The Certain Way to Eliminate Distractions and Their Hold on Our Day-to-Day Activities

People wanting to integrate a more productive and fulfilling work schedule into their daily lives have long been searching for ways to reduce the influence of common distractions. What are the most well-known distractions, though, and more importantly, how can we counter them as efficiently as possible?

 

Sources of Distraction

 

Although outside noises, family visits and other “regular” and often unavoidable interruptions can account for many types of distractions, recent research shows that the most prevalent distractions these days come from electronic and mobile gadgets.

 

Leaving on your TV, computer, phone or tablet can often account for interruptions that may set you back more than an hour on your schedule.

 

Also, one particular study has proven that you can waste up to 20 minutes while working just by answering a simple phone call, and industry studies clearly indicate how employees are regularly interrupted about once every 15-20 minutes by calls or social media notifications.

 

Tips on How to Effectively Deal with Distractions

 

Although distractions of every type have literally become a part of our daily life, and some might say that they are unavoidable, studies have shown that some coping and avoidance methods geared to help you deal with certain types of distractions have proven to be quite effective in improving productivity, both at the workplace and when it comes to household chores or home projects.

 

Based on the details regarding the above mentioned distractions, here is a small set of guidelines on how to prepare for a productive work session and keep it productive in spite of all distractions:

  • First of all, before sitting down to start work, make sure your phone and any other mobile devices, as well as your social media pages or any other electronic means of communication are turned off.
  • Begin by organizing your tasks into a clear step-by-step process that you can refer to whenever you get interrupted.
  • When organizing your workflow, set similar tasks closer together. That way, you won’t have to interrupt your work in order to get acquainted with new types of tasks that often.
  • You can use some relaxing (yet invigorating) music to block out unwanted sounds such as outside traffic noises.
  • Avoid interrupting the workflow for trivial tasks by taking care of all of them before sitting down at your desk.
  • If you’re working from home and you need to keep close track of your phone calls and messages, ask family member to manage them for a couple of hours while you’re taking care of your project.

 

The Bottom Line

 

Of course, coping with distractions can be a very valuable skill. However, an even better method of eliminating distractions from your day-to-day lives completely is to simply choose a work area that’s already calm and peaceful and a timeframe when disturbing noises or unexpected interruptions are less likely to be a problem.

 

Also, people who have taken the time to research the impact of distractions on a busy work schedule and managed to follow some of the tips presented here have found that they not only gained an extra couple of hours to account for their productivity, but have also been able to finish their work with far more diminished levels of stress or anxiety.

 

Growth Hacking Day 1 – Goal Defining

If you’ve been around in the online marketing world for a while, you probably recognize the phrase ‘growth hacking’, but you might also get the impression that it’s a fairly new player in the online marketing sphere. And you’d be right. Growth hacking is an interesting way of building up a company or brand because it was literally grown out of the necessity to avoid old, more expensive tactics.

The tools and skills to develop apps, found a startup, and take an idea to fruition are more widespread than ever before, meaning that the rate at which new products and services are brought to market is extremely fast. The founders and marketing teams of these companies are usually small and in their experimental phases. Additionally, they’re usually fairly strapped for cash. This, combined with the fact that paid search advertising is more expensive and competitive than ever before, birthed growth hacking. Literally, growth hacking is the art/science of growing customer base without spending any actual money. Sounds great, right?!

Unfortunately, most people get it wrong. They jump straight to trying to hashtag their way some sort of niche popularity and people see right through it; nobody wants to interact with posts devoid of value. Before ever getting to this phase, however, these companies and individuals should have been defining goals.

That’s right, the first step to proper growth hacking is defining real, actionable goals. They can’t be obscure. They can’t be broad. We’re talking laser focus, and here’s how you find it:

First, let’s take the broad, universal goal of ‘getting more awareness for my brand’. What are some ways you can build awareness that are specific to your business? Let’s say you’ve got a referral plan in place, but people aren’t biting. The people who do become longterm customers, however, so it appears to be an area worth improving. Perhaps your incentive for referrals currently is access to a library of training materials, and you think that creating more content for your training library which you can then reference in sales copy will be the way to get more people on board.

Let’s say you then define your goal as “add five new lessons to the knowledge library,” and go from there. Is your goal boiled down enough yet? Because you can take clear, definable actions at this point to reach your goal. Once you can see individual steps (write one article per week, create promotional email for each article, etc.), then you’ve got something you can work with.

