social

Choosing the best social media channels for your business

How many social media platforms should you be on?

It’s the question that perplexes many a business owner: how many social media platforms should I use? The answer isn’t simple, and it depends very much on your product or service(s), has and your customer demographic.

The challenges:

  • What are the core reasons to even use social media?
  • Should you use all of them or only a few?
  • How do you know which social media platform best suits your business?

Social media can be one of your company’s most profitable marketing channels. It’s an excellent way to build brand awareness, connect with existing customers, and generate new leads to fill your funnel.

The solutions:

The main reasons for a business to embark on a social media (sm) presence or campaign include:

  • To build brand awareness.
  • To engage with current and potential customers.
  • To improve traffic to your website.
  • To increase new business leads.
  • To build your database and capture a mailing list
  • It’s better to choose a few social media platforms that your targeted audience engages with regularly than to try and spread content across all channels in a scattergun effect.
  • When to use the following SM platforms:
  • Facebook
    • If your business is customer-facing (B2C). Although B2B can work, the point of Facebook is to be interactive, and for you to provide content that will drive conversation and engagement among your customers.
  • Instagram
    • Instagram is king when it comes to quick content (short videos/images). This is great for brand awareness and shouldn’t be seen as a channel to solely drive revenue. Use it when you have a product /retail setup, or a message that you want to get across in a succinct, highly visual way.
  • LinkedIn
    • This is more about linking with other businesses and connecting with people in your industry, sharing information about your services and glean intelligence. This is primarily for B2B businesses and those who provide services.
  • Youtube
    • This is a highly engaging platform that also allows you to educate people on your services or products, in a more detailed manner.  YouTube allows content to belong, and part of the purchasing decision if you can give a guide or more information on your product/service this is the media to use.

Once you have done your research and decided on which social media channels to focus on, then work to ensure that the content you provide is engaging, and provides the image, the teasers or information that is going to resonate with your customers. Review the results of your efforts regularly, and don’t be afraid to tweak your program to get better results.

parental

Position Descriptions

You invest a lot of time in finding the right people to join your team. So, it’s important that once you have made the decision to hire someone, you must give this partnership the very best chance of delivering a great outcome for your business.

Position descriptions – the most important document of them all

A clearly written position description (PD) is a critical starting point for any new employee. Correctly constructed, utilised and updated, it’s a map for the employee’s development within your business. As the employer, you need to document your expectations of the role, but review the document with the employee and invite their input, as they are the one doing the tasks. This early review will help identify any training issues that are required; or hopefully, identify areas where your new hire has additional skills they can bring to tasks.

Link your Policy and Procedures manual to the PD – these documents go hand in hand for the professional, ethical, safe carrying out of duties. Also, add your company’s purpose, vision, DNA to the PD – this shouldn’t be in a separate document: it should be an integral part of setting your expectations and developing your workplace culture.

During the probation period, employers should be ensuring that the new employee is provided with all the training and instruction needed to perform their role. It’s important to review the progress of the new team member frequently during this probation period as it is not fair or acceptable – out of the blue – to tell someone a day before their probation period ends, that they are not performing the job to your expectations.

The PD should be reviewed at least annually, and certainly updated and re-issued, if there is a change of role. Some businesses include KPI’s in the PD. If you want to do this, then it needs to be updated frequently to ensure the team member knows and understands their changing goals.

Use the PD as a running checklist for your team member – what has been trained; what has been mastered; what needs teaching; and what new skills do they need to harness?

Position descriptions are very important documents if you carrying out a performance management process.

Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s)

All businesses want to build a culture of self-accountability and drive. KPI’s are the tools that employers should use to set and measure the tasks, that an employee needs to successfully achieve to become a fully contributing member of the team. Best practice is for the direct manager to meet with the employee on a regular basis to agree on the tasks that need to be achieved, on what timeline and then document this. Follow up meetings should be had to review progress (if the timeline is lengthy), or actual results.

