» WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte

This week, local wedding professionals gathered at the Separk Mansion for WeddingWire Networking Night Charlotte!

At the Networking Night, Charlotte pros had the opportunity to enjoy a stunning venue space, network with other local professionals across all service categories, and meet members of the WeddingWire team. Plus, they learned about how to better reach engaged couples through social media from WeddingWire’s Regional Manager of Customer Success, Katey McBurney.

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 Tammy from Blissful Honeymoons & Destination Weddings!

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» Everything You Need to Know About Live Streaming

Pro to Pro Insights

Ashley Jones, Ashley Ann EventsThis post was written by Ashley Jones of Ashley Ann’s Events. As a talented, award-winning wedding and event designer, Ashley has made a name for herself by offering unique and professional designs and productions. Ashley is a Master Flower Builder with a knack for transforming unconventional spaces. In the business world, Ashley offers speaking engagements for entrepreneurs on a variety of topics, including social media lead generation, sales funnels, and business growth. She has been featured on CNN Money, Fox News, KATV, STAND’s 30 Under 30, and several other media outlets and publications. 

By now, you’ve probably noticed that many celebrities and businesses are leveraging live streaming apps like Facebook Live or Periscope to reach wider audiences with fresh, engaging videos. Rather than recording a video and uploading it later, live streaming allows you to instantly connect with your followers in a more organic (and less time consuming!) way. Live streaming gives everyone in the world access to you instantaneously.

	Everything You Need to Know About Live StreamingI’m a huge fan of live streaming. One of the biggest benefits I’ve noticed is how quickly you can build a wider audience of followers. Using Periscope, I’ve been able to build an audience of a little over 20,000 followers in only about 5 months. I have followers in Russia, Canada, Australia, the UK, and of course the United States. It takes much more time on other social media platforms to build an organic audience of this size.

Another reason I love live streaming is its emphasis on the visual. As wedding professionals, our livelihood is based on not only the visual appeal of our work, but also our personality and friendliness towards our clients. Because it’s instantaneous, live streaming allows potential clients to see you and get a much better view of your personality than a scripted and pre-recorded video. Plus, research shows that visuals are processed in the brain 60,000 times faster than text, so it’s a much faster and more effective way to connect.

Another recent study shows that using video on landing pages can increase conversion by 80%, and I can personally attest to this – when I post a video on my Instagram compared to a photo I consistently get 3 times the views and engagement. Periscope, in particular, is a great platform because Periscope users consume nearly 40 years of watch time every day. Continue reading

» How to Incorporate Instagram into Your Marketing Strategy

How to Incorporate Instagram into Your Marketing StrategyInstagram is one of the most popular social media apps, with over 500 million monthly active users. The mobile-based photo-sharing social network, launched in 2010, has had an undeniable impact on the social media industry. But many businesses still question whether to take the plunge and allocate time and resources to creating an Instagram presence. If you’re still on the fence about using Instagram for business, it’s officially time to re-evaluate.

Instagram and Millennials

Recent research shows that 26% of online adults use Instagram, a number that has increased from 17% in 2013. With a combined 75% of adults on Instagram falling between the ages of 18-29 and 30-49, Instagram is one of the best ways to reach Millennial couples who are recently engaged or approaching engagement.

Instagram is beloved by its users, who primarily use the app to effortlessly edit and add filters to both photos and videos from their mobile devices. The visual focus, when first launched, offered a simpler alternative to Facebook, with fewer status updates and links. Studies indicate that consumers are able to recall visual content longer than text, which keeps users coming back. Today, Instagram is the second most used social network, with approximately half of their users accessing the site daily.

Couples often engage with social media when they’re multi-tasking, whether at work or at night when they’re unwinding in front of the TV or in bed. This makes it that much more important to post interesting content so that you can capture the short attention span of your prospective clients. Our research shows that 34% of couples say they’ve contacted a vendor though a social network, and Instagram is quickly moving up the ranks in popularity.

