I’ve been associated with enough startups and small or medium-sized enterprises in my lifetime to know what they want. What they want in terms of their employees, in terms of future growth, and in terms of the kind of capital they are willing to invest.
Through personal experience, and through talking to similar and like-minded people, I have come to understand and appreciate the unique challenges all SMEs face and must deal with. Limited resources, big ambitions. I think that’s how one can safely put it.
One of the ways most SMEs cut costs (or rather, save capital) is by allowing employees to work remotely. Maybe from home. Maybe from a cafe. Maybe even another country. Why do they do that? Mostly to avoid renting or investing in an office space. Cheap? I don’t think so.
Given the state of the internet and given how seamlessly interconnected everything and everyone is to each other, working remotely (and thus diverting this saved capital to other, more useful resources, like acquiring top talent) just makes a whole lot of sense.
A nifty analogy can be drawn between the driving principle behind this, and how lost cost carriers function—strip away what is extraneous and just focus on the bare minimum, ensuring that that is adequately covered.
The flipside of this cost efficient way of working, however, are the various issues and insecurities which come in to play as soon as the words “remote” and “working” are put together. The presence of these fears and insecurities not only hamper the freedom with which people work, but can also lead to a toxic work environment.
In short, not really ideal for that little dynamite of an enterprise your business can be. Keeping all this in mind, I decided to draw up a list of 8 of the top work from home misconceptions I have come across in my lifetime. I have tried to cover the problem from all angles, and also give workable solutions you can put in place to ensure that your enterprise doesn’t suffer the way some of the startups I have been associated with suffered.
1. Remote Workers Will Have No Fixed Timings
Whenever I tell my friends that I can’t go on that pub crawl with them because I have to wake up early the next day to work, they give me an extremely bemused, judgmental look. They know that I work from home. Even their look knows that. To me, that look seems to be saying, “You work from home. How does it matter what time you wake up to work?”
Shockingly enough, this is a very common question all remote workers get asked. Maybe, their friends/families might be more explicit with this question. But trust me, as soon as someone hears “work from home”, it is all but implied that the person doing the working from home doesn’t really have any fixed hours.
Wake up whenever, work whenever. Maybe even pop out for a three-hour long movie in between. Why? Because you aren’t really in an office space. You don’t really have any HR manager to be answerable to.
I can safely say from my experience that all this is complete and utter rot. Working from home doesn’t really imply flexible work hours. After all, as a team, I must ensure that I am online and working when the rest of my team members are online. My team members, my work, and especially my clients, all have fixed deadlines and time slots. This means that even though I’m not answerable to an HR manager, I am answerable to all these stakeholders in my work, and I have to respect their time.
This problem becomes amplified if the manager or team lead has this very same flexible work hours misgiving stuck in his/her head. Some managers, when faced with such a misgiving, can enforce suffocating and unrealistic restrictions and conditions to the remote working team. Maybe even force the top management to rent an office space just so that they can keep an eye on their respective team and ensure no one is taking liberties. Needless to say, such misgivings defeat the entire intent behind having remote workers.
Another way in which the flexible working hours philosophy can backfire is if the workers themselves start to take liberties and work begins to suffer. Fortunately, the solution to both these facets is the same—hire like minded, self motivated people. Be it managers, or remote workers, till the time everyone is not completely on board with the idea of working from home, and till the time everyone doesn’t respect this arrangement, no good can come out of it. No amount of monitoring of coercing from the part of top management can stem the rot once it sets in.
2. Remote Workers Will Be on Facebook All Day
I really don’t need to remind everyone about just how big a resource drain Facebook really is. I mean, there’s a reason why most big companies and multinational corporations have internet firewalls, right? Facebook, the productivity killer. Facebook, the black hole. And so on, and so forth.
So it just makes sense to be scared about your workers just whiling away their time on social media when they’re working from home (and without Big Brother’s eye on them). Right? Right?
Wrong. Irrespective of where people are working, they are still going to spend the same time on Facebook and other social media. I first came across this neat little statement somewhere on the internet (I was just trying to reassure myself that I wasn’t being a bad employee when I logged on to Facebook while working from home). But honestly, that really couldn’t be right, could it? Not everything found in the vast expanses of the interwebs is right, right?
