Marketing Blog | Addison Clark | Richmond, VA


Five years ago Pinterest didn’t exist. It wasn’t a word, a thing, or even a thought. In the last few years, though, the visual social media site has become one of the most popular go-to platforms in the world of event planning.

With over 25 million users today, most of whom are female, Pinterest has become a hot spot for wedding and reception ideas. In fact, Pinterest estimates that there are tens of thousands of user-created wedding boards across the site, many of which are created by women who aren’t even engaged or planning a wedding.

Like millions of other users, I turned to Pinterest for ideas and inspiration when I started planning my own wedding this year. Throughout the process, I realized that there are many ways in which businesses can utilize Pinterest in the same way that brides-to-be do. Whether you’re planning a wedding or an office event, Pinterest can be a very useful planning tool.

One of Pinterest’s best qualities is that it is visual. By pinning a variety of pins onto a single board, I was able to visualize how details would look together. It was also helpful to have all of my ideas in one place where I could easily share them with family members and vendors, so that they too would have a visual of the look and feel of the event.

Likewise, Pinterest is a great resource for businesses to use in order to gather feedback on projects. Instead of having long meetings to brainstorm and discuss, why not use a visual approach? Pinterest boards are a great way for employees to actually see their ideas coming together.

Another useful aspect of Pinterest is that everyone can contribute. I come from a large family so it was no surprise that everyone wanted to offer their ideas and suggestions during the wedding planning process. Pinterest makes it easy to let others in on the plan. I invited my mother and sisters to pin to my wedding boards. This way, when they came across a cute decor idea, hairstyle, or bridesmaid dress they could pin it themselves.

In a business, getting the staff involved in major decisions is a great way to let them share their thoughts and opinions. Encourage employees to pin their own ideas and suggestions to a particular board.

Pinterest is a valuable resource when it comes to searching for wedding vendors. One of the best things about having so many brides on a particular social media site is that they’re able to share their caterers, DJs, wedding officiants, etc. Many pins are linked to these vendor’s websites, which allowed me to contact them directly.

The next time your business hosts an event, consider creating a board to showcase the event. You can pin pictures of the event’s key speakers and link them to your Web site or to those of the speakers. You can also give your sponsors a little extra exposure by creating a board filled with your sponsors’ products and services. Not only does this showcase the types of relationships your business has, but it provides a great resource for others businesses or interested clients.

Finally, remember, that Pinterest is a public space. I was cautious about pinning all of my wedding ideas on Pinterest, because I didn’t want wedding guests to see all of my ideas before the big day. Pinterest solves this problem by offering Secret Boards that are hidden from the general public. You’ll still have access to all the great features Pinterest offers, but you can keep your ideas on the down-low until the time is right.

Happy pinning!

In my profession, daily use of social media is accepted AND expected. I plan my posts, strategizing for each of our clients in addition to representing our company brand. I get the luxury of both work and play on social media, and I have been involved personally with this form of networking for quite some time. I signed up for Facebook when I first found out about it, back in my first semester of college. It was a time when you were required to have a .edu email address to create an account. I've seen many changes in the social media world since then; the growth and expansion of Facebook, the demise of MySpace, the rise of Twitter, and the power of photos on Flickr and Tumblr, to name a few.

Many people don't think twice about what they're doing on social media. In general, a personal social media account is a space that belongs to the individual. Sure, there are certain unspoken rules that should apply to everyone (don't post pictures of you throwing up on the street corner after a long night of drinking, avoid nude photos- you know, follow common decency). However, being active on social media is so common, no one really considers that certain groups may be getting left out of experiencing social networks to the fullest.

I found an interesting article detailing one profession that walks a fine line in the social media universe, and that is teachers. Not only do they have to deal with constant friend requests from current students, they have to be careful about everything they post in a public forum because so many of their students are on Facebook. Student-teacher relationships are frowned upon in any capacity, and privacy controls can only do so much. Can students and teachers share a particular social media space? That is an ethical question that has led many teachers to seek out other platforms for social media that are catered to educators, such as:

Edmodo - A social learning site that, "provides teachers and students a secure place to connect and collaborate, share content, and educational applications, and access homework, grades, class discussions and notifications (Edmodo website)." The purpose is strictly educational, and the network provides a safe and secure environment for connecting with peers and colleagues, as well as students.

edWeb - A networking website strictly for educators. Similar to LinkedIn, it offers, "a community to connect with peers, share information and best practices, spread innovative ideas, and provide professional development (edWeb website)."

