Posts Tagged ‘Communication’

What To Do With Negative Social Media Feedback

Thursday, January 31st, 2019

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Social media is a way for your clients and customers to communicate with you. But what happens when what they want to say is negative? Like, really negative?

The risk that comes with social media is that you can’t control what people say, and you can’t control who sees it. Maybe you delete or block negative users, but that can create a whole new type of blow back- why aren’t you facing the criticism? Blocking doesn’t equal solving the problem.

Instead of running from the problem, here’s hat to do with negative social media feedback.

Don’t Ignore Them

First things first; you can’t run from the negative feedback. You have to face the music. Try to understand what people are mad about; are they dissatisfied with your services? Do they feel like you mislead them about your experience? Are they mad at something you said in an interview?

Take the time to HEAR what they are saying, and see how you can address it. Maybe it’s something out of your hands, like USPS taking longer to deliver because of weather conditions. Or maybe it’s because of your attitude towards your customers. Feedback (even negative feedback) can be a great way to grow, but you first need to listen.

Take a Pause- But Don’t Wait Too Long

Small companies may have just one person who does all the work. Meaning you might be on deadline when you start getting a flood of negative comments for something else. You have to finish the work, but you can’t take too long to answer the comments, because things can get out of control easily.

However, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to respond when you feel heated yourself! No good comes from yelling back at someone yelling at you on the internet.

Read the comments, take some time to formulate your response, and then click ‘send’ when you’re calm and can stand behind what you’ve written. Saying something in the heat of the moment is bad business. Especially on the internet, where things never really die. Even if you delete your comment later, screenshots can easily be taken.

Be Ready to Admit Fault…Or to Stick To Your Guns

If you said or did something that was offensive, be ready to apologize. Step outside of your experience, understand that you hurt people, and apologize.

However, if the negative social media feedback is totally unwarranted, you can defend yourself! But remember that you don’t want to antogonize them further. Defend yourself by saying something like this: “I understand that you’re frustrated with delays, but once it’s mailed I no longer have direct control over it. I also can’t control the weather (I wish!) I’m happy to offer you free shipping off your next purchase!”

A response like this allows space for their frustrations, but also gently guides them away from blaming you. You also offer a perk to them, which is a good PR move. It says “I understand and I want to help you avoid feeling this again.”

Negative social media feedback is a part of our online world. But handling it gracefully is a way to keep your business running smoothly and your customers happy.

This article originally appeared in Due.

 

This article was written by Kara Perez from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Effective Leaders Choose Humility Over Hubris

Thursday, December 27th, 2018

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Hubris occurs when a person exhibits extreme pride or dangerous over-confidence. It often signals a loss of contact with reality. For business leaders, hubris represents the gross overestimation of one’s own professional competence, accomplishments and capabilities. The impact on the organization is severe. Subordinates are often mistreated and company performance can suffer.

In a previous article for the Forbes leadership channel, I wrote about the research documenting the high costs of workplace incivility in terms of dragging down the organization’s performance and poisoning its culture. Leaders tainted by hubris give life to toxic environments, workplaces where incivility, and downright hostility often flourish.

However, the reverse can also true. Leaders who choose humility, and who model humbleness in their actions, create the opposite kind of environment. This environment is grounded in respect, tolerance, and outcomes that are mutually beneficial for the firm and for the individual. Leaders who are good role models tend to radiate positivity, and instead of spawning a downward spiral, they create an upward spiral that elevates pro-social employee behaviors.

Given the power of ethical leaders, why is it, then, that these leaders seem to be in short supply? Part of it is how our brains are wired. Due to evolution, humans have a negativity bias in which we tend to pay attention to and remember negative information more readily than positive information.

Positive behavior can also capture our attention, if for no other reason that it stands out from workplace norms. Actions by ethical leaders are most powerful in negative or neutral contexts, which shape what employees pay attention to and model. The actions also provide a model for how we are expected to act and interact with others. Leaders, therefore, can have a significant impact depending on whether their behaviors provide positive or negative cues on what others should value and, in turn, emulate. Thus, hubris versus humility is a critical choice for every leader in every situation.

