Social Media/Directory Listings: Made Simple

sm imageThe worst possible thing you can do as a small business or any business for that matter when it comes to social media is sitting idle. So many businesses have no initiative as to where to start with social media, they end up doing nothing at all. BIG MISTAKE. Colossal. I say this because, social media marketing is not going away anytime soon, and you don’t have to know everything about social media marketing to make it effectual for you as a business trying to be found on the internet. So what the hell are you waiting for?

Time and time again I’ve had the same conversation with clients about what they should or shouldn’t do about their social media marketing efforts. The biggest response I get from clients is, “I don’t know where to start”. My response is: “You really can’t screw it up, but don’t do NOTHING”. Yes, SM implementation is time consuming, less intuitive than one could ever envision and yes, it can be exasperating at times, however, if you sit down and determine what is relevant and what is not, you will rapidly find yourself with a short list of SM venues that might suit you. Worst-case scenario, you set up the sites and then what? You scarcely post to them, this is common, and it will change once you start noticing what others are doing and how it works for them. More importantly, the foremost thing is, at least you have accomplished the hardest part by listing yourself as a business. Believe it or not you are now on the road to something larger than before when you were sitting on your hands contemplating, “Where do I begin?”

When I started out in Social Media Marketing, I was faced with this very same challenge. I was thrown into a position as an Internal Marketing Coordinator for a dental office, and I was given a small manual on how to claim social media sites. I began reading a lot on my own, and learned that you need to claim your listings on the Internet. So I sat down and made a list of the ones I use, personally and started there. This list has perceptibly amplified now, but here’s what I’ve established to be the most essential

MY TOP TEN SOCIAL MEDIA SITES

Observably we can add more to this list now, but quite honestly, if you are just starting out and you want to know where to start, this is a good base. Another thing to contemplate in addition to all of these are: Directory Listings. Yes, directory listings are also just as vital as social media listings and you don’t have to pay to list for basic directory listings, they are FREE, and they are effective. In the beginning I found a beta testing site called Brandify to help me understand what our brand looked like on the Internet. Brandify now charges a small fee to use their service, but this helped me understand our brand online, compile my list and it also gave me a list of directories they deemed valuable, necessary and prudent as well. I’ve added to that list and here are my

MY TOP TEN DIRECTORY LISTING SITES

When you initially look at these lists you are scratching your head going, “huh, I’ve never even heard of these before”? Yes I know, some of these you’ve never heard before and some of them you have, but consider this: singularly they are meaningless, united they are powerful. What that means is, the more places you put yourself on the Internet, the easier you are found through Google, Bing and Yahoo searches.

Things to consider when setting up directory listings and social media sites:

1. Uniform – Keep your information uniformed throughout your sites! Continuity is king as well as content! Make sure you fill out all of the information you can, the description, the about us, keep it uniform. Write a universal description and about us and copy and paste it throughout your sites and directories.

2. Media – Make sure to post relevant pictures, photos, videos and logos wherever you can. Don’t leave things blank, your brand and the awareness around it are vastly important when it comes to being found and consumers remembering who you are!

3. Claim before Create – Make sure you are claiming your sites before creating new ones, it’s quite possible someone might have already started a Facebook page for you when they checked in at your business or wrote a review about you on Yelp. Yes, you have to claim your sites, not all of them but most of them, just make sure you do a search on that site before setting up a new one.

4. Be Prepared – This process will be much more painless if you are prepared and have your information ready and accessible! The more prepared you are the faster you will get your listings posted. Keep your media and information in one universal folder on your desktop where it is accessible.

5. Don’t pay to claim – When claiming, there are some sites that want you to pay to claim faster, don’t do it. They will send you a postcard in the mail with a verification pin and instructions. Most of them will say it takes 2 weeks, but I’ve never seen that, it usually takes about 5 business days or less.

HINT: When setting up your map directories in MapQuest, Google Maps and Bing Business Maps, make sure your location pin is in the right location, if not, move it. You can drag and drop your pin anywhere on a map. If not, then you contact Google/BING/MapQuest.

