Want to Increase Traffic and Attract new Customers? Why Blogging is the Solution to Effective Marketing
There was a time when every business – regardless of whether it was a large corporation or a small mom-and-pop shop – was urged to have a professional website. In addition to attracting new customers, having an online presence also is a great way to build your reputation and remain relevant in your business or industry.
While a website still is a necessity, businesses now are being urged by marketing professionals to take their online presence to the next level by blogging.
Blogs first gained popularity as a sort of online diary or journal. Everyone who was anyone was blogging about this or that. Then marketing professionals realized they could capitalize on the trend, urging their clients to jump on the bandwagon. But blogging effectively requires more than just stringing a few sentences together about a topic that is relevant to your product or service.
Let’s explore the best ways to blog that will provide the most bang for your buck.
Tip #1 – Hire a Professional
Yes, I’m a professional writer. But that is not why I am stressing hiring a professional as the first tip for effective marketing blogging on your website. The fact of the matter is, not just anyone can write the kind of content that will generate new traffic for your website.
I had a client who was very knowledgeable in his field. He wanted to start providing tip sheets for his clients on topics relating to his industry. He decided to write the pieces himself, and assumed if he put enough keywords into the pieces, they would rank well and help him to build his reputation. The problem was, while he was very informed about his industry, he was not very good at putting those thoughts together in a coherent fashion.
This is a common problem. Despite what some may think, writing effective, compelling copy is not as easy as it looks. Search engine optimization (SEO) keywords are important, but should be provided within the kind of text that is interesting and engaging, not just thrown in every paragraph you create so as to get them in there somewhere. Regardless of whether Google will find those key words, no one is going to read the content if it is boring or poorly constructed. And they certainly won’t come back to your blog in the future if they think it will be a waste of their time.
Professional content writers are able to take SEO keywords and craft them into compelling and interesting pieces that not only help search engines to find your website, but also encourage visitors to share your content on their own personal online accounts, thus increasing your chance for exposure in new markets.
Tip #2 – Establish Authority
Some of the best business blogs out there address questions and concerns from customers.
Let’s say that you own an in-home care agency that specializes in providing “helpers” for senior citizens who wish to age in place in their own homes. One of the most common questions from prospective clients in this industry is how do agencies vet caregivers to ensure they are providing quality, trustworthy individuals.
A potential blog post that adds credibility to your business and helps to put potential customers’ minds at ease would walk readers through the steps your company takes during the hiring process. Is there a background check? How comprehensive is it? Quote facts and figures about how long your business has been around and include a few endorsements from longstanding clients. Establish how your process is different from other agencies.
By being willing to tackle concerns of this nature, you are setting yourself apart from others in the business by establishing yourself as a caring business owner who understands his client base. Clients who feel they can connect with you are more likely to do business with you.
Tip #3 – Convert Traffic to Viable Leads
We already know that providing fresh, relevant content on your website is one of the best ways to rank well with search engines. What easier way to achieve that than with a blog? Even blogging just once a week is enough to keep search engines interested.
But once you have the traffic on your website, how do you turn each one of those visitors into viable leads? Including a call-to-action in every blog post is one of the best ways to accomplish this.
The most effective calls-to-action include free things for your visitors. If, for instance, you own a plumbing business, the call-to-action could be a coupon for a free in-home inspection or estimate for plumbing maintenance or repair work for new clients. It could be a webinar with tips on winterizing your pipes to prevent common problems that come with cold weather. Or it could be a discount on services of any kind for sharing or liking your blog on their own social media.
Tip #4 – The Double Dip
Blogs are great because not only do they keep content on your website relevant and fresh, they also can be used in a variety of ways.
For businesses that have invested in a social media presence, blogs afford the opportunity to double dip. Once a new blog is written, don’t just let it sit on your website in the hopes that people will find it. Share a link to it on your Twitter and Facebook pages. Upload it as a new article on your LinkedIn page. Get as much mileage and exposure as you can from it.
Sharing the blog on a variety of online media is the best way to not only find new customers, but to also redirect traffic back to your website. It is the most bang you can get for the buck and is just one more reason why paying a professional content writer to craft the content is well worth the investment.
Interested in adding a blog to your repertoire of online marketing tools? Contact me today and mention you saw this post for a 20 percent discount on blogging services.
Photo Credit: Pete Linforth
Attracting – and keeping – new customers is a vital component to a growing and vibrant company, regardless of whether it’s a mom-and-pop corner store or a large corporation.
Companies that understand this work hard to find the most innovative methods to get their name and their product(s) on the market, balancing their marketing techniques with an emphasis on customer satisfaction.
