small business tools’

May 08 2013 - by Leah Rockwell

It’s well known in the world of social media that the use of video is steadily growing and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. In fact, our Westchester NY social media team predicts that using video is going to be the “next big thing” for businesses and organizations to integrate into their social strategies. Think of this way: Rather than paying to create and air a TV commercial for a certain amount of time, you can instead create your own content to share information, give an inside look of your company and even show off products without sounding too “sales-y.”

Westchester NY Social Media Tips for Growing Your YouTube Presence

Boost your engagement and grow your presence with YouTube

If done correctly, YouTube can be a fantastic outlet for building brand awareness by connecting and conversing with customers (and potential customers) using interactive and compelling content. Here are a few of our favorite ways to grow your online presence using YouTube:

1. Keep it connected. You might have fantastic videos on your YouTube channel, but this won’t take you very far if no one knows about them. Spread the word! Adding a YouTube page app to your Facebook page allows your Facebook fans to watch your videos without even having to leave Facebook. Share your videos on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blog with a call to action. Add the link to your channel to your email signature and website. The more you share your content, the higher the number of people to discover it will be. In addition, drive traffic to your website by adding the link to your video description and channel profile.

2. Engage. Spreading the word about your videos will certainly spark interest, but engaging with your audience will keep them interested. Monitor your channel and always respond to comments on your videos. In return, visit the channels of your audience members and comment on their videos. Building and maintaining relationships on social channels is one of the driving forces behind successfully growing your online presence.

3. Avoid Ads. A common misconception with YouTube is that it’s just one more way for companies to advertise themselves. While this is partially true, it’s important to understand that videos that simply highlight your business and its products are not popular on YouTube. Of course you can show off your products once in a while in an engaging way, but keep in mind the videos with the most popularity are those that are entertaining, informative and educational. Let’s say you own a bakery. Rather than telling your audience to buy your cookies, why not create a step-by-step tutorial on how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie? How about giving your audience an inside look at how you decorate the perfect wedding cake? Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and think about what you would want to see from your favorite business.

YouTube is one social platform that’s here to say, and with video becoming more popular than ever, taking the time to add YouTube to your social strategy is one of the best steps you can take to “socializing” your business and growing your presence online. Is your business a rockstar on YouTube? Share your success stories with us!

 
 
 
Apr 30 2013 - by Leah Rockwell

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.

Westchester social media tips

No headsets necessary!

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.

 
 
 
Jan 29 2013 - by Leah Rockwell

Exciting news in the social media world! Social Media Examiner, a popular blog helping people navigate the “how-to’s” of all things social media, has announced the winners of their annual Social Media Blogger Awards, given to the best of the best in social media blogging. Whether you’re looking to learn more about social media or just looking for a great read, here are a few of the top blogs worth checking out:


1.    Heidi Cohen. Known as the “Actionable Marketing Expert,” Heidi’s blog offers practical tips, expert insight, and easy-to-understand advice for readers to apply to their marketing.

Image Courtesy of JoPhoto

2.    Stanford is Pushing Social.  As a seasoned social media marketing professional, Stan Smith offers his best practices for all things blogging.


3.    Jeff Bullas. Social Media Consultant Jeff Bullas knows the who’s, what’s, when’s, and where’s of all things social media. His blog features tips and tricks for businesses using social media to “getting found” online.


4.    Social Fresh. Social Fresh, a social media training agency for businesses, provides readers with everyday hints for bettering their business’ social media presence. Created by Jason Keath, the Social Fresh blog is contributed to by a community of authors.

Social media is one area that isn’t slowing down, which is why it’s a great idea for businesses to keep up with the happenings of the social media world and the tried-and-true advice from renowned social media experts like these bloggers. Do you have a favorite social media blog? Let us know!

