Cracking the Twitter Checklist: Tips for Promoting Your Small Business

Twitter Marketing: Here are the Essential Twitter Checklists for Promoting Your Small Business
The social media users are increasing every single day. The latest statistics showed that there were 2.46 billion social media users all over the world in 2017. And, this number is expected to rise above 3 billion in 2021. These statistics show how much potential social media marketing have.

Furthermore, the people usually spend a lot of time on various popular social media platforms, and one of the popular social media platforms with millions of active users is the Twitter. No doubt, the Facebook is the leading social media platform now; however, it does not mean that other social media platforms can be ignored.

Each and every social media platform has its own specialty. The Twitter provides limited no. of words in a tweet, and many celebrities and businesses love to use the Twitter to promote themselves. According to one study, around 72% of the people are likely to purchase the product from the brand they follow on the Twitter.

Like every other social media platform, it’s necessary for a marketer to be aware of the checklists before he/she starts promoting the business on the Twitter. In the next section of this article, we will reveal the essential checklists for the Twitter marketing.

Twitter Marketing Essentials

It does not matter whether you’re a small business or a big corporation, everyone can take an advantage of this wonderful platform, named Twitter. The essential checklists listed in this section of this article will raise the standard of your Twitter campaign. Here are some of the important Twitter checklists that one must follow for a better result.

Twitter Profile

When someone finds some tweets really inspirational or impressive, they immediately check out the Twitter profile of the one who posted the tweet. An awesome profile helps the brand to make an impressive first impression among its potential customers. The profile must be optimized in such a way that it would clearly reflect your brand.

The profile must not only be eye-catching, but it should also be easy for the people to discover the page and the attractiveness of the profile must be able to make people fall in love with the brand. Here are some of the important things to consider while constructing a profile.

Don’t Forget Your Twitter Bio

The Twitter bio consists of just 160 words, which means that the brand has only 160 words to clearly reflect what the brand is all about in a simple manner. It must be short and snappy to have a maximum impact on the reader. The Twitter bio must include all the necessary information related to your business along with the relevant industry keywords.

An effective Twitter bio can help in enhancing the visibility of the profile, and the people who read the bio can get the clear idea about what the business is all about.

Make Use of Visual Aspects of the Profile

The Twitter has increased the emphasis on the visual aspects of the profile. There are Twitter profiles where the profile owners just use the default egg avatar. However, this won’t do any good for enhancing the effectiveness of the profile. Instead of a default egg avatar, upload a photo or a brand logo.

The cover image on the profile needs to be 1500X1500 pixels and avatar image should be around 500X500 pixels.

Don’t Leave Out the Important Details

The important details, such as location, website URL product link must be mentioned in the allocated spots. There are many people who discover brands via social media platforms, and these important links can make it easier for the brands to increase the reach of their website.

The brands who mention their location, website URL, and other important information will not only help them to get valuable traffic, but it will also increase the accountability and trustworthiness of the brand.

Tweeting Effectively

Before you start to tweet with your profile, it is important to think about the tone and the ways you want to portray your brand in front of your potential customers and existing customers.

Find the Brand Personality and Tune it Up

Do not hesitate to be open with your brand personality. An appealing brand personality can give you a competitive advantage over 100s of Twitter profiles that are competing in the same niche. Find what works the best for the brand. The communication style and business’ key message must be carefully developed.

Do Not Hesitate to Chat Regularly

The Twitter chat is a great way to extend the reach of the brand. This function can be useful for every business, regardless of their industry and niche. It can help the brand to connect to the influential personalities and allow the brand to portray itself as an expert in front of their potential customers.

Consider Intelligent Hashtags

An intelligent use of trending hashtags can significantly increase the reach and engagement on the post. According to one HubSpot study, the post that uses hashtags is 33 percent more likely to be retweeted in comparison to those posts without hashtags.

Maintain Regular Tweets

Just building an attractive profile and one impressive tweet won’t be able to increase your followers on Twitter. To build engaging followers, the profile must be active and one must tweet valuable insights on a regular basis. Follow other Twitter users and actively participate in conversations. It will help in reaching out to the larger audience in a long-run.