Several research studies by Christine Porath and her colleagues show that positive behaviors by leaders are correlated with pro-social employee outcomes. Behaviors that model workplace civility have a greater impact than any of the traditional approaches associated with increased employee satisfaction. This includes providing meaningful employee feedback, effectively communicating a vision, providing developmental opportunities and even offering pay raises and bonuses for top-performing employees. Leaders who model civility have workplaces with the highest levels of employee engagement, satisfaction and retention, according to Porath’s work. Thus, it is not just a matter of stopping workplace incivility; it is equally important for leaders to actively shape positive behaviors that reinforce and normalize positive workplace civility.

Another line of research, positive organizational scholarship (POS), focuses on the ways in which leaders can enhance individual and organizational outcomes by leading with positive prosocial behaviors and interactions as opposed to negative, destructive actions. Scholars in this area focus on personal strength, resiliency, restoration and forms of inclusive leadership that help to maximize human potential.

As described by Kim Cameron, one of the originators of POS, leadership practices should create a “culture of virtuous action” within organizations. While a wide variety of leadership behaviors are involved in shaping this type of culture, there are four primary actions undertaken by leaders that emerge. I label it as the CARE Model of Effective Leadership, with the acronym standing for communication, authenticity, respect and ethics.

  • Communication styles of effective leaders may differ in some respects but all engage in positive, productive and purposeful interpersonal interactions. Poor or divisive communication styles lead to high workplace conflict and erode trust in leadership. A leader’s style of communication should also include gratitude that values people, their talents and their contributions.
  • Authenticity involves what Laura Morgan-Roberts calls “bringing your whole self to work” as a critical step in the process of becoming extraordinary. Her work suggests that authenticity has become one of the highest virtues for effective leadership. A leader’s authenticity gives permission for employees to present all aspects of their identities at work in a safe environment.
  • Respect means treating others in an ethical and responsible manner. Effective leaders set standards for behavior and serve as role models based on their actions and not their words alone. Instances of unfair treatment, unconscious bias, unwarranted favoritism, conflicts of interest and acts of injustice violate the trust necessary for high levels of employee engagement and a positive workplace culture.
  • Ethics must go beyond a written code and be modeled in the everyday behavior of the organization. This has value to the organization beyond the avoidance of costly litigation or a negative reputation. When ethical rules or the norms of justice and fairness are broken by a leader, employees often become morally disengaged. That can cause unethical behavior to spread throughout the organization. Ethical roles models, in contrast, help to shape a workplace culture where being fair and trustworthy is contagious.

Humility over hubris is a clear choice for leaders who understand that there is substantial evidence for the impact of positive role modeling for producing effective organizational outcomes. Effective leaders should consistently strive to maintain the principles of the CARE Model. This approach creates a type of affirmative bias that focuses on the abundance of people’s strengths rather than on their weaknesses, and proactively leverages opportunities rather than avoiding or assigning blame for threats or failures.

Humility over hubris also recognizes that organizational effectiveness is not solely based on the leader; it is focused, too, on the development, health and well-being of those being led. Every choice and decision by a leader should involve being a positive role model of the four key components within the CARE Model.

The choice for a leader is clear. Choose humility.

 

This article was written by Audrey Murrell from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Man smiling during conversation

If you run a small business, you probably have become accustomed to working hard….really hard. Seven-days-a-week hard, with nary a day off. Admirable, but also dangerous, because you risk burnout, health problems, and grumbling employees. It’s up to you to create a healthier work-life balance, so here are five tips to get you started:

Shorten your workweek:

Nowadays, many business owners feel guilty if they work less than 10 hours a day, including weekends. This is sure to exhaust your mind and hamper your creativity. If you want to increase your productivity, shorten your workweek. Put in no more than 40 per week and try to not work on weekends. Remember, sitting at your desk for long hours doesn’t equate to productivity. Work the hours you actually need to and relax the rest of the time.

Use technology:

We live in the high-tech era, so let technology do some of the heavy lifting for you. Automate your workday with a suite of apps that collect, process and distribute information. AI apps can automatically generate your Twitter tweets, schedule your appointments and alert you to important news. Update your old apps – email campaigns are much more sophisticated than they were five years ago, so use a modern app to manage your email marketing.

