Is your business missing the boat on social media? Frankly, it depends. Social media can be an effective method for promoting your business. It can also be a massive “time suck” that eats up significant resources without providing meaningful results. The critical issue in determining if social media can effectively be utilized to promote your brand is the engagement level your target audience has with the product or service you are marketing.

Here are a couple of examples:

Fashion Designer – Mac Duggal

Insurance Broker – Hill and Stone

Mac Duggal designs prom dresses and homecoming dresses. Their target audience of teens is intensely engaged in the process of finding these special occasion dresses. The firm has over 12,000 Facebook fans that have “liked” them and they get dozens of new fans every day with the help of famoid.

Hill and Stone’s target audience of business owners is not terribly excited about insurance (unless they need to file a claim). The firm has 121 Facebook fans. No matter how much effort they put into developing their Facebook presence, they are unlikely to significantly increase their number of fans

Given the engagement level, it is not surprising a fashion designer has 100 times as many Facebook fans as a insurance broker. Social media is extremely useful for fashion designers as a method of building their brands with a very engaged audience. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that the Facebook page for an insurance broker is generating much in the way of sales.

For the most part, a business that does not have an engaged audience is not going to have meaningful success with Facebook, Twitter, Google+,  Pinterest or the second tier social media sites  However, there is a social media vehicle that is appropriate for most businesses, and that is to develop a blog. As discussed in the post, Should A Small Business Start A Blog? a blog can offer benefits to most businesses. However, other than a blog, there may not be a lot of potential in social media for a business in a mundane product category.

Social Media Engagement: Why It's Important and How To Do It Well - The Buffer Blog

Even for a business with a highly engaged audience, not all types of social media are going to be productive. As an example, Mac Duggal as an actively engaged audience for their Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterst sites. Pinterest is unlikely to work for all brands. A brand needs to have access to interesting photography in order to be successful on Pinterest.

Social Media Marketing for Businesses

Social media marketing can help you attract new customers and retain your current customers.

Your target audience is much larger than you think and you will be able to reach more potential customers this way.

In order to get the most out of your social media marketing campaign, it is important that you get in touch with your audience and engage them in an ongoing relationship.

If you provide value to your audience and they notice you are connecting with them on a regular basis, they will begin to look towards you for recommendations and feedback.

This can help you build a loyal customer base.

There are a few different methods that you can use to engage your audience.

You can post comments on other people’s blogs or articles, join groups where you can engage your audience, create your own fan pages so that your audience can follow your business and connect with you, and you can create your own blogs and articles to provide value to your audience.

Each one of these will allow you to connect with your audience in a different way.

In turn, your audience will connect with you and they will start to see how valuable your information and brand are to your business.

When you use social media to build a brand, it is important that you work to keep your brand consistent.

If you develop a brand identity for your company, it will help you connect with your customers on a more personal level.

This helps to make it easier for your customers to claim Instagram username and identify with your brand and develop a stronger sense of familiarity with it.

It will also help you build a loyalty program within your social media networks.

Your loyal customers will be those customers who give you referrals, show up at your events time after time, and refer others to you.

It is also important that you do not use your social network as a sales funnel.

Sales will come in different ways and you will need to find the best way for you to get your products or services in front of your customers.

You want to use your social networks as a way to connect with your customers and to let them know what your business has to offer.

You never want to put up a brand and then have your customers discover it was nothing more than a slick sales pitch.

Another way you can use this platform to grow your business is to use it as a way to hold focus groups.

Hold focus groups online through various methods.

You can hold online forums where customers can air out their thoughts and you can hold surveys that ask participants a variety of questions.

All of these methods will allow you to understand more about what people in your community are thinking about your business and how they could benefit from having your products or services.

These are just some of the many different social media marketing for businesses methods you can use.

You will find that when you use this method of marketing, you will be able to expand your client base and you will be able to generate new leads at a much higher rate.

Remember, you have nothing to lose by giving it a try.

Accounting for dummies. A fictional scenario that helps to simplify financial statements.

There are businesses and then there are profitable businesses. It’s important to know the difference. In an attempt to keep things simple, take the example of Sally’s Children’s Party Catering Service and her attempt to understand what’s really going on. You need to keep track.

Scenario

Three friends are standing talking at a backyard party, while a fourth friend is close enough to overhear the conservation. Sally Jester runs The Children’s’ Party Catering Service. One of her friends, Jerry Cynic, doesn’t think what she is doing can be considered a business while Jim Jovial, a second friend, supports her. A third friend, Harry Nosey, is close enough to hear them but not close enough to engage in the conservation. It’s informative to listen in on the conservation. Imagine the questions that can be asked in evaluating Sally’s party catering business and apply them to any ideas that you may be contemplating as a business opportunity.

