#socialmedia: the new word of mouth

INTHEBLACKWow,¬†I can’t believe it is two years since I took the entrepreneurial leap and founded Optimize Business. An exciting time for any small business, it is enjoyable, exhilarating and I love meeting new people everyday: exploring their ideas, developing their ideas into strategy, strategy into a plan and plans into action.

Expanding from business coaching and strategy services, my clients value my financial background and being a CPA gives an added credibility and weight to suggestions about running their organisations. What I enjoy most and now do most is help business with their social media. I diversified my skills with photography, documentary video and writing for the web.

Most of my clients now come from the “new” word of mouth – #socialmedia. I just signed a contract with a North Eastern US company to provide regular social media content… they contacted me from Connecticut, I do not market to the US but social media is global, so be ready! Most people find me through LinkedIn or as a result of my social media engagements.

So give it a go. Try flying solo. Ensure you have enough cash-flow up-front, a good strategy, a good plan, and go for it…. oh, and a good business coach or mentor to guide you along the way ūüôā

Ever thought you would love preparing invoices? Here’s how

Video

Having worked with many accounting and invoicing systems over the last 20 years, Optimize Business knows a good billing solution when we see one. That is why Optimize Business uses and recommends Freshbooks. It offers the convenience of cloud accounting and an easy of use and efficiency you have to see to believe.

  • Forget about backing up your invoices: it is done in the cloud
  • Stop fussing with an email or envelope: it is delivered in the click of a button
  • Convert that estimate to an invoice and email: done in seconds

Visit our Optimize Business Bookshop for the latest books, DVD’s and resources to optimize your business performance

It is great for small business start-ups who can use it free for three or less clients and even better for bigger businesses who can streamline their invoicing process with the click of a button. And the best part? Clients pay quicker because of the paper-less email delivery and the easy of payment!

This is why Optimize Business is pleased make Freshbooks available to Australian and New Zealand business through our relationship with Freshbooks. In fact, Freshbooks can be used by any business, anywhere! From Deli to Denver, over 5 million businesses are using Freshbooks.

So why not test drive this great product? We did, and we were so impressed with the customer service, support and user experience, that we can’t help but recommend it! Try it for free:

FreshBooks

© 2012 Andrew McIntosh CPA, Optimize Business. As a Freshbooks partner, Optimize Business may receive a commission for referring satisfied customers.

Twitter for small business


Is your small business on Twitter? Do you understand how Twitter works and why so many small businesses have jumped onto Twitter?

The above two minute video from Twitter gives a basic understanding of how you might use this social media for your organisation or business. Optimize Business uses Twitter as the main form of social media to engage, communicate ideas, develop business relationships and keep abreast of the latest news or trends in business.

Social media is an investment in our brand. Five years ago, people would use a search engine like Google to find your website, learn about your business and assess if they want to do business with you. Today, consumers and businesses also look at your social media presence to gauge “who you are”: YouTube is now one of the most popular search platforms and Facebook, Twitter and other forms of social media are also being used to find businesses.

Unlike Google and Yahoo!, if you are not ‘present’ in Twitter (for example), you will not appear in the results of a search that is done within Twitter. Your business will be Missing in Action in the Twitterspere, this is unless your customers are talking about you (good or bad!), or worse, your competitors are filling your void.

The absence of “your voice” from social media platforms, like Twitter, says something to the world about your business. For those who have used social media to find you, or to talk to you, your absence from their preferred channel will be noted and probably not in a good way.

It is important not to just jump into social media. You should speak to other businesses that use social media, and make sure it is done in a planned way, as part of a social media strategy that suits your brand, your business and your customers. A failed social media presence is perhaps even worse that no social media at all.

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn and other forms of social media, each “Tweet” is limited to only a 140 characters. ¬†Other forms of social media have larger word limits. Tweets therefore need to be short, engaging and easy to understand. The 140 character limit is quite helpful in helping you take the ‘padding’ out of your business communications.

So back to Twitter. It is a great tool for start-ups, small and large businesses alike. You can easily share (tweet) links to videos, blogs, webpages and photos to provide richer content with your short Twitter ‘broadcasts.’ If you content is engaging, you will probably find each tweet brings in additional new followers and people may share your communications by retweeting (RT) your message.

