9 Reasons Social Media Marketing Should Top Your To-Do List

These days, it isn’t enough to have a website for your business – your digital storefront extends to social media marketing sites like Facebook and Twitter, and it’s time to start capitalizing on it. If your company still doesn’t have a Twitter account or a Facebook fan page, it’s time to get with the program and bring yourself up to speed (or risk falling behind your competition).

Still not convinced? Here are nine reasons social media marketing should top your to-do list:

1.)   You get to see your target market, up close and personal. Part of what makes marketing with Facebook and Twitter so cool is the interaction you get to have with your customer base – you can read their tweets and status updates to get insights into their daily lives (and maybe adjust your marketing strategy as a result).

To-Do List

2.)   You can respond to problems immediately. If there’s a problem with your product or service, you want to know about it immediately. With the feedback you get in the process of social media marketing, you’ll be the first to know when there are issues – and you can take steps to resolve them right away. Study after study has shown that consumers appreciate companies that respond to customer complaints (and don’t hesitate to rant online to anyone who will listen when companies don’t take the time to make things right).

3.)   Your competition is Tweeting and Facebooking like crazy. The early bird gets the worm, and the sooner you start up Facebook and Twitter pages, the sooner you can start amassing a ton of fans and followers. This isn’t something you want to fall behind the competition on, because it’s much harder (and more expensive) to play catch up than it is to get in on the game early. Truth be told, your competition is probably already marketing with Facebook, and maybe even Twitter and LinkedIn, too.

4.)   People are receptive to your messages. People view Twitter and Facebook as social networks, not marketing machines. As a result, they’re less likely to see what you post as an advertisement and will be more likely to hear what you have to say.

5.)   It will get you more sales. Not surprisingly, when you stay in front of your customer base, they’re more likely to buy from you when they need the products you sell. Social media marketing doesn’t just keep your company’s name in front of potential buyers, but it also gives you the opportunity to constantly give them incentives to buy. Try Tweeting or posting coupon codes, good only to those who are your Facebook fans or Twitter followers (around The Content Factory, we call them “Tweeps”). You’ll be surprised at how many people make purchases using the code!

6.)   You will find customers you didn’t know existed. If you follow specific keywords in Twitter, you can find people who are looking for the products you sell (and then direct them to your site). Using Twitter for marketing is great that way – telling people who want your products how to get them from your company is just an @ sign away.

7.)   Customers you didn’t know existed will find (and buy from) you. In the process of marketing with Facebook, you’ll probably join a ton of groups related to your products, industry and customer base. By posting links in these groups, you’ll help influence customers to check out your site. Post a link today, and two weeks later you might see a sale from it.

8.)   It’s free. How can you argue with that? If you handle your own social media management, running a social networking campaign is as cheap as it gets. If you hire a social media management or online PR agency, it will cost you between R5,000 and R12,000 per month, but it’ll be an investment that you’ll be likely to see a return on. If you’re intimidated by interacting with people online or your writing skills leave something to be desired, hiring an online PR agency is definitely the way to go. Posting poorly written content or conveying the wrong kind of messages on social networking sites can seriously affect your digital PR presence.

9.)   The social media marketing arena is a (fairly) level playing field.Unlike the brick and mortar world where you need to have millions of dollars to run traditional ad campaigns, all companies start off on pretty equal footing when it comes to social media marketing. The people who thrive and go viral in cyberspace are the people with the most clever, attention grabbing tactics and the most useful, link worthy content. If you want to get lots of traffic and really increase your sales online, you’re going to have to outwit, outnetwork and outwrite your competition while offering superior products and customer service. Isn’t that what business is all about, anyway?

Simply put, social media marketing is part of doing business in the new millennium. Marketing with Facebook has been hot for quite a while now, but recently more and more companies have been using Twitter for marketing. If your business isn’t already active on social networking sites, now is the time to start. Who knows, you could be missing out on sales opportunities right now.

Social Media Signs Illustration Design

Increase your online exposure and look legit

Your digital storefront isn’t limited to just your website. Your Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn all represent your company in the eyes Internet browsers and buyers. In fact, some may even say that your business’ Google results (relevant, irrelevant, positive and negative) all constitute parts of your digital storefront.

People expect businesses to have Facebook and Twitter accounts, and they expect to be able to use them to get in touch with company representatives, if necessary. If you don’t have social networking profiles set up for your company, you look less legitimate. Ditto if your website looks like it was ripped off of somebody’s GeoCities page circa 1998.

Social media marketing is a must-have for businesses, but it’s also just the tip of the iceberg. Having website content that drives sales, a solid SEO strategy and products that consumers actually want to buy are all important pieces of the web PR puzzle, too.

As if you needed another reason to use social media for business

At the very least, social media marketing will help drive traffic to your site and increase brand awareness. That’s a huge part of web PR in and of itself, and is an outcome anyone would be happy with. Have questions about how to get started? Contact us, and we’ll help get you started on the right path.

