Posts Tagged ‘Facebook’

Thank You Readers! Thank You World!

I want to first say thank you to everyone who shared a link or tweeted my blog or re-blogged my post and most importantly, everyone who downloaded my books on Amazon! I cannot be thankful enough for that! This weekend has been the best for me since the time I published my books!

I had made a promise the first day of the giveaways to let you all know how everything transpired and now I wanna honor the same! Here is the breakdown: On the first day, hundreds and hundreds of readers downloaded my books. What surprised me was this observation: readers in the UK, Germany and Spain downloaded more copies of my second book [Across The River] than my first book [My Life Sentences - A True Story]. That was turned upside down on the last day!

In North America however, more and I mean more than a thousand readers downloaded my first book [My Life Sentences - A True Story] more than my second book [Across The River]. Personally, I have no conclusion as to why that happened but one thing is for sure; the outcome was epic!

Sometimes I look through pages of my books and cannot believe my eyes what I see! I normally ask myself, how on earth did I even write that? Of course the answer is, well, a smile and a feeling of happiness inside. The fact is this: those books would mean nothing without those who go to Amazon and download them and most importantly, read from chapter to chapter! Thank you so much!

Last but not least, I reached another milestone which might be tempting to ignore but equally important! The total visitors to my blog reached 4,000 and within two days, it is now over 5,000! That is humbling! Sometimes I run out of stuff to post but when I think about my eager readers, I just get off the couch and do something..right? That is the spirit! (I started this blog a little over two months ago).

Why did I choose to write books anyway? It all started when I was in high school……NO! I will not extend this longer than it is already, I care about your time! See you next time! Thank you and stay in the path of your dreams, so that when time comes, you will be ready to catch the vision!

Please remember to subscribe to my blog on the right of this page(Home)! If you have questions on writing and publishing books, don’t hesitate to ask me through the comments section. I will respond to them with your value in my mind! Adieus! Peace!!

You can still download my books My Life Sentences – A True Story and Across The River ! Cheers!

 

This is written by Elisha Chirchir

elisha.java@gmail.com

 

VMS-Washington June 2012 Business Newsletter

VMS-Washington offers a free cost analysis to compare your current provider to us. In addition, anyone that sends us business our way will get $50.00 when sign the client signs. We also challenge you to beat our rates, if we can’t we will pay you $250.00 Cash. Has your current processor told you about the Durbin Amendment and how it can save you money on your processing rates and fees?

Due to the overwhelming replies and inquiries VMS-Washington wants to help your business out by giving you rock bottom rates for your processing.  We also can help your business by giving you great rates for unsecured business loans with an 90% approval rate for start-ups and existing businesses.  Call or email us if you want to know more.

Michael Roberts

VMS-Washignton
www.vms-washington.com
washignton@valuedmerchants.com
(800) 531.8575 ext. 697

Check out our previous Business Newsletters:

VMS-Washington June 2012 Business Newsletter

VMS-Washington May 2012 Business Newsletter

VMS-Washington April 2012 Business Newsletter

VMS-Washington March 2012 Business Newsletter

 

 

We all know social media is an important tool for brand awareness and customer acquisition — but how exactly are you supposed to convert random Twitter and Facebook users into real-life customers? Well, that depends.

Different brands have different challenges when it comes to customer acquisition: “If you’re our customer, you’ve signed up for a year-long service, unlike the Starbucks of the world, where you can be a customer by coming in for a cup of coffee one day,” says Lisa D’Aromando, social media community manager at Equinox. Whether you’re a clothing shop, a restaurant or a subscription service, you must tailor your strategy so that it makes sense for your brand. That said, there are a few universal ways to help your company attract new faces on the social web.

“I’m a big believer in creating and sharing meaningful content,” says Danni Snyder, co-founder and creative director at jewelry brand Dannijo. “Over time, that is every brand’s best bet for creating and sustaining a following that will grow their business.”

But what does it all entail? Mashable spoke with some super-social brands about how they find new customersand lock in their existing ones they have as repeat buyers.

1. Get Your Search On

There are 340 million tweets sent per day — odds are that a few of them are referencing your brand, though you may not realize it. “Just because chatter on social media channels isn’t mentioning your brand by handle or hashtag doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” says McKee Floyd, director of brand development at Sweetgreen.

The key is to be proactive. For the company’s upcoming Sweetlife Festival, Floyd set up Twitter searches for “sweetlife” and “sweetlife festival” on TweetDeck, which pulls the tweets even if users didn’t include the hashtag. “As groups of friends have conversations back and forth on Twitter about whether or not they should buy tickets, we monitor and chime in with helpful info, answering logistical questions about the festival and hopefully swaying them towards choosing to attend.”

