Dealing with emails

Dealing with emails

newsletter of social squids
As a business owner, I’m sure you get a ton of emails every day just like I do. Keeping up with emails can take a good chunk of time every day.

Dealing with the junk

The first thing I do is clear out the junk. I set up rules (which you can do on a Mac) to send mail from spammers to my junk or trash folder and they’re gone forever.

I don’t unsubscribe from emails from people I know, but I get added to mailing lists all of the time and they are not emails I want or need. So I unsubscribe.

If you set up an account with a company where you buy things online, don’t subscribe to their emails unless you really want them. Many of them send daily emails, or at least weekly emails that can fill your inbox quickly.

You might get notices from social media sites, you can limit them by changing your setting in the social media site to not receive email notifications from them. Of course, don’t delete the ones you need. I like to know when someone messages my business pages so I can respond to them quickly.

Responding to emails

A good rule of thumb is to wait to open emails until you have time to answer them. Don’t open an email and think, “I’ll get back to him later.” Do it now and be done with it. People lose business every day because they don’t get back to people.

Make sure people know you are answering the emails and not a bot. Create a signature with your name, website, phone number and any other pertinent information they might need. That shows the sender you are responding and not an underling.

Put the sender’s name in the greeting (and always write a greeting) when you respond and be personal. If the email is coming from your website contact page, it’s just as important as a direct email.

Be sure to plan time in your schedule for responding to emails so you don’t get behind. They add up quickly and will end up costing you a good bit of time to get caught up again.

11 tips to make the most of your Facebook posts

newsletter of social squids

Grow your following

We all have Facebook pages, but getting new followers is can be tough. Here are some tips to increase your following and engagement of your posts.

1. This one is obvious. You can buy page likes. However, when you buy followers, they might not remain followers. Some will follow for a short period of time and then disappear.

2. Using the correct demographics for your business when buying followers can help with retention, but the further you narrow down your audience, the more expensive the ad will be. In the end, however, you get higher quality followers.

3. A good way to encourage post sharing is to have a contest where people have to share in order to have a chance at winning. You can pick a winner at random, use the funniest caption or come up with another way to pick the winner. Another contest idea is to have customers/clients post pictures with your products and pick the post with the most likes as the winner. Best snowman during a snowstorm, best Halloween costume, cutest pet, etc. are also good contest topics. The prize can be anything from your products, services or even a Target gift card. People love winning!

4. Respond to all of the comments on your posts, even (and especially) the negative ones. Explain your point of view in your return comment and then send them a private message trying to make them feel better. Many times the person who posted the negative comment will then post a positive one once they are appeased.

5. Combine forces with someone who has an adjacent or complimentary business to yours. Each of you post things and tag each other so that the post will appear on both pages. You will get some crossover viewers. It is especially helpful if you find someone who has more followers than you.

6. Become a name dropper! If you mention a well known business or person, eat at a popular restaurant or go to a function at a big night spot tag the person or business in your photo and/or post so more people will see what you have to say.

7. Make sure all of your social media pages have links on your website. It’s surprising how many people don’t do this.

8. Comment on other pages with meaningful content. Picking pages with lots of followers gets more engagement.

9. Add a link to your Facebook page to your email signature so everyone you email has a link to your page.

10. Figure out what is working? Monitor your results when you run an ad, have a contest or try another method of boosting your following. Look at the “insights” on your page to see if there is a spike in new likes.

11. Post often and consistently so people know you are seriously involved in your business.

*BONUS TIP* Don’t ask your friends to like your comments, ask them to like and SHARE your comments. When someone shares a comment, it goes to all of their friends and you can reach exponentially more people that way. This is the best way to get new fans, but is often the least used!

Good luck! Please keep us informed on how these tips are working for you by sharing your thoughts and ideas on our page.

DNA Day

DNA testingToday is DNA Day and there are so many reasons to find out about your DNA. In my family, my brother had it done, along with a couple cousins. For me, since I already knew where my family came from, finding out in which countries my ancestors lived was a lot less important that the other information from DNA testing.

DNA for family

The great news is, we discovered new first cousins we didn’t know were out there’d. We have connected online and are meeting in person in a few weeks. I’m sorry my uncle isn’t around to get to meet his children.

I started a family Facebook page and everyone is sharing photos and stories. It’s been a lot of fun reminiscing. Some of the older relatives helped me identify some unknown people in photos where I either didn’t know who the people were or couldn’t remember. The new cousins told their stories and shared photos with all of us.

