Google Chrome is Trying to Eliminate the Need for Flash

By Joshua Klafter, Editorial and Social Media Intern

Flash: what once was one of the most popular plug-ins for video, gaming and animation on the internet, is on its last legs. According to a report by the Guardian, ever since YouTube, formerly the most prominent Flash-heavy website,ceased using the format in January 2015, Flash has been slowly fading into the depths of obscurity.

However, the true nail in the coffin may be closer than we think. A CNET report explained that Google has announced plans to expedite Flash’s inevitable demise by removing it from their own browser, Google Chrome. They cited battery drainage and security issues as the two most apparent reasons behind Google’s upcoming abandonment of the format.

The void that the removal of Flash will leave behind will not remain empty. Google plans to replace the format with HTML5.

WhatIs.com defines HTML5 as the newest version of HTML, the most common programing language used to construct websites. But unlike its predecessors HTML5 will be able to support audio and video content, a feature once dominated by Flash.

“Google said the change will lead to improved security, reduced power consumption and faster page load times,” said CNET’s report.

They explained that this process will not be immediate. Chrome 53’s September release will begin to remove emphasis from Flash by blocking all flash-based content. However, the full replacement will occur in December, with the release of Chrome 55.

A statement by Adobe, the company behind Flash, explained, “Google's decision is part of this industry-wide evolution that Adobe is heavily invested in.”

WhatsApp Introduces Desktop Version of the Popular Messaging Platform

By Joshua Klafter, Editorial and Social Media Intern

WhatsApp is, without a doubt, the most popular messaging app (see report). Over one billion people of the Earth’s seven billion population actively use the platform. With something this successful, it makes no sense to change the formula, right? After all, the saying is don’t fix what isn’t broken. WhatsApp isn’t taking that adage for an answer.

According to a report by Forbes, WhatsApp launched its desktop app for both Mac and Windows computers. From now on, WhatsApp users will be able to browse the internet without having to stop their conversation.

Forbes cited a blog post from the official WhatsApp site, quoting, “Because the app runs natively on your desktop, you’ll have support for native desktop notifications, better keyboard shortcuts, and more.”

Although undoubtedly excited about these features, WhatsApp users may worry that they will have to manage two separate accounts (one for mobile and another for desktop). This is not the case.

“The apps sync with a WhatsApp user’s account on their mobile device, once they’ve downloaded them and scanned a QR code from inside Settings > WhatsApp Web on the mobile app,” the report explained.

Although this may seem like a fresh new direction for the platform, this isn’t WhatsApp’s first endeavour into the computer world. WhatsApp launched a web browser app in 2015. However, the new desktop app will alleviate the issue of having to sift through tabs to find your chats.

The report notes the risk that the desktop app’s launch posed. Competition has become more tense amongst desktop messaging services. Messengers such as Slack and AIM will need to step up their game in order to compete with the chatting giant.     

This new app may even appeal to businesses. As WhatsApp provides free international communication, it could serve as an invaluable tool for international corporations. They now have a quick and easy alternative method to speak with their overseas partners.

Evidently, WhatsApp’s move to desktop is a big step forward for the messaging industry. Not only will it possibly lead millions of users to another form of WhatsApp, but it will strengthen its position in competition. WhatsApp’s desktop app is a great new tool for both the average computer user, and large businesses. Read more

 

What CurrentC Closing will Mean for Apple Pay

By Joshua Klafter, Editorial and Social Media Intern

In an era where technology has begun to dominate almost every aspect of society, it's hard to say which facet has evolved the most. There is no doubt, however, that payment methods have been affected. A clear reflection of this idea comes in the form of the emergence of mobile payment systems.

While almost everyone is familiar with the online payment system giant PayPal, mobile platforms such as Apple Pay and CurrentC may seem more foreign to many.

Tech Target defines mobile payment, or m-payment, as, “a point-of-scale transaction made or received with a mobile device.”

They explain the allures of convenience and security as the driving factors behind this recent trend.

However, if you aren’t familiar with any of these m-pay platforms, have no fear, there’s one less you need to know about.

A report by CNet announced that CurrentC, Apple Pay’s most popular rival, closed its doors on June 28. This shutdown was thorough; all accounts were disabled, the app was removed from all app stores that offered it and all locations that allowed it no longer do so.

CNet noticed an interesting twist on CurrentC’s closure, however.

“The twist behind CurrentC is that it was backed by a consortium known as the Merchant Customer Exchange, or MCX, which consisted of merchants such as Walmart, Best Buy, CVS and Rite Aid,” said the report. “But the group has faced tough competition from Apple, Samsung and other players.”

In other words, despite being backed by giants like Walmart and Best Buy, CurrentC was still overtaken by Apple Pay.

MCX was unclear as to whether the m-payment app would ever make a comeback, but a spokesperson for the company announced plans to analyze the data gained from the app’s initial run.

According to CNet, there are some logical culprits behind the shutdown that are evident even before MCX’s data analysis. The report credited hackers, the CEO of MCX stepping down, a lack of expansion and frequent layoffs as some of the logical answers to the question of why CurrentC failed.

However, CNet also mentions the app’s reliance on QR codes to make purchases, as opposed to the commonly used fingerprint method, as a culprit to CurrentC’s downfall.

While the future is unknown for CurrentC, it is clear that mobile payment is not a trend that will be dying anytime soon. Both Apple Pay and Android Pay continue to gain traction, and therefore, the industry with it.

