Is Facebook Really Implementing a Dislike Button?

Since the early days of social networking services becoming a place for businesses to engage in marketing to past, current and potential customers, there has been a debate over how to respond appropriately to users’ content and comments. That conversation

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

Since the early days of social networking services becoming a place for businesses to engage in marketing to past, current and potential customers, there has been a debate over how to respond appropriately to users’ content and comments. That conversation

This is just the beginning! Click the title of this article to read the full text. Enjoy! And, comment. And, share. 😉

The Importance of a Professional Headshot

Your headshot says a lot about you. Do you look like a confident person? Do you take care in your appearance? Do you seem like a professional? These are all questions that hiring departments may think of or clients may wonder when choosing you. Whether they are looking at your LinkedIn profile or choosing your services based on the quality of your business card it may have more to do with your headshot than you might think.

Stand Tall No one sees confidence in a person that slouches. Stand up tall when having your headshot taken so that your posture is expert. If this is difficult for you, try squaring your hips and lifting your chest. Then imagine a string pulling you up like a balloon lifting you into the air. Nothing says confidence like good posture.

Smile Like You Mean It Some of the best headshots come from your natural radiant smile. Like the kind of smile where you just laughed. So fake it. Laugh and you will find your natural smile comes shines through.

Color Palettes for Your Skin, Hair and Eyes I love power colors for those in leadership roles, or those seeking leadership roles. Reds can come off as very attention grabbing and classic. Oranges however, depending on the skin tone could be very off putting. When choosing your palette look at a variety of options and hold the colors up to your face. To they make you look washed out or on the contrary do they draw attention to your eyes and make them pop? You want to find out what your color palate is first and then create your look from there. Do you look best in vibrant colors or earth tones. If you are uncertain which color palette best suits you, bring a few options to your session and go over them with your photographer.

Professional Headshots

Simple is Best Again, play up the textures and add in a necklace, some earrings or a nice watch but make sure you are remembering “simple”. You can really over do it with loud patterns like stripes or circular patterns on your shirt or blazer. For those of you that wear makeup, this is a time for the lipstick and mascara. Clean makeup is best as well. Leave the glitter and shimmer at home and opt for matte colors that accentuate your natural look.

High Resolution vs. Web Resolution If you want to print your headshot for promotional purposes make sure you get a release to do so as well as high resolution images. Likewise, if you would like to use your headshot online you will want a web resolution image. Make sure you are clear with your photographer to ensure that you get the images that you want at their best quality for the purposes that you intend them.

Your Photographer Can Make You Lose Weight Instantly Before you get too excited, understand that your photographer is not going to accompany you the the gym or prescribe you a cleanse for days leading up to your session. But, your photographer does know some tricks of the trade that can make you appear more thinned out. For example, say that you have been blessed with not one but two chins, we can remove that for you. And I am not talking post processing so much as when we take your headshot we can manipulate your profile to remove your double chin and overall bring the viewer into the image. A good photographer can photograph you in a way that makes the observer look for a few seconds longer at your headshot.

And sometime those extra seconds, that make you stand at the forefront of all the other applicants, make all the difference.

 

You can reach me at:

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

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Social Marketing Predictions for Small Business in 2015 [Archived Webinar]

Social Marketing Predictions for Small Business in 2015 Social Media is the most common activity on the Web today, with the average user spending 37 minutes per day on social networks. The reach of the Internet is moving more and

Social Marketing Predictions for Small Business in 2015

Social Media is the most common activity on the Web today, with the average user spending 37 minutes per day on social networks. The reach of the Internet is moving more and more to mobile devices, including wearables (like, smartwatches) and other smart devices (like, thermostats, refrigerators and cars!). More businesses than ever are embracing Social Media to market their business and this means that your business needs to compete there too. 2015 is going to be the year that Mobile Commerce sprints ahead of many other kinds of commerce, but that’s not the only thing you need to be concerned about. Want to learn what they are? Then, join us for our last Webinar of 2014 as we discuss the trends and social marketing predictions to help you plan next year’s Social Media marketing.

This Webinar, as part of the Beyond Google: Marketing and Managing on the Web series from Virginia SBDC, was presented by me, Ray Sidney-Smith, Web & Mobile Strategist, author of SoLoMo Success: Social Media, Local and Web Small Business Marketing Strategy Explained, and President of W3 Consulting, a digital business strategy and training firm helping business owners learn why and how to use Web, mobile and digital technologies for greater marketing and management impact.

