What The Heck To Post on Social Media (For Business)

“What should I post on social media?”

The lady asking this question isn’t personally on social media all that much.

She was asking for work and she hadn’t posted to any of the business’ social media accounts for six months or so.
This is much more common than you might think.

If you’re in the same situation, I’m going to help walk you through creating a document that’s going to completely answer that question for you – for the rest of this year.

You will never have to think “Oh Jeez, What do I post on social media?” again!

What we’re going to create is what I call an editorial calendar.

It’s a plan for the year and days of the week we’re going to create in advance, so you stay up to date and have a record of what you’re going to post.
I usually create it as an Excel sheet and I put columns for every single month and have another tab for theme days of the week – like “Sneak a Peek Sundays”

If you don’t have an editorial calendar, following this plan, it will take you, I would say probably, 15 to 20 minutes to sit down and create that calendar.

The 15-20 minutes you spend today will pay off in dividends. Trust me on this one!

Get Festive!

First thing you want to do is grab a calendar, whether it’s paper or electronic, and take a look at all the holidays that happen every single year.

I mean, we all know the obvious ones around a typical holiday season. There’s smaller ones like St. Patrick’s Day that you might want to incorporate.

Once you populate your Excel spreadsheet with all the holidays that are happening in every single year, you’re already going to have so many more things that you could possibly post about on social media!

What’s Happening?

Then, I want you to take it a step further and take a look at the news and events that are happening internally within your company.

Perhaps you would attend a trade show every single year at the same time.
Perhaps it’s your really busy season every single year at the same time.
Perhaps there’s deadlines that your customers need to know about every single year at the same time.
Again, put these events in your editorial calendar so that way next time you take a look at it you know, “Oh. This is what’s coming up this month.”

Channel Your Inner Photographer

Second thing I want you to do, is start thinking about taking behind the scenes photos.

Put it in your calendar once a week to spend a few minutes taking pictures. People love photos of other people so take photos of your staff, your customers if they’ll let you. Post it on social and just do a little introduction as to who we’re looking at here.
This helps people to know, like and trust your business by providing a little bit behind the scenes.

Similarly, if you can’t get anyone to pose for a photo you can also just take pictures about what’s going on around the office. Perhaps someone dropped of donuts or perhaps your parking lot is icy. Seems again, like a little bit of an overshare, but this is the type of stuff that happens on social media, and again, will get people to know, like and trust you.

Change Your Perspective

Then, I want you to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective customers.

What do they care about?
What are they interested in?

In the case of, say for example, you are a contractor, your customers care about making their homes look good.

Perhaps you could share tips and trends about interior decorating or landscaping tips or trends in lighting. Stuff that’s going to be valuable for your customers.

Prove It!

Another thing that is really super powerful to share on social media is what I call “social proof.”

Social proof is the phenomenon where people make decisions based on the decisions that other people have made. By sharing testimonials and reviews on social media, you convince other people that you’re a trustworthy business to do business with.
Even if people are not posting these reviews on social media, you can go into your email and screencap those awesome comments you’re getting and share those on social as well.

Put it in your calendar once a week to spend a few minutes gathering and posting testimonials.

Educate & Influence:

Say, for example, you’re a drywall company, you can share educational things like, what people need to know before they shop for a drywall contractor.

Perhaps any safety information or certification that’s updated and going on. Things like that will really help you to fill up that content calendar with thoughtful, themed content each month.
Once you go through this process once, I promise you will have an editorial calendar that will be fantastic and work for you perfectly.

If you like this article, please share with your network!
You can visit me online for more marketing tips at www.laurelannestark.com

The 7 Step Guide to Managing Negative Customer Feedback: A case study in consumer fraud, social media & the power of reviews.

If you’ve ever been the recipient of a bad online review of your business, you may find yourself frustrated by the apparent lack of control we as entrepreneurs have over things being said about our business – especially if they’re not true.

What proactive steps can you take to protect your business, and how do you best handle a peer review gone wrong?

1. Adapt your mindset.

The worst thing you can do is tell yourself this article isn’t relevant to your business and click away.


We need to adapt in order to survive and thrive, and today’s consumers have more power than they’ve ever had to affect our success.
70%  of Canadians online trust consumer reviews. (BDC, 2013)
Negative sentiment can go viral, quickly – as exemplified by the Applebee’s social media nightmare – and can be very difficult to manage.
Understanding the change in buyer behaviour and accepting that it’s not going away, frees you up to take in the following information to help protect your business.

