16 Best Practices To Increase Your Social Media Engagement (Part II)

* Read about the ’16 Best Practices To Increase Your Social Media Engagement (Part I)’ in a new tab first


12-Master the hashtags
Hashtag rule Instagram and Twitter. Find what hashtags are running in your niche, and add them to your posts. Don’t put more than two or three hashtags, at the risk of sounding like a presenter on The Shopping Channel.
13-Ask politely
Great appraisals on your work i.e. testimonials, heartwarming messages will come your way. And you’ll want to use them in your social media marketing materials. Nothing wrong about that but ask the person’s permission first. Make sure to hide his/her name and profile pic if you are not really sure of the outcome. It’s common to quote people on Twitter, but not that easy on Facebook.


14-Get those emails
An email is personal, it’s like a phone number. People will stay away from social media for a while but how long can they avoid their mailbox? You need emails to build your list, send invitations, or just say hello. Your marketing depends on it: ask for the emails.


15-You have something to say
Social media is a lot about trials and errors. I think everybody got something interesting to say, I’m a big fan of great stories, so are you. Don’t belittle yourself


16-Pick your poison, to each his own
I don’t like Snapchat, it took me a week to test it and I uninstalled it right after. The app was opening on my face every time, and I always had to shut down the camera to get down to the chat part. My thoughts afterwards: “this is an app for people with big ego”. Maybe I’m wrong. Pinterest? It’s a huge source of inspiration for me and a great mood board. Pick your favorite platform and stick to it.

 

In conclusion, no matter what you do, it’s vital nowadays to keep the conversations going and using the same courtesy rules of the real world on social media. When you’ll stop communicating, you’ll lose your mojo. I like to stay organized and track my discussions by using Nimble. It’s a CRM which keeps all your social media conversations in one place. A great follow up tool!
Your share! Let me know about your tips to leverage your conversations and keep an high engagement level in your social media strategy


About the author:
Lionel Thomas is the founder of KILIFORI, a creative agency dedicated to helping businesses from both Africa and further afield to meet their marketing goals by telling their stories in a simple, uncluttered way that allows the most important elements to rise to the surface. His approach is distinguished by a passion for stories, drawing, photography, design and interactive media. 

5 Succesful Ways To Build Your Website

 
You are about to step out of your car. Suddenly you catch an interesting show on the radio. You don’t even realize that your hand is still on the key, the door is half open, winter   breeze bites you, you start getting cold, you don’t care. You hear the host’s voice but you don’t  get his name. The topic is great, he speaks the right words with the right tone and pace that makes you want to stay there forever. A voice in your head forces you to ‘turn it off now, or you’ll be late to work!’. Later in the evening you’ll try to download the entire show in your iPod and will finally get the name you was searching for, Google it, Like his page on Facebook, Follow him on Twitter. You’re a fan! And the podcast is still playing.

You know this scenario very well, right?  Great content sell product and services like crazy.  As a matter of fact, you’ve been sold. Remember, you heard it on the radio first, and opened your web browser, searching. What if it all started on a website. Your website?  These are the 5 ways leading to a succesful online experience.

1- Plan ahead

People invited on talk shows are there for a reason, they know what to say and how to say it. They rehearse their content, like a basketball player rehearsed his shots until it becomes second nature, you need to get your content right. Who are you going to talk to?  What are their problems?  Do you have the solutions? How are you going to make them feel better? 

2- Know yourself

Nobody is like you nor want to be like you. You are different. Get the idea that you are ‘just’ a professional among others out of your head. If you don’t tell the stories your way, you’ll become a commodity. By knowing yourself you’ll attract the right type of customers for your business. You’ll also have the courage to say no and set your boundaries. It seems obvious, but hard to put it to action. Your website is you, your business.

3- Design sells

Design is not about things looking nice but how they work. Where is the spirit that your logo and graphic charter should convey? It’s story. The colors on your site mean something. And you have to know what they mean to ‘you’. Same for the typefaces. Look for the details. Test things out: if this paragraph was shorter and placed elsewhere? Is this photo tue right one to tell my story? Shall I crop it, make it bigger?

