Best Social Media Practices for Small Businesses

Pepper Rutland's photo of facebook and scrabble piecesBefore the 1990s, companies relied mostly on print and broadcast media, such as television and radio, to get the word out about their products, services and/or progress. Prior to those inventions, word of mouth and various guerilla tactics were the focus. Nevertheless, with the advent and subsequent ubiquity of the Internet, businesses saw the importance of getting online. Those who weren’t early adopters, relying still on the aforementioned tools to reach customers and supporters alike, learned quickly that “the net” could not be ignored. Today, more than half of small business have their own website. However, as trends continue to evolve beyond a mere home for your business, the need for web presence via social media has become just as, if not more, imperative to the success of business owners, especially smaller businesses. Yet, while most have at least taken steps to create a social profile, not many use it to their full advantage.

Nearly two years ago LinkedIn reported that 81% of small to medium business had some form of social media. Why the remaining 19% hasn’t caught up is a concern in itself, but that’s not the primary issue at hand. Of those which do have a profile, approximately 95%, virtually all, of them use it for marketing reasons alone. While this makes sense given the wide reach of such platforms at little to no cost, simply using the space to announce deals, sales or new products is akin to handing out flyers on the corner. You may reach a lot of people, but it doesn’t guarantee connection nor interest. Therefore, creating a strategy for engaging your social media audience is key. Here are tips for doing so.

1. Create Quality Content

Consumers are exposed to about 5,000 ads per day, in comparison to 2,000 in the same time, just 40 years ago. The oversaturation and overpopulation of advertisements have led many to either tune them out or block them altogether. That said, using your business profile to do just that creates an automatic division between yourself and the client/customer you’re trying to reach. Instead, create and publish content that is informative and relevant to your product or service. As a result, your business comes across as an authority on related subjects, and appears to onlookers as a brand that is interested in its customers, not just selling to them.

2. Interact With Followers

Use social media to be social. Just as it would be rude to only talk about oneself and never respond to any questions, comments or inquires, in-person, the same applies online. Perhaps there is no dedicated social media person on staff, thus making it difficult to respond to every single interaction; however, merely acknowledging the message goes a long way. Such can be done with a simple like or share on many social platforms. And when it makes sense to do so, follow back.

3. Use Analytics Tools

The larger and more popular websites provide very specific and helpful data, including how many people viewed a post as well as liked and/ or shared it. Not only do these details provide insight about the value of your content to your audience, they can provide key information about how many people you’re actually reaching and optimal times for doing so.

4. Be Channel Specific

As the old saying goes, there’s a time and place for everything. Each business owner or dedicated social media specialist would do well to note best practices of each platform. For example, content on Twitter must be shorter, to the point, and use of hashtags bolster the length of your reach. On Facebook, content can be a little longer, more in depth and media heavy. Hashtags are not as effective, though available, and click through content, such as a link to an external website or presentation, are normal. Using a cookie-cutter approach to all platforms only diminish the effectiveness of your message and goals online.

As we enter this new year, there is an even greater incentive to try new things. With over 2 billion users on social media, an incredible opportunity exists for all businesses to not only acquire new customers but to retain them. Regardless of your product or service, your audience is online. Your competition will certainly be doing all they can to reach them. Beat them to the punch.

Understanding The Importance of Employee Wellness

Pepper Rutlands exercise equipmentInterest in health has become a major focus for many Americans. Now, more than in recent decades, individuals are concerned about getting healthier and adopting wellness as a lifestyle, as seen in the incredible popularity of FitBit and other wearables which monitor activity and quality of sleep, as well as the consumer trend toward juicing, smoothies, and organic or Non-GMO foods. Consequently, it should not come as a surprise that U.S. News & World Report’s #1 trend in employee benefits to watch for in 2016 is wellness programs. As a consistent leader in our industry, the MMR Group had already begun investing in our employees, and this month, we’re proud to announce that our very own employee wellness center is open for all staff, at our in company headquarters in Baton Rouge, LA.

At MMR, we’ve taken notice of studies with regard to stress as a growing problem in America, and how it affects overall health. Research shows that stress can lead to significant, deadly illnesses when left untreated or exacerbated, such as heart disease, migraines, obesity, and accelerated aging. It is worth noting the role work plays into or sometimes causes stressful situations as well. According to a Carnegie Mellon University study, workplace stress has increased between 1983 and 2009, by a startling 18 percent for women and 24 percent for men. While employers cannot control stressful situations outside of the workplace, it is our duty to alleviate any issues resulting from work, and one of the best ways to do that is through well programs.

Most entities, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to private companies like Altitude in Massachusetts, agree that wellness programs and centers like ours are imperative, with the CDC going as far as to declare that such is a “vital piece of a healthy lifestyle.” In fact, nearly 28 percent of employees who participate in wellness programs offered by Aetna experienced less stress and 20 percent sleep better. That was early last year and just one study, as more services are offered, that number may likely increase.

Additionally, the benefit of giving employees access to sports and exercise equipment leads to an increase in productivity. According to that same study, healthier, better rested, and less stressed employees produce, on average, about 62 minutes more of quality work per week. Financially, that is about $3,000 per employee every year. Likewise, a recent study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that companies which invest in employee health perform better in the stock market than those who do not. Thus, such contributions are equally beneficial to all involved, and should be implemented on a larger scale.

Our 10,000-square-foot facility houses a weight training and exercise room, a basketball court, and will offer instructor-led boot camp classes. Active home office personnel and MMR staff employees can utilize the facility free of charge Monday through Friday from 6 AM to 8 AM, 11 AM to 1 PM and 5 PM to 8 PM. Click here to find out out more from our company website.