Geoff Alexander, managing partner at Chicago’s Wow Bao, says his team also uses TweetDeck to search for certain keywords — such as “wow bao,” “baomouth” and “hot Asian buns” — and they reply to any and all posts they find. Wow Bao initially got into social media because there wasn’t a budget for advertising, so the brand opted to spread the word by giving away buns. “@BaoMouth searches the Internet for ways to reward people — giving away bao, full meals or mobile money [for the food truck],” says Alexander.

But the search tactic works for more than just food concepts. Danni Snyder says she monitor mentions of Dannijo religiously and also searches Twitter for “jewelry.” Consuming social media buzz about jewelry — and not just Dannijo’s wares — helps the brand be “aware of what people are talking about, what they like and don’t like, etc.” says Snyder, which can help Dannijo cultivate a new audience with their next collection.

One tip for finding new customers is to see who’s engaging with your competitors — if someone just started following or tweeted at or checked in at another bakery in the neighborhood, you could tweet at the person to come check out your cupcakes. They customer will appreciate the shout-out and the fact that you handpicked them to be your customer. Get clever with searches that are relevant to your business and offerings to help you target potential customers — then reel them in by being charming and human, not salesy.

2. Use Images to Engage

A picture is worth a thousand words — photos drive twice as much engagement as text posts do on Facebook. So if you’re looking to attract some new fans, start snapping pics.

Snyder says Instagram is her favorite medium for connecting with fans. “You can subliminally market without annoying your customers because each post is capable of accomplishing a number of things,” she says. “In one post, we can showcase a new design available at Dannijo.com, thus driving traffic to our ecommerce site; show how we’d style the jewelry; mention a tastemaker friend like Questlove or ManRepeller and promote them while they’re wearing Dannijo; inspire discussion and engagement, gaining valuable customer feedback; and provide followers some visual inspiration and insight into your creative process.”

But the pics need not be product-focused. Dannijo posts photos of food and musicians that embody the Dannijo vibe, and its 9,745 followers like and comment on every one of them. Similarly, Rent the Runway posts pictures of various style trends. “On Facebook, we try to use as much imagery as possible — not just promotional imagery of our dresses, but images that relate to pop-culture,” says Jenny Fleiss, president and co-founder of Rent the Runway. For example, in anticipation of the upcoming Great Gatsby movie, the RTR blog posted about Gatsby-inspired fashion trends.

3. Host a Competition

Nothing gets customers going like some swag, so contests are a great way to boost your followers and engagement. But be strategic about what you’re offering, or else you could attract the wrong followers.

ModCloth hosts monthly photo contests that garner hundreds of entries and thousands of votes. “Our most recent contest, Thrifted Treasures, asked our fans to share their favorite vintage finds, and our community could vote up their favorites,” explains Natasha Khan, ModCloth’s social media manager. “The social actions surrounding that event brought in thousands of new fans, which we otherwise would not have gained.”

Khan says contests and offers have been the most high impact customer generation events for ModCloth. But if you’re planning on hosting a contest, Khan has a few suggestions. First, build in actions that allow the fan to share to their social networks, as this will increase virality. Second, stay true to your brand. Third, tweak the contest to fit the platform on which you’re running it — “On Facebook that means sharing photography, on Twitter it means wordplay hashtags, and for Polyvore it means styling outfits,” says Khan.

“Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to Facebook fan growth. If your company product is clothing and your prize is free iPads, then you will gain followers that might not belong to your core demographic. Make sure the reward is something your customer will value, such as a gift card or grab bag of your products,” says Khan.

4. Spice Up The Platforms

With so many platforms to manage, be sure to have a distinct M.O. on each channel — and cross-pollinate sparingly. If a customer sees the same information and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, she need only follow you on one of these platforms. Also, be wary of overpromotion. Nothing is more of a turnoff than a constant sales messaging — people easily can unfollow, and they will. Interestingly, many of Wow Bao’s posts have nothing to do with bao — @BaoMouth tweets during award shows and keeps a lively conversation going on a number of topics, winning people over with its spunky personality.

Of course, a big reason why you use various social media channels is to promote your product, so there are some things to keep in mind for the messaging when you are pushing your goods.

“Prove the value of being a Facebook fan. If you can find the same content and offers on other channels, there is no incentive to also follow the brand on Facebook,” Khan says. “Exclusive Facebook-only offers and original content reinforces our investment in the channel.” The same goes for every other social platform.

For Equinox, Facebook is for broadcasting of events and initiatives, like Cycle For Survival, Twitter is more conversation and geared toward responding to questions about membership, fitness routines and healthy eating, and Foursquare is the platform on which to find offers for Equinox’s spa and shop, which are open to the public. “Every Monday in March, we posted a different Foursquare check-in special for The Shop at all of our locations,” says D’Aromando. “Since you don’t have to necessarily be a member to go to The Shop or The Spa, these specials are accessible to everyone,” and can lure in potential customers into becoming Equinox members.