After you’ve set up your sites, start posting to them and drive traffic to them. Use your social media sites to drive traffic to your directory sites, use your directory sites to drive traffic to your social media sites by linking you social media sites on your directory sites. Any link that backlinks to your website, is great Simple SEO 101. Once you jump in to this ever-changing tide of social media and online marketing, you will soon find out, it isn’t as intimidating as it looks. It is very easy to start campaigning and promoting your business with a few clicks of the mouse and keyboard and it didn’t cost anything more than your time, BOOM!

Some good SM management softwares: Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, CoTweet

Branding – It’s Not As Scary As It Sounds!

Brand-ImageYou might be a business that has been around for quite some time, or perhaps you are a new business starting up. Regardless of your status and stature, when it comes to branding, there are numerous things to contemplate.

Some say, it is harder to re-brand yourself if you are a business that has been operating for many years. On the other hand, it has been said that is just as complex to brand yourself as a new business breaking into an existing market.  Regardless of how you look at it, or who says what, branding is the most fundamental aspect to any businesses new or existing. Your brand is your fingerprint, your pulse in a specific market and community; you as a company are defined by your brand as it is how people will relate to you, find you and connect with you. Branding is essential more importantly the how develop your brand is acutely crucial.

We are not talking about re-inventing the wheel here, we are talking about what the color, shape or size the wheel, can, will and should look like to a specific demographic. When determining your brand, new or old, there are some key guidelines to follow when taking this new leap forward into the daunting indefinite.

Do your research!

First of all, researching your demographic will help you in determining your brand, label, and your fingerprint. If you have no idea what demographic you’re marketing to then you will never develop a successful brand. For example, if your product, or business is driven towards the 30 something, conservative, gun owning male, you probably don’t want the color pink in your logo/brand. This is probably not the greatest analogy, but there is a science to this. The point is, like any marketing plan, you do the demographic research to help you determine who your ideal and customer is, and tailor your brand to those customers. The rest will follow. But, you must must must do your research, whether you do this yourself or hire a marketing person, it must be done in order to have a comprehensive look at your business/product through your potential customer’s eyes.

Be prepared/Inform your audience

When developing a new brand for an old business you have to prepare your audience and/or customers for the change. Your existing customers are your best customers and you always want to keep them in the loop on any changes to your business, plus this makes them feel important; empowerment is influential. As a business owner, you should already have vital data from your existing customers, such as email addresses, mailing addresses, social media, mailing lists etc. Most businesses now, are using social media to prime their audience intended for any specials, changes and/or events regarding their business. It is a quick and effortless way to reach your audience with these changes. More importantly, by priming the pump so to speak, letting your customers know that you are changing names or updating a logo but are still maintaining the same ownership is beneficial in maintaining your identity. If you are a storefront, hand out flyers, throw an event for a grand re-opening, plaster it all over your social media sites, send emails, post cards etc. You want to give your customers/clients at least a 6 months notice that things are changing in a good way. If there is one thing people dislike it is change and they dislike it even more when they don’t see it coming. Use this is a re-marketing/marketing campaign to tap back into to your audience, new and old. There is always opportunity for marketing when branding or re-branding. If you are developing your website and are simply working with blogging and social media platforms, use these tools to announce your changes. Not only is this a great marketing tool, but it also gets you re-involved with your audiences. Keep your clients informed and use the opportunity to reach back out the community to say you care and hey take a look at what we are doing! People will warm to your regard and this outreach will benefit your business. And you never know, you might re-capture that customer that hasn’t been to your business in quite sometime. It’s a win win!

It’s always wise, when making a change to your brand or creating a new brand, to announce to your audience the changes that are about to take place. Get them to interact with the change, pose questions, give timelines etc.. The most important information you can reveal to your audience about any changes is the most relevant information, which means, what is real vs. what might be.

