experts (influencers, SMEs, employee advocates) at the center of your content strategy), and then when you activate on channels, those voices are amplified in content different formats.”

I agree with Danielle and Margaret that audio platforms offer a much-needed relief for the Zoom fatigue many of us experienced this year.  Although they are mobile friendly, they’re merely a part of a set of tools we must have within our pocket.  When used properly and effectively audio can be used to help achieve success for your brand.  The future of audio platforms seems bright, and it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds over time.

Explosion of Video Content

With major events out of play the for bulk of 2021, video and webinar content became even more important—and guess what, it’s not going away.  Consumers want to get information and learn quickly and there’s no better way to do that without video marketing.  Video is a quick and effective medium to communicate your message and educate your audience. Video content is on a seemingly never-ending rise around the world.

Cisco’s Annual Internet Report reported that video content is predicted to amount to a whopping 82% of all internet traffic.  Additionally, according to a HubSpot survey, over 54% of consumers would like to see more content from their brands.  It’s pretty clear that video is what we need to focus on in 2021!  

This isn’t to say you should ignore all other forms of content, but it does mean that video must be at the forefront of your strategy.  Sarah-Jane Manco, a marketing and communications senior professional within the financial services industry, added, “I see short form video sticking around for a lot longer.  Our attention spans are shortening thanks to social media, so condensing your message into a 15-30 second video is the way forward!”  

I couldn’t agree more and encourage brands and marketers to continue to develop short content to cut through the digital noise and amplify your story.  It’s important to use a variety of video formats to fit your brand, industry, and niche, and optimize them for every step of the customer’s journey.

The More Personal, the BETTER!

Personalization in 2021 goes beyond merely addressing your customer by their name in emails or when you’re talking to them via chat. In the years to come, technologies like artificial intelligence will make data analysis more efficient and effective, allowing you to achieve hyper-personalized communication.

Providing a stellar customer experience is no longer a “nice to have;” it’s now a true necessity. Customers expect and demand seamless and personalized experiences throughout their journey with your brand.  User-generated content (UGC) is a highly effective way of creating more connected relationships with customers, especially when leveraged across social media channels.    UGC provides an additional stream of content that is typically engaging, authentic and reflective of the overall brand promise.

Building Content Communities

Creators are now in the driver’s seat and users are in for the ride alongside them.  With the rise of Clubhouse offering authenticity through voice or Slack communities across tech, building communities has been a push for marketing teams for the remainder of the year.

However, building communities specifically around content sharing and creation will allow marketing teams to continue to expand their reach, even with fewer resources.

Expanding your reach is great for brand awareness—and, of course, your metrics—but that kind of inclusion is also good for fostering a sense of community with your audience, too.

Repackaging Content

One of the major threads within my LinkedIn post was the use of repurposing content. Repackaging content is nothing new, but the idea is to turn existing content into new formats.  Tom Pick, a B2B Tech Digital Marketing Consultant, added that he thinks “we’ll see more’ video first’ content creation.  Meaning, creators will start by recording an online video with an expert, maybe live, maybe not.  The audio will be repurposed as a podcast, and the transcript as a blog post (or more than one).  Then excerpts will be pulled from a string of these to create an expert roundup post.  It’s the next stage of repurposing.”

This idea of the future state of repurposed and repackaged content will allow for us to turn existing how-to articles into visual flowcharts or revise an article into a podcast or even a mini audiobook.  The main aspect of content repackaging is that a new content piece creates value of its own.  It’s not just about re-marketing your old content simply for additional clicks or conversions.  Content repackaging is the marketing tactic that aims to give your audience a new way to consume information.  It also involves expanding your own content with new research and up-to-date information.

April Rudin the Founder and CEO of the Rudin Group added, “Personalization and the opportunity to repurpose existing content is HUGE particularly for regulated industries like financial services and pharmaceutical, I’m a fan of infographics and data visuals to help tell stories in a snapshot. To me, video should be used sparingly and in short spurts, no one wants to watch lengthy videos or listen to long podcasts without visuals.