Social Media App Use on a Decline

By Joshua Klafter, Editorial and Social Media Intern

Social media has been one of the largest growing industries in the 21st century. While some giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, seem like they are here to stay, others have been lost to time. Does anyone remember MySpace?

Smartphones have also been a massive player in the technology industry. According to a report by Pew Research Center, they have become the third most-used method to access the internet behind desktop and laptop computers. Therefore, a social media decline is something that no one would expect to see, however, this drop is one of truth.

A June 6 report by CNBC revealed that social media mobile app use is declining, not growing. They used the research of marketing intelligence agency SimilarWeb to come to this conclusion.

“People are spending less time on social media apps, in some cases substantially less,” said the report.

The popular photo-sharing app Instagram took the biggest toll, losing roughly 24 percent of its usership. However, Twitter and Snapchat were shockingly close behind, declining roughly 23 percent and 16 percent respectively.

Despite larger declines in Instagram and Snapchat usage, Twitter received the least overall usage this year when compared to the most popular social media apps.

With social media also serving as a massive economic industry, the stock market was also affected by this usage drop. Twitter stock trading dropped by a whopping 34 percent.

In some countries, including the U.S. and England, installations of social media apps have been on a rise, which gives hope for the mobile sector of the industry.

It’s interesting that, in an age so dominated by social media and citizen journalism, mobile usage is dropping. This is a trend that should be kept an eye on, as it may re-shape our era once more. Read More

New Facebook Feature: Hide Posts from Timeline

By Joshua Klafter, Editorial and Social Media Intern

Since its 2004 release, Facebook has been redefining the idea of social media as we know it. Twelve years later, the site doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Facebook unveiled its newest feature: the ability for users to post content on their news feeds without saving it to their timelines.

Digital Trends reported that the new feature, called “hide from timeline,” will allow users to share content on their news feed without saving it permanently on their timeline.

Digital Trends said users may confuse this update with the ability to customize which of their friends see their posts, a feature that has been available since the dawn of the site, however, he said this feature is much simpler.

They described this feature as the ability to create “temporary news feed posts,” or posts that will disappear with time.

The online Facebook Help Center explained the new feature by writing, “Hiding a story will remove it from your Timeline, but it won't delete that story from Facebook. This means stories you hide are still visible to the audience they were shared with other places on Facebook.”

Examples of places on Facebook where a user will still be able to see these posts are in a search and their news feed.

According to a report by Tech City, users will still be able to access all of their “hidden from timeline” posts on a “your posts” page.

Digital Trends said this isn't the only component of the feature. For select users, Facebook seems to be testing a connected feature, the ability to categorize a “hide from timeline” post in up to 26 categories. These include general topics like World News and TV & Film, as well as more personal topics such as thoughts and selfies.

A showcase of the two new features. | Photo By Digital Trends

A showcase of the two new features. | Photo By Digital Trends

Digital Trends noted a similarity between using the “hide from timeline” feature for personal topic posts and use of rival social media platform Snapchat. Both allow companies to share information with consumers that disappears after a finite amount of time. This principle does not just apply to corporations, but to the average user as well.

However, unlike Snapchat, this new Facebook feature can’t be used on mobile devices.

As it is new, it is not yet reported whether any companies have jumped in on the use of this feature yet.

However, both the ability to categorize content and the temporary nature of this feature may allow for businesses to benefit from it in the future. Companies can present themselves to those looking for a specific category of posts, as well as provide quick and temporary information that may not warrant a permanent place on their timeline. Read More

CLOUD APPLICATIONS YOU NEED TO KNOW

By: Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator and Brand Analyst

Everyone knows the obvious advantages that cloud applications bring. According to IBM, using the cloud helps reduce labor costs, simplifies capital expenses and lowers real estate and energy costs. Curious to explore the world of cloud applications at your fingertips? Read below to learn more about different apps that can help kick-start your digital adventure — and your business!

JUSTCLOUD

JustCloud stores all your files, from Illustrator projects to contracts to stock photos. If a fellow coworker or client requests a last minute change, you can access your files from your laptop or mobile device. You can also share files and unlike other cloud storage services, the app is compatible across PC, Mac, Linux, Android and more. JustCloud will also automatically back up your computer to a schedule of your choice, without you having to do a thing.

MORPHOLIO

With Morpholio, you can turn your designs and finished presentations into a digital sketchbook. Its cloud-based apps organize all of your work in a format that is ready to present. The Exhibit app can be used to display high-resolution images in a gallery or kiosk format. Its Journal app lets you turn your photos into a contact sheet by writing on top of your work. These tools come in handy, if for example, you needed to send back feedback to a photographer on their shots.

INSIGHTSQUARED

Unlike spreadsheets, InsightSquared's visual, maintenance-free reports and dashboards provide a custom lens into real-time sales results. This way, you can see exactly what’s going on with your marketing, sales, financials and staffing.  You get InsightsSquared emails for various dashboards with highly impactful metrics that can help you run your business better. For example a company’s marketing department is responsible for lead generation. Leads being a potential sales contact or an individual or organization that expresses an interest in your goods or services. Sales leaders know that not all leads are created equal. It’s not just the share amount of leads that matter but the quality of those leads. InsightsSquared helps you zoom out to a 10,000-foot-view where you can actually understand not only the absolute number of leads but easily get more granular insight into the channels and the sources that they’re coming from. The app essentially just offers more granular data into, for example, sales forecasting and conversion rates.  

