Monthly Archives: May 2013

Buying Fans and Followers | Part 2 “The Pros and Cons”

Buying Fans and Followers: Pros and Cons| New Trends in Social Media

In our last post we discussed some of the reasons companies and individuals feel justified in purchasing social media fans and followers, rather than growing a fan base organically.

Business owners feel as if buying Twitter followers or Facebook Likes makes their company look more credible and established, but it is also possible that buying friends just creates an illusion of social status. And so the question remains: will this controversial practice inspire trust from new and potential customers, and will it actually increase sales?

This continuation from last week’s article will explore some of the pros and cons to paying for follows, that way you can decide for yourself whether or not this is a strategy you want to add to your marketing campaign.

The Pros:

Buying Fans and Followers: Pros and Cons| New Trends in Social Media

An inflated Twitter/Facebook following Creates the Illusion of Importance

To be honest, as an avid social media user, it feels pretty good when my Instagram picture gets double-digit likes, or when my timely and well-thought-out tweet is favorite-d or retweeted.

Much of my social media activity is just an extension of my desire for acceptance and validation, and, although I cannot speak for everyone, I know I do not stand alone here. While I would never spring to purchase more followers on any platform, I am thrilled when my numbers increase.

But a business owner has the advantage of labeling their self-promotion as branding, and there is something to be said about an organization that is popular online. While boiling down the value of your online presence to a mere number on Twitter sounds ridiculous, there’s really no denying that one’s Twitter following, despite being a vanity metric, is often thought to correlate directly with importance.

So your Followers are Fake…but the Clout is Very Real

An increase in fans and followers can transform a stand-up amateur into a professional comedian, a garage band into a rising star, a movie extra into fresh new talent, and a small business into an authoritative source. Individuals have even been hired for job positions as a result of their high Twitter following, since the number serves as a representation of how powerful your online word can be.

Trending on Twitter #Bandwagoning

Once users see your numbers rising, they will be more likely to follow you as well. I can claim to be an expert food critic, but if I only have 26 followers, most people will assume that the only food I’m judging is my own mac & cheese. If that number was more like 700 or 1,500, I become a considerably more reputable source—one that users are much more likely to check out. This could mean that the users you’ve purchased can actually generate real followers as a result of your imagined prestige.

Simple & Affordable

Building a legitimate fan following takes time and effort—you need to consistently be sharing great and original content, posting funny videos or remarks, or broadcasting the latest news. Most companies just don’t have the time.

You could spend months gathering information, writing and publishing articles, scouring the web for news and videos…or you can grab your wallet and buy a militia-sized army of followers for less than a latte at your local coffee shop.

Buying Fans and Followers: Pros and Cons| New Trends in Social MediaThe Cons:

The Zombie Follow-pocalypse  

When you buy fans, you get little to no interaction because you’re really purchasing mindless spam bots. The profiles are fake, no one is manning them, they are all for show—so when you post interesting and relevant stuff, no one will comment and no one will retweet. Your content stands still and does not function as it should—to drive traffic to your website or increase your search engine rankings.

The Number is not Enough

All of the zombie followers in the world won’t do much to raise your Klout score. Social media influence scores tend to look at engagement and interaction rather than sheer numbers, so you wont be getting added benefits with your inflated metric. Additionally, if you manipulate your numbers, it is much more difficult to properly measure social media return on investment and the true influence of your campaign on the public.

You’re Walking Right into a Trap

Be familiar with the dangers associated with purchasing friends. Other than the sheer humiliation when your practices are discovered, many of the sites that offer to sell you more followers are a scam. You part with your hard earned cash and come away with absolutely nothing. Often times, these nefarious groups are simply looking to take advantage of businesses that do not know any better. As a general Internet rule, you must always be wary when entering your personal information on a website, and providing your credit card to many of these sites in particular might not be the brightest idea.

Your fake followers could also end up doing damage against your real followers by hacking, phishing, and infecting them with link spam. Is it worth buying your fan base when you consider all the risks?

Reputation ControlBuying Fans and Followers: Pros and Cons| New Trends in Social Media

Some genius wrote an algorithm that can now easily detect who is desperate enough to buy friends. The Fake Follower Check tool can lead to public embarrassment and force you to take a defensive stance and fight to redeem your character and the save the reputation of your business.

Naturally boosting your followers on your social media accounts isn’t easy—but it is worth it in the end. Just a handful of engaged, active followers is infinitely more valuable than hundreds of fake accounts that exist as ego inflators.

The practice of buying fans and followers is considered unethical by a majority of online users and is not a replacement for conventional marketing efforts needed to build any successful business.

On the other hand, purchasing friends is completely legal and the practice is definitely rising in popularity, especially among startups. For small businesses, growing pains are essential for character development, so while buying friends can be considered when planning a marketing strategy, discovering new followers organically and becoming a power player in your niche is what will really increase your following.