KPI’s should be simple and consistent. The fact is that all tasks that your team members carry out should have a KPI attached, not just the big hairy projects.
KPI’s provide an expectation: an outcome for a task – not just the fact that it was done, but what did doing it actually achieve? In today’s world, we want people, whether they are in the office or working virtually, to always be self-accountable and engaged in their purpose.

Performance reviews

Performance reviews should not be confused with salary reviews. A pay increase may arise out of a performance review, but your team should understand that the two aren’t necessarily directly linked.

If a process of setting KPI’s is managed well, then formal performance reviews can be held annually. There are a variety of methods for carrying this out, including a “360 degree” method where all team members are asked to evaluate their colleague. This is quite a confronting method and many employers elect instead to provide the employee with a form before the review, where they are asked to rate themselves, and make comments on how they see their effectiveness in areas such as:

  • Job knowledge
  • Communication skills
  • Problem solving and decision-making
  • Planning and organisation skills
  • Quality and quantity of work
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Initiative and resourcefulness
  • Supervisory skills

The employer carries out the same exercise, rating the employee and making useful comments. These two documents provide a strong foundation for a very constructive review of how an employee is performing, and out of this will naturally fall areas of strength or concern, allowing the employer to plan training but also look to increasing responsibilities in areas that are ranked highly.

These documents, used correctly, are tools to help you build a transparent, engaged culture, and self-motivated employees who are capable and compete

leadership

The qualities of leadership

Leadership is an art form. There is no right or wrong way to lead, but what all great leaders seem to have in common is the ability to influence people.  If you are blessed with the skill to inspire a team, then you have a distinct advantage.  However, there is another attribute that is just as powerful – honesty. Honesty rings out like a bell and is instinctively recognised and valued by your team.

Leading is fluid; it requires a mix of constancy and agility, along with times of needing to be reactive and proactive.

Leaders are driven by what’s in their heart and what their guts (instinct) are telling them.  Their business is an extension of their soul and they are constantly looking to mould it into something better, while taking into account all the diverse elements of the eco-system called a business.

Leadership is challenging but the reward, for those who become good leaders, is not just business success, but also an immense personal satisfaction.

At a minimum, business owners should:

Identify those on the team who have leadership potential and provide them with the opportunities and training to hone these skills.

Evaluate your own leadership style.  Is it the old “Command and control” style or do you lead with authenticity and transparency?

What you should be doing

  • Feed your curiosity – true business leaders are always wanting to learn, to improve, to move the business to the next level.
  • Be fair, enthusiastic and understand the value of honest, frequency communication.
  • Be flexible in how you motivate understanding that individual team members will have different triggers which light their enthusiasm.
  • Leaders inspire people. They go first, they need courage to take the risk and the resilience to find a way through if things do not pan out as expected.

What not to do

  • Bullying is not leadership.  “My way or the highway” is not leadership.
doc

The importance of a file note

Whether you are a small or large business, franchisor or franchisee, you need to make a habit of using file notes.  Not only can it help you grow your business, but it can also act as an aide memoire, and help you remember what happened if you have a legal dispute where the ability to be able to provide a clear, detailed chronology of what has been agreed to or occurred can help protect your business.

These days a file note should be an electronic note.  Made either using a Notes app on your phone, or on your PC or in your CRM, database or diary but with a firm process that if a file note is on a personal device it is transferred to a central repository within your business on the next business day at the latest. File notes shouldn’t take the place of official correspondence, but they can be an adjunct to it.

Extracting and documenting the essence of a conversation is an art that we need to teach our team members. Not everybody is born with the ability to listen and hear, validate the points and then document into a useable file note.

As a business owner you’ll find that implementing a habit of making files notes across your team will provide you with golden information on your business and aid you in making good decisions.  And, worst case scenario, if there’s a dispute or legal action, you have all the historic information you need at your fingertips.

At a minimum, business owners should:

Implement a policy and procedures about when file notes should be taken, where they should be stored, what they should contain.

What you should be doing

Work out a template (or series of templates) that suits your business – with memory-jogging headings for the information that should be recorded.  There should be action items, agreed items, next steps.