Yeah…even I had those doubts. So I decided to run a little test. I downloaded this app called RescueTime. You can also download it from rescuetime.com. Just sign up, download a tiny program for all your laptops/desktops and mobile devices, et voila!
You can figure out exactly where your time is going. Be it your browsing history, or a history of what programs you used while on your laptop/mobile device, this nifty program captures everything. Captures everything, and organizes it into neat little reports. A very convenient dashboard lets your configure what websites/programs you find “productive” and what are a “distraction”. Thankfully, it automatically takes social media sites like Facebook, Twitter et all under a separate “Social Networking” category. Which it rates as “very distracting”.
So anyway. I installed this on all my devices and tracked my data. I think I began doing this way back in December 2013. The first couple of weeks, I was conscious enough to look at my reports each day, and try and correct certain behaviors (like spending too much time in front of the laptop).
From perhaps mid-January or early February, I just started working on auto-pilot, not even looking at the weekly report summary mail I get from RescueTime. Basically, not really bothering about where my time was going or how productive I was being. What I found out was pretty much consistent with what I had read online. Through the entire spread of data, irrespective of where I was working from, on a typical work day, I was spending around 11%-15% of my time on various social networking sites.
And funnily enough, this number was closer to 15% when I was working from office. What this neat little test proved to me was that whether working from home, or working from office, I needed me some social media entertainment as a break from mundane ole work.
But what about artificial restrictions one might come across in office. Like a firewall blocking all social media and video streaming websites? Well in that case, your workers are bound to take a break by doing some other things.
Frankly, there is only so much productivity even the best managers can squeeze out from their employees. Everyone needs a break, or a distraction. If not social media, that distraction might be gossiping with a fellow worker in the office. So really, the argument that work from home employees spend more time on social media is misguided, at best.
3. Remote Workers Will Get Less Work Done
This is another of those time management arguments most micromanagers employ. Again, the belief stems from the lack of trust they display towards their coworkers. Just because they can’t see them working, means that they aren’t working.
Terms like “productivity” are brought into the mix, without actually recognizing that such arguments might, just might, be outdated. And really, when it is productivity which is being questioned, no organization is ever going to say anything to the contrary.
Except. Except that the good people over at RSA Animate have a pretty neat video detailing, and disagreeing with this very sentiment (if you aren’t already following them, you really need to head over to YouTube and follow them right away. Their animated videos, ranging on topics as varied as economics and organizational behavior are a treat).
Based on a talk by Dave Coplin, Chief Envisioning Officer at Microsoft, the video details what might be possible if organizations—no matter whether SMEs, or MNCs—embrace the full and empowering potential of today’s technology to really inculcate an open, innovative and flexible work culture within their organizations.
I will really let the beautiful and insightful video do that talking for this one.
4. Remote Workers Are Never Going to Come to Office
Ok so maybe you started out from somebody’s garage. Maybe, in those days of thrift and limited space, you let people work from home or work remotely. Maybe, everything went well for you, and today you’re an organization of some scale, and many of your original employees have still stuck around with you.
Maybe now liberated of the past resource crunch, your new HR policy makes it mandatory for employees to come to the office. But the trouble now is that your original employees don’t want to ever come to office because they’re too used to, and too comfortable in, working from home. What do you do now?
Firstly, the very notion that employees will never come to office is a very misleading one. Business is built around face-to-face interaction. If not all day, every single day, then at least for internal and external meetings, reviews, or a myriad of other tasks. It could be even for something as random as, perhaps, looking at, and interacting with, another human being.
For all its supposed perks, working from home (at least in my experience) can be a pretty lonely task. And, frankly, most of your founding employees will recognize this better than most.
While crafting a new HR policy, it should also be examined what the need for change in remote working policy is. Is it so that your managers can micromanage easily? Is it because tasks are not being done and deadlines aren’t being met? If it’s these two, then the problem might be more serious.