As the global market becomes more competitive, one of the most effective ways to reach new audiences is with a well-crafted content marketing plan. Content marketing is the practice of creating and distributing media and publishing content that is both valuable and relevant to your business or service. Effective content marketing should appeal to a specific audience, with an overall goal of increasing a business’ customer base.
Although content professionals know the overall worth of an individualized content marketing plan, it can be difficult to convince clients that a properly-executed content marketing plan is worth the expense.
There are many reasons why content marketing is the best strategy for any business, but let’s take a look at the top five.
Reason #1 – Consumer Trust in Traditional Media Advertising is Waning
A 2015 study conducted by Experticity revealed the disparity in thinking between marketers and consumers.
A whopping 83 percent of all marketers responded that traditional advertising – TV and commercials, print ads, billboards – was the most effective way to influence buying decisions; however, only 47 percent of consumers polled said they trust brand advertising. The majority of consumers – a full 90 percent of those polled – said they rely on recommendations from friends and online reviews from trusted sources when looking for a new product or service.
Content marketing campaigns, when executed effectively, are a form of word-of-mouth advertising. Consumers are encouraged to engage and to share your brand content with their friends and family, further lending credibility to a business’ brand.
Reason #2 – Content Marketing Delivers Proven ROI
Unlike with traditional advertising, content marketing is more easily measured for effectiveness in promoting a company’s brand. Likes and shares, along with the number of new and returning visitors to your website, easily can be tracked, providing reliable data on whether your content marketing strategy is working.
Companies effectively using content marketing strategies know that hiring professionals to create the content is not cheap. While it is possible to find professionals who promise to create content for bargain basement prices, what businesses quickly will discover is that the end results are not worth the savings.
Quality content must be designed in a way that will not only promote your brand, but also encourage consumers and other professionals in your field to share your content as a trusted source of information. In the marketing world, this is known as “earned media,” which carries the potential of producing significant brand exposure at no additional cost to your company. So while it may be tempting to hire the professional who provides the lowest price for the content, take the time to find a true expert who will provide a good return on investment.
Reason #3 – Quality Content Marketing Increases Traffic
It’s hardly news that having a website is an essential marketing tool in today’s global economy. However, where so many businesses go wrong is in the thinking that a simple home page with contact information is the only online presence needed to drive traffic to their site and increase sales.
Well-crafted content is the best way to not only drive traffic to your website, but the best way to keep viewers actively involved on your website for more than just a minute or two. Online marketing professionals know that ranking well with search engines like Google and Bing is dependent on original, engaging content. The longer a viewer stays on your site, the higher it will rank in search results.
Blogging is an easy, effective way to keep your website relevant with consumers. Hire a writer who is capable of crafting conversational and informative blog posts relating to the product or service in which your business specializes. Posting one new blog a week is enough to keep consumers returning to your site regularly, and sharing valuable information they find there.
If you plan to blog or provide informative articles on your website, be sure to include a way for visitors to like and share your content on their own social media feeds and websites.
Reason #4 – Adding Value to a Product or Service
It is important to note that, if you plan to engage in effective content marketing, the material you produce must be more than a glorified advertisement for your product or service. Consumers are savvy, and they know when they are reading a sales pitch.
For instance, one of my clients specializes in providing downsizing assistance to seniors and boomers. This client has opted to provide a weekly blog as part of their overall content marketing plan. The topics range from those directly related to the company’s business model and services, to helpful tips and tools about a variety of issues affecting their customer base. By offering a voice to senior citizens on a variety of topics, this client has managed to increase its reputation as a leader in the downsizing industry.
Reason #5 – Effective Content Marketing Lends Credibility
Gaining a reputation for creating and publishing useful, authentic content is one of the easiest ways to brand your company as a leader in your business or industry.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, one of the best ways to increase credibility is by turning influencers into partners. If you are creating reliable, informative content on your website and social media accounts, you increase your chances of other providers in the same industry sharing your tips and tools on their own sites, which inadvertently brands you as the expert in your field.
This is going to require you to stay abreast of the latest trends in your industry, and employ a writer (or team of writers, depending on the size of your company) capable of turning the information into interesting, sharable content.
Have a story to share about how effective content marketing has worked for your business? We’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment below or send us a note via email.
With platforms like Facebook and Twitter emerging over the last decade, having a social media presence has become a necessity for businesses. Jobs for social media experts have skyrocketed in order to meet the demand, as businesses scramble to find the most innovative ways to maximize their exposure.
While businesses primarily use social media to increase their profits and compete for customers, public school districts should use it to improve their image with taxpayers and to open the lines of communication.
Yet public school leaders have struggled with the relevance of using social media platforms to communicate with students, parents and the communities they serve due to a focus on the potential negative aspects.
