social-media

Start Crafting The Right Social Media Plan For Your Small Business Now

Social media is a massive part of our everyday lives these days. Today, there are 3.3 billion social media users globally. So, from Facebook to Instagram, and LinkedIn to Twitter, it’s impossible to imagine a world without it.

In the business world, too, social media is an indispensable force– it’s an incredibly powerful tool in the hands of skilled marketing and communications professionals working to leverage businesses across the globe.

For you, as a small business owner, attracting new customers and continuing to gain traction in the field is what keeps you afloat. In fact, 71% of consumers who have had a good social media service experience with a brand are likely to recommend it to others. So, with the right type of outreach, you can gain a massive following, and even beat out all your competitors in one fell swoop. 

Although you may not have the resources to hire social media professionals, with services like VEPAA, you can get a team virtual assistants onboard who understand the nuances of social media management.

Here are our top tips to help you get started: 

Set Goals

Before you can begin formulating a plan, you have to identify your priorities as a small business owner.

What are your marketing and communications goals? How broad is your base of customers right now, and how would you like to see it grow? What kind of engagement is meaningful for your small business?

By understanding what you hope to achieve by amping up your social media, you can start investing time, energy, and money in the right places. 

Plan & Schedule

Now that you have an in-depth understanding of where you’d like to see your small business in the near future, you can work out a social media marketing system. 

Set a budget, choose your audience, and decide which platform would work best for your needs. Then, get it all on a calendar! You must make social media a part of your regular routine for optimal results. 

Delegate

As a small business owner, you’re in charge of so many different business operations. So, it can be difficult to keep them all straight. To avoid getting in the weeds, it’s important for you to spread out necessary tasks. Besides, how else will you focus on bringing your business vision to fruition?

Find virtual assistants or remote workers skilled in social media, and make sure to utilize their expertise whenever you can. Let them oversee post scheduling, engagement, and analytics. Touch base frequently, so you know what’s going on at all times but manage to avoid burnout. Stay curious, and engaged.

Refine & Repeat

Remember that it takes time to find the perfect social media management system for you. With a wealth of tools out there– including Hootsuite and Buffer – you can choose what works for you and forget about the rest. 

Along with your team, keep polishing up your strategy. When something isn’t working, go back to the drawing board. Don’t stop till your social media system is tailor-made just the way you like it.

How did you go about building a social media strategic plan for your small business? What barriers did you face while perfecting your system? Share your experiences with us in the comment section below!

Photo by NordWood Themes from Unsplash

 

customer service

How To Offer Better Customer Service: Top Tips For Your Small Business

Technology may keep changing, but one thing that will never change is the need for good customer service. VEPAA, with our crew of expert virtual assistants, can help you provide superior service to your base of customers. 

“The experience that individuals have with a company and then what they hear from friends and family influence their perception of and likelihood to do business with a company,” says Megan Burns, a senior analyst at Forrester Research.

So, how can your small business focus on and improve customer service? 

Here are some key areas to consider:

Being Responsive

Responsiveness includes two main elements: how easy you are to reach, and how quickly you respond to customer needs.

That’s why it is important that you provide your customers with multiple methods to reach you. For example, you should use email, phone, and online chat services appropriate for your particular business. 

In addition, mobile services are your friends: you may be away, but you can keep your business close and continue to manage your affairs. You can set up email services on your phone to respond as quickly as possible. This will make your customers feel cared for and heard. 

Focus on Community 

Make sure to always be around.

Nowadays, there are many ways to be part of a community, whether physical or virtual.

Depending on the focus of your business, you may choose to take part in open houses, farmers’ markets, or local festivals. These activities will help you engage with your community in robust ways.

On the virtual side, it is necessary to be active on social media. Update your personal website, and social media platforms regularly. Look for comments from customers and don’t forget to respond. Let customers know you’re always there for them.  

Online Customer Reviews 

Be part of conversations happening online!

Don’t forget about online reviewing platforms, including Yelp, Trustpilot, and Facebook. These are all places where customers debate customer service.

Look for what your customers say, and respond whenever it seems appropriate.  If someone is unhappy, be proactive and respond.  If someone is happy, thank them for their positive reviews to keep the relationship going.  Check to see what your customers think about your small business on a regular basis.  

Understand and Track Your Customers 

Above all, it is crucial that you understand your customers, and closely monitor all of your interactions with them.

You can be more responsive to your customers’ needs by knowing who they are, when they contact you, and what types of services they are seeking. Should you have a preference for virtual solutions, you can try services like Salesforce.com, which also offers a free trial.

