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April, 2017

Do You Know Your Brand Voice?

Does your brand have a distinct brand voice? Would your customers recognize you just by the way you speak to them? Voice is a crucial part of your brand’s identity, so if neither of the two is the case, read on to see how to change it.

 

What is voice, and what is tone?

 

Voice

First, let’s define the notion. Voice is the way your brand communicates in general. It’s a reflection of your brand’s personality. It’s a combination of certain attributes – like fun and conversational, or maybe professional and very business-focused – and certain types of words and expressions you use, along with the way you use them across all channels. It’s one of the key factors that makes the experience with your brand cohesive and whole for your customers and prospects.

 

Tone

Tone, on the other hand, is how you apply that voice in certain types of communication. So you might use a lighter tone when you talk to people on Twitter or Facebook, but a more serious tone when you’re sending an email to an upset, enterprise-level customer.

You might also decide to use a very similar tone across the board (which I think becomes more and more common these days as we all communicate online, and are also trying to become more consistent and transparent as brands). But essentially, you could call the tone a variation of your brand’s overall voice.

 

Why should you bother with creating a voice for your brand?

Well, to put it simply, your voice expresses your brand’s personality. It completes your visual identification, and helps people recognize your brand by just the copy in your marketing materials. It’s one of the elements that make your brand stand out from the competition. Finally, it helps communicate the values behind your brand.

Your voice defines your brand in the eyes of your audience (just as your personal voice defines you in the eyes of your friends or colleagues.) People generally don’t care whether they’re chatting with you on Facebook, or calling your customer support line. They’re talking to YOU. And if you use a voice they can recognize, and get used to, they’ll trust you more (as opposed to being confused and disoriented).

 

So how do you define your brand voice?

Before you define the voice, you need to do your homework in defining your brand strategy. Your brand voice will follow from it naturally.

 

Know who you’re talking to.

First, you need to define your audience. Customer research can help. Develop customer personas that will help you define certain groups of your customers. Because most likely there’s much more than just one type of customer within your target group.

Another important thing is to define the customer journey. Even in a pretty specific target group, people still have different needs depending on the stage of the customer lifecycle. If you describe them, defining all the touchpoints with your brand, it’ll be much easier to (re)define your communication.

This is obviously important not only for your brand voice, but for all your marketing activities. As is the next point, which is…

 

Define your brand’s personality.

Apart from customer research, there are plenty of exercises that can help you pinpoint the characteristic traits of your brand. One of them is using brand cards.

Get a deck of cards (you can get them for example here) with attributes you can use to describe your brand. Along with other stakeholders (which would be your marketing team, but also members of your sales team, customer support, maybe even your CEO) divide those into three categories: who you are, who you’re not, and who you’d like to be. Discuss the ones you disagree on (and you’ll see people from different departments might have different perspectives on the same brand), and try to get a clear picture of what your brand is like, and what direction you’d like to go in.

Now take this and see whether you’re successfully communicating those traits. Time for a change, maybe?

Also, ask yourself some questions:

  • If your brand were a car (animal, place, etc.), what would it be? (This is the so called Chinese portrait.)
  • If you wanted to describe your brand to a 10-year-old, what words would you use?
  • How are you different from your competition? In what way do you WANT to be different?

Speaking about competition, find brand voices that you really like amongst your competitors and from companies whose marketing you admire. I’m sure there are some (My favorites include Slack and Buffer, for example.)

And when that’s done, it’s time to turn it all into your voice.

 

Create writing guidelines.

Write down – in detail – everything that relates to your brand voice. What tone are you using, in what channels? What words/phrases do you like to use, what words do you want to avoid? It’s a good idea to create a blacklist of words and phrases – e.g. including jargon, marketing buzzwords, or simply certain words that don’t go well with your brand’s personality.

Your brand voice guidelines should also describe certain stylistic and grammatical choices you decide to go for – like not using passive voice, for example (which by the way generally makes your writing impersonal and non-actionable). Make sure you include as many details on things like punctuation, capitalization, sentence length, heading styles, etc.

You can adhere to a particular style manual in this respect (and here’s a list of some). But you can also (and I’m a huge proponent of this) use one as a base, and adjust certain details to what suits your needs best (as long as you use language correctly, and mind your apostrophes!)

Do this for general copy creation, but also include details for specific channels. You’ll obviously need different guidelines for tweets, 1000-word-long blog posts, banner ads, or landing page copy.

 

Share it with everyone.

Make sure everyone in the company knows the voice and the specific guidelines. I know, I’ve said that before, but yes, I’ll say it again: your customers should have a consistent experience with your brand no matter whether they’re talking with you on Twitter, chat with customer support, or read a marketing email. This means each person on every team should know your voice, abide by it, and – what’s most important – understand it and feel a part of it.

After all, brands are made by real people and it’s them who affect that customer experience the most.

 

Do you have your favorite brand voices?

Or tips you successfully used in building your own brand voice? Share them in the comments!

brand voice

The post Do You Know Your Brand Voice? appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

10 Avoidable Email Marketing Follies

Digital marketing has opened the door for a lot of brand messaging strategies. Even with the rise and rise of popular channels like social media, instant messaging, and now, conversational commerce for communication, email marketing remains one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach new and existing customers.

 

 

email marketing follies

 

However, it only takes one quick swipe to land your email into the trash folder. Brands continue to make a lot of simple mistakes that can kill your entire campaign. Let’s discuss some of the most avoidable mishaps you can keep in mind when crafting your next company email.

 

  1. Not personalizing

Perhaps the biggest and easiest email mistakes to avoid is failure to personalize. According to an oft-quoted study by Experian, personalized promotional emails have a 29 percent higher unique open rate and a 41 percent higher click-through rate than ones that are not. Beginning an email message with cookie cutter openers like “Dear Subscriber” or the notorious “Dear Valued Customer” is a one-way ticket to the trash folder.

 

email marketing follies

 

Doing this makes the correspondence look like spam right off the bat. Contrast that with Spotify’s highly personalized emails that take into account your past browsing patterns, site interactions, and preferences. Kudos to them for making the reader feel like they’re the center of attention!

 

email marketing follies

 

With GetResponse, it’s a breeze to personalize your emails dynamically for various customer segments.

 

  1. Failing to integrate with other marketing channels

While email is one of the older digital marketing tactics, it is hardly a standalone channel anymore. Therefore, ensuring it works in tandem with your website, app, and social media profiles while incorporating customer data is a must. Even though this seems obvious, there are a number of obstacles that stand in the way.

Integrating multiple channels with your email marketing strategy means that each tool must work in concert to provide the most relevant content in the most appealing way. Every consumer touchpoint needs to be linked to allow the flow of information to run smoothly. Marketers have been struggling with this concept for a long time.

 

social media follies

 

Properly merging multiple channels is crucial in creating more targeted and consistent communication. In order to ensure consistency across all of the channels where you market, you need to make sure your inter-departmental teams communication and document sharing is up to snuff.

Surmount the risk of weak multi-channel campaigns by getting your content creation, customer support, sales, SEO, PR, and email marketing departments work together using a collaboration tool like WorkZone. Individuals and teams working on different campaigns – paid or organic – can easily stay on top of what the others are doing and share updates with them.

 

email marketing follies

 

  1. Bad subject lines

The subject line is by far the most vital part of the entire email. It is the first (and only assured) thing a viewer will see when the email shows up in their inbox. It is what makes them decide whether or not they want to read it.