An Oct. 8, 2015 Pew Research study revealed that 65 percent of all adults now use social networking sites. Since 2005, the number of adults using this form of communication has increased by 75 percent, with the 18-29 demographic listed as the highest percentage of individuals regularly using social media. However, the 30-49 age demographic is a close second, which encompasses adults who are most likely in the prime of their parenting years , making them a prime target for social media contact.
Key Reasons to Incorporate Social Media in Public Education
The social media tools available today are varied and can be used in a multitude of ways, depending on an individual’s overall objective. Public schools are generally not interested in generating new business, but rather are interested in using social media as an effective communication tool.
Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allow public schools to relay information in real time to its core audience – parents, students, teachers and community members. We live in an instant gratification nation, where individuals not only expect – but demand – news and information about important events the moment they become available.
While most public schools use a rapid response service to communicate emergencies such as school closings, they are not ideal for sharing news such as reminders about athletic or other school events or good news about a student or faculty member. Twitter and Facebook are equipped for this kind of sharing, allowing public schools to disseminate this kind of news in real time to any smart phone or electronic device.
In addition to improving communication between the school and its stakeholders, social media also is a great way to boost your positive public relations. School districts know all too well how difficult it can be to share the positive things their students and staff are doing with the media these days. Layoffs and cutbacks have reduced the number of reporters and available space in publications, making it extremely difficult to get the good word out about your school. While websites and blogs are great, using social media to push out the good news about your school can be an effective tool for not only sharing with your local stakeholders, but also encouraging them to repost and retweet your information so that others who are unfamiliar with your school can learn more about it.
Social Media Options
The success of early social media platforms like Facebook has prompted the creation of several other social media tools within the last decade, including Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter to name a few. With all of these choices, how do schools decide which one is the best option?
A quick survey of public schools across the nation revealed that of those schools that have incorporated social media into their communication models, the majority rely on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as their go-to social media platforms of choice. While some schools allowed followers on their Facebook and Twitter accounts to comment on posts made there, others opted to turn off the commenting feature to avoid any potential for negative interaction with the public.
Let’s explore the advantages of using some of the more popular social media platforms:
Encouraging Audience Engagement
Inviting others to like and follow your school district is one of the biggest advantages to using social media. Unlike with personal pages on social media, an official Facebook page for a school district is not able to like or “friend” anyone. Viewers only will be provided with the option to like and follow the page, which will in turn allow anything posted by the school district to appear on followers’ news feeds.
Twitter is a little more flexible and allows you to follow other users, in addition to encouraging them to follow you. Users are able to retweet posts made by those they follow, which expands the potential of reaching a global audience. It also is important to follow local media and individual reporters, as well as any educational institutions with which your school district is affiliated or partnered.
In addition to following other entities on social media, consider commenting, retweeting their content or posing questions on their posts in order to redirect interest back to your own online accounts. Schools also can offer incentives to those who retweet or share posts. For example, offering discounts or even free passes to athletic or other school district events is a great way to encourage followers to share your content. There are many creative ways to excite followers and to encourage them to continue sharing your news on their accounts.
Effectively Using Social Media
There are a variety of ways to effectively use social media as a communications tool with parents, students and the community-at-large.
Announcements and reminders about school district events can be sent via Facebook and Twitter, or teaser photos for upcoming events can be sent out via Instagram. Special announcements, such as the closing of school district facility or an early dismissal, can be posted on Facebook and Twitter.
Reinforcing actions taken by the school district, such as important documents and mailings that have been sent out, can be achieved by posting those same documents on Facebook and Twitter. Press releases also can be shared, as well as news coverage received from local or national media.
Lastly, social media can be used to respond to bad news or negative publicity by making a post that includes either a response or an official statement on behalf of the school district.
A final word
Schools that opt to add social media accounts to their online repertoire may wish to start out slowly. Facebook and Twitter are both easy to use, and great tools for sharing information, photos and video (both live and pre-recorded). Instagram also is a great tool for sharing photos and videos, and some schools have opted to use this in conjunction with Facebook and Twitter to reach a broader audience.
Generating content for social media, and then monitoring how it is used and responded to by the public, can be a time-consuming process. Schools that decide to incorporate social media will want to have a staff member whose primary responsibility is to manage all social media accounts. It is important to remember that the Internet is forever, so even if you hit that delete button if you post something that you later regret, chances are, it’ll never truly be gone, so think before you post. Have a system in place that guides the person responsible for monitoring the social media platforms to help prevent disaster.
What is the measure of a man?
Is it based on his desires? Is it based on his hopes and his dreams? Or is it based on which side of the fence he finds himself during the most challenging of times?
It’s a question Addis, the main character in Mike Kilroy’s latest work of genius, Uncanny Valley, finds himself asking more than once as he navigates through a harsh world of judgment and ridicule – most of which is directed toward him and his kind.
