» “Pimp My Social Media”

Last Tuesday, WeddingWire’s CMO, Sonny Ganguly, discussed How to Successfully Embrace the Social Web as part of our monthly webinar series. Each one hour webinar for upgraded WeddingWire Pros is designed to inform you about the latest industry trends and give you the tools you need to grow your business. This week Sonny discussed how social media has evolved through the years and how as we know it has become a multi-billion dollar industry that drives  how we search for and consume information.

Don’t worry if you missed it, past webinars are added to Education Center and available for all upgraded Pros. In March Sonny will discuss the 5 Steps to Closing the Deal, helping listeners learn how to successfully close a sale.

» Four Free Social Media Tools to Try

It seems like new social media tools you “gotta try” pop up almost every day. Well we’ve compiled some of the new tools you may have not seen that can really help impact your business impact, efficiency and growth.

1.

Screenr is a web based recorder that allows you to quickly and easily create “screencasts.” You can record what you are doing on your screen and then automatically is formatted and shareable. Use this tool for how-to’s or any thing you’d like to show your clients. Of course the best part is, its free!

2.

Oneforty brands themselves as “your social business hub.” At-a-glance you will see the most up to date tools, trends, and pros you can follow for more information. Use oneforty to keep on top of the newest tools, look at ratings, and decide for yourself which ones you should try.

3.

Hashtracking allows you to track your Twitter campaigns so you can compare your marketing efforts. A number of available metrics allow you to see information about who uses the hashtags as well. This gives you the tools you need to measure your influence.

4.

Instagram is a free iPhone app that allows you to edit and share photos. There are a number of available filters to make your camera phone images look beautiful. Use instagram and Twitter together to keep your followers up to date and interact further by showing them just what you’re doing! (Again, totally free.)

We’d love to hear what you think of these or if you have suggestions of your own – leave a comment below!

» HOW TO: Use QR Codes to Grow Your Business

A QR code is a specific matrix barcode (or type of 2D code) that is readable with specific barcode readers and camera phones. Whether you’ve heard of them or not, you’ve probably seen them around and wondered – what is this strange black and white box? In short, these QR codes connect people to mobile sites or information but what it is is not nearly as important as what is does.

According to an article recently featured on Mashable, 2D code usage quadrupled last year and can help increase your sales, customer loyalty, and revenue per customer. While popularity is increasing, that doesn’t mean all consumers have encountered these codes yet. Mashable recommends a short caption to help users understand how to download a reader to their phone and generally explain the process.

Great news – since your on WeddingWire, we automatically have created a personalized QR code for you! To access it, login to your account and click on the My Reviews tab. At the bottom of the page you’ll see your unique code. When a potential client scans your code, they’ll be taken directly to your Storefront and Reviews.

Some great suggestions on where to add your code:

  • Website
  • Blog
  • Business Cards
  • LinkedIn and Facebook Pages
  • Bridal Show Posters
  • Flyers
  • T-shirts

To make it as easy for your to jump in and stay ahead of the trends, we’ve also created a printable QR poster. With the click of a button you can have a formatted poster with your business’ code and information about how it works.

Any creative ways your business has used 2D codes?


» Does the Better Business Bureau Make Business Better?

This post written by Tim Chi, CEO of WeddingWire. Follow him on Twitter @wwtim. Tim first developed the concept of WeddingWire shortly after getting married in 2005 (to his lovely wife Tracey). As an experienced entrepreneur, Tim sought out to assemble a team and build a technology that would help both engaged couples and vendors in the wedding industry.
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We recently came across this ABC News piece that was published in November 2010 about how a business can “pay” to have a better rating on the Better Business Bureau. Known as THE watchdog by consumers, the BBB has a strong reputation that drives consumer confidence when buying goods or services from small and medium sized businesses.  A very common “threat” to a business from an unsatisfied customer is “I will report you to the Better Business Bureau.”

Journalistic-drama aside, the mere fact that you are able to buy a better rating should have consumers strongly questioning the integrity of their system. This is very disturbing.

