Tag Archive: social_networking

Social Media Q & A: Expert Ed Gazarian Talks About First Steps for Small Businesses

Social Media Q & A: Expert Ed Gazarian Talks About First Steps for Small Businesses
by Sherron Lumley.

Ed Gazarian is a native of Boston, a graduate of Northeastern University and Harvard, who works for Pandemic Labs in Boston, one of the oldest social media marketing and analytics agencies in the U.S. He took some time to talk with writer Sherron Lumley about what’s new in social media and the first steps a small business can take when creating a social media strategy.

SL: Tell me about the business of Pandemic Labs.

EG: Pandemic is a 100-percent social media agency; we are not in print media at all. We’re all about customizing for actual customer needs. Rather than be tied to a specific set of platforms or technologies, we’re an agency committed to the notion that marketing is a dialogue, not a monologue. Our client roster runs the gamut from top-tier luxury brands (The Ritz-Carlton), to global retail chains (Au Bon Pain), and to regional groups (Fairmont Parks Art Association and The Roaming Boomers). We’ve also run campaigns with Dunkin’ Donuts, Puma, Canon, and DIRECTV.

SL: What are the basic social media steps that you advise your clients to take today?

EG: First, identify whom you want to communicate with. Based on who a brand wants to engage, the platforms, technologies and strategies we deploy will vary drastically from client to client. Knowing your audience is the absolute first step.

Next, figure out where those people are. If it’s Facebook, you know that’s a crucial part of your overall strategy. If your consumers are more active on something like LinkedIn, or social media’s latest darling—Pinterest—then focus your efforts there. There’s enough demographic info about the major channels out there, to make an informed decision about which channels to operate on. Depending upon what platforms you choose, your methods of engagement will differ. Understand that you will have to commit some time—and money—to these endeavors.

The last of these basic steps is identifying metrics of success. Yours will not be the same as those of other brands operating on the same platforms. Don’t get bogged down in things like “The Top 3 Metrics In Social Media”—lists like that are a dime a dozen. Don’t be dazzled by ‘The Next Big Thing’—does anyone still think Google+ is at all relevant? You know your brand, and you know who you want to go after. Be thoughtful in how you define what success means for you.

PQ_QAedgazarian.jpgSL: How has this changed in the last few years?

EG: Mobile and touch-based technology are easily the biggest game changers over the past few years. The ubiquity of devices like the iPhone, iPad, and their ilk have made social media campaigns based on these things extremely easy—and extremely cost-effective—to deploy on a large scale. Foursquare is a great example of this.

SL: Why is online marketing important today and looking forward?

EG: People are increasingly connected through social channels like Facebook and Twitter. We know, both anecdotally and through vigorous research, that people’s purchase decisions are more significantly influenced by recommendations/reviews/suggestions from their personal connections, than by any brand messaging. This is never going to change. Brands that capitalize on that fact through active engagement on social channels will reap the rewards.

SL: What are some examples of niche areas or groups in social media marketing?

EG: The B2B crowd is definitely one. In the small businesses world—from mom & pop storefronts, to local restaurants, and even 15 to 20-person niche service firms—opportunities abound. Just about every eatery near our office participates in some form of social campaign, such as group buying (through services like Groupon or LivingSocial), and they’ve enjoyed success using those channels.

SL: What are the benefits of targeting small audiences in social media?

EG: The more detailed you get, the more effectively you can tailor things, from the images and copy used in a Facebook ad, to strategically timing your tweets, to the text used in your Tumblr posts. The next evolution of this would be identifying your most engaged audience members. Solutions like Offerpop and Foursquare give small brands a way to compete with the Coca-Colas of the world, without being priced out of the market.

If you’re a local clothing designer with a single storefront, and you want to spread the word about your label to women around 35 years old, that live near your city, and that are interested in fashion—then there are channels (like Pinterest and Instagram) that are uniquely suited to that demographic. The people are already there, and the conversation already exists. Your job—and what will set you apart from the novices—is to find the relevant conversation, and take part in it. Anytime you can mix the value of in-person communication with the reach of social media, that’s a win.

Social Media Q & A: Expert Ed Gazarian Talks About First Steps for Small Businesses

Social Media Q & A: Expert Ed Gazarian Talks About First Steps for Small Businesses
by Sherron Lumley.