This doesn't mean that teachers can't benefit from using the typical social media platforms. For example, the article points out that Facebook and Twitter are great sources of technology news that can be integrated into the classroom. However, because teachers feel limited on how active they can be on more well-known social media platforms, opting to join one of these specialized networks is very appealing.

Read the full article here.

By: Jocy Vuiller

As social media becomes more and more integrated into our daily life, our friends have the privilege of knowing what we’re doing at any given moment, what music we’re listening to, what we’re eating, where we’re eating it at, and exactly what our opinion is on that new Parenthood episode. The issue of over-sharing on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has been discussed over and over in the past few years, but what about how we are supposed to respond to all that over-sharing?

Alex Knapp, a writer for Forbes, brought this subject up recently when he saw on Facebook that one of his office mates was listening to a certain band. He looked the band up and began listening to their music. This is when he found himself in the middle of a social media etiquette predicament.

Should he thank his office mate for introducing him to a new band that he really liked? Would that be creepy? Should he not say anything and continue listening to the same music as she did? Would that be even creepier? What if she didn’t know that what she was sharing on Facebook was “public”? What if she didn’t know she was sharing at all?

Knapp woefully wished for a Miss Manners of the social media world to plague with these questions.

Sharing on Facebook has reached a point where not everything that is posted is voluntary. Outsider apps, such as Spotify and Pinterest, will post what song you’re listening to or what recipe you’ve repinned automatically. While most people are aware of their privacy and sharing settings, not everyone is knowledgeable of the fact that the miniscule details of their lives are being posted on the Internet for “everyone” to see.

(“Everyone” as in their office mate whom they added out of politeness, their crush from high school whom they added so they could browse through his/her wedding photos , their best friend’s brother’s girlfriend whom they added because…heck, they don’t even know why they added her!)

Either way, these are the people who are being updated with details of other people’s lives, a little treat they have at their fingertips thanks to a pretty little thing called social media.

How are we supposed to respond to that? Is it simply accepted that everything that is posted on social media networks is meant for public consumption and, therefore, okay to discuss with family and friends? Or do social norms prevail and real life manners apply?

Miss Manners, where are you when we need you?

Get the most from your Data

Acquisition, engagement, and outcome are important aspects of creating a marketing and public relations strategy for your company and your website. You have to begin with a plan, but once you obtain results, how do you know where to start with deciphering those analytics? Many people know that they can use Google Analytics to their advantage, but they don't know what they should be looking for.

The goal of having a website is to engage customers and potential clients, right? You want to be able to drive a client to your website, but once they get there, what is going to compel them to stay? You can probably think of a few things that will drive you away from returning to a website, whether it is a flashy pop up, or an advertisement with loud music. There is nothing more annoying than a website that has 15 advertisements pop up before you even get to the homepage. If that's the case, I will most likely not be a returning visitor to that site.

In gaining engagement, you have to consider the ideas, organization, and visual elements that make your customers feel like they can depend on your website for valuable information from a reliable source. Once you have a good visual aspect, and your site seems generally easy to navigate, you might want to start monitoring your site traffic in order to see where you can make improvements.

Google metrics can seem a little confusing at first, but mashable.com has broken down the three main statistics:

"The three key engagement metrics in Google Analytics are:

  • Pages per Visit: This is the average number of pages a visitor views when coming to your website. The more engaging your site is, the more inclined visitors will be to continue clicking beyond the entry page.
  • Average Time on Site: This refers to the typical amount of time visitors spend on your site, despite whether they continue to stay on the page they came in on or navigate elsewhere within your domain.
  • Bounce Rate: This represents the percentage of single-page visits to your site. It gives you a sense of how many visitors left your site from the entrance page rather than clicking further into your site as compared to total visitors. Like Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate can help you determine the performance of your entry pages based on the actions visitors take (or don’t take) after they’ve arrived on your site."

