Cari Ashkin

LinkedIn — the most professional of all social media platforms. You know its importance, you recognize its value, but you may not fully understand how to leverage its features for your professional benefit.

Unlike other social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, many people check in on their LinkedIn profiles on a less frequent basis. Sometimes seen as the “black sheep” of social media, you might find daily touchpoints unnecessary, but it doesn’t make the platform any less of an essential tool to utilize in your professional life. LinkedIn provides a space for businesses, employees and jobseekers to digitally network with other professionals in any given industry.

So, if you find yourself at a loss for ramping up your LinkedIn profile and making the most of its capabilities, follow A. Bright Idea’s five Cs of LinkedIn to make your profile stand out while adding some weight to your online presence.

CREATE your personal brand
According to Business Insider, many hiring managers make up their mind about a prospective employee within the first seven seconds of meeting them. Meaning, first impressions carry a tremendous amount of weight. Treat your LinkedIn profile the same way. To demonstrate your professionalism in the online world, make sure to upload a recent, high-resolution headshot as your profile image. Paying close attention to these details helps build your personal brand and invites others into the essence of what you offer through your experience and professionalism.
CONNECT with other industry leaders
Expand your network and increase the opportunities available to you by connecting with colleagues, industry experts, high-level CEOs, clients or key community leaders. Doing so can serve as an especially fruitful tool when looking to reach members of a different industry, or one in which you have a specific interest. LinkedIn connections can also garner new skill endorsements, thus building your credibility and profile views.
CAPTURE attention with your experience
Develop a brief but engaging summary of your experience to give profile viewers a glimpse into your professional background. Don’t shy away from including interests, passions and professional development experiences in which you participate. All of these assets build a well-rounded professional background and provide industry experts a clear picture of everything you bring to the table.
CULTIVATE relationships through engagement
We see no exception to the notion of “you get what you give” on LinkedIn. Build relationships with your connections by endorsing their skills a minimum of one to two times per week and engaging with their posted content through likes, comments and shares. Not only will this demonstrate the value you place in the individual you promote, it will encourage them to do the same for you.
CAPTIVATE your audience through content
Use your expertise to write compelling content specific to your industry or profession. Developing useful, sharable content showcases your background and experience for your current and potential connections. Garner their attention by also sharing industry-related articles, further positioning yourself as an expert in your field and staying up-to-date with the latest trends.

By implementing the five Cs of LinkedIn, you will quickly grow your network, business opportunities and partners online – all with a minimal investment of time. Enhancing your personal brand will benefit you and your business. Watch your connections increase and your profile expand in just a few weeks and enjoy the professional benefits that follow as a result!

Tell us about a personal success story or strategy using LinkedIn to create connections in the comments below.

Shawn Nesaw

When it comes to social platforms, the size of Facebook’s community continues to lead the pack. Facebook boasts 1.37 billion daily active users worldwide, with the number of Facebook users in the United States expected to reach 207.36 million.

That’s a lot of eyeballs, and if your business doesn’t have a presence on the platform, you’ll unequivocally miss out on countless opportunities to grow brand awareness, and ultimately, increase revenue.

By now, most businesses have at least developed a business-specific page on Facebook that says to users, “Hey, I’m here!” But, consider how you can stand out and wow your existing and potential customers with thoughtful posts and engaging content.

We’ve developed a list of Facebook facts to help take your business to the next level in 2018.

