May 2014 | Outsourcing Blog | BPO Industry Updates and Articles
Create Compelling Online Content to Capture Audience
As Amanda Clark points out in her article at Business2Community
, many people confuse content marketing and social media to be one and the same. To briefly explain the difference between them, think of social media as the delivery vehicle and content as what you’re seeking to spread - social media is how you spread it.
Your business should be producing compelling content (e.g. blogs, press releases, videos, infographics) and then using social channels to get it out there and in front of your target audience.
Although writing a blog and then posting it to Facebook may generate some moderate results, it’s not enough to say that you’re taking full advantage of what social media channels can do.
Here are guidelines to help boost content delivery results, visibility, and exposure you get from your social media channels:
- Note the social factor in the term social media. For social media to work, you need to know who you’re talking to. It’s crucial to know your audience - and that goes beyond age and income demographics. Through social listening and social media referral reports and analytics, learn how they spend their time on social media.
- Offer value. When distributing content across social media channels, try not to sound like you are marketing or advertising to your audience. Deliver content valuable to your readers, like how-to’s, and set the tone to educational and informative.
- Use social media to expand the conversation. Be engaging and avoid talking about your brand all the time. While you are not discouraged from posting content about your products or services, it won’t hurt to talk about broader topics that would interest your readers.
- Go beyond the usual social media channels. Facebook and Twitter are the platforms commonly used by most companies. Why not optimize Google+ to increase search rankings? And while you’re at it, you should also consider engaging in Quora and creating boards on Pinterest to raise your social engagement statistics.
- Measure and track everything. Most objectives tied to social media include increasing visibility, boosting engagement, and driving traffic to your website. Measure the results of your online activities to know how well you’re doing, which topics and types of posts get more traction, and which social media channels are most advantageous to your brand.
Marketing Automation Tips
Posting on social media may be the last thing on your mind if you’re busy managing the day-to-day operations of your business. Thankfully, we now have marketing automation tools to aid us in maintaining a consistent social media presence without taking time off our work schedule.
Here is a list of dos and don’ts when it comes to incorporating social media automation into your online marketing:
- DO mix up your automated tweets and status updates with ones you write in real time. Because social media is essentially the interaction among people, automation isn't exactly the solution for all your social media needs. Exert a little effort into responding to your customers in real time. If you can’t respond immediately, set aside some time for answering questions on Twitter, replying to comments on Facebook, sharing Instagram pictures or videos of your product or employees, and circling your fans on Google . Keep in mind that automation is there to complement your real-time social media marketing, not replace it.
- DON’T automate messages during inappropriate moments. A good example would be to avoid sharing random, unrelated political articles during a presidential forum. Some businesses suspend automated tweets during natural disasters or other events. If you do plan on automating related tweets during a major event, make sure that the subject matter is relevant.
- DON’T only post your own thoughts and material. As social media expert Neil Schaffer explained in his comparison of Twitter to being in a room with a few hundred thousand people, "unless you tap someone on the shoulder, nobody’s going to notice you unless they happen to be in listening mode, which not everyone is." Besides your scheduled tweets, it also helps to retweet other influencers in your field and reply to your followers.
- DO test out multiple platforms for their capabilities. Some businesses use more than one platform because each has its own set of benefits. Look for features that will best enable you to meet your goals. There are platforms that let you monitor multiple accounts; some offer great analytics; and some allow you to store articles for future posts scheduled at set times. For starters, try out a few then pick one or more depending on their functionality, support, and your own comfort level and needs.
- DO use platforms to monitor or listen to what’s going on around you. There are platforms like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck that allow you to set up different columns for specific hashtags, groups of customers, and followers. That’ll keep you updated even if you don’t get to check daily.
- DON’T use Twitter simply to curate work by importing RSS feeds from other blogs. Alternatively, share as much client or industry-related content as possible, repost photos of your products uploaded by customers, and engage with individuals as genuinely as possible.
- DO maintain a consistent voice. Pre-schedule posts that are consistent with the voice you've chosen for your business.
- DON’T post too often. It’s advisable to schedule multiple posts in a day, but just because you can automate posts doesn't mean people want to see 20 messages a minute apart.