When we started WeddingWire, one of our core values was to increase market transparency by creating a consumer review-oriented offering to help engaged couples.  Consumer review sites such as Yelp and Tripadvisor have shown that third-party reviews are an invaluable marketing tool for any business.  Since our launch in 2007, we’ve now grown to be the largest resource for wedding-related reviews on the web.  Many of our clients use reviews as an effective closing tool, such as “Be sure to check out our reviews at WeddingWire.com and see what my past clients say about me.”  We see consumer’s reviews as a win-win for both engaged couples and wedding pros.  Engaged couples get neutral, third-party perspective.  Wedding pros have a strong marketing and closing tool.

The efficacy of consumer reviews all begins with the baseline integrity of the reviews system and the brand.  These are two things that we take very seriously at WeddingWire.  Engaged couples must trust our brand and our site; it’s the single most important factor in helping our clients close new business.

I do wonder what will happen to this BBB policy.  Once you lose the integrity of a reviews-based system, it’s very difficult to recover.  Click here to watch the video and decide for yourself whether you’ll trust their ratings going forward.

The Better Business Bureau, one of the country’s best known consumer watchdog groups, is being accused by business owners of running a “pay for play” scheme in which A plus ratings are awarded to those who pay membership fees, and F ratings used to punish those who don’t.

» Show Off Your Events & Your Creativity

The Events section of your WeddingWire account gives you the opportunity to showcase your business’ upcoming open houses, trunk shows, and bridal shows to potential clients. Engaged couples can quickly search by their location or zip code to find all upcoming events in their area. To see how this appears for brides, click here.

Adding an event is simple:

  1. Login to your account
  2. Click on My Storefront
  3. Click on the Events tab
  4. Click Add New Event
  5. Enter the details (date, time, location)
  6. Thats it – just remember to Save!

**Note: WeddingWire will only allow the host of the event to post it on their storefront.
Be sure to check the box confirming you are the host before saving.

So you have an event you’d like to post – how do you make it stand out to potential clients? Continue reading

» Did You Know WeddingWire Integrates with Facebook?

Your WeddingWire account is built to automatically integrate with your business’ facebook account. Quickly and easily share the link to your Storefront so your friends, clients and other Pros can “Like”  your business listing just by clicking the button under the main image on your Storefront. Use this functionality to run a promotion, drive traffic or however else you choose!

How? Simply mention the option for your contacts to click the “Like” button in your every day interaction. Whether it’s in the signature of your email, on the phone  or in person – let them know how easy it is for them to visit your Storefront and click “Like.” This one is up to you but don’t be afraid to get creative!

Why? Well, there are many reasons why you should do it, but here are some of the main ones:

Increase Referral Traffic – When clicked, a link is published to the person’s Facebook feed, building your online credibility and driving referral traffic tor your WeddingWire Storefront.

Build Relationships – Facebook alone has more users than some countries have people! The more likes you get, the greater the potential for others to hear about your business and grow your traffic.

Generate Buzz – We’ve already done most of the work for you! The “Like” button makes it easy to run a promotion and/or offer a discount off your services for those individuals that click on it!

Continue reading

» Things to Keep in Mind & Keep Your Facebook Friends

Beyond Zuckerberg’s original concept of a social networking tool for college students, Facebook has become a primary marketing component for businesses of all sizes.  Requests to be ‘liked’ and ‘friended’ are common phrases used on networking blogs and vendor forums.  But what about ‘unfriending’?

Students at the University of Colorado Business School launched a study and found the top three reasons for ‘unfriending’ someone on Facebook are if their posts are:

Facebook Unfriend

  1. Boring
  2. Ranting
  3. Rude

In a very real way, this study shows how and why online relationships end.  So how do you avoid these common pitfalls and keep your Facebook relationships?

Keep their Attention: If you constantly flood your customer inbox’s with the same product announcement or update – without any novel content or ‘wow’ factor – you are likely to lose their interest.  Remember, the average person has a very short attention span.  If you don’t grab their attention right away (think 10 seconds) you are likely to lose it forever.

