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Social Media and Fundraising Events

Social Sonar - Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Social media isn't just for raising awareness about your business. You can also use it to promote events at your store or do fundraising. We would like to share two stories about how social media helped increased awareness of recent fundraising events.

First up is Jimmy.  He works at the Rainbow Community Center, focusing on HIV awareness and education.  For 2011, he set a pretty high fundraising goal for the San Francisco AIDS Walk.  Here is how he used social media websites to make it happen.

Every year I participate in the San Francisco AIDS Walk. I host several fundraising events in the Bay Area and have been a top fundraiser for several years. But it wasn't until I joined the social networking world that my fundraising went to the next level. I set a huge goal this past year: $5,000. Using a group on Facebook, daily Twitter posts, a YouTube video and asking my friends and family to share, all three helped me not only reach my goal... but beat it! I was able to raise $8,000 in only 4 months. Social networking has really changed the way I promote my cause and provide outreach to my community. Without these social outlets, I would never have been able to reach my goal and help fight this epidemic.

What Jimmy doesn’t mention is that he also promised his loyal followers that he would do the 6.2 mile walk in six-inch red heels if he hit his goal.  He kept his promise.  Check out his photo at mile one.


Next is Dan.  He has a pretty amazing story and it is best told in his own words.

In memory of my brother Mike, who died of AIDS in 1995, I decided to participate in the 2011 AIDS LifeCycle bike ride, a seven day, 545-mile bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles, raising money for AIDS and HIV services and prevention.  Each rider is required to raise $3,000, a feat in itself.

My main goal was to gain awareness for AIDS prevention -- raising money was not the driving force behind my decision to take this ride. I was at a loss for how to raise this large sum of money because I did not want to ask people for money in a bad economy. I decided to make a video telling "my story" of my brother dying of AIDS. At the end of the video I would simply ask the viewer to send me just one dollar. Who could say no to one dollar? If I could just get three thousand people to watch my video then I would accomplish my main goal of awareness having three thousand people hear "my story," and hopefully raise three thousand dollars.

I posted the video on YouTube and shared it often on my Facebook page. I also asked all my Facebook friends to please watch and share my video on their Facebook page too. I hoped for the best, but figured I would more than likely be writing a check from my own personal bank account for $2,000 (or more) to reach my goal and participate in the ride.

Within twenty minutes of the posting of my video on the Internet I had raised $500. What a shock! Had underestimated the power of social media? Within three weeks I had already raised $5,000 and the money kept coming in. By the time of the actual bike ride event arrived I had raised a whopping $18,800. My video has been viewed more than 5,824 times on YouTube and was re-posted on Facebook more than 1,000 times. All goals were exceeded thanks to the Internet.

However, this incredible fundraising didn't happen without hard work on my part and with a lot of help from my friends. I constantly kept on top of the video, posting it on Facebook often, sharing the address with anyone who would listen, and asking friends to ask their friends to post it.

My video was posted on Facebook by my friends who in turn asked their friends to post it, and so on. The local news media saw the video and the next thing I knew my video and story was on a major Bay Area TV newscast, the local newspaper and the front page of Yahoo! News for three days! The post office box was full of envelopes from all over the country, including envelopes from as far away as France and England.

Facebook and YouTube were the force behind my success in raising this huge amount of money for the AIDS Life Cycle Bike ride.  Social media should never be underestimated.

Here is a photo of Dan with actress Sue Sylvester on the day they left on the ride. 


We want to thank Jimmy and Dan for sharing their stories with us. They are a testament to the power of social media. Using these websites to promote your events and fundraising efforts can prove successful for you too. If you need help, just ask us how!

Facebook Insights: How To Figure Out If Your Facebook Page Is Working

Social Sonar - Saturday, December 10, 2011
You have your Facebook fan page and you've placed a couple of Facebook Ads.  You see new people "like" your page here and there.  You even have some regular comments.  But how do you know your page is "working" for you?  Welcome to Facebook Insights.

