social media

Marketing Monday: El Conejo Corredor

I think I have most appreciated about writing this blog is that it’s connected me with so many cool people… and it allows me to keep in touch with far flung friends who (*gasp*) actually seem to read and enjoy it. One of those people is Matt Baya, a formerly local web developer I have become good friends with who moved to Massachusetts to take a new job.

‘You have to write about this taco truck’ he said. Based in Williamstown Massachusetts, he is surrounded by that college town vibe, much like I am here in Bar Harbor.

El Conejo Corredor was started by a couple Williams College graduates. They have a basic website up for general info/inquiries. These folks are proving that you don’t need to be in San Fran or Seattle to set up a food truck.

El Conejo's Twitter feed automatically posts to Facebook. And with slightly over 100 people following them on Twitter and 500ish following on Facebook, 600ish people can be reached with a single tweet.

El Conejo's Twitter feed automatically posts to Facebook. And with slightly over 100 people following them on Twitter and 500ish following on Facebook, 600ish people can be reached with a single tweet.



Since the El Conejo Corredor folks prefer Twitter, they have Twitter automatically post to their Facebook page:

Love Twitter but have people who prefer to follow you on Facebook? Connect your Twitter to your Facebook automatically!

Love Twitter but have people who prefer to follow you on Facebook? Connect your Twitter to your Facebook automatically!

What applications can you use to do this? Here are five from Mashable (with the first one listed being easiest): http://mashable.com/2009/05/25/twitter-to-facebook/

 

El Conjo's simple website. Note: Even if you use a 'free' website builder that comes with your web hosting, there will be a mark on your website (in this case, GoDaddy). One of the reasons to design your own site once business is good.

El Conjo's simple website. Note: Even if you use a 'free' website builder that comes with your web hosting, there will be a mark on your website (in this case, GoDaddy). One of the reasons to design your own site once business is good.

Now I know even some very established businesses who don’t have websites at all but being the ECC has no fixed location to take advantage of, they can get that fixed location, consistent, ‘we’re a business’ feeling from having a website that they keep up to date.

At the very least, having your own domain is one way of securing who you are businesswise. Here’s an article Matt and I wrote about having your own domain name awhile back with more fun reasons you should have a domain: http://downeastlearning.com/why-you-need-your-own-domain-name/ And if you are going to buy a domain, might as well stick something on it!

Just remember that that ‘free’ web page will always have some catch to it, like advertising for the person who’s letting you have it for ‘free’. (I say ‘free’ because you are paying for the domain name and web hosting already.) Note the GoDaddy logo lower right. Fine for now but not indefinitely.

So want to see this truck in action? Here’s a photo Matt sent me. Looks good, I’m jealous!

The food truck in action. And look left, note the signage about Facebook, Twitter, and website information.

The food truck in action. And look left, note the signage about Facebook, Twitter, and website information.

So if you find yourself in Williamstown Massachusetts or simply want to  know how a food truck in New England is using the web to sell more, check out El Conejo Corredor!

Some Thoughts From Social Media FTW 2011

It’s been a couple weeks since Social Media FTW, an annual social media conference in Maine. This year was the third year and I took some notes that you might find fun from a couple presentations I went to:

Session 1: Elijah Young, http://blog.fandura.com

A bit about blogs:

  • There are 133 million blogs on the internet
  • 94.5% of these blogs are abandoned after one year (The 7.5 million blogs that remain are ‘maintained’, meaning updated at least once a month. (which really isn’t much.)
A lot of people stop blogging because it seems like no one is listening. Bummer. But it’s important to know:
  • 90% of people will lurk
  • 9% will interact occasionally
  • 1% will respond regularly
Some tips to help you be more successful at blogging:
  • Comment on the smaller blogs, they’ll appreciate the comment more than the big guys. Build a reciprocal relationship with them.
  • Respect every interaction (‘Thanks’ is not an conversation.) Having a meaningful exchange makes you memorable, builds relationships, and is more likely to generate leads for you.
  • Interview experts in your field and competitors to build authority. This makes you seem connected and not so selfish.
  • If you are stuck on a topic, use Q and A websites, competitor websites’ FAQs, and blogs you are already reading to help you come up with ideas.
  • Keep it in perspective. You aren’t blogging to become the next famous person, you are doing it to generate more business.

How to get your blog readers to talk to more people for you.

