15 Ways to Avoid Bad Online Reviews

Below are 15 things you can do today to help prevent an online reputation disaster in the future.

  1. Build your reputation by dominating your Google 10. Blog, make videos, sponsor events, create a company Tumblr account, start a podcast, etc. This will help you control what’s ranking for your brand name and keep negative mentions lower on the Google totem pole.
  2. Let customers know how you prefer to be contacted. If they’re experiencing issues or concerns, should they reach out to you on Twitter, on Facebook, use your contact form, call you, etc.? Let them know the best way to resolve their issue so that they can use your company-approved method to get a response instead of ranting on Twitter or dissing you on Yelp.
  3. Add a complaint area on your website to help give customers guidance on how to get in touch with your company and keep them on the site.
  4. Follow up with customers immediately after the sale to collect feedback and tackle any issues head on.
  5. Find ways to constantly collect feedback – by holding focus groups, talking to customers at the register, calling loyal customers, etc. Once customers hand you this valuable feedback, use it and implement what they’re asking for.
  6. Be awesome at customer service.
  7. Be accessible and develop an active social media and online presence. I’m far more likely to angry-tweet about a company I don’t think is listening than someone who is active in the conversation.
  8. Use tools like Google Alerts, Twitter Search, Hootsuite and Trackur to help you monitor what’s being said about your brand.
  9. If you stumble across a negative mention of your company, become part of that conversation. Let that customer (and everyone watching) know that you want to make things right and offer a plan for how to move forward from this experience.
  10. Respond to negative reviews using humility and grace. Listen to what the negative comments really said and address concerns in a straightforward manner. Never get defensive.
  11. Avoid making the situation worse (see this Washington Post article for an example).
  12. Don’t write fake reviews or create fake accounts to tweet/post nice things about your brand. Your customers will always find out–and it won’t be pretty when they do.
  13. Proactively use Facebook and Twitter to build brand evangelists you can count on to defend you when sticky situations arise. It’s always better to have someone come to your rescue than for you to be the lone voice speaking on behalf of your brand.
  14. Repeat tip #13 for blog communities, professional sites, local-specific communities and special-interest sites.
  15. Develop a crisis plan so that if or when something does go wrong, you have a plan for how you’ll react. You don’t want to be scrambling while emotions are high. Know what steps you’ll take and who’ll do what before a problem arises.

It may look like a lot to do, but you’ll notice that everything on the list is really interconnected. That means doing one thing makes it that much easier for the rest to flow naturally. And really, isn’t your brand worth it?


Five Ways to Shift Your Social Media Marketing Up One Gear


Five Social Media Marketing Tips that Will Shift Your Social Media Marketing Up One Gear

Social media is a great place to market your business, especially if you’re a small business. It doesn’t limit your traffic or reach, and allows you to connect directly with buyers without having to invest large amounts of money. By optimizing your approach to social media marketing, you can indefinitely increase everything from brand recall to lead generation, and actual sales and revenue.

If you’re unable to scale your current efforts at social media marketing, this write-up will tell you exactly how you can do it to achieve your desired results.

Social Media Marketing Tips

1. More Frequent and Intentional Posting

Be it over the internet or on social media platforms, your activity is your pulse. Unless you’re consistently active, you’re as good as dead on social media. After all, nobody hangs out on your social page. They have to be seduced to take a look and the only arms that you can extend are your pieces of content.

Conduct this experiment. Increase your social media activity and you’ll see your followers grow. Decide on a schedule. For instance, three times a day on Twitter, two on Facebook and only once on LinkedIn. UseGoogle’s keyword planner to see what your audience is looking for and source that content using a news aggregator like FlipBoard, a content curation app like DrumUp or a recommendation app like Pocket  (set-up keywords).

Relevant shares are more likely to get engagement from exclusively your target audience. Edit your descriptions to something extra-specific so you attract the right audience.

Social Media Marketing Tips - More Frequent and Intentional Posting

From your content recommendations, schedule the decided amount of content every day or a week in advance. You could even store content on a content library in a content curation app to make scheduling everyday easier.

2. Creating Content Based on Predicted Performance

It takes hours to create high-quality content, as you may well know, and that effort is best applied to content that you know will get shares, increase you reach and make an impact. How do you know?

