Beauty & Fitness Articles
The Trinity of Abdominal Fitness
by Michele “Michele the Trainer”
Previously Published in YHC Magazine
Do you feel like you’ve done a zillion crunches in your life with no result? Do you still feel like you do not have an abdominal wall?
A client asks “I notice I have this little spare 'tire' around my waist – I have this blob that seems to sneak up and over the top of my pants. What can I do to reduce this unattractive spare change around my waist? “
First pretend that your abdominal muscles are like a soup can label, where the front of the label is your anterior abdominal wall, the top of the can your diaphragm and the bottom of the can your pelvic floor.
Assuming the blob around your waist is fat, unfortunately the first unpopular short answer is, that our waist does not "own" that fat. The same applies to my favorite "back/bra strap fat" and also the ever lovely "other inner thigh".
Part 1 of the Abdominal Trinity:
The first part of our abdominal trinity is fitness.
Overall fat burning must take place coupled with resistance training/strength training to improve your BMI (Body Mass Index, i.e. improving your body composition to be more muscle than fat overall).
If you cannot feel/find your abdominal wall, you are not going to be successful trying to chisel one out. (You cannot chisel what you cannot find.) As they say, you have to build the house before you paint the house. With fat burning and weight loss, you should be able to become more kinesthetically aware of your abdominal region.
For reducing body fat in your workout, cardio is most commonly used and interval cardio training is very effective. Strength training increases your muscle mass, and because muscle burns more calories than fat, your body will burn more calories even at rest, or while sedentary. Getting personal, by including a heart rate monitor, and learning your personal fat burning zone is an excellent addition. Also good practice is to add variety and change up your regular exercises; this offers interval type fat burning changes to your workout!
To build up the outer abdominal wall, good programming includes both isometric and dynamic exercises for the core. For example, isometric plank, along with dynamic crunches provide a combination of both dynamic (crunch) and static (plank) to complement and assure muscle balance.
The core muscles include the diaphragm and the pelvic floor; all of the muscles that stabilize the torso. The lower belly pooch, if you will, is connected to your pelvic floor kegel muscles and should be an integral part of a core fitness routine.
Engaging your abs and focusing on them is a method to becoming kinesthetically aware of your abs and to make sure that they are firing, or working. For example, a common problem is neck strain during a crunch. The goal is to engage your core and work your abdominal muscles, absolutely not to hurt your neck. Focusing and even touching the muscle that is supposed to be working (your own please, not your neighbors!) will help you increase the kinesthetic awareness necessary to be mindful of working and isolating the correct muscle group.
Part 2 of the Abdominal Trinity:
The second unpopular part of the abdominal trinity is that diet plays a significant role in appearance of the abdominal region. Here we assume that the blob may not be all fat.
Keeping a food diary and identifying your intake and what you maybe reacting to can help you decrease the intake of foods that could be bloating you. If you were going to the academy awards, you would probably not eat a giant bean burrito first. You know that the beans would make you look puffy in those famous red carpet photos. You would probably choose something that would make you less puffy than beans.
Point being is that you don’t have to be allergic to beans, to have a puffy reaction to them. Being attentive and tracking your food intake will help you identify and prevent “the blob”.
Hydration is also a factor related to food intake. Dry processed carbs maybe stripped of water, and can cause water retention. Recommended carbs are vegetables (recommended serving for adult over 30 years old is 2.5-3 cups*) and fruits (1.5 – 2 cups, please be cautious if you have blood sugar issues*). *portion reference mypyramid.gov
Speaking of sugar, white refined processed sugar of any kind can also affect your abdominal fitness. White sugar is high in calories, it’s devoid of nutrients and it makes you gain weight.
If you mixed table sugar with white salt (refined table salt, not sea salt) and white flour you would get glue! Your intestines, small and large are approximately 25 feet for an adult. That’s a long road for glue to travel…so where does it go? It could be your blob!
Part 3 of the Abdominal Trinity:
Therefore the third most unpopular part of the Abdominal Fitness Trinity is toxicity and it’s effect on the colon. A toxic colon is a full colon and a full colon can have weight. Weight of waste can pull the colon down from it’s intended position to a saggy condition called prolapsed.
Sometimes an impacted toxic colon might ‘flap over’ the beltline and have that ‘overlap belly’ look, however inside, it’s could be a colon that is heavy and full of toxins. These toxins could be impacted in the colon mixed with the gluey result of refined/poor nutrient devoid diet choices. This is why building an abdominal wall with fitness is also imperative, because your colon needs strong supporting muscles to support it!
Regular exercise and fitness help you manage stress, which is toxic, as well! How did we get so toxic? We are affected by every toxin we are in contact with, environmental, metabolic and digestive. Digestive toxins are caused by impaired or incomplete digestion and can occur for several reasons, some of which are stress and overeating.
To detoxify, one of the best and safest is seeking the guidance of a certified colon hydrotherapist using FDA-regulated colon hydrotherapy equipment. Are these poisons also affecting my inner and outer beauty, you ask? Yes! In addition to the possible toxic belly pooch, toxins and poisons can affect your weight.
True abdominal fitness is a trinity of fitness (cardio and strength), diet, and detoxification or clean plumbing.
Please understand that the intent of this article is not to diagnose or prescribe but to offer information only to help you to co-operate with your doctor in your mutual interest of building health. In the event you use this information without your doctor's approval, you are prescribing for yourself which is your constitutional right, but we assume no direct responsibility.
