Category Archives: Social Media

Big Ideas Begin with Writers

By Erica Dix, former BIW Writer

They say that you can do a lot of different things with a degree in English. Some routes are obvious to everyone, like becoming an English teacher, or going on to law school. However, many students choose English because they have a passion for writing. Of course, not everyone is cut out for writing the next great American novel, so what’s an English major to do?

The fact is, writers are in high demand, and bringing creativity to writing is a truly marketable skill. As an English major, the important thing is to know that your writing is valuable, and to explore where it will be valued.

I enjoyed learning about great literature and critiquing fiction, but I never guessed it would translate to the world of marketing communications. However, in English class, we are taught to come up with big ideas, create content from prompts, and analyze text for meaning and direction, which is exactly what is necessary to be an effective writer who can create engaging content for websites, blogs and more.

Enter Big Ideas Writing

While I was a student at DePaul, I was lucky enough to intern at my mom’s company, Big Ideas Writing, a marketing strategy and content marketing firm. I learned the basics of freelancing, and how to work independently.

One of the toughest skills I learned was how to focus myself and stay motivated even when the boss isn’t around, and you are working at home, surrounded by distractions. I learned to meet deadlines despite the allures of Netflix or the constant barrage of unanswered texts and emails. I also learned that people who are good writers have many job titles like Marketing Strategist, Social Media Manager, Project Manager, and Communications Specialist.

Every person with a liberal arts degree can turn those essay-writing skills into a great career in marketing communications if they are willing to learn a few things outside of the classroom. Here are some practical, tangible skills that Big Ideas Writing taught me, that many businesses are looking for right now.

How to write a press release. Like the iambic couplets I studied in Shakespeare class, I learned to write press releases within certain parameters to convey information in a specific way. Press releases are designed to provide information to the media, and they have to be as straightforward and informative as possible, all within a word limit. Being able to write within a very specific set of rules can be very rewarding, and hone your creativity.

How to create social media posts for business. Companies like writers who can put together a creative Facebook, Instagram or Twitter post. When you write for social media, you have to be brief, pointed, and keep your eye on the prize: increased exposure for your client. Like the essay outlines we are taught to create in English class, social media calendars and posts help us hit the objectives of our campaign and organize our ideas into relevant content.

What SEO keywords are and how to use them. Search Engine Optimization is not something that they teach in English class, but if you have a way with words, knowing a little about SEO can get your digital content found on the internet. As English majors, our attention to detail in grammar and style makes us experts at inserting SEO keywords in a natural way.

How to write a “share-worthy” blog post… like this one! In the classroom, the professor that we English majors write for is a captive audience. With a little creative problem-solving, writers can produce an informative, persuasive or disruptive blog that reaches the public and generates those views, likes and shares. Creating online content will bring your writing into the 21st century!

How to edit my own work. Everyone likes to imagine that their first draft is perfect, but anyone who rereads their first draft the next day will realize that it’s not. For many writers, that journey begins in college where professors have students rewrite essays. The novice writer is easily frustrated by revisions and criticism, but by graduation, English majors have the humility and patience that it takes to revise like a pro.

How to always look for new opportunities. Having no boss sounds like fun… until you realize that you have to become your own boss. If you’re too easy on yourself, you will never meet deadlines and strive to be your best. The only way to succeed in freelancing is to be disciplined and passionate. Never stop searching for your next project, always promote yourself, and think from the client’s perspective. Figure out what clients need, and make it available to them.

Speaking of looking for opportunities, I am currently on the hunt for my next big one. I sadly say goodbye to Big Ideas, but the skills that I learned while working there are ideal for work with a marketing agency or association, preferably one in science, medical or environmental issues. I have always had a mind for science, and minored in Environmental Studies, so I am especially interested in work that is related to science and health. I also live in Chicago and am interested in loop locations. You can check out my work portfolio here. I will always be thankful for the lessons I learned at Big Ideas Writing, and I am excited to launch a long and prosperous career in content writing and marketing.

