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The FTC is taking action on influencers refusing to follow rules

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The FTC is tired of issuing warnings about influencer marketing and being ignored so now, they’re going straight to the source.

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The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) warns celebrities and brands for the last time about properly disclosing material connections. Well, maybe it’s not the last time.

This is not the first time the issue of shady social media deals has been brought up.

In March, the FTC sent letters asking that brands and their Instagram influencers follow the disclosure policies. In June, they sent warnings to the participating companies, reiterating the importance of disclosing paid relationships.

Now, on what seems like their last stitch effort, they are warning the influencers themselves of the seriousness of the situation.

The FTC has contacted 21 celebrities and reality stars including Naomi Campbell, Lindsay Lohan and Sofia Vergara among others to warn them about properly disclosing their relationships. Celebrities must disclose the nature of their relationships, especially when they are paid, within their posts. This does not mean burying the company name within a million hashtags, or simply thanking them for their generosity.

When a celebrity posts about their favorite new product that they can’t live without, it’s not so much of a coincidence as it is a marketing scheme, #moneymaking. With the growing power of social media, both companies and celebrities have taken advantage of the exposure it brings them. The relationship is equally beneficial, however as the FTC has noted, it is not completely altruistic.

It’s not rocket science.

When money is exchanged as a part of a trade of services, it must be disclosed. For some reason all of this becomes complicated when it comes to social media. In the social realm, businesses operate in a non-traditional way and thus have non-traditional methods of marketing. One of the most successful strategies has been using Influencers, or Instagram users with a significant following, to endorse their products.

Unlike a commercial you see on TV, the endorsement seems natural, almost a random moment that a celebrity shares some personal information. This includes when companies are tagged in a photo or thanked in a post.

So what are the real consequences? Warnings do not indicate action. Social media still has a lot of gray area when it comes to marketing. And it looks like the FTC still has a lot of warnings to issue.

Natalie is a Staff Writer at The American Genius and co-founded an Austin creative magazine called Almost Real Things. When she is not writing, she spends her time making art, teaching painting classes and confusing people. In addition to pursuing a writing career, Natalie plans on getting her MFA to become a Professor of Fine Art.

Business Marketing

No-reply emails have run their course, they don’t help customers

(BUSINESS MARKETING) No-reply emails may serve a company well, but the customers can become frustrated with the loss of a quick and easy way to get help.

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Let me tell you a modern-day horror story.

You finally decide to purchase the item that’s been sitting in your cart all week, but when you receive your confirmation email you realize there’s a mistake on the order. Maybe you ordered the wrong size item, maybe your old address is listed as the shipping location, or maybe you just have buyer’s remorse. Either way, you’ve got to contact customer service.

Your next mission is to find contact information or a support line where you can get the issue resolved. You scroll to the bottom of the email and look around for a place to contact the company, but all you find is some copyright junk and an unsubscribe option. Tempting, but it won’t solve your problem. Your last hope is to reply to the confirmation email, so you hit that trusty reply arrow and…nothing. It’s a no-reply email. Cue the high-pitched screams.

Customers should not have to sort through your website and emails with a microscope to find contact information or a customer service line. With high customer expectations and fierce ecommerce competition, business owners can’t afford to use no-reply emails anymore.

Intended or not, no-reply emails send your customer the message that you really don’t want to hear from them. In an age when you can DM major airlines on Twitter and expect a response, this is just not going to fly anymore.

Fixing this issue doesn’t need to be a huge burden on your company. A simple solution is to create a persona for your email marketing or customer service emails, it could be member of your team or even a company mascot. Rather than using noreply@company.com you can use john@company.com and make that email a place where your email list can respond to questions and communicate concerns. Remember, the whole point of email marketing is to create a conversation with your customers.

Another great strategy for avoiding a million customer service emails where you don’t want them? Include customer service contact info in your emails. Place a thoughtful message near the bottom of your template letting people know where they can go if they’re having an issue with the product or service. This simple change will save you, your customers, and your team so much time in the long-run.

Your goal as a business owner is to build a trusting relationship between you and your customers, so leave the no reply emails behind. They’re annoying and they might even get you marked as spam.

