It’s Time For Your Business to Support Social Shopping

Infographic_its time for your business to support social shopping

As our world continues to become increasingly paperless, consumers are flocking to their phones to pay back their friends. Social pay has become incredibly popular for peer-to-peer transactions on Facebook Messenger and Snapchat. Now when it comes to B2C transactions, social shopping–on desktop and mobile–is becoming all the rage, and it’s time for your business to adopt this practice.

The Traffic Problem

Before you come to accept the need for social shopping, you have to understand just what’s happening on social media right now. Facebook is shutting the gate for referral traffic, making it harder for web-based businesses to get clickbacks to their websites. Once upon a time, businesses could send out a link to their site, Facebook followers would click the link, and the business would reap the benefits of conversion. Facebook realized what it was allowing to happen, so they changed their algorithm to value native content, like pictures and video, over links that send users elsewhere.

The proof is in the numbers, as the top 30 Facebook publishers lost 32% of their referral traffic in 2015. The top 10 of publishers saw an even bigger drop of 42.7% in the same timespan. Facebook is making it harder for publishers to use them as a traffic funnel. The platform plans to make Instant Articles available to all publishers, which will allow their articles to load faster, and rank them higher in the algorithm, but it will also keep users on Facebook instead of traveling to other websites.

The Shopping Solution

Facebook’s introduction of Canvas now allows users to shop right on Facebook without ever having to travel to an external website. What this means is that small businesses are stuck between a rock and a hard place–go the traditional route without much help from Facebook and hope customers come to your website, or play the game but lose traffic referrals that could have been used for advertising purposes.

After abandoning traffic numbers, it’s not all bad. The introduction of Canvas and the Shop section on Pages has changed the game for online retailers. Facebook has found that around half of their users are looking to interact with brands on their platform. Around 37% of Twitter users will buy from a brand that they follow, making social media a place ripe with potential customers that have a high chance for conversion.

To make this potential a reality, Facebook and Twitter have begun adding calls to action in their advertisements. Now you can Call Now, Shop Now, Buy Now, Install, Sign Up, and more,  directly from the ads on the social platform. Pinterest has also implemented Visual Search that allows users to find an item in a picture, identify it, and purchase it, or something similar, directly on the platform.

The internet has been striving to make shopping simple for the last 20 years, and social shopping is the zenith of that endeavor. They say that when one door closes, another opens–traffic referral is down, but shopping is going way up.

The Social Media Accounts Your Small Business Should Take Pointers From

Infographic_the social media accounts your small business should take pointers from

Many popular companies use social media as a tool to enhance their brand. Your small business might not have the built-in audience many of these companies have, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look to these bigger accounts for inspiration. Each social media platform has its own functionality and purpose, so consider which are right for you, and pay attention to what others are already doing.

For Images

Whether you’re advertising a physical product or selling an experience, Instagram is a great platform to showcase aspects of your brand through fantastic visuals. Regardless of what your business is, the company you should be paying attention to is National Geographic. Their 45.5 million followers is a testament to the amazing work they do. The pictures they post come from all over the world, so it can get pretty eclectic at times, but their success is proof that beautiful pictures have their own market.

NatGeo’s Chief Marketing Brand Officer Claudia Malley had her own keynote panel at Social Media Week New York where she talked about their success in social. Malley spoke about the importance of giving their photographers the keys to the castle on their Instagram account in order to let them dictate the content. Of course, it’s hard to follow in the footsteps of a company like National Geographic, but there is something to be said for giving your employees control over the content you push out. No matter what your company does, introducing personal perspectives humanizes your brand. Adding small touches like names or personal accounts to their perspectives keeps your audience engaged.

For Video

If you’re looking to create shareable video content for your brand, watch what Buzzfeed’s Tasty account is doing on Facebook. Buzzfeed takes advantage of the platform’s algorithm that favors native videos over third party content . Their content is made specifically for the platform, and exists almost entirely on Facebook. That means they don’t count on clickbacks to the Buzzfeed website, and you shouldn’t be either. If you’re trying to create content for Facebook, make content that will live there. You’ll find more success that way.