By: Sasha Novikov| Creatine Marketing

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Buying Fans & Followers | New Trends in Social Media

Buying Fans & Followers | New Trends in Social MediaSocial media is a vital element of any online marketing campaign when it comes to expanding a customer base, search engine rankings, and brand recognition. And as major players, Twitter and Facebook are two of the most important and popular social media networks frequented by millions of users worldwide.

Fan and follower count is often considered a status symbol on these networks, and growing a large and dedicated following is a landmark goal of many Twitter and Facebook users. However, getting users to follow or like your page organically is quite challenging, unless you are a celebrity or a major corporation.

Many users are tempted to buy followers via outsourcing websites. And while this may seem like a good idea because more followers means a higher klout score, more visibility, and increased engagement, companies also run the risk of exposure which can be embarrassing.

Buying Fans & Followers | New Trends in Social MediaIn fact, Google Adword keyword tool shows that over 100,000 Google searches are performed monthly, for the keywords “buy Twitter followers,” and over 160,000 for “buy followers,” confirming that this once well-kept secret is now common practice.

The concept of buying popularity online may seem like a strange one, but this idea has been around since the birth of social media itself− and possibly since the beginning of complex human interaction. (We’ve all seen the character in a movie who is paid off to befriend another, less popular character). For years now, companies have been offering services to purchase Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, and YouTube views—but recently, these activities have landed among the not-so-savory new trends in social media.

The New York Times recently ran an article exposing major Twitter “celebrities” for purchasing fans rather then growing a following naturally and progressively. The author, Nicole Perlroth, wrote, “social media experts say there are several reasons why Twitter users would want to acquire large volumes of Twitter followers. For some people, it simply feeds the ego. For people and brands, a large Twitter following or Facebook fan base helps increase their visibility. If followers are constantly clicking on links to a brand’s landing page, it also lifts the brand’s position in Google’s search results.”

It is natural for brands to want to build their Twitter and Facbeook accounts because they are constantly looking for ways to expand awareness of their products and services. Susan Etlinger, an industry analyst at the Altimeter Group, says that, “many brands struggle to measure the top line value of social media, so there is a thirst to show momentum in different ways, one of which is to show that the brand has a bigger audience today than it did yesterday.”

Some major brands are skeptical however. Coca-Cola for example, has 700,000 Twitter followers and more than 60 million Facebook fans− more than any other brand on Facebook− but a corporate study found that online buzz had no quantifiable impact on short term sales.

Buying Fans & Followers | New Trends in Social Media

This is probably because social media fans are volatile, and may start to follow a brand for a specific reason and then drop off when a contest ends or interest fades. Other users with inflated followings, like 50 Cent, Mercedes, Diddy, and Pepsi have been called out publicly when their followings spiked dramatically and then dropped substantially without explanation.

These celebrities and brands have denied the purchase of followers, but most experts agree that there is no other justification for this kind of strange activity. When a following rises by the thousands and then drops by the same amount, those who are paying attention will notice, and may publicly chastise your company for unethical or unauthentic practices.

With a simple swipe of a credit card, you can obtain legions of followers, but is it worth it? Are they helping your campaign or boosting your overall profit? And if those followers or fans are not interacting with your content are they really friends of your business at all?

Find out more in our next article, which will break down the pros and cons of buying followers and fans.

By Sasha Novikov | Creatine Marketing

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Creatine Marketing Newsletter | May 2013 Issue

Creatine Marketing Newsletter | May 2013 Issue

Creating May’s newsletter was an easier process. I found a wonderful template online that I felt was clean, efficient, and simple. While this is still an evolving process, I am happier with this month’s issue than the last two that i’ve completed. The learning experience has been enlightening– for some reason when taking on this project, I thought it would be easy to create the newsletter, it would only take me a day I said. I was wrong.

But with practice and experience using all of the various languages, from HTML to Java to the long acronym one that starts with WSY…. the process is becoming less daunting. Perhaps next month’s will be even better.

Oh, and if you happen to be reading this and live (or know someone who lives) in the Sacramento area, Creatine Marketing is hiring social media interns, graphic design interns, and probably sales people. If you have experience and are not a student, but still need work, I would still apply!

The Power of Online Video Marketing

The Power of Online Video MarketingOnline video is a key part of the content marketer’s playbook. With today’s technology, video content is less costly, easier to create, and more effective than ever—and most companies have taken notice. There is a lot of compelling evidence suggesting that video marketing should be a major focus of your digital advertising campaign.

According to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research, one minute of video holds more value than 1.8 million words. That’s the equivalent of 3,600 typical web pages, which means if you were to write an average of one web page each hour, it would take you 150 days of writing to achieve the impact of one minute of video. Taking those numbers into account proves that online video marketing is the single most practical use for your marketing time and energy.

Each day, over 100 million Internet users watch online videos, and while it’s true that many of those people are watching the latest viral video featuring a cute kitten or a silly child, an increasing majority of them are looking for advice on how to do something or how to make something work better. This number has increased by 43% since 2010, and studies show that a large amount of viewers are looking to buy a service or product.

