Common Sense Is Key If You Want to Be a Business Innovator

The following excerpt is from Glenn Llopis’s book The Innovation Mentality. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble 

The six characteristics of the innovation mentality are like many great ideas: deceptively simple. That’s the point: They awaken you to new opportunities and possibilities through the simplest language that can be applied to all aspects of leadership.

Related: 4 Questions To Help Leaders Define Their Brand

For example, the most popular article I ever wrote for Forbes.com was on the 15 things leaders must do automatically, every day, to be successful in the workplace. These 15 things ultimately allow leaders to increase the value of their organization’s brand, while at the same time minimize the operating risk profile. They serve as the enablers of talent, culture and results:

  1. Make others feel safe to speak up.
  2. Make decisions.
  3. Communicate expectations.
  4. Challenge people to think.
  5. Be accountable to others.
  6. Lead by example.
  7. Measure and reward performance.
  8. Provide continuous feedback.
  9. Properly allocate and deploy talent
  10. Ask questions and seek counsel.
  11. Problem solve and avoid procrastination.
  12. Have positive energy and attitude.
  13. Be a great teacher.
  14. Invest in relationships.
  15. Genuinely enjoy responsibilities.

Millions of people read, responded and shared this post. Why? Certainly not because the list is so groundbreaking. Do these 15 things sound new, counterintuitive or complex? Of course not. Like the six characteristics, they’re simple to say and clear in their direction for how we connect with, market, impact and influence all people. We can’t do these things most effectively and consistently unless we can maximize the potential of everything our leadership touches/influences. In an execution-oriented environment, how is this possible? I’ll let you in on a little secret that might help: Every one of these 15 things is drawn from and connected to the six innovation mentality characteristics, like the following, for example:

  • Measure and reward performance: See opportunity in everything (characteristic #1).
  • Ask questions and seek counsel: Anticipate the unexpected (characteristic #2).
  • Properly allocate and deploy talent: Unleash your passionate pursuits (characteristic #3).
  • Invest in relationships: Live with an entrepreneurial spirit (characteristic #4).
  • Provide continuous feedback: Work with a generous purpose (characteristic #5).
  • Lead by example: Lead to leave a legacy (characteristic #6).

It’s important to realize this connection to the six characteristics extends to the work most companies aspire to every day, such as serving customers (anticipate the unexpected and work with a generous purpose) or striving for excellence (live with an entrepreneurial spirit). That’s the common sense behind the six characteristics; they apply and are adaptable to all aspects of business and leadership, as well as being simple to grasp and easy to memorize.

Related: 3 Things Successful Leaders Do to Get Out of a Rut

So now go back through each characteristic and ask yourself:

  • How do you live each characteristic in your work?
  • How can each characteristic propel innovation and initiative in your business?
  • How can each characteristic contribute to the success and betterment of others?
  • How do others experience each characteristic in your leadership in the workplace?

For example, consider six brand strategies (below) that most chief marketing officers (CMOs) fail to execute to heed the rapidly evolving ground rules for branding that are challenging brands to think differently. You can clearly see how they match up with the six innovation mentality characteristics:

1. See consumer engagement that others don’t. Stop doing what everyone else is doing, and be creative about how your brand engages with consumers.

2. Establish an identity that’s easily relatable. Consumers want brands to be deliberate with their identity — straightforward while at the same time forward thinking.

3. Have a lifestyle platform that inspires people and communicates hope. A holistic approach to branding that gives people hope will accelerate your ability to earn consumer trust and loyalty.

4. Show continuous innovation with flawless timing and execution. Consumers want to know that you’re ready when they are; that means your timing must be in perfect sync with their demands.

5. Promote the genuine spirit of giving. The spirit of giving must be a central part of every brand’s DNA. Make it a point to show your gratitude to the people and communities your brand is serving.

6. Serve others to leave a legacy. What is the experience and/or product association you’re attempting to leave behind for your brand, and what will your audience remember most about how it impacted their business or lifestyle?

Over the past 25 years, I’ve realized that I can apply the six characteristics to any workplace or marketplace opportunity. In this case, CMOs learn the six characteristics through these brand strategies; each is equally important and builds on the other to create and sustain the ultimate customer experience. They force CMOs to be accountable to their needs and take responsibility to keep the momentum of the relationships moving forward. That’s how you build a power brand for the 21st-century consumer.