You see, Addis isn’t like everyone else. There is just something a little off about Addis. His skin is a little too salmon-colored. His eyes are a bit too round. No matter how hard he tries, Addis will never truly fit in with society, because the sad fact is, he wasn’t meant to fit in. Addis and his kind were created with only one thought in mind – to do the dirty, dangerous work that regular folk don’t want to lower themselves to perform.
Addis and his kind are treated as less than human. But why would anyone tolerate that kind of abuse? It’s because in future San Francisco, Addis and his kind are Cannies – artificial beings that were created to look just like human beings, but certainly are not permitted to act like human beings. They are expected to work hard and to tolerate anything that is thrown their way, including insults and physical violence from the human members of society. Addis and the other Cannies simply tolerate the mistreatment because they feel it is their lot in life.
It is only after his creator, Max Bedard, expresses his desire to see the Cannies become much more that Addis really begins to examine his purpose in life:
“I want you to become more than the sum of your parts. You may
not know this, but you have the capability of so much more. You
have to want it, though.”
Addis was perplexed by that statement. How can I want something
I was never programmed to desire?
He told Max as much.
“Humans are programmed in a way, too. We have a predisposition
for certain desires and wants. We have the inherent need to procreate,
to survive. We have other drives, too. Some are good. Some are, well, bad.
We tend to fight against both. We move past our programming. And so can
“I do not see how that is possible.”
“You must try.”
Fueled by a puzzle he must decipher, combined with a weariness for being disparaged and degraded by humans, Addis decides that the true measure of a man is what he decides to do with power – and how quickly he can get back up after being knocked down.
Uncanny Valley explores the idea of humans interacting with androids, which is certainly not a new concept. However, what Kilroy chooses to do with the classic theme is mind shattering. As with his four previous books, Kilroy has a way of allowing his readers to think they know exactly where he is going with a story, only to give them major whiplash.
I’ve mentioned in a few of my reviews for his other works that I’m not a huge fan of this genre; yet, I find myself unable to put down Kilroy’s books because they are absolutely engaging. As a writer myself, I often figure out the ending of a book before I’ve even gotten to it, which can be very disappointing. But with Kilroy’s books, I’ve been pleasantly surprised each and every time I’ve picked one up. He’s managed to keep me guessing until the very end.
When asked how he came up with his latest story, Kilroy said like most of his ideas, this one came to him in the middle of the night. “I thought it would be interesting to explore a future where technology has become even more pervasive, to the point where we are in essence creating a new life form (androids), and how those androids would evolve.”
Uncanny Valley is the first in a trilogy of planned books following the characters as they evolve into the future Kilroy has so cleverly crafted. In the second yet-to-be-named installment, Kilroy promises that readers can expect to find the themes introduced in Uncanny Valley explored on a much deeper level. “What happens when the moral androids become so human that those morals begin to erode? Like Addis said, the real boogie men are people.”
Uncanny Valley is available on Amazon June 22.
As any social media professional will tell you, social media is in constant flux. Just when you think you have figured out which tools are out there and how to use each of them effectively, a new and exciting social media trend comes along to shake things up.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram and LinkedIn are among the top contenders. When used correctly, these sites have the ability to boost your professional career in a way that a traditional job hunt or local networking is unable to accomplish.
But just as these tools can be used to advance a career when used appropriately, they also can cause quite a bit of damage to professionals who misuse them. LinkedIn is a perfect example of what can happen when an online tool is not used in the manner in which it was intended.
LinkedIn is perhaps one of the most misunderstood platforms on the social media market today. Unlike Facebook – which often is used for social networking rather than professional networking – LinkedIn is meant to serve as your online professional presence. It is a way to showcase your professional talent and advertise your abilities to prospective employers or clients.
However, the number of professionals who are misusing LinkedIn continues to grow. From inappropriate profile photos to improper use of the InMail feature, some professionals have done more harm than good to their reputations.
Drop That Selfie Stick and Step Away From the Computer
Let’s start with the profile photo. Just as most of us would not go to work wearing flip flops and shorts (unless, of course, you work at an amusement park or swimming pool), it’s not appropriate to post such a casual photo of yourself on your profile. While you don’t have to be in a three-piece suit, your outfit should at least reflect a professional look. So even if you have the most rocking body out there, posing in a skimpy bikini is not the right look for LinkedIn.
Selfie-style pictures also are inappropriate. This isn’t Facebook, Instagram or Tinder – although some folks do seem to get them confused judging by the number of photos of this nature on LinkedIn. Pouty lip poses and the selfie-in-the-mirror look are definite no-nos.
