» The Power of You-Twit-Face

Did you know that Facebook is the world’s largest country? Or that Lady Gaga has more Twitter followers than the population of Sweden? Social media has fundamentally changed the way customers discover new businesses, especially YouTube, Twitter and Facebook (or better known as You-Twit-Face). These social sites give you the unique ability to reach and interact with customers in a way that was never possible before. Not only can you connect with potential clients in real-time, you can humanize your brand and show your personality. Focus on You-Twit-Face and you will see a positive impact on your business.

Why YouTube?
People watch 2 billion videos each day and upload 24 hours of video every minute to YouTube. In addition, it’s is the #2 search engine! So it’s easy to see that YouTube is great platform to showcase your services as a way to increase your online exposure and attract new clients.

Why Twitter?
Twitter has seen exponential growth in the past 2 years with over 200 million users. The site allows you to monitor what others have to say about your business, your competitors, the wedding industry, and more. In addition, you can easily connect with potential and past clients, as well as other local Wedding Pros, through Twitter and communicate with them in real-time.

Why Facebook?
Facebook has become the #1 largest social network in a short period of time. It has so many registered users that it’s technically the world’s largest country! The top demographic is women age 18–34, which is the exact audience you are trying to target in your marketing outreach. If that hasn’t convinced you, keep in mind that the average user spends 7 hours per month on Facebook.

 

To see the full article and hear our recommendations on how to take advantage of You-Twit-Face, visit the Education Center.

» Get Connected

Take a minute today to link your WeddingWire Storefront with your Blog, Facebook and Twitter. Doing so will allow brides considering your business to connect on a deeper level and learn more about you!

Just follow these simple steps:

  1. Login to your WeddingWire account
  2. Click the My Storefront tab
  3. Click “Edit” next to your business name
  4. Enter the URL’s for your Blog, Facebook, and Twitter
  5. Click “Save”

» The Growth of Social Networking

You keep hearing how important it is to integrate social media into your marketing efforts. Why? Because your clients are increasing the time they spend social networking. Your business has the unique ability to reach and connect with more customers than ever before.

ComScore released the graphic below, showing the growth of sites like Facebook and Twitter over the past 4 years. Now, social networking represents 1 out of every 6 minutes is spent online. Compared to the 1 of 12 minutes spent in 2007.

Facebook now reaches 73% of the total US population each month, averaging 6.3 hours per month spent on the site per user. Facebook isn’t the only social network that is continuing to grow. Several other sites continue to grow in monthly visitors according to ComScore (LinkedIn: 33.4 million, Twitter: 27 million, Tumblr: 10.7 million).

» How Photos Enhance Your Relationships

While sharing photos is not a novel concept, sharing photos through new social media tools doesn’t always come to mind. Sharing your pictures on Facebook, Twitter, and on your blog can help establish a more personal connection with past and potential clients. Not only will this help you to foster a relationship with those you already know, it could help your business find new clients after a friend shares one of your photos.

Share personal photos – This image from Zappos.com helps you establish a personal connection with the brand. Make sure you maintain your professional image but have fun and connect with engaged couples in a new way.

Share Photos Others Will Share – Make the photos you post worthwhile and something you think others want to see, and hopefully want to share. Share it if you captured something unique or held an event with another business – they’ll be likely to share it as well if you tag them in your post!

Share Your Involvement – As a local business it is important to connect with consumers in the same area. Post photos from a local sporting event or attending a benefit. These humanize your business and others can easily relate.

Lastly, it is important to share your photos often so your fans, followers, and readers keep coming back. Do you have any great photos to share? Post the link below.

» Connect With Your Fans: Facebook Questions

You may have noticed a small change from Facebook recently. They have added the capability to survey your social network by creating open answer and multiple choice questions. Facebook Questions help Page Owners interact with their audience in a way that hasn’t been possible before. The best part is, you can post a question and those who want to answer can do so quickly and easily while you wont bother or aggravate those who don’t want to answer.

When creating a question you can select if you’d like respondents to have a few options or write-in their own. This new feature will help you engage and interact with your audience as well as gauge their feedback in a way that was previously unavailable. Additionally, when a Facebook user responds their answer will be posted on their own wall so that they will help you to spread the word about your page. Not only are you harvesting a relationship with your current consumers, you are branching out to create new ones. Facebook also makes it easy for you to monitor your response with built-in, real-time metrics.

Since the feature is relatively new, there will be some trial and error associated but it is clear that the new questions feature will allow you to start a conversation with your clients and a fun new way. Click here to learn more.

Have you tried asking any questions yet? What kind of response did you get?

» HOW TO: Social Media Checklist

You already know it’s important to establish a social media presence for your business on Twitter and Facebook, but sometimes figuring out what to say (especially with a 140 character limit) can be tricky. We get it and we want to help! Within your WeddingWire account your Social Media Checklist will help you get started.

We’ve created a dynamic list of potential Tweets and Facebook posts for every upgraded Wedding Pro to help you share your recent activity with your followers. Keep in mind the first three messages are static and will always display at the top of your page. Following those general notifications, you will see 10 additional activities based on your WeddingWire account (from newest to oldest). To share an activity, just click on the Twitter or Facebook icons. Yup, that is it – just one click of a button! The first time you do this you’ll need to click “Allow” on the pop up window that appears. After you share your activities, they will always be listed in a box on the right hand side of the page.