Two-way Communications

The people love the brands who give them attention and replies to their comments. Be a brand that the people would love by maintaining two-way communications, instead of being a brand that only posts about their own products.

It’s important to reply to the mentions and opinions on the Twitter platform to develop a deeper bond with the followers. The tools, such as HootSuite can help in monitoring the brand mentions along with other relevant keywords that are associated with the business.

Understand the Audience

The brands that can understand its audiences are the ones that grow. There are various tools that can help in getting valuable insights and analytical information to better understand the audiences.

At first, you need to list out the key characteristics of the potential customers for the company. After listing out the key characteristics of the potential customers, use the analytical tools to find out what the potential customers with the key characteristics are tweeting about to know them better.

These insights will help in developing an effective content marketing strategy, which will not only be for the Twitter marketing, but also for other platforms. The right kind of offers and posts can be promoted to the Twitter users after understanding the audiences in a better way.

The Twitter is a worldwide database for the brand. Along with the potential customers, it’s equally beneficial for the brands to make the list of influential users for the brands to follow. It will help in enhancing the reach. Engage with them on a regular basis to develop a good relationship with them.

Don’t Just Promote the Products

The people who are following you are authentic and real human beings, and they are not robots. They enjoy various types of posts and they do not visit the social media platform just to search for the products.

There are wide ranges of topics that can engage the followers, which will help in building a better relationship with its followers. Make use of the images and hashtags to increase the reach of the tweets. The HubSpot study mentioned above shows that the tweets with images are 34 percent more likely to be retweeted by the Twitter users in comparison to those without images.

Integrate Twitter with Your Overall Marketing Plan

The Twitter marketing must not be taken as an individual marketing strategy, but it should be integrated with an overall marketing strategy of the company. Integrate the Twitter profile with the website, appropriate images, keywords, and message points.

Think about how the Twitter marketing campaign can work in parallel with other marketing campaigns on various other platforms. The communication strategy of the brand and objectives of the brand should dictate the Twitter marketing campaign. When the Twitter marketing is integrated with other marketing campaigns, it will lead to a better return on investment.

Conclusion

After being aware of the essential checklists, you are ready to promote your business via the Twitter platform. Make sure you provide the value via your Twitter profile to win new customers and also to maintain your existing customers. According to a study from Lithium, around 78% of the Twitter users expect a reply to their complaints within an hour from the company.

And, do keep on learning new techniques and methods to promote the business on the Twitter along with other popular social media platforms to get the maximum return on investment.

Twitter Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Cracking the Twitter Checklist: Tips for Promoting Your Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

Cracking the Twitter Checklist: Tips for Promoting Your Small Business

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Hidden Startup Costs Revealed: Here are 8 to Consider

8 Hidden Costs of a Startup

Regardless of what anyone else tells you, running a business isn’t cheap or easy. In addition to the expenses you probably know about, there are a number of hidden costs of starting and running a business. I personally find that easily sneak up on you. It can even erode your bottom line if you aren’t careful.

Understanding Startup Costs

According to a well-cited study from the Kauffmann Foundation, a small business startup takes an average of $30,000 to get off the ground and running. There are businesses that take $300 and $3 million, but this average figure gives you a good ballpark estimate of what many entrepreneurs are forking over.

Startup costs can pile up, but at least you know what to expect (for the most part). It’s pretty easy to price out things like real estate, website development, initial inventory, opening promotions, fees for licenses, and all of the things that go into opening the business up. 

The problem is that this is only the beginning. Getting the business off the ground and successfully maneuvering a grand opening is one thing. Turning your new startup into an established business that’s poised for long-term growth is something else entirely. If you aren’t prepared for hidden costs, you’ll find yourself in a compromising situation much sooner than you ever thought possible.