You can then use these tools to decide if your website is user-friendly, or if you need improvement on the links that navigate through your website. Take into consideration a few questions: is the content on your site is useful to the customer, and does the content on a specific page match the keywords in the links provided? Using these questions and numbers in sync can be a surefire way to improve the quality of your web traffic. Depending on your goals, it will be up to you and your company to decide which of these insights, metrics, and features are going to be the most useful to you. However, it provides a highway to strengthen your marketing techniques, write better-targeted ads, and improve keywords to increase customer traffic through your site.

Source: http://mashable.com/2012/01/04/google-analytics-guide/

Facebook & Twitter: How employees can affect you and your business

Recently, a friend of mine asked me a question that has become a very common topic of interest for businesses, small and big alike. I got an e-mail saying that he was interested in the "best practices for putting out guidelines/codes of conduct for employees using social media." After some thought, this is what we have come up with.

There are quite a few things you might want to take into consideration when drafting guidelines for employees. Usually when it comes to larger companies, you want employees to be well aware of how they endorse you. They might think it's okay to represent your brand or logo by making it their "profile picture," or by posting a status about the company. This should only be done in good fashion if it is a company-wide way to get your name out. If that is the case, there should be prior notification via meetings or e-mail, announcing that the company would like employees to post about a specific event or announcement.

Unless you are using employees as a part of a marketing campaign, pictures and logos should not be represented as a profile picture-- simply because of this: I believe Marlboro had this problem years ago when an employee made the Marlboro logo his profile picture, and then had obscene statuses on his profile-- which depicts the company in bad light. They need to remember at all times that they represent YOU!

You might want to consider having all employees have some sort of privacy enabled, and give a seminar on how to use the privacy settings on Facebook. While this can protect them in many ways, this can also protect your company in the future. Especially, with new changes coming to Facebook and Twitter, it would be wise to make settings on personal profiles that allow the user to accept or decline tags where their name is mentioned.

If your company has a crisis team enabled somewhere (there should be at least some small department or code that says if a crisis is happening, here's who speaks to the media, here's what we do, etc), you should make sure this team is well aware of how Facebook and Twitter can be used to your advantage should a crisis appear. Whether the crisis is good (i.e. your company becomes recognized as one of the best for 2012), or the crisis is bad (i.e. your company is under fire because someone has been embezzling money), your crisis plan should implement social media. Taking full responsibility in the light of social media is a great way to gain the public's trust, and keep a good reputation. For more on crisis communications, click here.

Holding annual or bi-annual seminars on social media should be implemented, and employees should be well aware of their role on the internet. Many people tend to easily forget that anyone can see pictures, posts, and personal information if privacy settings are not enabled. This should not discourage anyone from using social media, but instead, should encourage people to be aware of how to use it-- especially when the reputation of your company could be at risk.

With the holidays coming up, internet sales are going to increase dramatically. As people search for the perfect gift for their friends and family, this is the perfect time to take advantage of all of this consumer excitement. Promoting your business towards the end of the year can help you meet those sales goals that you may have missed in months past. Offering holiday specials are one way to drive more customers in, but social media can give you the boost to let more potential customers know about your product in a quicker fashion.

You want your business's name to stick in consumer's minds, and one way to do that is to frequently update your Facebook and Twitter accounts. For instance, many companies might offer special deals to those who "like" their Facebook page, or for those who comment on a specific status. Being creative and flexible with your strategy will set you apart from the rest; staying in contact with your customer's will enable you to create relationships that will last long after the holiday season. Make sure to keep your client's informed about new products and special discounts, and you are bound to make an impression on them that will drive them back to your business. Check out these tips from Sam Cannon of the E-commerce Times. (Click here to see the full article).

