Social Media DDS

Coaching dentists and dental professionals in the art of social media strategy

Social Media DDS - Coaching dentists and dental professionals in the art of social media strategy

Do You Use Stock Images for Your Website?

Female designer looking for stock photos online

 

One of my favorite things about my business is that I have an opportunity to meet so many fabulous and really smart people.  Recently I was talking to Stephanie from Ashburn Children’s Dentistry and she asked me a great question…one of those questions whose answer we tend to take for granted.  I realized that this was a very important topic to discuss here on Social Media DDS.  So what did Stephanie ask me?

Where do you get images for your posts?

There are quite a few reputable stock image sites for us to choose from and I will discuss three of them here.  

  • iStock Photo is a popular site for stock images.  iStock Photo is part of the Getty Images family (more on Getty Images later).  iStock Photo has an image gallery of countless photos, illustrations and videos.  These are royalty-free images which means that once you purchase them, you can use them multiple times.  You have two payment options with iStock Photo.  You can purchase credits.  Each image carries with it a certain credit value that has been pre-determined by iStock Photo.  The other payment option is to purchase a package.  The package option is good if you use more than 250 images a month, otherwise the credit option (which comes out to roughly $1.65/credit) is what I use.  
  • Fotolia is another stock image site.  Fotolia is slightly less expensive than iStock Photo but the quality and selection is slightly less than iStock Photo as well.  That said, for my purposes, Fotolia has more than enough acceptable images for my posts.  Again, the payment option involves either purchasing a number of credits ( which come out to roughly $1.30/credit) or purchasing a monthly subscription (anywhere from $25/month-$800/month).  Fotolia has been my go-to stock image site.  Like iStock Photo, the images are royalty-free so that once you have purchased the image, it is yours to use whenever you like.
  • Getty Images is one of the largest stock image sites.  It partnered up with iStock Photo back in 2006 and so between theses two companies, they have the largest market share of stock images.  The images are royalty-free and like iStock Photo and Fotolia, you can purchase the images by subscription or by credits.  The big news with Getty Images though is that this past March, they created a third option for sharing images.  You can now embed certain Getty Images onto your website at no cost to you.  In other words, you can use certain images for free.  That said, by using an embed code, Getty Images is still maintaining ultimate control over the photos.  You can read more about this innovative and intriguing concept in Colin Daileda’s article in Mashable.  

These three stock image websites give you many options as well as many images to chose from.  When posting content to your website or to any of your social media channels, it is highly recommended that you add a relevant image to your post.  Images draw attention and create interest in your content.  It is imperative that the images you use are either ones that you have created yourself or that you have purchased through a recognized stock image website…preferably royalty-free so that you can use the image multiple times as you desire. 

If you have any questions about how images can enhance your online presence or how to obtain relevant images for your posts, you just know I love this topic! So drop me an email at Claudia@SocialMediaDDS.com or fill in the “Let’s Talk” box that has popped up on the bottom right of your screen. 

Imagine that! 

 

 

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Content is King…

Content is King Quote Saying 3D Letters Crown Online Value

 

If you do a Google search for the phrase “Content is King” you will get 974,000,000 results!  Really!!  9.74 MILLION results for this overused and somewhat trite phrase.

And yet….

Content is king remains a steadfast truism when it comes to creating a robust and credible online presence.  Unfortunately, the phrase carries with it a bit of intimidation.  Being told that content is king can create an unnecessary stumbling block based solely upon not understanding the meaning of the phrase.  So what does it mean when we say…

Content is King

When you are building the foundation for an online presence, namely your website, the content that you share on your online home (website) becomes extremely important in your slow and steady upward progression in Google’s ranking.  By adding relevant and consistent articles to your website or fun and informative videos to your online home, you create a credible and visible  entity to search engines due to your diligence with content.  Once you have established a content rhythm on your website, you will want to take your brand to another platform…a social media channel.  Picking a social media channel that you are comfortable with, you can begin to see how consistent content across all aspects of your online presence  increases your visibility and your credibility.   

If your online presence is the engine, content is the fuel.  

