9 Summer Reads for Small Business Owners

One of the best descriptions of small business owners came from a speaker at an expo in DC:  “People who work 80 hours a week to avoid working 40 hours a week for someone else.” Even if you’re working a mere 50 hours, that doesn’t leave you much time for reading but the longer days of sunlight and the pool or beach are beckoning.

So put down your phone, close the laptop, and treat yourself to a book.  If you need a rationalization, consider it business support time, because it is.  The reads below can help you get motivated, learn a new marketing tactic or improve your productivity, maybe even all of the above.

Not all of the books are specific to small business but people I know and entrepreneurs like myself have found them helpful.  Most, if not all, are available used (which means you may be able to buy from another small business). If you have a suggestion to share, please do!

So here’s your nine, listed in no particular order:

  1. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life by Jen Sincero. I love this book and go back to re-read a bit of it when I’m having a difficult day. Like the title says, it helps you reaffirm your value. It also encourages you to take risks and stick to your goals (despite the inevitable setbacks), and avoid what Sincero calls the Big Snooze.
  • The One-Minute Manager Meets the Monkey by Ken Blanchard, et al. Lisa Carey, a small business coach in Northern Virginia, recommends this book for those who have people working for them but still take on too many tasks (monkeys) themselves. By doing so, Blanchard says in Harvard Business Review, “You become a hassled manager and don’t feel very good about yourself. And you have workers who look to satisfy their needs elsewhere, because they feel underutilized and unappreciated.” So dodge the monkeys and pick up a copy.

3. The Lead Machine: The Small Business Guide to Small Business Marketing by Rich Brooks. If you’ve been in business for a while, you’ll find yourself wishing you had found this book earlier but I think you’ll still find it helpful. social media marketingAs a big fan of SBDC and Ray Sidney-Smith (a walking encyclopedia on many of these subjects), I can’t say it’s everything entrepreneurs need to know about things like SEO and digital marketing, but it does address a ton of questions.

4. New Sales. Simplified. by Mike Weinberg. Numerous sales experts have penned  great books on selling and business development but who has time to read them all?  I chose this one because it offers practical, specific suggestions on the mechanics of prospecting. If you are putting off calls that could help your business or not getting any results from them, check out the tough love section on why folks fail at phone calls.

5. Speaking of tough love, check out The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It recommended by Eric Lentz, an Ohio-based software application developer. Author Michael Gerber “points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.” Who doesn’t need that?

6. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin. New York City photographer Pat Bates suggested this rather easy read (147 pages) by the famous marketing guru who has published other thought-provoking bestsellers. This one focuses on leadership and making change through building a tribe of people who share your passion. Godin tackles the common misperceptions and doubts people have about their leadership potential.

While the book drew some criticism for lacking substance and being repetitious, it also made it onto some “must read” lists, including Huffington Post’s 5 Books Every Changemaker Should Read.

7. She Means Business: Turn Your Ideas into Reality and Become a Wildly Successful Entrepreneur by Carrie Green. As founder of the Female Entrepreneur Association and winner of Great Britain’s Entrepreneurs’ Champion of the Year award, Green definitely qualifies as a go-getter. Largely aimed at motivating those who are just starting out, the book chronicles Green’s entrepreneurial journey and what she has learned. Thanks to Australian marketing strategist Hayley Robertson for suggesting this one.

8. Predictable Success Getting Your Organization on the Growth Track- And Keeping It There. Rita Foss, co-founder of Ironistic, a digital marketing company in Alexandria, recommended this book that delves into the seven stages that organizations experience. Praised as clear and engaging, this is on a Forbes must read list for “any business trying to grow, or a business that has lost its way.”

9. Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization by Olivier Blanchard. Bethesda video producer Pete Couste (who also heads the Independent Practitioners Section of the Public Relations Society of America) said he has found this book really helpful in measuring results.

The book drew high praise from a socialmedia.com reviewer, who liked the fact that the book not only addresses measurement how-tos, but also talks about integrating social media into a company’s processes and overcoming common objections to building a comprehensive SM program.

While it may feel that summer is slipping away, keep in mind that the first day of fall will not arrive for almost two months.  To be precise, the autumnal equinox starts at 9:54 pm on Sept. 22 when the Sun crosses the celestial equator.  That’s as scientific as I get – the Farmer’s Almanac people can explain it better. Bottom line – you still have time for a summer read. Enjoy.