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Plan your marketing approach before the year is over!

The year is almost in the bag and before you know it, we’ll be into Easter again. This is the time to really look at where your company is trucking on the internet. Are you making money online? Is your social engagement adding to your bottomline profitability?

I am also planning the coming year, and for this purpose, I have put together an offer which will expire in January.

Have a look and let me know if I can help.

Call me for a chat on 0828236380

Thorsten

DJMbrochure (pdf version) 

 

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A little rant about using Social Media

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If I had had an insight as to WHY back when I started, I promise you, I would have approached my personal brand building differently and saved myself a lot of frustration. Let’s quickly talk about how I got here…
I studied Fashion and international business in New York. 
I worked on Wall Street 
Came back to SA and started working for Woolworths as a fashion buyer.
Started a Brandy Company – Went nationwide, won the Loerie award for design
Started a property development company – Imported my finishes from China.
Panel Shop Franchise – THAT REALLY SUCKED – (hauled out of bed at midnights by drunk tow truck drivers) I was like – “this is for the birds”  – I sold that business and headed for the beach…ie a sabbatical Then bought an airline ticket and I went to Puerto Rico with my kite surfer and sat on the beach to think – Read a book, the 4 hour workweek, about setting up remote income streams

So I thought: What pisses me off about what I do?

Pitching to the office every day
Managing staff
Race around the country side… begging for business.
I was into bricks and mortar, which cost money and was often stolen

I Came to SA and did what I often do… – I hit the wine route with a pretty lady…
She happened to be very pretty, which made me very happy and I remembered that the book told me to do what made me happy. So the first thing that was on my mind, was out of the question, so I built a wine website instead….

I spent the next few months talking to wine estates until I had the largest selection of South African wines in the world on my site…

I set it up, set it up and then waited… and nothing happened. Accidental Sales happened, 2 cases sold to someone in Germany were reason to celebrate…

Then I got into the trenches
I joined forums,
I collected e-mail addresses and started to send out newsletters. 
I started filming myself drinking wine and talking about the wines. I would post this to You Tube…

I did this every single day for 12 month…. 

2 peeps watched. Grandma watched, Aunty Jill watched, but she drank way too much anyway…

– but slowly, first a trickle and then a stream… 

The first time I knew I had something was Christmas Sale… 
I had done the ground work and clocked the sale to start at midnight. By the morning I had R500,000 in sales and got a call from my service provider, saying that the server was taking strain.
By the evening I had passed the R1million mark 
I had created a little river!

Let’s back up a bit and talk about the world we live in…

I’m  talking about is the demise of the gatekeepers.
Up to a while ago, there were a couple of peeps at the SABC and Mnet, who decided what you were going to see.
If I had gone to them and said that I wanted to sit in front of a camera for 20 minutes and drink wine, totally unscripted and that it was going to be great, they would have laughed me out of the door…

But because it was 2010, I had the ability to pump out content around a passion of mine and I, way more importantly, you, the world, decided if it was good enough… You see, I don’t get very excited about isidingo. They had to beat three shows… 
Now, if you want to build brand equity, you have to beat everybody…. 

Do you want a business strategy ?  – Connect with people and work the room and show that you care! 
When my dad wanted to get the word out, in the old days he would talk to guys. It’s called working the room.
It’s the person who tells all the parents to come to their flower shop at the kids school function, that will get noticed… 

With the tools that re in place today , you can hustle too – people ask me all the time… Oh Thorsten which platform should I use?

Answer: All of them! 
It’s like 10 mixers going on and wanting to only use one…
It’s like 10 events going on and you can be at all of them. Wouldn’t t you want to. You can do that now…

When you’re living in a tumbler or WordPress or a Twitter world, you are expanding your reach.
When you’re building your brand, you re living in a world of mouth world.
And the Internet is word of mouth on steroids.
Word of mouth is hanging out with the incredible Hulk! 

I had so much fun hanging out with the Hulk, that I realised that doing the wine business made me only partially happy. I mean how much wine can you really drink at 11am on a monday morning…
I started working the room for other companies… 

Let’s talk about passion…
Talking about your passion is easy, cos you know the subject matter…

5 years ago, I did not see a way for people to make a living, talking about the Smurfs, season 2

But now it is possible…
Is it going to be a million Rand business? – probably not
Is it going to be a hundred thousand Rand business? – Probably
Pump out content around a subject that interests you. 

But too many people care about the camera… I pumped out content for the week with my iPhone or a little video camera.
When you know your subject matter, you don’t have to do homework. You just talk. Then you get into the trenches. You connect… you become part of the conversation. 
You have to do more of it and things begin to happen.
You can’t read about pushups, and expect something to happen… you’ve got do them! 
…its the same with business.

You see, content is King, but Marketing is the queen, and she runs the household. 

The queen deals with the eyeballs when they are on you. That’s the marketing function.  Converting the attention people give you through content, into active bottomline purchases…. through sales…

It’s the same with  Business to Business…
Give the end consumer information that they want and your wholesaler will want more of your product, because his customers are asking them for it. 

