Archive for the ‘social media’ Category

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Best Practices – Live Tweeting An Event

July 9, 2013

twitter-button-colorMary Lower, Founder and CEO of Sterling Cross Communications was recently asked to write an article for RSVP MN Magazine for the Meeting and Event Planner Industry on the best practices to use when live-tweeting an event. Here’s her article from the Summer 2013 Issue.

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Crowdsourced reviews can put local restaurateurs on the defensive

July 9, 2013

1yelp0302I was recently interviewed by Bill Ward of the Minneapolis Start Tribune for an insight into online reputation issues facing restaurants. We talk about Yelp and how clients I had set up with monitoring tools and training are utilizing those tools in every day restaurant operations!

Click here to read the article in the Star Tribune.

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The Paula Deen Effect and your Business – The Perils of Influencer Marketing

July 2, 2013

rsvpmn-logoToday I contributed a guest blog/article to RSVP MN Magazine. Here is the post also a link to the post on their site:

The Paula Deen Effect and your Business – The Perils of Influencer Marketing

By Christopher Lower, Co-Owner and VP of PR, Marketing, & Social Media for Sterling Cross Communications

For many years we have come to learn of the power that celebrity influencers have on businesses. It’s one of the hottest terms in marketing today: Influencer Marketing. Businesses are looking for that lift that can be achieved when a person with a huge audience on multiple communications channels speaks fondly of your service or product and endorses it to their audience. In the most wildly successful cases, it became a phenomenon called the “Oprah Effect” due to the frenzy of business activity a company would receive when mentioned on the popular Oprah Winfrey show by the host herself.

On the negative side of the spectrum would be what has been happening in current events and could be ascribed as being victim to the “Paula Deen Effect”. In this case, the person of influence has become associated with a negative event and has triggered a wave of impact across several businesses that were connected to her, either as a direct working relationship, or in an endorsement relationship. Because of her negative online reputation, and current public perception of her, any brands that are tied to her are suffering. There has been a massive wave of companies scrambling to distance themselves from her brand, many of whom have been intrinsically tied to her popularity in the past.

To be completely fair, Ms. Deen isn’t the only influencer to have a negative impact on brands when a scandal has been tied to their reputation. How easily we forget those like Lance Armstrong, Tiger Woods, and so on.

This current case is only greater proof of how important the public perception of your brand and reputation is online. It affects the bottom line, and can impact the stock prices in public companies. It could be your greatest weakness and many companies don’t even know how they can protect and defend their online reputation.

Because of the nature of social media users to have an extremely short attention span, people are more willing to perceive what they find on search engines to be the true nature of your business. You are what Google says you are. Sadly, you are also only as good as the latest and highest search engine ranked review.

As “The Deen Effect” demonstrates, you are also affected by the online reputations and perceptions of those people associated with you. These range from your vendors, suppliers, resellers, channel partners, employees, board members, and anyone else that impacts your brand. Their negative reputations can harm you online as well. You may not have “celebrity” endorsements, but you do have influencers inside and attached to your company. You no longer can afford to not monitor your own company and brand, and it would also be beneficial to monitor the reputations of those associated with your brand where you rely upon them to conduct your business.

Many businesses are scrambling to put together teams that can respond to these new crises situations. These issues may occur across multiple communication platforms in an instant, and can go globally viral in seconds. Traditional PR professionals who don’t have both the crises communications skills and a mastery of social and mobile technologies are obsolete. Using interns to solve the problem is fine for their knowledge of social media tools, but inadequate to deal with the crises communications. You need a team experienced in both that can respond immediately 24 hours a day, every day.

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10 Businesses That Would Benefit by Being on Pinterest Today!

April 18, 2012

In recognizing how incredibly fast Pinterest is growing, and the quick migration to Pinterest by many businesses (including ourselves and several of our clients). I was recently asked at a conference, which businesses would really benefit by being on this platform and why they would do so. Here’s the list and reasons that I came up with for the group:

