Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

15 tips for using social media marketing for nonprofit events

Yes, I know it says Tweeter (I didn't create it). But having the social info on table tents was progress!

Yes, I know it says Tweeter (I didn’t create it). But having the social info on table tents was progress!

I’ve volunteered for my local United Way the last two years, but I’m not building houses, helping with community gardens or raising money. I’m using my social media marketing skills to help the agency with social media for their events.

My role is to engage their audience of volunteers and supporters before, during and after events, including traditional save-the-date/registration, thanking volunteers when the work is done, and creating and sharing multimedia. Most of the work takes place during the event day – including live posting and working with a group of volunteer photographers who provide images and video content.

After helping with several events – including annual Martin Luther King Jr. service days and the Day of Caring – I’ve learned a lot of tips on how to use social media for nonprofit event marketing, and I’d like to share a few of them with you:

Working with the nonprofit staff, volunteers and supporters

1. Create a content calendar – Meet with event organizers at least two months prior to your event to plan out your social media communications. Include save-the-date messages, registration reminders, linking to monthly newsletters, and highlighting sponsors and participating organizations. Balance your event content with your everyday content so you’re not just talking about the event all the time.

2. Meet with everyone who has access to the organization’s social media profiles – It’s important to review basic social media marketing best practices to prevent oversharing, to know who is posting what content, and to review social media etiquette (such as not liking your own posts).

3. Look before you post – If you are a Facebook admin, you will get alerts when a fan interacts with your page or content. You don’t get alerts if another admin has posted to the page. Even if you have planned your content with the other admins, someone will forget. Check the time and the date of the previous post to avoid oversharing.

4. Integrate your marketing – Remind event organizers to include links to the nonprofit’s social media sites on every communication that goes out about the event, and make sure you have a sentence or two that lets volunteers know that they can find event updates there during the event day.

5. Follow your supporters – It’s important to thank your supporters – those who gave money to your cause, as well as those who sent teams to participate in your event. Get a list of supporters before the event day. Make sure your nonprofit’s page likes their pages, and your Twitter account follows their accounts. When you thank them on Facebook or Twitter, tag them. They’ll be notified that someone’s talking about them, and any interaction they have with that content will be seen by their fans, and so on.

6. Encourage volunteers to participate – If your volunteers don’t know that you’ll be providing live updates throughout the day, they won’t know to check your Facebook page or tweet about the event. Let them know in your event communications. Tell them at the event kickoff. We have lots of younger volunteers at these events, so – at one point during event kickoffs – one of the organizers holds up their smartphone and tells volunteers it’s OK to use it. We usually create an event hashtag for Twitter, and we’ve been getting better about sharing it and the social media info during the kickoff –we had table tents with the Facebook URL, Twitter handle and Twitter hashtag on display at the Martin Luther King Jr. service day this month. Volunteers had plenty of time to pull out their smartphones and follow us as they were having breakfast.

Working with volunteer photographers

All of the events I’ve worked on have involved projects that require physical labor. A few of them have involved multiple locations, so the following are tips for working with volunteer photographers under those conditions:

7. Use Dropbox to gather multimedia –You’ve got multiple people who are shooting at multiple locations and are producing dozens of large image files. Dropbox is the easiest and best way for you to receive those images. Create a folder for the event and share it with your volunteers ahead of time. New Dropbox users have trouble navigating the site, so setting this up ahead of time and providing instructions for uploading photos will make it easy on your volunteers and yourself.

8. Minimize your uploads – During an event day, I’ll edit as many images as I can and post them all at once in a Facebook photo album around lunchtime to show fans the progress that’s being made. I’ll wait for more photos to come in, and then add the rest of the images that night or the next day in one bulk upload. By adding a ton of photos at once, that action appears once in the newsfeed and will keep me from oversharing.

