Category Archives: Communication

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5 Instagram Tips You Can Glean From the Pros

With over 500 million active users per month, it’s clear that Instagram is no small player in the world of social media. There is plenty of potential for brands to leverage and broaden their outreach. But how do you cut through the noise and navigate a platform with such vast scope? You learn from the pros, of course. Here are seven Instagram tips that your competitors are already following right now. By taking these on board, you will be well on your way to mastering Instagram for your own brand.

5 Instagram Tips You Can Glean From the Pros

Are you on the lookout for content marketing advice to improve your overall strategy? Check out our previous post.

Show what your online business does in a creative way

Show what your online business does in a creative way

credit: fedex

Instagram is the perfect social channel for you to showcase the visual element of your brand. No matter what you do, there will be a creative way for you to document and showcase it. Consistent, visual storytelling cuts through the mediocre noise on Instagram. To grab people’s attention and build an audience that anticipates your next post, you need to get creative with how you share your ideas and tell your brand’s story.

Take FedEx, for example. This brand successfully uses images of their delivery service and combines it with posts of happy customers receiving parcels and flowers. This tactic not only makes an otherwise rather functional and unglamorous service look attractive, but it also serves to tell the brand’s story by giving it a human face.

Brainstorm the different processes your business is involved in, and how they affect your customers. With this information, you can create stories and come up with ways to creatively show how your brand’s day-to-day operations work.

The most successful brand storytelling involves bitesize micro-stories that tie into your brand’s values, mission and customer experience. You want to develop a strong brand presence on your Instagram feed that represents your overall brand image. Check out this post for more examples of visual storytelling.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with Instagram stories

Instagram Stories are a new function, recently rolled out across the social network, which allow you to use a slideshow of videos and images that remain accessible for 24 hours. This feature is in direct competition with Snapchat’s stories, but has the additional benefit of being linked to Instagram profiles. This means that with an Instagram profile for your brand, you have the opportunity to not only bedeck your feed with visual marketing, but to get creative with film and a story to really engage your audience.

Here are some things that you should know about Instagram stories:

  • Stories are displayed at the very top of your follower’s timelines
  • They can be used to display your behind-the-scenes content. This is often less staged and lower quality than the permanent posts on your profile
  • The story function really enables you to experiment with different types of content and see which gets the most engagement. Photos, short videos, Boomerangs, Rewind videos, and live videos are all available for you to get creative
  • The additional functionality of face filters, text and stickers allow you to really customize your posts and make your mark. It’s very easy to edit your posts on the go

Your posts will autoplay in the chronological sequence they were added, and you can post an unlimited number of times. This feature only works on the mobile app. Check out these unique brands to see how other people are making innovative use of Instagram Stories.

Take your audience behind the scenes of your business

As mentioned, brand storytelling is a really great way to interest your audience and add an extra dimension to your image. The more story you can provide, the more you open your brand up to engagement and conversation.

Some customers are naturally curious about where their products come from, and this is the perfect opportunity for you to answer their questions with your Instagram feed. For example, if you are a Fairtrade company, you could show your customers where you source your raw materials from.

Take your audience behind the scenes of your business

credit: fairtrade USA

The Fair Trade USA instagram does this to great effect. This non-profit organization shows exactly who crafts or handpicks the raw materials that go into fairtrade certified products. By doing this, their target audience can buy these products, safe in the knowledge that they are cruelty free. This kind of story is what evokes empathy from audiences and encourages them to buy products.

If you have an interesting brand story, don’t be afraid to show it off. Perhaps you started off as a hobby crafting jeweler to help keep food on the table? Let your audience know about your story and why you started your brand. Any kind of shareable information that connects you to your audience is very useful for social media. 

The power of micro-influencer collaboration

The power of micro-influencer collaboration

credit: mary orton

Another really great way to broaden your outreach on instagram is to harness the power of collaboration and employ an influencer. Micro-influencer collaboration aligns your brand with their values and mission. This often works more effectively than using hashtags, as the act of following hashtags is often more manual for the user. Banana Republic promoted its clothes to audiences that are defined by their sense of style and interest in fashion. The micro-influencers selected were fashion and lifestyle focused, and this helped Banana Republic to reach a large, but targeted, audience of consumers.