Back to basics
Considering all the flashy features Facebook has to offer, it’s easy to overlook the simple building blocks of effective communication with your customers. Make sure the “About” section on your page reflects your business’ correct hours of operation, contact information, including a telephone number, email and address, and a quick, descriptive line or two about your products or services. If customers can’t get a hold of you, or if they’re unsure of your purpose, you risk losing their interest and trust.
It takes two
If you want your customers to engage with your content, your page and ultimately your brand, make sure you also spend time engaging with your customers and acknowledging interactions. Respond to reviews, both negative and positive. Take the time to “Like” or reply to comments and photos visitors leave on your page’s wall. Highlight positive customer and vendor interactions by tagging them, with permission, in posts. Don’t forget to venture outside of your page and engage on other pages to expand the reach of the conversation.
Video, video, video
Video posts dominate today’s social media landscape and continue to garner more attention from users over other forms of media. Don’t let fear get in the way of taking part in the trend — you don’t need a professional videographer to shoot videos for posting on your Facebook page. In fact, people forgive less-than-stellar production quality video as long as the story keeps them engaged. Do a little research on how to shoot quality videos using just your smartphone. Pro tip: before you post your video, add captioning manually or using Facebook’s automated tool, as more and more users watch videos, but in many cases with the sound off for part or all of the video.
Do it live
Authentically promote your brand by enlisting the help of Facebook Live. This feature provides users a unique, inside look into your business through the power of immediacy. Plus, anyone can do it — simply determine an interesting facet of your business, aim and shoot! Develop your talking points or a full script, whatever makes you more comfortable in front of the camera. The purpose is to increase engagement on your page while delivering content your audience will like. You can also continue the two-way conversation by responding to comments during the live event. And, if Facebook gives live videos a boost using its algorithm — meaning the platform puts your live videos in front of more people — you should take advantage.
Keep it consistent
A successful Facebook page relies on consistency in a variety of ways. Always make sure the tone and imagery of your Facebook remain true to your overall branding. However, you can let your brand’s guard down and use a more casual attitude across the platform, even if your brand typically employs a more formal approach. Remember, the goal remains engaging with your audience, so take note of how they speak and incorporate that into your posting strategy. Most importantly, make sure you post regularly. A Facebook page with stale and outdated content can cause distrust and force your audience to go elsewhere.
Rules of engagement
For those businesses unwilling or afraid to step onto the Facebook scene, rules of engagement provide clear parameters to help guide the conversation on your page. Set guidelines in your “About” section including the prohibition of profanity on your page, the ability to delete comments not related to the post and intolerance of personal attacks. You may need to decide whether or not addressing negative feedback or aggression on your page publically can provide a better customer experience overall. By responding to negative content publically, you can offer a professional and friendly solution that upholds your reputation among other audience members.

At the end of the day, engaging with your audience regularly and authentically through quality content, engaging conversations and meaningful interactions will put your business ahead of the rest.

Facebook’s latest algorithm update penalizes “engagement-bait” material — posts that overtly encourage comments, likes and shares — and prioritizes personal pages and posts over public and business pages’ content. This means Facebook ad space will diminish making inventory more valuable and potentially more expensive. Businesses that proactively engage audiences in organic ways, however, can improve the likelihood of appearing higher and more often across user feeds.

While this blog provided a few tips to jumpstart your focus in 2018, Facebook boasts many additional features to utilize and incorporate into your strategy. Let us know what Facebook features you’d like to hear about or questions you have in the comments section. Or, even better, tag us on Facebook at @abrightidea and let’s start a conversation.

Katie Bouloubassis

With 500 million tweets sent per day by approximately 100 million daily users, Twitter is the fourth largest social media platform behind Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

As new updates roll out on Twitter, it’s tough to adjust, learn and implement the new features quickly. As an ever-changing platform, Twitter requires constant monitoring due to the rapid timeline updates of current events.

With the Tweet Tips below, get ready to actively engage with your current and potential customers on Twitter!

Tweet Actions
Creating original content to post and quoting existing tweets of others allows you to easily engage with followers. The comment you add makes it easy for your followers to understand the reasoning behind the retweet and how it connects to you and your business. Quoting essentially makes the entire tweet yours, so the engagement and impressions garnered from the “new” tweet reflects positively on your account.
What to Tweet
Your followers clicked the follow button for a reason. For the most part, you should tweet about your brand experience. As a business, you’re recognized by audiences for a product or service and they want to hear about it. A key component of any social platform, but especially Twitter, is engaging with others. Take time to find conversations around your industry’s topics and engage others in those conversations with a comment or a quote retweet. While your tweets should relate to your business, don’t shy away from engaging in other conversations that do not relate directly. Any comment added continues a larger conversation, and broadens your follower base.
Post a Poll
Utilize Twitter’s poll feature to expand engagement in a fun and creative way. Propose an open-ended question to your followers on a topic of your choice with up to four answers. A. Bright Idea’s campus recently received a makeover, sparking our own version of the poll-gone-viral, blue vs. gold dress debate. After several disagreements on the new color of one of our buildings, we took to Twitter to let our followers decide — blue or gray. Select how long your poll stays open, whether you want immediate results after 24 hours or a week to collect as many votes as possible.