Currently, when you are on your fan page, the Insights are available on the left side of the page, under your profile photo (you can view old insights on the right hand of your page).  You can view insights on your page or export it to view elsewhere.  Choose your data type, date range and file format.  You are then off to the races.

There will be four numbers at the top of your page.  First will be the total number of people who have "liked" your page.  Second, Facebook lists the number of friends your fans have.  This is the potential reach you would have if you used Ads or Sponsored Stories to reach just the friends of your fans.  Third number is "people are talking about this."  It is the number of people who have created a story about your page in the last week.  The final number is the total reach.  This is the total number of people who have seen any content associated with your page (including Ads or Sponsored Stories) within the last week.

To better explain "people are talking about this," Facebook says that it includes anyone who has liked your page, commented/liked/shared your page post, answered a Question you asked, responded to an event you posted, mentioned your page, tagged your page in a photo, or checked-in/recommended your page.  The more people talking about your page, the further your reach on Facebook.  The only two numbers visible to your fans are "total likes" and "people talking about this."

The best way to get people talking about your page is to make sure you have interesting and engaging content.  Post photos.  Ask questions.  The more people engage on your page, the more others will see that interaction and may then join the conversation.  

Facebook further analyzes each individual post on your page by breaking down the reach (number of people who have seen the post), engaged users (the number of people who have clicked on your post), talking about this (the number of people who have liked/commented/re-posted your content), and virality (number of people who have created a story from your post as a percentage of the number of people who have seen it).  Understanding which posts are most engaging to your specific customer base can help you choose future posts.  You can click on any of the posts to get a Reach graph.  This will show you the number of people who saw the post on their page organically, the number who saw it due to a paid Ad, and the number who saw it posted from a story published by another friend (viral post).  

Facebook also offers the Engaged Users graph and Talking About This graph to further decide which posts are most interesting to your fans.  

You can click the Fans tab to learn more about your current fan base:  the country and city in which they reside, their gender, age and language.  You can also learn the number of new likes or unlikes, and the "like" sources.  Did your new fan see you on someone else's page?  Did they click on a Sponsored Story or Facebook Ad?  Did another fan write a Recommendation for you?  You can also see other fan pages who have liked your page and whether fans liked your page through a social plug-in on an external site.  

The Reach tab also gives you additional information about the people you are reaching and how you are reaching them.  The Frequency graph shoes the number of people who have seen content about your page in the last week.  The Talking About This tab is just one more way to break down information so you can understand who is talking about your page.  

Facebook has an almost endless number of potential fans and customers.  This may seem like a lot of information to process but the end result is simple:  Post interesting content and the fans will come. 


Marketing on Facebook: Sponsored Stories

Social Sonar - Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Another Facebook marketing option is a Sponsored story.  Much like Facebook Ads, the Sponsored Story targets your potential clients by content from your fan page.  However, with Sponsored Stories, you are using one of your fans to promote your business.

Sponsored Stories allow you to publicize through a Facebook Ad, your fans' interactions with your page.  So if Jon Smith "likes" your fan page, you can place a Sponsored Stories ad and it will appear on the right hand side of Facebook page for all of Jon Smith's friends to see.  Bonus if Jon Smith has 5,000 friends.  As most of us know, Facebook often limits and decides the content that shows up in your fans' news feed.  This means that if your fans aren't interacting with your page on a regular basis, they may not be seeing your posts.  The Sponsored Story puts your business squarely where you want it to be:  Back on your fans' profiles.

There are four different kinds of Sponsored Stories.  

The first is the "page like."  It requires little effort on your part (it literally just publicizes that 'so-and-so "likes" your fan page') and will be published only to friends of the person used for that ad.  

Next is "app interactions."  It allows you to publicize app interactions, such as events, and will be visible to friends of the person who initially posted through the app.

Then we have "place check-ins."  It allows you to publicize when a popular fan "checks-in" to your store location.  It will be visible only to friends of the fan used for the story.  

Last is "page posts."  It also requires little effort from you and posts only to the person used in the ad.  However, it will usually be a longer ad, allowing you to publicize positive comments left on your page.  It will be published to everyone who has "liked" your page.