- DO schedule tweets for promotions or events in advance. If you have a big event coming up, schedule a reminder on social media days, or weeks in advance. You can also include scheduled tweets for information about a big launch or promotion.
- DON’T tweet posts once and then forget about them. Even if it’s been a few weeks since you wrote it, promote a blog post while the information is still fresh. Don’t hesitate to share old posts that are still relevant to your readers.
HR Outsourcing for Businesses
Business owners are still divided when it comes to HR outsourcing
. Some believe that teaming up with a professional employer organization (PEO) has its benefits, while others say it’s a total waste of resources.
A post at BusinessNewsDaily.com
lists down things that will help business owners see if HR outsourcing
is right for them. Advantages
Executives will have more time to focus on the goals.
They will no longer have to lose sleep over processes that they are not familiar with. Through a PEO, the payroll, benefits, workers’ compensation, and IRS will be taken care of. One aspect that they have to consider is the healthcare reform, because companies need to make sure that they are complying with the changes.Reduce legal problems.
PEOs have been also known to manage legal issues that take place between an organization they are serving and employees. It’s a valuable insurance that can protect a company from employees who want to take advantage or tarnish the reputation of the organization.Employee benefits are more attractive.
Companies that rely heavily on filling mass positions can take advantage of the ability of PEOs to come up with attractive benefits packages for potential candidates. Some small business owners even say they are able to compete with Fortune 500 businesses because of this.State rulings and challenges
Some states require employees who work in multiple states to file tons of paperwork before they can even start working, or get the full benefits of their new jobs. PEOs can take care of this for you, so instead of you exchanging emails with the local government, they will iron this out on your behalf.Information is more accessible.
Any information that a PEO service collects is now made available online. It will be easier for you to store and take an employee’s profile when you need to.Drawbacks
You need to be more lenient to make way for the PEO.
Some small business owners have a hard time adjusting to the changes, especially when it comes to the control and management of employees. However, if they fail to do their job because you wouldn’t let go of control, then you only have yourself to blame. The healthcare benefits of employees
Healthcare of the employees is one of the most important aspects of their contracts. You should be prepared in case the HR outsourcing partner decides to part ways with the current healthcare provider. One of the things you need to watch out for is the continuity of the coverage of employees. Risks in employee leasing
Some contracts are paid in advance, which is why when a PEO goes under, the client company will be liable for paying the employees the second time. Proper due diligence is a must and should be coupled with a gridlock contract to ensure your business from external mistakes.No sense of ownership
Since some PEO service providers manage several clients at once, there may be employees who will get neglected especially when expediting information needed for claims processing for an incident that happened on-site.
There are also some instances wherein dodgy charges show up in the invoice, but were obviously not discussed during the initial stages of the agreement. Also, rewards and tax breaks are said to be pocketed by some PEOs.
Kickstart Your Business'Instagram Account
Statistics show that over 50% of major brands are using Instagram for their business. Because photo and video sharing apps are becoming increasingly popular, it comes as no surprise that marketers are using Instagram to promote their products and services, and to give their audience a taste of their company culture. Visual content attracts all types of audiences and at the same time encourages community engagement.
For businesses that are new to Instagram and are unsure how to use it, here are a few tips to get you started:
1. Brand your page.
If you don’t have one yet, you can sign up for an Instagram account through email or Facebook. Choose the username consistent with your other accounts and add your profile photo or logo, a short bio, and your website URL.
2. Connect other social media channels.
If you haven’t already done so, connect your Instagram to your other social media accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Tumblr, and Flickr. Integrating Instagram with your other social media channels saves you time and makes it easy to share content simultaneously on multiple social networks. There’s also the added benefit of your followers seeing you’re on Instagram and following you there, too.
By adding a few channels to where your photo or video is posted, you’re helping increase your visibility and followers. This raises the engagement rate as well.
3. Share a variety of content.
Visual content gets more engagement than links or text. If you want to get a lot of public attention on Instagram, choose an assorted mix of content that combines different components of your business.
Your business isn’t composed of just your products or services - you have the people behind the brand, your location, and your industry. Whether it’s an image teaser of a new product or service, or a behind-the-scenes video of your employees, making a list of the countless aspects that make up your brand will help you with the initial plan for the types of images or 15-second videos you can post. Get your customers involved by encouraging them to share what they like about your brand or an image of their favorite product and tag you in the post. Ask them to like, comment or share the photo.