Session 3: Rich Brooks, http://www.flyte.biz

A bit about video:

  • If you are targeting a key phrase, you can rank higher by creating videos with that keyphrase.
  • For blog posts, a thumbnail and play button for a video next to the blog post link (for example on Facebook) is more engaging than just a plain text link.
  • For Flyte, conversion rate on pages with video was much higher than average site visitor (Contact form over 700% more likely to be filled out, 700% higher than the typical visitor).

Video types:

  • How-to
  • Testimonials
  • Tours
  • Tips/Secrets
  • Series
  • Response
Some tips for Youtube and videos:
  • Wondering what keywords you should include in your video file name, video title, video description, etc.? Try the Google Keyword Tool: bit.ly/betterkeywords
  • Videos should ideally be under 2 minutes.
  • Why companies use Youtube: >55% of market share of online videos on Youtube
  • The average Youtube visitor spends >15 minutes/day
  • Youtube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited site online.
  • You can customize a Youtube background; just create an image that is 960 pixels wide center justified.
  • When writing the video description, start with the URL to your website. This will help make sure people see it, and drive traffic to your site.
  • You can add a link to another Youtube video in the annotations section. You can link to a website off Youtube as well but that’s a bit more complicated. ;^) But possible! (It involves making it a promoted video and set CPV to one penny and then editing the video so the call to action overlay appears.)
  • If you are going to embed the video on your blog or website, it’s best to write a blog post to go with it to make it most findable.
  • Tubemogul is a free service that allows you to publish videos to multiple places at one time.
Anyway it was a great conference and I certainly didn’t take enough notes!
Sorry to have missed it? Click here for the slides. 

This Month In Business: Needing Help Edition

So the good news is, while I used to write this business update every week, I now seem to be writing it every month. I’ve been doing this because I’ve actually had a lot of work to do. (I know, *gasp!)

But it really does help to have some kind of check in with myself, since I don’t have a weekly meeting with my boss, a quarterly report, or other sort of evaluation. You, as my blog readers, help hold me to some accountability. For that, I am very grateful. Because I totally need some!

Here’s what I’ve been up to besides actual paid work:

1. I enrolled in an online business course.

You may have heard of Earn1K which is a business course aimed at freelancers. I’ve been on the email list for awhile and finally decide to take the plunge after a couple of months of realizing I’ve been not as focused as I should be on the overall direction of this business. In terms of business course experience, I took an eight week seminar from Women, Work, and Community two years ago, read a couple business books, wrote a business plan, and called it good. Plus it’s been about 6 years since I’ve taken a full on course and I figured it was time for some much needed personal development.

So far it’s been going really well and already the time and effort I’m putting in to develop my ideas is paying off.

2. I got a cash infusion from Mom.

I realize there are a few things I’ve considered doing for money that are unrelated to my business but was considering because I needed some cash. A combination of a few projects running longer than expected and a couple bills paid at the beginning of the year meant I had less cash on hand than I was expecting at this point.

My debt to income ratio is around 1 (breaking even!) but a bank will pretty much only talk to you if you’ve got a ratio of about 1.5.

Over Christmas, my mom had told me to ask for help if I needed it so I decided to take her up on her offer and borrow some money. She was kind enough to present a zero percent interest rate and put the check in an ‘I’m proud of you’ card. Thanks Mom! I’m already sleeping better and plan to pay her back in full by the end of the year if not sooner.

3. I’ll be having two upcoming seminars which one of my more connected friends is helping me organize.
Anyone who has ever eaten dinner with me knows how much I like food. My friend Paul is a food distributor who sells to many local restaurants. When he came to me and suggested we do a couple workshops geared at the hospitality industry, I jumped at the chance.

So if you are in Downeast Maine and run a food-related business check out the two workshops: www.socialmediafood101.eventbrite.com and www.socialmediafood201.eventbrite.com

4. I finished a really big project, with much needed help.
A couple months ago, a friend of a friend wanted some help developing a real estate website. I looked at the online landscape at other real estate companies and saw that what she wanted was possible, even if the websites themselves weren’t the prettiest or most functional websites I’d ever seen. So I gave her a quote for her real estate website and she accepted.

What followed were many unexpected complications: database access issues, formatting issues, code for site design interfering with search function. You name it and it happened. It became clear very early on that I could not handle this on my own so I pulled in a friend to help. Then another. Then another. Through coding, coffee, and sheer determination, we finished the site, exhausted from late nights and early mornings.