Tasty’s videos work well with Facebook’s soundless autoplay feature, and are optimized with fast-motion to make them easier to watch. It’s easy to see how much value they put into production. If you’re going to put in the time to create video content, make sure it’s well planned out, looks great, and has your audience in mind. Do they want to sit through a five minute video, or can it be turned into a more compact format? Consider your audience’s attention span, then create content that will keep them interested. The more watchable it is, the easier it will be to share. And while Tasty’s videos work best on Facebook, they can still be shared across multiple platforms like Twitter and Instagram.

For Customer Service

Good customer service is important, but it’s crucial for many small businesses trying to get a foothold in the market. Social media’s connectivity can make for a great way to administer customer service, but if you’re going to devote one channel to support, it should be Twitter. People are tweeting to brands more than ever, and 80% of customer service requests on social are happening on the platform. According to a study, companies that use social care services have improved year-over-year revenue per contact by 18.8% over companies without. The platform has proven to be a much cheaper and more effective means to offer support.

Having an active social media presence makes it easier for customers to reach out if they have a problem or need to ask a question. Many large brands devote separate Twitter accounts to offer customer-focused channels. Maybe your company isn’t ready for multiple Twitter accounts, but the lessons still apply. @NikeSupport shows how important it is to remain active and respond quickly in order to form a level of trust with customers. Accounts like @JetBlue are taking a more proactive approach to customer service by tracking keywords and relevant hashtags to interact with people even if they don’t tag them in their tweets. You might also want to consider following @TMobileHelp by letting your customer service specialists sign their tweets in order to provide a personal touch, and show your audience that there are real people behind the account.

How Small Businesses Can Prepare for a World Without Cash

Going Paperless, app by app_v8 (2)

What if we eliminated all traces of physical money? You laugh, but we are heading toward that eventuality with the increased use of mobile payment apps that allow users to send, receive, and even pay for goods right from their mobile devices. Person-to-person payments have become so common that Forrester Research had to update their mobile P2P projections from $4 billion sent by 2017 to $5 billion sent in 2014 alone. If we’re headed toward a world without cash, what will that mean for the small business owners out there, and what can you do to prepare for such a reality?

Mobile Payments

Restaurants, bars, and small corner stores that remain cash only to avoid expensive credit card fees will be forced to adapt. These business owners will have to accept the fees or find an alternative. Thankfully, mobile payment apps like PayPal, Square Cash, and other such services are already out there today, are growing in popularity, and can actually save you money.

A world without cash might still be another decade off, but there are benefits to beginning the groundwork for that transition right now. These services disincentivize credit cards for businesses by offering much lower fees. PayPal charges 2.9% per transaction and Square Cash Pro only asks for 1.5%. Mobile payment is also more convenient for customers, which they will appreciate when they consider returning to your place of business.

Technology

Of course, any transition to a world without cash will rely heavily on technology. Customers of clothing and electronic retailers might find it more familiar to adopt Apple’s model of using iPads to take payments, but all that tech is expensive. Implementing services like Apple Pay and Android Pay only requires a computer with a point of purchase scanner. Customers can digitize their credit cards onto their phone and scan their screen to complete a transaction.

Apple is even introducing a system where customers can come in, find what they are looking for, pay for it on their own mobile devices, and leave with their new purchase. Hypothetically, this could allow you to devote more employees to customer assistance and possibly even schedule fewer people per shift. Since these services make their money off the banks and don’t charge businesses a fee, this is the cheapest option available to you.

Expenses

In this brave new world, cash-intensive businesses like laundromats and arcades will require huge overhauls when their units are converted from coin operation to ones that take cards or accept online payments. This process will be expensive, so it’s best to view it as a long-term project and begin work on it sooner, rather than later. Start slow with a few units to introduce the concept–it’s better to be first than to have a competitor pop up and you have to play catch up.

Other businesses, like contractors, won’t have so much work ahead of them because they can simply implement mobile payments now and get paid faster. Mobile payment will also eventually replace invoicing because they will record all the appropriate information automatically, making record keeping infinitely easier. Things won’t change overnight, but it’s a good idea to stay ahead on something like this before it overtakes you.

Obstacles

There exist two major obstacles on your path to introducing mobile payments: security and age.

It took a long time before people were comfortable putting their credit card information online, but now it’s second nature. There will be a question of trust, as customers decide if linking their mobile device with your system is a good idea. You can talk openly to them about these services, maybe even advertise them as a perk for using your company. It’s important to communicate that there are security protocols in place in many of these platforms that keep customer payment information private from retailers. Apple decided not to record customer financial records in order to build trust for the Apple Pay brand.

