What are you selling? How will it transform my organization? Why should I buy it from you?
These are the three questions I was instructed to answer (from the infamous, John Webster) as I develop the fresh copy for the home page of my website. Can you answer those questions about your own business? If so, I would love to see your responses, because I am struggling to fulfill this assignment in a way that will hook users who come to my site for the first time.
After wrestling with this copy for over two months, including how I ‘bait the hook’ for the service, I find myself at a loss.
How do you sell something that many people are unaware that they need it? How do you showcase that it will transform their organization when they don’t think need they need it? And why buy it, at all – let alone from me – when they don’t know they need it, so I can’t prove it will transform their organization?
Overthinking it? Maybe. Maybe not.
Why Is It Easier To Sell What We Don’t Do?
Have you ever felt it was easier to sell something for someone else than for yourself? I find it all the time. Heck, if John asked me to write his web copy, I am certain I could do that in less than an hour. And nail it!
In fact, I’m convinced most people can sell their products or services better than anyone in my industry.
Why am I struggling so much? Well, for starters, I don’t make false promises. If I make a guarantee or even if I ‘bait’ someone, I stand behind that statement.
I won’t guarantee you’ll acquire 10,000 followers or go viral. I won’t guarantee increased website traffic or qualified leads. In fact, I won’t even guarantee that anyone will care about what you say, should your message reach anyone listening. Ouch!
What Do Values Have To Do With It?
So, why hire me? What am I selling – and why would you buy it from me?
I can only answer those questions by stating what I do know. I am the most credible and qualified social media professional you’ll ever hire because everyone on our team embodies our values.
Service. You will have someone dedicated to your business, as much – sometimes, even more – than you are. We will take your customers into consideration as much as our own; your customers are our customers. We offer customizable, personalized service with outcomes that are important to you. No cookie cutter fluff. You won’t see pricing packages on our website because everything we do is custom-built to meet the customers’ needs.
Communication. We are accessible to our clients. Some people who look for social media help might be reluctant to outsource because they wonder about our availability. I would argue that we are even more dedicated because we don’t stop when it’s 5:00 pm – in any time zone.
Commitment to Excellence. We limit the number of customers we work with so we can deliver premier quality to those who are dedicated to our partnership. That means you are our priority. We have a team of specialized contractors who are experts in specific facets of the business such as writing, design, community management, and analytics.
Relationships. Social media marketing is relationship marketing. Because of this, we pay close attention to ensure messaging is in alignment with our customers’ brand and voice. We advise our customers to incorporate the human element in their marketing efforts as we know that relationships are built on trust.
What are you selling? How will it transform my organization? Why should I buy it from you?
It is challenging to summarize the scope of our personalized service by answering three questions. If I had to, it would look something like this: I am selling what will get you closer to your goals. I will transform your organization because you’ll have a team of experts to hold you accountable for doing your part. You’ll buy it from me because – with the previous objective fulfilled – you will get results. (I am still not sure on my ‘bait’ for the service, but I am open to suggestions from my readers)!
How would you answer these questions for your business?
The past few weeks, we’ve been talking about core values, specifically our value of relationships. Our company is primarily virtual – our contractors and clients are remote. Because we are unable to physically work with these folks on a daily basis, it’s even more important that we foster those relationships.
Note from Rachel: For the past few months, we’ve had the opportunity to welcome our latest intern, Sidney Harden. Her internship was part of the final requirements in order to obtain her degree from Brigham Young University. As we did with our previous intern, Lindsay Newton, we thought it would be fun to talk about the internship experience from her perspective as well as my own.
A whopping 90 percent of American companies have established a set of clearly defined corporate values. Values are established throughout the course of the business as a result of the accumulated successes and drawbacks, and they are intended to affect decision-making processes, perceptions of the work environment, and interactions with clients. In fact, a growing body of research shows that value-driven companies who “walk the talk” enjoy better performance as well as customer satisfaction.
However, having corporate values and knowing (let alone adhering to) corporate values are entirely different things. Take a moment and think about your own company’s values.
Can you recite them?
How often do you feel you apply your company’s values to your everyday work?
If you struggled to answer these questions, don’t worry…you’re not alone.