Ed Gazarian is a native of Boston, a graduate of Northeastern University and Harvard, who works for Pandemic Labs in Boston, one of the oldest social media marketing and analytics agencies in the U.S. He took some time to talk with writer Sherron Lumley about what’s new in social media and the first steps a small business can take when creating a social media strategy.

SL: Tell me about the business of Pandemic Labs.

EG: Pandemic is a 100-percent social media agency; we are not in print media at all. We’re all about customizing for actual customer needs. Rather than be tied to a specific set of platforms or technologies, we’re an agency committed to the notion that marketing is a dialogue, not a monologue. Our client roster runs the gamut from top-tier luxury brands (The Ritz-Carlton), to global retail chains (Au Bon Pain), and to regional groups (Fairmont Parks Art Association and The Roaming Boomers). We’ve also run campaigns with Dunkin’ Donuts, Puma, Canon, and DIRECTV.

SL: What are the basic social media steps that you advise your clients to take today?

EG: First, identify whom you want to communicate with. Based on who a brand wants to engage, the platforms, technologies and strategies we deploy will vary drastically from client to client. Knowing your audience is the absolute first step.

Next, figure out where those people are. If it’s Facebook, you know that’s a crucial part of your overall strategy. If your consumers are more active on something like LinkedIn, or social media’s latest darling—Pinterest—then focus your efforts there. There’s enough demographic info about the major channels out there, to make an informed decision about which channels to operate on. Depending upon what platforms you choose, your methods of engagement will differ. Understand that you will have to commit some time—and money—to these endeavors.

The last of these basic steps is identifying metrics of success. Yours will not be the same as those of other brands operating on the same platforms. Don’t get bogged down in things like “The Top 3 Metrics In Social Media”—lists like that are a dime a dozen. Don’t be dazzled by ‘The Next Big Thing’—does anyone still think Google+ is at all relevant? You know your brand, and you know who you want to go after. Be thoughtful in how you define what success means for you.

PQ_QAedgazarian.jpgSL: How has this changed in the last few years?

EG: Mobile and touch-based technology are easily the biggest game changers over the past few years. The ubiquity of devices like the iPhone, iPad, and their ilk have made social media campaigns based on these things extremely easy—and extremely cost-effective—to deploy on a large scale. Foursquare is a great example of this.

SL: Why is online marketing important today and looking forward?

EG: People are increasingly connected through social channels like Facebook and Twitter. We know, both anecdotally and through vigorous research, that people’s purchase decisions are more significantly influenced by recommendations/reviews/suggestions from their personal connections, than by any brand messaging. This is never going to change. Brands that capitalize on that fact through active engagement on social channels will reap the rewards.

SL: What are some examples of niche areas or groups in social media marketing?

EG: The B2B crowd is definitely one. In the small businesses world—from mom & pop storefronts, to local restaurants, and even 15 to 20-person niche service firms—opportunities abound. Just about every eatery near our office participates in some form of social campaign, such as group buying (through services like Groupon or LivingSocial), and they’ve enjoyed success using those channels.

SL: What are the benefits of targeting small audiences in social media?

EG: The more detailed you get, the more effectively you can tailor things, from the images and copy used in a Facebook ad, to strategically timing your tweets, to the text used in your Tumblr posts. The next evolution of this would be identifying your most engaged audience members. Solutions like Offerpop and Foursquare give small brands a way to compete with the Coca-Colas of the world, without being priced out of the market.

If you’re a local clothing designer with a single storefront, and you want to spread the word about your label to women around 35 years old, that live near your city, and that are interested in fashion—then there are channels (like Pinterest and Instagram) that are uniquely suited to that demographic. The people are already there, and the conversation already exists. Your job—and what will set you apart from the novices—is to find the relevant conversation, and take part in it. Anytime you can mix the value of in-person communication with the reach of social media, that’s a win.

4 Ways to Get Your Business Ready for 2012

With 2012 around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about what you might do differently and better next year. Here are a few ideas:

Spring cleaning: Spring cleaning in winter is often a good idea. This can really take two forms. Of course there is the traditional spring clean-up. Give the shop or office a once over. Get rid of the clutter, clean out the storage room, and get into the nooks and crannies. Most of us have some old files hanging around that can be moved or tossed. And what about some new paint, blinds, or even some new furniture?

You, your staff, and your customers will like and notice the difference.

But don’t stop there. Consider some spring e-cleaning. Clean out your computer inbox. Delete unused, old e-files. Back up your system or sign up for a regular, online backup service if you do not have one. Update necessary software. Get some new software and apps.