Of course, an equally important part of the goal framework is the ability to accurately monitor your results. You don’t want to have people hitting your new referral incentives and have no way of telling whether or not they’re engaging more or less than before. If you don’t have proper analytics in place to measure every facet of your business, you’re not ready for growth hacking.

Growth hacking is an agile process that requires adaptability, but more importantly adaptability that is based on sweet, sweet data.

Trimming the Fat – Copy Tips for Saying More With Less

Copywriting doesn’t always get the credit it deserves. From the billions of dollars in sales each day that hinge on a well-formatted sales letter, to a polished TV commercial script, to the catchy jingle or slogan you just can’t get out of your head, effective professional, persuasive writing, “copywriting,” does a lot for us as marketers.

It’s unfortunate then that copy is often neglected as a luxury expense or an unnecessary cog in many marketers’ or business owners’ sales funnels. The reason, inevitably, is cost. Good copywriters know that their words will have a direct effect on your conversion rates, and thus the money you make, and leverage that knowledge for a nice payday. It then goes to follow that many marketers begin crafting their own copy. To be honest, even if you don’t have the polish and practice of a professional, someone who is a good writer in general can learn to produce decent copy to keep them growing and selling until they can afford a dedicated copywriter. The key word there, however, is “learn.”

Amateur copy is almost always identifiable by a lack of brevity; people often write too much and get too wordy, losing their vital, important, life-changing points amongst superfluous, unnecessary adjectives and ineffective anecdotes. See what I did there? That sentence could have been a lot shorter! Today, we’ll take a look at how you can catch yourself and self-edit copy to stay effective and to the point.

1) Cut out very. The concept of “cutting out very” is probably referenced in proper copywriting books somewhere, but here’s my take on it. The tendency in sales writing is to be, well, selly. The way to do this however is with proper punctuation and, more importantly, by getting inside your audience’s head and telling them what they want to hear. Unfortunately, amateur writers usually use “filler” words. The word ‘very’ is one prominent example, because it is a false enhancer that is rarely needed. Don’t say “It’s very good,” say “it’s the best.” Another example is the use of very before the word ‘unique’, which is redundant. Something is either unique or it isn’t, it’s not “very unique.”

2) Boil it down to exactly what someone needs to know. One of the biggest things you can do to make your copywriting effective is to put yourself in the shoes of the person you’re writing to. This gets you out of salesman mode and helps you think about what someone with the problem you’re offering a solution for actually wants to hear. Sometimes, doing this can help us see that what we’re put down is over the top, too selly or spammy, or even just flat out unhelpful!

3) Proofread 80 times. And I’m not just talking about any usual proofread. Sure, you’re going to be checking your spelling and grammar and making sure everything lines up, but a copywriting proofread should see you putting on another hat as well, the “could this possibly sound any better?!” hat. Read each sentence and look for words that could be dropped, phrases that could be made more appropriate for your customers, etc.

Of course, just like every facet of IM, there’s always more to learn on the copywriting front, but this should get you headed in the right direction until you can hire a personal Don Draper of your own.

3 Reasons Your Social Media Presence Sucks

Social media has been hailed time and time again as the new (which is a bit out of date now, really) big player in marketing and brand engagement. Then again, the reality of the situation has shown that the vast majority of brands, individuals, and even social media managers don’t actually find themselves successful in cultivating a large following. If you’ve ever wondered why that is, here are a few mistakes that keep marketers from ever reaching their maximum potential.

 

1) Not being a creator.

The people who have the biggest social media followings on the planet, or even just within whatever niche(s) you find yourself marketing, are people who create something. Their tweets, posts, and pictures carry weight because they’ve got something solid to back them up. Too often, people as for “follows” and other social media engagement without giving anyone a good reason to actually do so. If you’re begging people to retweet your link, you sure as heck better have something on the other end that delivers true value if you want those who get curious enough to continue to engaging with you.

 

2) Mistaking social media for a one-way channel of communication.

In other instances, I’ve actually seen it be the case that someone had great content on their blog, but wasn’t having much luck getting people to engage on social platforms. One of the reasons this happens is that people assume importance too early. It’s like any kind of marketing that isn’t in its infancy anymore: You don’t get widespread recognition just for “doing it,” or even doing it well, because the market is too saturated.