Lose Weight and Keep it Off with Michele the Trainer. Know anyone who wants to lose those last 20 stubborn pounds? Michele weighed 285 pounds and lost 165 pounds with no drugs or surgery. She is the “go to” person for everyone who wants to lose weight or get healthier, including all popular weight loss program graduates and refugees. Michele can teach you how to keep it off deliciously!! Confidentiality is Michele the Trainer’s core value. Serious inquiries only:
Beauty & Fitness Articles
Flirty Fun Fitness & Flexibility
by Michele “Michele the Trainer”
Previously Published in YHC Magazine
Flirty is sexy and here are 4 functional favorite recommendations to achieve your fitness with a fun attitude while maintaining spinal safety.
My intention is not to offend or encourage illicit activities, but to address activities of daily living for most adults. One of my clients read this and exclaimed, “DAILY?” LOL
First, my definition of functional fitness is that we are using our entire body to perform tasks during our fitness training that replicate the movements that we use in our normal life; the movements that we use to function in real life. For example lifting; we lift our water, wine or department store bags (and yes sometimes we lift groceries, children or pets too). Our functional fitness goes well beyond shopping and we must take a look at the flirtier or sensual side of function. Functional fitness for some may include throwing and catching but for most of us reading this, we are not doing a lot of throwing and catching with our partners in everyday life….but we know what we are doing!
Choosing to not be active in a flirty way? That’s fine and can reap huge energetic gains. Feeling fit is still very empowering and that is available to everyone.
Dr. Oz States, “"If you have more than 200 orgasms a year, you can reduce your physiologic age by six years," Dr. Oz says. He bases the number on a study done at Duke University that surveyed people on the amount and quality of sex they had.””
Wow! Now we know this is also important for longevity, and that’s a lot of work if you’re not fit enough to enjoy it!
Knowledge and having a strong and agile body/vehicle builds confidence and attitude which is imperative for self esteem. Are you feeling unattractive, fat, or unfit? Do you have an ache, pain or injury? If you have a partner, weight gain that is old, same or new to you have injuries, surgeries, replacement parts, are pregnant or were, a belly from an office job, etc....in any case, People, we have to maintain enough functional strength and flexibility to get, be and remain flirty with our partners. For example, a female might be not feeling flirty if they think that they lost their favorite pose or position if they have had one or both knees replaced. Never fear! With the right personal trainer and program, you can learn alternatives that work for you.
While being super fun, pole dancing or belly dancing are usually not among our activities of daily living and may include movements that are not indicated or safe for everyone’s hips or spine/sciatica, etc. (Unless you are a fireman you probably do not have your own pole). Knowledgeable personal training/customized functional strength and flexibility training can build the fitness required to try those activities in spinal safety.
In addition to sex burning calories, exercise psychology offers bedroom benefits too. Exercise is empowering and will give you a better body, which will leave you feeling better about your appearance, and thereby making you more assertive and improving your confidence.
When you are watching the nature channel and observing animals in the wild their flexibility & functionality exists regardless of their size or shape. We don't see lions, tigers, and other passionate animals worried and fretting about their size. They are not complaining or asking their partner "do these jeans make me look fat?"! LIFE and FLIRTY FUNCTION DOES NOT NEED TO STOP WHILE YOU ARE ON YOUR FITNESS OR WELLNESS JOURNEY. Know that some of the hottest bodies are more interested in fitness, flexibility and feel rather than the visual. Remember also that wild animals are characterized by activity!
Master or remaster the mechanics of movement and then the glory and enjoyment is seeing the improvements and feeling better. Functional Strength and flexibility exercises can include programming that incorporates a fusion of foundational fitness (cardio, strength and endurance) but also can include body weight strength and flexibility from yoga. Programming should be customized and tailored to the individual. While confidence for all body types is encouraged, remember that the body is a vehicle and like our car it requires maintenance. Move forward, not backwards.
Sometimes group classes can be called functional and sometimes they involve balance acts on an inherently unstable platform, a stability ball. I personally don’t live on a stability ball in my normal life and unless you are a circus performer neither do you; therefore by my definition it’s not functional. I love stability ball exercises, but I want to be clear that is not my personal definition of functional fitness.
Here are 4 Flirty Fitness Ideas that can be included to achieve these realistic goals ****: Losing Weight/Leaning the Body; Lean body mass and good nutrition makes all movement easier and healthier for the joints. Changing body composition with strength training will give you a higher percentage of muscle rather than inactive fat not only improves aesthetics, but also will turn your body into a fat burning machine that can work for you while you are at rest. Proper nutrition will increase your energy, and with flirty functional fitness energy is everything! The more functional we are, the more we burn calories in the bedroom too!Strengthening the Pelvic Floor and Back with Bridges and Kegels; Have we lost a kneeling or superman position? How about trying the suntan/sunnyside up position? With a knowledgeable personal trainer, we can learn to work on the erector spinae muscles that support the spinal column for alternative positions and while we are there we should include Kegels to improve integrity of the pelvic floor.Yoga and Flexibility, but with a knowledgeable restorative yoga therapist; YOGA IS FOR EVERYONE. Maybe group yoga is not for you? One-on-one yoga with the right instructor can address any limitations you may have. It might not be a group yoga experience, but with a knowledgeable restorative yoga therapist, you can improve your flexibility and strength!Water Exercise; Water is just sexy and learning to move confidently in the water where we are gravity free, can really solve a lot of problems. Also the hydrostatic properties of the water help the circulation which is good to reduce inflammation and pain. Historically nobody feels sexy when they have an ache! With a knowledgeable water fitness expert, you can learn the benefits of a water workout.
