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Branding yourself across all platforms

I still meet people that are business owners that say ‘ I’m not into facebook, I don’t want everyone looking at my stuff, I’m a private person’.

As a marketing person, this absolutely baffles me. If you are a business owner, your primary goal is to get more business. How do you do that? By being where your customers are. More and more, all of these customers are on social media.

Besides being able to tweak your privacy settings, like building a list of ‘acquaintances’ for posts to business acquaintances and everyone else and a list of ‘friends’ to share personal status updates with, the era of being a ‘private person’ is slowly diminishing. People want to connect, share experiences, talk about great products or things that resonate with them. This creates a huge opportunity for businesses to understand their customers better and build deeper, lasting relationships.

I talked about using social media to network at conferences a few days ago. But perhaps more important is how to make sure you are the same brand across all social media platforms.

The networks you are on depends on your business. I usually recommend the big 3 for business: Facebook, Twitter and Linked In. With today’s resources, it’s easy to make sure you look the same across the board. Here are a few tips to start building your brand:

  1. What is your brand? – Are you selling insurance? Are you selling a service? Think about what that looks like and what pictures and names would attract your clientele. If you’re selling cookies, make cookies part of your title. Don’t make customer’s guess what you do.
  2. Put your personality in- One of the great speakers from last week’s Hispana Leadership Conference, Luly B, has an excellent example of a page with personality. It’s easy to see that she is a mom, a business owner, and a speaker.

    Luly B's great business profile

    Luly B’s great business profile

  3. Look the same across all platforms- it’s easy to find guides to make sure your profile images, header images and twitter backgrounds all look the same.
    Click on the link for all sizes

    Click on the link for all sizes

    Is it time consuming? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely. You will look like a legitimate professional that cares about their image and not just some start-up. Think about how you look like in swim trunks and a t-shirt versus wearing your best suit. Social media is an interview with your clients, would you wear your surf shorts to an interview? You are still the same person, just more presentable.


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Using social media to network at conferences

Last week, I attended the Hispana Leadership Conference in Orlando, FL. Many professional women were in the marketing and blogging business, but there were many doctors, TV personalities, and consultants. 

I was astounded at the power of social media during this conference. I’ve been to tweetups and other meetings using social media, but at this conference, everyone was on it.

As every speaker got up, the host told us what hashtag to use during the session. Sometimes it was #strayeru or #susangkomen or #whiteparty . It always carried the hashtag of the conference, which was #hls2013 . 

Following the #HLS2013 Hashtag

Here’s where the networking comes in. Even if I didn’t catch the name of the person next to me, or I didn’t know the handle of the speaker, I just had to search for the hashtag to find everyone at the conference.

I took business cards from everyone I met, but even with that, I didn’t talk to everyone there. When I came home, I searched through the hashtag and was able to find Twitter profiles for everyone there. 

Business cards are great, but likes and followers are forever

Having a hashtag for your event, even a small one, will not only increase traffic through your site and refer new followers, but will deepen and broaden the relationships your attendees have with each other, and with your business.

I look forward to developing my relationships through social media with the women that attended and seeing them again next year.  


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New Facebook Contest rules- Pros and Cons

This week, page administrators everywhere went crazy! Facebook announced that contests no longer have to be run with 3rd party apps. If you were unfamiliar, contests that asked fans to like, share and comment in exchange for an entry in a drawing were forbidden. No longer!

I can honestly say it was frustrating watching competitors do giveaways the ‘wrong’ way. But I can see why. You get amazing engagement on your page with all those likes and comments. Why would you give those away to run them on a 3rd party app and inconvenience your fans? Well a few reasons. Here are the pros and cons of running contests directly on your page.


  1. Increased engagement- many times I see when my friends like something or they share a contest on their wall. You know what happens? I enter the contest too. That’s the point of a giveaway, is to increase likes and hopefully get some new fans. The new rules will allow your page to grow with giveaways.
  2. Easy- it’s easy to click ‘like’. It’s yet another thing to enter a rafflecopter contest. You have to go through this whole verification that you ‘liked’ or ‘tweeted’ or ‘pinned’. 
  3. Everything stays on Facebook- the more steps or pages someone has to click through the less likely they are to finish that contest entry. 
  4. Cheap- unless you pay to promote your post, you can run contests for free. I don’t forsee this always being the case but for now, small business owners can breathe a little. 


  1. It’s all on Facebook- One of the great things about contests is you could drive traffic to your webpage or your blog if that’s where you were hosting your rafflecopter giveaway. You can still do this, but with everyone running contests just on their Facebook page, you’ll be the difficult one.
  2. Random winner?- If you’ve ever hosted a contest with an app, you know it can pick the winner randomly and it’s a verified result, such as with Without this, what’s to say the page administrator didn’t just pick their buddy?
  3. Collecting information- if you used and app to host a contest, often times (if you were smart) you collected emails or other information that was a goldmine for market research. Without the app, although you’re increasing traffic, you’re not entirely finding out anything new about the person.