4- Make it simple

Simple doesn’t mean cheap or easy. If you can’t find a talk show episode on a radio’s website and download its podcast easily, if you can’t find the ‘Post A New Thread’ button on a forum, it’s going to be a painful experience and you’ll use the ‘Contact us’ form to vent your frustration. Put yourself in your audience’s shoes.

5- Great content is in the journey

Sometimes you’ll not be in the mood for blogging, your promotion footage will suck and will need more edits, your Facebook post will not perform well. Great content is about trials and errors. It takes years and a lot of practice to nail it. Your website is just the tip of the iceberg. Content is key. Your website is the case, please make it awesome.
Most entrepreneurs got it all wrong when they bring their online presence up. They think it’s all about putting things out quickly, using free or cheap online publishing tools. They skip the fundamentals of design, marketing and positioning. They don’t think about great experience. They hope that using shortcuts, it might do the trick. Oh! If it was that easy! I often hear this ‘we are short on the budget’. No, maybe you are short of ideas, that’s normal. But just because the money runs short when you start building a house doesn’t mean you have to find shortcuts to finish it. Pause the construction. Spare the money. Finish the house like you planned. A house is never finished anyway…

5 Ways Leading to The Zen Art of Blogging

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Writing is hard. First you start a blog then, like a seed, you water it. Did I say "seed"? My bad! 
I should have described it as a "Gremlin" that turns into a monster soon as there's water involved.
More seriously, writing is an habit. A rhythm, a bit like jogging: the day you stop ... 
you're in trouble. Get back at it again is painful, you feel rusty. So you have to write drafts every day,   
at regular times. But facing a busy schedule, the temptation to take shortcuts is strong. 
It's a double-edged sword. Jasmine Star, a photographer specialized in wedding events learned 
it the hard way. 

Star's work got noticed and started to be everywhere. She maximized her exposure with blog 
posts, interview, podcasts, social network posts, tutorials, etc. Success knocked at the door and, 
although gladly welcomed, Jasmine got swamped up with a LOT of work. The catch? The pressure. 
To keep up with all of it she had to steal two photos and include them in her blog. 
A scandal came along. 

Here are right habits that come in handy when blogging: 

Make it short ( sometimes)
Before, I was writing articles so long they could make my readers give up reading. When people 
stumble upon an article, guess  what they do? They scroll down to the end of it. It's a reflex. 
Remember: short material can be digested faster.

No images? No big deal
Seth Godin is a source of inspiration to me because his posts are so simple. He got an incredible 
audience, put few -to none- images in his  articles, and it works! Find your sweet spot. 
I'm really tired of these pictures of red 3D dummies carrying a briefcase in every corporate 
articles I read on the net. Better putting no images than awful ones.

Use the right tool for the craft
Microsoft Word is taking a lifetime to start up, I'd recommend Evernote. The later is uglier but
it's a very effective tool to throw down ideas quickly. I was also used to Windows Live Writer 
but I found it bugging and unstable. Again, it's a matter of personal taste here.

Cite your sources
Protect yourself from unpleasant surprises, it does not hurt to mention the author of the picture
you'll be using in a post. Everyone copies everyone, but we have to be smart when we do so.

Take a break
The pressure can take a toll on you. As you write you'll be 
thinking about your latest unedited photo, a video to shoot, this follow 
up email to send. Stop! Take some time away from your blog when 
you are feeling not OK to write. Set smart writing goals: one 
can't blog everyday! Follow your own pace.

Well, I hope you'll find this blog post inspiring to take your blogging skills to the next level.
 
Please do share your tips to prevent overworking issues that may arise when blogging.

Where To Find Endless Stories And How To Build A Great Place For Storytelling?

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I used to sell computers back in the days, for a famous french retail store. The direction put pressure on the sales team and I was always looking for the very best techniques and tricks to sell faster and more. God was I wrong! My clients didn’t come back and didn’t call me either. My follow up Emails went to their trash cans. Maybe because they realized that I tried to sell them expensive warranties instead of computers.

I started hitting books about selling, but they were full of dull sales tactics and tricks. One caught my attention and It was “The Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness” by Jeffrey Gitomer. Jeffrey is a very cool guy and it shows in his writing. I stumbled upon a sentence that would later resonate with me: If you want to sell without looking and sounding like a jerk, join a Toastmasters Club.

