Are you more Twitter than Facebook?

This made me smile this morning – depending on the day, I’m either Facebook or LinkedIn 🙂 Which social network are you?

Which Social Network Are You?

Which Social Network Are You

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Can Pinterest become a Small Businesses new Best Friend?

Guest poster Ed Beardsell talks to us about his thoughts on Pinterest

English: Red Pinterest logo

Image via Wikipedia

What is Pinterest?

The latest rising star on the social networking scene is the site Pinterest. While it doesn’t yet touch on anywhere near the number of users that can be found on sites such as Facebook or Twitter, an increasing number of businesses are starting to consider what benefits it could provide for them. Pinterest is basically an online pinboard where users share images of items they find beautiful, stylish or interesting. People utilise it in various different and exciting ways whether it be planning how to decorate their home, save recipe inspirations, plan weddings, or share products. Images can either be uploaded from websites or from users’ computers and they can also re-pin images they find and appreciate enough to highlight it for the community whilst browsing the Pinterest site. The site has been growing rapidly and was reportedly the social site which reached ten million users more quickly than any other site in history and, here’s where it gets interesting; the majority of its users are women.

How can Pinterest help my Business?

Whilst it is still a relatively small site, Pinterest is averaging over three million unique visitors per month all of whom could potentially be looking at your business’s products. The site may be especially beneficial for businesses focused around creative or design services, or those businesses that appeal specifically to women, as it gives you a great opportunity to present your products to this specific segment of the market.

While Pinterest currently does not support online sales, you can add prices to your items and redirect browsers to your online shop. In fact, some early reports hint that Pinterest is better at generating traffic to your website than Facebook. If you do add a price to any of your products, then the image will automatically be listed in the gifts section of the website, as well as on your board, for browsers who are interested in shopping. By including links from your board back to your business’s website you will also of course be boosting the number of inbound link to your website as well as social interaction, a increasingly powerful metric taken in to account by search engines.

How to Use Pinterest Succesfully

To have a successful Pinterest account requires more than just posting images of what products you have for sale. Including a space where you can interact with users or provide additional content can increase your popularity on the site. For example, if you sell interior design products you could include a section on design inspirations that you have found, or you can create a space allowing customers to pin pictures of themselves with their favourite product of yours.

Another popular way of boosting interest in your products is running contests which encourage users to repin images of your products. This increases the overall total exposure that your products gather and can have the added bonus of collecting feedback from your customers about your collection. An additional way you can try to engage with your customers is to include images from your shop or office which can help customers feel the brand is much more personal helping to build a sense of brand loyalty and community.

Will Pinterest Last?

Pinterest has already been snapped up for use by some major brands including Kodak, Gap, The Wall Street Journal and Betty Crocker amongst others suggesting that Pinterest is going to be providing a platform even big business to monetise their pinning efforts in the foreseeable future. This popularity has also been galvanised by software developments allowing users to display their pins on their Facebook wall once again boosting the reach of such interaction.

Pinterest may not be and ideal tool for every business to try and utilise but for a sizeable number it holds the potential for brands to increase awareness as well as sales whether directly or indirectly. However as with the vast majority of social media sites, if a business wants to benefit from utilising it as a platform to talk and engage with its potential customers it must spend time cultivating its presence in this community through interacting and creating relevant and unique content.

Bio –
Hi I’m Ed, and I work in the exciting, fast paced and ever-changing world of business equipment and services. I’ll be trying my best to keep you abreast give you a wide smorgasbord of handy hints, tips and advice to get the squeeze the best out of your business.

Like this post? Don’t forget to check out the 30 Day Pinterest Challenge, and kickstart your Pinterest use in just 30 days!

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Google – Monopoly or Market Leader?

A guest post by Chris ‘Kip’ Carrier

Nederlands: Anti-Monopoly bordspel

Google, The PowerhouseWith Google dominating the tech news this week, we are going to look at the how, the why and the what will be.

OK, so we all know who or what Google is, they have dominated the search engine market for many years now, a natural monopoly (ie, people flood to them by choice, not by force) that like to help where they can. The city of their head office enjoys completely free wifi, they help charities etc etc. They are the good guys, right?