Store Fixture Design: Adding Technology Improves on an Already Good Thing

A relationship with a quality fixture manufacturer is essential for any retail architect. Just ask Bryce Sills and Heather Hislop from Ennco Display Group, one of our favorites!

A Concrete Problem – There is a surprise offspring of the new “borderless” retail paradigm that seems almost liberating because, finally, something can be defined in terms of a concrete problem. One having to do with store fixtures.

Is the Store Closing? – Did you notice that the merchandise in the drug store is all pulled forward on the shelf, implying – more than usual I mean – that the space in the back is not empty? When it starts to become so obvious that we begin to think that the store might be closing, it’s time for a change. Many retailers, even those embracing technology, are still stuck in the old “big box” store planning mentality, I hesitate to bring up Toys R Us again, but as Steve Dennis, writing for Forbes, tells us, “boring, undifferentiated, irrelevant and unremarkable stores are most definitely… dying…”

Curating an Inventory – The point being that changing the physical retail environment from a warehouse to a museum involves completely revisiting how an inventory is displayed and impacts the size and layout of a store. Curating an inventory, i.e., “show rooming,” means presenting it in terms of a multi faceted value proposition. It means incorporating a physical product into a marketing message using multiple and sometimes interactive types of media.

Multi Function – Suppose, for example, I walk into a store looking for new sunglasses. I walk over to the sun glass display and see that there are lots of frames and brands as well as examples of available coatings, lens colors, and an educational video about what all of these do. There might be a nearby kiosk allowing me to use my phone to access my eye wear history, insurance, prescriptions, exam dates and finally a scanned image of my face with recommended frame style, size, and shape. Maybe I find that there is an indicator on the store fixture that flashes when I pass an appropriate option based on the information in my profile. Once I find a frame, I am able to see other colors and finishes, check availability, see how much it costs, and read customer reviews right there on the display. I might then sit down with the optician so that he or she is able to give full attention to positioning the lens and finalizing my order. Sound improbable? Take a look at Amazonbooks in NYC and then say that.

Competing with Amazon – I understand that many retailers will neither want, nor be able to directly compete with Amazon. However, once a retailer gets over the initial shock, incorporating technology into a retail display program may not be as difficult as one would imagine; especially if the designer has a good working relationship with a store fixture fabricator experienced with the product line, offering a wide selection of standard interchangeable parts, and capable and willing to making adjustments. One such company is Ennco Display Group, who we have been pleased to work with in the past and recently met at Vision Expo in NYC. It is important to keep in mind that adding technology to an existing fixture is done to improve on an already good thing. All of the the thought, planning and testing that goes into creating a captivating visual display is not wasted because technology must be added to how it functions. Consider this: not only did Amazon go into an old Border’s space, but it also looks somewhat like Hudson News, who has been doing face out merchandise displays forever.

Teamwork – If you are a retailer thinking about introducing technology into a store design, my first recommendation would be not to over complicate what must be done. Examine resources already available to you, i.e. POS system providers, inventory system providers, advertising and media consultants. You are already their customer so ask them for help. See what functionality is already on your website and make sure it coordinates with what you will provide in the store. Finally once you have put your plan into writing, connect with a hardware/specialty consultant and introduce him/her to your design team. Team being the operative word. I think you will find that it is realistically possible to stay relevant in the “evolving” but never “disappearing” world of “bricks n mortar” retail.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

Bring your toughest design problems!

will be showcasing many projects and explaining our services at the BL Business Expo on Friday June 2nd. Please Join us.

The BL Business Expo Event, in its 13 year, showcases the products and services of over 100 Northern Virginia exhibitors and sponsors. Please contact Gaddis Architect, at [email protected], 9730701-8800, for a complimentary entry voucher. Please stop by our booth to see our projects showcased and learn about how we can help solve many tough design problems and create high performing spaces. We look forward to meeting you there.

AGENDA

8:00 am : Doors open for Guests.

(The Exhibit Hall is open NON-STOP until the end – Seminars will take place in a separate Room)
8:15 am – 9:15 am:
Making LinkedIn work for Your BusinessSeminar
Jennifer Dalton, LinkedIn Specialist
9:30 am – 10:00 am:
Opening Ceremony
National Anthem, welcome address,Sponsors recognition, with Emcee:
-Angel Livas, Media Specialist
10:15 am – 11:45 am:
Protecting Your Business, An IT perspective Seminar
-Fred Haggerty, IT Specialist
12: 00 pm – 12:30 pm:
Everything that You Ever Needed To Open A Business,
But Were Afraid To Ask
Seminar
Gerald Geddes, CPA
12:45pm – 1:30 pm:
Break the Rules & Make more SalesSeminar
Nema Semnani, Sandler Training
1:45 pm – 2:00 pm:
Door Prizes & Farewell Remarks
(We have some serious door prize for you. You would want to be there to take them home.)
Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

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HVAC: Accounting for stuff only the birds can see!

