Remote Learning: A Lesson in Gratitude

I never imagined the second half of my junior year would be spent at home. When I thought of spring semester, I envisioned helpful class sessions, time with friends, and weekends to remember. Remote learning has been an adjustment for us all, but for me, it has been a lesson in gratitude.

Remote Learning Realizations

I am guilty, like most college students, of dreading an early morning class or a long meeting. Many days, I wanted to fast-forward and just “get to the end.” I was dragging at the start of spring semester. I wanted easier classes. I did not appreciate my walks to class, and I took days for granted.

Then, everything was pulled from underneath us.

Now I was lucky to get to see teachers and friends in tiny virtual boxes on zoom. Class time became lackluster. Consequently, my learning took a hit.

I missed grind sessions in the library. I missed the gratifying feeling after finishing night class. Longing for my wonderful teachers, I started to realize how good I had it.

A New Outlook

Since Coronavirus and the onset of remote learning, I have a new perspective. I know it is cliche to say that every day is a gift, but it is. I cannot wait to walk back on to SMU’s campus next year and savor every day. Savor conversations with teachers. Savor our beautiful surroundings. And yes, even savor taking tests.

remote learning lessons

I am grateful for the lessons remote learning has taught me. Not necessarily the ones having to do with coursework, but the life lessons. I want to make my last year count. Going forward, I cannot wait to appreciate every in-person class.

We do not know how good we have it until it’s gone. Let your Coronavirus experience be a reminder of what we are grateful for.

Interviewing During a Recession

Now is not an ideal time to be engaged in a job search. Companies are closing left and right, and unemployment is at an all-time high. In addition to the economic free fall, you are now searching for a job when people are not even in their offices. Forget about face-to-face interactions, much less a nice firm handshake.

interviewing during a recession
Social distancing has forced all interviewing to online platforms.

College students and professionals alike are feeling the heat. Despite the difficulties, don’t let social distancing ruin your job search. Keep reading for some proactive tips on how to interview during a recession.

Finding an Interview During a Recession

The reality is that interviewing will be brutal in the short term. Companies are under unprecedented stress. The most proactive thing you can do right now is to lay the groundwork for when things are better.

  • Tap into everyone in your network. Let them know you are looking. Ask for leads. With the amount of uncertainty on the table, companies will be shifting things around in the near months. Take advantage of the opportunity, but remember to be sympathetic, as the people you’re asking may be going through their own job struggles.
  • Network aggressively on LinkedIn. Comment on people who post on LinkedIn to get noticed during a time when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible. Write articles about your niche, and don’t be afraid to reach out first.
  • Check your tech. Use this time to make sure you have the appropriate apps and technology for when you interview remotely. Practice using different video chat platforms because not every company uses the same one. Find a place in your house that is well-lit and distraction-free to conduct your future interviews.
interviewing during a recession
Replying to posts on LinkedIn can get you noticed when face-to-face interactions aren’t possible.

Interview Tips

When the actual interview comes, be ready with these helpful tools.

  • Be your own salesman. Companies who are hiring during a recession need to know how an investment in you will pay off for them. Think beyond what you say in a typical interview to show the hiring manager what you will bring to the table during these trying times.
  • Be flexible. Although your dream position may not be available in the near future, look for other career paths, industries, and companies where your skills could still be applicable. When interviewing, be ready to explain how your particular skill set can be an asset to the company, even if you don’t have experience in that designated field.
  • Be as personable as possible. Don’t let the virtual interview send all niceties out the window. Make eye contact, smile often, and engage as much as possible to demonstrate your keen interest.

Remember, whether you are a college student who has lost an internship or a seasoned C-suite executive whose company hit hardship, better times are ahead. Be kind on yourself during this time. No American is immune to the economic effects of this crisis, and hiring managers will understand. For more information, check out this guide for job hunting during a recession.

Customer Retention During Coronavirus

Although social distancing is great for slowing the spread of Coronavirus, it’s not so good for small businesses. As we pass the one-month mark, many businesses are worried that the impact of COVID-19 will be far deeper than anticipated. Even if your business is closed for quarantine, there are still ways to connect with your consumers from a distance. Keep reading for some tips on customer retention during Coronavirus.