If you are interested in referring me for a position working in content writing, please email me at erica@bigideaswriting.com.

What Do I Put on my Business Facebook Page?

It’s the age old question of businesses everywhere: What do I put on my business Facebook page?

The personal is easy, right? Funny selfies, birthday and anniversary greetings, and great news about our kids, to name a few.

But what’s appropriate on business Facebook pages?

That all depends on your audience.

Every company has a different corporate culture and industry. How much of their information should be shared with their Facebook audience is an individual matter. However, Facebook, unlike LinkedIn or even Twitter, thrives on visual and energetic content.

There are many studies and statistics out there about what content is sure to engage and encourage clickthroughs and shares, but most agree that adding a photo or video to your post will best engage your audience—up to 2.3 times more engagement according to Hubspot. Other visual content, like infographics, are likely to be shared three times more than other content. In other words, it pays to “dress up” your posts.

For the past five years I’ve been curating, creating and posting social media content for businesses, and I never seem to run out of ideas for my clients’ Facebook pages. Below I give you 60 ideas for your Facebook posts, but all you really have to do is reach out with a BRANCH—an acronym I made up to help you remember “categories” and therefore inspire your content.

B stands for Behind the Scenes. Depending on the nature of your corporate culture, there are elements of your office, environment, and people which you can share to humanize your organization and make your Facebook friends feel more connected to you. You’ll be surprised at how effectively engaging these light, fun posts can be. Posts that I have seen/created in this category include:

  1. Office renovations (Ex. “So excited about our new conference room!” with photo of course)
  2. Video office tour
  3. Employee birthday (with their photo)
  4. New equipment (“Our new 3D printer will make our job so much easier!” with photo)
  5. Office celebrations or special days (Ex. “Our staff dressed up for Halloween”)
  6. Employee workplace achievement (Ex. “Employee of the month”)
  7. Employee industry achievement (Ex. president of association)
  8. Employee personal achievement of interest (Ex. won the Boston Marathon)
  9. Distinguished visitor to the office (with photo)
  10. Photos of merchandise being staged or ready for sale (“We are set for the sale!” with image of full warehouse)
  11. Images of awards you may have won
  12. Now hiring with link to recruiter site or website career page
  13. Organization support for a charity or non-profit (photo of logo in program, on t-shirt, etc.)
  14. Post a staff photo and identify everyone in it
  15. Post a photo collage of the workplace
  16. Post a “throwback Thursday” photo

R stands for Relevant. In other words, this is information your clients really need to know about your business. These are usually changes or things your organization has done that could have a direct impact on your customers/clients.

  1. New hours of operation
  2. New services
  3. New website
  4. New logo
  5. An infographic about your process or services
  6. Post an unexpected use of your product or service
  7. Post your business’ commercial or advertisement
  8. Ask for input on a product

A stands for Around either the industry, the town, or the world. These posts connect something the business is doing to something that is happening elsewhere. These can be shared articles or originally produced content. Posts I’ve seen/created in this genre include:

  1. Comments on a current event in relation to the industry
  2. Organization/participation in an upcoming trade show. (Don’t forget to put booth number)
  3. Organization at an upcoming event (Link to event registration)
  4. Organization or employee participation in an upcoming training
  5. Organization hosting or sponsoring an event (Image of signage)
  6. Organization support of local community (Ex. Image of sponsored team jersey)
  7. New laws, codes, regulations or political news that would affect customers
  8. Show a nostalgic picture from the business-first office, first dollar earned, etc.
  9. Product recall notices of interest to your readers

N stands for Nice, or nice things your customers have said/done for you, or things you would like to say or do for your customers. There’s no better third-party endorsement you can get, or any better way to generate corporate goodwill!