Meredith Bodgas, the Editorial Strategy Lead at Toptal, added, “Consider repackaging of existing content to match the different platforms on which you might not be using that content.”  What I love about Meredith’s advice is that it allows us to create new and unique content for a variety of social media channels. It lets us experiment with many content formats and identify our best-working engagement tactics. 

Like any other content marketing strategy, repackaging content is all about consistency.  I recommend brands create 2-3 additional content assets whenever they publish a new article.  Consider using some of the advice within this article, such as developing a piece of audio content, adding a voice over or turning a presentation into a video. 

A good rule of thumb according to Singlegrain is that we should be spending 20% of our time on content creation and 80% on content promotion.  They offer some great tips within the article about the basics of promotion and the foundation of developing GOOD content.  Remember, content is king, and will continue to be for many years to come.

What else would you add to what’s in store for the future of content generation?  Leave a comment below or send me a tweet @marissapick


USA Today Feature: Future of Virtual & Hybrid Events Campaign

I’m excited to be a parter with Mediaplanet for their Future of Virtual and Hybrid Events campaign which launched this week. The event planning industry has gone through what was probably the most difficult year in its history, but event planners are primed to make a major comeback.

You can learn more about the tools and resources to make your next virtual/hybrid meeting or event a smashing success by picking up a copy of the campaign in USA Today. The virtual campaign can be found online by visiting the website.

I’m a firm believer that virtual conferences of the past year have had a positive impact. The digital events have enabled more people to attend virtually. Many of these events have been free, with participants paying a small fee to access slides, if they choose.  My article for the campaign outlines, How Virtual and Hybrid Events Are Helping the Events Industry Thrive Post-Pandemic.

Hybrid events have allowed brands to have an extended impact, helping them reach a broader audience and drive deeper engagement online. Plus, by developing content and deeper connections with speakers and attendees from virtual events, brands can stand out and have higher retention.

Now’s the time to use digital event platforms to connect audiences and build longer-lasting relationships. Within the article I shared some of my favorite platforms, including Brella, which offers custom, one-to-one meetings, as well as live streaming; and Hopin, which provides webinar sessions, chats and polls, and interactive elements that can be fully customizable and brandable. 

I believe brands must refocus their goals and understand why people will attend the event, whether it’s virtual or in-person. For example, is it for lead generation to drive sales? Content marketing? Engagement? This will allow companies or event producers to refine how they’re doing things, and consider how they might be able to — whether it’s driving sales or driving engagement — mix up and shake up what works and what doesn’t.

Let me know what you think of my article within the campaign. I’d love to hear how you think virtual and hybrid events are helping the events industry thrive post-pandemic. Leave a comment below or send me a tweet with your thoughts.

Social media: It’s not easy, but it is simple- Volume 2.

In 2013 I wrote an article for OMI (Online Marketing Institute) entitled Social Media: It’s not easy, but it’s simple.  The concept for the article was based around the idea that brands must be ready to send the right message to the right people, in the right place, at the right time. If you weren’t embracing social media back in 2003 then you were certainly missing out. 

Photo: Shutterstock

Within the post I stressed the importance of brands bring prepared to be spontaneous, respond quickly and leverage trends and current affairs to send the right message at the right time.  The article resonated with many people and to this day is one of the top pieces of content on my blog.

Almost ten years later the idea behind that article remains the same. As marketers, we must embrace the change of emerging social media channels as a way to engage in a deeper and more meaningful way with our customers

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”- George Bernard Shaw

It’s no surprise that social media users’ numbers have surged over the past year with over 490 million new users joining social media this year which equates to an annualized growth of 13% and an average or 15 and a half new users every second. (Click to Tweet)

Did you know that the average person has an account on more than 9 different social media networks and spends a daily average of 2 hours and 15 minutes on social media? (Source: DataReportal)- Click to Tweet

The Benefits of Having a Social Media Presence

The latest data shows that there are now 420 billion social media users around the world at the start of 2021, equating to more than 53% of the total global population. The means that 9 in 10 internet users are now using social media each month.  (Click to Tweet).

Social media remains an ever-evolving platform. What happens one year can be entirely different the next.  Many marketers still struggle with finding the right platform and insight as to how to better evaluate the clarity of each channel against resources such as time, efforts, and money.