Only one in ten HR leaders say that 80 percent or more of their employees can recite their company’s core values. Furthermore, in 2016, Gallup reported that only 23 percent of employees strongly agree that they can apply their organization’s values to their work every day, and only 27 percent say that they “believe in” their organization’s values. I myself have struggled to remember value statements in previous jobs, despite the daily reminders in the form of strategically placed posters around the common areas.
Company Values Should Have Meaning
However, for a service-based business like a social media agency, core values are not merely obligatory “feel-good statements”; they literally are an agency’s unique value proposition. Therefore, it is critical for employees to incorporate and advocate these values throughout all aspects of the business. During my internship with #Strella Social Media, I have internalized #Strella’s core values and taken them to heart. While working at #Strella, I became familiar with the following values:
Commitment to excellence. We limit the number of customers we work with so that we can deliver premier quality to those who are dedicated to our partnership.
Service. We offer customizable, personalized service with outcomes that are important to the customer.
Relationships. Social media is built on relationships, and as such, we treat online marketing as an extension of a business brand by fostering and strengthening those relationships.
Communication. We proactively communicate the status of deliverables; our customers, vendors, and the internal team always know where we are with a project and what’s expected of our working relationship.
After six months at #Strella Social Media, I have come to learn that accountability and reflection are vital to internalizing these principles. According to Immordino-Yang, a professor of education, psychology, and neuroscience at the University of Southern California, inward reflection impacts the way we “build memories, make meaning and transfer that learning into new contexts.” Outward attention is essential for carrying out tasks; however, the reflection and consolidation that accompany reflection is crucial to attaining these values and applying them to our interactions.
Company Values Should Drive Performance
At #Strella Social Media, these abstract concepts are transformed into our daily behaviors. Rather than merely reciting words, we are held accountable for our ability to adhere to these values on both an individual level and as a team through the following methods:
Quality Control. If an employee’s work is struggling, #Strella management holds a brief check-in to discuss drawbacks and future progress. Every leader knows that generic feedback is only going to frustrate and confuse a poor-performing employee. Instead, we hear specific feedback about what our employer wants us to change and the specific values we can improve in. By framing performance concerns in this way, employees are more likely to reflect on their employer’s feedback with their core values in mind.
Quarterly Check-in Meetings. At #Strella Social Media, each team member is held accountable for their own performance as well as their interactions with the team. During quarterly check-in meetings, we are asked to assess ourselves against each of the four values and give ourselves a ranking out of 10 on our own performance. We then set goals and discuss our successes and shortcomings, framed around these core values. Again, being held accountable to these standards helps keep these principles at the forefront of our minds.
Monthly Team Meetings. Every month, we have the chance to reflect on the team’s adherence to #Strella’s core values, too. We take turns bringing up concerns and needs in the context of the four values and consider where we can make improvements. Through group reflection, we are able to hold the team as a whole accountable for adherence to these goals. By having our values as the focus of team interactions, the team members are more likely to internalize them and apply them to their interactions with each other and the clients.
Monthly Surveys. We also fill out monthly team surveys, which ask our opinion on how the team and leadership are adhering to the core values. Notice that not only are we held accountable to the company’s standards, but we are invited to hold the leadership accountable, too.
Shared values in a service-based industry are crucial to a business’s success. They help employees make informed decisions, unify the company culture, and empower them to represent your brand accurately. When your team members are held accountable and are given opportunities to reflect on your core values, these values end up dictating every decision and interaction in your business. Like I said, at #Strella Social Media these values permeate every aspect of the business and are adhered to closely by our entire team.
Sidney was a student worker for a client in Utah, which is how we met. I found her to be extremely articulate and well-versed in social media. When she informed us of the need to fulfill the requirements of her internship, we jumped at the chance. As I said in my university evaluation of Sidney, she has a lot of strengths – many of which will make her a great asset to any employer.
Sidney learned first-hand the ups and downs (and, sometimes, the pure chaos) of working in a small business. Even remotely, the challenges of a traditional small business exist. Sidney was flexible with this and she stepped up to propose creative solutions through a flurry of changes.
In her portion of this post, Sidney spoke about core values. Our value of relationships is central, and I believe Sidney learned a lot about the meaning of forging strong relationships in business and in life. We have such a unique company at #Strella, particularly because we are virtual – our contractors and clients are remote. Because we are unable to physically work with these folks on a daily basis, it’s even more important that we foster those relationships.