Micro-influencer marketing might be the biggest thing this side of 2017, but don’t worry – you don’t necessarily have to part with a large sum of money to hire their services. Consider offering them some free products to sample, and perhaps they will post to their Instagram feed or story without payment.

If you want to integrate micro-influencers into your marketing strategy, there are a few things you should know first:

  • You should consider whether your chosen micro-influencers fit in with your brand and values. Ultimately, you want to piggyback from their established presence and gain access to their following. You need to be sure that their demographic is the right one for you to gain maximum ROI
  • If you are a local or smaller business, consider finding micro-influencers from your local area, with a local audience. This would allow you to be hyper-targeted with your outreach
  • When searching for the right micro-influencers to work with, you should aim for followers with a similar amount of followers to you, otherwise, you may risk not being taken seriously

 For more tips on how to collaborate on Instagram, this article is for you. Once you’ve decided which influencers to target, it’s time to make contact. Consider emailing them directly, rather than direct messaging them on Instagram. Emails tend to get higher response rates, as direct messages are often overlooked.

Analyze the performance of your posts and build on them

As with any marketing strategy, it’s really important for you to analyze the performance of your Instagram posts to make sure that you’re barking up the right tree. You need to make sure that you are spending your money in the right way, broadcasting the right kind of content, and targeting the right audience.

There are many apps and subscription services that allow you to track hashtags, engagement levels and mentions of your brand on social media. Keyhole tracks all of these, and even integrates seamlessly with online store creators like Shopify. This means that Keyhole can access all of your ecommerce business’ data in real-time, and give you the most up-to-date reports. Trackmaven is another great product that puts you in the driver’s seat of your social feeds.

Whether you choose to go down the micro-influencer route, or have a go with Instagram’s new story function (or perhaps all of these ideas!) – don’t forget to consistently analyze your engagement levels. The truth will be in your metrics, and data is essential to constantly improve on your marketing strategy and make sure you’re investing your budget in the right areas.

Which of these tips will you take onboard? Let us know in the comments.

Guest Blogger: Victoria Greene: Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer.

Brand Marketing Consultant and Freelance Writer. Victoria Greene is an ecommerce marketing consultant and freelance writer, working with large brands to grow their reach. She loves sharing her expertise with other entrepreneurs and small businesses to help them reach success.


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6 Best Practices for Promoting Events

A well planned, well communicated and well attended event can help an organization thrive and a business grow. Yet, I receive event notifications on a regular basis that are missing information, poorly timed, and offer too many reminders. Why is it so hard to get it right? Let’s take a look at a few best practices for promoting an event.

1._Create an event fact sheet. This should include all of the relevant facts such as date, time and location, as well as who should attend, where to J.R. Atkins talks about event communicationpark and who to call or email with questions. This list can be used to develop a press release and other forms of marketing communications as well as sharing with people and sponsors you are recruiting.

2. Develop a marketing communication plan at least 90 days out from the event. Your event may require more or less time depending on the J.R. Atkins on event planningevent, but 90 days is a rule of thumb as it allows time for event publication by relevant resources and printed materials. For best results, once you have confirmed the venue, develop your marketing communication plan. It is easier to deal with plenty of time than not enough time.

3. Send out a “save the date notice” in plenty of time. The bigger the event, the more notice people will need. For a major fund raiser or “annual J.R. Atkins says send out save the date noticesevent” publish the date on your website 12-14 months in advance and send out save the date notices several months in advance. As an example, an annual charity event may announce the date 12 months out but not release the theme, entertainment and other details until just the right moment to generate excitement.

4. Use “reasonable” frequency. One organization I belong to sent me 5 or more emails about the same event during the 30 days leading up J.R. Atkins warns of too many emailto it and they were the same email. Yuck! First, once a week is sometimes too often and second, the message needs to be different in every email. I wonder why I do not receive an invitation on Facebook or other mediums? Over communication often leads people to tune out and unsubscribe. By using multiple communication channels you can stay in front of people without driving them crazy. Use your website, email, social media, print and mail for really big events.