2. Get informed:

Increasingly Canadian consumers such as you and I, rely on the web to make our purchasing decisions.

social media

1. Canadians spend on average 2.5 hours a day online; on social media, watching videos, & researching products and services. ComScore, 2014
2. Nine out of 10 consumers claim to use their smartphone for pre-shopping activities BDC 2013
3. 70% of Canadians online trust consumer reviews. (BDC, 2013)
None of this is particularly surprising.
The widespread adoption of web connected smartphones is not a new phenomenon.
In fact many older and wiser of us lament the pervasive nature of these devices and their impact on social connection –  and more practically – our ability to walk down the street without literally running into people distracted by their smartphones.

social media
Beyond being a mildly irritating obstacle to efficient walking, this change in how we as a culture interact has widespread implications for today’s business owner.

The constantly connected state of today’s consumer – specifically – your customers – means your customers shape your brand’s reputation.

Customers and the public at large (reasonable and otherwise) can seriously impact your ability to acquire new customers and maintain your reputation.

3. Know that negative sentiment goes far beyond review sites:

You may have heard of “reputation management” in the context of managing reviews of your business, or even been approached by a less than integrity based business offering you positive reviews of your business, for a price.

But beyond the formal review channels, people can leave negative sentiments on your Facebook page, in response to a post on social media…and almost anywhere else on the web.

4. Start listening:

Google your business name to see what comes up. You may be surprised at the places it’s listed and what people are saying about your company.

If you are surprised, it’s a sign to implement some practices internally to start monitoring your company’s reputation.

You can either manually conduct a search regularly or implement an automated solution to alert you immediately of any new conversations about your business.

Here’s a handy list of 5 tools to help you monitor your online reputation from Social Media Examiner.

5. Address any and all reviews.

You may be tempted to ignore bad reviews or complaints, but believe it or not it makes you look worse if you don’t reply publicly.

Here are 5 tips to responding to reviews from Google My Business.

Tips for responding to reviews

Business owner responses allow you to build relationships with customers, but they’re also public. When replying to your customers, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Be nice and don’t get personal. This isn’t just a guideline–it’s also a good idea as a business owner. It’s difficult to win an argument with a frustrated customer, and you want to avoid burning bridges. Keep your responses useful, readable, and courteous. In addition, responses should comply with our local content policy.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Users are looking for useful and genuine responses, but they can easily be overwhelmed by a long response.
  • Thank your reviewers. Respond to happy reviewers when you have new or relevant information to share. You don’t need to thank every reviewer publicly, since each response reaches lots of customers, not just one.
  • Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so there’s no need to offer incentives or advertisements. Tell reviewers something new about your business, or share something they might not know from their first visit.

6. Go above & beyond:

The tone and speed of your response to a bad review is where you can really make or break your reputation.
In this CTV news clip, I was asked to comment on what appears to be a fraudulent sale of goods by a household brand.

This would never have become a news story if the response to the customer’s complaint on their facebook page hadn’t been a canned response to call their 1 800 number – where the customer didn’t get a response.
In the case studies above, with Winners & Applebees, both responses to the negative sentiment were woefully inadequate and appeared completely disingenuous.

Because customer sentiment can so powerfully and permanently affect your reputation, if you are in the wrong (like I believe Winners was ) you need to go above and beyond-
1.Get the customer’s information
2. Make an effort to get in touch with them right away.
3. Work to resolve the issue to their satisfaction
4. Once you get agreement on a solution, ask if the customer will then update their post with details on how you came through for them.
5. Going forward – work with your social media manager to create a policy for addressing unhappy customers in a way that shows you actually care.

7. Be proactive

By actively soliciting positive reviews- and incentivising your customers to do so, you can combat any negative and unfair reviews with a steady stream of positive reviews.

Copy and paste this templated email and send out to all your happy customers;  ( just replace the links with your Facebook & Google Plus page links before you send )

Dear customer,

Thank you so much for your business.

Please- tell us how we did!

Would you be so kind as to post a review for me on my Facebook page or my Google page?

I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your feedback!

Your questions answered: Can social media actually drive sales?

social media marketingToday’s question comes from Kevin who writes, “Can social media actually drive sales?”

That’s a great question, Kevin. If you’re looking for the answer for this, too, then keep on reading.

