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Ignite Your Instagram Following Quickly With These Tips

Instagram remains a mysterious creature for many businesses.

While SMBs like Sweet Pure Honey and Camp Brand Goods have acquired a healthy following with some old-fashion elbow grease, others are struggling to increase their follower count. The latter is also facing stiff competition from enterprise giants who are coughing up big bucks to attract Instagram followers.

Are you among the lot whose Instagram account is looking out of place when it comes to the follower count? Don’t sweat it. Here is a handful of actionable tips that’ll help you to quickly grow your Instagram following.

  1. Optimize Instagram Ads

You might already be running an ad campaign on Instagram, but there’s always the option to optimize it through social media management services that leverage all ad formats to tell your brand’s story and connect you with the right target audience. Companies that provide such services will utilize imagery and video to showcase your offerings through advertisements that appear just like organic Instagram posts. You may also get weekly analytics reports, which is convenient if an advertising specialist is running Facebook ads and Instagram ads simultaneously.

  1. Repost User Generated Content

It’s important to spot good content posted by your customers, business partners, and other stakeholders and repost them on your Instagram account. Doing this will ensure you don’t come off as brand-centric, an approach that often backfires. Reposting user-generated content will also spark interest in your account, and if you manage to do it well, with the use of a custom hashtag, you can build a massive following within a matter of weeks. An easy way to do this is by using the Repost app. This app includes attribution as you repost someone’s content, allowing you to reference the original account correctly.

  1. Utilize Quality Filters

The available Instagram filters are more than just fun – the right filters can actually result in more engagement and following. According to a research carried out by Yahoo Labs and Georgia Tech, which analyzed millions of images and relevant data on how many comments were given on them and the total views they received, it was found that filtered images were 45% more likely to receive comments and 21% more likely to be viewed than unfiltered images. Images with higher contrast, higher exposure, and warm temperatures will attract the most followers.

  1. Geotag Images

Does your business have a physical presence? Geotag the location as soon as possible. That way, the people within your locality who use the same geotag while posting content on Instagram can see your images. Also, they may follow your account as you’re in the same neighborhood as them. You can also make an attractive offer to people who are using the same geotag such as a free drink at your office or an opportunity to stop by and see a demo of the product/service you’re selling.

  1. Engage With People

Remember, Instagram is just another social media platform, so it works like any other platform. If you don’t engage with people by responding to their comments and asking questions to whoever engages with your content, your following won’t grow. That said, you should always try engage in a genuine and organic way. Instead of saying something like “I like your thought”, try to add value to the conversation. You can also encourage people to tag others on your post by being helpful. Another thing you can do is develop a particular voice when it comes to engaging with your audience. For instance, a fun and quirky tone would work if you’re in the business of selling geeky accessories.

With these tips, you’re likely to see good numbers on your Instagram account.



 
  


entre-stay-afloat

What can I do about my ban?

If you feel aggrieved by a conviction in the Magistrates’ Court you do have the option of lodging an appeal which would be heard in the Crown Court. Expert legal advice is available – companies like drinkdrivesolicior.com, for example, can help.

I’ve just been convicted, how long do I have to lodge an appeal?

There is a 21 day period from the date of the decision being appealed against within which can only be extended with the permission of the Crown Court .

If I’m appealing, can I drive while waiting for the result?

You may be able to get your disqualification suspended until the appeal has been heard if you apply as soon as possible to the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.

How can I appeal?

Your appeal against the conviction/sentence or both.

If I win the appeal, do I get my costs back?

When an appeal is successful an order for some of the costs to be reimbursed is normally made. Unfortunately, following a relatively recent change in the law, costs are paid back at legal aid rates which are much lower than what most privately engaged solicitors charge so you can only expect to receive a small proportion of your costs back (some solicitors will also charge for preparing your claim for costs).

I didn’t realise that the original hearing meant I could face a driving ban, so I didn’t get legal help. What do I do?

Failing to engage legal help and advice in the first place isn’t enough of a reason to alter a court’s decision, and your case won’t be reheard simply because you now have a lawyer. Your best bet is to get advice as soon as possible and if it looks like you have good grounds for getting your conviction quashed or your sentence reduced, then you can make an appeal.