I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet Sidney – and our client – when we visited Utah, last year. There is something really special about meeting folks who you already work with, but are finally meeting in-person. In fact, we just gathered a large part of our team in New York City this past week. One gal, from Texas, stayed with us for the week. Another gal, from Canada, flew in to meet all of us in the city. The best part? I felt like I already knew them so well, even though we were physically meeting for the first time. That’s relationship-building in a virtual world. And, that’s what we do!
As Sidney travels, over the next few months, she will meet a lot of people along the way. Any of these folks could be an asset as she builds her network. Using what she’s learned with us, I know she will cultivate those relationships – and, I am certain she will have a very successful career!
Good luck, Sidney, and to everyone graduating this year!
As I prepare for my interview for The Lisa Valentine Clark Show on May 6, I’ve been thinking about relationships in the online world. My securing an interview with Lisa, after participating in a Twitter conversation led by Lisa’s co-host, demonstrates how online connections can lead to new opportunities. My social media business is nearly 100 percent virtual, except for occasional face-to-face meetings with local clients or colleagues. The digital business landscape has opened up a world of possibilities that would not have been possible 25 years ago. It has also presented a fair share of challenges.
But hey, nothing is perfect, right?
Three Things I Love About Building Relationships in a Virtual World
I have access to anyone in the world, literally.
In my virtual business, I can have team members, vendors, and clients from nearly anywhere on the planet. This allows me to find and work with a variety of interesting clients and contractors who have unique qualities and skillsets—even if those people are thousands of miles away.
I have the flexibility of working from any location.
As long as I have my phone, laptop, and an internet connection, I can get the job done. No matter where I travel, near or far, I can communicate with prospects and clients and collaborate with my team without skipping a beat or falling behind.
I can capitalize on my strengths as a leader and service professional.
As an introvert, I am more adept at communicating via the written word than verbally. Running a virtual business requires more writing and electronic collaboration than it does meetings and phone calls.
Three Things I Find Challenging About Building Relationships in a Virtual World
It can be difficult to establish trust and maintain loyalty.
Some people are cautious about putting their confidence in someone they have never met in person. Also, without the face-to-face component, people sometimes find it easier to “pull the plug” on a working relationship.
Some people think of my business as a 24/7 hotline.
Because I can work anywhere and anytime, some clients assume my team and I should be available around the clock, every day of the week, 365 days a year. Although I set expectations when establishing business relationships, people sometimes forget or ignore that boundaries exist.
Technology doesn’t always play nice.
This is especially so with social media platforms. When social networks and tools experience bugs or outages, we have no control. Technical hiccups always seem to happen at the most inconvenient times! And, depending on the issues and their duration, they can cause a myriad of problems and ripple effects.
So Much More to Say!
As you can see, running a remote business has its ups and downs. I could go on and on about this topic. If you want to hear more about my take on virtual relationships, join me on Monday, May 6 on The Lisa Valentine Clark Show! Tune in at 8:40 am ET on byuradio.org.
In past posts, I’ve talked about my experience as a member of the gig economy. I’ve had an entrepreneurial mindset for as long as I can remember. As a child, I wrote a neighborhood newsletter and charged the members of my residential development a quarter for each copy. I even sold ads! As a young teen, I canvased the community, sharing flyers to market myself as a babysitter and pet sitter and promote my lawn care and house cleaning services. In college, I promoted a bar, worked in the departmental office of the school and tutored.
It wasn’t long into my post-college professional career that I became bored with the mundane “9 to 5” routine and started chasing odd jobs for extra income. I’ve been fortunate to turn those supplemental earnings activities into a business providing services as a virtual assistant, bookkeeper, and event planner for a variety of professionals in differing industries. I love the variety and the countless opportunities to learn and apply new skills.
The latest addition to my virtual business has been here, with the #Strella Team. Entering the industry of social media management has taught me a lot. If you’re interested in using social media to develop relationships with your clientele and potential customers or are even minimally curious about what goes on behind the scenes in a social media management business, keep reading.
What I’ve Learned from Working in the Field of Social Media
1. There are rules and “gotchas” aplenty.
The details that must be addressed to successfully leverage multiple social media channels to their full potential can be overwhelming. Technical and functional issues sometimes mysteriously appear, and it can be daunting to find solutions for how to fix them. You might have experienced a few, for example:
– Have you ever posted an update to your business Facebook page but couldn’t get it to show up at the top of your page?
