Whether you are an established retailer or starting a side business just for fun, selling your products and stuff online is a wonderful way to grow your customer base and make extra money in the process. Thanks to the rise of e-commerce websites that you may or may not have heard of just yet, making a profit from the comfort of your own home has never been easier. Get started with our favorite e-commerce hot spots and these quick tips.
- Etsy. If you have a knack for crafts or collectible items, this is the place for you. Etsy users sell all kinds of handmade items from art, clothing, and crafts as well as vintage goods and craft supplies. Quick tip: List only a few items at a time. Waiting a few days in between listing new items will mean your newest items will appear higher up in Etsy searches for a longer period of time, so more shoppers will see your products.
- Threadflip. Cleaning out your closet? Sell your gently used clothing and accessories in this online marketplace, which allows users to create virtual “stores” that offer a boutique-like setting for shoppers to browse through. If certain items of yours are not approved for selling, Threadflip also allows you to donate these items to a charity of your choice. Quick tip: Use retail “buzz words” like “beautiful,” “vintage,” etc. to help draw the attention of shoppers to your listings.
- eBay. The “world’s online marketplace,” eBay users can sell virtually anything they want. After all, one’s trash is another’s treasure! The best products to sell on eBay are often those that are rare and sought-after, but thousands upon thousands of businesses operate successful storefronts in this mega marketplace as well. Quick tip: Customer service is key on eBay. In a marketplace with a high level of competition, providing stellar customer service 100% of the time allows you to stand out as a seller, keeping customers coming back again and again.
- 99 Designs. Are you in the graphic design business? Sell your services on graphic design marketplace 99 Designs, an easy-to-use platform frequented by businesses in need of a creative mind for areas such as website and logo design. Quick tip: Upsell. Since 99 Designs is contest-based, offering additional services will help strengthen your relationship with new clients. For example, if you win a web design contest, offer to design social media graphics to match.
- Amazon. Another “mega marketplace,” Amazon is a one-stop shop for any online shopper, but also comes with fierce competition among sellers. Quick tip: Amazon’s high level of competition means sellers must constantly keep their eyes peeled for competitors’ prices, which can make all the difference in whether a customer purchases from you or another merchant. Only products that can afford to be competitively priced should be listed.
- Car Daddy. In the market for a new car? Car Daddy offers a simple, inexpensive solution for buying and selling cards on the web. Get the most money for your used car, and find the best deals around for your new one. Quick tip: Car Daddy is best for those who are unable to find a car dealer to take your current vehicle as a trade-in.
Where are your favorite places to sell online? Do you have tried-and-true techniques for being a successful online salesperson? Share your stories with us!
If you’re thinking about adding videos to your social media marketing plan, you’re already on the right track. The popularity of videos in the social media mix is on the rise, with no signs of slowing down. In fact, it has been predicted that video will be one of the top trends of 2014 in the world of social media marketing, thanks to applications such as Vine, Instagram Video and Snapchat. From increasing your brand awareness to boosting engagement, here are some ways video can help your social media strategy.
- Show off your work. Are you a contractor who gave a kitchen a beautiful makeover? Does your retail store have an awesome holiday light display? Did your event planning company create stunning centerpieces for a wedding? A quick video gives followers an in-depth look at your talent.
- Share your new product. Does your bakery have a new gluten-free muffin? Perhaps your jewelry store is offering a limited edition holiday collection. Showcase your latest additions with a teaser video that’s sure to catch the eyes of potential shoppers.
- Give a mini tour. One of the best practices for businesses using social media is to show followers the “inner workings” of your organization. Show your audience what it’s really like behind the scenes!
- Showcase promotions. Does your business have a special deal you want to share? Spread the word with a quick, creative video. Bonus: create a promotion to offer solely to those who follow you on social media. This provides an incentive for customers to stay connected with you online!
- Show off your customers. Ask any business: There’s nothing like a happy customer. After all, you wouldn’t be around for long without them! Did a customer rave about their phenomenal dinner at your restaurant, or create their dream kitchen using your appliances? Ask them to give a quick testimonial to share with your followers.
- Give back. Giving back to community is an important piece of having a business. Whether your business is sponsoring a community event or collecting donations for a local charity, video is a fantastic way to give a visually appealing insight into your involvement and to help spread the word.
