Friday, 28th February 2020 | Marketing
9 easy social media ideas to try when you’ve got poster’s block
If you find yourself paralyzed by the question “What should I put on my company’s social media page?”, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got 9 types of easy and engaging posts for you.
If you find yourself paralyzed by the question “What should I put on my company’s social media page?”, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got 9 types of easy and engaging posts for you.
But first, let’s talk about why you should put time into social media in the first place. In 2020, it’s hard to overestimate the impact social media can have on your business. From building loyalty with customers who already know you to attracting new customers, “social” is a winner for businesses of all sizes and shapes. In fact, if you’re not on social it’s a sign of sleepiness, or even irrelevance. (Yikes!) So let’s climb aboard the social train.
To capitalize on the power of social media you have to post engaging content frequently. This is where people tend to get stuck. What can I post? Small business owners have a lot to handle and coming up with tip-top content can fall to the wayside. That’s where this guide comes in. Here are nine types of posts any business can do equipped with a run-of-the-mill smartphone.
1. Contests and giveaways
Add a little fun with a contest or giveaway. After all, who doesn’t like a freebie? Running one can be a low-investment, high-impact way of engaging people and getting your name out there. By offering a prize you can entice followers to like, comment, or share your content which can increase your brand awareness and reach. As with all social media posts, it’s best to be genuine and approachable. Get creative about your prize, too. You could partner with another business (and reach double the audience), or feature a particular product (maybe one that hasn’t been selling well, or one that you’ve just brought in). Use this opportunity to show off your brand personality while making your customers (and potential customers) happy. And don’t shy away from including a picture or video of yourself in the posts.
2. Product features
These kinds of posts serve as reminders about your products and services. Sticking with your sense of personality, take the opportunity to zoom in on a specific product or service. Consider them eye candy or fun features. Got a new dish on the menu or seasonal product that just arrived? These are perfect features. Done right, they reinforce your brand and attract people back to your store or website.
3. Behind the scenes glimpses
Bringing your customers “behind the scenes” establishes a sense of familiarity and loyalty while also really showcasing your, and your company’s, personality. Video is very effective in giving this content a “sneak peek” feel. Don’t worry too much about production values. You can shoot perfectly serviceable video on a smartphone and upload directly to your social media channels. People are very forgiving when it comes to social media posts.
4. Customer polls (in Stories)
If you’ve ever been on a long car trip you’ve probably played “would you rather”, the game that makes you choose between two hypotheticals. It’s an addictive diversion and you can harness its power on your social media channels by using the polls feature in Instagram Stories. Ask your followers to choose. It’s a super effective way to promote interactivity while also gathering market research on their preferences. Note that these are sprints not marathons. The polls lasts 24 hours--as long as your Story. Increase customer engagement by sharing the results as seen here when Toronto food court stall Kid Lee tested out two new juice flavours.
5. Community engagement
It’s always a good idea to engage with your community and an even better one to post about it. Create a campaign that involves local groups like schools or libraries to demonstrate your brand’s place in your community. You can double down on your positive image while making a real difference at the neighbourhood level.
Quotes are bite-sized pieces of shareable content with a thought-provoking punch. Select messages that align with the business. While you may choose to go sentimental or serious, funny or poignant, they should always be on-brand. They can be as simple as white text on a solid colour from your logo, or add a compelling image to make your quote pop.
7. Sales and special offers
Like the contests and promotions outlined above, posts advertising sales and special offers can entice potential customers and drive traffic to your site while giving followers the feeling of being insiders to your business. Consider sharing advance notice of sales on one or more channels to incentivize following your brand.
8. Customer testimonials and reviews
Potential buyers turn to reviews during when they’re deciding whether or not to patronize your business, so why wouldn’t you put the best of the best front and centre? These positive, easy-to-produce posts belong on your feed--just don’t overdo them. You can take them from Google or Facebook reviews people have already shared. Don’t have any reviews? No problem! This is your opportunity to ask people to review your business—in a social post!
9. Messages to your community
This last type of post is perhaps the hardest to pull off but done effectively can really enhance your customers’ sense of attachment to your company. They’re an opportunity to show the human side of your business. Just like in person, speak directly and personally to create a real intimacy and deepen customer loyalty. Select a single thought and keep it simple (positive messages are your best bet).