Subject lines determine the life and death of your email. Drawing in readers depends on how carefully you craft it. Don’t go overboard with buzzwords or “free” or “amazing.” Excessive use can come across as clickbait and will result in a trip to the trash folder. That said, there are no hard and fast rules for subject lines – even a spammy, all caps subject line might grab attention now and then:

 

email marketing follies

 

You’ll come across innumerable studies and articles on how to write the right subject line that will deliver 541 percent more responses, but the long and short of it is that you need to creatively make it clear, concise and clever. Find a happy medium between boring and overly ambitious. Let your brand’s persona shine through!

 

  1. Focusing solely on promotion

Email marketers should prioritize engaging customers instead of spouting corporate jargon. Consumers today are becoming less and less susceptible to blatant sales tactics such as this:

 

email marketing follies

 

While the ultimate goal is obviously to sell your product or service, the focus should be on delivering valuable, relevant content. Try doing things like providing links to your blog posts within the email body, directing viewers to compelling brand material instead of just in-your-face promotions.

I’m not advocating not selling your product by any stretch of imagination. All I want to emphasize here is that you need to find the elusive balance of content, design, and deals in your emails.

 

  1. Not proofreading thoroughly

There is perhaps nothing worse than sending out a business email riddled with typos and grammatical mistakes. When this happens, a good deal of your professionalism is diminished. Take a look at this “small” mishap:

 

email marketing follies

 

In the subject line, “Not Get It” was most likely supposed to be “Now Get It.” See how one letter can make a huge difference? This error completely changes the whole message of the email.

As you can see, the margin for error is extremely small. Before hitting send, be sure you’ve gone over the entire message multiple times. It also helps to get a second pair of eyes on the content before it gets sent out. A tool such as Grammarly will be of immense help, especially if you’re composing quick emails in your browser itself.

 

  1. Not having a call-to-action (CTA)

The end goal of a business email is to push the viewer in the direction that leads to a conversion of some sort. Whether it be directing to product pages, blog content, or just your home page, a good CTA is essential. Failure to place one within the email will result in minimal return and your click-through rate will suffer. Take a look at this email:

 

email marketing follies

 

While this imagery is compelling and informative about the deal being offered, where does the viewer go from here? There is no obvious CTA button or link to follow.

The CTA is what the entire email leads to. They are one of the most common factors used in A/B testing. GetResponse of course lets you test every aspect of your emails and other marketing ventures. Even the little things like color or text on a CTA button can make a huge different in gaining conversions.

 

  1. Too many CTAs

At the other end of the spectrum, adding too many CTAs can make your email come across as cluttered and unfocused. At first glance, they tend to look like excessive spam and readers will be inclined to skip over it altogether. Take a look at this one:

 

email marketing follies

 

While the promotion itself isn’t bad, there are just too many options available for one email.

It’s best to keep to one, concise CTA. In fact, emails with a single, hyper-focused call-to-action can increase clicks by 371 percent and can even boost sales by 1617 percent!

Think of your email like a sales funnel in itself. The design should work to bring the viewer to a clear-cut outcome without a second thought.

 

  1. Not getting the timing right

Apart from the email itself, the timing you choose to send out your business material is an extremely important factor to keep in mind. If an email is sent at a bad time, all the effort you put into crafting the subject line, content, CTAs, and graphics was for nothing.

For example, if you are a B2B company and send out an email blast at 5:30 pm on a Friday, chances are, very few people will be on the receiving end and it will be buried come Monday. CoSchedule has put together a number of studies that have found the most optimal times to send business emails.

 

email marketing follies

 

Additionally, take into account the geographical dispersal of your audience across different time zones. Your email marketing tool will have a simple function to segment your lists and avoid mishaps like these.

 

  1. Sending too many/not enough emails

Flooding your viewers’ inbox multiple times per day is a surefire way to either get your emails deleted, or worse, have viewers unsubscribe. On the other hand, not sending enough can result in consumers forgetting about your brand. You need to find the perfect balance of persistence without being annoying. As each business is unique with a different set of followers, this can be tricky.

For example, National Debt Relief tried to send out promotional emails every day or so. As it turned out, receiving debt consolidation emails that frequently didn’t sit very well with their subscribers and they lost nearly 15 percent of their list before deciding to tone it down.

This will more than likely take some trial and error. Start small and gauge the results. Look at your open rates and find a rhythm that works.

 

  1. Neglecting key metrics

Perhaps the biggest advantage of marketing in the digital world is the ability to track results and learn from both victories and failures. In terms of email marketing, keeping an eye on the reporting section is crucial for any campaign. You will gain all kinds of insights like what kind of messaging results in higher click through rates, how many email addresses should be taken off the list, which graphics work best, and much more.

Failure to look into your detailed reports and data is one of the biggest sins to commit in digital marketing. Without data-driven information, how do you know the degree in which your brand messaging resonates with the target audience?

More importantly, without collecting data on customer actions following the campaign, your ability to nurture leads and send follow-up messages is severely compromised.

There are six key metrics to keep an eye on throughout an email marketing campaign:

  1. Click-through rate – the number of subscribers who clicked on links in the email content as a percentage of total delivered emails
  2. Conversion rate – the number of recipients who followed the sales funnel in the email and took the desired action as a percentage of total delivered emails
  3. Bounce rate – the percentage of emails that were not delivered successfully
  4. List growth rate – the rate of net increase in the number of subscribers in your lists
  5. Sharing rate – the number of recipients who forwarded the email or clicked the share buttons linked to their social networks as a percentage of total delivered emails
  6. Overall ROI – the net profit the email campaign is generating compared to how much you’re spending on it expressed as a percentage of the total cost

Consistently monitoring your campaign and tweaking it is a complex process, but it’s the key to determining success in the future.

 

In conclusion

The good news is that all these mistakes do not require an enormous effort to fix. With email marketing, the best you can do is learn from your past and try again. The game is all about closely watching the data and finding the right combination of content, showmanship, timing, and creativity.

What have been your greatest email marketing follies? What did you learn from them? Tell us about it in the comments below.

email marketing follies

The post 10 Avoidable Email Marketing Follies appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

Creative Content Ideas: A Guide to Keyword Research

Looking to increase traffic to your website? The key is knowing the right keywords. Not only do keywords impact your rankings, but they also can – and should – be used as a starting point for creating great content. Which means some keyword research is in order.

 

Before you begin your content creation, it is essential that you conduct proper keyword research. From identifying your target market to conducting competitor analysis, your keyword research will help you better understand the needs of the customer and what they’re searching for. This will ensure that you are producing optimal content for your target market and getting your message in front of current and potential customers.

So, how can you find out what keywords are ideal for your brand?

 

Step 1: Identify your target market.

In order to identify optimal keywords, you first need to determine who is searching around your industry. Who are your current customers? Are there new markets that you aren’t reaching yet? What groups could benefit most from your products/services?

Your target audience should range from current customers all the way to niche markets that you’re hoping to enter. These various groups likely have different needs, so it’s important to remember these differences later on when creating your keyword list. This will help you focus your content to attract customers you aren’t yet reaching, as well as to keep clients coming back!

As we go through each step in the keyword research process, imagine you have your own local real estate company, and you’re looking to increase traffic to your website. Your target market may consist of first-time home buyers, experienced landlords, and home sellers. You also want to target house flippers, an industry you have not yet entered.