Full-body photos also are not ideal for this format. The size of the profile picture is relatively small, so if you hope to connect with former coworkers or other professionals in the businesses who have previously met you in person, it will be easier for them to visually identify you if they can actually see your face.
So what is appropriate, then?
A clean, crisp head and shoulders shot of yourself in a professional setting or with a neutral background is best. Put on your best natural-looking smile as well. Achieving the perfect LinkedIn profile picture does not necessarily require the assistance of a professional photographer; however, if you can afford to have it done, hiring a pro definitely will produce the best results.
If you are a frequent offender of the inappropriate profile picture, please be advised that LinkedIn reserves the right to remove photos it finds offensive or unprofessional. If LinkedIn administrators have to remove photos for the same person more than three times, you will find yourself stuck with the generic-looking head outline that shows up on profiles when people have not uploaded a real photo.
Be Mindful of Your Brand
As professionals, we hear the word branding thrown around a lot these days. But exactly what does it mean?
Branding is the practice of creating a name and logo/symbol/design that identifies a specific product. A brand sets your product apart from every other product on the market and lets your clients know exactly what they can expect from your products and services.
On LinkedIn, our brand is easily displayed by our profile headline. Far too often, generic titles grace this area of the LinkedIn profile, which does nothing to help attract visitors. If you’re currently looking for work, the best headline you can compose should incorporate your job search in some way. For instance, if you are a marketing professional seeking to advance in your career, something along the lines of “Marketing Pro Seeking My Next Challenge” would do nicely. It lets people know you are qualified for marketing positions and are actively seeking a new opportunity.
What a headline should never include is something along the lines of “Marketing Pro Seeking Other Single Marketing Professionals” or anything of that nature. LinkedIn is for professional networking, not relationship hook-ups.
Don’t be a Lurker
LinkedIn will recommend other users to you based on what is posted in your profile, which may include former or current coworkers, or other professionals who are connected to any of your present LinkedIn contacts.
While it’s nice to reconnect with other professionals we haven’t seen for awhile, what is not appropriate is lurking on others’ profiles repeatedly. Anyone who has a LinkedIn profile has most likely experienced this very unsettling occurrence. Unless you have taken steps to conceal your LinkedIn identity while looking at others’ profiles by adjusting your privacy settings, LinkedIn users receive a notification of those who have viewed their profiles in the last 90 days. Users who have upgraded to a premium account are able to see the complete history of anyone who has ever viewed their profile.
It may be natural to want to check in on a former coworker or even a direct competitor – but if you make a habit of stalking them on their LinkedIn page, it can hurt your reputation and even your chances of getting a job.
Don’t Collect Contacts
Have you ever come across a Facebook page and been amazed at the folks who have amassed a friends list in the thousands? Chances are, you’ve encountered a “friend collector” – someone who is obsessed with friending everyone who will accept their request.
LinkedIn is definitely not the place for this kind of behavior. While it may be tempting to want to expand your list of connections, do not just start randomly sending requests to everyone who looks interesting to you.
As with inappropriate profile pictures, LinkedIn reserves the right to suspend or delete the accounts of users who become serial connection seekers, sending out bulk connection requests. It is better to start with some professionals you know, and then consider asking those connections to introduce you to other connections on their lists who are relevant to your professional goals. Another way to find connections is by joining groups on LinkedIn that align with your professional products or services.
Don’t be Political
This is another area in which some users seem to experience some confusion. Posting personal political statements as your headline on your LinkedIn profile, or creating updates of a political nature, is inappropriate and can lead to disastrous results.
While social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are rife with political statements, LinkedIn is one place where such commentary should be avoided like the plague. Ask yourself if you really want to risk alienating coworkers, employers or prospective clients by expressing your personal political views in such a permanent, public forum. If you’re struggling with the answer to that question, let me help you out. The answer is always no.
While these are not the only mistakes users make on LinkedIn, they are certainly among some of the biggest and most damaging. Have some mistakes you’d like to add to the list? Please feel free to share in the comments.
Content writing is a very broad term. In some cases, content writing refers to blogging, or the information found on a website for a business. Content writers are qualified to help with the written word as it appears in many formats.
While writing content for a corporate website is very different from writing a blog about health and beauty trends, properly-trained content writers are able to handle any task. Most content writers possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, communications or related writing field. They should have adequate training in proper grammar, various styles of writing – first person, feature, news and biography to name a few – know how to conduct research and be familiar with writing ethics.
Blogging and advertising materials aside, there are many ways content writers can help business owners. One of the most overlooked areas that could benefit from a skilled content writer is a company’s human resources department. The HR department of any company plays a vital role in its day-to-day operations, including hiring and employee retention.
So how can a content writer help a company hire the best candidate for the job? The answer can be found in a quality job posting for employment opportunities with the company.