Sponsored Stories are a simple way to use Facebook Ads to market to the friends of your current fans/customers.  As we said before, Facebook claims that if a user sees a friend's name in an ad on Facebook, they are 68% more likely to remember the ad and twice as likely to remember the brand.  So, let your fans sell your product for you by using Sponsored Stories!



Marketing on Facebook: Facebook Ads

Social Sonar - Sunday, December 04, 2011
Facebook is a popular place for businesses to connect with their customers.  Although social media sites should be a place for you to have a conversation with your customer, rather than shout deals at them, Facebook does also offer the ability to place ads.

Facebook Ads allow the business owner to target potential customers, using key words and zip codes.  You can even target only your current fan base and their friends.  This allows you to spend your marketing dollars on potential customers who might have a higher interest in your business based on their location and listed interests on Facebook.  According to Facebook, if a user sees a friend's name in an ad on Facebook, they are 68% more likely to remember the ad and twice as likely to remember the brand.

First you need to identify your goals.  Decide whether you want more fans on your page, to increase brand recognition, offer a discount or drive more business to your website.  Facebook suggests that each ad campaign focus on one goal at a time. 

Then you need to decide who you are trying to reach with your ad.  Who shops in your store?  Where are your customers located?  Are they a certain age range or do they share an interest?  You can create different ads to effectively market to all different types of customers.

Facebook makes it very easy to create your ad.  You design your ad using a recent post already on your fan page.  You then choose your target audience using key words and location.  Choose your budget.  Then submit your ad.  It is usually approved by Facebook and is up and running fairly quickly. 

The most confusing part of budgeting for your ad is the bidding option you choose.  Should you choose Cost Per Click (CPC) or Cost Per Thousand Impression (CPM)?  Cost Per Click is pricing where you pay for each person who clicks on your ad.  This is best chosen when you want to drive specific action on your website or Facebook page.  Cost Per Thousand Impression is where you pay based on the number of people who view your ad, regardless of whether they click on it.  It is best used if you want to raise general awareness of your business within the targeted audience.  Facebook suggests a bid price based on your targeting options.  You may choose your own pricing options, but if you find that your ad is not being shown (Facebook will send you reminder e-mails letting you know that your ad is not active), then you will need to increase your bid. 

You can control the cost of your ads by choosing a daily budget or lifetime budget.  So, if you don't want to spend more than $25 per day on an ad campaign (or $100 for the lifetime of an ad), your ad will be shown to the target audience only until you hit your budget.  Then the ad will be removed from circulation.  You can change your budget at any time.

You can monitor the performance of your ad through Ads Manager.  It will show you graphs and statistics for the lifetime for your ad campaign(s).  We suggest you check your statistics often to make sure your ads are working for your business.

Facebook Ads are one of the many tools Facebook offers to help promote your business.  While you should not feel like it is necessary to spend money with Facebook to gain new customers, it might be a tool to try at least once to see if it is something that will work for you.


Meet Social Sonar!

Social Sonar - Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Have you ever wondered who is behind the curtain at Social Sonar?  Well, wonder no more! 

Meet Alison Kawa, Co-founder, Account Management.  


Why did you start Social Sonar?
I started Social Sonar for business owners like my dad. He owns a loose leaf tea shop. He’s busy and he doesn’t have time to blog, write a newsletter, or stay involved with all the conversations about his business on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and an ever growing list of social sites.

What does social media mean to you?
Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp are many people’s first impression of a business. People turn to Yelp to research where to eat, shop, and even which dentist to choose, Twitter for up to the minute news and deals, and Facebook to share their daily life and photos with friends and family.

How can social media help small businesses?
Social media allows you to join in the conversation, learn what people like (and hate), and gain the lifelong loyalty of your customers.

What does Social Sonar do for small businesses?
We work with you to create a social media plan to achieve your business goals. We monitor your online reputation and respond quickly, in the way you specify. We create unique, engaging content to share with your customers through Facebook Twitter, your blog, and newsletters. You approve it, we post it. We find you new customers, and keep existing fans coming back. With 24 hour responsiveness, everyday, we’re able to interact with your customers on their time, and they’ll love you for listening.

