» 4 Ways to Increase Engagement on Facebook Without Paying for Ads

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Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm is making it feel more and more difficult to reach your followers and get high levels of engagement on your posts, but don’t worry – it’s still possible to get a big response without paying for ads! Here’s how:

Show your personality

Giving yourself a distinct personality and showing your quirks is so important online! It gives people the ability to connect with you and gain trust, which will make them gravitate towards you when it comes time to book vendors for their wedding. It will also help your audience feel more comfortable and willing to comment on your posts.

So how can you do this? Add Emojis, use exclamation points, and write posts in your own voice. A good rule of thumb is ask yourself if what you are posting feels like something you would say out loud, or if it feels inauthentic to your personality. If it feels right, post away! If it doesn’t, try saying what you want to get across out loud, then write that out.

» Top 4 Questions about LGBTQ Wedding Terminology

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Photo by Stephanie W Photography

For the past six years, I’ve been working closely with wedding pros in the WeddingWire family via webinars and conferences. And although the marriage equality landscape and technology available to small businesses has changed dramatically over the course of that time, the most popular questions I receive from pros who want to improve their service offerings to same-sex couples and the larger LGBTQ community have not.

This past Pride month, WeddingWire hosted our annual LGBTQ wedding-focused webinar (Premium members can access it here). As always, we hosted a lively Q&A after my presentation and, as always, I couldn’t get to everyone’s questions. Thus, I decided to take a few more minutes to answer some important – and common – questions about language for those of you who remain curious about improving your business practices to be more inclusive of and successful with LGBTQ couples.


“Do gay couples typically have a ‘Bride & Groom’ or is it ‘Bride and Bride’ or ‘Groom and Groom’? What is the correct term to use for same-sex couples?”

Some variation of this question was the most asked during our recent webinar. And, in fact, has been one of the most popular questions I’ve received over the years. Language is incredibly important in marketing materials (a proactive effort) and in speech (a receptive and service-oriented effort). One of the reasons this question persists is because there is no one-size-fits-all answer, although there are some general best practices to follow.

One of my biggest pet peeves for all couples in the wedding industry is the intensity of the heteronormative, gender-role driven expectations in planning and in the ritual itself. Truly, this limits non-LGBTQ couples as much as it limits LGBTQ couples. In my ideal world, each couple has the opportunity to participate equally in the commitment ritual that is most meaningful and reflective to them. Period.

That said, I offer this short answer to your question: the correct terms to use with a same-sex couple are the terms they themselves prefer. If you aren’t sure because, in your eyes, they appear to falling into a pattern you recognize as a ‘bride role’ and a ‘groom role,’ please ask them how they wish to be addressed and/or how they are referring to the event and their “roles” in it. Never, ever, ever, ever, never ask a couple: “Which one of you is the bride and which one of you is the groom?”

The majority of couples identify as “two brides” or “two grooms,” but this is not always the case. Sometimes couples might get creative with their language (eg, appropriating the term ‘bridegroom’ to mean something a bit more non-binary) and some might choose to go with “bride and groom” and be queer-identified. Just don’t assume.

Please also do your best not to overthink the issue. Be open. Be inclusive. Be welcoming. Be curious. Ask the couple about how they met. What they hope for in their wedding day. How you can best help and support them. And be sure to ask if they have any additional concerns about which you might not have inquired. Finally, be sure to give the couple permission to give you feedback if you’ve made a mistake in the language or approach you are using. Open communication and building relationships is everything. Continue reading

» Millennials: They’re Not All the Same

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I was recently preparing for a new presentation, and among the other interesting information I found, there were several references to articles about millennials. One of them struck a familiar chord, which was that there’s a tendency to generalize about millennials. Whether it’s their communication skills, their shopping style or their work ethic, millennials are the focus of a lot of bashing, for lack of a better word.

There are two, really good reasons why we shouldn’t be bashing millennials: 1) stereotyping an entire generation is short-sighted and prejudicial, and 2) they’re our customers and employees. Saying that all millennials are one thing, or another, is like saying that Gen-X are all the same, or all Baby Boomers are the same. It just isn’t true. Are millennials different than Gen-X or Baby Boomers? Yes, of course, in the same way that Gen-Xers are different than their parents and grandparents. Each generation grows up a product of its environment, media, technology and more.