The Cry Babies – Twitter and Facebook

Twitter are publicly calling out Google, saying they are monopolising with the integration of Google Plus to Google Search, did people really not see this coming? I have been ranting and advising people for 6 months they need to be using G+, as there is a wind of change like no other.

Twitter should be scared of everyone, they have not done anything in the last few years, if I were an investor, I would have sold up a long time ago. A new facelift, new design, nothing else, at least Google evolve, update, improve and in my personal opinion, make the internet better!

Twitter is in panic mode, because Google Plus is the fastest growing Social Network, EVER. Some people pointed and laughed when it came out, not me.

They brought out Panda, this wiped out thousands of black hat SEO people overnight, you could hear the cheer go up from website owners and designers that do things properly, watching the harvesters of copy shrink back to the 3rd and 4th pages of Google searches (seriously, who looks at anything after page 1 or even 2?) and well written, unique websites started climbing up to where they belong!

Facebook, ahh, everybody loves FB, right? Nope, it was all there was, this is why people used it so much. The changes everybody has seen recently were a direct result of Google Plus, the FB boys are now updating it and improving it as fast as they can (unlike the Twitter team), because now they have some serious competition, competition that can affect search results, unlike Facebook!

Google and Google+, The Future

So, on Google plus, people truly interact, I have met more people on there than I have with 2-3 years of hammering Twitter and Facebook, people interact, share posts and opinions, laugh, cry and diversify (poetry!). I love it, I am even using it to interview some major players in British industry this year (such as Will King and a couple of others), thanks to Hangouts!

Anyway, you understand, I like Google+, it is no secret, so what of the future of Google?

Google has changed dramatically in the last 12 months, you may not see it, but they have, the social inclusion has been a tremendous shift in how their algorithms work, they have been busy acquiring technology to improve and modernise the way that you get results. Search will always be the same, you pop in what you want and press enter (or reach for the mouse and click search), but the way in which Google finds what you are looking for and the way it delivers it, major change!

Yesterday, Google dropped Google Plus into the normal search (I told you so, months ago), this is fantastic news, we are witness to the the internet evolving yet again, this is not a monopoly, the fact that Facebook and Twitter banished the Big G, means that they cannot offer their search results, just Google +’s! You can search for personal or standard, or both!

You can exclude certain websites showing up in searches, you can give kudos (+1) to websites in the results, you can search just your social network, friends, family and co-workers!

I think it is a thing of beauty.

What’s Next for Google

Image Reading: We know that there are apps and websites that can read text from images, this is old news, so watch out for this becoming the norm in searches too.

eCommerce stock levels: This one really excites me! Google will be checking your stock levels on products, so if I search for the Kipidget 2000 and you have no stock, you will not appear with the shops that do have it in stock!

Hours of business: Have you set up your hours of business on your Google map listing, G+ business page? Imagine searching for a Launderette at 7pm, the ones that set their hours to 9-5pm will not show high up either. This is great for people that do not cap their work hours each day! (Me, I am open 24-7!)

Mobile Websites: Oh this is the big one, marketing companies have been pitching separate mobile websites for over a year now, yet this produces duplicate content, something Google frowns upon. With “Responsive” eshops and websites, you now only need one site, that works on all platforms (tablets, phones, desktops and laptops).

In conclusion:

Google is evolving, are you?

Chris “Kip” Carrier is a web & graphic designer, primarily WordPress, with a passion for Social Media Marketing and iMacs. You can find him at Kip FX Design

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The Phases Of Adapting To Social Media Changes

A guest post by Henry Fitzgerald

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Twitter has changed its layout.

If I’ve learned anything at all from social media, it’s this: Every time Facebook changes anything, no matter how minute, people will complain.

While everyone champions the phrase, change is good, the moment it actually comes into contact with our News Feeds, we’re ready to revolt against the highest of all social media executives.

We feel violated, under-appreciated, wronged. For at least two days, the new features are all anyone will talk about. But soon enough, we forget all about it. And it’s like it never happened.

And now, with Twitter jumping on the bandwagon of changes — enough is enough.

It’s time to get over it.