Instagram as a marketing strategy

If you haven’t yet incorporated Instagram into your social media marketing strategy, we’ve got you covered! Follow these 5 easy tips to get started with Instagram for your business: Continue reading

» Social SEO in 5 Minutes a Day: Part 2

Pro to Pro Insights

Kathy DalPra, Bride AppealThis post was written by Kathy DalPra. Kathy is the owner of Bride Appeal. She takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can turn more curious visitors into high paying clients. Kathy’s strategies began to develop during her time as bridalpreneur when she took a struggling website to the top of Google; gaining targeted traffic, press mentions and celebrity customers along the way. Today Kathy shares her methods with other event professionals at brideappeal.com.

Welcome to the second installment of my tips for boosting your rankings and getting your brand in front of more prospects by investing just 5 minutes a day on social media. If you’re just joining us, start with Part 1 and continue on below!

4. Link Love

If you’re new to SEO, let’s get you up to speed on a critical ranking factor: links to your website. Also known as “backlinks.”

When quality websites link to your website, it’s kind of like receiving a vote for the value or authority of your website. It sends a signal to search engines that other online resources and real people feel your website content is valuable and worth sharing.

In other words, getting backlinks helps your website rank higher.

And based on recent comments from Google and Bing, it sounds like social sharing may affect your website authority, and subsequently your ranking, in a similar way.

While Google doesn’t come right out and confirm that having your webpage links shared across social media can help your webpages rank higher, they certainly hint strongly at it:

“Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it then we can return that in our search results.”

In the same interview, Google also said that a link does carry more weight depending on the person who shares it on Twitter or Facebook.

And Bing echoed Google’s statements with this:

“We take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or retweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter users that shared the link.“

These statements suggest two things:

  1. If one of your webpages or blog posts is shared on Twitter (and likely other social platforms as well), Google and Bing can see this and possibly list it in their search results or, at the very least, recognize that your page is gaining in value because it is being shared on social media.
  2. When your website pages or posts are shared often and by influential users on Twitter, it increases the weight, or perceived importance, of your website page, giving it a ranking boost. The more these activities, or signals, add up, the more chances your page has to rank higher.

This means that if a major industry influencer on Twitter retweets your website link, it could give your domain and that specific page a little SEO boost, helping it to rank higher over time.

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» Social SEO in 5 Minutes a Day: Part 1

Pro to Pro Insights

Kathy DalPra, Bride AppealThis post was written by Kathy DalPra. Kathy is the owner of Bride Appeal. She takes the overwhelm out of SEO, sales and website conversion so wedding businesses can turn more curious visitors into high paying clients. Kathy’s strategies began to develop during her time as bridalpreneur when she took a struggling website to the top of Google; gaining targeted traffic, press mentions and celebrity customers along the way. Today Kathy shares her methods with other event professionals at brideappeal.com.

You can snatch up more rankings and get your brand in front of more prospects by investing just 5 minutes a day.

In this article, I’ll show you how to do so even if you’re not a technical SEO jedi.

Every week I hear from wedding and event professionals who are putting off their wedding SEO altogether because they think they have to ‘get it perfect’ before it will work.

Listen, even my SEO is not perfect and yet Google is my #1 source of traffic.

There are hundreds of SEO strategies we can employ in our business, but we only need to start with a few simple ones to reap the rewards.

So why not begin with an activity you’re already doing? Social media networking!

By simply leveraging the social media accounts you’re already toying around with each week, you can get your company more visibility in both search engines and within the social networks themselves.

All you need to do is view your social activity like an SEO strategy and invest 5 minutes a day.

So let’s dive into Part 1…

1. Dominate Google with Your Social Profiles

A few years back a wedding photographer called me in a panic because competitors who shared her business name in the same geographical area were outranking her in the search engines.

She was losing business left and right to fresh prospects who recently heard of her, but were landing on someone else’s website!

She might not have had that problem at all if she knew how to dominate Google’s first page for her brand name.

Kind of like this…

ocial-profiles-in-search-results

Yes, your social media accounts can rank in search engines too.

When people search for your company name, personal name or even your profession on a local level, they can stumble on one of your social media profiles, not just your website.

