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What Google’s Ad Changes Mean for Your Business

The world of marketing has found a very natural home online. That’s where the businesses are; that’s where the audience can be found; and that’s where the money is. Everything from creative content to purely promotional posts can be found online, each assisting with an overall marketing strategy.

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Spearheading that change is Google. Not content with providing the world with split-second search results, they swiftly dominated what is essentially the world’s most famous billboard with advertising. Appearing at the top of the page are relevant paid-for adverts, while on the right-hand side, you’d expect to see more adverts from Google Shopping.

Why Google Removed Ads

Well, you might’ve done once upon a time. However, at the end of February, Google opted to remove all adverts on the right of the screen. There are several reasons for that change. For starters, Google found that browsers simply didn’t click on those adverts. Then there’s the fact that the majority of people on Google are searching using their mobiles, which don’t even have right-hand adverts.

There is another added bonus too. Without the ads, the page looks a lot cleaner, visually. This is one of the main (if few) reasons that people have consistently rated rival search engine Bing as better than Google. But a bonus for general users still has knock on effects for businesses, who fear that with the removal of ads equals a major drop in brand awareness, website hits and, ultimately, the bottom line.

But is that fear justified?

Reasons to Be Cheerful

Not exactly. It turns out that far from meaning the disappearance of small- to medium-sized businesses on Google, the removal of adverts has generally had next to no effect for smaller players, either good or bad. Partly, of course, that’s down to the low CTR (click-through rate) of right-column adverts – but it’s also being assisted by Google adding an extra banner advert to the top of the search results page, bringing the total to four.

Another worry was that it would mean having to spend more for less; with space at a premium, the price would become premium too. Again, there appears to be no great change to the auction-style bid process that Google’s ads have always used, and overall, the CPC (cost-per-click) hasn’t dramatically risen.

These changes do have wider ramifications though – as you’d expect from our old friends Cause and Effect. Specifically, if your business is focused solely on marketing through SEO, you could stand to lose out, as the old ‘organic #1’ spot has been replaced by the ‘paid ad #4’. As such, you may notice a lower organic CTR.

How to Deal with Change

In fact, the only way to face changes such as these is to embrace them. And that means ensuring you have a fully integrated marketing strategy, which encompasses both SEO and PPC (pay-per-click) tactics, not just working together but totally complementing each other.

What these changes to Google’s adverts really mean is that we’re entering an incredibly exciting time, for marketers and companies. It means you can craft even better ad extensions – the brief description of what you offer – for paid-for ads that have a wider audience. It means you now have the perfect opportunity to review your website, studying how to improve the experience for users. That, in turn, means upping the site’s quality, which enhances its organic search potential on Google.

If you’d like to discuss Google’s latest changes and how we can work together to help grow your business please contact on 01483 200 387.

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How To Grow Your Business In 2016

At this stage of the year it’s right for you to take a look at your business and ask yourself some important questions.

What state is your business in and are there ways in which you can grow your business in 2016?

Can you improve the product, improve your service, improve the customer experience.

The ability to continually innovate and improve plays a big part in the development of any successful business.

Standing still is not really an option.

The trouble is once your business is up and running, especially if it’s going well, it’s very easy to stop thinking about it in this way and just focus on running it.

The following questions are the kind of thing you should be continually asking yourself.

• Have I got a plan for my business? Do I and my staff know what our objectives are and where we’re going?
• What additional products or services can I offer to my existing customers?  Cross selling and up selling are the fastest and most cost effective ways to grow your business.
• Do I really understand the problems my customers face and is the business set up to solve them?
• Do I communicate with my customers often enough – telling them about new products, special offers, developments in the industry or the company or just thanking them for their business?
• How often do I ask my clients for their feedback, regarding the service they receive from me and what additional services they would like me to offer?
• How can I improve the quality of my products or services, so that they are of even more value to my customers?
• How is my business differentiated from my competitors or is it just another “me too” business with no obvious reason for customers to choose me over the competition?
• What about my pricing? Have I priced my products to be the same as everybody else or is there a definite rationale behind my pricing whether high or low?
• How good is my customer service? Am I really delighting my customers at every stage of the process or are there areas where I could improve the customer experience?
• How watertight are my sales processes? When a lead or enquiry comes in, am I confident that every one is handled as well as it should be and that none are falling through the cracks?
• Am I getting as many referrals as I should and do I have a process in place to regularly generate referrals?
• Have I got clear marketing objectives and a marketing plan to deliver them?
• Do I get enough leads and enquiries via my website or blog? If not, how can I increase this, so my site becomes a lead generating machine for my business?
• Am I limiting my business by trying to do my own marketing? Should I bring in an expert who can deliver the new business that I need?