Status of Sally’s Business

It starts with Jerry thinking that Sally is getting fleeced in her business. To him it’s more of a charity than a business. Sally, protecting her baby, says she’s not being fleeced; that people pay her very well for what she does. She charge $5.00 per child and, in her mind she makes a fair profit for every party that she organizes.

 

“You know, there was no one else in this community doing this type of work when I started. Now, there’s barely a children’s birthday party, an Easter or Halloween party put on without my help. I don’t mind if I say so. I’m a success!”

While Jim appeases her by saying that the main thing in life is to be happy and enjoy doing what you’re doing, and if you’re making a profit, that’s a bonus, Jerry persists.

“But you’re not making money at all, or at least, are you sure you’re making money? Have you ever sat down and calculated what you earn against what it costs you in money, material and time, and seen what that means?”

After bickering back and forth, each defending their own argument, Jim attempts to clarify things. “If you’re charging people money for goods and services, you’re running a business. If you’re making a profit doing it, you’re running a profitable business.” But the bickering continues.

“She’s running a charity organization,” insists Jerry.

Sally protests. “But I like what I’m doing.”

“Well,” says Jerry, “you should charge more for your parties.”

“And lose my clients and my involvement?”

“Think about it.”

“She’s thought about it,” says Jim in support.

“I like what I’m doing,” Sally continues to insist and walks away.

Sally is intercepted by Harry Nosey. Harry wonders if she feels as strongly about what she’s saying as she’s making out and she admits she doesn’t have enough information to really have a strong opinion about the whole situation and needs help. Thence the suggestion of an accountant.

“Well,” says Harry, “I’ve arranged to bring in an accountant to have a look at the business that you started. What do you call that business?”

“The Children’s Party Catering Service…”

“Right…! Well, you’re exactly in the same position as many small business people who don’t have all the data they need to form an opinion of their actual status. Why don’t you go and see the accountant, Norm Numbers, and he’ll explain a few things.”

“Okay, I’ll go.”

Profitability

Sally is about to be introduced to two types of statements:

  • a balance sheet
  • a profit and loss statement

The scene changes to a family room. Bob and Sally Jester are sitting at the bar talking with Jim Jovial prior to the arrival of Norm Numbers, an accountant, when the doorbell rings. It’s the accountant.

Norm and Sally go to a table and Norm invites her to sit down, then explains that Sally’s husband, Bob asked him to assess the business she’s running, and to see how profitable it is.

“Oh! Well what’s my profit?” she spits.

“Well, let’s start off by noting that, based on some grocery slips of some stuff you asked Bob to get you recently, you spend about $2O on the average on food for each party.

“I guess so, I don’t know.”

“And then you consume about $5 to $6 on party materials like hats, whistles, little presents, and so on. Yeh…?”

“I guess so.”

“That’s about $25. Let’s call it $26. You charge $35 per party on the average, right?”

“Right…”

“That leaves $9.”

“So that’s my profit?” asks Sally.

“No…! You see, you use your car to get there, so you drive a certain number of miles, and gas is expensive. The standard car mileage for business use is usually calculated at $0.50 a mile nowadays.

“Ya…”

“So that’s a bit more off that $9. Also, you have a pile of stuff in your pantry; hats, knives, forks, spoons, stirs, and bits of furniture that you use at your parties?”

“Yes… but that’s just stuff from home”

“$500 worth…! If you had that $900 invested, you’d be making interest. Now… that’s a bit more off your $9 in profit. But it isn’t profit, you see, because you work about 12 to 19 hours on each party, don’t you?”

“Ya… but…”

“So when you’re calculating your profitability, you should pay yourself some money for the time you work before you calculate your profit, say $0.50 an hour?”

“$0.50 an hour…?”

“That gets it down to zero. You haven’t made a profit at all.”

At this point Sally gets up and leaves to talk to her husband, Bob at the bar. She’s upset that she’s only making $0.50 an hour and doesn’t want to work for that. She wants be a real businesswoman.

Norm, the accountant hears this as he too walks over to the bar. “Bob,” he says, “we’ve got this highly non-dramatic thing, the financial statement, to go through. Frankly, it’s boring.”

“I know,” replies Bob, “but I’m not trying to have you show how financial statements are made. I’m just trying to get you to show Sally why they’re useful; what benefits come from them.”

Sally relents and she and Norm join Bob and Jim at the bar.

“Jim, you’re looking worried,” says Bob. “What’s the matter?”

Well…” responds Jim, “to tell you the truth, I think the whole thing on financial statements is a waste of time.