While it is extremely important to maintain consistent and fresh content on your business website, you don’t want to sabotage your efforts by overwhelming yourself with taking on too much in too short of a time.  Schedule the content that you are going to share.  Create consistency so that your audience can rely on you “showing up” with your latest effort.  Content can be as simple as a shared video or clever meme or it can be as detailed as an informative article relevant to your business.  

The key to a successful content strategy is consistency.

If you want some pointers as to how you can tame that wild beast “content”, let me know…I love putting the king in its place.  Drop me an email at Claudia@SocialMediaDDS.com or fill out the “Let’s Talk” form that has popped up on the lower right of your screen.  

Let’s create content together! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tapping Into Your Talented Team

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I know, I know…it’s hard to delegate.  Most of us suffer from that “I can do it faster/better/smarter” syndrome so that we end up doing it all, living with stress and trying to figure out where that inner peace is that everyone is talking about.  You need to start…

Tapping Into Your Talented Team

What?  You didn’t know that you had a talented team that is anxious to help you?  You do!  You’ve made the all-too-common mistake of pigeon-holing your team into specific job descriptions and you never even realized that they are awesome at other things.  

When you are finally willing to take the plunge into improving your online presence, you can’t do it all by yourself.  You will end up hating social media and that was completely preventable.  First, you need to have a plan…a strategy.  Start out small.  Pick one social media platform that you want to really get comfortable with and stick with it.  Second, create a schedule so that you have a clear plan as to when you will post and share on social media.  Third, talk to your team.  Get them excited about your businesses foray into social media.  Ask your team for their opinion and find out who is really a social media “expert” on your team.  Or maybe one of your team loves to write.  Tap into their hidden talents and get them on board so that you can delegate some of the responsibilities to your talented team.  And, you may find that they like to be appreciated for talents other than the ones you had hired them for…after all, they are so much more than employees.  Their interests and talents and creativity may be just the thing that you needed to get your social media presence going.

Your Team LOVES to Be Appreciated and Recognized

Tapping into their talent is a genuine and effective way of acknowledging just how vital they are to your business and its growth.  How awesome is THAT!!

So stop overwhelming yourself by taking on all of the responsibility as you explore your social media potential.  Ask for help.  Seek ideas.  Create an open dialogue with your team and reap the rewards!

If you have difficulty tapping into the talents of your team, let me know.  I love to find the inner gifts of team members as you work together to create a social media presence for your business.  Drop me an email at Claudia@SocialMediaDDS.com or simply fill in the “Let’s Talk” box that has popped up in the lower right corner of your screen.  

Let’s tap into the talent of your team together! 

 

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Be True to Your Brand

SocialMediaDDS Brands small

 

 

Practice vs Business

So often in the dental industry, we get stuck with the common terminology used to describe endeavors as a “practice“.  We own a “practice“…we talk about our “practice“.  The problem with using the term practice is that it keeps us working “in” our business and not “on” our business.  

Our “practice” keeps us safe in the operatory with our patients doing what we are probably most comfortable doing…taking care of our patient’s dental health.  I would suggest that we, as an industry, stop talking about our “practice” and embrace talking about our business.  Once we begin to accept that we are business owners, the work that goes into working on our business becomes more compelling.  

The other important outcome of celebrating your business is that the ability to see our business as a brand becomes easier.  Once you begin to see your business as a brand, your vision for your business/brand will become clearer and it will be easier to…

Be True to Your Brand!

Owning a business is a pretty big deal.  There are so many components to owning a business but one of the most important is to establish your philosophy…your mission statement…what is the message that you want your business to convey.  It is when you parse out this important information that you begin to see the outline of your brand forming.  Deciding on what to call your business including tag lines and logos is going to be critical as this will become the brand that people (and potential new customers) will begin to recognize and identify as your business.  Taking your time with the creation of your brand will help to assure that the result is well thought out and consistent with your message.  

Once you have an established brand, understand that you, as the business owner, are the primary

Brand Evangelist

A brand evangelist is anyone who speaks of and about your brand.  Intuitively, the owner of the brand is the primary brand evangelist.  Your office team are brand evangelists as well.  Because of this, you want to make sure that your team is on board with what your business philosophy is and what message about your business/brand you want to convey.  Being part of a brand allows for word of mouth marketing in your everyday life.  Representing your brand is a big responsibility…one that you and your team should really take seriously.  If the message that you want to convey is an office of friendly, compassionate people who listen to your needs and who help to foster a calm and reassuring environment, then you want to assure that you and your team aren’t doing jello shots at the local bar while screaming obscenities at the game on the TV.  This would not be consistent with your brand.   

