Integrating Photo Contests Into Your Social Media Marketing

Integrate Photo Contests Into Your Digital Marketing Campaign

The photograph is a powerful visual marketing tool. People enjoy looking at photos, but more importantly people love sharing photos, especially on social media. So how can businesses integrate photo sharing into their digital marketing campaigns? Run a photo contest! Not only will people participate to share their photo, they’ll get to compete to win a prize. Now, who doesn’t love a good, friendly competition?

Running a photo contest will get you more engagement with your fans on your business or organization’s social media page, and also expand your reach and attract new people to the page. You might also have other goals in mind, such as spreading awareness about an event, promotion or service. You can run the contest through social networking sites such as Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook. Or, if you’re able to, you can run the contest through your website.

inBLOOM has been running different themed Facebook photo contests for clients since the idea first emerged. From the Home Vets NYC NJ Cuties for Charity Pet Photo Contests to Cupcake Magician’s Cupcake Cutie’s Photo Contest, we’ve had some great success with this digital promotion. Not only is it fun for the participants, it’s honestly a lot of fun for us, too. We get to tap into our creative sides to come up with these awesome interactive experiences, while building closer relationships with our clients’ audiences and watching their pages grow.

We use the Offerpop photo contest app for Facebook to run contests for our clients. Here’s how we get things rolling:

1. HEADLINE IMAGE: We work out the contest details and then our graphic designer creates an 810 x 300 headline image that includes the details, graphics and photos. This headline image is used for both the contest app and the Facebook timeline cover.

2. CREATE THE CONTEST: We launch the Offerpop app, title the campaign, upload the headline image, set the dates, configure the voting frequency, and provide the details and rules in the description. In order to enter and vote, participants have to like the page (an excellent way to build the page following). Participants have a week to submit photos. Voters have a week to vote, and can do so once, every 24 hours. The photo with the most votes wins the prize.

3. PROMOTION: This is key! We start promoting the contest before it even begins by posting an announcement about it on our client’s Facebook timeline with details so people can start working on their submissions. Once the contest has started, we continue to post reminders and photos of the entries submitted to get people interested in both submitting and voting. We also promote across channels like Twitter, email, and the client’s website. And we share the link and details with bloggers and other organizations’ pages asking them to spread the word as well.

Right now, we’re running EarthShare New Jersey’s “NJ Best & Beautiful Outdoors” Photo Contest”, which has been very successful. The deadline for submissions has passed, so now it’s voting time. Forty one participants have submitted absolutely gorgeous photos of parks, beaches, waterways, trails and gardens all around the state of New Jersey. The contest has received all kinds of entries, both from professional photographers and people who’ve simply captured an image with the camera on their phone. The photo with the most votes wins two tickets to the EarthShare Celebrates 20 Years Reception, taking place on May 30, 6:30 p.m. at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ.

By looking at EarthShare New Jersey’s Facebook insights, we can see that the number of likes has significantly increased throughout the duration of the contest. During the week long submission period, the page received 103 organic likes. During the week long voting period, the page received 581 organic likes.

But how can we really determine that the new likes were as a result of the contest? By looking at the activity of the posts in Facebook insights, we can see the posts that had the most organic reach and engagement (clicks and likes) were the ones pertaining to the contest.  The analytics show that mentions and posts by other people have also helped. Just by looking at the amount of people who entered and voted, we can see that the contest played a big role in getting those new likes.

Not only did the Facebook page get more engagement and expand its audience because of the contest, we also were able to get the word out about EarthShare Celebrates 20 Years Reception. This is a great example of how a photo contest can have more than one goal.

We’ll be launching Small Factory’s “School’s Out for Summer Camp Giveaway” Photo Contest on May 26. Participants are invited to submit a photo of their child’s art or their little artist, musician, gamer or singer in action. The winner will receive a $300 gift card valid towards Summer Camp at Small Factory, valid through August 22, 2014. We’re looking forward to seeing some creative entries!

If you’d like some assistance with creating and managing a photo contest contact us. We’d be more than happy to help you achieve the same success our clients have had.

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What’s Your (Business) Story? Enter Our Services Giveaway Contest

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I’m a writer, so I have a love for a good story that goes deep down to my toes. I’ve spent my life crafting and reading stories with a hunger that can’t be satiated. Because a great story makes you crave the next line. It gives you a taste for words and images, a carnal urge to let them coat your tongue like the tannins of a good, strong red wine. When the last drop is drunk, you still want more.