I am not suggesting cleaning up for tidiness sake alone (though my wife would say that is a fine enough reason) but rather, as a smart business practice. The ugly secret of owning a business is that it can become repetitive and stale. Cleaning things out – both literally and metaphorically –can shake things up for the better and create new thoughts and new avenues.Spruce up your website: If there is a © 2008 at the bottom of your website, it is time for a little updating, wouldn’t you say? We are deep in the Web 2.0 era, meaning your site needs to have some interactive tools if you want to be taken seriously – a blog, some video, a poll, something. If your site still looks like it did back in the day, you are missing a significant opportunity to impress people and get some new business.

So start by checking out Craigslist. There are plenty of highly-qualified twenty-somethings with mad skills who can freshen up your site at very affordable prices. Create some new content and have that whiz kid add it in.

Plan ahead: This is also a good time to get ahead of the game a bit. Make a list of projects you would like to get done in the next six months or a year. Prioritize them. Write them down. List them on the white board. I read today that President Obama’s political strategy is to “have a long-term strategy and goal in mind, and then work backwards from there.” That sounds like a pretty good business strategy too.

Planning ahead can also involve planning for some fun. Build in some time off. And while you are at it, consider some fun things you could do with your employees, or some ways to give them a little extra time off during the warmer months.

Try something new: For many businesses, winter is a slower season. As such, it is a perfect time to try out some new ideas that you don’t have time for during busier seasons. For instance, what about making a commitment to experiment with social networking a few hours a week for a few months? Set up a Twitter account and begin to tweet, create a Facebook fan page or set up Google+.

A new year means new opportunities and challenges. So make sure you are ready. What are your plans for 2012? Share your thoughts with the SBOC community.

3 Ways to Use Video Marketing to Promote Your Small Business

SBOC Team on Oct 21, 2011 9:07:25 AM

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Social media, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube, can be a viable platform to reach your targeted audiences. Companies – large and small – that aren’t creating and sharing digital content are missing an opportunity to communicate and build relationships with a mass consumer market.

You may want to consider adding video content to your social media marketing strategy as another way to capitalize on these opportunities. Video marketing does not necessarily require expensive equipment and high-production values. With affordable video cameras and easy-to-use software, video has become accessible for small businesses.

The number people who watch online videos is staggering – most web users watch 186 videos a month, according to digital marketing research firm comScore. Posting your video on YouTube will give you access to the channel’s 20 million monthly visitors.

Once you decide it’s worthwhile to create a marketing video, you must then determine what you will be filming. The following are some examples of how you might use video to promote your small business:

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Product Demonstrations: These are short, demonstrational videos about how to use your product or how it might fit into a viewer’s lifestyle. They can be very effective in capturing customer attention for your company’s website and these types of videos are appealing because they are often easier to follow than a printed manual. Budget permitting, you can hire professional talent, but you don’t have to.

How-To Videos: Showing your customers how to do something new without directly promoting your product or service is a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field. For example, a hair salon can create videos about how to create simple up dos and a kitchen appliance company can give cooking demonstrations. If you post your how-to video on YouTube, be sure to use strategic key words, so your video can be found by customers who might be interested in your product. Also, do not forget to display your web address prominently on the video page in order to drive business back to your site.

Viral Marketing: Equip select, responsible customers with inexpensive video cameras and ask them to submit videos of themselves using your product in amusing ways. This type of word-of-mouth marketing is cost effective and can be more compelling to potential customers than a paid advertisement.

Here are some considerations to bear in mind if you’re considering using online video as part of your marketing mix:

Typically, online videos should be between 30 seconds to three minutes long and should encompass two or three message points.
Using an inexpensive camera with 320 x 400 pixels will work fine, particularly if you plan to post your video on YouTube.
Editing can be done with simple do-it-yourself software such as iMovie, Avid, Adobe Premiere, and Final Cut Pro. Distribution can be handled through services like Ooyala and Wistia.
In addition to YouTube, investigate video hosting services like DailyMotion, MetaCafe, Vidler, and Vimeo or social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter.
When uploading videos, it’s best to adhere to a regular broadcast schedule – whether it’s daily, weekly or monthly – so your customers know what to expect.
If you want to quantify the impact of your video campaign, invest in analytics tools that allow you to see whether customers view the full video or only watch the first 30 seconds of it.

Online videos are easy and inexpensive tools for small business owners. So, don’t be shy; grab your video camera and show what your company is all about.