I’ve turned my life around since my conviction and I’d like to get my licence back; is this possible?

You can actually apply for your licence to be reinstated, but only after two years of the disqualification has passed. If your ban was for 5 years or more, you need to have served half of it to apply for a reduction of your disqualification.


challenging_times

Being a small business owner in the UK has arguably never been as challenging as it is today. At the same time, there are more exciting opportunities than ever for entrepreneurs to realise their dreams. But it costs money to act on these types of dreams – to start, build, maintain and expand a business. For most business owners, one of the chief challenges throughout the life of their enterprise is finding working capital that will allow them to boost their profits and grow their business. There are many legitimate sources for that capital, but there are also predators, some of whom are actively targeting small businesses. It’s important to know the difference between the good guys and the bad guys.

A new generation of predatory lenders

The National Association of Commercial Finance Brokers (NACFB), a financial trade organisation, has issued a warning for small businesses, cautioning that business owners who are desperate for loans are being targeted by dozens of dishonest new lenders. What makes this problem worse is that there are currently no rules in place to protect them from being fleeced.

The NACFB said that within the past two years it has rejected 40 new lenders that were petitioning to access its nationwide sales force of brokers who advise small firms on finance. This is a significant rise from the previous two-year period, during which only five lenders were turned down. The organisation rejected these lenders either because they charged outrageously high interest rates, refused to reveal their source of capital, or could not demonstrate a track record.

Adam Tyler, chief executive of the NACFB, said that many of the lenders in question were looking to take advantage of small businesses that had been turned down for funding by traditional high street lenders. He noted that because small businesses are doing better in the wake of the overall improvement in the economy, they are seeking more capital. If the banks won’t help them, they have to get the money from somewhere. Mr. Tyler said that some of the lenders targeting small businesses are as bad as the worst of the payday lenders in consumer credit.

Exacerbating the situation is the fact that whilst individuals and sole traders are protected by consumer credit regulations against lenders who charge exorbitant fees, limited companies are not. If they are left high and dry by a lender they have practically no recourse.

The takeaway lesson here, then, is: borrower beware.

When seeking a loan, arm yourself with knowledge

Not every lender targeting small businesses is a scammer, of course. And even though many legitimate lenders do charge higher interest rates to business owners with less than stellar credit or an insufficient history, that doesn’t make them a bad choice.

Most business owners will have to borrow money at some point; it’s just part of doing business. But it is important to find a reliable business lender who will offer fair rates as well as a straightforward loan agreement with no surprises. Ideally you want a loan provider that charges as few add-on fees as possible, such as origination, early repayment or arrangement fees.

In general a business must be in operation for a certain period of time – usually a minimum of six months – before being approved for a business loan. As well, there may be certain minimum revenue requirements. Eligibility factors vary according to lender, as do the amount you can borrow, the ways you can use the funds, and the terms. It is very important to do your homework and compare lenders. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes.

But all the knowledge in the world, or on the World Wide Web, can’t really provide a clear look into the future, and questions about the UK’s economic future have quite a few business owners on edge.

The future is an open book

Though some of the latest opinion polls in advance of the European Union referendum have shown that Brexit is gaining momentum, many people remain uncertain about exiting the EU. That’s because we’re in “uncharted territory”, according to Dr. Angus Armstrong, Director of Macroeconomics with the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. Dr. Armstrong explains that no country the size of the United Kingdom has ever left such an integrated economic union, so there is really no precedent on which to look back and from which to draw lessons. And small businesses are a key battleground in the Brexit war. After all, Britain’s small and medium-sized businesses make up 99 percent of businesses in Britain, employing 15.6 million people – about half of those working in the private sector.

Some business owners lament what they see as costly and unnecessary regulations imposed by the EU. They view Brexit as a break for freedom and new opportunities. Others, however, are uncomfortable with the uncertainties, which would likely hit smaller businesses harder than others, mainly by making it tougher for them to get loans because during times of stress, banks are reluctant to offer loans they consider to be riskier. Moreover the UK’s central bank, the Bank of England, has said Brexit would weaken the pound, increasing the cost of imported goods and fueling inflation. These projections have understandably made many business owners nervous.