 
 
 
Dec 11 2012 - by Leah Rockwell

 

The New Year is quickly approaching, and social media continues to grow and change at a pace that is full steam ahead with no slowing down. Trends in social media come and go, but staying on top of hot topics in the social media world is a great way for your business to stay “socialized” and in the know. Here are our top 3 picks for social media trends in 2013:
1. Social Shopping. Shopping at online retail stores doesn’t seem to be enough anymore. Using social media to do online shopping is on the rise, thanks to sites like Pinterest. Not only are shoppers able to click on items and be sent directly to their purchase page, but browsing through images of products makes them more inclined to making purchases they may not have ever thought of. Social media is transforming online shopping into a hobby rather than a necessity.
2. Facebook Gifts. Facebook’s latest “Gift” app allows users to send real gifts in a matter of minutes. Did you forget your friend’s birthday until seeing it on Facebook? No problem. Simply go to their wall, click “Gift,” and you will be prompted with choices of gifts to send to them. If you don’t like what you see, you can search for your own, and your friend will be notified and asked for their address for shipping. Sending gifts has never been easier.
3. Social Advertising. Advertising is being smoothly integrated into social media so much so that we often don’t even realize we are looking at an advertisement, thanks to social media features such as Facebook’s Sponsored Stories and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets. This allows advertisers to reach a larger audience in a shorter period of time. Rather than being bombarded with advertisements, social media users are presented with them in a more “gentle” and indirect way.

This is our forecast for booming social media trends in the next year, and what we recommend you (and your business) keep in mind when planning your social media strategies for the upcoming New Year. Do you see any other trends in the social media world? We want to know!

 
 
 
Dec 04 2012 - by Leah Rockwell

 With the holiday season in full swing and gift giving on the brain, there’s no question that any ways to save money on holiday shopping would be welcomed with open arms. Once again, social media comes to the rescue during this hectic time of year to help you find the perfect holiday gifts that won’t break your bank. If you’re a business owner, take notes. These tips might just inspire you to help your own customers save money at your store.

  1. All it Takes is a “Like.” Take a few minutes to “Like” your favorite retailers’ Facebook pages and follow their Twitter handles. Many retailers will provide exclusive coupons to new customers who simply “Like” their Facebook page. Keep your eyes peeled, too. The holiday season is prime time for retailers to release coupons only to customers who follow their social media accounts.
  2. Check-Ins. There are plenty of retailers who offer discounts to customers who check-in to their stores using the FourSquare app. For example, some businesses will offer a 20% discount for “newbies” (new customers) for their first check-in.
  3. Interact. Retailers want to drive interactions on their social media sites, and shoppers want discounts. It’s a win-win situation. Be on the lookout for special offers from companies for sharing their content. For example, a company might post a picture of one of their products on Facebook and ask you to “Like” it to receive a free in-store gift or discount by showing the “Like” at the register.

Simply taking a few minutes out of each day to browse your favorite retailers’ social media accounts for deals and discounts is all it takes. With just the click of a button, social media allows retailers to bring in more customers and build brand awareness, while shoppers can enjoy what could be a newly-found favorite store- and, of course, some discounts on their holiday gift-giving along the way.

 
 
 
Oct 10 2012 - by Leah Rockwell

If your business is active on social media, congratulations! You have taken the first steps to “socializing” yourself in the ever-expanding communities that exist online. However, the journey doesn’t end at simply having a few profiles on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The most successful businesses and organizations on social media are determined not just by their social media presence, but by the communities that have developed and grown (and continue to grow)! around them. Here are some tips to developing and managing your own social media community:

 

  1. Be a Brand Storyteller. Did your happy customer mention you on Twitter or post a photo with your product on Instagram? Share it with the world! Your customers are the backbone of your business. Show them you appreciate their loyalty by sharing their “story” with your brand.
  2. Keep Your Content Fresh. While there is no “magic number” for how many times you should create new content on your social media pages, it’s all about what works best for your business. Didn’t have time to post 10 Tweets a day? Try 5. Did you find one Facebook update a week simply wasn’t enough? Try 3. Find that “happy medium” and stick with the schedule. New content for consumers to interact with means more brand awareness for your business.
  3. Communication is Key. Did a customer ask a question under your latest blog post? Did someone post a less-than-stellar review of your product on your company’s Facebook page? The quicker you respond, the more you are demonstrating that customer service is your number one priority. In addition, this helps build the trust of not only this customer, but everyone else who sees the interaction.
  4. Make it Memorable. Creating a unique experience for your customers will keep them coming back for more. Be creative! Some ideas you might want to consider are offering exclusive coupons, showcasing a “Fan of the Week” on Facebook, and posting a funny photo on Instagram and offering a prize for the most creative caption.  Make it fun!
  5. Keep it Original. While it’s perfectly OK to look to other brands for inspiration (in fact, we highly recommend it)! Keep in mind that you want to set yourself apart from everyone else by creating your own original content. Don’t know where to start? Post your own review of a product or website. Interview the founder of your company and post it on YouTube. Comment on other bloggers’ posts in your industry with meaningful and thought-provoking input. Keeping it original and interesting keeps your audience wondering what’s next.