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» 4 Simple Steps for Wedding Vendors to Get More Traffic From Pinterest

Pro to Pro Insights

Christopher Lin, Lin & Jirsa PhotographyThis post was written by Christopher Lin. Chris is the co-founder of Lin and Jirsa, an award-winning Los Angeles wedding photography and cinematography studio founded in 2006. Chris has used his marketing, SEO and business expertise to help build Lin and Jirsa into a company that shoots over 300 weddings annually serviced by over 30 talented creatives. Along the way, Chris and his two business partners also created SLR Lounge, where an international team of writers and photographers share their education with the community.

Pinterest and weddings are a perfect marriage; brides and grooms need a place to gather and share ideas and Pinterest provides that perfect, pretty, organized platform.

But as wedding professionals, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that. Whether you’re a photographer, florist, planner, or any other wedding vendor, you’ve probably all had clients send you links, saying, “I want something that looks like this,” with a link to a board they created. So how do you take advantage of this situation to drive traffic to your website? For our photography studio, Lin and Jirsa, we receive around 12% of our traffic from Pinterest, as you can see in the screenshot of our Google Analytics below:

Lin and Jirsa Pinterest analytics

Here are the 4 simple steps to getting more traffic from Pinterest (modified from our book, Photography SEO and Web Marketing):

Step 1:  Upload Images to Your Blog or Website

Pinterest can drive a ton of traffic to your site because the images on Pinterest are linked directly to the site from which it is originally pinned. So, the first step is to upload images featuring your work on to your blog or website. Do not upload images directly to Pinterest, because then you lose the link value.  

Step 2: Add The Ability to “Pin” Directly On Your Website  

If your website is on WordPress, there are plugins like Pinterest Pin It Button. If you’re on Squarespace, follow these instructions here. Every content management system should have an easy solution.  If you can’t figure it out, hire an expert – this is an investment worth making. Continue reading

» Wedding Planning on Social Media: 5 Statistics

WedInsights

Five statistics about how couples use social media for wedding planningSocial media isn’t something that existed for your wedding business as recently as seven years ago. It requires time and effort, and making sure it’s at least a small piece of what you do every day is no easy task for a busy wedding professional. Have you ever wondered just how important social media is to the wedding planning process and whether or not it actually affects your bottom line?

Check out these five statistics from Volume 5 of the WeddingWire WedInsights Series to find out how couples are wedding planning on social media and how you can maximize your business’ presence.

74% of internet users are active on social media and 89% are between the ages of 18-29

There’s no doubt about it: data shows that your target demographic is on social media. Due to the significance of social media during the planning process, not having a social presence on these sites could negatively impact your brand’s reputation.  In fact, 62% of couples say that vendors who are not on social media seem “outdated.” If you have not yet created a social presence for your wedding business, now is the time to start.

34% of couples say they’ve contacted a vendor though social media

Many social networks have become curated content streams for consumers to keep a pulse on the people, topics, and products they care about. Instead of flipping through magazines, today’s couples are scrolling through online feeds to find vendors for their big day. This is your chance to stand out and wow potential clients with content that appeals to your audience. Try posting examples of your work, aspirational photos, useful advice and tips, or interesting and funny links.

61% of couples ‘follow’ or ‘like’ a vendor’s page so that they can see the quality of their work

If a couple wants to learn more about your business, they’re likely to visit your Storefront or website. But what about those other factors that may not be easily seen through your own marketing materials? Social media allows for a more personal experience and should be a place for your clients to get to know you. Your customers want to work with people they enjoy being around, so show them a little bit of your personality!

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» Social Media Tips for When You’re Stumped

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

The importance of social media to wedding businesses can’t be denied. Used properly, social media is completely free marketing platform that is unsurpassed in its ability to cement your brand identity, create meaningful relationships with your clients and other wedding professionals, and give your business a real, human voice that resonates with people more than a static website or a print ad ever could.

