Posts Tagged ‘Linkedin’

h1

The Easiest and Quickest Line Item cut you can make to your Marketing Budget to save money in 2013

December 12, 2012
The Yellow Pages are dead. Cut the deadweight from your Marketing

The Yellow Pages are dead. Cut the deadweight from your Marketing

If there is one thing you should rush to do to stop any useless dollars being spent in your marketing budgets now and for the future is to end all money spent with Yellow Pages (yes including those that claim to be “online” these days). It is time to put these paper behemoths permanently in the recycling bins!

According to pewinternet.org, 14% Of the American Population even knows what the Yellow Pages are! 1% Of Americans will ever search for a business in the Yellow Pages. The Yellow pages of today are online business directories such as Google Places, Linkedin, Yelp, and Facebook. All of these sites have options for businesses to set up business accounts with a basic listing always being free of charge. There are of course customization and enhancements to your listings such as running optimized targeted advertising, posting product photos, and video.

The traditional Yellow Pages companies have made the migration online, and Qwestdex (Dexonline) seems to be the most aggressive and capable, yet there is a major problem. They are extremely far behind these other platforms in the areas of SEO. It is rare to find unpaid Dexonline listings ever appearing in the top ten listings on Google for a business. I would love to revisit them in the future, as I am always rooting for businesses to reinvent themselves to survive in the new economy. For now, when it comes to Yellow Pages advertising in any way shape or form, my advice is that from the one-hit-wonder band of the 80’s;  Slade and their song “Run Runaway!”

h1

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

h1

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

h1

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

h1

10 Quick tips to improve your Linkedin presence

November 30, 2009

At Sterling Cross Communications, we are heavily involved in Social Media on behalf of and for our clients.  A natural side-effect of this has prompted us to develop training programs for our clients on social media platforms when they are running their social media in house.  In my rounds this past year of speaking and training for social media, I am still asked the most for tips on how to improve your Linkedin experience and presence.

Here are ten quick tips to really optimize your Linkedin presence and skills:

  1. Add a photo Avatar – 40% of Linkedin profiles do not have a professional photo avatar.  If you are serious about using this tool to build your brand personally or professionally, it is time to go and get a professional headshot taken. The whole success of social media is the fact that it allows you to add personality back into a sterile environment that is the web. If you have a presence on other social media platforms, make sure you use the same photo avatar to allow people to identify you, and recognize this as another reputation of your brand.  Avoid using logos (people don’t want to identify with just a logo) or too casual (the photo with a beer in hand from the last networking Happy Hour isn’t appropriate, even though you dressed up).
  2. Fill out your profile 100% – It seems rudimentary, but if you have the opportunity to fill out fields of information about yourself, brand, company, business, products, or services, and have that information listed in Linkedin’s Search Engines, then why wouldn’t you?  Yes, even seek referrals. If you have performed well on behalf of a client, employer, etc. it is extremely valuable to have their recommendation.
  3. Make sure Referrals & Recommendations are valid and meaningful – If I see traded recommendations, right away, there is a perception of that this is not very credible.  If you give out a recommendation, do so because you are sincere about it, not just to swap recommendations.  If you are seeking a recommendation, customize your request around a specific job skill, situation, case study, project, or client.  It will showcase those skills in a better light than just seeking a platitude laden general recommendation.
  4. Optimize your profile – When deciding on language to fill out content fields on your profile, think of the key words that you wish to be found for when someone performs a search. Use those keywords in the content you write for your profile.
  5. Use the Status Updates – Just like a website that has dated content, people will become disinterested in your content if it is not updated on a regular basis. If you are on Twitter, take advantage of the new Linkedin ability to sync your account and update both platforms from one tool. Another benefit of a regular update is that it keeps your content in front of your network. They can see your updates and that will keep you top of mind.
  6. Leverage Applications – Linkedin allows you to add even more content to your profile, by adding applications such as Tripit, WordPress, Slideshare, and more.  Again, more content, more optimized your profile, the greater interaction you can have.
  7. Groups – There are affinity groups for almost any subject on Linkedin. These groups are another great opportunity to have peer discussions, establish thought leadership, share articles, and keep plugged into a community.
  8. Questions & Answers – Linked in provides forums based on topics, where individuals can post questions or answer questions that are posted. Providing insight or expertise online to help out someone in your industry goes a long way towards establishing yourself as an expert in that field. Make sure you fill out responses concisely and utilize any extra space to include links to your website, blog, or other links that can support your answer.
  9. Link to your other profiles – Then benefits of linking to your other profiles on social media platforms, can help others see a broader picture of your skills and areas of expertise.  While Linkedin can show one aspect, you can link to your profile on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. to show more depth or different facets that are limited on Linkedin.
  10. Actively maintain your profile – Just like a website, you don’t want information to go stagnant or become irrelevant.  Keep job titles, positions, experience, and other supporting materials relevant and current. Get the credit you deserve!