It’s this last question that I’m particularly interested in.

If you’re either not doing any marketing because you’re not sure what to do or are doing the marketing yourself but not getting the results, you are in fact inadvertently sabotaging your business.

Luckily I’ve got a solution for you.

I will do your marketing for you and deliver you boat loads of new customers while you focus on all the other important questions.

If you want to discuss this further give me a shout on 01483 200387 or email  mikejennings@bda.me.uk

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6 Simple Marketing Tips To Grow Your Business

When times are tough we all need more business. But if you’re not sure how to go about it, the following six simple marketing tips to grow your business will ensure that you win and retain loads of new customers.

To be honest it’s not rocket science – it comes down to the kind of advice your mum gave you about how to interact with people.

  1. Be Visible

How often have you heard yourself say “ I didn’t know that business was there”. If you don’t know about  certain businesses, you can be sure there are plenty who don’t know about you.

So are you visible to prospective customers if they decide to go looking?

  • Make sure your website looks good. If it doesn’t, upgrade it. Don’t let your website let you down.
  • Have a blog, that you update regularly. I blog once a week. www.bda.me.uk/blog
  • Participate in social media – let people find you on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Be Credible

When your prospects go and look at your public presence, will they feel motivated to get in touch?

  • Have compelling testimonials on your website. There’s nothing as persuasive as other customers singing your praises.
  • Make sure your phone is always professionally answered by a human being. If your office isn’t always manned, use a telephone answering service. How sad would it be to generate interest and then lose the opportunity because you don’t answer the phone?
  1. Be Memorable

Your objective is to ensure that when your target audience need what you sell, that they think of you.

To generate the awareness the following model works well :

  • You need to construct a database. Ideally you will already have a list of contacts – people who have enquired before, people who have completed a sign up form on your website, names you’ve generated from networking, trade shows etc.
  • If you haven’t got your own list, you can buy names and contact details from list brokers but these will never be as good or as receptive as your own list and you could get a reputation as a spammer.
  • Email your list regularly with valuable and useful information. This should be an on-going activity as response will increase over time as recipients grow to trust you.
  • Analyse response to your emails, tracking who opens them and who clicks on your links.
  • Have a process to follow up respondents. This may be a particular sequence of emails or you might prefer to take the bull by the horns and phone them.
  1. Be Personal

The more you can tailor your emails to the specific recipients, the more response you will get. Remember it’s about them and not about you.

All your readers are interested in is what’s in it for them so make sure you give them plenty of personal content.

  1. Be Consistent

The secret to success will be developing the trust of your readers so that they come to think of you as an expert in your field. You’re not going to do this with one or two emails. You must commit to sending regular emails at a given time each week, fortnight, month or whatever regularity you decide on.

To achieve this you will have to set aside regular time in your diary to do the work.

  1. Be Persistent

This kind of marketing requires a medium/long term commitment. As I said you have to commit to doing this over an extended period of time. As we all know, everyone will be at a different stage in their decision making process. No response today doesn’t mean that they won’t respond in six months time.

Persistence is even more vital in the follow up. It’s too easy to give up after one or two unsuccessful contacts. You need to continue trying until you get either a “yes” or some useful information about their buying intentions.

If you manage to take these six simple marketing tips on board, I can guarantee that you will pick up more customers and more business.

 

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5 Key Tips For Building Your Prospect List

I’m sure you’re very aware of the importance of building a large, opted in prospect list.

Once you have your prospect list, it feeds into your sales funnel and your marketing works on auto pilot.