Posting to social media is a crucial part of marketing. Those who do it well reap the rewards, and those who don’t appear a little behind the times. These ideas are enough to fill your social profile for the next year. Put them in a rotation and remember to always include an image or video clip and to use hashtags so people other than your followers will see your posts.
See examples below:
Canada’s Covid-19 Economic Response Plan – Key Points for Businesses & Individuals
This information was originally shared by Green Leaves Bookkeeping and summarizes selected government comments up to March 18, 2020.
Tax Payment Extension
Businesses may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
Other Payment and Filing Extensions
No comment was made about changing the filing and payments dates for payroll, GST/HST, and other non-income tax items.
CRA Audit Activity
CRA will not contact any small or medium businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
Liaison Officer Service
The Liaison Officer service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.
The government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.
Tax Return Due Date Deferral: The personal tax filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020. However, those expecting refunds or benefits (such as the GST/HST credit, Guaranteed Income Supplement and Canada Child Benefit) should file as early as possible. The government release encourages Canadians not to delay their filings in order to ensure their income-tested benefits are accurately computed.
Tax Payment Deferral
Taxpayers may defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 (also including installments) and before September 2020. The government documents indicate that payment will be deferred “until after August 31, 2020”, which seems to imply payment will be due on September 1. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
Individuals Without Paid Sick Leave
For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the government is:
- Waiving the one-week waiting period for those in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, effective March 15, 2020.
- Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks (comparable to EI sickness benefit). This benefit would provide income support to:
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits;
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits; and
- Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, regardless of whether they qualify for EI or not.
Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest (and continue to attest every two weeks) that they meet the eligibility requirements. Individuals can apply through CRA’s MyAccount, their My Service Canada Account, or by calling an automated toll-free number not yet released.
Longer-term Income Support
- An Emergency Support Benefit will provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. The individual amounts and process will be disclosed shortly.
- Implementing changes to the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process.
Low/Modest Income Individuals
- A one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) will be made. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts and result in an average boost to income for those benefiting by close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
- The maximum annual Canada Child Benefit payment amounts would be increased by $300 per child for the 2019-20 benefit year. This will be added to the May, 2020 benefit cheque.
The Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad will provide the option of an emergency loan to Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return. Each application will be assessed according to their specific situation and needs. This emergency assistance is a repayable loan. Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Students: A six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans will be provided.
Minimum RRIF Withdrawals: The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25% for 2020. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.
Other Filings & Administration
Trust Filing Due Date Deferral
For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.
T3 Slips Submission Date
No specific statement was made regarding the deadline for filing T3 slips reporting income taxable to the trust beneficiaries.
Many taxpayers are required to file other tax and information returns. No mention was made of these, including partnership returns and NR4 reporting slips.
In order to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person, effective immediately the CRA will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure. This provision applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP.
Canada’s large banks have confirmed that this support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. Banks have affirmed their commitment to working with customers to provide flexible solutions, on a case-by-case basis, for managing through hardships caused by recent developments. This may include situations such as pay disruption, childcare disruption, or illness.
The Business Credit Availability Program will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. The near-term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.
The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, effective immediately. This action will allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.
The Minister of Finance would now be able to determine the limit of the Canada Account in order to deal with exceptional circumstances. The Canada Account is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC) and is used by the government to support exporters when deemed to be in the national interest.
The Bank of Canada cut the prime interest rate to 0.75%. Other banks have also reduced rates.
Many of the measures listed above have only been announced recently (March 18, 2020) and are noted as requiring Royal Assent. In recent public comments, it was indicated that the opposition parties have promised their support to move these measures quickly, therefore, we can presumably expect draft legislation in the short term.
Over the next days and weeks, the specifics on these programs will be released. Most of the details for these initiatives will be released on one of these web pages:
General federal info
Employment & Social Development Canada
As the situation develops further, there may be additional government measures, or modifications to those already announced.
The preceding information is for educational purposes only. As it is impossible to include all situations, circumstances and exceptions in a newsletter such as this, a further review should be done by a qualified professional. No individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this letter accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.
Green Leaves Bookkeeping offers full service bookkeeping, payroll, personal tax preparation in Acton, personal tax preparation in Milton, and consulting services in Acton, Ontario and surrounding areas. Have a bookkeeping mess? We can help! Whether you need a full time bookkeeping service, a once a month tune up, a software consultation, or someone to prepare your taxes we are available to assist you.