5. A picture is worth 1000 words. Make sure to use images that tell the story of the written content. This will create the best a picture is worth 1000 wordsimpact. For an even better impact, use a short video, less than 60 seconds, to promote the event. People will share your pictures and videos if they are done well and are relevant. PDF formats are often used to share event information, but remember they are an image and the details in the image are not searchable and someone cannot cut and paste the details into their calendar.

6. Use a professional online registration tool. It is common practice to offer registrations on your website or through an event registration tool. J.R. Atkins recommends eventbriteThese tools will increase your revenue and help manage the details. If your members like a hands on approach, you can still take their information over the phone or in person then enter it into the online tool. I have used cvent and Eventbrite, or check out the list by Capterra.

I could list more but I think these are the big ones I see being missed by well-meaning organizations. I welcome your comments, suggestions and success stores.

Good luck with your next event.


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Atlanta Location Added for Something Different Companies

J.R. Atkins has presented to the USMC Advertising groupIn March 2015, J.R. Atkins of Something different Companies opened an additional office location in the Hapeville area of Atlanta. Expanding to meet client needs drives the expansion of Something Different Companies which provides consulting in the areas of marketing and communication. J.R.’s specialties reside in the areas of social media, websites and mobile apps backed by a strong background in sales and marketing.

The new Atlanta location for Something Different Companies is located at 1031 Virginia Ave, Atlanta, GA 30354

J.R. Atkins speaks at University of Phoenix Dallas CampusOver the last 6 years, many clients have been small to medium sized business of 1 to 100 employee range although the company has worked with a few major clients such as The United States Marine Corps and The University of Phoenix.

As an author and speaker, J.R. Atkins speaks approximately 50 times each year at conferences, association meetings, Chambers of Commerce and private companies. J.R. also teaches social media and marketing at Universities and has published three books Success Simplified, Social Media 2.0 and Roadmap to Social Media 2.0, Author J.R. Atkins, social media ROISuccess.

Reach out via email, social media, snail mail, at a meetup, by phone or video conference. Coffee, lunch and cocktails are always good too.

To book J.R. Atkins as a speaker call 214-7070-1705 or send an email to jratkins@SomehtingDifferentCompanies.com


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Creating Graphics for Business Growth by J.R. Atkins MBA

As someone delivering Social Media, Websites and Online Marketing, I find myself in need of creative graphics on a regular basis and I have found some resources you might what to check out.

1. JRA Visme ProjectVisme: Think of Visme as a perfect marriage between Microsoft PowerPoint and Adobe InDesign; ease of use meets professional design. Their clean graphic website will walk you through the three easy steps to create your first graphic image and includes a nice short video to help you get started. Use the Visme tool set to create:

  • Infographics
  • Presentations
  • Charts & Graphs
  • Web Banners
  • Animations
  • And more

The free version allows you to create 3 projects and is a great way to check it out. If you like it and want to upgrade, the Standard Plan is $4.50 per month and the Complete Plan is $14.25 per month, no too much when you consider the competition.  I’m hoping they will preformatted projects for cover images for Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ as I am tasked to create these often. Below is a sample project I created in less than five minutes. Let me know how Visme works for you.

2. Fivver: If you are more into outsources than “DYI” then check out Fivver. You hire someone to do you graphic for you at very low prices, like $5.00. The prices goes up as you add requirements but you still can get graphics delivered in a few days for less than $50.00. Again, not to bad when you consider other alternatives. Here is a recent example from Fivver that ran me $5.00 and took 4 days to complete.

Social Mead posting by J.R. Atkins 

 

3. Design Class: Most class work in design requires the student to create projects for real companies. Most will have a digital portfolio to show you how their skills and talents are developing. Why not let your brand benefit from the bright minds of tomorrow’s professional designers. Just Google “InDesign Classes” in your area then contact the instructor about student projects with your organization.

This example Portfolio is from Ashley Denton at Texas State, San Marcos, TX

 Ashley Denton recommended by J.R. Atkins

Events Worth Considering

Travel with J.R. Atkins to Holy sites

 


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The 25 Best CRM Apps

A friend shared this article on CRM Apps – Customer Relationship Management Apps and I thought I’d share it here for my readers and clients.top CRM solutions with J.R. Atkins Click on a category below to learn more about the strengths of those CRMs or jump to an app directly by clicking its name.