– Have you personally posted a photo to your Instagram that you linked to your Facebook account so that it would simultaneously post on both social media platforms, but it never showed up in your Facebook feed?
– Do you ever question the viral updates that occasionally go around Facebook that indicate you must carry out some specific action to continue seeing all of your friends’ content in your feed?
– Did you know that there are additional Instagram features that get unlocked and become available to you (e.g., swiping up in a story to access a link) when you reach a certain number of followers?
Social media platforms are often more complicated than most people realize, and there are features and nuances that only specialists understand. Just as you depend on your copier technician for the skills and expertise to service your copiers and printers, it’s becoming necessary to enlist the help of a social media manager to maintain your online profiles and pages effectively.
2. It’s time-consuming.
As I shared earlier, I love learning new skills. Recently, I consulted Pinterest and HGTV to learn how to upholster an old headboard. It was fun to learn what tools I needed, what supplies I had to purchase, and how to physically complete the project. The finished result is not perfect, but “it’ll do,” as they say. I spent several hours on the DIY project, and without a doubt, a more efficient way to obtain an upholstered headboard would have been to visit the furniture store and buy one. However, I enjoyed the education and hands-on process so much that it was well worth all my time and effort.
As a business owner, though, “do it yourself” does not always provide fulfillment. You have to choose what skills are worth learning and what you should depend on an expert for. Preparing my tax return is an excellent example of this. For the first several years of running my business, I completed my tax documents on my own. But I have now recognized that the complexity makes it too time-consuming for me to do it correctly (those tax regulations keep changing!). I know that I’m better served by having my CPA handle it for me.
Just like trying to squeeze tax preparation into your busy schedule, keeping your online audience engaged and sharing timely updates on your social media profiles and pages can become too burdensome to do well. If you find yourself in this situation, seek a professional to manage your social media presence for you so that you can focus on managing your business.
3. Building relationships with followers who have shared values and interests is rewarding.
It’s satisfying to do a job well. When I’m working with #Strella and helping clients with their social media needs, I feel a sense of accomplishment. I find it challenging and rewarding to effectively create the customer’s voice and use it to communicate with their fans and followers. Interacting with their social media connections and building relationships with them feels gratifying. Watching our clients’ followers bond with them over common values and interests furthers our clients’ goals and gives our work a sense of purpose.
As a business owner, if you’re not taking advantage of the opportunity to build an online community through social media, you are missing out on a valuable way to share your business’s story and connect with others who are invested in the same narrative.
Your Turn! What successes and challenges have you experienced with social media? Leave a comment and share your story.
In the last #Strella blog post, our Creative Director – Alex West – shared some insightful tips on embracing your personal presence on social media. While many folks are reluctant to put themselves out there, Alex made a solid argument given the fierce competition in the labor market stating, “investing time and energy into putting your personal brand out there on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook can help prospective employers envision how you will fit in with their company culture.”
Alex knows first-hand. She secured an interview (and, subsequently, a job) based on what her employer saw when reviewing her online presence.
In the years I’ve written and spoken about the topic of personal branding, I’ve urged people to share themselves, but remain cautious that what you share online, never really disappears. Mark Schaefer once called social media, “The resume of your life.” He’s spot-on. The question to ask yourself is: does the resume of your life paint a picture of authenticity worth sharing?
By that I mean, can you remain authentic without going too far? For some, I think ‘too far’ is gray area. The immediacy of our posts and the reaction of our audience makes us almost immune to what’s appropriate.
If you’ve ever wondered what separates ‘being yourself’ from ‘oversharing,’ I’ve illustrated some quick examples.
OK: Expressing genuine concerns and asking your community if they’ve ever felt the same way or experienced a similar situation.
Not OK: Sharing a 1,200-word rant about your son’s drug addiction.
Takeaway: While I feel for this situation, a place like Facebook is not the proper outlet to tell this story.
OK: Sending a warm ‘happy birthday’ message to your child.
Not OK: Tagging your 8-year old child with a public profile on Facebook.
Takeaway: If you allow your kid to have a Facebook page, be cautious of the profile settings. Sadly, there are too many creeps who look for these accounts to prey on unsuspecting children.