8 Hidden Costs of Starting and Running a Business

Perhaps you’ve taken a look at the research study that says 9 out of 10 startups fail. It’s a sobering, yet realistic look at the challenges that exist in starting, building, and sustaining a business over the long haul. And while businesses fail for dozens of reasons, some of the most common factors have to do with money.

Based on an analysis of 101 startup post-mortems, the study determined that 29 percent of startups fail because of a lack of capital. Roughly 1 in 5 startups – 18 percent to be exact – have pricing and cost issues.

While a lack of capital and pricing/cost issues can refer to any number of issues, it’s clear the properly managing finances is a major challenge. If you, as a business owner and entrepreneur, are able to master this aspect of running a company, you stand a much greater chance of being successful.

As mentioned, the trickiest part of this equation is the hidden costs. You need to understand what you’re going to face before you actually deal with it – or at least quickly enough that you’re able to respond in an efficient manner.

The exact expenses your business deals with will vary based on any number of factors, but you should be aware of the following hidden costs that almost always emerge from the shadows at the most inopportune of times. 

1. Expensive Loans 

Most entrepreneurs need some sort of loan to finance a startup. This often comes in the form of a small business loan from a bank or other traditional lender. And if you don’t have any business experience or an established company with the right tax and revenue documents, that loan is most likely going to be based on your own personal situation. Thus, if you have a bad credit score, you’re going to get some pretty bad terms on the loan (if you get approved at all).

Unfortunately, this often starts a cycle. You get bad terms because of your bad credit. Which in turn means you spend thousands more in interest payments over the course of the loan. And because you’re spending more in interest, you’re less likely to be able to make payments on time. This drags your credit score down further, which costs you even more in the future.

You need to be aware of the hidden cost that is loan interest. Fixing credit on the front end will save you a lot of money in the years to come.

2. Employee Benefits and Perks

It’s not enough to calculate what you’ll pay an employee in terms of salary. If you don’t account for taxes, benefits, and perks, you’ll quickly find yourself in a hole.

According to research from Joseph G. Hadzima Jr. of the MIT Sloan School of Management, the overall cost can run from 1.25 to 1.4 times the basic pay. The increase is due to things like employment taxes, workers’ compensation, and fringe benefits (healthcare, retirement, vacation, etc.).

Using Hadzima’s multiplier factor, a $50,000 salary could cost as much as $70,000. And when you account for multiple employees, the disparity in what you actually pay versus what you expected to pay could be enough to run your business into the ground.

3. Shrinkage

For companies that sell physical products, there’s always the risk of shrinkage. Whether purposeful or unintentional, shrinkage actually costs retailers an estimated $45 billion per year in the U.S. alone.

Shrinkage can result from any number of causes and isn’t just reserved for retailers. Examples include shoplifting, employee theft, paperwork errors, and vendor fraud. Then, there are the roughly 6 percent of losses that can’t be accounted for under any of these categories. They’re simply mysteries!

If you’re aware that shrinkage is an issue, you can be proactive and prevent many of the factors that cause it. It’s nearly impossible to avoid shrinkage altogether, but you should be able to mitigate it enough that it doesn’t negatively impact your company’s bottom line.

4. Insurance

When you first start out, you might not need a lot of insurance. However, as time goes on, the need for various insurance policies increases. These include things like general small business insurance, liability insurance, errors and omissions insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, property insurance, and cyber insurance.

How much you spend on a given policy is based on numerous factors, including the type of business, size of the business, industry, location, revenue, previous issues, present risk factors, and number of employees. You can easily spend $1,000 or more per policy per year. For a business that’s already operating on a tight budget, these hidden costs can make it difficult to stay on track. 

5. Legal Fees

You probably don’t go into business thinking you’re going to generate a bunch of legal fees. That doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In some cases, legal fees might be the number one hidden cost.

“Small businesses are the target of many frivolous lawsuits because trial lawyers understand that a small business owner is more likely than a large corporation to settle a case rather than litigate,” NFIB explains. “Often small business settlements are less than $5,000, but even $1,000 settlements are significant for businesses.”