Be consistent

Make sure that when you begin your branding/re-branding campaign, you are consistent throughout all of your platforms, social media, blog, website, local listings etc. Take one platform at a time, and slowly develop your consistency across the board. If you don’t have consistent content throughout your platforms, things will be interpreted as sloppy and irrelevant and followers/audiences will be less interested. Consistency is you best tool in the toolbox, when people are Google searching for a specific product they like to see consistency. You don’t want your twitter to say one thing and your Google+ to say another. Keep things simple and consistent, it’s always the best approach.

Three things to always consider when branding:

  1. Who you are
  2. What you are offering
  3. Where you’re going/where do you want to be

Quick Tip: Create a mailing list and put it on your website, social media and plaster all over your business. Get your customers to sign up so they can have exclusive access to specials, upcoming events and your company newsletters. You can easily create this through MailChimp. This is a non-invasive way to inbox your customers without feeling like you are spamming them because they signed up for the mailing list on their own.

Branding can be a simple transition or creation if properly introduced and strategically planned out. It can also be a fun process if you allow it to be. Make it exciting to your customers that this is great thing and they will benefit from this change and development. Use social media as much as possible; you can reach a larger, vaster audience if properly used. Don’t underestimate the power of conversation; engage with customers online and in person if possible and inform them about this new era of your business! In the end, people might not like change initially, but if it is good positive change, the audience is yours for the taking!

 

Design Your Own Social Media Posts and Get Noticed!

Whether you like it or not, social media is pretty much here to stay and as far as I am concerned, you have two choices, get on the boat or swim! I chatter a lot about how we as businesses large or small should be using social media in our marketing strategies. Surveys, reviews, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Google Maps, Bing Local, Pinterest, Foursquare etc… You’ve heard it all before the value of being connected. Well what if I told you this is in fact just one small part in the this big machine of marketing. Innovation creates uniqueness, there is more to social media than posting and copying and pasting URL’s that appear interesting or relative to your cause, business or products. Whatever you are selling, social media is not the end all be all of product marketing, it is an amalgam of things, working parts we can create as business owners to make our message more effective, louder and more noticeable. It is the difference between taking the time to be creative and thoughtful and being complacent and unimaginative.

Social media was not born out of necessity it was born out of creativity and people’s need to be connected to, well, everything! When I began my business I wanted to help everyone discover his or her online influence through marketing and content. Quite honestly, in the beginning, I didn’t know how to go about this effectively and on a large scale. I mean I had an understanding of marketing and communications and with my background in Graphic Design I had untapped resources, resources I didn’t even know I had available to me. Over time and research I made a assessment about how I sought to present social media marketing to clients and give them a blueprint about how this strategy would make their particular market appealing, effectual and visible. I wasn’t looking to reinvent the wheel but I was looking to reinvent the uniqueness of content and find a way to use Graphic Design to do so.

You see info-graphics all over the web, but who’s to say you can’t create your own? You don’t have to be a graphic designer to use Photoshop or Illustrator, you just have to have time and now with the expediency of YouTube, you now have all the learning potential right at your fingertips, literally. It’s like saying you have to be photographer to take great photography.  However, if you take the time to hone in on a new skill and work with awesome gear that is accessible to you, you make yourself a resourceful entity.

When it comes to creating exceptional content for your social media sites and websites, there are some tricks and programs that can help out. Once again, all you need is time, an idea and some imagination. I was told once by a professor that when it comes to graphic layout there is no copyright law that keeps you from copying a layout, however it is up to you to make it your own and re-create it uniquely.” So make it your own!

