Why Facebook Needs to be More Small Business Friendly

Facebook has been going through a turbulent time of late. During a phase which has seen users turn off in their millions, the scandals of mishandled data and awkward advert placement have served to kick it when it is down. To say that any service which boasts one billion users is at critical risk may seem a bit over dramatic; winning back favor with both consumers and business, though, is a long and complicated process.

Facebook Needs to be More Small Business Friendly

So what has gone wrong for Facebook?

Wind the clocks back a few years and they were flying, the old Kings of Myspace, MSN and Bebo were dead, the young usurper looked untouchable. Nothing lasts forever, though, and it might just be this invincible attitude that has contributed to Facebook’s decline.

Last week, the American firm had to admit that a bug in the system had made public the private contact information of over six million users. The bug allowed anyone is downloading their account histories via the “Download Your Information” tool to access inadvertently those of their friends.

This slip-up happened almost simultaneously with concerns about some of the content on the network. Following a recent backlash against Facebook for allowing sexist and malicious content on individual pages, many brands have pulled their adverts to avoid appearing next to offensive material.

Facebook needs both users and customers, put simply, businesses buy access to the public. They cannot have one without the other, and having both sides of their operation hit like this will hurt. This is all recent news, though, Facebook’s decline has been much more drawn out.

Without being too simplistic, the problem lies in Facebook’s over-commercialization. The poster boy for this is the Edgerank algorithm, which decides what you want to see for you. From the point of view of a business, trying to reach people through a fanpage is more effort than it is worth; for the everyday users, having a feed full of unwanted adverts, determined by Edgerank, and is annoying.

Facebook has taken steps to repair the damage. In response to brands pulling adverts, the worldwide social network unveiled a new review policy to restrict the possibility of branded content appearing alongside anything unpleasant content.

Adverts will be removed from any violent, graphic or offensive pages by the end of this week. To give this policy a future, an automated method of maintaining this distance will be developed. There is an old saying about shutting the stable door, though, which many big brands seem to have taken to heart.

Many of the brands which left Facebook to cover their backs are yet to perform a public U-turn. Nationwide and M&S are continuing their boycotts but claim to be “monitor developments.” The sky is also yet to renew their subscription, and has asked for further measures before they will reconsider.

Facebook has become increasingly frustrating for small business users, many of whom have recently given up the chase. Unable to afford to waste time and resources sending out messages that are gagged by Edgerank, they have migrated to more user friendly, less commercial, platforms.

Previously, this hasn’t been a concern, with big businesses paying good money to get around Edgerank. This kick in the sides will be a wake-up call to Facebook, though, a few years of being unchallenged in the social media world has given it the false sense of security. If they are to survive they need to harbour better relations with business, not continue to racket protection policy they have been using.

Myspace disappeared in a matter of months. If this does not motivate Facebook to change its ways, then maybe the recent repurchase of Bebo by founder Michael Birch will. Joe Errington is a marketing and social media executive for The MITIE Group, which includes online marketing, social media, and archiving in its wide range of business services.

5 Small Business Trade Show Advertising Tips

Most small businesses are looking for ways to spread awareness of their brand in order to increase patronage and sales. But this can be a difficult undertaking when working with an extremely limited budget, as most small companies are. While you’re not necessarily trying to compete with large corporations in your industry, you certainly want to achieve as much success as possible, and that at least means taking business away from competitors that run comparably sized operations in your region.

There are a number of ways to go about this, from advertising to utilizing social media outlets, but you might also want to attend trade shows as part of your strategy. And here are just a few tips that should help you when it comes to advertising at these events.

Small Business Trade Show Advertising Tips

Video Content

Being seen amidst the many booths present and heard over the din are two definite problems when it comes to any type of trade show. So if you want to capture the attention of passersby, it might not be a bad idea to display some video content.

You can run commercials, offer video tutorials, or get really creative by putting together a music video or movie trailer spoof for your company. Just be careful with production value. You don’t necessarily have to hire a Coppola to direct your video, but it can’t look like you’ve shot it in your basement with your smartphone (unless you happen to be spoofing ‘Paranormal Activity,’ for example).

And keep in mind, your video content must be compelling enough to draw a crowd but also remain relevant to your brand and your products or services.

Demonstrations, presentations, and contests. Another good way to grab attention and get people to your booth is to organize demonstrations of your products or services, presentations about your company, or even contests that encourage audience participation.

When properly executed, all of these strategies should pull attention away from other vendors and get trade show attendees flocking to your booth.

Branded giveaways

Whether you’re attending a trade show that caters to the public, the press, or potential partners and investors, almost everyone expects to pick up freebies. However, this can get pretty expensive for the average small business. So you need to think about creative and inexpensive solutions. Although pens and magnets are cheap and utilitarian, they’re overdone as a trade show staple.

And people tend to stash them at home and forget about them (and you). Instead, consider branded tote bags, key chains, cell phone covers, or rubber bracelets, just for example. These are items that people are bound to use in public, turning your patrons into walking advertisements long after the trade show is over.

Brochures

There are two primary goals in advertising. The first is to grab the attention of the consumer public. And once you have it, you want to convince prospective customers to support your brand by purchasing your products or services. At trade shows, this can be a bit difficult, what with the inundation of information from so many vendors.