GETFEEDBACK

You can’t improve your business without knowing what your clients or consumers really think about your product or service. With GetFeedBack, you can design an online survey that can be displayed on smartphones, tablets and many other browsers. According to the app, 50 percent of surveys are opened on mobile devices. With this information, you need to make sure that you design something that is mobile compatible or you can lose credibility to your business.

WORKFLOWMAX

Keep track of everything from project details, time tracking and all they way to invoicing. With this tool, you can avoid paperwork, messy spreadsheets, time-consuming admin tasks and many other hassles that you face every day. Its streamline invoicing tool is based on your hourly rate or a flat fee. Many project management tools can generate invoices, but WorkflowMax can also help you get a handle on cash flow with bulk invoicing capabilities. WorkflowMax has two methods of invoicing. You can invoice based on a quoted amount or on actual time and costs. You can also create new progress or final invoices, print client statements, and get a quick snapshot of how your cash flow is looking — all from the Invoice Manager. Designers can also use this tool to create branded and professional looking quotes to send to new clients.

STRIPE

Have you ever wanted to charge for premium areas on your site to download stock footage and graphics? Well, with an app like Stripe, you can charge for protected areas on your site. With Stripe’s subscription APIs and webhooks, storing customers’ cards on file or even implementing complex functionality like metered billing or annual plans is easy. Companies like Rackspace, Parse, and Squarespace use Stripe to manage subscriptions and recurring revenue. This tool allows for quick and easy credit card transactions at a low fee, with your customer never having to leave your website.  

Cloud apps are kind of like the dashboard to your car. Sure, without them you can still drive your business and figure out what’s going on, but you won’t have the metrics and organization to really know how fast you’re going or how much gas you have in the tank. Now that you know so much about cloud applications, get started on making your business more efficient for the present and the future. Read More

The New Social Media: Revamping Strategies for 2016.

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

Social media has evolved into much more than a channel to market your product or service. It has turned into a customer communication channel — and rightfully so. It’s time for the business world to catch up and put the “social” back in social media. What was once a space to showcase your best products and increase sales is now a space for the consumer to contribute information to the brand and fellow consumers.

Now, think back to your own social media pages. Have you seen a recent decrease in followers or engagement? This may be because you are not utilizing your accounts effectively. Instead of working to advertise a product, you should focus on engaging with your audience, asking for feedback, taking pools and more.

Explore 4 simple ways to help you revamp your social strategy in 2016.

1. Respect Your Audience

Today, great customer service can set one brand above the next. Listen to your customers and adjust accordingly to help your guests feel heard. Some things your business should keep in mind: What platform should you use? Who are you talking with? What is the end goal? 

2. Two-Way Street

Perform better in the long run by taking polls, following up with guests and monitoring keywords. This not only gives your audience a voice, but also allows the customer to express their point of view.

3. Have a Game Plan

Make a plan in case of crisis and share it with your team. Knowing and preparing for a social media crisis can save your brand later down the road. Be sure your employees know how to properly reply to any situation.

4. Set a Clear Brand Culture

Your brand is the voice of your business and your employees are your loudest voices. Personalize your feeds with fun tidbits and facts about your staff. Remember, when your staff is happy, it reflects in their work. Listen to your staff and treat workers with respect.

Making the switch from the traditional use of social media can be critical for any business, but with these steps it can be easy!

Get even more tips here.

 

 

6 Things To Consider Before Building A Mobile App

By: Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

The booming mobile-app world is at the touch of our fingers. Ten thousand apps are appearing very day. At this rate, it’s no surprise that many companies want to get in on the action. Organizations are convinced that a mobile app is their ticket to an initial public offering (IPO).  

Now, it’s nice fantasizing about millions of consumers downloading your mobile app and bringing in more business to your company by providing value to customers, increasing engagement and building brand recognition.

However, don’t get ahead of yourself. Building an app can be a big investment. There are things you must consider before making the commitment. Here are six reasons mobile apps might not be the answer.

1. No Customers

Yes, there are many venture-capital-funded companies that had the opportunity to spend millions before gaining any customers. If that’s the case for you, then by all means do your thing. However, for the other 99.9 percent of entrepreneurs, it is almost impossible to build a customer base with only a mobile app. You need to create an audience of loyal customers in order to have someone eager enough to download what you have to offer.

2. You Don’t Understand Your Target Market

How can you expect your app to succeed if you don’t know your target market? Many apps fail for this exact reason. They spend a lot of time and money chasing after the wrong group of people. For example, chat apps are mainly for the younger generation, particularly Millennials. If your target audience is seniors, you may have to re-think your strategy.

3. No Viral Strategy

Again, unless you have a lot of dollars to drive mobile traffic, you need a plan to build awareness. The best way to do it is through social media. It’s cost effective and often free.

However, social sharing like Facebook sign-up isn’t a growth strategy. A better example is Dropbox. They offer extra free storage for new customer referrals, something that may entice consumers.

4. No Money For Marketing

You don’t need a lot, but you do need some. You can actually do a lot with $5,000 if you budget wisely. For example, Facebook allows you to highly target users and there are many other sites that let you test messaging and user interface (UI). Even though these tools are available, resources are still needed to make it happen.