It’s OK to share who you are, however, remain cognizant of the line that could take sharing too far. Add extra consideration when sharing anything that could reflect badly on the people you care about or put them in harm’s way.
Many young people, whether intentionally or not, have become engulfed in using social media to promote their personal brand. In their timelines, they present their artistic side, show glimpses into their active social lives, support causes they believe in, and display their sense of humor. Businesses, of course, have embraced the power of online branding, too. However, social media isn’t only for young people and brands; it’s also for anyone at any age who wants to pursue a new career path or break into a different industry.
Personal Presence and Your Professional Potential
Living in New York City, I’ve learned not only how to catch the perfect aesthetic photo for any situation, but also that the moments I’m capturing and sharing on social media allow me to show employers my capabilities and who I am. My social media activity has become a sort of resume that demonstrates why they should hire me.
Unlike a typical resume, though, social media (except for LinkedIn) doesn’t explicitly list qualifications and accomplishments. Instead, it communicates personal presence and personality. Labor markets are fierce with competition. Hiring managers receive hundreds, sometimes thousands, of well-constructed resumes; so, a genuine and captivating online personal presence can help you set yourself apart and better your chances of getting invited to an interview.
For years, many people have shrouded personal social media activity in a cloak of negativity. They remind us that everything we share online is there for eternity and warn us to be ultra-wary that anything we post online can potentially ruin our chances of getting hired for our dream job. The fear of making a bad impression has prompted many job seekers to set their social media accounts to “private” and only direct potential employers to their safe, less personally revealing LinkedIn account.
That’s unfortunate. You can bet that companies are going to look up your social media accounts during the hiring process. A public, well-developed social media profile can help employers understand who you are holistically. Moreover, if you have your accounts set up as private, employers might wonder what you might be hiding. Instead, a public profile with a timeline that shows your personal style says, “I have nothing to hide, and here’s who I am beyond my experience, education, and work qualifications.” Investing time and energy into putting your personal brand out there on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook can help prospective employers envision how you will fit in with their company culture.
My Personal Experience With Personal Branding Online
My well-broadcasted Manhattan lifestyle is what helped me land an internship at a radio and media company. After my boss saw my activity and the way I presented myself online, he knew that I had a personality that would work well on the team. By the time he received my resume, he had already decided to reach out to me about the position because he had a direct window to seeing my capabilities and getting to know me.
Stop Hiding and Start Showcasing
The real you is what makes you marketable, and social media gives you a way to show employers your genuine self. If you hide your online personal presence, you will miss out on the opportunity to leverage your unique personality and style. Embrace those opportunities and use your social media to show hiring managers the energy, determination, strength, compassion, and other qualities that make you special.
In my last post, I shared with you why social media efforts often fall flat – in short, people are focused on the wrong things. This is not intentional, of course. Social media marketing is still widely misunderstood. It’s my hope to provide clarity to this confusion.
I have identified three primary objectives to meet an end goal of ‘sales,’ which ultimately consists of three objectives: awareness, engagement and lead generation.
You may be wondering how to fulfill those objectives using social media.
This post can be used as a short guide to help set goals for each objective, the measurables or Key Performance Metrics (KPI’s) associated with the goals and content suggestions that have worked for our clients to achieve positive ROI. Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines. Each business will need to determine the most effective goals to fulfill these objectives, and measurement will vary by channel. Also, this is just a sampling. There are dozens of goals you could set – and, some will overlap. For example, engagement such as post comments can also fulfill the awareness objective by resulting in higher reach and following.
Goals, KPI’s and Content – Oh My!
Objective: Awareness Goal: Reach KPI: The number of people who viewed a post Content suggestions: Humanizing posts, tagging other pages (appropriately, such as sharing content and giving the author credit) and content shared by others can help to increase reach. On a medium like Facebook, some use paid advertising options such as an awareness ad or a post boost (considered engagement by Facebook) to help expand their reach.
Goal: Fans/Followers KPI: The number of followers on a channel Content suggestions: Using the above tactics are a good start for this metric as some may follow the business as a result of the reach. Again, a paid ad can accompany this effort, particularly when starting out.
Other measurables: Impressions, volume, and share of voice.
Objective: Engagement Goal: Post reactions and comments KPI: The number of reactions or ‘like’ as well as comments on a newsfeed post Content suggestions: Open-ended questions, write the caption or finish the sentence posts often solicit comments.
