tips

Responding to Reviews

Whether it be rants or rave reviews, we've all seen our fair share of commenters and consumers share both positive and negative feedback via social media regarding a product or service. With the growth and expansion of social media platforms as a connection between businesses and their customers, interaction between the two has increased, for better and for worse.  

Reviews, both good and bad, can serve as an opportunity to grow and expand your brand, while also increasing customer satisfaction and positive perception about your company. So, how do you turn what could be a negative into a positive?  

The answer lies in a few deep breaths and a well thought-out response.  

Responding to reviews might seem like a daunting task, best left to the lion-taming type. However, with a little reconnaissance and some careful wording, customer reviews could turn into a tool to reach out to a larger audience.  

  • Relax. Don't do it. The first step to intelligently responding to reviews is to stay calm. Negative reviews can be unpleasant and, sometimes, downright rude. However, as the Rudyard Kipling saying goes, "If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you..." Well, let's just say that keeping a cool head is always the better way to go.  
When you do get a negative review, the first thing you should do is take a breather,” said Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing and CEO of The Marketing Zen Group, in an article on forbes.com. “You don’t want to fly off the handle and do something to make yourself look bad. Especially if you think the customer complaint is false, your instinct is to react in the heat of the moment. But you’ll regret it. 
  • Linda, Linda, listen. It's no secret that negative reviews on social media can be a good way to get feedback on your business, products and services. If a customer voices their concerns or complaints, listen to what they have to say. Not only is this a good chance to potentially improve upon something within your company, but this is also an opportunity to retain a dissatisfied customer, if handled correctly.  

 

  • By all means, move at a glacial pace... When responding to reviews, it's important to respond quickly. With the speed of social media, things are constantly changing. Within hours, newsfeeds refresh and trends come and go. A quick response time shows that you're attentive toward the concerns of your customers. Many social media professionals suggest that your response time should be within a 60-minute window.  

 

  • #sorrynotsorry When responding to a review, apologize... and really mean it. A sincere apology can go a long way with your social media followers. It puts you in a human light and often garners sympathy about the situation from others.  

 

  • Private eyes. If at all possible, move the conversation away from public view. Solving customer concerns could be a lengthy process, better accomplished through direct message, email or a phone call. Not only will this allow you to get more detailed feedback, but you also have the opportunity to remedy a problem and shift attention on the problem away from the public eye. 

3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Twitter

Here at High Five, we breathe social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +— You name it, we’re all over it. And while all businesses may not share this caliber of zeal for it, they definitely partake.

In fact, it’s as essential now for a business to be active on social media, as it is to have a phone number. 

Among these platforms, Twitter is an indispensable constellation of it’s own. The micro-blogging site, known for it’s 140-character post limit, hosts 310 million active monthly users

Ten years since it’s conception, Twitter has hatched and grown into a powerful communication tool to show us how much can be shared simply by being concise. Almost every major company, from American Airlines to Amazon, utilizes the platform

If you’re not part of the Twitter-sphere already, your business could be seriously losing out. That’s why we’ve complied a list of reasons your business should be on Twitter.

Connection

Twitter is an ongoing global conversation, different from other sites like Facebook, because the interactions it facilities are swift and intuitive. Organic, if you will. It’s the kind of space where you can pull a person, or business, aside and address them directly. 

It’s likely that your clientele is already on Twitter, sharing their opinions and concerns about your industry or business directly. They’ll appreciate you all the more for listening and responding. 

Branding

Hashtags are ideal for branding. Create custom hashtags for your business and use existing ones too. Local hashtags, like #OKCeats for example, will extend your reach to local audience and broad ones like #FoodPorn will expose you to a larger community. Establish your personality, and let the world see what makes you unique.

Twitter is a great place to fully engage people in what you’re doing. Utilize hashtag competitions, live tweets on events, Twitter ads and chats to interact with your audience. 

As an added bonus, consistently seeing interesting posts from your business builds familiarity and trust with customers. You’ll be on their mind when they need you. 

Expansion

Expanding your network goes beyond the customer base. When you’re active on twitter, it opens up a portal of communication to leading professionals in the industry. It lets you have a conversation with people you might otherwise not have access to. Just like you can see what your clients are up to, you can use Twitter to see what your competition is doing as well. 

Ultimately, you want what’s best for your business and to give it every chance possible at unrestrained success. So why not join this #party and make the best of all the opportunities it offers? 

