To create engaging and effective content on social media, it takes lots of coordination, creativity, and time. When you’re a small organization, it can be difficult to have enough of all three of those ingredients to go around— so borrow some from your fans!
Just like when you call on a neighbor to get that extra cup of sugar for your baking needs, you can do the same for your social media needs! In the marketing world, this is called user-generated content (UGC). By definition it is simply content created and posted by users online. However, in practice, it is content that is authentic and interesting that your company can share with less energy and focus devoted to the task.
When you’re a small company, results matter much more than the time and effort put into the task.
Creating a campaign to collect user-generated content doesn’t just save you time though. It shows that your brand keeps open lines of communication with followers and develops are an opportunity to collaborate with your most loyal supporters. Recommendations are also the most effective technique for marketing. People trust what their friends trust! Each person who shares positive content about your brand will not only provide you with quick content but also pitch to their friends your products and services.
Sold on user-generated content yet? Here are a few steps to start putting this technique into practice!
Create buy-in from your biggest fans.
Brainstorm a list of your best customers and reach out to them to see if they will participate. If you already have an active following on social media, just message them on the platform. If your social pages need some help, reach out to them in a way in which you frequently communicate like in-person, over the phone, or through email.
This strategy works well for fundraising campaigns like on Giving Tuesday! If you have a few key volunteers or donors ready to share your content and endorse your mission, it is more likely others will participate.
Develop a clear campaign.
Create a very direct call to action for your followers through event participation, hashtags, donations, recommendations, or contests. Think about the content that would most help your organization and align your plan around the easiest way for participants to send you that content. For example, if you want better reviews on google, send an email and hand out flyers with a direct link for someone to leave a review. If you want great photos, create a hashtag on Instagram.
A key tip for campaign success is to promote your social media campaign outside of social media. Especially if you don’t already have a strong following!
You should also make sure that the content you are asking people to share is something that is simple and can promote themselves positively. If your product or service helps people with a sensitive issue, try to reframe in a way that makes your customers feel comfortable.
Ask for permission.
It is a simple task, but can easily be overlooked, to get the okay from your fans. Create a simple statement to send to people that compliments their content, asks for permission to share the content, and explains how the content will be shared (website, social media, marketing materials, etc.)
This is your opportunity to also engage with people who believe in your brand and find out a little more about how your product or service benefits them.
If you’re short on time and creativity, we recommend switching your focus to user-generated content! This strategy will not only save you some time but provide you with great content.
Submitted by Maura Warner, Marketing Manager
When dealing with new hire onboarding, benefits administration, compliance issues, and more regularly, it can be difficult to keep your essential processes and materials up to date. Before a new season begins, it is a great time to check over your basics!
When your organization has these basic processes and materials refreshed and ready, it will make your time tackling HR tasks much easier.
Your employee handbook is a compilation of the policies, procedures, and behavioral expectations that guide employee actions. Design your handbook to be a road map to the ethical and legal treatment for all employees. It should also include basic information about your company like mission, vision, and values. A well-written handbook will help you rest assured that employees are informed about appropriate actions and behaviors.
It’s usually easier said than done to have current offer letters and job descriptions. We recommend setting a routine schedule to go over employee job descriptions and check that your offer letters are relevant. To keep up with an ever-changing business environment, employees often take on new tasks as previous processes evolve and you want to make sure their job descriptions reflect these responsibilities.
Remaining compliant with regulations for your company size and industry is essential. Create a routine of research and creative brainstorming to make sure you are covering the training your employees need and want. Total Solutions offers digital training programs for hundreds of topics and can provide custom materials and support from our HR experts.
Prepare for your annual appraisals for employee performance. There should be no surprises for the employee when it comes to their performance review. Periodically reviewing job descriptions will also help ensure that employees are matching your expectations for results in that position. Salary increases and employee growth paths should be evaluated before beginning the appraisal process.
Less exciting, but just as necessary, checking your process for correcting behavior and discipline needs to be reviewed as well. Progressive discipline is a process for dealing with job-related behavior that does not meet expected and communicated performance standards. This process helps your employees to recognize performance problems and create an opportunity for improvement.
Refreshing these HR essentials will help your organization successfully support employees!
Submitted by Alex McLearn, HR Generalist
Website contact forms, info@ emails, and department extensions (I just got anxiety writing this)— it can be difficult to keep up with the multitude of options for people to get in touch with your organization. If you don’t have dedicated members of your team monitoring those channels, your “customer-focused” opportunities to get in touch can just become poor customer service. And on top of the variety of traditional ways to contact your business, your social media pages are now a common place for potential clients to reach out. With such an expansion of opportunities for communication, it is officially time for your customer service and marketing teams to become BFFs.
If you’re running a small business or nonprofit, these team members may have multiple priorities, or it might be just you. To keep on top of the constant requests, we have a few steps to create a smooth process to keep engaged with customers.
If tackling this project sounds like too much for you to handle, talk to the Total Solutions marketing department to see how we can help! We can manage some of your contact channels indefinitely or put together a really clear plan on how to stay on top of new notices.
Submitted by Maura Warner, Marketing Coordinator
The bad guys have access to your company data and guess what? They didn’t hack their way into your system. You, or one of your employees, let them in.
Phishing attempts use deception to steal sensitive information about your business through email, telephone, text messages, and social media. These schemes use two methods. Social engineering gains the trust of an employee to provide information. Precision-targeting, called spear phishing, uses public information to communicate with employees to appear as a legitimate request. Attackers are using these methods to steal information like usernames and passwords, financial data like credit card numbers, and phone numbers to bypass two-factor identification.
With this method of malicious data collection, all employees should be careful when entering passwords, sharing sensitive information, and downloading files. The old, very obvious, attempts have gone by the wayside. Hackers are now sending sophisticated messages to employees that appear real. For example, fake emails that look identical to trusted service providers will redirect to a spoofed website that requires an employee to enter their username and password. When the employee “logs in” they are giving attackers their credentials.
As a smaller organization with more limited IT support, we recommend the following tips to keep your company data safe.
The IT team at Total Solutions can provide security solutions and in-depth training for employees at your organization. Our experts will put together a customized program that focuses on the vulnerabilities in your industry and fits within a time frame that works for the schedules of your employees. When it comes to Phishing attempts, the best prevention is knowledge. Knowing the signals of a scheme and having secure measures in place will help your business avoid handing over valuable company information to hackers.
Submitted by Steve Kratz, Sr. Systems Engineer
We’ve all been there. You’re on deadline for one of the biggest projects of your career and you’re using your time to respond to emails. Whether you’re a “Type A” who wants to clear your tasks so you can “focus” or a procrastinator who is using email to run out time on the deadline clock, you still have a major task at hand that you’re not putting in enough time and effort into achieving.
There will always be an infinite number of tasks, but you choose which to complete and when to complete them. Next time you’re in a bind, use these strategies to center your attention and work on the work that matters.
Are you in a bind a little too often? Take the pressure off yourself and call in reinforcement. You may be able to finish up payroll, post on social media, write job descriptions, and call back candidates well, but we can do it really, really well. Call 563.200.9000 and take a few minutes of your time so we can cross a few items off your to-do list.
Submitted by Maura Warner, Marketing Coordinator
On any typical day, your IT infrastructure whirs along business as usual: serving up files, databases, and emails. You have a good software system in place that keeps customers happy, making your business happy. Life is good! Until that phone call in the middle of the night.