» Best of the Web: August

There are millions of sites on the web, and hundreds of new ones popping up each day.  Which sites should you care about?  Which can help you grow your business?  Each month we will highlight some of our favorite sites on the web and show how they can help you run your business more efficiently.  This month we feature Mashable, iStock Photo and Wufoo.

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  • Mashable: Wondering how Twitter appeared out of nowhere?  Or maybe what new online sites can help you grow your business? Are you looking to keep up with the latest trends on the internet?  Mashable is one of the largest blogs dedicated to social media and it is one of our favorite sites to stay on top of today’s online trends.  You’ll find the latest news about Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, the iPhone and much more.  Mashable allows you to easily become a tech guru!
  • iStock Photo: Are you looking to find high quality wedding photos?  Want to make sure you own the rights to the photos? iStock Photo is the largest royalty-free stock photo destination on the internet.  The site boasts over 4 million different images, and each file can be purchased for as little as $1 and then used as often as you’d like.  If you’re looking to update marketing materials or any of your bridal images, take a look at the variety of images iStock Photo has to offer.
  • WuFoo: Don’t let the funny name fool you, Wufoo is one of the easiest ways to collect information over the internet.  The site allows you to easily create contact forms, online surveys and invitations so that you can collect data, registrations and even online payments.  What’s best, is that you don’t need to be a web developer to create the forms!   So whether you have an upcoming event or want to do some market research, Wufoo allows you to create forms easily and the first 3 are free.

» Bing: The Decision Engine

binglogo_5f00_lgYou may have heard the buzz surrounding Microsoft’s recently launched search engine, Bing.  Bing is the long-awaited site which many are already calling a worthy competitor to Google, the search engine phenomenon.   Developers refer to Bing as a ‘decision engine,’ rather than a ‘search engine.’ Why? Because Bing is intended to help you make better decisions rather than to simply provide you with a wealth of information which may or may not answer to your needs.

What is Bing?

Bing is essentially a search engine.  It was created and recently launched by Microsoft in order to compete with Google. Here are some of the main features of Bing developed to help improve the user search engine experience:

  • Explorer Pane: A pane on the left-hand side where you can not only see your results organized in categories but also related searches.
  • Related Searches: A section that produces more organized and relevant results, as compared to the way Google currently showcases them.
  • Users have the ability to preview site content on search results, so you don’t click on sites you don’t need.
  • Preview a video without clicking on it simply by holding your mouse over it.
  • Track and store your previous searches in your search history, which is accessible in the explorer pane.

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» Ultimate Twitter Toolbox

hootsuite1 Searching for an easier way to manage your business Twitter account (s)?  Here at WeddingWire we are big fans of HootSuite.  HootSuite is a great Twitter toolbox, in which you can manage multiple Twitter profiles, add numerous editors, track your success and even schedule tweets in advance – all from one easy-to-use interface.  It’s a great way to stay on top of your Twitter accounts, allow multiple staff members to contribute as editors, and stay up-to-date on your tweets even on your busiest days.  When using Twitter for a business, it’s important to see what captures the interest of your followers.  In using the HootSuite ow.ly URL shortener, you can track click-throughs on your tweeted links, which will help you monitor messages and see which capture the interest of your followers.

Sign-up is simple.  Create your free HootSuite account, add a profile for each Twitter account you have, and start managing.

And that’s not all…HootSuite offers users the option to add the HootSuite Hootlet to your bookmark toolbar so that you can quickly tweet the pages you are browsing.   When using the Hootlet, the page title, the name of the site, and the ow.ly shortened link is automatically created in a pop-up window for you.  From here you can submit the tweet or schedule it for later.   Its features like this that really help simplify the overall Twitter process!

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Visit www.HootSuite.com today to get started!

» Social Networking Results Are In…

In today’s wired world, engaging in social media is a powerful way to help increase your brand awareness and reach potential clients.  Just take a look at the recent results of surveys conducted by Nielsen Online:

  • Over 67 percent of online users are engaging in “Member Communities”, which includes social networks and blogs, making it more popular than personal email.
  • Twitter continues as the fastest growing social networking site, growing in popularity as not only a means of communication between friends, but as an essential part of brand marketing.
  • While topping the charts for the number of unique visitors, Facebook also leads the way for stickiness, with the average user spending 3 hours and 16 minutes on the site. The average Twitter user sticks around for about 12 minutes.

Top 5 Social Networking Sites

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It is evident in these results that social networking has become an essential part of today’s online experience.  At WeddingWire, we are committed to educating and connecting you with numerous social networks in order to extend your reach to today’s wired brides.

» How To: Create a Facebook Fan Page

images Facebook fan Page is a public profile you can create and personalize to showcase your business and services to Facebook users. With over 200 million registered users, creating a Facebook Page is one way to help reach your customers and potential clients. The best part is it’s completely free!

Creating a Page is easy. Simply visit Facebook Pages, click on “Create a Page” and let the fun begin.

  • Step 1: Pick Category & Name
    Choose a category that best fits the services you provide. Please note that you will not be able to change your category once you choose, so pick the closest match. Next, choose a name for your Page. Since this Page is for your business, you should use your business name. This will help extend your brand awareness. Click “Create Page.”
  • Step 2: Picture Time
    Click “Upload a Picture” at the top of your Page and upload a photo. A logo or a picture that represents your business is the best choice.

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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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» WeddingWire’s February Events & Travels

It’s a busy time of year at WeddingWire headquarters.  We have been traveling all over the country sharing our industry knowledge, meeting and networking with vendors like you, and of course reaching out to brides!