But if these six characteristics are simple to say and grasp for any leader in any industry, they’re certainly not so simple to embrace, let alone operationalize. That requires creating new systems and approaches. Which pretty much sums up the feedback I got from CMOs and marketers to that list: CMOs are “naive to other avenues of marketing” for ROI; “most brands are not structured to handle these!”; or “CMOs are only familiar with strategies they have used in the past.”

Responses like those are why I anchor change of this scale to something simple: the six characteristics. And remember, I’m not saying everyone lacks all these characteristics, nor do they need them all every day; they simply lack mindful and balanced proficiency in all of them. Only that balance will allow them to deploy the appropriate ones when needed.

Related: 6 Things You Must Do to Make Your Idea a Reality

Think of the characteristics as a progressive but interactive ecosystem, like essential ingredients in your kitchen pantry for the recipes you know by heart. Not every recipe requires every ingredient, so you don’t use each ingredient every day, but in the course of a week, month or year, you need them all to create the best dishes for your family. These skills are ingredients for your workplace and marketplace families. One characteristic can be used to solve a given problem, but deploying a second characteristic to support the solution elevates and propels it to a whole other level. Not all the characteristics need to be applied at any given time, but knowing they’re at our disposal, we understand how much strength there is in that knowledge — and as we achieve mastery of the characteristics, our knowledge is converted to wisdom. It then becomes our wisdom that guides our thinking, mindset and overall attitude.

For example, look again at that list of 15 things leaders must do automatically, every day, to be successful in the workplace. Number five is “Be accountable to others,” which has a strong dependency on passionate pursuits (Characteristic three: Believe not only in yourself but in those you’re accountable to), but to make the accountability even stronger, requires generous purpose (Characteristic five: caring and having the backs of others).

The important point is that leaders and businesses must understand the need for balanced proficiency. Over time, leaders must master the fundamentals of the six characteristics so they can understand, propel and implement the innovation mentality throughout their companies and the people who work there — to instinctively apply them, moving in and out of each characteristic to achieve mastery of them. It doesn’t do any good if you have a leadership team of, say, seven people in the C-suite, but only one is thinking with the innovation mentality and the rest have mastered only some of the skills and characteristics. That C-suite must think together like any other operating division or department should.

This is why leadership identity crises exist. Team members must complement one another to celebrate individuality, freedom of expression and collaboration. The leaders who do have balance must take responsibility to drive others in their organizations toward change to evolve. Sustainability of the six characteristics is a product of shared beliefs and values and a culture the impact and influence of which grows stronger over time. In fact, these six characteristics give leaders the foundation for success and significance.

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These Are the Oldest Businesses in Every State

A number of businesses have been around since before our nation was even established. In fact, some of the oldest businesses in the U.S. date back to the early 1600s.

These companies have consistently offered their products and services for centuries. In some cases, they’ve become the backbone of their communities.

They also serve as inspiration to their fellow local businesses. From town pubs to newspapers to law firms, many of the oldest businesses are small businesses.

Related: The 15 Most Profitable Small-Business Industries

One can’t help but wonder what’s kept these companies afloat for hundreds of years. Most have had to adapt and find their niche. In California, the longest surviving business is aluminum manufacturing company Ducommun, which started as a hardware store during the Gold Rush in 1849. Today, it supplies aluminum to the aerospace industry.

For others, it’s their reputation that sustains them. C.D. Peacock Jewelry in Chicago, which opened in 1837 — the same year Chicago officially became a city — is Illinois’s oldest existing business and has a history of selling to the rich and famous.

From local restaurants to statewide manufacturing businesses, these long-standing companies vary by size and industry.

To find out the oldest business in your state, check out Busy Beaver’s infographic below.

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15 Marketing Tools To Check Out in 2017

Brands working to communicate with consumers are facing more competition than ever: On a daily basis, people are bombarded with marketing messages, only some of which meet their own interests. And, over time, those consumers are learning to tune out much of the noise, making it even harder for brands to break through.

Related: 7 Online Marketing Tools That Are Totally Worth the Investment

But marketers still have plenty of tools that can help them beat the competition. Here are 15 of the top tools every marketer should consider using to make this year’s campaigns a success.

