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Social Media Must Lose Weight of Expectation to Win Business

AscentiveBusiness news and tips from the Ascentive team

According to global business event organiser GDS International, its recent social media marketing conference iStrategy was the ‘best yet’. But, says MeetTheBoss TV editor and iStrategy emcee Adam Burns, the medium must shed its self-imposed weight of expectation to capture the heart of business. Global business event organiser GDS International (http://www.gdsinternational.com) has held five of its digital strategy and social media marketing conference series, iStrategy (http://www.istrategyconference.com) in 2011. The conference’s year started in San Francisco, visited Amsterdam twice, Melbourne and Atlanta.

Speakers have included Internet luminaries like Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia; social media experts from switched on brands such as Kodak, Orange, McDonald’s, Heineken and Coca-Cola; and new giants Facebook, Google, Foursquare, Rovio, and Zynga (“Brands so now my watch asked them the time,” says iStrategy emcee Adam Burns).

Alongside the high quality of speakers and their content, linking all five events is a cutting edge crowd and master of ceremonies, Adam Burns, editor of executive learning site MeetTheBoss TV (http://www.meettheboss.tv).

“I have spent ten days talking to a sea of illuminated logos and sharp t-shirts,” says Adam. “Like dolphins designed in California, the collective noun for digital marketers is now an ‘ipod’.”

“I loved it. Brilliant, engaged people and a nascent, still malleable industry. Their honesty, and the way in which problems were generously admitted and easily discussed across the broad spectrum of industry represented on stage, is a world away from the closed doors of, for example, a recent financial services gathering, about which I can say no more due to the non-disclosure agreement we signed at the door.

“What amazed me, however, was that the good folk at iStrategy discussed and shared far more ‘mission critical’ information – routes to market, case studies and inspiration – than those in financial services.”

Adam believes the ‘iStrategists’ also identified the last barrier to wider social media adoption.

“In certain circles, social media is loaded with some pretty highfalutin’ ideals,” he says. “It is immersive. It rewards transparency. It is a light to shine on the ugly, sticky bits of business to make them shape up. The companies that win at social media are social companies. It is a revolution.

“All very noble: not all of it true. The finance folk were happy to talk about anything and everything they could commoditise – IT, catering, etc. They were not happy to talk about product development. But neither is Apple (to pick a company at the other end of the cool spectrum).

“Parts of business will always – by necessity – be behind closed doors. In their early stages, even world-conquering ideas like Facebook are fragile. They need to be protected, supported, tested and developed. They do not need broadcasting.

“Social media has an incredible role to play in communications. It offers a genius route to personalized marketing. It genuinely can make me love a brand, and advocate that brand based on the warmth and humanity of its contact. But I don’t believe it is a revolution for business.

“The quicker it can drop this weight of expectation and flex some savvy metrics, the more intrinsic and effective social media will become. Even for financial services.”

To promote proven, sustainable social media marketing strategies for all businesses, iStrategy is launching a series of videos filmed at and behind the scenes of its conferences.

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More Social Media Marketing Tips

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

Social Media Marketing is a style of online marketing that enables businesses of all sizes to get the word out about their product or service, as well as boost brand awareness, build loyalty, and attract and retain customers. You want to use Social Media Marketing to increase your visibility, improve your search engine results, and drive more traffic to your company’s website.

Without a doubt, Social Media Marketing has become a crucial element of successful online marketing and brand building. All content that adds value and markets a business, directly or indirectly, can be considered a form of Social Media Marketing. The material can be distributed in long form (blogs, articles, and eBooks), short form (Twitter updates, Facebook updates and images), or through conversations and sharing (start or join Twitter conversations or share content in a forum comment). Social Media Marketing allows you to build lasting connections with influential customers who in turn share your content and your message.

Here are some more easy ways to integrate your Social Media Marketing efforts and surround consumers with branded experiences:

•   Always include social media icons in your blog’s sidebar.

•   Provide links to your branded online sites in your email signature.

•   Place your branded online destination links in your forum signatures.

•   Add links to your online content in the comment forms whenever you publish comments on blogs.

•   Always put links to your content in your ads.

•   Include links to your content on your business cards.

•   Insert links to your content in your email newsletter.

•   Incorporate links to your content on your sales receipts.

•   Include Facebook social plugins on your blog or Web site from Facebook’ Developer suite.

•   Include Twitter widgets from the Twitter Resources section of Twitter.com on your blog or Web site and other points of entry.