Goal: Website clicks KPI: The number of people who clicked a website link from social media – this can be tracked by most social sites and analyzed further in Google analytics Content suggestions: Content that’s engaging will result in a click. This is usually made up of an intriguing headline or the combination of a headline and the caption accompanying the post, which entices the user to want to read more.
Goal: Increased length of time on website KPI: The length of time a visitor from social media stays on the page they clicked – this can be tracked in Google Analytics Content suggestions: Once we have the initial click (from the previous goal), we want the user to stay and read the post. It’s vital that the content is relevant to the headline or copy clicked and not ‘click bait’ that will lead the user to leave the page quickly.
Other goals/measurables could include online mentions, positive reviews, direct messages, and social shares.
Objective: Leads Goal: Take action on a website (Ex: e-book download) KPI: The number of people who took action on a website as a result of an initial click from social media. This can be tracked in Google analytics through behavior and user flow, UTM codes and other custom variables. Content suggestions: When we get to this metric, it depends on the success of the other two engagement metrics (website clicks and length of time on pages). Often, if the content met the needs of the audience, they will naturally click to other pages on the website. A clear Call-to-Action (CTA) at the end of a post is helpful for encouraging that next step. For example, one of our clients invites his readers to take a deep dive into the topic by downloading a copy of his e-book at the end of his blog posts.
Goal: Online inquiry KPI: The number of people who completed a ‘contact us’ form or other lead generation method Content suggestions: This is where it gets tricky as how they found you, besides already being on site, could come from a number of factors such as Google search or a referral from another website. The best advice I can offer is to diversify your marketing beyond social media. It’s now proven that Google algorithms favor brand signals as part of their search results. A ‘brand query’ is one type of brand signal, which are people who search for your business on Google. Brand query is a result of heightened brand awareness – our first objective. (Stay tuned for a future post on this topic).
Other goals/measurables could include a phone call or email inquiry, if we can effectively track the role of social media in the generation of that lead.
Based on the outcome of the last objective, it’s evident this is a cyclic process. It’s an ongoing effort and a good reminder that marketing shouldn’t stop once the lead is acquired. If relationship marketing is done well, a business can build customers for life.
When we receive inquiries from organizations, we ask them about their goals for social media. Most tell us their goal is to increase sales. We then talk with them about the difference between a goal and an outcome – money is an outcome, not a goal. Experience has shown that a more realistic goal for organizations who want sales could be lead generation.
However, the approach to acquiring leads is where it often gets murky.
– Social Media = Building Relationships
– Advertising on Social Media = Sales
If we built a marketing funnel for social media, it would look like the diagram below. I see too many businesses who want to jump right to the leads and bypass the other steps. The audience has no desire to download your e-book until they know who you are and they like what they see. It’s the same know, like, and trust factor that’s been the sales slogan of the past decade.
Bottom line: People are focused on the wrong things. Improper focus leads to inaccurate measurement and ineffective steps to correct it. As a result, the conclusion is that social media doesn’t work.
I’m amazed by the number of companies that are flailing around in this space with no clear understanding of where they are going or how to get there. When I examine the root of this issue, the following culprits are at play:
– Box checking – the board said it’s time to get social, so pick someone to do it
– Flawed theories – some are misinformed about social media, but most are under-informed
– Bandwagon leaps – another person or business was successful with social media, so let’s do it
– Bragging rights – let’s look cool and get on Snapchat
This is why it’s not only vital to have a social media strategy but to also have one that aligns with the organization’s values. Most profitable businesses have values at the heart of their company. It’s those values that empower their team and drive their business growth. Yet, when I look at businesses who employ social media, it’s infrequent they emulate these values online, especially with customer service. If service is a value to your organization, you need to respond to your audience online.
The other caveat is that it’s not an overnight process. Social media marketing is relationship-building… and relationships take time. When was the last time you built immediate trust? Did you give someone the key to your house upon meeting them at the dog park? Put Mom in a home before seeing the facility? Just because someone ‘liked’ your page or accepted your LinkedIn request, does not invite you to hound them to the sale. Relationship marketing is a long game.
If the goal for social media is to acquire sales, you might be better suited with a goal of lead generation. However, lead generation via organic social media must be done in alignment with the business values while maintaining a commitment to relationships. There is no way to accelerate or short-cut trust. If you find social media is failing your organization, I urge you to go back and find the root of the issue.