Link to the original article: https://zapier.com/blog/best-crm-app/


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J.R. Atkins, thinking inside the box

Box Thinking: Inside or Outside?

J.R. Atkins, thinking inside the box“Thinking outside the box” is such an over-used term yet I still hear it used to describe looking at life, a systems, a product, a problem or an issue in a new or different way. But, to think outside the box, don’t you need to understand what is in the box? Check out the list below and see if you can think of additional material that should be in or outside the box.

“Inside the Box”

  1. Current Methods & Procedures
  2. Current Customers & Prospects
  3. Current Employees & Recruits
  4. Current Products & Services
  5. Current Information & News Sources
  6. Current Ways of Thinking & Communicating
  7. Current Locations & Resources
  8. Current Culture “The way we do things”

J.R. Atkins thinking outside the box“Outside the Box”

  1. Any New Approach, Order or Method
  2. Any New View or Perspective
  3. Any New Way of Thinking
  4. The Opposite of the “Inside the Box” Thinking

 

For one to be good at creating, innovating, inventing, developing… you must be able to suspend your current beliefs long enough to see the world in a new way. In Seth Godin’s recent book “The Icarus Deception” he writes of the balance between our comfort zone and safety zone and how we must get comfortable with new realities or our new safety zone. He goes on to say that success in the new era goes to those that “create ideas that spread and connect the disconnected.” J.R. Atkins recommends The Icarus Deception

As we enter 2014 my hope for you is that you are able to create remarkable results with remarkable ease. Perhaps you can think outside the box to new highs in your career by looking at what is already in the box.

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The 5 Stages of Culture from “Tribal Leadership”

“People Tribe, Fish School, Cattle Herd and Birds Flock” and so it goes, says my client and friend Kathy Dudley of Compassion Creates Change. Then she goes on to explain the 5 Stages of Tribes (below). My eyes widen and I frantically begin to take notes as the information and this model of behavior resonates with other ideas bouncing around in my head. So, I share the following resources with you in hopes of helping you and your organization excel in the new year.

This video explains the Tribe concepts as it applies to organizations

 

The Models or Info-graphicsJ.R. Atkins recommends the book Tribal Leadership

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J.R. Atkins recommends the book Tribal Leadership

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, here is an excerpt from the book which I highly recommend.

Every company, indeed, every organization, is a tribe, or if it’s large enough, a network of tribes—groups of twenty to 150 people in which everyone knows everyone else, or at least knows of everyone else. Tribes are more powerful than teams, companies, or even CEO’s, and yet their key leverage points have not been mapped—until now. In Tribal Leadership, Dave Logan, John King, and Halee Fischer-Wright show leaders how to assess their organization’s tribal culture on a scale from one to five and then implement specific tools to elevate the stage to the next. The result is unprecedented success.

J.R. Atkins MBA Recommends the book Book: Tribal LeadershipIn a rigorous ten-year study of approximately 24,000 people in more than two dozen corporations, Logan, King, and Fischer-Wright refine and define a common theme: the success of a company depends on its tribes, the strength of its tribes is determined by the tribal culture, and a thriving corporate culture can be established by an effective tribal leader. Tribal Leadership will show leaders how to employ their companies’ tribes to maximize productivity and profit: the authors’ research, backed up with interviews ranging from Brian France (CEO of NASCAR) to “Dilbert” creator Scott Adams, shows that more than three quarters of the organizations they’ve  studied have tribal cultures that are merely adequate, no better than the third of five tribal stages.

The authors explain exactly what Tribal Leadership is, and offer a wealth of “technical notes” which explain how to implement the leadership system in any culture. They also offer coaching tips and a “cheat sheet” that provides the key action steps to building great tribes—including how to identify a tribe’s language and customs, how to move yourself forward while moving your people, and how to build a support network. “The goal is to give you the perspective and tools of a Tribal Leader,” the authors write. “The result is more effective workplaces, greater strategic success, less stress, and more fun. In short, the point of this book is for you to build a better organization in which the best people want to work and make an impact.”