 Brand Polishing

The ultimate goal for any brand is to have brand evangelists that are not part of your business team.  You want your customers/patients to become brand evangelists for your business.  In order to have this happen, you need to be mindful always of how you and your team promote, either directly or indirectly, your brand.  A bit of brand polishing may be needed on a regular basis to remind yourself as well as your team just what your brand represents.  With social media, this becomes a very important aspect of brand ownership as well.  You and your team need to be aware of how you are representing your brand on all platforms of social media.  

While it seems that business/brand ownership can become complicated, with careful monitoring, the overall feeling should be one of pride and delight in what your brand represents.  

If you have questions about how to be true to your brand, you have come to the right place!  I love working with businesses to help them identify their brand and strategies to be outstanding brand evangelists.  Drop me an email at Claudia@SocialMediaDDS.com or simply fill in the “Let’s Talk” box that has popped up on the lower right part of your screen.  I look forward to hearing from you!

 

 

 

 

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Is Your Business on Fire?

Fire flames

 

 

Maybe it’s just me, but I get so excited when I read books and articles about growing businesses.  These books and articles really motivate me and usually I can’t wait to put some of what I have learned into action.  Back in the day, the younger version of me read strictly fiction.  This current day business-loving version of me can’t get enough reading material on all things business.  These books and articles and posts remind me time and time again that, with a little attention paid to working ON your business, anyone can get their business to be on fire.  

Yes, even you!

The only way to get that fire started though is for you to periodically step away from the safety of working IN your business and get familiar with all of the nuances involved in working ON your business.  One of the easiest, but not necessarily fastest, ways to do this is to sit down and create a Business Plan.  If you are a business owner and you have not created a Business Plan, it is going to be difficult for you to see the direction that your business is heading.  It may not be an easy thing to see at first, but remember…

Knowledge is Power

By forcing yourself to complete the tedious tasks of writing a mission statement, writing a description of your business, creating a current and projected balance sheet, delineating your short term and long term goals and a marketing plan that speaks to those short and long term goals you empower yourself and hopefully stimulate a sense of passion for your business and its future.  That passion translates into action which starts the spark that will set your business on fire. 

Setting goals and reevaluating the attainment of those goals is so important to the growth of your business.  Businesses do not grow themselves.  They require excellence in management, a keen eye on the bottom line and the desire, enthusiasm and dedication to move the business forward.  In other words…

Working ON the business

If you need some guidance in how to work on your business so that your business is on fire, I’d love to help.  Nothing excites me more than the thought of helping businesses to grow.  Drop me an email at claudia@socialmediadds.com or just fill in the “Let’s Talk” form that has popped up in the lower right corner of your screen. 

Let’s connect! 

 

 

 

 

 

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When Crickets Sing: Why You Should Not Give Up on Social Media

Female of a speckled bush-cricket (Leptophyes punctatissima) eat

 

 

So, it happens to all of us.  

We post consistently on our business social media platforms.  We share clever and creative content.  We spice our posts up with humor and music.  And we even post pictures of the requisite  ”awwww” inspiring kittens!  And yet…we are, on occasion, serenaded by crickets.  

Wanna hear them again?  You’re welcome…

 

 

It can be discouraging! 

But don’t give up.  Ever.  Like everything in business, our social media wow factor has a cycle.  Sometimes you are hotter than a day in the middle of August and sometimes….well…not so much.  It is exactly those social media cricket concerts that should inspire you actually.  Those dry times are when you should be reviewing your Facebook insights to see which posts got the most attention and which posts were just “meh”.  The slow periods provide you with time and impetus to check out what people are talking about.  What’s trending and are those trending topics something that your business can talk about?  

Be consistent!

If you haven’t created a schedule for posting on your website and social media platforms, do it.  Organizing the time that you spend on your business vs in your business is critical for growth.  Keep those posts and status updates coming on a regular basis because consistency is gold! 

