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!
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.
It’s that time of year again! The leaves are changing, the school bells are ringing, and the nights are just a little bit cooler. Fall has almost arrived, and what better way to welcome the season than with a few freebies?!
1. Soundworks, Inc. Located in Armonk, Soundworks is a passionate company that will guide you through every phase of a technology upgrade, applying the newest technology to any home, regardless of age. Soundworks is a certified Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association member, and promises prompt response and customer service 100% of the time! Fun Fact: Soundworks also offers mobile device control, which means you can control devices in your home using your iPad or mobile phone!
Soundworks has launched a Facebook contest, giving away a 55″ Samsung LED TV! Interested yet? To enter to win, all you have to do is “Like” their Facebook page. Not a bad deal!
2. Prudential Centennial Real Estate. With locations in Scarsdale and Larchmont, Prudential Centennial is a real estate agency with over 60 years of experience in Westchester NY real estate, and is still run by their original ownership! Fun Fact: Prudential Centennial is consistently in the top 1% of all companies in Westchester based on sales volume, with an emphasis on quality over quantity.
These two organizations are also all-star Westchester community members, and supporting our neighbors is one of the many reasons why we love social media!
This week is one that our Westchester NY social media team considers quite special, and we know many of you do as well. Every year since 1963, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation declaring National Small Business Week, which recognizes the millions of small businesses and entrepreneurs in our country.
Did you know that small businesses provide 55% of all new jobs in the U.S.? What about the fact that since 1990, as big business eliminated 4 million jobs, small businesses added 8 million? (The SBA). We’re proud to be a part of the driving force behind the enormous impact small businesses have on not only our country but our community as well.
In honor of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration is hosting a series of Google+ live hangouts featuring panels of industry experts sharing their best practices for small businesses in many areas. The live hangouts can also be found on YouTube, and as an added bonus viewers can live tweet to the expert panelists using #SBW2013 with questions and comments!
Our Westchester NY social media team “hung out” at Monday’s discussion of “Tips to Getting Started with Social Media as a Small Business Owner” had a great time picking the brains of social media experts from Constant Contact, Twitter, Google and more. In fact, we found this information so valuable that we wanted to share it!
Here are our top takeaways from the hangout:
• On e-mail marketing:
- Contrary to the beliefs of some people, email marketing is all about making connections, driving business and building relationships. Sound familiar? This is why email marketing and social media go hand-in-hand.
- Spread the word! If you’re on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, share this in your email blasts.
• On creating connections:
- People want to get to know you first and what you’re about or they won’t be interested. Before building your community, make sure your social media pages have all your information such as location, website, and products/services. Creating a few updates also helps potential followers know what type of content you’ll be giving them.
- Keep your content creative. Give your followers interesting content that they can’t find anywhere else and let your personality shine through!
- Hashtags are a wonderful way to make connections! Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all use hashtags to categorize their content. Taking a few minutes each day to search for key words can open up the door to an unlimited number of untapped, potential customers!
• On measurement:
- Google Analytics will give you a thorough breakdown of where your traffic is coming from
- Using a simple “trial and error” method with different types of content to see which content receives the most engagement can help you zero in on what your audience wants to see from you.
Of course, these handy tips only skim the surface of the seemingly never-ending ways small businesses can use social media, which is why our Westchester social media team gives that “helping hand” to turn small businesses into social media superstars! We look forward to participating in the rest of this week’s hangouts and learning valuable tools for bettering small businesses. Happy #SBW2013!
Your business is hosting an event next month and of course you want it to be successful! While we can’t supply scrumptious hors d’oeuvres or help make the last minute finishing touches, we can show you how to spread the word using Facebook in just a few quick and easy steps. In only a small matter of time, you can share your event with the world of Facebook, build buzz, and get people excited, informed and ready to go! Here’s how:
1. After you’ve logged into Facebook, click on “Events” on the left-hand side.
2. Click on the “Create Event” button in the upper right-hand corner.
3. Fill in the details. Make sure your title and description are clear and informative. Is this a formal event? Be sure your guests know not to wear jeans. Is this a charity event? Let your guests know you will be accepting donations. If you were attending this event as a guest, what would you want to know? What would make you want to attend? Putting yourself in your guests’ shoes makes it easier to give your event a voice!
4. Choose how your event is viewed. If you want as many people as possible to attend your event, select “Public.” This means anyone on Facebook can see it. Selecting “Friends of Guests” can still mean thousands of people can potentially see your event, so if you’re worried about privacy (or if it’s a surprise) select “Invite Only” to hand-select the guests who can view the event.
5. Choose which friends to invite by clicking on “Invite Friends,” and only invite people you think have a change of actually attending. Seeing a Facebook event that has 5,000 invites sent out with no rhyme or reason can make people reconsider attending.
There you have it! You’ve just let the world of Facebook in on your special event. An added bonus? Guests will be able to post on the wall of your event with any questions, concerns and all the in-betweens that they may have, and will also be able to see any changes you make to the event if you decide to let guests in early, for example. Facebook events give you an easier outlet to communicate with guests and keep them in the know.
Questions? Success stories? Let us know! Our Westchester NY social media team would love to hear from you!
With millions of businesses using social media to engage and interact with their customers, it’s no surprise that customer service is being conducted “socially” too. In fact, social media has transformed customer service strategies in businesses great and small with no signs of slowing down.
While the days of long waits on the phone are not quite over, they are slowing down. After some serious brainstorming, our Westchester social media team decided these are the key indicators that social media has given customer service a makeover:
1. It’s quicker. Let’s say one of your company’s products has just been recalled. What’s the quickest way for you to get this message out? Social media. Of course alerting the media will help get the message out, but your message won’t get out RIGHT NOW! The beauty of social media is that all the information you share on it comes out in real time.
