Saturday April 16th is National Foursquare Day! Hundreds of cities around the world are making plans to celebrate Foursquare and Blab! Media wants Windsor-Essex County to be one of them! “There’s no doubt that social media is catching on and for us to partner up with a local business that’s so genuinely excited to take the next step, is a great sign for the future.” says Jessica Apolloni.
Blab! Media invites the community to a local swarm party sponsored by Lakeshore Cinemas and Pepsi-co on April 16th. Foursquare users who check-in to Lakeshore Cinema between 1pm and 4pm will receive a special deal that includes admission to any matinee playing between 1pm and 4:30pm, a Pepsi product, and a small popcorn for just $6! You can also enjoy a free Foursquare Day cupcake provided by Brittany Hazelton!
It’s a great way to show your support for a local business and to let other businesses know the true power of Foursquare. “At Lakeshore Cinemas we understand the value of social media. We’re excited to explore these new platforms and hopefully be a role model for other businesses.” Says Gina Facca, the new General Manager of Lakeshore Cinemas.
This national day was created by fellow Foursquare lovers and has now grown into a grass-roots celebration of social media as a positive force within the community. Foursquare has helped businesses succeed and created an awesome experience for users that has friends and complete strangers battling it out for badges and mayorships. April 16th is a chance for users to declare their support for Foursquare by taking some time to explore their neighborhood and it’s also a chance for non-users to get acquainted with the concept and learn more about why Foursquare is an excellent addition to a marketing strategy.
If you haven’t heard of Foursquare, this is the perfect time to expand your knowledge. Foursquare is a location based application that lets users “check-in” wherever they go, leave tips, suggestions, win badges, connect with friends and explore the world they live in. From a business aspect, Foursquare is a seriously valuable tool for generating new business, creating incentives for potential customers and rewarding loyal customers. As a business, you can offer customized deals that are rewarded at any check-in, after a certain amount of check-ins, or only to the mayor. You can see how many people are checking into your business and most importantly what they’re telling other people. Foursquare also has a mobile app so smart phone users can check-in or leave tips anywhere, and at any time.
For users, nothing beats the sense of competition. You’re pitted against your friends on a public leader board, scoring points for check-ins, and your profile proudly displays the amount of mayorships you’re currently holding and how many badges you’ve unlocked. The badges are an exciting reward system for users that keeps the application fresh. There is a badge for checking into the same place 3 times in one week, for taking 10 trips to the gym in 30 days and even for finding three venues with a photobooth. The best part about celebrating Foursquare day is the special badge users will receive for checking in on April 16th. But that’s not all, if 50 users check-in within three hours at the Foursquare Day event sponsored by Lakeshore Cinemas and Pepsi-co, they will also be the proud owners of a Swarm Badge, which is an impressive achievement!
Blab! Media is proud to be partnering with a local business that’s so excited about this opportunity. “There are so many businesses in Windsor that have a presence on Foursquare and aren’t even aware yet,” said Katie Stokes “that’s what this day is all about, creating that awareness and encouraging these businesses to dig deeper and see what the application can do for them.” As avid Foursquare users, Blab! Media hopes to inspire some local businesses and bring the community together for a fun afternoon at the movies.
For more information about the event, find us on Facebook by typing Windsor-Essex Foursquare Day Swarm Party in the search bar. You can also follow us on Twitter @Blabmedia and check out our blog for all things social media www.getyourblabon.com.
The restaurant business can be extremely competitive so leveraging social media is imperative to stay one step ahead. When it comes down to it, restaurants using social media are receiving much more than monetary gain. As a restaurant, your business revolves around an extended interaction with customers. You’re providing a service as well as a product and fine-tuning this experience takes more than a dose of “practice makes perfect”. It’s important to remember that although social media takes time to turn non-revenue producing activities into revenue producing activities, it can and does happen!