5. No Experience in Building an App or Software

You may feel confident because you’ve successfully managed other types of projects, but building a piece of software is very different. You have to make a lot of decisions that may be out of your range of knowledge. There are many subjective choices around language, design and information. Because there are unlimited options on how to do things where no one can tell you the obvious answer, there is a lot of room for tasks to fall through the cracks.

6. What’s "customer journey"?

A business relies on modifying their services and products to meet the needs of their customers. However, consumers’ needs continue to change over time. In order to be prepared for this evolution, your company needs to have a road map that will progress and improve your customer’s experience.

Generating consistent revenue is very hard, especially when there are well over three million apps currently available. You may have a great idea, but what looks good on paper may not always translate the same in the real world. If you really do have a great idea, you still need to prepare to invest a year or more of your life to bring it to its realization. 

So are you really prepared? Read More

 

How to get the most out of your Facebook Video Ads

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

Facebook has gone through many updates recently, from Notes, to emotional reactions, then moving profile pictures, but the biggest game-changer: video ads. If you're looking for a better way to connect with your Facebook audience, this is it! This new alternative to traditional ads is a powerful tool and  allows you to tell a story in a new and engaging way.

 

Standing apart from your competition is the main objective, but how do you do this? A good thing to remember is you can elevate your reach, engagement and conversations by making small adjustments to the way you target and design your Facebook video ads.

Utilize these tips to drastically improve your video ads:

1. Create Content Based on Your Customer

Don’t focus on telling the whole story of your brand. Instead, focus on one product or service. This can help you capture a more specific audience and will be more likely to get interactions. A video based on one product or service will get a direct response, whereas one based on your company story will usually be better for general branding purposes. Find out who your audience is and take advantage!

TIP: If you don’t know your Facebook audience, you can use Facebook Audience Insights to find out the breakdown of their gender, age, lifestyle and more.

2. Get The Audience's Interests Right The First Time

No one likes to waste their time, so don’t waste your customers' time with an irrelevant video! You have to grab your audience's attention within the first five seconds if you hope for them to make it through its entirety. You want your video to have a catchy or mysterious start to lure the viewer in from the beginning. One thing to remember is that Facebook video ads are muted until the viewer clicks the ad, therefore your video must be able to stand on its visuals.

3. Don’t Be Obvious

Remember Facebook is a social media platform, meaning people don’t normally use it as a purchasing platform. Most viewers are on Facebook to catch up with friends, read news and take a break from reality. This means you need to find a subtle, creative way to deliver your message. Try funny content or insightful information!

4. Runtime

Social media in general is known for being quick and to the point. This is no different for your video ads. Lengthy videos can bore your audience — aim for no longer than 30 seconds. Always consider your audience, what you are offering, where the product is available and why your product is important.

5. Test Your Ads

 Imagine logging into Facebook and seeing the same video ad every time. No good, right? Knowing your audience will help optimize your reach and view. Make two videos and test both separately on your audience. This will tell you which video is more effective and will give a better sense of what your audience likes.

Check out more tips on Facebook video ads here.

Using Video to Build Your Brand and Build Customer Trust

By: Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

How do customers become loyal customers? Well, for one, they must be satisfied with your product. But more importantly, they must trust you and your brand. What can you do to strengthen customer trust in your business?

If a picture can say a thousand words, imagine how videos can tell your brand story!

Videos have the potential to reach consumers on an emotional level, allowing you to humanize your business. Even 30-second commercials have the ability to bring an audience to tears and make them take action.

Believe it or not, people spend more time on digital-video than social media per day. In fact, a Cisco study predicts that 90 percent of Internet traffic will be from video by 2019. Marketers in the U.S. are taking notice and 68 percent of them plan to heighten their digital-video budgets over the next year.

Want to follow in their footsteps?

Give your company a running start with these three ways you can utilize videos.

Introduce Your Company

How did your business start? What is your brand’s background? How do you stand out from the rest? What is your company’s mission? Let potential customers get to know you better. When customers are more familiar with who they’re doing business with, a relationship is born. It’s not rocket science.

Videos do not have to be long and complicated to tell a good story, as long as they’re high-quality and professionally created. Keep it intimate, include your staff and yourself and share photos of events, accomplishments and promotions. The resulted connection will build the foundation of brand loyalty and long-term appeal.

Feature Your Customers

Potential customers like to see what current or past customers have to say. It’s human nature to want what others want and have. Produce a video with personal reviews and testimonials of your products and services. You can ask customers to come in and shoot for an interview or you can even ask them to create a video themselves to post on social media.

Go Viral

Sure, it’s easier said than done. However, there are paths you can take to increase your odds of going viral. First, pick an appropriate platform that brings in a lot of traffic, usually one that makes sharing a click away and allows for easy video embeds, such as YouTube.

People often forget that brands are a product of many people’s work and devotion. Consumers are people and so is a brand. You have to show that part of your business in order for customers to relate and trust your brand. Give your company a voice that speaks to your consumers’ interests and beliefs. This will create the strong connection you are aiming for between you and your clients. It’s good to talk business, however, tweets about promotions and sales aren’t going to create this bond. So, what are you waiting for? Go out and build that customer trust! Read More

Creating An Engaging Customer Experience

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

shutterstock_309230603.jpg

Millennials always want something different when it comes to their buying experiences. According to Forbes, $200 billion dollars will be helped by the millennials' purchasing power by 2017 — this is the generation you should be ready for. To reach this new demographic, here are some tips on building engaging customer experiences.