Google trends, audience interests/insights available on social media platforms and engagement stats pulled by social media analytics tools.

Social Media Marketing Tips - Creating Content Based on Predicted Performance

You don’t have to monitor these platforms on a daily basis. Once a week would do. Simply observe which of your blog posts got the most shares on social media (SumoMe has a free count plug-in that integrates with your blog). Study Google Analytics to see which blog landing pages are driving traffic to your website. Keep a tab of topics trending in search. Decide on your topic title based on these indicators and share your posts on social media.

3. Interacting with Social Users on Communities

Communities are where the most valuable conversations happen on social media (from the perspective of businesses). Social communities are created for people with similar interests to meet and discuss the latest happenings, issues and ideas on how to solve them. You may not recognize them as such, but it is easy to recognize those opportunities once you’re a part of the right communities.

On each social media platform that you’re on, join groups that discuss your niche. The idea is to become a part of that community. Do not promote your product as soon as you join the community. You’ll lose your credibility and any opportunity that you might have in the future. Spend five minutes a day participating and introduce your product only when it answers someone’s question.

There are two straight-out benefits of participating in communities: the relationships you build with your high-target audience and constantly being at the top of their minds. (They’ll think of you when they want to buy. Some great communities to be a part of are sub-reddits discussing your industry, Quora and communities on Google Plus.

4. Including Compelling Visuals on Every Post

Everyone’s aware of how visuals add value to written content. But what value do your visuals actually add? The same rule that applies to written content applies to other forms of content. What point is your visual making on the post?

Begin by conceptualizing your visual. What do you want it to convey? Think emotion, process or summary describing the title of your post. Once you’ve decided on the concept, browse for options. There are severalfree visual resources that stock wide ranges of photographs that you’ll be surprised to see fit your posts.

Social Media Marketing Tips - Including Compelling Visuals on Every Post

If you intend to create your visual, that isn’t very hard either. Google for inspiration, source your background from an image resource and use an image editor like PicMonkey to put together your visual. To create an infographic, you could use Piktochart.

5. Encouraging Employees, Partners and Friends to Share Content

There’s no better way to cut through the noise on social media than making advocates of your personal and professional network. You could use this employee advocacy guide to understand how such a program is developed and managed. Studies have shown that advocacy on social media increases the credibility of the message broadcast. Another obvious advantage is the instant, increased reach.

You simply begin by explaining why you need your advocate’s help. Show them exactly how they’ll impact your business and show your appreciation towards their efforts by rewarding them. Spend extra time devising the messages you intend to circulate via your network of advocates because it has potential to go viral. Other studies show that messages shared via advocates are shared many times as compared to those shared via company pages on social media.

To be assured of success on social media, you have to survey the latest studies and case studies and learn what works to apply the insights to your business. This write-up is insights derived from experience and brands that have succeeded on social media. All that’s left to see is how you apply it to your business.


5 Easy Ways to Be Creative Every Day

Judging from Instagram, we just may be reaching a modern-day creative peak. It seems as though everyone is a prolific DIY-er, an expert potter or an unbelievably talented artiste. And while it’s great to see folks tap into their potential, it can alsomake us feel a little behind on the path to channeling our inner muse. Finding ways to stay creative and channeling the artistic maven inside isn’t easy — but it’s always worthwhile.

Hannah headshot_croppedJust ask Hannah Perrine Mode, a San Francisco-based maker whose creativity fell to the wayside a couple years back. To regain momentum, push her creativity to the next level and keep herself accountable, Hannah created her Drawing-a-Day project. For the past 18 months she has created an original piece of art. Check out her tips (and her work below) for jumpstarting your creative drive. Who knows? You might even get the urge to start your own everyday art project, one little piece at a time.


hmode1. Make do with what you’ve got, space and material-wise. “I started Drawing-A-Day somewhat on a whim in May of 2013. I was living with my best friend in a shoebox of an apartment in Chinatown — we didn’t even have room for a kitchen table, let alone a desk or a place for an easel — so I decided that I was going to do a drawing each day, and that I would post some of them to Instagram to keep myself accountable to keep up the project.”

