Wednesday, 31 August 2016

3 Videos that Use Humanity to Build Trust in a B2B Audience

Build trust in your B2B audience by injecting humanity into your video content.

The best way to connect with your clients is to establish trust, but that’s difficult when you’re trying to approach them through a screen.

So how can you overcome this hurdle?

By injecting humanity into every piece of B2B video content you publish.

Portray your business as real and personable through video and you’ll make it easier for your target audience to connect with you.

Plus, you’ll build trust along the way.

Here are three B2B videos that effectively gain the trust of their audience by letting their human side shine through.

1. Hootsuite: Bring Video into Your Social Family

By poking fun at the way marketers so badly want their videos to succeed — much like a parent would their child — Hootsuite is able to:

a) make you laugh, and

b) show that they understand the pain their target audience feel trying to nurture their videos towards their goals.

If you’re able to make potential customers laugh at the pains of everyday life and relatable problems, while simultaneously showing that you “get it”… that’s when you’re truly connecting with your clients. Which means their trust isn’t far behind.

2. Shopify: How to Overcome Procrastination

Shopify does a supreme job of gaining customer trust by building compelling content that doesn’t even talk about their product.

Instead they welcome potential customers with a compelling piece of top-of-funnel content explaining how to overcome procrastination. This video takes a very human problem and approaches it with both sensitivity and humor. By the end the viewer is told that they can “sort of” beat procrastination through mindful meditation and a lot of effort.

If Shopify’s viewers are procrastinating while watching the video, at least they’re able to take away something new and helpful. And that creates a positive connection to Shopify in their brains, meaning they’re more likely to trust the brand.

The video leaves the door open, encouraging potential customers to explore more of Shopify’s content without being forceful. They have plenty of videos on their channel explaining their product, but by creating this interesting and relatable awareness-stage piece of video content, Shopify pique curiosity and build trust in their audience without pressuring them.

3. Square: Danny Davis’s Success Story

In just 30 seconds, Square is able to authentically convey how they can help their clients by allowing Danny Davis, an existing customer, to share his experience.

He instantly humanizes the business by:

a) being a friendly face, and

b) describing honestly his days before Square and how the product helped solve his problem.

Danny used to use bulky machines to process payments, leading to paper jams and handwritten receipts. He talks about how, since switching to Square, transactions have become paperless, quick, and more organized.

This testimonial or success story video shows that Square believes in their product enough to let other people do the talking, and that goes a long way to building trust in their audience.

Round-up: Don’t be Afraid to be Human

To recap, here are the core takeaways you can apply to your own B2B videos to help use humanity to better connect with your customers and gain their trust:

1. Show your customers you understand their problems and know how to solve them. If you can make them laugh while doing it, even better!

2. You don’t necessarily have to talk about your product to get your audience interested in your brand. Especially at the awareness stage, it can be more effective to draw potential customers in with insightful & entertaining content.

3. Use people in your videos to add a human face to your business, whether that’s your exisiting customers, your team or a professional presenter.

4. Sometimes it’s good to step back and let others do the talking for you to help build trust. This is why testimonial and case study videos work so well.

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Source: B2C

Customer Service is Dead… Welcome to the Customer Experience

The customer service industry is as old as time, but it’s an industry that has had to evolve in order to target a more diverse clientele and their demands for better, more personalized, service. Change is inevitable in business and no matter how much we like to think we’re prepared for it, we need to constantly pay attention to new trends and new ways of doing things.

If you’re wondering what the difference between customer service and customer experience is, best-selling author Adam Toporek defined it during an interview on Best Seller TV. Customer service is just part of the one-on-one interaction with a customer; whereas customer experience refers to the entire journey a customer has with an organization, including marketing pieces or emails from the organization.

Delivering an overall amazing customer experience requires everyone in the organization to step up and be a leader. It’s not about a title; it’s about having the right set of tools and principles. Customer service expert, Shep Hyken, believes stepping up and being a leader are the pillars for a great experience. During our many talks, he’s told me about his belief in “focusing on the customer, not the money,” and I couldn’t agree more.

If you want to excel at providing an excellent customer experience, here’s what you need to keep in mind.

Memorable Marketing

Having a solid marketing strategy should be one of the pillars of your business foundation. Your marketing plan needs to connect with the audience; otherwise, it becomes meaningless. They also need to be memorable and resonate with the public in order to have a positive impact on your business.

A great example of a memorable campaign are the Liberty Tax Service wavers. You may have seen them waving at passing cars, singing and dancing on street corners throughout a number of cities nationwide. If you’re nodding your head, the point I’m trying to make is, they’re memorable. Who doesn’t remember someone dressed as the Statue of Liberty on some street corner?

These guerrilla marketing tactics serve, not only to potentially attract business, but as a way to engage, connect, and promote good will with the local community. This level of engagement helps consumers learn more about your product or service, and even helps spread the word on social media – especially in tight-knit communities. Initially, your marketing tactics should be hyper-local in order to gain the trust of the community first. If your community doesn’t trust you, it can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

The lesson here is, make nice with the neighbors!

Eye-Catching Visuals & Shareable Content

Humans are visual creatures by nature. They enjoy things that tickle them – whether it’s a good catch phrase, a colorful ad, engaging content, something they can interact with or simplifies their lives, and something that’s shareable.

According to a recent study by Moz and BuzzSumo, over 75% of all content produced ends up getting zero links and zero shares — a not-so-subtle hint that the content produced fell way short of consumers’ demands. Content marketers should be fully committed to produce quality content that consumers can share and if it includes video, even better.

This should be the rule, not the exception.

Video has always been a popular way to communicate a message, having improved leaps and bounds from just a few years ago. An example of companies using video to engage and impress customers are UviaUs and RMG Networks’ Bank of Ireland display at Dublin City University (DCU). The first combines the power of video and print media, sending mailers that are tangible and actionable, engaging the visual and tactile senses. The latter uses digital engagement walls that allow small groups and businesses to book meeting rooms as well as conduct banking transactions like checking balances and transferring money.

The lesson here is, every industry needs to adapt, change or die.

Let me be clear, not every company has to put up a billboard in Times Square or produce a blockbuster and not every marketing campaign needs to be flashy or expensive. All you need to do is make it visual and engaging. Video and content should go hand in hand. If your video fails to clearly convey a message and your content doesn’t engage your audience, you need to reevaluate and pivot…and fast!