You set up a system which drives prospects to your website, they opt in to your list, they then receive a sequence of emails from your auto responder after which they go onto your email list to receive your regular email marketing until they are ready to buy.

Simple really.

Each part of the process is really important but possibly the vital part is persuading website visitors to opt in to your list.

So the question is what can you do to increase the numbers opting in and so speed up building your list?

There are several factors which influence your opt in rate.

Offer something of real value as your lead magnet

For people to decide to give you their contact details, you have to offer something they genuinely want.

So ask yourself “what is the single greatest problem that my prospects have that I can help them with”.

Once you’ve identified that, write a free report or a white paper on the subject and offer it for free.

Position it in a compelling manner

The words you use to sell the free report and the title you give it are vital.

Which would motivate you more?

“Download your free business growth report”   or

“Discover the 7 simple secrets that could easily double your profits in the next 90 days”

Limit the amount of information you ask for

Of course we’d all like comprehensive information about the prospect and his or her business but the more information you demand, the lower your take up rate.

The very minimum you need is the email address. Personally I also request the email address, so that I can personalise the follow ups.

While it’s tempting to request the phone number as well, this will seriously reduce the number of sign ups.

The position of your sign up box

Assuming that getting contact details is either the primary or one of the primary objectives of the website, position the sign up box in the most prominent place on the page.

Top right hand corner is where the eye automatically falls so this is where you should put it.

You shouldn’t limit the sign up box to just the home page. Make sure you have it on every page of the website especially the blog page.

The wording on the button

Even the wording on the button will influence your sign up rate.

You want to use positive, affirmative words

“Yes please rush me my report”

But it’s not just the words that count. The colour will have an impact as well.

Make the button stand out from the surrounding colours. Bright green works well as does bright blue.

Implement all these points and you can be confident that you will be generating the optimum number of sign ups.

Of course if you want more information or some help doing it, give me a call.

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Give More, Get More

For most businesses the number 1 issue they face is how to win new customers.

Or to put it another way their number 1 issue is to convince their prospects that they are the best option to solve their problems, that they are best placed to help them.

I know that this is the case for my business and for my clients.

So how do you go about doing this?

Well the answer is really simple – …by helping them.

I’m not talking about your existing clients. Naturally you’re helpful to them, otherwise they wouldn’t be your clients.

I’m talking about your prospects.

The best way to convince them you can help them is to help them.

Obvious really.

So how do you do this?

The solution is to help them resolve some issue in their business…BEFORE…you ask them to become clients.

Now the standard response I get to this suggestion is “if I give my stuff away, people will just take my free stuff and won’t need to hire me”.

Actually, and fortunately, that’s not true. In fact the more valuable stuff you give away, the greater the likelihood that prospects will turn into clients.

The more stuff you give away, the more people will want it.

To work out what you need to give away it may make it easier if you plan it out on a piece of paper.

On the left hand side write down what the problem your prospect suffers from is and on the right write down the result if you resolve the problem.

In between you should list the steps that you can/will take to resolve the issue for the prospect and so position yourself as the obvious choice of supplier.

So for my business, my prospects want more clients.

So on the left I would write “Not enough clients” and on the right I would write “Lots of clients”

I will now insert the steps I will advise them to take.

My starting point will be that they need to get more visitors (traffic) to their website.

They need to give these people a reason to engage with them when they’re there by providing an incentive for them to leave their contact details ie a special report – this is what’s called a lead magnet

Having got the contact details they now need to nurture that relationship by regular email contact so that the prospect gets to like and trust them.

The last step will be to offer some kind of incentive or special offer so that prospects will contact me which will give me the opportunity to sell to them.

The way I make this happen is to offer a free half day’s consultancy in which I will look in detail at the prospect’s business. I will identify their niche audiences, create an avatar of their typical client, create an irresistible customer proposition for the prospect and then finally suggest appropriate channels for communication.

I do all this for free which provides an incredible deal for my prospects and positions me as a proven expert in their eyes.

So all you’ve got to do is work out how you can do the equivalent. What problem would your prospects love you to solve and how are you going to go about it?

While your competition are telling  prospects how helpful they can be if only they’ll give them some money, with my approach you’ll be showing your prospects how helpful you can be before they become clients.

