Posts Tagged ‘social media tools’

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The Hottest Social Media App for 2014: Instagram

January 28, 2014

Here is the article I wrote for the January Issue of RSVP MN Magazine. You can find it here.Instagram

The rise of the “Phonetographer” generation is upon us. Even though Facebook was the No. 1 social media app overall in 2013, its photo sharing subsidiary Instagram was the fastest growing app among the top 10.

Instagram is an online photo and video sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. It first launched in 2010. In 2012 Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion and made a subsidiary. Instagram saw a growth in audience by 66 percent to 32 million users in 2013 (according to Nielsen Data) and shows no trace of slowing down.

While Instagram is made up of the same demographics as Facebook, it is also still growing in popularity among teens, which are shifting to single purpose or messaging apps, including Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp, Whisper and others.

Instagram has many uses in event marketing from several perspectives. On the marketing side, Instagram is being used for everything from shots of the venues to displays, speakers, products, crowds and interaction. On the consumer side, guests, visitors and attendees are participating in contests, recording presentations, products and displays for co-workers that are off-site, and for reviews.

Here are three ways you can successfully integrate Instagram into your events this year:

Promote your event or participation in events:

If you are traveling to a national trade show or hosting your own event, document your location with Instagram to promote traffic to your booth or event. Shoot photos of the outside of the venue to help with directions. Share photos of your booth or event to allow people to see what they will see at the event. Post photos of your booth reps or event managers so that people can more easily recognize your team.

Promote your products, services or offerings:

Highlight any new products, etc. that you will offer at the event. Especially feature a product if it is an exclusive being offered during the run of the event. Photos of this sort are great to share across Twitter, Facebook and your other marketing channels such as newsletters. This can expand your reach even to people that aren’t in attendance at the event.

Engage your audience with a photo contest:

Have attendees take photos on Instagram and post them with a message that includes a keyword you are tracking (a hashtag for example) and offer a prize to participants. This extends your reach even further as they share the photos on their channels and to their networks.

The ideas are only limited by your imagination. 2014 is upon us and the trade shows and events are in motion. Smile and get ready for your close-up!

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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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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!”

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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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The Case for Social Media

July 9, 2010

I’m grateful to be included along with some of the best social media innovators in the Twin Cities in the July 2010 issue on Minnesota Business Magazine! This was a unique article as all of the interviewees were interviewed by Editor Drew Wood (@MnBizMag) via Twitter.  Here is a brief bit of the article and a link to read the rest of it on the Minnesota Business Magazine website. Enjoy!

Social media is a valuable, oft-misunderstood business tool that will demand your attention sooner or later. So whether you’re a novice looking to learn, an “expert” seeking more, or a bonafide skeptic, here’s a comprehensive look at the brand-changing medium and how it can redefine your company.

A Case Study in Colossal Failure and Moderate Redemption

According to Greenpeace, Nestle has been less than ethical lately. It turns out that the company known for its wholesome cookies has allegedly been using unsustainably harvested palm oil, which has been documented to lead to deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and endangered species loss. Not a good thing to do, especially when Greenpeace is watching–and they always seem to be watching.

And in true Greenpeace form, they launched into a full-on, make-a-public-example-out-of-you assailment of Nestle in the most grassroots form possible: the Internet.

But before I go any further into the story, and the true failure and subsequent redemption of Nestle–no, I am not here to pass judgment on their supposed use of illicit palm oil–I should probably tell you how I know all of this. Because it’s not so much a first-hand, I’m following Nestle in the news sort of knowledge–I’m not–but the knowledge I’ve gleaned from looking at the repercussions via social media, specifically Twitter.

Now, although I did talk to a good amount of local social media thought leaders from all walks of business and communications for this story–whom you will hear from shortly–and have thus become somewhat elevated in the ways of social media by osmosis, I’m no social media expert. But that doesn’t mean I can’t tell you how Nestle’s story makes it to me, with nary a published piece to do with it.

Click here to read the rest of the article

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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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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.

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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?

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Twitter Basics for Business – Practical Applications for Impractical Tools

June 2, 2009

By popular demand, we have been asked to conduct small group training sessions on Twitter for Business.  We’re glad to announce our first class will take place Tuesday, June 9th, 2009 here in Minneapolis. Read on for more details:

Have you checked out Twitter and just can’t figure it out?

Are you looking to use Twitter, one of the fastest growing online communications platforms in recent history, to engage with your audience for tasks like: Sales, Promotion, Customer Service, Market Research, Customer Loyalty, Online Reputation Management, and establishing thought leadership?

 Are you frustrated by Social Media Boot Camps that don’t actually show you how to get started?

 Then this class is for you.

 Join us in a small group setting to learn the basics of Twitter for business and getting started on Twitter.  You can bring your laptop and you will be taught the basics.