 

Step 2: Know what questions customers are asking.

Now that you have identified your target markets, you need to know the questions customers are asking so that you can provide the answers through relevant content. As an expert in your industry, you should already be clued in to what your customers are asking. With new markets, though, you may need some help in determining these questions. A great tool that can help you in this search is Answer the Public.

In continuing with our real estate example, think about what questions first-time home buyers are asking. What fees are associated with buying a house? What is escrow? What are closing costs? Is it cheaper to rent or buy? You can also take a look at the results from Answer the Public to supplement this list of questions.

 

keyword research answer the public real estate results example

 

Step 3: Explore popular content in your industry.

Next, it’s time to explore your competitors’ and industry leaders’ websites and content. Look for things you like. How can you emulate and improve on what they’re doing? Also, look for things you don’t like. What topics should you avoid? How can you make your content stand out?

Continuing with our real estate example, look to industry leaders in the real estate industry such as Zillow, TransUnion SmartMove, and RedFin. Each of them have blogs with tons of content to explore! Read through Zillow’s blog to see what topics they’re covering. Check out TransUnion SmartMove’s latest post to get an example of their post layout. Look over the comments on RedFin’s posts to see how customers are reacting to their content.

Remember, it’s not just about what content you like or don’t like, but rather what resonates with the customer. How can you find the content that’s engaging your target market? Just look at social shares! Any time a user shares a piece of content on social media, it shows the content was relevant and helpful. Ahref’s Content Explorer is an easy way to see what content is resonating with customers for the topic you want to cover.

 

keyword research ahrefs content explorer example

 

Step 4: Build a list of keywords.

Now the research phase is over. It’s time to build a list of keywords that you can use to start planning your content. You’ll have to be strategic with the keywords that you choose. For example, “buying a house” will be extremely difficult to rank for since it’s a broad topic with a lot of existing content. Instead, focus on long tail keywords – longer, more specific phrases that will be easier to rank for. A long tail keyword you can add to your list could be “buying your first house in Houston” or “what you should know before buying a house”.

As you’re building your list, remember your different target markets. Make sure to list out specific keywords for each group. There may be some overlap between groups, but it’s important that each market has their own exhaustive list. Don’t worry if your lists are getting long. The more keywords you have, the more content you can cover!

 

Step 5: Use a keyword planner.

After you’ve created your list, you can get more information about the keywords you’ve chosen by uploading them into a keyword planner. If you have an AdWords account, Google’s keyword planner is a great tool to help you organize your keywords and conduct further research. There are also some free versions, like Moz’s keyword suggestions, that offer similar functionality with a limit on the number of keywords you can search for each day.

 

keyword research moz keyword planner

 

The purpose of a keyword planner is to help you organize, edit, and optimize your keyword list. You’ll have access to estimated search volumes associated with a particular keyword, how competitive a keyword is to rank for, and alternatives to the keywords you’ve come up with. Your list is not static – use this information to make changes and list additional keywords as necessary.

You previously listed “how to flip a house” as a keyword for your new target market, but you’ve now found that this competitive keyword will be too difficult to rank for. Remove it! It’s important to update your list, as search volumes and competitiveness will constantly change.

 

Step 6: Pick a keyword and write content surrounding this keyword.

It’s finally time to start creating content! Focus on one or two keywords to start, and then begin creating content around those keywords. It’s helpful to look at the SERPs (search engine results page) of those keywords, to get a better understanding of what is already ranking and what content might be missing that you could create.

When it comes to writing your post, check to make sure you aren’t “keyword stuffing”. While it’s important to use your keyword and close variants throughout your post, don’t sacrifice readability for the sake of SEO.  Write for your readers, not webcrawlers.

Once your content is complete, publish it! Get that content out there, and start watching your own results to see what is working for you and what isn’t. If your post on “5 Mistakes First Home Buyers Make” isn’t ranking, focus on a different keyword for your next piece of content. The more content you create, the more you will learn which keywords will work best for you and your business.

 

Final notes:

Keyword research can seem time-consuming when you have a million other things going on. However, doing this work upfront can help you focus on creating content that ranks and resonates with consumers. It can also result in higher traffic and higher sales. In other words… it is totally worth it!

Good Luck!

What success have you had with keyword research for your business website? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

keyword research

The post Creative Content Ideas: A Guide to Keyword Research appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

How to Plan & Execute a Social Media Takeover

Success is all about hitting the right note at the right time. Powerful digital marketing is the only hope to see success and expand your brand reach at the right time today. With heavy competition in the market, businesses are forced to think and explore new digital possibilities.

Social media takeovers are a new possibility to expand brand reach, and increase your customer base. Instagram and Snapchat takeovers are popular, with many businesses using this method. It is, by and large, an incredible way to promote content. Rope in your influencers and customers for this.

 

If you can’t really decide how to involve others to talk about you, let me take you through a series of points which will let you to plan and execute social media takeovers.

Social media is huge and effective. Nearly 80% of marketers today agree that they can see increased traffic and brand reach with effective social media strategies. You need to consider all possible social media plans that will work for you. A social media takeover is one such tactic that you cannot ignore.

 

Why a social media takeover?

A takeover is like having a joint account with a rich person. It enables a third party to endorse you and your brand. The process lets you to invite someone to take care of your profile/account for a short period of time. You literally relinquish control of that social platform to someone else for a fixed time.

To understand this better, let me take you through some basics. Marketing your brand online involves being consistently active in social media. It is not enough to just open your account and create an identity. To have any hope of reaching your customers, you need to follow 5 key steps:

  • Define your objective
  • Engage
  • Involve others to talk about you and your brand
  • Build relationship
  • Smoothly take it to the next level

 

Involve others

“Social media is not just an activity; it is an investment of valuable time and resources. Surround yourself with people who not just support you and stay with you, but inform your thinking about ways to WOW your online presence,” said Sean Gardner, social media author and speaker.

 

Advantages of a social media takeover

Takeover is by and large considered as a makeover. It lets you to;

  • Expand your reach
  • Discover new viewerships
  • Increase your customer base
  • Build your brand
  • Increase traffic

Above all, the method is cost-effective and both the parties involved benefit.

 

How to initiate a social media takeover

To initiate a social media takeover, you first need to understand your audience and followers well, engage with them consistently, create strong relationship with few influencers, and spot the right influencer for the takeover. Once you carry out this task, then you are ready to discover new audiences and enhance traffic. A few successful examples of takeovers are Instagram takeover, Snapchat takeover, and Twitter takeover. Just ensure that before you give the takeover partner your login credentials, you secure your account by two way authentication and pass on the account information with a temporary password. You will, of course, promote the takeover in your network, and ask the influencer you’re working with to do the same.

 

Instagram Takeover

Case Study of Chicago Bulls-branded Bud Light Can #BullsIGTakeover

 

social media takeover chicago bud light example

 

This is one typical social media blow up that happened in recent days. The tactic was an Instagram Takeover.

The Chicago Bulls are an American professional basketball team. In order to drive sales for their new Chicago Bulls-branded Bud Light can (sponsors), both the organizations planned to initiate an Instagram takeover.

Having already worked with Chuck Anderson, who is a part of Chicago based creative studio NoPattern, for the last few seasons, the Chicago Bulls saw an opportunity to partner with him through a social media takeover initiative. Together with Bud Light, the company agreed on an Instagram takeover program in which Bud Light agreed to team with Anderson and few other photographers to upload pictures during and after games, and these photographers would ‘take over’ the Chicago Bulls Instagram account for the evening.

