Online Reviews: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Sep 27 2013

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.

Astroturf business review tips from westchester social media

This phony grass and online reviews have more in common than you think!

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!

Photo Credit: Dominic’s pics via Photopin cc

 

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Welcoming the New Season With Fall Freebies!

Sep 11 2013

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?!

Client fall sweepstakes from Westchester NY social media Two of our all-star clients have kicked off their social media contests, complete with fabulous prizes. Our Westchester social media team had to share the good news!

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. 

Prudential Centennial is giving away a $200 gift certificate to J&R Music and Computer World! To enter, simply “Like” their Facebook page. We’d certainly love a shopping spree, too!

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! 

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How to Create a Social Media Strategy for Your Business

Sep 06 2013

As a small business owner, you know using social media is a must, but might not know where to begin. And, as a small business owner, it’s also safe to say you know tasks are completed much easier when they follow a set plan. Social media is no different! Here are the top tips from our Westchester NY social media team for creating a top-notch social media strategy for your business:

social media strategy for small business from westchester social media

Having a strategy is the key to winning at social media!

1. Determine what it is you want to get out of social media. What exactly are you looking to accomplish using social media? Do you want to increase your website traffic? Do you want to use social media to improve the quality of your customer service? Do you want to create a community of customers around your brand? Take the time to figure out what your reasons are for having a social media presence.

2. Decide who your audience is. Who are you trying to attract using social media? Is it your normal demographic of customers, or are you looking to branch out to attract a different audience? As a small business owner, you know the importance of determining your who your customers are. The same rule applies for social media.

3. Check out the competition. Are your competitors using social media? What are they doing? What seems to be working for them, and what isn’t? Most importantly, how can you do it better? Don’t get discouraged if your competitors seem to have a phenomenal social media presence. Everyone has a weakness. It’s up to you to determine what theirs is and what you can do differently!

4. Identify your milestones. These are simply indicators you can measure that determine if you’re reaching your social media goals. For example, the number of people who visit your website from Facebook, or the number of customers you’ve received as a result of a Twitter campaign.

5. Determine and create your content. Decide what type of content you’re going to post and when, and make sure to mix it up! Fans would much rather see an assortment of posts such as photos, videos, questions, etc. as opposed to just one type of post. Creating a content calendar is also helpful and makes life much easier!

6. Keep a watchful eye. Your strategy won’t mean much if you’re not monitoring! Use the Analytics tools on your social media platforms to help you determine what types of posts are working best for you, and keep this in mind when deciding your next “plan of attack” on social media. There are also a large number of social media measurement tools  (for example, HootSuite) that can make this task a bit easier.

Having a social media strategy for your small business is the key to success! What are your favorite social strategies? Let us know!

Photo Credit: John-Morgan via Photopin cc

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How-To: Social Sharing for Your Website

Aug 29 2013

You know by now that being active on social media is the key that unlocks many doors in the world of business, but did you know that it’s just as important to “socialize” your website too? Making your website social media-friendly is another necessary tool in your “social media toolkit” that acts as another way for customers to share your content. Here’s how:

1. Visit www.addtoany.com , our Westchester social media team’s top pick for social sharing buttons.

2. Click “Get the Share Buttons.”

Share Button Tips from Westchester Social Media Experts

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Select the type of buttons you’d like to use. You can customize and add these buttons by selecting “More,” but don’t go overboard! Only select a handful of buttons so your page doesn’t look crowded.

Social sharing buttons types from westchester ny social media experts

 

 

 

 

4. Select “More Options,” and don’t worry about filling in the boxes marked “Optional.”

social sharing options from westchester social media experts

 

 

 

 

 

5. Fill in your page URL, and select the number of services you’d like displayed. This will determine the number of social sharing icons that will be displayed on your page.

Social sharing URL from westchester social media experts

 

 

 

 

 

6. Select “Prioritize Services,” and select the services you’d like to share to. Arrange your selected services in the order you’d like to see them.

social sharing services from westchester ny social media experts

 

 

 

 

 

7. Select “Get Button Code,” and copy and past the code to your website. Your website and its content is now shareable!

Get button code social sharing from westchester ny social media experts

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Best of Westchester

Jul 19 2013

This week, our Westchester NY social media team wanted to shine the spotlight on several of our stellar clients who have been named among the “Best of Westchester 2013″ by Westchester Magazine, an annual award that is given to the “best of the best” businesses, organizations, people and more in Westchester County. 

First up is The Cookery’s DoughNation, a mobile extension of The Cookery neighborhood restaurant in Dobbs Ferry.

The Cookery's DoughNation Pizza from Westchester social media team

One of DoughNation’s many productions: Madura Farms Spinach, Ricotta, Garlica, Chili Flakes and Thyme. Yum!