Step and Repeat

Let me set this scene for you. Whenever you go to a McDonald’s, you expect to see the same menu, same line of cashiers, and already know what the food you’re about to order will taste like. The same can be expected from your neighborhood franchise store and a store on any other continent. Basically, the experience is the same at any store, anywhere in the world and the reason is the step and repeat process the company puts forth everywhere.


Hamburger University is one big reason why the customer experience is always the same, as they have emphasized consistent restaurant operations procedures, service, and quality across the board. It has become the company’s global operations training and leadership development.

So whether you order a Big Mac or a “Royale with cheese,”(if you’re a fan of “Pulp Fiction” you’ll understand the reference), customers will have a similar experience, remember it and expect the same every time they visit a McDonald’s store.


Training employees can be a daunting task, but one that is directly tied to your business’s success. You don’t need to have a background in human resources to train employees in the art of providing an excellent customer experience, but it’s essential that you invest in training your staff and resist the urge to hire people just because you need the bodies.

You must take the time to screen, vet and interview each new employee. Your front-line employees will be the ones directly interacting with customers, so they will need the proper training – not just in customer service but in providing an excellent overall customer experience.

One piece of advice I can give people when they’re thinking about hiring someone is to hire for attitude, train for skills. Skills can always be taught, but a good attitude will go a long way to foster a team-oriented environment that will always strive to provide above and beyond customer service and create a memorable experience for all customers.

McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc once said, “If we are going to go anywhere, we’ve got to have talent. And, I’m going to put money in talent.” And that’s no ‘Kroc.’

Source: B2C

Generating Repeat Business Through Effective Email Marketing

34150872 - the phrase happy customers written on a blackboard with a male hand wearing a business shirt giving the thumbs up gesture

Some people think that email marketing is all about winning new customers, about making that crucial first sale. While it is important to turn interest – a visitor to your website making the decision to subscribe to your mailing list – into cold, hard cash, you also need to pay attention to nurturing your new leads and generating repeat business.

So many companies focus all of their energy on the first sale and end up neglecting customers they haven’t heard from in a while. Keeping in regular contact assures the customer that they are valued and can cement a sense of loyalty. However, if you blitz their inboxes with tempting new customer offers and then go silent once the sale has been made, this can easily cause them to forget about you.

So, how do you use email marketing to generate repeat business? What tactics can you use that are just as persuasive as those new customer offers? Here are a few pointers to help improve your campaigns and revive that initial customer enthusiasm about your brand…

  • Don’t stop the offers. Savvy customers hate being lured in with a fantastic welcome offer then once they’ve made a purchase, and then having to pay full price every time after that. There are plenty of ‘welcome back’ offers, timely discounts and sales you can use to tempt a customer back who has not made a purchase in a while.

  • Use time-sensitive, urgent language. To catch the attention of a customer whose interest in your brand has lapsed, you need to prompt them to act now. Time-limited offers are a great way to do this, leaving a customer feeling that they can’t ignore your email or act on it later.

  • Keep in regular, consistent contact. You need to keep reminding customers that your brand exists, even if they aren’t ready to make a purchase yet. Keep in regular contact with newsletters and other emails, but make sure to keep the frequency low enough so as not to annoy recipients and end up caught in spam filters.

  • Use previous purchase information to create more relevant content. This can be time-consuming unless you use a clever automation tool, but you can use details of a customer’s previous purchase with your brand to create personalised content that they will be interested in. So, for example, if the customer bought sportswear from you previously, you can email to tell them about a sportswear sale you’re having.

  • Make subscribers feel like part of a club. If you can make a customer feel special for already having purchased from you and for being on your mailing list, this ‘included’ feeling can make them warm to your brand. You can do this by letting them know first about exciting news and special offers, or by offering them subscriber-only deals. You can also ask for and act on their feedback, letting them know that their thoughts and opinions as customers really matter to you.

Source: B2C

Have Patience! Why Doing Research First Will Save You Money


They say patience is a virtue but today with instant gratification expected, patience is more like the elusive Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest. Timelines are condensed and a quick fix is inevitable. “We’ll worry about that later. We need this done now.” I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard something along those lines.

When it comes to website design, patience is pretty much non-existent. Download that template, just copy the text from the old site, make it look like so-and-so’s website, let’s get this done and the list goes on. Sound familiar? What if you took a moment to stop and think about what you are doing? What problems are you trying to correct? What if you went into the website redesign KNOWING what is working and what is not? Would you be making those same quick decisions? Quite possibly, no.

Don’t Start With a Redesign

The knee jerk reaction is to redesign the site. However, it could be the text and messaging that is the problem. Are people even reading to the end of the page? Your page text could be uninteresting, poorly written or too long. If your call to action is down at the bottom and no one is seeing it, how does a redesign fix that? How would you even know that is the problem?

Setting up tracking to see how far down the reader scrolls can be valuable information. Using a plugin like SumoMe which is free or Hotjar which has a monthly subscription can give you data about reader scroll. You may have to be patient and study it for a couple of weeks to make sure that you have enough of a sampling. What if you found that the visitor isn’t scrolling down far enough? You would have spent thousands on a redesign and ended up with the same problem.

Figure Out Where the Traffic Stops

This is particularly useful if you have a checkout page, a signup form or any destination page on your site. Setting up user flow analysis through something like Google Analytics is a good way to figure out where your bottleneck lies. Taking some time to figure out that perhaps your checkout page is the problem can actually make you money!

Rather than guessing, spend some time testing. Create two versions, and do a split A/B test using either Google Analytics or Visual Website Optimizer and see if your conversions increase. Take the winner and create another variation, test, and repeat. Depending on your traffic you may have to do this over a month or two. Be patient. The ROI could be much greater as your conversions should increase and the cost to run these tests is much less than a redesign and redesign again.

Ask Your Visitors What They Think

Nothing works better than asking an actual human being using your site. That’s not entirely true. Nothing works better than asking several human beings using your site. Setting up a room and inviting people to use your site live and getting real time feedback can be immensely valuable.