As detailed above, no change in work from home policy is going to squeeze out more “productivity” from an underperforming employee/team. Rather than changing the HR policy, it might be worth the effort to reprimand the team, or to replace it entirely.
If the change stems more from the joy of actually sharing the organization’s “own” space, and thus boosting morale, and trust in the company, then maybe a gradual change in policy might work better.
Most employees, upon seeing the company grow into its own office space, would be pretty pumped to maybe explore the space. And just like that, like caged animals being released into the wild, after a period of acclimatization, they are bound to adopt the new office space as their very own. In the world of HR, ultimately, intentionality counts for a whole lot more than the rule.
5. Remote Workers Can Never Communicate and Collaborate
So wait. All your employees are scattered. Maybe in the same city, maybe in different cities, maybe even in different continents. How do you set about communicating with such a team? How do you ensure that everyone is on the same page, and working all guns blazing?
In a regular brick and mortar office, it is very easy to talk to employees and see what they’re up to. It is very easy to get paperwork done. Any meeting can be scheduled at a moment’s notice, provided the conference room is free. How do you accomplish all this when your team is scattered all over the place?
Wake up, honey. You live in the digital age. Yep, it might take some extra effort, but working as a virtual team isn’t impossible anymore. All you need is a decent internet connection, and a properly defined workflow. After that, the likes of Skype, Google Drive et all can very much take care of various collaboration tasks.
A project, no matter its size, can easily be managed via Basecamp. Files can be accessed off a common Google Drive. A shared Google Calendar makes it easy to schedule meetings. Virtual meetings can be had over Skype, or over Cisco’s WebEx service (for the more sophisticated).
Increasingly, software giants are recognizing the need for software tuned towards online collaboration. Hence, you have Google’s array of trendsetting online presentation, spreadsheet and word processor software. Microsoft has followed suit with its Office 365 initiative. Even Apple is making a major push towards cloud storage and cloud software. The intention behind this is the same—to make virtual collaborations easier.
6. Remote Workers Destroy (or Hamper) Company Culture
Most people tell you that an office is more than just a workplace. It is also a place where fun is had, where insightful and/or delightful chatter is heard. And, it is these interpersonal interactions which set up a company’s culture as much as the top management’s efforts, and various HR policies and initiatives.
While it is true that culture stems from camaraderie and understanding between employees too, it is somewhat naïve to assume that such bonds can only be forged within the confines of an office space.
For what it is worth, it should be noted that real bonds are formed outside of the office, over that after-work beer, while watching a game on the pub telly. Which is why company outings are considered so important. More than a means to break the monotony, they are an attempt to get employees to forge informal bonds, which can be carried into the workspace, thus enriching the company culture and enlivening the office space.
In today’s world, where Facebook friends are just as close as physical friends, concerns over company culture being eroded because of remote workers seem archaic. Smart phones exist, and people are readily reachable. Throw in some alcohol, and employees are more than willing to make a reasonable trek to chill with their office buddies.
In fact, by taking away the pressure cooker situation created by having a cramped office space, where tempers run high, and people are easily rubbed the wrong way, employees have a better chance of forming strong bonds with each other, and thus enriching company culture.
7. Remote Workers Can’t Brainstorm
Again, the supposition is that the best brainstorming sessions are had while sitting on the office beanbag, in the office conference room, with all your other co-workers also present there. There’s something about the setting which is supposed to fire the neurons into thinking, and come up with some worthy ideas. Surely, replicating such a setting with remote workers would be nigh on impossible, right?
How about, no. With the myriad virtual collaboration tools and apps I already talked about, no brainstorming session is impossible. Just.me enabled Skype session can easily replicate the face-to-face interactions of brainstorming sessions of yore.
In fact, an argument can be made about employees being more liberated, and thus, more open, while on a virtual brainstorming session. Why? Because sitting in their own private and familiar space gives a sense of comfort no office will be able to replicate. Also, talking from personal experience, I tend to feel more liberated while talking to someone online than face-to-face.
There is something very very liberating about the facelessness of the internet. It is only amplified in my case because of certain behavioral characteristics I have. It is not just me, however, who feels this way. Research conducted into the addictiveness of the internet also concluded that young adults tend to feel more confident online.