1. Use Location-Based Apps

Brands that are already active on Twitter and Facebook will have the most success leveraging social campaigns over the holidays due to their built-in fan base and followers, but brand marketers should not overlook the opportunities that exist within location-based applications such as Foursquare, Gowalla and even Facebook's new "Deals" feature.

Many retailers are already generating revenue by posting daily offers that can be redeemed locally. Adding location-based promotions is an effective way to drive in-store traffic and creates another touch point for consumer engagement.

2. Give the 'Wish List' a Makeover

Finding that perfect gift for someone can be a challenge, and shoppers oftentimes will turn to gift cards as a last resort. As an alternative, consider a new twist on the "wish list" feature on most leading e-commerce sites.

The first step is to make the experience of building the wish list more engaging for the user. For example, instead of calling it a wish list, get creative. If your target audience is made up of music fans, launch a poster or album cover creator -- something that will resonate with consumers and be seen as less of a chore to assemble.

The most important element here, however, is making the wish list easy to share across Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites. Enable individual items to be shared with Facebook friends for feedback or one-off "wishes."

3. Create Custom Shopping Experiences Online

Some of the most effective retail marketing campaigns are those that create truly personal connections with consumers. Great examples are those digital experiences that enable shoppers to try things on virtually -- clothes, hairstyles, makeup -- making the consumer part of the brand.

In order to maximize these experiences, take them a couple steps further. After a consumer interacts with the promotion, give them the tools they need to easily share their experience with friends in their social networks so they can join the fun too. Don't forget an enticing follow-up offer to seal the deal -- a promotional code, coupon or other offer that will turn these branded experiences into sales.

4. Use Social Media Channels to Promote Time-Sensitive Deals

Retailers have been extremely successful using social media to broadcast time-sensitive deals as a way to reward their loyal customer base.

Post-holiday, these deal feeds are a great way to clear out the inevitable stack of returned merchandise. So, consider using your brand's Twitter feed (or creating a new one) as an auction mechanism for the post-holiday returns.

5. Be as Clear as Holiday Crystal

It goes without saying that retailers should try to make the holiday shopping experience as stress-free as possible. So when using social media channels to communicate with your customers, be sure to clearly articulate the value.

Be clear about what role each of your social community efforts is supposed to play -- both internally and with your fans and followers. If it's to answer gift questions, then do that only. If there is another effort to address availability of gifts, make sure your team understands that.

Anticipate that if you create the impression or expectation that your social environment can help with holiday shopping, then customer expectations for you to deliver on that promise will likely be higher than at almost any other time of the year.

Reverse Social Marketing: Crisis Management

Much of the social media world is still being figured out. The best approach to understanding how exactly this works is knowing that what you are dealing with is two-way communication. We are past the days of brochures and billboards, comment cards and customer complaint files. The future of social media holds the possibilities of websites, blogs, and real-time updates, but that comes with the horror of complaints being filed right on your website for all to see-- and it all boils down to how you react. So what should you do if you get a bad review? Let's say someone came to your Facebook and posted a bad review on your wall on how bad your customer service is, or someone with a huge following on twitter made a tweet about how much they dislike your company? How do you respond? Addison Clark Online would like to offer a few tips on how to handle public relations when things go wrong.

1. Do not point fingers.

Blaming someone else will make you look bad; no matter if it is your fault, your brother's fault, or completely out of your hands, do not do it! It is YOUR company, so regardless of the issue, the best way to handle this crisis is to take responsibility and own up. Take for instance the case of Johnson and Johnson when their Tylenol bottles were tampered with. (For more info. check out this site). In short, seven people were found dead after taking extra-strength Tylenol. The bottles had been tampered with and deadly cyanide had been inserted into the pills. Instead of pointing fingers and blaming the person(s) who had done the tampering, Johnson and Johnson assumed responsibility and removed the product off of the shelves in a massive recall. The public's safety came first, and J&J risked their own profit to ensure that no one else would be hurt by their product. Their reputation was saved and they have continued to prosper since this tragic incident.