I’ll take a story from anywhere, the news, a novel, a children’s book, The Onion, but my favorites are the true ones, the ones with an actual person firmly rooted in the engagement of life. Give me a lede about a human, mid struggle or triumph, and I’ll click all the way through to the kicker line.

You might be surprised to know then, that I love writing about businesses. Not “business” but actual living, breathing companies, embodied by passionate people, whose goal is to create and serve, and make a boatload of money in the process.

I bet the same is true for you. How much more attractive is Apple to you because of Steve Jobs? Not just because he was a visionary, but because he saw success and failure, gain and loss, suffering and joy. Watching it all, buying his products or not, we became invested in him and his brand. (And this from me the Android lover.)

Every company’s got a story to tell – from the entrepreneur working in her bedroom or the fledgling team in their workshop, to the $2 million company or the Fortune 500 firm. And the best stories, the ones that make investors, customers and competitors lean forward and furrow their brows in concentration, are the ones about the people behind business. How did they build it? Why? How did they break through those barriers? How are they going to change the landscape of the industry? How is their product going to change my life?

It’s what we all want, to read about people, like us, struggling and succeeding to build something. It’s the reason we take a whole day for a TEDxNavesink conference and why we watch and share TED videos late at night, long after we should have put our devices down.

That’s why we – Shannon the writer and Jennifer, the publicist – have launched an exclusive contest for TEDxNavesink attendees, because want to hear from you, the visionaries, the early adopters, the entrepreneurs, the game changers. Give us the narrative seed of this, this thing, that has taken over and become your life and your love. If yours is the one to resonate most with us, we’ll help you craft and deliver it to the people you need most: your customers and investors.

We love the opening line of a good story and we can’t wait to help you tell the rest.

So tell us, what’s your story?

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Visual Content Marketing: Pictures Are Worth More Than Words

Visual Content Marketing: Pictures Are Worth More Than Words

Joshie the Giraffe lounging around at the Ritz-Carlton (Photo credit: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company)

Pictures are worth more than 1,000 words. Wouldn’t you rather see the sun setting over a tropical island beach more than reading a description about it? Or a video of an adorable kitten wiggling her ears while being bottle-fed? Seeing it so much better than hearing or reading about it. As research has proven, humans are visual creatures. Most of us process information based on what we see. And when it comes to social media, we want to see more images, less text. Whether it’s an idea, experience or joke, people want to see it take shape in the form of a picture or video.

Think about it –why are people really on social media anyway? To have fun while connecting with people and things they enjoy. So in order to spark the most engagement on your business page, take those factors into account. Your audience wants to see exciting, relevant and engaging visual content.

inBLOOM recently attended the Business Development Institute & PRNewswire Visual Content Marketing & Communications Summit on April 10. We learned some really valuable information on the importance of visual content from case studies and roundtables with companies such as Chobani, Alex & Ani, Curalate, Pandemic Labs and AVON. Here are a few things we came away with.

1. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT: 80/20 RULE

When marketing on social media, let the 80/20 Rule be your guide. It’s as simple as that. As we learned from Jessica Woodbury, Social Media Manager of Alex and Ani, 80% of the time you’re posting you should be sharing non-promotional content. The other 20% of time –let your brand/products shine.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to numbers and you want to get the most engagement you possibly can from your audience. If you keep shoving your brand in their faces with logos, products, etc. then you’re most likely to eventually get the boot. Even though you’ve already earned that “like” or “follow,” remember that your audience will have no problem getting you off their newsfeed if you’re too boring (or pushy). So give the people what they want! Know your audience and share what they really want to see.

2. USE IMAGERY TO TELL A STORY

Images are worth MUCH more than words on social media. Just take a look at your own personal Facebook page and newsfeed. What are you and your friends posting? Photos and videos to tell a story. We communicate visually, and we like the images to mean something. Bottom line is visuals make an impact, but visuals with stories make memories.

Matt Peters, Founder and Creative Director of Pandemic Labs presented a successful case of visual storytelling. Basically, a young boy lost his stuffed animal giraffe named Joshie at the Ritz-Carton, the Loss Prevention Team found it, took photos of Joshie doing various activities around the hotel and they were shared online. It got them a lot of attention because it was completely unexpected to see something like this happen at the Ritz, and also showcased their awesome customer service. If they told a story like this through words, it just wouldn’t have been the same. This is also a great example of how they promoted the brand without using the logo or paid advertisements.