It’s very hard to compete against that.

Make sense? It’s not hard to do. But like anything it’s all about implementation.

Categories: business growth

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So What Else Do They Need?

We’ve all heard the pitch “Dramatically grow your business in the next couple of weeks without really trying” far too many times.

But we all know that growing your business is hard work and for most of us if we can grow 10% a year, we’re doing pretty well.

But I am now going to tell you that there is a way that will allow most businesses to grow very significantly that’s really not too difficult and that you can make a start on right away.

For this to work you are going to have to be an existing business with clients or customers already. If you’re a start up or a very new business it is still absolutely relevant but the benefits will take a bit longer to come through.

So the question you need to ask yourself is: What else do my customers need?

Now you sell whatever it is you sell. So ask yourself what other products relate to what you sell that would be relevant to your customers.

I’ll give you an example:

A few years ago before the economic downturn I was working with a company who installed swimming pools. Through the boom years they were doing very nicely installing swimming pools to affluent households in Surrey.

Then came the economic crash of 2008 and suddenly everyone got scared and business dried up, which isn’t good when you’re talking about swimming pools. So the question was what could they do if no one felt confident enough to invest in a swimming pool.

The answer was to offer a pool maintenance service.

All the people they’d installed pools for over the years needed to have the pools maintained – whether that was a monthly cleaning service, supplying swimming pool chemicals, annual maintenance for the filtration system, provision of safety fences to keep children and pets safely away from the water or even a landscaping service for the area around the pool.

When their primary business slowed down, it could have been disastrous. But by identifying and providing all the services relevant to the core business they managed not just to survive the downturn but actually to grow through it.

The key to this was their database.

They had a relationship with all their past customers so when they went back to them they had great success selling the new products and services.

They became a one stop shop for everything relating to swimming pools.

Joint Ventures

Now the next question is are you going to provide these additional products or services yourself or are you going to use an existing supplier.

If you can supply them yourself – great.

But if you can’t then this is the perfect opportunity to create joint ventures.

It’s easy to find out who provides the extra services that your customers need and you just need to agree how the relationship will work.

Will you white label someone else’s product and present it as your own or bring in the partner in their own right?

Either way it should open up new revenue streams from old customers and in the future from new.

It’s all about the relationship

Most people believe that having the solution, whether it be intellectual property or physical product is the most important element.

It’s not.

It’s having the customer relationships.

Once you have that, then it’s easy to offer them the all the other related products.

So ask yourself this question: What else do my clients need that’s directly related to what I sell?

When you’ve found the answer you may well have cracked the question I asked right at the start of how you can dramatically grow your business quickly and easily.

 

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Why You’re Rubbish At Sales

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but it’s true.

Most people are rubbish at sales.

Why?

The simple answer is because they’re selling.

I define buying and selling differently to most people. To me buying is a considered and pleasurable process where you happily exchange money for something you want.

Selling on the other hand is hard work.

You try to convince people that they need whatever it is you’re selling. It’s all about overcoming objections,  pushing people into corners and then closing the deal.  Put like that it sounds more like institutionalised bullying.

Selling is a tough job which is why most people are rubbish at it.

People have developed in built resistance to sales techniques.

If you’re like me as soon as you recognise a salesman going through his  patter, the barriers go up and the chance of me buying go down.

Now you may very well have excellent products which will do a great job for me at an excellent price but because I feel I’m being manipulated, that the salesman isn’t thinking about me and my needs, but thinking about his month end figures and commission, I react negatively and escaping becomes my primary objective.

We reject sales people because they’re selling.

The top sales people don’t sell – they create the environment in which customers want to buy.

How To Become Great At Selling

As I’ve just said, to be great at selling, you have to stop selling and allow customers to take the decision to buy.

Now if you’re going to buy something, you are going to want to know all the details about the product:

  • What does it do – not just from the manufacturer’s point of view but from more importantly what does it do from your point of view.
  • What benefits does it deliver to you?
  • What guarantees does it come with?
  • Can you trial it in advance?
  • How can I get hold of it?
  • Do other users recommend it – what social proof is there?

What I’m saying is that you need to market your products to your prospective buyers in order to create the environment for them to buy.