Old Hvac Unit
Old roof top HVAC unit scheduled to be replaced.

Necessary – What has this got to do with me? I am building a chic new retail store. I need to focus on the design, merchandise displays and retail image. Who sees this? I know – I know, the space must have functioning heat and air conditioning but, really, why do I need a structural engineer? I want to put my budget were it is visible to my customers.

Most commercial HVAC units will last 15 to 20 years. They probably cost over $10M each without any distribution and, in all but special circumstances, you cannot hope to have a functional commercial space without them. They are as basic as the walls, roof, plumbing, lights, etc. So when the HVAC company, landlord, or MEP engineer says it is time to replace you can be pretty sure they are correct.

Fundamental – Few would argue that it is completely fundamental for a tenant to understand who is responsible for the original installation, subsequent maintenance, repair and eventual replacement of the heating and air conditioning in a space. Neglecting to do this would be like moving into a space that might or might not have walls, yet I am often surprised by retailers who are unclear about, even disinterested in, these issues. Until something goes wrong that is.

Bar Joist
Bar joist hold up the roof and are common in retail environments.

Required – But I digress. My intention is not to outline heating and air conditioning systems common to small commercial projects, which is nicely done here. It is, rather, to explain why structural engineering is required for the installation of an HVAC unit. Consider this; all commercial HVAC systems have parts, many of which are large, heavy and sit on something, i.e., the roof. The unit in the photo, for example, weighs upward of 1,200 pounds. Now take a critical look at the structural framing system in the other photo, and ask yourself if it looks like it will be sufficient to hold up the concentrated load created by the installation of half a ton of equipment. In this case the structure is actually holding up the unit shown, so the answer happens to be yes – barely. I point this out because in many cases, especially in existing buildings without available structural drawings, common sense might lead one to ask if a new mechanical unit weighs the same as the one being replaced. Be aware that where common sense fails, the building code does not.

Structural load calculations and drawings which have been certified by an authorized professional are required before building departments will issue a permit allowing heavy equipment to be installed in, or on, a new or existing building. This, of course, includes mechanical, as well as other types of equipment. I mention the later as an aside for all you restaurant owners out there. Restaurant equipment is heavy and installing it in old buildings like those found in historic areas can create problems for unaware owners. Also, in the case of replacement equipment, it is less involved but still necessary to evaluate a new unit even if it weighs less than the old one. In the case under consideration, the replacement HVAC unit proved to be heavier than the existing, meaning it became necessary to provide structural reinforcement before the new unit could be installed.

Roof top image shows location of existing HVAC equipment.
Roof top image shows location of existing HVAC equipment.

How – So what steps were required? How did we arrive at this conclusion? First we had a contractor go up onto the roof and take photos of the exiting equipment, including a close up view of the label. This allowed the mechanical engineer to research the existing unit with the manufacturer who was able to provide a weight. A new unit was then specified according to the new design for the space. Efforts were made to avoid additional expense by matching the new unit with the old and installing it in the same location. Eventually it was determine that, although the location could be maintained, the replacement unit was going to be heavier than the old one. Had it weighed the same or less, the mechanical engineer would have so noted it on the drawings and been done.

Since this was not the case, it became necessary for the structural engineer to completed the process. He went to he site, analyzed the structural type, crawled up on a ladder, measured the bar joist, and checked the location of the existing equipment. Upon returning to his office, he went through a series of calculations to see if the structure was sufficient to accommodate the new unit. Since it was not he had to design and specify additional reinforcement adequate for the new equipment. This information was delivered in the form of signed and sealed drawings and calculations, along with certified architectural and MEP documents, to the building department with the permit application.

Why – The point of this discussion is to show those contemplating a commercial building project what a single line in a lease assigning responsibility for the heating and air conditioning equipment can indicate. In my experience all reputable landlords give full disclosure about the age and condition of the mechanical systems in their properties. Many provide substantial construction allowances for unit replacement and other improvements. Few, though, take into consideration the amount of engineering required in order to make the actual improvement. Professional services, Architectural, Mechanical, Electrical, Plumbing and Structural, are expensive and should be accounted for in the budget for a building project. I would suggest that forewarned is forearmed.