Next up is Wesley Gillis, Co-founder, Client Services. 

Why did you start Social Sonar?
My wife and I owned a store together a while back, and never found a good solution to deal with growing and marketing the business online. I felt that Social Sonar was a chance to create something that would help other business owners who are in the same boat we were.

What does social media mean to you?
I think human beings enjoy living in a community. As technology grew over time, it had the effect of isolating us from a feeling of being part of a group. Social media is our way of correcting that trend by intertwining our desire for community with the technology we are creating.

How can social media help small businesses?
A lot of small businesses are in a position of needing to educate customers about their service. Maybe there is something that makes your business unique, maybe you want to share the personality of your business because it’s something that your customers aren’t going to find anywhere else. Social media gives businesses a way to spread that message. Small businesses have always been about being part of the community, participating with customers and being part of people’s lives. Social media helps businesses continue to do this as their customers spend more and more time reading blogs, checking email and surfing Facebook.

What does Social Sonar do for small businesses?
Business owners know they need to stay active with social media, email newsletters and blogging. The problem is that they don’t have the time and don’t have the budget to hire a full-time person. Social Sonar gives these busy business owners a team of people who can handle learn the unique style and personality of the business, help manage their social media, keep Facebook and Twitter active, write and send out email newsletters and even blog for them.

And then we have Lori Myers, Director of Social Media. 

Why did you start Social Sonar?
Since I started helping my dance studio instructor with her social media a couple of years ago, I decided I wanted to help other people achieve the American dream. So many people have fallen on hard times in the last few years. Rather than look at it negatively, I see so many people turn on their creativity and invent ways to take care of themselves and their families. I realize that owning your own business is no walk in the park. You have to be everything to everyone at all times. Social Sonar allows business owners to get some of their precious time back by placing the reins of their social media marketing in our capable hands.

What does social media mean to you?
The term “social media” has become such a popular term in the last year. Everyone is jumping on the social media bandwagon. To me, it encompasses all forms of digital communication: from the obvious Facebook and Twitter to YouTube, Yelp, LinkedIn, WordPress and Blogger. Anywhere on the Internet that people can connect, communicate and share ideas or information counts as social media.

How can social media help small businesses?
Facebook is great for reaching friends of your current customers. Twitter is amazing for helping you reach a wider audience. Responding to Yelp reviews can show people that you are conscientious about your relationship with your customers. Over half of Americans are on the Internet (which might not sound like a lot, but if you subtract out children and the elderly who might not be online, the number is significant), so you need to be there too.

What does Social Sonar do for small businesses?
Talking about a potential client base of “millions,” might be a little overwhelming. Social Sonar helps create and implement a social media plan specific to your business. If your product is available online, we can cater to a worldwide audience. If you are just trying to sell coffee in Middletown, USA, then we have a plan for you too. This allows you, the business owner, to get back to what you love doing -- running your business. Whether you don’t understand or enjoy social media websites, or you just don’t have time, Social Sonar is here to help.


Here Is Your Post-Black Friday Checklist

Social Sonar - Saturday, November 26, 2011

Black Friday 2011 is history. Small Business Saturday is almost over. Cyber Monday is only a day away. The holiday shopping season has officially begun. Here is a checklist to maximize your post-holiday success with a social media marketing plan to keep those customers coming back.

1. Website.
Even if it is only a simple website with your contact information and store hours, websites are a basic requirement these days. Your website should also link to all of your social media pages so that your customers can decide which mode of contact works best for them.

2. Newsletter.
You should also have an e-mail newsletter that goes out on a regular basis. Whether it is weekly or monthly, connecting regularly with your customers keeps your business on their mind. Unless you are correcting a mistake, don't over-do it by e-mailing too often. You want your customers to look forward to hearing from you. Make signing up easy by having a sign-up button at the top of the front page of your website.

3. Blogging.
We have said it before and we will say it again: Publishing a weekly blog about your company and its products or services is an important part of your social media plan. Keeping your website updated with fresh content raises your rankings within search engines. This means when someone "Googles" your company, it will come up faster.