Enter the cloud:

Are your data and apps still residing on a hard disk on your computer? That’s a shame because migrating to the cloud opens up all sorts of possibilities that can make you more productive and save you time. Look at apps like accounting, CRM, design, and development. They need to share data to operate most efficiently. By putting your databases on the cloud, you can take advantage of scalable software that is constantly updated and doesn’t take up valuable real estate on your computer.

Take a vacation:

If you feel you are indispensable all the time, you’ll never get any time off. You deserve a vacation, and two weeks of sun and fun will do wonders for helping you get through the remaining 50. Pick your least busy time of year, and either close up shop or assign tasks to employees you can trust. Maybe two weeks is out of reach right now, but try to get at least three or four days in a block, and build from there.

Stop fretting about money:

Many small businesses have variable cash flows that sometimes leaves them cash-starved. This constant worry will drain all the joy out of being a business owner. The solution is to create a relationship with a trustworthy business lender, like IOU Financial. You can borrow and pay back quickly on convenient terms, with never a pre-payment penalty. Daily or weekly payments mean no large monthly lump-sum repayments to worry about. And with loans up to $300,000, we can give you peace of mind for just about any circumstance.

You started your own business to make money, be your own boss and do things the way you want. But wasn’t the ultimate goal to achieve a happy life? Don’t wait until it’s too late – add some joy to your life right now. Adopt our five tips, plus ones you come across in other articles. If you work with a team, what better way to demonstrate the value you place on work-life balance than to practice it yourself? Protect yourself from burnout now, and you’re more likely to happily remain in business over the long run.

This article originally appeared in IOU Financial.

 

This article was written by Kaitlyn Hammond from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Management Tip: Calmness Counts

Thursday, December 13th, 2018

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Over the years I’ve spoken with a small army of people who’ve told me essentially the same thing: They had a good job but they just couldn’t take the agitated, excitable, too-high-octane temperament of their boss.

Or to put it another, simpler way, as the old management saying goes, “People leave managers, not companies.”

It was a phenomenon I came upon repeatedly as I was researching my book The Type B Manager. Too much intensity can wear employees down. While calmness is something employees can rarely get too much  of. The more, the better.

This makes good sense when you realize that, at its core, management is all about accomplishing work through others. Following are three reasons why calmness is a substantive managerial asset.

It’s reassuring.  Calmness inspires confidence. It’s a leadership style people want to follow. In most jobs (less so in the remote working world of course), you spend a lot of time with your boss. It’s only natural to want to feel comfortable about that — rather than having your stomach perpetually tied in knots.

It creates a better environment to solve business problems.  It helps employees (and organizations) make good decisions. The best decisions are well-thought-out and analytical, calmly and rationally made. Impulsive decisions made in the heat of the moment (why do I keep thinking of a certain president here?) are generally not the best way for any management to operate.

It’s conducive to loyalty and productivity. Employees respond well to calmness. Over the long term it’s a pleasant, easy attribute to work with. Employees are apt to remain loyal to a calm, effective manager. And long-term loyalty breeds productivity.

Calmness isn’t one of those big marquee qualities we tend to hear a lot about when celebrating rock star executives. But it probably should be.

 

This article was written by Victor Lipman from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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5 Keys to Successful Email Marketing

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

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Successful email marketing is a critical, and often overlooked, element of digital marketing.

According to an article on Inc:

But after a couple decades of Nigerian prince schemes, Spanish lotto scams, and mountains of unsolicited spam (which is never a good marketing tactic), how do people feel about email now? Is it still a worthwhile tactic for small-business owners and marketers to pursue?

The simple answer is yes.

Take a look at the graphic below and you’ll see how important successful email marketing is to your bottom line–generating nearly 2X the ROI of the next more cost-effective tactic.

Email ROI Chart

Image courtesy of Data Mentors

Successful email marketing

Successful email marketing requires 2 tactics: 1) list building and 2) email campaigns.

So, you’ve really got your work cut out for you. Here are some tips to get you started:

List building

Before you can have a successful email marketing campaign, you need a good list. In the bad old days before CAN-SPAM, you could simply buy a list and spam a bunch of folks with your message. Some experts advised against such “cold messaging”, but it worked well if you were very selective in purchasing a list of likely buyers. List buying was an art in those days and I got paid a lot of money to guide businesses on which list purchases were likely to result in high returns. And, selling lists is what kept a lot of small, specialty magazines in business–they provided unique access to highly targeted subscribers.