Five Content Marketing Resources for Newbies

Content marketing, a word thrown around in the business world yet rarely defined. At High Five, we like to make sure everyone is on the same page and the same planet so let’s quickly break it down:

Content- consistent, valuable information through various mediums: articles, blogs, videos, pictures, social media posts, info graphics, etc. 

Marketing- the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service

In simplest terms, content marketing delivers valuable information to buyers in hopes that it will promote and sell a product or service

But, here’s the trick. 

Society is over feeling like they are constantly being sold something. They don’t trust you. I mean honestly who enjoys listening to that car dealer’s sales pitch, or furthermore, who actually trusts him or her? 

For content marketing to be successful, a business must master the art of intentional, genuine communication between their customer and themselves. Content marketing says, “Hey look at these DIY projects you and your honey can do this weekend.” Instead of,  “Come to Lowes, we are a warehouse full of building stuff.”

Oh, content marketing. How valuable you are to business when done correctly.

If you’re ready to dip your toe into content marketing, start with these five great resources

Search Engine Optimization: Want to make the first page of Google organically?  You first must understand the ins and outs of SEO.  

Blogs:  An easy way to create more content for your business is to enter the world of blogging. 

Video Content: If you read our blog post 3 Trendy Social Media Takeovers in 2016 , you know that video marketing is vital

Social Media: #Twitter #Facebook #Instagram #crucial

Content Marketing Plan: Even if you’re not Type A, having a content marketing plan ensures that your online presence will continue to build. 

What are resources you use for content marketing? 

Networking is Not a Dirty Word

The year is 2016. You've just closed a deal for the business opportunity of a lifetime and opened the door to new horizons for your career. The question - how'd you pull it off? The answer - networking 

In a world of ever-expanding digital communication, the word "networking" is often associated with a string of retweets, Instagram likes, and the occasional LinkedIn request. However, the real benefits of networking come with strategic and intentional communication.  

As a generation steeped in the digital age, millennials have the tools necessary to get the most bang out of their networking buck. That's why we've compiled a list of ways to tap into your networking potential.  

  1. Navigate the business waters. As the saying goes, "there are plenty of fish in the sea." This is especially true for the business community. There are numerous invaluable connections from all walks of life that could potentially help you in some way or another. However, Rome's network wasn't built in a day. Start by honing in on business professionals in your industry of interest. By establishing contacts within your career field, you're creating a path to future interaction and furthered insight into the inner workings of the industry.  

  2. Become a follower. (But, don't make it creepy.) Social media is a good way to get your foot in the door with new contacts. By following industry professionals on platforms where they are most active, like Twitter or LinkedIn, and engaging in the content that they post, you are making your name and your presence known. Follow their activity and strive to create professional and meaningful interaction.  

  3. Go off the Grid. With so much of business conducted digitally, a face-to-face conversation is becoming more rare, which makes it all-the-more effective. Attend events and get involved in business-focused organizations, like your local chamber of commerce. Connecting in-person with a business professional is a great opportunity to make a favorable impression, while also fostering unique discussion and adding a human element to your already-established digital presence.  

  4. Talk, don't squawk. Too many times, young professionals make the mistake of selling their experience and skillset from start to finish. While pitching your potential isn't always a bad thing, it can often lead to ending connections before they begin in networking scenarios. Rather than fixating on you, focus on them. Initiate a discussion about their passion for the industry. Glean the tricks of the trade from their years of experience. Turn the tables on traditional topics and become genuinely interested in who they are as a business professional and what they have to offer.   

After strengthening your connections, it's not unusual to find yourself with a vast network of industry professionals, excited about engaging you in the future of the field and ready and willing to help you kick-start your career.

A Magazine Resurrection

We're pleased as punch that our Linked Magazine editor, Meg, decided to grace us with her blogging presence with this little entry on why magazines are still relevant. It's a resurrection just in time for Halloween. Enjoy!

Every writer is also an avid reader and a critical thinker.

We inhabit a space that's hard to describe unless you've been there - in which case, no explanation is needed. We always set out to keep ourselves out of a story, and we inevitably either draw on some personal experience to give depth to a piece, or become so personally touched by the subject of our writing that we leave a bit of ourselves in it. Writing is hard. It’s a constant state of self-examination and self-evaluation. Every comma becomes personal; every line as much art to us as the stroke of a brush to the painter or the contouring of a shape to a sculptor. Fortunately, professional writers (a category I find myself in, incidentally) have thick skins. So after we craft our art, we cut and edit it. We try to surgically remove our bias from our writing. Sometimes it hurts and sometimes you really think that last sentence shouldn't have been cut, but you hit publish (or send to the printers) and hope for the best.