 What can I do? 

This is a perfect time to gently remind yourself that social media is not just confined to your digital presence.  Social media, as  the name implies, is about your social presence.  When the music of the crickets gets too loud, increase your “in real life” interactions and engagements.  Your real  life connections are a strong and viable source for your digital presence.  Engaging in real life is a sure-fire way to increase the awareness of your brand digitally.  When we put all of our eggs into the digital presence of our brand, we miss great opportunities for real life growth.  Our digital world and our real life world need to interact almost seamlessly…each “feeding” the other for optimal growth and awareness of your brand/business.

So, the next time you hear the crickets sing, take a deep breath and move forward.  See the opportunity for reevaluation and growth for your brand.

And, maybe…sing along for while! 

 If you would like some encouragement when you hear crickets, I’d love to help!  I am passionate about social media even during those quiet times.  Drop me an email or simply fill out the Let’s Talk form that has popped up on the lower right and we’ll chat! 

 

 

 

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Embracing PR for Your Business

SocialMediaDDS PR I

 

First of all…let’s do a little definition of terms.  What is PR?

Public Relations: the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or organization or a famous person.

So, now that we have that all cleared up, we are fine, right?  

Yea…no!

I would never pretend to be even close to a PR expert.  I am in awe of the wonderful people that I know in the PR world.  Most of us as small business owners would love to have an amazing PR firm represent us so that we can let them do the magic that they do so well.  But most of us don’t have a line item in our budget that is dedicated to PR.  That, however, does not mean that we should not be paying attention to our public relations…how the public views us and what kind of relationship we maintain within that public persona/image.  

It is imperative that we maintain and be responsible for our public relation image if we want to gain respect and growth.  Burying our proverbial heads in the sand and hoping bad outcomes go away on their own is just irresponsible.  

How can we embrace our PR responsibilities with passion?

So if PR=the professional maintenance of a favorable public image, it should be pretty straight forward, right?

Remember the adage, if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is.  

PR is not easy…that is why there are amazing PR professionals out there doing damage control and maintaining the professional images of all kinds of businesses out there.  For small businesses, it means you have to stay aware.  In the digital world, you need to be vigilant about knowing what is being said about your business.  If you’ve been minding your business p’s and q’s, there should be little for you to worry about.  But there is always that disgruntled ex-employee who might be wanting to run a mini-smear campaign that you have to be aware of.  Or the unhappy client/customer/patient who has it out for you.  

Weekly Digital Check-Ups

Scheduling weekly digital check-ups can help to keep you abreast of what is happening in the online world with your business.  Check your Yelp reviews, your Facebook Page (you should be doing that each time a follower posts something to your Wall), your Twitter account and your Google+ account.  Google your business once a week and see what pops up.  Then Google your name to make sure what happened in Vegas stayed in Vegas.  Remind your employees to be mindful of their online relationship with your business as well.  Encouraging open dialogue with your employees at work will minimize their need to “vent” about your business or you on Facebook.  

What to do when negative press gets out there.

It happens.  No matter how awesome of a business and business owner you are, you can’t possibly keep all of the people happy all of the time.  Someone is bound to make your online life miserable at least once.  And, you know what?  THIS is a perfect opportunity to really shine.  Take that negative press and turn it around.  You want to always come away from disaster smelling like a rose.  Acknowledge complaints or negative reviews.  Apologize sincerely and immediately.  Never make excuses.  Just own the complaint and ask what you can do to make their experience positive.  Put it back in their court…sweetly.  I can almost promise you that this will work.  Maybe the perpetrator will still hold a grudge but your viewing audience will take your side.  After all, you offered to make things right.  

PR can be challenging.  It is, after all, about the public perception of your business and that perception is so important.  But, with a little bit of diligence and a lot of business savoir faire, you can embrace the PR needs of your business.

If you would like a little coaching as to how to finesse the intricacies of PR in your business, I would love to help.  I can help you to evaluate whether the scope of your PR needs require professional intervention (and I can refer you to amazing PR professionals) or if you just need a little guidance.  Drop me an email at claudia@socialmediadds.com or fill in the “Let’s Talk” form popping up on the lower right of your screen. 