Who should attend?

  • Small business owners, entrepreneurs, micropreneurs, and solopreneurs
  • Office/sales/customer service managers, marketing directors, executives and professionals
  • Administrative/executive assistants and sales/account representatives
  • nonprofit executive directors and board members

Owning It

Owning a small business is like starting a family but often I feel like a single parent with quintuplets.

When I first began my business in 2012 I filed out all of the correct paperwork. As it would seem, I did so in the most backwards order I could imagine. This was not by my poor planning as much as it was my overall lack of knowledge about the entire process, which between you and I is not incredibly obvious even after having gone through it. I do have to give credit where it is due and I owe a lot to the Small Business Development Center as I may not be where I am today without their guidance.

As a small business owner I have had to wear many hats and to keep my costs low I have had to wear all of those hats on my own.Meghan

The Photographer As a lead photographer I have enjoyed the ability to be as structured or organic as I like and have been able to be creative with on the spot changes due to weather, venue and wardrobe mishaps. I feel that this is my strongest role and one that I am constantly improving and honing. A big thanks to friend and fellow photographer Sam Dingley for my stunning headshots. That comes off like I am bragging about me, but I promise I am bragging about his photography skills.

The Website Designer In all fairness the bare bones of my website was originally created by a friend Kendall Totten Design who is an incredible developer but is now ran almost entirely by me. I try to check in with her once or twice a year to do an overall update to my site when I need assistance with code or say, I accidently delete a section of content. Oops. But other then that, all content, now comes from me in all of my glorious grammatical errors.

The Ad Executive I do my best to funnel all social media traffic back to my website but at this time do not use any paid advertisements to gain clients. My social media presence is crucial to my image so I do my best to keep my brand consistent. My logo was again created by a dear friend Mindy McPeak Illustration and my business cards and header by another Graphic Designer friend Danielle Webb who I think I traded the designs of for wine and cheese. Overall my business is driven by word of mouth. My clients return year after year and tell their friends about their experience with me and in turn become new clients.

The Attorney I cannot afford one at this time and so I am my own legal counsel. I have done my best to be upstanding and have tried to protect myself by using contracts and holding a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC). I even keep my business bank account separate from my personal account. I figure there is no excuse for being careless so I might as well be prepared.

The Salesman I like to pride myself on my ability to sell. I used to sell for J.Crew and could sell corduroys and chino’s like it was my job. And at Cheesetique I used to sell cheese and wine like it was my job, because at one time it was my job. But now, I am in the business of selling myself. Gasp. And this is not easy for me. I believe I am an incredible artist and yet it takes everything in me, to sell me. It is not like I bathe in confidence but I do have to overcome myself sometimes and sell my experience, skill and artistry.

The Accountant I file my own taxes. I create my own budget. I try to keep my advertising costs and business expenses low. I pay sales tax in three states and currently for an LLC in one. I file everything on my own that I need to keep my business running and upstanding with the law.

The Balance I am a full time wife and mother and so it is essential that I maintain a balance with my work. I tend to work nights (editing) and weekends (photographing) when my partner can be with our little one. The lifestyle of a Wedding and Portrait Photographer lends itself well to my available schedule.

Starting Your Own Business? Ask for Help The Small Business Development Center of Alexandria was an excellent resource for me when I began my business and they helped to point me in the right direction and showed me where to file my LLC, Business License, Trade Name and Sales Tax. I also had to set up an Employer Identification Number (EIN) with the IRS and I would not have known this had it not been for their assistance. I also took advantage of their social media counseling which has proven to be priceless.

You can reach me at:

 

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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How Businesses are Using the Yo App

The Yo app was initially ridiculed by media as being the simplest and most pointless social app ever.

But Yo app inventor Or Abel is laughing all the way to bank, as businesses have found ways to use it effectively and investors have sent millions in funding.

The Yo app, when launched, did one thing: Sent the message “Yo” to a contact’s cell phone.

Really – that was it.

But even at that primitive stage, a handful of restaurants realized the Yo app could be a replacement for those large “puck” pagers used to tell people when their tables are ready. And, the Yo app’s open API meant developers could start playing with integrating Yo into other services, like Instagram, Forbes reported.