A recent study conducted by Forbes magazine shows that 75% of executives watch work-related videos on business websites at least once a week, and a majority of them visit the marketer’s website after viewing a video. So why should your company care?

With video marketing in your arsenal, your advertising campaign can reach a wider audience− more than 167 million people consistently watched online videos last year and that number is increasing exponentially. Over 50 million people view videos from their mobile devices, and mobile users seem to have a longer attention span. While desktop viewers stick with a video for 2 minutes or less, iPhone users commit for almost 3, and Android users surpass 3 minutes of engagement. Tablet users have the longest attention spans of all, and remain glued to the screen for an average of five minutes.

Video by Steven Martin | Creatine Marketing

Video also creates an opportunity for your company to increase the impact a message has on your targeted audience. Viewers tend to retain information they see in a video at much higher rates than if that same information was read or heard. In addition, 46% of people say that seeing a product or service mentioned in an online video would encourage them to seek out more information.

Use video to sell: promote products, features, services or brands, to educate: share tips, ideas, and commentary, and to entertain: deliver content that’s light, humorous, and fun. Remember to find a balance between industry related information, promotional information, and content that is just upbeat and easy to share.  YouTube videos are easy to embed into any webpage of blog; you can share them in Pinterest, Facebook, Vine, and Twitter.

Today, video marketing is slowly rising to the top of the content marketing food chain, and is the 6th most popular method of digital marketing. It is a simple and creative way to increase sales and leads. Businesses that incorporate video marketing into their overall strategy see higher engagement rates, higher click-through rates, and higher conversion rates. Video marketing is a great way to escalate your sales pitch out into the universe and let it drive customers to your site, and ultimately to your product.

The Power of Online Video Marketing

A vast percentage of those who spend time online would rather watch a video than read text, and while that may be frustrating, it’s business− and the first rule of marketing is that you need to be where your customers are. If you are sending out newsletters, you will have a lower unsubscribe rate if you include an instructional or humorous video. Let’s say a service or product you offer is a bit complicated, rather than explaining it all in a lengthy essay, you can create a video that highlights main points and explains your merchandise in an organic way.

Finally, it’s important to remember that you only have 10 seconds to grab a viewer’s attention. Effective video marketing has to be engaging right from the start. Pay attention to the analytics of your video; find out who is watching, how long they’re engaged before hitting pause or leaving the page, and at exactly which second they decided the video was no longer worth watching. Once you have that information you can sharpen your message and mold it to better suit your audience.

These statistics speak volumes about the positive effect that video marketing will have on your advertising campaign. To further drive my point about the visual preference that is such an integral part of human nature, I have included this inforgraphic I created reiterating some of the points made in this article. The statistics in this blog are available on comscore.com.

By | Sasha Novikov

The Power of Online Video Marketing

An infographic I created to accompany this article.


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Crucial Internet Tools

The World Wide Web is simultaneously a means of entertainment, education, productivity, and innovation. In the business world, whether you are working from home, in a small office, or are part of a global corporation, the Internet provides you with the resources you require to complete any creative or professional project. The tools available online can also help with marketing, scheduling, file conversion, document storage, and note taking. There are even websites that can lock you out of Facebook for a few hours or remind you to pick up the dry cleaning.

Many of these free and readily available web applications are well known, but there are others that are found in the cracks and corners of cyberspace− and since I know few people have the time to dedicate to hunting them down, I wanted to share several websites that I find practical and useful, not only in the business world, but also for the stay-at-home moms, the pseudo photographers, and those just getting started online.

For the designers, web developers, and photographers:

Creatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet ToolsDid you know that Google Chrome offers a free, full-featured photo editor that is available in your browser? It’s called Pixlr Editor. You don’t have to download or purchase any software; there is no waiting, no product key− it’s 100% free. If you are familiar with Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, you will be right at home with this software; it offers many of the same features but without the headache. Some of the tools included are: red eye reduction, spot heal tool, drawing tools, clone tools, sharpen and blur tools, and many more. You can turn your modern digital image into a vintage looking photo with the many filters that are available, and the program even offers Adjustments that are fairly advanced, such as Levels, Curves, Cross process, Desaturate, Auto levels, Hue/Saturation, and Brightness/Contrast. You can upload images right from your Desktop and once you are done working with the file, you can save it, email it, or print it out.Creatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet Tools

Another alternative site that provides a similar service is BeFunky.com, a Turkish startup website that is known for special effects. The site also has a popular mobile app option that contains more filters and editing options than Instagram and any other photo editing mobile app put together. The image-editing process is easy and accessible, and gives you the opportunity to create beautiful, professional-looking photographs from your computer, tablet, or phone. What makes this site different is that the editing process is merged with an intriguing social aspect. You can work with your photographs to bring out their best qualities and then you can share them with others placing them into categories like nature, tattoos, music, pets, and more.