Consider the following ways in which social media can help you effectively maximize your time, effort and resources:
1. Gain insight and gather feedback on menu items, events and service
2. Promote specials and events
3. Encourage new customers to try your restaurant by offering exclusive discounts or specials
4. Monitor your online reputation and provide complaint resolutions in real time
5. Using employees as brand ambassadors to create awareness
6. Keeping the community and customers informed about new projects (remodels, new locations etc)
7. Finding new employees
8. Having a direct conversation with your current customers and potentially reaching new customers
9. Sharing information such as contests or giveaways to increase foot traffic and generate excitement
10. Using social media to connect with your franchises (if applicable) to create an online support community
People go out to eat and drink at restaurants to interact and be social. Those who enjoy this concept are bound to enjoy the interactivity that social media offers as well. There are many different ways to leverage social media but there is no doubt that overlooking its potential for the restaurant industry is a mistake. It will take time and effort, like most marketing initiatives, but it’s possible and it can be done successfully if the proper steps are taken to strategize.
The Windsor Star
By: Yvonne Pilon
March 30th 2012
Social media is what this entrepreneurial duo does best. If I had to sum them up in a 140 characters, it would read “Social media lovers, inventive thinkers, collaborators, young professionals, and community enthusiasts”.
Even as a startup, these entrepreneurs are making time to engage with their community through various events, including Startup Drinks Windsor, volunteering and of course, social media.
They’re also very ingenious in the ways they’re building buzz and awareness about their business. It was only a few months ago that they showered the downtown core with wallets filled with ‘Blab’ dollars and business cards. Why? Well, if you can imagine, as soon as a wallet was discovered, the contents were searched. If you were one of the dozens of people who found a wallet, you’d know that the owner was none other than Blab Media. The team also hand delivered branded homemade candy apples to customers and supporters in celebration of their 1 year anniversary. What a sweet gesture! (pun intended)
Entrepreneur Profile: Blab Media
Name: Katie Stokes/Jessica Apolloni
Business Name: Blab Media
Location: 131 Elliott Street West Windsor ON
Type of Business: Digital Marketing Agency
How long in Business: 1.5 years
Twitter/Facebook: @blabmedia www.facebook.com/blabmedia
Idea Origination: We worked together in a corporate marketing environment and realized there was a serious lack of education in regards to social media and digital marketing efforts. We wanted to simplify the process so businesses could start taking advantage of digital platforms to increase awareness and sales.
Prediction for the Future of Your Business (5 Year): Growing into a full digital marketing agency offering a range of digital services and expanding into other Canadian and US markets.
Toughest Part About Being an Entrepreneur: The “behind the scenes” work like taxes and payroll.
Best Thing About Being an Entrepreneur: The freedom to coordinate your own schedule.
First Job: Katie – Retail Jessica – Theatre Technician
3 Tips/Advice for Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Don’t be afraid to take risks, invest your time in networking within the community, and always play an active and accountable part of your own business
Best Career Success: Getting an office!
Favourite Quote: “The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world, are the ones who do” – Apple, Think Different Campaign
Favourite thing about Windsor-Essex: The people and their contagious positive attitude for change.
Why do you support Entrepreneurship: We support entrepreneurship because we admire the qualities that entrepreneurs like us exhibit and how people with these qualities help make the community a better place. We’re always striving to be the best and to find success in everything we do. It’s about having a serious passion, ambition and the guts to take risks.
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We are surrounded by people we don’t know on a daily basis, but what if those ‘strangers’ really aren’t as unfamiliar as we thought? A new breed of apps, categorized as “social discovery’ or ‘ambient awareness’ apps, has been generating a lot of interest. These apps enable you to connect with people based on your current location, relationships and/or common interests.
Apps such as Highlight, Sonar, Glancee, Banjo and Kismet work across social networks by combining check-ins and geotracking with social media platforms like Facebook to provide profile information of people within a close proximity. Keeping in mind that all apps work slightly different than one another, their main objective is to connect you with people based on location, relationships and similarities. Depending on the app used, locations are tracked either by the app itself (using gps tracking) or through check-ins and status updates. When a connection and/or friend is close by or within a set perimeter, your app will notify you with a ping or alert. You are then able to view their profile and connect with them through the app.