Bridget Gaddis, is a Licensed Architect and LEED-accredited Professional practicing nationally, and locally in the Washington DC area. She holds professional degrees in both Architecture and Interior Design, and with a comprehensive background in commercial retail design, planning and construction has completed projects for such for such well known brands as Chloe, Zegna, and Bvlgari. Her career began in tenant coordination and site planning for two well-known Cleveland developers, followed by six years in store planning for a national retailer. After a move to New York City in 1997, she spent the next years working for architecture firms specializing in retail projects. In 2011 she started her own practice in Alexandria, VA. Ms. Gaddis is the author of two blogs dealing with architectural subjects.

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Small Business and Teaming Agreements, Part II

Disclaimer – I am not licensed to practice law or give legal advice.  The information written in this blog is based on my experience negotiating hundreds of teaming agreements for large and small businesses over my 20+ years in Government Contracting.

In Part I of the blog, I discussed why Government contractors team and how teaming agreements typically work. In Part II I will discuss terms and conditions that I have personally negotiated most often and why they are important to small business owners. This list is not all inclusive and may be different from one organization to the next in terms of importance.

Workshare – Most RFPs will describe work and tasks that are to be performed during the potential contract. Workshare is the portion of work that you will receive if everything goes as planned in the RFP.  Some primes will not guarantee any work prior to winning the contract, if you can negotiate a percentage of workshare in writing that will only assist you with future planning of resources. I mention percentage of workshare versus specific full time employed/equivalent positions (FTEs) because the Government can change or delete tasks during the amendment phase of an RFP and if you have a specific percentage instead of a FTEs, you have a better chance of receiving the same percentage vs losing specific positions.

Exclusivity – The prime contractor will normally require that once you become a team member, that you will not work with any other companies on that particular pursuit.  It is important to ensure that there is no statement that prevents you from teaming with other partners for that same client on different pursuits or providing your normal services to that same client for work outside of this pursuit.

Advertising – Many agreements will require that you get permission from the Prime before you are allowed to advertise the contract win. A win for the Prime is a win for you, and of course you would like to share that information with the world. Requesting that the prime not unreasonably withhold their permission is important in this area.

Indemnity – An indemnity is an obligation by a person (indemnitor) to provide compensation for a particular loss suffered by another person (indemnitee).  As the sub, when you see this clause, you should at the very least ask for the same protection that the prime requires of you in case of an incident.

Proposal Participation – If you can participate with the prime in proposal preparation, it is important that the prime’s expectations are spelled out and you have the resources to contribute whatever you agree to.

Governing Law – Specifies that the laws of a mutually agreed upon jurisdiction will govern the interpretation and enforcement of the terms of the contract. In this case, you would obviously want to have any legal action addressed where your company does business, or in a state that you and the prime can agree upon.

Intellectual Property – A work or invention that is the result of creativity, such as a manuscript or a design, to which one has rights and for which one may apply for a patent, copyright, trademark, etc.  As a sub, you want to retain the rights to any intellectual property that you designed or developed.

Term – This includes the length of the teaming agreement as well as the conditions that would terminate the agreement.  It is important to pay close attention as these items will vary from one teaming agreement to the next.

Teaming Agreements are a very important piece of the puzzle as they can determine what happens down the road with relationships and future business.  It is imperative that you have someone that is familiar with negotiating the key terms and conditions and who can represent your organizations best interest.

 

Small Business and Teaming Agreements

Disclaimer – I am not licensed to practice law or give legal advice.  The information written in this blog is based on my experience negotiating hundreds of teaming agreements for large and small businesses over my 20+ years in Government Contracting.

In a perfect world, two parties (prime and sub Government contractors) determine that they have capabilities that complement one another for a particular effort and decide to become a team. A teaming agreement is successfully negotiated, the prime wins the contract, a subcontract agreement is signed between the prime and the sub, and the team goes on to deliver either a great service or product(s) to the Government and they create a long term relationship. There are however instances when a teaming agreement is negotiated and nothing ever happens for various reasons, such as the Request for Proposal (RFP) was cancelled, amended or put on hold, or the prime decides not to pursue the effort.