These quick tips are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the virtually endless amount of ways to incorporate videos into your social media marketing efforts. Keep in mind that there are many different video platforms to choose from. This ranges from 6-second looping videos on Vine to 15-minute YouTube videos, so determine which video platform is the best fit for your business before taking the plunge. No matter which platform (or platforms) you choose, always keep this in mind when creating your content: What is it that you want your audience to learn about your business? Take this into consideration for all your social media endeavors, and you will be well on your way to having a stellar social media strategy!
With Thanksgiving in just a few days, many of us are caught in the frenzy of preparing for out-of-town guests, making last-minute travel plans, and putting together the perfect menu for the big Turkey Day feast.
While Thanksgiving is a day to relax, enjoy delicious food and spend time with loved ones, it can also be one that can be stressful and chaotic. Plan for a stress-free Thanksgiving with these handy social media and web tools.
- Whether you’re looking for a festive DIY table centerpiece, or a fun new recipe for pecan pie, let Pinterest be your guide! A simple search for “Thanksgiving DIY” or “pecan pie recipe” will give you hundreds of new ideas in a matter of minutes in the form of beautiful, eye-catching images. Warning: Give yourself a time limit to find what you’re looking for. Pinterest is highly addicting!
- Stuck in a traffic jam? Check out traffic advisor apps like Waze and Beat The Traffic. Along with GPS capabilities, these intelligent apps can tell you everything from which roads are congested to where police cars are hiding to catch speedy travelers.
- Turn to Spotify or Songza to find the perfect music to set the mood for the big day. These free music curators offer millions of playlists and songs to help you find the right music at any moment, from preparing the big feast to getting fired up for football.
- Need advice on making a dairy-free dish for your vegan aunt? Not sure how long to cook the turkey? Let the masses lend you a helping hand with Twitter. Tweet your question or search for answers with related hashtags, such as #Thanksgiving, #turkey and #vegan.
- Not one for cooking? Let someone else handle the hard work! Order your Thanksgiving dinner online from websites such as Magic Kitchen or Send-A-Meal, and enjoy your now-free time!
- Get your guests excited by sending them a free virtual invitation from online invitation and social planning website Evite. Choose from thousands of invitations from a traditional Thanksgiving to a potluck-specific card and have them delivered to your guests’ inboxes in no time.
- Entertain your family and friends before and after the big feast by searching local event websites such as Zvents, Eventbrite and Eventful. And, if you’re an active bunch, check out Active for events like local charity runs and sporting events.
No matter where and how you plan on spending Thanksgiving, these helpful tools are here to make your life much easier, so remember to give thanks to the world wide web. And, of course, don’t forget to tell us all about your “social” Thanksgiving experience!
The holiday season has officially begun, and with the biggest holiday shopping dates right around the corner, now is the time to plan your social media strategies for your business to bank during the frenzy. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday are three big dates that are not to be taken lightly. As a matter of fact, last year consumers spent on $59.1 billion on Black Friday, $5.5 billion on Small Business Saturday and $1.46 billion on Cyber Monday.
If those numbers aren’t big enough to wrap your head around, Facebook alone had 240% more referral traffic on Cyber Monday compared to the rest of the year! We think it’s safe to say that brainstorming social media marketing tactics to tie in with these shopping extravaganzas should be at the top of your to-do list for your small business! Get started with our top tips and tricks:
- Leverage the power of tagging by offering customers an exclusive discount who upload a picture of their purchase from your business and tag your business in their image. This is especially ideal for Black Friday, which then gives them Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday the chance to come back and purchase again!
- One social media trend that’s in the forecast for immense growth in 2014 is the use of visual content. In other words? Social media users want to see compelling images on their social networks more so now than ever before. Use this to your advantage by uploading your best images of holiday-related deals to your social networks.
- Create a photo contest! This is always a great way to get people to really participate and interact with your business. Create a custom hashtag to go along with your contest, and ask your fans and followers to use it in their submissions. Award a prize from your business, whether it’s a gift card, product, or specialized service.
- Will you be open especially early on Small Business Saturday? Don’t forget to let your customers know! Make sure to spread the word on your social media pages in advance, and it doesn’t hurt to offer the first people at the door an exclusive offer!