Let me know if you have any tips not on the list that should be included!

h1

For the Multi-Housing Industry – Making Social Media Work for You

July 13, 2009

I’m linking to a valuable article for you today. I am quoted in it, but that’s not the reason I did. This article focuses specifically for social media strategies and learnings for the Multi-Housing Industry. It appears in the August 2009 issue of the Multi Housing Advocate Magazine. The Magazine is produced by the Minnesota Multi-Housing Association (MMHA), where I spoke in June on the topic of Managing your Online Reputation and Brand. The article is written by the MMHA’s PR Director, Tina Gassman and is full of insight about how to apply social media to the multi-housing management space. Here are the first two paragraphs and you can click the link following that to read the full article:

Last month, I sat in on MHA’s two-part Hot Topic seminar. Robert Turnbull of Rentwiki.com presented “The Social Media Phenomenon” and Christopher Lower of Sterling Cross Communications presented “The ROI of Managing Your Online Reputation.” While I had been reading about and researching this topic fairly extensively, I found the information to be very helpful in that it was tailored to our industry. As I discuss how this social media phenomenon must change the way we approach marketing, I will include the valuable points I learned from these two presenters and will provide you with a quick and dirty guide to your public relations efforts in this “always on” age.

Today’s marketing landscape looks much different than it did 30 years ago…

Please click here to read the rest of the article.

h1

Removing Social Media Accounts – What happens when you need to end a presence online?

June 30, 2009

It’s become a fact in this economy that companies are going out of business.  Even those companies that were forward thinking in their marketing have not been able to escape the factors in the economy, and they have had to close down.  A client of ours became such a casualty two months ago.  They had just launched several online platform accounts at the beginning of the year.  All was going very well for them as they built their followers slowly and steadily to amass an engaged audience.  Then we received “the email” alerting us that the client was ceasing all business activities and requested we shut down all of their accounts online.

This would be a first for us.  We’ve worked with over a dozen companies, all with varying degrees of success, but, it has always been success.  It was even successful for this client as well; we had executed the initial strategy well, and were growing our audience to allow us to move into the second phase of the strategy.  Now we had proof though, that even the almighty social media with all of its bells and whistles could not solve all problems a company faced.

So we went and started deactivating accounts and learning to what degree the information could truly be removed or purged from the internet.  The results were interesting to say the least:

The Corporate Website – This was able to be turned off. Searches to the domain name now lead to a placeholder page put up by the hosting company.  Two months later though, the site still shows up in searches.  The links are broken, so I will assume Google, Bing, and other engines will eventually drop the results, it wasn’t gone in two months.  The search engines have archives and cached pages of the website, which are starting to deteriorate as well. Queries made to the search engine companies have come back with inconclusive answers as to how long something can live online.  Some items that are heavily linked to from other sites will last longer than those that had only a few links.

Facebook – the Company’s professional page was shut down, but the owner of the Company kept his personal page up to continue building his personal brand for a new career/job.  Facebook is fairly complete when it comes to deleting material permanently.  Due to the fact that most of the content is kept inside of the Facebook community tags, and unless it was open to search by the outside internet community, it seldom shows up in outside searches.

Twitter – After the corporate Twitter account was shut down, it was determined that the content would not easily go away, in spite of Twitter having the content open for immediate outside search.  The several different search applications associated to Twitter archived Tweets almost immediately and most kept running archives up to eight pages long.  The owner of the company decided to re-brand the Twitter account and continue its use for his personal brand.

