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8 Steps to Run a Facebook Contest

Social Sonar - Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Carnival Prizes

Consumers have always loved the idea of contests, mostly because they're getting something free, but for a business it's a way to market their services or merchandise. Creating contests can help develop a customer database, and with the introduction of social media, it's a way for consumers to easily engage with their favorite brand. But do contests, especially social media contests, work?

Business owners provide some mixed feedback. While many recognize that contests increase the number of followers or likes for their business, some proprietors simply don't find social media contests useful. This made us question, are they conducting these contest the right way?

Expectations may be too high, and when the owners don't see the results they were hoping for, they simply deem the contest concept a failure. Be realistic and set goals which are reasonable for your business and your consumers. Contests help give your followers a reason to interact with the business and each other. As a business owner, try to focus more on your customer interaction, and less on the amount of Likes or Followers you're obtaining.

Social Media is an investment of your time and money, including the cost of the prize, and if you've paid money for a third party to run the contest, this cost can be overwhelming. Having to invest in both areas can set you up to create unrealistic goals.

I'm sure you're asking, "How can I ensure my contest is successful?" Well that's what we're here to answer.

1. Ask yourself, "Do I really need to run a contest?".

If you're a B2B company, running a contest won't really help you gain new clients. It makes more sense if your business sells directly to a consumer. Look at your goals, and if they can be accomplished in a more efficient or reliable way, take that route.

2. Set Realistic Expectations.

Make sure you set goals for the contest by asking the following: What do you want to achieve? Are you running this contest to bring awareness to your brand? Are you going to highlight a product or service that you provide? Do just want to increase Likes or Followers? Do you want to obtain feedback about your company? Be specific with your questions.

3. Match Your Fan.

Think about your business; if you're a clothing store, will conducting a photo contest work best? Maybe you could ask a question about a product. For example, recently Goorin Bros Hat Company ran a Free Hat Fridays contest. They posted a picture of their merchandise and asked followers "What would you wear with this hat?" They engaged consumers and randomly picked a winner from the 200+ comments.

4. Less Is More.

Remember to keep it simple. If your consumers have to fill out several pages just to win one prize, they'll abandon the idea, and you'll be left with few entries. Only ask for the information you absolutely need.

5. Pick a Perfect Prize.

Remember to ensure your prize shows off what your business provides. And make sure your giveaway reflects what your participants need to make an entry. If you own a camera store, and you're giving away a new state-of-the-art camera, have your participants post a picture they have taken.

6. Shout It from a Mountain Top.

Don't limit your contest to just Facebook or Twitter - let the world know! Include it in your email newsletters, on your webpage, and if you have a physical location, tell your shoppers. Make it a part of your marketing strategy. If you are going to run a print ad, save some room for the contest information.

7. Learn from It.

Once your contest is over, make sure you follow up. You've collected information to help you market to shoppers who showed an interest in your business. Keep them engaged. Let them know you heard their feedback. They'll appreciate knowing their comments made a difference, and they'll understand how important they are to you.

Last but not least...

8. Follow the Rules.

Social Media sites, especially Facebook, have rules and policies for running these contests. They have a list of do's and don'ts. For instance, Facebook regulations require that you notify winners via email, snail mail, phone call, or singing telegram before you congratulate them publicly on Facebook. They also ask that you state Facebook is not sponsoring the contest. We can list these forever, so let's make it easier - check out Facebook's Pages Terms.

Happy Marketing!

Ménage à Trois: A Marketing Love Story

Social Sonar - Monday, October 08, 2012

Ménage à Trois translates to "Household of three". Here at Social Sonar, we often talk about the Virtuous Cycle, the three services that complement and feed each other seamlessly to create a cohesive marketing program and serve as the basis for all other efforts. Combining services does more than triple your reach; it has a multiplying effect.

Virtuous Cycle of Marketing

1. Blogging

Maintaining a blog is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your business. Not only does a blog educate your customers and demonstrate your expertise, it also greatly improves your search engine ranking. Every blog post increases the number of keywords and pages on your site, so search engines will rank your url more highly than other websites with less information.

Having a more highly-ranked site ensures more traffic to your blog, which leads to more people signing up for email newsletters, and more people liking your Facebook and Twitter accounts. If you run any Google AdWords campaigns, you can actually pay less and be ranked higher than less informative sites.