So why should we invest in social media? Because it’s one of the best ways to increase exposure and pinpoint the exact people who need to hear your message. By having a social media presence you’ll increase the reach of your content and increase your message accuracy. Simply put with social media you can market more accurately, exerting less effort.

Why Does Social Media Matters to Your Business’ Success?

Social media has changed the way we do business. People want information quickly and social media channels such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and more allows people to instantly access and redefine the way consumers research and buy products. 

91% of social media users are accessing social channels via mobile devices (Source: LyfeMarketing).   Social media helps brands widen their customer funnel and market to millions of people within their target audience. Brands who leverage social platforms correctly gain instant visibility social influence, therefore elevating their business miles above the competition.

It’s easy to come up with excuses for neglecting your personal social media presence. Maybe you’re not confident that you have something interesting to say. Maybe you don’t think you have enough time to invest. Maybe you are not as tech-savvy as you’d like to be. Or maybe you just feel completely overwhelmed by the size and scope of the social media universe. 

– Michael Collins, CMO & Managing Director, CFA Institute.

Michael Collins said it best within his recent LinkedIn Post. He outlined that it’s important to remember that social platforms are simply a set of tools. Yes, you need to know how to use them properly and effectively, but there are plenty of resources that can help your business be successful. 

Make Your Business Unique Through Social Media

No alt text provided for this image
Photo: Shutterstock

As social media becomes even more integrated into our lives it provides countless opportunities for businesses looking to reach their audience through various digital initiatives.

Earlier this year I shared Social Media Tips for Small Businesses to Ensure Success In 2021. Within the article I asserted that of the most appealing features of social media marketing is the opportunity to set your brand apart in ways that matter to your customers.

Businesses who are able to develop unique content (through updates, giveaways, podcasts, polls and more) can strengthen customer engagement techniques which effectively give you another marketing channel.

For social media to work, it’s important to bring social media back to the foundation of what it aims to do, which is drive engagement. Having a clear and engaging social media /digital marketing strategy can help your businesses succeed in 2021 and beyond. 

So What is the Key to Social Media Success?

The Marketing Rule of 7 states that a prospect needs to see or hear an advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take action to buy that product or service. Therefore by leveraging social media and exposing people to your brand message through memorable, unique and authentic content, the quicker you’ll enjoy top-of-mind awareness in your market.

Once you’re able to establish your brand in the eyes of customers and other industry professionals you’ll be able to leverage customer influencer and effortlessly monetize from the power of your name alone.

Social platforms help you connect with your customers, increase awareness about your brand, and boost your leads, sales or whatever it is you’re trying to achieve.  With more than three billion people around the world using social media every month, the users and engagement on major platforms just keep increasing. (Click to Tweet)

Project your digital professional persona for long-term success.For superheroes, getting into professional mode is as easy as slapping on some spandex, a mask and a cape. For the everyday person, the proper work mindset is less about attire and more about adopting a professional persona including developing engaging content.

No alt text provided for this image
Photo: Shutterstock

Decide who you want to be within your digital persona and take actions to develop and share content to become that version of yourself. Action follows intention, and over time, you’ll find that adopting this new aspect of your professional persona feels as natural as putting on your coat before leaving the house.

If you’re still not convinced, I urge you to block out time to create content, engage on social media platforms and publish on a regular schedule. Think of each content piece as the springboard to initiate a conversation or to deepen relationships with your customers.

Social media itself is not easy, it’s lot to learn all of the platforms and go with the flow of constant change.   But that’s not to say any of this comes easy. It takes time, effort, patience and sometimes a thick skin.  However, the bottom line is that it’s hard to imagine a future where social media, in whatever form, is less prevalent than it is today.

Social Media is essential for business, so I’ll end this article the same way I did in 2013. Make sure your brand is ready to send the right message, to the right people, in the right place, at the right time.

I’m embracing social media. Are you?

6 Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews on Social Media

The Below is a Guest Post from Mark Lindsay who is a writer and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience working in the industry. He contributes to several digital and print publications on topics related to work and life. He lives in New York. The original article below was originally published at Enplug.com

Have you ever been the target of a negative comment on social media or the recipient of a review that’s less than stellar? If so, you’re not alone. Many small businesses are encountering this problem, especially considering how many customers currently use social platforms to voice their opinions.