Regardless of the outcome of the referendum, the challenges for small business owners won’t magically disappear, and among those challenges is the ongoing quest for capital. There will always be dodgy lenders targeting businesses and individuals that are desperate for money, but there are plenty of good lenders as well. Knowing the difference can help you keep your business on track for future profits and growth.


business-processes_reg

Efficiency is everything when it comes to building and growing a business. It not only saves time, money, and effort, it improves results across the border. Although this blog has already touched upon how to build better business efficiency by enhancing ergonomics, communications and data entry, employee productivity, weekly goals, and qualifying clients better, there is still much more you can do to improve your company’s productivity and cost-efficiency.

Here are 4 more ways to improve efficiency in a business by leveraging the power of technology.

  1. Use smart mobile devices more.

If you still use old fashioned ways of communicating in an office from post-it notes to clipboards, walkie-talkies, and bulletin boards, you haven’t fully embraced the marvelous flexibility of mobile devices. Smart phones, tablets, and other mobile devices help staff communicate inside the office and when they are out in the field.

Suppose, for example, a salesperson needs to make a presentation to a client at their office. Their job is to introduce your company’s latest machine and explain why it’s the perfect solution to the customer’s problem.

How are they going to describe the machine, assuming it’s not a common item?

They could do the following things:

  • Try and paint a verbal picture of what the machine looks like and how it works. (Vague)
  • Carry an armful of visual aids and prompts into the meeting and set up a display. (Awkward)
  • Carry in a laptop, hook it up, and offer a power point presentation. (Better)
  • Carry in a tablet and share graphics, videos, flow diagrams, etc. (Perfect)

In short, using today’s slimmer, more portable, more versatile technology, which is loaded to the teeth with productivity apps will increase your company’s bottom line. It will make everything easier, from interoffice communication to remote collaboration while on the road.

  1. Use customized software.

Perhaps, you run a specialized business that requires a lot of manual effort, manpower, and coordination. While you’ve looked for software that can help you automate some of your processes, you haven’t quite found anything that works for you. The solution to finding the perfect software is to build it from scratch. Just go on to a job board where you can find international freelancer workers and hire a developer. You can outsource to get exactly what you need for a much lower price than simply calling up a local software developer in your city. With the right software, you will then be able to automate many tedious processes that might be taking many hours of your employee’s time and slowing your business down.

  1. Use printed labels to make things easier to find.

Labeling things helps employees and customers find them faster. In an office, for example, when you label a shelf or cabinet, everyone knows where to look for certain files, and when you clearly label your office files, it’s easier to find the one you’re looking for. Or on the shop floor, if you label the merchandise on the racks, shelves, or other displays, it’s easier for customers to find what they need.

While, you can, of course, simply handwrite your labels, it’s much more professional to you use a QuickLabel printer. This way people don’t have to squint over unintelligible scribbles, and you can add color, nice fonts and graphics to a label to make it look much more eye-catching.

  1. Update your computer infrastructure.

Smart mobile devices are only a small technological upgrade you can make. You can do even more impressive things like ditch your expensive, antiquated on-premise computer infrastructure and migrate to cloud computing.

Here are 7 good reasons why migrating your business to cloud computing might just massively boost your business productivity and profits.

  • 1. You will slash your capital expenses by spending far less on your operational costs. This will free up your money to spend on revenue-generating tasks like marketing and sales.
  • 2. You will free up your office space by getting rid of your in-house computer infrastructure. Besides your server, you can also get rid of any supportive equipment like emergency power generators, special air-conditioning devices, backup devices, etc.
  • 3. You will stop spending money on hiring IT consultants or dedicated IT employees because the cloud provider will take care of installations, upgrades, patches, and so on.
  • 4. You will start using the latest applications in your business through software as a service (SaaS) which allows you to rent software that you might not be able to afford otherwise.
  • 5. You will get much more data storage capacity, bandwidth, and other system resources when you need them.
  • 6. You will only pay for what you use. During the slow seasons, you can drop power and functionality you don’t need; then during the busy season, you can ramp things up again.
  • 7. You can scale up your business rapidly without having to buy a whole new computer infrastructure to handle your exponential growth.