We can’t do anything about the changes, but we can change the way we react. Check out this guideline of social media changes, and how you or your small business can navigate the unpredictable waters of the web without drowning in a Sea of Angry.

Phase 1: Anger and Complaints

This phase usually begins by Facebook adding a 3-centimeter tool bar to the bottom of the page. People will first post a status update asking if anyone else sees the same thing. With their suspicions confirmed, they will then begin complaining about how those 3-centimeters cut into their News Feed. They’ll say they don’t use those tools anyway. They will become angry.

This phase is useless. Your endless anger and complaining is only hurting you and the life of your laptop battery. While it’s difficult to avoid complaining, please realize that it in the end, it’s worth nothing. Scoff gently at those who spend three days griping about the toolbar, and move on.

Phase 2: The Boycott

This phase is also useless. After the toolbar fiasco, people will make claims that they have no intention of acting upon. Claims, for instance, like “I’m not getting back on Facebook until they move that stupid toolbar” or “I hate Facebook anyway. I’m deleting my page!”

The boycott phase is short, usually only a few hours. Don’t waste your time with making these vacuous promises, and proceed to phrase three.

Phase 3: Reluctant Acceptance

Here is a good place to start. When social media changes, just roll with it. Twitter’s changes are going to be huge. For some, the new layout has already been rolled out. Facebook’s new timeline feature is going to be huge too, rolling out at different times for everyone. If small changes set people off, imagining what this huge restructure will cause conjures up visions of riots or a Cyber World War. Some will post links about pressing the right buttons to get your page to revert to the old settings or how posting the comment on 16 friends’ walls and then restarting will bring it back. It’s not coming back. It’s not going to work. Just move forward.

Everyone will get to the acceptance phase sooner or later, so you may as well beat everyone to it. Making the new changes work for your small business will keep you ahead of the curve. While it can be tempting to sit around and wish for things to go back to normal, your time is better spent diving right into the changes.

Phase 4: “What Did It Used To Look Like?”

This phase is where we live in between changes. After griping for a few days, we soon come to realize we have no idea what the old layout used to look like. Do you remember what Facebook looked like last year? Or even last month? It changes so much that we can’t keep up.

Typically, these changes are done to make the experience easier, though it seems uncomfortable at first. Explore the updates and find ways to make it work for you. That is, before it changes again.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter: @hfitzy34

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Twitter – A Bigger Search Engine Than Google?

English: a chart to describe the search engine...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s come to just about everyone’s attention that Twitter is HUGE. Twitter is used by almost every company, every celebrity, every wannabe celebrity, and every band to update clients on their goings-on, as well as inform future clients of their services. Most people,even those who aren’t on Twitter yet, also know that Twitter has it’s own search function that allows you to find accounts of people and companies that you would want to follow.

The Twitter search engine allows you to find users by post, by name, trends, and even tone. Trends often show what is popular on Twitter, from funny users that have quick quips to news reels from bigger celebrities and companies. Basically, it’s a 100% organic search engine that allows people to decide what shows first.

There are some good sides to this that can’t be achieved with a regular search engine. Spam sites and malware aren’t going to be in Twitter search results, unless you click outside links. It encourages conversation, followers, and also wit. The question remains – is it a bigger search engine than Google?

Well, yes and no.

It’s bigger in the sense that a lot of users can generate a lot of results in the Twitter feed, a lot more tweets probably are online than websites. There’s a much lower chance of viruses, and there’s a lot of companies that are using Twitter to advertise their services. There is a lot that Twitter offers as far as a community goes. And, the user base is massive. One of the most beneficial things about Twitter is that the tweets that are displayed in the search engines are always the newest that they have. Google and the others can’t say the same thing.

But, like with any search engine, Twitter has its own problems. You can’t separate business from personal accounts on Twitter. The results that you get from most searches aren’t as in-depth, nor are they even spelled correctly. If you are looking for grammatically correct musings from followers, searches, or otherwise, Twitter might not be the best choice.

Another issue a lot of people mention is that though Twitter’s user base is very large, it isn’t universal. There are a decent amount of people who aren’t plugged into Twitter, and therefore would not be likely to receive any message that you have there. The thought of nonusers using the search engine doesn’t make much sense, either. Would people choose a certain business because of their Twitter account?