Have you heard of Sketch Toy? This website provides another tool for people to practice their creativity by offering drawing tools. Sketch Toy is a free use site that offers a simple drawing interface but with a unique twist− the lines you draw appear as shaky animations as if watching a still image or cartoon on an old television. The canvas you are given has a texture that highlights this animated effect. You can choose from a solid drawing or a dashed one, there are various colors and effects, but there are no regular shapes because all the drawing is done freestyle by using your mouse.

For the savvy, productive, office-bound busy bee:

Creatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet Tools

Your coworker emails you a document that cannot be opened on your computer because the file format isn’t recognized – what do you do? A few years ago, you might have panicked or responded with an email asking him or her to save it again, some other way, and resend it. This is no longer an issue today thanks to online file conversion websites. I like to use Online Convert. Here you can convert m4a files to mp3s, or videos to mp4− and the converter lets you specify dimensions, video quality, audio quality, frame rate, and video duration of the resulting video. If the file you want to convert is online, you can provide its URL instead or uploading it from your computer. You can convert image files, documents, videos, audio files, and there is even a hash generator. Zamzar also offers a similar service.

Creatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet ToolsMany of us have heard of Evernote, I could write an entire article just about the productivity and efficiency of this one application, but I will offer a short summary. To say that Evernote is simply a note taking software is a severe understatement. With this application you can capture images, create voice recordings, edit screen shots, and create lists. You can then add your notes directly to the images you create or the voice recordings you’ve saved. For example, when we have a business meeting, I can record the entirety of the meeting while taking notes and then go back and edit what I had missed. Evernote works on a cloud system so it is available on any device, at any time. If you make a shopping list on your iPad, the list shows up on your mobile device so you can access it while you’re at the market. There are even little check boxes so you can mark off the items as you locate them. You can store recipes, project ideas, and reminders all in specific folders, then easily access them by searching for keywords in the top corner of the app’s home screen. If you aren’t already using this application, you need to be, and you can download it for free on any device.

Creatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet ToolsWhen I first found wakerupper.com I was slightly amused. I thought the site was kind of a joke, not because it wasn’t useful and well designed, but because I thought that perhaps setting alarms and reminders on my phone was all I needed− that maybe this site was designed to be fun and silly. I was half right. This site offers an amazing resource; scheduling reminders I can do from my phone, but setting a wake up call? Now that is incredible. You can have your phone ring to wake you up and even record or notate a message to your ‘not a morning person’ self. Some of the alternative uses that people have been raving about are that you can schedule calls to remind your husband or children to clean the house− you can schedule calls that can save you from a horrible date or a boring business meeting, and you can even set calls to urge your elderly parent to take his or her medication when you are on working or on vacation.

For the academics and overachievers:

Creatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet ToolsHas anyone in your circle of friends or coworkers mentioned something called a TED talk? Maybe you’ve heard of or even seen one of these presentations, but on their website you can watch hundreds of them for free. TED talks are inspiring conversations written and presented by remarkable and highly successful people. You can find one on almost any topic. There are conversations about biomechanics and engineering, and others explaining why we see colors when we smell certain things. There are talks on social media, the obesity epidemic in America, sustainable architecture, and our education system.

The Khan Academy is another incredible tool; the website offers a library of over 2,100 quality educational videos on various subjects including math, physics, biology, test prep, literature, history, and more. Read more about the Khan Academy, and how people are using it here.

Creatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet Tools

Another service that is well known, but worth mentioning, is Dropbox. Dropbox and Google Drive actually function in a similar fashion, so this paragraph can be applied to both resources. Dropbox lets you sync selected files or folders between computers and mobile devices. Any file you save to Dropbox is instantly transferred into a cloud storage system that is then accessible from any other device anywhere else on planet Earth. The main difference when using Google Drive is that once you share a document in the drive, the parties that have access to the file are able to download it or edit it right in the browser providing a dynamic and collaborative workspace. With Dropbox, once the receiving party has access to your document, they would have to download it, edit it, save it, and re-upload it to Dropbox. While both are easy, the Google Drive option is more immediate.

I found most of these web tools using Stumbleupon.com, the final site that I want to talkCreatine Marketing Reviews | Crucial Internet Tools about. This web service is not only a means of inspiration, but also a source of knowledge, a research aid, an entertainment center− and sometimes a time suck. But if used properly, you can sometimes avoid being lost in its trance forever. When you create an account, you are urged to select your interests from a list of various choices like travel, music, literature, online games, Internet tools, fitness, philosophy, art, humor, and more. You then hit the orange button that says, “Stumble” and the random generator brings you to one of billions of webpages. With every click of the stumble button you arrive at a new website that suits your interests− and you can choose to remain in one category or stumble all of your interests at once. Sometimes you will land on a picture of some tropical paradise, other times you will land on a gardening blog, a space exploration tool, an article about collecting jazz records, or a digital relaxation experience− a website that uses satellite imaging and ambient noise recodrings to make you feel like you are on a private Caribbean beach.There are unlimited possibilities when you stumble, and each time you are guaranteed to find something new and interesting. Stumble Upon is like a flashlight illuminating the dark shadows and unexplored spaces of the web.

