From Drab to Fab

Social Squids owner, Holli Friedland, was involved in the some of the writing, editing and graphics of From Drab to Fab.
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Freedom of speech

Charlie hebdo gives us pauseIn the wake of the events of the past few weeks, many people throughout the world are realizing just how precious the right to freedom of speech is. As Americans, we sometimes take this right for granted. Between the terror events in France and the Sony movie The Interview, we are now seeing how some other people view our freedom.

In my business, I have the opportunity to write about a wide range of topics. The most controversial I have gotten in my work has been organizing your clothes closet or picking a team that might win tomorrow’s game. But I know I have the right to write about whatever topic I chose. This is not true for some people.

As a college intern, I worked at a Baltimore television station during the American hostage crisis in 1979 that took place in Iran. It was an exciting yet scary time to be in the news business. The Associated Press and United Press International alarms were ringing in what we called “the wire room” all evening, every evening with news updates and bulletins. Every time the alarm went off, my heart jumped.

Back then, we didn’t have a 24-hour news cycle, social media or cell phones. Okay, maybe there were cell phones, but they were about the size of a shoe box and few people owned them. At the TV station where I worked, they didn’t even have computers. We typed on typewriters with large keys so the stories could be put directly into the teleprompter for the anchorman.

As a young adult, it was the first time I was exposed to terrorism. I also learned a lot about patriotism and freedom during my internship. It has been a long road from that job to creating Social Squids, but freedom of speech has been there all along.

With the technology of today, people use freedom of speech and social media to instantly send images and words to the world. With this freedom people have gotten themselves into all kinds of trouble from “sexting” to sending out things by accident. Of course, many also use it for sending funny, informational, inspirational or newsworthy messages.

As citizens of the world and especially as writers, we should remember how precious this freedom is. Some people have paid the ultimate price. We should take advantage of our freedom of speech and use it wisely.

Je suis Charlie.

Online reviews

wmf_biznes-017-9-04Every business tries to get listed on the first page of the search. One of the many criteria in ranking companies is not as obvious as most, and that is to have a lot of reviews for the business. Even if there are a few not-so-great reviews mixed in, it still helps. The more people talk about your business, the better.

Every time you complete a sale or finish a service you should send something to your client. Whether they bought a publication, took a class, purchased some of your inventory or used your service, it is important to thank them. Non-profits use this technique all of the time. When you thank someone for a donation, they are more likely to donate again. The same holds true with your business. When you thank someone, they are more likely to buy again.

When you send the thank you, include a request for a review. This is especially important for your favorite clients or customers. When using Google Places and Yahoo Local, you can write a review for a business. Yelp is a site specifically for writing reviews. If you think people will have a hard time finding out where to put their review – find it for them. They may be willing to write a review, but they are not going to spend a lot of time searching around for the place to do it. Give it to them and make their life easier. All they have to do is click a link and they are right at the review page.

The length of reviews really does not matter. I usually only read the first paragraph or two. Usually after that, I’ve lost interest and it’s on to the next review. You can tell your clients that a brief review is fine. They do not have to write a complete essay about your business.

We all have clients who, at one time or another, are not happy with us and post angry reviews. Do not try to counterbalance that and trick the search engines by writing your own reviews! They can tell where the website’s ISP address is registered. In other words, they know it is you. Spooky, isn’t it? You can however, with most search engines, respond to reviews.

Your blog is a whole different ballgame. You can do whatever you want there, and that includes deleting comments you dislike. Some people may get a glimpse of the comment before you delete it. When logged into the blog, it too knows when you are commenting so be careful what you post.

On Facebook, you can remove unwanted comments, but when they are posted, they go out to everyone who likes the page. While it doesn’t stay on the page once you take it down, it has been sent and most likely seen by some people.

Obviously, the idea is to make all of your customers happy. Remember to always thank them. The happiest will tell their friends. If you can get people to post their favorable reviews on social media as well as write a review for one of the search engines, that is the best result you can imagine.