Keep it Short and Sweet: Once again, your marketing strategy must be precise, efficient, and to the point.  Long-winded explanations and lengthy proposals will quickly lose the interest of any potential or existing customers.

Keep in Touch: Think of every customer, potential and existing, as important.  Just because they’ve never purchased something from your company before, doesn’t mean they won’t in the future.  Remember if you take existing customers for granted with the mentality of “we already got you so we’re not going to put effort in communicating with you” they will notice.  Especially when these potential customers are being flattered by another company for new business.

Now that Facebook has evolved into a valuable marketing tool for your business, be sure to keep these strategies in mind to avoid the dreaded ‘unfriend’ button. Check back tomorrow for some more ways you can integrate your Facebook account with your WeddingWire account!

» Rated: Truly in Love

Do you often hear couples looking for a unique way to put their own spin and personal touch on their wedding? Adding creative options and ideas to your repertoire can help you attract more clients to your business.  Delack Media Group created a romantic movie trailer for Chicago couple Christen and Mike’s Save the Date – perfect to share with you on Valentine’s Day! We hope you all have a wonderful day with your special someone. Click image below to view the trailer and hopefully get a little inspiration.

» GayWeddings.com Vendor Directory Now Powered by WeddingWire

We recently announced WeddingWire now powers the local LGBT-friendly vendor directory on GayWeddings.com. This partnership makes it the most comprehensive directory of same-sex friendly vendors available. Those listed on WeddingWire have the option to choose if they would or would not like to be listed on the GayWeddings.com site by selecting if they provide services for “LGBT Weddings / Cermonies” from their WeddingWire Storefront.

GayWeddings.com was founded by Gretchen Hamm in 1999.  While planning a wedding for daughter Kathryn in 1999, she was frustrated by the lack of resources available to same-sex couples and thus founded TwoBrides.com and TwoGrooms.com – the first such online boutiques to cater to the LGBT community – that same year. In 2005, the mother-daughter team acquired GayWeddings.com, solidifying its position as the largest resource of its kind at the forefront of the burgeoning same-sex wedding industry. Based in Dallas, Texas and Arlington, Virginia, GayWeddings.com serves the LGBT community with its community forum, national gay-friendly vendor directory, wedding planning seminars, consultation services, free planning articles and “Wed Pages,” personalized customer service and its online boutique, which features hard-to-find gay wedding items including certificates, invitations, cake tops, albums, guest books, personalized accessories and more. Through advocacy, relationship building and education, GayWeddings.com continues to affect change in the wedding marketplace.

For more information click here.

» Time to Play Foursquare

This post written by Sonny Ganguly, CMO of WeddingWire, you can follow him on Twitter @sonnyg. A full version of this article is available in the Education Center. Sonny leads WeddingWire’s marketing strategy, customer acquisition, and business development.
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Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare…Ohh My!  Social networks have been growing like weeds over the past couple years.  Facebook has crossed over 600 million users, while Twitter recorded 25 billion tweets in 2010!  Last year another trend in social networking started to emerge: Location Based Networks.  The leader in this space has been foursquare, which has millions of people leaving a trail of where they are.

The concept of location based networks is simple, which leverages the best of social media and mixes in your physical location through your mobile device.  This trend started to take off in 2010 due to the rise of smartphones, with iPhone and Android leading the pack.  A location based network allows users to communicate with each other like on social networks, but also allows them to share details of where they are physically located.

Foursquare has considerable competition in this space, such as GoWalla and brightkite, which also allow users to share their locations with friends.  Even more interesting is that Facebook and Twitter have tried to add location data to their sites as well.  Facebook last year launched Places, which allows you to share your location with your existing Facebook connections.  Twitter now allows you to add your location to posts, whether from your computer or your mobile device.   Location based networks allow for a whole new type of interaction, but it also does raise some security concerns.  Let’s focus on foursquare and what it means for your business.