  1. Testimonials your customers have given you
  2. Photo of a thank you note from a customer
  3. Photo of a customer with your product that they sent to you
  4. Photo of a gift your customer sent to you
  5. A heartfelt thank you for a good quarter, season, etc.
  6. A promotion for a special sale to Facebook friends
  7. Engage your customers by holding a contest (Ex., “Name the new mascot”, “best photo with our product”)

C is for Content. This is information that your audience will value; either generated or shared by the company.

  1. Link to your latest blog post
  2. Link to one of your older blog posts that is relevant again
  3. Share an article from another source that will help explain an important topic to your clients
  4. Share a fun cartoon about a relevant subject that will make them laugh
  5. Post a video answer to an often-asked customer question
  6. Share statistics or a chart your customers would be interested in
  7. An inspirational saying with an image shared from another source
  8. An inspirational saying with image you create with your logo on it
  9. Recommend a tool or technique to help customers use your product or service
  10. Give a recommendation (or share one) to a vendor or product connected with yours
  11. Honor a timely or unusual holiday. For example, if you are a restaurant, wish everyone a happy National Hamburger Day
  12. Offer a free ebook or whitepaper
  13. Post a link to your company newsletter
  14. Provide a summary or important information that you received from a seminar or webinar
  15. Share a presentation you have through a slideshow or series of posts
  16. Share a recipe with a relevant ingredient, name, geographic region, etc.

H stands for Happenings. What is your business doing that’s new or interesting? Keep your audience engaged in how you’re actively participating with them and the community.

  1. Invitations to organization-sponsored events
  2. New product introductions
  3. Promote special sales events
  4. Stream live at an organization-sponsored event.

I’m certain there are hundreds more. What has been your most successful piece of content posted on your business Facebook page? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list! And if you need any help with your business Facebook page, please contact us.

Social Media Prime Time: When Your Business Should Post

Social media is an incredibly important aspect of today’s business practices, and knowing when the best time is to post or update social media can be key to exposing your content to a wider audience.

Recently, I attended a presentation on this very topic given by Maria Ramos, an award-winning blogger and social media consultant.  Her website, A Savings Wow, is an eclectic mix of coupons, savings tips, and deals and giveaways. As a social media consultant, Maria helps businesses get the most from their efforts, and her presentation gave some concrete information on the best and worst times to post on some of the most popular platforms. I’ve put together this chart as a handy guide for myself (and you!) to schedule accordingly.

Social media Best time to post Worst times to post
Facebook 1-2 times per day, 1pm to 4pm ET Weekends before 8am and after 8pm ET
Twitter About 3 times a day, Mondays through Thursdays from 1pm to 3pm ET Every day after 8pm and Friday after 3pm ET
Instagram Mondays from 3pm to 4pm ET
LinkedIn 2 to 4 times a week, Tuesdays through Thursdays at noon and between 5pm and 6pm ET Mondays and Fridays between 10pm and 6am ET

Also, if you have active social media, make sure your customers and prospects know you’re there! There are many unusual places to put your social media icons that you may not have considered.

Experts will tell you that even if you don’t follow the guidelines above, the important thing is to post, get the word out and make social media work for you!

At Big Ideas Writing, we help clients with their social media content and page management. If you need some help with yours, contact us today!

Ten Ways to Promote Your Business After You’ve Won an Award

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So you’ve won a business award. Congratulations!

After you’re done with the awards ceremony, the handshakes, the acceptance speech, the photo op and the positioning of the trophy on the front desk of your office, remember, the power of that award is yet to be unleashed. Don’t leave the story to be told only to those who enter your office. It’s time to tell the world!