1. Philanthropy

Millennials are heralded as a socially and economically-aware. With Millennials' great knowledge comes great responsibility for companies. Before becoming consumers, Millennials like to make sure successful businesses are giving back to the community as well. Charity events and donations are just some of the things Millennials look for when deciding between product and another.

2. Experience over product

Millennials have no problem paying extra for exceptional service. In today’s society, you can find the same product by a hundred different companies with just one click. What sets one apart from the other is great customer service. Knowing that consumers will invest in a smoother, more pleasant service, your brand should take that extra step and go that extra mile. Millennials will notice and appreciate your effort.

3. Have something millennials will want to talk about

Millennials like to buy things that they can showcase and talk about — especially on social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. When they're showing off their latest goodies, they're also showing off your brand. Provide a combination of product and experience that captivates the Millennial and keep them coming back to your brand.

Lets Recap: Helping your community will only make your brand more appealing to Millennials. Millennials value their time above all else, so you should too. Experience takes precedence over your product, especially when your product can be bought elsewhere. And last but not least, have something worth talking about!

Read more here. 

Five C's of Digital Marketing

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

We are in the era of convergence. Consumers are more educated on what they want and need, and as a result, there is a major shift across industries. 

We are in a new era of marketing and we are marketing to a generation that we do not completely understand, yet. As such, we must adjust some of our older practices and techniques to accommodate and reach this new generation of consumer.

According to Mayur Gupta, Senior Vice President and Head of Digital at Healthgrades, if you focus on these 5 C's of marketing, your business can achieve successes. Here are the five C's:

  1. Consumer

  2. Context

  3. Content

  4. Commerce

  5. Convergence

1. CONSUMER - Today’s consumer is more educated, connected, social and empowered than ever before. The consumer experience, persona and buyers journey should be the center of your strategy, as they are the fuel  behind your business' engine. Without consumers, your tank would be empty and no forward movement can occur.

2. CONTEXT - The power of context is the ability to personalize your brand's image and engagement directly with the consumer. With the recent boom of social media, this step has become easier. It’s about knowing who, what when, where and above all else why a customer want’s something, then delivering what they want at the right time and the right way.

3. CONTENT - Content should be influenced, inspired and driven based on context. This is the information relevant to both brand and customer. The right content attracts the best consumer interest to your brand.

4. COMMERCE - Predicting what the customer needs and making it easy to purchase your brand's product is key, especially in this fast-paced society we are living in. If you don't provide convenience or easily-digested information, consumers will move on without you. 

5. CONVERGENCE - The last and final C can be a bit tricky for marketers. There are many different ways your business can utilize this step depending on your own company's goals and technology previously being used. Some examples of different types of convergence is organizational, data, technology and skills. Each has itss own advantages and disadvantages and will work differently for different businesses. To stay relevant, you must adopt a customer-first culture, you must use common-sense approach. To stay relevant is to stay on top.

Read more here.

Are Clients Running Away From Your Website?

By: Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

Firms that are taking advantage of generating leads online have got the right idea. In fact, businesses that prompt at least 40 percent of their leads online grow four times faster and those that generate at least 60 percent are twice as profitable.

Is your business getting a good amount of leads? Are you catering to your website as well as you should be? Two more pressing questions come to mind when building and managing your website: 

1. Are you bringing in traffic to your website?

2. Does your website have credibility?

People can usually tell by your website if your business has a good reputation by its visibility. When we’re talking about your website, ignore the popular metaphorical phrase, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” because in this case image is everything.  

Bring in that traffic.

This process does not have to be a costly one. You don’t need to pay a ton of money for advertising,  nor do you need to outplay Google, which can actually backfire.

When you drive traffic to your website, you’re raising awareness for your business and you can do just that by posting content that clearly demonstrates your company as a leader in your industry. Be careful with your keyword selection. Don’t be so broad -- get specific. Use long-tailed keywords and make sure your posts include all the relevant terms and phrases related to your topic. This way, when clients search for the expertise and service that you provide, they will land on your website. This also avoids leads that aren’t qualified.

You can also drive traffic to your website by providing content about your clients' and potential clients’ comments. This will then heightened the chances of your website being found and also urge searchers to contact you for more information. Let them do the advertising for you! And don’t forget to post your site’s content on social media accounts and mention influencers to get more clicks!

You brought in that traffic now don’t scare them away.

Once you get people to your website, you want them to stay. Searchers will get bored and ditch your site if they can’t find the information they’re seeking quickly. You don’t want potential clients to have to spend a lot of a time understanding your website. Get organized! About 80 percent of buyers look at a firm’s website before making any purchases.

There’s a rule of 7 seconds by web developers. This is how long someone should at least stay on a website, and most consumers make a decision about a company within 5-7 seconds. If the website makes a good impression during those seconds, the searcher will most likely stay on to read more.

Your job may consist of targeting to consumers, however in your daily life, you also have the role of a buyer. When you go look at your website, think like a buyer. What’s your first impression? Would you do business with your company? Be objective and also ask for other outside opinions.

They stuck around. Now let your content build that trust!

Make sure you clearly communicate what you can do to help. Why is your product or service the best? Don’t be so modest. Show Off your expertise! Make people excited to work with you just by reading your content. You don’t want searchers to feel like they’re gambling if they choose to be a buyer.

You can get personal through your blogs, articles, presentations and digitally-displayed work. This is when you realize how much power your website has. If you’re a restaurant someone has never heard of, they go to your website to check out your menu. If your website is not appealing then your food probably isn’t, either. If you’re a beauty salon, people go to your website to check out the services you provide and what products you use. If your website isn’t pretty, a consumer will not expect you to make them look pretty, either.