Twitter has a very active community, but search engines like Google and Yahoo will always have the advantage when it comes to attracting a wider audience. Before you give up your SEO marketing campaign for Google, Yahoo, and other search engines, remember that the user base is much larger on these internet juggernauts. Instead, opt to blend both your Twitter and your website into one optimisation strategy that will keep you in the spotlight for all to see.

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Social Media Marketing: How Much Is Too Much?

 – A guest post by Henry Fitzgerald

From the consumer side, you know when enough is enough.

Maybe you reach that point after reading 26 consecutive tweets from Café Le Nom about lunch and dinner specials. Perhaps you draw the line at 50 Facebook notifications from one vendor. Or maybe you call it quits when your Gmail finally figures out how to re-route all messages from Café Le Nom as spam.

Either way, consumers know when they’re fed up. But, how do businesses and service providers know when to draw the line? How do they know when they’ve gone too far? What are the steps to recover from overdone social media marketing and get on the path to recovery?

Whether you suspect you’ve gone too far with your company’s social media use or had no idea that people can become fed up, check out these tips to help gauge your marketing.

What to Do:

When it comes to marketing via social media, there are definite do’s and don’ts. If you haven’t considered this concept before, you may have already gone too far. But don’t worry, you can always improve!

1) DO: Use Email Marketing

Businesses can be pretty quick to discard email as an effective marketing tool. However, with the smartphone revival sweeping the nation, people are showing a renewed interest in email. Eighty-five percent of people surveyed said that their mobile email is becoming increasingly relevant for daily life while one in three consumers said they use mobile email now more than ever. These numbers all add up to a solid case for email marketing. With people using email on the go, sending out deals, offers and coupons directly to consumer’s inboxes means they can access information on the go, from just about anywhere.

The key to being successful with an email marketing campaign is the frequency of delivery and the wording. Do not, for any reason, use spammy subject lines like, “OPEN NOW!!! UP TO 95% OFF SPECIALLY MARKED ITEMS FOR THE NEXT THIRTY SECONDS!!” Your messages will be flagged as spam and redirected accordingly. Make your subject lines honest and appealing and keep your messages between the 2-5 times a week mark. Send them during the day when people are likely to be out shopping and keep the message short but informative.

2) DO: Blog!

Blogs are an underutilized resource for many larger businesses. People like to be updated with your business, but might not necessarily want to read about it on Facebook or Twitter. Linking to your company blog gives people the option to check it out, without being too overwhelming. Keep the blog updated with fresh, interesting content and be creative to make sure that your readers keep coming back.

3) DO: Use Social Media Wisely

All in all, just be wise with your social media use. Follow the golden rule. If you don’t want your social media bombarded with company links, coupons and gimmicky posts, then don’t do it to others. Post a few times a week to keep customers interested and avoid posting more than a handful of times each day.

What Not To Do:

1) DON’T: Fill Up News Feeds

This is fairly self-explanatory. If you notice that you’ve posted a lot at one time, you can bet that you’re probably filling up news feeds. This act will put you on the fast track to be un-friended or un-followed. Over-sharing is the number one reason people will cut you from their social media radar. Keep your updates limited to avoid being axed.

2) DON’T: Bombard Inboxes or Sent Out Spam

If you decide to use email marketing, do not take it too far. Don’t send more than one email a day and avoid spammy subjects like the one listed above. If you send out messages too frequently and if they contain the spam phrases, Gmail will call you out before consumers can even find the unsubscribe button.

3) DON’T: Ignore Feedback

Customers are the most vital aspect of your success or failure. If you receive feedback, either positive or negative, don’t ignore it. If they’re trying to tell you something, listen. You’ll be glad you did.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter: @hfitzy34

Are You Man Enough?: Social Media Campaigns & Why They Work

Don Athaldo

If you want to quickly and easily reach a lot of people without cost, Facebook is the place to do it.

With over 800 million active users, Facebook is by far the most ubiquitous social network. Taking advantage of its access to millions of people for your promotions and campaigns has never been easier.

Many companies are becoming hip to the trend of the power and reach of social.