Chances are the organization, non-profit or publication that gave you the award will have some public relations efforts in place. They will probably have a press release prepared and distributed with the names of the winners on it. If you are a sole winner, this may or may not be the case. If you are a winner in a multi-category or multi-tiered competition, the press release will include names of all winners. Whether you are a sole winner or one among many, it is always a good idea to make the investment to do the most important thing you can do…

  1. Issue your own personalized press release. Why should you do this, you ask, if the organization is doing their own press release? For several reasons. First, your own press release allows you to describe your business and include a quote from your president or CEO which helps increase your brand awareness and the award’s significance to your company. Second, you can customize the distribution to the right trade and local publications, which may lead to a feature story or other opportunities. You may or may not be privy to the media list from the awarding organization and many of the outlets may have no meaning for your customers and potential customers. Finally, in some markets, your release may provide a secondary touchpoint for the news. You can never get your name into the press too often!
  1. Announce the award on social media. If you have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or even just Linkedin, make the announcement with nice images of the actual award or the company representative receiving the award. As you know, the beauty of social media is its shareability. That’s why social media is a great way to get the word out to the world as quickly as possible.
  1. Announce the Award Internally. It’s important for morale that your employees know they have won an award so they too can spread the news. It’s even a greater morale booster to have a small in-house celebration, which can be as inexpensive as allowing a casual dress day or bringing in donuts or a celebratory cake. The announcement can be made orally or in writing, with a description of the ways the award will be publicized, and of course an invitation for them to share the company social media posts about the accolade.
  1. Add “award winning” to all company descriptions. After they win an award, I tell my clients from that day on, they now have the right to call themselves an “award winning” company. It’s not bragging—it’s a fact, and one that can be used in many occasions to add authority and relevance to the company.
  1. Add to company collateral (stickers). It’s often Murphy’s Law that the day the new brochure rolls off the press, the company wins an award which of course is then not mentioned in the brochure. I often recommend a company produce inexpensive, but tasteful looking stickers that can be affixed to marketing materials like a seal, stating the name of the award.
  1. Add to your email signature. Your email signature is seen daily by scores of people who may not know about your award. Just add a statement that says “winner of the (year) (award name). Be inconspicuous, yet bold.
  1. Consider an advertisement. It’s common for companies to take out an advertisement after they’ve won an award to call attention to their achievement, or to possibly congratulate fellow winners.
  1. Tell clients individually or in company newsletter. Winning an award is a great time to touch base with clients and thank them for their patronage. Some companies even go as far as to make a special direct mail piece card that is an announcement and “out of the blue” show of appreciation for their clients. Announcing it on the company newsletter is another good place, or any other marketing materials that typically hit your clients.
  1. Signage. Right near my home is a car wash that was honored as a “best of” from a local magazine as voted on by the readers. It is a banner that hangs outside, just above the front door. My first thought? Smart. More companies should do that!20150710_134719
  1. Website home page. Finally, an often overlooked but very important place to put your award is on your website home page. A mention, a graphic element, a slider image or banner are all ways to represent the award on your website.

It’s your award so make it count! Can you think of any other ways to publicize your awards? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Ten Unusual Places to Include Your Social Media Icons

social-media-iconsStatistics say that 8 out of 10 small businesses are using social media. That’s not surprising since using social media is an efficient, affordable way to build a following and disseminate information to the masses with the click of the mouse. However, if you’ve got a corporate social media account, like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc. the only way it will work for you is if people know about it. Displaying your social media icons prominently on your marketing materials is the way to do it best. Some places are obvious, such as your website and your printed collateral pieces, but others are more obscure, yet just as effective if we remember to take advantage of them.

SM Car 1For example,  I was driving down the street the other day behind a bright, VW bug, which was, to be more specific, the Sunology bug. There on the back of the vehicle, prominently displayed on the hood, was a string of social media icons.  Since I was at a dead stop, the business had me captive, reading their complete call to action sprawled across the back panel of the vehicle, including an explanation of the product. If I was interested in what they were selling,  I had absolutely no excuse not to connect with the company. All the information I needed to do so was right there, with my smart phone just a reach away. I could even just snap a picture, like I did,  and all the information that the company wanted me to know would be captured,  Since then, I’ve been noticing more and more businesses including social media icons on their corporate transportation vehicles as well as other unusual places.