9. Provide some photography guidelines

  • No butts – Volunteers who are working at the Day of Caring or the Martin Luther King Jr. service day are typically doing a lot of bending over – working in gardens, painting rooms, or hammering nails. So you’re going to get a lot of photos of butts unless you point this out to your photographers. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t want a photo of myself bending over to appear on Facebook. Ask your photographers to slow down, take their time and find a more flattering angle.
  • Smiling and candid shots are great – These events are about working hard, but they’re also about teamwork and having fun. Encourage your photographers to get group shots at project sites. These are great images for nonprofits to add to their website, blog or promotional pieces about their programs.
  • Ask for the top 10 – Save yourself and your photographers some time by asking them to send you the top 10 photos from each project site. It’s not realistic to use every image that was shot that day – no one wants to look through a Facebook album of 300 images to try to find themselves.

Working at project sites

On event day, your role is dependent on technology, so make sure you have everything you need:

10. Wifi – Does the event site have wifi? If so, get the account name and password ahead of time. If not, consider purchasing a mifi/wifi card to create your own wireless hotspot.

11. Social apps – Are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, HootSuite, or TweetDeck installed on your phone? Do it before the event day so you’re not trying to remember logins and passwords on the fly.

12. Electricity – Are there outlets on site, and are there enough? You might think about bringing an extension cord to support your laptop power source and any chargers you need.

13. Batteries – Are all batteries charged for digital cameras and video cameras?

14. Cell phone contacts – Add your event staff and volunteer photographers ahead of time so you’re not digging through notes or paper lists to find their contact info.

15. GPS – If you’re traveling to several project sites, consider using an app like Waze to get turn-by-turn directions.

This is a long list, but it’s essential if you want to get the most out of social media for your nonprofit’s service days and events. If you can think of any other tips, please share them in the comments!

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Sort through the Twitter clutter with Twitter lists

Even though Twitter’s been around for a while, and I’ve been tweeting since 2008, I forget that there are people who don’t know about it and haven’t used it. I’ve run into several Twitter newbies or on-the-fence-Twitter-newbies lately, and thought I’d help with one question I hear a lot:

“So you follow a bunch of people, and you post tweets, right? But how do you FIND anything?”

Welcome to your new best friend, Twitter user. It’s called Twitter lists.

What’s a Twitter list?

Think of a Twitter list as a separate feed for people you follow that you’ve grouped in a theme or category. Your regular Twitter feed is full of everything the people you follow are posting on Twitter. Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not (yet) use an algorithm like EdgeRank to determine what you see based on your interactions with your network. It’s like drinking from a fire hose – it’s all coming at you at one time. The list allows you to clear through the clutter and find the information you’re most interested in.

How to create a list

Twitter Settings Lists

Start by going to the settings icon in Twitter and choose lists. This takes you to your lists – click the Create list button.

Create a New List

Name your new list and add a description if you like. Then save your list.

Add people to your list

Add to Your List

After you create a list, Twitter gives you some tools to search for people to add to your list.

Click the person icon and choose list

Click on the person icon for anyone you want to add, then select the Add or remove from lists option.

Check the lists you wantCheck the boxes for the lists you want.

Access your list

Access your lists

If you’re using Twitter to read your lists, you can find them by clicking the Me tab on the top, or choosing lists from the settings icon.

For even better access, use HootSuite

The best way to keep up with your lists is through HootSuite, a social media management system (free for basic tools, and there are paid versions if you want more bells and whistles). HootSuite is what I primarily use to check out what’s happening on Twitter, and it’s where I create, schedule and post my tweets. You can create columns – which are called streams – on HootSuite to check out your individual lists, as well as search terms, your tweets, and your mentions on Twitter.

Add a list to HootSuite

HootSuite add stream

To get started click the Add Stream button on the top of your current streams.

HootSuite add list

Click the lists tab, then choose which Twitter profile you want, select your list, and then click the Add Stream button.

HootSuite new stream

Your list is now a new stream, and your Twitter feed is a little less cluttered – check out tweets in your list topic to find the information you want.

I hope this helps the Twitter newbies out there – and maybe some of the regular users too! If you have any Twitter tips or tools you want to share – or any questions you need help with – let me know in the comments.

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How your business can prepare for Facebook Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook’s big Graph Search announcement today was a wake up call for businesses. Essentially, Facebook is the next big search engine and local search app. Your potential customers are on Facebook, and if you’re not using Facebook for marketing, you won’t be found.

