While a huge portion of what social media has become known for is posting pics of cute cats, keeping up with celebrity feuds, and salivating over food images, social media is actually great for small businesses too. Many small business owners relegate social media as the "whipped cream" to the perceived more important aspects to business needs, but social media is nothing to skip out on. I mean, who doesn't love whipped cream anyway? These 5 "As" will show you why social media is something your small business needs to succeed. An "A" for effort indeed!

Awareness - Brand Recognition

Social media, from Facebook to Twitter to Instagram to Pinterest and then some, is where many people find out what's new, hot, and trendy. Developing and maintaining company profiles and pages on as many social media outlets as possible is imperative for your brand and its noteworthiness. According to Forbes, "Every opportunity you have to increase your visibility is valuable. Social media networks are channels for your brand's voice and content." The more people see your brand, what you're doing, and what you've got to offer, the more your company name is top of mind when they want to buy your goods or use your services. Keep it fresh, frequent, and friendly. The more unique you are the better, but be sure you can be relatable and memorable. Another way brands can become instantly recognized is via a celebrity tie in. As per an article posted on Bloomberg.com, a watch company, Daniel Wellington did just that and the followers to their social media pages soared. Send out your product to representatives for celebrities, ask magazines for tie-ins, or reach out to the celebs themselves via their social media pages. One may bite and give you a shout out. With the number of followers the famous folks have, even if a fraction start to follow you, it's worth the effort.

Anywhere - Mobile Capabilities

If you've ever been on a crowded train, waited on a grocery checkout line, or even walked down a busy street, you've surely noticed the people around you engrossed in whatever they're looking at on their smartphone. Much of the time, they're thumbing through their social media feeds to see what's new and interesting. By investing in your social presence, you can be sure your current and potential customers and clients will see what you're posting and sharing no matter what time of day or wherever they may be. As Aabaco Small Business from Yahoo puts it, "Mobile is at the forefront of social media because most social activity that is being done is via a mobile device. Plan accordingly when developing your social strategy and be sure it is compatible and offers the viewer a positive experience." Heck, if someone's going to bump into someone while walking face down in their cell, why shouldn't it be your Facebook page that's hooked them in? When considering mobile, go even deeper and become educated on when the best times to post are and how frequently. Lots of companies see increased engagement on weekends, as per Adweek SocialTimes. And for the most click-thrus? 12 and 6pm are the times to post for the most bang for your buck. Of course, every set of consumers are different and each field and its base of followers have different trends. Your social media manager with aid from the social platforms can derive a posting plan that delivers the most value for your business.

Access – Increased Traffic

Social media information, when intriguing with obvious and uncomplicated calls to action, will bring readers to your company website, increasing your traffic, and in turn, profit. According to Aabaco Small Business, "Every website owner wants to increase their traffic and social networks to the list of site referrals. They also lead to more time spent on the site." Forbes adds, "Without the benefit of social media, traffic is limited to people already familiar to your brand. Every social media post you add is another path to your site. The more quality content on social media, the more traffic." So be aware of what you're posting and always give the reader a reason to click through to your website, be it for more related content, a special deal, or a new item or service. For help with maximizing your techniques for luring customers over, check out po.st. They can help capitalize on your readers' social activity and habits and aid you in effectively posting and integrating content that makes them yearn for more over on your website where the real action takes place as far as money making is concerned.

Allegiance - Engagement & Loyalty

Just like an old friend you've reconnected with on social media, your customers will become loyal to your brand the more you share with them and provide positive and useful material for them to look forward to. In addition, the more they see of you on social media, the more willing they'll be to engage with your posts by commenting, reviewing, and best for you, sharing with others who will be inclined to "like" your page and become a customer since they have trust in their friend's choices. Texas Tech University's College of Media & Communication reported that social media presence increases loyalty from consumers who follow a company's social media presence and those who engage in conversations with their followers were "the most likely to gain brand loyalty from those individuals because they like their voice to be heard." Be sure to keep active and participatory with your followers and make them feel special. Well, aren't they? Without them, your business would have a hard time succeeding. Remember, treat your followers with respect and try to move negative chatter to a private setting. And to make sure your readers know there's a "real person" behind the scenes, keep the activity moving with posts that show you've been reading what they are putting out there. Stay away from generic filler posts or "spammy" jargon that will probably be passed over anyhow.