4. Facebook.
With 800 million users worldwide, your customers are most likely on Facebook. If you create a fan page for your business, it gives your customers a fun and easy place to connect with you. Also, when a customer "likes" your fan page, it is published on their wall for all of their friends to see, thereby exposing your business to another layer of potential customers.

5. Twitter.
With over 200 million users, Twitter is another great way to connect with potential customers. You can use the search function to find potential customers in your geographic area. You can also search tweets and profiles for key words to connect with people who may be interested in your business. If you tag your tweets with proper hash tags, it allows users to find you when they are searching for certain topics.

6. Other social media platforms.
You may decide that Google+, LinkedIn, Yelp, YouTube, Foursquare or other sites are important for your business. You don't want to create a situation where you are trying to manage too many profiles. However, if you know your customers are congregating in a certain place then you may decide to spend some time there as well.

If you would like to read some of our success stories about how other companies have used social media to promote their business, please check out this link: http://www.socialsonar.com/social-media-success-stories. Which sites are on your checklist? Leave a comment below to let us know!

Five Tips For Writing a Great Blog

Social Sonar - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Blogging is an important piece of your social media marketing plan. Here are five tips for writing a great blog.

1. Post on a regular basis.
The first rule of blogging for your business is posting regularly. If I go visit a website and the blog hasn't been updated in six months, I always wonder if they are going out of business, or if they've just lost interest.

2. Write great content.
Posts should be entertaining and contain interesting information. Each blog post does not, however, need to be long. Shorter blogs that include a variety of content, like photos and videos, are usually easier for the reader to digest.

3. Encourage interaction.
Great blog posts cause the reader to respond. Asking questions will encourage your readers to leave comments. Make sure you respond to comments so that your readers feel a connection.

4. Link to other websites.
Don't be afraid to link to other blogs, articles or websites. Also, make sure you are tagging your posts properly for higher search engine rankings.

5. Ask for help.
If you hate writing, hire someone else to do it for you. Your time is valuable. When you are in business for yourself, there may be many tasks you may not feel comfortable handing off to other people. Blogging doesn't have to be one of those tasks.

Blog posts should be short, fun glimpses into your business that allow you to connect with your customers in a different way. Do you have a blog for your business? Tell us about it here and leave a link so we can read it!

Do You Need a Company Page on LinkedIn?

Social Sonar - Saturday, November 19, 2011
LinkedIn, long known as a website for job seekers to keep track of their professional experience, recently enabled status updates on company pages.  The company pages do not appear to be in direct competition with Facebook fan pages and Google+ brand pages, as the purpose would most likely be to release job opportunities to your followers, rather than specials and deals to your customers.   Regardless, LinkedIn is another social media website that you may be interested in checking out. 

In LinkedIn's own words: 
"A Company Page is a place for companies to provide more information about their products and services, job opportunities, and company culture.  Any LinkedIn member can follow a company that has set up a Company Page to get updates on key developments."

We logged into LinkedIn and checked out the company page for Google.  They have over 350,000 followers, almost 40,000 employees on LinkedIn, and are advertising 1,200 jobs.  Facebook has almost 120,000 followers, 4,000 employees on LinkedIn and is advertising 17 jobs all over the world. 
LinkedIn also lists the careers that may be interesting to you and offers a suggested list of companies you may want to follow based on your resumé

It is fairly easy to add your company page to LinkedIn.  There are some security controls in place to make sure the wrong person doesn't claim your company name. 
If you do choose to claim your company on LinkedIn, your best plan of action is to make sure that it has fresh content to entice followers.  There's nothing worse than a company page that has no followers.  You can also ask your colleagues to "recommend" your company, which again adds content to your page.  One very important feature is enabling your RSS blog feed to post to your company page on LinkedIn.  Since you should be updating your blog on a regular basis, this too will keep your company page full of new posts. 