If you’ve been on the fence about using Facebook for marketing, or you haven’t done much with your page, this is why Graph Search matters:

So, you can see where this is going. Facebook is where we’re going to find the products, services and recommendations we need. A lot of this searching is happening when we’re on the go with our smartphones – which people are already using to access Facebook. Graph Search is how you’re going to be discovered.

This is a win for businesses and marketers. We’ve all been trying to figure out how to beat EdgeRank to make sure our posts show up in our fans’ news feeds, because – due to the EdgeRank formula – only 16% are seen by your fans. As more people use Facebook as a search engine, your chances of coming up in a search will increase because of the content you’re already creating.

How can you prepare your business for Graph Search?

  • Fill out all of your profile information – even if it’s already complete, give it a second look. Is everything current? What keywords could you add to your description that would benefit you in a Graph Search?
  • Make sure you’re regularly adding visual content because photos and videos shared on Facebook will also come up in a Graph Search. It’s a good idea to do that anyway – posts that include images will get 120-180% more engagement than just text.
  • Grow your fanbase. A no-brainer, but Graph Search results are personally tailored based on what a Facebook user – and their friends – like. So make sure you are:
    • integrating your marketing efforts. This sounds basic, but only 19.5% of small businesses have a link to their Facebook page on their website. Make sure there’s a link in your email newsletter, your blog and anywhere else you’re listed (LinkedIn, Twitter, Yelp, etc.) in your profile or about information.
    • creating engaging content to keep your fans interested, improve your page’s EdgeRank, and amplify word of mouth. The more your fans interact with you, the more likely you’ll show up in their news feed. And the more your fans interact with you, it will appear in their friends’ news feeds.
    • preparing offline. Do you have signs or decals in your store that promote your Facebook page? Do they have the entire URL (facebook.com/yourbusinessname) or a QR code so they’re easier to find and Like by smartphone users?

Want more info on Graph Search? Check out this business guide on the Facebook Studio site.

What do you think of Graph Search? Let me know in the comments.

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3 tools that will turn your Instagram images into a Facebook cover photo

It’s been over a year since Facebook introduced cover photos for profile and business pages, and I’ve only changed mine 9 times. Why? That is a big space – 851 by 315 pixels. Whatever you put up there is huge, and you want it to be good, right?

That’s where Instagram comes in. Their filters and tools let you look like a photography rock star. Why not use all those great images you’ve been creating, and make them into your cover photo?

I’ve found 3 tools that will help you create a beautiful Facebook cover photo from your Instagram pics:

PicStitch

PicStitch (available for iPhone and Android) is a collage app with 70 different layouts. To create your cover photo, choose your layout, then click on Aspect in the tools on the bottom of the screen. After you choose Aspect, you have several sizing options; scroll until you see the one called FB Cover.

PicStitch FB Cover

To add your photos, click on any of the boxes in your collage layout and click the Edit tool. Then choose your Instagram images you’ve saved in your phone’s photo album or on Facebook. Once your photos are in place, click Export, and choose Facebook.

PicStitch Edited and Export

Statigram

Statigram is an Instagram management dashboard that tracks your Instagram stats, but did you know it’s another tool that you can use to make Facebook cover photo collage?

To get started, click the Promote tab, and scroll down to Profile Cover. Click the Create your cover button, and Statigram will automatically pull and size your images.

Statigram Create Your Cover Button

It takes a few minutes, but you get an easy-peasy way to create a cover photo. When your image is all set, right click it and choose Save image as to save to your computer. Then use Facebook to upload to your page.

Statigram Save Image As

InstaCover

The InstaCover site makes a Facebook cover photo that’s a bit similar to Statigram, but you get editing options. Start by choosing which Instagram account you want to pull from – it doesn’t have to be yours – by entering the Instagram ID. You could also make collages out of categories, tags, or photos you’ve liked. Choose your layout and spacing, and then click the Preview button.

Insta-Cover Choose Options

InstaCover pulls up a draft of your cover photo, which you can edit. Click the orange X in the top right of any photo to drag and drop to another spot, or delete it. When you delete it, InstaCover replaces it with another Instagram photo. Click the Final Preview button when you’re finished editing.

InstaCover Edit Drag and Drop

You’ll see the finished cover photo, and you can save it to your Facebook profile by clicking the Save to album on Facebook button.