Alternatively, you can create your own customer service management system. You can use database programs like Microsoft Access or Open Office Base.   

What do you do to ensure that your small business provides top notch customer service? 

Share your thoughts about and experiences in the comments section below!

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

The Top 5 Ways to Communicate Effectively– Even When Working Virtually

According to the (SIOP), communication is “an integral component of success for any team.”  Because of this, it is vital that virtual teams, like the ones you can access with VEPAA, find a way to communicate effectively.  In fact, when it comes to virtual teams, SIOP says that effective communication is “imperative” for a virtual team to be successful. 

Utilize Communication Guidelines 

When it comes to a virtual team, there is no way to drop by someone’s office for a quick chat.

Instead, it’s best to have an agreement in place that helps answer who talks, when they talk, what they talk about, and how they talk (email, instant message, phone, Skype, and more).  Teams can communicate effectively only when they know what is expected and required of them. 

Acknowledge Diversity 

Virtual co-workers may live in any part of the world. Because of this, it’s possible that you will have a very diverse team of co-workers and employees. It’s important to understand that different cultures have different norms around communication. This can help you avoid any potential culture clashes or misunderstandings. 

Don’t Guess 

Entrepeneur.com points out that to truly communicate effectively, you have to make sure that you understand what the other person is saying.  In other words, if you aren’t sure what is being said, ask for clarification.  Don’t assume that you know what the other person is trying to get across.  If something is unclear, work together to make sure everyone is on the same page.    

Avoid Non-Verbal Miscommunication Woes 

Five of the main elements of non-verbal communication are eye contact, voice fluctuation, position in the room, facial expressions, and hand gestures, according to PR Daily.

Unfortunately, being in the virtual world means that you won’t often get to use non-verbal communication.  Therefore, to avoid problems, make sure that you choose words that clearly convey what you’re trying to say.  It’s okay to be informal in certain communications with your virtual team, but avoid jokes that may be taken the wrong way.

Recap Your Conversations 

It never hurts to go over what you’ve already said.  Some forms of online communication, such as chat rooms and instant message programs, can provide a chat log.

Further, if you’re choosing to use the phone or Skype, spending an extra few minutes to recap your main points can be impactful. It can be the difference between ineffective and effective communication. 

 

Which tip do you find most helpful for your virtual team?  Have you ever encountered a communication problem because someone failed to follow one of the tips?

Share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section below.

Texting Co-workers and Clients Within Your Small Business: Pros & Cons

According to Entrepreneur.com, texting may often be the fastest way to communicate when you’re operating a small business. Yet, it’s also important to consider the fact that it may not always be the best choice…

So how can you decide when it’s appropriate to text? Whether you’re sending texts to your customers or receiving them from your colleagues, it’s important to consider the consequences.

Here are some tips on how to use texting to the advantage of your small business: 

Texting Colleagues 

Texting your co-workers can be an excellent way to keep in touch and stay on top of projects. This is especially true if you’re working with a team of virtual assistants, as with VEPAA, and are separated by distance

Nonetheless, you should make sure to follow basic business etiquette.  Be clear and to the point, but don’t use standard text abbreviations. Politeness matters, so spend the extra seconds to type out “please” and “thank you”. Ensure that auto-correct doesn’t change right messages to wrong ones. 

It’s also a good idea to consider whether the situation is one that warrants a text message.  If you’re sending a time-sensitive message, texting might not be the best choice.  Similarly, consider the message itself.  Avoid anything truly serious, like hiring or firing, and try to stay focused on the positive.   

Texting Customers 

Customers often like to get coupons and other information.  Text messaging is a great way to get those messages across. 

Small Business Trends reports that text messages have a 100% open rate and a 98% read rate.  There are a number of low-cost services that offer texting tools, such as Betwext, which charges only $.02/message and has no monthly costs.  With Betwext, you can have unlimited subscribers and auto responses for when customers text back.   

In conclusion, when you send texts to your customers, remember that it’s a business message.  Follow the same rules you would when communicating with your customers in any other format.  If it’s an advertisement, send it at an appropriate time, because most customers don’t like 8 a.m. messages, even if it is announcing a sale. 

In addition, decide ahead of time how many messages you will text per month, and let your customers know what to expect.  A good initial message to subscribers should tell the customer how many messages they will get per month; warn them of potential fees their own provider might charge, and let them know how to opt out. 

 

Do you use texting for your small business? 

Share your experiences with texting in the comments section below!