Blog posts also provide you with unique content to promote in your Facebook and Twitter messages, as well as your email newsletter. You can even run targeted marketing campaigns linking to specific blog posts, which are easier to set up than landing pages.

2. Social Media

Updating Facebook and Twitter pages shows customers your business is healthy, and you are keeping up with the times. Rather than expecting people to visit your website, you are meeting them where they already hang out and making it easy for them to interact with your business or check your hours.

Social media is an ideal tool to drive customers to your website when you need them to take an action. For example, you can promote your recent blog post on Facebook and Twitter. People click the link to visit your blog and spend time on your site, where you can convince them to make an appointment or call with questions.

You can even run specials on your Facebook and Twitter pages. Post a unique coupon code and send people to your website to make the purchase. You get to keep more money than if you partnered with a deal site like Groupon or Living Social.

Tell other fans on your Facebook and Twitter pages about your positive Yelp reviews, and encourage them to review you. You can even link directly to the positive review!

3. Email Marketing

Gaining the trust to receive an email address is one of the most powerful marketing relationships you can build. Make sure you always send relevant content so recipients are less likely to unsubscribe.

Blog posts are ideal for ensuring your emails are always interesting and informative. They enable you to take a "Something for Everyone" approach, as we mentioned in our blog post What Saturday Night Live Teaches Us About Email Marketing.

Facebook and Twitter are great tools to promote signing up for your email newsletters. People who sign up to receive your emails are more likely to make a purchase than someone who has only liked you on Facebook or followed you on Twitter.

This recent article from TIME states, "Forty-eight percent of consumers reported that social media posts are a great way to discover new products, brands, trends, or retailers, but less than 1% of transactions could be traced back to trackable social links... For repeat shoppers, 30% of online purchases begin with an e-mail from the retailer."

Our complete package offers everything you need for the basis of a healthy marketing program: Blogging, Social Media, and Email Marketing. Give us a call at 1-866-843-4490 or send an email to service@socialsonar.com to find out how our customized automated solution can work for your business.

How Do You Find Social Media Content?

Social Sonar - Monday, May 14, 2012

We have often talked about the importance of the interesting content when it comes to social media.

Check out our past posts on blogging, e-mail newsletters or communicating using social media sites.

Whether you want to post "interesting and engaging content" once a day or once a week, where do you find all of this info?

Just Google It

The easiest way to find content is to "Google it" (enter a search term into any internet search engine). You don't have to hand-craft all the content you post. Most search engines have a news tab, which you can also limit to any stories posted within the previous 24 hours. BAM! You have the most recent news stories about your industry.

For example, if you are a jewelry business, you can search for new and interesting pieces or stone cuts to share on your Facebook or Twitter page. If you own a restaurant, you may want to use some current news piece about a salmonella outbreak to write a blog and explain why your restaurant is a cut above the rest in cleanliness.

Ask the Experts

If you receive newsletters from other companies in your own industry, you may be receiving a daily list of interesting content you can easily share on your own social media profiles. The work is almost done for you! You may even check out posts from your competitors to inspire items you post on your own page.

Go Where the Action Is

Some of the most shared content comes from aggregation sites, which pull together the most interesting content people find. Our favorites include Digg and StumbleUpon. For shorter posts with more visuals, we love 22 Words.

Choose a TrendStay Current

If you're looking to take advantage of what is trending at this very moment on Twitter, you can always check out the "Trending" area on your profile. If you're having trouble figuring what something is, or why the heck it's trending, check out What the Trend. It has handy explanations of why things are showing up.

Finding content to post to your social media profiles does not have to take up hours of your time. Although you do also want to have items specifically related to your business, posting about broader industry-related topics is absolutely acceptable as well. It is a quick and easy way to keep your profiles fresh with content.

Where do you find content for your social media sites? We always love hearing your unique and creative ideas!

Social Media: Secret Sales Department

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Benjamin in DisguiseThe #1 thing every business wants from Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and blogs is money, either from current customers or returning ones. Measuring the effect of your blog, email newsletter, and Facebook and Twitter accounts without coupon codes is a nearly impossible task.