The more I think about what is going on and the more I consult with companies, it becomes very obvious to me that some companies are in deep shit.
They want to hold on to old ways.

Oh, WE don’t really care about the Facebook and the twitter, – I promise you, you are going to care really fast when those buggers put you out of business. 

People hold onto the old ways… TV supplanted Radio. emails supplanted letters and faxes… There are cultural shifts and you need to keep pace with these. 

Look at what a 16 year old person is doing… Why are TV’s numbers down? Because people are making connections on their media channels. 

Individuals can now become competitors to the biggest corporate giants. 

Let’s talk about the 400lbs Gorilla of Social Media for a bit…

What do you pay for a print ad? 
Whom does it go out to?
Where does it end up. (In the trash?!) 

I am going to tell you that you can get far better ROI numbers off a targeted FB ads campaign

What if I told you that I can use FB like a pair of scissors.
Give me half of your budget and I will get you 200 000 impressions, and at least 1000 followers off a single well worded ad.
Now what you do with that is up to you. It’s like being at a cocktail party. You have to work the room. You have to engage, but those people are at your cocktail party because they are pre qualified. They want to be there. 

Facebook has a system called EdgeRank
Facebook changed their algorithms about a year ago,
You only see about 5% of what your connections post….
an engagement sends the person higher up the list
every engagement is called an  Edge…
Every engagement filters a news stream accordingly
– it strengthens the stream and will push the content up the newsstream
That’s why engaging content is so important

Facebook does not care about conversions, it cares about engagement – you can’t have them only read your stuff, they have to want to engage with it…and share it.
If your content elicits shares, you are golden!
The FB hoops and algorithms are constantly changing, – your only answer is to keep engaging. You have to reinvent yourself every day and remain vigilant – Know your community like your family

The trick is to get to know your audience. 
If you know their age, gender, that is fine, but you have to know what they have for breakfast, the clothes they wear, what they do when nobody is watching…

How you should post?
Likes and cats ? not right, but not wrong either…

Be authentic!
Imagine you are in someone’s lounge and you are joining a conversation.
Are you going to be the dude on the couch flashing a “buy me now” sticker in peoples faces? It’s like having a flasher in your room – just not cool!

The next time you post something about Bhotale’s Madiba Speech, and your boss tells you that it is not appropriate content
You will calmly point out that this post is getting a higher than average engagement over your more traditional posts.
You have already seen that your community watches SA’s got talent, and by posting this, you are showing them that you care, and that you understand them…
Suddenly you are talking to them like a person and not a corporation …and the over indexing reveals this,.
This is good, because it tells FB that this brand matters to people. – 

So the next time you put a little infographic into your FB feed about how to “take care of future generations” , Facebook makes sure that your customers see it in their newsfeed.

Your next post after the infographic may be some content that you share about the Youth of South Africa and their challenges. 
Again, the piece is not selling anything, 
Third Jab – a video about kids in a skatepark…
Fourth Jab – Poll, would you rather stay in SA or emigrate….
Then you land a knockout punch… Insure your families future… – click this link… and you get to a squeeze page..

Voila! you are monetising your eyeballs…

I can send you a list of how to post effectively if you like. email me at thorsten@digitaljunglemedia.com

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOUR AD AND YOUR CONTENT SHOULD BE… NOTHING!

You have to forgive this style of writing, but I am sitting here and really felt the need to get this out… – and quickly. 
Here’s the bottomline.. – If you care about your brand, then you absolutely have to make use of the unbelievable, lights-out opportunities that the internet offers you! It’s that simple. If you are standing like an ox in front of a hill

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Facebook Advertising (Part2)

” Advertising works most effectively when it’s in line with what people are already trying to do. And people are trying to communicate in a certain way on Facebook – they share information with their friends, they learn about what their friends are doing – so there’s really a whole new opportunity for a new type of advertising model within that.”
– Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook is catering to over a billion peeps. They have not designed Facebook to make advertising revenue. This makes the platform quite an interesting phenomenon. It’s a self service area that you need to go and figure out yourself if you want to make it work. It’s not like you can call someone up and tell them that you are struggling with your reach or your targeting. You need to start small, make some mistakes, learn along the way and then you need to get better. I guess this is like a formulae for success in any area of life.
If you don’t see yourself as an analytically minded individual, despair not. Make a few learning connections daily and soon you will be looking forward to getting the data about how your ads are performing.