1. Guestpost.com

In 2017, guest-posting on blogs will remain one of the best ways to reach new audiences. Guestpost.com can help you find blogs that will help you maximize your posting efforts, track the process of your pitches and follow through on opportunities.

2. IFTTT

Automation can save time, but marketers sometimes have difficulty finding apps to tackle every task. IFFFT, which stands for “If This, Then That,” offers applets to help end users program their own automated tasks.

3. Wyng

Wyng is designed as a place for brands and marketers to create and manage digital marketing campaigns. Select from templates using a drag-and-drop builder and integrate your landing pages with existing software.

4. AdWords Performance Grader

If you aren’t closely monitoring your Google AdWords performance, you may be losing money. The AdWords Performance Grader is a free tool that offers a grade on your overall campaign performance, and even identifies areas where it projects that you’re wasting money.

5. Colibri.io

You can learn quite a bit about your customers by paying attention to what they’re saying online. To monitor those conversations, you’ll need a tool like Colibri.io, which helps you monitor where your customers are spending time online.

6. Crazy Egg

Your metrics should include data on how customers are interacting with various sections of your website. Crazy Egg offers heat maps that show how far visitors scroll, where they click and when they’re abandoning your site.

Related: 7 Online Marketing Tools That Are Totally Worth the Investment

7. AgoraPulse

AgoraPulse is a social media dashboard that includes offers scheduling for posts, multi-site management and built-in analytics. You can also build and manage contests, quizzes and promotions. AgoraPulse integrates with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

8. Todoist

Once you’ve received the go-ahead from a few blog hosts, you’ll begin the hard work of writing posts while also pitching new sites. Todoist helps you keep up with the many tasks on your to-do list every day.

9. Nuzzel

As you’re pitching ideas to blog hosts, you’ll likely find it important to keep up with what people are currently talking about. Nuzzel offers top news based on the search terms you enter. You can also sign in with your Twitter account and discover what your friends are sharing and discussing.

10. Social Image Resizer Tool

Each social media site has its own rules relating to sharing images. The Social Image Resizer Tool helps you crop and size your photos to each social media site’s specifications.

11. Wistia

If you use YouTube as part of your strategy, you may find the site’s analytics limited. Wistia provides insight into the people watching your videos. The solution also helps you create videos that get better results.

12. Keyhole

Brands use hashtags in their marketing with little insight into how to make them work. Keyhole offers detailed analytics on various hashtags, including demographics and impressions. The information will help you better determine which hashtags to use.

13. Bananatag

Monitoring your email marketing efforts is as important as watching your website and social media platforms. Bananatag integrates with your existing email software to provide notifications when your emails have been opened.

14. VWO

A/B testing is an important part of marketing. Visual Website Optimizer (VWO) tests various versions of your site to show you the different ways you can present the same information.

15. OptimizePress

When you need a landing page for your marketing activities, OptimizePress can help. Choose from 30 different templates and customize to meet your needs. The pages integrate with WordPress if you need to connect them to your existing website.

Related: 4 Free Small Business Marketing Tools

Marketers already know they need tools to be more effective in the work they do. It’s important to consistently evaluate those tools, though, to ensure you have the most up-to-date technology. With new solutions emerging every day, brands and marketing professionals that want to remain competitive should be keeping track of the latest trends.

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Study Links Medical Marijuana to Fewer Traffic Fatalities

A new study from Columbia University found that traffic fatalities have fallen in seven states where medicinal cannabis is legal and that, overall, states where medical marijuana is legal have lower traffic fatality rates than states were medical marijuna remains illegal.

The study found that “medical marijuana laws were associated with immediate reductions in traffic fatalities in those aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 44 years, and with additional yearly gradual reductions in those aged 25 to 44 years.” Medical marijuana is now legal in 28 states.

Related: Richard Branson: Just Say Yes to Smoking Pot With Your Kids

Study details

Seven researchers from Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health worked on the study, with two more researchers from the University of California at Davis and Boston University. They published the study in the American Journal of Public Health.

The researchers used traffic accident data from 1985 to 2014, about 1.2 million accidents. They focused on the relationship between medical marijuana laws and the number of fatal traffic accidents, examining each state with legalized medical marijuana separately.