Let’s say I stop at my local coffee shop and check-in. My app will notify me if a friend, connection or someone with similar interests is at the same coffee shop or within the area. Let’s just say a classmate of mine is at that same coffee shop, my app will ping me with a notification that they are at the same location as me. This information is retrieved based on their check-in (Ex: Foursquare) and their profile relation to me (Ex: Facebook friends). I can then choose to engage in conversation with them via the app or find them and strike up a conversation in person.
What are the benefits for users?
1. Tells you what your relationship is with someone at the same location, event or check-in spot (ex: you follow them on Twitter, you have a mutual Facebook friend, etc)
2. Helps you find like-minded people to connect with at the same location, event or check-in spot (ex: you both like a certain band, or both share the same religious beliefs, etc)
3. It’s a virtual venue to meet and engage with people similar to you
The current debate is whether or not these apps will catch on or become accepted by social media and smart phone users. Some people may not be ready to accept this new form of locating, meeting and engaging with strangers. The other factor to consider is the issue with safety or security. Is an app of this nature safe for people to opt-in to and is it invading your privacy? We assume only time will tell as the app grows in use and popularity. Will you be checking out social discovery apps?
When we first caught a glimpse of Facebook’s Timeline layout for business pages, we were immediately excited about the new opportunities this layout would bring for brands and businesses of all sizes. While there are some big changes in terms of functionality, there is no reason to worry. Be one of the first businesses to embrace Timeline by becoming familiar with new features and how best to leverage them for success.
The Cover Photo
Previously, profile photos were a standard 180×540 and while they have now become smaller, they are supported by a much stronger visual area (851×315) designated to the cover photo. The fun part about this new layout is that the images overlap so there’s the possibility to create some seriously fun and creative designs that flow from one photo to the other.
Facebook has made it clear that there are some serious restrictions when it comes to cover photos so be sure you’re not in violation of any terms before you get too attached to a certain concept or idea. Use this space to promote who you are and what you do. Keep in mind this image is public and as a business using Timeline, you no longer have the option to send new visitors to a unique tab to share information. When new users visit your page, this cover photo is the first thing they’ll see so make it count!
Cover photos must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:
-Price or purchase information such as “50% off sale” or “download this on our website”
-Contact information such as web address, email, mailing address or other information that is intended for your page’s about section
-References to user interface elements such as the “Like” button or any other Facebook site feature
-Calls to action such as “tell your friends” or “get this giveaway now”
Views and Apps
All the tabs that once appeared on the left hand side of your brand page under your profile photo now have a new home. Each tab is also accompanied by a featured photo allowing for further customization. This is the area where all your custom tabs have been dropped and before you go live with Timeline, you’ll need to sort through your options and decide which you want to feature and if there are any that need to be added or removed. Is that custom landing page still something you want to have available for visitors to see? What do you want to feature that you can’t include on your cover photo? These are a few of the questions you’ll need to ask yourself before you know how to move forward.
Pinned, Highlighted and Hidden Posts
If you post something important that you want visitors to see first and foremost, you can use the pinned posts function to “pin” this update at the very top of your Timeline for up to seven days. This feature can come in real handy for event listings or time sensitive material!
As a business, you can highlight important stories so they are featured on your Timeline and in the same respect, you can hide less important or less-engaging posts from visitors. Often times dull or stagnant posts can take away from the overall vibe of a page so don’t be afraid to hide certain content to improve the overall feel.
Gone are the days when all posts look identical. A new feature allows you to make posts on your Timeline look larger than the typical size. Enlarging posts can be very beneficial when bright visuals are involved or when you really want to make something stand out. Keep in mind that it’s important to use this feature wisely! A timeline full of larger posts will be annoying to navigate and unpleasing to view so be sure to choose wisely when it comes to which posts deserve to be made larger.
Since Facebook’s new layout is designed to resemble a literal timeline, milestones play an key role in highlighting important events and accomplishments throughout the life cycle of a business. Some businesses that have been around for a long time finally have an ability to boast about their rich history and share it with visitors. Highlighting when your business started, when you got your first office, your first employee, won your first award etc is a great way to show people how far you’ve come. In the same respect, let’s keep in mind that sometimes less is more. Find a balance when it comes to creating milestones and know what is best left as a milestone celebrated in your own mind.