What do all of the following things have in common?
Groundhogs that don’t see their shadows
They are signs that spring is just around the bend!
For much of the Northeast, where I live and work, this winter has been an odd combination of days with temperatures near 50 degrees and others that brought bitter cold and storms with snow and ice. In the first week of March, we were greeted by three snow storms, each delivering three inches or more of the white stuff. I, like many of my friends and neighbors, am ready for spring!
As we think of spring as a time of renewal and fresh starts in nature, many of us also view it as an opportunity to clean and refresh our home environment. Spring cleaning can be beneficial to our businesses, too. I feel more productive and motivated when I’m organized and rid of unnecessary clutter. To follow are my tips for giving your workspace—and your attitude—a “fresh as spring” touch.
Five Ways to Clean Out and Declutter Your Physical, Virtual, and Mental Workspace This Spring
1. Clear out paper files.
Although you probably have a lot of documents that are important and must be stored, I’ll bet you also have unnecessary paperwork that you can shred or dispose of. Even some once important paperwork may eventually be OK to eliminate. Several examples include credit card receipts (after a year), tax documents and related documents (after seven years), and bank statements (after three years). Review documents once a year to determine what can stay and what can go.
Using filing cabinets, bins, or even shoe boxes can work effectively for storing and organizing papers and files. Once you have items labeled and organized, you’ll find it’s quick and easy to sort through what you can destroy and what you need to hold onto.
2. Clear out virtual files.
You can lighten your load by purging or archiving unneeded documents and files from your email folders, your computer’s recycling bin, and online systems like DropBox, Google Drive, OneDrive, and Evernote.
I try to archive files that I am not actively using at least once a year. It’s a good idea to go through your Dropbox, Google Drive, and email account folders, etc. to assess what’s still important. I recommend what I call the “two category rule.” First, identify what you no longer need, and second, determine what you may need in the future. If you don’t need a document or file and won’t ever need it again, delete it. If you may need it someday, move it to an external hard drive or a USB drive for safe keeping.
Now is also a good time to permanently delete what’s in your trash folder or recycle bin on your desktop or laptop computer and your email accounts.
Lastly, consider taking a few moments this spring to back up everything that you’re storing on your devices. Of course, you should do this regularly. But if you don’t, “spring” into action and do it now to avoid the devastation you’d face if you were to lose files, pictures, and more because your device crashed.
3. Clean up your online profiles.
When was the last time you updated your profile picture on social media? Have you checked to make sure your LinkedIn profile is accurate and reflects your current responsibilities and accomplishments?
If you haven’t kept up, now’s the time to do some social media cleanup, too. Current, up-to-date social media profiles ensure you’re putting your best personal and professional brand forward.
4. Freshen up your resume and business website.
For those of you open to new career opportunities, experts say it’s a good idea to have an updated resume ready to share. If you haven’t reviewed your resume lately, now may be a good time to look it over and make sure your contact information is correct, your references are still valid, and your roles, responsibilities, skills, education, and certifications are accurate.
If you are a business owner, carve out some time this spring to review your website. Consider making changes that will make your site more complete, modernize its look and feel, and improve your online visitors’ experience.
5. Amend the mess on your electronics.
I mean this both physically and virtually! Cell phones get dirty from us handling them day and night. Keyboards are magnets for crumbs and dust. I admit that I don’t clean either of them nearly as often as I should.
Gross! I know. And I suspect I’m not alone.
Now is a good time to wipe down and disinfect your devices (with approved substances that won’t harm them) and blow out the crud in your keyboard with some computer cleaner.
Another problem most of us face is that we clutter the available space on our devices with apps and programs we no longer use. My tip: Re-organize your phone apps into folders, based on what you frequently use. This will help you recognize what you can remove to free up some valuable space. As a bonus, doing so will make you more productive; less busy screens make it easier and quicker to access your favorite apps.
“Spring is a true reconstructionist.” ~ Henry Timrod
This quote sums up the ultimate effect of focused spring cleaning. Taking the initiative to declutter and get organized can affect your efficiency and enthusiasm.
I feel renewed at the mere thought of checking these items off of my to-do list. How about you? Do you have any organization and productivity tips to share? Leave a comment; I’d love to hear from you!