The company’s Q blog is another digital project where you’ll find awe-inspiring videos and original lifestyle content — a great way to add value for potential customers. “Q was launched to extend our brand and increase this word-of-mouth among our target audience. It gives people — members and nonmembers — topics and material from our Equinox experts to share with others,” says D’Aromando. “In lieu of promos, we create a different sort of currency: highly produced, branded content on Q with exclusives for our social media communities.”

5. Make It Personal

No one like a mass message — consumers like to feel as if they’re the only ones being spoken to. You should know your customers and speak to them in personal ways to establish touchpoints that build relationships and create loyalty.

“I like to make it very personable — if someone tweets a question I make sure to answer immediately,” says Steven Rojas, social media director at GrandLife Hotels. “Often I go as far as Googling that person to make sure I know as much as I can about them before reaching out. I want to humanize the brand so people don’t feel like they are speaking to a computer but to an actual person who cares about what they are saying. My obsession for all things digital never sleeps, so I make sure everyone gets what they need, when they need it.”

Live chats are another effective way to offer intimate interaction and engagement with fans. “It’s about having a conversation with your community, so we often do live chats with our stylists on Facebook to answer any styling questions customers may have,” says Fleiss. “These posts tend to elicit the most ‘Likes’ and comments.”

While you’re browsing sites for comments to respond to, don’t ignore negative feedback — addressing the complaint is an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into an impressed brand ambassador.

“We’re very appreciative when someone takes the time to let us know about a bad experience or an issue because then we can help fix it,” says Jenny Danzi, a Mountain Dew brand manager. “Reply to every complaint to turn those consumers into advocates — even if you can not offer an instant fix, people appreciate getting a human response,” she adds. And don’t forget that even the littlest gesture can make a big difference. “Sometimes for us it can be as simple as letting consumers know where they can find our products,” says Danzi.

Wow Bao takes it to the next level, proactively finding ways to create touchpoints with consumers. “We comment on any and all posts mentioning people’s birthdays and pop culture,” says Alexander. “We even schedule posts for people’s birthdays, when people post something like, ‘My birthday is in 12 days’” — a very personalized tactic that can go a long way

6. Let Your Customers Shine

Nothing makes a customer feel better than being acknowledged — or better yet, honored — by their favorite brand. Is there a way to offer kudos to your loyal fans? If so, make it happen.

Because women love to talk about what they’re wearing — and often wear RTR to social events such as weddings and cocktail parties — Rent the Runway strives to move these conversations online. “We have weekly style award contests on our blog and Facebook Page, and a section of our site called RTR Moments where women can share photos of themselves in RTR dresses,” says Fleiss.

For Mountain Dew, whose fan base is extremely young and active on social media, the “Diet Mountain Dew Supernova Spotter” is a great way to celebrate the return of the fan-chosen flavor in addition to highlighting the passion of the fans. “Dew drinkers can upload their photo of Diet Supernova, and on Friday we’ll open the entries up to public voting. Fifteen winners will each get a Diet Dew hoodie, and everyone who enters can easily share their Diet Supernova passion with friends,” Danzi says.

For Equinox, whose social media fan base is largely comprised of members, the goal isn’t as much to incentivize people to join (they already have), but to make them feel special for being members. “We have a Facebook app where members can refer friends directly, and if the friend joins, the member gets a referral bonus,” says D’Aromando. “We also just launched a program on Twitter where we’re rewarding our advocates by offering them private group fitness classes for them and their friends. This gives us a way to say ‘thanks’ to those who always post about us, and it gives them something to talk about with their friends — online and off.”

Brands, how does your company acquire new customers on social media? Consumers, what makes you want to become a customer? Let us know in the comments.

Credit card company American Express seemed to come out of nowhere in the past year, offering one social media program after another.

FacebookTwitterFoursquareYouTubeLinkedInGoogle+— it’s got them all covered, and even better, it stands for what its consumers want across all of the social platforms it’s on.

While American Express has seemed to pump a lot of life into its social strategy as of late, it has actually been on the scene since 2009, helping cardholders solve problems one tweet and wall post at a time.

We spoke with Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, for the backstory on AmEx’s social media strategy, mission and goals. Read on for what she had to say.

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

A Customer Service Foundation

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs. Berland says that @AmericanExpress and the officialAmerican Express Facebook Page came soon after.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our Cardmembers and merchants are,” says Berland. “To engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight.”

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback. “We spent a great deal of time listening to the community. The community interests and feedback defined our strategy,” says Berland.

AmEx has come a long way — with nearly 2.4 million Facebook fans and more than 348,000 followers on Twitter for the American Express U.S. pages alone. Its presences have also expanded internationally, and the brand now supports efforts on LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and Google+, as well.

Couponless Deals Galore

American Express is the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.

With AmEx Sync, cardholders can enjoy exclusive merchant deals by syncing their cards with their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. No coupon is necessary, just the linkage and a qualifying purchase.

AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011. In July, it added Facebook in on the fun, launching its “Link, Like, Love” app — after linking an AmEx card, a user can then access deals based on brands that he or she “likes” on Facebook.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

Now with a full suite of couponless deals to offer up to consumers, American Express is flexing its social media muscles in all the right ways.

Rallying Small Businesses

AmEx’s social media strategy accommodates the needs of both consumers and merchants. While much of what we see is tailored for the customer experience, AmEx goes out of its way to reach merchants as well.

With its national Small Business Saturday initiative, AmEx uses traditional and digital channels to promoting the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to shop at their favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Berland says the program has been a success for the company. “In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users ‘liked’ the Small Business Saturday Page –- more than doubling the 1.2 million Likes in 2010. Nearly195,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.”

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

A Corporate Culture Transformation

Social media has a way of changing corporations — shaking them up, making them cautious or loosening their buttons. Every company is different — some embrace it, some battle it. AmEx is doing all it can to run with the opportunities that social media presents, and it’s going big.

“The digital transformation occurring at American Express cuts across many business units, and it has to because of the breadth and depth of our business,” Berland explains. “From customer service to merchant services to our entertainment and travel business units, to corporate affairs, as well as our newly formed digital partnerships and development team, social media is a company-wide initiative.”

“We are continuously evolving and, as a 162-year-old company, have done that over the course of our history,” says Berland. “That evolution will continue as the digital space matures, and social media platforms are the digital manifestations of community and membership –- which are at the core of American Express.”

This is from Mashable Business

Due to the overwhelming replies and inquiries VMS-Washington wants to help your business out by giving you rock bottom rates for your processing.  We also can help your business by giving you great rates for unsecured business loans with an 90% approval rate for start-ups and existing businesses.  Call or email us if you want to know more.

Michael Roberts

VMS-Washignton
www.vms-washington.com
washignton@valuedmerchants.com
(800) 531.8575 ext. 697

Credit card company American Express seemed to come out of nowhere in the past year, offering one social media program after another.

FacebookTwitterFoursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+— it’s got them all covered, and even better, it stands for what its consumers want across all of the social platforms it’s on.

While American Express has seemed to pump a lot of life into its social strategy as of late, it has actually been on the scene since 2009, helping cardholders solve problems one tweet and wall post at a time.

We spoke with Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, for the backstory on AmEx’s social media strategy, mission and goals. Read on for what she had to say.

A Customer Service Foundation

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs. Berland says that @AmericanExpress and the official American Express Facebook Page came soon after.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our Cardmembers and merchants are,” says Berland. “To engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight.”

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback. “We spent a great deal of time listening to the community. The community interests and feedback defined our strategy,” says Berland.

AmEx has come a long way — with nearly 2.4 million Facebook fans and more than 348,000 followers on Twitter for the American Express U.S. pages alone. Its presences have also expanded internationally, and the brand now supports efforts on LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and Google+, as well.

Couponless Deals Galore

American Express is the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.

With AmEx Sync, cardholders can enjoy exclusive merchant deals by syncing their cards with their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. No coupon is necessary, just the linkage and a qualifying purchase.

AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011. In July, it added Facebook in on the fun, launching its “Link, Like, Love” app — after linking an AmEx card, a user can then access deals based on brands that he or she “likes” on Facebook.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

Now with a full suite of couponless deals to offer up to consumers, American Express is flexing its social media muscles in all the right ways.

Rallying Small Businesses

AmEx’s social media strategy accommodates the needs of both consumers and merchants. While much of what we see is tailored for the customer experience, AmEx goes out of its way to reach merchants as well.

With its national Small Business Saturday initiative, AmEx uses traditional and digital channels to promoting the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to shop at their favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Berland says the program has been a success for the company. “In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users ‘liked’ the Small Business Saturday Page –- more than doubling the 1.2 million Likes in 2010. Nearly 195,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.”

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

A Corporate Culture Transformation

Social media has a way of changing corporations — shaking them up, making them cautious or loosening their buttons. Every company is different — some embrace it, some battle it. AmEx is doing all it can to run with the opportunities that social media presents, and it’s going big.

“The digital transformation occurring at American Express cuts across many business units, and it has to because of the breadth and depth of our business,” Berland explains. “From customer service to merchant services to our entertainment and travel business units, to corporate affairs, as well as our newly formed digital partnerships and development team, social media is a company-wide initiative.”

“We are continuously evolving and, as a 162-year-old company, have done that over the course of our history,” says Berland. “That evolution will continue as the digital space matures, and social media platforms are the digital manifestations of community and membership –- which are at the core of American Express.”

Due to the overwhelming calls and emails, VMS-Washington is giving businesses the Spring Deal of the Year.  For a limited time we are offering rock bottom rates for new and existing businesses.  The questions we always ask business owners are:

  • Have you checked out your current or potential merchant service company on theBBB?
  • Does your current provider or potential provider promote your business?
  • Does your current provider or potential provider send referrals your way?
  • Are you getting the best rates in town?
  • Has your current or potential merchant told you about the Durbin Amendment?