On the other hand, social media can seem completely overwhelming. Most wedding business owners use at least one social media platform for their personal interactions, but knowing how to manage a complete social media marketing program for your business is a different skill altogether. Here are my top five social media tips to make it easier.

Top social media tips

  1. Decide which platforms are most useful for your business. It seems that new social media technologies are being offered all the time (this very topic was one of the highlights of Sonny Ganguly’s presentation at WeddingWire World 2015!). I think it’s safe to say, though, that the most mainstream platforms are the only really essential ones for the wedding industry. All wedding businesses can benefit from having a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, because they support easy information-sharing in the form of words and images, and are highly interactive. Pros in more creative and visual fields (or who are good at remembering to take photos of everything) can get a lot out of Pinterest and Instagram, too. LinkedIn can also serve as a good way to network with other business owners. Remember that it’s totally fine to start with just one or two of these platforms – you can learn more, and build your presence, as you go. The most important thing is that you keep up with your social media usage on whichever platforms you choose.
  1. Identify the voice you want to use. Most wedding pros that I know are personally invested in their business, and their brand is largely a reflection of their personality and values. It makes sense, then, that you should put some thought into exactly how you want to represent yourself on your business social media accounts. Do you want your posts to be strictly professional, sharing advice/information and announcing company news? Or do you want to incorporate personal successes and struggles as well, for a more “human” approach? Having a clearly defined voice for your social media presence will make a big difference in how you craft your content, and how your message is perceived.

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» Is Your Digital Content the Right Length?

Creating digital contentWhen it comes to writing for your wedding business, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. The messaging in your blog posts should be consistent with your content your website, and your emails and social media posts should also reflect the same tone and voice. With all of those considerations, it’s easy to write too much (or sometimes too little) to keep it all straight!

If you’ve ever wondered how long your pieces of digital content should be, you’re not alone. Luckily for you, there’s a ton of research on exactly how long your digital content should be for ideal exposure and views on the various channels. Below are some of the findings:

Facebook. Research shows that posts shorter than 40 characters (meaning words and spaces or punctuation) had 86% higher engagement rates than longer posts. This isn’t to say that long Facebook posts are useless – in a lot of cases, there’s no way to condense information into less than 40 characters. If you can squeeze posts to under 80 characters, they get 66% more “likes” and comments.

Twitter. Twitter, unlike Facebook, is already very limited in the amount of content users can post. Ideal post length on Twitter is actually longer than ideal post length on Facebook, but it’s an easy number to remember: 100 characters. Twitter’s own research shows that medium-length tweets get the most re-tweets. Why? If users want to “quote” the tweet or retweet and add their own thoughts, they have enough characters left to do so. For optimally shareable tweets, aim for 70-100 characters.

Headlines. If you have a blog, pay close attention to this one! Just like people scan blog posts, (sad, but true) they scan the headlines. The maximum word count for headlines is just six words. Research shows that if a headline is longer than that, readers only look at the first three words and the last three words. Consequently, keeping headlines to six or fewer words ensures that readers pay attention to the whole headline. Plus, Google typically only displays 50-60 characters of the title in search results, so the shorter, the better!

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» 4 Components of a Great Social Media Post

Social media postsWe’ve written about the importance of social media for wedding businesses, detailed upcoming changes to the popular social networks, and explained how to effectively use social media, but there’s still a ton of social media strategy and tactics to cover!

In addition to posting at the right times with the right frequency, there are a few key components you should include in your posts to help your posts get noticed. Below we list the top four components of a great social media post:

Tags and mentions. Networking is important in the wedding industry, and it’s just as important online. Tagging, mentioning, or sharing posts from fellow Pros opens up the channels of communication between you and your peers, but also between you and prospective clients. A “ripple effect” is caused when you mention or share a post from another Pro – you’re now reaching their audience in addition to your own. Tagging and mentioning other professionals in the industry often leads to a friendly relationship with that business, which can lead to more online exposure for both parties.