Your visitors may be customers or potential customers so offering them the ability to contact you directly without leaving your business page is essential. This is the first time brands will be able to speak directly and privately to their networks on Facebook and it’s sure to have a positive effect on their customer service. Be sure to keep an eye on your private messages. It may be an excellent new feature but if messages are being ignored, it can just as quickly turn into a burden or a catalyst for negative feedback.
Opinions and perspectives can be mixed, but generally, many restaurants have jumped on the daily deal site bandwagon to provide their current and potential new clientele with meal deals. Deal sites such as Groupon, Living Social, Kijiji Daily Deals and locally based businesses like Swarm Jam and Smart Betty, allow businesses to provide daily offers to the public. These bargains are available to subscribers based on their location and they change on a daily basis. These deals can be anything from 50% off an entire meal purchase to discounted two-can-dine options. These sites operate through the power of group buying. Each daily deal will become active as long as the number of purchases reaches a certain pre-determined quota. Various methods of promotion such as email, website, social media platforms (Facebook & Twitter) and even mobile apps, provide subscribers with daily deal notifications. Each day these sites offer a new featured deal that is purchased online directly through their websites or mobile apps. Once you have purchased the deal, your voucher/coupon can either be printed or presented via your mobile device at the time of use.
These group buying sites are mutually beneficial to all parties involved in the sense that both the business and customer reap the advantages from the daily deal. It’s an especially unique opportunity for new, small or unadvertised businesses because it allows them to promote their restaurants and persuade new clientele to try their offerings by providing them with a deal that’s hard to turn down. Not all businesses are marketing or social media savvy, so these sites are able to do all of the promoting and advertising, as well as create the media ‘buzz’ needed to sell your deals. Additionally, when you decide to work with daily deal sites, you gain access to their mailing list and members in your particular local market that you could not otherwise obtain on your own. Any restaurant knows that they are only as strong as their customer base. Obtaining new patrons, as well as showing appreciation to their existing ones, is extremely vital to their existence.
Considering that working with these sites is commission based, you want to be certain that you make a positive return on your investment. In order to do so, there are some things to be aware of before you decide to pursue. You must be able to:
1. Turn as many new customers into return patrons.
2. Create a positive experience for customers so it can elicit the spread of positive reviews to others (word of mouth).
3. Handle the increased volume of customers while continually providing the same high level of superior service.
4. Continue to provide your regular and loyal customers with the same level of service they are used to.
Keeping in mind the combination of today’s consumer who frequents restaurants and the low recession-induced spending power, these deals meet the needs of the general public. Individuals and families on a budget or those simply looking to save on their frequent dining habits are given an opportunity to save significantly. Deal sites also make committing to trying a new establishment a lot less risky and therefore reduces the amount of post-purchase dissonance. There is no doubt that a demand for these deal site offerings exists so the response and traffic that a restaurant will receive through participating is promising.
Whether you are a new or established business in need of advertising and a new audience, deal sites might be the answer for you as long as you take into consideration the risks involved and be prepared to overcome them.
It’s that time of the year again and this weekend Hollywood will be honouring the best of the best at The Oscars. To commemorate this special event Blab Media is celebrating with the second annual Social Media Awards! We’ve put together a list of nominated businesses and startups with the most innovative ideas and the best concepts. We all have love for the film industry, but let’s change it up and celebrate social media and the digital domain!
Most Promising Social Media Startup 2012
Just because you’re working doesn’t mean you don’t need to stay connected. Yammer brings the power of social networking inside the enterprise in a private and secure environment. It has the same level of usability as great consumer software like Facebook and Twitter, but its applications have been designed for business collaboration. The social network has been designed to help employees find expertise, answers and information across multiple departments and geographical areas. Yammer encourages the employees of any company to make connections internally. It gives companies the ability to break into team workspaces, create and share content, create networks for partners, integrate key applications, administer things simply and effectively and access everything on the go via mobile devices.
“Best Kept Secret “ Online Network
Satisfy your curiosity with Skillshare and learn anything from anyone, anywhere. Users looking to teach and offer their skills on a global stage can post free classes. Users looking to learn can find classes in cities all across North America and beyond. This unique network of information encourages users of all ages and all walks of life to learn something new and offer their own skills to a world of eager people. It’s definitely a network worth exploring! Who knows, you might learn something!