Digital Immigrants vs. Digital Natives

I’ve said this before, but I’m a digital immigrant. I started selling wedding advertising “B.I.” – before the internet. No, I’m not a dinosaur, or tech averse. Just the opposite. I love technology, and use it throughout my business (says the guy wearing an Apple Watch, listening to music on my iPhone 7 Plus, and writing this on a new MacBook Pro). Technology doesn’t make me sell better, but it does allow me to connect with my audience in a way that wasn’t available when I started. That doesn’t make it better or worse. It just is, what it is. Things are always evolving, are you?

I know lots of millennials who are ambitious, entrepreneurial and have great attitudes. I also know lots of Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers, who constantly complain about how lazy millennials are and how much easier it was, back in the good old days (whenever that was). The disconnect comes when we pre-judge a prospect (hence the word prejudice). Each customer is entitled to fair treatment. If we assume they’re going to judge us, only on price, we’ll likely do and say things that will attract that kind of behavior. For instance, not putting price on your website, at all, will encourage them to either ask about price, or leave without giving you a chance.

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» 4 Ways to Nail Networking: Turning Connections into Powerful Partnerships

This certainly won’t come as a surprise but bears repeating- networking is necessary for growing your business! Building a strong network creates a solid foundation for your company to expand and bring in more business, so if you haven’t been creating opportunities to meet new people, it’s time to reevaluate your schedule and make it a priority.

With that in mind, being strategic about your networking is the best way to ensure that you’re getting to know the right people and making the best impression possible. Here are some of my best practices for putting your best foot forward:

Choose events that fit your brand

There are many wedding and event industry associations that help bring professionals together, but they are each unique in their own ways. Do some research into the organizations around your area to see which best suits your brand and your values. If you find that the selection is limited in your market, consider starting your own group. Grab a few of your like-minded peers and start meeting regularly, then promote your meetings to other professionals in the area. Chances are they’ve been looking for the same opportunity as well!

Prepare as much as possible

Before attending a networking event, do your homework and find out who else is attending. Note anybody that you’d like to meet, so you can keep your focus while mingling. While you’re at it, research the venue and the sponsors of the event so you can get an idea of who is responsible (and who to thank at the end of the night!). Pick out an outfit that makes you feel confident and double check that your business cards are ready to go.

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» The 6 “T’s” of Client Communication

Client communication in the modern market can be very confusing. Technology has transformed everything about the way we communicate, so it’s important to be familiar with the best communication practices. Check out this infographic featuring 6 simple tips to connect more effectively and get more replies from engaged couples from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

For more tips on client communication, check out this webinar for Premium members with WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg.

Client communication tips infographic

» WeddingWire Networking Night St. Louis

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Randall Gallery for WeddingWire Networking Night St. Louis!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a historic venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned local-industry statistics and how to better reach engaged couples through social media from WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Megan Hayes.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the enjoyable evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Deb from Artistry Crowning Beauty!

» WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at Highland Manor for WeddingWire Networking Night Orlando!

At the Networking Night, wedding professionals had the opportunity to enjoy a historic venue space, network with other local vendors across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about email etiquette tips to help you turn leads into bookings from WeddingWire Education Guru, Alan Berg, CSP.

Thank you to all the wonderful pros who joined us! We’re excited to share highlights from the event including the educational presentation, our latest issue of WedInsights, and photos from the enjoyable evening below.

We would like to say a special thank you to the amazing event partners who helped make the evening possible:

Check out the photo strips from the event here!

Finally, we’re excited to announce the winner of our WeddingWire Prize Pack give away – congrats to Michael from October Oaks!

» Wow Your Clients with Our Custom Snapchat Wedding Filters

Chances are, your clients are often seeking new, creative ways to personalize their big day and create a unique experience for their guests. According to WeddingWire’s 2017 Newlywed Report, nearly 50 percent plan their wedding around a specific theme, and almost 25 percent create a signature cocktail for their reception.

snapchat filters custom weddingsKnowing the popularity of social media and the importance of personalization in the wedding planning process, WeddingWire has joined forces with Snapchat to allow couples to personalize their Snapchat wedding filters, schedule start and end time, set their geofence and pay conveniently all in one place. Couples can now create artfully designed, custom wedding Snapchat Geofilters for their wedding events directly on WeddingWire.

We put together a brief guide so that you can share this new feature with your clients to help them personalize their wedding and delight their guests.