The younger generation is already fairly comfortable with this new way of doing things, but the older generations are going to be more resistant. The United States Census Bureau reports that the percentage of those 65 and older will rise from 13.7% in 2012 to 16.8% by 2020 and will continue to increase over the next 30 years. If you introduce mobile payments now, your older customer base won’t be very open to it, but as more middle-aged customers become familiar, the older generation will be more technologically literate down the road. It could take some time before the majority of your customers are ready to pay on their mobile devices, but be patient.

The use of cash is already declining, so it’s a good idea to prepare for the world to come. Mobile payment isn’t science fiction, it’s a better way for you to do business now, with many real world applications in the present. The faster you adapt, the sooner your customers will as well.

The Gen Xer’s Guide to Managing Millennials in the Workplace

It’s time for Generation X to embrace their Gen Y counterparts. They’ve been coexisting for a few years now, but things are coming to a head as PWC reports 38% of the Millennials entering the workforce believe that senior management Gen Xers do not relate to younger workers. Of course, there will always be some elbowing between generations, but when you consider that this generation is the largest since the Baby Boomer generation and is projected to form 50% of the global workforce by 2020, it’s essential that the X’s and Y’s come together on a few things.

We’ve all heard what people like to say about Millennials–they’re arrogant, selfish, lazy–but it’s time to throw those beliefs out because they’re just not true. Generation Y is no worse than any generation that has come before; they’re just different. It’s important for Generation X management to bring out the olive branch and work to understand their young employees in order to get the most out of this growing workforce. For Millennials, their career and personal goals intertwine. This means they expect more from their jobs and if you’re a Gen Xer, it’s important that you listen to what they have to say.

“I Want To Be Motivated”

Generation X is typically financially motivated, but Gen Y isn’t. PWC found that Millennials believe that their own personal learning and development is their top choice in employer benefits, while financial rewards sit at a distant third. Instead of money, they chase their passions and personal interests. Millennials want to love what they do, they want to feel like they are making a difference, and they want to be a part of something important. They are not looking to be a simple cog in the industrial wheel.

If they show a lack of interest in their work, it just means you either need to make their job more fulfilling or more challenging. Give them the keys to the castle, let them make decisions and find solutions on their own. Start a conversation about the company mission and where they fit into your plans for success. Pair them with a prospective mentor who they can learn from and who can guide them through their career. Millennials are more interested in experiences than things, so remember that when trying to incentivize them. You don’t need to waive monetary rewards in front of their face to get results.

“It’s About The Lifestyle”

Millennials care about the workplace just as much as they care about their job. This isn’t so much about the building, as much as it is about building a lifestyle. Millennials believe in a work/life balance and their second choice in employer benefits is flexible working hours. They are particular about the environment in which they spend their time, which is why companies install bars, pools, and all sorts of lavish perks. However, it’s more about fostering a culture where they can be themselves and learn through new experiences.

Millennials stress quality of life more than anything else, so consider what kinds of activities and learning experiences you can expose them to. Unfortunately, 28% of Millennials believe their work/life balance is worse than they expected. To combat this trend, stress the importance that your employees have fun together outside of the office. Try organizing fun events or send your employees to interesting conferences. You’ll see a world of difference in them when it comes time to sit down and work.

“My Expectations Are High”

You might have high expectations for your employees, but Millennials also have high expectations for you. They’re here to make a difference, so don’t be afraid to make them feel special. This isn’t about hand-holding, but it is about expecting the company to invest time in their growth. The employer/employee relationship is a two-way street, and they’re looking for you to enhance their lives just as much as you want them to do great work.

The use of technology has always been a huge point of contention between generations, and 50% of Millennials believe that their managers do not understand the way they use technology at work. A divide like this could benefit from a reversal of traditional roles in the office. Reverse mentorships allow senior executives to learn from their younger, and usually more tech savvy counterparts. As your employees gain valuable experience, you will be able to learn about new media that can potentially enhance your business. In a scenario like this, everyone wins.

It’s easy to misunderstand those that are different from you, but be patient and listen to what they have to say. Millennials like to be rewarded, want access to new experiences, and are looking for inspiration–but then again, aren’t we all?