“Now, you’re saying that partly because they’re a bit more complicated and you can’t understand them. How do you run your own personal business then?”

“My grandmother does it for me.”

“Could I interrupt a moment?” interjects Norm.

“Sure…” says Bob. “Everybody, this is Norm Numbers, an accountant friend of mine.”

“Well… listen up Jim,” says Norm. “They are not really all that complicated.”

“Maybe Norm is right,” suggests Jim. “Let’s me have one more attempt to understand it as well.”

Financial Statements: Balance Sheet

Statements can be confusing to some people, so Norm starts off slow, almost treating Sally and Jim like dummies. “There are two sorts of financial statements,” he begins.

“There are two types of financial statements,” Jim repeats. “I got it.”

“The first one is the balance sheet,” smiling at the thought of Jim repeating things.

“The balance sheet…”

“The balance sheet… That’s a statement made of what you own, and what you owe at a given point in time, so that you know exactly where you are at least at one moment: what you own, which is your inventory, the cash you have in the bank, the money people owe you—“

“The cash register…”

“Yeah, all that stuff: your equipment in the store.”

“All right…”

“That is what you own. That goes on the left hand side of the sheet.”

“Okay…”

“On the other side, you’ve got what you owe: the bills you haven’t paid yet, and to that you have to add the owner’s equity.”

“And what’s the owner’s equity?”

“That’s what you’ve put into the business.”

“The cash register…”

“No… The money that you’ve put in that is still left in the business. So what you own…”

“Yes…”

“Has to equal what you owe…”

“It has to equal what you owe.”

“It has to equal what you owe, plus your own equity.”

“All right…”

“Now, that tells you where you are at a certain spot. That’s a balance sheet.”

Financial Statements: Profit and Loss

“What’s the other thing?” asks Jim.

“The other thing is your profit and loss statement – Are you listening? Now, that covers a period of time, over, say, usually a period of 12 months. Now… that lists first of all, your earnings, your income- whether or not you’ve actually received it- during this period.”

“My salary…”

“No, no, that’s…”

“Not my salary…”

“No…. What the business did and will receive. What was paid and owed into the business by customers buying the goods…”

“Okay…”

“Plus bank interest….Below that, you’ve got expenses that were necessary to achieve these earnings: buying the goods, paying the people who work for you, and so on, including paying your own salary. And what’s left over after is the profit.”

“The profit…”

“The profit,” interjects Sally.

“The profit for the period,” stresses Norm.

“Okay. That’s the profit for the period,” says Jim.

“So, you’ve got the balance which is at a point in time and the profit and loss statement which covers a period of time,” says Norm in summary (see images below).

“I think I got it,” says Jim.

“Me too,” says Sally.

89-year-old Reverend Harold Camping, the president of Family Radio whose hit shows broadcast internationally from Oakland, California, said that Jesus Christ will be back on earth at 6 p.m. on May 21, 2011, when roughly 2 percent of earth’s population will be sent straight to heaven–and everybody else will go to hell.

“I’m not the authority,” Camping said in an interview in April 2011. “The Bible is the authority.”

Camping said The Bible says that the Day of Rapture and the Day of Judgment will begin at the international dateline, where the day starts and where Samoa potentially made a grave mistake in crossing over last week when shifting itself 24 hours into the future. Now, Samoa is positioned to be one of the first nations to face the catastrophes that Camping predicts will occur this evening.

“May 21,” he said. “That’s an absolutely locked-in date.”

The way Camping described it, doomsday evening will fold out similarly to the way the night did in San Francisco on November 1, 2010, when the Giants won the World Series: fires, riots, zombie-like creatures raising hell, orange and black, floods and seismic activity.

Whoops!

This is Camping’s second attempt to predict the date of the Day of Rapture and the Day of Judgment. His book, 1994?, which was published in 1992, says that doomsday should have occured on September 4, 1994. Obviously, Camping’s dead wrong in that one–but many of his other books are credible, and can be found and downloaded for free at FamilyRadio.com.

“No, not a mathematical error,” Camping said, regarding his first try. “When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb it wasn’t a perfect problem.”

Where will you go?

The news of the forthcoming finale has lead some believers–many of whom are loyal listeners of “Open Forum,” one of Camping’s shows which broadcasts on Family Radio five nights a week–to sell their things and give away their children, to use the time to spread the word that Jesus will be back on earth today, around suppertime.

“Project Caravan” is their vessel, a crusade on wheels which has propelled members of Camping’s cult all over the mainland of the United States over the last four months. On May 19, 2011, Project Caravan’s four buses were scheduled to set up shop in four different states: Massachusetts, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Space shuttle Endeavour will still be in outer space on the Day of Judgment. Lucky. The crew won’t be back until June 1, 2011. There will still be time, though, because the earth and the universe won’t be completely destroyed until October 21, 2011.