8. Remote Working Isn’t Safe
Let’s face it. We live in a post-cyber terrorism world. Hackers and snoopers abound. Data on the cloud isn’t really safe. The likes of Anonymous and the Syrian Electronic Army can bring you down, no matter who you are. Obama, Microsoft and BBC News have all been brought to their knees just by these two big groups. So really, how safe is working on the cloud?
No matter how hyped up these attacks are, their frequency is still pretty low. These big hacking groups only go after targets on ideological grounds. So, really, until you do something really nasty to irritate these groups (like, say, threaten Syria), they really aren’t coming after you.
Also, with a couple of natty and knowing precautionary measures, you can ensure that your data is for your eyes only. Set up proper security protocols. For instance, Google requires all remote workers to go through a series of hoops, including (but not limited to) calling up an automated, centralized number for a one time password, before they are allowed to log in.
Most likely, your SME would not require such advanced and sophisticated measures to ensure the safety of its data. In all likelihood, and speaking very practically, an in-house server to store data, and the safeguards already built into Google Drive and its ilk should be sufficient for you.
While working from home and remote working pose many challenges and risks, the benefits far outweigh the downside. All that is required for a remote working policy to succeed is a well aligned and focused management and staff. Between them, they can define enough protocols, goals and targets to ensure that the company’s two biggest objective—deadlines being honored, and bottom lines growing—are met without much hassle.
How to Use User-Generated Content
For a business to remain relevant on the internet, especially if you are a small business, it must constantly create content. And, just any content won’t do. The content you create must resonate with the followers and engage them thoroughly.
This can be pretty tough to pull off consistently all by yourself. I speak from experience. No matter how good you are with content, no matter how much knowledge you possess about your niche, and no matter how driven you are – constantly coming up with ideas can be draining. Being consistent requires discipline along with creativity, and sometimes, creativity just wants to stay stagnant.
However, you can solve this problem by using social media followers to create content for you. Social media is full of precious information for businesses. It has become easy to directly connect with the customers and use data to make data-driven decisions. Let’s use what is available and look at eight simple ways how we can use the help of users to generate relevant content.
An easy way to make users create content for you is by using hashtags. For this, you need to first create a branded hashtag that gives off a strong vibe about your business.
So, for a gaming company, hashtags like #LetsPlay, #PickUpTheGamepad, or something similar will make sense. Plus, if you can ensure that the hashtag is related to some kind of cause, then all the better.
For example, a new government regulation might result in restricting the gaming industry. So, creating hashtags revolving around this topic will give you a better chance at attracting users and ensuring that lots of quality content is created.
Text content alone will not help you widen your reach on social media. You will need images, as well. And these, too, can be sourced from your followers. Ask them to send in photos of them using your product or service.
You can then select a few that look good and have a chance of being shared the most on social media to feature on your profile page. Ideally, photos should depict them enjoying or benefiting from the product.
So, if you provide online gaming service, then photos showing people smiling while gaming is far more preferable than people just holding a gamepad in their hands and taking a selfie.
When you post content on your social media profile, you will most likely generate a massive amount of comments from followers. And while most of these comments will often be one-liners with no substantial content, there will be a few comments that can be deeply impactful or thought-provoking.
So, when you see such comments, take a screenshot and post it on your social media page. You can also contact the user and ask them whether they wish to be tagged.
For example, you may post an article on how best to use your brand of nail polish. And among the many comments, the post will attract, you might come across one user who has narrated a story about how using the nail polish has helped her feel more attractive. These are the type of comments that you should screenshot and share.
You can also conduct a poll and use it to create excellent content. The best way to implement this is to conduct a poll wherein the participants are asked about your product or brand, and the results of which can be turned into an infographic.
For example, if you sell internet security software, then the poll can focus on questions like how many people feel that their computer has become safer after installing the software; how many think that your security software is better than the rivals; how many feel that the pricing is okay, and so on.
Once the poll ends, you can tabulate the results and get a good graphic designer to convert the statistics into an attractive infographic that has the potential to go viral.