A WordPress Blog – The blog was deactivated, but is still found in several searches. The codes that many blogs are created in are very search friendly.  Search sites have copies and cached copies of the blog posts, and many of the posts were reposted on other sites.  Unless those posts are removed by the individuals that reposted them, they will stay online.

Linkedin – The Company profile was removed, but the fact that it is listed by former employees, and as past positions of the owners, the company listings will stay online in Linkedin.

Some of this material can be litigated to be removed, but you’ll want to make sure you are going down the right path with the right legal team for that.  Most bloggers are protected by 1st Amendment rights and you will need to engage an attorney with experience in Constitutional law.  Other sites may require formal legal requests to remove photos, videos and other charts and images.

The bottom line is that yes you can deactivate your accounts and remove some material online, that it will not result in the immediate removal of all of the material from being found online. It may fade over time, like the memory of the company, but for now it is a record of existence that won’t easily go away.  With that in mind, what kind of online legacy is company leaving online?

h1

Strategically Promoting Your Restaurant with Social Media Tools

March 24, 2009

This is an article I wrote for Restaurateur Magazine and appears in their April 2009 Issue. Due to popular demand, it was reprinted here for those who do not have access to the Magazine. Enjoy!

 

You work hard to get everything right, the food, the atmosphere, the service, the kitchen and back of the house staff, and once a guest comes through the door, you have the power to make sure they have the best possible experience. Then they go home.  A place you can’t control the experience – and you don’t know what they’ll tell their family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who will listen, about their experience. What if you could control it? What if you could extend the dining experience beyond the walls of your restaurant? With social media tools, you can.

 

You’ve heard the buzzwords: Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Linkedin, and YouTube.  These tools allow you to enhance and carry the dining experience beyond your front door. They allow your customers to take the physical connections and loyalty virtual to experience it online as well. With customers increasing their online activity, the online experience that guests have with you can make or break you.

 

You put thought, consideration and passion into every physical aspect of your guests’ interaction with you, but how is their experience with your website?  Does it convey your brand, atmosphere, and message? Is it easy to navigate? Are your menus and specials quickly found? Is your contact information, location, hours of operation and amenities crystal clear? These are just the bare minimum standards now needed to entice someone to interact with your online brand.

 

When they interact, they feel connected. When they feel connected, they’ll often be your evangelists and make a point to refer your establishment or brag about their incredible experience. They are inclined to take someone with them the next time they visit, and will want to connect your restaurant to others.

 

In the best of times, it’s hard to promote a restaurant.  With labor and food costs constantly battling to take the lead as your primary concern, you need systems and tools that can give you the greatest return on your investment of dollars and time. Social Media are emerging tools that fit that bill.

 

Social Media tools are increasingly moving from consumer to consumer tools to business to consumer vehicles.  6,000 people a day are signing up for Facebook and only a percentage of them are the college students that the platform initially attracted.  Many businesses are motivated by the opportunity to opt in at a fairly cost effective manner, and also the ability to bring them to an intimate space next to their customer. What you are seeing is a vast array of Social Media approaches that converse and connect. Once you realize who your customer is, what makes them tick, what they like and dislike, using social media can be that missing link that transforms a casual customer into a brand evangelist.

 

Using tools for the “cool” factor of saying you use them will not bring you a tangible return.  You’ll need to start with a strategy. Once you’ve determined who your customers are, you need to know which social media tools they use, and engage with them on their turf. The effectiveness of social media isn’t simply using the tool; it’s listening, answering questions and connecting with others. These tools are just opportunities to connect your customers to your brand and by connecting with them, they’ll help you build relationship and gain invaluable insight to their propensity to buy from you.

 

Here is a list of tools that any restaurant owner can use to connect with their customer to convert them to brand evangelists:

 

Social Media Tools for Restaurants

  • Make sure your restaurant can be searched and reviewed through local business guides such as Yelp.com, Urbanspoon.com, Getsatisfaction.com and TripAdvisor.com. Encourage your guests, that if they had a great experience to please post it to one of these sites.
  • Twitter – sign up for a Twitter account. Use it also as a tool to listen and converse with your customers.
  • E-Newsletter – Email a monthly newsletter with the latest happenings, new menu items, entertainment news, recipe of the month etc.
  • Blog – Customers want to be part of something more than just a meal; they want to feel like they belong. A blog can be that tool.
  • Facebook – Set up a Facebook fan page to connect with your customers on Facebook.
  • MySpace – If your clientele is the MySpace generation, create a profile page and consistently update it with fresh content.
  • YouTube – Incorporate video into your social media strategy.
  • The Business Card – Provide a business card or note-card to each customer that visits your establishment with their receipt that maps out where they can continue their dining experience online by connecting to you via social media.