Now, of course, you can’t buy lists, so you have to develop your own (and comply with CAN-SPAM regulations which you can find by following the link above). Since, the law makes your email client (for instance, Constant Contact, AWeber, or MailChimp) responsible for your violations, they can get hit with a big fine, so they’re invested in keeping you honest in this.

So how do you go about building a list?

  1. Include your sign-up form everywhere-on the home page and each page of your website, in your store (if you’re a brick and mortar), at events, on social platforms …
  2. Offer something (like an ebook, coupon, etc) in exchange for signing up for your email list
  3. Don’t ask for information you don’t need so it’s fast and easy for visitors to sign up. Maybe all you need is an email address and name. Don’t forget you can get additional information after they sign up.
  4. Make your sign-up form obvious without interfering with user experience (I hate those popups that block content until you either sign up or x out). I prefer a small band at the bottom of the screen that asks for an email address or something that pops up as the visitor starts to scroll away from your site. Remember, your website is critical for SEO and you don’t want to mess with anything that reduces visits, bounces, or time on site.
  5. When you send an email, include social sharing and the ability to subscribers to forward your email to a friend. These are great ways to build your list.

Email marketing campaigns

Your email client should make it easy to create attractive and professional email campaigns to subscribers. I use AWeber because of their flexibility and ease of creating campaigns (they recently added drag and drop capabilities).

Here are some things to keep in mind as you craft your campaigns:

  • Your goal. What do you hope to accomplish with the email.
  • Timing — how often, time of day, day of week, etc. Sure, email is available whenever a user wants to view it, but it’s more likely to get opened soon after it’s sent. The better your timing, the better your open rate.
  • Optimize open rates with a great pre-header, the description users see when they check their email. Check out the image below:

Email Do's and Don’t's List

  • Make your email easy to read and inviting on multiple screens (especially mobile) with great design.

Keys to successful email marketing campaigns

1. Strong content

Just like everything in marketing, the message is everything.

  • Make your content (both text and images) attractive and inviting, use lots of white space and a little humor doesn’t hurt. The more an email looks like a personal conversation with a friend, the better it will perform.
  • Personalization doesn’t end with including the person’s name. Make the email look like it was designed especially for each reader.
  • Don’t waste your readers’ time with nonsense: say what you need and provide links to more information.

2. Timing

You don’t want to overload your readers by sending too many emails, but you want to use your email marketing to build loyalty and engagement with your target audience. That’s a tight balancing act.

And, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. A good gauge of the right frequency comes from analytics. If your open rates drop or you start getting complaints or a bunch of folks unsubscribe, you’re probably emailing too often. If you’re not getting folks unsubscribing or complaining, you could probably send more frequent emails.

The key is to send emails when you have something worth saying to your audience.

3. Use marketing automation

Marketing automation often receives a negative knee-jerk reaction because it sounds like you’re treating your subscribers as robots who all get treated the same. But, it’s actually the opposite. Whether you prefer Salesforce or Hubspot or some other marketing automation tool, successful email marketing requires you send the right content to the right people at the right time and that means using marketing automation.

No marketing automation platform works well unless you spend time keeping information up-to-date to ensure the content the subscriber receives is targeted to their product interests, stage in the customer journey, and other key elements, like gender.

4. Use analytics

The wonders of digital marketing provide a plethora of metrics which should guide every marketing decision you make. Here are some metrics you should watch:

  • Subscriber data such as new subscribers and unsubscribes
  • Performance of your email form–I do this by setting up goals in Google Analytics, but AWeber also shows me how many times my form was shown and how many subscribers were generated. I periodically do A/B testing to determine the optimal form, placement, etc.
  • Campaign performance–how many opens, how many clicks, and, if you’ve installed tracking codes, goal completions based on each campaign.

5. Mobile-friendly

Making your content mobile-friendly is a key to successful email marketing. According to Buffer, 47% of emails are opened on a mobile device. Here’s their advice for making your content easier for mobile users:

  • Convert your email to a one column template for an easy mobile fix.
  • Bump up the font size for improved readability on smart phones.
  • Follow the iOS guideline of buttons at least 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall.
  • Make the call-to-action obvious and easy to tap. Above the fold is preferable.
  • Consider ergonomics. Many users tap and scroll with their thumb, so keep important tappable elements in the middle of the screen.