Much in the fashion of radio giveaways back in the day, social networks are now being used for campaigns and promotions to drive user interaction and spread the word.

Are You Man Enough?

One of the latest Facebook campaigns, Blue Nile’s “Are You Man Enough”, challenges guys to create interesting, original, romantic or witty videos or written entries that show they are manly enough to propose to their girlfriends – in front of the entire world, nonetheless. The winner will be flown first-class out to New York with his girlfriend, put up in a hotel, provided a free dinner and spending money; he will then propose live during the opening of NASDAQ on Black Friday, November 25th. And the best part? The winning guy receives an engagement ring valued at $7,500 to slip on his gal’s finger after she says “Yes!”

The contest encourages guys to be bold about their love in addition to thinking about wedding plans, possible dates or engagement rings. The creative heartfelt entries show that proposals are a huge step for guys to take, and that many guys are not only willing to take this leap, but to do so with charm.

Why These Contests Work

So, what is it about social media campaigns, promotions and contests that make them great for business?

Reason #1: People love anything they can get for free, without having to work for it. Submitting a video or writing a short blurb doesn’t require much effort. Compared to the time, effort and money people would have to put forth to fly first class to New York and get a $7,500 diamond ring among other things, creating a video or essay isn’t bad at all. Smaller competitions and giveaways for concert tickets or free lunch through Facebook or Twitter require even less effort. Typically, users just write something about how much they love The Goat Cheese Collective and they’ve won free tickets to the concert. Or they write about how great the Chicken Tortilla Soup tastes from Gina’s Diner and they’ve won free lunch. Whenever people don’t have to do a lot to get something free from the Internet, they’ll most likely do it.

Reason #2: These contests involve little risk. The social media campaigns don’t require people to physically go anywhere, run the risk of being ripped off, provide much personal information or sit through a three-hour session or tour. They have only to interact with business pages on Facebook or Twitter, something they do daily, and then receive free goods or services.

These campaigns are great for smaller businesses that want to build their online presence. Offering a free small item each week will keep users constantly coming back and is perhaps easier for small companies to pull off than offering a huge trip. People will also tell their friends about the contest, which brings even more traffic to your site. Lastly, if you’re unsure about whether this approach would work for your business, you can always start small to test the waters, and then build up to something larger.

Henry Fitzgerald is a technology consultant based in Seattle. When not geeking out over the latest tech gadgets, he spends his time cooking, playing soccer, and sailing. Check out his tech blog here or follow him on twitter:@hfitzy34

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Facebook EdgeRank 101: What Is It?

Have you ever wondered if your business page was doing all that it could do on Facebook? What if you could learn exactly how well your business’s Facebook presence compared to those of competitors? It’s not uncommon for more and more businesses to rely on Facebook for advertising. However, you might be shocked when you find out exactly how much Facebook is doing your company justice. If you’ve ever wondered whether your Facebook page was making the grade, there is finally a way to find out.

EdgeRankChecker.com take a bunch of values that help determine how much traffic your Facebook page gets, as well as the likeliness of being visible on a Fan’s news stream. The higher the EdgeRank that your Facebook page scores, the higher the visibility you have. Along with being able to check out how you rank against other businesses, EdgeRankChecker.com also offers some valuable advice on how to improve your visibility.

How useful is EdgeRankChecker.com? It depends. The score that you receive is just an estimate. It could be way off, and the equations that the site used are being constantly tweaked in order to get a better view of how Facebook works. For small businesses which just want a rough estimate of how well their online presence is developing, using EdgeRank is a great tool, and can often inspire some hard work in a company’s marketing department.

However, EdgeRank isn’t actually completely solid data. It is an estimate, and shouldn’t be treated as the be-all and end-all of internet marketing. The reason for this is because Facebook has yet to unveil most of the data that would be necessary in order to get a complete picture of internet visibility on Facebook. That being said, it has some definite niche users who can’t get enough of the program. Company owners who are interested to see how they score, or people who are simply curious about how their Facebook page ranks, will love this short but sweet application. Despite being an estimate, many marketing personnel swear by it.