A Guide to Coronavirus Customer Retention

  • Stream your services. Go digital with your services to continue to provide access to your customers. Therapists, personal trainers, tutors, and even doctors are all using tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams to keep business running as usual.
  • Use Instagram to sell products. Shopping doesn’t have to stop when foot traffic does. Post products on Instagram stories, and allow customers to DM if they would like to make a purchase. Check out how local Austin boutique Hemline is keeping afloat using this method.
customer retention during coronavirus
  • Host an event online. Recognize that users are craving entertainment while quarantined at home. If you had a store opening, product launch, or anniversary celebration planned, move it Facebook or Instagram Live. Offer a discount code to the first 50 people who share the live stream of your event.
  • Promote your gift cards. Gift cards are the perfect way to get an immediate infusion of cash and guarantee customers will return in the future. If you are a restaurant or business that operates on small margins, gift cards can help you stay afloat until the crisis ends. Offer an e-gift card option to reduce human contact.
  • Utilize discounts. Now is the time to use discounts to entice long-term sales. Take a hint from Dallas gym The PilatesBarre, who recently had a quarantine blowout sale, pricing their usual $35 classes for $17 when customers bought in bulk.

As our economy enters uncertain territory, it’s now more important than ever to focus on customer retention. While your consumers may have less disposable income in the meantime, nurturing relationships with them will ensure they are loyal after the crisis passes.

How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Coronavirus

Struggling to keep your team together as your business implements full-time remote work policies? Keep reading to learn some smart ways to keep your employees engaged in their jobs.

keep your employees engaged during coronavirus
Distractions are at an all-time high during self-isolation.

Although remote work was relatively common in some industries, many companies were not prepared for the sudden transition to a fully remote workforce. Additionally, most families are quarantined in their homes together. This brings about a whole new set of distractions that are absent from the normal work environment. Here are some expert tips to keep your team engaged during Coronavirus.

Tips to Keep Your Team Engaged During Coronavirus

  • Keep everyone updated. Clear, consistent communication is critical to the success of a fully remote team. Ensure you have multiple ways to reach employees, and prepare motivating updates to be shared via multiple channels. Ultimately, err on the side of over-communication.
  • Get everyone on video. With video conferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, it’s easy to keep a regular meeting schedule. Encourage everyone to turn on their cameras to get that much-needed face-to-face interaction and focus. Schedule meetings in advance to be sure everyone has time to get out of their pajamas.
  • Avoid micromanaging. Engaging your remote workers begins with a high-trust culture. Resist the tempting urge to check in constantly. Keep communication channels open, but let your team work autonomously.
  • Obtain employee feedback. Set up a mechanism that allows employees to tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Although you may already monitor team feedback, increase your efforts to learn how you can best help your remote group.
keep your employees engaged during coronavirus
Although it’s not the same as in-person, Zoom allows for professional video-conferencing.

Despite the challenges of this new normal, it’s important to keep your team as connected as possible. Overall, be kind to everyone as they make this transition. Employ sensitivity, and remind your workforce that we are all in this together. For more tips on how to keep your team engaged during Coronavirus, check out the Harvard Business Review’s comprehensive guide.

Business Social Media During Coronavirus

Confused on what to say on your business’ social media accounts during this global pandemic? We have got you covered. Keep reading to learn how to strike the appropriate tone on social media during Coronavirus.

Tensions are at an all-time high in our country. As people are stuck inside, feeling the economic effects, and worrying about loved ones, it is more important now than ever before to make sure your business’ social media isn’t missing the mark during Coronavirus.

Social Media Recommendations During Coronavirus

  • Re-evaluate your scheduled content. Be sure to check any scheduled content you have at least once a week and adjust as necessary. Protocols and cultural sentiment are changing fast. Don’t let your content be behind the times.
  • Realize your followers may have loved ones suffering at this time. Remain respectful by keeping your tone empathetic and upbeat. Support and encourage your community by reminding everyone that we are in this together.
  • Avoid posting sales or asking people to purchase something for at least the next month. Stay sensitive to the job loss and financial problems people are experiencing. The last thing you want to portray is that you are only trying to profit during this outbreak.
  • Feel free to mention Coronavirus or social distancing in your content. Not mentioning this massive news may seem unsympathetic. That being said, avoid talking about it in every post. Go for 40-50% that have at least a subtle mention.
  • Empower your followers during social distancing. Provide helpful tips relative to your industry that people can try at home. For example, give home workout routines on Instagram Live or post fan-favorite restaurant recipes on Pinterest.
Workout studios stream at-home routines to keep customers engaged and fit while social distancing.
California-based brand Wildfox Couture posts an inspiring message to consumers during the outbreak.