The first impression prospective employees often have of a company is through a job advertisement. Companies that want to attract the best and the brightest need to stop thinking of employment listings as nothing more than a help wanted ad and start thinking of them as a marketing tool. Too many employers are focused on discouraging unqualified candidates from applying, so they use language in an employment advertisement that can be offensive to the kind of candidates they are hoping to attract.
A perfect example of this is in an employment ad I recently discovered from a company that has been bestowed with many accolades, including one of the “coolest” places to work. The company is growing quickly and in need of quality candidates to fill several key positions. Among those positions are several for engineers. However, this little gem was listed as a requirement for one of the engineering positions:
Mathematical Skills: Ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide in all units of measure, using whole numbers, common fractions, and decimals.
If you’re asking yourself what is wrong with that requirement, take a moment and imagine that you’re an engineer. In order to be considered an engineer, you must possess a minimum of a Bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline, with the majority of engineers possessing a Master’s degree. Some engineers also have their Professional Engineering designation, which is very time consuming and difficult to earn. So to suggest that anyone applying for an engineering job should be able to do what is essentially basic math is actually quite insulting. While I’m sure this is not what the company was intending to accomplish, it is nonetheless quite possible this descriptor is turning off some very qualified candidates.
So what tools can companies use to create effective job ads?
For starters, think like a marketing professional. While it is true that companies have to be careful not to violate labor laws when drafting a job ad, it should not be the only consideration. Make sure the job ad actually discusses what the person will be doing, rather than just containing a laundry list of requirements for hiring. If a potential candidate can’t envision doing the job, they will most likely not apply for it, regardless of their qualifications. Think like a marketer and sell that position.
Secondly, make sure you are writing a job ad, not a job description. While the two things may have a lot in common, they serve very different purposes. Job descriptions are created, in part, as an internal guidepost that clarifies what the role entails and to whom the person filling the role reports and should be very detailed.
Job ads, on the other hand, should contain only the amount of information necessary to entice a candidate to choose the “apply now” option. In other words, leave out the details about how the job is to be done and include ones that talk about the company’s culture and mission statement, as well as salary and benefits, required qualifications and instructions for how to apply.
A catchy title on the job description is the best way to pull a potential candidate into the job ad. Choosing a title that will easily be found in search engines is a good idea, so think like a candidate. If you’re hiring someone to work in the public relations department, keywords such as public relations, marketing, communications and even PR specialist are ideal. The same is true for the body of the job ad. Use SEO-rich keywords that can easily be found by a variety of search engines.
Once you have the ad crafted, have someone proof read it for you. Nothing turns off potential candidates – especially college-educated candidates – more than poor grammar and spelling in a job ad. It says the company didn’t care enough to make sure the information was correct, which may or may not speak to how the company treats its employees.
Have tips you’d like to share about crafting the perfect job ad? We’d love to hear them in the comments section.
It’s happened to all of us at one time or another.
You’re engaged in a conversation with someone – perhaps at a social function, or at a business networking event – and they misuse a common word in the English language. Or maybe you’re reading the latest office memo and discover your manager doesn’t know the difference between the proper use of you’re and your.
If you’re like me, your inner grammar teacher is dying to correct them. But that would hardly be the polite or professional thing to do. So you grin and bear it and silently think to yourself that the person needs to brush up on their grammar skills.
English is a messy language and arguably one of the hardest languages to master. Many of the words used in the English language are derived from Latin and Ancient Greek words, which is true of most European languages. English is difficult in comparison with these other languages because of its rampant contradictions. There are so many exceptions to the rules when it comes to English that it can be difficult for even those who have grown up speaking it to always use it correctly. Add into the mix regional dialect, and English can be one confusing language to master.
Fewer or Less
Two of the most commonly misused words in the English language are fewer and less. Fewer is the correct word choice when talking about an actual number of things. For example, “Fewer schools are teaching cursive writing now than they did 15 years ago.”
Less should be used when referring to an undefined amount and should only be used with singular nouns. One of the most common misuses of this word can be found in grocery and department stores across the country. Ever checked out in the “10 items or less” line? Well, technically, that should be the “10 items or fewer” line. I know – it just doesn’t have the same ring to it, and I certainly won’t be pointing out to the cashier at Walmart anytime soon that their sign is grammatically incorrect.
Another word that is misused quite frequently is irregardless. While many of you may know this by now, apparently, a vast number of English speakers do not: irregardless isn’t actually a real word. Somewhere in history, someone decided that word sounded pretty neat and decided to start using it. The phenomenon caught on. Some grammar enthusiasts have suggested the made-up word is a mixing of regardless and irrespective. Regardless of its origins, irregardless is not a real word and should be avoided unless your goal is to sound uneducated.