For example, give them tasks to complete and have a dialog about what they expect to happen versus what actually happens. This can really give you critical insight into how your visitors expect your site to work. An even better idea is to have two different versions of the site available and have them try both. The bigger the sampling size the better the data can be.

Having Patience Can Save You Money

These are just a few things you can do BEFORE you redesign your site entirely. There is no law that says you can’t implement changes slowly, testing each one to find the correct solution then moving on to the next. In most cases, you will be surprised how much you don’t know about your visitors.

Like I said at the beginning what if you went into redesigning your website KNOWING what works and what doesn’t work. I’d like to add to that what if you fixed what was broken first BEFORE going into a website redesign. I believe, in the end, your return on investment will be much greater by having a little patience as the cost of the research will be more than made up by having a better website with a better visitor experience which could only lead to better conversions.

This article was originally published at

Source: B2C

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

VR Storytelling: 5 Explorers Defining the Next Generation of Narrative

Ever since I binge-watched Star Trek: The Next Generation as a teenager, I’ve been eagerly waiting for a real-life holodeck to hit the market. The idea that writers of the future could create alternate realities players could step into and experience first-hand blew my mind. Sure, I’d been doing the same thing in my imagination when reading books my whole life. But being able to share your vision of a world and characters via virtual reality seemed like a storyteller’s dream come true.

While we’re not able to don a fedora and step straight back in time to the 1940s (yet), today’s VR devices are bringing us closer and closer to a seamless blending of physical and virtual realities. These devices have enormous potential to unlock creativity for storytellers—and indeed, they already have. The first generation of narrative geniuses is exploring uncharted territory in VR, discovering best practices and overcoming challenges that come with an immersive environment.

Here are 5 of the most intriguing VR stories I’ve seen to date, along with some key lessons we can learn about VR storytelling from each one.

Microsoft, Fragments: Gamified Storytelling

Microsoft’s forthcoming HoloLens game, Fragments, was created in partnership with Asobo Studio. As the protagonist of the narrative, you play a detective searching for clues to solve the murder case you’ve been assigned.

HoloLens Fragments Game - VR Storytelling

One of the amazing things about the game is that it scans physical objects and conforms the narrative to your space. HoloLens can recognize furniture and place holograms of game characters on your couch or hide a clue on a shelf. It also scans for walls and ceilings to adjust the placement of people and objects within your room. It can even transform an everyday object like a coffee table into a game-related item like a subway bench.

Fragments Game Concept - VR Storytelling

Another compelling aspect of the game is its use of life-size holograms. These characters are modeled to behave like real people, which helps the player orient himself in 3D space. For example, if a new character walks into the room, another hologram might look up and greet them. These kinds of everyday interactions guide the player through the game and direct his attention to the people and objects that matter in the story.

Key VR Storytelling Lesson: Use Space Wisely

One of the most difficult things about crafting a narrative for virtual reality is that the story no longer functions in two dimensions. With VR, you have a 360-degree canvas the audience steps into instead of passively watching the narrative unfold from outside the frame. This new canvas has the potential to make storytelling truly immersive—but it’s no easy feat to design stories for this type of experience.

The key differentiator in Fragments is its clever use of space. Not only does the game’s visual framework conform to the user’s physical location—it also uses real-world conventions and cues to help you orient yourself in the story. Instead of looking around dazedly in all directions, the narrative is constructed to lead you toward the actions you need to take to progress in the game.

Any storyteller who wants to try their hand at VR content needs to consider space as a key narrative element. How does your story change depending on where the audience looks? How do you prompt users to engage with specific elements that are important to the plot line? How do you guide someone through space and time using a nonlinear format? These are the types of questions writers will need to grapple with in order to develop stories that make the most of virtual reality as a medium without sacrificing clarity or meaning.

Penrose, The Rose & I: Animated Film

Penrose Studios is doing ground-breaking work in animated VR storytelling. Their short film, The Rose & I, premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. Inspired by The Little Prince, the story is incredibly simple. The Prince finds a lone rose growing on his moon. The rose is thirsty. The prince gives it a drink. Then they watch the sunset together.

The Rose and I - VR Storytelling

The film’s mechanics are also very simple. There’s little interactivity required: The viewer looks around, discovers the Prince’s moon, and watches it from space. This kind of engagement is all the narrative requires. The art and animation is so beautiful and immersive that being a (mostly) passive bystander is incredibly enjoyable. As a spectator, you don’t want to interrupt the lovely exchange between the Prince and the Rose. Just watching it happen is enough.

Key VR Storytelling Lesson: Sometimes, Simple Is Best

Virtual reality has the potential to support incredibly complex narratives tailored to complex viewer interactions. But simple stories with more limited user involvement can be just as powerful when told through this new medium.

If you’re making your first foray into VR storytelling, writing with simplicity in mind can help you develop successful narratives without too much tinkering. Trying to completely reinvent everything you know about telling stories in traditional formats takes a lot of work—and frankly, may not be the best thing for the narrative you want to tell.

Within, The Evolution of Verse: Wordless Narrative

Within is one of the leading VR storytelling studios to date. They’ve developed a number of short and feature-length virtual reality narratives spanning fiction and nonfiction, animated and live-action, and everything in between.

One of their most intriguing short VR narratives is The Evolution of Verse.

Evolution of Verse - VR Storytelling

There’s no dialog in the film—just music and sound paired with stunning, surrealist imagery—but there’s really no need for it. Graphic and audio elements work together to lead the viewer through the narrative and pay attention to key elements of the story. For example, the sound of the train whistle calls attention to where the viewer should look; likewise, the pattern of the birds’ flight guides the viewer’s eye and makes the camera pan upward feel natural instead of jarring.

The other powerful technique used in this short film is perspective. Objects are shown from far away or super close up, disguising their true nature until the camera zooms in/out and the user is able to look around. This creates an element of surprise and discovery that tells a powerful story without using a single word.

Evolution of Verse Closeup - VR Storytelling

This baby is first shown in a tight frame that makes its head look like a planet floating in space.

Key VR Storytelling Lesson: Subtly Guide Viewers Through Your Story

Using external cues such as arrows, keylines, or icons to show viewers where to look can be heavy-handed and distracting. Seamlessly integrating audio and visual cues into your story is a much more powerful way to guide your viewers. These built-in cues can also smooth transitions between scenes and reveals—challenging techniques to get right when you can’t control where the viewer is looking.