  1. Hair, Nail, & Spa Salons – Obviously this platform is incredibly suited to the primary demographic of users (Pinterest is the number one platform of choice for female social media users).  Pinterest Boards can be used to highlight and focus on photos of current hairstyles, fashions, nail color trends, hair colors, beauty and facial trends and the lists go on. 
  2. Travel Agencies – Think of Pinterest as your home for virtual travel brochures and videos. Because of the “wish list” feature of Pinterest, where people are pinning and repining great travel images and destinations they would like to plan on visiting.
  3. Home Remodelers – Use Pinterest as an online gallery to show off before and after photos of your projects to demonstrate your expertise and examples of great work you have performed.
  4. Interior Designers – The same basic idea as remodelers would work here. Pinterest can be leveraged as an online gallery to show before and after photos, show off trends, fabrics, patterns, signature pieces, and so on.
  5. Landscapers – Here you can benefit from sharing how-to information, as well as showing off examples of work you have performed.  Just like rooms in our homes, we tend to pin photos or repin photos of things we’d like in our yards someday.
  6. Event & Wedding Planners – Here you can showcase venues, ideas, your portfolio of work done, decorations, themes, and settings. The list here is endless.
  7. Jewelry & Clothing – Combining product photos and the Pinterest “Gift” option can help to drive online and in store sales of items you sell.
  8. Tattoo Shops – Where better to place an online gallery of your artwork and designs! You can also show off specific signature pieces, as well as provide examples of tattoos designed for specific body areas.
  9. Auto Detail/Paint/Customizing – The number one things that Males on Pinterest pin after food pins, are pins of vehicles, especially dream cars, customized cars, and video as well.  If you can provide these images of your work online they are sure to be repinned (believe me, I found a showroom photo of a 1979 Chevy Chevette, my first car, and even that car is my pin with the highest number of repins).
  10. Resorts & Campgrounds – Similar to travel, you can virtually create an online travel brochure for your property to drive awareness and interest.  You can even open up certain Pinboards to allow your guests to pin photos from their trips or vacations. Allowing your customers to help share the fondness and memories of their trip.

At Sterling Cross Communications, we have a vast experience in creating and executing exciting and outside the box campaigns across several social media platforms. If you need help or more ideas on placing your business on Pinterest or need a strategy and action plan on what to do on these channels please contact us at http://sterlingcrossgroup.com.

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Businesses – Are you failing to maintain your online presence?

April 13, 2012

Negative Comments Can Spread Like Wildfire

It’s not enough to have an online presence anymore.  It is great that you have a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, and YouTube channel, but are you maintaining them?  In 2011 we saw many businesses leap online, eager to try out social media and leverage the communication and business power of these tools. Now, a year later, the scary fact is that most of these websites and social accounts have been abandoned or are not being used effectively (or even correctly in some situations).  You may have had the right intentions by setting these accounts up, especially if you were doing it to secure your IP and registered business names to protect your corporation.  If you set up accounts in order to have access to the platform, to monitor or listen to feedback, criticism, and comments, that is also a great reason to be on social media, but only if you are engaging back. OK, so now you are thinking to yourself: “So what?  We have a presence on social media platforms as our bosses told us we had to do.”

What if I told you that these abandoned, neglected, and incomplete accounts are actually hurting your business, and that they were actually costing you money to your bottom line, in spite of the fact that it was free to set up accounts on most of these platforms. If you are neglecting, abandoning, and failing to complete and monitor these accounts, you are losing customers, for the following reasons:

  1. The perception that your company is “Out of Date”, “Out of Touch”, and downright “Incompetent” in engaging your audience on social media – Many customers that encounter your business on the web, will check out these accounts just to see what is happening.  If, for instance, your Twitter account hasn’t been updated in the last 90 days, you are perceived as being “out of touch” and therefore a company that is seemed as approachable and eager to listen to a customer.  Incomplete profiles, pages without headshots or branding, or important information missing, such as contact info, gives off the impression that you are incompetent, especially to the under 35 crowd that is pretty much living their lives on the internet and mobile devices.
  2. The perception that your company isn’t listening – 98% of all internet users expect you to not only have a presence on these social media platforms, but they want you to engage with them as well on these platforms.  Especially when a customer has a question or complaint. Today’s internet users in this text driven society, demand and expect to have a response from your company quickly on the social media platform where they made the comment or complaint.  24 hours is an eternity and will not gain you any favors.  You need someone to actively manage these accounts and respond. 
  3. The perception that your company is ( insert descriptor word here: bad, evil, inept, uncaring, etc.) – More and more web companies live or die by their online reputation. If your company lets too many negative reports build online over any subject, without addressing and responding to these comments and complaints, can lead to the escalation of the issue, and in turn its ability to go viral.

Ultimately, you can think of each of these social media accounts the same way you would as building little campfires.  If you neglect them, all sorts of things can result. Your best hope is that they fizzle, die, and disappear.  occasionally though there are those fires that can flare up, escape its confines and end up becoming a raging wildfire, leaving behind swaths of ruin for your business.  If you are struggling with how to maintain your social media accounts, contact us and we’ll help you to take control of your accounts. www.sterlingcrossgroup.com.

