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Monthly Archives: February 2017

7 tips to Use Facebook for Business

While the basics of setting up a page and posting to your business page are relatively straightforward, there are a lot of nuances to managing your page that could help you make the most of your Facebook presence. Here are 7 powerful ways to make your page more robust and engaging.

A key component of branding is consistency. As such, you should be sure you select a @ username that reflects your business. Of course, your ideal pick may not be available, so think of ways that you can get as close to your brand as possible. If you run the Acme Widget Company, maybe you could go with @acmewidgetco. Or even better, @acmewidget.

Remember that whatever you pick will be a part of your custom Facebook URL — shorter is better so it can fit on business cards or other promotional materials.

While Facebook keeps a pretty consistent look across the entire interface, you do have some freedom in how your page looks. You can choose from several templates that have certain tweaks to better match the type of page you have: professional services, business, shopping, standard, venues, politicians, and restaurants and cafes.

The differences are subtle, but they’re important. For example, the restaurants and cafes template places images higher so that you can show off the venue and feature menu items. The professional services option puts a prominent Call Now button at the top so potential clients can reach out to you right away. Spend some time experimenting here to see which is the best fit for your page.

You have quite a bit of control over how the layout of your page is created to fit the needs of your particular business. Make sure you’ve optimized all the right dials and settings that Facebook offers.

For example, you’ll find that the tabs on the side of the page can serve as quick stops for particular actions. Click “manage tabs” to put the photos, events or other items in a more prominent location. Also, if there are some tabs you don’t use, you’re able to get rid of those.

Facebook offers a range of call-to-action buttons that live at the top of your business’s page. You have a few different choices, so pick the one that makes the most sense for your business:

  • Book Now
  • Contact Us
  • Use App
  • Play Game
  • Shop Now
  • Sign Up
  • Watch Video

According to Buffer, one of the top methods for getting the attention of your audience is native videos. The company found some slightly better metrics for uploading your own video instead of embedding it from YouTube or Vimeo.

The beauty of videos is they’re so easy to produce now — all you need is a smartphone and a few minutes of light editing. Even if you’re not a professional video creator, it’s worth trying your hand at it.

Your Facebook page can be a portal for potential customers to reach out to you. A very effective way is through Facebook Messenger. If you add a call-to-action button, you’ll get messages in the Messenger app just as if they were from one of your contacts. Visitors to your page will also notice how responsive you are, which will leave them with a good impression of how you treat customers.

Facebook has rolled out a number of new tools for directing your content to a specific audience. While it will take some time to dig into the dashboard, you may find success if you are willing to target your content at characteristics more attuned to your potential customer base. For example, think about geographic location, age groups and other interest targeting. Marketer Jon Loomer has some more detailed suggestions if you want to dive in.

7 Best Photo Editing Apps

Smartphone and tablet cameras are better than ever, turning Average Joes into instant professional photographers. Still, smartphone and tablet snapshots are far from perfect. Photos can come out looking flat, dull or otherwise lifeless. Whether you share photos on social media or use them on your website or online store, a quick editing session with a photo editing app can make a world of difference in attracting customers with beautiful works of art.

To help you wade through the sea of photo editing apps available at app stores, here are some of the best for iOS and Android.

Sometimes, your shot is picture perfect — except for that one little blemish, glare or unwanted object. If you simply need to touch-up a photo, check outTouchRetouch.

TouchRetouch lets you quickly and easily remove all sorts of elements from a photo, such as shadows, lights, people, buildings, wires, spots in the sky, backgrounds and more. All you have to do is highlight areas you want eliminated by tracing it with your finger, and then tap Start. TouchRetouch does all the hard work for you.

The app also lets you perfect faces by retouching imperfections, evening out skin tones and smoothing the skin’s surface. And unlike many retouching apps that distort images post-edit, TouchRetouch maintains the quality of your photos so it’s not obvious that they have been edited.

Other features include a clone stamp tool to fill in any gaps, match backgrounds or duplicate elements, as well as unlimited undo and redo, 1:1 view and social media sharing via Facebook, Twitter, Picasa and Flickr. In-app video tutorials are also available to help you use and get the most out of the app.

Ask any Instagram power user or iPhone photographer and Snapseed is likely on the top of their list. Snapseed, by Google, is a free iOS and Android app that offers a slew of professional-level photo editing features.

To polish photos, the Auto Correct feature enhances colors, exposure and contrast in a single tap. The Tune Image feature tweaks brightness, ambience, highlights, shadows, saturation and other effects, and the Selective Adjust feature also lets you highlight and focus specific areas. Other features include frames, texture and tone adjustment, and sharing via email, Google+ and more.

Another great feature is the Brush tool, which lets you selectively edit different parts of a photo, for instance, manually adjust the saturation or exposure of a single object in a frame and not the entire photo.