****Note that interruptions from screaming kids or barking dogs are outside of my area of expertise
Michele the Trainer brings colorful energy, a fun personality, and results to your workout. Michele is a weight loss expert having lost 165 pounds with no drugs or surgery and she has maintained that weight loss; she is authentic and real. Whether you're looking for intense strength and cardio personal training workouts, healing restorative yoga therapy, or successful nutritional weight loss plans, Michele designs programs uniquely for you to achieve your goals. Michele is a post physical therapy expert and known for aquatic fitness as well.
You can contact Michele at
or at her website www.michelethetrainer.com
By Tim Berry
Originally published in up and running on www.entrepreneur.com
You should know the local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), a network of about 1,000 locations in the United States, generally a great place to go for frontline, street-level small-business advice.
The SBDCs offer classes and one-on-one counseling sessions on practical topics related to starting and growing a business. The details vary by state and specific office, but usually you’ll find a good selection of specific classes on topics such as bookkeeping and employee management, offered in a mix of evening classes over several weeks, workshops for half a day or less, one-on-one counseling and longer-term programs.
The SBDCs are financed by three mostly public sources: the federal government (through the SBA), state governments and local education. Details are slightly different from state to state. The fees charged are surprisingly low.
SBDCs are strongest when asked to provide hands-on, ground-level practical advice to people who want to start or grow local businesses. You don’t go to the SBDC for high-level advice on getting millions of dollars in venture capital; you do go to the SBDC for practical advice on dealing with banks, local investors, local regulations, regular business tasks, local marketing, bookkeeping and administration.
Where I live, in Eugene, Ore., a lot of small businesses have been through our SBDC’s two-year, comprehensive night school management courses. The alumni group raves about the results.
This comes to mind because I’m traveling this week to attend the annual conference of the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) in San Antonio, Texas. I’ve been a regular at the conference since 1995.
This year I’m going to present a three-hour workshop on teaching entrepreneurship using business planning, an introduction to a complete curriculum we’ve made available to teachers.
1601 Carmen Drive, #215
Camarillo, CA 93010 - View Map
Phone: (805) 384-1800
Fax: (805) 384-1805
Web Site: http://www.edc-vc.com
The Seven Pitfalls of Business Failure
by Patricia Schaefer
Summary: When you're starting a new business, the last thing you want to focus on is failure. But if you address the common reasons for failure up front, you'll be much less likely to fall victim to them yourself. Here are the top 7 reasons why businesses fail and tips for avoiding them.
The latest statistics from the Small Business Administration (SBA) show that "two-thirds of new employer establishments survive at lease two years, and 44 percent survive at least four years." This is a far cry from the previous long-held belief that 50 percent of businesses fail in the first year and 95 percent fail within five years.
Brian Head, Economist with the SBA Office of Advocacy, noted that the latest statistics are a much more accurate assessment of new business success rates, and that "as a general rule of thumb, new employer businesses have a 50/50 chance of surviving for five years or more."
Better success rates notwithstanding, a significant percentage of new businesses do fail. Expert opinions abound about what a business owner should and shouldn't do to keep a new business afloat in the perilous waters of the entrepreneurial sea. There are, however, key factors that -- if not avoided -- will be certain to weigh down a business and possibly sink it forevermore.
1. You start your business for the wrong reasons.
Would the sole reason you would be starting your own business be that you would want to make a lot of money? Do you think that if you had your own business that you'd have more time with your family? Or maybe that you wouldn't have to answer to anyone else? If so, you'd better think again.
On the other hand, if you start your business for these reasons, you'll have a better chance at entrepreneurial success:
- You have a passion and love for what you'll be doing, and strongly believe -- based on educated study and investigation -- that your product or service would fulfill a real need in the marketplace.
- You are physically fit and possess the needed mental stamina to withstand potential challenges. Often overlooked, less-than-robust health has been responsible for more than a few bankruptcies.
- You have drive, determination, patience and a positive attitude. When others throw in the towel, you are more determined than ever.
- Failures don't defeat you. You learn from your mistakes, and use these lessons to succeed the next time around. Head, SBA economist, noted that studies of successful business owners showed they attributed much of their success to "building on earlier failures;" on using failures as a "learning process."
- You thrive on independence, and are skilled at taking charge when a creative or intelligent solution is needed. This is especially important when under strict time constraints.
- You like -- if not love -- your fellow man, and show this in your honesty, integrity, and interactions with others. You get along with and can deal with all different types of individuals.
2. Poor Management
Many a report on business failures cites poor management as the number one reason for failure. New business owners frequently lack relevant business and management expertise in areas such as finance, purchasing, selling, production, and hiring and managing employees. Unless they recognize what they don't do well, and seek help, business owners may soon face disaster. They must also be educated and alert to fraud, and put into place measures to avoid it.
Neglect of a business can also be its downfall. Care must be taken to regularly study, organize, plan and control all activities of its operations. This includes the continuing study of market research and customer data, an area which may be more prone to disregard once a business has been established.
A successful manager is also a good leader who creates a work climate that encourages productivity. He or she has a skill at hiring competent people, training them and is able to delegate. A good leader is also skilled at strategic thinking, able to make a vision a reality, and able to confront change, make transitions, and envision new possibilities for the future.
3. Insufficient Capital
A common fatal mistake for many failed businesses is having insufficient operating funds. Business owners underestimate how much money is needed and they are forced to close before they even have had a fair chance to succeed. They also may have an unrealistic expectation of incoming revenues from sales.
It is imperative to ascertain how much money your business will require; not only the costs of starting, but the costs of staying in business. It is important to take into consideration that many businesses take a year or two to get going. This means you will need enough funds to cover all costs until sales can eventually pay for these costs.