Your and You’re
One is possessive, the other means you are. Yet surprisingly, a great number of people incorrectly use these two words. An example of the correct usage of your is “Your socks don’t match today.” You’re is the contracted version of the two words you are. An example of how to use it properly in a sentence is “You’re my best friend.” Despite what some believe, these two words are not interchangeable.
This is another trio of similar-sounding words that, when spoken, can be misused without anyone noticing since they sound exactly the same. However, when writing them out, it’s important to know which one to use.
There is an adverb and should be used when indicating a place or position. An example: “There is a book on the shelf.” They’re is a contracted version of the two words they and are. An example of its use in a sentence is “They’re coming with us to the movies.” Lastly, there is a plural possessive adjective that indicates ownership by more than one person. An example of how to use it in a sentence is “Their car is a BMW.” As with you and you’re, these three words are not interchangeable.
Its or It’s
These two words are almost as misused as your and you’re. Its is a possessive adjective and should be used when indicating ownership or association to some thing, such as a corporation or public entity. An example of the proper use of its: “The School Board voted at its regularly-scheduled monthly meeting to build a new school.” It’s is the contracted version of it and is. An example of the proper use of it’s is: “It’s cold outside today.”
Farther or Further
Here are two words that often are misused, and regardless of whether they are spoken or written, it is obvious when they are misused. The easiest way to remember the difference between these two words is to think distance versus advancement. The word farther always indicates physical distance. An example: “My sister lives farther from the grocery store than I do.” Further should be used when referencing advancement. An example: “I am further along in reading The Tale of Two Cities than my friend.”
Than or Then
Then is an adverb, and than is a conjunction and preposition that is most commonly used for comparison purposes. An example of then in a sentence: “If you do your homework, then you can go play with your friends.” An example of a sentence using than: “I had more to eat than Bob did, and now my stomach is upset.”
For all intensive purposes……
If that phrase has ever left your lips, you have made a grave error. I have heard this particular phrase many times, including from some people I had previously considered to be well educated. The phrase that actually should be used is “for all intents and purposes.”
Insure or Ensure?
As with many of the other words on this list, insure and ensure cannot be used interchangeably. Ensure is defined as a means to make sure or guarantee something, while insure refers strictly to the financial safeguard against loss or damage that is provided by insurance. Yet these two words often are misused. In fact, I was just reading a job description today that improperly used the word insure when it really should have used ensure.
There are many more words and phrases that are misused on a daily basis, so much so that we could probably write about a new one every day. Are you guilty of misusing any of the words or phrases listed above?
Jack Grimm has learned the hard way that you can’t cheat death. For 30 years – ever since the death of his sister, Cheeks – Jack had the unfortunate ability to tell anyone he met exactly when they were going to die. It was a gift Jack happily would have returned if he’d known where to send it.
No matter the day or the hour, when Death was coming for you, there wasn’t a thing he or anyone else could do about it. He’d tried exactly twice in his life to cheat death. Both times, he failed.
Ursula backpedaled into the street. Visibility was near zero and snow lashed at Jack’s face. The icy pellets seemed to come down sideways.
Jack reached out and grabbed Ursula’s coat, pulling her back toward him onto the sidewalk just as a Geo Prism sped past, its right tires clipping the curb where Ursula had been standing.
He twirled her around to look at her, expecting to see the timer reset to a number that gave her a long, long life. Instead, it read eight minutes . . .
Why is her death still eminent?
Why was her clock not reset?
Why was this happening?
Only God knows.
Perhaps the only thing that makes Jack crazier than not being able to reset the clocks of those he can see is the fact that he has never been able to see his own clock, leaving him to agonize over when his final moments on this earth may occur. He goes back and forth about whether he would want to know even if his ability allowed it, and why God – if it was, indeed, God – would give him a gift with which he could do absolutely nothing useful.
Do I want to know? He asked himself that. The answer wasn’t always clear. Some days it was Hell, yes, I want to know. Why would I not want to know? Decisions would be so much easier if I did.
Other days it was hell, no, I don’t want to know. That knowledge could suffocate you and drain every bit of pleasure out of your life.
Jack theorized that maybe God didn’t want him to know the plan.
Just parts of it.
And it drove Jack crazy.
Jack becomes absolutely obsessed with finding a way to use his bizarre gift for good. When he discovers there are others like him with the ability to tell where and how a person will die, he enlists their help to see if together, they can cheat death. Jack Grimm is going to stop Death . . . even if it kills him.
Into Dust is author Mike Kilroy’s fourth book, and without a doubt, one of the best he’s produced thus far. While the theme of being able to predict someone else’s time of death is not a new one, where Kilroy chooses to take his readers in exploration of this idea is nothing short of brilliant. Just when I thought I had the plot figured out, Kilroy totally pulled the rug out from under me and left me speechless.