And even if you settle a suit, you can expect to see insurance premiums rise as a result. This drives up costs even further.

6. Taxes 

Coming from a career where you were an employee, you probably didn’t think much about taxes. Sure, you paid your fair share of taxes, but it was largely automated by the payroll department. Your company probably covered part of your bill. Unfortunately, things are different as a self-employed business owner.

Even if you aren’t generating a ton of money for yourself, you’re still going to owe Uncle Sam something. And because you’re on your own, self-employment tax becomes a real thing. Be sure you take this into account. 

7. Fees and Permits

Depending on what industry you operate in and what products you sell, you might need various fees and permits to be considered legal. Many entrepreneurs don’t realize this and find themselves spending thousands on something they didn’t know about.

The classic example is the alcohol permit for businesses that sell and/or serve alcohol. When Mark Aselstine and Matt Krause started a wine club company in California, they found the process of getting permits to be very expensive. Between all of the permits, Aselstine estimates that he and his business partner spent close to $15,000 in their first year of business. 

8. Administrative Costs

Finally, administrative costs will sneak up on you if you aren’t prepared. This includes all of the things you previously took for granted when you worked for someone else

  • Utilities
  • Computers
  • Phones
  • Printers
  • Filing cabinets
  • Paper clips
  • Office cleaning supplies
  • Software

Individually, these items might not cost that much. They only add up to thousands of dollars over the course of a year. Do yourself a favor and account for them when you prepare your budget. 

Can You Handle the Cost of Business? 

There’s an old saying that says, It takes money to make money. In other words, you need money in order to make more of it. As motivating as it might be to claim that you only need a good idea and lots of ambition, the reality is that very few entrepreneurs make it anywhere without:

  1. Having money
  2. Using that money wisely

As with anything, there are exceptions, but this is the general rule of thumb.

Whether you’re planning on starting a business, recently launched a company, or are in the growth stage of building a brand, you have to be aware of just how important money is in the equation. Specifically, you must be aware of the hidden costs.

Image: Due.com

This article, “Hidden Startup Costs Revealed: Here are 8 to Consider” was first published on Small Business Trends

Hidden Startup Costs Revealed: Here are 8 to Consider

The Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing

The Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing

Disclosing an influencer-brand relationship in blog posts, social media posts or other types of content isn’t just a good idea — it’s an actual requirement.

Small Business Trends caught up with Rachel Honoway, CEO of Performance Marketing Association at the recent Influencer Marketing Days conference in New York City’s Times Square. The Performance Marketing Association is a trade association for the performance marketing industry, which includes things like affiliate marketing and influencer marketing.

Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing

At the event, Honoway discussed some of the legal issues involved in both affiliate and influencer marketing. One of the biggest requirements for influencers and affiliates is disclosure. Per the Federal Trade Commission, influencers must let consumers know they’re receiving compensation for posting about a particular brand or product, no matter what format the content or compensation might take.

Honoway elaborated, “What happens is a lot of influencers and even the brands want to be able to get product reviews and these blog posts and these Instagram posts out there that look authentic. But it’s a little bit of a gray area there because the FTC says consumers need to know that this was a compensated positioning, right? This was an actual advertisement. But just the compensation might not have been as straightforward as something like a TV ad or a radio ad.”

That disclosure might take a lot of different forms depending on the type of content you release. For example, you might include a short sentence in a blog post. But in an Instagram post, you could just use #ad. However, Honoway warned against using any language that could be confusing. The FTC has said not to use #spon in posts, for instance. To simplify, Honoway recommends using “the mom test” or “the grandma test.”

She explained, “If you sent your mom to that page, would she know that there’s a material relationship between you and that brand. If not, if she can’t look at that and say, ‘oh I get it, he’s getting compensated for this in products or in exposure or sometime — or money,’ then you have to say that.”