The beauty of managing a social community is that there is no set of rules to follow. Determine what works for you and your business and make changes accordingly. Successful social communities are not created overnight, but patience, persistence, and interaction will all eventually contribute to creating a tight-knit social “family” surrounding your business.

 
 
 
Oct 03 2012 - by Leah Rockwell

 

Last week, we discussed the big breakup of Twitter and LinkedIn and the fact that LinkedIn is ahead of Twitter in terms of interaction with content being posted. Being the curious social media junkies we are, we decided to look further into the matter and concluded that Twitter got themselves into a sticky situation by parting ways with LinkedIn.

Since more people are posting, sharing, and discussing content on LinkedIn, that means Twitter is actually losing out on these interactions.  Their decision to remove the convenience of posting directly from Twitter to LinkedIn meant they also decided to give audiences the choice of whether to share their content onto either one site or the other.

Since your LinkedIn network consists of working professionals you have likely communicated and perhaps done business with, it only makes sense that content posted to this site is much more valuable than content posted to Twitter, which hosts a speedy newsfeed that easily allows content to be lost in the shuffle.

Although we doubt Twitter thought they would suffer from the breakup, we bet they’re wishing they could reconcile with LinkedIn. There is no going back now, and LinkedIn is certainly reaping the rewards. The moral of this story is if you’re looking for the best of the best content in your industry, LinkedIn is the place to go.

 
 
 
Jul 19 2012 - by Ellen Downing

Summer is the perfect time to relax and reflect. And, since it’s mid-year, summer is the perfect time to evaluate the business goals that you set at the beginning of the year and take stock of where they are now. This includes looking at your small or medium size business’ social media strategy.

At Gibbons Digital we had a social media bucket list for 2012. Our goal was to enhance and expand our social media marketing programs for our clients and for our own online presence. Highlights of our social media “Bucket List” included:

Expanding our community on Facebook – and we did! We have nearly 4,000 Facebook friends with whom we communicate on a daily basis.

Increasing our Twitter Presence – We have over 500 Followers on Twitter and we tweet on a daily basis.

Blogging Regularly – We publish two new blogs per week that cover topics and trends affecting social media for small and medium size businesses.

So, what’s on your social media bucket list?

It may be hard to answer this question since there are numerous social network choices and identifying the best one for your business may be difficult. And, each social network has its own features, benefits and uses; it’s not one-size fits all when it comes to social media for your business. For example, if you are a restaurant in Westchester County, you may want a Yelp profile in addition to a Facebook page. If your business offers a product, Facebook is great place to showcase it.

Whether you are developing a social media strategy or rejuvenating an existing one, Gibbons Digital can help. To find out more, Connect with us on Facebook or Contact Us today.

 
 
 
Jul 12 2012 - by Ellen Downing

Building on last week’s 4th of July celebrations, we’ll stay in the summer mode for this week’s blog post. The big news last week was the break-up of Twitter and LinkedIn – and rumor has that Twitter did the dumping!

However, while you may have been on vacation, other news occurred in the world of Internet marketing that may be of interest to your small or medium sized business’ social media strategy.

To help you catch up with bloggers, Google, Twitter and more – here is a link to the Latest Google Updates and Other Marketing Stories of the Week.

 

 

 
 
 
Jun 26 2012 - by Charlotte Busa

Local MindEach week I find new smart phone applications for my iPhone that will make my life easier.  I’ve found 2 great new applications that I’ve come to really enjoy and find extremely helpful and thought others would too! Wherever you may live, you will benefit from these fantastic, user-friendly location based applications.