For marketers, other than client images, share photos of your team interacting with customers.
For publishers/bloggers/writers, post teasers to web content and include a call to action to visit a link.
You’ll also want to test different times of day to see which times get the most response.
4. Use relevant hashtags.
Accompany every photo or video with relevant hashtags related to the post. This increases your chances of gaining more visitors when users search for specific content on different platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Readers tend to search trends, subjects, and locations. So if you’re posting images related to social media, add the hashtag #SocialMedia. This way, when people search for #SocialMedia, your post will come up in the results.
Don’t forget to keep track of what other people in your industry are posting as it will help you reach new communities and engage with followers. And for company events or contests, use unique hashtags.
5. Engage your community.
An effective way to develop a community is to encourage viewers to post their own photos with a call to action related to your business. Ask them to post and tag, then you respond with a reply and #regram.
Posting your own image with a question also works. Ben & Jerry’s asked a simple question to promote their latest flavor and it received nearly 600 comments. An Instagram photo contest is also a fun way to develop your community.
6. Keep track of analytics.
Monitoring your Instagram analytics helps improve your posts and your strategy. There are analytics tools, albeit paid, available for monitoring post performance, assisting with Instagram management, and helping generate revenue through ads. There are even tools that allow you to compare how you’re performing against competitors. Data and metrics enable you to make informed decisions about the type of Instagram content that you post.
Benefits of Outsourcing Accounting
Business owners and leaders of today are pre-occupied with various goals. Things sometimes get conflicted because executives don’t know which factor they should focus on first. Should they focus on saving money, improving efficiency, or complying with the government and industry standards? These are their goals aside from generating more revenue and drive business value up.
One of the most time-consuming and delicate tasks that business owners have to deal with is the financial aspect of the entire operation. It comprises several smaller tasks like payroll processing, compliance, internal audit, and risk management - all of these while surviving with what little resources they have. Business owners began outsourcing because not only are they able to finish accounting tasks faster, they are also able to control the challenges related to overhead and operation augmentation.
A post at CPAPracticeAdvisor.com shares the advantages of outsourcing accounting as told by ProNexus, a renowned management consulting and professional services firm.
1. Gain access to global accounting experts.
If you feel that your in-house accounting department will not do well once introduced to the public, consider outsourcing to a company that specializes only in accounting. The reason for this is because these organizations are built on accounting and numbers. They have to deliver their services properly or else they risk losing real-time business, or worse, taint their reputation.
2. You can be sure that global standards are met.
Regulatory requirements change occasionally and in order for accounting firms to stay relevant and above their competitors, they would have to keep up with these changes. As for non-accounting businesses, they would need to add this to their to-do list or end up facing charges.
3. Outsourcing accounting work will help you better manage costs.
Data released by the General Auditor Information Network (GAIN) indicate that businesses will only have to pay for the services that they actually need and implement. So you would no longer have to compute for the remaining hours once a project is done. You also no longer have to shell out huge sums of money since there will be no capital investment involved when outsourcing.
4. Streamline operations and distribute valuable resources accordingly.
Since your operations will be managed by experts, you no longer have to worry about failing to meet your deadlines. They also have a standard procedure in reporting and all the necessary skills to identify errors, even during the actual operation. When a problem occurs during operation, incident reports are duly created then submitted to the clients to be analyzed.
5. You will have more time to address important things.
Instead of worrying and wasting time in overseeing accounting functions, business are able to free up more time and focus on core functions of the business. Accounting service providers are known to offer services like treasury and cash management tasks, cash flow preparation, inventory of assets, debt compliance monitoring, credit facility analysis, and initial public offering (IPO) preparation.
Outsourcing Opportunities in the US Healtcare Sector
The Global Outsourcing Index 1Q14 released by the Information Services Group (ISG) indicated that a lot have been happening in the US healthcare market. The highlights of the report are discussed in an article posted at ISG-One.com where it was pointed out that the drastic changes in the US healthcare business model could be financially rewarding for both the private and public healthcare outsourcing players.
