Warning! Are you torturing your callers?

Hate voicemail?…..A lot of us do….but is it the technology or the generic greeting you’re forced to listen to? All the while wondering when it will end, when they will listen ….and if they will return the call if they are texters. 

What’s in a greeting you ask? A lot. Do you ask for the purpose of the call? Callers can be like lemmings, if you tell them what to do. A please tell me the purpose of your call goes a long way in the voice mail process and allows you to return the call with purpose and clarity! This sets up a process for effective communication without real time investment.

Don’t forget to include an urgent call process. Try this. If your call is urgent, please text me. Include “ASAP VM and your name. . ( I may not recognize your number) Keep this in mind. We say it much quicker through voicemail than typing text.

Finally, a  greeting with the date and day helps you organize and tells your callers that you check in ..Don’t believe me? Caller ID proves it. With 100 callers routed to voicemail 90% leave a message when your greeting contains these recommendations.  Try it. One note of caution though your callers may prefer voicemail to dealing directly with you!

 

A New Look is Coming!

A new look is coming!

The entire site will be redesigned, including a snazzy new logo, layout and higher quality images, designed to make the user experience much more rewarding.

Michael K Lyman of Magnum Arts is providing creative and web development services; Magnum Arts helps people achieve success by unleashing the power of their creativity through web design, marketing, art instruction and photography.

So what can you expect to see in the days ahead?

  • More responsive design – a site that is easily viewed on smart phones and mobile devices for those of you on the go (which includes just about everyone)
  • More attractive, engaging layout – a site that better reflects the goals and mission of Pathuston.com, and invites visitors to kick off their shoes and stay awhile
  • Better designed navigation – a site that lets you easily and intuitively find the information you’re looking for
  • More engaging content – a site that includes higher quality photography, images and video, all designed to enhance the visitor experience

About Magnum Arts

Magnum Arts is Michael K Lyman, a military veteran with a degree in graphic design, a certificate in web development, and over ten years of experience in marketing, photography, illustration and art instruction. Visit Magnum Arts on the web at magnumarts.net.

The mission of Magnum Arts is to Inspire, Create and Engage:

Inspire others to broaden their horizons, improve the quality of life and the world around them, and to make this world a better place in ways big and small.

Create eye-pleasing, responsive and effecient web sites, create entertaining, thought-provoking, uplifting art, create captured moments for others to share through high quality photography.

Engage clients, students, friends and colleagues through positive interactions, which challenge pre-conceived notions, integrate the best of what others have to offer and encourages healthy development of mind and spirit.

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Is your medical information safe?

Interesting article I read made me ponder…..Is our personal medical information safe? As an academic dean for a medical career college we introduced our students to online medical record software and taught them how to use it. We never thought about the systems housing the software.

With medical records going online, ask yourself how secure are the systems that store the software and data? According to security data experts your medical information is much more valuable to and vulnerable identity thieves than our credit card info.

Hospitals, clinics and mom and pop providers need to insure that security is a major focus of the computer systems that hold our information. Add this to your list when seeking a new medical provider…..I did 🙂

 

Let me know what you find out.

Why should I use social media to build a community?

Communities

Connecting your business or school to a community – a group of people with common interests and values – can give you a tremendous boost.  If you have a community, you don’t need to depend on anyone else to do your marketing for you, and other people will approach you with business proposals to get access to your community. If you don’t think so, talk to the people at Facebook or Google.

In a few cases, a community rallies around your product or service, like people who:

  • buy Apple products or Harley Davidson motorcycles
  • go to Jimmy Buffet concerts
  • graduated from the University of Florida or Florida State
  • are fans of the Green Bay Packers or the New York Yankees (I would have added the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but …)
  • build ‘brick masterpieces’ with LEGO® bricks, belong to ‘Adult Fans of LEGO’ and subscribe to BrickJournal, a fan-produced magazine for LEGO enthusiasts

But that’s unusual. Most communities are built around a profession, or activity, or cause. We just naturally look for a community to get benefits like:

  • find a place to belong
  • get emotional support and encouragement
  • increase our status
  • learn new skills

Some people may like Nike products, but their community is built around running. Others might be fans of Trek bicycles, but they are united by an interest in bicycle touring or racing. Some gardeners could prefer Burpee seeds, but at heart they love gardening, and the flowers or vegetables that they grow.

Companies that have used social media only to promote their products or services have found that the online communities quickly ignored them. A brand builds group loyalty by serving the needs of the people in the group, not by trying to build sales volume. Helping people now and building their trust should lead to sales success.

Here’s an example. In his book Youtility, Jay Baer tells us about Columbia Sportswear, a company that sells outdoor equipment like coats, boots, gloves, tents and sleeping bags. They don’t sell rope, but they have built a free iPhone application called What Knot to Do that shows users how to tie “70 must-know knots in six categories”. Anybody who learned “the rabbit comes out of the hole, goes around the tree and back in the hole” will download this app in a heartbeat. And whenever they tie a knot using this free app, who will they think of? Will they tell their hiking and camping friends about it? You decide.