Let’s connect! 

 

 

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Ethics and Social Media

"Got Ethics?" handwritten with white chalk on a blackboard

 

Let me start by saying that social media done right should not create a dilemma revolving around ethics and propriety.  

Period.

As business owners, it is a privilege and an honor to have people place their trust in us and our business.  As business owners, it is an honor to have people seek us out for the services that we render.  As business owners we should always be mindful of the message that we convey in this large digital platform.  

We owe this respect to our valued customers and potential customers. 

At Social Media DDS, our core philosophies centers around compassion, respect and kindness to all.  It is our mission to help businesses create an online presence that speaks to their mission statement maintaining a mindfulness of ethical behavior at all times.  

The digital platform is not the place for businesses to criticize, rebuke or slander people or businesses.  The digital platform is not the place for businesses to share private information which has been entrusted in us with the “world”.  The digital platform is not the place to post unauthorized photos of the valued patrons of our business.  

These are not criteria that should have to be spelled out. 

In the healthcare industry, there should be no worry of impropriety or violation of privacy questions regarding a digital presence.  The healthcare industry can enjoy a robust and active online presence without compromising the trust and privacy of it’s patrons…ever.  The privilege of a healthy online presence allows us to easily convey information relevant to our business.  It allows us to share humorous tidbits that make us laugh.  It allows us to share videos and photos that are fun and respectful.  Never is this done at the expense of someone’s privacy.  

Social media and ethics should walk hand in hand with clarity of vision.  There should be no ambiguity as to where lines are drawn or crossed.  

We owe our patients, customers and clients the very strongest of ethical commitments when it comes to our social media presence.  

Always. 

The healthcare industry should relish the opportunity to expand their horizons in the digital and online world.  As they have done in the real world, ethics and integrity should be the guidelines with which they operate.  It’s as simple as that. 

If you are unsure about the strong role ethics plays in a businesses social media presence, I am there for you.  My passion for this subject is palpable.  Let me help to guide you.  Drop me an email at Claudia@SocialMediaDDS.com or fill in the “Let’s Talk” form on your lower right. 

Let’s connect! 

 

 

 

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Social Media vs Stagnant Media

SocialMediaDDS Social vs Stagnant Media Text

 

Social media vs. stagnant media… the difference between the two seems so clear to me and yet…

We continue to allow stagnant online presences to be an option for businesses. 

If you have been to one of my talks, you know that I am extremely passionate about this point….

It is called SOCIAL media, not STAGNANT media.  

I say this line numerous times to bring the point home.  If we are to create an online presence through social media for our business, we have to understand that the social component is not just a word…it is an outcome.  And in order to maintain a social presence, we have to be…well, social!  What does that mean for your business?  

Let’s break it down…

What does your business website look like?  Your business website is the foundation and “home” for all of your online relationships.  Each of your social media accounts for your business should point to your website.  You want to drive traffic to your “home” and in order to keep your audience captivated, your website needs to be filled with fresh content and rich with the potential for your visitors to interact with you on a digital level.  If your website just sits there and doesn’t encourage engagement, it is stagnant and will, in fact, turn people away. In order to make any attempt at growing a social media presence, you first have to show the social side to your business.  Throwing together a shiny new website that is out of your control and discourages engagement is a recipe for stagnation. Sharing a website that is full of information, exciting content and presents your visitors with multiple channels for engagement fosters a social environment.  Responding to comments, questions and suggestions keeps you real in your audiences eyes and allows for potential growth.  

In the real world, we are inherently social creatures.  We interact with each other honing our social skills and encouraging relationships, business and personal, to grow.  Our online presence should be no different.  Our interactions online need to be authentic, timely and responsive.  While growth may be slow, rest assured that the time you put into maintaining a social presence for your business will generate traction.  Those businesses that put a website out there and then let it sit will have a much harder time creating relationships with their audience.  Because, after all…

it is called social media and not stagnant media….

If you can’t tell by now, I am completely over the moon about helping businesses get social by teaching them how to enhance their online presence.  If you need a little boost or encouragement as you venture into social media for your business, I’d love to help.  Drop me an email or just fill out the “Let’s Talk” form that has popped up on the lower right side of this page.  Let’s chat!  