Best Emerging Mobile Payment Method
Businesses all over the United States are adopting mobile payment methods and reaping the benefits. Square has revolutionized the way businesses process payments and has successfully created a new use for Apple and Android smartphones. If you’re still not convinced, talk to the Girl Guide Scouts of America! They, along with other organizations such as The Salvation Army, use the mobile system to take payments for products (who doesn’t love those cookies?) and charitable donations.
Best Mobile App
Who wouldn’t want access to a pocket sized social magazine? The folks at Flipboard thought the exact same thing and when they combined the beauty and of print with the power of social media, a new app was born. Flipboard is designed to create a magazine out of a user’s social content. There are multiple options for personalization and the app makes the chore of keeping up with news on social media a lot more entertaining and visually appealing!
Best Web App
In September 2011, Salesforce bought a customer service startup called Assistly and has since transformed the web app into Desk.com. Essentially it’s an all-in-one system for delivering awesomely responsive customer support. The web app helps companies collect and organize all of their customer conversations into a prioritized, actionable list and equips support staff with the proper tools to respond to customers. Businesses can filter conversations on sites like Facebook and Twitter, to name a few, and delve through a variety of detailed analytics. Long story short, Desk.com is the premiere, cost-effective customer service alternative for businesses and companies of all sizes.
Best Customer Service Using Social Media
As a web host provider, Media Temple receives thousands of inquiries and support questions every day from people all over the world. Their Twitter page (@mediatemple) has become a hub of information and a place where users can connect with the company to instantly receive feedback and support. Their trained staff are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Their page even features a breakdown of each employees’ initials so customers are aware of whom they’re talking to at all times.
Best Viral Video
This video became a viral sensation after it was uploaded on Youtube in April 2011. It featured a Japanese pop song with an animated cartoon cat whose body is made of a pop-tart, flying through space, and leaving a rainbow trail behind it. The video ranked at number 5 on the list of most viewed YouTube videos in 2011 but please don’t try and understand why because your brain may melt in the process.
The Windsor Star
By: Dave Hall
February 16th 2012
Two young Windsor companies growing together have found common ground on the Internet and on social media sites.
Michael Lapico, a game developer and publisher who owns Touch Village, has been working with Katie Stokes and Jessica Apolloni of Blab!Media, a social media company that helps businesses create a complete web presence, for the past year.
“It’s a good example of two new businesses working together, and our relationship just clicked from the start,” said Lapico, a marketing and web development specialist before getting into the exploding game app sector.
Lapico sold Web Heads, his web development business a year ago, and decided to shift his focus to the mobile gaming applications sector as both a developer and, more recently, as a publisher of developer’s ideas.
He developed KitchenPad Timer, which has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, an app for cooks and chefs that enables them to manage multiple cooking times on both range top and oven.
It emits warning sounds – a rooster for chicken dishes and a cow for beef recipes – warning multi-tasking chefs that dishes are close to being ready.
Now, he’s moved into the game publishing business with Dragon’s Rage, which was developed in Ukraine, and ChinUp, a product of Digital Harmony Games, a small gaming app studio in Austin, Texas.
“After attending gaming conventions, I realized that a lot of the developers just aren’t marketing people, and I saw an opportunity to become a publisher of these games and help developers get them to market,” said Lapico.
And it’s that same niche approach that has allowed Blab! to make an impact locally by guiding startups and established companies into the world of social media.
Stokes and Apolloni both said their expertise lies in helping companies with no local presence get their products and services in front of new customers and also developing that same local presence for clients such as Lapico, who is known internationally through his gaming app development.
“As our client’s needs change, we adapt to those changing needs,” said Stokes.
In the meantime, Lapico is looking to partner with local game developers who need help getting their apps into the marketplace. He’s also seeking investors to help his company expand. For more information, visit touchvillage.com or getyourblabon.com.