For VR storytellers, finding the right balance between viewer autonomy and narrative guidance is one of the things that will distinguish exceptional content from decent content. The rules are still being defined, but as with any user interface, the more invisible the mechanics are, the better the experience will be.

The Guardian, 6×9: Solitary VR: News Feature

It’s no surprise that news syndicates have been early adopters of VR. Journalists have been striving to place readers in the shoes of specific people in specific places with specific stories to tell since the dawn of publishing. Telling stories in virtual reality is an incredibly powerful way to immerse people in the unfamiliar situations and settings.

One of the most gripping VR news features created to date is The Guardian’s 6×9: Solitary VR experience. In just a few minutes, viewers are able to feel what it’s like to be an inmate in solitary confinement. Reading about a 6 x 9 foot room is one thing; being virtually stuck in a room this size is another thing altogether.

The video is brought to life with commentary from real inmates who spent days to months in solitary. Hearing their descriptions of their time alone, paired with input from psychologists and the reporter covering the story, illuminates the gruesome reality of imprisonment and its lasting effects.

An interesting technique The Guardian uses throughout the video is to project snippets of quotes on the walls of the cell to complement voiceovers. This not only draws attention to important parts of the narration, but also shows where in the room the viewer should be looking when people are talking about a specific topic.

Key VR Storytelling Lesson: Invite Viewers to Experience a Story Through New Eyes

Whether you’re telling a fictional story from multiple perspectives or sharing real memories from people who’ve been through the same experience, allowing viewers to see through the eyes of someone else is an amazingly powerful storytelling technique. Writers have long sought to do this with multiple narrators and shifts in perspective; filmmakers have attempted the same thing with strategically-placed cameras. VR allows for a new kind of immersive story, one where the viewer can empathize with their narrator’s plight by experiencing it firsthand.

When crafting your stories for VR, think carefully about who you want the viewer to “play” in the narrative. Are they the protagonist? The antagonist? A secondary character? A bunch of different characters? Your answers to these questions will shape how you architect the story around the user and what they experience firsthand.

StoryUp, Mobility in Zambia: Documentary

VR media studio StoryUp believes “story is a verb that can provide hope, affect change and influence mindfulness.” Their experiences to date have focused on helping groups as varied as homeless veterans to flood victims to stroke survivors. The goal of these virtual experiences is to create empathy and drive organizational support by letting ordinary people get up close and personal with those in need.

StoryUp’s short documentary, Mobility in Zambia, is a moving example of immersive VR storytelling. The film investigates the plight of low-income people in Zambia suffering from health issues that severely limit their mobility. The narrative focuses on the stories of two individuals, Chilufya and Thomas.

The footage of rural Africa is extremely harsh but also stunningly beautiful. This dichotomy in scenery is echoed by the narrative. Watching Chilufya and Thomas drag themselves around in the dirt right in front of your eyes is heartbreaking. Later in the film, bearing witness to their joy when receiving all-terrain wheelchairs is inspiring. Viewers are emotionally driven to create more of these joyful moments by supporting the cause they’ve experienced virtually.

Key VR Storytelling Lesson: Using Setting to Support Your Narrative

Filmmakers have long relied on setting to reinforce mood, emotion, and story arc. In virtual reality, your setting is now expanded beyond a rectangular frame to encompass a 360-degree view. Storytellers now have even more creative freedom when it comes to developing settings—which, in turn, requires more strategic planning and experimentation to get things right.

When considering the setting for your stories in VR, it’s important to map out all the components surrounding the viewer—scenery, objects, buildings, etc. You can then explore how each component plays into the narrative and what emotional response you’re trying to evoke with the setting as a whole.

Hero Image Source: Memory Alpha

Brand Storytelling eBook

Source: B2C

The Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Photos for Your Business Page

The Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram Photos for Your Business Page

Are you tired of sharing Instagram photos that do not perform well? Continue reading our article and find out what might be the mistakes you are making and how to do the Instagram marketing of your brand the right way!

The Do

Should your business really have a presence on Instagram?

Lets start this article with asking ourselves one simple question: “Does my business really need to be on Instagram?”

If we take a look at the latest Instagram facts and trends, you better go and make you brand a profile right away. Your competitors are most probably already there talking with your customers, building relationships with influencers and building that valuable Instagram presence.

Should your business really have a presence on Instagram? Active Brands on Instagram statistics

The Number of Active Brands in Instagram is increasing. Source:

Data shows that there are over 300 million daily active users on Instagram and Instagram photos are being shared at a rate of 216,000 per minute. These stats combined with the fact that people remember 80% of what they see and only 20% of what they read are a good enough reason for your brand to put more effort into creating and sharing great visual content.

So how exactly do you create and share great Instagram photos? There are many aspects that you need to cover: editing, captions, hashtags, tagging, location setting, and last but not least – purpose. Read our tips below to learn how to create better Instagram photo posts and get informed about the things its best to avoid:

What are the Do’s and Don’ts of Instagram photos for your business page


  • Do:
    • Always touch up your Instagram photos before posting. Don’t forget that even the world’s top photographers edit their photos prior to posting.

    • Use the Instagram filters or edit your photos through other Instagram photo editing tools. Filters help you enhance the colors, or highlight a particular part of your photo.

    • Always add your brand’s logo to avoid people stealing your visual content without giving you credit.

    • Ditch the corporate look and add more personality in your posts as people prefer visuals they can relate to.

  • Don’t:
    • Although editing your photos is recommended, avoid the usage of too many and too different filters. Your Instagram photos need to follow a similar look in order to be quickly recognizable.

Caption and Hashtags:

  • Do:
    • Always include a caption and multiple hashtags.

    • Make sure that both your caption and hashtags are closely related to the content you are posting.

    • Include you brand’s name (or Instagram handle) as a hashtag to make it easier for people to find your content.

  • Don’t:
    • Avoid adding a sales pitch in each and every one of your posts.

    • Do not add out-of-topic hashtags or too many of them.

Tagging and Location:

average instagram engagement per post, Instagram for business

Average Instagram post engagement data. Source:

  • Do:
    • Tag everyone that is on the photo or closely related to it’s content.

    • Give credit to the person who created or sent you the photo.