Asking your followers some questions about the product or service is also a good way to create user-generated content. The question must focus on evoking a response that highlights how good your offering is.
So, a question like ‘How much weight have you lost by using our product’ should be used as compared to ‘Do you think diet is essential for weight-loss?’
The former will mostly evoke an answer that will reflect the quality of your product while the latter will only lead to a more generalized answer. You can then select the best answers and post them on your profile.
If your business is conducting an event that has the potential to attract the attention of the general public, then that, too, is an opportunity to generate user-created content. You can spread the news that a special event is being conducted, and invite people to attend.
When they do come to the place, encourage them to share their experience of it online. They may publish a text post about how the event was or may even live stream their experience on Facebook. Whatever way they choose, it will benefit you by getting your business more exposure.
Another excellent way to generate top-notch content is by inviting testimonials from users. Just ask customers to provide their experience with your product or service detailing how using it has changed their life for the better.
So, if your business manufactures shampoo, you can ask followers to send in their experience of how the shampoo helped them get rid of dandruff and made their hair lustrous and healthy.
The best thing about this is that you will easily get so many responses since many people will jump at the opportunity to see their story featured by a business.
Maybe you don’t have sufficient social media clout to create user-generated content successfully. So, what do you do? The best alternative for you is to use influencer marketing
Contact an influencer in your niche and use them as a tool to create content from the public. As a starting point, you can ask the influencer to use the hashtags discussed above so that your brand name gets sufficient exposure. You can then move on to using the influencer for collecting testimonials, conducting polls, asking questions, and so on.
However, do make sure that the influencer you associate with has a good reputation so that your business will be seen in a more positive light by the people.
Building a brand presence on social media can be a great deal because it has the potential to make more sales than direct marketing. Social media helps you make customers feel a connection and trust your business. They are more likely to convert into actual customers when they see how others have benefited and how well you understand your customers and care for them.
Use a combination of all the ways that I have talked about. Reaching people and then showing them how helpful your product or service can be to them has never been this easy. If you play your cards right, you might not even have to spend much on elaborate marketing.
Tools to Find and Work With Influencers to Market Your Business
For any business to grow, marketing its products and services to the right audience is necessary. One marketing channel that many businesses seem to avoid due to ignorance is influencer marketing.
“Influencer marketing is the modern word of mouth & is eating the lunch of traditional digital media in many ways.”
In simple words, with influencer marketing, you will be using popular people with a large following on social media and blogosphere to promote your product. The outcome can be tremendously positive. Today I will help you explore how you can find influencers in your business niche and how to negotiate with them.
“Influence marketing is an art and science. The art is the crafting and creating of content that adds value to people’s lives, personally or for their business. The science is the tactics and tools of building tribes and followers on the big social networks”
The first step for using influencer marketing is finding the top influencers in your business niche. For this, you can use any of the following tools –
This is a freemium application in that you can use certain features for free but will have to pay to use its full set of features. Even with its free mode, Buzzsumo is extremely useful for marketers to identify and categorize influencers into various types, like bloggers, reviewers, trainers, beauty experts, and so on.
This will later allow you to use them appropriately for business promotion activities. In addition, Buzzzsumo is also a great tool to know what types of content is trending for a particular day or week.
If you wish to focus largely on twitter influencers, then Tweetdeck is the perfect tool for the job. While you can certainly use this tool to identify influencers that have a large number of followers, its true usefulness lies in the fact that you can also see how many Twitter lists these influencers are on.
This will allow you to accurately gauge the popularity and impact of the influencer enabling you to avoid those who have the least impact and hire influencers with the biggest reach.
This is another great tool that will help you judge the quality of an influencer. The tool will use various metrics like replies, follows, mentions, etc. of the influencer to see how impactful they are. Finally, Kred will provide a rating based on the criteria that will make it much easier for you to find top quality influencers. If you are just starting out with influencer marketing, then Kred is the tool for you.
If you do not wish to waste time on research and finding influencers, then you should try the influencer marketing software – Group High. They maintain a centralized data of some of the biggest influencers on the internet. Plus, the influencers are categorized based on different niches like sports, travel, beauty, tech, and so on. This will make influencer marketing an extremely simple process.