 We’ll cover:

  1. Setting up an account
  2. Building an optimized profile
  3. Discuss background graphics and profile pictures
  4. The initiation of building followers
  5. Rules of interaction
  6. Including links
  7. Tracking and monitoring conversations
  8. Additional tools and time saving tricks

 After covering the basics we’ll cover basic business strategies that Twitter can help to optimize in your business.

 The cost to attend this class is $100.00.  This class is on a first come, first serve basis, and more classes will be opened up after each one fills.  If you’d like to reserve an entire class for six for your company, the cost is reduced to $75.00 per person.

We’ll meet in the Training Center at the offices of The Bailey Consulting Group, 4800 Olson Memorial Hwy., Suite 225, Minneapolis, MN 55422

Please click or visit here: www.twitter4business.eventbrite.com to register as seat are very limited!

Please bring a laptop that is wifi capable.  If you don’t have a laptop, and would still like to attend, please let us know and we can supply (1) one laptop per class to someone that doesn’t have one.

We’ll be getting together over the lunch hour for some power training.  You can bring your laptop and implement these tactics immediately. We’ll supply a few munchies! 

 

About your Trainer:

Christopher Lower has over 17 years of marketing, PR, and strategic consulting. He has 10 years of focus on emerging web technologies and their use in marketing – Blogs, Podcasts, Viral Campaigns, Social Media (Linkedin, Twitter, etc.), Wikis, Webinars, RSS, and Mobile Technology Solutions.

Sterling Cross is behind the social media campaigns for such companies as moto-i, Augeo Insurance Benefits, Baja Sol Restaurants, The Minnesota Restaurant Association, THe MN Lodging Association, The MN Resort & Campground Association, The Bailey Group, & The Dominium Group. Their work on moto-i was included in the book “Twitter Means Business” by Julio Ojeda Zapata.

Chris is also a speaker and has frequently published articles on Social Media Topics.

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Today’s marketing for Resorts & Campgrounds – Building Community, Memories, and Lifetime Visitors with Social Media Tools

May 26, 2009

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

I grew up lucky enough to have had an annual family trip to some resort or campground every year.  If you are the same, you probably have some great old photos.  Some might be in albums, some might be framed, but most are probably in a box or bin somewhere, but wherever they are, they capture and represent great memories.  There are great tools online these days that allow you to post and share these photos and memories online. 80% of all internet users are posting photos to share online, and 54% of them are posting vacation photos, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project data. 30% of those vacationers are posting to sites and communities connected to the place they went on vacation, if there is a space to post.  Disney is great at this for their Camp Wilderness property.

You too can create a space where your visitors can share photos.  You can brand your own photo sharing page on many social media photo sharing sites like Flickr, ShutterFly, and Photobucket. These sites can be linked back in to your own website, where potential new visitors can share in the memories and see great pictures of people enjoying your services and amenities. Of the 140 million Americans online, 63% of them are booking their travel destinations online. 53% of them state that their decision to book is based on photos or videos of visitors enjoying the property and amenities.  Social media tools allow your guests to share their great times and memories and empower them to build community by connecting to other resort and campground visitors.  Other tools like blogs, YouTube, and pages on sites like Facebook allow people to connect and share as well. The common backdrop across all of these sites is your location.

Like any vacation destination in today’s times and economy you must adapt to keep up. In 2008 it was reported that up to 60% of campgrounds and 84% of RV Parks have added WIFI internet access to their list of amenities, whether in the common areas, or available throughout the property.  If you offer internet access on location, you can encourage guests to post up photos while still there and even offer prizes for photo contests, to build your online content.  All photos posted should be tagged (identified) to include your property name and location to aid in the online search benefits you will receive from posted photos.

More often than not, these social media tools are low to no cost to implement, and can be managed by staff onsite.  For best results, you’ll want to invest a bit to ensure that your brand is represented across each of these social media sites which can be handled typically by your web developers or marketing team. Here is a list of tools that any resort or campground owner or manager can use to connect with their customer to convert them to brand evangelists and lifelong customers:

 

Social Media Tools for Resorts & Campgrounds:

  • Make sure your property can be searched and reviewed through local business guides such as Yelp.com, Hotels.com and TripAdvisor.com. Suggest that positive feedback from patrons is shared on these social business guide 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 renovations, additions, or upgrades etc.
  • Blog – Customers want to be part of something more than just a onetime trip; they want to feel like they belong.  You can set up a blog to allow guests to post their memories and stories.
  • 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 property with their receipt that maps out where they can continue their vacation experience online by connecting to you via social media to share memories.

 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 eight years in the Hospitality Industry. He can be reached at www.sterlingcrossgroup.com or can be found on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mrchristopherl.

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