hmode22. Don’t limit yourself to one type of canvas. “Sometimes in order to keep it up, I have to get a little creative about the medium: I’ve drawn on napkins at bars, made a chalkboard menu at my friend’s wedding, used a stick in the sand at the beach, brought notebooks while hiking over mountains, scribbled with sharpies for temporary tattoos on friends’ arms, painted with coffee and charcoal from a campfire and drawn with sidewalk chalk in Brooklyn. To make it easier, I’ve also learned to put together little art-making kits for myself when I’m on the go: a tiny notebook on the subway, a watercolor set for the beach or a lightweight pen for hiking.”

hmode53. Take it easy on yourself. “I don’t mean to say that you should set the bar too low, but make it easy. You can always scale it later. And if starting a new routine or hobby is too much, you can simply do things to engage your creative brain! Visit a museum, read a book, start a Pinterest board, rearrange some furniture.”

hmode34. Buddy up! “Hold yourself accountable by joining a class, talking to friends about it or starting a blog. Just figure out something that is do-able and achievable in your lifestyle, whether it be 10 minutes of knitting a day, taking a language class, a drink-and-draw session with friends or learning to code.

Talk about it with a close friend! It’s always super helpful for me to bounce ideas off of my creative friends and mentors. I’ve found it very helpful to work in a variety of creative mediums. I love finding the right balance between my design, illustration and art work. I also just get bored doing the same thing all day, every day, so changing scenery can also be very key. Sometimes I’ll even take a little watercolor kit to a cafe, just to switch it up.”

hmode45. Remember why you’re doing this in the first place. “Trust your gut and do what feels good. It won’t always be easy, but it should always make you happy.”

How do you break out of a creative rut? Tweet us your tips @BritandCo!


12 Ways to Use Your Android Smartphone More Efficiently

12 Ways to Use Your Android Smartphone More EfficientlyAndroid tips are a little trickier to offer than iPhone tips, for a couple of reasons. For one, it’s often up to carriers or manufacturers – rather than consumers – who have control over which version of Android your phone is running. Furthermore, there are so many more kinds of Android phones, which have their own neat little features. My phone is a Samsung Galaxy S6 (Review | Pictures), but menu options may be different depending on what type of phone you use.

I’ve tried to keep these tips as universal as possible.

1) Customise, customise, customise
In my opinion, the very best part about being an Android user is the fact that you can mess around a lot with your phone to make it your own. Many readers wrote in to say that they like using custom keyboard apps on their Android phones.

But there’s a whole world of customising apps out there available exclusively to Android phones. For example, you can choose to change the way your very home screen looks, or how your apps are organised by using something called an app launcher. I personally use Yahoo’s Aviate, which automatically organises apps by type, time of day and location. So if I’m at work, for example, it won’t put Netflix on my short list of apps. If it’s time to commute, travel apps may get a more prominent billing.

You can also download a variety of diallers and caller ID apps, for example, to further customise your phone. Really, the world is your oyster.

2) Embrace all of Google
Another key advantage of the Android life is that there’s a lot of integration if you’re a Google user. The core apps such as Gmail, Calendar, Photos and others should work seamlessly with your phone. Google’s voice assistant is just an “OK Google” away.

A particularly nice feature in the latest version of Android (Marshmallow) is Google Now on Tap, which sort of acts as a Google-powered footnote to whatever you’re reading tap a word and you’ll get a Google search about it.

But even if you don’t have Marshmallow, you can run a Google search on any phrase on any website in Chrome by highlighting text. A small window should slide up from the bottom of the screen, and tapping it will initiate a search. You don’t even have to leave the page you’re on. You can also turn this off in Chrome’s settings. Just head to Setting> Privacy > Touch to Search.

3) Know what you’re sharing
One question I get often about apps is how you can see what you’re sharing with them. You can do this by going to your Settings menu and finding your Applications Manager. Selecting any particular app should give you a list of permissions, along with an explanation of what they mean.

If you happen to have the latest version of Android, you should also be able to get a little more control over the app permissions. So if you want to, for example, share your location with an app but aren’t that happy about sharing your contact list, you may be able to switch that off. It depends on the app, as well, so this may not work for every program.