TRIBAL LEADERSHIP details each of the five tribal stages and helps readers identify which actions affect it and which strategies will enable the tribe to upgrade to the next level. The authors discuss how each stage has a unique set of leverage points and why it is critical to understand them—more than three quarters of the organizations they studied have tribal cultures that are adequate at best. The five stages include:

• Stage One: The stage most professionals skip, these are tribes whose members are despairingly hostile—they may create scandals, steal from the company, or even threaten violence.

• Stage Two: The dominant culture for 25 percent of workplace tribes, this stage includes members who are passively antagonistic, sarcastic, and resistant to new management initiatives.

• Stage Three: 49 percent of workplace tribes are in this stage, marked by knowledge hoarders who want to outwork and out-think their competitors on an individual basis. They are lone warriors who not only want to win, but need to be the best and brightest.

• Stage Four: The transition from “I’m great” to “we’re great” comes in this stage where the tribe members are excited to work together for the benefit of the entire company.

• Stage Five: Less than 2 percent of workplace tribal culture is in this stage when members who have made substantial innovations seek to use their potential to make a global impact.

The authors also offer an in-depth look at Tribal Leadership strategies, and discuss how leaders can identify the tribe’s core values and the noble causes to which they aspire. They then explain how to use those principles along with the tribe’s inherent assets and behaviors to foster success based on the tribe’s goals and objectives. As the authors explain, once the tribe sets its strategy based on these factors, a palpable sense of excitement begins to emerge. “Every member of the tribe knows exactly how to succeed and what each person must do to make the tribe effective,” they write. “That’s the promise of tribal strategy.”

Leaders, managers, and organizations that fail to understand, motivate, and grow their tribes will find it impossible to succeed in an increasingly fragmented world of business. The often counter-intuitive findings of Tribal Leadership will help leaders at today’s major corporations, small businesses, and nonprofits learn how to take the people in their organization from adequate to outstanding, to discover the secrets that have led the highest-level tribes to remarkable heights, and to find new ways to succeed where others have failed.

I look forward to reading your comments, receiving your emails, chatting on the phone or in person about these concepts.

 


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Are smartphones a need or want?

I see smart phones as a must have for most adults who are engaged in business and society. The amount of computing and communication power is necessary for the successful connected life. Check out this article from  Desert News on the subject.

 

Gotta have: Are smartphones a need or just a want?

According to J.R. Atkins MBA Smart phones are a need

By , Deseret News

NEWTON, Mass. — Lisa Rinkus may be fighting a losing battle. Her 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, wants an iPhone.

“She was asking every day, ‘When can I have an iPhone,’ ” says Rinkus, owner of a public relations firm in the Boston area. “My husband was about to cave and I was horrified.”

Everybody Rinkus knows, she says, has given their kids a smartphone.

“But I know a lot of parents who say they wish they never caved in,” she says.

The tide seems to be going toward universal adoption. Resistance seems futile. The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project reported in May that, for the first time, a majority of adult Americans (56 percent) owned smartphones. Of young people ages 18 to 29, 77 percent of those who make less than $30,000 a year still own a smartphone.

Pew also found recently that 63 percent of adult cell owners now use their phones to go online — twice the percentage of 2009.

And among teenagers, almost 78 percent of them own a phone, with almost half of that group owning a smartphone, according to Pew.

But even with the high percentages, Rinkus and others are confronting the question of whether smartphones are wants or needs.

Clash of worlds

Susan Kuhn, a “technology futurist and digital strategist” in Arlington, Va., says fear is behind much of the opposition to smartphones and allowing kids to have them.

“Information technology is evolving faster than anything in human history,” Kuhn says. “The key is to not just look at the device, but the role it is playing.”

That role includes the different things a child could do with it — such as creating videos, expanding learning, creating websites and content on social networks, or being connected to resources at school.

“Smartphones are going to be very important in the future,” she says. Parents should want their children to master the tool and use it well. Kids are going to grow up in a world of instant communication and ubiquity of information, she says.