1. Social SEO

First of all, social media absolutely does drive sales because a lot of social media sites—Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest & Linkedin— show up on Google search results.

In fact if you have social media profiles, you can search your company name on Google right now and see that not just your website, but almost all your social media properties display on that first page of Google.

In the same way, customers searching for what you sell can see your social media profiles on the first page of Google. The trick is search optimizing those social profiles properly; using keywords, hashtags and mentioning your local service area.
In this way, you get exposure to folks who are actual, qualified prospects to buy your products or services.

2. Social Proof or Implicit Endorsements

The second thing is a presence on social media, as well as building an active engaged community, acts as social proof.
Simply put, most people make their buying decisions based on what other people are doing.

By having people on your social platforms engaging with your business, you are receiving implicit endorsement from them. This behavior, along with a consistent look and feel and recently updated information shows that you’re a credible business that people can trust.

This helps buyers through the part of the sales funnel, or buyer’s journey where they’re evaluating companies to make their purchasing decision. They can then omit businesses that don’t display social proof.

3. Buy Buttons on Social

And lastly, a lot of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are now offering a “Buy Now!” button directly in the newsfeed.

You can sell products without having to make your customer leave the actual social media site. So in that way, social media definitely can drive sales. The buy now button is available through the advertising options from each platform.

Has social media helped you drive sales? Share with me in the comments below.

Sharing is caring!  If you found this valuable, please consider sharing it with your network.

Tweet like a Rock Star – 3 tips for easy Twitter Marketing

marketing campaignSince its genesis in 2006, Twitter has become a global stage that anyone can step onto, grab the mic, and sing to their own audience. Thanks to the potential for easily reaching such a wide array of fans, it has become an integral part of most small business marketing campaigns today.

The only problem is, with so many voices vying to be heard, how can you make sure you don’t become just another brick in the wall?

Being middle-of-the-road means getting drowned in sound, your voice left unheard along with anyone else who only seems to sing for themselves. If you want to get noticed, you have to leave the world of MOR, and concentrate on leaving people wanting MOAR.

This means escaping the road to nowhere and learning how to tweet like a rock star. By following these three simple tips for your Twitter marketing campaign, you’ll soon be well on the way to headlining your own gigs.

Plan your setlist

The best rock concerts are the ones where it seems anything can happen. Of course though, the band do know exactly which songs to play and in what order to hold the show together.

In much the same way, the tweets you send out as part of your marketing campaign can be prepared, put down into a list, and scheduled to automatically go out in sequence and at specific times.

By using a service such as Buffer or Hootsuite, you can easily schedule a whole list of tweets that will be sent out whenever you choose. The benefits of this are twofold, giving you more free time by allowing you to schedule all of your tweets for the week ahead in one session, while also ensuring they are sent out at optimal times, when more people will see them.

Collaborate with your peers

Going solo is a career move that has worked for many rock stars, but doing so on Twitter is one of the worst strategies for your marketing campaign.

Giving a shout out to people, be they your fans or people in the same industry, will make them like you a whole lot more as they appreciate the effort you put into acknowledging or promoting their content too.

Every time you mention somebody or re-tweet their post, they’ll receive a notification, which gives you a chance of being mentioned or re-tweeted in return, with the latter being a big deal if they are a bigger influencer or have a wider audience than yourself.

Perhaps more importantly than receiving reciprocal Twitter activity however is the fact that by appearing in their notifications, you are keeping yourself at the forefront of their minds, which is the best place to be for your marketing campaign.

Hold live shows

As recently as a few weeks ago, Twitter acquired and launched Periscope, a live streaming video app that is looking to add a major string to the social media giant’s already impressive bow.

Downloading and installing the app will allow users to stream and view live videos on their Twitter profiles, increasing the options for creative new ways to bring your marketing campaign to your growing audience.

The live streams also take up more screen real estate than text-only tweets and engage the user for longer than a single image will, helping your content and name to stick in the mind for longer.

For a marketing campaign to have the desired results, standing out from the crowd on Twitter is a must. By following these three tips, you’ll open the doors to tweeting like the rock star you’ve always wanted to be.

Three Steps to Getting on Google

If you want your website to be noticed, you have to get on Google.


And if you want to get on Google, you have to make yourself as visible as possible to them and their web crawlers.

Then of course once you’re on, you’re going to want make sure you stay there.