 

Quick Guide to WeddingWire’s Customizable Snapchat Geofilters

  • How do you make a custom geofilter? Simply visit the Snapchat Geofilter page on WeddingWire.com and follow the steps to start building a custom filter. Each filter design includes customizable text fields and fonts allowing couples to make the filter their own.
  • What designs are available? In addition to dozens of signature WeddingWire designs, WeddingWire has also partnered with leading brands such as Lilly Pulitzer, Paper Source, and Tuckernuck, allowing couples to choose from a variety of themes and styles.
  • snapchat filtersHow do the geofilters work? Geofilters are available in a select location, for a limited time, based on the couple’s specific event details. The couple designs and purchases the geofilter between 1-90 days before the event. During the event, guests pull up their Snapchat app, take a photo, and swipe right to add the filter!
  • How much do they cost? Pricing is variable: Snapchat sets the filter cost proportional to the desired length of time and selected size of the geofence. As you enter your selections in Step 3, the price automatically updates accordingly.
  • How can I use this tool in my business? You can tell your clients about this tool as a creative idea that they can incorporate into their wedding and/or other celebratory events; they’ll be delighted that you shared this with them! What’s more, anyone can create a custom geofilter, not just the couple! You could also offer to create a custom filter for the couples you serve – just be sure to run the design by them before purchasing it.

Head on over to the Snapchat geofilters page on WeddingWire to check it out for yourself!

» Summer Reading List for Wedding Businesses

It’s summer and that means you’re in the midst of peak wedding season- who has time to read? Hear me out! When it comes to business development, you don’t want to fall behind no matter how packed your weekends are and reading the latest and greatest in business books is an easy way to stay ‘in the know.’ That way, you can hit the ground running when winter hits and you find yourself with more time on your hands. So, grab your sunscreen, some iced tea and relax outside with one or more of these bestsellers!

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

A fun fact about me: back in the day, I was once an intern at the Nike headquarters outside of Portland! So of course, the moment Phil Knight released this book I jumped at the chance to read it. It’s filled with tons of great stories about the early days of Nike, how he set himself apart from the competition, ignored the nay-sayers, and ultimately created a $30 billion company. For me, personal stories are the most effective way to inspire, and Knight’s story does just that.

Superbosses by Sydney Finkelstein

As business owners, we all have different styles when it comes to being a leader. Finkelstein’s book dives deep into what makes someone not just a good boss, but a superboss. Creating an effective master-apprentice relationship, the cohort effect, and how to say goodbye when the time is right are just a few examples covered in this must read. I am constantly searching for new and innovative ways to improve my leadership skills and this book has been a phenomenal resource.

The Power of Broke by Daymond John

As a fan of the show Sharktank, I was very excited to pick up Daymond John’s new book. In it, he talks about starting what would eventually become FUBU with just $40 in his bank account, as well as the out-of-the-box ways he promoted his products. John points out that desperation can drive your passion and push your creativity, efficiency, and innovation to the limits. If you like to run a lean business (I do!), then this is the book for you.

Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Yes, you’re a business owner, but working in the wedding industry means you’re probably also a creative at heart. Elizabeth Gilbert has been a long time favorite writer of mine and, in her newest book, she’s sharing her views on how to live a more creative life by being curious, braver, and more open-minded. Gilbert’s style will have you not wanting to put this book down and thinking about it long after you’re finished.

Enjoy some much needed rest and relaxation this summer in between weddings with one of these great books- you won’t be sorry!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

 

» Wedding PR: The Art of Managing Press Expectations

WeddingWire Education Expert

Meghan Ely

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Between print deadlines and calls for submissions, it can seem tough to navigate the waters of media relationships. It’s exciting to begin a press campaign for your company but with that, it’s imperative to understand press expectations so you can best determine if your efforts are successful.

Below, you’ll find our top things to keep you mind (and keep you going!) when managing press expectations as you represent yourself:

Patience is a virtue

PR takes time – it’s not a one-time overnight fix; it’s a continuous process. While it may be tempting to shoot out emails to every media outlet you think of, the best approach is a carefully calculated one. Take your time to properly research the media outlets that best fit your brand and create a media list based on your findings. From there, you can craft up a pitch to send along that shows how you can be of value to each outlet. With that said, keep in mind that not every pitch will get picked up but if you offer yourself as a resource and successfully engage with the editors, you can still consider that a job well done.

Print vs. Online

With the wealth of online media outlets and blogs that are available to us, it can be easy to overlook the value in a print feature. While it may not be your primary target, magazine placements can speak volumes about your company. When it comes to print, however, the pitching process tends to be quite different than that of online press. When we submit our features to an online source, we expect to hear back within several weeks and, if picked up, we expect to see it within a few weeks. Many magazines, on the other hand, are published quarterly, bi-annually, or even annually and come with strict deadlines, meaning you may need to hold on to that gorgeous wedding or shoot if you don’t pitch by the deadline.

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