If you think short-term, a technological upgrade may sound like you are shelling out more money than makes you feel comfortable. However, if you look at things from the long-term perspective, you will be cutting costs and increasing profits. Still, if you think a complete technological makeover is overwhelming, then just add one technological upgrade at a time.


How A Simple Email Signature Can Get You More Clients

An email from you could be the first contact a potential client has with you.

How well does it represent your business?

email_signature

Let me give you an example…

Recently, I received an email from a person I’ve never met before asking me if I’d like to be part of her upcoming virtual event. Although I do get emails like this, this one stood out because:

  • I had no idea who she was.
  • It was sent from her gmail address.
  • There was only her name on the bottom of the email.
  • No business contact information, link to website, or anything.

Therefore, it made it difficult for me to find out more about this person and even if I wanted to be a part of her event.

So let me ask you again … how well does your email signature represent you and your business?

It’s so important that you have an email signature on ALL of the emails that you send out because:

  • Your clients and potential clients know exactly how to get in touch with you.
  • It’s a good marketing tool.
  • You can use it to promote special offers.
  • It can drive traffic to your website.
  • It tells people who you are and what you do.

And whenever you send out emails they should ALWAYS come from your business email account; not a gmail, hotmail, yahoo, or other account … but your business account.

Setting up an email signature is very simple to do, and I will tell you how!

As a general rule of thumb your email signature shouldn’t be more than about six or seven lines long otherwise it just becomes too big and may detract from your email.  After all you don’t want your email signature to be longer than your email!

Your basic email signature should contain:

  • Your name
  • Your company’s name
  • Your telephone, fax number, and email address
  • Your Website URL with an active hyperlink
  • And maybe a line promoting one of your services, a special offer, a link to your newsletter, or anything else that you would want to let your target audience know about.

Set up your email signature so that it AUTOMATICALLY goes out on every single email that you send, whether it’s a new email or you’re replying or forwarding on an email.

Here’s how to set up your email signature …

Outlook

1. Go to Tools > Options > Mail Format > Signature Picker.

2. Click on New and then enter a name for your signature i.e. Business

3. Client on Next and then design your signature in the blank box. You can change the font, font size, and text color

4. Once done click on Finish and preview your signature in the preview window. If necessary, go back and edit it.

5. Once you’re happy with your new signature click on OK.

6. Ensue that the Use this signature by default box has the name of your new signature in it, and click on OK.

7. Congratulations – You’re done!

Outlook Express

1. Go To Tools > Options > Signatures Tab.

2. Tick Add signatures to all outgoing messages.

3. Deselect Don’t add signatures to all ‘Replies and Forwards’.

4. Add your signature in the Edit Signature text box

5. Once you’re happy with your new signature click on OK.

6. Congratulations – You’re done!

Gmail

1. Go To Mail Settings (looks like a cog wheel in the top right corner of your Gmail account).

2. Click on Labs.

3. Search for Signature Tweaks (this places your signature before the quoted text in a reply, and removes the “–” line that appears before signatures).

4. Click on Enable, and then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

5. Now go to your General Tab and scroll down until you find Signatures.

6. Select the email address that you want to create a signature for.

7. Create your email signature.

8. Scroll down to the bottom and click on Save Changes.

9. Congratulations – You’re done!

And if you don’t use any of these email clients there are online tools that will do the job for you.

Thanks to a subscriber who shared a resource with me, I am now using WiseStamp to create my email signatures. It works with major email clients too.

Let me know in the comments below what you’re using to create your email signatures.

Tracey Lawton

About Our GE Network Expert - Tracey Lawton

Tracey Lawton is an expert in online business management, office administration, and developing administrative systems. Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, Tracey Lawton, supports professional speakers, coaches, and authors to operate an efficient, organized, and profitable business. Learn how to create an efficient and organized office in 7 EASY steps, and receive free tips at http://OfficeOrganizationSuccess.com.



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