Good website hygiene is everything. You only get one chance for a first impression. Make it a good one. Read More




 

Food Photography 101

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

When it comes to the restaurant industry, and when done properly, food photography can be a major asset. It’s the customer's first chance to see your food, even before entering the restaurant. Want to make a good, digital first impression? Try out these basic food photography tips to boost your digital marketing!

Keep it Clean

You want to showcase the food, so having a background full of clutter will only distract the eye from the main point of focus. Have a color contrast between the food and the background to make the dish pop. If all else fails, stick to a white background. 

Use Natural Lighting

Use natural light whenever possible. It not only helps to bring out the beauty and the colors of the food, but it can also help avoid the harsh look a flash can cause. During the day time, try to shoot near a window or door. 

Details, Details, Details!

Don’t disregard the small stuff! Plate each dish to perfection. You want your pictures to be clean, and simple, but food is an art and you want to show that through your photography. Be visually appealing! 

Get Up Close and Personal

Switch up your pictures by getting some macro shots. Not only will this bring out the textures and the features of the dish, but can also make it more interesting for the viewer. Don’t be afraid to get too close. Zoom will be your best friend when practicing this technique.

Get Every Angle

Getting a variety of angles will give you much more to work with once your shoot is over. Play around a bird's eye view or side view until you find the creative look to show off the dish's best feature.  

Use Props

Don’t be afraid to jazz up your set. A bottle of wine is a great prop to use when shooting a steak. Try a tall beer with your pizza. But err on the side of caution! Too many props can distract from the dish. 

Want to learn more about how to select the best images for social media, website ads and other promos? Read more here.

Using Instagram Tools to Promote your Business

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By Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

One would be surprised at how many marketers actually use Instagram. You would think it is the obvious, perfect space for free advertising. However, only 28 percent utilize this social platform. That means 72 percent are missing out on the endless possibilities the app has to offer. Here are nine Instagram apps and tools that can help marketers use Instagram to its fullest potential, whether it is to convert followers into customers, monitor analytics and more. 

1. Flipagram

This app allows you to create a photo slideshow called a “photo video story.” Using this method allows followers to look at a brand’s products without having to go through individual photos manually. Followers will see more products in seconds, ultimately increasing chances for a follower to want to buy something. It’s a perfect way to show a brand’s new collection! Shopping just got more fun. (Didn’t know that was possible). And at no cost for the app, why not use it to your business' advantage?

2. Repost

Sixty-five percent of Instagram users feel honored when a brand mentions them or reposts their content. Brands and businesses can use Repost to show their appreciation for their followers and customers. It’s a great way to engage and stay personal. Repost is a suitable app to show user-generated content (UGC) and at the same time make followers feel special. All you have to do is browse your feed or search for a specific user or hashtag. Once you find the photo or video you want to repost, click on it and press “repost.” Celebrities also use these technique to stay connected with their fans. This app is also free!

3. Like2buy

Social media is a powerful tool in today’s marketing world. Nearly four out of five consumers (78 percent) make purchases based on a brand’s social media content. You already know that you can include a link to your business's website in the bio. However, Like2buy makes things even more interesting. The app creates a link for marketers to put in their bio. With this link, followers can access the brand’s feature products. It’s that easy. In just a few clicks, a consumer can start buying on Instagram. NastyGal and Forever21 have already paved the Like2buy path! Join the ranks with this cool download.

4. Layout

Layout is Instagram’s collage app. You can combine up to nine photos in one image, making the struggle of combining photos an easy process. You can select your photos from three places: camera roll, recent photos or faces, the latter populating photos from your roll that feature people. You can also edit the collage with options such as mirroring, flipping, resizing and rearranging. It also has a photo booth feature where you can snap up to four photos in a row. If you’re a real estate agent you can make a collage of properties for sale. If you own a beauty salon, you can make a collage of the latest hairstyles and nails of the season. Any business can use this tool and get creative with it, all without a cost.

5. Pixlr

Lighter images get 24 percent more likes than dark images. For those dark images, this free app gives you options to edit them. Features include taking photos within the app, 100+ effects, 280 overlays and 200 types of borders.

There other cool photo editing tools marketers can use since everyone has their preferences. There’s Adobe Photoshop Express, which is basically a mini version of Photoshop for your phone. There’s Camera+ which is not just a photo editing app, but also for taking photos with a 6x zoom and built+in stabilizer. Another app is the VSCO Cam for the minimalists, where you can also follow other people’s images.

6. ScheduGram

You can plan ahead with ScheduGram. The app allows you to schedule your publishing on Instagram. But what makes the app different from other Instagram scheduling tools is that it actually posts the visual to Instagram for you, instead of just reminding you to post it yourself. If you have more than one account to manage, the app also lets you manage multiple accounts and collaborate with other users. This tool is great for time management. The app also has basic photo-editing features. Plans for this tool start at $20 a month.

7. Wishpond Instagram Contest

The Wishpond Instagram contest app collects Instagram photos and displays them in a voting album on your Facebook Page or website. People submit their photos from Instagram and vote on their favorites. Seventy percent of Instagram users are willing to participate on Instagram contests. These events invite engagement with your followers and email leads. It’s a fun way to get your business noticed and encourages your current followers to stay. There are many creative types of ways to use this app for a contest. The plan starts at $69.