3. BRAND DESIGN VS. BRAND CONTENT

As I said earlier, people don’t want your logo plastered all over their social media newsfeeds. Heavy branding just isn’t necessary and it really isn’t effective. As Jessica Lauria, Director of Brand Communications of Chobani said, brand design and brand content work together but are not one in the same. Your brand design is your logo, packaging, etc. but your brand content is the words, images, experiences and product. Be creative and brand your product by delivering it in your own way.

Elevate the brand beyond the branding and product by showing people things they don’t know about your product. Chobani likes to use beautiful, mouthwatering, amazing food photography with subtle branding to promote its yogurt. Jessica explained how this is especially effective on Pinterest and Instagram where subtle branding is the only way to go. So, rather than posting a boring photo of a container or bowl of yogurt, they post something that’s most likely to be shared –a meal that incorporates the product. Hmmm, but how will you know it’s Chobani if there’s no yogurt in the picture? The logo is on the spoon and the container of yogurt is subtly placed in the background. Now that’s some smart, effective and delicious advertising!

 4. THE IMPORTANCE OF USER GENERATED CONTENT

Not all your advertising has to be of the highest production value. You don’t need to go on a thousand dollar photo shoot for images to use when promoting, and if you’re a small business it might not even be an option. It’s definitely good to have those professional photos with just the right lighting to showcase your products or company, but it’s not always necessary. The truth is, your audience is doing you a big favor by taking photos and sharing them for you. So take advantage of it!

Monitor user-generated content (UGC) on social media and share what people are visually saying about you. If you aren’t already, look through your social media pages every day to see what others are posting about you and then share with your audience. You can even get in on the fun too! Take pictures while you’re at work or have your clients send you pictures of what goes on behind the scenes.

If you notice that you’re not getting people to share photos of your product as much as you’d like, make it easier for them by giving them a reason to do so. If you’re hosting an event, encourage people to take photos of their experiences and share them by using a relevant hashtag. You can also hold a contest where people have to submit photos in order to win a prize. This is also a great way to get more interaction and engagement on your page.

At inBLOOM we’re going to continue to concentrate on visual branding and creative campaigns (maybe even throw in selfie here and there!)

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Puparazzi is Calling! Enter the #SelfieShowoff Pet Photo Contest

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Join over 2,000 people and their pets as the Monmouth County SPCA celebrates

20 YEARS OF PAWS WALKING FOR A CAUSE!

Saturday, October 5, 2013 from 10AM-3PM
Brookdale Community College – Lincroft, NJ

The Puparazzi is Calling! Enter Your Pet in the Monmouth County SPCA Dog Walk #SelfieShowoff Photo Contest. Win 1 of 6 Prizes!

Contest Sponsored by InBLOOM CommunicationsJodes Happy Tail, Purr’n Pooch Pet ResortsGot Pet Sitter LLC, and Doggie B’dannas by Karen.

#Selfie Photos will be judged on personality, costume and how well your pup works the camera!

You can enter your photo in one or all of the following ways:

1. Visit the Puparazzi at the Monmouth County SPCA #SelfieShowoff Photo Station 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. We’ll take your pup’s #selfie for you. Borrow our puparazzi props!

2. Post your pup’s pic on the Monmouth County SPCA Facebook page by Saturday, October 5th at 1 p.m.

3. Tweet or Instagram your pic using the hashtag #SelfieShowoff and #MCSPCADogWalk by October 5th at 1 p.m.

A maximum of 3 photos per pet can be entered. Photos must be entered by 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 5th to be entered to win.

Visit the Dog Walk Main Stage at 2:30 p.m. when we announce the winners. Contestants must be present to win.

Grand Prize!

Basket with a gift certificate for Purr’n Pooch Pet Resorts one free night in an all inclusive suite (private room, tv, couch, daycare, pool time, and a bath) Jodes Happy Tail 6 month Treat of The Month Club, a gift certificate for a Happy Jodes Canine Birthday Cake or Pup-Cakes, a gift certificate for Happy Jodes Frozen Yogurt Treats, a treat jar, assorted freshly baked Jodes Happy Tail treats, assorted stuffed toys, a reflective dog vest, shampoo, Halloween toy, Halloween leash, a holiday assortment of bandanas by B’dannas by Karen, a gift certificate for pet sitting or pet walks and a leash from Got Pet Sitter, LLC.

#SelfieShowoff Prizes will be awarded for:

Grand Prize: Over $500
2nd Prize: $250 Value
3rd Place Prize: $125 Value
3 Runner-Ups: $15 Value Jodes Happy Tail freshly baked treats and a plush toy.