Result: The #BullsIGTakeover photos on Instagram performed nearly twice as well as the normal rate of engagement for the season. The team is said to have managed nearly 2 million engagements on #BullsIGTakeover content on Instagram, and the program is still on. The takeover initiative has been a talk throughout Bud Light’s marketing teams and is being mirrored across more markets and professional sports teams.

In the Bizjournal article, the Bulls’ team expressed great satisfaction with the takeover tactic. “For us, it’s huge because it’s creating a connection between the city of Chicago and the Bulls,” said Dan Moriarty, the Bulls’ digital director. “Re-establishing a connection between the city of Chicago and the Bulls is really important to us.” He further explains that, despite the “takeover” format, the Bulls’ digital team still has full control over what is posted. He says that the content the takeover photographers “have never given us cause for concern.”

 

Snapchat Takeover

#Airbnb Snapchat Takeover

 

social media takeover airbnb snapchat takeover

 

Snapchat is slightly different compared to the rest of the social channels. Creating a Snapchat account takeover is a challenge. It’s also noted to be the most successful strategies one can have to reach wider audience. A typical takeover to talk about is Airbnb’s account takeover. The company recently invited its followers to share their interest by taking over its account for a defined time and duration and sharing their stories.

 

social media takeover airbnb snapchat takeover example

 

#UND’s Takover of GrandforkCity’s Snapchat Account

To create better learning opportunities for all the University of North Dakota (UND) students, in addition to enabling the city of Grand Forks to establish their social presence and develop their engagement with younger audience, Queen Ngale, a UND psychology/pre-med student captured Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown’s every move on Snapchat and shared it with the world. Within few seconds after introducing herself as “Snapchat” girl of the city, the GrandforksCity account saw a surge in the number of followers.

 

social media takeover UND snapchat example

 

Pete Haga, Community/Government Relations Officer, commented in a statement, “Students bring authentic, fresh perspectives that allow us to see our work in different ways.”

That precisely describes the power of takeovers. Be it businesses, students, cities, anybody can see benefits out of this simple practice.

 

Twitter Takeover

@ToledoRockets Account Takeover

Let’s consider a recent takeover of the Toledo Rockets’ Twitter account. The Toledo Rockets practice this tactics every two weeks for half an hour where in the company ropes in a Rockets student-athlete to take over their account. The company recently invited Sophomore forward Nate Navigato to answer fan questions through the Athletic Department’s @ToledoRockets twitter account.

 

social media takeover toledo rockets twitter takeover example

 

The Rocket Academic Center is in the Larimer Athletic Complex at the University of Toledo. The center is open to all student-athletes and it aims to help develop the student overall, not just academically, but socially, morally, and in terms of leadership. With a long and rich history, Rockets athletes are not just great on the field but they are excellent choices to talk about the center too.

 

You can be a Host too

Inviting others to talk about you is one way and participating to talk about other channel is another way to reach a wider audience. How can you make the most of takeovers? Follow these guidelines.

Takeover details:

  • Topic
  • Time
  • Duration
  • Account Username
  • Password

How to go ahead with a takeover:

  • Introduce and describe the event
  • Share pictures
  • Provide value to the audience
  • Have fun but remember that you are in someone’s page
  • Give reasons for the audience to follow you back even after the event is over
  • Promote in your social network

 

To Wrap

Social media takeovers are heating up. Make the most use of this tactic to expand reach and grow your audience. You can either invite someone to take over your account or you can go ahead and take over someone’s account.

After you initiate your social media takeover, be sure to keep track of your metrics. Understand how this is working for you.

How have you used social media takeovers? Do you have any useful tips to share?  Let me know in the comments!

social media takeover

The post How to Plan & Execute a Social Media Takeover appeared first on GetResponse Blog – Online Marketing Tips.

LinkedIn experts reveal how to use video in your LinkedIn profile

Let me get straight to the point as I usually do:

In today’s post, I’m going to give you some LinkedIn Expert Training on how to UP the visibility and credibility of your LinkedIn Profile.

In more detail, today I’m going to show you how to enhance your LinkedIn profile with video!

Why use video in our LinkedIn profiles?

Why do you fly thousands of miles for a sales meeting or presentation?

We now have the technology to send the data within seconds. And you can save the airfare and hours of travel.

Here’s why:

1. The “human connection” is still vital to our business transactions.

2. A picture (or video) is worth a thousand words. And now that I mentioned picture, I remembered something: make sure you Rock your LinkedIn Profile Picture!

3. You get so much priceless information about a person from seeing them walk, talk, move, present, sell.

How do you use it?

Now, what if you could transmit that “human factor” about yourself without having to fly across continents?

One important way to do this is to present a video of yourself, as an integral part of your LinkedIn Profile. This is your living, breathing, talking expression of yourself.

It’s a powerful way to establish yourself as a brand, to stand out from the pack, to distinguish yourself as an important player in your field. This is your “human factor”, up close and personal.

Hire a professional to make the best of your videos

The fact that you’ve taken the time and invested the money in making a polished, professional video sets you apart. This should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway.

If you do add a video to your LinkedIn profile, make sure it puts your best foot forward and shows you at your most professional.

To accomplish that, it’s best to hire a videographer, someone who knows what he/she is doing, so we don’t have strange camera angles, lower quality sounds (good) or jumpy shots.

I know technology has evolved very much, but I believe that a professional videographer can help elevate our videos to another level. A level that would be very difficult to reach on our own. After

After all, I am a firmly believe in the saying:

“jack of all trades is master of none”

Everybody has his/her own field of expertise, and we cannot be experts at everything.

This is why we need to leave some things for the experts to handle. Especially if we are looking for above average outcomes.

Give a professional impression

No one wants to see you in your sweats and a t-shirt, in your basement office, with your dogs or kids running in and out. While that might be charming for another kind of video, it doesn’t work for establishing yourself as an expert (or “the” expert) in your field!

Evolve or die

Make sure the video is current; that means nothing older than 3-4 years (its age will show, I guarantee you – the clothes or other background items will give it away).

One way you can recycle old videos is to have them made into audios, so here’s your solution to this.

What is great about a video and how it adds to your personal branding is that it gives you something to mention on other social media.

Ideally, it should be current and can be accompanied by a post on your website, LinkedIn Publisher, or elsewhere, in order to complement your words or story.

Imagine how much more credibility and authority you will project by, instead of just talking about a successful presentation you just made, you also show a 5-minute video of you doing it.

This is exponentially more impactful and most certainly enhances something of crucial importance, your Social Media Image.

Video links you can use

As of this writing, LinkedIn doesn’t currently support “native” video uploads, meaning you have to:

First, upload your video to a third party site like Vimeo or YouTube and then use it on your LinkedIn Profile in the form of a video link. The types of video links you can use are:

  1. – YouTube Video Link.
  2. – Vimeo Video Link.
  3. – Upstream Video Link.
  4. – Brightcove Video Link.
  5. – Facebook Video Link.
  6. – Embed Video by adding the SlideShare application or Google Presentation App to your profile and using a YouTube video as the first slide of the presentation.

alphagamma LinkedIn experts reveal how to use video in your LinkedIn profile entrepreneurship social media

What kind of videos should you create?