DoughNation is actually a handcrafted wood burning oven sitting atop a trailer that delivers sensational, melt-in-your-mouth gourmet pizzas. The best part? DoughNation is transported to a new location every week! Mark our words: DoughNation’s pizza is the best you’ll ever have! See what Westchester Magazine has to say about this sizzlin’ spot in their Editor’s Picks for Best Pizza in the County.

Not surprisingly, The Cookery was once again recognized for their succulent cuisine in Westchester Magazine’s Reader’s Picks for the Best Food and Drinks in Westchester. The Zagat-rated, Italian comfort food-based hot spot is a known favorite among Westchesterites.

However, The Cookery’s mouthwatering meatballs are the claim to fame for this award, and for good reason. We’re willing to bet you can’t have just one!

Last but not least, we would like to congratulate The Silk Road in Bronxville for being named among the Best Home Décor and Design and Westchester, for the “Best Home Décor.” As fellow frequenters, we can attest this beautiful space is a one-stop shop!

Boo Gemes Apparel and Westchester social media

These lovely ladies are all dolled up in Boo Gemes from head to toe!

The Silk Road is also home to the fabulous Boo Gemes clothing line, a distinctive lifestyle brand for modern women that offers fun, stylish and affordable clothing for women of all ages. We love that the line reflects the personal style and spirit of founder and Bronxville native Boo Thayer Gemes!

We want to congratulate each and every winner of this year’s “Best of Westchester,” and hope to see you all at the annual Best of Westchester Party on July 24th!

 

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National Small Business Week

Jun 18 2013

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.

Small Business Westchester Social Media

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!

Photo Credit: Independent We Stand via Photopin cc

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Local Crowdsourcing: How Westchester Businesses are Helping a Neighbor After Tragedy Strikes

Jun 14 2013

When we think of crowdsourcing, we instantly picture a business working with outside resources online to obtain services and content from many different people. While the act crowdsourcing is highly popular in the business world, several local Westchester businesses have recently helped give it a brand-new meaning, which comes in the form of a simple act of kindness. Westchester social media crowdsourcing for Hemlock Hill Fundraiser

In late April, Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor, one of the last working family farms in the county, experienced a tragic fire which ended in the destruction of the barn as well as the demise of a mass amount of the farm’s chickens. Without hesitation, several local businesses led by Scott Vaccaro of Captain Lawrence Brewing Company have stepped in to lend a hand to this beloved symbol of Westchester’s beginnings with the goal to “Raise the Barn” and help ensure the longevity and prosperity of Hemlock Hill Farm. This week-long fundraising series will kick off this Father’s Day, June 16, and will run through Saturday, June 22, ending with CLB’s annual pig roast where a portion of the proceeds will go to benefit Hemlock Hill.

Other area establishments that have joined in on the fundraising efforts include Restaurant North of Armonk, NY, Village Dog of Tarrytown, NY and The Tapp, also of Tarrytown. These three restaurants will be incorporating meats and produce into their menus directly from Hemlock Hill, giving guests the opportunity to enjoy a “Farm to Table” experience on top of helping a neighbor.

Here’s the schedule of fundraising events:

In addition, Hemlock Hill is also planning to build a modern chicken coop to meet the extraordinary growth in the community’s demand for local organic poultry. You can help by donating to their Kickstarter campaign!



Crowdsourcing is a fantastic tool that can help any business “get the job done,” no matter where you our. However, as demonstrated by so many of our kind and caring neighbors, crowdsourcing can also be defined as a selfless act of giving. Our Westchester NY social media team would like to extend a special “thank you” to all the wonderful businesses involved in this generous deed!

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A Week in the Life of the Gibbons Digital Team

May 24 2013

 

Westchester NY Social Media Team Westchester Digital Summit

Leah, Bridget and Charlotte take a quick picture break!

Last week was quite the busy one for our Westchester NY social media team! Although participating in three very special events from Putnam County to NYC certainly kept us on our toes all week, they also allowed us to meet a great deal of new friends, share our knowledge of social media with others, showcase our talents and so much more! We had such a wonderful time that we wanted to share our exciting journey with you.

Westchester NY Social media expert Ilana Arazie interviewing Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media

Ilana interviewing social media mastermind Gary Vaynerchuk of Vayner Media

Our week kicked off with the Westchester Digital Summit, Westchester County’s first-ever gathering of the most innovative minds in today’s digital economy. A day filled with presentations and discussions from some of the industry’s key players, our team was over the moon and thrilled to have not only been able to share our thoughts and ideas with industry leaders but to learn tips, tricks and best practices from them as well. But that’s not all! Our COO Ilana once again did a fantastic job covering the event with a live video stream, interviewing everyone from local businesses to industry influencers. Our Westchester NY social media team had a blast and is already looking forward to next year’s Digital Summit!