 

Christopher Lower is the Co-owner of Sterling Cross Communications, a Social Media, Public Relations, & Web Design Firm, that focuses on the Restaurant, Hospitality, Hotel, and Lodging industries. In addition to over 20 years of PR & Marketing experience, Chris worked over 8 years in the Hospitality Industry. He can be reached at www.sterlingcrossgroup.com or can be found on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrchristopherl.

 

Sterling Cross is a proud to have been selected as a preferred vendor for Hospitality Minnesota. Hospitality Minnesota is the management entity for
 

 

 

The Minnesota Restaurant Association, Minnesota Lodging Association and Minnesota Resort and the Campground Association. These Associations provide legislative and regulatory advocacy, marketing, education and information and money-saving programs to members. In addition, Hospitality Minnesota operates a non-profit education foundation, the Hospitality Minnesota Education Foundation, which provides a high school curriculum in foodservice and lodging management and provides scholarships to students pursuing higher education in the hospitality field. For more info: www.hospitalitymn.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

h1

The Cost of Not Entering into Social Media – How it Hurts Your Company (Part Four & Final for Now…)

February 11, 2009

In wrapping up our discussion on the cost of not entering into Social Media – How it hurts your company, we want to discuss something that every CEO and CFO can appreciate – ROI, or in the case of Social Media – ROP (Return on Participation).

At best, the tracking of traditional media – PR and advertisements being tied to audience numbers has always been sketchy at best.  Traditional media campaigns rely on the amount of people who actually see the ad.  Think about the companies that buy a full page spread in The Wall Street Journal or N.Y. Times.  What do you think that costs?  According to information provided: a full page ad in The Wall Street Journal costs around $175,000 (according to www.wsj.com).  A 30 second commercial costs around $350,000, Billboards are around $25,000/year and Radio ads run around $5,000/week (according to a Clear Channel sales rep). Note: rates based on date of this posting and may be subject to change.

So how do you measure the success of these massive costs?   Traditional media relies on one way communication with as many people as possible, but then what?  Our attention is decreasing, now, more than ever, it’s easy for us to ignore ads.  Your TV commercial is only good if it isn’t Tivo’d out.  How do you track the impressions of your full page ad in the paper or magazine?  You can try to fudge some circulation numbers into a pseudo-percentage that you can hope is close, but there are still no tangible numbers, unless you tie it to an action.

Social media platforms themselves do not charge you to become a user (for the most part). In social media, here are some of the things we can measure.  The majority of the cost falls under “time” or participation (unless of course you are building a micro-site or some sort of customized social media platform/game/etc.).  Here is a list of some of the things we can measure:

1.       SEO & traffic to a site, there are many ways to measure this i.e. referral sites, organic listings, inbound links to pages or sites, etc.

2.       The amount of conversation/number of comments that you receive

3.       You can track your overall brand image and work to change it if need be.

4.       You can see the amount of times something is opened, shared with, or forwarded to other people

5.       The number of sales or increase in revenue, you can track this by using analytics programs and setting up funnels/goals to track conversion points.

6.       The number of dedicated subscribers/followers/people that want to engage and interact with you or your brand

Another thought – the real problem is that we measure traditional marketing programs the wrong way. Almost everything in traditional measurement programs is customer transaction-based – how much will it cost to get a customer to buy, once based on viewing a traditional media piece. What we really need to measure is the customer’s life-cycle value.  This includes any repeat purchases, his/her ability to influence others in making buying decisions, and the value of their extended network.

Finally, most traditional media measurement analytics – is based upon reactive activity, rather than predictive. Too many companies are not measuring their customers to determine where their business is going, or how successful new product or service offerings will be.

So, after all of this, is your company still on the fence about engaging in social media?  Why? Leave a comment and let me know.  If they still are on the fence, I’m more than happy to come over and have a chat with them!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.