How many times have you showed up to your favorite store, coffee shop or restaurant and had to wait when you really didn’t have the time or patience to do so? Well, Localmind will save you time and reduce frustration by giving you that “know before you go!” heads up. After downloading and setting up an account with Localmind, you ask questions to other Localmind users near you about specific locations, and receive answers from real human beings at that specific location. For example I could post a question like, “What’s the best driving route to take from downtown Manhattan to Westchester County during rush hour?” “Is there a long line at Starbucks in White Plains?” “What’s a good safe place to park if I’m spending a few days in Manhattan?” or “Can you recommend a good bar around here?” The possibilities are endless, and I’ve personally gotten great, fast and helpful feed back!

Localmind is available for iPhone and Android users.

Visit http://www.localmind.com/businesses to personally find out how Localmind can benefit your business, as well!

Sonar LogoAnother application that I would highly recommend is Sonar. Sonar is a great networking tool for both business and pleasure. It gathers all your Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, Instagram and linkedIn friends into a database and helps you to discover new people with whom you share online connections to and who are in close proximity to you (even if they don’t have the Sonar application.) Sonar even lets you view and check into nearby places allowing you to expand your Sonar Network of friends. This application can really help to expand your social networks and provide endless opportunities for connecting with new and interesting people.

To learn more about Sonar, visit the website: http://www.sonar.me/

 
 
 
Apr 30 2012 - by Bridget Gibbons

You may have heard that Facebook just bought Instagram for $1 billion!  In case you don’t know, Instagram allows users to edit and post digital photographs to social media sites with just a couple of clicks.

It’s a growing trend having gained 10 million users in the last few weeks.  Chances are that some of your loyal customers are likely already using the app to sharing photos and follow others. That’s reason enough for small businesses to consider signing up for an account. Instagram may continue to grow, and provide an effective way to create community and engage with your customers.

Instagram allows you to easily share photos to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or by using plugins that allow it to feed directly into networks and websites.

Saturday I started using Instagram.  It’s incredibly intuitive.  I was able to post a photo taken using Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr within minutes.  One catch – it’s a mobile app only, which means you have to download the app and use it on your phone, iPod or iPad.

Here are some helpful tips on how small to medium-sized businesses in Westchester County can use this popular tool.

Customer Photos – Ask people to take pictures of themselves in the process of using your product.

Event Marketing – ask people who are at an event you are hosting to capture the moments with Instagram.  As they share and tag the message about your business and the event will be shared.

Showcase your product- take images of your products and apply one of Instagram’s “filters” or frames, and then post to your Facebook timeline.

Find Your Fans – Instagram will let you know who is using your product and what they are doing with it.

Follow People – Just like Twitter and other social media platforms, you can follow people on Instgram. Build your reach and learn from the most active mobile photo-sharers.

Big names that are using Instagram: ABC news, NPR, Jamie Oliver, and Starbucks.

Give it a try. I think you will find that it’s fun and super easy to use.

If you’re already using Instagram, let us know how.

 

 
 
 
Feb 03 2012 - by Ellen Downing

It could be called Super Social Media Sunday. Whether by Twitter, Facebook, Blog or other social media channel, the buzz is that this year more Super Bowl fans will be connected in real-time than ever before.

And it’s not just the fans and advertisers trying to reach them who are embracing social media. NFL officials in Indianapolis are in on it, hosting the first-ever Super Bowl Social Media Command Center.

Even the Coca Cola polar bears are in on the social media craze. This year they’ll watch the game on their own TV and give feedback as it unfolds!  Whether you’re in the North Pole or Westchester County or  you’re a Giants or a Patriots fan, you can visit the Social Media Command Center or join the polar bear party!

Super Bowl Sunday appears to be one GIANT step for social media.

Who are you rooting for?

 
 
 
Jan 10 2012 - by Bridget Gibbons

The New Year is underway and resolutions and tips are being offered on how to get your small business’ social media marketing in high gear in 2012. It’s all useful information that can move your plan forward. Here’s yet another tip to throw into the mix: look at your social media plan from the perspective of the “ancient” journalistic cliché that stories should always contain answers to these six questions: What? Who? Where? When? How? Why?