Since you can’t simply delete negative comments on social media, though, you’ve got to focus on what you can do: Respond to them effectively. Read on for six helpful tips.

6 Social Media Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

1. Understand the Comment

Customers posting negative comments on social media tend to ramble. It might take you a few minutes to scan through a given comment to mine the essential grievance. Take some time to find out exactly what your customers are dissatisfied with — because you can’t come up with a resolution until you do.

2. Respond Quickly

If you aren’t personally responsible for monitoring your social media accounts, make sure someone in your organization is charged with the task. Negative comments hanging out there with no response can quickly damage your brand. The ultimate goal should be to respond in one business day or less, as long as you can do so professionally.

Customers can share negative and positive reviews in an instant – and they expect a response just as quickly.

3. Never Respond With a Negative Comment

If a comment or review is especially derogatory, it’s only natural for you to want to defend your brand by instinctively adopting the same tone. However, dropping down to a negative level is not going to produce positive results. In fact, it’s only going to make you look insensitive, regardless of whether or not it’s justified.

No matter how you decide to address each issue, keep tact and respect on your radar at all times.

4. Explicitly Ask Customers What They Want

This is a step that many businesses fail to take when responding to negative comments. There’s nothing wrong with coming out and expressly asking dissatisfied clients what they’re after. In a lot of cases, there’s no refund or monetary investment involved — customers just want to know their comments were received and had a positive effect.

5. Don’t Delete Them

The last thing you want to do is delete comments or reviews that shine a negative light on your business. Think about it from a consumer’s perspective. If you check out a retailer’s Facebook page and find 100 comments that are nothing but positive, you might get a little suspicious.

Instead, leave the bad comments there, but be sure to craft stellar responses to all of them. This way your current customers — and any potential new ones — know you’re serious about providing high-quality customer service.

For customer service to be the best it needs to continue online even after your customer has left the store.

6. Go Over the Top

If you run a solid operation, you probably don’t get an overwhelming number of negative reviews over social media. Because of that, feel free to overcompensate when you do. For example, if you ship an order incorrectly, refund the full amount plus return shipping charges and an additional 10% of the purchase price — and mention that you did so in your thread.

If your customers just want to be heard, throw them a modest gift card as a gesture of goodwill. This is a great marketing opportunity for your business as it shows you’re willing to do whatever it takes to correct any errors.

Final Thoughts

In general, to avoid negative comments on social media, you should review, and if necessary, revamp your customer service policies. Monitor your team in action, conduct meetings devoted solely to customer service, and make sure your entire staff is well-trained.

Properly responding to negative comments on social media is important, but doing what you can to reduce them is equally essential.

What other strategies do you know of for effectively responding to negative comments on social media? Leave a comment below.

Please support Ricky’s Riders in the fight to beat rare cancers during #CycleforSurvival 2021

Cycle for Survival is important to me. This year I’m thrilled to be participating in my decade ride (10th year) of Cycle for Survival on May 2 outside at MetLife Stadium. I’m raising money for Cycle for Survival to support rare cancer research led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). Every dollar raised by this movement continues to change — and save — lives

Cycle for Survival provides crucial funding to hundreds of doctors and scientists in pursuit of bold ideas. The discoveries made through research and clinical trials powered by this community have led to the FDA approval of new drugs and diagnostic tools that are helping people around the world.

Since the first event in 2007, there have been many great advances in rare cancer research and treatment. But there’s still more work to be done, and we won’t stop fighting until every person facing a rare cancer has a treatment for their disease.

I’m raising money for rare cancer research.

Why? For my father, Richard.

A few years ago my father Richard was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He fought his cancer for years and after several rounds of chemo, immunotherapy and a stem cell transplant he is in remission. Even though he beat cancer, his battle continues every day, which is why I’m participating in my 10th year of Cycle for Survival — the movement to beat rare cancers. http://bit.ly/mpcycle21

My father has been fortunate to benefit from cancer treatment and advances, but not everyone is as lucky. I ride for my father, but also for those who aren’t as lucky as him. I encourage you to visit my fundraising page and make a donation that will truly make a difference.  