Why do people care about checking in and sharing their location?

Because you can become a Mayor!  Foursquare has made their location based network into a type of game that blends virtual activity with the real world.  If you ‘check in’ to the same location more times than anyone else, you will be crowned the Mayor of that particular location.  You must continue checking into that location to maintain your mayorship, otherwise someone  else will  unseat you.  Another component that drives ‘check ins’ are the ability to get Badges, which are virtual icons to symbolize your achievements on foursquare.  As  you ‘check in’ to various locations, you may be awarded a badge to show off.  Here are some of the badges you can get:

Adventurer – Check in to 10 different places

Barista – Check in to 5 different Starbucks locations

Don’t Stop Believing – Check into 3 different venues tagged as ‘karaoke’ in a month

Gym Rat – Check into a venue tagged ‘gym’ 10 times in 30 days

I’m on a Boat – Check in and include the word ‘boat’ in your post

School Night – Check in after 3am on a school night

Continue reading

» LMS, the Acronym That I Can’t Escape

This post written by Tim Chi, CEO of WeddingWire. Follow him on Twitter @wwtim. Tim first developed the concept of WeddingWire shortly after getting married in 2005 (to his lovely wife Tracey). As an experienced entrepreneur, Tim sought out to assemble a team and build a technology that would help both engaged couples and vendors in the wedding industry.
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My prior career began in an online education company called Blackboard.  During my tenure there, we were developing an online technology platform to help faculty and students better connect, learn, and share in the academic environment:  a Learning Management System (LMS).

This year, the LMS acronym has crept back onto my radar but in a very different fashion: Local-Mobile-Social.  I believe that this will be a big year for any technology companies that can get this combination correct.

In 2010, we saw some initial “pops” with some early LMS technology players such as FourSquare and GoWalla.  Many quickly followed suit and you are now able to “check-in” with your Yelp app, your SCVNGR app, and late last year, your Facebook account.  These smaller LMS companies saw some great user adoption due to the novelty of bringing a location-based context into everything else you already share via Twitter and Facebook.

Gowalla Foursquare Yelp

However, we did not see any resounding success stories about how these companies actually drove success to the local establishments that were being “checked into”.  Was the local business owner able to glean any consumer data from their clientele?  Did it increase customer loyalty and drive repeat business?  Certainly, being the “mayor” of Gaffney’s Pub in Bethesda, MD is a feat that I’d like all my friends to know about.  But did that mean I spent more money there or visited it more frequently that I otherwise would have?  Customer loyalty programs driven by location-based services seems like a no-brainer and a few brands such as Starbucks seem to have a handle (or at least the appetite) on how to channel it into more revenue.

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» Take It From the Pros: “Getting WeddingWired”

Before we get started – why are reviews important anyway?

“As soon as brides began telling me they were reading the reviews and using them to guide
them on who to call
, I knew we had to be there” – Silva Entertainment

“Reviews have helped me branch out of my local demographic into other more populated
areas” – Wisconsin’s Riniker Rhythm

“In my opinion, these types of reviews convey much more to a prospective client than
some random scanned thank-you notes posted on a company’s website” – The Music Place

Recently featured in an article called “Getting WeddingWired” in the DJ Times, many Wedding Pros shared their thoughts and tips on garnering the most success for their business. Getting reviews from past clients is one of the easiest and most rewarding action items, but what else can you do? We’ve broken down the some top things to do below.

Top 3 Ways to Go Above and Beyond

1. Use Social Media to Share Success – When you get a new rave review, tweet it. After a great event, be sure to post it on Facebook. The Music Place not only links directly to their Storefront from their website, they are also sure to “publicize each new review via social media to let our fans know that we continue to be at the top of our game.”

WeddingWire aims to make this easy for you by providing a simple to use Social Media Checklist for our upgraded Wedding Pros. Simply login to your account, click on the Social Media Checklist icon and click to share your exciting news on Facebook and Twitter.

Continue reading