“We do right by our children when we help them to grow up able to live in the world that is coming for them, the world of the future — not the world that we are comfortable, the world of what we grew up in.”

Already connected?

Rinkus, however, thinks kids are connected. “If kids have access to computers, iPods, library computers and school computers,” she says, “then why the heck do they need it in their pocket while they are waiting for the bus?”

But smartphones can be used for far more than killing a few idle moments while waiting for a bus. A recent study by Jumio, an online verification and mobile payments company based in Palo Alto, Calif., found that people are using their smartphones just about everywhere and during everything.

People admit using them in movie theaters (35 percent of smartphone owners), during a dinner date (33 percent), at a child’s or school function (32 percent), in a place of worship (19 percent), while in the shower (19 percent) and even during, um, intimate times (9 percent). Despite laws and other attempts to stigmatize it, 55 percent admit to using smartphones while driving.

James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University, thinks smartphone use like this is a sign of addiction.

Tipping into addiction

“Cell phone use reaches a tipping point when they pass from being something you like to do to something you need to do,” says Roberts, who is writing a new book titled “Cellularitis: Sleeping with our cell phones.” “People exhibit six symptoms that are classic addiction.”

The first sign, he says, is the salience or importance the smartphones have in people’s lives. Like the Jumio survey, which found that 72 percent of smartphone users are within five feet of their devices the majority of the time.

Two other signs are that the smartphone is being used for mood regulation and people start using them more and more in their lives.

People also have withdrawal symptoms if they have to stop using their smartphones.

“Kids separated from their cellphones get nervous, tense, anxious and almost have breakdowns just like alcohol, cigarettes or coffee addiction,” Roberts says.

Smartphone usage also can cause conflict with others. Roberts says he has had to have students removed from class who couldn’t stop using their smartphones for the period.

And people who try to stop using their smartphones often relapse back into their obsessive habits with the phones, he says.

Setting rules

Rinkus says she doesn’t want her daughter to be like one of her “addicted” classmates who, when asked a question by her history teacher, answered by saying, “Let me Google it.”

“That is so absurd,” Rinkus says, “it makes me so crazy.”

But Kuhn isn’t impressed so much by the addiction claims.

“Addiction?” she says, “Well, then we need to talk about sports maybe. There are all kinds of things people can get ‘addicted’ to. It is not a thing that is unique to technology. … It is falsely giving up human power by giving up tech.”

Kuhn says parents can set limits such as not allowing the smartphone in the kid’s bedroom, limiting use to two hours a day, monitoring how it is being used.

Roberts also recommends rules such as he has used with his teenage daughters including turning off the phones at 10 p.m. and having smartphone-free times, like keeping them off during dinner. Author William Powers takes it a step further, suggesting that peopletake a day away from their smartphones to create more balance between people’s physical and digital lives.

Protecting the future

Rinkus says she wants her daughter, in her free moments, to not turn her head down to a smartphone, but to interact with those around her. Kuhn, however, says kids are connecting to each other, “in a far different way that we did.”

But she also says the connecting does not have to be one way or the other, that it can be both.

“Technology is no harder than a lot of other things that have happened in history,” Kuhn says, “but we put it on this freak-out pedestal. It sort of demeans us to say that we can be undone by a piece of electronics. No. We are much better than that.”

Rinkus, however, isn’t backing down and says her daughter is starting to agree with her.

“My job as a parent is to protect my children,” she says. “Getting them ready for the future means I need to guide them. I’m protecting my daughter. I think she realizes that.”

EMAIL: mdegroote@deseretnews.com

Twitter: @degroote

Facebook: facebook.com/madegroote


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“Giving answers vs. results” the goal of the new Google Hummingbird Algorithm

“Giving answers vs. results” is the goal of the new Hummingbird algorithm from Google according to Eric with Globe Runner SEO. Check out his video for more insights.


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PodCast: Social Media Overview

What’s the big deal about Social Media? This course will explore the main Social Media platforms and trends. Examples include Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Blogging, YouTube, Pinterest and more. Does Social Media improve relationships or increase isolation? Your instructor is J.R. Atkins, MBA from Something Different Companies


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