One of my favorite app developers, Shortstack, immediately came out with a solution for some of these problems ( I was amazed at their quick response). I use Shortstack for some of my Facebook page tabs. They also have templates to get photo contests and such up and running. They do charge a fee ( you gotta pay for that development, you think they survive on crackers and water?). Anyhow, they now have an app to export all of those likes and comments, which is handy if you have hundreds or thousands of those likes and comments. This solves the problem of truly picking a random winner and if you’ve asked fans to enter in some other type of information it will import that as well. I hope to try the new app soon!

No matter the new rules, remember, do what’s right for your business. If the purpose is to get email addresses, I would still use an app, as people don’t want their emails on the comments section. If you’re trying to drive traffic to you page, you can also consider embedding the contest post into your page (another new announcement). I think we will see more changes from Facebook regarding contests, but for now, try a giveaway today!


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Buying friends: What’s the best use of your marketing dollars?

I attended a meetup with my local social media club last week. We talked about Facebook marketing and how to optimize your pages, posts, and budget to increase visibility and engagement. I gave myself a little pat on the back, since I am doing most of this already!

One thing that was mentioned was paying money to gain friends. Now, this is nothing new, of course, and there are different ways of doing it, but I thought I would share my thoughts on this practice.

Lately, I have seen the Southwest Airline ticket giveaway promotion come up again through my friend’s feeds. The picture of the ‘tickets’ looks like it was designed on Microsoft Publisher and just screams fake. But people still enter! What these people don’t understand is that with a simple ‘ Like and Share to win!’ contest, pages are harvesting likes to turn around and sell them to hungry pages. How? By merging pages with your existing business page.  The process is technically illegal, since you should own both pages, but I guess for a price, you technically do. The overnight, you boost your fans. other culprits include the ‘ Like this, I beat cancer’ or ‘Like this and mom will take us to Disney’. 

I would never in a million years consider doing this. My current business page has less than a 100 likes, but that’s why I’m here creating content. Why would you just want a bunch of Facebook zombies that are not connected to your brand?

The other thing we discussed is spending ad dollars on promoted or sponsored posts. Now I have done this with several pages I manage and depending on the content, have gotten 5-15 new likes for $5-$10 dollars. The great thing about Facebook is that you can target your promoted post to your demographic of choice or to friends of friends, people who would likely share interests with those friends. I currently do this about once a month for either a new special, a new promotion, or some great press coverage. Make sure whatever your content, it would be something you would click on while scrolling through your feed. Make it engaging, exciting, valuable!

Fans are worth a lot of money. But they are only worth it if you’ve lured them and earned them with your content. No one is out there counting your friends. But you should be counting how your posts are received. 

At the end of the day, that’s what will make your business money. 

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The Truth about Google+

I just saw this post from Social Media Today discussing the truth about Google +. It pretty much validates a lot of what I had been thinking already. Here are a few highlights

  1. Growth- growth numbers are skewed for Google+ because they tap into their google users an qualify them as Google+ users (me included). I have gone on the network a handful of times, but besides the Hangout feature, I don’t see it as a valuable use of my time.
  2. Teens aren’t leaving Facebook- I just had this discussion with my husband about a friend’s daughter that is a college freshman. She said she doesn’t really use Facebook and lots of her friends don’t. But she still has an account. 94% of teens said they used the platform at the end of 2012. When you already have almost complete domination of the market, it’s hard to show the growth that Vine and Snapchat are showing. 
  3. Frequency of use- the average length of time spent on Google plus in one month just a little over 6 minutes. The average for Facebook is 6 hours. Business wise, it makes sense to put your eggs in the facebook basket.

I still think that Google+ has lots of potential and will likely be an industry player in the next 3 years or so. Facebook does continue to evolve and grow with the users, so it will largely depend on what Facebook does with their network. At the end of the day, you still have to engage your customers where your customers are to be found. In my area of business, this primarily focuses on Facebook, Twitter, and will adopt Pinterest this coming month (though I have been a personal user for a long time).

Is there a platform you’ve adopted that wasn’t worth the hype? Or that tremendously grew your business? 

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Truth builds trust: Why you shouldn’t lie on social media

I live in a wonderful community made up of a bunch of little towns and cities about 45 minutes east of Orlando. Although our county is 73 miles long and boasts a population just over 500,000, word spreads fast. Like wildfire. Treat a customer badly, and it’s likely that within 6 degrees of separation (or less), people will know about it.

Image( don’t you love the little astronaut on there? did I mention we’re Florida’s Space Coast?)

Anyway, on to the story. Last night a friend of a friend posted two copies of a receipt from a local merchant. In a nutshell, a customer went in to this bar, completed her meal and tipped the waitress. Two hours later the receipt was reprinted and the tip changed (photo on left). The customer came in the next day, asked why the charge was different on her bank card, the manager said the receipt was confused and another customer signed it by mistake and that the customer should dispute it with her bank. The bar did not want to refund her then because they say customers have come in the past, asked them for a refund, and still asked for the chargeback from their bank.