– See more at: http://monmouthcountyspca.kintera.org/faf/home/default.asp?ievent=1044516#sthash.sowwAlai.dpuf

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TEDxNavesink Brings World-Leading TEDtalks to Monmouth County

tedxnav_bannerOn Friday, September 20, 2013, TEDxNavesink: The Next Wave will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m at Brookdale Community College Performing Arts Center at 765 Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, N.J. The Conference will bring the world-leading TEDtalks mission to Monmouth County for an all-day live event where speakers and attendees discuss the future of the New Jersey Shore’s people and landscape.

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with many initiatives, including TEDx where local, self-organized events bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, live speakers and TEDtalks combine to spark deep discussion and connections among the audience.

At TEDxNavesink 360 attendees will experience 24 live talks and 100 minutes of live and pre-recorded TED material from the TEDxCity2.0 conference taking place at Times Center NYC and around the world in major cities.

The day’s schedule is available online. Speaker highlights include:

Tereza Nemessanyi, a seasoned media and technology entrepreneur and executive, leads Microsoft’s presence with startups in the East. Nemessanyi will share her breadth and depth of experience across high-growth startups and the world’s largest enterprises. Named one of Forbes “Ten Female Entrepreneurs to Watch”, she is a sought-after speaker (TED, SXSW) and blogger (Reuters, Huffington Post).

Robert Lucky, renowned speaker, electrical engineer, inventor, and former head of research at Bell Labs and Telcordia Technologies, will talk about technology, society, and engineering culture as well as his participation as an active member of the board of the Fort Monmouth Economic Revitalization Authority.

Harrison Owen, author and father of “Open Space Technology”, will share how he has helped CEOs, scientists, educators and others to harness the power of self-organization through more than 100,000 Open Space meetings worldwide.

Gabriella Levine, award-winning creative technologist, interactive artist and open-source hardware designer, will discuss the relationship between technology and ecology and share news of her innovative global experiments using robots.

Allon Hillel-Tuch, Co-founder and CFO of the world’s crowdfunding machine RocketHub, will share how his company has helped thousands of artists, scientists, entrepreneurs, and social leaders raise millions of dollars for their projects worldwide.

Cindy Zipf, Executive Director of Clean Ocean Action and a successful coalition builder, will share how she formed the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest, most effective voice for the ocean, which successfully led a movement that closed eight major ocean dumpsites and continues to be a leading advocate for clean water from Montauk to Cape May.

Dr. William Rosenblatt, psychologist, Co-founder of the Jersey Shore Surfrider Foundation and member of the Surfers Medical Association, will share his experience riding waves for more than 42 years and his instrumental work to assure that New Jersey’s beaches are open and accessible to the public.

Outside of the talks, TEDxNavesink will feature an interactive art project in association with the Monmouth County Arts Council to raise funds for a community affected by Hurricane Sandy, exhibitions of art and photography from across the region, and performances by comedians and musicians including a special performance by Kaki King, one of the top guitarists in the world known for her percussive and jazz-tinged melodies. There will also be many opportunities to meet the speakers and network at lunch, on breaks, and at an evening reception at Monmouth Museum brought to you by My Kitchen Witch Catering, Rook Coffee Roasters, Beach Haus beer and others.

Visit www.tedxnavesink.com for a complete lists of speakers and event updates. TEDxNavesink is a nonprofit, volunteer driven event co-sponsored by the Monmouth County Arts Council.

If you would like additional information or would like to interview our speakers or event organizers contact inBLOOM Communications at 201-892-9403 or jen@inbloomcomm.com.

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Tackling Technology After Work and School

Tackling Technology After Work and School

If you’re anything like the employees at inBLOOM, technology is an important part of your life. Like us, many companies require employees to be plugged in throughout the work day. We think it’s fantastic because we are able to communicate with our clients at any time, share news, research and write content easily and efficiently. However, because many of us with jobs that require the use of technology are able to be connected whenever and wherever, it can be difficult to unplug during off time. It’s especially difficult to unplug when you have access to email and social media right on your phone, which you probably carry around with you at all times.

Technology also plays a big part in the lives of our children. As the kids go back to school, you’ll see that schools are incorporating more and more technology into the classroom. This New York Times article even notes that a growing number of schools are asking students to bring their own smartphones, tablets, laptops and even their video game players to class. The schools say the students’ own devices are the simplest way to use a new generation of learning apps that can teach them math, test them with quizzes, and enable them to share and comment on each other’s essays. Because our children are now surrounded by technology at school more than ever, they might also find it difficult to unplug.