They also looked at the relationship between the existence of medical marijuana dispensaries and traffic accidents, finding a reduction in the number of fatal accidents among those ages 25 to 44 in areas where dispensaries were open.

Related: New Customers Drive Innovation in Legal Marijuana Products

Report conclusions

The researchers concluded that both medical marijuana legalization and dispensaries were, on average, associated with a reduction in traffic fatalities, particularly among drivers 25 to 44-years-old.

They suggested a few possibilities for this conclusion.

  • Those under the influence of marijuana are more aware of their impaired condition than those under the influence of alcohol and may more often make the choice not to drive.
  • More people have replaced going out to drink in bars with partaking of marijuana at home, reducing the number of impaired drivers on the road.
  • An increased police presence in areas where medical marijuana is legal could have led to fewer people attempting to drive while under the influence of marijuana.

“Instead of seeing an increase in fatalities, we saw a reduction, which was totally unexpected,” Julian Santaella-Tenorio, the lead researcher on the study, told Reuters.

Findings varied by state. Rhode Island and Connecticut saw increases in traffic fatalities after medical marijuana became legal. California and New Mexico saw double-digit drops immediately after legalization, followed by increases.

Related: The Wishful Outlook for Marijuana Jobs in 2017

The varying statistics point to the need for further study into each state’s laws and how they have been implemented, Santaella-Tenorio said.

Follow dispensaries.com on Instagram to stay up to date on the latest cannabis news. 

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How To Get Rid of Your Alarm and Still Wake Up on Time

Sleep is one of my favorite things — I’ve never been one for alarms though. Potentially because they mark the end of my sleeping.

I started working remotely a fews years ago, and intermittently went between working from home and working at an office. Having a more flexible schedule meant I didn’t need to wake up at a certain time unless there was a meeting.

Related: Starting My Work Day at 5 a.m. Is the Best Decision I’ve Made This Year

Because of this, I’ve experimented with eliminating my morning alarm from my life. Here is how I went about it and how you can too.

Sleep affects more than your daily coffee intake

According to the Harvard Medical School, sleep plays a critical role in:

  • Immune function
  • Metabolism
  • Memory
  • Learning

And health.com lists even more benefits including:

  • A longer life
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Increased creativity
  • Increased energy and stamina
  • Sharpened attention span
  • Healthier body weight
  • Lower stress
  • Decreased risk of getting into accidents
  • Decreased risk of depression

Step 1: Learning how much sleep your body needs

Either through your phone, or products like Fitbit and Jawbone Up, it has never been easier to track your movement and sleep.

I started tracking my sleep and movement a few years ago and at the time realized that 7 hours and 45 minutes of sleep had me at the perfect amount of exercise for the day, but anything past 8 and a half hours and I would keep wanting to sleep.

Everyone’s optimal amount of sleep will be a little different. For guidance, the National Sleep Foundation states that people between the ages of 18 and 64 need anywhere from 7 to 9 hours of sleep at night.

Image credit: National Sleep Foundation

Short of science and tracking, you can also do this on more of a feel basis. Ask yourself:

  • How you feel when you wake up?
  • How many hours of sleep did you get?
  • The the amount of sleep you get feel like enough?

When I first started doing this, I quickly realized that I needed around 8 hours to wake up and really feel like I could start my day.

Related: The Importance of Not Staying Busy

Once you figure out where your body is on the sleep scale, it becomes a lot easier to know when to go to sleep so you can wake up on time.

Step 2: Waking up is really about going to sleep

What time do you usually wake up?

I am usually keen on getting up early, around 6 or 6:30 a.m., but what I didn’t adjust in the past was when I went to sleep. I decided that my deadline for waking up would stay firm, but that my deadline for going to sleep would be more flexible. In retrospect, this doesn’t really make much sense — waking up is really about going to sleep at the right time.

Once you’ve learned how much sleep your body needs, it’s easy to do the math to figure out when you might want to start thinking about heading to bed.

For me, that’s around 10 p.m. so I can be up at about 6 a.m. naturally. So, about 30 minutes before I’m heading to bed, I make sure to turn off electronics and start winding down.

Studies have shown that checking your phone before bed and ultimately stressing your eyes with too much light can have negative impacts on how you sleep.