Most of the tools in my toolbox are nominal. To start with, think about the big picture, literally. When looking to post a poster on your Facebook or Google+ page make sure it is optimally formatted for the accurate dimensions for the specific timelines. Chances are if you post something and it is not optimally formatted, you’re your content below the fold disappears and now you’ve missed your opportunity. Always, always, always, maintain the most vital content above the fold. Granted, individuals can click on the photos and enlarge them, but why miss out on the demographic that will not? This is where custom designing comes into play. There are two ways to proceed with creating your own poster graphics for social media, check it out:

Adobe Creative Cloud Membership

Utilize to access all CS programs for a low monthly membership fee or purchase to own at full price. If you don’t want to make the initial $900 investment in something you might not like over time, then get the month-to-month membership. It’s worth it, especially when you are starting out novice or pro, the new CS programs are vastly different from previous versions. Additionally, you have access to all the new Adobe programs such as Photoshop, In Design, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Muse and so on. It will cost you around $49 p/month and if you decide that you like it, then you can purchase the full version. The only caveat to all of this is the fact that Adobe is incessantly altering their programs and with CS you are always in contact with the latest and newest programs/support they offer. You can also sign up for 30 day risk free membership as well.

YouTube

There are all sorts of great YouTube “how to” CS tutorials. I personally like Terry White and Christian Perello, but honestly it comes down to you personally and what your needs are. Adobe also has a myriad of educational videos on their website for all of their entire product lines. Basically if you learn one you can learn them all, as they are seamlessly functional and integrated universally.

PicMonkey – Picture Editor

If you are just starting out with designing custom graphics for your SM sites, PicMonkey simplifies all of this for you. With PM you have a starting graphic whether it is picture or text. They have various filters to choose from, text overlay, cloning, borders, filters, graphics; the list goes on and on. They also have cropping and sizing options in addition to the option to save a png or jpg file type  as well (we’ll get to that next). The only caveat is you cannot work with a blank slate on PM you have to bring some to the art board. I use PM in conjunction with CS. If I have a text graphic I am creating in AI, or PS I can save this for web (jpg. or png.) file types and then open in PM to add filters or quick graphics, borders etc…  There is a free version of PicMonkey and a paid version. The paid version is $4.99 a month and you have access to everything whereas the FREE version is limited access.

 

Size Chart

Keep your graphics to spec, don’t lose out any below the fold content designs. Below is good quick reference to follow for sizing your graphics so they show up in their entirety on your SM timelines/feed. Or you can click here  and see the entire SM sizing chart.

Facebook

  • Posts: 403×403 px
  • Cover Photo: 851×315 px

Google+

  • Posts: 800×600 px

LinkedIn

  • Coverphoto: 646×220

Pinterest

  • Board: 222×207

QUICK TIP: When saving your graphics save them as a png file type and when creating your graphic in CS create as an RGB format. RGB can be saved for monitor and the lowest resolution such as 72 dpi is your best graphic result with minimal pixilation. You do not need high resolution for small graphics. Create in RGB and save fro web as a PNG and if you transfer an Adobe graphic to PicMonkey for quick graphics PicMonkey also allows you to re-save as a png. IF you have several colors in your graphic, jpg will show up grainy and pixilated, keep it simple, keep it png.

Regardless of whatever you are designing for your social media posts, just the simple fact that you are keeping your content unique is effectual. Make sure to always sign or copyright your graphics so you and you only have the rights over those graphics and why not give yourself credit! Designing custom post graphics is fairly simple and a great way to start. Start small with a picture on PicMonkey, add a filter, text or simple graphic to spruce it up. Take the time to be authentic because in the end it’s our creativity that wins out when it comes to unique vs. unimaginative. Be original!

Think You Know Detroit? Think Again…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt wasn’t until I read the eye opening article in Food and Wine magazine about the culinary culture shift in Detroit and the number of full of flavor cafes and restaurants popping up in Detroit’s southwest side. As I thumbed through the 3-page piece I started to undergo a sense of enthusiasm and wanderlust. As a quasi native of Detroit (I grew up North of Detroit and lived in Detroit Metro for a brief time in the mid 2000’s) this article came as an amiable disclosure. I read about this extraordinary coffeehouse called Astro Coffee, an incredible BBQ joint called Slow’s Barbecue and a savvy cocktail bar who makes their own bitters called Sugar House, my curiosity was unquestionably peaked. Was this a shifting deluge for the Detroit we have all written off and considered befallen to ashes and dust with no resurgence in sight? Yup, you betcha!