As with Google+ brand pages, LinkedIn's company pages might not be a necessary evil (i.e., time-suck) for now, but they may be in the future.  It is worth keeping an eye on LinkedIn, as a company page may someday be as important as having your website and Facebook fan page. 

Small Business Saturday is Almost Here!

Social Sonar - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

On Saturday, November 26, 2011, American Express is encouraging consumers to "shop small."  Small Business Saturday is less about competing with Black Friday and more about showing your customers that the big stores cannot compete with the personal touch of a small business.  We at Social Sonar have long believed that owning your own business -- the American Dream -- is one of the keys to healing our economy.  

With only a week to go before Thanksgiving and the kick-off to the Christmas shopping season, start making your social media marketing plan now.  If you have specials to run that weekend, make sure you advertise using your newsletter, blog, Facebook page and Twitter page.  Although it is nice to use Facebook and Twitter to connect with your customers, often the direct contact of a newsletter can have a larger impact.  Make sure your subject line is catchy and clearly states that discounts will be given.  This will ensure people understand that THIS E-MAIL NEEDS TO BE OPENED

Once you have customers in the store, let them know you are on Facebook and Twitter.  I have heard a great suggestion that you get a rubber stamp and actually stamp their receipt so that it stands out.  This will encourage them to look you up when they get home.  You can have a newsletter sign-up list at the counter for e-mail addresses.  Even better, have an iPad on the counter to allow people to check in on Facebook, "like" your store and sign up for your mailing list.  Also, make sure your website is prominently displayed in your store and on any receipts or fliers you might hand out.  Then you can link Facebook, Twitter or any other social media sites directly.  You can also have your newsletter sign-up, which should automatically add addresses to your database.  If you place these social media plug-ins in a place easily seen on your website, this will help people find the correct store. 

After the holidays are over, you can then head back to your social media sites to continue connecting with your customers.  If your customers "like" your Facebook fan page, it will show up on their pages and perhaps their friends will follow suit.  This kind of new-world word-of-mouth marketing is one of the best free tools a business can use on Facebook to connect with new customers.  Your conversations with customers there should be less about selling and more about creating a relationship.  You can post discounts, ask trivia questions or run contests.  Post photos.  Give stress-free holiday shopping advice.  I visited one jewelry store that took photos of you with your new purchase on the spot and posted it to their Facebook site.  It definitely encouraged customers to "like" their fan page, then tag themselves in the photo.  

Business owners and consumers alike are looking forward to a prosperous 2012.  We can help you start the year off right by ending your year with a bang.  It's not too late to get your social media plan together. 

What's Going On With Google+?

Social Sonar - Saturday, November 12, 2011
Google+ was opened to the public in September 2011.  Hoping to be the Facebook killer (as Facebook was to Myspace), there was much hoopla surrounding Google's new venture.  It was quickly learned that the general public had no reason to jump ship from Facebook as they, and their friends, already had a place to gather.  Even with Facebook's privacy concerns, there seemed to be no incentive to start over and build their friend lists again.  With 40 million users in only a few months, Google+ is hardly considered a failure (however, compared to Facebook's 800 million users, they have a long way to go).

Google+ seems to be attracting a business-savvy crowd.  If someone's status update announces what they had for lunch or what their bathroom habits may be, other users are usually quick to jump on them and invite them to return to Facebook.  You are easily able to create your circles of acquaintances, friends, family or those you merely want to follow.  It also offers Hangouts, which allow up to ten people to video chat -- a great tool for business meetings. 

To further invite businesses to join the party, Google just opened brand pages.  Apparently there are still some bugs to be worked out as it has been shown that creating a fake page is fairly easy.  Finding the brand pages can also be difficult, so hopefully Google will remedy that situation.  There is a verification process that needs a little work. 
But in the future, having a Google+ brand page may be as necessary as a Facebook fan page. 

So while Google+ hasn't been quite the success some were hoping for, it certainly shouldn't be counted out yet.  While we understand that a lot of people don't want one more social media site to monitor, there may come a time where Google+ is the place for your business to be. 

Are you or your business on Google+?  Let us know your experience with Google+ and whether you think your time there is well-spent.