“People are exposing their eyes to this stream of photons from these objects that basically tell your brain stay awake, it’s not time to go to sleep yet,” Dan Siegel, clinical professor of psychology at the University of California Los Angeles, told Business Insider.

The latest clock update for iPhone also has a Bedtime feature that can remind you at 30 minutes (or however long you think is best) before you go to sleep. It could almost end up being a ‘reverse alarm’ (an evening alarm but without a morning alarm).

Setting a specific sleep routine that involves shutting off electronics and relaxing can help prepare your body to wind down properly.

Step 3: Listening to your body and keeping consistent

I’ve learned to trust my body when I wake up. Not to pay attention to the time and decide if it’s too early to be awake, but to ask myself how I feel when I first wake up to make sure I got enough sleep.

I totally understand that this can be tough though and it’s something I’ve struggled with myself quite a bit. In the beginning, I would set a back up alarm, which is an alarm for weekdays that would wake me up at the last possible moment before I would have to start getting ready in the morning.

I found though, that after analyzing how much sleep I really needed, I would generally wake up at the 8 hours mark — if I go to sleep at 10:30 p.m. that means waking up 6:30 a.m. I would then set my alarm to 7:30 a.m. (depending on the day) but found more regularly I would wake up right around 6:30 a.m.

Weekends are another great one to keep in mind. I’ve read in a few places that it’s healthy to get the same amount of sleep every night, and keep a consistent pattern.

Related: The Habits of Successful People

One study by Northwestern University says going to sleep at the same time every night could lower the risk of heart attacks. And Stanford claims that keeping regular sleep hours will help you be more alert and manage your time better.

Consistency is the key to all of this. Our bodies are creatures of habits and if we train them to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day — they will make it happen.

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Despite $34 Million in Preorders, Lily Camera Drone Canceled

RIP Lily: Makers of the «world’s first throw-and-shoot camera» are closing their business and refunding customers who pre-ordered one.

Unable to secure financing to manufacture and ship its drone, the startup today announced plans to «wind down the company.»

«We have been delighted by the steady advancements in the quality of our product and have received great feedback from our beta program,» founders Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow wrote in a blog post. «At the same time, we have been racing against a clock of ever-diminishing funds.»

Bradlow and Balaresque built their first prototype in September 2013 in the basement of a U.C. Berkeley robotics lab, but Lily didn’t make her debut until May 2015.

Users simply place a tracking device in a pocket or the waterproof wrist case, throw Lily in the air, and watch as she flies herself, using GPS and computer vision to follow you while shooting video and stills. A lithium-ion battery promised 20 minutes of flight time on a two-hour charge; the drone also has an IP67 waterproof rating.

Early-bird buyers pre-ordered the Lily Camera for $899 — $100 off the expected U.S. retail price. As of January 2016, the firm had collected $34 million in pre-sales.

«Our community was the drive that kept us going even as circumstances became more and more difficult,» the blog said. «Your encouraging words through our forums and in your emails gave us hope and the energy we needed to keep fighting.»

Now, the company is focused on handling refunds, which will happen over the next 60 days.

«After so much hard work, we are sad to see this adventure come to an end,» Balaresque and Bradlow wrote. «We are very sorry and disappointed that we will not be able to deliver your flying camera, and are incredibly grateful for your support as a pre-order customer.»

«Thank you for believing in our vision and giving us the opportunity to get this far,» they added. «We hope our contribution will help pave the way for the exciting future of our industry.»


More from PCMag

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Promote Diversity Of Thought

Esquify is a productivity application in the legal space that helps document reviewing attorneys do their jobs more efficiently and effectively. Drew Stern, Co-CEO of Esquify, shares a tip on starting a business — it is all about connecting, engaging and selling. He goes on to say that not all employees should think the same way, so he emphasizes promoting the diversity of thought in the workplace, and reward it. His advice on being successful is lay the groundwork for your business right away, but more than that, be patient.

Related: Don’t Take Rejection Personally

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What You Need to Know About Preventing Burnout

If you constantly work without breaks, you’ll eventually burn out. Being exhausted doesn’t just affect your productivity, but your emotional well-being and physical health too. But if you’re a business owner, a recent survey found that it can also affect how frequently you have to bring in new hires.