The truth is the more technology we incorporate into our lives, the more our households are affected on a daily basis. Our absorption in technology limits our availability to communicate with our children and spend time developing real-life relationships with family and friends.

So since we’re constantly surrounded by technology at work and at home, are we doomed? Not if we unplug from technology once in a while and teach our children to do the same. Even if you’re not sitting in front of the computer typing and clicking, you’re still plugged in if you’re constantly checking your phone or tablet.

As Randi Zuckerberg of Dot Complicated says in her blog post on finding tech-life balance, “As parents, we need to remember that we are our children’s tech role models. How can we expect them to use tech responsibly when they’ve grown up watching us text and email all day long?”

As inBLOOM employees with children, we understand the importance of unplugging and have found helpful ways to tackle technology after work and school.

1. Find time to decompress. Shut down the computer, put away the iPad, silence your phone, turn off the TV – just get away from technology for a while. As difficult as it may be to do this, you will feel relieved to get away from the sound of your ringtone and those alerts you receive all day from your email and social media. Spend time outdoors, whether it’s in your backyard, at a park or beach, or on a walk through the neighborhood. A breath of fresh air without any distractions will help you clear your mind and relax. If the weather isn’t so nice, stay at home and read a book or make arts and crafts.

2. Schedule time with your children. With busy work and personal schedules, it’s easy to lose track of time. Yes, the work day is over but you may still be taking phone calls and answering emails while the kids do their homework. You run some errands and by the time you know it, you’re asleep in bed. Surely this sounds like a typical weekday for many of us; however, it shouldn’t be like this. Schedule quality time with your children – and no, taking them along with you while you run your errands doesn’t count. Sit with them while they do their homework and ask them what they’re learning about in school. Or have them help you cook dinner! You’ll not only be spending quality time together creating memories, but also help them build fundamental culinary skills. Get into a routine each day where you can put aside some time dedicated to your children without technology.  Unplugging with your children will allow you to give them your undivided attention and let them know they are valued.

3. Use privacy settings and monitor your children’s use of technology. New social networks open up the door to inappropriate material and conversations, so be aware of how your children spend their time online. First, communicate with them about what is okay and not okay to do on the internet. Set up parental controls offered by your internet provider on all devices –this way you are in control and have a sense of security. See what your children are up to from time to time and talk about the dangers of communicating with strangers online.

We know it’s not easy to disconnect from technology in today’s society, but we shouldn’t be owned by our devices. Give yourself and your children a chance to unplug and you’ll create a better tech-life balance.

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Google Authorship Gives Your Content Gives Added Value

Google Authorship

Google dominates the market with their search engine, therefore it’s important to pay attention to Google’s algorithm updates in order to maintain a strong online presence. Google has recently implemented an Authorship Markup tool, which gives value to individual content creators based on the information they produce, rather than individual pages. It seems that businesses will now become secondary to the people behind them. Writers, bloggers and businesses looking to create an influential online presence are now being advised to set up Google Authorship. This means that content by verified authors will appear higher in search than content produced anonymously.

Eric Schmidt, Google’s Executive Chairman, has said, “Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.”

Google Authorship works by connecting your content to a verified Google+ page, so Google can recognize who created the content. You will notice that when you search something in Google, a headshot may appear next to the results. If you see a headshot, that means the author of the content has set up Google Authorship, tying their Google+ account to their blog. Basically, when a person has set up Google Authorship they are recognized as a credible person, giving people the idea that they are reliable and trustworthy.

Because of Google Authorship, it’s a wise idea for businesses and organizations to become more personalized by recognizing the specific members of the team, rather than itself as a whole. Each employee contributing to the business’ content marketing efforts should set up Google Authorship.

It’s quite simple to set up Google Authorship. Here’s how:

1. Look over your Google+ page, making sure you have a profile photo with a recognizable headshot.
2. Make sure a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, “By Danielle Thibault”). Your byline will show up in results.
3. Verify you have an email address on the same domain as your content. If you don’t have an email address on the same domain, visit the support link.
4. Sign up for Google Authorship. You will receive a verification email to confirm.
5. Go to your Google+ page and under Links, click Edit. Add your sites at which you publish content to “Contributor To”.