Every day new websites are erected out of a human necessity for efficiency and time management. Like stars and planets, there are hundreds in the works this instant and millions that we have yet to discover− the web was nicknamed cyberspace for a reason. For more interesting and useful web applications, you can select the sub-category “Internet” or “Internet Tools” on Stumbleupon.com and continue the hunt. There are useful tools everywhere if you take the time to discover and play− and if you don’t have that kind of time, then I hope this article was helpful in highlighting some of the amazing resources that are just one click away.

By Sasha Novikov | Creatine Marketing

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Creatine Marketing Announces Merge with MXSweb | Press Release

Sacramento, CA – Creatine Marketing, one of Sacramento’s top digital marketing agencies, is thrilled to announce a merger with MXSweb, a 14-year-old brand enhancement and website development company. With this union, Creatine Marketing will combine its proficiency in social media creation, education and management with the unmatchable talent of the MXSweb team’s website and logo design.  creatine mxs merge

Since 1999, MXSweb has been leading the way with excellent website design, Internet marketing, app development, and video production. The minds behind MXSweb believe that innovation is the heartbeat of a successful business and strive to create unique and dynamic webpages, apps, and marketing strategies, videos for their clients. Nicholas Fordham, the company’s creator, runs and leads a development team that can code in every language, and they are WordPress and Joomla experts.

The creative minds behind the company have worked with businesses that are just starting out and with Fortune 500 companies− and are dedicated to handling all aspects of online and offline marketing and promotions.

“This merger, between Creatine Marketing and MXSweb, enables us to service our customers more effectively by helping to build a stronger online presence,” said Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Robert Black. “In the past three years, I have met with hundreds of business owners face-to-face and a majority of them—if they even have a website—do not have a site that is functional, mobile ready, user friendly, designed to convert viewers into customers, or to generate high traffic in terms of search engine optimization. MXSweb harnesses the expertise that will correct these drawbacks for entrepreneurs.”

Together, the two companies are trailblazing along the new frontier of responsive framework technology and web development. This style of coding allows desktop and mobile browsers to play nicely together. Each website is flexible and changes dynamically when the browser window is resized. These new high-end and cutting edge technologies will provide the individual entrepreneurs, small business owners, and even larger companies with the best team in Sacramento when it comes to creating an online presence, producing brand recognition, and developing imaginative logos, videos, and websites.   Both companies have made a commitment to offering the highest quality experience to their clients by understanding each distinctive customer’s needs. They are dedicated to their clients’ success and work diligently to design services that produce results.

Use Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for Business

Use Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for BusinessWhen you think about promoting your business on social media, you often visualize the primary six platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google +, and Instagram. Even as a social media marketer, I tend to focus a majority of my attention on these social networking giants− pushing content to where I assume I will get the most reach and interaction. But when I’m off the clock, I’m constantly using certain apps to organize my life and to help me make decisions. One of these resources is Foursquare, and although it receives less attention from marketers and businesses, it is one of the most useful mobile applications on the market.

Foursquare is a location-focused mobile app that allows users to “check-in” to places of business using their phone’s geo-location software. When you visit your favorite restaurant, a local spa, the gym, or a bookstore− you tag yourself there, and then share your location with Foursquare, Facebook, and Twitter friends. Not long ago, I thought this service was simply an enabler of narcissistic over sharing on its best day, and a stalking-for-dummies tool on it’s worst. However, like most trends I’ve tried to ignore, curiosity eventually got the best of me− and now that I’ve checked-in, I won’t be leaving for a while.

As an individual user, I find the mobile application efficient, user-friendly, and entertaining. Once you add some friends, you can see the restaurants they are trying out and then add them to your “To-Do list.” I have even searched out businesses based on my location, read reviews and tips, viewed images, and chosen where to shop based on the experiences my friends have had. From the application’s Home page, you can “explore nearby” and seek out food, nightlife, coffee, shopping, sights, and art. You get points for checking in, and even receive badges like, Local : “Sometimes you want to go…where everybody knows your name…You’ve checked in at the same place three days in one week”. People can be dubbed “mayor” of a place they frequently visit, and then others can dethrone the mayor and take his or her spot.

Using Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for Business

The app has become somewhat of a game, and over 25 million people are playing. The witty and sarcastic musings written by the app developers make me snicker, and the deals I get for checking in are the reason I keep coming back. And that is where businesses on Foursquare benefit from being on the platform. As a business owner, you can offer people coupons and discounts for checking in at your establishment. When users’ friends see where they are checking in to eat, shop, work, and play they are influenced to do the same based on recommendations from people they trust.

