Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mark your Calendar for March 30th: Timeline comes to Facebook Pages

By Krista Chapman

Big news from the Facebook front and this one is set to affect every single person and/or company that manages a business Facebook page.  Come March 30th, all pages on Facebook will shift to the Timeline format that was launched last fall for users.  While this creates some tremendous branding opportunities for pages, it also will be a big adjustment for many administrators.  Worry not... I have mapped all basics related to what has changed, what is staying the same and where you can get help to make the switch seamlessly. 

But first... why all the changes, Mark?

When Facebook first rolled out Timeline for users last fall, they alluded to the fact that this format would soon come to business pages as well.  Wanting to create a more connected, authentic, and transparent platform, the powers that be at Facebook decided that Timeline is the best design to do this... and I have to agree.  The timing was the real surprise as social media experts originally forecasted a switch to come late Summer or Fall of 2012.  I guess the decision to go public earlier this year pushed up the finish date... just a bit.

And as I always like to say, when the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company is still in his 20s, sweeping change seems a natural order to life.  If you plan to continue to use Facebook as a platform to connect with your customers, plan on it making major changes more often than you would like.  But also remember, the management of your social media does not need to fall on you as the business owner.  Ideally, you hire someone to manage your books so you can focus on what you love, right?  Do to same with social media if it's not your cup of tea.  Or look to other options to market your business and connect with customers.  Facebook may be the holy grail of social media marketing but will not work if the effort and resources are simply not there.  Now, back to the subject at hand...

How will Timeline change Facebook?
To be honest, there are simply too many to cover here.  While I have focused on a few of the biggest, do consider this to be a limited sample.  Look to the bottom of this post for additional resources on all the changes and new features.

New Cover Image on The Pink Bride Facebook Page
The Cover Image.  Perhaps most obvious, page admins will all need to create and upload a Cover Image.  Positioned 'above the fold' Facebook is encouraging businesses to use this as place to express your brand in image form.  It is important to point out that Facebook has been pretty clear about the do's and don'ts of the new cover images.  Turning this prime real estate into a coupon or call to action (ie: Like my page) is not allowed... read the full list of what you can and can't do with this space, here.  Additionally, the custom tabs that your have connected to your page (Twitter, Blog, etc) are much more prominently featured but you have the ability to change the associated pictures to better fit your company branding.  Be sure to take advantage of this!

The Admin Panel.  Brand-spanking new, the admin panel is position at the very top when an admin visits the page.  Note, the public does not see this, only page admins (regardless if they are using facebook as themselves or their page alias).  This is a nifty tool that combines all the business of managing a page, including fan engagement, page insights and making changes.  Consider this your page dashboard and spend some time exploring what buttons lead you where.  When you're done, the page can be hide from view using the button in the top right corner.    

 Facebook Ads:  Big changes have come to Facebook Ads, as well.  The term revolutionary is being throw around as they shift the basic structure of all ads, putting content as the central focus.  Pages wanting to place ads will now have the option of sponsoring a story that they recently posted (making the content you create all that more important).  Additionally, Facebook added new options to their bevy of Premium Ads, including ads in the news feed, mobile news feed and upon user logout.  While many of these features will only be available to the biggest accounts (think minimum ad buys of $25K), these new spots will compete with the content the average page is submitting for the average user's news feed.  It will become increasingly difficult to ensure your content is reaching your fans, unless you can keep engagement high.  Small business will need to augment with their own ad buys to have a better chance of being seen in all the Facebook noise.  I hate that I was right about this one but I have always said Facebook was incredibly savvy in their quest for world domination.  Offering an essentially free service until it become as necessary as electricity... and now, it's not so free anymore.

What's staying the same?
After all that talk of change, I do have some good news.  For the most part the way you use facebook will remain the same.  All the best practices, I have pointed out in the past are still valid.  Creating remarkable and engaging content is still of utmost importance as is striving for ways to connect with your audience.  You will still want to be mindful of not posting too much and hone in on times when your audience is most engaged.  Additionally, the news feed that most users interact with on their regular visits and see your posts in will remain the same (except for the addition of new sponsored stories).   The vehicle may be a newer and a different color but you are still just driving a car.  Just like as before, practice makes perfect with Timeline.