Social Media Examiner reports on another example: The Laughing Cow brand and their individually-wrapped, portion controlled Mini Baybel® cheese snacks. Besides offering healthy recipes featuring their product, “the Laughing Cow and Baybel cheese community team knows the importance of adjacency in content: it’s not directly about your product or service, it’s about delivering related information your community cares about. Their content plan means leveraging the knowledge and influence of Internet personality Sarah Dussault, a fitness expert with her own YouTube channel. Sarah and the blogging team deliver fitness and nutrition tips for their health-conscious community, the target buyer for the 35-calorie snacks.”

Groups that share a common cause or have shared a particular experience are a special form of interest-based group. Susan G. Komen for the Cure® was created by Ms. Komen’s sister after Susan’s death. It has grown into a worldwide organization to fund breast cancer research, increase breast cancer survival rates, and support women fighting the disease. Community members communicate with the organization and with each other through local affiliates, local Race for the Cure® events, and online through Susan G. Komen social media sites. The Komen site has sponsors, but people don’t visit the site to see them.

Companies that are just starting to build a community should start by finding out where their target market community gets together now. Do they meet physically at Starbucks or Meetup groups? Do they have Facebook pages or Twitter lists? Go to where they are now. Reach out. Listen to them. Answer their questions. Make their lives better. Then they will be attracted to you and your messages.

Keeping track of the comments made about your business or your brand also gives you a chance to respond quickly to any negative comments you see.

When you find a community and begin to build a relationship with them, you should have a web site and an email newsletter, plus depending on where your community hangs out now, a blog and a presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Then look for ways to, as Jay Baer says, offer “marketing so useful that people would pay for it”.

Photo courtesy of Will Lion under Creative Commons license

LinkedIn: the times they are a-changin’ (part 4 – LinkedIn Contacts)

LinkedIn just announced another new feature, LinkedIn Contacts. It’s a tool to keep track of people you know, whether they are found in your address book, email accounts, or calendars. LinkedIn is slowly sending out invitations to its members in the United States to add this feature. (Go to http://contacts.linkedin.com to put your name on the wait list.)

Contacts searches your online address book, email contacts, and people appearing in your calendar, and finds the ones who have LInkedIn profiles. It alerts you to to your contacts’ job changes and important events like birthdays, which gives you an opportunity to send them a message or call them. You will also have an option to add notes about how you met your contacts and your conversations, and create reminders of actions you need to take. For example, you might create a reminder to call a particular contact every three months. And when you open a contact’s LinkedIn profile, it will show you what email messages you sent them, and where they have been listed in your calendar.

Mashable reports that this new feature is based on on technology from Connected, a startup LinkedIn acquired in 2011.

LinkedIn Contacts is available on Linkedin.com and an iPhone app. Android users, hopefully there will be an app for your smart phone soon.

To read the article in Mashable, go to http://mashable.com/2013/04/25/linkedin-contacts/

Social Media Security Lessons from the US Army (Entrepreneur.com)

To avoid leaks of sensitive information that might put missions and lives at risk, the Army created a 52-page handbook that explains what is and isn’t safe for soldiers and civilian personnel to post about online. The handbook was updated earlier this year.

Have you trained your employees on what they can and can’t say about your business on your (and their) social media accounts ? The consequences, while not nearly as deadly, can be just as serious.

1. Give specific examples of what is and isn’t safe to post.

The Army policy offers examples of potentially dangerous social media posts instead of general rules, and shows how they can be made safer. Posting specific information about a soldier’s duty assignment in a war zone can be used by potential enemies. More general information, like “My son or daughter has deployed to Afghanistan,” is less risky. Along the same lines, many companies tell their employees not to post information related to ongoing litigation involving the company, non-published financial data, or unreleased product information. Employees are told to direct questions on these subjects to specific groups, such as the legal department.

2. Think about the competition before posting.

In a company environment, employees should ask themselves, “What could a competitor, an unhappy customer or a disgruntled former employee do with this information?” before posting. In addition to information and interviews published in the media, competitive intelligence professionals can search the social media accounts of company executives and employees.

3. Train your social media staff.

When you assign an employee to maintain your company’s social media accounts, thoroughly train him or her on your company’s social media strategy and your social media conduct standards. Make sure they know what you expect when they post on your company’s behalf. And insist that they always know which account they are posting on. Many serious and embarrassing errors have been made by an employee who thought they were posting on their personal account, but the post appeared on the company’s account.

To read the complete article, go to http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/226349#ixzz2QgW0NEIO

LinkedIn: the times they are a-changin’ (part 3 – a bigger Pulse)

After what many people think of as Google’s poor decision to drop Google Reader, LinkedIn has announced their acquisition of Pulse to strengthen their LinkedIn Today news sharing feature. According to the LinkedIn announcement:

“We believe LinkedIn can be the definitive professional publishing platform – where all professionals come to consume content and where publishers come to share their content.[emphasis added.] Millions of professionals are already starting their day on LinkedIn to glean the professional insights and knowledge they need to make them great at their jobs. We believe we can help all professionals make smarter and more informed business decisions leveraging all the great business knowledge flowing through LinkedIn in the form of news, Influencer posts, industry updates, discussions, comments and more.