    • If the photo has been taken in a specific place or at an event, make sure to add its location so that people in the area can see it.

  • Don’t:
    • Do not tag people who are not related to your content. Don’t get tempted to tag influencers or famous people without their awareness just for the hope to give your post more visibility.


  • Do:
    • Make sure you post all your content with a purpose behind it. Whether it is just brand visibility, telling a story, spreading the word on a new product or service or driving traffic to your webpage, you need to know what outcomes you are looking for and track your results.

    • Set KPIs to be able to measure the impact your post made and if it managed to serve its purpose.

    • Add tracking codes to the links you add in your Bio section.

    • Use both Instagram Insights and Instagram Analytics tools to help you measure your posts success.

  • Don’t:
    • Avoid publishing purposeless content only for the sake of having activity in your account.

Where to seek for inspiration?

If you are running out of ideas for Instagram photo content that you can share, make sure to check out the following:


Take a look at the Instagram Feeds of the influencers in your field and see what are their most engaged with posts. This will give you a hint of what your current and target audience would like to see on your own Instagram Feed.

Competitor profiles

The same goes for checking your competitors’ Instagram photos. Not only can you get some ideas but you can also use your creativity to create something even better.

Your followers’ Instagram photos

The best way to see what content your followers are more likely to like is by checking their own Instagram posts.

User generated content

Another great source of content or content inspiration is the user generated content related to your brand. Make sure to regularly check the photos your brand has been tagged in or mentioned. Also check your brand’s Instagram hashtag feed to discover content that you can repost on your Feed for all your followers to see.

We hope you found our Instagram photos sharing tips helpful. With the recent changes in the Instagram algorithm it is really important that businesses in Instagram find the proper way to adjust their strategies and create content that their audience would love to see and engage with.

If there is another tip or advice you would like to share with us, make sure to leave your comment in the comment section below.

Source: B2C

How to Protect Yourself While Banking Online


Gone are the days of balancing check books. The advent of online banking has made budget-keeping and bill-paying a convenient, if not automatic, transaction for adults managing their finances.

Which is why it’s a prime target for cybercriminals.

According to a recent study by Fiserv, 80 percent of U.S. households now do their banking online. The sheer number of customers is a likely attraction for threat actors. But what makes online bankers irresistible prey is that a breach results in direct access to their money—no need to bother with a ransom. That’s probably why more than 25 percent of malicious activity online is aimed at financial institutions.

“Mobile banking has a tighter ecosystem than desktop online banking and some technical advantages that improve security,” says Seth Goldstein, a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) with nearly 20 years of experience in banking IT. However, mobile banking isn’t foolproof. In 2016 (so far), Malwarebytes’ Mobile Intelligence Database has flagged more than 12,000 unique Android application packages (APKs) as banker Trojans.

How cybercrooks steal your cash

From social engineering scams to spear phishing, there’s no method crooks won’t try to get to your money. The most common techniques center on fooling you into a sense of security by pretending to be your bank. Whether that’s in the form of a spear phishing email that copies the logos of your financial institution or spoofing your mobile banking app, criminals have become adept at pulling wool over the eyes of online bankers, who are now accustomed to receiving digital communication from their banks. Smishing, or sending malicious text messages, has been a popular attack method for years, luring customers into entering their login credentials via text.


In 2014, several thousand JP Morgan mobile customers received a text message containing a link to this phony login screen.

With so many susceptibilities in both desktop and mobile online banking, it’s important to not only choose a bank that offers high level protection for your accounts, but also take your own initiative to keep those accounts secure. That’s why we’ve come up with 12 steps for safer online banking.


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Source: B2C

5 Reasons Your New Hires Are Failing

5 Reasons Your Quality of Hire is Suffering

Nearly every business owner and hiring manager is guilty of making choices that negatively impact their quality of hire.

We’ve discussed it before – some 95 percent of the employers have admitted to recently making a bad hiring choice. But these poor decisions don’t just cause monetary damage. Bad hires also can hinder productivity, deteriorate employee morale and adversely affect customer relations.

Why Your Quality of Hire is Suffering

With this much at stake, it is easy to see why so many companies are concerned that their hiring process is suffering. If your organization is facing talent acquisition challenges, the first step is to identify exactly what’s going wrong.

Below is a look at five reasons your hiring efforts are falling short.

1. You’re Focusing on Speed of Hire Over Quality of Hire

The National Business Research Institute found that 43 percent of companies surveyed believe their poor hiring decisions were cause by the need to fill the job quickly. By focusing too much on putting bodies in seats and not enough on finding candidates who had the right set of core competencies, they paid the price – a very high price. Studies show that the cost of a bad hire, even for a low paying position, can average around $25,000.

Organizations fare far better by taking the time to focus on finding candidates who fit the nuances of the role. Though most high-volume hiring environments don’t afford recruiting and HR long periods of time to find candidates, it is possible to strike a balance between recruiting speed and quality of hire.

2. Conflicting Agendas

When the goals of recruiting are different from the goals of the business, the process becomes a losing situation for everyone, including the candidate.However, creating organizational alignment allows the teams to work together to create a cohesive hiring process. Each department brings value to the table. Supervisors know the specific skills needed for the job, HR has the tools for identifying those skills and upper management develops the company culture.

3. The Hiring Strategy Doesn’t Align with the Job or Culture

Studies show that 89 percent of employers attribute bad hire selection to a poor culture “fit.” Employees who don’t have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to perform the job – or who don’t share your company’s core values – generally perform at a lower level, have higher absenteeism and negatively affect employee morale. Therefore, your company’s hiring strategies must align with your company culture to ensure you attract the right type of candidate. This will improve job satisfaction, performance, employee loyalty and attrition rates.

4. Poorly Defined Success Metrics

While 39 percent of employers believe QoH metrics are extremely important, 33 percent admit to not being confident about how to measure quality of hire. Many companies evaluate the QoH using factors, such as performance evaluations, hiring satisfaction and retention rates. Not only do two of these three factors offer subjective data, but retention rates should only be measures if you also evaluate the causes behind the numbers.

While there is no magic formula that will automatically determine that true quality of your new hires, your company must create a strategy to measure success consistently.

