Archive | November, 2014

A Dose of Gratitude: How Being Thankful Can Keep You Healthy

24 Nov

What if there was a solution to stress so simple that it involved nothing more than feeling thankful for the good things in your life? In fact, there is. That solution is called gratitude.

Studies have shown that people who regularly practice feeling thankful have a leg up when it comes to their health. Robert Emmons, a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis, has been a leading researcher in this growing field, termed “positive psychology.” His research has found that those who adopt an “attitude of gratitude” as a permanent state of mind experience many health benefits.

Emmons’ findings, along with those from other researchers such as Lisa Aspinwall, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, suggest that grateful people may be more likely to:

  • take better care of themselves physically and mentally
  • engage in more protective health behaviors and maintenance
  • get more regular exercise
  • eat a healthier diet
  • have improved mental alertness
  • schedule regular physical examinations with their doctor
  • cope better with stress and daily challenges
  • feel happier and more optimistic
  • avoid problematic physical symptoms
  • have stronger immune systems
  • maintain a brighter view of the future

With that list of benefits, who wouldn’t want to try it? To get started giving thanks, consider integrating some of the steps below into your daily life.

Focus Attention Outward

Your attitude plays a large role in determining whether you can feel grateful in spite of life’s challenges. According to Emmons, gratitude is defined by your attitude towards both the outside world and yourself. He suggests that those who are more aware of the positives in their lives tend to focus their attention outside of themselves.

Be Mindful of What You Have

You may assume that those with more material possessions have more to be grateful for. However, research suggests otherwise. Edward Diener, a psychology professor at the University of Illinois, found that a high percentage of affluent people in Japan report low levels of life satisfaction, just as those living in poverty in India do. These findings suggest that it’s not how much you have, but how you feel about what you have that makes the difference.

Keep a Gratitude Journal

Recording what you feel grateful for in a journal is a great way to give thanks on a regular basis. Emmons found that those who listed five things they felt grateful for in a weekly gratitude journal reported fewer health problems and greater optimism than those who didn’t. A second study suggests that daily writing led to a greater increase in gratitude than weekly writing.

Reframe Situations as Positive

It’s not actually a challenging situation that is upsetting. It’s how you perceive the situation. The next time you find yourself complaining about life’s hassles, see if you can mentally “flip the switch” to frame things differently. For example, rather than getting down about missing an opportunity, try to see the positive side. You might now have more time to direct towards other priorities.

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Twitter Launches Small Business Planner Mobile App

17 Nov

Twitter has released a Small Business Planner mobile app to help businesses with their Twitter marketing activities. Timed with the beginning of the holiday shopping season and aimed at small and medium business people, the app offers tactical guidance and advice pulled from the Twitter for Business site that was redesigned last month.

Like the desktop version, the free app — available now for iOS and Android — features research, success stories, blog articles and e-books, but as you would expect it has several more interactive features.

There’s a calendar, sync-able to users’ personal calendars, that offers campaign suggestions, content ideas, information about online SMB events and other Twitter tips.
There’s an in-app social network, separate from the public Twitter stream, that will feature updates from Twitter’s SMB team and give users to a place to ask questions and share ideas with others using the app.

Read more about the app on Twitter’s Small Business blog.

Fandoms and the Rise of Social Media Marketing

10 Nov

Have you ever gotten to hang out with your favorite musical celebrity? Did Drake bake you cookies and let you have a peek around his apartment? Did you send Meghan Trainor an invitation to your bridal shower… and she actually showed up with gifts and hugs on-hand?

Most music stars don’t seem to be that accessible, but Taylor Swift has made an exception for her intensely dedicated fans. You have to hand it to the girl who’s been spinning her own fairytale since she was 14—she knows how to treat the people who’ve bought her records, time and time again.

With the boom of social media, it’s easier than ever for fans to feel like they should be connected to their favorite singers and songwriters on a more personal level. Let’s say Miley Cyrus tweets something about a new single coming out and includes a selfie with it. In 10 seconds flat, a swarm of her admirers are already retweeting, favoriting and calling up their local radio stations about the track, plus commenting all compliments on her picture. They’re just that passionate.

All of a sudden, there is free publicity. Word of mouth, catching like wildfire.  Fandoms are funny things. The guys and girls that make up these groups are relentlessly loyal and will cut down any naysayers of their idolized celebrity at a moment’s notice. Of course, in the economy of the music business, traditional marketing still reigns. But social media is on the rise, and that is where connections are being made. That’s where records are being sold.

Focusing back on Taylor Swift, she’s grown up to be a very sharp marketer of her product, her image and her lifestyle. What she does better than any other celebrity out there, musical or otherwise, is that she gives her fans a return on their investment. It’s not enough for some anonymous, 18-year-old girl sitting in her bedroom to buy an album and have some connections to the songs. Now, it’s more important that she feels like she’s part of something bigger than herself.

She may get to hover within Taylor’s inner circle for an evening. She’ll get to exclusively listen to new songs before anyone else. All because she spends her days on social media, praising her favorite singer and planning to buy tickets to three stops on their world tour. These fandoms, these communities of people all gathered due to their love of one person or album or track, play a very important role in how the music business has been shaped. The way that the artist in question responds to these fans is definitely a telling sign for how successful they’ll remain within the music bubble.

Does a musical star have a direct responsibility to go above and beyond for their fans? Some may say yes, some may say no. But one thing is obvious in this moment in music history. With 1.287 million copies of her latest record sold within the first week of its release, Taylor Swift is definitely doing something right.

Making Pinterest’s Interests work for your Business!

3 Nov

Pinterest is all about interests – it’s literally in their name. Pinterest users collect things that are of interest to them. While a users’ “work” board and their “cat-lover” board may not seem all that related, Pinterest has come to understand that people have varying categories of interests. Marketers with an understanding of those categories, and how they relate to their target audience, can better take advantage of their pinning activity.

There are  five general categories all Pinterest users’ interests can be divided into, including:

  • Key interests that are a central part of who a person is such as art or music.
  • Professional interests. Information that’s relevant to a person’s career, such as room decorating ideas for an interior designer.
  • Something people enjoy doing in their spare time such as scrapbooking, golfing or hiking.
  • Tasks with a pre-established timeline such as planning a party or building a new home.
  • Personal preferences. Things that may change over time such as the style of clothing a person likes.

Marketers can connect with their target audience by creating boards that align with one or more of these five categories. By providing content your followers find valuable, you increase your chances of engaging your target audience.

Here are some tips to help you use these five “interest” categories to your advantage:

Know your audience:  Find out what your target market is interested in. Create boards and cultivate content that speaks to those interests. For example, if your followers are DIY enthusiasts, consider creating a board that shows different projects you can do around the house such as painting a bedroom or refinishing old cabinets.

Create multiple boards:  Don’t try to fit a round peg in a square hole. If you have useful, content for multiple interest categories, create a separate board for each one. And customize the content you post so it’s pertinent to your audience.

Be specific:  Pinterest allows users to be very specific about the types of content they see and don’t see. When you find out what your target market is interested in, make sure the content you share is relevant both to them and the board you’ve created.

Mix it up:  By now, almost everyone knows Pinterest is a great way to raise awareness about a business. But it’s not enough to provide only your content to followers. It’s important to share a variety of content that speaks to your followers’ interests whether you’ve created it or not. Include a mix of your content, your followers’ content and content from boards you “like.” Your audience will appreciate the information, and it will keep them coming back for more.

How do you use Pinterest’s interests? Let us know in the comments!