4. Location, Location, Location
Your college professor was right -- location is critical to the success of your business. Whereas a good location may enable a struggling business to ultimately survive and thrive, a bad location could spell disaster to even the best-managed enterprise.
Some factors to consider:
- Where your customers are
- Traffic, accessibility, parking and lighting
- Location of competitors
- Condition and safety of building
- Local incentive programs for business start-ups in specific targeted areas
- The history, community flavor and receptiveness to a new business at a prospective site
5. Lack of Planning
Anyone who has ever been in charge of a successful major event knows that were it not for their careful, methodical, strategic planning -- and hard work -- success would not have followed. The same could be said of most business successes.
It is critical for all businesses to have a business plan. Many small businesses fail because of fundamental shortcomings in their business planning. It must be realistic and based on accurate, current information and educated projections for the future.
Components may include:
- Description of the business, vision, goals, and keys to success
- Work force needs
- Potential problems and solutions
- Financial: capital equipment and supply list, balance sheet, income statement and cash flow analysis, sales and expense forecast
- Analysis of competition
- Marketing, advertising and promotional activities
- Budgeting and managing company growth
In addition, most bankers request a business plan if you are seeking to secure addition capital for your company.
A leading cause of business failure, overexpansion often happens when business owners confuse success with how fast they can expand their business. A focus on slow and steady growth is optimum. Many a bankruptcy has been caused by rapidly expanding companies.
At the same time, you do not want to repress growth. Once you have an established solid customer base and a good cash flow, let your success help you set the right measured pace. Some indications that an expansion may be warranted include the inability to fill customer needs in a timely basis, and employees having difficulty keeping up with production demands.
If expansion is warranted after careful review, research and analysis, identify what and who you need to add in order for your business to grow. Then with the right systems and people in place, you can focus on the growth of your business, not on doing everything in it yourself.
7. No Website
Simply put, if you have a business today, you need a website. Period.
In the U.S. alone, the number of internet users (about 70 percent of the population) and e-commerce sales (about 70 billion in 2004, according to the Census Bureau) continue to rise and are expected to increase with each passing year. In 2004, the U.S. led the world in internet usage.
At the very least, every business should have a professional looking and well-designed website that enables users to easily find out about their business and how to avail themselves of their products and services. Later, additional ways to generate revenue on the website can be added; i.e., selling ad space, drop-shipping products, or recommending affiliate products.
Remember, if you don't have a website, you'll most likely be losing business to those that do. And make sure that website makes your business look good, not bad -- you want to increase revenues, not decrease them.
When it comes to the success of any new business, you -- the business owner -- are ultimately the "secret" to your success. For many successful business owners, failure was never an option. Armed with drive, determination, and a positive mindset, these individuals view any setback as only an opportunity to learn and grow. Most self-made millionaires possess average intelligence. What sets them apart is their openness to new knowledge and their willingness to learn whatever it takes to succeed.
Copyright 2006, Attard Communications, Inc.
Media, Advertising, Branding & Marketing Articles
Originally published in Entrepreneur Magazine
By Suzanne Driscoll
When sales slump due to a slow economy, a business owner's first inclination is often to cut the marketing budget. After all, one has fixed costs and cash flow can be irregular. But marketing should be the last activity you eliminate or you risk an even faster downward spiral. Advertising your business and attracting new customers should be an ongoing process, and there are many things you can do that cost absolutely nothing. In these times money might be tight but the need for revenue is continuous, here are just a few suggestions.
- Become the expert
Submit articles related to your business to the local paper, trade journals and professional organization's newsletters. Choose a topic that reflects your expertise on the subject and make sure your business is mentioned. You might also find a website that may be interested in letting you host a guest column. Whenever you get published, make copies and send them to all your current and potential customers.
- Be a great public speaker
Professional meeting planners are always looking for presenters and workshop leaders for conferences. Research contact names in the Directory of Meeting Planners or start with your local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club. If, like most people, you dread the thought of public speaking, join your local Toastmasters [http://www.toastmasters.org/] club; this is also a great way to meet potential customers. When you do get the opportunity to make a presentation, be sure to collect business cards for a drawing to win a book or other prize related to your business.
- Teach an adult education course
This is an excellent way for customers to see you as an expert and help advertise your business. This works especially well for service-oriented businesses such as financial planning, healthcare or tax preparation. Simply call your local school district or community college where adult education courses are offered. Better yet, offer free or inexpensive seminars at libraries, restaurant event rooms or a friend's office.
- Reward referrals
One of the best ways to get new customers is to enlist the help of your current ones. Offer a reward of free merchandise or services for any lead that turns into new business. If you publish a catalogue, include a card where customers can provide the name and address of someone else who might want to receive one. When you get a new customer from a referral, be sure to send the source a personalized thank you note along with their reward.
- Send out an e-zine
It's crucial to keep in touch with your current customers as well as potential ones, and what could be easier than sending out a regular newsletter? After you obtain permission from the recipients, you can describe new products, offer coupons and provide links to articles online your customers might be interested in reading. Keep it simple with pure text or include photos and other graphics.
- Make the most of (free) public relations
Whenever there is an event of any significance in your business, be sure to send a press release or a simple e-mail to all the local newspapers and TV stations. Whether it's a new product, a big order or expansion plans that might result in new jobs, they will probably want to hear about it. Local radio stations also look for interesting people to interview, so find the producers' contact information and let them know you're available.
- Give back
Any time you do anything for a charity such as sponsoring an event or donating free materials, make sure the press knows about it ahead of time. They might send a reporter to cover the occasion, but if not, send them photos to publish afterwards.