Written By: Lisa Trencs CB, CPB | Certified Bookkeeper, Certified Professional Bookkeeper Website
5 ways to safeguard your business against coronavirus
Updated March 24, 2020 (originally published March 11, 2020)
With the Canada-wide shutdown due to coronavirus, Canadian businesses are really feeling the impact, and are many are already strained financially after having been forced to shut down. While Canadians fear a mass spread of the virus as happened in Italy, businesses are already navigating changing supply lines, protecting staff, selling online and rethinking delivery procedures as well. In addition to following the government’s response and instructions for Canadians, here are five things Canadian business owners can do right now to help shield their companies.
1. Plan for disruption in inventory
If you sell physical goods (rather than services), now’s the time to audit your inventory and develop a plan in the case of shortages or outages. In order to understand how differentiated your supply line is, consider how many suppliers you have—are you depending on one, or is your risk lower because you have many suppliers? Also, consider which countries the goods are manufactured in and being transported through. Equipped with that information, you can develop a plan in case of disruptions in inventory. You may want to stock up now on key items, or source from local suppliers for a limited time. Additionally, plan how you will communicate to buyers if particular items become unavailable.
2. Consider adjusting your service
If you offer a service, consider what you can do to safeguard and reassure your customers. If your staff typically visits your customers, are you able to service customers remotely for a time? If not, figure out what additional measures you can put in place to protect both your staff and customers. For example, on March 11, Uber sent an email to all customers listing several changes being enacted, including dropping food deliveries at doorways versus the typical person-to-person hand-off. Uber is also providing drivers with disinfectants to keep their cars clean.
3. Communicate with customers and stakeholders
There has been a deluge of emails from businesses to communicate the changes they are making. Simply reaching out to stakeholders to let them know you are on top of this situation will give people greater confidence in your business. You may want to tell people about changes you’ve implemented internally that are designed to protect them, or that may impact them. For example, explain that your staff is working from home, or detail how you've changed your product delivery process. Cover what changes will happen and when they’re taking effect, and provide a point of contact should they have a question or concern. Whatever your update is, follow the best practices for this scenario: be both timely and honest.
4. Cut expenses and watch cash flow
If business slows, either for a short-time or multiple quarters, it will most likely impact your cash flow. Here are three things you can do to be ready: Where possible, cut non-essential expenses right away. This will allow you to save a little extra cash now and save you the work down the road when things will be busier and more stressful. Stay on top of the government relief plan and apply right away. If you get into a cash flow shortage, be prepared to use a term loan or line of credit. If you haven’t got one of these lined up, do the research now so that you can access money quickly if you need it.
5. Protect and equip employees
There are a few things you should do right now related to employees:
- First, follow in the footsteps of other Canadian businesses and institute a work-from-home option where possible. Online conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts are excellent for facilitating staff meetings.
- Second, if you require people to be onsite, consider running in shifts to reduce the number of people in the building at one time. Install hand sanitizers by major exits and elevators, and put bottles at reception and other public areas. Also, stagger breaks and ensure the office including all equipment is thoroughly cleaned daily, or between shifts.
- Third, cross-train your team so that they are capable of covering (at least the basics of) other functions. This way, operations won’t cease entirely should you have prolonged staff absences.
With the situation unfolding rapidly, it’s impossible to predict if, or how much more Canadian businesses will be affected. However, doing your due diligence by following these five safeguards will, in the worst case, have you better prepared to weather a stressful time, and in the best case, give your stakeholders and customers the confidence that you act in their best interest.
Three common pitfalls family businesses should actively avoid
Running any small business has its challenges, from hiring the right employees to managing changing market conditions to meeting cash flow needs. Bringing family into the equation is beneficial in many ways, but with that comes a host of unique difficulties. In this post we’re diving into three pitfalls of working with family that are among the most common—and the steps you can take to mitigate or entirely eliminate them so you can all enjoy family harmony and a long-lasting business.