Years ago, if you had told me that I would be at the helm of six magazines by the age of 24, I would have laughed. Magazines were declared a “dying” form of journalism so long ago, it's hard to see how they aren't already dead. Except, they aren't dying. That’s never been the case. They’re changing and adapting, and technology has allowed writers to connect with audiences on a much more intimate level than ever before. We can reach more people and get feedback in real-time after our magazines hit doorsteps. 

Dying? No. Evolving? Absolutely.

So before you discount long-form journalism, remember everything is cyclical. We live in an age where more young people choose to scroll through pictures on instagram than read the words in Facebook statuses, and where folks get their news in 140-character snippets from Twitter. But even now, it looks like that 140-character limit may increase. Buzzfeed has reinvested in longform journalism, and most comprehensive journalistic work in the world is being done for newspapers and magazines - articles measured in pages, not characters. Magazines matter just like stories matter. They connect us; they remind us why we cared in the first place. Linked Magazines are hyper-local. Our goal is to connect people by telling stories about the people and places around them. By covering stories in communities around the metro that aren’t being told elsewhere and by highlighting people and groups doing good—real good for people you know (or should know, if you’re new), we’re helping communities connect and grow.  

Magazines do a better job at this than any other form of media out there. They have staying power and allow us to spend more time with our subjects. When I’m writing a story, I don’t have to worry about hashtags or SEO. I’m focused on you, the reader. I’m focused on delivering you beautiful photos and stories to match. I’m I'm focused on sending you a magazine you'll pick up and read. I’m focused on your community, your story and your world.

What do you think about magazines? Do you enjoy long-form journalism? 

Getting Honest about Your Potential

It’s interesting how there’s really nothing new.  

All high school graduations employ the same cast of characters—the popular ones, the beautiful ones, the athletic ones, the smart ones, the weird ones, the quiet ones.  Watching my daughter cross the stage at her graduation reminded me of my own high school experience, and it got me thinking about a person’s potential.  

Ah, high school

Those simple words are likely to evoke a range of emotions and memories ranging from excitement to nausea. Depending on who you ask, high school is defined as either a battleground where people claw for survival or a kingdom to be surveyed and ruledNo matter what sort of experience you may have had, though, there’s something universal about the experience—high school is a fertile ground for potential.  

Everyone has experienced that utter surprise when you’re told the deadbeat who sat beside you in History is now a venture capitalist for a multi-billion dollar company, or when, conversely, the

Valedictorian with all the prospects becomes a drug addict who’s living in his parents’ basement. The surprise is visceral and stays with you. This is because a person’s potential is important but it’s only one part of the puzzle for success. In high school, kids dream recklessly—they announce they’re going to be doctors and lawyers and astrophysicists with the aplomb of a British royal.

But potential, like high school, brings with it its own baggage. Some people shine when they’re told they have great potential, while others break out into hives and whither.  In business, it’s crucial to understand the potential of a sale or of a client, so in my own life I’ve given a lot of thought to the subject. The way I see it, people experience two lives—the life they believe they’re capable of and the life they actually live.  In order to succeed, I mean really succeed, you must not only reach your potential, but surpass it. Because blog posts are about boiling things down to sound bites and quotes, I’m going to make this part 1of a 3 part series on how to meet (and then exceed) your potential.

Step 1:  Be honest.  

This might be the most difficult part of the puzzle, because, let’s face it, you think you’re hot shit.  This comes out when you apply for jobs way out of your experience level, don’t get the job, then proceed to tell everyone how idiotic everyone at the company is who didn’t hire you. It happens when you play indoor soccer against an All-American and are genuinely surprised and frustrated when he or she absolutely schools you.  Having confidence is important—it’s actually crucial—but you can’t confuse confidence for cockiness. 

Taking stock of your skills, really understanding your capabilities, your strengths, and (you     guessed it) your weaknesses is a significant part of getting real with your potential.  So many times in job interviews I’ve asked candidates to rank their skills on a set of 1-10, and invariably they spout off a host of 8s, 9s, and 10s. If it’s for writing, I’ll then ask, “If Mark Twain or Jane Austen is a 9, what are you?”  Puzzled they’ll sputter, “well, ah, I mean I guess I’m a 3 or a 2 or (God forbid) a 1.” 