Getting and staying on Google can be broken down into three easily remembered stages:

·      Build (on-site SEO)

·      Engage (off site SEO)

·      Stay fresh (regular content)

Let’s elaborate and see what these points really entail.

Build – on-site SEO

Anyone who maintains their own website, be it for business or pleasure, should at least be aware that SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a thing, even if they might not really understand it.

They also need to know that it comes in two flavours: on-site and off-site, and taking care of the on-site SEO while building your website is paramount if you want it to get on Google.

On-site SEO includes everything that your web design team can arrange for you, either behind the scenes or for public consumption; quality content with relevant keywords, page titles, Google text snippets, URLs, H1 or H2 headings, correctly tagged images, outbound links, and having a site map.

All of these will affect your Google rank, although some (content and titles) carry more weight than others (alt tags on images).

Engage – off-site SEO

As the name suggests, off-site SEO covers everything you can do in other places online to improve your own SEO and help you to get on Google.

One metric used by Google to measure your ranking is the quality of your inbound links; that is, links from other places directing people to your site.

The practice of link building has long been a big part of any SEO campaign, although the focus has now shifted to the subtly different but more interpersonal practice of link earning.

Advisable ways of earning the high quality links that help you to get on Google include reaching out to bloggers and asking them to link to your best content, or offer to write a guest post with a link back to your site.

Leaving useful, non-generic comments on relevant blog posts with a link back to your site also works, as does being active and respected on a forum that allows you to display your web address in your signature or in posts.

Building a community on social media is another great way to improve the engagement with your content, if you can encourage your audience to share it directly from your site.

Stay fresh – regular content

While on and off-site SEO practices help you to get on Google, the ubiquitous search engine also takes into account the freshness of your website and its content.

It makes sense; after all, Google wants you to keep using its service, so strives to give the most relevant, freshest results it can. Stale websites get punished by falling in the rankings.

Even if most of your website’s pages are static and don’t change, there are ways to maintain a steady stream of new content. The most common is a regular blog, with the opportunity for people to comment on the posts.

Depending on the nature of your site, running a forum is also a possibility and helps with the fresh posts and interaction that Google values so highly.

Get on Google, Stay on Google

Being found through organic search engine results is vital to your business, and that means one thing: you have to get on Google.

By following the three key stages of building, engaging and staying fresh, you’ll give yourself the best of chance of both getting and staying there.

5 Steps to Creating a Successful Online Contest


For brands that live online, creating an online contest is a great way to drive awareness and engagement. It’s a way to create fun, anticipation, and community among your followers. It is also a great way to garner loyalty and insights. However, running an online contest shouldn’t just be about a “Like to win” or “Tweet to win” approach. It should be a well thought-out, valuable experience for everyone.

That is why we have come up with 5 steps that you can take to ensure your online contest runs smoothly and creates a great experience within your community.

Create a Unique Website or Landing Page

Being able to direct your followers to a location on your website where they can enter your contest is important. This space should be eye-catching, it should include a call-to-action with an ‘Enter Contest’ button, and it should include the Rules & Regulations of the contest. This is where you will drive traffic for people to sign up to your contest. Make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

State your Intentions Clearly

People need to understand why they are entering your contest, so take the time to explain this to them. What will they win? What is the purpose? What are you trying to achieve? What is the end goal? Explaining this to people will help them understand and will encourage them to be on-board.

Create a Video or Image to Introduce your Contest

Once the landing page is created you will want to then create a video or image that you can share to promote your contest. If you create a video, you should aim for it to be around 2 minutes in length. If you create an image, make sure several versions are created in order to optimize the image dimensions for each social media channel or advertising platform.

Drive Interest on Social Media

Most companies will have a social media community that they will want to leverage for their contest. Use these communities to create buzz and to encourage followers to enter the contest or tell others about it. You can even use a unique hashtag to track conversation about your contest. Whatever you do, make this fun for your followers. Encourage them to participate, and then engage with them when they do.

Leverage your Email List

Whether you use Mailchimp or some other bulk email service, make sure you share this contest with your email subscribers. These are the folks who value your insight the most, and should almost be given the first chance to enter. Once again, make sure you use a combination of graphics and clear intention to share your message, and make sure your readers know “what’s in it for them”.

Final Word

When running an online contest remember that you have already gained the trust of your followers by having them be part of your community. The point of an online contest is to have fun and create camaraderie, to show your community your human side. So have a good time with it, but make sure you pay attention to the details. In the end, it’s the little things that count.