Wouldn’t you want an A rated company that and will promote your business though their social media and monthly newsletters.  For more information contact us.

“How do we drive Social Interaction?” This is question that motivates Ian Mackie, Senior Client Manager of Point It. You need to pick out relevant information about what you offer and share that with your audience. That relevance is what helps you to analyze who your demographic is and how to best customize your marketing.

Ian mentioned a Point It client that had spent $5,000 per week marketing their site while using Google Analytics – but they never analyzed the collected data! He warns that in order for analysis to be useful you must spend time actually analyzing the data you collect! Implementing Google Analytics to your website is rather simple, but you should commit to the time and effort each week to analyzing your results and adjusting your marketing plan as it evolves.

Market researchers are targeting mobile users in a new and different ways, aiming to not regurgitate the same ads over and over again to their audiences and find ways to make mobile applications user-friendly.

Ian Mackie, Point It Inc. ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Julian Michaels of Kreate Professionasl Network moderated this panel discussion about Social-Local-Mobile (So-Lo-Mo), which is a current hot topic in the realm of the mobility of technological interaction. His aim, via Kreate Networking events, is to give business owners access to great resources, ideas, and the opportunity to build relationships in the Seattle and Eastside professional communities.

Julian Michael, Founder of Kreate ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

“We labeled it ‘mobile’ because it’s new and it’s natural context,” said Bryan Zug, founder of Bootstrapper Studios & Co-Producer of IGNITE Seattle. Smartphones make it easier to view full content websites, but it would be wise to build your online presence to be “mobile-ready.” Many people are on-the-go and want to utilize their time and their mobile devices for information and content.

There are a few applications that can help convert your website to be mobile-ready and may be worth looking into. Some companies are shifting their entire business models to serve clients using mobile apps like the ones for tablets and smartphones. Consider looking locally, to a company like Point It to help with your full mobile integration.

Bryan Zug, Founder of Bootstrapper Studios & IGNITE ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

My company is Fire Eyes Photography and as a photographer I work with the visual aspects of my field on a daily basis. Images are paramount in showcasing the services I offer to my clients. Having the ability to utilize photographs to draw in my audience essential, especially with the intent of easy mobile share-ability. My WordPress.com blog automatically converts for easy mobile device viewing. You may already know this if you are reading this post on your device! The formatting is simple and easy-to-read and  the text and photographs show correctly whether viewing your device in a vertical or horizontal manner. Make it easy for your audience to do business with you and they’ll thank you for it!

© Fire Eyes Photography

Ian also spoke about clients’ expectations of social media and mobile application and said that Point It clients want to know what their Return on Investment (ROI) is. Since that is hard to pinpoint, Ian’s advice is that it’s important for your business name to be out there, utilizing social media immediately so that you can begin to build your brand. Build your followers through relevant content and draw your audience in via Twitter, Facebook,Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

Make sure you’re asking your colleagues and professional associates about how they reach their clients and look for new ideas that may be worth implementing for your own business and branding. Not every avenue is a surefire hit, but as our panelists pointed out, they can be very low risk and therefore worth trying.

~Written by Trishann Couvillion, Founder of Fire Eyes Photography

(on Twitter @fire eyes)

About Trishann Couvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & headshots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Steve Ballmer (CEO and President of Microsoft), Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

Getting ready for my first headshot was a daunting affair, to put it mildly. Daunting not because of the wonderful pre-shoot conversations I had with the photographer, Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography, daunting because of my own preconceived notions.

© Fire Eyes Photography ~ Seattle Headshots

I had always thought that headshots were for older, stuffy, “real” professionals. Here I was being asked by a new client to submit one for their website. Moi? A professional? Someone wants my mug on their website? There are moments you have in life when you realize you have officially grown up; getting a headshot done with a professional photographer for one’s business endeavors is certainly one of them.

Writers and editors like me tend to hide behind the closed doors of our freelance space (translate: local coffee shop) and other than the occasional fantasy about the back of a book jacket graced with our discerning, spectacled image on its flap, we generally don’t like to be seen by our public.

I had been introduced to Trishann through a colleague and instantly liked her “documentary-esque” approach to her craft. Days before the shoot, I emailed Trishann asking if I should spray tan before the big day so I could acquire a healthy glow that would belie the truth of taking a professional photo in the later months of a Seattle winter. Trishann assured me that with the way she uses light to capture her subject meant a trip to a tanning salon was one less thing to add to my pre-shoot list.

Next up? Hair and makeup. I had timed my session to take place one week after a hair appointment so my highlights would have a chance to be washed repeatedly and subdue to a normal hue. Makeup? Would it be vain to schedule a makeup artist to accompany me to the session? I decided against it as the shoot was scheduled to take place in the early morning hours and I wasn’t aiming for a dramatic look. If I had to look like a professional, I wanted the image to resemble my normal, barely-cosmetics-enhanced self. My advice: endeavor to look like your normal self as much as possible.