Long story short: watch your tone. Apologize if you made a mistake. Show empathy. Remember tensions run high during these trying times. The more understanding you can be, the better your business’ social media will survive Coronavirus.

For more in-depth advice on how to navigate marketing on social media during the outbreak, check out this guide.

Employee Advocacy on Social Media

Companies shell out big bucks on influencer campaigns, social ads, and content creation. But most overlook their best marketing asset: their own employees. Keep reading to see how employee advocacy can play a critical role in your organization’s social media marketing strategy.

What is employee advocacy?

Employee advocacy is the promotion of a company by its own workforce. This can look like anything from employees sharing information about specific products or campaigns to employees talking about company culture online. Employees promoting companies on social media not only extends the reach of a brand’s messages, but significantly increases online engagement.

According to a study by The Marketing Advisory Network, brand messages reach 561% further when shared by employees versus when the message is shared over the brand’s social channels. The same study found that brand messages are re-shared 24 times more frequently when employees share content. 

Employee advocacy on social media generates brand exposure, helps embody the company’s best interests, and recommends products and services.

Still not convinced? Check out these stats.

  • The 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer found that more people trust a regular employee (53%) than a CEO (47%).
  • Nearly 86% of employees participating in a formal advocacy program say it had a positive effect on their careers.
  • LinkedIn discovered that employees of a company tend to have 10 times more followers than the company itself.
Employee advocacy on social media can span across any platform.

Employee Advocacy Best Practices

Although employee advocacy is crucial more than ever, many businesses face obstacles when it comes to motivating employees to promote company content. Follow these guidelines to maximize your company’s abilities.

  • Make workplace culture a priority. Strong brand ambassador employees need to actually love their jobs, not just their paychecks. Evaluate company culture to see where your organization can improve.
  • Give employees a reason to share. Employees might need some motivation to share content. Hold a company lunch or seminar where you discuss how advocating for their company and being active on social media helps them build their personal brands and establish themselves as thought leaders. 
  • Make the process easy. Its essential to make company and industry content as easy to share as possible. Use an internal hub or cloud to make content available at employees’ fingertips.
  • Recognize employee advocates. A little recognition goes a long way. Make your employee advocates feel appreciated for their efforts with a complimentary lunch or card.

If you want to boost brand recognition, make recruiting easier, and share your company’s culture, employee advocacy is for you. To learn more about employee advocacy on social media, check on this kickstart guide.

Social Media for Customer Service: Why it Matters

We traditionally think of social media as a place to connect with friends and family, share photos and videos, and stay updated on current events, but for brands and companies, its far more than that. The use of social media for customer service is becoming a game changer for any company with an online presence.

Hundreds of customers reach out to companies and brands on a daily basis, and they expect a timely and helpful response. Keep reading to see how your company can avoid a PR nightmare by effectively using social media for customer service.

Why is customer care on social media important?

We all know what an important role customer service plays in the success of any business. Thoughtful customer care ensures customer retention, customer advocacy, and most importantly, sales.

If you were working in a brick and mortar retail store, you would never ignore a customer who walked up to you and asked you about a product or had a complaint. Yet, brands only respond to 50 percent of customer messages online. Ignoring customer messages has a big impact that business don’t realize. According to Marketing Land, failing to respond can give you a 43 percent decrease in customer advocacy while a reply can increase it by 20 percent.

Responding to all direct questions lets customers know that you’re watching and actively participating. Selectively responding sends a message that you don’t care about all of your customers or that your business doesn’t have the resources to provide an answer. Customer care on social media is a springboard for brand loyalty, increased sales, and customer retention.

social media for customer service
Social media customer care increases revenue and ROI

What should you do when a customer complains on social media?