5. Lack of Follow-Up to Review the Hiring Process

A major obstacle preventing companies from hiring top talent is a lack of evolution within their hiring process itself. Job market trends, economic factors, and your organization as a whole are anything but static, and change drastically over time. What may have worked years ago, or even last quarter for that matter, will need tweaking.

In addition, new technology, improved assessment testing and applicant tracking software that may not have been feasible for your company years ago, but now they may provide the affordable solutions your business needs. When your organization and an assessment vendor work in congruence with your company’s goals as well as the shifts in the economy and employment market, however, you are going to see dramatic business results.

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Source: B2C

Friday, 19 August 2016

How to Target Your Customers With Social Ads

Do you want to advertise to your existing customers?

LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter all let you deliver ads to your actual customers.

In this article, you’ll discover how you can use four popular social networks to reach custom audiences with your content.

using social ads with a target custom audience

Discover how to target your customers with social ads.

#1: LinkedIn

Thanks to recent improvements to LinkedIn’s advertising platform, you can now upload a list of up to 30,000 companies. LinkedIn will automatically target ads to those companies’ employees. You can choose these 30,000 companies from among the over 8 million LinkedIn company pages.

LinkedIn’s audience match platform launched a few months ago, with account targeting as the first rollout. At this time, audience match targeting on LinkedIn is not yet fully self-service; you’ll need to register for a consultation with an account rep first.
linkedin audience match ads

The onboarding process for LinkedIn audience match ads.

Once you’re approved, you’re golden. The feature works similarly to the custom and tailored audience features on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, but with a decidedly B2B twist.

To really unlock the power of audience matches on LinkedIn, you’ll want to combine these target parameters with additional ones like age, geographic location, job seniority, job title, and gender.

Remember that not all of your email subscribers will have a LinkedIn account, and just because they have one doesn’t mean they’re actively using it.

#2: Pinterest

Pinterest launched promoted pins in 2013, but it wasn’t until recently that the network dramatically improved their targeting options. In addition to keyword and interest targeting, you can now use customer list targeting.

Pinterest will let you upload your customer email list to its ads platform as a comma separated value (CSV) file. To get started, go to the Pinterest Ads Manager, click Ads, and then Audiences.
pinterest ads create custom audience

Select Audiences from the Ads drop-down menu.

Next, click Create Audience. Then in the pop-up box, select the option for A List of Customers That You Upload.
pinterest ads create custom audience

Select the option to upload your customer list.

Now enter a name and description for your customer list audience. Then click Choose File to upload your customer list.
pinterest ads create custom audience

Click Choose File to upload your customer list.

After you click Create Audience, Pinterest’s ad engine will attempt to match your list of email addresses to active accounts. Keep in mind that not everyone on your list will have a Pinterest account. Also, due to privacy concerns, Pinterest will only let you target an audience list of 100 people or more.

Once Pinterest finishes matching your list of email addresses, you can use this custom audience when you set up your Pinterest ad campaigns.

Note: Pinterest recently added visitor retargeting and lookalike targeting to its native platform. This lets you reach people who have visited your website but haven’t signed up for your email list. You can also reach people whose Pinterest habits resemble those who have already subscribed to your list.

#3: Twitter

All Twitter ad campaigns start with the basic keywords, interests, and followers targeting options. However, the platform also has a tailored audience tool, which allows you totarget people based on their previous engagement with your content or website. To use this feature, you’ll need a Twitter Ads account.

Head to your Twitter Ads dashboard and select Audience Manager from the Tools menu. Next, click on Create New Audience and select Upload Your Own List.
twitter ads create new list audience

Fill in details about your new list audience in Twitter Ads.

Give your audience a name, select the Email Addresses option, and upload your CSV file.

Once Twitter finishes matching profiles with your list of email addresses, your tailored audience is ready for you to use in your campaigns. When you’re creating your ad, go to the Select Additional Audience Features section, choose Add Tailored Audiences, and enter the name you gave to the list.
twitter ads add tailored audience

Target your list audience in a Twitter ad campaign.

You can use your new Twitter audience a number of ways, such as:
  • Run a promoted accounts campaign to increase your follower count.

  • Build an active community.

  • Find subscribers who are already using Twitter (to make sure you’re connecting with them there, too).

  • Deliver targeted messages to segments with promoted tweets.

Promoted tweets appear at the top of relevant search pages, within search results, and inside user feeds. You can choose to manually or automatically add the tweets you want to promote. The automatic route allows Twitter to choose up to five of your most engaging tweets.

#4: Facebook

Facebook’s Custom Audiences ad feature lets you upload your email lists and create saved audiences for ad campaigns. This type of ad targeting (in combination with others) lets you retarget people, remind them about emailed offers, promote sales, or run exclusive sales for people who are subscribed to your email but not fans of your Facebook page.

To create a custom audience, go to your Facebook Ads Manager and click on the Create Campaign button. Choose an objective (other than Reach People Near Your Business). In the Audience box, click on the Create New tab and make sure to uncheck the Prefill with options from your last ad set box. Now, click on the Create New dropdown menu under the Custom Audiences box and choose Custom Audience. In the box that opens, select Customer List and then Upload a File.
facebook create custom audience

Click the option to upload your customer list as a file.

Next, select your TXT or CSV file, add a name and description to your custom audience, and you’re good to go.
facebook create custom audience

Choose the file you want to upload to create your custom audience.

One great use of custom audience ads is to encourage email subscribers to like your page. Although many subscribers may already be your fans, there are likely some who have not engaged with you on social media.

You can also use your email list to create a lookalike audience, which helps you find people who are similar to your email subscribers. This way, you can grow your email list to include more qualified prospects.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

10 Accounting Interview Questions to Ask Every Time

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Knowing the right accounting interview questions to ask job candidates can mean the difference between hiring a superstar and bringing the wrong person on board at your small business. We’ve identified 10 good queries to pose to job candidates the next time you have an accounting or finance role to staff.

Assessing an Applicant’s Skills

When you’re trying to gauge a candidate’s technical skills, it’s often best to ask straightforward accounting interview questions. But you can also learn something about applicants’ soft skills with these types of queries.