After reading the article I began a mad mission to comprehend more about this urban resuscitation in the country’s most economically distraught city. I started to ascertain what others were saying about this revival to be true, Fast Company Magazine wrote an extraordinary article about Detroit echoing these same sentiments, then it was National Geographic’s Travel magazine’s article, a segment on NPR singing the same song, “Detroit is the next big boom-town and tech start up city”. Being the curious individual I am, I had to see this all for myself and come to my own conclusions. So headed home to Detroit, to see my family and allotted myself 3 days in Detroit.

My younger brother bought a house in the exceptionally sought after and now up and coming progressive Detroit neighborhood of Ferndale. Ferndale nestles neatly on the 9 mile and Woodward Avenue corridor. It is chock full of cafe’s, bars and boutiques, it is also considered Detroit’s gay neighborhood, unlike the Castro in San Francisco it definitely has more of a neighborhood charm and buzz unlike its condition 10 years ago. It has developed into something Royal Oak was only capable of accomplishing. The restaurants have certainly upped their ante to 4 star qualities with culinary genius and creativity. Considering its close proximity to 8 mile, the Ferndale neighborhood is humming with creative buzz with its cleanliness, renovated neighborhoods with reconditioned bungalows, donning crisp green lawns, with sheltering mighty great oaks peppering their landscape. My brother bought his house right before the financial crisis in 2008 for $42,000. He chose wisely as the current market has risen enormously in his favor. These are things you are not reading about in your Wall Street Journal’s and New York Times. This is the real Detroit, the one that is emergent and becoming a viable, habitable city once again.

After exploring Ferndale, I headed into downtown Detroit to capture some urban renewal photography. Mind you, it has only been a couple of years since I’ve been in downtown Detroit, as I am frequent lover and supporter of this misrepresented city (my favorite haunts: Magic Stick, DIA, Greektown’s, MotorLounge, Pegasus’ Tavern, St. Andrew’s Hall, City Club & DEMF).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI exited off I-75 onto Warren Ave. drove past the DIA (Detroit Institute of Art) and hooked a left onto Woodward Avenue, Detroit’s “main drag”; as I am driving I noticed people on the streets, walking, on bicycles, there are cafe’s, coffeehouses, bars lining the avenue, the shiny new Whole Foods with a gleaming Starbucks beacon directly adjacent to it. As I crossed into the threshold of downtown closing in on Comerica Park on my left and the Fox Theater on my right I couldn’t believe my own eyes as I was stunned by the dramatic physical transformation of the city; the trash-less, vagrant-less streets, refreshed boulevards, flower boxes, green space, clean parks, a City Square with an active fountain and outdoor performing arts stage, people walking on the street, sitting on park benches, riding bikes. Where there were once vacant skyscrapers, there are now gleaming restaurants, such as the 5 star Westin and it’s 5 star restaurant Roast accompanying it beautifully. A handsome

City Center Ernst and Young

City Center Ernst and Young

Ernst and Young modern glass building dons the city center with a pinnacle Hard Rock Cafe, city center fountain with flowers and green space, a well manicured park across the street coupled with the beacon of corporate hope, the Quicken Loans building which has recently taken up headquarters in the downtown Detroit and at the 1001 Woodward Avenue building a striking example of change, a sign that assert “Outsource To Detroit”! I turn right onto Michigan Avenue and head toward Corktown,Detroit’s Oldest Neighborhood home of the original Detroit Tigers Stadium (now reduced to rubble) and the oldest neighborhood in Detroit (est. 1834).

The boulevard is clean, trash less (unlike it’s state 4 years ago), I see Astro Coffee, Slow’s BBQ and of course one of my favorite Detroit icons, the vacant Central Station Train Station and Hotel, an architectural masterpiece

Central Station, Detroit

Central Station, Detroit

and also the center of the hotly debated topic of removal for years. I drove into the neighborhood of Corktown, feasting my eyes on clean neighborhoods and beautiful graffiti art and an artist painted building sign that says “Welcome to Corktown!”