The do’s and don’ts of successful email marketing

Here’s a nice infographic if you want more keys to successful email marketing:

Email Do's and Don’t's List

Infographic courtesy of: Campaign Monitor

This article originally appeared in Hausman Marketing Letter.

This article was written by Angela Hausman and PhD from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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This Harvard Business Review blog article offered pearls of wisdom from Goddard Systems’ CEO, Joe Schumacher, on why midsize companies should set priorities and avoid procrastination. Read the full article here.

 

“Social media for the business generation is not ‘one size fits all.’ It is not the silver bullet, cure-all or magic elixir. It is, nevertheless, imperative to the livelihood of franchise brands.” – Ashley Betzendahl, Manager, Interactive Media, Goddard Systems, Inc.

Read Ashley’s full article in Franchising World.

Communicating with Employees

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

In order for companies to be successful, they need to work like well-oiled machines. One of the steps toward making this happen is a building a positive relationship between you and your employees.

A simple step in the right direction could be physically visiting the employee with instructions instead of hiding behind an email message. By actually seeing you, employees can get a lot more information simply from how you speak with them. They can see your optimism or your excitement. Email has a way of stripping emotion from the message.

Talking with an employee face-to-face can also open a path for discussion and questions.  This may eliminate the need to email back and forth.

Turn Data Into Wisdom

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

The following communication and knowledge management model called DIKW expresses how we process information—starting with raw data and mastering it as wisdom. The acronym represents data, information, knowledge and wisdom. Ideally, each member of your team uses all four components—whether analyzing and solving a unique customer-service issue or making a subtle change to better serve a customer’s needs. Here’s how it might look in practice:

Data: These are the raw facts. An employee might notice, for instance, a puddle on the floor. Unless she looks for some context, however, awareness of this fact won’t lead to a solution.

Information: This involves understanding how different pieces of data connect to each other. An employee sees water (what) on the floor (where), drips (what) currently (when) falling from (where) the overhead pipe (what). Conclusion: There’s a leaky pipe.

Knowledge: Now it’s time to do something about the leak. Data and information are combined, understood and proper action is taken. The ‘how’ is figured out and applied. The employee knows it won’t go away on its own and that someone might slip on the puddle; she, therefore, alerts the maintenance staff.

Wisdom: As the employee becomes more seasoned in her role—and empowered to act—she will easily identify the ‘why’ of a problem and know instinctively how to pursue a resolution.

 

The Point: With the help of a DIKW model, you can teach your employees to analyze the data they encounter and bring you solutions—not problems.

 

Source: MarketingProfs Daily Fix

Publicity – Connect and Communicate

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Public relations (PR) is a marketing tool and a form of communication that businesses can use to reach consumers. Positive PR can help develop goodwill and strengthen the credibility of a business or brand. By conveying who you are, what you do and how you make a difference, you can influence the public’s perception and opinion. PR can work to a business’s advantage or disadvantage, so a wise company or business owner is proactive in their PR strategy. Taking advantage of the opportunity to get as much positive information out to the public as possible and anticipating challenging situations can help to create a buffer and a balance to public conception if a problem arises.

Publicity is part of PR and encompasses media coverage including news stories, interviews, editorials and reviews. You can garner publicity through effective media relations. Publicity is one of the best ways to generate word of mouth, which is a well-known and powerful form of PR. Creating a strategy that includes a regular schedule of planned PR activities and following up with editors and journalists builds relationships and is very important.  The audience views publicity with less skepticism than advertising, and therefore publicity is likely to have a greater impact on the audience. This credibility makes publicity incredibly valuable – publicity is said to be seven times more effective than advertising.

Unlike advertising, PR and publicity are not guaranteed and do not have a clear price tag attached or a hard and fast way to measure ROI. The term “free publicity” is a little misleading as hiring an expert costs money and placing publicity often takes a lot of time and effort. Successful marketing strategies should contain a mix of advertising and public relations efforts to help keep your business in front of your customer.