Here are three reasons why I hope you will support me:

1. Rare cancer research is underfunded, leaving people who are diagnosed with these cancers few options — sometimes none. Thanks to the generosity of donors, people with a rare cancer have hope for a better future with new and improved treatments.

2. 100% of your gift (yes, every dollar!) will fund research led by Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK). All funds are allocated within six months after fundraising ends. Cycle for Survival will share what was funded and continue to keep you updated on the advances you support.

3. Discoveries can benefit people with cancer worldwide. MSK is a world leader in cancer research, treatment, and education, caring for people with over 400 subtypes of cancer each year. They collaborate with institutions around the world to accelerate treatment options for all patients.

Your support makes so much possible. Together we will continue to advance our mission to beat rare cancers.  

Please consider making a donation to Ricky’s Riders By visiting: http://bit.ly/mpcycle21

JOIN THE BATTLE and support #CycleforSurvival.

Social Media Tips for Small Businesses to Ensure Success In 2021.

Social media has become an integral part of everyday life. In fact, many people spend a large part of their day exploring various social media channels. A study from Globalwebinex showed, on average, people spend three hours a day on social networks and messaging.  Given the prevalence of social media, it’s no surprise that marketers and businesses flock to these channels hoping to connect with their target customers.

As social media is becoming more integrated into our lives it provides countless opportunities for businesses looking to reach their audience through various initiatives. That being said, it can be challenging for small businesses to stand out given the massive content overload on social media channels.  Small businesses don’t have the budgets to compete with big brands, who are pumping millions of dollars into paid advertising to promote their products and campaigns. For small businesses to succeed, it’s important to bring social media back to the foundation of what it aims to do, engage.   Having a clear and engaging social media marketing strategy can help small businesses succeed into 2021 and beyond.

I spoke with Clay McDaniel, CEO of  Ripl Inc. regarding social media for small businesses to succeed.   Since many small businesses often can’t afford a social media manager, or don’t have team members with knowledge of how to develop social media content they often look to implement a third-party tool to support their content management needs.  I’ve worked with my fair share of social media tools throughout my career and have been impressed with Ripl Inc.

Clay explained that “With Ripl, anybody can easily manage the social media presence of their business. For about the same price as a lunchtime sandwich per month, you can have thousands of customizable templates available to your company with over 500,000 high-quality images and 90,000 videos at your disposal. You can quickly create trackable professional-grade content and schedule to share it across channels in minutes instead of hours.”

Clay shared several key pieces of advice for small business owners to consider for social media success this January.

  1. Consider focusing on a “hero” social platform. If you feel like you’re spread too thin tying to manage all of your social channels, see if one is performing much better than the others and focus your energies there. Some channels don’t make as much sense for certain types of businesses. Visual platforms like Instagram often benefit retailers, while Twitter can be beneficial for sharing news and managing customer service.
  2. Understand Your Customer – Small businesses often can’t afford to do mass marketing, so you need to make sure your social media activity is pinpointed to your customers’ needs. Spend the time to really personify your customer and what will speak to them and that will help as you develop new content throughout the month and year.
  3. Set goals for your social pages – Having a page just to have a page isn’t the best strategy, so set some measurable goals so you know what’s working and not. Perhaps that means brainstorming new types of content, posting more often or at more regular intervals, or doing more community management on your social media channels.
  4. Add a call-to-action button– This button sits just under your cover photo on your Facebook business page and can be added to Instagram, as well. Make sure it fits your business so potential customers can engage immediately to “Shop now,” “Book now,” “Sign up” and more.
  5. Delete or archive old content – Comb through your past Instagram posts and Twitter tweets and decide if any are outdated or no longer applicable to your business. Go through each of your story highlights at the top of your Instagram feed and remove outdated content…and if you’re not yet using Instagram stories for your business, you should start. This is a great way to keep important content indefinitely since highlights last forever while stories only last 24 hours on the platform. Be sure to also go through your past tweets to determine if there are any that might spark controversy or seem tone deaf and delete those, as well. 