Pulse is a perfect complement to this vision. Pulse’s core value proposition is to help foster informed discussions that spark the decisions shaping the world around us through news and information. This shared view that the power of professional information and knowledge can transform lives and the world makes LinkedIn and Pulse a particularly great fit. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be working side by side with the Pulse team to create new and better ways to help professionals contribute to and leverage this collective body of business knowledge to help them be great at what they do and from wherever they work.”

Pulse brings a news reader that has relationships with more than 750 publishers, and distributes content to 30 million mobile users, LinkedIn says. Where Google Reader was a tool for individuals to find information, LinkedIn and Pulse can make it possible for individuals to find and share information.

Announcements are one thing, and actual service release is another. We can all think of acquisitions that never saw the light of day. But if LinkedIn makes this happen, Google may find their disappointed Reader users migrating to LinkedIn. All we have to do is wait and see.

Protect Your Reputation: Start by listening to what people are saying

Social media give satisfied and dissatisfied customers a tool to share their happiness or their pain with all of their connections or followers. Unhappy customers can start a fire storm on the internet, and woe be to the company that doesn’t respond quickly to fight the fire.

A recent example is Target. One of their dresses was offered in the color gray, with the standard size labeled “dark heather gray”, and the plus size of the same dress labeled “manatee gray”. Have you ever seen a manatee ? Not exactly a positive image. An alert shopper (as Dave Barry would say) noticed and called them out on it. People started sharing the post.

Target responded quickly, apologizing to the shopper and explaining that “manatee gray” is a seasonal color at Target. Many different products in their stores are manatee gray, and many different sizes of clothing for men and women. The problem occurred when the seasonal color label was not applied consistently to that particular dress. They promised to change the color quickly, and they did.

The moral of the story is to watch the internet for comments about your company, brand, or product, and respond quickly to negative (and positive) comments.

Inc. Magazine listed six ways to watch for posts that affect your company:

1. Google (and Bing) searches

2. Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts). Enter a key word or phrase, tell Google what kind of search you want and how often you want to be notified. Create as many alerts as you need.

3. Glassdoor (http://www.glassdoor.com/index.htm) is a place where current and former employees can post comments anonymously about your company. According to Inc., Glassdoor offers a free employer account to track comments. Check it out.

4. Social Mention (http://www.socialmention.com/). “Like Google Alerts but for social media”. Covers blogs, Twitter, bookmarks, comments, events, images, news, and video.

5. Rankur (http://www.rankur.com) offers a free option that tracks news posts, blog posts, and social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and Google+), and a “basic” paid option that adds monitoring of online reviews. More expensive options with more features are also available.

6. ViralHeat (http://www.viralheat.com) is a paid service (14-day free trial) that monitors Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, blogs, and web sites, and lets you apply the tools to analyze competitors.

Choose the tools that work for you, and productively track the online comments that are important to you.

Fast forward a year – will Target’s spring gray color still be “manatee gray” or maybe something more sleek like “dolphin gray” ?

To see the complete Inc. magazine article, go to http://www.inc.com/hollis-thomases/6-free-or-low-cost-ways-to-track-and-protect-your-online-reputation.html

 

LinkedIn: the times they are a-changin’ (part 2 – mentions)

After announcing the changes to their search tool, LinkedIn has added ‘mentions’ to their status updates. This gives LinkedIn users the ability to mention or tag another LinkedIn user in a post, they way they do in Twitter with the @’name’ feature. When the user types a name in the update or comments space, they will see a drop-down menu with a list of their connections or companies they follow to select from. When a LinkedIn user or a company is mentioned in a post, they will see a notification like they would in Twitter. At this point it looks like the drop-down list will include only first-level connections, LinkedIn says you will have a similar ability to respond to public comments on the LinkedIn Homepage.

LinkedIn has introduced this change to make it easier for their users to start or continue conversations with other users, to make your connections more valuable.

Watch for more changes in the near future.

LinkedIn: the times they are a-changin’ (part 1 – search)

LinkedIn is gradually rolling out several changes to your home page. You will see these changes one day when you log in to LinkedIn – there does not seem to be any pattern to who will receive the update.

One change they are talking about is an update to their search function. Instead of searching separately for people, companies, jobs or groups you can start a search in more than one category. So, for example, you can search ‘Acme Manufacturing’ for their company page, people in your network who work at Acme Manufacturing, and jobs posted by Acme Manufacturing in a single search. This will give you a more comprehensive picture of what’s going on at your target company, no matter what you are looking for.

LinkedIn will also give you more options to narrow your search when you are using the Advanced People Search. This should let you focus more clearly on the people who meet your specific criteria and make your search for prospects or contacts more productive.

They will also add Google-like auto-complete and suggested search suggestions that will appear when you are typing in a search term.This small productivity enhancer will make your LinkedIn search experience more consistent with other searches you normally do.

This is not the only change LinkedIn has in store for you, and it is not the most visible. We will have more updates on that soon. In the meantime, as the Boy Scouts say, ‘be prepared”.