With love and ingenuity, AIM workers keep the standards high

There are so many beautiful moments in this coverage (link below) of AIM Services, Inc and the care that their essential workers are giving the developmentally disabled people who they serve every day during the #COVID-19 pandemic. David says of his program assistant, “he’s my best friend.” One worker named Vicki is a DSP (direct support professional) and program assistant who goes above and beyond to help the residents in an AIM group home feel comfortable despite being out of their routine. For Vicki, as you will see in the video, the benefits go both ways. “Who else gets to go to work and be loved?”, she asks. This story is a great breath of fresh air during a difficult time. Thank you AIM Services and Channel 13.


Refresh your social media

Now is the time to dig deep into your social media marketing and adopt new systems and ideas.

1. Focus on the best platform for your audience.

Most businesses will assume that they need to have a presence on everything from Facebook to Pinterest, but that’s not necessarily the case. Your most important audience may not be active on every platform. The best thing about employing this strategy is that the process of identifying your best practice is an important marketing and engagement exercise in itself. What to do:

Simply ask. The best way to get accurate info about your audience is directly from them.

Use a survey. In an email or your next written communication, ask your supporters or customers their preference in how they connect with you through social media. Explain the kind of content that you would like to share via social media and get their input. Ask if it is meaningful to them. Ask if they think you are being effective. Give your best supporters a quick call to see how they’re doing. While you’re getting caught up, ask them which social platforms they use for business and personal purposes.

Pay attention to the SHARE button results. If you have a blog or create content, then you should be using share buttons already. If not, this is important.  Most information that you post on social media should also be fit for a post on your website or blog. Use SHARE buttons. Follow these numbers to figure out which platforms to focus on.

Look for your competitors. See where they are having success.

2. Use SEO strategies in your social media.

Every aspect of your social media profile can be tweaked for better visibility and optimization using:

  • An easy to remember username
  • A recognizable photo/brand logo
  • Keyword-rich descriptions
  • A trackable link back to your website

This applies to any and all social media platforms.

3. Post content that has no expiration and is SHAREABLE.

Don’t publish content with an expiration date.

Consider solving common and persistent problems in your industry. Even better, try to post something educational and funny. 

People will always share positive posts more than negative ones.

4. Post better, not more often.

Facebook themselves have said that the average user is subjected to over 1,500 stories per day. To increase engagement, the news feed only displays about 300 of these – those that are most relevant to the user. Focus on posting high-quality, relevant content. In this case, it’s literally quality over quantity. Posting less with higher quality will increase organic reach more than spamming your page with everything you can get your hands on. The Buffer blog suggests you should post two to four times per day, depending on the platform. However, remember that your business is unique, so don’t be afraid to experiment with different frequencies, and again, ask your supporters when they want to hear from you and with what content.

5. Use targeting to maximize organic potential.

This tactic will vary from platform to platform, but tweaking the settings of your posts to target specific members of your audience can give you a boost in organic potential. For Facebook, you can use organic post targeting to tweak who will see it.

There are eight options on Facebook you can use:

  • Gender
  • Relationship
  • Status
  • Education level
  • Age
  • Location
  • Language
  • Interests
  • Post end date

The same type of options are available on Twitter. For example, the use of hashtags allows you to categorize your posts. Take any opportunity you can to better target your audience so the right people see your posts.

6. Post during slow hours.

It is not necessarily better to post when everyone is online. That is just going to throw your content into the vat of other posts. If you wait until nonpeak hours to post, you may get more attention.

Looking at research data, these are generally the best times you should be posting:

  • Facebook – (Thursdays/Fridays) between 1pm and 3pm
  • Twitter –  (weekdays) between 12pm and 6pm
  • LinkedIn – (Tuesday-Thursday) between 7am/8am and 5pm/6pm

Of course, you should ask your supporters and watch their online data. Look into analytics for your own audience, if you can.

7. Video content is essential.

An interesting study done by Socialbakers revealed that certain types of content can give you a huge boost in organic reach.

The results of their study showed that videos had the highest organic reach on Facebook by a margin of almost 3%, which is huge given that average organic reach has dropped to 1% or less. Short and vertically shot videos were the most watched.

8. Promote your profiles everywhere.

Every place that your business has a presence should also showcase your social media platforms – on your website, your storefront, your business cards, the signature on your emails, anywhere you can think of. You should also consider adding follow buttons on your website so users can instantly follow or “like” your page, without having to leave your company’s blog or website.

Don’t forget, you can also cross-promote your social media profiles. Turn your Facebook likes into Twitter followers and vice-versa. You want your presence to be known everywhere, which will ultimately grow your organic reach immensely.