Working With Influencers
Once you have found the important influencers in your niche, you can start approaching and negotiating with them. For this, the following tips will be useful:
The first option is to ask the influencer to review your offering. You can allow them to use the product or service for a few days and ask them to post their honest reviews about it on their social media page. Customers always conduct in-depth research about a product they are interested in.
“95% of people trust recommendations from others over branded content, even if they don’t know them personally.”
As such, if they come across a review from an influencer they are following, then an extremely positive review may push them to choose your product. Now, it is also possible that the reviewer may not like your product. As such, you can ask them not to post a bad review but do not ask them to post a false review. It is unethical and will eventually turn against you.
If you don’t want influencers to review your product, you can negotiate with them to publish a sponsored post. Though a sponsored post might seem like a review, there is a big difference. In a review, the influencer is free to say negative things about your product. But, in a sponsored post, you will be paying them to publish a post about your brand.
“People influence people. Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral influences people more than the best broadcast message. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising.”
This will ensure that there is nothing excessively negative published about your product or service. However, you have to understand that some bloggers will likely state in the post that it is a ‘sponsored post’ if they are a strict follower of the FTC guidelines. But, do not let it stop you because the exposure gained through a post by an influencer marketer is well worth the money spent.
Another way to use an influencer is through giveaways. This can be a great strategy since a giveaway allows the influencer to hold a contest for their followers with your product or service as the prize. As a result, they are very likely to agree to such arrangements.
Plus, they will also be neutral when talking about the giveaway and only mention its benefits. So, as far as you are concerned, a giveaway is the perfect tactic to get a positive mention of your product from an influencer to their numerous followers. This is essentially a win-win for both parties.
Make sure to work with the influencer to come up with a great contest for the giveaway. It should be exciting for all participants. And remember, the objective of the giveaway is to ensure that many people participate in it. So, don’t complicate the contest. Keep it simple and you are guaranteed to see a fantastic response and exposure.
Many influencers will be contributors to big media outlets that will have a reach to millions of readers. And this is an opportunity you must fully explore. In addition to posting favorable posts on social media and personal blogs, you can ask the influencers whether they are willing to publish a post about your product or service on the website in which they are a contributor. Or you can ask them to let you write a guest post on their blog.
Now, do not have any expectations of how much exposure you will receive in such posts. After all, they are publishing to a third party website and will usually have to contribute a useful piece of content. The best they can possibly do is mention your product or service briefly. But, considering the exposure the article will provide your brand, this is a good marketing strategy that you must definitely try out.
In today’s times, social media is a life-changing tool for small businesses. The plethora of platforms available at our disposal to use – to benefit us and our businesses in ways that didn’t seem possible before – offers a huge opportunity to engage with a community of prospects at a fraction of the cost.
“Influencer marketing is something to pay attention to. We’re used to influencers being people like the Kardashians, but we all have our Kardashians at our events. These people are called micro-influencers and they can have a large impact when used strategically.”
Influencer marketing lets you tap in on a community of people who can be potential customers. The right influencer can allow you to gain many prospects. It is important to learn what works for the current times, and influencer marketing doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon so you might as well use the opportunity to the fullest.
Ways to Improve Marketing Results Using Data from Social Channels
Marketing is aimed at making a product or service look as desirable as possible so that people feel a need to buy and use it. While there are many tactics that can be used to boost marketing and increase sales, ‘social proof’ is one of the most underused tactics by many marketers.
And honestly, this is quite unfortunate since social proof can be used to create a huge positive impact on how the public perceives your product and service. Here are some simple methods of using social proof to improve the results of your marketing campaign.
One of the easiest ways to use social proof in marketing is to use statistics that display the standing of your business, product, or service.
For example, if you manufacture baby talcum powder, find out how many people buy them, its market share, how many people prefer it over other brands, and so on. You can then publish such statistics which will act as social proof that the product or service you offer is indeed of high-quality and in good demand.
When people see statistics like “2 in 3 mothers use our talcum powder for their kids” or “60% of first-time buyers prefer to buy our brand for the next time,” they tend to have a positive impression about the business. This makes the customers feel more comfortable because it sways them to think that they are making an informed decision.