So, I went to a TM’s club session in Paris and I was so thrilled to meet enchanting, warm people curious to know everything about me and applauding me as I took the stage to speak non sense words while my legs were uncontrollably shaking. The applause closed my speech and made me eager to come back for more.

Same ambiance in Brussels: laughs, applause, friendship, Open-mindedness .

Once you start to realize there’s no TM club in your town – I was living in Lille (France)- back then, you want to bring the whole experience in. Here’s a fact: building a public speaking club is hard. Public speaking is human. Let’s have a look about the challenges we are facing when we are dealing with people:

1- They don’t have time
That’s the number ONE objection you’ll get. You’ll learn that time based objections are hiding the most important concerns. Let’s put it this way: it doesn’t take too much time to hang out with friends on a Friday night, have a drink and spending some quality times. It makes you forget about the hard work week you had. Why then, going to a Toastmasters meeting would be that much time consuming?

2- They are shy (and scared)
We are all shy! It’s hard to perform in front of strangers. I never thought Elvis and Michael were scared to death at the single idea of performing. I once witnessed a start-up founder fall off the stage before his speech, painful experience but not something you can’t get over with. Shy people are the greatest speakers. Believe it!

3- They forget about things
If it’s not important to them, they’ll forget about it. How Important is Toastmasters? What’s on the table for the individuals who want to join it?

4- It’s hard to catch their interests
Do they like movies, money, fame, music? What goals are they pursuing? What’s the first thing they do when they wake up in the morning? What keeps them up at night?

5- They lack of self confidence
Some people think they don’t need to practice their speaking skills, because they think they were naturally born with it. Some don’t think they are “capable” of speaking. How to make people believe in themselves?

Now, according to me, here are the tricks a TM club builder should use to get his project on track:

1- Say Hi and smile!
Ah! The daunting art of approaching strangers without sounding like a sales rep. What’s your name? -Open your arms, apologize- state exactly what you doing, and grab their attention with questions. Remember to keep smiling! Nobody talks to grumpy people.

1- Explain Toastmasters in your own words.
What Toastmasters is all about? What we do? Where we do it? How we do it? What we learn from it? Use your own words in a simple talk.

2- Get your business cards ready
Put your name on it and every professional links -websites, social media, etc.- where you and your club can be found. Design a nice but simple business card and always give your interlocutors two or three of them each time

3- Design your communication materials
You should get your website and your printing visuals ready. The writing content doesn’t have to be complicated but it SHOULD look nice. The best designs are talking to human emotions and emotions sell. Craft illustrations, use images, make bold statements and call to actions. Ask for the help of a designer among your friends or business connections.

4- Engage on social media venues
Why social media? To build a community near you. A community of listeners. People wake up in the morning with Facebook  app opened in their smartphones or tablets without even having their feet touch the ground.

5- Spread the word
Newsletter, invitations, interviews, podcasts. I mean, you have everything at your disposal to make noise and get noticed. Go to groups or forums and tell them about your challenges, any issues you may have in building your project up. You’ll always find great insights coming your way.

6- Call for action
Put your number and Facebook page address in front, middle and bottom of your club’s webpage. Ask your visitors to subscribe to your newsletter, join your events; openly ask for memberships. If you don’t ASK you’ll not get anything. Don’t be afraid to ask.

I’ve participated -with two friends- in starting and launching the first Toastmasters club in Lille, our biggest challenge was to find the proper venue for our meetings, and to persuade others that it’d not take that much of their time to come and have fun with us. Today this club counts 25 members and got its certification. Now that I’m in Cameroon (Africa) , I can feel that the lack of culture: no libraries, no theaters, no music venues, no Toastmasters. How to change it?

Either you are a TM member or builder, you are seeking for changes.

I think we are all craving for a change but are fighting so hard against it at the same time. The experience of building a club is the same as founding and marketing your own business. It’s full of failures and discouragement. A Toastmasters club near you is the place to find great stories, have fun and meet new friends. It’s a big family all around the world with open hands and hearts. I think It’s easy to go out and club all night. It’s not that easy to sit down, prepare a speech, rehearse it, stand up and talk to persuade others about the importance of your story. We are all laughing and crying for the same things: books, movies, illustrations, music, arts..
We are all listening to storytellers, because everyone likes a good story.