Knowledge is power

Finding out about genetic illnesses like the bracha breast cancer gene can be a way to find out if you might have that disease. Of course, you can still get breast cancer even if you don’t have the brachia gene. People have made the decision to have a preventative mastectomy to lower their risk once discovering they did have the gene.

Isn’t science great?

 

If a website is there and no one looks at it…

… does it really exist?

SEO will help your ranking

Why don’t more people see my website?

You listen to everyone’s advice and you got a website, but no one is visiting. Why does it matter whether or not you have a site or not?

The truth is that you just never know when a prospect may look to see exactly what is on your website and what you do. Almost every business, big or small, has a website. It’s just something you need to do as part of your marketing in today’s world.

The mistake many people make is they think a stagnant website is enough. It’s not.

One of the things the search engines, like Google and bing, look for is activity on those pages and sites. The more active you are, the better.

Websites are ranked by a lot of factors, but one of them is activity – new pages and/or posts and the updating of existing pages and/or posts. If you have a blog and never put anything on it, that’s a negative. If you post regularly it’s a plus.

SEO

SEO, or search engine optimization, is a method by which you can make changes on your website to have the search engines look more favorably at it. How do people search for you? What terms do they use? For example, in my case it is social media, Baltimore, Maryland, Social Squids, graphic design, writing, websites, etc. Those terms are called keywords.

Search engines frequently change their algorithms in order to fight against people trying to cheat the system. The algorithms are getting smarter so people are forced to be more legitimate in how they put words on their sites. That old, tricky tactics made for some terrible writing on websites.

If you use WordPress for your website, there is a handy plugin called Yoast SEO. It works really well by giving you pointers on how to add or subtract things to your site in order to make the SEO better and thereby help your search engine ranking. It focuses on keywords, outbound links, images and other components that will improve the flow and look of your website while helping the search engines find you and send people your way. Yoast uses a red, amber, green light system like traffic lights. The idea is to get all of the pages on your site to be green in the SEO category. There is also a “readability” category that gets a score.

Whether you use Yoast or other software, amping up your site for search engines is important if you want to stay competitive. Social Squids is here if you need us with help for SEO or writing for your site.

How do you define success?

how do you define successAfter watching the Barbara Bush funeral on Saturday, I have been thinking about legacies. What will your business leave to the world? How do you measure whether or not your business, and you as a person, are successful? How do you define success?

We had a discussion in my networking group today about this topic. Of course, there is the money definition. A successful person is one who has a financially successful business, or is financially successful himself.

But if you look a little deeper and think about how you define happiness, the money is only one small component. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly helps make things easier. However, it’s not the barometer most people use to measure happiness or success.

People who have a happy family life consider themselves a success. Those of us who are lucky enough to work at a job we love, that gives us fulfillment – and yeah, money too – consider themselves successful.

Others define success as having enough money to travel and do the things they want to do in life with their families. Is a difficult thing to define, but it’s worth a thought.

Someone in the networking group mentioned that as we get older, our priorities change. The nice car, the house in the “right” neighborhood and other status symbols seem to lose their pull. People are less interested in things and more interested in experiences.

When it’s all said and done, your material things are not that important. In fact, there was a controversial article within the last year about how kids no longer want their parents’ stuff. Millennial have less desire to take those hand-me-downs over getting something new.

Living a good life, having good friends, being of service to your clients, loving your family – those are things that matter more than anything else in the end.

 

Dangerous spam

newsletter of social squidsLately there has been a lot of talk about hacking. Criminals are getting into corporate databases and getting people’s email addresses or even credit card information. For those hackers who get your email, they may send you something that can wreak havoc on your life.

We’ve all received suspicious emails without knowing whether to open them or not. If you’re in doubt, do not click on any links or attachments!

There is annoying spam, which is harmless. However, in the past couple years there have been more and more cases of dangerous spam. Cases of ransomware – holding your personal data for ransom – are the most frightening. Some breaches require software to be added to your computer in order to fight back.

Most of us are familiar with the Nigerian prince scam, but there are many others out there including lottery winners, tax scams, expired warranty claims, religious, fake contest winners and all kinds of other ways to bilk hard working people out of their money.

There are some easy ways to spot dangerous emails. If you receive an email from a credit card company, bank, investment firm or any other company where you do not have an account that talks about your account – that is suspicious. The content of the email may mention how your account is overdrawn or some other problem. You know you don’t have an account with them, so you can’t be overdrawn. Simply delete the email.