2. Silence is your enemy!

Some people think they if they do not respond to a bad review, it will go away-- wrong! In a world where media is available at the click of a button, videos can go viral within an hour. Let's analyze the Domino's pizza crisis where two of their employees put up a "fake" video of them mishandling food, including putting cheese up their nose and violating multiple health-code standards. (Check out this article). The video spread fast, and resulted in the two employees being charged with felonies and being fired. But what about the reputation of the company? They faced millions of appalled customers, and a multimedia frenzy was quickly backing them into a corner. It took Domino's pizza a few days to respond, and even then, their apologies seemed a bit phony and they kept repeating that the video was supposedly a joke. Maybe if they had responded immediately, the video could have been removed, as well as the two employees, and Domino's could have saved their reputation by appearing more sincere and concerned about their customers. Instead, they are still working to recover from this abomination.

3. Have a Crisis team ready at all times!

A crisis does not always have to be considered a bad thing. This past Spring, VCU put their name on the map as their Men's Basketball team entered the Final Four. Nationwide, people were wondering who the Rams are. VCU had to go into crisis mode; this was an event that could help them potentially reach an entirely new audience, so why not use it to their benefit? Commercials had to be made by advertising departments, centering on VCU basketball and al l of the great things that the school is known for. Let's be serious, some of the first few commercials weren't all that great. The school's website also took a hit. VCU's website received over 11 million hits that Sunday night after beating Kansas, and donations hit over $250,000. VCU's crisis team definitely had to be prepared to work around the clock! Having a plan for a crisis never hurt anyone-- it's inevitable that a crisis will happen(whether it be good or bad), but being prepared will be your best defense.

Making the Most of Social Blogging for Your Business

Inc.: Tips for Using Social Blogging to Grow Your Business

For this month's blog, we have scoured the World Wide Web to locate the best tips for a business utilizing social blogging. Thanks to Inc.com, we found 5 great tips all in one place! From a start up business to an established firm, everyone can use social blogging to generate brand awareness. Interacting with your customers has shown to generate more than just impressions on your Facebook page; it in turn shows a boost in revenue. Accurately reaching your customers via social media has the ability to increase your visibility, drive traffic to your company's website, and improve your search engine results.

1. Encourage interaction and feedback. Your company can benefit from valuable feedback through comments and suggestions. Do a call for action in your posts. You can also gain insight about your audience using Q&A, bookmarking icons, link builder, word tracker, Google Adwords and so on. Make it easy for your readers to share posts. Encourage them to share tips and personal experiences with using your products or services. Just make sure you are on hand to respond to any comments, says Richards. Failing to do this is a sign that you don't respect or care about your audience.

2. Share experience and information. Social blogging is often used to share experiences in addition to business ideas and concepts. Always seek unique opportunities to share your ideas and offerings with not only your readers, but their associates as well, which will eventually bring in more prospects. Announce upcoming events, awards, and other news. But do it in a conversational tone. Hopefully, your target audience will retweet or share your story. Don't overlook Tunmblr, which is popular in the microblogging realm. Users can post text, photos, quotes, links, dialogues, audio, video, slideshows and "Tumble" other posts. Tumblr provides the option of custom domains. You can auto-syndicate to Facebook and Twitter. Users can track stats with Google Analytics.

3. Link back to your website. Make sure everything you do is somehow tied back in to your company website. Use RSS feeds so your main site always has fresh content, which improves search engine rankings, says Martin. Use your Twitter account to build links to your blog. Use tags and keywords that make your posts more searchable. Google Keyword Tools is a great device, adds Martin.

4. Keep it fresh and mix it up. Frequent one note updates can be a major turn off for say Facebook fans, while Twitter followers are more accustomed to frequent posts. Try to mix it up. Spark up conversation with the help of images and videos. Marketing experts suggest businesses update their audiences on a regular basis but only if there's something new, informative and interesting to say. Even if you need to repeat an update to promote a current offer or a call to action for a project, put a new twist on it each time.