You’re probably wondering what types of videos you can use in your LinkedIn Profile. Well, let me give you some examples:

  • Video testimonials from happy customers.
  • Product demos.
  • How-to videos.
  • Company news and updates.
  • Videos of you giving a speech, industry talk or presentation.
  • Company intro videos, about us & company explainer videos.
  • Marketing videos.
  • Book trailers.
  • A benefits-driven elevator speech.
  • Advice or information or tips videos that would be valuable to your target audience.
  • Behind the scenes & team related videos.
  • Other content related to your field that would be helpful to LinkedIn users in their professional careers.kkjsjsjs

In which sections of your LinkedIn Profile can you include video?

Currently, there are 3 sections in our LinkedIn Profiles that we can include video. These are:

  • The Summary Section
  • The Experience Section
  • The Education Section

How to add a video to these sections of your LinkedIn Profile?

It is very simple and straightforward. All you have to do is click the pencil icon next to your Summary Section, A job role in your Experience Section or your Education Section and go to the Media section.

Select “Link to Media”. Then in the text box that appears, paste the link to the video and click Add to add it to your profile.

Make sure to include a call to action for your LinkedIn Profile visitors, enticing them to watch the video.

In conclusion

Adding a high-quality video to your profile can be the most powerful aspect of your LinkedIn Profile. As a LinkedIn expert, it’s one of the most important things I recommend to my clients.

The successful ones, the long-term vision ones, the ambitious ones, see this immediately!

Of course, the video has to be relevant to your clients, your industry, your prospects, not just a “brag”. It also needs to be aligned with your professional goals!

So make sure it has significant content, as well as high-production value. You want people to watch it with interest through the end, once they’ve clicked on “play”. This is more important than

This is more important than ever when you consider that LinkedIn has approximately 500 million members and is growing by leaps and bounds every day.

Here’s the deal:

In the crowded social media atmosphere, it is becoming more and more difficult for any person, no matter how accomplished, to stand out.

Adding video is a powerful way to establish yourself as an authority, and a person (employer, collaborator or potential client) viewing your video, if it’s well done, gets to feel like he/she knows you already.

And remember: people do business with those they know, like and trust! How great is that?!! So what are you waiting for?

Support your LinkedIn Expert Status by including video to your LinkedIn Profile!

If the goal of LinkedIn is to get people to know, like and trust you, (and of course, ultimately hire you, collaborate with you or refer you to others) a well-produced video is one important rung on your ladder to Success! The ladder to becoming a LinkedIn All-Star!

What are your thoughts? Are you currently showcasing videos on your LinkedIn Profile? Can you think of any other ways to use video on your LinkedIn Profile? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below!!

For more business and entrepreneurship tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post LinkedIn experts reveal how to use video in your LinkedIn profile appeared first on AlphaGamma.

5 things you will need to start your content strategy

Content, content, content. It’s all a marketer hears about these days.

We all know by now that a solid content strategy is a key to engaged audiences – and, ultimately, conversions – but where do you start your content journey when there are so many choices to make and so many things to sort out.

You could spend months crafting the perfect content strategy, but the best way to learn is to get started and test things out.

Just make sure you have these five things clear before you publish.

5 things you will need to start your content strategy

1. Personas

Who are you talking to? Seems kinda obvious, but so many content marketers will jump into content with the idea of talking to everyone.

This is impossible, and you’ll end up stretched thin publishing content that doesn’t deliver any ROI.

Focus, instead, on a handful of key personas.

Really get to know them; do your research and create pen portraits of them – Chris Garrett has some great advice on this. Then brainstorm the sorts of content that will interest them.

Bonus points for creating content that speaks to a key concern or pain point for each of these personas – that’s how you’ll get conversions.

2. Audit

There’s no point reinventing the wheel. Unless you are a brand new start-up, it’s highly likely you’ve got the content of some description out in the big bad world.

So do your research. Document each piece of content you have, how old it is, whether it’s still useful or needs updating.

Only once you know what you’ve already got and how it’s performed, will you know how to take your new content strategy forward.

3. Guidelines

Editorial style, tone of voice, governance: these are absolutely essential. Anyone writing content for you will each have a unique way of doing it, so you need to document your tone of voice – that is, how you like to sound.

Is it formal or informal? Do you like cliches or do you avoid them like the plague? Long sentences or short, sharp Plain English? Then there are things like how you format bullet lists, whether you use British or American spelling, how you handle acronyms.

It can be a bit overwhelming if you’ve never thought like this, so many tend towards recommending an existing style, such as Guardian, AP or Buzzfeed. This is totally fine and will give your writers a great chance at getting your content right first time.

And a quick word on governance: who needs to be involved in approvals, who needs to clear the content, who publishes it?

When will you do your next audit and review? Who will be responsible? It’s those internal processes that also need to be documented in some guidelines.

4. Goals

Sure, you could embark on a content strategy without setting any goals, but what would be the point? How will you know if it’s successful?

Take some time to think about what success will look like for you: is it an increase in social followers? Is it X number of new leads from the website?

Is it a growing email database? Remember to make your goals SMART and your KPIs achievable.

Reaching for the stars is noble, but probably won’t get you more budget next year when you miss the mark.

5. Plan

Like goals, you could easily just jump in without this. But again, you won’t be successful.

We highly recommend a content calendar so you can maintain a regular flow of content publishing – think like a publisher, and make sure that loyal audience you’re growing knows that you’ll have something new and useful for them on a regular basis.

And that doesn’t need to be daily – it can be weekly, bi-weekly, monthly. Just make it regular.

And make sure you know how you’ll be distributing the content. Just whacking it up on the website doesn’t mean anyone will read it, and those goals you set will remain unreached.

You don’t need to fork out for paid posts on social or a system like Outbrain or Taboola, but you do need to share your content.

Organic posts on social media can work well, and make sure you have somewhere for people to sign up to get your insights by email.

This will create a 2-way relationship: your audience gets useful information, and you get to talk to them about anything at any time.

So, get started with your content strategy

But make sure you write it all down.  More than four in 10 recent survey respondents said lack of an effective strategy — and likely creation and distribution of content as a result – was their biggest challenge.

NewsCred recently blogged on the Content Marketing Institute’s 2016 B2B Content Marketing Trend Report, which found only 30% of B2B marketers said they were effective with content marketing. However, they write, “effectiveness levels increase with:

  • Experience (64% of sophisticated/mature marketers say they are effective)
  • A documented content marketing strategy (48%)
  • A documented editorial mission statement (49%)
  • Organisational clarity on what content marketing success looks like (55%)
  • Daily or weekly content marketing meetings (41%)”

So what are you waiting for? A written strategy doesn’t have to be hundreds of pages long; just document your key priorities and how you’ll achieve them, and dive in.

Every good strategy is an organic beast that iterates over time, and the best way to learn is to just get started.

Are you ready now to start a rocking content strategy? Did you find the article practical?
Let met know by leaving your comments below!

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The post 5 things you will need to start your content strategy appeared first on AlphaGamma.

Smart business ideas in 2017 for making money on the side

Is making money one of your goals this year?

Whether you want to get yourself out of debt, pay off your loans, or make some money for your vacation, thinking of side business ideas is a smart plan that will help you achieve your goals.

Smart business ideas in 2017 for making money on the side

Even though you can make money by getting a side job, it’s also a great idea to consider entrepreneurial ventures. Side jobs will control your earning as well as your time.