So tell me: Are you doing this?

Are you starting with the three Ms of marketing:

MARKET————–MESSAGE—————MEDIUM

  • Have you identified in granular detail exactly who your niche audiences are?
  • Have you crafted  the right messages for each of your target groups so that your marketing messages are totally relevant to each group?
  • Have you identified where these groups of customers hang out? Only when you know where these people spend their time can you decide which media and which methods of communication will be right to communicate with them.

It’s time for you to stop hard selling your prospects and to start creating the environment  in which they  will want to buy.

 

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8 Tips To Ensure Your Small Business Success

1. Niche Your Audience

There is a lot of competition out there and it’s tough. The worst thing you can do is to try and sell to everybody. Unless you’re Coca Cola you can’t be relevant to everyone. Much better to identify a small target group so that you can target your messages to them with laser like precision. With more limited budgets this is far more effective.

2. Your website is not a brochure

Long gone are the days when you can view your website as “an online brochure” and you have one just because everybody else does. Small business websites need to earn their keep and generate business.

3. You can’t ‘cheat’ Google – they’re smarter than you

A few years ago you may have got away with a bit of keyword stuffing or buying inbound links by the bucket load. Not any more. Google is focused on giving their customers the best results to their search and will rigorously analyse your site and your text for relevance. So focus on providing relevant, fresh and appealing content that will attract customers to your website.

4. Is traditional advertising right for you?

For most businesses these days, traditional advertising in local newspapers or magazines is rarely the best option. The costs are high and fixed, the targeting imprecise and you’re dealing with an increasingly sophisticated audience. If you’re dealing B to C where it’s difficult to get hold of prospects’ names and addresses it may still be relevant but proceed with caution and test on a small scale before you commit much money.

5. Blogging can be very powerful

Blogging is often overlooked as it demands significant input and because it’s not an overt sales medium. But it is a very powerful medium for demonstrating your expertise and is a great way to keep your website content fresh, which our good friend Google always appreciates.

6. The power of video

Today’s consumers are time strapped and want information fast. Many people, especially younger people are reading less and watching more. Video is a great mechanism for getting not only your message across but it also allows you to communicate your personality .

7. Facebook and Twitter may not be right for your business

Everyone’s become obsessed with social media. Every small business owner I work with says “Shouldn’t we be on Facebook and Twitter?” My response is always the same(how boring do I sound) If your audience are hanging out on social media then yes you should be part of the conversation. I mean it’s free and provides a quick and easy way to communicate with both customers and potential customers every day if you want. But if you serve an older demographic who are not spending their time on Facebook and Twitter then you’re wasting your time.

8. Make it mobile

The way people access the internet has changed and will go on changing. Web browsing from mobiles and tablets will outstrip PCs in the next few years. For certain categories such as mini cabs and restaurants it is absolutely vital but all of us need to make sure that our websites display effectively on these media. If it doesn’t you are potentially missing out on a large section of potential audience.

 

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Grow Your Business In the Way You Want To In 2013

We’re getting to the time of year when all attention turns to the next year – to 2013.

Grow your business in 2013

Whether you’ve achieved the things you wanted to this year or not, 2012 is just about finished and so we all have to plan for next year.

To ensure that 2013 is the year you finally make the break through you’ve been waiting for the following three simple points will help.

Determine what your biggest problem is.

Ask yourself what issues and problems are constantly lurking in your business.

Are you in danger of not selling enough to pay your bills? This could mean that you don’t have enough customers or that you aren’t charging enough for your products or services.

Do you have enough customers. A solid lead generation funnel will help solve that problem.

Do you have lots of prospects, but you’re not converting? It could be as simple as you’re not targeting the right audience.

Correctly identifying the real problems in your business will be the first step in solving them. Let’s face it – if you aren’t asking the right questions, you’ve never going to get the right answers.

Invest in a proven resource to help you solve your problems.

The time and money you think you are saving by trying to sort things out on your own could be leading you down a path that condemns you to an existence of mediocre results.

Make the decision to seek out the right kind of help.