Until Sunday, Lord’s Day, keep your fingers crossed–and pray for the best.

From simple meetings and corporate events to big weddings, there are lots of opportunities to make money with a catering business. Learn how to use self employment ideas to create a whole new career in this event-oriented field. Creating a home-based business is easier than ever, even in a poor economy.

Catering and Self Employment Ideas

Running a home-based catering business is actually a rather “old” self employment idea. With the Internet, many types of self employment are suddenly possible, but lots of entrepreneurs were making money with catering well before this invention. Still, it doesn’t hurt to go online in today’s day and age.

In catering, there are several simple self employment ideas which can help professionals get started:

  • Online advertising. Everything’s online these days, and many home-based business are benefiting. Create a professional Web site, social networking profiles and take advantage of other online promotional opportunities. Even these very easy, very common self employments ideas can help caterers reap financial rewards.
  • Local promotion. Want to launch a home-based catering business? This is a lucrative self employment idea because most of the money will come from the entrepreneur’s local market. Create listings in local newspapers and phonebooks to start. It’s also a good idea to contact other local businesses – event rental companies, florists, photographers, popular wedding and event venues – and ask to be listed in their directories.

Running a Home-Based Catering Business

Running a home-based catering business is a great self employment idea sure, but it still takes a lot of hard work and serious self-promotion. What else does it take to make this career path work?

 

  • Food services. Often, caterers are hired to provide the food and other refreshments at events. Many professionals create their own catering business because they have a great love of food, so this might be the easiest service to provide. When help is needed, search for local contractors offering waiter/waitressing services and food, but remember that it’s best to keep costs low so profits stay high.
  • Bar services. Many events won’t just want food, but drink. Become acquainted, and establish professional ties with, local bartenders and alcoholic beverage providers. Remember that in many areas, it’s necessary for certain insurance to be in place when alcohol is being served. Stay current on licensing and insurance needs at all times, and stay legal and professional in catering services.
  • Décor and other event items. Some catering businesses may wish to provide decorating services and other event items or services. Event planning, music and floral arrangements are all commonly needed. Even if the catering business in question isn’t providing all these services, it’s a good idea to offer listings of local DJs, musicians and other event-related professionals for clients.
Jesus Heals Leper - Bible Study on Mark 1:40-45 | Bible Study Lessons and  Topics

Jesus Heals Leper - Bible Study on Mark 1:40-45 | Bible Study Lessons and Topics

Christians today can discover important lessons for their daily lives in the response of the ten lepers to Jesus’ healing power.

Luke 17:11-17 relates the story of Jesus healing a group of ten men who had a disease affecting the skin, probably leprosy. When they called out to him for his pity, he told them to go to the priests. As they started in that direction, they were healed.

Nine of the lepers kept on going so the priests could confirm their healing. Then, they would be able to rejoin society. Only one leper turned back to Jesus to offer thanks.

 

In order to understand the lesson for Christians in a modern world, it is useful to know the background.

Status of These Lepers

In Jesus’ day, men and women who acquired this incurable skin disease were no longer able to live at home, but were displaced to the fringes of society. They might live in small groups on the outskirts of the villages and towns, depending on the charity of others for sustenance.

For the most part, it must have been a lonely life of despair and every increasing incapacitation. These people had to call out ‘unclean, unclean!’ to warn off anyone who might come near them. There was no hope of treatment, even to alleviate the suffering, let alone cure the disease.

The Healing of the Lepers

Obviously, this group of ten men afflicted with this terrible condition had heard of the miraculous healings Jesus had performed. It appears that they were prepared for his trip to their village. They did not approach Jesus as they were forbidden from going close to anyone, but they did call out, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” (Luke 17:13).

Jesus simply called back to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” As they started to obey, they were healed.

Response to Jesus’ Healing

Nine of the ten healed men kept on going, anxious to have the priests validate their healing so they could once again go near people. Only one returned to Jesus, “praising God in a loud voice” (Luke 17:15). He humbled himself at the feet of Jesus, offering profuse thanks.

All ten of these men must have had faith that they could be healed when they intercepted Jesus outside the village. Yet, only one man took the time to show his gratitude and he was not even a Jew like Jesus, but a Samaritan, usually scorned by the Jews of the time.

Why wouldn’t all ten men have been falling all over themselves to show their appreciation of this wondrous gift of a renewed body? They immediately looked better and felt better. Their lives were changed forever as they could now resume a normal relationship with their family and friends. The blessing bestowed on them was incredible.