This is not the Detroit I grew up in, and it most certainly is not the Detroit that is being nationally depicted. This is the NEW Detroit. This is far from anything that is being proclaimed in all of the downbeat media surrounding Detroit. However, the Fast Company, Food and Wine and NPR articles were all correct in their appraisal of Detroit, as it is clearly undergoing an impressive metamorphosis that needs to be shown to the world .

After snapping various pics of Corktown and the iconic train station, I opt to head to Brush Park, which at one time was one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Detroit, and became a ghost town over night following the 1967 riots. Since, Brush Park has been an iconic run down dangerous area, with vacant and abandoned brownstones taken over by vagrants and squatters. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOver time, gradually, the city has removed some of the broken down homes which has now opened up the opportunity for more green space and city lots for re-purposing and rebuilding. As I pulled onto Brush Street I saws something beyond belief, life. Someone was actually mowing their grass and the homes that are remaining were stunning, renovated back to their original state, complete with crisp manicured lawns, flowers coupled with restored original

Brush Park 2013

Brush Park 2013

coach houses and wrought iron fencing. This is the Detroit many do not get to see nor know exists, but I’ve seen it at its absolute worst and now during its renaissance. The proximity to downtown is marvelous because you can literally see Comerica Park and the Towering Renaissance Center towers. Just when I didn’t think it could get better I decide to peruse Cass St., the main drag of Wayne State University – Cass is on block west of Woodward Avenue. This neighborhood has always been suspect for years and not a place a young female photographer should be flashing her expensive camera. Cass Street was striking, amazingly well groomed and updated. Restaurants, pubs,

Cass St.

Cass St.

bakeries and cafes lined the street. Renovated brownstone apartment buildings gleamed, as did the neighborhoods they sit in. I pulled into a bakery off of Cass St. to chat with some locals. ON this street there was a bakery, dry cleaners and hair boutique as well as a newly built loft apartment building with brownstone apartment buildings being renovated across the street. I sat with one of the locals briefly and asked if he lived in the neighborhood as I imagined he did with his Detroit Tigers T-shirt and very large German Sheppard at his side. He said “yes I live in these lofts right here, my partner and I moved here 3 years ago wanting to be a part of this movement” I asked him about the cleanliness and lack of vagrancy in the city and how this was happening given the financial state of the city he said “the city has nothing to do with this, we the people of this movement are creating neighbor associations and cleaning up the city, making it livable again. When we have an issue with something that might involve the police we call Wayne State University Police Department who usually respond within 2-3 minutes; but we usually do not have many problems that warrant the police, they are few and far between.” He directed me to check out the Canfield Historical Home District just a block over and Mario’s Italian Restaurant, both Icons of Detroit.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I drove to 2nd St. to check out Mario’s, I never even noticed this before it had been here since 1948 and as I drove through the historical district of West Canfield(Detroit’s first official historical district) the cobble stoned street led me to a beautifully unimaginable gem, reconditioned brownstone mansions, with once again, clean manicured green lawns, renovated coach houses with 100 year old oak trees lining the yards and streets, I felt as if I had stepped back into to time. It was a site, one that most will never see even Detroit natives, had someone not told them about it, it was a side of Detroit I had never experienced.

West Canfield Historical District

West Canfield Historical District

When I left Detroit I felt a sense of purpose as an entrepreneur. I began to feel like I wanted to be a part of this infectious movement, a movement that is being defined by the people of the city of Detroit, the people that are literally moving there to help rebuild this once incredible city. It is exciting to see Detroit progress into this urban revival that cannot only be defined by what is going on but more by what has already been set into motion, change, BIG change. When you hear about companies like Quicken Loans moving their offices to Detroit, you can’t believe it until you see why. “If you build it they will come”, and let me tell you, they are coming and they are coming from everywhere!