The following evening, our CEO Bridget Gibbons taught the Professional Women of Putnam one of the most important lessons in social media: how to use it for business. Bridget shared her expertise in growing a business using social media including building ongoing relationships with business prospects, brand promotion, driving revenue and more. It’s a shared passion among our Westchester NY social media team to teach others. Being able to watch others learn and grow from our guidance is one of the most rewarding experiences we know and we are so grateful for these opportunities!

Our busy week wrapped up with a day at the New York Small Business Expo where our team spent the day sharing the importance of social media with attendees and of course keep all those who were not present up to date with live social media updates. While the rest of the team discussed social media, Ilana once again spent the day on the move, interviewing exhibitors, attendees and speakers and getting their insight on all that was happening around them. Westchester NY Social Media team member Ilana Arazie at NY Small Business ExpoThe Expo was buzzing with the excitement of everyone there throughout the entire day, and we were amazed at the number of people we had the opportunity to meet and share our story with!

 

From strategizing and interviewing to teaching and networking and everything in between, our Westchester NY social media superstars did it all! We had an exciting and rewarding week, and although busy, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Sharing our passion of social media with others while making new connections and having fun in the process is our idea of a truly amazing experience.

 

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Getting Social With the Westchester Digital Summit

Apr 09 2013
Westchester NY Social Media Event

Digital masterminds will unite at the Summit!

Our Westchester NY social media team is proud to announce our participation in the Westchester Digital Summit, a global gathering of some of the most innovative minds in today’s digital economy, held on May 14th at the Westchester County Center in White Plains.  The Summit will include panel discussions, speakers, networking and more with some of today’s leading digital industry experts.  Some of the event’s speakers and panelists include leader of Facebook’s Global Marketing Solutions Group Brett Prescott, Fox News Anchor and Author Dari Alexander, NY Times Bestselling Author Jeff Pearlman and New York Times and Wall Street Journal best selling author and social media expert Gary Vaynerchuk, who is also the keynote speaker. You can find the rest of the event’s all-star digital masterminds here.

We’d be lying if we said we weren’t overly excited about meeting some of the greatest minds in the digital world in one day!

In addition to a day’s worth of “digital schooling” from the best of the best in the digital world, attendees will also be able to mix and mingle at exhibitor booths of businesses and organizations (including our rock star team)! If you attend, you’ll find some of our Westchester NY Social Media team walking around with a camera in hand capturing footage and testimonials of the event, so if you’re not camera shy come say hi!

We’re thrilled and honored to be a part of such a fabulous event and are counting down ‘till the big day! We hope everyone takes this invaluable opportunity to attend the Westchester Digital Summit. Tickets and more information can be found hereand don’t forget to come meet the social media superstars of Gibbons Digital!

 

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Getting “Socialized” With the Mega Mixer Business Expo

Mar 15 2013

This week was an especially busy and exciting one for our Westchester Social Media team! Gibbons Digital was the official social media sponsor of the annual Business Council of Westchester‘s Mega Mixer Business Expo, the largest business expo in the Hudson Valley. From businesses and organizations to working professionals and even those looking for a career change, thousands of people from across the region attended the extravaganza. Our team of social media superstars was honored to have played an important role in this wonderful event. That’s why we’ve put together our very own highlights of our fun-filled day!

As the event’s social media sponsor, our team was responsible for sharing the ins and outs of the Mega Mixer with the social media world. Sending out Facebook updates with important information prior to the event was a great way to making sure everyone was kept in the loop.

Twitter hashtag from Westchester NY Social Media

Using #MegaMixer2013 on Twitter kept everyone involved with the Mega Mixer connected!

We had a great time live-tweeting from the day’s important events such as the keynote speaker’s presentation and where to find different vendors! In addition to social media updates, Gibbons Digital made sure everyone at the event was in the know with our COO Ilana Arazie as the Mega Mixer’s official reporter. Ilana did a fantastic job interviewing the guests and vendors and giving attendees a “live tour” of the expo which was found on the event’s big screen for all to see!

Gibbons Digital Team Event Westchester NY Social Media

Ilana in action!

Business Council of Westchester Event and Westchester NY Social Media

Members of the Business Council of Westchester kicking off the Mega Mixer with a ribbon cutting ceremony.

While keeping everyone up to date with our live social media updates, our team had a blast meeting and networking! 

Networking with Westchester Social Media

Gibbons Digital’s Diane Dolinsky-Pickar explaining the importance of social media for businesses

Event with Social Media Westchester

Social Media Manager Leah Breyette and Gibbons Digital CEO Bridget Gibbons take a quick break for a photo opp in front of our fabulous setup!

 

Event with Social Media Westchester

Gibbons Digital COO Ilana Arazie and Social Media Manager Charlotta Busa smile for the camera

Our team had a fantastic time at the Mega Mixer and loved having the opportunity to help others understand what social media is all about and why it’s so important. We’re already looking forward to next year’s event!

Did you attend the Business Expo? What are your favorite memories of the day? We want to know!

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