When I asked Kilroy how he came up with the concept for Into Dust, he acknowledge that it took him awhile to figure out exactly where he wanted his character to go with his special ability.
“I actually wrote the first part a couple of years ago, but hit a road block and tabled it,” Kilroy said. “I thought it would be interesting to tell a story about a guy who knew when everyone around him would die. But I kind of hit a snag. Then I had the idea of other people seeing where and how and it took off from there.”
Into Dust is available for pre-order now on Amazon.
Learn more about Kilroy and his other books – Nine Meals, The 17 and Solo – on his website.
Jonathan Winters, an American comedian, actor, author and artist offered some of the best career advice I’ve ever encountered: “If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.”
Success is a funny thing. If we have it – whether in our personal or professional lives – we feel fortunate. If we don’t have it, we often find ourselves asking why not, and what we could do differently in our quest to achieve it.
Where most people go wrong in their pursuit of success is they fail to put in the necessary work. Simply consulting with other professionals to garner tips and advice that will set one on the right path is not enough. While other professionals can share helpful strategies, they aren’t going to put those strategies to work for you. It is up to you to figure out which tools will best launch you toward the kind of success you desire and then take action.
Achieving success is not a passive accomplishment. You can’t just sit back and wait for your ship to sail into port. As Winters suggests, sometimes you have to swim out to meet it.
One of the best ways to further your professional success is through networking. In my last post, I talked about the importance of networking and some of the best strategies to employ, including face-to-face networking and where to find those opportunities. In addition to personal networking, there also are online outlets that can be very useful.
LinkedIn is one of the best online networking tools available. As of the first quarter of 2015, LinkedIn had 364 million members. The Pew Research Center provides evidence that LinkedIn users are highly-educated and high wage earners. Pew also indicated that usage was highest among the 50-64 year old age demographic. These are exactly the kinds of professionals with whom you will want to network. Not only do they have more experience, they also are more likely to be in the kinds of positions responsible for new hiring.
One of the best ways to think about LinkedIn is as an online resume. In this digital day and age, it is almost a detriment if you don’t have a LinkedIn account. It is one of the first places other professionals look to find new talent. Professional recruiters also spend a great deal of time on LinkedIn.
But if you’re like many people, you have a LinkedIn account – but have absolutely no clue how to use it to your benefit.
The first step toward creating an all-star profile on LinkedIn is to include a professional headshot and headline. The headline will appear right under your name and should reflect either a career goal or philosophy. Take your time and make the headline memorable, because it is your initial sales pitch. If it’s not appealing, recruiters and other professionals are less likely to peruse the rest of your account.
Adding a summary to your profile also is a good idea. The summary is the section that tells a little about who you are and your professional skills. This is a great place to brag about your skills and prior accomplishments. LinkedIn also has sections for experience, education and volunteer work. Filling them in will boost the ranking of your profile and make it easier to find.
While printed resumes are nice, they are not interactive. LinkedIn offers the opportunity to showcase examples of your previous work. It is equipped with the ability to post YouTube videos, images, PDFs and links to examples of online work. If you’re a website designer, providing links to sites you’ve designed for other clients would be a great way to showcase your abilities. If you’re a writer, consider sharing PDFs of your previous work or links if it is available online.
Once you have your LinkedIn profile designed the way you want it, the next step is to put it to work for you. One of the most crucial next steps is to seek endorsements. Ask your contacts or other professionals with whom you’ve worked to endorse you. These endorsements will appear in your profile. The more of them you have, the more visible your profile will be to others.
Consider updating your status. Like other social media, LinkedIn has a status update feature. If you are actively seeking new opportunities in your field, this is a great place to express it. Many people who use LinkedIn aren’t even aware it has a status update feature. If you are among those who weren’t aware of it, you can find it by clicking on the Home tab. Underneath the Home tab, your LinkedIn profile and recent activity will appear. Directly below that is a box that says “Share an Update.” Click on that box and then add a status update.
Have some advice you want to share? Consider using the Publish a Post feature. It can be found under the Home page near the Share an Update feature. Publishing a post is a lot like blogging. It provides an opportunity to share knowledge on a topic related to your profession or a specific skill. Once you publish something, all of your connections will receive notification of your post. It is a great way to boost your profile.
Lastly, consider joining some groups relating to your profession or professional interests. LinkedIn Groups are a great way to meet and network with other professionals online, share advice and discuss relevant issues in your field. LinkedIn also allows anyone to start their own group. Doing so can boost your profile ranking.
Shari L. Berg is the owner/operator of The Write Reflection, and a writing professional for over 20 years.