- Take advantage of Twitter’s partnership with Small Business Saturday: They’re giving away $100 in free Twitter ads on a first come, first serve basis!
- Stay social all weekend. This major shopping weekend also means major social media interaction for your business. Monitor your social media accounts as often as you can to respond to customers who take the time to interact with you in a timely manner.
- Keep mobile in mind. With everyone constantly on the go, it’s no wonder mobile shopping is another social media trend in the forecast for next year. Now is the time to make sure your website is optimized for mobile use so you don’t miss out on sales from savvy smartphone shoppers.
- Reward shoppers who check in to your business on Facebook. Foursquare is an option too, but keep in mind that the use of this social network is actually on the decline.
- Follow hashtags! Search social networks that use hashtags like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to “listen in” on what people are saying. It’s also a good idea to add your town or general area to the list of hashtags you’re searching for, too. Here’s a hint: The most popular hashtags for these dates are #BlackFriday, #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallBizSat and #CyberMonday are good places to start.
Do you have a social media “plan of attack” in mind for this upcoming shopping frenzy? Tell us about it!
Whether you’re brand-new to the world of social media or not, you’ve more than likely seen hashtags (words or phrases with “#” before them). While avoiding them is one answer, it’s not one we recommend! Hashtags have shaped the way we communicate on social media and also play an important role in navigating the complex world of social networking.
So what exactly is their purpose, and why do we use them? Here are our top tips for becoming a hashtag pro!
What is a Hashtag?
Hashtags are simply a way to label and categorize content in words and phrases on the social web. They also enable people to find topics they are interested in, such as #Westchester or #SuperbowlSunday. Hashtags were “born” on Twitter, but can now also be found on Instagram, Pinterest, Google Plus and Facebook.
Who Can Create Hashtags?
Anyone can create a hashtag by placing the pound (#) symbol directly in front of a word or phrase. Let’s say you make a delicious-looking batch of pancakes for breakfast, and you decide to take a picture to upload to Instagram to share with your followers. You might caption your picture as this: “Now this is a great way to start the day! #goodmorning #breakfastofchampions.” Voilà! You have successfully categorized your picture. Now, anyone who searches Instagram for #goodmorning or #breakfastofchampions will see your pancake masterpiece.
It’s important to keep in mind that while hashtags are used to categorize content, their power actually lies within the number of other people searching for and using the same ones. If someone were to search for #goodmorning on Instagram, the search results would contain all other pictures that also had #goodmorning in their captions. Because of this, we recommend making it a habit to perform a simple search for trending keywords to find out what the popular hashtags of the day are, before posting your message.
Remember, hashtags are a way for you to find content and contribute to conversations. Let’s say you see a new movie over the weekend and want to find out what other people are saying about it. Performing a search for the movie using a hashtag will pull up all content and conversations from other users discussing the movie, so you can chime in wherever you’d like!
The Don’ts of Hashtags
Keep this hashtag “netiquette” in mind at all times!
Don’t use too many. We recommend no more 2 or 3 for Twitter, and no more than 4 or 5 for Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and Google Plus. The overuse of hashtags is a common pet peeve of most social media users. Side note: Hashtags are most often placed at the end of a post, but you can place them anywhere.
Don’t hashtag every word. #Your #Post #Should #Not #Look #Like #This. This is not the correct way to categorize content. How many people are searching for #Your or #This on social media? Zero.
Don’t hashtag an entire sentence. No one is searching for #cantwaittogetoutofworksoIcangotothegym.
Don’t hashtag the same word more than once. “It’s a beautiful day today in #Westchester! What is everyone in #Westchester doing today?” Once you hashtag a word in your post, it’s categorized.
Don’t use hashtags that aren’t relevant. Even though a hashtag might be trending, leave it out unless it’s appropriate for your post.
Using Hashtags for Business
Here are some helpful hints to getting started with hashtags for your business:
- Keep it content-related. Let’s say you own a deli in Westchester and want to attract people to come in for lunch. You could create a post reading something like, “Refuel your workday with our soup and salad combo for #lunch! #Westchester.” Be sure to include a link to your website for more info, and an image!
- Use #FollowFriday. This is a trend that caught fire a few years ago on Twitter and is here to stay. Follow Friday is simply a way to give a shout out to other users and expose your business. All you have to do is tag other users using the “@” symbol in order for them to see it, and incorporate #FF and/or #FollowFriday into your post.