» Build Your Online Reputation: Step 1

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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Reputation matters!  We care about the reputation of our businesses and work hard each day to strengthen it.   Word of mouth and referrals have traditionally been a significant source of business for wedding professionals. People trust recommendations from other consumers, especially from their friends and family, and this is very apparent in the wedding industry.  Engaged couples and newlyweds are talking about wedding businesses all the time, sharing both positive and negative feelings.  A solid reputation amongst customers can help drive success for years to come.

What happens when these conversations happen online? All of a sudden people are tweeting, posting, blogging, commenting, reviewing, and discussing your business online.  The rapid rise of social media has made it easier for customers to quickly share their opinions, while it has made it more difficult for business owners to have control of what their customers are saying.  However, technology provides easy ways to monitor and manage what people are saying about your business. You can build your online reputation in 4 easy steps which will be posted here over the next week.

Step 1: Know What People are Saying

The first step to building a positive online reputation starts with knowing what people are saying about you and your business.  Technology had made it easy for us to quickly and easily monitor what is being said in the online world.  The best places to know what people are saying are on Facebook, Twitter and Google.

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» Making Business Personal

You can’t deny the vast impact that social media has had on B2C relationships. Its changed the way businesses can interact with their consumers and the way consumers interact with businesses. From buying products and services to solving customer service issues, social media has enabled small and big business alike the ability to forge relationships with their customers.

Gary Vanerchuk, author of The Thank You Economy, notes this incredible power businesses now have and how it has shifted these relationships. You probably wouldn’t pick up the phone to call any of your close friends just to tell them about a great new restaurant to try or new gadget to buy. Now though, you can tweet your thoughts or recommendations from a restaurant or store and instantly influence members of your social network who might buy too.

Vanderchuk emphasizes the benefit of businesses using social medium to create a personal relationship with consumers. You have the unique ability to establish loyalty and humanize your brand. The concept even expands to politics, he suggests future candidates answer questions streaming on Twitter for example. He compares this new relationship to that of the past, encouraging “small town rules” and the DMA of our grandparents generation.

While big box business may be scared of creating this 1-to-1 relationship, people have a hunger for socialization and are getting their fill through tweets and status updates. Many consumers are directly influenced by their friends and acquaintances and this trend will only continue to grow, becoming more and more powerful. Google has already introduced social networking information into their search results and as we approach 2013 you will see a greater growth of results based on individual’s social graphs.

For more information, watch this quick video of Gary Vanderchuk interviewed on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

» 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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» The Five C’s of Social Media

What is the foundation of social media? A simple question with multiple ways to respond, but I found a great post this morning that discusses the 5 C’s that make up the foundation of social media marketing.

  • Conversation: Go where the conversations are taking place – Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, YouTube, etc.  Establish accounts and create your identity.  Stay up-to-date with your accounts and participate often.  Really get to know your followers and audience so you can actively participate.
  • Community: Seize the opportunity to not only join and participate in conversations, but add your own value.  This is how you create a community, which you must work to maintain and earn the trust of your followers. A good site for community building (in addition to the ones mentioned above) is Ning.  Ning allows its users to create their own social websites and social networks. It’s a good place to create a form or community around your product, which in return can produce useful user feedback.

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» Inbound Marketing: an efficient way to market your business

With the current state of our economy, many companies are turning their efforts to Inbound Marketing because it is a more efficient way to market their business than traditional, Outbound Marketing.

Let’s take a look at the difference between the two types:

  • Outbound Marketing: Main goal is to find customers.
  • Inbound Marketing: Main goal is getting found by customers.
Outbound Marketing Inbound Marketing
Trade Shows Blogs
Telemarketing Facebook
Print Advertising Search Engine Optimization
Direct Mail Pay-Per-Click

So why are companies now using more Inbound Marketing tactics? Here are a few reasons I found:

  • It costs less. Inbound Marketing is all about creating good content and talking about it. This can be done by starting a blog, creating a Facebook fan page, posting videos on YouTube, or using Twitter. All of these examples are free and can draw a significant amount of attention.
  • Better targeting. With Inbound Marketing you can be more selective when choosing your audience instead of targeting the masses.
  • It’s an investment, not an ongoing expense. If you invest money in creating content that puts you in the high rank of Google’s organic results (which is free), you will be there until someone else displaces you.

With the New Year only weeks away, it might be helpful to take a look at your own marketing plan and see if you can incorporate any of these Inbound Marketing tactics!

For more details on Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing, check out this great blog post from HubSpot.

» You have no social media presence? 93% of Americans say you should

Well maybe not all Americans, but Cone Inc, a communications company, released the results of a survey they did of 1092 people earlier this month about their social media habits that I found on Search Engine Watch. The results of the survey indicate that 93% of the participants say that a company should have some sort of social media presence.  Additionally, 85% of the same group say that the same companies should be interacting with them on social media outlets.  Other findings include:

When asked about specific types of interactions, Americans believe:

  • Companies should use social networks to solve my problems (43%)
  • Companies should solicit feedback on their products and services (41%)
  • Companies should develop new ways for consumers to interact with their brand (37%)
  • Companies should market to consumers (25%)

It’s an interesting study that supports the common notion that social media should be a part of your overall marketing plan.  Whether it’s a Facebook Fan page, a Myspace profile, a Flickr profile, or a company blog, customers today have many places to visit on the web today so being where they are is going to be key to attracting new business.

What social media avenues are you using to reach today’s brides?  What has or hasn’t worked?  What are your barriers to using social media if you don’t already?