  • Find all mentions. To fully address customer dissatisfaction, it is crucial to find all instances of it. To find all your mentions, employ a social media listening software and set up Google Alerts.
  • Display empathy. Even if you think your business was not in the wrong, offer empathy to the customer to set them at ease and begin communications on the right note.
  • Respond to all complaints. Selective responses put your business in a poor light. Be sure to respond to all customers in a timely manner.
  • Offer a solution. Customers reach out on social media often because traditional customer service channels have failed them. When possible, offer a constructive solution to their complaint.
  • Have a consistent customer care voice. Your social approach should be cohesive across all service responses and platforms. To keep this in check while allowing multiple people to manage accounts, create a voice strategy so everyone on your team knows how to represent the brand on social media.
  • Know other customers are watching. Social media is the most public of all customer service domains. In drafting responses, keep in mind that all your customers have an eye out.
social media for customer service
Spotify’s Twitter account dedicated to customer inquires; Spotify Cares.

Customers have more power and influence on social channels than ever before. If you fail to treat social media as more than just a promotional platform, you could find yourself in a world of trouble. To keep learning about social media for customer service, check out Hootsuite’s comprehensive guide here.

Partnering with Micro-Influencers: A Business Guide

Each time you open up Instagram, you see a flood of celebrities promoting products to their millions of followers. As a marketer, wanting these mega-influencers to promote your product can be tempting. Unless you have $30,000 to burn, micro-influencers are for you. Keep reading to learn why your business should be partnering with micro-influencers.

partner with micro-influencers
Create Brand Value with Micro-Influencers.

A micro-influencer is loosely defined as someone with anywhere between 1,000 and 100,000 followers. Despite their smaller following, micro-influencers have much higher engagement rates than larger influencers.

According to Impact, users with 1,000 followers generated 85% higher engagement than those having 100,000 followers. If you really want more eyes on your brand, micro-influencers are the way to go.

Why Partner with Micro-Influencers?

  • Target consumers in niche environments. Micro-influencers tend to be focused on a few topics and have closer connections with their followers. Gaining the trust of their fanbase will give you access to previously off-limits audiences.
  • It’s cost effective. According to Curalate, 84% of micro-influencers on Instagram charge less than $250 and 97% charge less than $500. Learn more about how much it costs to partner with micro-influencers here.
  • They can provide a competitive edge. Your competition is likely not partnering with micro-influencers. Its easy to underestimate their power. Utilize their influence to edge out the competition.
partner with micro-influencers
The average price micro-influencers charge on the most popular platforms.

How to Partner with Micro-Influencers

The hardest part of partnering with micro-influencers is finding them. Depending on your industry there are several places you can look.

To start, look on the blogosphere. Micro-influencers tend to comment on the blogs of larger influencers. You can also connect with influencers at industry conferences to form partnerships in person.

Once you find an influencer you like, check out their social accounts, websites, and blogs. Look at the kind of content they share to see if they would be interested in working with you.

It is important to note that micro-influencers can be more particular about their partnerships than big influencers. They value their reputation and want to remain authentic. Be sure your offer focuses on how the partnership benefits the influencer’s audience.

Ways They Can Promote You

  • Social Media. Instagram is most popular with influencers. Get creative by having your brand do a takeover of the influencer’s account.
  • Product Reviews. Remember that the influencer will write an honest review, not a positive one. If you are confident in your product, this can be a great way to increase sales.
  • Storytelling. Work with the influencer to tell a story. A meaningful story will help audiences actually care about your product.

The Bottom Line

Influencer marketing doesn’t have to break the bank. Partner with micro-influencers to break into new audiences and increase brand awareness.

Investing in Social Ads to Boost Your Business

Investing in social ads is one of the quickest and most effective ways to target consumers. Social advertisements are not only extremely low-cost relative to other marketing tactics, but they allow businesses creative and versatile ways to promote their products. Keep reading to learn how your business can utilize social ads.

According to SproutSocial, investing in social ads that are dynamic and direct is the third most important social media trend in 2020. Consumers are increasingly comfortable with social advertisements, and brands are taking notice.

As ads becoming more advanced, businesses have even more opportunities to capitalize on this cost-effective and widespread marketing tactic.

For instance, Facebook’s recent addition of personalized ad experiences automatically deliver more relevant ads to all users. Combining company data with user insights creates intent signals that help Facebook deliver the more tailored ad experience.