- Use Trending hashtags. As we mentioned previously, doing your homework and searching for trending hashtags is a must, but only if you can craft a post that is engaging, informative and unique.
- Use brand or event-specific hashtags. Create a unique hashtag for your brand and give your audience an incentive to engage with you using this hashtag, such as a photo contest. Event-specific hashtags are also a great way to keep everyone involved in your special event, such as a conference or expo.
Using hashtags enables you to organize your content and opens up new doors for communication each and every time you use them! Have you spied a great example of hashtag use? Share them with us on any of our social media pages!
To many business owners, Google Plus is a gray area that doesn’t appear all that necessary to adopt. After all, there are so many other social media platforms to choose from that are used by many more people! At least, that’s a common belief that isn’t quite true. As a matter of fact, Google + is now the second largest social media network below Facebook, with no signs of slowing down. Needless to say, incorporating Google + into your social media marketing strategy is a must. If that’s not enough to change your mind, here are more reasons why you should be hopping on the Google+ bandwagon.
- It’s Google. Let’s face it. Users creating new content on Google-owned platforms are automatically given “brownie points” by the search engine giant, which come in the form of higher search engine rankings.
- It boosts your popularity. Every time you create and share new content, your followers have the opportunity to give your post a “+1,” which is similar to a “Like” on Facebook. The more “+1s” you receive, the higher your search engine rankings will be.
- It adds your profile to search results. Let’s say you’re a children’s retail store, and someone searches Google for children’s retail stores in your area. Even if there are other children’s retail stores in your area, if you have a Google+ profile, you’re “bumped” to the front of the line. In addition, your Google+ profile will be highlighted along with a map of your location and a description of your business, right at the top of the search results.
- It gives you Authorship. Google+ Authorship allows you to link any content you have written to your Google+ profile, which is ranked higher in your search engine results. Along with this, Google+ Authorship helps shape your online persona in terms of the content you are producing. This is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your industry.
- It lets you hang out. Google+ Hangouts are an added bonus to anyone with a Google+ profile, which allow you to have a video conference with up to 9 other people. And, best of all, it’s free!
- It graphs your influence. Google+ Ripples is an interactive graphic Google puts together of the public shares of any post on Google+ so you can see how the post “ripples” through the network. This is also a great way to find new people to follow!
- It gives you more control. Google+ allows you to arrange your followers into different categories known as “Circles.” This gives you the opportunity to create content targeted to specific groups and customize which “Circles” are able to view your posts.
What are your thoughts? Will you be adding Google+ to your social media marketing plan? Let us know!
Social media is a powerful tool that can be used to grow your business, but is also one that can do more harm than good if it’s not handled correctly.
Here are some helpful hints to making sure your business avoids a social media faux pas.
- Don’t share personal opinions. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but save these for your personal page. Whether it’s a political view or controversial news story, always remain neutral if you choose to post about these topics unless your business or organization has a specific ethical, religious or political focus. This could otherwise deter customers away from your business.
- Don’t be promotional. Follow the golden “80/20 rule,” which means 80% of your posts should consist of engaging, interesting content while the other 20% can be promotional.As a customer, would you want to interact with a Facebook page filled with nothing but posts promoting your products? Probably not. The point of social media is to be social, not to continuously advertise your messages. Always put yourself in the shoes of your customers before making a new post.
- Don’t ignore comments. Whether you post a great picture on Instagram that receives a large number of comments or receive a complaint from a customer on your Facebook wall, don’t ignore them! For better or for worse, your customers are the driving force behind your social media presence. If they interact with you, always respond as soon as possible. Think of it like this: If you were at a cocktail party and someone complimented you on your outfit, would you simply ignore them, or would you thank them? Ignoring comments tells your customers that you don’t care.
- Don’t be rude. There is never a time when it’s appropriate to be rude to others on social media. Whether an irate customer writes about his terrible time at your restaurant or someone sends you an insulting tweet, always respond in a professional manner. Remember, every one of your social media interactions is a direct reflection on you as a professional as well as your business. Along with this, if a customer chooses to share their terrible experience with your business on any of your social media channels, never delete their comment. This will show them (and your other customers) that your business is transparent, and most importantly, trustworthy.