Invest in an IT system that makes creating files notes an easy process then implement a system to also capture email exchanges and documents and file accordingly. Find a way to alert others in the business that need to know that a file note has been recorded.

Ensure the privacy and confidentiality is maintained around these notes.

What you should make notes on:

  • Important conversations (by phone, virtual, text message or in-person) with team members, suppliers, partners, clients.
  • Conversations with team members, particularly on any HR related issues.
  • Anything to do with a potential dispute resolution – team or client or franchisee.
  • Personal information such as birth of a child, travel plans etc of clients, team members, suppliers – so that you can refer to them in future conversations.

What not to do

  • Don’t underestimate the importance of taking file notes.
  • Don’t wait too long before making a file note. They should be made will the conversation is fresh.
hybrid

The hybrid workplace

In early 2020, during the initial COVID lockdown, many businesses around Australia were forced to implement a working from home (WFH) set-up for their employees as the only way of keeping their business operating. After a few weeks of ensuring everyone had the right set-up, getting communications and information-sharing strategies in place and working out kinks, by and large it was declared that the WFH forced experiment was a success.

Many workers with young families or caring responsibilities found the flexibility invaluable.  They saved on commuting and saved on childcare, and they were able to stagger and vary their hours of work.  They had more time to devote to other areas of their life and also found they were more productive in their work role.

With the opening up of the economy came with a solid resistance from many employees to going back to the full-time daily commute.  While some people who had found themselves socially isolated welcomed the return to the workplace, a lot of people who had found an improved work-life balance were reluctant to lose it.

At a minimum, business owners should:

Be looking at what sort of hybrid workplace works for them. Carefully evaluate how much time is needed, by every employee, in the physical workplace and how much can be done remotely?

What you should be doing:

Look at the positives:

  • There’s an opportunity to reduce your office floorspace.
  • There’s less absenteeism due to illness as people feel comfortable working from home if they have a cold and aren’t passing on their germs.
  • Your workforce is developing resilience and flexibility if there are future lockdowns o emergencies that disrupt your business.
  • Offering a hybrid working from home/time in the office model will make you an employer of choice – attracting the bet to your business.

 

Look at the challenges:

  • Safety – you need a comprehensive WFH policy and to audit your employee’s home working space regularly (this can be done virtually).
  • Even though your employees can perform their role superbly from home, there’s a risk that by not being visible they may be overlooked for promotion. You need to recognise and address this.
  • Information sharing can be compromised with off-site employees missing out on important, ad hoc conversations. Implement organised sharing of information and updates.
  • You have to work harder to retain your culture.

What not to do

  • Don’t insist that people work in the office or on-site all the time if it’s really not necessary. You will lose good employees who want the flexibility.
projectmanage

Using tech to drive project management

Digital project management systems are no longer the future of workflow management: they are the present, and any business that is not implementing a digital project management system is losing a competitive advantage. Digital project management systems are constantly evolving, becoming easier to use whilst allowing a more forensic level of detail.

At a minimum, business owners should:

Provide your team with the tools to drive workflow on their projects.  Tools that provide:

  • Clear objectives
  • Clear processes
  • Clear deadlines
  • Resource oversight and planning

What you should be doing

  • Investigate implementing a project management system such as Monday and Teamwork. This gives your team members one place to manage project tasks and deadlines, and also gives project managers and stakeholders vital overviews of progress and roadblocks.

Digital project management solutions can provide your business with the following:

  • Set start and end dates to individual tasks within the project.
  • Assign tasks to individual team members with briefing information.
  • Link reminders – either through the project management software or email for important follow-ups and due dates.
  • Control dependencies where one task must be completed before another can be actioned.
  • Give managers oversight of projects so they can do what is necessary, in a timely manner, to keep the projects on time.
  • Highlight resource deficiencies and allow managers to re-allocate or recruit.