If you look at the first image, you will see an email I received recently. It claims to be from Wells Fargo. I no longer have an account with Wells Fargo, so that was a red flag for me.

dangerous spam is in your mailbox

Secondly, it says “Dear Member.” Banks always have a custom greeting that includes your name. That was red flag #2. The next red flag was the first sentence. It is not written in plain language. Banks are clear and concise with their messages. If there are misspellings (there are none in this one), that’s another red flag.

Absolutely, under no circumstances, click on an attachment if you are unsure of the sender!

In the second image, you will see that if you click on the sender’s name, you will see their email address. Obviously, that email is not coming from Wells Fargo. A real email from them would be from wellsfargo.com and not some foreign country. Sometimes they get tricky and have an email that might have Wells Fargo within the email address like wellsfargoaccounts@gmail.com, but if it’s not from wellsfargo.com, it’s not from them.

dangerous spam email

If you get what you think is a suspicious email and it’s from a company where you do have an account, don’t reply to it. Never click the link in the email if you are unsure. It can end up putting a virus on your computer. You can call them or go to their website and ask them if they sent the email. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

I used to try to report suspicious emails to companies when I received them, but found it was incredibly time consuming. Many times banks, cable companies, phone companies, etc. have places where you can report suspicious emails to help them put a stop to the activity. Unfortunately, most of the time, it is difficult to find that information on their sites. I have often reported suspicious emails to PayPal as their information was easy to find. You simply forward the suspicious email to spoof@paypal.com. The address for suspicious Comcast emails is abuse@comcast.net.

When you forward an email, it contains all of the header information (who sent it and from where it was sent) so the company can try to stop these people from hurting anyone.

There is virus protection software that will weed out at least some of the bad emails. Avast is a free anti virus program that works for Mac and PC computers. It used to be that Macs were such a small part of the home computer market that no one attacked them with a virus or malware. Today everyone needs to have some form of protection.

If you have older family members using email, it is important to let them know how to spot suspicious emails and to be leery of them. That demographic is the most vulnerable. Be safe with your emails and use common sense before responding to emails from large companies or opening any attachments.

Website promotion tips

gain page views on websiteEntrepreneurs of all industries have websites, but many business owners have no idea how to draw attention to them. While certain marketing like SEO (search engine optimization) is best left to professionals, you can do some things on your own to help put your website on the map.

Some of these suggestions may seem like no-brainers, however business owners are not always well versed in the ways of self promotion. It doesn’t take a computer wiz to do some simple things that will significantly increase your website page views.

Website self promotion

Doing these basic tasks can help gain momentum for your web page and ultimately boost your sales.

Increased sales is what we all want.

  1. Make sure the search engines have your site indexed. The search engine bots (automated software) regularly reach out to websites, but adding them yourself lets you know for sure Google and Bing know about you.
  2. Post new blogs, pages or updates to your personal social media pages. Even if you have someone who posts for you, add some yourself.
  3. Email your friends about your website.
  4. Set up a Yelp page for your business and encourage your best clients to post on it. Your clients can also post reviews on your Facebook business page.
  5. Add link to your site in the signature of your email.
  6. Make sure your site and social media pages are on your business card, brochure and any other printed materials. This may seem obvious, but people who do not live and breathe digital technology often forget to include their website on marketing materials.
  7. On your personal Facebook page, add your website in the settings section.
  8. Write an article about your business for someone else’s website. Guest blogging gives your business a new audience.
  9. Participate in online forums (using your web address in your signature). This also helps lend credibility and shows you are an expert in your field.
  10. Yahoo has a section where people answer questions. You get points when people like your answers. Become a well-known expert in your field by answering questions in the topic that best relates to your business (add your website under your name in your credentials).
  11. Create a magnet for your vehicle with the website in large letters.
  12. Many local businesses have neighborhood bulletin boards, add your card or flyer (with website on it).
  13. Bonus tip: Many blogs and sites recommend creating controversy on your social media pages to bring attention to yourself and your website. I disagree. Yes, people take notice, but you also take the risk of alienating people who are fans now. Upbeat posts are best.

Go through the list and do the things you feel comfortable doing. If you have questions or need help, please contact Social Squids. We can assist with marketing, printed materials, websites and social media.

Dealing with the computer illiterate

computer literacyYesterday I had a meeting with a prospective client about setting up a website. He is a very nice man, but really had no idea what a website does or why he should have one. He never thought about it before because he doesn’t really use a computer.

I see less and less of this type of person. Most people, even many of my relatives over the age of 80, at least use email and Facebook. Not this guy.