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Social Media DDS

Closeup Of Girl Hand Writing

 

Dear Social Media DDS, 

I like Facebook.  I really do.  I’m on it for myself almost everyday.  But we just created a Page for our business and I don’t know where to begin.  The whole “social media” thing overwhelms me.  Can you give me some pointers about what to do with my business Facebook Page?

Sincerely,

Facebook Page Puzzled

 

Dear Puzzled, 

First of all, congratulations for getting your business on Facebook.  Did you know that it is estimated that 80% of US businesses are on Facebook? That’s a pretty impressive number.  Are all of these businesses using their Facebook presence to their advantage?  Probably not.  Many may feel like you…willing to give it a go but overwhelmed.  So, let’s go over some tips that might make your transition into the world of social media for your business smooth and, well, fun!

  1. Take it slow:  One of the most common mistakes people make when they incorporate social media into their business marketing strategy is to take on too much all at once.  Start out slowly.  If Facebook is the platform that you choose, focus on just Facebook for awhile. Make your Facebook Page speak to the message you want your business to convey. Take your time in filling in all of the pertinent details for the “About” section.  Make sure to include your website, location, hours and phone number as well as important information.  Add photos that are relevant to your business for the profile picture as well as the cover picture.  Make sure that these pictures are consistent with your branding and the imagery being used on your website. 
  2. Get the word out: Invite all of your Facebook friends to “Like” your new Facebook Page.  Personally ask close friends if they would be willing to share the love by inviting their friends to “Like” your Page.  Invite your patients/customers/clients to “Like” your Page when they come to your business.  Make it easy for them.  Have a QR code cleverly framed somewhere convenient to the traffic flow and invite them to scan and “Like“.  Once your Page gets some traction, it can begin to grow organically.  
  3. Make it worth their while:  Once you’ve got an audience, you need to be able to keep them.  This is usually the part that overwhelms.  It doesn’t have to be overwhelming though.  First, create a schedule and try to stick to it.  If you decide to post to your Facebook Page every weekday morning around 10:00, then commit to that schedule.  Second, mix it up.  Don’t be that serious poster that puts people to sleep.  But don’t be that inappropriate poster that violates people’s comfort zone.  Sometimes post relevant and important information about your business.  Sometimes post something fun and light-hearted.  Sometimes ask questions.  As often as possible, include a photo or a video or a link to something relevant so that people are drawn to your posts.  
  4. Engage:  Remember, this is social media…the key word here being social.  You wouldn’t go to a social function and ignore the people that were talking to you.  The same rule applies to social media platforms. If someone comments on your post, think of it as a conversation and reply to them.  As quickly as is feasible for your schedule.  You want to try to keep the conversation going.  The more conversation, the more visible your posts become.  Facebook “sees” you as important the more comments and engagement that occurs with your posts.  
  5. Don’t have time? Use scheduling tools: Once you start feeling more comfortable with posting on your Facebook Page, you may find that it is easier to “schedule” your posts ahead of time so that you free yourself up a bit more during the week.  Facebook makes this easy for you!  Right within your Facebook Page where you enter a status update, you will see a tiny icon for a clock in the lower left corner of the status update box.  If you click on this clock, a little calendar will pop up and you can select the date and time that you want the post that you are creating to appear on your timeline.  If you are organized, you can schedule an entire week of posts for your Facebook Page.  Just be prepared to engage as people respond to your posts.  For some more great information about scheduling your Facebook Page posts, here is a great article by Rita Zamora of Social Media & Relationship Marketing.  
  6. Remember to have fun:  Once you get a rhythm going, engaging on your business Facebook Page is fun.  It allows you to get creative and find new ways to attract followers.  Facebook Pages give you analytics that help you to see what works and what doesn’t work.  If your informational posts aren’t getting any action, maybe you need to change them up a little.  Challenge yourself to think outside of the box. Social media can be fun!

I hope that these tips help you, Puzzled.  If you need a little encouragement as you jump into social media, I’m here to help.  Social media is what I love to do! Just drop me an email or fill out the “Let’s Talk” form on the lower right of this page.  Let’s chat!

Yours in social media,

Social Media DDS

 

 

 

 

 

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