Trends and Hashtags
Twitter has a daily list of trending topics and hashtags. The trends change multiple times a day, so when you see one that applies to you or your company, use it immediately. Using hashtags allows your content to become easily discoverable and essentially increase your chances of higher engagement and impressions, as well as gaining followers. Twitter bases trends of location, making it easy to select the best option for incorporating into your tweets. You can change the settings to see surrounding cities’ trends or country and world-wide trends. Crafting tweets to include additional hashtags can expand its discoverability, but Twitter recommends keeping it limited to no more than two hashtags per tweet.
Tagging
Tagging people and businesses in your tweets is, in essence, a way to talk to specific people or businesses directly on Twitter. With overly cluttered news feeds, if you have something to say to someone, tagging is the way to go. Additionally, tagging expands the reach of the post, garnering more impressions and in some cases, overall engagement. Giving shout-outs to other businesses through tagging can spark conversation or result in retweets, likes or follows.
Moments and Lists
Personalize your Twitter with Moments — curated stories about what’s happening, powered by tweets. Moments have a variety of topics, such as: Today, News, Sports, Entertainment and Fun. Moments can showcase your company culture, events and announcements for the public. When creating Moments, we recommend you use a mixture of videos, photos, gifs and full-text tweets to keep your followers engaged.Lists serve as a great tool when you want to narrow down your search on a specific topic. As a curated group of Twitter accounts, Lists include accounts that tweet about similar topics in one central location. Lists essentially become a separate timeline of its own, streaming tweets surrounding the designated topic. Create your own Lists or subscribe to those created by other Twitter users to engage in conversations related to your business.
280 Characters
In September 2017, Twitter introduced the roll-out of the new 280-character count to select accounts before officially granting all members usage in November. As advocates for perfect grammar and correct spelling, we enjoy the 280-character limit. Now, you don’t need abbreviations and number substitutions for words to save space. Don’t sacrifice your content’s value for the sake of condensing a tweet — take advantage of this gift and use the extra 140 characters as needed. While some users became outraged over this update, others used the extra space for fun, like Jimmy Kimmel and Ellen DeGeneres.

Remember, Twitter is a great tool for you and your business when used appropriately. Have fun and try out all of the features of the platform. Let us know if you plan to use Twitter more in 2018 or ask us any questions about the features mentioned by tweeting us @aBrightIdea96.

Shawn Nesaw

Today, social media is a critical component of the marketing strategy for most businesses. This phenomenon shouldn’t be surprising, as more than 50 million active small business pages exist (Brandwatch.com) on Facebook alone. While there is nothing our social media experts love more than to see businesses grasp the powerful nature of a social media presence, balance is key. When overindulging, it’s easy to spread your content thin across several channels.

The saying “jack of all trades, master of none,” accurately describes this craze. Many small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) create four to five social media accounts with the thought, “If I’m on these social media platforms, I’ll have more opportunity to communicate to our audience.” While a presence on more social channels does provide SMBs increased audience exposure opportunities, maintaining a legitimate presence on each platform is a two-way street. If SMBs publish content frequently but fall short when it comes time to respond and engage audiences past the initial post, audiences will look elsewhere for content.

All too often when a new social media platform hits the market, the first thought is to immediately engage. It’s the “shiny new toy” effect of which Snapchat illustrates best. Many SMB’s who target younger audiences thought Snapchat would be the right channel and for some it was, but for most, it wasn’t. Snapchat takes time to learn, produce content and grow an audience. Yes, Snapchat is great for targeting a younger demographic, but if the SMB doesn’t have a Snapchat strategic plan in place, Snapchat isn’t going to necessarily work.

Whether it’s Snapchat, Instagram or even Facebook, SMBs should look at their goals and think strategically. Consider the following criteria when selecting the appropriate channel:

  • Does the channel help meet communication goals?
  • Does your business have the capacity to produce the necessary content to effectively reach the audience?
  • Will you be able to reach and engage your audience on this channel?
  • Do you have a real reason for being part of that social community?

If you answered “yes” to the above criteria, then the social channel in question might be a good fit for your business.