Even though the “hype” around the app has faded, the app is continuing to develop. Now, a business or an individual can send a Yo with a link or a hashtag. The Washington Post is using it to send out breaking news alerts to Yo users. And some businesses are reportedly sending Yos and links to customers with special, limited-time deals or offers.

In late September, a featured launched allowing users to Yo their location to other Yo users, Business Insider reported. With the location based featured enabled, “if a user Yos his or her location to a service, they’ll receive recommendations, weather updates, news or other offerings from the partnering recipient,” according to BI. It would be nice to be the restaurant that gets recommended based on a geo-targeted Yo, wouldn’t it?

Before you dismiss an app out of hand, think about any possible way a business could take advantage of it.

Future Watch: What is Ello?

Next up on the social media hype wagon – Ello.

The social network was still by-invite-only at the time of this writing, but it’s getting plenty of attention for the promise of having no ads and no data-mining. Like other social networks, users can add friends and post status updates and photos to the network. Unlike Facebook and some other social networks, is has very little in terms of privacy controls, and warns users that almost anything they put on the social network can be seen by others, including search engines.

It doesn’t look like there’s any reason a business couldn’t create an Ello account and start posting photos, sales and useful information for customers and potential customers – but we haven’t heard of any businesses jumping on just yet. Still, it may be a network to watch the remainder of this year.

Editorial Calendars for All

You launched a blog, a newsletter, or Twitter account. You had some great topic ideas, and you wrote with great gusto for a week. Then…nothing.

Calendar Work got busy. Sitting down to come up with an idea and writing about it was too daunting. You abandoned it, even though you know it would be a great way to market your business.

But here’s a great way to sustain your effort: An editorial calendar. A what? An editorial calendar is a tool to plan for periodic, relevant, and channel-appropriate communications with your target audiences. You can use one of the many calendar templates available online (including through WordPress, the site of this blog), but you can also create a simple spreadsheet or list. The key is not what it looks like, but how you use it over time.

I use a very simple editorial calendar for my e-newsletter—and have managed to put together an issue every month for more than five years.

Recently, I talked with Dori Kelner, managing partner of Sleight-of-Hand Studios, about how she works with organizations to set up and adhere to an editorial calendar.

Audience and Goals

According to Kelner, basic questions come first:

  • Your target audience(s)
  • Your business objectives
  • Issues that are of interest to them (and not just what you want them to know about you!)
  • Channel(s) to best reach them (blog, Twitter, newsletter, etc.), ideally based on research.

Content can be static (for example, About Us or Contact Us on your website) or dynamic (blogs with new postings, tweets, Facebook posts, and the like). Most content these days should be dynamic. That’s where the calendar comes in.

Creating the Calendar

Using the format that works best for you, develop a calendar of how you will review and update/change the static content (maybe quarterly) and create dynamic content (way more often). Consider:

  • Which channels to regularly use, based on your audiences
  • How often to create (or curate) content
  • Topics
  • Who will do it

Kelner recommends a 4-month planning horizon. Be specific in your dates and assignments. Don’t propose, for example, twice-weekly blog postings. Instead, write out which dates each week, the general topics, and who will write them.

Be realistic, based on available resources. For instance, if you can’t keep up a weekly newsletter, make it biweekly or monthly. Use tools such as Twuffer to schedule tweets that you write in the morning over the course of the day.  

Keeping the Calendar

This is tricky, but it’s why the specificity of a calendar is your friend.

Honor the dates on your calendar as you do other project deadlines. Depending on the size of your business, you may be doing all the content yourself or coordinating the work of others. Either way requires time and attention.

And here’s another important part, Kelner said. Don’t run through the 4 months, then come to a full stop. At the end of the first month, plan for month 5, and so on, so you always have a flow ahead of you, and the task is more manageable.

Tracking

Use analytics to see any changes in traffic to your website. Chances are, if you are true to your calendar, you’ll see spikes in traffic when you post new content and dips when you are AWOL.

p.s. I will be blogging monthly on writing topics that are relevant to small businesses. Yes, I have set up an editorial calendar, but leave a comment here if you have a question or topic you would like me to cover that would benefit you.