This article, “The Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing” was first published on Small Business Trends

The Importance of Disclosure in Influencer Marketing

Snapchat is Most Popular Social Media Among Teens

Teens Like Snapchat the Most

More than $264 billion is spent annually for products bought by and for teens in the United States. As a small business, understanding a demographic worth over a quarter of a trillion dollars can help you better address their needs. And for this group, Snapchat (NYSE:SNAP) is the most popular social media channel with 47 percent of teens using it — a growth of 12 percent year-over-year.

The 34th semi-annual Taking Stock With Teens research survey by Piper Jaffray Companies highlights the spending trends and brand preferences of 6,100 teens across 44 U.S. states. And amongst its finding is their preference for Snapchat.

Teens Like Snapchat the Most

Piper Jaffray reported Snapchat came in first with 47 percent, followed by Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest at 24, 9, 7 and 1 percent respectively.

The popularity of Snapchat also extends to millennials. A recent survey by LendEDU reported 58 percent of college students are checking Snapchat before Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook combined. The growth of Snapchat within these two demographics represents a shift from Facebook, which came in at a low 13 percent and Instagram at 27 percent.

If you are a small business still on the fence about Snapchat, now is the time to use the platform to engage with these users.

What About Spending Behavior?

The fall 2017 report saw overall teen spending down by 4.4 percent year over year. This affected the amount they spent on food, which was down to 22 percent from the 24 percent in the spring of 2017. But it was higher than the 20 percent that went for food.

When it comes to shopping, 23 percent of teens prefer specialty retailers, down three percent year over year, and 17 percent opted for pure-play ecommerce, which was up two percent year over year. And for teens, Amazon is by far their favorite site, getting 49 percent of the respondents, up nine percent year over year.

The Value of This Data

The Taking Stock With Teens project was launched by Piper Jaffray in 2001. And after surveying more than 155,000 teens in 16 years, it has collected close to 40 million data points. The information reveals how this group spends their money on fashion, beauty and personal care, digital media, food, gaming and entertainment. If you are a small business in any of these industries, you can use the data to make informed decisions for targeting teens.

For some of the additional data on the Taking Stock With Teens survey, take a look at the infographic below.

Click here to view a larger copy of this infographic…

Teens Like Snapchat the Most

Snapchat Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Snapchat is Most Popular Social Media Among Teens” was first published on Small Business Trends

Snapchat is Most Popular Social Media Among Teens

Suffering a Data Breach Will Cost You Customers Who’ve Been Hacked, Too

The Relationship Between Customer Loyalty and Data Security

There’s a strong connection between customer loyalty and data security, according to a recent report from Bank of America Merchant Services and Forrester.

If your small business isn’t updating its data security tools and payment processing methods regularly, it could really cost you.

The Relationship Between Customer Loyalty and Data Security

According to the Small Business Payments Spotlight, nearly 40 percent of consumers have had their credit or debit card, bank account or other personal financial information stolen. And 20 percent of those consumers who have had their information stolen said they would not shop with a small business that has experienced a data breach.

In addition to the tangible cost that small businesses have to pay in order to resolve the breach, which could add up to more than $50,000 according to the report, suffering such a breach could cost you even more in lost customers.

Of course, there are things you can do to provide some extra protection and security for your data and the data of your customers. The report offered a few areas where small businesses could look to improve, including updating POS systems to accept EMV chip card payments, investing in employee training for handling payments securely and purchasing security software.

Bank of America Merchant Services’ Head of Small Business Jill Calabrese Bain said in a company release, “As we reviewed the data from small business owners and consumers, the surprisingly strong connection between customer loyalty and payments security and convenience really stood out. We were intrigued to find that nearly a third of small business owners want and need more education about mitigating fraud and other risks to payment security.”

The Small Business Payments Spotlight features even more insights about payment security and consumer preferences. You can view the full report on Bank of America Merchant Service’s website.

Hacker Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Suffering a Data Breach Will Cost You Customers Who’ve Been Hacked, Too” was first published on Small Business Trends

Suffering a Data Breach Will Cost You Customers Who’ve Been Hacked, Too

Can a Mobile App Save Your Construction Company Time and Money? (INFOGRAPHIC)

Can Mobile Construction Apps Save Your Company Time and Money? (INFOGRAPHIC)

Like any other business, the foundation of a successful construction business depends on effective communication and documentation. And this is where many construction companies — especially the small businesses — tend to struggle.