Rochelle Short ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Rochelle Short ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Women are notorious for being undecided about what to wear and as the day of the shoot drew closer, I was no different. Did I want to wear something stiff and business-like or casual and connoting approachability? Trishann advises bringing at least two outfits to a shoot and in an ideal world, three is even better. For her clients not currently in a relationship, Trishann subtly reminds them about how nice it is to have a casual, yet professional photo for an online dating profile. With a couple of outfits in your photo session arsenal, your resulting images can be used to highlight your business self, your casual self, and perhaps some other fun aspect of your personality. For example, I have a friend who loves to wear fake moustaches. Bringing that little prop along adds an element of pizzazz and personality to what some people (like me going into the shoot) fear might be an intimidating activity. And if your “public” professional self could easily pull off a fake moustache in some of photos, then by all means, bring it!

For the fellas out there reading this and contemplating what to bring to their headshot session, Trishann had some advice to offer. Freshly trimmed or cut hair and facial hair is a great idea as hair that is grown out and/or uneven will be very obvious in a close-up. Two to three looks for the men is also advisable. Definitely a button-down shirt and tie for one shot, suit jacket optional. For the second look, ideally you should wear your weekend or after-work attire and something you feel comfortable in. The third look is optional and should be your personality shot. Have fun with it!

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

© Fire Eyes Photography 2012

My shoot began on an early Sunday morning and after a few minutes of hair and makeup touch ups, we went outside to work with the natural light. Trishann has a demeanor that instantly makes her subject feel at ease. As the wind blew slightly, she was quick to calm both my nerves and my flyaway hairs. Trishann doesn’t resort to corny jokes and admits to being not the best joke teller. She’d actually rather wait for you to laugh at yourself at how awkward you may feel in front of her camera, as she finds those are the money shots! When you talk to Trishann about her approach to headshots photography, what emerges from the conversation is how she loves to wait for the moment when her subject forgets they’re having their photo taken. It’s in the casual laughter and banter that crops up amid posed shots that she catches the “fire” in the eye of her subject; the essence of the person that most resembles their true self.

This certainly translates to her finished product. When Trishann sent me the proofs from my session, I was thrilled with the results. The shots now grace my Facebook Wall and the client’s website that requested the photo in the first place. Recently, I was at a conference where the speaker was talking about social media and how having a photo of yourself greatly improves your chance of adding followers and making real-world connections. I have certainly found this to be the case now and am delighted to have a current photo that matches what people find when they encounter me offline.

Trishann is available for individual sessions at a location of your choice. You can also do yourself and your friends or colleagues a favor by booking multiple headshot sessions during one shoot. This also makes it more fun and cost effective too! Trishann is a delight to work with and is professional, personable, and flexible. I’ll certainly be giving her another call when that book jacket comes to fruition.

~by Rochelle Short

About trcouvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & head shots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Steve Ballmer (CEO and President of Microsoft), Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

 

Dow Jones Newswires’ Andrew R. Johnson is giving as a detailed overview of what U.S. credit card companies have been up to on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks in an excellent piece for the WSJ. There is a lot to be learned there, not least the fact that Capital One has made it possible for FarmVille players to interact with a goat. But Johnson’s reporting is actually focused on a rather less glamorous issue: the issuers’ use of social media as a way to circumvent regulatory restrictions on the marketing of credit cards to consumers under the age of 21. I can’t help but get away with the feeling that Facebook and Twitter have become enablers in a fiendishly clever plot to arm our young with credit cards.
Johnson doesn’t offer any suggestion on how to deal with the issue, nor is he citing anyone who does, so I thought I’d throw my two cents in. The CARD Act is doing a good job of ensuring that no credit card is issued to anyone under the age of 21 who can’t afford it. Making it even more difficult for youngsters to get a credit card would only serve to penalize those among them who are responsible with credit. Moreover, in our society at some point everyone needs to start learning how to manage debt. It is the parents’ responsibility to get that process started, but if they fail to do so or if such an option is unavailable, the learning curve will still need to start somewhere. So I don’t see how placing even more regulatory hurdles will do any good.

What Are the Issuers up To?

Johnson is giving us the following examples of how the issuers are testing the social waters:

Actually, there is a lot more, so go read the article. I have to say that I do like many of these campaigns. We’ve reviewed both Citi’s socialized rewards project and American Express’ sync program on this blog and have only had positive things to say about them. If you had a Citi or AmEx credit card, you could only gain from participating in these programs; there is absolutely no downside associated with either of them. So what’s the issue?

How Much Protection Is too Much?