9. Post the right balance of inspiration/fundraising/useful content.

Users expect to find content that’s useful to them, as well as content that will inspire and entertain them. Sharing valuable content (how-to guides, articles, new posts, etc.) grows a user’s trust in your brand. They come to know you as an authority in the industry and will trust you when you recommend a product or service.

The rule to master here is the 80/20 balance. 80% of your content should be useful and helpful, while 20% can promote your brand or its products. That 80% will bring new followers and build trust. Then they will see the 20% and buy into what you’re selling.

Don’t forget that this variety should also include a mixture of videos, images, and other engaging content types.

10. Utilize tagging and ask organizations with large followings to share a post where
you tag them.

Message or call your partners and ask for permission to mention them, thank them, and to share your content.

11. Engage your followers and reply to their comments.

If you properly engage with people and reply to their comments, you’re going to build a great reputation that will spread. People will look for your posts because they’ll be genuinely interested in what you’re doing.

Forging that kind of bond is important for all aspects of your business, but it can create a viral effect for your organic reach. Word-of-mouth will spread across new members of your audience, and they will in turn come and see what your company has to offer.

Brighter Futures in St. Croix Corrections




March 15, 2020

St Croix. The US Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections has partnered with the Virgin Islands Equestrian Equine Therapy Project, Inc. (VIEETP), to provide The Elite Program, a training course in horse care and horse training, to eligible inmates at the Golden Grove Correctional Facility.  The goal of the program is to provide job skills and equine assisted therapy to incarcerated men and women, thereby lowering the rate of recidivism and increasing wage-earning opportunities for the inmates upon release. 

Horse behavior, anatomy and physiology, first aid, ground training, and stable management are part of the basic curriculum preparing successful program participants to work in many positions in the equine business including as racetrack grooms, farriers, vet techs, and barn managers.  All horses in the program will be retired Thoroughbred racehorses.

“This is a unique and exciting set of circumstances,” said C. Reid McLellan, Executive Director of The Elite Program that teaches Groom Elite certification courses to backstretch workers in racing jurisdictions across the mainland United States, as well as to inmates in a number of Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation prison-based programs. “We will be able to nurture the strong passion for horses that already exists on the island.” 

Carolyn Smith, founder of the VIEETP has been involved with horses in the Virgin Islands her entire life and is thrilled that the program has support from Governor Albert Bryan Jr., his administration, in particular the Bureau of Corrections, and the horsemen in the Virgin Islands.

“We have plans to create a sustainable, thriving equine centered economy where horses are part of competitive riding programs, training programs for jockeys and backstretch workers, equine therapy programs for disabled people, and equine learning programs in our schools and for at-risk youth,” said Smith. “Thoroughbreds are already beloved on the island and these programs will help turn that passion towards economic progress for the island.”

The program will begin in the near future on the grounds of the correctional facility where board fencing, a teaching area and shelter will be erected.  Not only will the inmate participants be involved in horsemanship training, they will also launch a unique sustainable agricultural project growing peanut hay on the grounds of the correctional facility.  

“This program could not have come at a better time,” said Wynnie Testamark, Director of the Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections. “We are in the process of reviewing the strengths and challenges of each of our inmates and this program will provide an effective avenue for success in our increasing concentration on reentry and rehabilitation. I am impressed with the success that the program has had in other U.S. facilities.”

In addition to providing vocational training to incarcerated islanders, The Elite Program will be able to offer programs that will also give local citizens advanced and highly marketable horse care and training skills. 

“As the island of St. Croix prepares for horse racing at a recognized level, training for its citizens to work at the track and provide for the horses when their racing careers are over will be necessary,” said Smith.  “This program will pave the way for success.”

A public-private partnership has been formed to enhance the success of the community-based program for the Corrections Bureau and community residents. The programs are being organized by the The Virgin Islands Equestrian Equine Therapy Project, Yepsen and PIkulski, LLC, and in cooperation with the VI Bureau of Corrections. The organizers will be seeking partnerships with foundations, businesses and private individuals who wish to be of assistance. To support this program and for more information, contact Carolyn Smith at 340-998-3860, Diana Pikulski of Yepsen & Pikulski at 802-233-5377, or the VI Bureau of Corrections at https://boc.vi.gov. The Virgin Islands Equestrian Equine Therapy Project, Inc is a nonprofit founded and located in the United States Virgin Island. The Elite Program (www.groomelite.com), Yepsen & Pikulski (www.yepsenandpikulski.com), and the VI Bureau of Corrections (www.boc.vi.gov), have entered into this public-private partnership to bring The Elite Program to the US Virgin Islands.