Twitter is a free social media tool that provides an incredible networking and communication channel into the hands of even the tiniest business, NGO or NFP. You can do a lot of targeted ‘campaigns’ yourself for free:

Twitter can provide almost perfect customer targeting, for free! Just search for a topic relevant to your organisation on Twitter.com and look at the people that are engaging in discussions or following others on that topic. Then search through the “followers” of relevant people and you will find people, businesses and organisations that are interested in the topic. These people will therefore be likely to follow you back if you follow them. Be a little selective in who you follow (avoid those who you would not really want following you) and you can easily build up your own followers by simply following those with common interests to your own.

Businesses, large and small, can also pay to have their products or services promoted on Twitter, via promoted “accounts” and promoted “tweets”. This video gives you a good sense of how you can pay to promote your organisation, but most new Twitter users would initially try the free approach outlined in the paragraph above.

For more information, Twitter publishes a great guide to get your organisation started on this exciting social media platform: Twitter for Small Business.

FreshBooks 2012 Andrew McIntosh CPA Optimize Business @Optimize_Biz

Twitter for Business: link your tweets to appear on Facebook!

Get your Tweets posted on your Facebook page automatically! It is easy to set-up, go to the Twitter Help Center to learn more.

The Facebook Settings page (when you are logged in as a profile Administrator in Facebook) has a¬†“Link to Twitter”¬†button. ¬†This is a good way to post onto Twitter if your primary social media tool is Facebook.

But remember the most Twitter users will see of your Facebook post is 140 characters.  This means you need to fashion your opening Facebook wording carefully to still make sense once it posts on Twitter. The link to your Facebook post in the Tweet will also decrease your available characters.

FreshBooksOptimize Business suggests doing the reverse: log into your Twitter account and then have your Tweets automatically post onto your Facebook page. This will mean that you have more control over the final text outcome that is communicated on both social media platforms. You can carefully craft your Tweet to 140 characters and this will then look and ‘feel’ better across both mediums.

You will probably find you end up doing more Facebook entries as well, because avid tweeters often end up tweeting more from their mobile devices…. so why not communicate to your Facebook crowd too!

If you want big, attention grabbing photographs or links to interesting articles, simply post direct to Facebook to ensure you do not get a thumbnail of the Twitter photograph.

© 2013 Andrew McIntosh CPA Optimize Business @Optimize_Biz

Facebook for Business: allow subscribers!

For the sake of business, don’t for get to “Allow Subscribers”!

If you are running a business page on Facebook, don’t forget to go into your Facebook Settings (found on the top right of your page) and tick the “Allow Subscribers” check box.

This means Facebook users will be able to find you on Facebook, via public search engines and connect… which is probably why your business is on Facebook, so people can find out about your business! ¬†Your customers and the public can subscribe without becoming a “friend” also.
FreshBooks
© 2012 Andrew McIntosh CPA Optimize Business @Optimize_Biz

LinkedIn Badges: Are you maximising your social media?

When did you last do a strategic review of your social media profile?  Are you missing basic opportunities to get your branding, your unique selling proposition or experience in front of your existing and potential customers?  Linkedin is now used extensively throughout the world as the premier social media tool to keep professionals connected and in touch.
View Andrew McIntosh CPA's profile on LinkedInA unique LinkedIn Badge has a personalised web link to your LinkedIn profile and is free and easy to create. Just login to LinkedIn and type or copy in this address¬†www.linkedin.com/profile/profile-badges and you can generate badges like the one above. If you press the ‘badge’ above it takes you directly to my LinkedIn profile from this WordPress blog which you are currently reading.

LinkedIn has powerful marketing and profiling capabilities, but even if you don’t go for these more sophisticated marketing approaches, what external image are you portraying if you do not leverage the simplest social media functionality?

Three quick and easy steps to upgrade your profile online:

  • Promote your profile by adding a badge¬†(press this link when you are logged into LinkedIn and it will take you to your unique buttons)¬†– do this on your blog, online resume, or website. See the various example formats below.
  • Customise your public Linkedin public URL profile – for example, use¬†http://au.linkedin.com/in/AndrewMcIntoshCPA¬†instead of something like¬†http://www.linkedin.com/pub/andrew-mcintosh-cpa/11/633/626 that contains a lot of random numbers and is obviously system generated
  • Update your public profile – if you are running a business, you will want the public to see who you, your experience and what you do.