EdgeRank does have some great perks to its algorithmic studies that should be mentioned. For instance one user was raving about how she “can find out the best days to post” using EdgeRank. Many of the users enjoy using EdgeRank for tips on how to increase internet traffic, and the ability to detect Facebook trends that are specific to your Facebook business site.

Have you checked your rank yet? We were pretty happy to have an Edgerank of 20 – let us know what yours is in the comments below!

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Don’t flood your followers with Tweets – Start Buffering

This is a guest post from the @joelg87 at Buffer – I asked him to write it after trying Buffer for the first time. It’s a great application, and makes my life a lot easier when it comes to handling clients’ Twitter accounts. So much easier in fact that I’ve signed up to the paid version 🙂 (Please note all links have my affiliate ID in them – I don’t make money from this but it does let the guys know you signed up via me Nikki

Yes, this one thing I am was guilty as charged. There are so many great blogposts I am reading every day, that I used to hit the Tweet Button way too often in a short period of time. This would result in my followers being overwhelmed with way too much information than they could handle.

Not anymore I decided and for a few weeks I am using a new Twitter App very heavily, which ensures I avoid flooding my followers, yet lets me tweet consistently every day.

Have you had a similar problem yourself? Or could you simply do with a more consistent and sustainable tweeting pattern? Then please read on and hear the Buffer story.

How does Buffer work?

All you do with Buffer is you throw a few tweets into your Buffer whenever you want. In return the app posts these tweets well spread out over the day for you.

Buffer’s “Killer” Functionality

What really makes Buffer stand out for me is its functionality to add tweets from ANY page you are on. Give it 1 click on the Buffer icon via the right browser extension for you (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) and this is what happens for example with one of Nikki’s posts:

Perfect Timing of your Tweets

By default Buffer will send out your tweets at Peak Twitter times. Of course you can go back to your account at www.bufferapp.com and change them to your needs. Add more timeslots or delete some.

Here are a few times:

How well did your Tweets do?

Another very handy feature is that analytics for all your Buffered tweets are displayed. Buffer will tell you about clicks, retweets and reach of your tweets. Here is a set of recent stats for my tweets.

How can Buffer help you?

With Buffer it will become super easy to tweet consistently every day, yet without overwhelming your followers with too much information.

Another thing that comes in very handy is that you can connect multiple Twitter accounts on the Pro version (5$/mo) so that one tweet can be posted for different accounts at different times.

What are your views on this nifty new App? Be sure to give it a go and let me know your views on it below.

Go to the Buffer site here.

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Are you getting the right message across?

nikkigothLike a lot of small business owners, you’re probably Tweeting, Facebooking and Blogging your heart out, and hoping that you’re getting the right message across.

But are you?

You see, it’s not what you’re saying that matters, it’s what others are reading / hearing.

I often wonder what people think when they hear or see my name, do you?

Klout tells me that I Tweet mainly around the areas of:

  • Marketing
  • SEO
  • Business
  • social media
  • media
  • public relations

Which is probably about right.

But that only tells me what I’m saying, it doesn’t tell me what others are hearing.

So periodically I put out a Tweet or Facebook message along the lines of “What do you think of when you hear or see my name?”

Inevitably there are many people who come back to me saying:

  • SEO
  • Social Media
  • Blogging
  • Facebook
  • Twitter

But more and more recently I’m seeing people saying other things such as:

So what does that tell me?

Well it tells me I’m doing something right, I hope!

Yes, people know who I am from a business perspective, and the services that I can offer to clients, but they’re also beginning to get to know ME; who I am, what I like or dislike, what’s going on in my life.

And it’s served me well.

When my daughter was born, I got warm wishes from many people, and new clients understood that there would be a delay in their work as she was early and I spent 5 days in hospital.

When people already know I live in France, they know our relationship will be phone and email based, and don’t expect face to face meetings.

When I had internet problems and had to work from Macdonalds, I lost just one potential client, because everyone was aware of my woes and how I felt about the issues they caused.

They know me. Not some corporate, stiff company image I’m putting out – the real me, warts and all.

What do your followers / likers / readers get from the messages you put out? The real you? Or the corporate you? Ask them now – I guarantee you’ll be surprised 🙂

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