Examples of your work. The best way to generate leads through  social media is by providing your followers with plenty of examples. Sharing a photo or two of your most recent or favorite wedding gives couples a glimpse into your work and helps them get to know you better. Sharing experiences and work from real weddings also gives prospective clients an idea of your style, so they can determine if it matches their wants and needs. WeddingWire also has a real weddings website where couples and wedding professionals alike can submit weddings to be published on the site.

Professional voice. If you wonder what “voice” means in terms of social media, you’re not alone! Just as it is in blogging, your voice on social media is the tone and feel of the posts. This voice should be consistent across all your social networks, and it should reflect your business’ professionalism. Posting in text/email speak isn’t a good idea, and it’s best to find other ways to shorten your posts without abbreviating words or phrases. We get it – staying under 140 characters can be hard, but abbreviations often come across as juvenile and unprofessional. For example, “Brides love our hairstylists and you’ll love the way you look on your wedding day!” looks much better than “Brides luv our hairstylists & you’ll love the way you look on ur wedding day!”

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» 5 of the Most Shareable Blog Post Types

	5 of the Most Shareable Blog Post TypesComing up with ideas for blog posts can be time consuming, especially when you get stuck in a rut of posting the same types of articles all the time. Adding more variety to your post types will not only make writing easier, it will also pique the interest of your readers by providing a new format. If you’re not sure how else you can format your business’ content, we’ve got some great data to share.

NewsCred, along with Fractl and BuzzStream, recently analyzed 220,000 articles from 11 verticals over six months to determine what content resonates best on social media and when to post for maximum impact. We’ve broken down their data below to provide you with the most shareable blog post types!

1.  List Posts

Study results: 22.45% of total shares

Best months for sharing: June, September, October

List blog posts offer a number of points on a particular topic that support a general conclusion. List posts have become very popular due to popular news sites like Buzzfeed, which publishes a number of list posts each day. List posts, like infographics, are easier to read and understand because of their simple formatting. Think about the various options a couple has when booking your business and list them, or provide a list of ideas for each season.

2.  ‘Why’ Posts

Study results: 22.32% of total shares

Best months for sharing: September, October, November

‘Why’ posts provide readers with a reason or purpose and provide details that support a given conclusion. These posts serve to convince your readers that your conclusion is the right conclusion! Here’s your chance to really persuade your audience on your own viewpoints. For some wedding professionals this type of post could be a piece on why engaged couples need a Pro in your service category, and why they should book your wedding business.

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» Updating Your Brand Presence for Wedding Season

Updating Your Brand Presence for Wedding SeasonAs we move into the spring season, Pros across the country are preparing for a busy wedding season full of events. While you may have already booked most of your weddings through the fall, couples are still seeing your business as they continue to search for their wedding professionals. It’s essential that your brand presence remain strong while you’re otherwise occupied!

Below we break out the individual areas that affect your brand presence online, with tips for updating each area in preparation for the wedding season.

Brand: Add professional photos

It’s important to take time several throughout the year to update your Storefront with recent photos and information. Before you reach for that cell phone camera, though, consider getting some more high-quality images! Featuring high-resolution, professional photos that showcase your business is an important way to make your Storefront and website more appealing to visitors. We recently redesigned the look and feel of your Storefront to bring more attention to photos of your work, and we’ve seen that visitors who click the new Storefront photo carousel view an average of 22 photos per session. The more visitors to your Storefront who check out your photos, the more time they’re spending on your Storefront considering your business. Make the decision easy by giving them plenty of great photos to choose from!

Public Relations: Submit a real wedding

One of the most crucial aspects of developing strong wedding PR for your business is getting published. Whether you’re a DJ, florist, venue, caterer, wedding planner or any other wedding professional, getting published will expose your business to an even wider audience. If you’re taking our advice and adding more professional photos, your Storefront will look more attractive to our Editorial Team, who spend a lot of time browsing WeddingWire Storefronts to look for Wedding Pros to interview and feature. We also created RealWeds.com to streamline the process of submitting real wedding photos to WeddingWire and our sister site, Project Wedding. Whether you submit your own photos or your business is selected by our Editorial Team, being published on WeddingWire will help your business reach even more engaged couples.

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