I learned three things from this experience:

1) Don’t be cocky in your abilities to do something you’ve never done before. Take the time you think it’ll take and double it. Worse case scenario you give money back.
2) If you are pulling people in, outline the project tasks and responsibilites clearly. Chances are the work will be difficult enough and there’s no need to add communication issues to the mix.
3) You don’t have to know everything but you have to know people who can help so you can collectively know everything you need to.

So the website is launched and I thank Nicholas Peterson, Matthew Baya, and Jeremy Mason for their help with it. And that said, if you know someone who needs a real estate website, I’m now your gal.

Anything you needed help with (and got help with) this month?

(Come on, make me feel there are a couple of you out there who needed the help of other people this month!)

Marketing Monday: Oregon Wine Country

Usually if I haven’t been writing blog entries it’s because I’ve been doing other interesting things. I spent last week working really hard so I could take a vacation in the form of a slightly extended long weekend. Two of my college friends Bailey and Jeremy (now married to each other) bought a house in Portland Oregon about a year ago and the rest of us on the east coast descended to check it out. It’s was a lot of catching up, food, bad television watching, and general hanging out.

Sunday, we changed it up and rented a minivan, packed up the Voodoo Donuts, and Jeremy drove the rest of us around to sample some of the fine wines in the Willamette Valley region.

We rented a van so we could all be together which led to a lot of joking about being a whiney kids with our soccer parents Bailey and Jeremy drove us around.

We rented a van so we could all be together which led to a lot of joking about being a whiney kids with our soccer parents Bailey and Jeremy driving us around.

Now I’ve been wine tasting once but never in an area where so many wineries are so close together. I was struck by the fact that each place really had a distinct feel to it.



The open almost office-y feeling of Oak Knoll was a good start to the trip. Six tastings for $5, can't beat it!

The open almost office-y feeling of Oak Knoll was a good start to the trip. Six tastings for $5, can't beat it!

Our first stop was Oak Knoll Winery. Jeremy and Bailey had a case of their wine we had been enjoying throughout the weekend and since it was only about 20 minutes from their house, it was a logical place to start out. Pop music blared on the radio and the area was pretty office-y in terms of environment. If I could have shipped a case of their sale wine for $40 home to Maine, I so would have. Darn state laws!

Driving a group of girls around is so much easier when you have a Voodoo Donut and some good music going. Thanks Jeremy!

Driving a group of girls around is so much easier when you have a Voodoo Donut and some good music going. Thanks Jeremy!

Our second stop was Raptor Ridge, which we were hoping was a dinosaur reference. The woman at Oak Knoll pointed us in Raptor Ridge’s direction, mentioning they had built a whole new tasting room with a gorgeous view. So piling into the white minivan, off we went.

Raptor Ridge tasting room had quite a view even on a foggy day.

Raptor Ridge tasting room had quite a view even on a foggy day.

Raptor Ridge had a much more contemporary setup with a great view. It worked out well because they had a ‘smelling wall’ and several area magazines for perusing while we waited for the group before us to finish up. (One thing learned: Raptor apparently refers to a bird, not a dinosaur by the way.)

We waited in style by smelling bottles and trying to figure them out.

We waited in style by smelling bottles and trying to figure out the scents inside.

The tasting fee here was a steeper ($10/person for five wines) but for the view and the experience of some complex pinots, it was fantastic (versus Oak Hill which seemed to specialize in fruity blends).

The Raptor Ridge Pinots were a bit more complex than Oak Knoll. Sarah D. bought Bailey and Jeremy a thank-you-for-hosting-us bottle of wine.

The Raptor Ridge Pinots were a bit more complex than Oak Knoll. Sarah D. bought Bailey and Jeremy a thank-you-for-hosting-us bottle of wine.

We then stopped for a lunch break before moving on to Duck Pond Winery, another winery that was suggested to us at Oak Knoll. Clearly a much more commercial operation, the whole thing centered around a gift shop and was in a huge building. The complimentary tastings were alright (free is always a good price) but feeling a bit ignored, we left without even taking any pictures.

The surroundings of the Red Barn tasting room were more gorgeous than I could capture.

The surroundings of the Red Barn tasting room were more gorgeous than I could capture.