There is compelling evidence social media helped you make sales, whether you realized it or not.

Influence Purchases

When someone searches for your company on Google, some of the links that normally show up in the search results are your blog, Facebook, Twitter, and Yelp pages. The searcher may decide to make a purchase based on what they see on these sites, whether your realize it or not.

One of our customers is a chiropractor who used to rely heavily on Yellow Pages. He had a new client come in and cite Yellow Pages as her source for finding the business. During the course of her appointment, however, she admitted to reading his recent blog posts, and they helped her make the final decision to use his services.

Add Legitimacy

A few years ago, it wasn't guaranteed every business had a website. Almost all business owners now realize the importance of having a website to allow customers to find them. A Facebook page and Twitter account are just as important now as a website was then. Having these pages shows your business is up-to-the times, and thus thriving.

Expand Your Presence

People love to share what they are doing, where they are going, and the coolest new things they found. People often tag businesses in posts. If you don't have a Facebook page or Twitter handle, you're missing out on free word-of-mouth advertising. On the converse, the ability to be tagged in posts allows your current customers to easily introduce new, potential customers to your business.

One of our customers owns a loose leaf tea store. His customers often mention his Twitter handle in their tweets and tag his Facebook fan page in their posts as a way to brag about going to his store or post a picture of themselves enjoying his tea.

Raise Your Rank and Reduce Paid Marketing Costs

Having a higher search engine ranking naturally leads to more sales and cheaper Cost Per Click. The higher your natural search rank is on Google, the less you pay for AdWords bids. Thankfully, your blog, Facebook page, and Twitter account all raise the ranking of your website for better visibility and more sales.

The simple truth is customers now increasingly expect you to have a social media presence. Whether your efforts on these platforms yield sales all depends on how active you are and how often you engage your customers.

Social Media in the News

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 11, 2012

 

1) Facebook has purchased photo-sharing software company, Instagram, for 1 beeelion dollars. In his official announcement, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg says, “For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.” Link to Story.

2) On Saturday, Quebec juice maker Lassonde was forced to settle a lawsuit after intense online backlash. After the details of the Lassonde’s 7-year trademark battle with a tiny beauty company over the use of the name “Oasis” went viral, a social media uprising gave the “juice giant” a big reality check. Link to Story.

3) Google has beaten out Apple, Facebook, and Twitter for the title of Most Popular Tech Brand. According to the poll, conducted by Langer Research Associates, a whopping 82 percent of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Google overall, while 53 percent hold a "strongly" favorable opinion of the expansive Internet company. In regards to favorability, Apple still came in a close second. Link to Story.

4) A New Study has pegged Pinterest as the #3 Social Media Website

Experian Hitwise has collated website visitors for the last month, and ranks Pinterest as the number 3 social media website, behind Facebook and Twitter, and just ahead of LinkedIn. Here are the top 6:

1. Facebook: 7 billion
2. Twitter: 182 million
3. Pinterest: 104 million
4. LinkedIn: 86 million
5. Tagged: 72 million
6. Google+: 61 million

Link to Story.


Guest Blogging, Part 2

Social Sonar - Saturday, April 07, 2012

Last week we briefly discussed the benefits of guest blogging, and why it's important in light of new search engine algorithms. This week, we'll discuss the specifics of how to become or utilize a guest blogger.

How do I become a guest blogger?

Here are some of the steps that Liz Strauss of Successful-Blog.com suggests:

1. Search for a blog that relates to your niche or your interests. Perhaps you like to write about fashion. So, you look for fashion blogs. Be specific in your search. Perhaps you want to hone in on fashion for pregnant women.

2. Check to see if your blog of choice accepts guest bloggers. Some blogs have specific guidelines for guest bloggers. Make sure you understand what is expected of you.

3. Examine the blog to see if it seems to be a blog with high traffic. This can be difficult to ascertain. I like to look at comments, number of tweets and the amount of content the blog produces. I check to see if I can see a pattern in the number of posts per day/week.
Tip: You want to find a blog with decent traffic so that people will become familiar with your work. I’m not saying to never write for smaller blogs. But you should keep your purpose in mind.

4. Choose a topic that hasn’t been covered on the blog. Try to aim for a unique angle. For instance, with my pregnancy fashion example, you could write a post about swimsuits and cover-ups that flatter that baby bump.