So many people have absolutely no concept of what they’re really worth. This happens on both ends of the spectrum and both sides are equally detrimental. Understanding, I mean really understanding what you have to offer is like putting prescription glasses over your 20/8 eyes.  With honesty you’re able to assess when someone short shifts you, when you’re overwhelmed, or when you need to ask for help. Self-assessment is hard, but totally worth it.

I’m not saying you need to constantly compare yourself to the greats, but I am saying you need to really understand what it means to be an 8 or a 9 in your field. If you’re a 5, what are you going to do to bump up a number? This is a tough pill to swallow, because many of us had (and still have) big dreams for our lives. We see ourselves as capable of anything, so when we fall short, it’s a shock. Getting real with your talents allows you to remove the rose colored glasses and see your work for what it’s worth, and then assess how you can improve it. 

I’m excited to continue with this 3 part series, and hope you find it inspiring so that whoever you were in high school, you’re able to achieve a success you can be proud of today.  

What are ways you can get honest with yourself? Do you feel you’ve reached your full potential? Why/why not? 


3 Ways to Be Less Corporate-y (It's a Word)

High fives are in, handshakes are out. 

Picture this being read in Heidi Klum’s chirpy Project Runway voice. 

Okay what do I mean by this? Is it a statement against everyone who’s ever shook my hand? Or maybe a stance against all those self-help articles that talk about the importance of a “nice, firm handshake”? 

Nah.  Not really.

High fives are in, handshakes are out is really more of a commentary on office culture than anything else. Today I want to dig into why I’m happy to work at a company that I (and many who step into my zany office space) would consider the anti-corporate workspace.  There are three main reasons I believe why, in today’s environment, the hard-nosed, beige cubicles of the past can’t deliver the same level of productivity that they may have before. 

When I say corporate, I’m referring to the lazy-eyed drone-like work for the man. I’m talking about the punch in, punch out mentality that so many Americans still subscribe to, or at the very least succumb to.  

I may be stepping on some toes here, but what progress ever happened without a few bruised toes? 

Before starting as a partner of High Five, I worked with people who operated in an uber conservative corporate environment.  I saw my friends clock in and play the rat race game…hard. Luckily, I was able to manage my team in a less strict manner, but we all still answered to the man.  Don't get me wrong, my past taught me some really valuable lessons like the importance of diligent work and how to manage people, and I value the opportunities working for a successful corporation afforded me. It allowed me to do my own thing eventually, which is such a blessing. However, when I had the opportunity to help start my own business, I found myself drifting from the corporate structure of my past.

So here are three ways to implement fun, engaging methods in your business, no matter what industry you manage. I believe a more open, dynamic office environment actually increases productivity in employees. If you can take away just one aspect of this post and apply it to your own employees, I believe you’ll see growth that may surprise you.

1.) Positivity breeds productivity

Have you ever noticed how little work you get done when you’re in a funk? You second guess yourself, you feel sluggish, and you can’t focus.  Now flip that around and think of a time when you felt really motivated and inspired. How did your productivity rank then?

In my business I go to great lengths to cultivate a positive, relaxed environment. I know, I know, when people hear the word relaxed they instantly freak out.  They think of the middle aged couch potato chomping away at cheese doodles while he channel surfs. But I’m not talking about lazy. I’m talking about providing your employees with an environment in which they feel comfortable. In this comfortable, positive environment, many employees generate their best work, because they don’t feel the extreme pressure that stricter environments generate. So this might mean the dress code is a little more casual than business casual, if you catch an employee shoelessly typing away you smile instead of grimace, you consider outdoor workspaces just as relevant as indoor desks, or you might even bring in donuts on a random Wednesday rather than just on National Donuts day. Whatever it is, make sure it’s intentional and allows your employees to know that you care about them and trust them to get their job done. This brings us to the next point. 

2.) Just Trust

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very fine place to start (Sound of Music, anyone?).  Trust starts during the hiring process. You have to hire people you feel you can trust to get the work done. This may seem simple, but it’s huge when it comes to cultivating a relaxed, positive environment. If you can trust people to get their work done, and done well, then you have time to tackle other bigger projects. Employees also want to feel trusted. Have you ever worked for a boss you felt didn’t trust your judgment? How did that work out for you? Chances are either your work suffered because you second-guessed everything (Maybe she’s right! Maybe I can’t finish this project in time.) or said boss managed his or her distrust by micromanaging your every move. Allowing your employees to feel truly trusted is almost like concocting a self-fulfilling prophecy. Obviously, you will need to address if they consistently underperform; however, chances are they will rise to the occasion, especially if you did the work on the font end and hired quality individuals. 