Our last stop was probably our collective favorite: Maresh Red Barn which had a very pretty drive going out to it. Bailey and Jeremy are wine club members there which meant we had free tastings. The best part was talking with the retired owner who told us about how he started the vineyard and kept the winery open back when bankers wouldn’t give him any funding. They told him ‘grapes won’t grow here’. Over 40 acres of productive grapes later, that is clearly not the case.

The interior of the place was an old barn with a woodstove. It was so homey and the owner was chatty that we all just stood there for half an hour, listening to him and enjoying being with each other.

The Maresh Red Barn Vineyard is the wine club our friends just joined. Better deals, invitations to events, and more are the advantages to being a member.

The Maresh Red Barn Vineyard is the wine club our friends just joined. Better deals, invitations to events, and more are the advantages to being a wine club member.

Overall, it’s really great how each vineyard is able to keep its unique identity yet they collectively are able to market the Willamette Valley region.

That said, a lot of these places needed help on their websites and only two of the four places we went to even implied they did social media and only one counter urged us to sign up for the email list. Come on Willamette Valley, let’s see you online a little more so I can visit you virtually a bit more often. Websites and wine get better with time!

Thanks to my friends for such a great visit: Bailey and Jeremy for hosting, Lydia for her cooking and entertainment, and Sarah D., Sarah C., Hannah, and Meg for being my travel companions from the east coast. No matter what we did, I know we would have had a great time… but the wine was really fun!

Twitter Hashtags 101

To anyone just starting to use Twitter, it can seem like some exclusive club of short hand and something called hashtags. Hashtags are basically a pound sign followed by a word. Here are some examples:

A few examples of hashtag use on Twitter.

A few examples of hashtag use on Twitter.

A hashtag can have a few functions in Twitter (for categorization or run really):

A regular (informal) event
For example, I follow #tweetsandcoffee because @danamoos and a few other people I follow (mostly in Maine) use this hashtag in the morning and it’s sort of a fun coffeebreak-like thread of conversation.

A more common example of a regular informal event #followfriday. People will list people they follow in a status update followed by #FF or #followfriday as a way of sharing who they think are cool people with their followers. (Note: I forget to do this most weeks so I am not a good example!)

Virtual event organizing
I know a blogger who has a virtual #duckfest where chefs following this thread all cook with duck and post their recipes with this hashtag. Oddly specific but he’s able to organize chefs across continents!

Duckfest: A virtual event which bloggers and chefs participate in the cooking of duck.

Duckfest: A virtual event which bloggers and chefs participate in the cooking of duck.

A conference thread

If you’re at a conference, sometimes the conference will have an official one (like #poptech’s last conference) which allows people to tweet about what sessions they are in and allows those not able to attend every session to just follow the hashtag and get a feel for what they missed. It’s also a nice way to network with people at the conference. For example, I listened in on video conference to the speakers and was able to talk with people at the event via Twitter.

As you see from my duckfest example above, it’s easy to follow a particular hashtag if you have something like Tweetdeck, which is a Twitter client I use to manage my incoming information.



Fun aside
Sometimes you can use a hashtag as a way of adding to a status update without having it directly written in it:

Hashtags can also give the mood of a status update without being in the actual sentence.

Hashtags can also give the mood of a status update without being in the actual sentence.

Hashtags can add to the mood of a status by being a sort of fun aside.

Trending topics
Sometimes hashtags can be a way of being part of a trending topic on Twitter. For example, in the top ten trending topics is #2010memories which allow people to contribute their memories of the past year to a common, worldwide thread. Using hashtags is a way of being part of something bigger than what your individual Twitter update can do.

Now that you get what hashtags can do, you might want to know how to find them.

To find hashtags, you can use the Twitter search function or this website: http://hashtags.org/ You’ll also find out about some by following people in your geographic area, in your industry, or who have your hobbies on Twitter.

To save hashtag information so you don’t have to look it up over and over, just do a search (ex #maine) and then click the ‘Save this search’ button in green when the results come up on the Twitter website. You can also add a column on Tweetdeck and keep up with them that way (which is what I do since I don’t love the Twitter interface). This way, you can follow and contribute to multiple hash tags over time. Some will be short lived (like conferences) but some will always be of interest to you (like #Photoshop if you use this program everyday for example).

So now you are in the know about hashtags. Not so bad, right? No need to be intimidated by them, just try some out for yourself. The thing with Twitter (and all these other social media sites) is everyone is experimenting, just like you are. So just jump in and #lovetwitter!

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