Keep Your Friends Close & Your Social Media Followers Closer

Social net work_pixabay.jpgFeatured guest post by Chelsey Bentley, founder and chief marketing consultant for Bentley Communications Group.

So you’ve started social media accounts for your business? Welcome to the world of social media management! Social media management is more than making sure you’re posting on your page and gaining followers, it’s about fostering relationships and extending the positive interactions people have with your business into cyberspace. It takes research and understanding of the basic social media etiquette to create a positive experience for your followers. After all, these few hundred (or thousand) followers are your company’s closest friends!

Because you want to get this important aspect of your business right, here are some tips on how to create positive interactions and experiences with your social media audience.

  1. Entertain your audience 80% of the time, and sell to them 20%. If your an author, for example, your end goal may be to sell more books, but the journey takes many winding turns. People tune out pages that are always trying to sell them something. Take the time to get to know your audience first!
  2. The Golden Rule Counts in Cyberspace, too. Don’t post on other Facebook pages telling people to like your page. The same goes for hijacking threads to promote your agenda unless, of course, you want to get blocked for good.
  3. Post valuable statuses, not just things that cross your mind. Ever follow that one person who posts EVERY single aspect of their day or whatever crosses their mind? It can get a little aggravating, and even border on TMI (too much information) status. This is your business page, so you want people to have a positive experience with it. Ask yourself – will my audience find this useful or entertaining? Or is this just another status they will scroll past?
  4. Positivity is Key! Remain positive and upbeat in your posts. It’s your brand, so why aren’t you excited? Negative brands lose followers. Don’t talk negatively your competition, either.
  5. Auto-reply isn’t worth your time. Messages on social media should be personal, not generic. Imagine how you feel receiving “junk mail” – those generic mailers sent to anyone at an address. These mailers often get tossed in the trash. The same goes for “mail” on social networks – make it personal and tailored before your message gets deleted too.
  6. Interact with your followers. Respond to comments, ask questions, answer questions! Be a true friend, and you’ll gain consistent followers.
  7. Sharing is Caring! Along with interacting with your followers, share posts and pages from your followers or similar companies! Sharing your platform often means others will share theirs with you. Remember, you don’t want to sour your audience by focusing only on yourself or your product.
  8. Know your audience. Many marketing consultants conduct research on audience demographics to properly arm their clients with the information needed to successfully reach their target market. Knowing your audience means understanding their age group, interests, educational status and economic class. For example, a company who sells teen clothing and accessories wouldn’t market to 25-year-old guys would they? They would never make a profit. Knowing their audience is either teens or their parents, the company can use certain language to reach them, as well as planning events to come into contact with them.

If you use these tips in your social media strategy, not only will you gain and keep followers, you may end up making some wonderful friends along the way.

Chelsey Bentley is the chief marketing consultant for Bentley Communications Group, a full service agency that caters to each clients’ detailed marketing desires. BCG strives to deliver charming, precise and innovative marketing to “change the conversation” and impact an audience. 

Contact Chelsey

Commitment Phobic? Here’s the Question to Consider

Decision Cube_Pixabay copyWhile most people automatically think about relationships when the topic of “commitment phobia” presents itself, there are plenty of ways it can show up.

  • Going back to school
  • Starting the business of your dreams
  • Accepting a new job in a different location
  • Starting a family
  • Joining a fitness club or hobby group

In all cases, there’s one common thread.

Fear.

The best question to ask yourself when you feel the first signs of resistance as you consider a new commitment is, “What is the one thing I fear most?”

I knew a woman who was an amazing pencil artist. She could make the most amazing drawings from any photograph. I marveled at her skill. She recognized that with every drawing she was becoming a better artist. She began to consider expanding her skill by joining a painting course. For a few weeks, she went back and forth, all the while struggling with one fear. “What if all I can do is copy a photograph in pencil?” Ultimately she chose not to take the course. The fear of possible failure got the best of her, and she stayed with what she knew her ego felt comfortable with — that which she had always known, always done.

The ability to make a commitment, whether to a painting course or a partner, requires you to be ready and willing to expand your experience. Whenever you face, and move through fear, you change. You come out the other side different than you were before.

sheila callaham blog

In another example, a friend of mine who had a very lucrative job was contemplating quitting her job, returning to her small hometown with her son, and finishing her college education. She had experienced great success in her career but kept feeling like something was missing. Her fears were enormous. Returning to college after so many years away left her worrying that she couldn’t manage the academics. Leaving her job and moving in with her family to go to school left her worrying about having the money to complete her degree and take care of her son.

In spite of her fears, she acted on “blind faith” and went for it. When she spoke to the admissions counselor at the University, she learned about a job opening that matched her skills perfectly. She also learned that, as an employee of the school, one hundred percent of her tuition would be waived.

Finding the courage to push through her fear has given her a completely new experience, as well as the opportunity to attain her goal of completing her undergraduate degree.

The difference between these two scenarios is that one woman was ready to embrace her fear and learn what lay on the other side. The other was not.

If you feel stuck in a commitment conundrum, here are three steps to help you move past your fear and into the future you desire.