- Start a blog or contribute to a forum
This can be a great way to drive traffic to your website and keep a conversation going with your customers. There are several free blogging sites to get you started, I recommend Blogger , WordPress or Tumblr . Here you should post any type of news, promotional messages or information related to your product or services. Another way to get your name out there is to contribute to online discussion groups (without making it obvious you're advertising). Find the forums that relate to your business by typing in keywords at the top online group websites. I recommend Google , Yahoo and MSN groups. Be very careful when using forums to advertise. Many discourage users from bombarding discussions with their own links or promoting their business. Find a forum built for this type of promotion, otherwise you could lose credibility.
- Partner up
If you sell any type of product used by families, contact your local PTA and offer a special shopping night where a percentage of the proceeds will be donated to the school.
Think there's no time for all this? Or you made plans but got too busy? Try scheduling one to two hours per week or a specific date and time to focus on advertising your business. When the phones start ringing with new orders, you'll be glad you did.
Media, Advertising, Branding & Marketing Articles
This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum,
While much of finding what works for your business on social media sites is a process of trial and error, recent stats from e-mail marketing firm ExactTarget shed some light on how the Facebook population uses the site, and specifically, how it interacts with brands.
First, the good news: Based on its study of 1,500 Facebook users, ExactTarget concluded that 38% of online U.S. consumers “Like” (formerly “Fan”) a brand on the social networking site. And the average fan Likes nine different brands, giving you plenty of opportunity to find your way into potential customers’ news feeds.
The news that presents a challenge to businesses looking to benefit from Facebook, however, is that just because someone has Liked you doesn’t mean they’re ready to see your promotional messages. Citing an earlier study, ExactTarget reports that 70% of consumers don’t think becoming a fan equates to opting in to marketing.
Fortunately, ExactTarget didn’t stop there, and did some research into what motivates users to Like companies on Facebook. The results offer some insight into what you can do as a business to keep the fans you accumulate engaged and not hitting the “hide” button in their news feeds. Here’s the breakdown of why users might “Like” your brand, illustrated by the percentage of respondents who said that they use Facebook for the listed activity:
- 40% to receive discounts and promotions
- 39% to show my support for the company to others
- 36% to get a “freebie”
- 34% to stay informed about the activities of the company
- 33% to get updates on future products
- 30% to get updates on upcoming sales
- 29% for fun or entertainment
- 25% to get access to exclusive content
- 22% someone recommended it to me
- 21% to learn more about the company
- 13% for education about company topics
- 13% to interact
On the surface, some of these findings seem to conflict with the idea of users being resistant to marketing messages. But the real takeaway is that users like brands for a wide variety of reasons, and the mix of content you post to your Facebook Page should reflect that.
There’s a bit more to it than that, however, if you dive further into some of ExactTarget’s findings relating to demographics and usage patterns. For instance, 65% of Facebook users only access the site when they’re not at work or school – typically meaning early morning or evening. That means that if you’re making social media only a part of a 9 to 5 work day, you might be missing out on connecting with consumers during the times they’re likely to be online.
There are also differences in how men and women use the site, with women indicating that their primary focus on the site is on maintaining relationships (by a margin of 63% to 54%), implying that they have less time for engaging with businesses.
Hopefully, by combining some of these broader findings with your own analytics and anecdotal successes and failures, you can refine your strategy to grow both your fan base and your levels of engagement.
Community Service Articles
Originally published on Mashable written by
Social media has had a profound effect on the way social good organizations approach global problems. From the Red Cross, which used text messages to raise $5 million in relief funds for Haiti, to organizations like micro-lender Kiva, which wouldn’t even exist without the concept of social networking, altruistic organizations and individuals are finding new ways to embrace social media.
In preparation for our Social Good Summit next week, we asked social good experts about trends that will shape the way we use social media for positive change in the future. Here’s what they had to say.
In preparation for the United Nation’s climate change conference last December, an organization called 350.org (350 refers to the safe upper limit for parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere) decided to organize a demonstration. But instead of printing up picket signs and posting flyers on telephone polls, they posted a simple call to action on their website and spread the word through social media. They asked people all over the world to create their own events on October 24 that centered around the number 350.
350.org’s social network responded by organizing more than 5,200 demonstrations and rallies in more than 180 countries. Climbers planned to post 350 banners on Mt. Everest. Activists around the shore of the Dead Sea collaborated to post a giant “3″ in Israel, a “5″ in Palestine, and a “0″ in Jordan.
More and more organizations are striving to create movements through a similar crowdsourcing model.
“Crowdsourcing is literally and simply empowering your community to do specific tasks without the organization, but on behalf of the organization, through active management,” says Geoff Livingston, the co-founder of social media communications agency Zoetica, which works primarily with non-profits.
Livingston, who regularly contributes articles about social good for Mashable (), embarked on his own crowdsourcing effort after the April 20th Deepwater Horizon explosion. He and Zoetica teamed up with other organizations like Citizen Effect and Live Your Talk to organize a national day of action on August 25th. They named the project CitizenGulf, after a Twitter () hashtag.
Twenty cities participated by hosting events, and the cumulative $10 entry fees amounted to almost $11,000 that was used to send eight children of fishermen affected by the oil spill to an after-school program for a year.
“What was really special about that is that these 20 cities got together, they met face to face, they did their own event, they created it, and they were free to crowdsource and innovate,” Livingston says. “And I think when people are empowered to become a part of something — not told what to do, but literally, make it their own, make it part of their life, make it feel like their $10 and two hours of time means something — wow, that’s powerful.”