So, how do you stand out? You start talking with people, and not just at them. Make sure that you are giving out what you’re asking for be engaging with others you find interesting, asking them questions, and commenting on their content. Real comments, not the “wow, great read!” variety. Some of the biggest names in social media still take time throughout the day to respond to people messaging and asking them for advice.

 

3) Automating.

Gary Vaynerchuk, who has a mind that’s built up companies based almost exclusively on social media expertise, has an interesting stance on automation; it’s a stance you can learn from. First of all many people get caught up in automating their social media endeavors far too early. In a sense, they haven’t really maxed out their time, they don’t really need to back away from active engagement, they’re just lazy. Or maybe they’re just putting the cart before the horse. Automation isn’t inherently bad, but it is when you try and hide the fact that you’re doing it. Another way of putting this is that it’s fine to automate simple tasks that don’t involve direct customer interaction, but you shouldn’t fake interaction. Customers know that the mass email you sent out wasn’t personally directed to them just because their name is in it. They know that your auto-following them back on twitter wasn’t out of genuine interest. Don’t be fake, people will see through it.

While social media isn’t intensely complicated, it’s also not hard to end up doing it wrong. Make the time to strategize and account for factors like these before you actually touch your fingers to your keyboard… or your phone… or your tablet… you get the idea.

Introducing Weibo, the ‘Twitter’ of China

Despite having the world’s largest population and the second-largest economy, social media in China hasn’t taken off as quickly as it has in other developed countries.

Part of that has to do with the Chinese government. Although it may not be as strict as it once was in terms of censoring the content it allows its citizens to view online, it still is far more restrictive than most European countries or the US. The Chinese government continues to be serious about cracking down on dissent and keeping tabs on those it considers to be enemies of the state.

Still, the Chinese are beginning to go just as crazy about social media as people everywhere else in the world. And the biggest name in Chinese social media today isn’t Facebook, Twitter or Google+. It’s a site called Weibo.

 

Popularity of Social Media in China

Weibo has exploded in popularity in recent years. It currently has 176 million active daily users and 503 million registered users. While that’s still only about half of China’s estimated 1 billion citizens, that represents a 36% growth over last year.

The site is used regularly by about 30% of Chinese Internet users. That’s about the same market penetration that Twitter has in the US, which has prompted Weibo to get the nickname “The Twitter of China”.

The site is only a couple of years old, having been founded in 2009 by SINA Corporation, which still owns 56.9% of the Weibo. Alibaba owns another 32% if the company. Stock in the website has been publicly traded on Nasdaq since last April.

 

Enter Oracle

Just recently, Oracle announced that its Social Cloud will provide the publishing, engagement and analytical support for the site. The purpose of the move is to boost Weibo’s usage outside of China, as well as to grow the site within that nation.

Oracle also will provide engagement and analytic services for Instagram within China. Instagram, which is owned by Facebook and recently offered the ability to post 15-second videos as well as images and photos, is rapidly becoming one of the most popular sites among 18 top 24 year olds in that country.

 

Who’s Using the Site

Like Twitter in the US, Weibo allows its users to follow posts from their favorite celebrities, sports stars, political leaders, media figures, businessmen and religious leaders. Users also can share their own microblog posts with their own followers. It’s estimated that the Weibo’s top 100 users have an estimated 485 followers combined.

But companies and commercial interests both inside and outside of China are huge users of the site as well. More than 5,000 companies and 2,700 media companies are believed to use the site regularly.

 

Censorship on Weibo

One of the biggest differences between Weibo and western social media sites is that Sina cooperates with Chinese Internet censors, setting strict controls on the contents of its postings. Comments about politically sensitive topics, as well as those containing blacklisted keywords, are regularly deleted.

But when compared to other Chinese media, Weibo is relatively permissive. Criticism of the Chinese government, while not encouraged, isn’t as controlled on Weibo as it is on Chinese TV, newspapers or radio.

 

Where Its Name Comes From

In Chinese, the word for microblog is “Weibo”. Sina Weibo launched it as the service’s domain name in 2011. While other Chinese microblogging services such as Tenchent Weibo, Sohu Weibo, and NetEase Weibo also include the term, most people in China recognized Weibo as the leading social media platform in the same way that the term “Facebook” is synonymous with social media in the US.

When it comes to social media, 500 million Chinese social media users can’t be wrong about Weibo.