websites

Will Your Small Business Be More Successful With the Use of Social Media?

In my opinion this is an obvious yes, but you’d be very surprised with how many people are still afraid to cross over to the social media era. “Businesses that use the Web are growing 15% faster than those that do not. That’s the reality now,” said Susan Sobbott, President of American Express OPEN, in closing her lunchtime panel discussion at The New York Times Small Business Summit.”

In a recent article that I had read, three businesses gave their opinions on how social media can make all of the difference for a small business.  The following is my perspective on their stories.

  • Example 1 – Birchbox:  Birchbox is a health and beauty company.  To market their product, they would send out a little pink box full of health and beauty samples.  To add to their publicity, they allowed their viewing audience to post videos of themselves opening these gift items.  Yes, simple! Posting videos to websites is a form of social media, and guess what this ultimately did for Birchbox?  It spread the word to friends and family members instantly.  Birchbox didn’t lead the conversations about their brand, but the customers did, leading to more visualization of the company, and more sales!
  • Example 2 – Orabrush:  Orabrush, a tongue cleaner product, originally had very little success.  A product with limited marketing material, sitting on retail shelves, waiting for the notice to be discontinued.  That was until a marketing student suggested making a YouTube video.  Once the YouTube video was published, sales spiked with the product that was once close to elimination.  This helped Orabrush in the smaller retail world, which gave incentive for them to advance into the big leagues.  They again turned to social media and invested in a Facebook ad, which ultimately drove them into the Walmart stores, as well as other larger retail stores.  Again, with a little research, they found that personality driven videos on YouTube created the most attention.  With little investment, Orabrush made a killing in sales and is still going strong.
  • Example 3 – Warby Parker: Warby Parker is an online eyeglass company that started from the concept that the founder despised outlandish designer eyewear prices.  “Warby Parker has a virtual try-on tool and sends customers five pairs to try out for five days, a policy that co-founder and co-CEO Neil Blumenthal said builds trust and inspires people to buy.”  What did this lead to?  Word of mouth sales!  Sales spiked almost 50% when this marketing strategy led to an increase in friends and family spreading the word about the great eyewear program.  No more running to stores, all you needed to do was pick which glasses you wanted and return the rest.  Warby Parker also accredited their success to outstanding customer service and was very adamant about the importance of investing in quality staff for retaining customers.

These are obviously just a few of the success stories that are out on the internet.  If a business puts forth some creativity, a solid social media campaign, and a commitment to invest time in their efforts, and odds are that company is going to see an increase in overall profit and success.

Do you feel a lull in sales?  Would it help your business to post an ad on Facebook or a video on YouTube?  Do you have personality and flair that will appeal to an audience?  Then what are you waiting for?  Take advantage of social media and turn that small business into a social media success story!

My Favorite WordPress Plugins

By Natalie Schloesser, IMPACT's Website Manager You’ve probably looked at a WordPress site today. In fact, IMPACT is built on WordPress! For those who don’t know, WordPress is an Open Source CMS Platform that drives nearly 20% of all websites today*.

In English please? Let’s work backwards. All websites are built on a ‘platform’ – basically software that helps the site work. CMS stands for “Content Management System”. If you can login to your website and change the content on a page, you have a CMS. Open Source** is a term that is used across the Internet; it’s a community of developers that work together to constantly build and improve upon software that is available to the general public at no cost.

Being a website developer and designer, I’ve worked with numerous different platforms, numerous different CMS’s, and numerous different Open Source products. Embarrassingly enough, I must admit: for a long time I did not jump on the WordPress bandwagon. I hesitated when building my first site in WordPress. Now I am happy to say that my first experience was so extremely pleasant that since then I have built every single new client site in WordPress and converted many of my current clients to the WordPress platform.

One great thing about WordPress are the plugins. Plugins are additions – “bells and whistles”, if you may – that offer you extra functionality to make your site do what you want. Side note: Widgets are the things you see in the sidebar columns or footer columns. Who knew the internet would bring us a whole new glossary of terms?

My Favorite WordPress Plugins Though this list could be much longer than it is, I thought I’d keep it to five. Here are my favorite WordPress Plugins, many of them on every site I build:

  1. nextGEN Photo Gallery A very powerful photo gallery that helps to organize your photos into albums. Automatically creates thumbnails, allows a title and caption for each photo, completely customizable page layout, and more.
  2. Social Profiles Widget This plugin is a widget that goes in your sidebar or footer columns. It has each social media icon ready for your social profile to save you the hassle of manually adding in each individual social website.
  3. Google Calendar Events If you use Google Calendar and need your calendar on your website, this is the way to go. The design is customizable, it can display events as a list or in a calendar grid, it comes complete with a widget for your sidebar or footer, and multiple Google Calendar feeds can be shown in one list/grid.
  4. Custom Contact Forms Most WordPress designs come with a basic contact form built in; name, email, text box, and submit button. This plugin comes in handy when you need a more robust contact form with many questions to ask. Though a bit clunky and not incredibly intuitive to set up, this plugin is extremely powerful and customizable, sure to meet your needs.
  5. All in One SEO Take control of your Search Engine Optimization with this powerful plugin. Designed for beginners through advanced users, it can either work out of the box or be fine-tuned and formatted as you wish.

If you have a WordPress site and would like one of these plugins, we’d be happy to help! Thinking of switching to WordPress? Contact us with questions! No matter what, you can’t deny that WordPress is one of the fastest growing platforms on the Internet. With developers worldwide contributing to the widgets, plugins, and the platform itself it will continue to grow and constantly improve.

*Infographic, http://cdn.yoast.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/wordpress-stats-infographic-yoast-full.jpg
**http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source