Save InstaCover to Facebook

Changing your cover photo

None of these tools instantly changes your cover photo. You need to be on your page to do that.

Go to your Facebook page, and hover over the bottom right corner of your current cover photo. A Change Cover option will appear. Click Choose from Photos.

Change Cover

Select the new cover photo you just added to your Facebook page.

Choose from your photos

Voila! You now have a collage cover photo made from beautiful images you created with Instagram.

PicStitch Cover Photo

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3 ways to promote your blog with social media

Stephanie Fielding

Stephanie Fielding

Today’s guest post is from my friend Stephanie Fielding, the fabulous woman behind Sandpaper & Glue.

Hi!

I’m Stephanie from Sandpaper & Glue, a DIY blog centered around first time home owning. I started my blog about a year and a half ago and have since earned a modest following not only on the blog, but on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest as well. Here’s my two cents worth of tips, tricks, and experience:

1. Branding!

It’s strange to think that something as all about you as a blog needs an actual brand, but readers are quick and savvy and fleeting, and it’s important they know it’s YOU when they stumble upon something. Also, everyone uses social media differently and at different frequencies, so the more ways readers have to connect with you the better off you are. Here’s how that’s done:

Keep your names and look consistent

Create a logo or a pattern 

Sandpaper & Glue Logo

  • Put solid thought into what colors, style, patterns are most you - look around your house and at your wardrobe to see what you tend to be drawn to. I recently designed my whole blog for the new year, I created a new pattern for the background and a new header. This then meant I had to create a new thumbnail for my Google Reader and Blogger followers, a new Facebook cover photo (because headers are not the same dimension), new Facebook tab buttons, and a new Twitter background. Whew! (if you need a quick reference for social media photo sizes, check out The Ultimate Social Media Sizing Cheat Sheet)
  • I happen to be handy at Photoshop, but PicMonkey.com is a free photo editing site I highly recommend you check out. Also keep in mind you don’t have to be an artist to create a brand; it can be as simple as picking a color scheme or sticking to a font.
  • Let me step back for a second and address something in that first bullet – create tabs on Facebook that match your brand. This isn’t nearly as difficult as you’d think; this article by Her New Leaf gives you step by step directions on exactly what to do. I made the images for mine in Microsoft Paint, and followed her directions and I had it done in less than an hour – doesn’t get much easier than that! To get my Twitter feed linked up as a tab, I installed this app, then just uploaded a new image. Please email me at SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any help with this!

2. Unique content is key! 

Sandpaper & Glue Pinterest Boards

You can’t expect people to follow you around the interwebs if they’re going to see the same thing everywhere they go. Of course you’re going to have some crossover: I have a Project Central board on Pinterest where I pin all my tutorials – but I have lots of other boards I pin to as well. My blog posts automatically link to Twitter, but I mainly use Twitter to talk to other bloggers and reblog cool things they’re up to, and share giveaways they’re hosting. My Facebook page has a Twitter feed tab, and I sometimes put my blog post links as a status, but more often than not I ask questions or share images there.

3. Be yourself!

Pinterest Food Challenge

This one takes a while to figure out. I used to link up to a weekly fashion post about what outfits I wore that week, which was a good way to drive traffic to my blog. But I got bored with that real fast, and when I thought about it, I realized why: I don’t run a fashion blog, and the traffic I got was from readers interested in fashion, so they weren’t going to stick around. That’s when I got a little more clever and created the Pinterest Food Challenge. Once a month I cook something I’ve pinned, then I share the recipe and review it. (Don’t forget to create a logo for anything recurring!) This drives people from Pinterest to my blog, and vice versa. Think about how your social media can work with your blog in an interesting way, but just every once in a while because unique content is key. :)

So there you go – my two cents! I do hope my tips help, and feel free to get in touch with me through the Sandpaper and Glue blog or SandpaperAndGlue@gmail.com if you need any assistance or have any questions!

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Why George Takei is a Facebook superstar

Rainbow StarsI’ve never been a Trekkie, so I missed George Takei as Sulu in the original Star Trek series, but I knew who he was. When he popped up occasionally as Howard Stern’s official announcer (I know – shocking. I listen to Stern. Sometimes. His celebrity interviews are amazing!), I thought – hey, what a nice, funny, laid-back, sweet guy.