The Rise of Mobile Construction Apps

That’s why, a growing number of construction companies are now turning to mobile apps to get organized.

An Effective ‘App’roach to Boosting Productivity

According to data shared by construction productivity software company PlanGrid, 32 percent of mobile productivity software users saved five plus hours per week on average. That’s particularly significant for any small business owner.

Data also shows how mobile apps can reduce inefficiencies to save costs. To give an example, a one percent reduction of construction costs can potentially save $100 billion a year globally. (So you can imagine how much it can save at your small construction firm.)

Transforming a Construction Company’s Triple Bottom Line

Mobile apps are attractive to construction businesses as they provide a number of benefits. Some of these benefits include real-time information updates, document storage and improved accountability.

By making processes more streamlined and communication more transparent, mobile apps ultimately help businesses boost customer satisfaction.

Lay the Groundwork for Success

But success depends on how well a business leverages the technology. It’s therefore crucial that a business understands who needs it and how best it can be used. For that, it’s important to answer a few questions.

For example, which departments at your construction business can collaborate better using the app? Do they need training? Who can guide them to become more digitally proficient?

An app can deliver desired results only when the organization knows how to use it. With the right solutions, it’s easier to navigate the route.

To learn more about how an app can help you build a more structured construction business, check out the infographic below:

Can Mobile Construction Apps Save Your Company Time and Money? (INFOGRAPHIC)

Drill Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Can a Mobile App Save Your Construction Company Time and Money? (INFOGRAPHIC)” was first published on Small Business Trends

Can a Mobile App Save Your Construction Company Time and Money? (INFOGRAPHIC)

Understand Your Risk, Then Invest in Your Small Business Cybersecurity Plan

Understand Your Risk to Know How Much to Spend on Cybersecurity

Do you know the cost/benefit breakdown of the cybersecurity you have in place for your small business?

To be more precise, how much should you invest in cybersecurity protection in relation to your actual monetary risk? The findings of the new report from the Better Business Bureau, titled, “The State of Small Business Cybersecurity in North America” offers some hints.

The report was released as part of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. And one of the more distressing data points regarding small businesses indicates half of them could only stay profitable for about a month after loosing critical data.

The BBB surveyed around 1,100 businesses in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico with 71.4, 28.5, and 0.1 percent of the respondents coming respectively from those countries.

How Much Are Small Businesses Losing?

According to the report, the annual average loss from cyber attacks is estimated at $79,841. The median loss came in at $2,000, with the maximum total loss at $1 million. This, of course, will vary greatly with the size of your company and the type of cyberattack you have sustained.

Still Bill Fanelli, CISSP, chief security officer for the Council of Better Business Bureaus and co-author of the report, emphasized the vulnerability of many small businesses. “Profitability is the ultimate test of risk. It’s alarming to think that half of small businesses could be at that much risk just a short time after a cybersecurity incident,” Fanelli said.

Do You Know How Much to Spend On Cybersecurity?

Fanelli still stresses small businesses must avoid going overboard. He explains “It doesn’t do any good for a small business to adopt a $10,000 solution if the potential risk reduction is only worth $5,000.”

With that in mind, the report used a formula created by two professors at the University of Maryland, Martin P. Loeb and Lawrence A. Gordon. Using this formula, a small business owner can calculate the best possible investment in prevention to safeguard their company from cybersecurity attacks.

The five step process begins by estimating the loss; estimating risks; identifying investments; estimating savings; and making the calculation. You can get details of the formula on the free download of the report here.

The report adds, “As long as the potential savings exceeds the cost of investment, then it is a cost-effective measure that should be implemented.”

Hacking Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Understand Your Risk, Then Invest in Your Small Business Cybersecurity Plan” was first published on Small Business Trends

Understand Your Risk, Then Invest in Your Small Business Cybersecurity Plan