For social media purposes, start with Why.

Why will you use a social media marketing plan for your small business?

What is your message? What are you selling?

Who are your customers and who are you trying to reach and communicate with through social media? Think about your existing clients and why they are using your products or services. Then visualize your ideal buyer to determine how you will market to that buyer via social media.

Where should you focus your small business’ social media? Faceboook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Foursquare? Another social media platform? The likely answer is where you can best demonstrate the value of your products or services.

When will your communications be posted? When there are product/service updates, staff updates or on a more regular basis?

How will you communicate? Through fresh content, contests and questions on Facebook, regular blogs, etc.?

Once you think about your social media plan in terms of the above six questions, you can start to build the story of your small business. Remember, social media marketing is not about the number of “likes” on Facebook or followers on LinkedIn. It’s about increasing awareness for your small business whether in Westchester or Wasilla, interacting with customers in real-time and growing your network. So here’s a new “W”:

Why wait? Get your social media marketing story in motion.

 
 
 
Nov 10 2011 - by Bridget Gibbons

Reasons to like Facebook for your Business800+ million active users; more than 50% of them logging on in any given day; 130 friends per average user – with statistics like these it’s clear that Facebook is here to stay for while. How can small businesses tap into the power of Facebook? By creating a Facebook business page and here are six reasons why to like that idea.

1. Your Facebook page can teach you more about your target audience. It gives your business a way to talk to and get direct feedback from your target audience. Your fans are on your page because they are aware of your company; they want to learn more and you can learn more from them.

2. A Facebook page gives you a chance to “humanize” your company. Social connections and genuine communication are integral parts of social media, and a Facebook page for your business gives you a unique opportunity to attach a face, name and personality to your brand.

3. You can build a community on your Facebook page. It is an excellent place to gather together your customers, prospects and fans to provide reviews, share opinions, voice concerns and offer feedback. If your business’ Facebook page successfully brings people together, you can develop a loyal following that will continue to grow.

4. Facebook is good for search engine optimization (SEO). With the speed of social media and new weight being added to information shared through social channels, having a Facebook page filled with rich content relevant to your business can help you boost your search engine rankings.

5. Your competition may already have a Facebook page. This may not be reason enough to have a a page if it doesn’t work for your business, but when it comes to social media, not having a Facebook page or presence on other social networks can cost you opportunities, especially if your competition is using social media and using it well.

6. You can put your business in front of your clients and customers every day. One of the biggest benefits of having a Facebook page for your business is the ability to have status updates, shared links and videos, and other information appear in your fans’ news feeds once they “like” your page.

Ultimately, a branded Facebook page for your business can be a powerful way to expand your reach and increase awareness of your business online.

 
 
 
Nov 03 2011 - by Bridget Gibbons

Last week we looked at WHY LinkedIn should be part of your business’ social media plan. This week we give you a few simple steps on HOW to get started with LinkedIn.

First, build your personal profile – even before you build your company’s profile. This is a great way to get your name and information on LinkedIn and to start making connections and getting recommendations.

Next, build your company profile using LinkedIn’s Add A Company feature. People can then follow your company and you can post your company description, announcements and personnel updates (e.g., new hires and title changes) and link to your Twitter account.   Note: You must have your own domain to build your Company profile.

Join Groups. LinkedIn’s Search feature lets you look for connections and groups relevant to your business. You can also join college and former employer alumni groups to find connections.

Keep your company active on LinkedIn by posting status updates and discussions. Post blog articles and offers directly to your company page once it’s live. Also, LinkedIn recently added status updates as a new feature to company pages, making them a great channel to promote your content.

REMEMBER: Always keep it professional – LinkedIn is the largest social professional network.  Here are some tips:

-Set up your vanity url now. Customize it to make it easy to remember – i.e., a name or brand that your contacts and clients will associate to your company. You can do using LinkedIn’s “customize your public profile URL” feature.

-Use LinkedIn Groups as a fast way to access people outside of your network. Members of a group do not need to be first-degree connections in order to send direct messages.

-Stay connected to your Linked in network where you are by using LinkedIn’s mobile application.

Ready to get LinkedIn?  Go to www.linkedin.com