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Customer retention is a top priority for most businesses as acquiring new customers is significantly more expensive than retaining the ones you already have. With advancements in social media, customer loyalty programs are adopting new concepts. Here are some of the ways social media can help your business build customer loyalty:
Creating A Personal Bond
Customers enjoy knowing that they can create a direct relationship with your business. Being able to directly communicate and “bond” with customers through platforms such as Facebook or Twitter can provide them with a feeling of closeness. The customer will feel personally connected, thus forming a loyal business relationship for the future.
Feedback And Responses
Customers love to leave feedback, both good and bad, in relation to their experiences with businesses. Social media has made it possible for businesses to connect with their customers and not only receive feedback, but provide direct responses. Not only is it great to receive a response, but thanks to social media, you can now expect a response in a much more timely manner. The customer will receive a sense of appreciation when a response is elicited and will enjoy further conducting business with you.
Usage of social media platforms such as Groupon, Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook has been on the rise. These platforms provide customers a direct link with benefits to using a businesses’ services or connecting with a business online. Customers enjoy receiving a “little something extra” in addition to conducting regular business with you. It acts as an incentive to remain loyal rather and deters them from exploring the competition.
Social media provides new venues for customers to access your business. The more convenient it is, the better. Increased accessibility equals increased reach and exposure. If your business is available on various social media platforms, it increases the number of ways your customers can form an attachment with you. The more ways that a customer can connect with you, the more likely the exposure will create a long lasting relationship with your business.
Businesses are now better able to track the behaviours, likes and dislikes of their customers through the use of social media. If businesses are better able to track this valuable information, they can then better provide their customers with what they want. By providing them with current, popular and desired products and services, the customer will feel understood and want to continually conduct business with a company who directly suits and adapts to their evolving needs.
As described in McClelland’s Theory of Needs, ‘need for affiliation’ is “the need for open and sociable interpersonal relationships.” Instinctively, people want to feel included. If the customer feels included as part of your business (i.e a follower on Twitter), they will likely remain loyal to your business based on the attachment. The feeling of being included in a group or having membership with your business will solidify the relationship and result in a long term sense of belonging for customers.
Jessica was immediately addicted. She spent hours pouring over recipes and ogling adorable pet photos. It took some convincing, but she finally encouraged me to check out the social bookmarking site for myself and since joining I haven’t looked back.
Pinterest prides itself on connecting people all over the world through things they find interesting. It’s a social bookmarking site focused entirely on visuals. Users create a profile with as many custom “boards” as they want. These boards help them organize their interests (pins). To simplify things, your profile is essentially like a bunch of bulletin boards and whenever you come across something of interest online, you can “pin it” to the board of your choice and keep all your favourite things organized. After using the service I can honestly say that bookmarking based on visuals is a lot more appealing and fun than simply dropping a link on your toolbar or in your online folders and finding it months later buried in the clutter.
As a marketing tool Pinterest offers value for a variety of reasons. When users join and create a profile, they are given the option to add a “Pin-It” bookmarklet to their toolbar which allows them to add pins to their boards without even browsing the Pinterest site. This bookmark allows users to grab any photo from any site and attach it to a board on their profile. Anytime someone “pins” something from your site, you can gain thousands of potential new site visitors depending on the size of the users Pinterest network. It all comes back to positive word of mouth!
Local Windsor business Intimate Weddings has found some serious value in Pinterest. The husband and wife duo maintain an abundant source of all things wedding related on their website and are extremely impressed with Pinterest as a marketing tool. The platform allows them to share photos and wedding inspiration with hundreds of women online. It’s a place for them, as a business, to interact with brides-to-be and it promotes transparency. People like knowing that a business is made up of real people with real opinions and Pinterest helps Intimate Weddings connect with women on that personal level.
Just as Facebook offers “like it” buttons and Google+ offers “+1” buttons, Pinterest offers a “Pin-It” button that can be placed on any website so visitors can pin the content and share it with their network on Pinterest. Naturally the site can’t come close to Facebook or Google in terms of the number of users, but it’s a growing trend that will take the web by storm sometime soon. The site has already garnered interest from industry professionals and is sure to make a big splash in 2012. Check out the site for yourself and see what all the hype is about but don’t forget you’ll need an invite from a current user in order to join!