There are over a million businesses on Foursquare currently, so it’s not an application you can ignore -, it’s one you need to master in order to build your customer base and reward your most loyal customers simultaneously.

Use Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for BusinessClaiming Your Location | In order to get started you need to claim a physical space. Your venue is your business’s home base on Foursquare. Once you’ve downloaded the app, attempt to check in by searching for your business, and assuming it isn’t listed, select the plus sign that allows you to “Add this place.” Next, you will be asked to list the name of your business, the category it falls under, (i.e. Arts & Entertainment, Food, Professional, Shop & Service) and the exact address. The main categories will break down into more options, for instance, ‘nightlife spot’ offers subcategories like bar, beer garden, cocktail bar, dive bar, etc. It is important to give as much relevant information in each field as possible to help inform your current and potential customers, and to give them everything they need to communicate with you or your business. Finally, your company must be verified by Foursquare in order to finalize the process. You will receive a code to confirm your location and then you must pay a $10 fee to process your venue claim.

Updates and Promotions | Sending updates from your venue on Foursquare is a feature that allows you to send company news to a user’s feed about specials, coupons, deals, announcements, and other relevant information. Fox example, you can use this opportunity to offer customers something special while keeping them connected with news about upcoming events. Use Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for BusinessAnother feature for business owners is the Promoted Updates option, which allow a business to pay to have their local updates promoted in the Explore tab. It’s a new and exciting way for businesses to choose which updates deserve an extra push for maximum exposure.

Foursquare Check-In Specials | Offering specials to your patrons will keep them coming back, and these deals are a fun way for your customers to earn rewards whilst spreading awareness about your delicious food, innovative product, or unique service. Some businesses have used a Flash Special “The first 10 people who check in after 8pm get 25% off their order,” while other benevolent and tempting offers include a free cupcake on your first check-in. Chili’s offers a free order of chips & salsa upon check-in, and as a loyalty special, they offer a free dessert on every 3rd visit. When you’ve checked into a business more than anyone else in the last two months, you are granted

Use Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for Business

Mayor-ship of that location, and many businesses offer a mayor special which grants 20% off the entire bill. This kind of deal in particular encourages loyalty and rewards returning customers. Many businesses use a combination of these various specials to reel in and satisfy clientele. Use local updates to promote your specials on Foursquare, and also remember to update Facebook, Twitter, and all of your other social networks in order to spread the news about your special.

Add Tips about Your Company | People visiting your business can leave their opinions about what they’ve experienced. They are even promoted to leave tips about places they’ve checked into in the past, leaving the opportunity for both positive and negative feedback. When a user checks into a place for the first time, a different user’s tip flashes on the screen. The tips that appear atop the list of feedback are the ones with the most likes from other users. The goal behind ranking the tips is to boost the relevant and truthful ones to the top. If you add helpful tips about your location using a company page, you can share your strengths and highlight the human side of your business. Leaving a tip about your famous secret sauce, your employee of the month, or the most convenient parking location are all examples of how you can help your customers get the most value from your Foursquare presence.

Let Users Know they can Check-In | Integrate Foursquare into your website and social media profiles by adding the plugins and buttons below.Using Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for Business Doing this is the best way to connect your audiences and boost your following. The unique aspect of Foursquare is that it’s connecting your actions in the real world to your actions online. Don’t forget to leverage calls to action at your physical locations in order to

Use Foursquare to Enhance Exposure | Foursquare for Business

encourage, communicate and support your company’s presence on Foursquare.Be sure to display window stickers or signs to remind people to check in at your business. Reminding your customers to use Foursquare will help drive them into your place of business more often, leave tips, and become more active with your company on the platform.

One of the main reasons people do not use the apps they’ve downloaded is because they forget. Dozens of apps wax and wane; they get our attention for a while, and then like our winter wardrobes, we get rid of them to make space for something new (well in California at least). But Foursquare offers a one-of-a-kind ingenuity, and its developers are constantly updating and adding new features to the service. Every business should be using this mobile app in order to build a loyal client base that will work with you to increase your presence and profit.

By Sasha Novikov | Creatine Marketing

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What Your Startup Should Be Sharing on Social Media

Humanize Your Business by Sharing the Right Content—

I’m not even going to start by asking if you’re using social media to promote your startup, that should be a given. But what about strategy? Are you standing out, while staying true to your mission statements, goals, and personality? Why not go simple and self-brand? This will help advance product recognition and general brand awareness, create connections, build a reputation, and eventually reach your target audience.

However, I am consistently hearing that many companies are concerned about drowning in a sea of content, so I’ve compiled a few tips to aid you in creating and sharing material that will make your business stand out.

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Make it Personal

The anonymity of the world-wide-web allows many people to lurk in the shadows, hiding behind a profile pictures and a status. This isn’t the Wizard of Oz; we are ready to find out who’s behind the curtain. Users want a peek into your personal life, and it’s important to show your followers that you’re no different than they are. You may have children; you probably take trips, you wait in lines, and take pictures of your food—just like they do. Posting pictures that offer your fans some insight into your business—personal and professional– is a great promotional strategy.