COVID-19 has been a game changer for small businesses both within the United States and across the world.  Facing financial constraints and major limitations imposed by the pandemic has resulted in the need for many small businesses to pivot and come up with innovative solutions to reach their customers in order to survive (and hopefully thrive!).

The advice Clay shares above is crucial for small businesses to succeed on social media channels.   Small businesses have one major advantage over big corporations in my opinion, they can be nimble and seize opportunity.  The ability for a small business to lean in and adapt social media channels in order to evolve in a rapidly changing world is key.

What additional social media tips would you give for small businesses to ensure their success into 2021?

Please take a moment and leave a comment below!

Master The Art Of Facebook And Instagram Marketing With These 12 Tips

Guest Post from Shweta SinghConfluencr

Businesses today are dealing with customers falling within either the millennial or Gen Z generation. These audiences received formal education and are updated when it comes to technology. Also, they’re acquainted when it comes to social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. They’re connected with their social circle through these virtual platforms. 

Apart from that, they’re smart to differentiate between content and promotional message. This makes it difficult for businesses to target these consumers who’re the leading youth of the 21st century. 

Hence, businesses need to be well equipped when it comes to targeting the new age audience with their promotions through social media. India is on the top when it comes to the number of Facebook users it is almost double that of the United States. 

Some Practices that will help a business in effective marketing for Facebook and Instagram:

1. Know Your Audience: 

Whenever it comes to any kind of marketing knowing one’s audience can be the first and vital step. Dig deeper to know your target audience. Be as specific as possible. Go beyond the demographics. Get to know their social media preference and spending patterns. Know what kind of message attracts them not only to a particular product but also helps in conversion. As a business, your goal should not be limited to reaching an audience but it should encourage them to action. This will result in a purchase from them and business for your company. 

2. Know their preference:

Before targeting your audience, know which media do they interact with more. Be available and visible on their favorite platform. Make your presence felt. Do not aim cluelessly. If your target audience prefers Facebook over Instagram the business should have a strong presence on Facebook and vice versa. Be where your audience is. Social media is where customers have crowded a market and you need to put a stall where your customers have gathered. It is a place where businesses go to the customers, unlike traditional ways.

3. Setup a business profile:

Both Instagram and Facebook allow the business to interact with the online platforms differently than the general audiences. It also makes the profile different making it easy to identify. This helps businesses in creating a professional image on social networking sites. 

4. Use free tools:

Facebook and Instagram provide certain tools for free to professional users which can help in tracking down the traffic and conversion on the profile. It also provides a CTA (Call To Action) option assisting to buy through the social site itself. It can also connect the interactors with your official website as well to provide more insight into the business. The social media platforms can provide you different analyses of posts to showcase which post resulted in a better conversion rate. 

5. Interact with the platform as well as the audience:

Facebook gives you options for posts, stories, and even status updates. Instagram has Posts, Repost, stories, and reels. When using social networks make sure to use their interactive tools effectively. To stay relevant with times and audience as well. Use different combinations of the tools to interact with your audience. Don’t exhaust them with just one type of communication.

6. Use teasers:

Provide your customers with new product teasers to get them excited for the big reveal. Post small captions about the important announcements you will be doing in the coming days. Share a countdown with your audience or just a splice of images on Instagram. This can encourage your followers to check the business profile from time to time to quench their curiosity. Keep audiences on their toes.

7. Don’t just be a seller:

Every post that you make should aim at gaining more business for the company. However, in every post, you can’t be just selling different stuff to your customers. This is another type of exhaustion that your target audience can get. Share information. Sometimes talk about behind the scenes which you have to go through as a business to provide your product/service. Arrange different contests to give away. This can make your brand memorable for customers and can get them to interact with your page regularly.

8. Sponsored content:

Share sponsored content that will help your business. Get into influencer marketing and sponsor their content as well. This can make your company a part of the virtual community. Tie-ups can benefit your business. This is creating word of mouth in the virtual world. Click Here to learn more about our recent post , The Power Of Social Media Influencers In 2020.