•   Add your YouTube videos on your Facebook page and profile.

•   Feed your blog content to your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn profiles, your Facebook page, and any other social networking portals where you have a profile.

•   Share your blog’s content in LinkedIn groups that pertain to your niche.

•   Use the SlideShare app to display your business presentations on Facebook and LinkedIn.

•   Include links to your blog in your online profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other Social Networking Portals.

•   The bio you include in guests posts for other people’s blogs should include links to your online content and destinations.

•   Include LinkedIn plugins from the LinkedIn Developers Community on your blog and Web site.

•   Include the URLs to your online content in brochures and other marketing materials.

•   Always list the URLs of your online content in your store or event signage.

•    Feed your Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook updates to your company’s blog.

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Adopt a Social Media Policy for More Business

AscentiveBusiness tips from the Ascentive team

You may not realize it, but when it comes to Social Media many people can affect your brand. In fact, your employees are often unintentional spokespeople for your company. Both on Twitter and on Facebook, your employees are sure to be talking about your company. The problem is, they may be doing so in a less than professional fashion, which will ultimately affect your company in the long run. In fact, offensive behavior and image issues are among the most common problems that surface when employees mix business with personal use of social-networking sites. To avoid damage to your company’s image, you should craft your own social media policy.

For example, one policy that many companies adopt is the policy of directing employees to mention their company in their Twitter or Facebook posts only when their update is appropriately coordinated with their company’s marketing department. Or you can decide that while your employees aren’t required to clear every Twitter and Facebook update in advance they, are expected without exception to speak with your company executives before creating any new social-media page specifically related to your company, your subsidiaries, or any of your products.

Here are four ways your business can benefit from establishing a Social Media policy.

Protect your company’s Image

A social media policy takes the guesswork out of what is appropriate for employees to post about your company to their social networks. As a general rule, they shouldn’t write anything they wouldn’t want plastered on the front page of a newspaper. Be sure to send out your guidelines by email and include them in your employee handbook, reminding your employees that what they say about your company matter. Your guidelines should also provide specific advice on acceptable profile photos and how to respond if a journalist contacts an employee through their personal networks.

Reduce Confusion about Legal Issues

Social media policies also help business owners and managers avoid legal problems that relate to slander and privacy.

Client Relationships

Social Media damage doesn’t affect your company; it affects the companies that are known to associate with you. If your reputation is affected through Social Media use, you are bound to lose a few clients.

Raise Brand Awareness

An added bonus to having a Social Media policy is that a policy provides clear guidelines that can also help employees understand the ways that they can use social media to help achieve business goals. For example, your policy could advise employees how they can comment on blogs or social networks to boost brand awareness and drive traffic to the company’s site. By emphasizing the positive aspects of your new Social Media policy, you have a better chance of inspiring a positive reaction from your employees.

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Learning by Grace launch site to Stop Cyber-Bullying

AscentiveInternet Safety tips from the Ascentive team

Learning By Grace is pleased to announce the launch of its STOP CYBER BULLYING CAMPAIGN with a FREE resource for the online homeschooling community called Stop Cyber Bullying (http://cyberbullying.learningbygrace.org). Learning By Grace defines cyber bullying as “the intentional use of digital content to lie, deceive, harass, threaten, mock, shame or bully a minor” and cyber harassment as “the same behaviors directed towards adults or companies.”

The Stop Cyber Bullying website is packed with information to help students and educators combat the newest epidemic gripping our country. Cyber harassment can be life threatening; it can destroy reputations and businesses. Over 30 teenagers have died as a result of cyber bullying. Children are not the only victims of cyber abuse; cyber harassers target adults as well. In an age where anyone can post anything about anyone with almost complete immunity and anonymity, the future of reputation and the future of privacy are being questioned.

“Having experienced cyber harassment for years, I learned firsthand how painful and frightening it can be. So like all of the injustices God has shown me, I set out to right the wrong”, says Mimi Rothschild. “Education about the cyber harassment crisis empowers students to recognize it and stop it. The cyber harassers ended up not only torturing me, but every member of my family as well”, she explains. When Rothschild’s son died of medical negligence, she started an advocacy organization for children. When Rothschild’s other son was hospitalized for 2 years, she started online homeschooling Academies that bring school to kids.”