In a span of 10 years, the annual contract value of healthcare and pharmaceutical operations around the world has grown twice over. ISG also found that even with its slow growth rate, the US market is a major contributor to the worldwide healthcare ACV. The centralized market in the US grew 65 percent somewhere during the periods of 2008-2010 and 2011-2013 - almost equivalent to the growth of the commercial segment.
With the Affordable Care Act signed into law, challenges and advantages are expected to multiply faster in the commercial sector. This is where service providers take center stage and offer solutions that add value to industry participants.
The Affordable Care Act made way for a new business model. Before, it was purely a business-to-business environment, and then it evolved into a business-to-consumer market where individuals are mandated to purchase insurance personally. The new changes are said to fuel spend in the segment, and ISG anticipates that the services industry will soon reap the benefits of these changes. First off, new platforms should be integrated to be able to adapt to the changes. Then, with the new strategies, budget should also be moved to better suit the plans for the new processes.
The changes will also result to multitudes of patient information, from the easiest forms of data coming from healthy individuals, to the most complicated sets of information coming from patients with chronic diseases. Health information management service providers can step in and manage the large volume of data that healthcare institutions have to go through in order to bill an individual correctly.
Back then, healthcare providers were receiving payments for the same health condition and incident one at a time, but now, they would have to dissect a single payment so they would be able to itemize which part of the payment goes to which type of service. Accountable care organizations are now being considered by healthcare providers to move things along, reduce the risk of making mistakes in information and computation, and to ensure that individuals are getting the healthcare service they deserve.
ISG noted that processing efficiency and effectiveness is a window of opportunity for service providers. It is estimated to be worth $8 billion and is believed that healthcare organizations will look into managed services instead of increasing their staff and operations locally. In fact, during the 1Q2014, ISG has helped healthcare organizations address the 30 percent increase in workload by shifting US$120 million usually allotted for staff augmentation- to managed services.
Content Marketing Strategy
In a recently released study by the Content Marketing Institute on 2014 benchmarks, budgets, and trends, there were some surprising findings about content marketing:
- 55% of small business B2B marketers think that their content marketing strategy has no impact
- 94% of respondents are practicing content marketing, but
- 52% of them don’t have a content marketing strategy in place
In their goal to keep up with the content marketing trend, it appears that about half of self-proclaimed content marketers are posting blogs and social updates whenever they like. And that’s both disappointing and crazy.
On the bright side, the CMI study found a significant increase in the overall confidence in content marketing efforts - from 34% in 2013 to 45% in 2014. The probable cause of the improvement is marketers realizing the importance of providing consumers with relevant, high quality content.
Content marketing isn't done randomly. To see results from your efforts, you have to be prepared with a strategy.
To create and maintain a solid content marketing strategy, here’s what you need:
1. Branding. Fully understanding your brand includes knowing who your audience is, your company’s voice, what message you want to convey, etc. It may seem simple, but even the smallest inconsistencies can have a negative impact. Involve your executive, sales, and marketing teams in this process so that everyone is on the same page.
2. Choose a dedicated employee or team to run the program. Strong writers may be best for the job, because producing poor content is similar to not producing content at all. To avoid being abandoned by your consumers, give them interesting and well-written content. If you create a team, be clear on each person’s responsibilities in order to not miss any bases.
3. Stay on top of the latest trends in content creation and social media. Ensure that your marketing team is educated with content marketing software, social media programs, and best practices. You will find that there are software and programs that allow you to monitor your followers and schedule posts so you don’t have to be chained to your computer.
4. Scheduling. Establish a schedule for your company blog and social media profiles. Having an editorial calendar helps to guarantee that you’ll always have content for your blog. Compile a list of websites that you can use to organize industry-related information for your social media posts. Also, note the best practices for publishing on each social networking site, including the time your posts are likely to get the most attention.
5. Tracking. With a steady stream of content, you’re ready to track results to measure the success of your strategy. There are a lot of free tools available to help you do this. Some social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn even provide analytics and insights to how your followers respond to your content. Make monthly reports to track your results throughout the year and determine your ROI.
With this simple guide, you’ll be able to build your strategy in no time. So if you haven’t already, start now.