Part of Facebook’s personalized ad experiences includes multiple-text optimization in single ads. This features allows advertisers to input multiple text options for the headline, description, and link. Based on individual preferences identified by machine learning models, Facebook optimizes for delivery and performance using the variations of the text options.

investing in social ads
Facebook’s dynamic ad created using multiple text optimization

A Platform Breakdown

Trying to figure out which platform is best for your business? Got you covered.

investing in social ads
Highlight deals in your Instagram ads.

Facebook is a platform that is popular among a wide range of demographics. Its a great place to test the social ad waters and build brand awareness. As mentioned above, the site also offers a wide range of targeting options, making it easy to get started.

Instagram targets millennial and Gen Z consumers. With the rise of mega-influencers bolstered by sponsorships, the app leans itself to a shopping experience. Investing in social ads on Instagram can send traffic to your website, create brand awareness, and drive foot traffic to online stores.

Twitter ads works toward three business objectives:

  • Increasing website clicks.
  • Promoting Tweet engagement.
  • Increasing Twitter followers.

Tips for Investing in Social Ads

  • Know your target audience. Researching and profiling the type of consumer you want to target will tell you how to get their attention. For example, Gen Z is interested in personalized ads and will pay a higher premium for products that emphasize their individuality.
  • Create ads that reflect your organic posts. Users are much more likely to not scroll past a sponsored post if it resembles an organic one. Style your ads like those on your page.
  • Highlight deals and offers. People are more likely to click on ads for items that will save them money.
  • Measure your results. Determine how many clicks and purchases stem from your social ads. Edit accordingly.

Although social ads may seem like a small piece of the marketing pie, they are sure to boost your business and spread awareness without breaking the bank.

Not Just for Teens? How to Use TikTok for Business

If you were born before 2000, you’re probably a little confused about TikTok. Despite its reputation as a lip-synching app for teenie-boppers, TikTok is quickly becoming a marketing goldmine. Keep reading to learn how to use TikTok for business.

According to the social media team at Hubspot, TikTok is the number one social media platform marketers should be watching in 2020. Now more popular in the app store than Instagram and Facebook, the one-year-old platform is a creative way for companies to show a different side of their brand and engage followers on a new level.

TikTok: A Marketer’s Playscape

Rather than using TikTok to generate traffic or leads, companies are leveraging the app’s 500 million monthly active users to increase brand awareness.

Using hashtags and overlays of popular songs, brands are getting Gen Z’s attention. One way companies can effectively utilize hashtags for maximum awareness is through Challenges. Challenges encourage users to endlessly iterate certain videos, usually involving a song.

Opportunities for companies on TikTok are only becoming greater. The app just recently launched an advertising process and hyperlinking capabilities for brands.

Look How These Companies Use TikTok for Business

  • Guess

Guess was the first company to launch a challenge via TikTok. When TikTok launched, the app partnered with Guess to initiate the #InMyDenim challenge, encouraging users to post creative videos wearing their Guess denim, overlaid by the song “I’m a Mess” by Bebe Rexha.

TikTok for business: Guess launches viral “challenge” trend

Watch one of the #inmydenim challenge videos.

  • Chipotle

Chipotle is the best example of a brand utilizing TikTok to show off its funny side. The company has garnered 55,000 fans on the app, frequently posting creative and humorous posts. Like Guess, Chipotle has also launched a successful challenge. Chipotle’s “Guac Dance” is the highest-performing branded challenge on TikTok. According to Forbes Chipotle’s bet on TikTok is paying off. Since launching its TIkTok, the company has seen a correlated increase in sales.

TikTok for business: Chipotle connects with its fanbase

Tips for Using TikTok for Business

  • Get creative. Unlike well-established platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram, TikTok has very few norms and expectations. Don’t be afraid to experiment. It might just get you noticed.
  • Show off the humorous side of your company. TikTok users don’t take themselves too seriously, and neither should your business. Take the opportunity to show off your company’s flare.
  • Get your followers involved. Encouraging engagement with challenges, comments, and likes will get you far. With the right challenge, you just may go viral.

If you want to learn more about how to use TikTok, click here for Wired’s beginner’s guide. If you follow these tips, your company might be the next one to become a viral TikTok sensation.