Want some help?  While Facebook offers a how-to manuals on Timeline for page admins, there are a lot of features and benefits not being covered by this basic overview.  The blogosphere is hard at work, documenting all the changes that come with Timeline as well as the related nuances that will impact how marketers use this platform.  Mashable is a good place to start... they have a section entirely dedicated to facebook and they're go-to when it comes to breaking news on the web.  Additionally,  I recommend checking out the blogs on Social Media Examiner, Mari Smith, and All Facebook.  A word of caution with those opting for self-study... plan on spending a decent bit of time researching.  Even for someone familiar with the language and content being taught, it has left my head spinning.
If you would rather save yourself the time and hassle of trying to figure out all these tricky details, considering outsourcing the task.  For the same reason you hire a CPA to do your taxes (no you don't have any interest in keeping up with ever-changing tax laws),  a social media expert may  be in order to keep related stress to a minimum.  I am more than happy to help with any concerns or questions you  have... feel free to shoot me an email at  I will happily answer basic questions about Timeline and if you need additional help, we can explore the available options I can offer.  I look forward to connecting!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pinterest: What and Why You Should be Using it to Connect to Brides

By Krista Chapman

Pinterest... yes, sounds a bit familiar.  Perhaps valiant efforts have been made to ignore its intoxicating pull (so many pretty pictures!) but this will not be avoidable for long.  Find out why this new social media tool is becoming a hot spot for brides and why it just may be the best place for you to connect with them.

Before we dive in... We need to ask if this is right for your company. 
The thing to remember with social networks, quality is worth more than quantity.  Just because you can have a Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, and now a Pinterest account, does not mean that you should.
For wedding planners, designers, florists, photographers, rental companies, bridal salons... the answer is yes.  Transportation companies, entertainment companies, DJs and videographers may not find as much of return on their investment and would be better suited for YouTube.  As for wedding venues it depends on how full service you are. For visual based companies, Pinterest is a great tool to connect with brides-to-be and post your work.  But it won't work for everyone.

What is Pinterest?
Pinterest is essentially a virtual pinboard or scrapbook.  While surfing the web, users are able to grab images and 'pinning' them to categorized 'boards' for later reference.  Considering the overwhelming content being create on the web every minute (much of it visual), the idea was ingenious.  Users don't have to bookmark a bunch of sites or try to remember where they saw that great idea. 

Like your Facebook News Feed, the home page of Pinterest is a real time collection of recent pins.  You have the option to narrow the category (to say, Weddings and Events) by selecting from the drop down menu that reveals itself when you hover over the 'Everything' button at the top.   When you click on an image, it takes you to the full sized pin with information on the user, the board it is attached to, where it was originally found and any comments or repins.  As a user, you have the option to like, comment or repin favorites.

Each user has a profile displaying a picture, followers and following, recent activity and a snapshot of all your boards.  The idea is to connect with other users whose pins you like so you can more easily keep track of their activity.  Since you are likely to be interested in the same things as your friends, following them is encouraged.

Yes, they have a Help Center.  If you're getting a bit overwhelmed with all this talk about pins and boards... take a moment and visit their Help Center.  They do a pretty good job of defining the basics and how-to's like adding a Pinterest button to your website.

Why Should You Pin?
The answer here is simple... Bride's love Pinterest.  They are taking over the site in droves, putting together boards of their favorite wedding decor, flowers, dresses and inspiration for their own big day.  Clever businesses will look to make sure brides-to-be are pinning their products to wedding boards as well as using this technology to best determine your client's vision and design aesthetic... by simply asking to see her Pinterest boards. 

Considering Time Management. 
This is a big one and Pinterest has a way with sucking hours of precious time, lost to surfing all the pretty pictures.  With the ever-growing landscape of social media, companies need to carefully think before committing to a medium.  Jumping on the nearest bandwagon just because may turn into nothing more than a waste of time.  Pinning requires spending  an hour or two a week engaging users as well as consistent uploading your own content...keeping in mind that your time commitment with grow as our network grows.  Since Pinterest lacks any automated tools (like Hootsuite), all pinning will need to be added to the weekly list of to dos, with time scheduled for these tasks.

Rules to Pin By.
And finally, a few good rules to pin by... don't login without them. 
  1. Add a Pinterest Button to your website and blog posts.
  2. Pinterest has users, not businesses... be sure to designate the proper person to be your head pinner and company representative.
  3. SEO!  Use commonly search terms when describing your pins or titling boards.
  4. Don't always self promote... instead create vendor partnerships whereas you repin each other's work and grow your networks.
  5. Encourage your brides to follow your pins... and be confident knowing she's seeing your most recent work.
  6.  Stay away from controversy... obviously.
  7. Look for your own wedding inspiration and ideas... Pinning is fun!
  8. Get back to work, already... Pinning is way too fun!
As always, feel free to contact me directly with specific questions or comments.  I am available for one-on-one training in this or other online marketing to ensure you are maximizing these mediums if interested.  Contact me at  Happy Pinning!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Bridal Show Do's and Don'ts: How-to Maximize your Investment and Book More Brides

By Krista Chapman

Enchanted Florist Booth Design

A challenging undertaking, bridal shows are often a costly investment.  Far too many vendors fail to fully take advantage of the targeted pool of brides and grooms that is ready for the picking at these events.  Having been witness to many flops and fail, a list of do's and don'ts were in order.  Use my tips below for your next bridal show and success awaits! 