What not to do

  • Don’t rely on paper-based planning or excel spreadsheets
  • Don’t expect projects to be completed on time and on budget if your teams don’t have clear visibility of all aspects of a project.
virtualevent

Is there still a place for virtual events

COVID19 lockdowns forced businesses to embrace the concept of a virtual event. Whether that was an annual awards celebration, a conference, a farewell or a largescale training session, for example, the only way to deliver was online, and many companies took up the challenge and fashioned events that were inclusive, engaging affairs.

Now that Australia is operating in COVID Normal, should the concept of a virtual event be shelved in favour of face-to-face gatherings, or can we take the lessons we learned from our period of forced online events and incorporate them into our schedules?

At a minimum, business owners should:

Investigate the pros and cons of virtual events.  It may be that a virtual event brings cost benefits and allows an event to take place that normally wouldn’t happen.

What you should be doing:

Look at the advantages:

  • Less or no travel time for participants. This is a big one because people are more prepared to commit to an event if it doesn’t entail a long commute.
  • Less expense all round. For the organiser, there’s no venue hire, no food and alcohol costs. For the attendee, there’s no ticket cost, no travel costs or parking fees
  • There’s no limit on numbers. But if you are going big – as in thousands, best ensure your technology is up to it.
  • More flexibility on timing. If you aren’t competing for venues, you can set the date and time that suits. Also, you can record the event and people who were unable to attend can watch it at a later date.
  • Access to the world’s best. The money you are saving can be used to access a higher level of guest speaker or entertainment.  It doesn’t matter where they are in the world, as they can join your virtual event at the click of a button and you don’t have to pay for their airfares and accommodation.  Win-win!

Look at the challenges:

  • It’s one dimensional. Meeting people face-to-face and being immersed in the atmosphere isn’t something that can be duplicated online.
  • Lack of networking opportunities. Large online events don’t deliver those priceless opportunities to network when you are physically present at an event.
  • No accountability. While people may log in to an online event, you have no guarantee that they are actually watching it.
  • No live audience for presenters to bounce off. A lot of guest speakers base their presentation around interaction with the audience. While lockdowns have forced them to re-think their approach – it’s often less dynamic.

What not to do

  • Don’t ignore the options that video events provide. Events are critical to team culture, networking within your industry and building relationships with clients.
  • Don’t forget to develop protocols and behaviour standards around online events – e.g., dress code, cameras on, mute on, using the chat function etc.
branding

Brand evolution or revolution

A highly recognisable brand that is instantly tied to a quality product or reliable service is the Utopia that businesses aim for. And we know it’s a long haul to get your brand well known. But those elements of the brand that comprise visual recognition – the logo, the colours, the fonts, the secondary language, do need a refresh from time to time.  And occasionally they need an overhaul.  The trick is to know when.

Marketing experts say that a brand should be invigorated every five or six years.  That may mean that logos are tweaked to better work with evolving mediums, taglines reviewed and colours examined.  Gone are the days of worrying about a stacked logo taking up too much print space.  Now we want something that will bounce out of Facebook or Instagram.

At a minimum, business owners should:

Carry out research to see how your brand is viewed in the marketplace.  Is it seen as tired, old-fashioned? Is it recognised at all?  What’s the recall on key elements of your look and message?

What you should be doing

  • Your research will tell you whether you need a total overhaul of your brand (revolution) of if you can refresh it by making some small but important changes (evolution).
  • Engage experts in this space to help you.
  • Any messaging that is attached to the brand needs to be considered to see if it still portrays what you do, what your positioning is in your marketplace and that it reflects current society values. Sometimes a small change – for instance from “The place to go…” to “Your place to go…” is all that is needed to turn your tagline into a client benefit message.
  • Colours are something that every brand needs to consider carefully. There’s colour psychology where research says that blue reflects trust and dependability, red is excitement and boldness, green is peace, health and nature and yellow is happiness and optimism. What do you want your brand to say?