  1. Get naked. Yep, take away all the excuses you are using as a cover up the fear and expose yourself. Be honest. What fear are you running away from? Once you’ve identified the fear ask yourself this question: Is it a real fear or is it an assumption of the worst case scenario you can imagine? If it’s real, try the next exercise. If it’s your worse case scenario, enough with the dramatization. Just do it!
  2. F*@# with fear. The only way to know how deep your fear runs is to challenge it. Take baby steps in its direction. Experiment with getting up in fear’s face. For example, if you’re not ready to take a blind leap of faith to move back to your hometown to finish your college degree, sign up for a class at the local community college. If you’re not ready to jump into a full-fledged painting course, watch YouTube videos, buy paints and a book, and experiment on your own. If marriage scares the pants off of you, live together for a while. If you don’t die from the experiment, you’ll probably be okay.
  3. Visualize your desire. One of the biggest reasons people cave to fear is because they focus on the fear and not the desired outcome. Whatever you’re focused on, is what you’ll seek evidence of. In other words, if you are focused on the fear of failure, you’re going to find all kinds of reasons why you aren’t good enough, experienced enough, lack the talent… you get the picture. However, if you visualize your desire, you will find evidence to support your achievement of that desire. Visualization connects you to the outcome emotionally, giving you confirmation that what you seek is within your reach.

If commitment phobia haunts you, consider it a perfect opportunity for personal growth. All you need to do is embrace the fear and determine what it will take for you to move through it. 

What one fear stands in the way of your biggest dream? What would it take for you to move through it?

Want to know more about moving through roadblocks standing in the way of your dreams? Look right and grab Sheila’s free ebook, “Five Steps to Release, Reboot & Reconnect to Your Dreams!”

You’ll learn:

  • How to avoid 5 common life-traps that suck away your joy
  • 5 kick-butt steps to living the life of your dreams
  • 7 mindful practices to help you reconnect to your dream

Sheila Callaham is an author, motivational speaker, and life coach. Her forthcoming book, “Living Joyfully: Moving Through Fear to Find Your Happily-Ever-After” will be released later this year.

The Deadly Dangers of Gardening

garden-skullFrom the series: Life on Dog Hill

Most of my discretionary time these days is spent in the garden. To be honest, unless I have a work commitment (someone else paying for my time), I’m in the garden. After all, it’s July in a zone 7. Nature is taking over.

I begin my outside work early morning while the temperatures are still in the lower 70s. Perfect gardening time. When I finish, it’s in the 90s — heat stroke temps — which is why I include lots of breaks to rehydrate.

Today I’m digging up a garden bed and replanting it. The weeds are so invasive that digging everything up is easier and more efficient than plucking the unwanted one-by-one. Not to mention, digging it all out gives me the chance to separate overcrowded bulbed plants. All in a day’s work, right?

As much as I love gardening, recent dangers have made me much more careful. There were the two copperheads found earlier this week, one more than three feet long. The nasty (dead) guy in the photo here was about 18 inches. It had just eaten a frog, and you could see the shape of the frog lodged in its throat.copperhead-summer2015

Ew. Poor frog.

Lucky me.

The snake was found by a worker installing new lights in my water feature. Earlier I had been walking through that area picking up debris and had probably stepped past it more than once.

The longer one was found on the side of a hill where, just days earlier, my son and I were digging up ferns.

Whew!

I was reminded by an uncle that my maternal grandmother had once been bitten by a copperhead. She survived, but I vaguely recall a lot of pain and discomfort with her experience. Even my great-grandmother on my father’s side was bitten by a copperhead. He tells the story that she lanced it herself, cut the leg off a chicken, and inserted it into the open wound. Because the temperature of the chicken leg was higher than my great-grandmother’s body temperature, the chicken leg pulled the poison out. As the story was passed down to my dad, the amputated chicken leg turned “black as coal.”

Poor chicken.

Lucky grandma.

Honestly though, snakes are the least of our worries. According to my Westie, Bonnie Belle, more dangerous than the invasion of poisonous pit vipers is the resurrection of Mr. Gnome.

My son Ryan and I found Mr. Gnome face down in the dirt, covered with ivy. He had gone missing some time ago, so we were happy to find him again. Ryan placed him in the middle of the bird bath, with decorative stones at his feet. I thought that was a bit over the top given that Mr. Gnome had a history of mischief. I can’t tell you how many times we found him on the back deck, a cigarette to his mouth. Smoking is not allowed at our house, but Mr. Gnome considered himself an exception to the rules. I dare not mention other indiscretions, other than to say that my magical dancing lady who adorns the fern garden was lured into… well, enough said.

Our guess is that Mr. Gnome succumbed to the ivy in a drunken stupor. Looking through my rose-colored glasses, I understand it was a type of rehab, so to speak.

As it turns out, Mr. Gnome has already been of great service. He keeps Bonnie Belle from scratching at our new Anderson sliding glass door. That’s a biggie. Bonnie Belle considered him an intruder of the worse sort and barked at him for two days non-stop. Now she just stares from a distance, eliciting the occasional growl to inform us that, while we may see a gnome in recovery, she sees something much worse.sheila callaham blog

I trust a dog’s instinct, but Bonnie Belle’s perception has been, how-shall-I-say-ever-so-delicately, a bit off. I’m positive the breeder gave a great sigh of relief before breaking out in howling laughter after we walked out the door.

We see a simple garden gnome, Bonnie Belle sees…

sheila callaham blog

While I am cognizant of the gardening dangers of snake bite and heat stroke, I’m inclined to dismiss Bonnie Belle’s “six-sense” about Mr. Gnome. As long as he leaves my magical dancing lady alone and doesn’t drop cigarette butts in my yard, we’re good.

Sheila Callaham is an author, inspirational speaker, and life coach. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and children. She always has dirt under her fingernails.