1. Informal work culture
When you work with the same folks you share a dinner table with it’s easy to fall into an informal work culture. While on the one hand this can create a fun and flexible environment, it might also lead to real problems. It’s tempting to be lax when training or managing a family member, for example, and if you set that standard with one employee you pretty much have to make it a business-wide approach. This means that non-family employees are also treated in the same, informal way. Not only can this be difficult in practice, but it’s likely to dull one of the most valuable aspects of having employees from outside your family: their external point of view. “Fresh eyes” are critical for any business to thrive, but a non-family employee might worry that their opinions will be overlooked, or worse, rejected outright. Identifying and retaining external employees is often difficult because it’s so challenging to work as an outsider. Further, these employees may feel—rightfully or not—that opportunities for advancement are reserved for family.
The best way to handle this pitfall is to formalize your human resources practice. Build and implement a conflict resolution plan that provides a documented system and a safe place to handle disputes. If you don’t have the expertise to do this, hire an HR consultant. They can equip you with the proper documentation and act as an unbiased decision-maker when needed.
2. Lack of management and systems rigour
The same informal culture discussed above can also result in a lack of documentation, policies, and defined strategy and goals. This is just plain bad business practice. Without these things in place, finding capital to grow is going to be nearly impossible. And, even if things are going well, handling the question of profit distribution between related owners is tricky.
On a managerial level, it’s important to create a development plan for key family members. Avoid providing arbitrary promotions by putting family members on an education track, including professional development, so they can hone their skills and earn their rank. Consider requiring that people work elsewhere for at least 5 years to broaden their perspective. Be sure to have open conversations with them about their career path, and provide incentives for them to stick around.
At the systems level, you must put together proper documentation. Just because your business is run by your family doesn’t mean it should be treated loosely. Having clearly defined policies and procedures will help you run a tight ship, and a strategy will set your course. Attorney’s fees are business deductible and the cost and potential heartache avoided in the long run will make this a worthwhile expense.
3. Lack of succession plan
Succession planning, which lays out how to replace leaders after they leave, is crucial for any business but even more so for a family business. Without one, you’ll be vulnerable to a high degree of interpersonal politics and emotion (particularly in the case of a death) in addition to the organizational and managerial chaos associated with succession. All businesses need to plan for the future—and this goes double when it’s a family business.
The best way to avoid problems down the road is to proactively seek out advisors. Make sure you work with your CPA, your estate attorney, and other transactional attorneys. Finally, ensure that your business has one “quarterback”—an advisor responsible for driving your written project plan during the transition.
Running a family business offers plenty of rewards. If you’re proactive about avoiding pitfalls, these three common ones, in particular, you’ll reduce the number of administrative and interpersonal problems, and instead be able to focus on sales and growth.
Three small business marketing must-haves for 2020
As we head into a new year, now’s the time to revisit our business plans and make improvements. Typically lower on the priority list than time-sensitive tasks like inventory or cash flow, marketing is frequently put on the back burner. The downside, of course, is marketing feeds into your bottom line, so keeping it fresh and current will actually help the business prosper. The good news is marketing doesn’t have to be onerous. These three must-haves are quick, simple, and effective. Set aside the time and make your business shine in 2020.
- Have a Google My Business profile
It’s super simple and free to set up a Google My Business profile and it’s one of the most effective ways to increase your visibility to prospective buyers. This is because once you have a profile, your listing can show up on maps, in search, and across other Google platforms. Additionally, your profile will give you more channels to communicate with your customers and an easy way to receive customer reviews—both crucial elements to your marketing strategy. And, Google will send you statistics every month that can help you fine-tune your efforts.
- Ask for Google reviews
Google is one of only a few places buyers check before they patronize your business. Indeed, 99% of businesses are assessed this way. By adding a "Give us a review" ask to the end of your sales process, you’re likely to solicit more reviews and leave a great impression as a business that cares, even in those customers who don’t post. Even if only a small portion of customers review the business, by asking for the review you’re establishing that you are interested in their feedback, which will go a long way towards building trust and warm feelings.
- Have a (good) website
If you don't have a website, or if your site doesn’t look good or perform well, you're losing business. It’s as simple as that. Buyers are fickle. They're impatient. And they want the information they want when they want it. Your website—even a simple one—needs to provide people with the information (or functionality) that they want, on-demand. This will keep your business in the running with your competitors.
None of these tactics are earth-shattering yet without them you’re missing valuable opportunities to get your name out there, build your credibility and do more business. If you don’t already have these three things in place, put them on your first-quarter of 2020 to-do list.