What not to do

  • Brand evolution or revolution is not a job that should be done by an in-house management committee. It needs a fresh eye, and a distance from the emotion your team will have to your brand. You need experts in branding and marketing and how it’s applied. What are the pitfalls if you go down a certain path? You need to test concepts extensively before you go to the expense of making change.
settinggoals

Sharing and achieving business goals

It’s an accepted practice for senior managers and/or board members lock themselves away for a Strategic Planning Day. A day when they blue sky what they’d like to achieve and then break it down into more realistic objectives.  Often the skills of the team are assessed to see if they can support these goals and, in the meantime, your team are sweating on whether this grand day of planning will impact on their employment, company values and their comfort zone.

Of course, commercial confidentiality and other sensitivities dictate that these planning days are exclusive to need-to-participate levels of management, but, when the goals are set, then the team needs to be part of another Strategic Planning Day – to be given the vision; to gain commitment; the connection to those goals; and to provide on-the-ground reality checks and map realistic timelines.

These team planning sessions are critical to success.

At a minimum, business owners should:

Have a plan to share your strategic planning goals with your team.

What you should be doing

  • Share the vision. It may be a five-year plan for growth, the development of a new product or platform, the expansion of the business into other states or countries or it could be a plan to save the company. Whatever it is, get your team excited about it and committed to it.
  • Listen to the team. Your team members are in the trenches, as they understand the challenges at an intimate level. They also can see opportunities that may not have been evident to you.
  • Set smaller, measurable goals and deadlines. You will have no doubt broken your vision into quarterly goals. Share this and encourage feedback and discussion.  Your team members need to set the deadlines and own them.
  • Train and upskill. Make sure your people have the skills they need to meet their goals. Offer training, mentoring and support.
  • Track progress. What gets measured gets done. Every quarter, provide a detailed report on the progress of what is being achieved. Detail any highlights but also share any missed deadlines, unforeseen roadblocks, changes to the plan. Once again, you may receive really valuable input from your team that will help you.
  • Set rewards – share the bounty .If your business is sales based, you can have a commission or rewards-based system that allows hard work to be rewarded by increased earning power. Work out an alternative rewards system for your support staff, who don’t have the ability to ramp up their earnings through their efforts.
  • Celebrate milestones as a team.

What not to do

  • Don’t plans and goals that are only known by your high level management. Any business that doesn’t share its goals with the team is setting themselves up for, if not failure, then a meandering ride to success. Without an insight into the vision, how do your employees prioritise their tasks to meet the strategic plan?
chatbot

Add a chatbot to your customer service team

The COVID pandemic has driven people online at a far faster pace than was ever imagined prior to 2021.  They are researching and shopping online in ever increasing numbers and they are doing so.  at all times of the day and night.

Research shows us that over 70% of consumers want the ability to solve an issue themselves – they want the information at their fingertips.

So how do you ensure that you don’t lose a potential client, a potential sale, because your team aren’t available to answer a query at 10pm or on a Sunday?

The problems with a 24/7 marketplace:

  • Team members are not always able to respond quickly to traditional emails that are generated from your website.
  • Team members are constantly answering the same questions taking up valuable resource time.
  • There’s no customer journey that guides them into a purchasing decision.
  • Customers want answers instantly.

The chatbot solution:

Implementing a chatbot on your website can be a way to engage customers and answer those recurring questions.

There are two main types of chatbots:

  • Rule based chatbots:
    • These can be setup where there is a regularity and formula to the type of questions asked. For example, if customers frequently ask “When are you open?” The chat bot can instantly respond with the businesses operating hours.
    • If a customer asks “How much is product x?”, a chatbot can instantly pull up the price and link the purchaser to the product.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbots:
    • These bots are much more complex. They still require a level of programming however they learn over time by analysing past data and making assumptions. If a customer asks a question that has no direct answer set, it can be stored for future updates by a human programmer.

People are more and more comfortable interacting with chatbots – in fact over two thirds of consumers say they interact with an intelligent assistant or chatbot at least once a month.

Chatbots aren’t a substitute for your customer service team, but they are a great tool to guide an after-hours potential purchaser to make the decision to buy.