Rather than working for someone, you can be a boss and choose what to do, and when to do it.

Would you like to start a side-business that can grow and maybe become your full-time job? Do you want to earn extra money to treat your family out?

Here are 6 business ideas you can consider for your side project:

1. Tutoring

Have you always loved teaching?

You can earn side money by training, and the job is fulfilling too. Students, no matter their age, always need tutors who can help them with subjects such as foreign languages, reading, math, science, and other subjects. I

n case you are skilled in a particular area, consider helping others to excel in their studies.

You can get started by placing flyers at libraries and local schools. You may also use tutor.com if you would like to earn money while at home.

Do a good job so that you can get referrals from your first clients and make more money.

2. Sell your creativity

Do you love drawing, designing or painting things? Did you know that you can make a lot of money from your creations?

Sites such as Zazzle and CafePress will assist you to sell your creation. Just submit the design, and they will do the printing and ship the finished products on your behalf.

Think of anything you can make and sell. If you are a creative marketer, you can consider marketing products and earn commissions.

A great example is becoming a lipsense distributor.

3. Taking care of pets

If you love pets, start a pet walking or sitting business. People will spend money on their pets no matter how bad the economy is.

Statistics have shown that over 40 million households own a pet in the US alone. Despite the recession, people keep spending on pets.

4. Freelance writing

Most people begin freelance writing while in college just to make extra money. But, you can still turn this opportunity into a full-time career.

You can start copywriting or blogging.

Bear in mind that the competition in this sector is very stiff.

You will need to fight your way in and show how good a writer you are.

Every writer has their own style, so as long as you keep providing quality work, you will always find work.

5. Take photos

Do you own a decent camera and you love photography? Do you understand photographic principles and you can use photo-editing programs?

If so, you can make money by taking photos. You can be a wedding photographer or take random pictures and sell them on a stock photography website.

6. Become a senior’s personal assistant

Older persons who live by themselves find it difficult to clean their houses, go to grocery stores, redecorate their homes and cook.

You can earn money by helping them with such basic tasks.

You don’t even need to be an expert to handle such jobs perfectly. Just make sure that you get several seniors in a week to make substantial amounts of money because they spend carefully.

Opting for a side business is an excellent way to earn passive income, and there is a probability that it can become your full-time venture.

Moreover, you will be doing something you love to do, and it will be fun too.

How do you find these business ideas? What side project are you working on at the moment? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

For more entrepreneurship and business tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post Smart business ideas in 2017 for making money on the side appeared first on AlphaGamma.

The minimalist guide to social media marketing

As a coach, consultant, freelancer or business owner you understand the need to not only hold the attention of your prospective customers.

You have to actually drive them to take action. Not just once but continuously.

If you read and implement the practical principles in this post, you will start seeing amazing results that will transform your business.

The minimalist guide to social media marketing

1. Be focused

Before you start out at all, it is important that you clarify your goals. When I talk about goals, I’m not talking about social media goals like increasing likes and getting more followers.

I’m talking about business goals like generating leads or establishing yourself as an expert in your industry.

Your goal is not to become a social media superstar.  Your goal is to become a business genius because of how well you harness social media to achieve your business objectives.

Your focus should be on how to translate your social media assets to practical business growth

Are you looking to create awareness, humanise your brand, introduce a new product, offer customer service, increase your sales or garner support for a cause?

Your destination will determine the route that will get you there.

2. Choose your platforms for social media marketing

You don’t need to be active on all platforms; you only need to be on the ones that matter to you and your prospects. That’s the basis of social media marketing.

So, using the insights you got from the first step, determine the bare minimum social networks where you need to establish your presence.

Your choice will generally be based on how much time and resources you can devote to each platform and how well the platform suits your business goals especially in terms of ‘hosting’ your ideal clients.

You don’t need to be active on all platforms; you only need to be on the ones that matter to you and your prospects.

For a start, you should plan to invest at least one hour per day per social media platform. Apart from time, you should also consider your available resources.

For instance, before choosing to go with Pinterest, check if you have the capacity to generate infographics and other visual content.

If you’re considering YouTube, do you have the skills and resources for creating video content?

The point is to make sure you have what you need before diving in.

3. Optimise your profiles

Before you start posting content, take some time to thoughtfully, deliberately and completely fill out your profiles.

Ensure that your profile photos, cover images, bio and profile information are up-to-date, professional and consistent across your chosen platforms. For your profile picture, use a

For your profile picture, use a high-quality image, preferably your business logo or a professional headshot.

The most important thing about your bio is that it should reflect who you are, what you do, who you do it for, what those people want or need and how connecting with you will change or improve their lives.

It’s not a sales pitch. See it like a brief introduction that helps you get your feet in the door and make your target audience interested in connecting with you.

Make it personal and use keywords that suit your target audience.

4. Cultivate a distinctive voice and tone

No matter how good your social media plan is, without an effective content strategy, it’s like a car without fuel – it won’t get you anywhere.

The first thing you need to ask yourself when it’s about social media marketing is simple. What kind of content do you want to share on your social media platforms?

Now, as important as it is to have valuable text and visuals, content is a whole lot more than that.

The ‘spirit’ of your content is more important than the ‘letter’

In other words, it’s not just about what you say; it’s much more about how you say it. How do you want your customers to think about you and your business?

What kind of perception do you want to create? What feelings do you want to evoke when they relate to you?

Think about this and let it shape the voice and tone of your messages. The principle is to let your brand personality bleed through your content.

5. Deliver amazingly useful content

You must consistently share helpful content that provide your audience with lots of value. You can deliver content in a variety of formats including simple text posts, images, videos, links, quotes and reshares.

Rather than focusing on just one medium, use different types for variety. There’s overwhelming evidence that visual content gets a lot more views and engagement than plain text updates.

You can easily create graphic posts using tools like Canva or Pablo. Now, it’s easy to know all the right things to do. The real work – and the difficult part – is actually doing it consistently.

That’s why you need a content calendar to plan and schedule your posts. If content is the fuel that drives your social media marketing engine, your content calendar is the fuel dispenser – or maybe fuel storage tank.

You can use a simple spreadsheet or any of the tools available online. The important thing is to include a few essential components.

The social media account, the publish date and time, the type of content (article, video, photo, etc.), the actual post you plan to share, and any necessary media you’d like to go with it.

6. Automate routine tasks

Once you have done the hard work of planning and collecting your content, you should make things easier for yourself by automating routine tasks like posting content.

Tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Crowdfire, Social Jukebox (formerly Tweet Jukebox) and other such tools make it easy to ‘drip’ content into your social media feeds.

That is, you can load up your social media accounts with content in advance and schedule the content to deliver at specified times or over a period of time.

This helps you to keep your social media timelines fresh and active without having to always fret about posting content.

If you have a self-hosted WordPress website, you can achieve this by using a plugin like Revive Old Post (formerly Tweet Old Post) or SNAP (Social Networks Auto-Poster).

I’ll sound a note of caution here. You must be smart in your automation and not let it look like a robot is managing your account.

7. Leverage the power of community

Jeff Goins makes many profound statements in his book, The Art of Work. Here’s one that particularly stands out to me:

Every story of success is, in fact, a story of the community

It is practically impossible to survive alone much less thrive in isolation. So, it is important that you forge real relationships with people.