The last thing you want to do is make a semi-enthusiastic commitment to a channel, which ultimately becomes just a waste of time and resources, two things no business can afford. The truth of the matter is, it’s not necessary to be on every social channel.

Before diving in, here’s what you need to know about each social channel.

 

After considering those two channels, we recommend the following social channels after careful consideration of the target audience, brand goals and ability to maintain the channel. Use the descriptions below to help guide you towards the social channels that work best.

Social media shouldn’t be a struggle; it should be fun. It’s where you get an opportunity to talk about your brand, show people who you are and engage audiences you may have otherwise missed. Building your brand on social media is crucial for success in today’s marketplace so choose the social channels that meet your business goals.

Tell us how you engage your audiences through social media by commenting below or engage with us on social media. Let’s start the conversation.

Sources: Social Media Today and Hootsuite

Kristie Sheppard

Marketing your small winery can seem overwhelming and challenging, especially for those small shops with just one, or maybe a few employees. During harvest, there is never enough time to even think about marketing, and by the time you get everything else done from, bottling to distribution, it’s almost harvest again! However, you know creative and customer-focused marketing is critical to the success of your winery.

Adding a few simple tools to your marketing toolbox can assist in strategically and successfully promoting your wine brand. Even a minimal time investment pays huge dividends with the following tips.

  1. Know your audience. Defining your target audience is the first step in effective marketing. Keep in mind your audience is much larger than just wine drinkers. Analyze and organize your current customer base by categories, such as millennials, baby boomers, women or wine drinkers who are new to enjoying wine.
  2. Define your message. Determine a key message to connect your brand with each group of ideal customers. The message should be clear, direct and consistently used so it resonates with potential customers. For example, if your millennial audience group is interested in scores from Parker, make sure your messaging includes your recent ratings. Key messages help tell your story to compel your audience to take action.
  3. Get to know the media. Sending a press release about your upcoming winemaker dinner to the local food and wine critic without building a relationship with him/her will appear self-serving and may get pushed aside. Build a relationship with wine writers and influencers. Read their stories, engage with them on social media platforms and share their stories. Are you getting ready to promote a new wine and want some press? Invite the writer to a private tasting before the release to allow for personalized face time. Prepare materials in advance to make packaging the story easy for the reporter; include photos, content and potential alternate interview contacts.
  4. Engage on social media. Social media used to be about likes and followers. Now, engagement determines success- how many people, when they see your Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat or Instagram post, actually like, share, or comment on that post. Engagement is a two-way conversation. The best way to get engagement is to give some as well. Scrolling through your social media feeds for 10 -15 minutes per day looking for like-minded brands, wine influencers and your customers so you can comment, like and share their posts, will show your investment in the industry. Social interaction creates an awareness of your brand with audiences, who may become followers or customers. Social engagement will keep you in the minds of your customers and strengthen your consumer-producer relationship. Wineries can be hesitant to post on social media because of the Federal Trade Commission laws on advertising to minors, but with advances in data collection on most of the major platforms, you can confidently and legally promote your brand.
  5. Kieran Robinson Wines’ Sparkling Brigade is eye catching and meaningful.

    Let the label tell the brand’s story. If your wine is in retail shops or on display at a restaurant, the packaging is your most valuable asset. You need a label that stands out from the crowd, but also represents your brand and identity. Make sure your key message is translated into the label through visuals or text.

  6. Utilize influencers. Invite top wine influencers to a tasting. Engage with them on social media. Meg Maker, Amy Lieberfarb, Jancis Robinson, Jon Thorson and Antonio Galloni are just a few, but like we mention in Tip #1, do your research to make sure chosen influencers are appropriate for your brand.
  7. Participate in tasting events. For most small producers, providing complimentary cases and cases of wine to a special event may put a big dent in your potential sales, but don’t underestimate the value of attending these events. Yes, you will definitely get quite a few people who are attending the event just to get intoxicated. You will also get serious wine drinkers and media. Many tasting events host a trade/media hour prior to the general public. This is your opportunity to meet media face-to-face and make a lasting impression. Do your research about tasting opportunities. Find out what reporters and influencers have attended in the past. Ask fellow wineries if they have participated and what their thoughts are.

These cost-effective and simple tips will be the start to successfully marketing your winery. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about wine marketing. Comment or share on social media and tag A. Bright Idea so we can reply!