Beth Kanter, the co-author of The Networked Nonprofit and the CEO of Zoetica, says the Humane Society’s 2007 campaign to protest Wendy’s “frosty treatment of animals” by making and submitting your own sign is the first example she remembers of seeing these personal calls to action. Other successful implementations of crowdsourcing since then include LIVESTRONG’S grassroots fundraising events and awareness day, which is similar to the 350.org concept.
But according to Livingston, non-profits have a long way to go before they can leverage the full potential of crowdsourcing. “I think crowdsourcing is a hot buzz word in the non-profit space, but people just don’t get it. Nobody’s really figured it out yet,” Livingston says. “I don’t really see any universal theory that is working for me.”
2. Location, Mobile Apps and Other Experiments
Non-profits have started to experiment with location-based games like Foursquare () and other mobile apps, but they’re behind their commercial counterparts.
“I think to really leverage those networks, you need to employ a developer. You really need to get into the API and pull out the data and leverage it successfully,” Livingston says. “And I don’t think non-profits are technically savvy enough to think like that or deploy resources for it … The barrier to entry is so specific that they run away from it.”
There are, however, promising examples that early adapters have implemented. The Brooklyn Museum, for instance, gives perks like free entry to its mayor. The museum also posts Foursquare tips and photos of its past mayors on a community page.
“[The Brooklyn Museum] is a great example because it’s not just the marketing and communications department using social media, it’s literally almost everybody in the organization,” Kanter says. “When they were testing Foresquare, they did things like have the staff go out with their smartphones and check in to different places in the neighborhood and suggest … a great place to go to lunch before going to the Brooklyn museum.”
While the Brooklyn Museum is making Foursquare work for them, they have the advantage of being a geographic organization. For most non-profits, says co-author of Social by Social Amy Sample Ward, experimenting with location-based apps isn’t yet a feasible way to activate change.
“If no actual people in your region are using Foresquare, it doesn’t really matter that you did it,” she says. “You won’t get bonus points for being first because you’re still not getting any action. You’re not engaging people, you’re not furthering your mission. Unless being an early adopter is part of your organization’s mission, it’s not necessarily right.”
Ward has a similar outlook for non-profit apps. “It’s one thing, in my mind, if you are a museum and you create an app that brings in people because they don’t have to buy an audio guide and they feel like they can walk around and own the museum in their own way,” she says. “For an organization that doesn’t have a physical place of interest that you would come to repeatedly, having an app that just sits there, you don’t see a lot of action from those.” She says the way app donations are set up also make them ineffective fund raising tools.
On the other hand, Ward has noticed that social good organizations that have experimented with video to create a call to action are often successful.
“I think there’s a lot going on with video in a way that wasn’t happening before. Recognizing the power of video not just as a storytelling aide — videos are so much more compelling and interesting than blog posts — but now people are realizing that videos are a place where you can sync the action that you want people to take with that compelling story that was just told.”
This was recently the case for a video widget that promoted The Cove, a documentary about dolphin capture in Japan. Call2Action, the company that made the widget, says that an average 59% of people who viewed the widget interacted with it. “Interaction” includes any click on the video, including options to share, sign a petition, or learn more. Considering interaction rates for advertisements for video are about 2% to 6%, Ward sees videos with call to action as a promising trend for social good organizations.
3. Mobilizing Actions
There was a time when social good organizations used social media to engage and inform communities about their goals. More and more organizations are now also using social media as a platform from which to accomplish those goals or to mobilize people to work toward those goals.
For-profit social network The Extraordinaries, for instance, connects “micro-volunteers” with social good projects that can usually be accomplished in about ten minutes. For instance, one example project is “Can you critique these logo designs?” Volunteers find a “challenge” that matches their skills and post their answers to the website or through the iPhone app.
Other organizations have found social media’s ability to mobilize actions particularly useful during times of disaster, and it’s likely that they will only find it more so in the future.
The best known example of this is when the Red Cross mobilized its social network to respond to the earthquake in Haiti by donating $10 through a text message. The organization successfully raised $5 million in relief funds.
CrisisCommons also mobilized volunteers after the earthquatke, but it brought them together in person at “CrisisCamps” around the country to develop technological solutions. CrisisCamps in Washington, Los Angeles, California and other cities contributed a digital map and other mobile apps to help relief groups in Haiti coordinate their efforts.
Because GlobalGiving, an organization that links grassroots projects with donors, already had an established network of grassroots organizations around the world, it was easy for them to work with Haitian organizations to provide relief. “Social media was crucial to spreading news about the disasters, as well as learning news,” wrote GlobalGiving Online Marketing Manager Alison McQuade in an e-mail. “We were able to send updates as they were happening and provide giving opportunities immediately.”
Ward says social media has replaced physically knocking on people’s doors to ask for help with a method that can be just as personal but is also quicker and has a further reach. “Whether it’s actual political campaigning, or if it’s ‘we’re going to go fix the park,’ they can use these online tools to figure out who’s going to be there and who has plants and who has a shovel,” she says.
4. Benefiting From Cause Marketing
Target did it. Pepsi did it. Chase did it. Companies are discovering that setting up contests to reward social good organizations based on how many “votes” they can rally from their social networks is an excellent way to advertise.
For non-profits, it’s also become an excellent way to raise funds.
“There’s actually gotten to be so many of them that non-profits need to think about whether or not they should answer the contest,” says Kanter, who in 2007 was the first person to use Twitter to solicit donations. “It’s sort of a new category of fund raising that they need to consider.”
Unfortunately this funding source doesn’t come without risk.
“[Organizations] have to think about whether or not the sponsor of the contest is aligned with your goals, says Kanter. “They need to think about whether or not they have really built up their network and have a capacity to participate.”