5. Write the post.

6. E-mail your post to the blog’s owner. Most blogs will have a contact page, where you can find an e-mail address.

7. Wait one week, and respond with a follow-up e-mail if you don’t hear anything. Your short, simple follow-up e-mail could read as follows:
I wanted to make sure you received my guest blog post “Flattering That Baby Bump At The Beach.” I sent it on Wednesday, June 12. Will you be able to publish it?
Tip: You might want to attach your post again in case it has been overlooked. It will save your contact the time of having to ask you for your blog post and waiting for your response.

8. Wait another week. If you still don’t hear anything, use that guest blog post on your blog, pitch it to another relevant blog or use it for article marketing.

What if I want someone to guest blog for me?
Come up with a set of parameters for your potential guest bloggers. As an example, popular blog, Addicted2Decorating (http://www.addicted2decorating.com/advertise-with-a2d), has a great guest-blogger policy. Then, put the call out. Be sure to use all of the social media channels available to you, as well as your local business connections to find potential bloggers.

Is there way to track the benefits of guest blogging?

Yes, actually. There are now tools available that can help you to make sure your links aren’t tampered with after the fact and track things like Facebook likes generated by your blog post.

Guest Blogging, Part 1

Social Sonar - Wednesday, April 04, 2012

 

What is guest blogging?

Guest blogging entails writing a blog post for someone else’s blog. You get credited as the author of the post, and it links to your own blog or website so readers can find your site. For small businesses, it is most beneficial to guest blog for sites related to your market.

How being a guest blogger benefits you...
You’ll make business connections, engage new potential customers, and maybe get some clout out of the deal. You’ll also hopefully get the most important payoff - traffic to your site.

How your guest blog benefits others...

“...in the post-Panda era, guest blogging is one of the most powerful ways to rank higher with Google. The Panda-dubbed updates to the Google algorithm that started changing ranking factors (and search results) in early 2011 have dramatically shifted the search marketing game.

Where once a brute-force effort to blanket the internet with spammy back-linked content and stuff keywords for ranking could convince Google that a site was worth a high rank, now the focus has shifted more clearly to original, quality content. Google is in the business of serving up the most relevant online resources, so naturally, it wants websites to earn their search placement, not take it.” - Social Media Today, “Google Panda Makes Guest Blogging Easier”

This means that more and more webmasters are in need of high-quality, content-rich copy in order to improve their rankings in the search engine. Your guest blog gives them exactly that!

Be sure to check out Part 2 of this blog to find out how to become a guest blogger and more.

F-Commerce and your Facebook Page

Social Sonar - Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Have you ever considered empowering your Facebook Page with an attached online store? There are now a growing number of social media commerce solutions (affectionately known as F-Commerce solutions) that allow you to offer your Facebook Fans direct access to your products/services. Pretty exciting, considering that if you've got a following on Facebook, you'll have built-in access to potential customers.

We recently spoke with small-business owner, Emily, about her experience with social commerce platform, Payvment. So far, she says that things have been going smoothly, noting that, “the interface was very straightforward, and our overall user experience has been great.”

Emily's business is in the home decor industry, so for her, using social media to sell product is actually a good way to test the waters with new inventory. Since her business page has about 6,000 fans on Facebook, she feels like she has access to the opinions and buying habits of a larger cross-section of potential customers than she would in her brick-and-mortar store. She especially appreciates Payvment's polling feature, which allows her to gain valuable information on her customers' needs and ever-changing tastes. And her customers don't have to go very far to check out her newest products - there is a nifty “Shop Now” button at the top of the timeline-style page, right next to the “photos” icon.

As of right now, she is very low-volume, so her service is free. However, she says that if things continue to go well, she may consider upgrading to the premium service. Still, even though sales have been steady, she does have some misgivings at times. “Is my business page a place where people can have a community in a non-threatening way - meaning without the pressure to buy - or is it a store? I still haven't quite figured that out.”

Either way, it's clear that F-Commerce industry is poised to explode in the next few years. If you're interested in exploring how F-Commerce could have an effect on your business, then look no further than Social Commerce Today's list of 20 Leading F-Commerce Software Solution Providers.

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!