And don’t do it for what you’ll get; do it for what you’ll give. It probably sounds counterintuitive but what you give will ultimately come back to you in multiple folds.

You cannot downplay the place of building high-quality relationships with influencers and other people in your field. You should also consider participating in groups and forums where your ideal clients hang out.

Join relevant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Participate in Google communities. Join Twitter chats in your areas of business interest. Eventually, you should also consider launching your own group.

A close-knit community gives you the opportunity to regularly engage with your ideal customers and bond with them. There you listen to them, solve their problems and provide them with valuable resources for free, long before ever asking for a sale.

8. Analyse and measure

Usually, you won’t get it right the first time. And even if you do, there will always be room for improvement. But you can only improve what you measure.

So you need to find out what’s working and what’s not so that you can do more of what’s working and redesign or discard what’s not.

What percentage of your referrals and website visitors are coming from social media? What posts are attracting the most engagement in terms of shares, retweets, clicks, likes, comments and replies?

Although these ‘vanity metrics’ (likes, followers etc.) have their value, they are not the most important statistics to look out for.

You should pay more attention to reaching, sign-ups and conversions, leads generated, website traffic and revenue generated.

The major social media platforms have their native analytics reporting systems that provide you with relevant data which you can then analyse and interpret in light of your overall objectives.

Another good idea is creating a custom reporting system using RSS feeds and tools like Google Analytics if you have a bit of tech savvy. Better still, you can opt for an easy-to-use social media dashboard like the ones offered by Hootsuite and Buffer.

9. Convert fans into friends and connections into customers

You don’t need any convincing that effective use of social media is a great way to grow your business – you already know that – otherwise, you wouldn’t come this far.

However, you must also realise that building your entire marketing and promotion strategy on social media is like building your house on shifting sand.

The social media marketing world is transient – things change every time. Many platforms that were the rave a couple decades ago are much less successful today.

Social media has come to stay, but the platforms and tools will continue to change. As a serious businessperson, you want to squeeze as much juice as you can from your social media investment.

The way to do this effectively over the long term is to consider social media marketing as a means to an end, not an end in itself

Use it to initiate relationships with your prospective customers and get them to give you their email addresses or some other means to connect with them more closely.

That way, you can be sure of being able to reach them when necessary. Social media platforms are an excellent way to create initial awareness, interest and desire.

But, eventually, you should get the prospect to take action either by buying your product/service or by joining your email list.

The most desirable goal would be to make the potential customer do business with you right away but you may not always be able to achieve that.

The next best thing is trying to get more information and securing permission for future interactions. This is one major boost that your email list provides for your marketing efforts.

10. Put your money where your mouth is

You’ve probably heard it said that “The best things are free”.It’s a popular statement but that does not make it true. Essential things may be free but the best things are not.

Every time you get a good thing for free, you should know that someone paid for it. The same principle applies to your social media efforts.

You can get started for free but if you want the best results, you’ll need to invest your resources. Especially time, effort and money.

You’ll need to subscribe to paid versions of social media management tools like Hootsuite, Buffer, Crowdfire or whichever one works for you. You’ll need to run adverts too.

Social media is not cheap as most people believe; it is actually expensive – in a different way.

You need money to run social media campaigns but you don’t need to have the marketing budget of Coca-Cola before you can make a significant impact on social media.

So, there you have it – a simple action plan to help you amplify your influence and generate a consistent stream of clients.

Social media strategy will vary from person to person and business to business, but the fundamentals are the same.

If you apply all you have learned in this solid guide, I guarantee that you will be elated with the outcome.

Did you find the article inspiring? Leave your opinion in the comments below and let us know. We’d love to hear from you!

For more finance and business tips, check our finance section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

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5 tips on how to take a break in a better way

Until recently, when I needed to take a break, I’d grab my phone.

Whether I was bored, mentally fatigued, or just wanting a pick-me-up, I felt relief checking the news, Facebook, or Instagram.

However, new research suggests there are good ways and not-so-good ways to spend our break time.

While some breaks can leave us refreshed and reenergized, others tend to leave us depleted and drained.

Research reveals how to take a break in a better way

In their book “The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World” Dr. Gazzaley, a neuroscientist, and Dr. Rosen, a psychologist, explain that taking a break can reduce mental fatigue, boost brain function, and keep us on a task for longer periods.

But Gazzaley and Rosen forewarn that taking the wrong sort of breaks might make us more susceptible to boredom and may actually backfire by making us want to take a break more often.

From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:

“Technology may be decreasing the time associated with the onset of boredom when single-tasking as a result of our ever-escalating exposure to pervasive, high-frequency feedback…”

In other words, repeatedly checking our phones when we get a tad bored can train us to check more often throughout the day.

From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:

From decades of research on learning and behavior, we know that the shorter the time between reinforcements (rewards), the stronger the drive to complete that behavior and gain the reward.

Avoid using the phone

The rapid rewards we get from skimming our newsfeeds alleviate boredom for a few moments, but they also teach our brains to seek out blips of joy the next time we feel a twinge of fatigue.

Gazzaley and Rosen explain, “[…] the next time we are bored, our past experiences, having gained reinforcement from our smartphone, will drive us to self-interrupt…”

So by reaching for our phones when we want to take a break, we may be training ourselves to do it again and again.

In order to resist the onset of boredom and self-interruption at work, Gazzaley and Rosen suggest we avoid our smartphones and instead take a break that restores the part of the brain we use to keep focused on our goals.

Located right behind the forehead, the prefrontal cortex is considered the most evolved portion of the human brain.

Although it has many functions, goal management is its main business.

The prefrontal cortex orchestrates attention, working memory, and other cognitive resources in order to help us get what we want.

For example, if my goal is to cook dinner tonight, my prefrontal cortex will help coordinate my brain functions to guide me through the actions needed to complete the meal like navigating the grocery store, following a recipe, and cooking the meal, all while making sure I don’t get sidetracked.

The importance of taking a break in a better way

When we work, our prefrontal cortex makes every effort to help us execute our goals.

But for a challenging task that requires our sustained attention, research shows briefly taking our minds off the goal can renew and strengthen motivation later on.

Doing activities that don’t rely heavily on prefrontal cortex function but rely on different brain regions instead, is the best way to renew focus throughout the work day.

Before we take a look at a few of Gazzaley and Rosen’s recommendations for how to take a break in a better way, I’ve assembled 5 more science-supported breaks that will improve your focus.

5 ways of taking a break that will help you concentrate more

1. Go natural

Research shows that nature exposure is restorative for the mind. One study reported better working memory scores after a walk in a natural environment, but not in an urban environment.

From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:

“Natural environments capture our attention in a bottom-up fashion because natural stimuli are so inherently compelling to us (presumably owing to evolutionary factors). They draw us in but generate minimal [prefrontal cortex] responses”

Work in a city? You don’t have to go far to benefit from nature. Just noticing the sights and sounds of natural features around you can help you recharge.

Find plants, fresh air, a fish tank, or a fountain. Sit down, take a deep breath, and notice the details of nature. Point out as many as possible:

The left leaf is smaller,” or “There’s a bruise on the third petal,” or “It’s off center in planter box,” or “I wonder how many bugs are on it?

If you are stuck indoors, look at some pictures of nature instead, as research shows they work too. Or try tuning into nature videos on your computer for a few minutes; like a tropical beach or a mountain creek.