Keep in mind, Google is following and ranking you as a person, not just your website now. It will track your authority in your industry by following the trail of you footprints you leave on the web. Keep your brand consistent as you post on your social media platforms, comment on other blogs and post on other people’s social media accounts. Your website will be ranked by the authority that the author has, which means that an author who has been well ranked by Google will help to raise the ranking of websites they are associated with.

inBLOOM’s 4 Tips for Building Google Author Rank

1. Post relevant content on Google+.
Keep your page active by frequently posting content that is highly relevant to your target audience and sharing quality content that people want to share. Google+ supports the use of hashtags, so include them in your posts. Google is very visual, so post high quality photos and videos whenever possible. Also, keep active on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Youtube. Encourage people to connect with you on their as well on your Google+ page.

2. Interact with people in your Google+ Circles and Communities.
Add people to your circles and interact with them by commenting and sharing  posts and using +1. The more people that add you to their circles, follow you on your other social media platforms, and click on your content, the more authority you will have as an author. Join Google+ Communities relevant to your area of business or expertise. You’ll be able to converse and engage with your target audience, while positioning yourself as a reliable source of information and knowledge in your industry.

3. Guest post.
Writing and publishing articles on credible websites and blogs will help you reach a broader audience and increase your brand awareness. Your quality content should share your experience, thoughts, and knowledge, and also be timely. Always keep the topic relevant and be sure not to include too many links. Guest posting is also great for building back links that are organic and reputable. Be sure to claim the authorship of your posts using Google+. The host site’s owner may use a website plugin that adds you as a site user and uses your Google+ profile link to form an authorship connection. If they don’t have the plugin you can still claim Google Authorship by including a link to your Google+ profile and then linking back to the hosting site in the “Contributes to” section of your Google+ account.

4. Keep updated.
Technology is always advancing, new social media platforms are always emerging and social etiquette changes frequently. Keep updated on the latest news and trends by reading and researching.

Dot Complicated, a new weekly newsletter and web community about wired living created by Randi Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, is a great tool for keeping up with the latest on technology, social etiquette and online behavior. It deals with everything from how to talk to kids about Snapchat to five career faux pas that you don’t want to make with social media, and also features articles from credible contributors. Randi Zuckerberg speaks all about Dot Complicated in a video interview with Jimmy Nguyen.

Setting Up Google Authorship on WordPress? Here are the steps:

1. Install and activate the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin.

2. Go to Users, click on your Username and add your Google+ profile URL to the Google+ field.

3. Check that Google Authorship is working with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool by entering your blog’s URL or a specific link to a post you have authored. It will then tell you whether or not Authorship has been verified.

4. Done!  It may take a few days for the Google Authorship to start appearing on the search engine.

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Social Media Etiquette for Business

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Don’t isolate your business with poor social media etiquette.


I was recently shocked to read a business owner complain on Facebook about representatives from a charity who visited his storefront requesting a gift certificate donation. He explained that when he asked the women if they had ever patronized his establishment, they replied no. Following their visit, he went on to tell his 2,000+ Facebook followers that he could not believe these women had the nerve to ask a business they did not patronize for a donation.

Though he may have had a very good point, there was surely a better way to express his opinion than complaining about two volunteers to customers, colleagues and friends.  Instead, he could have shared with the women that although he would like to donate to their charity, first and foremost, he supports his patrons’ causes. In turn, hopefully they would become customers and return again with their request.

His response did not open the door for any relationship, but rather accelerated a mob mentality where some of his followers joined him in berating the two women in a string of Facebook comments that inevitably turned off some people, including myself. Instead, the business owner could have posted a comment on Facebook announcing that he welcomes his customers to visit any time to request donations for their upcoming charity events, and that although he would like to support all the hardworking volunteers that visit his establishment, he cannot afford to donate to every charity. This would have turned what he perceived as a bad experience into a positive one, getting his point across, but also seizing the opportunity to highlight his generosity in the community.

Sadly , this negative behavior is not uncommon on Facebook as the social site has become a place to rant and rave to friends and fans. Are the dozens of friends supporting your rants worth the one person turned off by your negativity?

A survey shared by Hulafrog from 360PR and Mom It Forward found that 53% of moms often refer friends to brands, products and services on social media. One mom is all it takes to tarnish your reputation in the local community. Can you please everyone? No; but, you can take the necessary steps to safeguard your reputation.

In an effort to save you from your own social snafus, here are inBLOOM Communication’s three Best Practices for safeguarding your business on Social Media:

1. DON’T BE A BULLY.

With all the campaigns working to teach children how to respect each other on the web, it’s high time the message is shared with adults. Never use your business or personal social media accounts as platforms to voice your negative opinions of customers and colleagues. Word travels very fast on social media, and turning one person off could quickly mean turning off thousands in only a matter of minutes. Your brand’s online reputation counts on you and your employees to act in courteous and professional manners, both in-person and on social media. Many large companies are creating Social Media Policies to reinforce the behavior they expect from their employees in the office as well as online. Many are easily found from a quick Google search and small business owners can tweak their policies for personal use. Lisa Buyer of Search Engine Watch offers great advice and recommended resources in her article “How to Avoid PR Disaster with a Social Media Policy.”