Rothschild is the Co-Founder and CEO of Learning By Grace, the nation’s leading provider of Christian online homeschooling programs. “We founded Learning By Grace after our son was hospitalized for 2 years with a life threatening condition requiring life support. We met wonderful other children who were also hospitalized for long periods of time and saw a need for a school that could come to them.”

Learning By Grace manages 5 online Academies that offer over 150 online, state of the art, Biblically based PreK-12 courses. Learning By Grace is celebrating its 10th year of managing online homeschooling programs. It attributes its exponential growth to its state of the art online curriculum that consists of close to 200,000 pages of original Christian educational content and its affordable tuition.  During the summer of 2011, a team of Curriculum developers added access to 20,000 videos from Discovery Education to the 150 online courses, quadrupling the effectiveness of their programs.

According to Cyber bullying statistics from the i-SAFE foundation:

•       Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online, and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying.

•      More than 1 in 3 young people have experienced cyber threats online.

•      Over 25 percent of adolescents and teens have been bullied repeatedly through their cell phones or the Internet

Working to Halt Abuse (WHOA) fight online harassment through education of the general public, education of law enforcement personnel, and empowerment of victims publishes that there are about 75 new cases of cyber bullying or cyber harassment reported to them on a weekly basis.

“We hope Learning By Grace’s new free Stop Cyber bullying website will shed light on a dark issue that can create serious harm and even threaten life.” says Rothschild.

The website offers tutorials, webisodes, videos and tips on how to prevent cyber bullying and how to combat it if it rears its head. It was built using resources available through the US Department of Education, US Department of Health and Human Services and the US Department of Justice.

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Soul Shoppe on mission to stop Cyber-Bullies

AscentiveInternet safety tips from the Ascentive team

In response to the deaths of young people who have died as a results of persistent cyber-bullying, Vicki Abadesco and her team at Soul Shoppe are on a mission to create a bully-free world and that means standing for safe, happy and loving elementary schools for all students.

“Young people are literally dying to feel seen and respected for who they are. What’s it going to take for us to create a world where people can just be free to be themselves? For schools, the answer is a long-term commitment and plan by the entire school community for safety and inclusion,” says Soul Shoppe Director Vicki Abadesco.

To start schools off in that direction, here are three hot tips for all administrators, teachers and parents to make your school and the world a safer, happier and loving place:

•   Connect: “Put away the gadgets and find activities that build face-to-face social connection,” says Abadesco.  Whether at school, at home or somewhere else, students are always looking for real authentic connection and a place they can feel safe. How does your home or school rate? Make your home or school that safe place by providing activities that build “togetherness.” At school this might be participating in community service projects or daily “check-ins.” At home this could be volunteering for a cause you all believe in or spending the evening sharing a meal and sharing what you appreciate about one another. “It may sound corny or too touchy feely and we encourage you to give it a try. It could save a life,” she says.

•   Share Feelings: Young people are constantly confronted with situations that can cause them fear, worry, shame, sadness, anger and confusion. “Most young people don’t know how to talk about these experiences and to be honest, most adults don’t either,” she says. “If you want to help your student, then talk about feelings.” Share experiences you’ve had when you were feeling afraid, angry or confused. If a young person hears a personal challenge you experienced and how you got through it, they will be more likely to come to you when they are faced with a challenge.

•   Teamwork: Abadesco believes this is the key in creating safety. “As adults it is our job to create safe and nurturing environments for our youth,” she says. One of the ways to do that is by teachers and parents working together to support student needs. Make sure you have appropriate contact information and communicate the best ways to stay connected. Teachers, consider sending a weekly email with updates on how your classes are doing. Parents, find time to have regular check-ins with your teacher. This is an important relationship, so honor the relationship and take the time to get to know one another.

The key to creating a bully-free school is getting everyone on the same page about how to care for students and that begins with a strong caring community.

Soul Shoppe presents programs for elementary schools for all students, staff training or parent program to give your entire school community the essential skills needed to create a safe, loving and happy environment for all.

“The heart of our work is creating engaging experiences for all participants that change mindsets and impact lives,” says Abadesco.

Heidi Harding, a teacher at Stevens Elementary in Spokane, Washington, had this to say about bringing Soul Shoppe in to work with staff and students: “I would say that the time our school spent with Soul Shoppe was life changing. I could see a light go on in the faces of students and teachers. Wow!”

Flushing, Michigan Principal Joe Reinfelder says this about the recent program: “Great! Best bullying assembly we have seen. We look forward to the follow up.”


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