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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As the years go by, you'll likely need to make some large purchases here and there. Plan for these major life purchases by identifying them and saving early.

While it's possible to be frugal with many aspects of your lifestyle, there are certain events and possessions that will require you to spend a substantial amount of money. Thus, a wise course of action is to begin saving well ahead of time while thinking about your goals for the future. This way, you'll be able to maintain a stable financial state even when faced with those large expenses. The following are a few major life purchases that you should plan for.

A Wedding

Marriage is a joyous occasion that many people look forward to. However, a wedding can be quite expensive, often costing thousands of dollars. Your family and your future spouse's family will often contribute to covering this, but you should still prepare to spend a good deal of your own money on the ceremony. If you're in a serious relationship and are considering marriage, you should plan where the funds for the wedding will come from and take the necessary actions to accumulate them. It's also crucial to discuss financial matters with your partner, since your property will merge once you get married.

A New Car

Automobiles remain one of the top modes of transportation. As a result, you may want to purchase a new car at some point in your life. Although you may be fine with an old or used vehicle at present, you may one day be motivated by a desire to acquire something nice for yourself or by the practical needs that arise as you raise children. Whatever the case, obtaining a new car is a major life purchase that you should plan for.

In addition to setting aside funds to eventually put towards a vehicle, you should also aim to build you credit score. This is because your credit score will determine your available car loan options. The higher your credit score, the more you may be able to lower your interest rates on your car.

A House

Owning your own residential property is a worthy objective that you may hope to make a reality one day. Ideally, you should save about 20 percent of the total cost of a house before you buy it. This will allow you to make a larger down payment and thereafter face less interest on your mortgage.

As with acquiring a car, the mortgage options that you'll have can change based on how strong your credit score is. You'll want to increase your score as much as possible in the years leading up to buying a house so that you can get more favorable interest rates. In addition to contemplating down payments and mortgages, you must also remember that you'll need to deal with property taxes, insurance, maintenance and repair fees, and sometimes homeowners' association charges.

It's also necessary to hire a real estate agent to help you with the buying process. There are different types of real estate professionals. You should know how to distinguish between buyer's agents and seller's agents so that you can obtain favorable prices on homes as well.

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When you are newly hitched and learning how to combine your essential legal and financial information as well as your accounts, it can be confusing.

Many people live together before getting married and have begun the process of combining accounts and sharing responsibilities. However, some people wait to do this only after marriage, and others wait until they're married to live together. Whichever path you've chosen, it's still crucial to know a few tips to manage money together as newlyweds to determine where you should begin and how you can remain on the same page.

Discussing Money Motivations

As we begin to share money with our significant other, we soon find out what one person may rank as a priority regarding money and the other may not. As such, sitting down and discussing money motivations is important. Two people who cannot agree on how to handle money may cause serious issues. This should include:

  • How to deal with money following payday. Is a percentage put into savings? Is that the day to splurge on dinner, drinks, and more?
  • The frequency and size of payments made to debts. Some people like to pay minimums, whereas others pay in full or make double payments.
  • What do you each consider money well spent? Is it a new 70" 4K television? Is it an investment? Is it paying as much debt off as possible?
  • How do you go about consulting each other before making purchases over a certain amount?

Establishing Financial Goals

After you evaluate the motivations behind your money and how it should be spent, you'll need to spend time together hashing out financial goals. As newlyweds, there are certain things on your list that you're going to want to save for. How do you go about that? How much of each paycheck will you dedicate to a particular fund?

Some things in the future worth making a financial plan for include savings and paying down debts. This is the time to be honest about your current financial standing. If you're looking to buy a home, you'll want to assemble a first-time homeowner financial checklist to begin to develop topics of conversation. Some of the things to consider setting goals for are:

  • Student loans
  • Car loans
  • Future children
  • A house
  • Medical bills
  • Delinquencies on credit reports
  • Vacation and rainy-day funds
  • Emergency funds

Budgeting Together

The more honest and open you can be with each other about the money you have and now the debts you share, the better. Implementing plans for the best ways to have the things that you both desire while still taking care of existing demands is important. These can be uncomfortable things to talk about; however, these conversations are necessary.

Following these tips to manage money together as newlyweds will allow you to have a starting point for conversations that can be tough to start. The sooner you and your partner get on the same page with finances and the responsibilities that come with them, the easier the transition will be and the sooner you'll find success.

It's the dream: money you can count on to keep rolling in, even while you sleep.

Passive income isn't entirely passive, of course. You'll put in work up-front to get the profits rolling, so don't relax in your recliner just yet. But with so many potential sources of passive income available to you, picking one or several will mean that the day you can finally kick back will draw steadily closer.

Rental Properties

Real estate is a tried-and-true wealth builder for a simple reason: people will always need somewhere to live. Research the market in a growing community until you know a good deal when you see it. You can maximize rent by fixing up a deteriorating property or upgrading a mediocre one. The key is to hire a property manager to do all the day-to-day landlord duties for you—and you'll need a good one. Smart investors put their profits in another property and repeat the process until they have a diverse portfolio.

A YouTube Channel

You can start a blog if you're more comfortable hiding behind a computer, but consumers are more likely to prefer video content. Post a series of “how-to" videos to answer questions about whatever you're an expert in.

You can put up any content you want, but if you don't want to commit to regularly updating it, focus on “evergreen" topics that will draw clicks for eternity. Ads will create your income, especially if your channel grows in popularity. Better yet, sign up for affiliate marketing. If you recommend a product and provide a link to buy it, you'll get a small percentage of those transactions.

Auto Advertising

If you don't mind vinyl-wrapping your car with an ad for a company, you can get cash just driving around and running your errands. Make sure you contact a reputable company that doesn't ask for any money from you; if they're the real deal, they'll evaluate your car, your driving habits, your area, and more. Bonus: the brighter the ad, the easier it'll be to find your vehicle in the parking lot.

Digital Products

What's something that people will pay for but doesn't require shipping on your part? Finding that item is what can supplement your income indefinitely. Write an e-book, charge for your cross-stitching patterns, design prints that people can digitally download, invent an app, record a “masterclass," or whatever else you want. Every time someone new discovers it, the cash register rings. With a little more effort, this is a potential source of passive income for you that can continue to grow. Once you build up a customer base, they might want more products. The good part is that it's up to you whether you wish to give it to them.