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Business Marketing

Simple way to sent text, email appointment reminders to clients

(MARKETING) This new app has tons of automatic tools that help small businesses continue to move into the digital age with ease of use.

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As the world becomes more heavily reliant on automated messaging and computer-mediated communication, we become more reluctant to actually speak to someone on the telephone. While I often find myself in this category, I also feel saddened by what Alexander Graham Bell must think. I digress.

We can certainly argue that a major reason we prefer to text or email rather than sit on the phone is for convenience. We can send a quick text while working, as it’s much more difficult to get away with a phone call on the down low.

That’s why it’s become so popular for places such as doctor’s offices and salons to begin using text and email alerts as appointment reminders. Now, Remindr is getting in on the action.

According to their site, “Remindr.co is a tool for small businesses to schedule automated email and text message appointment reminders. Reduce your meeting no-shows by alerting your clients beforehand. Easily confirm appointments with your customers via text message.”

They proclaim that they’re “great for any business that schedules customer appointments or client meetings,” citing their top use cases as restaurant reservations, nail salons, personal trainers, barbers, tattoo shops, spas, real estate agents, independent car mechanics, and tech sales scheduling customer calls.

This is a win-win as it’s convenient for the customer, but also saves time on the business’s side because it eliminates hours of reminder calls. Additionally, the method supports the reduction of no-shows, which is incredibly important to businesses – especially small ones.

Remindr features include: text message, email, confirmation, reusable templates, schedule alerts, and easy user interface. With text messaging, businesses can send personalized SMS messages to customers from your Remindr phone number.

With email, businesses can send personalized email reminders to their customers through Remindr email addresses. Then, customers can confirm their appointment via text messages or email, and businesses can review confirmations on their Remindr account.

Businesses can create their own personalized reminder templates to pre-fill the reminder form (for example: “Hi NAME! We’re looking forward to your appointment tomorrow (DATE) at TIME. Respond YES to confirm your appointment.”) Reminders can be automatically sent via email or text at a predetermined time.

Remindr provides an easy user interface where businesses can start scheduling reminders instantly, use full-keyboard form navigation, and it is mobile friendly.

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Business Marketing

PHD job seekers shouldn’t scare employers, they should be welcomed

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It’s time to change the narrative for PhD candidates on the job market. They have been through so much and can contribute just as much to your company

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Employers have historically been skeptical of hiring PhD graduates for jobs, but it’s time for that to change. It seems counterintuitive, but many employers are scared of candidates who bring such a high level of education to the table. They worry that PhD graduates will ask for too much money, get bored with the work, or not be able to perform in a non-academic setting.

PhD graduates may come from an academic background, but this doesn’t mean they can’t be a valuable asset to your business. As for them asking for too much money, I don’t know if you’ve heard, but academics are not exactly swimming in pools of gold. People don’t go into academics because they want to get rich quick – or at all. By earning their degree, PhD graduates have proven that they possess dedication and grit to persevere in an environment that requires resourcefulness and strong problem-solving abilities.

Another common fear employers have about PhD graduates is whether or not the work will be interesting enough to keep them around long-term. The reality is this is something you should be concerned about for all of your potential new hires not just graduates. Keeping your employees engaged in the work can be one of the most challenging parts of running a business. PhD candidates want the same things as everyone else. Indeed recently talked to an expert on the subject, Vay Cao, the founder of Free the PhD, a company dedicated to helping postgrads find their place in the workforce. She says, “What PhD candidates are looking for is that opportunity to prove themselves [and] learn some new things.”

PhD graduates have long suffered from these misconceptions, but modern business owners have the opportunity to change the narrative. By ignoring graduates, you miss out on the wealth of opportunities their experiences offer your business. PhD graduates are often innovators in their fields with excellent presentation and inter-personal skills. These candidates can bring unique skill sets and experiences to your business that may give you that extra edge on the market.

At the end of the day, your priority as a business owner will be to do what’s best for your business. Hiring and interviewing candidates from a wide range of backgrounds will always be to your benefit. Take advantage of these unique and highly educated candidates. They are an asset you can’t afford to ignore anymore.

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