View Andrew McIntosh CPA's LinkedIn profileView Andrew McIntosh CPA’s profile

View Andrew McIntosh CPA's profile on LinkedIn

If you liked this Tip, don’t forget to comment or follow this blog. ¬†I can also be followed on Twitter at @Optimize_Biz .¬†¬© 2012 Andrew McIntosh CPA Optimize Business

Need a store on your Facebook page?

Product information from Payvment’s Facebook page.

If you find you are driving interactions with your customers and fans via Facebook, why not add a store to your Facebook page?

Didn’t think it was possible? ¬†Well, applications, or “Apps” as they are affectionately know as, are a real revolution in the functionality of software these days. ¬†From social medias like Facebook, to accounting software like Xero, you can get an App for just about anything to enhance or quasi-customise your software purchase.

One such App is Payvment. Currently offering a free online store to Facebook users, its a god send to businesses that have developed a heavy Facebook following.  Many business face the customer experience problem of moving customers from social media to webpages or external shops or payment providers, but Payvment is an example of a great way to enhance your Facebook experience and secure a secure a sale or lead in the process.  Check out Payvment.com on the web, via Facebook or Twitter.

Read more about online stores in Facebook in the NY Times. © 2012 Andrew McIntosh CPA, OptimizeBusiness.org

SMB’s – it’s your free video channel…. don’t lose the wonder!

Imagine it is late last century (say 1992) and you were told you could have your own video channel and distribution network to build your brand, engage your customers and advertise to those who care.

Two decades ago, what would you have given to have this capability for your small or medium business?

It’s incredible, it is free, and twenty years later, how many business owners just ignore this amazing tool? ¬†How much value are they leaving on the table, when two decades ago they would have given an arm and a leg for these capabilities!

Imagine that futuristic world from 1992, now even richer with handheld devices that stream an amazing colour TV image; can help you find products, services or friend just around the corner when that would have taken a phone box, a good phone book and 20 minutes back then…..

Oh the possibilities of mobile video for your own business!

So please don’t lose the wonder at these amazing capabilities that surround us! ¬†Seize the day again and re-look at your opportunities, especially those are just waiting for you on social media tools like YouTube!

You would have given an arm and leg for this capability 20 years ago, so don’t ignore it now it’s free….. SMB’s, please don’t lose the wonder of what is right in front of you!

Check out this video for some new inspiration and don’t forget to share any creative new thoughts on OptimizeBusiness.org: ¬†YouTube – its your free channel…. are you using it?

If you need help or advice with creating your own SMB channel or video content, contact Andrew McIntosh CPA via the social media of your choice…. or call on good old-fashioned mobile phone to Australia +61 4 48516151.

© 2012 Andrew McIntosh CPA, OptimizeBusiness.org

How fresh is your business strategy?

When was the last time you sat down with an independent business professional and critically evaluated your business strategy and business plan?


Sales and marketing, your product offerings and customer service delivery are the heart of your business. Is it still fresh and appealing to customers…. or in need of a refresh? When was the last time you innovated and customers noticed? If you can see it, prospective customers and loyal customers will see it too. This is a risky place for a business to be. Speak to Optimize Business about refreshing your business: our business coaching provides independent and experienced business professionals to help keep you innovating.

Do you even still have a current business strategy or are you just on ‘auto pilot’?

Let Optimize Business coaching help you refresh your approach to business. The market place continues its rapid pace of change and small business owners need to constantly re-assess their direction.

Are you starting a new business? An accountant and legal advisor are critical, but who is helping you assess your key strategic decisions? Who is your business relying on for independent, current and experienced business guidance on these critical decisions?

At Optimize Business, our coaches will be with you every step of the way.  From social media to team building, our business coaches never lose sight of the big picture.  Call us now, on 0448516151 to speak to Andrew McIntosh CPA and discuss how we can help you achieve your goals.

© Andrew McIntosh CPA: OptimizeBusiness.org@gmail.com