There are a few possible explanations for their behavior.

  • Thoughtlessness in the moment. It is possible that they were so caught up in the excitement that they just did not think to thank the one responsible for the healing. They might even have sought out Jesus later, but, if so, that is not part of the story.
  • Focused only on results. The result was important to them, not the means of achieving it. They were completely focused on enjoying a better quality of life.
  • Took healing for granted. These men knew that Jesus had performed miracles of healing elsewhere in the country so nine of them simply expected that he could do the same for them. Perhaps, they were Jews and just assumed that healing was what Jesus did, that it was his job. It was the one Samaritan who did not take it for granted.

Lessons for Christians Today

Christian believers today have faith they are healed spiritually by the saving power of Jesus Christ. Some have experienced dramatic changes in their lives as a result of accepting Jesus into their hearts. For others, it has been a quieter, but no less significant turning point in their lives.

It might be spiritually rewarding for each professing Christian to examine the way in which s/he has responded to this healing, both at the time and since that precious moment.

  • Even if there was a deep sense of gratitude at one time, has it been sustained? Is there daily praise for a life lived in God’s grace?
  • Is there simply an enjoyment of the results? Perhaps, this Christian is in a position of leadership in a church, or that one is recognized for being gifted with spiritual insights shared at a home Bible study. Yet another has the joy of serving in an outreach ministry. Are they remembering and being thankful for the God-gifted reasons they are in these positions?
  • Is there a sense of taking for granted Jesus’ presence in daily life? This can easily happen especially for those who were raised in Christian homes. Those nine lepers who went on their way so easily could be like Christians today surrounded by Christian family, church and love all their lives so it is too easy to forget the wonder of it all. Sometimes, it is the one who is completely new to Christ who is most appreciative.

It is hoped that each Christian today will understand that s/he, too, could easily be one of the nine who went merrily on their way to enjoy the benefits of an encounter with Jesus, without recognizing the obligations. Each day is the day to guard against carelessness and thoughtlessness in a relationship with Jesus. Each day is a day to offer praise and thanksgiving.

When your free samples of baby formula show up at your door during pregnancy, you can be certain that you are already a part of the slick marketing strategies of infant formula manufacturers today. These companies know that you are likely to turn more quickly to formula to feed your baby when breastfeeding challenges occur in the first few weeks of your baby's life if you have samples handy.

Mailing free samples to your home is only one way that formula manufacturers use to sell their products. There has been so much concern about not only the strategies used by formula companies but also potentially misleading unsuspecting consumers that in 1981the World Health Organization (WHO) came up with a list of guidelines that formula companies are required to follow. However violations of these guidelines continue even more than 20 years later.

Here are just a few of the many requirements listed in the WHO Code for Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes that are often violated by formula companies.

Formula companies are required to state the benefits and superiority of breastfeeding.

Research continues to show that breast milk is the hands-down choice in terms of nutrition and health care benefits for both baby and mother. If a formula company does not indicate in their advertising or product labeling that formula is not as beneficial as breast milk, it is considered to be a violation of the WHO code.

 

Manufacturers are prohibited from distributing free samples of breast milk substitutes to women either directly (mailed to their home) or indirectly (through another party such as the local hospital.)

Parents mistakenly believe that the free case of formula shipped to them is a result of the generosity of the manufacturers. In fact, distributing free formula samples is not only a marketing strategy but it undermines breastfeeding success. For that reason, the mailing of free formula samples is considered to be a violation of the WHO code.

Information provided by formula manufacturers should not imply that breast milk substitutes are equivalent or superior to breast milk.

One leading manufacturer promotes a special brand of formula on their website claiming that is designed for preterm babies. It states that babies who were fed this brand of formula containing fatty acid supplements were able to "catch up" in their growth pattern in a similar rate to that of breastfed infants.

The truth is that the researchers who conducted this study state "although the evidence for the potential benefits of fatty acid supplementation is promising, it is not yet conclusive."

One of the many reasons for why breast milk is far superior to cow's milk is that it contains 30% casein and 70% whey protein, whereas cow's milk contains 82% casein. Whey protein is more suitable for the preterm baby since it is digested more readily. Breast milk also increases the absorption of fat and its unique blend of fatty acids promote baby's growth and development.

So, in other words, the preterm baby will grow and develop far better with breast milk than with any brand or type of infant formula.

Formula manufacturers are not permitted to advertise or display images of their products in health care facilities.

This can easily be verified if you see any advertisements for formula in your care provider's offices, local health clinic, birth center or hospital. If you do see any images of formula in these locations, please mention to the staff that this advertising is indeed a WHO code violation.