2. EARN AND GIVE RESPECT.

Respecting your fans’ privacy is essential to maintaining business integrity. Never mention names in pictures without their permission. A quick email or message asking for permission on Facebook will suffice.

Focus on the positive. When negative comments are posted on your page, respond quickly and be courteous. It’s often better to show others that you can respond to negativity in an appropriate manner, then to delete the comment completely. Use your discretion; if posts are profane or hurtful, delete them immediately.

You can also ask questions. Use social media as an opportunity to get to know your fans and then you can market to their direct interests and needs. This will gain you respect as a business owner who listens and understands the local community. Simple ways you can show respect and admiration for your social media followers and fans is to share news about their local charity events and happenings.

Additionally, if your customers love a certain service or product, be sure to thank them for being a loyal supporter on Facebook by posting a pic or comment and they will get into the groove of doing the same. My son and I recently visited the Salad Shack in Long Branch, NJ and they always make my son his very own smoothie blend of grapes, blueberries and apples. They named the drink after him and posted the recipe on their chalk board for the day. My son and I were so thrilled that I shared an Instagram of him proudly and his juice on their Facebook timeline. Simple acts of kindness are appreciated and social media sites are great places to share the love.

3. HAVE FUN.

Never forget that social media was developed to help people share information, stay connected and have fun. Social platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are wonderful tools to help you promote your business. You can advertise your offerings and personality, 24 hours a day, through comments, pictures, graphics and networking. It’s essential that you and your social media manager enjoy posting on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, snapping pics on Instagram, and pinning on Pinterest. It’s not a chore, it’s a privilege to represent a business and speak open and honestly to the people who love and use its products or services.

 

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SIMPLE STEPS TO MARKETING AND PR SUCCESS

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Many small businesses and nonprofit organizations find spring to be one the busiest seasons of the year for promotions and special events. The upcoming season offers plenty of promotional and motivational opportunities. If you haven’t made a plan for how you are going to grow your business yet, the time to act is now. inBLOOM suggests that you incorporate the below actions into your marketing/public relations plan. These are just a few ideas and we’d love to hear from you if you have any comments or steps to add.

Seven Simple Steps to Marketing & PR Success This Spring

1. Research

Know your customers and build strong relationships with them. Your brand will be stronger if you know as much as possible about your customers’ opinions, needs and preferences. Gather information, then create and distribute a questionnaire, either in person or online. SurveyMonkey and Facebook’s Opinion Polls are helpful tools for businesses eager to engage customers. This process will help you to make improvements or changes within the business. Be sure to offer your surveyors a gift card or small token of appreciation for their time.

2. Design

You have only seconds to make a first impression. Literally!  If your website isn’t aesthetically pleasing, people will leave. According to research highlighted by usability guru Jakob Nielsen, once visitors have stayed on a page for more than ten seconds they are more likely to stay for longer.

According to Maryann Small of Muse Designworks, your company’s design should be consistent, attractive and professional. We can not stress enough the importance of using professional graphics, images and videos on your website! People will leave your business page for a company that looks more trustworthy and put together.

Use a color scheme that makes sense. When searching for colorspalettespatterns, and the latest trends  in color, we visit ColourLovers, a creative community where people from around the world create and share and explore colorful articles…All in the spirit of love. And, what’s not to love about looking sharp and professional?

3. Community Relations & Cross Promotions

A great way to get the word out about your business is to partner up with other businesses and organizations. Your partners can get the word out to their networks and help draw in people that you wouldn’t have met otherwise. In exchange, you can feature their logo, services, or products in your promotions, at your special events, and on your website and social media pages. You can also offer to help them get the word out about their own events.

Many small businesses also affiliate themselves with charities to market their businesses. Not only is it a beneficial way to develop a powerful network, but this also helps others in the process. Just be true to your business mission and personal passions by supporting a charity where you truly feel a connection.

You can search for a partner charity on one of our favorite sites — Charity Navigator. The charity evaluator is working to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability and Transparency of 6,000 of the country’s largest charities. It’s your watchdog and well worth perusing for a good philanthropic fit.