Le Nouveau Detroit is coming!

To LinkedIn Or Not To LinkedIn

linkedin LogoSocial media is king among Marketing guru’s large and small. It is an endless marketing tool that serves almost every marketing need for all distinctive types of businesses. Nowadays, there are so many social media platforms to choose from, one has to wonder, how do we choose? To start with, you have to determine your purpose, however, the universal purpose for all of entrepreneurs, professionals, and us business owners is to be found. And the best way to begin this process is to start with your own personal LinkedIn account.

For beginners, or newbies, LinkedIn is THE professional social networking platform. If you are not using LinkedIn then you are missing out an incredible prospect. Why? Let me tell you… Even though social media has been around for over a decade now, business owners and entrepreneurs are still trying to figure out how to implement this into their everyday business model. From a professional standpoint the best way to break into the social media scene is with LinkedIn. LinkedIn is basically an online resume – coupled with a social media punch. It’s effective because well, we all work, well most people and we work with people, have worked for people and these are the connections we can maintain, discover and develop through LinkedIn. Not only can you publish your resume but you can promote yourself professionally, look for jobs, ask for recommendations, add skills, courses, certifications etc… You can add more to your LinkedIn account than you could ever add to a written resume and companies will find you through their searches. Consider LinkedIn an extension of your resume, but with the potential of 100 x’s more opportunity of being seen by big professionals, startups, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors worldwide.

So my question to you is, why not?

LinkedIn brings professional communities together across the country and around the globe. It gives you a voice, and a giant one at that. You can create your own communities, business pages, link your twitter feed directly to your LinkedIn account and vice versa. And LinkedIn does all the work for you basically. You link up your email accounts and LinkedIn scans your email addresses for individuals that already have LinkedIn accounts, send and invite to these individuals, state how you know them and you’re done! You can also send invites out to individuals that do not have LinkedIn accounts to join and link up.

In addition to the exposure LinkedIn gives you, it also gives you the prospect to construct a business page with custom banners, search for job opportunities and connect to a spider web of contacts you never the tangible reality to contact with before. For example, when you make 1 connection, you are now connected to that connection’s connections. So let’s say I have 20 contacts, and you and I connect, you now have access to my contacts and so on and so forth.

Here’s the deal, you don’t have to be a social media guru to master LinkedIn or even have a LinkedIn account. You just have to know yourself and be willing to sit down and write your professional biography. If you are still poo pooing the idea of social media, get over it because whether you like it or not, social media is a part of our lives, professionally and/or personally. This is the wave of the future and this is your chance to truly connect to the world of professional social networking. Not only does this legitimize who you are and what you do but also gives you greater opportunity of being found. So my question still remains, why not? What are you waiting for?? Google also loves LinkedIn and the more places you are on the internet the quicker you are found, whether you are a dentist, lawyer, consultant, etc.. you can and will be found, you just have to put the effort forward to make it happen!

SurveyMonkey vs. Polldaddy

survey--monkeyI’ve spoken in length about the importance of quality control surveys and the benefits of implementing this kind of system in your daily business client exchanges. I cannot stress enough the significance of this very uncomplicated tool and how it can help cultivate and advance your daily business model. Customer feedback is by far, our greatest marketing tool, it’s raw data, it’s exceptional, it’s priceless and it allows you to use this data towards amplifying your existing daily operations.

I have a client that is an Optometrist, who uses Demand Force. Granted, Demand Force is a great tool, but it’s costly. However, one of the nice things about Demand Force is it gives you reviews from surveys it sends your clients and allows you to connect this to your website and media outlets. Not only that, Demand Force does this for you automatically. Great. Well kind of, here’s the kicker, Demand Force is expensive and if you’re a small business starting out, these kind of expenses really add up. So, let your staff be the Demand Force and create your own quality control system. Enter online survey creators, Survey Monkey and Polldaddy. For a nominal cost, a small business can keep their annual costs at a minimum, say between $100-$200 a year. Demand Force is good for a couple of things, but the survey part is really a nice perk, but the truth to the matter is, you can keep continue to send customer surveys simply by creating your own through these very robust, very easy yet very thoughtful online survey creators. And why not?!