It is, therefore, important that you pay particular attention to your brochures. Although you want them to be professional, and they need to speak to your target demographic, using humor, shock value pointed questions, and/or compelling graphics could be strategies that lead to people actually reading your brochure when they’re thumbing through a stack of dozens after the show.

Banners

You won’t do very well at a trade show if you can’t lure people into your booth, so one thing you’ll definitely want to attend to is your signage. And with online ordering options from companies, you should have no trouble getting the banners and other signage you need to make your booth look spectacular.

5 Social Media Etiquette Tips for Small Businesses

When you have a small business, there are all kinds of things that you have to do to be successful. You have to make sure that you provide a quality product or service. You have to hire the kind of staff that gives impeccable customer service. And, you have to factor in the type of marketing that will prove to be truly useful.

This would include having an active presence on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and even Pinterest.

However, to make a good impression in the social media world, it’s a good idea that you know some of the etiquettes that will bring you those kinds of results. If you’re interested in knowing what our top five social media etiquette tips for small business are, we have enclosed five of them below:

5 Social Media Etiquette Tips for Small Businesses

Respond to comments

There are studies to support the fact that customers tend to support companies that they feel they have a personal connection with. You know, the ones that answer the phone when they call during business hours, reply to emails in a timely fashion and also respond to comments on their Facebook fan page and website blogs.

So make sure that if someone posts a question, comment or concern on one of your social media accounts that you address it. That always makes an excellent impression.

Avoid saying things that could be seen as being inappropriate. We all have read news stories of people who have found themselves in some hot water for posting comments or even pictures on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram pages that came across as being offensive.

Although can’t please everyone, it’s important to avoid saying what could be seen as inappropriate. So think twice before doing anything in social media.

Don’t do a lot of debating

Some people will come to your website or social media pages and say offensive things just to get a response out of you. But remember that what you post in response on the internet lasts forever. Therefore, it’s important not to do a lot of debating and that you don’t come across as being combative. If you feel like someone is trying to get you upset, silence is usually the best kind of approach to take.

Be helpful

If you were to hire someone who got one of the University of Florida’s digital marketing degrees, when it comes to social media etiquette, one of the things that they will probably mention is that it’s important to be as helpful as possible.

Even if there is a customer or prospective client who needs something that you cannot directly assist them with, if you can offer them a tip or suggestion that can help to point them in the right direction. That’s an excellent way to increase the chances that they will return to your social media accounts or website again. Or at the very least, they will refer someone else to you—just based on your willingness to assist them.

Don’t be too aggressive

Just like no one wants to walk into a store and feel like they are being pressured into making a purchase, no one wishes to go to a business’s social media page and see that all they are talking about are their products or services. So, try and keep everything in balance by thinking like a business owner as well as a customer.

That will help you to post the kind of content that individuals will find truly appealing in social media.

5 Tips for Better Organization of Warehouse Inventory for Your Small Business

A small business’ warehouse is perhaps the most important part of the business. It is here that the heart and soul of the business are prepped, packed and shipped to consumers. A small business’ inventory is its gold and making sure that the gold is organized and protected is vital. There is a good chance that you have a big line of credit for the products in your inventory – whether it is electronics, food or any other item – so making sure your warehouse is organized could be a matter of survival for your business.

The last thing you want is for inventory to become lost, hard to access or damaged. Preventing the worst from happening is all about the organization. Here are 5 tips for better organization of warehouse inventory for your small business.

Better Organization of Warehouse Inventory for Your Small Business

Make sure to keep the highest selling items at the front of the warehouse for easy access. When it comes to accessing inventory for shipments, the last thing you want is to have to run to the back of the warehouse to pull pallets. If your business has a particularly high selling product, you want to make sure it is front and center. In fact, you want to organize all the inventory according to what sells the best.

Make sure to keep paths clear. How can anything be organized if the paths of your warehouse are not organized? This means that warehouse employees must make it a routine to remove debris, packing materials, and other items so that forklifts can make their way throughout the warehouse without any major obstacles. If you are the manager of a warehouse, you need to make sure that keeping the paths clear is a part of the training protocol. Not only is this a matter of organization, but also safety.

Make sure there is plenty of space for workers to receive and ship products. Many of the times, inventory can become disorganized, lost and damaged when there is not enough space to work in. When it comes down to it, your small business’ warehouse might not have a lot of space, especially if you have a smaller budget. However, by working with storage groups, like US Storage Group, you can keep items stored away, which can clear the path for more space.

Make sure there are checks and balances. You should never have only one employee making sure that an item is finalized and ready to ship. You should have two people – one to inspect each package as it comes down the conveyor belt and one doing a final check before it goes out there door. Taking this step will prevent shipping the wrong items, and it will reduce the occurrence of angry customers.

Make sure to have daily checks of warehouse operations. Without daily checks, you could risk your entire warehouse entering a state of disarray. So, you want to make sure that employees do a final check at the end of the day to ensure that items are put away, and things like forklifts are parked. Taking these measures will maintain organization in your small business’ warehouse.