Availability - Greater SEO

Search engine optimization is important for any business. You want to rank well among those in your field when it comes to online searches from prospective customers and clients. Forbes claims that SEO is the best way to obtain relevant traffic from search engines like Google. "Search engines may be calculating their rankings using social media presence as a significant factor. Strong brands almost always use social media, and being active on social media is a signal to search engines that your brand is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy." You can improve your ranking by staying on top of your social media posting and progress. The more readily you are able to be found online, the better off your company will be when folks dive into the sea of what's searchable and you're among the first they can reel in. Take a meeting with an SEO expert. You may not need to hire someone full time, but instead, try for a seminar or an advisor that can educate you on what and how much content to put out there to achieve optimal SEO value from your hard work.

So get social and check off the 5 "As" of social success. Your small business will be a "thumbs up" with your followers and fans awaiting your next post!

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Over two years into the most momentous event in our lives the world has changed forever … Some of us have PTSD from being locked up at home, some are living like everything’s going to end tomorrow, and the rest of us are merely trying to get by. When the pandemic hit we entered a perpetual state of vulnerability, but now we’re supposed to return to normal and just get on with our lives.

What does that mean? Packed bars, concerts, and grocery shopping without a mask feel totally strange. We got used to having more rules over our everyday life, considering if we really had to go out or keeping Zooming from our living rooms in threadbare pajama bottoms.

The work-from-home culture changed it all. Initially, companies were skeptical about letting employees work remotely, automatically assuming work output would fall and so would the quality. To the contrary, since March of 2020 productivity has risen by 47%, which says it all. Employees can work from home and still deliver results.

There are a number of reasons why everyone loves the work from home culture. We gained hours weekly that were wasted on public transport, people saved a ton of money, and could work from anywhere in the world. Then there were the obvious reasons like wearing sweats or loungewear all week long and having your pets close by. Come on, whose cat hasn’t done a tap dance on your keyboard in the middle of that All Hands Call!

Working from home grants the freedom to decorate your ‘office’ any way you want. But then people needed a change of environment. Companies began requesting their employees' RTO, thus generating the Hybrid Work Model — a blend of in-person and virtual work arrangements. Prior to 2020, about 20% of employees worked from home, but in the midst of the pandemic, it exploded to around 70%.

Although the number of people working from home increased and people enjoyed their flexibility, politicians started calling for a harder RTW policy. President Joe Biden urges us with, “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and fill our great downtowns again.”

While Boris Johnson said, “Mother Nature does not like working from home.'' It wasn’t surprising that politicians wanted people back at their desks due to the financial impact of working from the office. According to a report in the BBC, US workers spent between $2,000 - $5,000 each year on transport to work before the pandemic.

That’s where the problem lies. The majority of us stopped planning for public transport, takeaway coffee, and fresh work-appropriate outfits. We must reconsider these things now, and our wallets are paying

the price. Gas costs are at an all-time high, making public transport increase their fees; food and clothes are all on a steep incline. A simple iced latte from Dunkin’ went from $3.70 to $3.99 (which doesn’t seem like much but 2-3 coffees a day with the extra flavors and shots add up to a lot), while sandwiches soared by 14% and salads by 11%.

This contributes to the pressure employees feel about heading into the office. Remote work may have begun as a safety measure, but it’s now a savings measure for employees around the world.

Bloomberg are offering its US staff a $75 daily commuting stipend that they can spend however they want. And other companies are doing the best they can. This still lends credence to ‘the great resignation.’ Initially starting with the retail, food service, and hospitality sectors which were hard hit during the pandemic, it has since spread to other industries. By September 2021, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 4.4 million resignations.

That’s where the most critical question lies…work from home, work from the office or stick to this new hybrid world culture?

Borris Johnson thinks, “We need to get back into the habit of getting into the office.” Because his experience of working from home “is you spend an awful lot of time making another cup of coffee and then, you know, getting up, walking very slowly to the fridge, hacking off a small piece of cheese, then walking very slowly back to your laptop and then forgetting what it was you’re doing.”

While New York City Mayor Eric Adams says you “can't stay home in your pajamas all day."

In the end, does it really matter where we work if efficiency and productivity are great? We’ve proven that companies can trust us to achieve the same results — or better! — and on time with this hybrid model. Employees can be more flexible, which boosts satisfaction, improves both productivity and retention, and improves diversity in the workplace because corporations can hire through the US and indeed all over the world.

We’ve seen companies make this work in many ways, through virtual lunches, breakout rooms, paint and prosecco parties, and — the most popular — trivia nights.

As much as we strive for normalcy, the last two years cannot simply be erased. So instead of wiping out this era, it's time to embrace the change and find the right world culture for you.

What would get you into the office? Free lunch? A gym membership? Permission to hang out with your dog? Some employers are trying just that.

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Did you hear about the Great Resignation? It isn’t over. Just over two years of pandemic living, many offices are finally returning to full-time or hybrid experiences. This is causing employees to totally reconsider their positions.

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