4. Media Relations

In order for you to know what qualifies as newsworthy, you must know about the editorial content of the media outlets that you pitch. For example, if you are a business offering services to pets and are interested in being featured in a newspaper, you may want to find out if that newspaper has a pet section. You should also become familiar with reporters and bloggers that are interested in your area of expertise or services and update them about what your business offers. Make sure you maintain your relationships with these reporters and bloggers once they are established. If you develop and maintain good relationships like these, you will become the expert source they seek out and you’ll stand out from the competition.

Give writers valuable, authentic content, and they will count on you for information. Make sue you also read and subscribe to the papers and magazines you want to court. There is nothing more embarrassing than being asked by a writer whom you are pitching, “Did you read my recent article?” or  ”Didn’t you read this month’s issue? We covered that topic.” We also recommend that you check out HARO for real-time media opportunities, including daily email notifications with reporter queries for resources.

5. Email Marketing 

A great way to communicate with people about your business is through opt-in email marketing. Email marketing is one of the most widely used forms of outreach and promotion for businesses. To effectively market through email, you must create a database of email addresses collected from people who have agreed to receive your promotions and news. You can collect emails at events, at your place of business and online. In many cases, a subscribe button for email button can easily be added to your website and directly linked to an email marketing service like Constant Contact or Mail Chimp. These services allow you to manage and email your contacts, maintain status reports and connect to your social media accounts.

The key to successful email marketing is to send emails consistently and respectively, and to incoporate attractive graphics and quality content. Through tracking and response, you’ll also know if emailing your customers once a week or once a month is the preferred strategy.

6. Social Media

Social media is a must for building strong relationships and creating new ones. More importantly, social SEO (a relatively new concept) encompasses the idea that social media links and interaction play a huge part in a website’s search rankings.

Reach out to people where they’re spending the most time – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Keep your pages updated by posting things that capture people’s attention and encourage them to interact. Build traffic on your Facebook page by running a contest or giveaway. You can use a third party application that will allow people to enter your social promotion and create graphics to advertise it. Make sure the ideas for your contests or giveaways are easy to understand and offer value.

Daily communication is key to being a successful social media marketer. Be unique, exciting and honest. People on your pages want to connect with people, not marketing machines. We’ll have to post again on each of these social media brands because each one offers its own unique way of communicating with colleagues, customers and prospects. And, yes, it’s all very overwhelming, which is why at inBLOOM we’re working with many clients these days on their social media strategies and daily maintenance. Post, tweet and share that exciting news!

7. Advertising

Now, advertising is a tricky one, but also important. Special interest magazines may be beneficial to advertise in if you are interested in targeting a specific kind of audience, but we also love the community papers. Advertising online with media and companies like Google, directory sites like Yelp and Merchant Circle, or bloggers also allows you to reach a larger market and measure your results.

Then, there’s social media, which also offers new advertising opportunities. Before you move ahead with any advertising make sure that you are using a system like Google Analytics to track the keywords and traffic on your website. This data is important to helping you understand your target market. There are thousands of advertising opportunities on and off the web, and it’s up to you to do your own research on which ones are right for you. If you go ahead with any advertising, track your results or you will never know if your investment was well spent.

Follow us @ Jennifer Smiga @inBLOOMbuzz and Danielle Thibault @inBLOOMDanielle for more news, tips and events from the great beyond and our clients.

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inBLOOM Communications Grows

We hope you enjoy our blog. It’s an exciting way for us to share news about our client events and happenings as well as trends in our industry. This August, inBLOOM celebrates its two-year anniversary, and we look forward to continuing to grow by leaps and bounds in 2013.

inBLOOM Communications blends traditional media and community relations with social media marketing and event production to generate brand awareness that blooms year-round. We help our clients to identify their key goals and target markets, then customize campaigns to match their budgets and uniquely tell their stories.

“There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde

If you haven’t already noticed, social media is also changing the way businesses and nonprofits connect with journalists, prospects and customers. It’s placing new demands on PR professionals, requiring new skills and expertise. In some ways, PR is getting easier because of social media. But in other ways, it’s also becoming unfamiliar and strange. inBLOOM embraces social media and uses it in exciting ways to engage and connect with the media and our clients’  target audiences.

“We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media, the question is how well do we do it.” – Erik Qualman

Contact us for more information on the services inBLOOM offers or to schedule a time to discuss your communication needs. inBLOOM Communications offers the following services:

  • Media & Community Relations
  • Social Media Marketing & Networking
  • Event Production & Sponsorship Coordination
  • Fundraising Consulting
  • Project Management & Copywriting for Web & Blog Development
  • Email Marketing
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