You can place ads on FB in one of three ways…

1) Boosting your post
2) Ads Manager
3) Power Editor / other software such as Ads Espresso
For the purpose of this post, I would like to have a look at the first of three…

BOOSTING A PAGE

FB is doing their best to make it easy for you to spend money with them. You will see the big BOOST button. Once you get into placing FB ads, you should get a better ROI from options 2 and 3. This being said, FB is constantly improving the way you get better results from boosting a page. The time saving from boosting a post can be huge and time is money too. Initially, you may get better results from boosting.
You can find the boost button here:
Boost a post
                                                                        (This is how it will appear on your timeline)
page insights
(This is where you will find the from within your “page insights” area)
Facebook will give you the option to boost according to “people who like your page”. This is not ideal, because you will be promoting your content to people who are not your specific target audience. Targeting the friends of your fans is good, but you should be combining this with other interests and behaviours as well. This is something that you can only do from within the Ads manager or the Power editor.

Maximum Budget

Here, you can set your maximum budget, instead of your daily budget.
Set the maximum Budget, and determine the number of days that you want to be running the ad. FB will distribute your budget across the days.

Target your Audience

This is where the fun begins. If you know your customer, then you will be able to choose whom this post will be exposed to. You can choose the age. Try not to go for the real youngsters. They tend to be happy clickers, and your budget will quickly be spent. (no disrespect intended)
setting parameters
As you begin to set interests, FB will come up with suggestions that you may want to go with.
As you can see, this is quite a simple process. In my opinion, it is a good way to get started and to get the feel for putting some monies behind promoting yourself. When you are comfortable with this, you can go on to the more sophisticated ADS MANAGER. We will cover this tomorrow.
I hope you found this useful.
T
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Is Facebook advertising for me?

I often get the “where do I start” look from people whom I am helping to get their company noticed on the web.

Should I spend money on Google advertising? Should I get into Social media? Should I be e-mailing my clients?

The answer is “yes” to all of the above. However, you should take a moment and look at the type of product or service you are pedalling on the web to see where the best fit lies.

If you can answer in one of the following ways:

Our Stuff is Unique

Well, then you should be looking at launching an ad campaign on Facebook. FB is the worldwide hub for individual expression. It is the place where you can engage potential customers on a human level. If your product can be found on the shelves of big retailers, the perhaps you will have a harder time, finding that individual expression. It’s not impossible to do, but it will be more difficult.

We sell to Consumers

FB is a place for individuals to connect with friends. It is not the best place for businesses to sell to other businesses. You can grow the “pull” of your business by getting your product or service to become known by the end user, and then get those to request the items or service. The B2B is better done on LInkedIn.

Does B2B work for FB?

If you have a SOHO (small office or home office) then it can. Generally the more corporate your business appears, the less appealing it will look to those who are escaping work by going onto FB, – makes sense?

My Product is fun

The more fun your product is, the better its appeal will be on FB, because FB is fun! The fun side of your products can appeal to a person’s fun core identity and this will resonate with them. They like to express opinions and they like to play and socialise. If you sell personal improvement products that are hip, cool or trendy, FB will also be a great fit. If, on the flip side, your product is technical academic and complex, it may be more difficult to resonate with your FB community.

In closing, I would recommend that you leave the Adwords for now and test your business for Facebook Advertising. It is cheaper than Adwords and you can super focus your offering. But remember that you are in business to make a buck. You need to invest a buck to get a customer who will spend 2 bucks on your product or service. Liking posts is great. Interacting with people is great, but it is all time consuming and will not guarantee that your bottomline will grow your company.

I will be posting more on FB advertising in the days to come.

me

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Science Says Lasting Relationships Come Down To 2 Basic Traits

Most of us are in a relationship, or we strive to be in one. I follow Tony Robbins when I am in need of advice which comes from a more neutral corner than that given by my father. Tony says that a healthy loving relationship with your spouse/significant other, can be the most rewarding thing in your life. We work so hard to make money or improve our golf swings… – Isn’t it only right that we should spend just a little bit of time on improving our relationships?
This article may take you 5 minutes to read, but it is invaluable! Read on…
couple talking

Science says lasting relationships come down to—you guessed it—kindness and generosity.

Every day in June, the most popular wedding month of the year, about 13,000 American couples will say “I do,” committing to a lifelong relationship that will be full of friendship, joy, and love that will carry them forward to their final days on this earth.

Except, of course, it doesn’t work out that way for most people.

The majority of marriages fail, either ending in divorce and separation or devolving into bitterness and dysfunction.

Of all the people who get married, only three in ten remain in healthy, happy marriages, as psychologist Ty Tashiro points out in his book “The Science of Happily Ever After,” which was published earlier this year.

Social scientists first started studying marriages by observing them in action in the 1970s in response to a crisis: Married couples were divorcing at unprecedented rates. Worried about the impact these divorces would have on the children of the broken marriages, psychologists decided to cast their scientific net on couples, bringing them into the lab to observe them and determine what the ingredients of a healthy, lasting relationship were.

Was each unhappy family unhappy in its own way, as Tolstoy claimed, or did the miserable marriages all share something toxic in common?

Psychologist John Gottman was one of those researchers. For the past four decades, he has studied thousands of couples in a quest to figure out what makes relationships work. I recently had the chance to interview Gottman and his wife Julie, also a psychologist, in New York City. Together, the renowned experts on marital stability run The Gottman Institute, which is devoted to helping couples build and maintain loving, healthy relationships based on scientific studies.