All stats were compiled from www.pewinternet.org

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5 Ways to Promote Your Restaurant on Pinterest

February 6, 2012

Proof that we are still a visual-based culture Pinterest has become the social media network to watch after growing more than 4,000 percent in the last six months (according to compete.com). At an average of 88.3 minutes per visitor, Pinterest currently ranks third on engagement behind Facebook and Tumblr and it ranks well ahead of LinkedIn (16 minutes) and Google Plus (5.1 minutes). Further proving that image based social networks and applications (like Foodspotting and Instagram) are rapidly gaining market share due to their high engagement levels with their audience.

From the Pinterest website:

Pinterest is a Virtual Pinboard.

Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.

Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Pinterest is a social network that also has a promotional value as well: Users share photos that they find online by “pinning” them, the equivalent of “liking” a status on Facebook or giving a +1 on Google +. That act in turn has the ability to create beneficial SEO and linking opportunities for individuals and brands alike.  

Users have to download a toolbar that can be used to pin items from any website. The photo and information then appears on your Pinterest board, and users who follow you can see your collection of photos and even “re-pin” them (like retweeting on Twitter or other forms of sharing).

This platform, while not specifically designed for marketing strategies may be a very effective social media platform for your restaurant or business when you take the following steps to market your restaurant.

1. Share your Menu, Photos, and Amenities

The most obvious way to use Pinterest for your restaurant is to pin photos of your own brand, logos, menus, staff, specials, venue, and amenities. Since you can create several boards, it is best to group your pins into different categories such as: Specials, Events, Food & Drink, Our Staff, Our location, and so on. By doing this, you are creating a rich story in images highlighting your food, brand, and service.

2. Add pins to the “gifts” section of Pinterest

When you create an entry for your pins, you can add a price tag. By selecting this option, you can then add a link, pointing back to your website. Items added in this way are automatically included in the “gifts” section on Pinterest, which is a virtual catalog of gift ideas. Be sure to select your best photos for pinning, and include a description. This gives you an opportunity to get your prices out there, and call attention to events like Wine Dinners or Gift Packages for certain holidays.

3. Show off your Event Spaces

By pinning photos of great events that are held in your event spaces, it allows people to get ideas and envision their own party in those spaces. This works great to promote seasonal spaces like patios, decks, and rooftop spaces as well.  Make sure you include any great photos of beautiful views from your venue as well.

4. Maximize the SEO benefits

When you pin your products, you have an opportunity to maximize your SEO strategy and drive traffic back to your website. You create high quality backlinks when you or other users link to your photos and pins. Using keywords when you write compelling descriptions will attract visitors and potentially compel them to visit your website. You can integrate your Pinterest account with your Twitter Account and Facebook Page and share your pins on these social networks. All of these efforts will help to drive more traffic to your site and to increase your organic search engine rankings.

5. Create and Pin content that people would want to view

Most of us can easily spot a corporate profile that is designed only to blast out marketing pitch after marketing pitch are likely not only to steer clear of your account, but to avoid and in extreme cases to bash your attempts. You can avoid many of those cases by creating interesting relevant content that provides an added value or is exclusive content to that audience (like posting recipes for some dishes for a fan to try at home or pinning specials only available to your Pinterest Audience).

Finally, just like any other social media platform, it has to be a two-way conversation.  Engage with your audience and listen and watch what they find most or least interesting in your brand. Pinterest is perfect for your brand if your brand can be displayed in images, and with the ease of digital photography these days, photos can be quickly taken, edited, posted and shared, creating great content for you to use to promote your Restaurant.

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Using QR Codes to Enhance Your Events

January 5, 2012

The Fall 2011 issue of Meetings +Events Magazine ran an article I wrote about using QR (Quick Response) Codes to enhance the marketing and promotion of your trade show appearances or events. It is based on case studies of current work we are doing for our clients, and the success of interaction, excitement, and conversion that they can provide. This has translated into greater traffic and attendance for our clients in measurable and impactful ways. Here is the intro to the article and a link to read the rest of it:

Quick Response, or QR codes, are popping up in all sorts of places: newspapers, magazines, billboards, drink coasters and even on the walls of restrooms. What started as a simple bar code stamp to track inventory parts for the auto industry is sweeping through many other industries as a tool for marketing, advertising, promotion and sales.

Sadly, many QR codes lead to material that is not very unique and engaging of the audience; more often than not, they lead to…click here to read more!