Many of us already have marketing vehicles in place that we may or may not have thought to include our social media icons. So I’ve put together my top ten list of unusual places to include your social media icons. How does it compare to your company’s marketing efforts? If there’s room for improvement, add your icons. You have nothing to lose, and followers to gain!

1. Corporate transportation vehicles

2. Business cards

3. Email signatures

4. Website home page

5. Shopping Bags

6. Billboards

7. Corporate T-shirts

8.  Trade Show Exhibits

9. Corporate novelty items

10. Letterhead

One final word about using those social media icons, though. To avoid any legal complications, be sure you adhere to the branding guidelines set forth by Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. before you reproduce.

So where’s the most unusual place your company has placed their social media icons? I’d love to hear from you about what has worked for your business.  Remember, there’s no such thing as overexposure when you’re talking about social media icons!

 

THE SECRET TO GETTING LINKEDIN RECOMMENDATIONS

LINKEDIN_RECS

I’ve always been a fan of Linkedin and nothing strengthens your profile like a recommendation from a colleague or client.  Linkedin recommendations can provide valuable insight into your services and professionalism, especially if they are sincere and informative.

However, for most people, the idea of “asking” for a recommendation can feel uncomfortable. We don’t want to brag about ourselves let alone ask someone else to do it.  But really, it’s just a business best practice, especially after a successful collaboration or when you’ve just made a client sublimely happy.

Usually, if you ask for a recommendation, you will receive….eventually.  But there is another, alternate secret to getting a Linkedin recommendation that I have learned from others wiser than me:

 Give one.

In other words, if you give you may receive.  We all like to reciprocate good deeds and giving a Linkedin recommendation is exactly that—a good deed.  If you consider your network of friends and colleagues,there are many that you could probably give a thoughtful, sincere recommendation. And whether or not the effort is reciprocated, you will be helping two parties by taking the time to provide a recommendation: the subject of the recommendation; and anyone who views him on the internet to consider him for his product or service. Your words may just determine whether or not he gets the call.

If you’ve never written a linkedin recommendation, or don’t know where to start, here’s some basic tips to make it easy:

Begin with the specifics and length of your association with the subject.   Start by stating how you know the subject and for how long you have known him. Then reveal what you know about him beyond the immediate affiliation. For example, if you know Steve from a professional association, add more if you can.  For example, “I met Steve five years ago at an  Air Conditioning Association meeting. He currently serves as president of the group.” 

Answer the question, why is this person worth a recommendation?   “Steve is a hardworking, creative contributor to our team who has truly made a difference.”

Include specific achievements that you have witnessed.  “In his first year, Steve’s efforts brought in three major clients to our firm.”

Include personal attributes that would be appreciated on a professional level.    Even in business situations you may have observed attributes about the subject that are worth mentioning in a professional recommendation. For example, are they hard-working? A great leader? Fair? Truly caring of their clients? Dedicated? Bringing personal attributes into the recommendation demonstrates that your relationship with the subject is genuine. “Steve is a great leader who is always willing to lend a hand to others.”

Close with a recommendation  At the end of the recommendation feel free to give a recommendation! “I recommend Steve to any company considering air conditioning service.”

In business as in life, giving feels great and reaps rewards. So next time you’re wondering why your Linkedin recommendation section is a little scant, it’s time to GIVE ONE.  Try it.  And leave me a comment about how it worked out for you!

 

SHOT TO THE TOP 10% ON LINKEDIN ….

top 10% linkedin imageBy Karen Dix

How dare Linkedin take me on this emotional rollercoaster?

I was among the most impressed (and gullible!) when I got the email from Linkedin recently telling me that my profile was among the top 10% viewed.  I am ashamed to say, I even shared it on Facebook in haste.   Being a right-brained, social media content hungry, professional freelance copywriter, I  didn’t  stop to do the math and realize, that I was only “special” among 20 million visitors.