John Gottman began gathering his most critical findings in 1986, when he set up “The Love Lab” with his colleague Robert Levenson at the University of Washington. Gottman and Levenson brought newlyweds into the lab and watched them interact with each other.

With a team of researchers, they hooked the couples up to electrodes and asked the couples to speak about their relationship, like how they met, a major conflict they were facing together, and a positive memory they had. As they spoke, the electrodes measured the subjects’ blood flow, heart rates, and how much they sweat they produced. Then the researchers sent the couples home and followed up with them six years later to see if they were still together.

From the data they gathered, Gottman separated the couples into two major groups: the masters and the disasters. The masters were still happily together after six years. The disasters had either broken up or were chronically unhappy in their marriages.

When the researchers analyzed the data they gathered on the couples, they saw clear differences between the masters and disasters. The disasters looked calm during the interviews, but their physiology, measured by the electrodes, told a different story. Their heart rates were quick, their sweat glands were active, and their blood flow was fast. Following thousands of couples longitudinally, Gottman found that the more physiologically active the couples were in the lab, the quicker their relationships deteriorated over time.

But what does physiology have to do with anything? The problem was that the disasters showed all the signs of arousal — of being in fight-or-flight mode — in their relationships. Having a conversation sitting next to their spouse was, to their bodies, like facing off with a saber-toothed tiger.

Even when they were talking about pleasant or mundane facets of their relationships, they were prepared to attack and be attacked. This sent their heart rates soaring and made them more aggressive toward each other. For example, each member of a couple could be talking about how their days had gone, and a highly aroused husband might say to his wife, “Why don’t you start talking about your day. It won’t take you very long.”

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The masters, by contrast, showed low physiological arousal. They felt calm and connected together, which translated into warm and affectionate behavior, even when they fought. It’s not that the masters had, by default, a better physiological make-up than the disasters; it’s that masters had created a climate of trust and intimacy that made both of them more emotionally and thus physically comfortable.

Gottman wanted to know more about how the masters created that culture of love and intimacy, and how the disasters squashed it. In a follow-up study in 1990, he designed a lab on the University of Washington campus to look like a beautiful bed and breakfast retreat.

He invited 130 newlywed couples to spend the day at this retreat and watched them as they did what couples normally do on vacation: cook, clean, listen to music, eat, chat, and hang out. And Gottman made a critical discovery in this study — one that gets at the heart of why some relationships thrive while others languish.

Throughout the day, partners would make requests for connection, what Gottman calls “bids.” For example, say that the husband is a bird enthusiast and notices a goldfinch fly across the yard. He might say to his wife, “Look at that beautiful bird outside!” He’s not just commenting on the bird here: he’s requesting a response from his wife — a sign of interest or support — hoping they’ll connect, however momentarily, over the bird.

The wife now has a choice. She can respond by either “turning toward” or “turning away” from her husband, as Gottman puts it. Though the bird-bid might seem minor and silly, it can actually reveal a lot about the health of the relationship. The husband thought the bird was important enough to bring it up in conversation and the question is whether his wife recognizes and respects that.

People who turned toward their partners in the study responded by engaging the bidder, showing interest and support in the bid. Those who didn’t — those who turned away — would not respond or respond minimally and continue doing whatever they were doing, like watching TV or reading the paper. Sometimes they would respond with overt hostility, saying something like, “Stop interrupting me, I’m reading.”

These bidding interactions had profound effects on marital well-being. Couples who had divorced after a six-year follow up had “turn-toward bids” 33 percent of the time. Only three in ten of their bids for emotional connection were met with intimacy. The couples who were still together after six years had “turn-toward bids” 87 percent of the time. Nine times out of ten, they were meeting their partner’s emotional needs.

couple in love Flickr/Scarleth Marie

By observing these types of interactions, Gottman can predict with up to 94 percent certainty whether couples — straight or gay, rich or poor, childless or not — will be broken up, together and unhappy, or together and happy several years later. Much of it comes down to the spirit couples bring to the relationship. Do they bring kindness and generosity; or contempt, criticism, and hostility?“There’s a habit of mind that the masters have,” Gottman explained in an interview, “which is this: they are scanning social environment for things they can appreciate and say thank you for. They are building this culture of respect and appreciation very purposefully. Disasters are scanning the social environment for partners’ mistakes.”

“It’s not just scanning environment,” chimed in Julie Gottman. “It’s scanning the partner for what the partner is doing right or scanning him for what he’s doing wrong and criticizing versus respecting him and expressing appreciation.”

Contempt, they have found, is the number one factor that tears couples apart. People who are focused on criticizing their partners miss a whopping 50 percent of positive things their partners are doing and they see negativity when it’s not there.

People who give their partner the cold shoulder — deliberately ignoring the partner or responding minimally — damage the relationship by making their partner feel worthless and invisible, as if they’re not there, not valued. And people who treat their partners with contempt and criticize them not only kill the love in the relationship, but they also kill their partner’s ability to fight off viruses and cancers. Being mean is the death knell of relationships.

Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together. Research independent from theirs has shown that kindness (along with emotional stability) is the most important predictor of satisfaction and stability in a marriage. Kindness makes each partner feel cared for, understood, and validated—feel loved. “My bounty is as boundless as the sea,” says Shakespeare’s Juliet. “My love as deep; the more I give to thee, / The more I have, for both are infinite.” That’s how kindness works too: there’s a great deal of evidence showing the more someone receives or witnesses kindness, the more they will be kind themselves, which leads to upward spirals of love and generosity in a relationship.

There are two ways to think about kindness. You can think about it as a fixed trait: either you have it or you don’t. Or you could think of kindness as a muscle. In some people, that muscle is naturally stronger than in others, but it can grow stronger in everyone with exercise. Masters tend to think about kindness as a muscle. They know that they have to exercise it to keep it in shape. They know, in other words, that a good relationship requires sustained hard work.

“If your partner expresses a need,” explained Julie Gottman, “and you are tired, stressed, or distracted, then the generous spirit comes in when a partner makes a bid, and you still turn toward your partner.”

In that moment, the easy response may be to turn away from your partner and focus on your iPad or your book or the television, to mumble “Uh huh” and move on with your life, but neglecting small moments of emotional connection will slowly wear away at your relationship. Neglect creates distance between partners and breeds resentment in the one who is being ignored.

The hardest time to practice kindness is, of course, during a fight—but this is also the most important time to be kind. Letting contempt and aggression spiral out of control during a conflict can inflict irrevocable damage on a relationship.

old couple

“Kindness doesn’t mean that we don’t express our anger,” Julie Gottman explained, “but the kindness informs how we choose to express the anger. You can throw spears at your partner. Or you can explain why you’re hurt and angry, and that’s the kinder path.”John Gottman elaborated on those spears: “Disasters will say things differently in a fight. Disasters will say ‘You’re late. What’s wrong with you? You’re just like your mom.’ Masters will say ‘I feel bad for picking on you about your lateness, and I know it’s not your fault, but it’s really annoying that you’re late again.’”

For the hundreds of thousands of couples getting married each June — and for the millions of couples currently together, married or not — the lesson from the research is clear: If you want to have a stable, healthy relationship, exercise kindness early and often.

When people think about practicing kindness, they often think about small acts of generosity, like buying each other little gifts or giving one another back rubs every now and then. While those are great examples of generosity, kindness can also be built into the very backbone of a relationship through the way partners interact with each other on a day-to-day basis, whether or not there are back rubs and chocolates involved.

One way to practice kindness is by being generous about your partner’s intentions. From the research of the Gottmans, we know that disasters see negativity in their relationship even when it is not there. An angry wife may assume, for example, that when her husband left the toilet seat up, he was deliberately trying to annoy her. But he may have just absent-mindedly forgotten to put the seat down.

Or say a wife is running late to dinner (again), and the husband assumes that she doesn’t value him enough to show up to their date on time after he took the trouble to make a reservation and leave work early so that they could spend a romantic evening together. But it turns out that the wife was running late because she stopped by a store to pick him up a gift for their special night out.

Imagine her joining him for dinner, excited to deliver her gift, only to realize that he’s in a sour mood because he misinterpreted what was motivating her behavior. The ability to interpret your partner’s actions and intentions charitably can soften the sharp edge of conflict.

“Even in relationships where people are frustrated, it’s almost always the case that there are positive things going on and people trying to do the right thing,” psychologist Ty Tashiro told me. “A lot of times, a partner is trying to do the right thing even if it’s executed poorly. So appreciate the intent.”

Another powerful kindness strategy revolves around shared joy. One of the telltale signs of the disaster couples Gottman studied was their inability to connect over each other’s good news. When one person in the relationship shared the good news of, say, a promotion at work with excitement, the other would respond with wooden disinterest by checking his watch or shutting the conversation down with a comment like, “That’s nice.”

We’ve all heard that partners should be there for each other when the going gets rough. But research shows that being there for each other when things go right is actually more important for relationship quality. How someone responds to a partner’s good news can have dramatic consequences for the relationship.

In one study from 2006, psychological researcher Shelly Gable and her colleagues brought young adult couples into the lab to discuss recent positive events from their lives. They psychologists wanted to know how partners would respond to each other’s good news. They found that, in general, couples responded to each other’s good news in four different ways that they called: passive destructiveactive destructivepassive constructive, and active constructive.

Let’s say that one partner had recently received the excellent news that she got into medical school. She would say something like “I got into my top choice med school!”

If her partner responded in a passive destructive manner, he would ignore the event. For example, he might say something like: “You wouldn’t believe the great news I got yesterday! I won a free t-shirt!”

If her partner responded in a passive constructive way, he would acknowledge the good news, but in a half-hearted, understated way. A typical passive constructive response is saying “That’s great, babe” as he texts his buddy on his phone.