She cites the cautionary tale of The American Cancer Society and KFC, which aligned to fight breast cancer one giant pink bucket of friend chicken at a time, only to generate backlash from those who pointed out that fatty foods may increase the risk of breast cancer.
5. Cooperation Between Non-profits and Individuals
At a non-profits and technology conference Kanter attended in April, 29-year-old Shawn Ahmed, who withdrew from grad school to found the Uncultured Project (accumulating a huge YouTube () and Twitter following in the process), jumped on stage and pointed to the representative from the Red Cross. According to a blog post for The Chronicle of Philanthropy that Kanter wrote about the incident, he said:
“The problem isn’t social media, the problem is that you are the fortress. Social media is not my problem: I have over a quarter million followers on Twitter, 10,800 subscribers on YouTube, and 2.1 million views. Yet despite that, I have a hard time having you guys take me seriously. I get dismissed as ‘just a guy on YouTube.’”
Ahmed is what Kanter calls a “a free agent” — an individual who isn’t part of a staff or a traditional volunteer, but who is aligned with a cause and has a social media following. In this case, Ahmed was frustrated because he wanted to mobilize his social network to help the Red Cross’s Haiti relief efforts, but felt shut out.
“Some of these non-profits just don’t let people in,” Kanter says. “They can’t control them. They can’t slap their logos on them and brand them.”
The Red Cross, which is one of Kanter’s clients, was able to follow up with Ahmed to discuss ways he and other free agents could participate. Kanter says that she sees more organizations willing to work with and embrace their “free agents.”
“I look at free agents as influencers,” Livingston says. “Really big influencers that can create a splash. And I think understanding who the influencers are in your market and your segment is just common sense. You absolutely, positively want to have your influencers in your camp.”
Whether they call them “free agents” or “influencers,” working toward inclusion is a trend that social good organizations are starting to take more seriously.
“Social change issues have become so much more complex that they’ve outstripped the capacity of any single organization to solve those problems,” Kanter says. “And that’s why it’s really important that non-profits stop looking at themselves as a single institution and more like networks.”
This post was brought to you by the groundbreaking Social Good Summit. On September 20, as global leaders head to New York for United Nations Week — including a historic summit on global issues known as the “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs) and the annual General Assembly — Mashable, 92nd Street Y and the UN Foundation will bring together leaders from the digital industry, policy and media worlds to focus on how technology and social networks can play a leading role in addressing the world’s most intractable problems.
Date: Monday, September 20, 2010
Time: 1:00 to 6:00 p.m. ET
Location: 92nd Street Y, New York City
Tickets: On sale through Eventbrite
Media, Advertising, Branding & Marketing Articles
Author: Zeke Camusio
So many people are afraid of videos! Well, you shouldn’t be. Here’s why: most videos that make it big are NOT professional productions. They’re just a guy -or a girl- who gets in front of a camera and talks about what he/she knows best. You don’t need expensive equipment or a professional studio.
These are my top 10 favorite tips to grow your company using YouTube.
Copy What Works
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Spend an afternoon watching YouTube videos and learn what works. What are the videos in your market with more views, better ratings and more comments? Why are they successful? Who are the users with the most subscribers? Why?
Customize Your Channel
Before uploading your videos, customize your channel (profile) and make it look nice. Include some info about you and a link to your site.
The best way to help people find your videos is by including your keywords in them. This is an example (the keyword used in this example is in red):
Title: How to Motivate People
Description: http://www.YourSite.com/blog - Do you want to know how to motivate people? This video reveals the 3 secrets of people motivation.
Tags: how to motivate people, motivate people, people motivation, motivate employees
Add Your URL to the Description
Add your the “http://” version of your URL to the beginning of your video description so people can click on your link and visit your site.
You shouldn’t ask people to buy your stuff after watching your videos. Most people aren’t ready for this. Plan your marketing funnel and you’ll see a much better response. This is a example:
Watch YouTube Video > Go to My Blog to Watch More Videos > Sign Up to Get My Exclusive Videos (You Capture Email Addresses Here) > Try to Sell Them a Low-Ticket Item > Try to Sell a High-Ticket Item to Those Who Bought from You Before
Look for videos related to yours and whenever is appropriate post your videos as video responses to them. This will allow you to piggyback a lot of the traffic that these videos get.
Playlists are a great way to get your videos watched by a lot of people. If you have a dog training videos, grab some other great videos on the same topic (from other people) and create a playlist. Call it “Dog Training Tips”.
It’s a Social Network!
YouTube isn’t just a video sharing site; it’s a social network. You can add friends, message them, join groups, create your own group and use the bulletin board to interact with the YouTube community.
Use Multiple Calls to Action
These are my favorite calls to action to use on YouTube:
- Subscribe to my videos.
- Visit my blog for more great videos.
- Follow me on Twitter.
- Please post your comments.
- Send this video to your friends.
- Please rate this video.
- Check out my channel.
YouTube allows you to add overlay text in your videos. Use them for your calls to action.
Promote Your Videos
Uploading videos to YouTube isn’t enough. You need to promote them. These are some ideas:
- Embed your videos in your blog.
- Promote your videos on Twitter.
- Email your YouTube link to your friends and contacts.
- Ask people you know to tell their lists and contacts.
- Write an article about your video and post it to article directories and forums.
- Post your video to LinkedIn, Facebook and your other social networks.
Media, Advertising, Branding & Marketing Articles
Local merchants use Facebook, Twitter to attract and keep customers
Social media including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube also enable businesses to announce events, sales and specials and get instant feedback from patrons, as merchants in Lodi, Calif., have discovered.