As Johnson says, what gets some people concerned is precisely the fact that some of these social initiatives are incredibly attractive and “may give lenders another door around rules that took effect two years ago aimed at protecting young consumers.”
The rules in question are the restrictions the CARD Act of 2009 imposed on the issuers’ ability to market credit cards to people under the age of 21 and the requirement that lenders prove that the youngsters have the means to repay the debt or otherwise get a cosigner, before they can get approved for a credit card. I think that’s a great piece of legislation. It bars the issuers from setting shop on college campuses and prevents them from giving cards to those who can’t afford them. Isn’t that enough of a protection?
Short of banning credit card companies from promoting their products on Facebook and Twitter altogether, I just don’t see what we can do to prevent youngsters from getting exposed to them. But if we did that, we would also have to ban them from airing TV and radio ads. Where would we stop? More importantly, would that help?
Whether or not college kids were exposed to credit card marketing of one kind or another, they would have to eventually start dealing with them in real life. And they’d better be prepared to do so, because any misuse may haunt them for years to come. And it seems to me that that’s what we should be focusing on, not on how to make it more difficult for issuers to interact with us.

The Takeaway

As anyone who pays his outstanding balance on time and in full each month will tell you, credit cards can actually do great things for you. The social media initiatives mentioned above offer some examples, but there are better ones. As we wrote just yesterday, credit card rewards are now better than ever and issuers are falling over one another to attract new customers, offering sign-up bonuses that in some cases are worth more than $1,000. Of course, such bonuses, as well as the best rewards programs are reserved for the most creditworthy consumers, but that’s precisely the point. Rather than trying to push issuers out of our sight, which is in any case a losing proposition, our goal should be to take advantage of what they have to offer and that can only be done through education. Of course common sense always helps too.

With over 8 million members, StumbleUpon is a web 2.0 community site that discovers great websites and matches them to your interests. Its features allow users to rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to you using social-networking. StumbleUpon is a great place to discover new interesting articles, useful apps and funny videos. Aside from that, StumbleUpon has the potential to get new visitor traffic and generate some new fans. Many website owners and bloggers encourage the sharing of their articles to StumbleUpon in hopes of driving traffic to their sites. StumbleUpon can be a very powerful tool; when used correctly, some stumblers have garnered up to several thousand hits on a single post, in a single day.

If your looking to maximize results from StumbleUpon with minimal effort check out the tips and video below that cover how to use StumbleUpon effectively.

8  Great StumbleUpon Tips To Maximize Your Web Result

1. Add A Real Photo – Add a photo to reveal that you’re a real person. This is a straightforward task and one of the simplest things to do. Prove you’re a real person and people will more likely follow you. On the top right bar click ‘Settings’ and on the page that loads, click the ‘Profile Picture’ tab. 

2. Write A Catching Intro – The intro which is the spot next to your photo is another important addition. A new visitor who lands on your page will see this next to your photo which will help with credibility and proves you have a blog. Make sure to include links and apply HTML. For instance you can use the tag to separate all links from the actual bio. That way you make them more visible and you add a neat look to the whole intro. Keep in mind that using keywords as your anchor text won’t work, so just go with your blog name.

3. Take Advantage Of The Share Feature -The share feature is a good way to get more likes on your content which gives your content higher priority. “Sharing” can be done in two ways – via the StumbleUpon toolbar, by clicking “Share” and choosing the stumblers you want to share your content with or through the “Your favorites” page. After having someone followed on StumbleUpon a check-box “accept shares to my toolbar” below the “Follow” button appears. Sharing works reciprocally only. Even if you have checked the box, you won’t be able to see the other person’s shares unless he also accepts your shares and vice versa.

4. Get People To Follow You -Getting more followers on StumbleUpon isn’t as easy. Quality content is the single most important reason why people follow you. Problem is that in order to click the “Follow” button, people first need to find you. That can hardly happen simply by making a few stumbles. First place to focus your efforts is your blog and more specifically the “About” page. Believe it or not, the “About” page is one of the most visited places in a blog, so you’ll get plenty of visibility. My second approach is TwitterEvery now and then I’m posting a tweet along the lines of “Are you a StumbleUpon user? Check out my favorites!” Following others and getting them to follow back is another powerful technique. Unlike Twitter, StumbleUpon isn’t really about building relationships and engaging with others, so I don’t see a problem with the strategy.

5. Link to Other Bloggers Who Use StumbleUpon – If anyone links back to you, stumble that post. And be gracious when other people Stumble your pages and content. Say thank you! Positive and genuine interactions, partnerships and content are what give StumbleUpon and other social networking tools power.

6. Track Your StumbleUpon Favorites – It’s important when Stumbling your own website content to track and test which pages get the most attention. Then you know how to create specific content to StumbleUpon users.

7. Don’t Add Stumble Upon Buttons To Your Site - Social sharing buttons and widgets are great: they help your visitors to submit your stories fast to the social and bookmarking sites of their choice. But did you know that onsite SU buttons could be detrimental? StumbleUpon wants you to use the toolbar rather than using special widgets that “stumble” automatically. Simply use the toolbar on a regular basis, clicking I-like-it at any page other members would like to stumble upon. 