3.) Cultivating Creativity

Cultivating creativity is important no matter what industry you’re in. I know this may seem a little woo-woo, but follow me on this one. Creativity isn’t just writing, it isn’t just painting, and it isn’t just making art. Creativity isn’t reserved for the hipsters and the hippies.  Creativity happens every day, and if your business isn’t actively pursuing it, it’s going to suffer. Creativity is a different way of assessing the success or failure of a project. It’s figuring out random ways to engage with clients. It’s taking a chance on an idea that no one else in your industry has considered. Creativity isn’t based in logic, though, it’s based in your employees deepest strengths and passions. It can come out in a logical, analytical pattern; however, true creativity originates from an internal spark of genuine curiosity. 

“I never made one of my discoveries through the process of rational thinking” 

-Albert Einstein

In my office, I’m surrounded by people who openly call themselves “creatives”.  This is a little overwhelming at times, because as I’ve mentioned, I originally came from a pretty straight-laced corporate environment.  The first time I noticed when one of my employees walked outside and just stared at the trees for 15 minutes, I thought I was losing my grip. But the truth is, we are all wired for creativity. We all need little breaks in the day to reset and reestablish our goals. Yes, that might mean you allow your employees to make a coffee run mid-day, or you let them take some time to laugh at hilarious YouTube videos. Because there’s one thing we aren’t, and that’s a robot (talk about a compelling pull quote). 

In order to fuel creativity you have to allow people their own unique methods of inquiry. 

Remember the tree-staring guy? I watched him come back inside and edit a commercial that got us national recognition and is still used as an example of our business’ strengths.

Though these tips may feel a little loosey-goosey when it comes to running a business where you need to make money and meet deadlines, I promise you your employees will notice these changes and they will respond positively. In a world where it seems our attention spans are ever waning (140 characters anyone?), it’s important to get real with yourself about the type of work you expect of your employees. When Twitter and Facebook are a mere swipe away, do you honestly think placing a millennial in a beige cubicle, giving them a 30 minute lunch break, and never really engaging with them socially is going to produce high rates of success and growth for your company? Because remember you’re only as good as your worst employee. I think advocating for a trusting, relaxed, engaging environment is the answer. 

If you gain a little weight from all those donuts, then so be it. With all of that business growth, I bet you can afford a new pair of pants.

By: Earle Haggard, Parter at High Five

3 Reasons Engaging Content Still Matters

Hello there, today we're going to beat a dead horse, but it's going to be fun and completely hypothetical and non-violent. Today, we're talking content, how to use it, and why any of this even matters. Let's dive right in sans weapons, shall we?

What sets you apart from the rest? What makes your post have the most likes, the most views, or the most subscriptions? What makes content matter so much? 

Everything has become a tagline.

How do you get attention-grabbers, while still maintaining a sense of professionalism?  Why does this matter?  In this digital age, your content becomes synonymous with your name. Unfortunately, sometimes it is hard to get good quality materials for your content in the world of 140 characters. Some of those in the writing world turn their nose up at the thought of social media and online content replacing their beloved hard-copy pieces they grew up dreaming about writing. But we’re here to tell you that written content is still king in this age; it just shows up in different mediums.  

Here’s a few reasons why good content matters: 

  1. Content is the essence of every idea. A challenge companies could face in the age of endless scrolling is having a single, overriding message. Themed blog posts, catchy hashtags, or creative titles have ways of tying everything together nicely. It’s no different than serial publishing from years ago—it’s just taking a different form.
  2. Content’s form is make or break. Content reaches a much broader audience than in previous years, and with so many formats and layouts like Instagram, Twitter, and Google +, the format of a post could make or break it when it comes to views, likes, shares, and ultimately a reputation. 
  3. Content will live long. If content is well-crafted, the idea it presents will reflect well on every aspect of the company. Content will only last long in the reader’s mind if it is noteworthy.

Written content, in all its forms, is the same. If anything, this digital age challenges writers to be more on top of their game. In a world with a short attention span, writers are called to be even more relevant, clear, and creative. We are not all defined by our #hashtags. Content at its best is self-evident, self-affirming, and completely essential to today’s written world.

What are ways you use content to reach and engage with your audience? Do you think content matters to businesses?