In the third kind of response, active destructive, the partner would diminish the good news his partner just got: “Are you sure you can handle all the studying? And what about the cost? Med school is so expensive!”

Finally, there’s active constructive responding. If her partner responded in this way, he stopped what he was doing and engaged wholeheartedly with her: “That’s great! Congratulations! When did you find out? Did they call you? What classes will you take first semester?”

Among the four response styles, active constructive responding is the kindest. While the other response styles are joy-killers, active constructive responding allows the partner to savor her joy and gives the couple an opportunity to bond over the good news. In the parlance of the Gottmans, active constructive responding is a way of “turning toward” your partners bid (sharing the good news) rather than “turning away” from it.

Active constructive responding is critical for healthy relationships. In the 2006 study, Gable and her colleagues followed up with the couples two months later to see if they were still together. The psychologists found that the only difference between the couples who were together and those who broke up was active constructive responding. Those who showed genuine interest in their partner’s joys were more likely to be together. In an earlier study, Gable found that active constructive responding was also associated with higher relationship quality and more intimacy between partners.

There are many reasons why relationships fail, but if you look at what drives the deterioration of many relationships, it’s often a breakdown of kindness. As the normal stresses of a life together pile up—with children, career, friend, in-laws, and other distractions crowding out the time for romance and intimacy—couples may put less effort into their relationship and let the petty grievances they hold against one another tear them apart.

In most marriages, levels of satisfaction drop dramatically within the first few years together. But among couples who not only endure, but live happily together for years and years, the spirit of kindness and generosity guides them forward.

 

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Fixed mindset vs flexible mindset.

I started reading a book yesterday, that has really impressed me. It’s by Carol Dweck. She looks at two types of people. There are those that would like to be perfect, and then there are those who don’t care about being perfect. Who would you think is the better off in the long run?

On the surface, one may look at the person who is in pursuit of perfection, and opt for that one, but let me explain… Haven’t you found that sometimes you don’t do something, because you are nervous that you may look like a royal tit if you fail? So, instead of pushing through and expanding yourself, you actually take the safe road, and opt to do something that you can do easily and that will make you look good.

It’s the person that is prepared to look at a problem and, knowing that they may mess up, still attack the issue and go and figure it out, who will have the greater growth curve in the long run. The same applies to this world of the internet. There is so much to figure out, that we are prone so shying away from it. My advice to you, is to take the time to go and work it out. I have a to do list of about 10 things to do today. I can promise you that there are 5 of them, that I have no idea of how to do them. – But I figure that I can find the way. It may take me a little longer, but in the end, I can get it right and then have another little tool in my armoury.

This is such a huge topic, and one that I can go on talking about for hours. My advice to you, is this…

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. They make you stronger and keep you young. Stay curious and don’t worry about what other people think!

 

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Wingsuit jumpers in downhill sky race

This is an OMG moment.

It might not seem like your idea of fun but dressing like a bat and jumping off the side of a cliff is exactly what a group of wingsuit base jumpers have been doing in China, as part of a downhill sky race.

It was held earlier this month in Hunan province, in a mountain range thought to have inspired the floating mountains of Pandora in the Hollywood blockbuster film Avatar.

 

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Why Social Media Is So Important for Your Business in 2014

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Social media networks were a novelty 5 years ago, but today their importance is no longer debated. Yes, businesses have definitely realized the power of social media and accepted that social media marketing has to be part of their marketing and PR mix.

In Social Media Examiner’s 2013 End of Year Report, marketers now place very high value on social media marketing:

  • 86% of marketers stated that social media is important for their business
  • 89% of marketers stated that increased exposure was the number one benefit of social media marketing

These are the definitive benefits of social media marketing that are listed:

  • Increased exposure
  • Increased traffic
  • Developed loyal fans
  • Generated leads
  • Improved search ranking
  • Grew business partnerships
  • Reduced marketing expenses
  • Improved sales
  • Provided marketplace insight

Social Media is the Game Changer

It’s obvious that social media will continue to have a significant impact in 2014 on marketers and business owners: They now have the ability to reach out and communicate on a personal level with their target audience on a daily basis. This is a game changer for businesses engaging in marketing, sales, customer service and other business activities. This is very powerful and has never been available with traditional marketing!

 

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7 Reasons You Need to Be Using Social Media As Your Customer Service Portal

When most marketers and business owners think about the advantages of social media for their business, they think about attracting new customers to the business. Smart business owners and marketers focus on relationship building, either through regular content marketing or by having conversations with customers who are already familiar with the brand.

Straightforward and effective, this type of strategy has helped thousands of businesses spark new life into their marketing campaigns—but I believe social media has a much broader potential for business development and customer retention.