The app also comes with several filters and effects to give your photos a unique look and feel. This includes classic Black & White, Vintage, Drama, Grunge and Retrolux, which adds scratches, film styles and other embellishments to give your photos a retro vibe.

Get Snapseed from the Apple App Store and Google Play.

VSCO is another favorite photo editing app amongst for iPhone photographers. VSCO — which stands for Visual Supply Company — is an all-in-one camera and photo editing app.

VSCO’s main draw are its wide range of filters. The app lets you adjust the strength of each filter manually by using a slider, giving you full control over its intensity. In addition to filters, you can further edit photos by fine tuning its exposure, contrast, sharpness, saturation, highlights, tin, temperature and fade.

In addition to editing tools, VSCO comes with a neat Sync & Edit feature that syncs your workflow across devices. For instance, you can take a photo and start editing it on your iPhone, and then finish your work on your iPad. VSCO also maintains the quality of your images by keeping high-resolution versions of your photos even after many rounds of editing on different devices.

VSCO also offers a robust organization system using its Photo Library. There you have the choice of displaying photos you’ve taken using the VSCO camera, photos you’ve edited and your favorite photos, as well as add existing photos from your phone’s native photo gallery.

If you’re more of the creative type, Mextures is right in your wheel house. This photo editing app lets you apply all types of textures to photos, such as grains, light leaks and gradients. There are more than 150 original textures to choose from, and it also comes with an unlimited number of layers for easy editing and blending of effects.

For fast editing, Mextures also comes with 200 “formulas” to instantly apply premade edits to other photos in just one click. Users can also save their own edits as formulas for future use.

In addition to textures, Mextures also offers basic editing tools, such as exposure, contrast, highlights and shadows, sharpness, saturation, tint, black and white, fade and other adjustments.

Adobe Photoshop Express takes the basic photo editing features of Adobe Photoshop and packs them into a mobile app.

Designed for on-the-go photo editing, Adobe Photoshop Express is an entry-level photo editing app that offers a handful of features for quick edits and automatic fixes. Basic editing tools include crop, rotate, flip and red eye removal. You can also enhance photos using slide controls to adjust clarity, contrast, tint, exposure, temperature and more.

The app also supports panoramic photo editing, has social media integration, and comes with frames, borders and more than 20 filters to add special effects.

Adobe Photoshop Express can be downloaded for free at the Apple App Store and Google Play marketplace. In-app purchases deliver additional features, such as the Looks pack for additional filters and the Nose Reduction pack to remove grains and speckling.

If you’re looking to mainly add text to your photos and also be able to edit them, PicLab has you covered.

PicLab lets you easily get the message across with three easy-to-use tools. You can add text simply by tapping the text tool and start typing — and then choose from dozens of fonts — or by “writing” on photos with your finger or stylus. You can also choose from PicLab’s collection of pre-made messages, which include greetings, quotes, stickers and more.

Like other phot editing apps, PicLab also offers plenty of options to enhance your photos. Adjustments include brightness, contrast, blur, exposure, saturation, temperature and tint. There are also a ton of overlays available, such as borders, shapes, light effects, textures and patterns to change the look and feel of your photos.

A popular alternative to iOS cameras, Camera+ does more than let users take photos like a pro. It is also a powerful photo editing app equipped with several tools to transform images into works of art.

One of Camera+’s standout features is the Clarity function — in one tap, Clarity corrects colors, adjusts contrast and brightness, and enhances details to bring life to dull, washed-out photos.

Other features include digital flash to brighten dark photos; scene modes to create true-to-life photos based on your environment; brushing and layered effects; and borders and captions to for a personalized touch. Camera+ also comes with standard photo editing tools, such as rotation and cropping.

7 Ways to Improve Work-Life Balance

When you exclusively work from home, physical boundaries between work and your personal life can feel virtually nonexistent. Even if you’re organized, it can still be difficult to successfully manage your career and a household in the same space, especially if you’re raising a family, too.

While it may not be possible for home-based business owners and workers to completely draw the line between personal and professional, there are ways to better integrate the different facets of your life. Experts provided some tips for better work-life balance when you work at home.

When you work in an office, part of your normal routine includes changing out of your pajamas and into work-appropriate attire. Though it’s tempting to work in your favorite PJs, it may not be the best option for productivity.

“It helps if you get dressed as if you are going to work,” Lisa Chui, VP of finance and HR at Ubiquity Retirement and Savings, told Business News Daily. “You don’t have to wear a suit or heels, of course, but don’t stay in your pajamas, either. Dressing in clothes that you would wear outside of the home helps you get into the mindset of work.”

Getting ready is important, especially because the way you dress can affect the way you feel.

“Treat [your home] like a real work environment,” said Sara Davidson, founder of online female entrepreneur school Hello Fearless. “It makes a huge difference when you feel like [it is]. It changes the culture.”

Much like putting on a proper outfit, committing to only doing work in a defined space, like an office or another sectioned-off area of your home, can help to create a more productive work environment.