Instead, I shared the news with my number-loving, left brain friend who laughed at my enthusiasm and said he also had received this special distinction.  Now I was confused!  

My friend, who had 60 connections, was an employee of a company and not even in an active job search had received the same honor as I, an entrepreneur with hundreds of connections who has used Linkedin faithfully to connect with people, seek opportunities and research prospective clients every day. Yet he and I were equal in the sight of Linkedin!?

Now I was a little indignant.

Then my friend admitted that he had indeed been using Linkedin more in the past six months, so I can only conclude that his most recent activity must have jumped his rating. What was he doing?  Easy stuff, that I do all the time:

  • Joining groups
  • Updating his profile
  • Commenting on blogs
  • Making more connections
  • Recommending people

After our chat, I also found out that there were recognitions for the top 5% and 1% as well. So now, I’m challenged.  If all he had to do was “the usual” to up his ranking, then there’s hope for me to up mine as well.  Maybe next year I’ll get one of the “higher” letters.   But if my friend does too, then I guess I’ll strap myself in for another ride!  

A Corporate Facebook Night Before Christmas

With gratitude and apology to Clement Clarke Moore, I offer a special Christmas tale for all my hardcore Facebookers out there….

 A Corporate Facebook Night Before Christmas

Santa Computer
Twas the night before Christmas and through cyberspace, 
I don’t know who was present, ‘cept I in my place.
To post on my corporate Facebook with care,
In hopes that more “likes” and “shares” soon would be there.
 
 
While others were nestled all snug in their beds,
those visions of better stats danced in my head.
Me on my keyboard monitoring my site,
Just couldn’t get rested, not even tonight.
 
I had waited too long to post holiday mirth,
Now here I sat with no ideas of worth.
I wanted a message with style and lift,
A post to go viral would be the best gift!
 
When over my email arose such a flutter,
A notification, and yes then another!
Back to my home page I flew in a blink,
The “like” was from “Santa” and the profile pic winked! 
 
The image of him showed he was the real thing,
He shimmered and moved as if inside my screen.
The monitor glow in my dim, office light,
was replaced by this luminous, magical sight.    
 
Then, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

reindeer

But eight more likes from all his tiny reindeer.
From Dasher! And  Dancer! and Prancer and Vixen!
Now Comet, and Cupid, and Donner and Blitzen! 
 
I had no idea that reindeer could post!
And Santa got wifi from…. some special host?!
Yet there they all were and their images too,
Alert and alive, on my screen right in view.
 
I blinked and I winked and was even afraid,
Was I going stark mad from this site that I made?
And then, in a twinkling, I saw on my screen
A comment appear like I never had seen.
 
St. Nick looked right at me, each word seemed ablaze,
And this is what Santa did post on my page:
 
“My dear, Christmas Eve needs a rest from the clicks,
The keystrokes, the comments, strategic blog picks.
Retreat from your desk, rest your head for the night,
Your family and friends should be all that you “like.”
There’ll be more time later to work for your cause.
For the magic of Christmas should make all take pause!”  
 
Then quick as a wink as I finished the words,  
The post up and vanished, and with it, the herd.
I sat for a while to let it sink in, 
Then rose from my desk and went straight to turn in.
 
The next day I did as the old man did say,family
Made fond family memories that great holiday.
And when I checked Facebook on 12/26,
Dear Santa, I saw, had been up to some tricks!
 
The post that dear Santa wrote so elegantly, 
Was there on my page but now posted from ME!
The words had gone viral, my stats through the roof!
I hadn’t been dreaming, and here was the proof! I smiled to myself and gave thanks for the gift, 

Not the triumph online but the attitude shift.

For work will remain, despite all that we do,

But Christmas with family is success that is true. 

 

Merry Christmas From Karen Dix at Big Ideas Writing!