And that’s exactly what George Takei brings to social media.

Takei has the kind of following and audience engagement that social media managers dream of – 3.2 million Facebook fans, more than 500,000 Twitter followers, 250,000 Pinterest followers, and a hilarious Tumblr page.

When he was on WBUR’s On Point last week, I tuned in to hear the secret to his Facebook success (to hear the interview, check out the On Point podcast – the whole podcast is fantastic, but the Facebook stuff starts at 37 minutes in). Here’s what he revealed:

Show me the funny

Takei originally jumped on the social media bandwagon to promote his new musical, Allegiance. He wasn’t sure what kinds of content to post at first. “In order to get the likes, we kind of experimented. How do we get the likes?” He quickly found out what his audience wanted. Anytime he shared something funny, he got a lot of likes. But visual content hit the home run – photos and funny memes got even more engagement. This is something we’ve been hearing for a while. I couldn’t find any stats on humorous posts, but there’s plenty of data about images and video. Visual content rules: photos are 5 times more popular than text updates, and videos are shared 12 times more than links or text.

Don’t stop

Facebook fans want consistency. If they like your page and they’re engaging with your content, don’t leave them hanging. They might forget about you. And – according to Facebook’s EdgeRank formula – the more someone engages with your page, the more you’re going to show up in their news feed. “If we’re on regularly, more and more people will come to expect to find us – regularity. And so we kept growing and growing,” Takei said.

Regularity does not mean posting every hour. But don’t speak to your fans once a week either. You have to balance your content and frequency, and Takei does that well because he knows his audience. They love his content. It’s something they look forward to seeing in their news feed, so they’re OK with a few posts a day. On the day I’m writing this blog post, Takei has shared content 3 times, and I haven’t seen one complaint about posting too much. This may not be the case with your page – 33% of fans have unliked a Facebook page because they posted too many updates. The important lesson here is to test. What is the engagement, new likes and unlikes on days that you posted several times vs. just once? Let your audience tell you what their limit is.

Ask for help

Takei is a celebrity, so of course he can hire people to do his marketing – in the early days of his social media management, he started with an intern, and now has a small staff. But that doesn’t mean you have to do this on your own. If you have the money and can hire someone, or have a person on your staff that can take on your social media marketing, that’s great!

If you don’t, you can still get help for free. Reach out to other social media marketers in your industry and ask them for advice. Find a LinkedIn group in your industry or create your own. Network via a Tweet Chat. Attend free social media events in your area or start your own by creating a Meetup group. Read as many social media marketing blogs as you can for tips and best practices (thank you for reading mine!). I suggest the Constant Contact blog (of course!), Mashable, HubSpot, Likeable, Social Media Examiner, Content Marketing Institute, and MarketingProfs. That’s just a few – there are many, many more out there. And if you have any recommendations of who to read, I’d love to hear them!

Have a digital suggestion box

A lot of Takei’s content is contributed by fans, and he makes sure to give them credit. “The material is really what my fans send me. The commentaries are mine. That is genuinely me. But I do not take credit for the memes. They are very clever, very funny, and I’m very grateful that I have those clever, funny meme creators,” he said. This is a smart move – you can’t be everywhere at once, and – even if you have a staff – you can’t find every interesting bit of content that’s out there. So encourage your fans to share. With 3 million fans, Takei has a lot of digital eyes and ears scanning the interwebs to find EdgeRank gold.

Nice guys can finish first

Though most of Takei’s content is very visual and very funny, what comes across to me most is just how nice he is. And that’s just who he is – his Facebook page is his personality. He’s the same guy on Howard Stern’s show as he is in the On Point interview, and in any news story I’ve read about his social media success. There’s no negativity on his page, which is very rare because everyone (guilty!) lets the crankiness get to them from time to time, and shares their bad days online. I think this caller – a woman named Pax – from the On Point interview says it best: “It’s how you’ve reinvented yourself now – as a beacon of kind and clever and informed humor in the face of all the fake behavior that we’re barraged with in our society that has made me a devoted fan.”