In the comments, someone did post that unfortunately, you are guilty until proven innocent on social media. Having handled customer disputes for local businesses, I agree to some extent. There are people out there that just want to take advantage of a business, but this obviously was not the case this time.

Here are my tips to how this business should have handled this matter:

  1. Handle customer concerns right when they happen- First, this should have been handled when the client came into the bar. Refund the customer right away, apologize for the confusion, do what you need to do. No, the customer isn’t always right, but when they have been charged an incorrect amount, you should do everything to accommodate the customer.
  2. Don’t post customer information on the internet- it was very easy for me to doctor this image to blur out the name. Even then, you shouldn’t put up customer receipts online. Defend your case if you must, but don’t put up her info.
  3. Build trust from the get go, and customers will have your back- When I read ‘ The Social Media Strategist‘ by Christopher Barger, one of the things he recommends is building trust through your social network. When you interact with your clients, put up things that show off your personality, and have a genuine rapport with your online community, they are more likely to go to bat for you when crap hits the fan. If you never do this, like this bar (who only puts up their own promotions and never interacts with customers), and have a reputation for bad customer service, small issues like this will blow up in your face. I happen to have a bad personal experience with this bar and several others on the original thread did too. Not ONE customer stood up for them. This is a giant red flag. Build trust with your customers during their visit, online and have a genuine interest in them. You will be rewarded when your business is going through a difficult time.

The bar ended up taking down the receipts, but the harm was already done. As a PR professional, the only thing I would suggest is to be truthful. It’s hard to swallow your pride, but your customers will respect you and you’ll save whatever reputation you have. Be truthful and say ‘ We were wrong. Our employee was dishonest and we have taken care of the situation. We apologize for the way this was handled. Please ask for the manager during your visit if there are any issues’. It’s not too late to start a policy of good customer service.

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Travel reviews for businesses

One of my primary job duties for my clients is to manage their online reputation on travel sites such as Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Places. This is increasingly becoming more and more important for businesses in our area, as we are a tourist hotspot with Disney being a little over an hour away. Positive and negative review management are equally important in my book. 

I stayed at the Grand Beach Hotel in Miami Beach, FL during the ING Miami Marathon last January. We actually purchased it on a daily deal site, so my expectations were a little low, and with previous South Florida hotels being less than stellar, I was bracing myself. But we were in for a very pleasant surprise. Not only was this chic, clean and comfortable, it was outright beautiful! So I submitted a TripAdvisor review. And within a few days, I had a response thanking me for staying at their hotel. What a lasting positive impression.

Here are my tips for managing your reviews, both positive and negative

  1. Be prompt- No matter if it is positive or negative, be quick to answer. Timeliness is everything, Customers usually expect a negative experience to be handled within 24-48 hours. You have to budget a day for your response to be posted on TripAdvisor, so the quicker you can respond the better.
  2. Address things they mentioned directly- It can be counterproductive to make your answer like it was spewed from a robot’s mouth. So if they commented on a specific dish, a certain staff member or the price of an item, address that directly. A personalized and specific response is more genuine and the customer will feel like you have listened to them.
  3. You don’t always have to apologize- Sometimes, the customer isn’t right. I had a restaurant client of mine where the customer was irate because she though a certain dish was supposed to be presented a certain way. Never mind that the chef has been making the dish the same way for 28 years and is classically trained in his cuisine. Even after management tried to resolve the issue they threw a big fit and put things in the review that are outright lies, such as the staff pounding their fists on the table. Don’t feel like you have to apologize for every bad experience! If the staff did everything to try to resolve the matter in a respectful and acceptable manner and the client is still not pleased, explain your side of the story (without blaming anyone) and ask them to contact you further if they feel an appropriate solution has not been offered to them. For all the honest reviews that are out there where people genuinely bring up matters that need to be brought to the owner’s attention, there are people out there that just want something for free. Resolve the matter if possible, but know you won’t make every customer happy.
  4. Get your best customers to submit reviews- When I worked in retail and customers would comment on my job performance and what they could do for me, I would tell them to submit a letter to my manager commenting on my performance. Same thing goes for business reviews. Your customers want to help? Give them a call to action and ask them for a glowing review. And feel free to reach back out to them with a thank you discount. 
  5. Share reviews on your social media pages- If someone has raved about your dish or your hotel room, share it on your Facebook page! Even people that are passively engaged with your page with see a pattern of great reviews and will unknowingly have a much more positive view of your brand. How many times have you caught yourself saying, “I heard that dish was good” after seeing a positive online review? My point exactly.

If you haven’t checked out your travel reviews, do so now and register your businesses so you can be immediately notified of new travel reviews. Remember, in the social media world and in travel reviews, silence is not golden. It’s harmful.

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