No one is an expert at everything. Once you’ve identified what your problems are, invest the time and money to bring in someone who can solve them, if you can’t.  An expert may be able to sort things out very quickly and cheaply.

Make the commitment to take action.

We’re all guilty of not taking the necessary action from time to time. We know what we should do, but something seems to stop us.

Inactivity is the disease of the poor. Don’t fall into this category. Make a commitment to yourself and take action.

These three steps alone should help make 2013 a great year for you.

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Five Rules on How Not to Use Social Media

I recently read this blog from Marketing Profs and agreed with all the points. So much so that I thought I would reproduce it word for word.

So with full acknowledgment to Marketing Profs………………

Social media is a very powerful thing, but like any powerful thing it can wreak havoc if misused or misdirected. First of all, always remember that social media is built around being social.

Being personable, honest, and entertaining is the best way to get users to interact with and about a business. You want users to trust and be entertained by your company, product, slogan, or marketing campaign, so then they turn around and do the rest of the buzz work for you.

The five rules that follow are fundamental to building users’ trust, interesting them in your business, and getting them to talk among themselves about it.

Rule No. 1: Don’t be dishonest

Most of us have been taken in by a false post a time or two. Discovering our credulity, we felt embarrassed and disappointed, and in response developed an acute awareness of duplicity: We are on the lookout for it, and we hate it when we see it. Overtly dishonest posts, comments, and reviews that are thinly disguised promotions… we don’t like them and our customers don’t either, so just don’t go there.

The flipside of this distaste for fakery is that Internet users appreciate straightforwardness and honesty. So rather than respond to a negative review with fake positive reviews, publicly respond to the reviewer. Offer her discounts or a way to fix the problem, and you might win over a vocal customer who can potentially do far better work for you than any PR department or reputation manager.

Rule No. 2: Don’t be annoying

Remember the chain emails of the early 2000s? Sure, those things went viral quickly, but nobody appreciated them. In the same way that you don’t lob useless information or advertisements at your customers’ inboxes, don’t spam their Twitters with less-than-brilliant blog posts or promotions. If you focus on making your promotional content engaging, Internet users will do most of the promoting for you.

Look around to see what promotional techniques other companies are using to get users talking. A popular tactic these days, for instance, is to give away a free service. What service could your business give away that would likely interest those who subscribe to your Twitter feed or who have “Liked” you on Facebook? A generous promotion builds trust and loyalty with users, and can be a great way to get them talking about your site with friends.

Rule No. 3: Don’t fight the nature of the Internet

Promoting a product or a service online is a tricky business, as piracy, theft, and sharing are rife. If your product or service is threatened by the openness of the Internet, then try a different approach.

Look at how the music industry has responded to the widespread availability of free music. Musicians have shifted their emphasis to live shows and even give their recorded music away for free, in an effort to gain a following and get their name and their sound out in the world. They depend on their fans to talk them up on social media and get people to their live shows.

Think about it: Many of the biggest companies online—including names like Facebook, Yahoo, Google, YouTube, and Pandora—offer their services for free. Is there a way you can make money by offering a free service? See where you can adapt your business to fit to this new model.

Rule No. 4: Don’t think social media will solve all your problems

Social media is merely one tool for a business. A great one, to be sure: it can be used for advertising, for gathering customer feedback, for getting your brand out there, and more.

But it works best in concert with other efforts. Consumers will get tired of your products and services if you simply keep promoting the same ones. So encourage creativity in all parts of your business—product enhancements, new products, new ways to provide a service, new markets—then use social media to promote all that is fresh and exciting about your offerings.

Rule No. 5: Don’t treat each new social media sensation as the Holy Grail

Of course, it’s great to have as many promotional outlets as you can, but the risk is that you grab more than you can really handle and let one or two fall by the wayside, doing damage to your image as an active, living, customer-focused company.

The other danger is running after each social media fad of the moment. Focus on what works and then pick up new channels deliberatively, after you figure out how best to use each new one.

Remember that users of social media want to interact with people, and they all have their own motives and goals (whether that’s to impress their friends or find a job). If business professionals and marketers can remember those two fundamentals, plus the social media Golden Rule—to treat their users as they themselves would like to be treated–they will be well on their way to making social media work for them.