- Don’t write your own reviews. As we discussed in a previous post, this is misleading and untruthful, and will more than likely result in establishing yourself as untrustworthy. Ask your customers to take a few minutes to share their experiences with you, and many will gladly do so!
Taking the time to learn and understand simple social media etiquette can make all the difference in effectively using social media to growing your business! Does your business follow any other “social media don’ts?”
Halloween is just a few weeks away, which means now is the perfect time to start planning some spooktacular social media marketing tactics for your small business!
Here are some of our Westchester social media team‘s favorite tips and tricks to get you started:
- Hold a costume contest, asking your fans to submit pictures of themselves, their kids, their pets (anything)! Dressed in their Halloween best.
- Take note from Google’s holiday logo decoration and dress up your social media pages! It can be as simple as changing your profile picture to a Jack O’Lantern.
- If you’re a food-based business like a bakery or restaurant, hold a Halloween recipe contest, inviting fans to submit pictures and recipes of their most creative concoctions.
- Offer exclusive holiday discounts, available only to your fans and followers
- Give your products a spooky twist and show them off!
- Showcase your employees getting into the holiday spirit! It’s a wonderful way to show a fun and personable side to your business.
- Ask your fans Halloween trivia questions, for fun or for prizes!
The holidays are prime time to ramp up your social media activities and breathe new life into your business. What’s in your spooky social media plan this Halloween season?
Facebook fanatics, rejoice! The highly anticipated “Editing” feature was very recently made available to all users (mobile included). Whether you’re ambushed by autocorrect while on the go or create a post that doesn’t sound so great at second glance, you can easily make corrections within a matter of seconds. The editing feature is not only available for status updates, but for other content such as links and photos as well. Here’s a quick step-by-step breakdown from our Westchester NY social media team of how to do it.
1. Click on the arrow in the top right corner of the post you want to edit, and select “Edit.”
2. Make any changes to your post as needed.
3. Select “Done Editing,” and voilà! Your post is now updated.
While having the option to edit your posts is fantastic, keep in mind that the history of your edits are not hidden. Once you edit a post, your post will be marked “Edited,” and you will have the option to click this and see all the edits that were made.
Think about the last time you heard about a new store or restaurant and wanted to check it out. It’s highly likely that you decided to check in on what other people had to say about the latest hot spot by browsing through online reviews before taking the time to venture in yourself. Online reviews give consumers an inside look at what your business is all about and are a great way to build their trust.
In fact, 8 out of 10 people say they trust online customer reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. In addition, they can give your search engine optimization a huge boost! While online reviews can be beneficial to businesses, they can also go the other direction.
There have been numerous recent reports in New York of “Astroturfing,” i.e. false advertising, through popular online review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List and Google Local. Our Westchester social media team isn’t sure what is more shocking: The fact that there are actual firms whose sole task is to obtain false reviews for businesses, or the fact that many businesses have actually used these firms to create false reviews for them. While this is not only deceitful and misleading to consumers, it’s also against the law, and now both the review firms and businesses involved must pay up. How much? Between $2,500 and $100,000, totaling more than $350,000 in fines. While this was the result of a long-term sting operation, we hope businesses will take note that taking part in “Astroturfing” comes with some serious consequences. Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says, ” ‘Astroturfing’ is the 21st century’s vision of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it.” And, despite common belief, having a few negative reviews isn’t necessarily bad for business. Would you trust a business with forty 5-star reviews, or one with a majority of positive reviews, with a couple dissatisfied customers mixed in?
For consumers, it’s all about proceeding with caution. If you’re looking up reviews to decide where this weekend’s dinner date will be, take the time to do a little investigation. Check out the reviewers: Where they’re from, their other reviews, their interactions with other reviewers, etc., and if their review seems highly generic, it may be because they have never actually visited the location. Approaching reviews with this in mind can make all the difference when it comes to seeding out the phonies.
Our Westchester NY social media team was happy to hear that false reviews are on the radar for NY state law officials, and we hope there is an end in sight very soon. One of the many services we offer does include online reviews, but rest assured, each and every one is 100% real with a list of proud clients to attest!
Do you have any tricks or tactics to finding “Astroturf” reviews? Let us know!