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Savvy hosts: Twin Cities restaurants embrace social media to boost loyalty – and sales

March 6, 2010

We were recently a part of a recent article by Julio Ojeda-Zapata in the St. Paul Pioneer Press about the restaurant scene in the Twin Cities.  It shows how well this market is really on the leading edge of social media and marketing for Hospitality related businesses.  Here is the start, then click the link for the full article:

A number of Twin Cities restaurants are embracing social media to increase loyalty — and sales — among fans.

Until last year, James Flinsch’s contributions at Pazzaluna were strictly IRL (that is,’in real life’ in cyberslang).

As wine steward at the popular downtown St. Paul Italian restaurant, he often rescues diners at a loss for a killer pairing. Hired as a waiter in 1999, Flinsch still whisks dishes onto tabletops with some regularity.

While on paternity leave with a lot of late-night hours on his hands, though, he glimpsed another, online role for himself at his beloved restaurant. He noted that the establishment’s management company had created a Facebook fan page

Until last year, James Flinsch’s contributions at Pazzaluna were strictly IRL (that is,’in real life’ in cyberslang).

As wine steward at the popular downtown St. Paul Italian restaurant, he often rescues diners at a loss for a killer pairing. Hired as a waiter in 1999, Flinsch still whisks dishes onto tabletops with some regularity.

While on paternity leave with a lot of late-night hours on his hands, though, he glimpsed another, online role for himself at his beloved restaurant. He noted that the establishment’s management company had created a Facebook fan page… Click Here to Read the Rest of the Article

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Not “social media gurus”—they just do successful work: Twin Cities Business Magazine’s Senior Editor Gene Rebeck blogs about Sterling Cross Communications re: PR & Social Media

February 14, 2010

We met with and chatted with Gene Rebeck, the Senior Editor at Twin Cities Business Magazine, and he wrote a blog post based on our discussions. Here is the opening excerpt and a link to Gene’s blog:

Sterling Cross’s Social Studies

Chris and Mary Lower, the spouses and owners of Maple Grove-based social media and public relations agency Sterling Cross are highly regarded in the burgeoning Twin Cities social media scene. But don’t call them “social media gurus.”

It’s a term that makes them laugh and shake their heads. Such “experts” often are mid- to late-career marketing or PR types looking to latch on to the Next Big Thing. (Test the guru: Ask for case studies.)

Besides, as Chris notes, it’s not a field that you can be an expert in: It’s changing too fast and too continuously. “These experts say things like, ‘Make big money on Twitter!’” Chris says, chuckling.

The Lowers do know their social stuff. Go here to read the rest!

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Using PR & Social Media to Promote Restaurants – A Case Study

January 18, 2010

At Sterling Cross Communications, we’re very proud to have been a recent case study focus by Meetings: Minnesota’s Hospitality Journal Magazine’s Winter 2010 Issue.  The Case Study covers the work we have been doing for our client moto-i, the first sake microbrewery outside of Kyoto, Japan, located in Uptown Minneapolis.   It goes into detail about the behind-the-scenes efforts that were put into place to promote this restaurant via social media channels as well as integrating media and blogger relations. Here is the article:

Sake & Social Media

Placing his trust in Sterling Cross Communications, restaurateur Blake Richardson turned to social media to market his latest venture, Moto-i sake microbrewery and restaurant.

By Ellie M. Bayrd

Nearly seven years ago, Blake Richardson, owner of the Herkimer Pub & Brewery in Minneapolis and the mind behind Triple Caff draft energy drink, fell in love with sake. Inspired by what he calls an “amazing beverage,” the beer brewer embraced the possibility of creating a sake microbrewery restaurant in Minneapolis. The labor of love took him to Japan several times, where he studied the art of sake. At the same time that Richardson was becoming enamored with the drink, he was also in a love affair with Asian cuisine like many other Americans. “The synergy between the two just came together at the right time,” he says.

The idea percolated and his studies progressed, and about two years before his restaurant idea would become a reality Richardson had a chance meeting with Chris Lower, director of marketing, public relations and social media at Sterling Cross Communications. A company touting its traditional storytelling in a modern world,Maple Grove-based Sterling Cross has embraced online marketing tools. While Richardson wasn’t really thinking about how he would market his new restaurant concept at the time, his conversation with Lower spurred him to action. “I don’t want to allude to that I wouldn’t have had a plan,” Richardson says. “But I came in contact with Sterling Cross long before that segment of my responsibilities to the marketing would have come along.”

 Click HERE to read the rest of the article

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