2. Doodle and daydream

Having a moment with ‘nothing to do’ is rare these days. We dodge even the briefest moments of potential boredom with just a few swipes.

However according to Gazzaley and Rosen, avoiding occasional periods of ‘nothing to do’ downtime may have some unintended effects.

From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:

“This leaves little time for reflection, deep thinking, or even just simply sitting back and letting our random thoughts drive us places we might not have gone while immersed in directed thinking”

When we let our minds wander without focusing on a certain goal, the brain’s default mode network takes over.

Doing nothing

Daydreaming and doodling tap into default mode network activity and may give some prefrontal cortex functions a rest.

Sit alone, set an alarm for 10 minutes, take a deep breath and be patient. If you need a little help, try the website Do Nothing for 2 Minutes for a quick session.

You can also practice mind wandering in your daily life by keeping your phone in your pocket and letting your mind drift while you wait at a crosswalk, a train station, or in an elevator lobby.

3. Exercise your eyes

Our eyes bear the burden of our tech-charged lives. Fortunately, doing 20-20-20 eye breaks is a straightforward way to alleviate eye strain and fatigue.

Every 20 minutes, stare at something 20 feet away, for 20 seconds. Gazzaley and Rosen explain the reason why this is beneficial is that it “requires blood flow to brain areas that are not related to sustained attention”.

Gazzaley and Rosen explain the reason why this is beneficial is that it “requires blood flow to brain areas that are not related to sustained attention”.

The shift in blood flow across certain brain regions may be the reason why eye exercises are restorative.

4. Laugh

Laughter packs a punch. It increases heart rate, respiration, and it gets our blood pumping as our upper body muscles are recruited into the action.

Although evidence of long-term benefits of laughter is debated, short term effects show some improvements on memory tests.

From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:

“ older adults who watched a funny video scored better on memory tests and showed reduced cortisol and increased endorphins and dopamine, meaning less stress and more energy and positive feelings”

Spontaneous crack-ups, and forced giggles from laughter yoga or cheesy jokes by google assistant, all have the same perks.

Listen to a comedy podcast or a stream a comedy radio station. Read the comics section in the newspaper in the break room.

Or keep a funny book at the office to help you get through the next afternoon slump.

5. Exercise

We all know regular exercise benefits the body and the brain. The good news is that even short bursts of exercise are helpful for cognition.

Just 10 minutes of physical activity can boost attention and memory performance.

Find a secluded space to do a 7-minute workout, do some pushups or planks, or just take a brisk walk around the block. A little physical activity is a

A little physical activity is a great way to rev-up your brain without breaking a sweat in your work clothes.

The bottom line of breaks should make you feel better by providing a renewed sense of focus and concentration.

No technology

As digital detoxes and tech-free zones rise in popularity, we are beginning to value the benefits of removing technology every now and then.

Taking better breaks can encourage creativity and increase focus by relieving the prefrontal cortex of some goal management duties for a while.

From The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World:

Whatever relaxes you and takes you away from your over stimulating technological environment will help you re-engage with greater arousal, more capacity for attention, and less susceptibility to being interrupted

The next time you need to take a break at work, ignore your smartphone and skip the newsfeeds.

Choose an activity that is restorative so you feel refreshed and more prepared to tackle the rest of your day.

Note: This post is co-authored by Nir Eyal and Chelsea Robertson, PhD

The gist

  • Taking good breaks is important for your daily productivity.
  • Breaks reduce fatigue, alleviate boredom, and can restore attention.
  • Using tech during our breaks may backfire and make us more susceptible to boredom and want more breaks, more often.
  • Restorative breaks can improve attention and refresh our focus.
  • Break ideas based on the research include:
    • Nature exposure
    • Doodle and daydream
    • Eye exercises – 20/20/20
    • Laugh 🙂
    • Brief exercise

Nir Eyal is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products and blogs.

For more insights on using psychology to change behavior, join his newsletter and receive Nir’s free list of research-backed tips and tricks to increase your personal productivity.

Are you taking your breaks in the right way? Does it work for you? Leave your opinion in the comments below and share your thoughts with us!

For more business tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post 5 tips on how to take a break in a better way appeared first on AlphaGamma.

6 tips for starting an eCommerce site while in college

The US economy has been showing some improvements in the last couple of years, but the recorded growth is not fast enough to keep up with growing pool of labour force.

The job market is still tough, especially for fresh college graduates.

As a result, many college students are coming up with ways to protect themselves from the harsh economic realities that await them upon graduation.

They are doing this by starting an e-commerce site and launching their own companies.

6 tips for starting an eCommerce site while in college

With 191.1 million online shoppers in the US alone, the eCommerce is really showing a lot of prospects.

Despite the fact that most of these students understand the internet and online business from a consumer’s perspective, most of them lack the expertise to integrate available infrastructure, protections, strategies, and backend operations to maintain a successful online business.

Here are a few tips every college student should take a look at before they launch an e-commerce business.

alphagamma 6 tips for starting an eCommerce site while in college entrepreneurship eCommerce

1. Choose a business that has low start-up costs

As a young aspiring entrepreneur, you’ll be tempted to start and set your sights high and go for a business that requires external funding.

This is not your best move since VC firms are careful where they put their money and will only fund ideas from experienced entrepreneurs; people who have built successful businesses in the past.

Start small and build your way up, you’ll get there.

2. Come up with a product or a service with a definite market

When it comes to online business and eCommerce, you don’t have to come up with a ground-breaking idea to run a successful company.

Just be creative and think of a simple product or service that will fetch a ready market wherever you are.

alphagamma 6 tips for starting an eCommerce site while in college entrepreneurship social media

3. Take advantage of social media

Social media can be a very effective marketing tool. Incorporate social media tools into your business strategy to expand your market and address customer service issues.

There is a new generation of consumers that utilize social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest as their primary mode of communication.

4. Take the necessary legal measures

Familiarize yourself with injury law in case your business is involved in a civil lawsuit. Protect yourself by setting the limit of your liability to conceivable levels.

Make sure that your eCommerce site has terms of use and a privacy policy.

For instance, you can disclaim any responsibility if the consumer uses one of your products the wrong way, resulting in an injury.

5. Strive to deliver a personalized experience

Develop an eCommerce platform that facilitates the delivery of a hyper-personalized experience to your customers.

Large eCommerce businesses such as Amazon use a customer browsing and purchasing trends to suggest relevant products/services and drive sales.

This way, these sites are able to give a personalized experience to a customer and increase the likelihood of them becoming a repeat customer.

6. Embrace big data

Big data isn’t a reserve of big corporations anymore. Don’t miss out since big data is revolutionizing the way businesses of all sizes create strategies and conduct their activities.

Enable real-time resource planning and seamless inventory management by integrating your eCommerce site with data analytics solutions.

Data analytic solutions will give your online business relevant insight to manage your resources efficiently and amplify sales.

The future of e-commerce

By 2018, eCommerce is expected to constitute 8.8 percent of the total retail market in the world.

At the moment, starting an online business while still in college is definitely a good idea.

The risks are minimized in case things don’t go as planned. You also stand to gain a lot of valuable experience and offers a myriad of benefits over conventional internships.

Are you running an eCommerce website yourself? How do you find these tips? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

For more business tips, check our entrepreneurship section and subscribe to our weekly newsletters.

The post 6 tips for starting an eCommerce site while in college appeared first on AlphaGamma.

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