Here are a few places we have been:

2009 Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow
Last week, WeddingWire attended the 2009 Catersource and Event Solutions Conference & Tradeshow in Las Vegas, NV.  It its 16th year, this educational conference and tradeshow brought together catering professionals from all over the world.  This year’s conference featured numerous sessions on how to market, staff and manage catering companies and provided professionals with the skills and networking opportunities needed to support business and increase bottom line.

 

WeddingWire had the opportunity to meet many of the catering attendees during the Tradeshow and Wedding Networking event.  The trip was very successful and we look forward to all the new members joining the WeddingWire network!

Association of Wedding Gown Specialists
Sonny Ganguly, WeddingWire’s Chief Marketing Officer, attended the annual meeting for the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists in San Antonio, TX, this past weekend.  Sonny presented on Reaching Today’s Wired Bride, and then also led round table discussions on internet marketing, social media, and site traffic.

Running of the Brides
Filene’s Basement is most famous for its annual Bridal Gown Events called “Running of the Brides,” where brides-to-be can save hundreds, even thousands of dollars on designer wedding gowns.  WeddingWire teams up with Filene’s Basement to promote and support these events in numerous locations throughout the year. Here the video from last Friday’s NYC Event.  Check out the WeddingWire users wearing “The Best & The Bridest” pink t-shirts in the front of the line!

Houston Wedding Showcase
WeddingWire sponsored and attended the Houston Wedding Showcase last Saturday. The Houston Wedding Showcase is a one-stop wedding planning show for engaged couples in the Houston area and is produced by two bridal show producers that have a combined 25 years of experience in the industry. This year’s February show was a huge success, attracting thousands of brides.  WeddingWire is proud to be a sponsor of this fresh and innovative bridal show in one of the country’s largest bridal markets!

Stay tuned for more WeddingWire events!

» Marketing vs. Advertising

What is the difference between marketing and advertising? Although it seems like a simple question, it is very common to confuse the definition of the two.

By definition marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, and delivering offerings that have value for consumers and society at large (American Marketing Association).  Marketing is the first step in developing a product or service.  Seth Godin said it perfectly in his recent post, “Just about every successful product or service is the result of smart marketing thinking first, followed by a great product that makes the marketing story come true.”

Advertising is the act or practice of calling public attention to your product, service, need, etc. (dictionary.com). Advertising includes paid ads, which can be online, in print, on billboards, etc. Advertising is a main component of marketing.

A good way to look at it is to think of marketing as a pie, in which you have slices that include advertising, market research, product branding, interactive media, SEO, sales strategy, lead generation, consumer involvement, customer support, and more.  Marketing is everything you do as a small business to facilitate a connection between your business and your consumer.

Our goal at WeddingWire is to provide the platform for vendors in the wedding industry to do both.  As a vendor you can create an account and build your Storefront, which helps you create and communicate your product offerings to your consumers (engaged couples).  Our vendor catalog, which is listed off of numerous networks (i.e. Martha Stewart Weddings, BridalBuds, WeddingAces), serves as a means of advertisement for your business for all incoming engaged couples to see.

What are your thoughts on marketing and advertising? Share your feedback in the comments sections!

» WeddingWire’s 2009 Bride’s Choice Awards

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2009 Bride’s Choice Awards! This new annual award program, launched at the beginning of the week, is unlike other award programs in our industry in which winners are selected by the company.  This year’s winners were determined exclusively by recent newlyweds from the WeddingWire community through survey results and reviews.  This year’s high-performing winners represent the top three percent of WeddingWire’s vendor community.

We want to thank all the winners for their hard work and dedication to the wedding industry!

Remember…reviews are one part of the nomination process, so don’t forget to invite your 2009 clients to review your services on WeddingWire in order to put you one step closer to being eligible for 2010 Bride’s Choice Awards!  Simply visit the Marketing section of your WeddingWire account to invite your past clients to review your services.

» Tag your images on WeddingWire

So you have all these great images uploaded to your WeddingWire Storefront, why not show them off? All tagged vendor images are published to the Ideas section for brides to see! Brides currently have the ability to search the Ideas section images, save their favorite images to their binder, and will soon also have more ways to integrate your images into their planning experience! And since your business name is linked to all your tagged images, this serves as another way to reach our community of brides.

Log-in to your WeddingWire account today and start tagging your images!

» What’s New: BridalBuds & WeddingAces

WeddingWire recently launched two blog communities for engaged couples.  The best part is the vendor catalog is featured on each blog, making it easy for incoming brides (and grooms) to find you!

  • Bridalbuds.com – Real wedding experiences, wedding planning tips, DIY projects, and more from current engaged couples going through the planning process along with advice from newlyweds who have previously been in their position.
  • WeddingAces.com – Firsthand knowledge and experiences straight from the experts of the wedding industry!  The diverse group of wedding bloggers featured on WeddingAces are actively involved within the WeddingWire network, blogosphere, and wedding industry.

Become a fan of our new sites on Facebook: BridalBuds and WeddingAces!

» Wed We Can – Changing the Face of Wedding Planning

On this historic 56th Presidential Inauguration Day, I invite you to visit www.WedWeCan.com.  Our ‘Wed We Can’ campaign, which launched today, focuses on the change WeddingWire has brought to online wedding planning.   Seeing as the internet has revolutionized the way engaged couples can plan their weddings,  WeddingWire provides the technology for engaged couples to simplify and streamline their planning process and easily connect with vendors like you!

Check out the site and press release!