Here are four interview questions to ask that will help you evaluate a person’s core competencies:

1. How do you stay up to date on current accounting laws and regulations?

Given the rate of change in the accounting and finance industry, it’s crucial to hire accounting and finance professionals who make a point of staying informed. Top candidates will be able to tell you how they monitor the latest developments, whether it’s through subscriptions to industry publications, memberships in professional organizations, or attendance at accounting conferences and webinars.

2. What are the top three skills every good accountant has?

In response to this interview question, applicants will typically name what they think are their three best attributes. Look for candidates who focus on a mix of hard skills, such as knowledge of big data concepts, and softer attributes like business acumen, communication skills and customer service skills. Top applicants will include examples of how they’ve demonstrated and developed these skills in past jobs.

3. What types of accounting software have you used in previous jobs?

Include this in your list of accounting interview questions to ask because you’ll learn whether a candidate already knows the system you use at your firm or whether training during the first days on the job will be required.

Obviously, it’s preferable for a potential hire to be familiar with your software. But don’t automatically discount those who aren’t; instead, ask them a follow-up question about how easily they learn new technology so you’ll have a sense of their ability to get up to speed.

4. Give me examples of the types of reports you generated in your last job.

Like the previous question, this query will provide insight into a candidate’s experience and whether it fits well with the job duties of the open position. If you’re looking for someone to generate income and cash flow statements, for example, it’s good to know how — or if — a candidate has prepared these types of reports in the past.

Determining the Fit with Your Accounting Team

Candidates who have all the necessary technical and soft skills must also be able to prosper in the work environment at your company. Accounting interview questions that query applicants about a variety of potential scenarios they are likely to face on the job can help you better assess their fit for your office.

Here are a few good interview questions to ask to assess how a candidate is likely to handle various on-the-job situations and his or her potential fit with your existing team:

5. Tell me about a time when you made an accounting error and explain how you handled it.

Look for candidates who admit that they occasionally make mistakes but quickly move to own up to the error and correct it as best they can. Be wary of any candidates who say they’ve never made a mistake.

6. Tell me about your experience presenting financial data to non-financial staff.

These days, accounting and finance professionals have to discuss financial data and reports with coworkers outside their immediate department on a regular basis. So, it’s important to hire professionals who feel comfortable with this task. This interview question can help you understand more about their communication skills and experience in presenting information.

7. Describe a time when you met a particularly tight deadline and explain how you did it.

Accounting and finance professionals often have to turn out important reports quickly. The answer to this question will demonstrate how a candidate responds to deadline pressure and stress.

8. What’s the toughest accounting challenge you’ve solved?

You’ll get a good sense of a potential hire’s approach to problems if you make this a standard accounting interview question to ask applicants. Top candidates will use it as a springboard to display their creativity, skills and experience when it comes to resolving tricky accounting issues.

9. Tell me about a time when you worked with a team to revise or improve an accounting process. What role did you take, and how did the team work together to get the job done?

Teamwork is more important than ever for accounting and finance professionals, who frequently must work extensively with colleagues within and outside of their department. When you ask this interview question, listen for signs that the candidate will be a strong collaborator — or even a future leader.

10. Why did you choose accounting and finance as a career?

We included this on our list of accounting interview questions to ask every time because it can reveal a lot about a job seeker’s core intentions for pursuing a position with your firm. Look for candidates who show passion for the accounting and finance industry, not just the stability or potential salary a career in finance often promises. You’ll have an easier time developing and retaining professionals who truly love what they do each day.

Hiring is one of the most important things you do as a small business manager. Of course, every job opening and interview is different, and you should adjust your list of interview questions to ask accordingly. But when you use accounting interview questions like these as a jumping-off point, you’ll get a good picture of each candidate’s skills and aptitudes, which in turn will bring you one step closer to building the ideal team for your business.

Get more small business recruiting advice by reading Accountemps’ list of 10 Hiring Tips Every Small Business Owner Needs.

Interview Image via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Accounting Interview Questions to Ask Every Time" was first published on Small Business Trends

Source: small business

20 Cool Business Ideas for Those Who Love Travel

Make Money Traveling - 20 Cool Business Ideas for Those Who Love Travel

You don’t have to choose between traveling regularly and running a successful business. There are plenty of different businesses that you can run while traveling. And there are even some that require you to do a fair amount of traveling. So if you want to start a business that supports your love of staying on the move, look no further! Check out this list of travel friendly businesses below.

Make Money Traveling with These Business Ideas

Travel Blogger

Having a love of travel is definitely a plus if you’re going to be a travel blogger. To build a travel blogging business, you can start your own blog about all of your traveling adventures or put together guides and tips based on your experiences.

Public Speaker

Public speaking can be a lucrative gig if you’ve got some valuable expertise in a given area and the ability to share that expertise at various conferences and events. You can offer your speaking services to people in different parts of the world, and then use those engagements as opportunities to travel to new and exciting locations.

Telecommuting CEO

You can even serve as the CEO of your own company — even if that company does have a physical location — while you yourself are traveling. Telecommuting is becoming more and more common thanks to things like video conferencing and project management apps. So there’s no reason you can’t telecommute regularly — or even live in a whole different place while you run your business from afar.

Wedding or Travel Photographer

If you have some experience in photography and the right equipment, you can make a living by photographing weddings and similar events. And if you enjoy traveling, you can offer your photography services to couples around the world and then travel to those different events for each assignment. You can also use the opportunity to take travel photos of the places you’ve been and sell downloads or license their use from your website.


If you’ve had the opportunity to travel to different countries and learn other languages, you might be able to start a business as a translator. You can translate anything from books to documents in a variety of different languages. And that’s something that you can often do remotely, so you can work from anywhere.

Language Teacher

Knowledge of another language could also give you another kind of opportunity to offer your services — this time as a teacher or tutor. You could teach or tutor students of the English language in other countries. Or you could teach other languages you may have learned during your travels around the U.S.

Travel Consultant

Big travel agencies have struggled to stay afloat over the last several years. But that doesn’t mean there are no consumers out there who could use a little help booking their trips and finding the best deals. If you’re an experienced traveler, you likely have some valuable expertise that you could share with other travelers. So you could offer up those services as a travel consultant.


Many people prefer to have someone watching their homes or pets when they travel. So if you want to visit different areas while getting paid to do so, you could offer your services as a housesitter in all the different areas you’d like to visit.