Do plan to impress.  Don't show up at a bridal show with only a few brochures or simple poster to toss atop your black clothed 8ft table.  Brides look to shows for inspiration and ideas but most of all, they look to be impressed.  After all, they have been dreaming of this is one day their entire lives.  If your booth fails to create their fantasy, you're falling short.  Having a thoughtful and eye-catching design that highlights current wedding trends is key.  Design not your thing?  Many vendors collaborate with planners, florists and designers, trading services to create amazing displays that draw couples from all over the show floor.

Do set up the day before.  If the show producer has incurred the additional expense of renting the exhibition hall for an extra day, take advantage of this.  Spending hours setting up a gorgeous booth display, only to be left frazzled with minutes to clean up and be ready to greet brides, is not a good plan for the day.  Having extra time will also give you time to network with other vendors on show day.  Treat the bridal show as if it were a paying event... the difference being you are investing the in future success of your business.

Designs in Paper Booth Sign
Veteran Insider Tip:  Don't forget your company sign!  Relying on the small booth maker or skipping a sign all together is a mistake.  If a bride is at all confused by who you are or what your company does, you have failed! 

Do be professional.  Obvious though seems, I can't tell you how many times I have caught vendors texting on their phone, eating in their booths, gossiping with other vendors while ignored brides simple walk by their booth.  Much of this is the result of being under-staffed (see my next point) but far too many vendors turn their booth into a personal office, chachkies and all.  When spending thousands of dollars, brides want their wedding vendors oozing with professionalism.   If you are not willing to put in the effort to dress appropriately and put your best professional foot forward, you might as well skip the show.

Veteran Insider Tip:  Keep in mind your outfit for the day.  Professionalism in mind, stiletto heels and skirts that will be tugged at all day is not a good idea.  Any veteran to a bridal show can spot a rookie with this common mistake.  Three hours in, heels come off and you're chatting up potential clients about your exceptional service in stockings.

Plenty of staff sampling at the Maggie Moos show booth.
Don't under-staff your booth.  Bridal show day is not a walk in the park... the hours are long, you need to be cheerful while having the same conversation again and again, and you likely had a wedding the night before.  Successful show vendors will have enough staff on hand to properly respond to the crowd in a timely fashion and allow everyone to take breaks, without going overboard.  I generally recommend 3-5 people for a single booth at a larger well attended show, more if you are serving food samples.  Going it alone in a booth is a mistake.  You're likely turn grouchy, brides will not wait to talk with you and leaving a booth unattended while you run to the restroom sends the wrong message.  What will the bride assume you will do on her wedding day?

Do take names at your booth.  Whether you're sponsoring a show-only special or hosting a giveaway, ask attendees to sign up for something in your booth.  This way you leave the show with a lead list of brides specifically interested in your company.  Waiting up to a week for a lead list from the show producer puts you at a disadvantage.  While I certainly recommend sending an email or postcard to the full lead list, you can call your targeted list within a day of the show.  If contacted sooner, they will likely book sooner and I know you're in favor of that.

Do engage with brides.  Okay, so not stalker level engaging but sitting in your booth, chatting up your co-workers or even reading a magazine, sort of makes this whole bridal show a bit pointless.  You want to convey some level of interest in the brides and their families at the show.  Stand at the front of your booth, ready to hand out information and answer questions.  Most importantly, say hello.  I often prompted attendees by asking if they were familiar with my company... either way, you have a lead to talk about the very thing you're selling.  Savvy vendors will see every person there as a potential lead (and sale), including Mom and bridesmaids in tow.  Mom is likely to have some say in the office party caterer and bridesmaids turned bride will remember what type of impression you made for years to come.

Nashville and Knoxville Shows - Jan 8th,
Chattanooga and Memphis Shows - Jan 22nd
Murfreesboro Show - Feb 19th
Franklin Show - March 11th
Don't forget your appointment calendar.  Be ready to book... appointments, tastings, and weddings.  Having to tell a bride on the show floor with checkbook in hand that she will need to go to a website or call for an appointment on Monday and you can say goodbye to that sale.  Brides are busy and bridal shows are a great opportunity to meet with various vendors and book on the spot.  Bring your datebook, sample contracts, and then sweeten the deal with a show-only package or special.  Not only will the bride maximize her time, but when you leave with multiple contracts in hand so have you.  Having enough staff, where as someone can be dedicated to these details suddenly makes a lot more sense.

Have more questions?  Wondering what you can expect from the upcoming show you're participating in?  Contact the show producer.  Often, they have years of show experience as well as many do's and don'ts specific to your market.  Don't be afraid to ask for advice on booth set-up, tips for engaging with brides and best time for staff to take breaks.  Dollar for dollar, bridal shows are still the best way to reach a high number of your target audience, often at the point they are ready to buy.  Your success, just like with all the events you produce, is in maximizing the planning, details, and follow-up.

Best of luck!