The study, from management software company Kronos Incorporated and executive development firm Future Workplace, found that of the 614 human resources managers who were polled across the country, 95 percent reported that burnout is a significant detriment to employee engagement and retention. Forty six percent said that burnout was a driving force behind up to 50 percent of employee turnover every year.

Related: 5 Burnout Warning Signs (and How to Respond)

So what can companies do to mitigate this? The study identified the three top factors that can cause burnout in employees: unfair pay, an unreasonable workload and too many late nights. Additionally, 29 percent of HR managers also cited the lack of a concrete connection between employees’ jobs and companies’ broader goals, and 26 percent said that a negative company culture could also play a role.

The study found that having the right tools to do the work you need to do is also a central part of avoiding burnout. Nineteen percent of HR leaders said that the technology at their companies was not up to date, and 20 percent said that lacking technology led directly to burnout.

“The biggest priority, and concern, for business leaders in 2017 will be retaining employees in an even more competitive talent marketplace,” said Dan Schwabel, a partner and research director at Future Workplace, in a press release about the study. “As the economy continues to improve, and employees have more job options, companies will have to provide more compensation, expand benefits and improve their employee experience. Managers should promote flexibility, and ensure that employees aren’t overworked in order to prevent employee burnout that leads to turnover.”

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The 4 Costliest Mistakes Businesses Make on Social Media

Social media is a powerful tool, but with this power comes great responsibility. Failure to understand just how influential and damaging social media mistakes can be will result in long-term damage and issues that inhibit growth. Thankfully, many of the costly mistakes businesses make are totally preventable.

Social media’s visibility and wide reach are its greatest strength and its greatest weakness. When you do something good, positive exposure can be extremely helpful to your brand. When you do something wrong, everyone is there to witness your shortcoming. With that being said, it’s critically important that you avoid making costly mistakes, like the following:

Related: 4 Social Media Mistakes Your Business Can’t Afford To Make

1. Insensitive or inappropriate posts.

Every couple of weeks, you’ll see a story in the news about a company that made a social media faux pas, later deleted the post or tweet, and is now making an apology to save face and restore public relations. A Texas-based mattress company that made light of 9/11 in a social media ad that went viral is just one recent example.

It’s easy to think, “How could they do such a thing?” However, it’s also just as easy to make a similar mistake without ever realizing it. The thing about social media is that everyone has differing opinions, and it’s easy for meaning and context to get misconstrued. In order to avoid ever posting anything that could possibly be labeled as insensitive or inappropriate, establish a detailed posting policy where multiple pairs of eyes have to sign off on a tweet or post before it can be published.

2. Going in attack mode.

Social media — Twitter especially — is filled with trolls who exist only to bring other people down. And while it can be infuriating to watch trolls latch onto one of your social media campaigns, you can’t let them get the best of you.

“Trolling is one of those rare problems best handled by ignoring it. If you do, it usually goes away,” expert Tim Dowling says. “Trolls want your attention and discomfiture; they feed on your impotent rage. If they’re trying to be funny, your willingness to rise to the bait provides the punchline. If you don’t, there’s no joke. The secret to withholding attention is consistency. Never respond. That way, the trolls can’t even be sure you’ve read their abuse.”

3. Failing to identify your target audience.

Creating profiles, developing content and following a few accounts isn’t enough. If you want to be successful with social media, you must narrow your focus, and make sure you’re reaching the right people. Otherwise, you’re just making noise in an echo chamber.

Related: Cinnabon Gets Overzealous in Its Twitter Grief for Carrie Fisher

Every successful social media strategy starts with a detailed understanding of who your target audience is. Understanding demographic information isn’t enough. You need to know where your audience shops, how they spend their time, what their political beliefs are, who they aspire to become and every other detail you can possibly learn. By knowing who your audience is, you can perfectly tailor your voice to engage users in meaningful ways.

4. Paying for likes and followers.

Getting your social media presence off the ground can be a huge challenge. It can take months to get just a few hundred followers, and the progress can feel like it’s moving at a snail’s pace. It’s at this point that some companies make the mistake of paying for followers. It seems like a good deal — spend a few dollars and get an immediate boost in engagement — but is akin to building a house on a foundation of quicksand.

“Do not make the mistake of believing that the likes and follows you purchase are real people,” expert Kyle Jasinski says. “These are not potential leads or customers. Don’t expect them to share or link your content. Think of these social media accounts as robots doing the same thing for everybody.”