Online Coach

You can use the internet to teach basically anything to people online. You can set up online courses in things like marketing and social media. Or you could get even more specific and teach people something like how to save money on travel. But even if your topic of choice doesn’t have anything to do with travel specifically, you can set up and monitor your online courses from pretty much anywhere.

Social Media Influencer

Social media is another tool you can easily access from basically anywhere, especially with the prevalence of mobile apps. And if you’re able to build up a fairly sizable and influential presence on certain social media platforms, you can offer your services as an influencer and work with brands to share unique content with your audience from a beach in Hawaii or a ski lodge in Aspen, Colorado.

Handmade Shop Owner

Thanks to online platforms like Etsy and Amazon, it’s easier than ever to sell handmade goods from basically anywhere. But you can also sell handmade creations at various craft fairs and events around the country and the world. So in both ways, travel could work very well with your handmade business. Think about it.

Vintage Reseller

Vintage is another product category that you can easily sell online from basically any location. But you can also sell at flea markets and events. Plus, you can travel around the country or around the world to scavenge through antique stores, markets, fairs or bazaars to find unique treasures to sell online.

Remote Freelancer

If you’re skilled in things like writing, design or social media, you can offer your services to companies on a contract basis and work from basically anywhere. You can even become a “digital nomad” with no home base — just working from where ever you are as you travel the world.

Personal Trainer

If you’re athletically inclined, you can offer your services as a personal trainer or coach to clients in your area. But you could also take your business on the road to visit clients in other locations, or even offer online training sessions or video chat with clients during your travels.

Traveling Event Planner

True some event planners specialize in creating events  close to home — in their own city or region. But event planning is another business where you can work as easily with clients across the country and around the world as in your own home town. You can even work with clients remotely through most of the process and then just travel to their location for the actual event itself.

Mobile DJ

You can offer your services as a DJ for weddings, parties or other events. But you can also offer your services to clients around the world or specifically seek out clients in areas where you’d like to travel. DJs have gone international in recent years attracting a following once reserved for musicians and other performers. You can use that fan base to attract audiences — and gain gigs — anywhere they have a dance floor.

T-Shirt Designer

Online platforms like Redbubble and CafePress allow you to create your own designs and have them printed on tshirts, mugs and other products without requiring you to take care of the actual manufacturing. So you can run a business selling those products without needing a lot of supplies or a fixed location. Create designs during your travels and market them online no matter where in the world you might be.

Website or App Developer

You can design and launch mobile apps from your smartphone or websites from your computer whether you’re at home in your own kitchen or chillin’ in the Caribbean. So long as there’s an internet connection or WiFi you’re good to go. There’s no need to be tied to a specific location. So you can start a location independent business designing your own mobile apps or websites even contracting with other companies to develop apps for them.

Travel Vlogger

This is a variation of the first suggestion on this list and owes much to the popularity of sites like YouTube. YouTube channels devoted exclusively to travel have exploded in recent years. Whether you attract sponsors or have a product of your own to sell, a YouTube travel channel could be an excellent way of creating a massive audience while you share video of your adventures.


Finally, writing books has always been a job you can do from anywhere. But with the dawn of the internet, even the publishing and promotion of your book can  be done from almost anywhere. Some writers even find that traveling can be inspirational or therapeutic. And certainly, if you specialize in travel books or other titles drawing from a certain place, traveling may even be a necessity for research and to get a sense of the places and things you are writing about.

Traveler Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "20 Cool Business Ideas for Those Who Love Travel" was first published on Small Business Trends

Source: small business

Taxes, Health Insurance, OSHA … What’s Your Biggest Compliance Nightmare?

Top Compliance Issues: Taxes, Health Insurance, OSHA ... What Compliance Bugaboo Haunts You?

Small businesses are devoting more of their efforts toward compliance, just another way of describing the effort businesses put into dealing with government regulations.

And if small business owners are talking about it more and devoting more resources to it as part of the necessary process of running a business, that means there’s more of the proverbial red tape to deal with.

It’s only going to get worse, says Manta CEO John Swanciger.

2016 has already brought major changes at the federal and state levels, and more changes are on the horizon,” he said. “Entrepreneurs are trying to figure out how to remain profitable amidst the growing costs of compliance.”

Swanciger’s comments come on the heels of a new study by his company, the Semi-Annual Wellness Index, which gauges the small business community on several factors.

Small businesses tell Manta that compliance is a pain point on the federal, state and local levels.

What are the Top Compliance Issues?

The survey found that tax compliance was the top bête noire of small business owners. One in three of those surveyed by Manta confirmed that tax regulations — and the way they are constantly changing — are the most baffling.

If you were thinking Obamacare, known also as the Affordable Care Act, would be the biggest compliance nightmare for small business owners, you were close.

Obamacare compliance was picked as the most confusing by 21 percent of those responding to the Manta survey.

Another 15 percent said SEC crowdsourcing rules and regulations were the most perplexing and just 7 percent said dealing with OSHA regulations was their most difficult task.

And complaints over regulations go much deeper than ideaology, the survey found.

Sure, some regulations are designed to protect the common good, but entrepreneurs say things have now reached a point where compliance is taking a substantial amount of time.

Manta’s survey show’s that 41 percent of owners say regulations have negatively impacted their operations. Nearly as many — 40 percent — said that compliance was costing them 1 to 5 hours per week. Ten percent said they spend between 6 and10 hours on compliance and another 11 percent spend at least 10 hours devoted to compliance issues.

So, how does your small business deal with the 40-pound-and-growing gorilla in the room?

Voting away regulations and government red tape isn’t likely. No matter where your vote is cast in November — yes, even for a Libertarian — it’s likely that government red tape and the growing burden of compliance will not go away.

But what you can do is arm yourself and your business with help and resources.

First, have a handy list of people on virtual standby whom you can call when there’s a tricky compliance issue. This could help shave hours off your week.

Manta also suggests joining local and other affiliated organizations that can help your business with compliance. This may even just be a group that keeps you informed of the latest in compliance updates.

Half of Manta’s respondents said they’re not getting these updates in a timely manner.

If you recognize that compliance is a growing problem for your business, it’s time to implement training programs that help make compliance requirements a part of your company’s routine.

This article, "Taxes, Health Insurance, OSHA … What’s Your Biggest Compliance Nightmare?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Source: small business