Another simple tactic you can use to boost sales through social proof is by publishing testimonials. A testimonial is simply a statement from the users of your product or service on how they benefited from it, how the product or service produced much better results compared to those of other similar brands, and so on.
The effect such testimonials have on people is tremendous. People generally end up developing a favorable view of something that is viewed positively by numerous other people. And this will make them try out that specific product or service. This is also why influencers are becoming far more valuable to marketing.
Visual proof is one of the most potent tactics out there. Visuals can be such a strong social proof that the audience may even go out and buy the product being promoted solely on the basis of these pictures and videos.
For example, imagine that you conduct a weight loss workshop that guarantees a person will lose almost 20 kilos in just about 3 months. Now, you can publish a detailed text on how the regimen works, what results to expect, etc., but they will have far less impact than a few pictures that show the participants of the program before and after joining it. When the audience sees the visuals of people having lost belly fat, it will act as a strong reconfirmation in their minds that the program is worthy of their investment.
Visual cues are easier for people to remember and act upon. It makes sense to make the launch or advert of your product as visually appealing as possible so that people actually take time out to look at it.
There are also companies that use expert opinions in order to boost sales. This is also the use of social proof, which in this case are the opinions of a few respectable intellectuals from a particular field.
A business that sells anti-virus software can use the expert opinion of tech experts and professionals from the field of safety and security. Positive reviews about your software will let the audience know that what you offer is a completely secure anti-virus software that has been approved for purchase by some of the best people in the industry. This will obviously boost the sales figures for your product.
While expert opinions are good social proof, a much stronger source of social proof is consumer reviews. Expert opinions are about people who just test your product for a few days and state their observations. In contrast, consumer reviews are created by people who have already bought your product because of their interest it, used it and then stating their observations about it.
People generally tend to trust consumer reviews a lot more than expert opinions. This is mostly because of the understanding that such reviews are written by people who are just like them.
So, ensure that you get as many positive reviews about your product or service and publish them on websites and social media to show potential customers that you have a strong existing consumer base.
Yet another form of social proof is a survey. You can conduct surveys on subjects relating to your product or service and publish the positive results online.
For example, if you manufacture shampoo that guarantees to reduce hair fall and strengthening the strands of hair, you can set up an online poll on social media asking your followers as to how many of them experienced an improvement in their hair quality after using the product for three weeks.
Once the survey is finished and the results come out positive, you can publish it and let them know that a good majority of users have benefitted immensely from the hair shampoo.
The positive results from the live survey will surely influence the people who have not used your product to at least consider buying and trying it out.
In the social media space, there are people who are known as ‘influencers.’ These are basically people who have a large following and are therefore in a position to influence how their followers feel about something.
You can use such influencer marketing tactics to create a positive image of your business by enticing the influencers to post a few lines that say good things about you and your products. Using multiple influencers in multiple time periods is the best way to ensure that a constant stream of social proof about your product keeps appearing in social media.
Keep in mind, the influencers you choose to represent your product must have a strong base of followers that come within your ideal target consumer group.
This is one of the most expensive social proof tactics on the list. But this can also be the most impactful.
Big businesses always use celebrities to promote products and services. The status and positive image of the celebrity makes the product look trustworthy in the eyes of the audience. Your business can try out the simple tactic by hiring a popular celebrity if you can afford one.
Although, the influencer market is getting so big in the current space that you won’t be missing out on much if you can’t afford celebrity endorsement.
Social media has given businesses a valuable tool to understand their customer base and to tap into their target audience market. Approaching potential customers was never easier. To quote myself from when I wrote an article about making the most of social channels –
We have so many amazing channels available to us to reach out to the customers and making the best use of these channels to cultivate a loyal customer base directly correlates to the success of the business moving forward.
Understanding your customer base and attracting the right customer base is important to start a business and keep it running. Social media provides valuable feedback from real users and also helps you lead your target audience back to your products. It helps your business make a one-on-one connection that has a huge impact on the overall standing a brand has in the market.
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