Survey Monkey vs Poll Daddy

Quite honestly, both of these programs bring a lot to the table, but let me explain this from a first time user’s point of view. To begin with, if you are small business that wants to implement a QC system, these are both great, I just found that Polldaddy is easier to use. That’s just me. One day I sat side by side and built the exact same survey from the ground up with both of these platforms. Keep in mind I used the FREE versions for both. The paid versions offer more perks, but I was trying to look at it from a small business starting up. Here’s what I found…

Survey Monkey FREE

Slick interface, moderately user friendly, excellent question bank, harder to modify certified questions, excellent template design options, No HTML Snippets, No option for videos and pictures, NO logo option, cannot remove Survey Monkey Branding.

I liked Survey Monkey because it works with great programs like Mail Chimp. However, I found that trying to get around the website and design my survey was very frustrating. I’m a Graphic Designer by trade as well, so I really wanted to make it shine and I just didn’t have the patience…

Rankings

        • Design 3
        • Ease of Use 3
        • Question Bank 5
        • Modification 2
        • Templates 4

Features

        • Number of Surveys 200
        • Number of Responses 200
        • Number of Questions 5
        • Custom URL NO
        • Pictures/Videos NO
        • Branding with Ccompany Logo
        • Offline Response Collection – NO
        • Share on Facebook Wall YES
        • Embed HTML survey on your Website YES

Poll Daddy FREE

Easy to understand user interface, user friendly, good question bank, easy to modify questions, simple but limited templates choices, HTML Snippets, allows company branding, videos, pictures, offline collection of data with iphone/iPad app.

Right from the start I liked this user interface, it was slick but not too slick, and from the FREE module, it is quite easy to use and it has a many features. Polldaddy is inexpensive from a pro and gold standard and as I mentioned the FREE version offers much more than Survey Monkey. The best part is it interfaces with WordPress and if you use WordPress for any reason whether it be a blog or for your company website, Polldaddy is fully integrateable with WordPress and you can even use your WordPress UN/PW to start up and login. All in all it took me 20 minutes to design and upload my survey, add my logo, text and put on my website.

Rankings

        • Design 5
        • Ease of Use 5
        • Questions Bank 2
        • Modification 4
        • Templates 3

Features

        • Number of Surveys- Unlimited
        • Number Responses – 200
        • Number of Questions- 10
        • Branding with Company Logo – YES
        • Custom URL YES
        • Pictures/Videos YES
        • Offline Response Collection YES
        • Share on Facebook Wall NO
        • Embed HTML survey on Website YES

There are premium versions for both platforms to choose from and pricing is very comparable. If you are comparing apples to apples price wise, then the Pro version of Polldaddy is the way to go, many more features than the free version and many more features than the price equivalent Survey Monkey. If you are looking to try out creating your own survey and implementing this into your day to day operations, my suggestion is Poll Daddy, simply because you have more features, it’s easy to use and it is out of the box ready roll as is it’s co-pilot WordPress. But try them both side by side, have some questions in mind when going into this, because the questions bank in Survey Monkey is very overwhelming, general yet specific and doesn’t fit every genre of business whereas Polldaddy allows you write your own questions from the ground up and does not intimidate you from fact that these are not certified questions. The Facebook feed feature on Survey Monkey is really cool and the amount of templates are great especially when it comes to customizing, however, Survey Monkey FREE doesn’t give you the option to brand your marketing which is huge when it comes to brand recognition across the board.

All in all, both platforms have their benefits, but they have one major thing in common, customer intel. The most vital piece of information every company small or large needs to encompass. Don’t disregard the value of quality control. How can you grow as a business if you don’t know your strengths, weaknesses, opportunity or threats? Surveys allow us as business owners to determine what these things are and build upon to generate the most lucrative setting possible.