8. Iconosquare

Managing social media analytics can be a handful. Iconosquare is an in-depth Instagram analytics tool for marketers. It allows you to keep track of likes, comments, followers and messages all on one dashboard. It also offers comparative growth statistics that can help you increase followers. Best of all? It's free!

9. Over

Over is an app created for the seriously creative poster. With this app, users can add text and artwork to photos with standard and custom-made fonts and original artwork. Quick and easy graphics! If users prefer using their own fonts, they can also upload them into the app, which is available for use for $3.99.

And don’t forget Instagram now offers Landscape and Portrait photo options. You no longer have to make your photos square ready. So now that you’re an Instagram genius, what are you waiting for? Get to work. Read More

 

What You Need to Know About Facebook

By: Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

Facebook has grown to be the biggest social network used today. With more than 1.15 billion users globally, the site has become a dream for any marketer. Through Facebook, you have the ability to know an individual's hobbies, likes, dislikes and more. All the information is based on things the user shares, posts or likes, straight from the horse's mouth.

As a restaurant owner or operator, there are many platforms to create your brand's social presence, from Instagram to Twitter. While all channels are recommended, we are going to start with Facebook. This is the beginning of your online presence and a key way to interact with customers. Facebook is also a great place to promote promotions, showcase your most appealing dishes and give the public a glimpse into your restaurant.

Facebook is more than just responding to comments and posting daily. In order to reap the full benefits Facebook has to offer, you must be willing to work for it. Below we have some tips to help you get the most out of your social media pages.

Take your page to the next level

Do you utilize your offer tab? Along with a menu tab, restaurant pages can showcase exclusive Facebook specials for followers, who can then redeem those offers in-store. This not only entices people to keep up with your Facebook page (since they never know when the promotions will come) but also allows you to give back to your customers. Page managerscan also 'pin' these specials to the top of the page! Pair it with a great photo and draw the audience in. 

Another side tip: Try connecting your restaurant's Facebook and Instagram accounts to share photos on both platforms.

Recap

Facebook is a great tool when used correctly. Always keep posts relevant and interesting to your customers, don’t be afraid to “over-post’ and make sure all of your social channels are parallel. Last but not least, have fun with it! Facebook is meant to be social, so don’t be afraid talk to  engage and ask questions! You never know what you could learn from your customers.

Read more here.

 

Time for a Professional Makeover: Using LinkedIn to Your Advantage

By Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

So, you want to share some of your wisdom and boost your presence on LinkedIn. You've already posted a photo and wrote a few things about yourself. Now what? You can drop status updates, right? Sure. But therein lies the problem.

LinkedIn isn’t like Facebook, where a timeline is available to explore all those thoughtful posts you've shared since you've been on LinkedIn. Your older posts get hidden underneath your newer ones. But have no fear!

Last February, LinkedIn gave its members the ability to blog and publish. When you blog, these posts become a permanent part of your professional identity. Here are some ways to establish yourself as a thought leader in your Industry.

You’re not just posting, you’re publishing!

To publish a blog post, click on “home” on the upper-left corner and look for “Publish a post.” This then will take you to LinkedIn’s blogging platform, your personal Neverland where your insightful thoughts never grow old. Knock out a few paragraphs on that article you feel the world should read, and link the rest at the end of your post. It’s that simple.

Don’t just blend in, stand out.

The more you engage with content on LinkedIn and connect with others, the more traffic you’ll bring to your profile. Think high school or college. The more activities and societies you’re involved in, the more you’ll stand out among your peers and more people will want to know who you are.

Don't underestimate LinkedIn.

Many view LinkedIn as an online resume. They don’t see the necessity of having a LinkedIn account if they already have a job. However, the platform gives you the opportunity to connect with other professionals and share more about your company. It allows executives to construct their professional character. This is why it’s important to keep updating your profile. Think of it as your digital shrine with all your trophies put on display, just like the one your mom has at home.   

Show who you really are.

Use your professional name. You may be David, but if your co-workers call you Dave, you should go by Dave. When you choose your job title, combine your profession and your personality. Make it interesting and unique, so people will be drawn into who you're all about. 

Don’t slack on your photo.

It’s not that hard or expensive to get a professional looking photo. The right wardrobe and lighting can make a great picture, even if it's taken by an iPhone.

What do you bring to the table?

Write your bio in first-person. Don’t be afraid to brag. (Being a little “Kanye” doesn’t hurt.) Show examples of your work, projects, good deeds, test scores and more. Remember, it’s your shrine. Let others brag for you as well. Endorsements can help you get more attention.

Look fresh.

Choose an attractive, sophisticated background. The photo you choose can even be related to your profession or upcoming events.

Your profile now has the brains, personality and looks. Once you have your account set up, make sure to include the best contact information. You want to be approachable -- otherwise, all this effort will be all for naught. Read More

 

 

 

 

How to Deal with Negative Comments On Social Media

By Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

If you haven’t had to deal with negative comments on social media, consider yourself lucky. But with every great brand, there is bound to be someone who has a problem. And that’s where you come in.

Not everyone is going to love your brand -- and that's okay! No matter what challenges come your way through the digital-social landscape, as an account manager, you must be prepared to handle the less-than-glowing remarks people may make.

Here are some simple tips to help you deal with negative comments on social media:

  1. Don’t take it personally. Address the problem with the mindset of representing the brand, not as an individual. Always be professional and courteous. 