The danger of buying likes and followers is that you’re now speaking to an audience that’s either totally fake or entirely irrelevant. Any advertising or marketing you do from here on out will fall on deaf ears, wasting your time and money. While it’ll test your patience, spend all of that time and money on procuring organic followers who want what you’re offering.

Related: 7 Social Media Fails So Disasterous, They Shocked the Experts

Make social media an asset.

Social media can either be an asset or a hindrance. Unfortunately, many businesses launch social strategies without a proficient understanding of what successful social media marketing looks like. This often leads to costly mistakes that can damage your brand’s reputation for years to come.

By avoiding the mistakes outlined in this article, you can at least make sure you aren’t falling for the traps that so many of your competitors are. But the key to a healthy long-term social strategy is to become familiar with the intricacies of each platform you use, and never stop learning.

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This Is How You Solve the Stickiest Career Dilemma

If you’re the kind of person who’s driven to succeed, you probably started your career just like I did. Hungry for knowledge and ready to take on any obstacle in my path, I charged out into the world shouting “Bring it on!” … and ran straight into a brick wall.

That wall is called being pigeonholed.

The better you are at something and the longer you do it, the more likely that you’ll be stuffed into a neat little classification from which you will find it annoyingly difficult to escape. Some call it the competency curse, but from what I’ve seen, it happens no matter how good or bad you are at your job.

While its popular to whine about all manner of –isms these days, here’s a problem that affects everyone. I don’t care if you’re black, white, green or gender agnostic, your career is far more likely to be stunted by being branded according to your experience than your appearance.

Related: How to Succeed in Business Beyond Your Wildest Dreams

As a young engineer frustrated by an inability to break into the management ranks, I once sought the advice of my boss’s boss. He told me that his biggest mistake was becoming indispensable at his current position and never cultivating an understudy to take his place.

What a dilemma. If you’re lousy at your job, you never get promoted. If you’re good, you still get stuck. Talk about a Catch-22.

I soon learned that, even if you do manage to segue to a different field, you just get stuck with a different label. It’s a sticky problem that plagued me throughout my career. But there are creative ways out. Listen and learn.

It took forever, but I finally became an engineering manager, only to get trapped in the middle management abyss. Beyond frustrated, I did something you’d never think of to overcome the dilemma: I chucked it all — 10 years of experience — to start at the bottom as a sales engineer.

Granted, I initially took a salary hit, but with all that technical and management experience under my belt, I was able to become a top salesman practically overnight. I made lots of connections and, within two years, ended up running sales at a software startup. But after a successful IPO, the company got squashed by Microsoft.

The timing sucked. I was out on the street, pounding the pavement during a recession. Since sales leadership jobs were few and far between, I set my sights on marketing. Once again, I found myself categorized, this time as a sales guy. Still, I used my connections to land an interview with a fast-growing public company in Silicon Valley.

Related: 25 Best Habits to Have in Life

As I sat across from the VP of marketing, he looked down at my resume, shook his head, and said, “I’m sorry that you came all this way, but I’m afraid you don’t meet our requirements. I’m looking for someone with at least five years of marketing experience and an MBA. You have neither qualification.”

That’s when I learned the second way to overcome being pigeonholed: I sold the guy. Maybe it was that my wife and I were almost out of savings and I was desperate. I wasn’t entirely sure where it came from, but I pulled out all the stops and, 30 minutes later, had the guy convinced that I had the capability he was looking for.

Sure enough, I went on to become a successful VP of marketing over the following years, but that wasn’t the end of this insidious curse. Having been contacted by several executive recruiters, I finally decided to throw my hat into the ring for a CEO job. That’s when I found myself sitting across from a prominent venture capitalist. Once again, he looked down at my resume, looked up at me, and asked, “How did a marketing guy end up being considered for a CEO job?”

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With 20 years of experience, including a decade as a pretty accomplished senior executive with some very well-known companies, I was still being typecast. Sheesh.

Still, I got the job.

In case it doesn’t pop right out at you, the solution to the pigeonhole dilemma is this: If you believe in yourself, are reasonably competent, are willing to take risks, can think on your feet and are good with people, nobody will ever be able to tell you what you can and can’t do.    

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