“It’s critical to commute out of the bedroom to a dedicated workspace that separates work from personal space,” said Bob Higgins, co-founder of board game Linknotize. “Once you’ve commuted to your workspace, treat your day as if you’ve actually left the house. In addition to having a dedicated work area, it is also really important to keep at least one space in the house as a business-free zone.”

“I find that having a dedicated home office space is very helpful,” added Sara Sutton Fell, founder and CEO of FlexJobs. “Personally, I work from a renovated space above my garage, but the people on my team set up their home offices in guest bedrooms, renovated closets, corners of the living room and other creative areas.”

Working from home can create a disconnect; both with a “typical” work structure and the team. It’s important to touch base with the team and communicate effectively.

“If your company has a tool like Slack, join in the conversations and try to have some verbal communication, either by telephone or by the computer so that you have conversations,” Chui said. “If you are local but still work at home, try to go into the office for big team or company events.”

Chui encouraged remote workers to come into the office at least once a quarter, and participate in their company’s intranet, if it has one.

Giving your full attention to a specific task, regardless of whether it’s work- or home-related, can be tough with all the distractions that pop up throughout the day.

“I want to give so much to my family and I also want to give so much to my [business],” said Melissa Holland, president and founder of maternity bra line BeliBea. “It can be challenging to divide time between those two, especially when working from home.”

“Set your priorities and stick to them. As someone who has worked from home, I set times for when I work and I stick to them,” said Sankowich. “I don’t deviate from the tasks. I will always to do other things around the house (laundry and such) but I will not let house chores interfere with the tasks at hand and the times that I’ve allotted for work.”

Another obstacle to work-life balance for home-based professionals is the feeling of being “trapped” in their own home. If you don’t have any urgent errands to run or appointments, you could find yourself cooped up at home for several days at a time.

“Because the normal distractions are not there, it’s important to remember that you still need to take breaks so that you don’t find yourself working nonstop for a long period of time,” Chui said. “It’s important to get up every hour and stretch and walk around, plus take a proper lunch.”

Christopher Conner, president of Franchise Marketing Systems, noted that people who work at home should make time for personal activities outside the house, whether it’s visiting a local museum or taking a short vacation.

Although being connected and communicative with your team is important, it’s equally important to shut off when the day is over. If you’re available all hours of the day, it will quickly become an expectation and work-life balance will be nonexistent.

“I let my team know my general working hours, and they do the same for me,” Sutton Fell said. “That way, we’re not expecting people to be available around the clock, and we know more or less when someone is or isn’t going to be available for work-related things. This helps us all stay connected, while at the same time, setting and respecting each other’s boundaries and need for work-life balance.”

Sutton Fell noted that managers model this kind of behavior to their remote teams, to avoid confusion, overwork and burnout.

Entrepreneurs should also focus on decompressing during unscheduled “transitional” time during the day.

“I like the idea of building in ‘white space’ to my day — having a transition period between work and non-work hours,” Sutton Fell said. “It can really help to adjust your mindset from work to home life. Even five or 10 minutes of unplanned time between when you end work and start your home-related activities can help.”

The FlexJobs team reports doing meditation, having a cup of tea, stepping outside for some fresh air, and doing stretches as ways to spend “white space” time.

7 Ways to Give a Kickass Business Presentation

Experts shared their best tips for creating and giving a killer presentation that will engage your audience and help you land the sale.

“A good business presentation … has one main point and everything is structured around that point. It doesn’t rely heavily upon PowerPoint or slides filled with text, and it allows time for discussion and asking questions.”

“No secret sauce, tech or gimmicks. What makes any presentation engaging and effective is to put the bottom line up front and then provide whatever backup data may be needed. I’ve seen many presentations where the story is dragged out and tension is built, as if the person was trying to make a movie. But … people are busy and need to deal with the issue and then move on.”

“Focus more on what you will say and how you will say it rather than on having the coolest slides. Not everything you say should be on your slides. No more than three sentences per slide. Present your best data, or no data at all – but not all your data.”

“The true meaning of the presentation is to engage with people and persuade them to your point of view, not just deliver chunks of information. Every presentation, no matter the subject, must be tailored specifically to the people you are talking to. If you tell an anecdote, don’t simply repeat the same story wherever you are – not only will it become stale, you’ll also fail to make a connection to the people you’re addressing.”

“What makes a good business presentation is practice, practice, practice! It’s just like sports. You have to repeatedly practice your presentation to improve it.”

“Authenticity is engaging. Too many presentations are technically proficient but lack heart. If you are not genuine, there will be an unbridgeable gap between you and your listeners. Authenticity is the most important element of an effective communication in any context.”

“A high energy level (is) the most important step to take in presentations. This applies to any type of speaking, any size audience and any topic. If you seemed bored or tired, that vibe will translate to your audience.”