 

Del Ray Wedding Venders

Earlier this year I met with Katie Wannen, fellow Small Business Owner and Wedding Planner at The Plannery and we decided to start a group for wedding vendors in Del Ray. Over the Summer we collaborated on the logistics of the group and then after some interest from quite a few folks, a website was born. Del Ray Wedding Venders is a one stop shop Del Ray For Your Wedding Day!Print

I am so excited to open  this group up to all of you who may be looking to tie the knot and who may also have an interest in supporting predominately Small (Local) Businesses.

If you are looking for specialty wear for flower girls look no further than Darling Betty who offers handmade 1950’s fashions for little girls. For gifts, we feature truly life  who not only make their own skin care products but grow the ingredients and loofahs in their own backyard. It does not get much more local than that! And for invitations, the unique and truly talented duo at Sediment Press. See our other blog about their printing process here.

If you are looking for local vendors look no further. If you are a local vender and you want to join the group please contact us here.

A special thanks to Katie, the brainchild of this group and the creator of our beautiful new Del Ray Wedding Vendors website. And to graphic designer Maud Bentley of Maud Bentley Design the for beautiful creation of the DRWV logo.

I am Meghan Stewart, a photographer and small business owner of Shot In The Dark Photography.

You may reach me at:

(202) 681-9848

[email protected]shotinthedarkphoto.com

http://www.shotinthedarkphoto.com/

 

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Setting Up Your Business — Correctly — on Facebook

A few weeks ago I sat down with an Alexandria business owner to look at his business presence on Facebook.

“Hang on,” he said. “I need to log out from my personal account and log in with my business account.”

Does that sound like you?

A lot of business owners, concerned about personal privacy, create entirely separate logins for their business.

There’s good news: That’s not necessary!

Facebook allows business owners to set up business pages that are entirely separate from the business owners’ personal Facebook presence without having to create a new Facebook account. This set-up makes it quick and easy to switch between personal and professional Facebook identities and allows business owners to designate other page administrators and editors to help lighten the workload involved in social media marketing.

Unfortunately, this business owner’s son – in addition to the separate login issue – had set up the business as a person on Facebook, not as a proper business.

Combined, the drawbacks and consequences of these two errors are significant. In addition to violating Facebook’s terms of service and putting your businesses’ presence on Facebook at risk (yes, Facebook can and has deleted business profiles for being improperly set up), you may be losing out on a valuable suite of online services Facebook offers to businesses. These include Facebook Insights, Facebook ads, boosted posts, administrative ease and more.

Here are two ways to tell if your business is set up correctly on Facebook:

You should not have to log out and log in with a different account.

If you are logging out and logging in to control your business’ Facebook presence, you don’t have to do that anymore.

Facebook allows you to just log in with your personal Facebook account and be an administrator or an editor of any Facebook business page. One of the benefits is that this allows you to switch easily between your two identities (personal and business) without compromising your personal privacy – fans of your business page will not be able to see photos of your kids unless you allow them to do so.

Further, Facebook allows you to designate admins or editors for your Facebook page without having to share a username and password. That means if you’re too busy to post to your Facebook business page, someone else can help you out.

On a less happy note, if you have to fire or lay off an employee who had access to your Facebook business page, it’s very quick and easy to remove their access to that page without having to change and redistribute your Facebook business password like you would with a separate login.

Your business should not be masquerading as a “person” on Facebook.

What’s the difference? If a business is set up correctly as a business page and you have more than 30 fans, you’ll have access to Facebook Insights (in the upper left portion of your Facebook page), a valuable tool that can help you reach more of your businesses’ fans.

Also, a person can become “friends” with people on Facebook – a business should not be able to do that. (If you get a “friend” request from a business, it’s a telltale sign that the business is set up incorrectly.)

Fortunately, there is a quick and easy way to switch your business from being a “person” on Facebook to being an actual business. Facebook simply turns your businesses’ friends into fans – no questions asked. The conversion is free.

Need help getting your business set up properly on Facebook? Contact me at [email protected] and I’ll be happy to walk you through the process.

Beth Lawton is founder and CMO of Canoe Media Services, an Alexandria-based business that helps entrepreneurs and small businesses shine online with smart social media marketing, blog content and more. More information is available at www.canoemediaservices.com.