5. Use a personal touch. Having your employees or even the president post updates can help revolutionize how your business communicates with your customers and associates. Take Bill Marriott, chairman and CEO of Marriott International, he is one of the most famous corporate bloggers worldwide. His "Marriott On The Move" interactive weekly posts has won the site loyal fans. You can follow his updates on Twitter @Billmarriott. Marriott's personal involvement has had a far-reaching impact within the company. Since first launching their CEO's blog, the company has continued to grow in the social media sphere by adding more blogs, several different Twitter feeds and even its own online community for Marriott Rewards members.


You may or may not have seen these bar code-like, one-dimensional designs, but they are rapidly growing in usage. Products, brochures, newspapers, magazines, and even store windows are making room for the QR code. This month we'd like to tackle the 411 about these codes and how they may be beneficial to you and your business!

What is this is QR code business? Quick Response codes (QR codes) are similar to the typical bar code we are all used to seeing on most every product. Unlike this new addition to the bar code family, typical bar codes track price and inventory. The QR code, on the other hand, has the ability to hold much more information. With a quick scan a QR code can drive traffic to your website, Facebook  page, and so much more.  With the use of an iPhone, Android, or any camera-ready Smartphone the code will direct you to the digital content on the web. Even better there are FREE applications like Scanlife that can be downloaded to your phone to read QR codes. Another function, which Andrew and Jeff absolutely love, the code can hold contact information, which is directly placed into your phone book when scanned.

Where do these codes go? With the versatility of QR codes, they can be placed almost anywhere!! If you'd like to drive traffic to your website a code can be placed on fliers, brochures, receipts, name tags, store windows, or even the side of a truck! United Airlines is one of the many major airlines that now use these QR codes as a digital boarding pass. With the ability to store contact information or your web address the back of your business card is a great place to start. The placement possibilities are endless; I've even seen them on t-shirts.

Why use them? With a number of sites that generate these for FREE, there is no reason not to jump on the bandwagon (a trendy bandwagon at that). While generating the code via sites like qrcode.kaywa.com you simply enter the appropriate data, maybe spice it up with some color and BAM, easy access for your customers.

People, to my dismay, are not mind readers. That being said, if you don't tell, show, sing, or ask people to find you on your favorite social media platforms-- they won't. Here are 6 easy ways to show off your social and increase your social media traffic.

1.) Your Email Signature,

You know that target market you're always looking for to join you online? You probably just sent them an email and they have no idea you are social.

Sincerely, Another Missed Opportunity

Did somebody say opportunity? Yes! Just thinking about how many e-mails you and your employees send out a day should be enough to get you giddy inside. For a simple explanation of how to and pictures, here is a link to help you upgrade your signature.

Food for thought. Erica Lamberta, an amazing marketing professional at Virginia Commonwealth Univerisity, suggests in addition to adding the links to your signature also encouraging your pen pal to join you on your social network. Before your signature, list the benefits of joining your group and ask them to join. For example,"For more interesting articles about how social media can help your business and updates about ACO, join us on our Facebook page www.facebook.com./addisonclarkonline."

2.) Business Cards

Move over watermark, social media icons are the new hottest thing to put on your business card. If you don't have it on your business card already and are not planning on getting more soon, that's okay. Place a sticker on the back of your card asking your new friends to join your social platforms. Did somebody say creative opportunity? How fun! Give your friends more to look at than a picture of social media icon. Write something funny or persuasive as to why they should join your social scene.

3.) Signs in Store

Let your customers know you're online and want to be a part of their life! Little signs by the register and hanging in your window are perfect places for you to show off your social.

4.) On your Website!

Displaying social media icons on your website is like adding milk to your cereal. It's all part of a well balanced social media campaign! This is the most popular way to get the word out and allow your fans to stay connected.

5.) Get the word out in your Newsletters.

If your company sends out a newsletter, list your social networks there too. Newsletters are great for introducing your social networks. Explain how these networks will benefit your customers and ask them to join.

6.) Just talk about it.

Easy. People make stronger connections in person which will lead to more action. Break into conversation by mentioning an interesting article you posted that you think they might find interesting. An approach like this will help offer a compelling reason as to why they should visit your social networks.

We want your ideas for how to increase social media traffic too! Please add yours below and tell us your thoughts :)

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