While preparing for a busy Friday-night dinner service, Ruben Larrazolo, owner of Alebrijes Mexican Bistro in Lodi, told his Facebook
friends to guess what the evening's special would be.
He updated with hints as the dish came together, posting photos online of shucked corn, tomatoes, jalapenos and radishes.
By the time the pan-seared red snapper fillet over corn cream sauce emerged, several customers were hooked, announcing on the social networking site that they planned to eventually dine at Alebrijes.
Merchants such as Larrazolo are using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other online outlets to connect with customers, build relationships and save money. The sites also enable businesses to announce events, sales and specials and get instant feedback from patrons.
"The goal of social networking media is to keep in touch with people who are not here," Larrazolo said. "It's about keeping an interaction with them."
In addition to being a venue to transmit basic information on a product, the Internet has also become a form of interaction, said Sacha Joseph Mathews, assistant professor of marketing at the Eberhardt School of Business at University of the Pacific.
"It's now a two-way street," she said.
Facebook's and Twitter's potential to help businesses during a dismal economy should be too enticing for many to pass up, Mathews said.
"Companies have to be aware these are opportunities passing them by," she said.
Social networking sites help streamline event promotion, said Jaime Watts, executive director of the Downtown Lodi Business Partnership. The group's Facebook page includes photos from a recent farmers market and the "Stuck in Lodi" Car Show.
"For a nonprofit like us with a limited budget, Twitter and Facebook provide us a wonderful way for marketing with no cost," she said.
However, merchants must be careful not to overload their followers or friends with constant messages.
"Unless a lot is going on, we keep our posts to once a week so people don't feel bombarded," Watts said.
And just as with the dishes he produces, Larrazolo knows constancy is key when it comes to making postings on Facebook.
"I don't want to overwhelm them," he said. "I just want to make sure they get the same feeling they get here at the restaurant."
Facebook's internal settings make tracking page views less of an exact science than on a typical website. Users can view a page without becoming a friend, and the page's owner is never the wiser.
However, Watts believes the numbers of friends or followers and links a page has can point to some measure of importance. Her group's Facebook page has 650 friends and links to 27 businesses that are part of the partnership.
Other companies are finding inventive ways to market themselves using the Internet. Beckman Optometry is courting potential Lasik clients through a YouTube contest in which contestants submit a one- to three-minute video explaining how Lasik surgery would enhance their lives.
Winners receive a free Lasik operation worth $5,000 or free contact lenses or glasses.
"The deadline was going to be Tuesday," said office manager Carol Dowler. "But we pushed it back to Sept. 30 because people were asking for more time."
The trend hasn't escaped marketing experts.
On the Lodi Winegrape Commission's Facebook page, posts go up three or four times a week and include information on upcoming events, pictures and questions designed to spur responses from friends.
"The key is have a conversation and be listening to the audience," said Shannon Harbert, marketing and communications coordinator for the commission.
And last year, the inaugural Treasure Island WineFest attracted thousands of people to taste Lodi wines in the Bay Area. Charlene Lange, who helped coordinate the event, said Facebook and Twitter were integral to reaching out to visitors while staying within the event's shoestring marketing budget.
For this year's WineFest, Lange said the approach would be similar.
"We are following the same formula," she said. "It didn't cost us anything but energy."
Guinn writes for the Lodi News-Sentinel.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
Accounting, Insurance, Real Estate & Law Articles
Global Economical Turmoil Affects Small Business Loan Approvals
originally published in Buzz about Business
Are you are on the verge of starting a new business or working on expanding your existing business? Since the global economical turmoil affected small business loan approvals, it is very important to understand the technicalities before applying for loans. This article will walk you through the significant factors for managing and getting your small business loans.
Small business bank loan:
A bank is the first source that crosses your mind when you start thinking about small business loans. With the current economic situation, banks are revising their rules and regulations for small business loan approvals. The following guidelines may help you understand how you can get a small business loan approved from a bank.
- Have a strong project plan that highlights your small business strength
- Learn a professional method to present your project plan and its strengths so that it gives confidence to bank managers
- Establish a relationship with your bank by meeting officials in person, speaking to them honestly, explaining your goals, and business trend (past, present and future)
- Contact as many banks as possible and understand their policy, small business loan rates and loan programs
- Identify what is expected from you and anticipate the bank’s concerns
- Be flexible on your request concerning money and other terms and conditions
Government small business loans:
There are government agencies, if you meet the criteria set by them, that can help to get your small business loan approvals.
- The Small Business administration(SBA) is an independent agency of the federal government. They counsel and guide small business entrepreneurs in various business disciplines including small business loans and finances.
- Such Government agencies, generally, coordinate with banks and guarantee them on behalf of a small business owner.
- They promise banks to pay back a portion of the money, if the owner fails to do so. To become eligible, your business must meet the standard as specified and you are required to sign a contract.
Small business loans for women:
If you are a women entrepreneur, you will be surprised to find the options that are available to obtain small business loan approvals.
- Federal government agencies like SBA, and other fund-raising organizations such as count-me-in, the women’s funding network, can guide through the special options available for women’s small business loans.
- Financial organizations like Wells Fargo, and Accion USA advise women entrepreneurs on various small business loan options to take care of their business finances.
- Low interest small business loans are established according to state policies for minority women with low incomes or no monetary support.
- Disabled loans can be availed for women entrepreneurs with physical disabilities.
Apart from these, there may be other industries like nonprofit organizations that can help in managing loans. Ensure that you provide necessary information about your business and project plan as requested in the checklist. Doing it right at the first time will save you time, money and get your small business loan approvals.
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