2. It’s a two-way path. Let’s say you announce your product recall on your social media channels like Facebook and Twitter and you’re now on the receiving end of customer questions, concerns and complaints. You can respond to each of these in a timely manner and your customers will be thrilled that you’re taking the time to do so. It’s likely that many customers will have the same issues, so these responses will also help more than one customer at a time.
3. You can listen in. Finding out what your customers want is the key to the success of any business, and using social media to do this can make this even easier. Applications like SocialMention, Facebook Analytics and even conducting a simple Twitter search with your keywords can help you discover what your customers want and how to present it to them.
Using social media for customer service has literally transformed the way companies across the globe conduct business. Social media has opened doors that did not even exist a decade ago and has not only helped businesses unlock their growth potential but has given customers a way to see businesses as people, not just a nameless organization. This communication has built long-lasting relationships between businesses and their customers, and we predict that we will only see more of this form of customer service in the future.
With our Westchester NY Social Media team being involved in so many great events like the Westchester Digital Summit, The Business Council of Westchester’s Mega Mixer Business Expo and the New York Small Business Expo, we thought we’d share just how much leverage social media can have on building buzz at your next event. Social media has changed the way we attend, learn and interact with one another at special events like these. Here are some of our favorite quick tips for “socializing” and building buzz at your next event:
1. Spark interest. Take advantage of online event listings to spread the word! Create official event pages on Facebook and LinkedIn and list your event on Plancast and Eventbrite. Someone on Facebook may see your event who otherwise wouldn’t see it elsewhere. Spread the word as much as you can to all your social channels and their followers.
2. Everyone loves a contest. Create a contest on your social media channels and give away tickets to your event. Get creative with this! Your contest can be anything from captioning a photo to answering a trivia question. The possibilities are endless.
3. Create a hashtag. Create a special hashtag to use on Twitter and include it on all your content such as your website, flyers, banners, etc. This will allow people to keep track of all the latest happenings at your event as well as “meet” other event attendees. Let’s say you’re hosting a home and garden expo. Your hashtag might be #hgexpo13. It’s that simple!
4. Go live. Add live Twitter and Facebook feeds to your event’s website. People who visit your site can see your updates in real time, and this makes it easier for them to follow your Twitter feed and “Like” your Facebook page.
5. Interact. Use social media as a way for people attending to interact with speakers. For example, you can encourage attendees to submit their questions using Twitter for specific speakers to answer. This allows more people to have their questions answered and encourages more interaction between the audience and speaker.
We could go on for days about the many, many ways social media can help your event build buzz and keep your attendees engaged. Do you have a social media technique that works wonders for your events? Share your story with us!
The news of the horrific attack at yesterday’s Boston Marathon left thousands of people across the nation turning to social media for updates on the tragedy and ways they could help. Most importantly, people turned to social media to contact their loved ones to find out if they were alive and safe as the city’s cellphone service was cut off.
Unfortunately, tragedies are inevitable and we cannot know when they will happen. We do know, however, that social media plays a powerful role in them that was not available to us ten years ago. We wanted to share the ways in which social media has helped us through this tragedy and how it can shine a light of hope during the darkest of times.
- Acting as a news source. We first discovered the news as updates spread like wildfire across Facebook and Twitter. These updates were not only from the media but also from people who were on the scene informing others what was going on, providing images and personal reactions amidst the chaos.
- Providing direction. National Geographic tells us that authorities recognize social media as one of the first outlets people turn to in the time of a crisis to find out what they should do. The local authorities in Boston used Twitter to direct people looking for answers to the news, where authorities on live camera delivered clear and concise directions and information.
- Helping others. As thousands of tweets with hashtags including #prayforboston and #bostonmarathon began to appear, so did the number of people looking to help by giving people a place to stay and giving blood, for example. Using these hashtags helped people quickly spread the information and communicate with one another. We retweeted a message from a Los Angeles social action organization called Take Part, who shared a link providing information on how to help those affected by the explosions:
Messages of the heroic acts of others were found across Twitter yesterday like this one:
We were also amazed to hear about Google’s quick thinking by updating their Person Finder application, an online program to help people find their loved ones in the time of a disaster as well as provide information to others. Thousands of people turned to this to find out the status of friends and family affected by the tragedy and to help keep people updated on the events.
Our thoughts are with those affected by this terrible incident.
We’ve all been there: You check your Facebook one morning only to realize it’s your best friend’s birthday…and you totally forgot. Before racing out the door in full-on panic mode to grab a last-minute gift, stop, take a deep breath and relax. Facebook is here to save the day. The best part? You don’t even have to leave your house. Facebook Gifts are a new favorite among our Westchester NY Social Media experts, but don’t just take our word for it. See for yourself with these quick and easy steps to sending a gift on Facebook.
1. Go to https://www.facebook.com/gifts and select “Give a Gift.”
2. Browse around and have fun! Facebook’s gift selection has something for everyone. From 5lb gummy bears and fine wines to gift cards and tabletop tennis sets, you’re sure to find that perfect gift.
3. Made up your mind? Click on the gift you want to give and select “Give This Gift.”
4. Choose the person you want to send the gift to and select a card to go with it.
5. Write your message and select “Save Card and Review Order.”
6. Select “Enter Payment Information” to pay for your gift, and if you want to keep it a secret, uncheck the option to “Share on Timeline.”
7. Voilà! That forgotten birthday problem you had a few minutes ago is long gone. The recipient will be notified via email and will be able to enter their address and contact information themselves in order to receive their gift!