8. Keep a Good Follow / Followers Ratio – There is a limit of how many people you can followUnlike Twitter, that limit is fixed, currently at 500 followers. So in order to apply the ‘follow-back’ strategy, you will need to know who to stop following. I first unfollow the least active users. Everyone who hasn’t stumbled (again don’t confuse ‘stumbled’ with hasn’t been online) since more than five days is being unfollowed. After I’ve done that, I go through every page and open all profiles to find stumblers with similarity meter, showing less than 20%. They get unfollowed as well. Then I start unfollowing, folks who aren’t following back.

I hope that the above tips help you to make your Stumbleupon experience a better one and further contribute to the community.

Let us know about your experience of using stumbleupon in the comments.

Thank you for reading this blog.  If you have any questions or suggestions contact me.

The social-powered Web browsing service StumbleUpon now claims to drive more than half of all social media referral traffic in the U.S., according to new data from StatCounter.

Is it true? Is it possible this lesser-known service, which helps users discover Web pages based on their interests and other people’s recommendations, has dethroned Facebook and Twitter?

All we really know from the data is that StumbleUpon drives most of the social media traffic to the 3 million websites that use StatCounter for their Web analytics.

StatCounter is a free service that some website owners install to track relatively simple data about the number of visits. Most news organizations and large websites use more detailed analytics services like Google Analytics or Omniture.

We don’t know who exactly the 3 million sites using StatCounter are (there’s no overview on the site), but we can assume they don’t include a representative sample of mainstream content publishers. And because StatCounter’s data is not weighted to represent news sites or the Internet as a whole, we can’t draw any conclusions.

In the specific case of a news website publishing timely or breaking stories, I expect Twitter and Facebook are the dominant referrers. But there is still a role for StumbleUpon in your social media strategy.

What does it mean?

StumbleUpon has grown to 15 million users and its site traffic is rising. Whether or not it beats Facebook, it can generate significant referrals, so news websites ought to pay attention to it.

While Twitter and Facebook excel at spreading the breaking or local news of the day, StumbleUpon is for the long tail. The type of content that succeeds on StumbleUpon meets a few criteria: the subject is useful, interesting or bizarre; addresses a niche topic; and has enduring value.

To understand why, you have to know how the service works.

  • Impressive. StumbleUpon is a serendipity engine that tries to recommend amusing and delightful pages based on the number of similar users (people who share a particular interest) who “like” a page over time. A page needs to be especially useful, interesting or bizarre to get someone to stop and like it, rather than stumbling on to the next thing.
  • Niche. StumbleUpon users begin by defining their personal interests, and now they can browse within one interest at a time. So the service is a home for things that appeal greatly to narrowly defined audiences rather than general-interest audiences.
  • Enduring. This is not a real-time news network like Twitter. Pages in StumbleUpon gain likes and momentum over time. So think of explainers, guides or revealing features as good candidates from a news site. A site homepage itself often gets traction for the general purpose of discovering the site, whereas you don’t see many Facebook likes or tweets of home pages.

To cement that a little, here are some of the Poynter.org pages that have received the most StumbleUpon referrals this year. The home page of Poynter.org comes in first, and near the top are several how-tos (useful and enduring) on:

How to optimize for StumbleUpon

Not that we need another cottage industry like SEO for StumbleUpon (SUO?), but you can take some basic steps to capitalize on the service.

First, add the StumbleUpon badge to your home page and article pages. Much like the Facebook and Twitter buttons that surely are there now, this badge enables a user to add or recommend your page to StumbleUpon. You also can add a widget to your site that shows your best-rated StumbleUpon content.

Second, be prepared to capitalize on the new visitors that stumble your way. The nature of StumbleUpon is to send browsers to sites that are new to them.

When they land on your site and realize they like it, you should have obvious widgets or links somewhere encouraging them to follow you on other networks or to sign up for email or RSS content delivery.

Linking to related posts on your site also can help extend a StumbleUpon visit through a few pages instead of directly bouncing to the next recommendation. That’s generally good practice for all Web visitors.

For something more specifically targeted to StumbleUpon, you could build a special widget that greets StumbleUpon visitors, introduces your site in a sentence or two, shows other popular SU pages on your site and invites the user to follow you or subscribe.

In the long run, it’s really not useful to measure StumbleUpon against Facebook or Twitter. They exist in two entirely different classes — one is a timeless, passive, serendipity engine, the other is timely, active, two broadcasting networks. Both are important in their own ways, and deserve their own strategies.

Why hasn’t your processor mentioned the Durbin Amendment?Learn how to lower your card acceptance cost: www.vms-washington.com and ask about the Durbin Amendment that was passed on October 2011 and how it will help you lower your rates.