  2. Understand the Issue. Read the message once. Twice if you have to! What is the issue? What is the root of the problem? How can you help?

  3. Take a screenshot. You should always document the issue. This is not only helpful for the client, but you can also use this encounter in the future for training purposes, or use this as reference for co-workers who want to follow-up with the incident. 

  4. Don’t Delete. As tempting as this may be for damage control, remaining transparent is key on social media. Deleting a comment will only raise suspicion and give people a reason to think your brand has something to hide. Always face negative comments head-on and publicly.

  5. Don’t wait! Timeliness is important when It comes to negative comments. Unhappy visitors usually want to see a response within one hour of the comment. Putting off a response to a negative reply may only agitate the situation.

  6. Respond. After you've made sure the responses are well thought-out. If you don’t have the correct answer, talk to a team member who does. Responses should be clear, thorough and offer a solution. This may be the first time this customer has had contact with your brand, so you want to make sure the ending experience is a positive one. Always read and re-read your responses, make sure it is something you would feel comfortable saying to a customer's face. Keep in mind good customer service.

  7. Monitor. Continue to monitor your activity to make sure nothing else arises after you have handled the issue.

There are exceptions, of course. It is never wrong to delete a negative comment when it is profane or derogatory. Negative comments come with the territory of being a brand, and while bigger brands may see more negative comments, each comment should be taken seriously and should be addressed. Always be monitoring your pages and always have a plan ready, and remember -- Most people just want to be heard! These comments simply help your brand grow because they bring attention to problems you would have likely not seen. So go out and face them without fear!

Read more here. 

Is This New App The Easiest Way to Connect?

By Michelle Castillo, Social Media Coordinator

Knock, Knock. Who’s there? Apparently this new, magical app that swaps social media handles and contact details for you. The Knock Knock app! 

Meeting new people is almost always a pleasant experience. When you’ve discovered a whole new group of friends or a potential romantic partner, the last thing you want to do is spend time on your phone.

Knock Knock app allows people to connect with others and prevents that awkward shuffle between phones everyone dreads at the end of the night.

For the process to work, users simply have to knock on their phone screen twice — hence the clever app name. The knocks work even if their phone isn't directly in front of them. Once someone initiates the connection, other people in the group knock twice on their phones to accept the request. After this is done, people can selectively choose the information they want to share and with who. In a group, users can share their social media handles but can still decide to share their phone numbers with only certain people. 

If Knock Knock-ers are with a large group of friends, they can even create short-term group messaging threads for better communication. But if they're one of the many people who actually cringe at the thought of the constant notifications that come with being trapped in a group chat, the app also allows them to sneak out without anyone knowing. 

The app was created by Humin founders Ankur Jain and David Wyler. It’s also backed up by a group of investors people are pretty familiar with; billionaire Richard Branson, Will.i.am and Sophia Bush. It launched Wednesday, Aug. 19 for both iPhone and Android. It uses Bluetooth, Location Services and Apple’s Beacon technology so users can connect with others without having to unlock their phone. 

The app also reveals other Knock Knock users that are in the same area, whether out on the streets or when walking into a bar or party. Interested strangers can connect at any time! Could this be a new slick way to ask for a stranger’s number at a bar? 

“I knock, you knock and Wa Bam! We’re connected,” Sophia Bush says in video introducing the app. Read More 

 

Using Snapchat for Your Business

By Myriam Rofrano, Social Media Coordinator

Snapchat is one of the newest and fastest growing social media platforms to date. The app has generated a lot of buzz because of its ability to share pictures and videos among friends and followers for only seconds before it disappears. Snapchat has made great strides to make the app more business-friendly. One example is the app’s Discovery tab, which allows you to see special Snapchat news updates from different major companies such as CNN and ESPN.

Snapchat has quickly won over the hearts of millennials everywhere because they are able to customize their snapshots with photo filters, digital crayons, location specific geo- filters and more. Many business have started utilizing Snapchat and have seen great success. From McDonald’s creating its own geo-filter for all of its locations, to the more recent "Straight Outta Compton" filter which promoted the movie, this app has been used in innovative ways to change the marketing strategy game. While many brands are testing the waters of Snapchat, there are a few practices to Snapchatting your business' way to success. 

Give a Sneak Peek

Whether you are a restaurant cooking up a new dish, or a toy company working on sketches for the newest toy to come out for christmas design, people love to see what goes on behind- the-scenes of any brand. It gives your audience a glimpse into your company culture and a glimpse into the future of what is to come.  

Empower Your Employees

Not everyone has the time to take videos and photos every five minutes of what your office may be doing -- that’s okay! Delegating your official account to others in the office keeps your Snapchat stories up-to-date, and sharing this responsibility prevents the workload from becoming overwhelming. Assigning a staff member to manage your Snapchat-- not only gives your audience a look into the inner workings of your company, but also allows your staff to have some fun with it, too!

Don’t Be Scripted

Unlike other social media platforms, Snapchat's shelf life for content is only 24 hours. That being said, don’t strive for the perfect magazine ready photo. Photos can be candid, photos don't have to be photoshopped and photos don't have to be flooded with filters and edits. That's the beauty of Snapchat: It doesn't have to be perfect. However, you have to remember that followers can still screenshot photos, so even if your content isn't perfect, it must still represent your brand in all positive light.

Read more about different techniques you can utilizing for Snapchat and your business.