A teaming agreement is a contract between a (potential) prime and a potential sub in pursuit of a Government contract.  In most cases, the terms and conditions negotiated in the teaming agreement are later incorporated into the subcontract agreement, once the subcontract has been fully executed the teaming agreement then becomes void. Based on this, it is very important that you as a small business sub attempt to negotiate an agreement that is mutually favorable as possible for your business.  I use the word attempt, because in some cases there will be items that the prime will not be open to negotiating regardless of the push back that is received from you.

Teaming agreements can be issued before or after the prime has won a contract.  In most cases, the prime will issue a teaming agreement prior to the release of a RFP but there are times, when the work has already started and because the contract with the Government requires the prime get permission from the Government before bringing a subcontractor onto a project, a teaming agreement will be signed while waiting to receive the OK from the Government.

The terms and conditions that a business considers favorable will vary from one business to another. As a small business owner, you will have to determine what terms and conditions are important to your business. Lastly, as mentioned previously the terms and conditions agreed to in the teaming agreement will more than likely be incorporated into the subcontract agreement, it is helpful if most of the terms and conditions have already been agreed to prior to the subcontract phase. A teaming agreement is legal and binding as is any other contract, it is best to educate yourself or hire someone that can review your teaming agreements prior to signature and acceptance.

In part II of the blog, I will compile a list of some of the terms and conditions that I have seen negotiated most often between the prime and the sub in teaming agreements.

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/

 

Follow me on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Google+

Shot In The Dark’s owner and principal photographer is Meghan Stewart. Her photos have been published in Food and Wine, Northern Virginia Magazine, and Travel + Leisure.

Meghan’s love for photography developed from shooting in the metro Detroit area where she grew up, and through documenting her travels, including a year she spent living in a Ghanaian village.

A mother and former cheesemonger, Meghan founded Shot In The Dark in 2012.

Meghan says:

“My love for photography comes from meeting people where they are. Not just physical location, but using photos to capture people in their element, as naturally as possible. For me, taking photos is about that connection. I love seeing their joy when they see their photos for the first time.”

We love to travel so if you’re not in DC, VA or MD just ask and we would love to meet you wherever you are.

Making Sure Twitter Helps Your Business

Twitter has more than 271 million monthly active users, and 94 percent of users who follow businesses are on the lookout for discounts and special deals. Hashtags routinely appear on Super Bowl commercials.

But, it’s a medium that needs daily attention and quick responsiveness, particularly if your customers decide to use it as a customer service platform. (Twitter offers good tips and information at business.twitter.com.)

But once your business is on Twitter, how do you know if your tweets are helping boost your business?

Making sure Twitter works for your business starts with your goals:

  • Do you want to be seen as an expert in your field? Drive sales? Push website traffic? Your goal will define what you post, and when you post it. After a few weeks of consistent tweeting (at least once a day – preferably more – every day), analyze your tweets against your initial goal.
  • Are you gaining followers, and are they the type of followers you want?  (Are they your local customers, or an international audience?)
  • Are your customers or other people retweeting you, or mentioning you in Tweets?

Check Out Your Data

Figuring out if Twitter is working for your business starts with looking at your data.

In July, Twitter released a new analytics service – a significant upgrade over what was previously available to Twitter users. The information is free for verified accounts (mostly celebrities and accounts with 100,000 followers or more), websites that have implemented Twitter cards (ask your web developer about enabling those) and/or those who have advertised with Twitter.

To see if you have access to the new data, sign into Twitter and go to analytics.twitter.com.

The data includes number of impressions your tweets have gotten (that’s the number of times people have seen your tweet), and the engagement rate of every tweet (that’s the number of times people have clicked somewhere on your tweet). You can also get data on your followers – where they live, their interests, and who else they follow, among other data.

If you do have Twitter cards enabled on your website, you can also track clicks to your website, and even add rich media (videos and more) to your tweets. Twitter cards can also make your retweets even more powerful. (Learn more about Twitter cards here.)

Don’t Have Analytics? Here are Your (Free) Options

If you don’t fall into the verified, carded or advertiser categories, you still have options if you want to go beyond manually counting your retweets and favorites.

If you schedule tweets through Hootsuite, that program comes with analytics built-in. Although the information isn’t as useful as Twitter’s own analytics (unless you pay for a report), you can still get good information on which tweets have been most interacted with, retweeted most and more.

You can also check out Twitonomy or Simply Measured, both of which offer free data on your own account – or your competitors’ accounts.  (See more free options in this blog post.)

For more tips on Twitter (plus Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, content marketing and more), follow @CanoeMedia on Twitter.

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.