9. Hashtags matter:

The new generation talks with hashtags. There’s no need to mention that hashtags matter. Create unique hashtags that will suit your campaign. They have to cohesive with your brand and the current campaign. This will make it memorable for your clients and customers as well. Your influencers can also use these hashtags while sharing sponsored content for you. Don’t restrict yourself to Brand’s hashtags only. Use the popular hashtags which are recommended. They can be used by the social media community and can direct potential customers towards your service who are following that hashtag.

10. Make a proper campaign:

Although social media is something convenient, make a strategy best suited for your business and its customers. Decide how you will tackle the target audience. Make a schedule for your Facebook and Instagram interactions. Decide which hashtags and captions will go with which post beforehand. Know the time slot where most of your target audience interacts with their Instagram and Facebook.

11. Consistency of concise content:

When dealing with two popular social sites like Facebook and Instagram it is important to have a consistent message throughout. Both platforms allow you to post the content simultaneously while being on either of the platforms. Make sure your message remains the same across the media. This increases credibility and also avoids confusion on the part of the target audience.

12. Know the difference between Facebook and Instagram:

Though both platforms allow similar functions, there are certain differences. As a marketer, it is essential to understand both. This can prevent your content from suffering. Also knowing the differences will give you competence over the content sharing on both platforms. Their unique features can help to make it stand out. Both platforms are versatile for those who know how to use them effectively.

******************************************************************************

Author The Author: Shweta Singh

Shweta is an aspiring Lawyer and a Content Writer.  I believe that every business has a story and I thrive to tell that story to the world through my writing.  I have been writing for influencer marketing for a long time for www.confluencr.com and have grown exponentially with the industry.  With Confluencr, I have learned that quality content + targeted marketing can do wonders not only for businesses but for any individual.

#MotivationMonday Inspiration

Monday mornings don’t always have to suck. The key is finding at least one thing to look forward to and to motivate you on Monday to kick butt all week. This week I’m feeling inspired and truly looking forward to Thanksgiving and some extra time with our family and friends.

Whether you’re starting the day debating getting out of bed, mulling over getting a workout in or simply just figuring out what it is you want for breakfast , I hope this Monday morning quote can help to inspire you to get up and moving.

Of course it maybe be harder to start your engine on a Monday morning, but think of all the time you lose worrying that a new week is about to start when you should actually be happy about it.

You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.

— Maya Angelou

Every day is a privilege so why treat this one differently? Monday is a new day, not a bad day. So roll your eyes as much as you want, but don’t be pessimistic and let it ruin your day before it even starts. Instead of using Mondays as a reminder that the weekend has passed, use them to plan an awesome and productive week.

What are you looking forward to this week? What is helping you get out of bed, leave a comment below.

How to Plan Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Today, every business needs to maintain its online presence to be able to reach their potential customers. No longer can a business survive with just a brick-and-mortar presence. Even if you don’t actually sell any goods or services online, you have to develop some sort of digital presence. That may mean building out a website, posting regular updates to a Facebook page or sharing news of things you offer for your followers on Instagram. 

The data speaks for itself: The number of internet users in North America is rapidly growing. Nearly 90% of people have access to the internet. (click to tweet)  A digital marketing strategy is one of those terms that most marketers have heard of, but seldom have seen it planned and implemented well. If you’re still trying to search Google for “what is digital marketing strategy,” the following steps within this article will help. Salesforce developed some graphics which I found immensely useful to provide us the tools to take a step back and develop a strategy for our digital marketing.

You can’t just throw things up and expect magic to happen. You have to think things through strategically and allocate resources if necessary. What’s more, you can’t expect that all of your customers are accessing digital resources in the same way. Some may be old-fashioned and, on a desktop, or laptop computer, but some may be conducting most of their research and finding information on mobile devices. This graphic outlining the four steps to creating a digital marketing strategy helps offer some insight on the best way to get started.

So, where do you start with your digital marketing strategy?


Before you begin, keep in mind that a perfect strategy is not one that is written in stone. It needs to be comprehensive but adaptable, and you should make tweaks and adjustments as you go. To create a digital marketing strategy, gear up with data about your audience, competitive landscape, current efficiency of your marketing efforts, and the right metrics to track.
 

Step 1: Know your audience.


In particular, you should know where they prefer to spend their time online and find information.