4) Mess around with your defaults
Another major perk of being an Android user is that you can change the apps that handle certain functions automatically. So if you have a browser you prefer, or a PDF reader you really like, you can use it automatically. If you’d rather always see YouTube videos in the YouTube app instead of on the mobile web, you can do that too.

It’s pretty easy to do this; most often, your phone itself will ask you if you want to set a default app when you perform various functions. If you change your mind, you can go into the settings for whatever default app you’ve chosen through the Settings menu and choose Clear Defaults.

Some phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S6, also have a menu called Default applications, which will list all the defaults you’ve selected on your phone.

5) Track your data use
Worried about exceeding your data plan? Android phones should have a built-in data tracker that lets you keep tabs on what you’re using. This should be in your Settings menu, under the heading such asData usage.

You can also customise this feature so that it fits with your billing cycle.

6) Disable useless apps
You may not be crazy about every app that comes with your phone; often carriers and manufacturers add apps that you simply won’t use. But while you can’t always uninstall these apps, you can often keep them from running on your phone. On Android, you can disable these apps to keep them from running in the background. Just head to your phone’s version of the application manager, tap on the app you want to sedate, and hit Disable.

If you ever want to re-enable the app, you can do that by following the same steps.

(Also see:  Five Simple Tips to Increase the Life of Your Phone’s Battery)

7) Conserve your battery life
If your phone has a power-saving mode of some kind, you can choose to have it automatically kick in when your phone’s battery hits a particular charge percentage. Head to the Battery section of yourSettings menu. If your phone does have a power-saving mode option, go into that feature’s settings and set it to kick in automatically when your battery’s at various power levels. (On my Samsung Galaxy S6, the options are 50, 20, 15 and 5 percent.) That could get you an extra hour or so of battery life when you’re running low.

(Also see:  Eight Simple Tips to Increase the Battery Life of Your Mobile Device)

8) Become a developer to make things run more quickly
If you want to make your phone move a little more quickly, you can enable its developer options to speed it up. The process to turn on this option is a little funny; you have to head into the About this phone menu in your settings, then find the section that says Build number. Then – and I’m completely serious about this – you tap that item seven times.

Congratulations, you’re now a developer! At least, according to your phone. You should see a new item pop up in the About menu, called Developer options. Within that menu, you can change a few options – namely Window animation scale, Transition animation scale and Animator duration scale – to .5x or lower. This should speed up your phone by reducing the time it spends animating transitions between windows and apps. This does make things feel a little more abrupt when you’re switching between windows. But remember: you can always put it back if you have problems.

9) Swipe down for quick access to settings
Need to get quick access to your flashlight? A one-touch option for Airplane Mode? Locking the screen rotation? Swipe down from the top of your phone and you should find the Quick Settings menu. This is a pretty basic tool for navigating your phone, but you’d be surprised how many people either don’t know about it or forget it.

Many readers also wrote in to note that you can rearrange which notifications appear in this drop-down menu on various phones — I heard from Samsung, HTC, LG and Nexus users on this one.

Reader tips

10) Try out multitasking
Several Samsung owners wrote in to say that you can run two applications at the same time on many of their newer devices. To trigger that, you can tap and hold the Recent Apps button on your phone, which tends to be to the right of the physical home button. That will prompt it to go into split-screen view.

11) Use the Gesture search app
One reader wrote in to rave about Google Gesture Search, an Android-only app that lets you navigate through your phone with a number of gestures.

“If you need to find almost anything on your phone, you can usually find it with just a couple swipes of your finger,” the reader wrote. The app works with a wide variety of Android devices and versions of the operating system.

12) Get quick access to the camera
Another Samsung user wrote in to share a tip about getting to the camera app faster. “The Samsung Galaxy 5’s excellent camera is just a swipe away thanks to a shortcut that saves a few seconds normally spent on unlocking the device,” she wrote. You can enable the shortcut on that device by heading to the Lock screen menu in your settings and selecting Camera Shortcut.

Other phones may already have a camera shortcut on the lock screen by default — take a look! Some phones may have their own ways of getting to the camera fast. Some HTC phones, for example, will launch the camera if you hit the volume up button. Other phones, such as the Nexus 6P (Review |Pictures) and Nexus 5x (Review | Pictures), have options to launch the camera with gestures.