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Why mobile marketing is no longer optional

This is a guest post from my fellow marketer, friend and all-around fabulous person Heidi Tobias. If you don’t follow her on Twitter, do it now: @htoby.

By Heidi Tobias

Hand Tapping iPhoneIf I could see you right now, about half of you would be reading this on a mobile device (be it smartphone or tablet). One year from now, if I ask this same question, the results would be the majority of you would be viewing this via mobile. In your own life, how many times did you access the Internet this week? How many of those times was it via a mobile device?

As marketer, I need to communicate what my audience wants the way they want it.  Have you checked that your marketing messages are showing up and are showing you in the best light in our mobile world?

What is your mobile grade in this situation?

Whether it’s an email, website, blog or social media post with a link for more information or a way to buy a product, clicking the link should load the information I want. Right? Nope. What launches is it a game of chance (not in my favor).

  • A web page loads that is not optimized for mobile so I can not see a bloody thing. I can spend some extra time zooming in to try and take an action but if my  spare 10 seconds of time is finished I have to move on. Mobile Marketing grade: B
  • The whole site/page is done is in Flash and will not run on my phone or tablet. When I see a blank white page, I am unsure if this is the issue or the whole site is down. Not sticking around to find out. See ya! Mobile Marketing grade: F
  • A site designed for mobile appears (yay!), but the information contained is so limited that it has nothing to do with the reason I clicked in the first place. Mobile Marketing grade: D
  • This company has invested in a mobile app and is asking me to download it, regardless what the link promised me. Installing takes time and space on my device that I may not care to give you. Mobile Marketing grade: C
  • This company has an app, and I have taken the time to previously install it on my mobile device. So when I click the link, the app should launch to the information that was related to the link? Nope. I get stuck in an endless cycle of being prompted to download the app that I already have. (This is you, LinkedIn!) Mobile Marketing: F

Reality: The majority of people interacting with you and your brand are doing it via mobile. There is no simple solution for mobile that works for everyone equally. Think about why people come to your online content and what they expect. Then pick the answer that fills the need. Remember: 89% of smartphone owners will take some kind of action after looking up local content. I do not know of any business that can afford to ignore 89% of their visitors, do you?

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Resolution: Shop smarter in 2013

Shopping ButtonI love a good deal, so I’m kind of a marketer’s dream – I have signed up for just about every type of marketing from all of my favorite stores – I have an entire email address dedicated to just subscriptions. I’m on those stores’ Facebook pages, I follow them on Twitter, and I’ve been checking them out on Pinterest and Instagram. I still get some direct mail pieces and catalogs for a few places. I’ve signed up for birthday freebies – my birthday is this month and the swag/coupons have already started rolling in!

While this is good for marketers in terms of adding to fans, subscriptions and followers, it’s not very smart for me.

Why? All of the emails, Facebook posts, tweets and catalogs are becoming just too much. I don’t have time for all of it. All of these messages are now marketing noise, and it’s backfired on me. I get daily emails from at least a dozen big brands announcing their sales and new products. Do I go straight to their website or drive to the mall? No. I open up my email in the morning, delete each message, and only pause if the word birthday or coupon is in the subject line. There are so many sales that I just assume that when I do walk in the door, I’ll always get a great deal.

Actually, I’ve been missing out.

I was recently in a clothing store – part of a conglomerate of several brands – that I have a credit card for. They send me weekly postcards from all of the brands. Sometimes they’re announcing the same things in the emails, and sometimes they include those little percent off cards. I don’t read them because I assume the messages are something I already knew. Yup, there’s a sale, and yes, your new (insert season here) line is out. I asked an employee: Should I be detaching those little cards or taking the direct mail stuff to the store, or do I automatically get the deal because I’m a card holder?

The answer is yes – you do have to bring those direct mail pieces or printed email coupons with you to get the deal.

Oops.

I’ve started paying attention to the fine print, which says the same thing: Must bring this offer to the store to redeem discount.

So this is my task for 2013: clean the clutter and get the deal. Do I need to subscribe to everything? Am I getting value on Facebook and Twitter? Who are the stores that are doing this right? Which retailers that offer mobile coupons or let you scan a QR code on the paper ones?

And – before the end of January – find out who else will send me birthday swag.

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