To engage your audience, you need to do it on their terms. That is, you need to deliver your message through the channels and in the tone of voice they prefer. Moreover, it should align with their customer journey stage. For that, you need to know exactly where they spend their time online and how they search for information. If you don’t know where to start, here are a few effective tips to get you up and running.

Ask your current users.

The power of information gathered directly from your audience can’t be overestimated. This can be done with the help of a quick survey. Depending on your budget, you can select something simple and free like Google Surveys, or go with something more sophisticated. For example, Typeform can turn a simple questionnaire into an interactive opinion survey.

Since your users are busy people, if you really want to receive a substantial number of responses, provide them with value. That could be a product or service discount or an evergreen $10 gift card for Amazon or Starbucks.

Step 2. Analyze your competitive landscape.


No business operates in a vacuum, and to make informative decisions, you need to be aware of your competitive surroundings. Your competitors have likely already built up some online presence, which is the main reason to review which channels they’re using to communicate with your mutual audience. Furthermore, a competitor analysis will help you better understand your current market position and see where your business sits in your industry.

Step 3. Review the channels you’re currently using.


There’s no way to improve something without first analyzing how it performs at the moment. So before turning your findings into an actionable digital marketing plan and setting any KPIs, you need to know how efficiently your channels are currently performing.

To kick things off, go to your Google Analytics Acquisition report and see which channels are currently working best for you.

Pay close attention not only to the quantity of traffic, but also its quality — that is, consider the number of conversions that each channel earns. For instance, even if referral traffic isn’t generating as many visits as social, the percentage of new visits coming from this channel may be higher. Additionally, this audience may demonstrate more interest if the average session duration and the number of pages per session are a lot higher for referral visits.

Evaluate how much effort it takes to keep the traffic flow from each channel. For example, to get enough visits from social media, your team needs to spend a few hours each day curating content, creating custom images, and engaging with the community. It requires substantial resources. However, the amount of interest from this audience is superficial, and they hardly convert. On the other hand, attracting visitors from other channels might not be as time-consuming.

The bottom line is that with this data, you can make informed decisions and concentrate your efforts on the channels that perform best in terms of the resources spent versus the number of acquired visits and conversions.

Step 4. Define your main goal and general principles for measuring success.


This step is critical for your future work. You need to apply all the findings from the previous steps and define how, exactly, you are going to achieve your marketing goals.

Let’s start from the top: Define your high-level marketing goal. If your company has a mission, your main goal should resonate with it and broadcast your mission to the outside world. For instance, remember the example from the beginning of this post: “Become the go-to website for ordering flower delivery.”

Next, move forward to setting high-level KPIs. For example, here’s a nice KPI template to use:

  • Template: [Goal] by [value] in [time period]
  • Example: [Increase traffic] by [20 per cent] in [six months]

After the high-level goals and KPIs are set, you need to deconstruct them with your team into personal goals and KPIs that each team member can achieve individually.

If the high-level goals can be somewhat vague (“20 per cent monthly growth of traffic and conversions”), the individual goals should be clear to the contributor and easily broken down into particular tasks.

Here are a few additional points to consider.

  • Very often, when the actual goals are not clear to the team, reaching target KPIs becomes the goal. Make sure not to let this happen. Communicate the actual goals to your team, inspire them, and make sure they understand that KPIs are just a way to measure progress. Reaching them is not the sole purpose of their work.
  • Preach collaboration within your team. For example, if you’re in charge of community management, team up with your colleagues responsible for content and SEO to maximize the efficiency of what you do.
  • Set up the rules of ethical and low-risk marketing. Everyone, at some point, considers cutting the line in a race for target KPIs. When talking about personal goals with your team members, make sure to communicate which marketing techniques are beneficial for the business’s reputation, and which are not and should not be used.

Over to you


A defined, documented digital marketing strategy is not a necessity. In fact, many marketers do their jobs without having one. However, if you want to maximize the outcomes of your marketing activities, a clear, data-fueled strategy is an absolute must.

Use the tips and information in this article provided by Salesforce to get started, then revise your strategy as you learn what works and what doesn’t. Use your digital marketing strategy to work together toward clearly defined goals and help your team reach those goals faster.