Odds are, You’re not Perfect

It isn’t easy to start a new business. It is trial and error every day, and demonstrating what works for you and what doesn’t can be very insightful to aspiring entrepreneurs. Swallow your pride, and remember that it’s admirable to divulge the mistakes that you’ve made along the way. Those experiences are relatable, and even though it may be difficult to admit your blunders, showing how you’ve learned from them is a sign of growth.

What your Startup Should be Sharing on Social MediaOpen a dialogue in which you and your fans, followers, and friends are able to discuss your experiences in order to overcome and work through their own obstacles. Be honest about what you may have done wrong, what could be done better, and how you resolved the issue or attempted a new approach. Create a safe environment in which ideas are shared; where other industry professionals and individuals can communicate and learn from one another.

If You’re Interested, So are We

Read, share, read, share, read, share—it has become as natural to us as breathing in and out. Keep this in mind,anyone can write an article and throw it up online; links are ubiquitous and if you’re posting too many, people will start to ignore you—just like they ignore your links. Unfortunately a simple repost isn’t showcasing the content, or you, in the best way possible. If you find an interesting article, video, or link you think is worth sharing, copying and pasting the title won’t help establish you as an expert. Try contributing your own opinion. When you add a quote or reference of your own, it helps to differentiate you as an industry leader and trusted source of information, not just another voice in the crowd.

Visual Creatures
In 1996, Bill Gates said, “Content is King,” and the quote has become one of the single most overused and misapplied phrases in commercial Internet history. Humor me here, but I think, that seventeen years later, it’s finally time to retire the saying. I’m not saying you need to drag all of your brilliant Word documents into the recycling bin, but you should consider mixing it up with some graphics and videos.

Human beings are highly visual creatures, which explains the exponential success of social media platforms like Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest. Visuals are a powerful way to show, not just tell people about your brand and personal story. Share interesting and unique photos of your staff and coworkers, events that you’re attending, or projects your team is working on. Personal photos help your followers get to know you, but don’t over do it; there is a fine line between your personal and your business networks—potential clients do not want to see photos of your drunken escapades (even if they are hilarious to the rest of us).

Words of Wisdom

Whether they comes from Shakespeare, your grandmother, your pastor, or Lady Gaga—when you come across some words of wisdom, share them, tweet them, pin them, and Instagram them. Everyone loves a good quote, and fans will usually participate somehow when you post one, either by “liking” what you’ve shared, or sharing it somewhere else. Also, many insights can be summed up in a sentence, which will help you introduce and expose others to a whole new interesting world they have yet to discover.

What Do you Do all Day?

Creatine Marketing

Create a Space for Constructive Criticism

Piggybacking off the last point, I want to reiterate the importance of using social media to receive feedback on every single stage of your product life. At the starting line, your social networks will validate your ideas—or show you where they could use improvement. Once your product is launched, the platforms can be used as a low-cost promotional tool. Don’t refrain from talking about your product, but please don’t let it be the only thing you talk about. Find a balance between your promotional and your conversational, or personal posts. Share the information that is relevant to the feedback you’d like to receive without exposing your followers to all the strategy and information you’ve gathered along the years.

Jokes and Memes

Viral content is social media gold. Memes are fun, light-hearted, and human. They are created by other Internet users, and are often right on the pulse of what is trending and popular online. You can even create some yourself to suit your own needs, but again, it’s important to strike a balance. When you are timely and selective with jokes and memes, it testifies to your awesome sense of humor and to the fact that you don’t live in a world of your own. I would just suggest refraining from the use of political or disrespectful content so people don’t get the wrong idea of who you are.

In the end, when it comes to social media, there’s no magic potion. Just try a little of everything until you figure out what works best for you—and then write about it! Ultimately, the more time you invest in discovering and sharing relevant stuff, the better the outcome and the more likely you, and your startup, are to succeed.

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The Conscious Commander, The Modern Manager, The Diplomatic Director

How You can Mold Employees Without Offending or Creating Resentment

The Conscious Commander, The Modern Manager, The Diplomatic DirectorWhether you run a Fortune 500 company, own a local coffee shop, coach little league, or hold a respected position in your community—being a leader sometimes means you have to correct and guide the people you are in charge of. But how can you encourage the behavior that you desire without offending people or arousing animosity? Also, are there ways to get your employees or friends to do what you want, need, and expect without attacking their ideas and damaging your relationship?

In 1936, Dale Carnegie wrote and published a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People; it quickly became a best seller and is still popular amongst business leaders and communications specialists. The book is packed with advice and short stories that are meant to help foster successful communication in the office and in life outside of work as well. I want to focus on Part Four, where Carnegie teaches us how to speak to others respectfully, how to manage a group of people tactfully and honestly, and how to improve work ethic and stimulate enthusiasm for any project.