Customer service is evolving to match the rapid growth and development of new communication media, and today’s most popular social media platforms are the perfect opportunity to capitalize on that trend. When today’s customers try to get in touch with a customer service representative, they encounter various challenges:

  • Find and call a phone number. Unless the number is immediate, just finding the number can be difficult. Wait times, lengthy unproductive conversations, and multiple call transfers are all disadvantages that can leave a sour taste in your customer’s mouth.
  • Submit a contact form. It’s an impersonal experience, and customers never know where the contact form is going, when it will be replied to, or by whom.
  • Send an email. Invisible and impersonal, much communication can get lost over email, and responses often take days.
  • Seek out a service representative. It’s the best option for most customers, giving them a friendly, personal, and authoritative response. However, it can be costly and inefficient to have dedicated account representatives ready for each customer.

Using social media as your customer service portal can compensate for many of these disadvantages. While it’s still developing as a medium, there are a number of reasons why it’s possible and advantageous to get started with it now.

Reason 1: Communication Is Immediate

When people are upset, or when they need answers to their questions, they want a response right away. They don’t want to wait 24 hours for their email to be read, sorted, and responded to. They don’t want to wait on hold for 30 minutes.

One of the most beautiful elements of social media is its immediacy. The minute somebody makes a post on your Facebook wall or a post mentioning your brand, your admin will receive a notification to take action. This is also a slight vulnerability—customers expect immediate responses when posting on social media, so if your response team isn’t prepared, it could cost you—but if you can respond within minutes of the original post, you’ll be able to make your customer very happy. This is especially effective for customers dealing with an urgent problem, such as a flight delay or a technological malfunction before a presentation.

Reason 2: You Give People a More Personal Brand Experience

People tend to favor dealing with other people rather than corporations. Managing your customer service through social media will give you the best of both worlds. People will immediately recognize and call out to your brand, but it will be a person reaching out in response. There won’t be any automatically generated emails. There won’t be any tone-based phone menus. It’s just a question, followed by an answer.

Social media also allows you to think carefully about your response and present it in a more casual, conversational tone. This way, you can retain your brand voice while writing and communicating like a human, thus humanizing your brand.

Reason 3: The Conversation Is Transparent

This works both ways. For the customer, transparency is all about vindication. When customers are upset, they want to be heard, and posting on social media is the perfect way to be heard. By allowing your customers to make their complaints or questions public in this way, you’re giving them an immediate outlet. They feel in control, and appreciate the urgency companies feel to respond when the issue is made public.

For companies, transparency means that other potential customers get to see how well you handle the situation. If you can answer a customer’s concerns quickly, nicely, and effectively, you’ll instantly leave all of your followers with a good feeling—confidence that your customer service is top-notch.

Reason 4: You’re Encouraging More Brand Mentions

More interactions on social media means you have more opportunities to point back to your own brand. Your customers will mention your brand in their posts, making you visible to all their contacts. Even if they come to you with a concern or an issue, you’ll get brand visibility and an opportunity to show off your ability to quickly and effectively and correct the problem. When relevant, you can also post links to your site for more information. No matter how you handle questions and comments, you’ll be encouraging more activity and more brand mentions, which can help your SEO rankings.

Reason 5: Follow-up Is Easy

Depending on how long it takes for the problem to be resolved, following up with your customer is fast and easy. If you manage to resolve the problem with a quick answer, you can immediately ask whether or not the interaction was helpful. If it wasn’t, you have an opportunity to take further action—rather than forcing the customer through another round of calling or emailing. If it was helpful, you have a publicly visible follow-up interaction that ends on a positive note. You can also make a note to follow up a few days later with a private message to make sure the customer is still satisfied.

Reason 6: Social Users Are More Likely to Talk About Their Experience

This is a selfish reason, but it’s an extraordinarily advantageous one. Intuitively, the people most likely to use social media are the people who like to socialize. The most active users have hundreds of followers and friends on various social media profiles, and they’re used to posting updates regularly.

How you respond to these people is significant, because they are more likely to tell others about their experience with your brand. If you treat them well, they’ll share a positive experience with their extended social network—and you’ll get access to new potential fans and customers. Harness their popularity by giving them an unforgettably positive interaction.

Reason 7: You Eliminate the Funnel

Customers hate the funnel. When customers reach out to you, they want to be responded to in the same medium. Otherwise, they feel like they are being sent through a mechanical series of hoops, which leaves them with an alienated, impersonal feeling. Many major companies make the mistake of ushering people through one dedicated communication channel, usually a phone number or an email address, and isolating customers who reach out in any other method.

For example, if a customer reaches out on Facebook, they want to be responded to on Facebook. They don’t want to see a formulaic welcome message with instructions to call an 800 number. Eliminate the “funnel” by having dynamic customer interactions on every platform.

Conclusion

Resolving issues and answering customer questions through social media does give you a few more vulnerabilities, but the risk is worth the potential rewards. By using social media, you’ll be creating more substantial, personal relationships with your customers, and you’ll be increasing the visibility of your brand in the process. Interested in more benefits of social media? See my article, The Essential Guide to Jungle Social Media

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