It was difficult explaining things to this man because I had to define the terms I was using as I went along. That often got me sidetracked. The man wants to sell something on his website that he makes by hand. He said he’d rather be working with his hands than using a computer. Obviously.

My explanations included how a search engine works and what it does, what Etsy.com is, Facebook, web hosting, domain name, etc. The poor man’s eyes glazed over when I talked about setting up a PayPal account so he can sell his products online. Of course, I had to explain what PayPal is and how it works. “How would I get the money?” he asked after a 10 minute explanation. I had to start from the beginning again.

Luckily, I am very patient. Years ago, I taught word processing in adult education. It was the same situation. The idea of switching from typing on paper to on the computer screen is confusing at first. I explained everything to this man as thoroughly as I could. I’m sure everything I said to him was a confused jumble in his mind when he left.

As a result of the conversation with this man, I have decided to write out some definitions/explanations to hand to people when I get together with them. It is my responsibility to explain what I do and all of the terms involved to a prospective client. I can either email (if they have email) or hand a prospective client the paper so when they go home and discuss it with people, they will have a better idea of what I do.

We need more brains!

brains, not just for zombies any moreNo, this is not a post about zombies. Sorry if you thought that!

Have you ever had a great idea, but after pondering it for a little while, you are not quite sure if it will fly or not? It happens to me all of the time. I get all excited about some business or plan and then once I think about it for a day or two, I lose my momentum. Instead of letting great ideas fall by the wayside, why not bounce ideas off of another person and see what they think about it?

Brainstorming sessions are valuable in business. If you have someone you can trust with your secret business ideas, ask to have lunch, dinner or even coffee with them. Let them hear your idea and come up with ways it might work, or reasons why it won’t. Either way, you should take advantage of this significant resource.

The name Social Squids, came from such a meeting. My friend and I got together for coffee and I told her that I needed to come up with a name. She’s an illustrator, very talented and creative in her own right.

The starting point was the fact that I like animals, so we decided the name would have something animal-related in it. We brainstormed great name ideas, terrible ones, silly ones and eventually one of us – I’m not even sure which one of us it was – came up with Social Squids.

I kept doing this thing with my hands, wiggling my fingers and moving my arms outward. I was thinking about how social media reaches out into cyberspace. Not only did we come up with the name, we came up with the tag line too – We have far-reaching tentacles.

Paying someone for their opinion has its value, but brainstorming with one, two or a small group of people, will help you find problems, solutions, more in-depth ideas or sometimes cheer you on for your amazing business proposition.

So, find more brains. Bounce ideas off of your friends in the business community. Sometimes these ideas might seem impossible, but give it a try anyway. It can be an incredibly valuable tool for your business. Just be careful you share your ideas with people you trust and who are not going to take your idea and use it for their own.

We need more brains!

brains, not just for zombies any moreNo, this is not a post about zombies. Sorry if you thought that!

Have you ever had a great idea, but after pondering it for a little while, you are not quite sure if it will fly or not? It happens to me all of the time. I get all excited about some business or plan and then once I think about it for a day or two, I lose my momentum. Instead of letting great ideas fall by the wayside, why not bounce ideas off of another person and see what they think about it?

Brainstorming sessions are valuable in business. If you have someone you can trust with your secret business ideas, ask to have lunch, dinner or even coffee with them. Let them hear your idea and come up with ways it might work, or reasons why it won’t. Either way, you should take advantage of this significant resource.

The name Social Squids, came from such a meeting. My friend and I got together for coffee and I told her that I needed to come up with a name. She’s an illustrator, very talented and creative in her own right.

The starting point was the fact that I like animals, so we decided the name would have something animal-related in it. We brainstormed great name ideas, terrible ones, silly ones and eventually one of us – I’m not even sure which one of us it was – came up with Social Squids.

I kept doing this thing with my hands, wiggling my fingers and moving my arms outward. I was thinking about how social media reaches out into cyberspace. Not only did we come up with the name, we came up with the tag line too – We have far-reaching tentacles.

Paying someone for their opinion has its value, but brainstorming with one, two or a small group of people, will help you find problems, solutions, more in-depth ideas or sometimes cheer you on for your amazing business proposition.

So, find more brains. Bounce ideas off of your friends in the business community. Sometimes these ideas might seem impossible, but give it a try anyway. It can be an incredibly valuable tool for your business. Just be careful you share your ideas with people you trust and who are not going to take your idea and use it for their own.