1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation|

Be constructive and diplomatic. If you notice your employees could be doing something better, start by pointing out what he or she is doing well—then get to the areas that require improvement. As Carnegie puts it, “Beginning with praise is like the dentist who begins his work with Novocain. The patient still gets a drilling, but the Novocain is pain killing. A condemnation is easier to hear when preceded by a compliment.

2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly |

Charles Schwab was passing through one of his steel mills one day at noon when he came across some of his employees smoking. Immediately above their heads was a sign that said “No Smoking.” Did Schwab point to the sign and say, “Can’t you read? Oh, no not Schwab. He walked over to the men, handed each one a cigar, and said, “I’ll appreciate it, boys, if you will smoke these on the outside.” They knew that he knew that they had broken a rule – and they admired him because he said nothing about it and gave them a little present and made them feel important. It’s hard to keep from respecting and appreciating a boss like that.

Simply changing one three-letter word can often spell the difference between failure and success in changing an employee’s behavior without arousing bitter feelings. Many peopleThe Conscious Commander, The Modern Manager, The Diplomatic Director begin their criticism with sincere praise followed by the word “but” and ending with a critical statement. For example, “Sam, I’m really impressed with your work on this presentation, but if you had worked harder on the last part, it might’ve made a stronger impression.”

In this case, Sam might feel encouraged until he hears the word, “but”. He might question the sincerity of the original praise. This could be easily overcome by changing the word “but” to the word “and.” “Sam, I’m really impressed with your work on this presentation, and with some more focus on the ending, it will be that much stronger.”

Calling attention to one’s mistakes indirectly works wonders with sensitive people who may resent bitterly any direct criticism.

3. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders |

No one feels comfortable taking orders from a barking, power hungry, boss—or even a sweet, calm one for that matter. Try giving suggestions, rather than demands. Instead of, “Do this or Do that,” or “Don’t do this or don’t do that,” try, “you might consider this,” or “do you think that would work?” Always give people the opportunity to do things for themselves—that way they can learn the proper ways to complete tasks and can learn from their mistakes.

A technique like this makes it easier for a person to correct his or her errors and can save a person’s pride. It makes an employee feel important and encourages cooperation instead of rebellion. Resentment caused by a brash order may last a long time—even if the order was given to correct an obviously bad situation.

Asking questions not only makes an order more palatable, it often stimulates the creativity of the person or people whom you ask. People are more likely to accept an order if they have had a part in the decision that caused the order to be issued.

4. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to |

What are your options when a person who has been a stellar employee begins to turn in work that is under par? You can fire him or her− but that is only a temporary solution. You can berate the worker, but this will definitely incite resentments. The average person can be led readily if you have his or her respect and if you show that you respect that person for some kind of ability.

If you want to improve a person in a certain area, act as though that particular trait were already one of his of her outstanding characteristics. Assume and state openly that other people have the virtue you want them to develop. Give them a fine reputation to live up to, and they will make extraordinary efforts in order not to leave you dissatisfied.

5. Make the other person happy about doing the things you suggest |

Good leaderThere are many tasks that will seem banal, difficult, or pointless to your employees− but you are the leader, and you have a method. Sometimes by making something seem like an honor, your employee will feel like he or she is doing you a favor− and that feeling of importance will make for wonderful motivation. But be sincere; do not promise anything that you cannot deliver. Forget about the benefits to yourself and concentrate on the benefits to the other person.

Make clear exactly what you want the other person to do, but remember to be empathetic− ask yourself, “what is it the other person really wants?” Consider the benefits that person will receive from doing what you suggest and match those benefits to the other person’s wants.

Finally, when you make your request, put it in a form that will convey to the other person the idea that he or she will personally benefit. You could give a curt order like this: “John, we have customers coming in tomorrow and I need the stockroom cleaned out. So sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves and polish the counter.”

Or we could express the same idea by showing John the benefits he will get from doing the task: “John, we have a job that should be completed right away. If it is done now, we won’t be faced with it later. I am bringing some customers in tomorrow to show our facilities. I would like to show them the stockroom, but it is in poor shape. If you could sweep it out, put the stock in neat piles on the shelves, and polish the counter, it would make us look efficient and you will have done your part to provide a good company image.”

He might not be thrilled to complete this job either way, but he will feel better than if you hadn’t pointed out the benefits and just demanded he complete the task. Assuming you know your employees take pride in their work and are interested in contributing to the company image, they will be more likely to be cooperative.

It is naive to believe that you’ll always get a positive reaction from the people you lead when you use these approaches, but research and experience have shown that individuals and groups will be more likely to work with you and not against you if you use these principles. And, honestly, even if you increase your successes by a mere 10 percent, you have become 10 percent more effective as a leader than you were before – and that is your benefit.

By Sasha Novikov, Published on Jeff Pulvino’s blog.

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