Want loyal customers? Take a lesson from Sephora: Teach them how to use your products

After the makeover: Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

I am a member of the cult of Sephora.

Actually, I’m a VIB member – that’s Very Important Beauty – of their Beauty Insider rewards program for spending $350 in a calendar year (don’t judge; it’s not all for me – I do buy lots of birthday and Christmas gifts there!).

Why do I keep coming back? Because Sephora is not just a place where you buy makeup. You also have access to information and education – in the store and online – to help you choose the right products and learn how to use them.

This is a lesson that anyone – whether you’re a small business or big corporation – can use to win loyalty by letting customers try out products and services, and going beyond that with in-person demonstrations and social media content that provides education and best practices.

It starts with the store itself. If you haven’t been to a Sephora (or if you’re a guy and have stayed far, far away from them), they have a knowledgeable staff and aisles and aisles of makeup. Each product has a sample available that customers can try on. There are plenty of endcaps with disposable eyeshadow brushes, cotton swabs and tissues that allow you to try on the makeup (without getting any germs from the last customer). Beauty Insider members also get samples to take home and try based on purchase points earned – and a free birthday gift.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

Sephora also offers a range of in-store educational services: express makeup application, classes and personalized consultations. Most are free, and a few are paid. A few weeks ago my friend Melanie and I made appointments for the customized makeup application, and it was definitely worth the price. The Sephora consultants were fantastic – they helped us with all of our questions on makeup application, indulged us with our “I always wanted to learn how to do ____” requests, and helped us find our own perfect colors and combinations. I had such a great experience and shared it on Facebook (word of mouth!), which is why I’m going back this weekend with 3 more friends – I’m picking up a few supplies and hanging out while they get express makeovers.

Most of their social media and email content shares that same combination – they strike a good balance of education and best practices vs. sales. The Sephora Facebook page and Pinterest boards are full of pro tips, links to Q&As with cosmetic company founders and reps, links to instructional videos, ideas, trends and invitations for fans to share their tips and photos.

Yes, Sephora is a global company and they want to make money, but they’re also providing a good experience for the customers with the sampling and educating. If you’re a customer, you can know on the spot if something’s right for you and not waste money on products that you’re never going to use. And if you’re a loyal customer, you’ll come back when you’ve used up your favorite shade of lipstick.

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Stats, source and a new look: 3 things you should know about Pinterest

I have an on-again-off-again relationship with Pinterest. It’s mostly due to my on-again-off-again relationship with online shopping. I prefer to shop in person, try things on and see them face-to-face.

But sometimes I am curious about what’s new without having to leave the house (like tonight when we got a foot of snow). And then I see a ton of things I want, so I pin them to my boards (hello 30 dresses and skirts from ModCloth!).

I’ve noticed an on-again-off-again trend with Pinterest. You hear a blip here and there, and then there’s a period where Pinterest is everywhere – that’s what’s happened in the last month. So here are 3 things that you might want to take a look at if you’ve put Pinterest to the side lately. Log in and crank it up!

1. Stats

There are actually 2 things in the stats category. Here’s the first. An infographic I saw today with data from the Pew Center for Internet & American Life confirms what most people know about Pinterest: Most users are women. However, Pinterest use is very common across geography (urban, suburban and rural), race, education and income. When I think about the people I know who use Pinterest and their demographics, that really fits the bill. Some of those people could care less about Twitter or Instagram, but they are regular pinners.

Here’s the second stats item: As of last week, Pinterest added an analytics platform. Right now, it tracks pretty basic activity of content from your site that’s been pinned: number of pins, pinners, repins, impressions, reach, clicks and visitors. I’m interested to see how this develops over time. My little blog has a small amount of Pinterest data – my busiest times are the days that I pin blog posts, and a day or two after that:

Pinterest Stats for azurecollier.com

2. Source

Here’s a cool little trick to find out what content from your website is getting pinned. Use this URL: http://pinterest.com/source/YourWebsite.com/. This is a screenshot from my blog’s content that’s been pinned – mostly by me! But as my blog grows, it will be nice to see what’s being pinned so I can get a better picture of what content readers want.

Pinterest Content from azurecollier.com

3. New look

If you have a Pinterest business account or have a verified website on your profile, you can preview Pinterest’s new look! There’s some small changes to the navigation – the search bar and categories are on the top left and tools for your settings have collapsed under one bar on the right. When you hover over the categories icon, it opens a window of 2 dozen topics.

The more interesting change is on the pins themselves. When you click a pin, it now shows a menu of other pins from that pin’s board, and suggests other items that people have pinned from that source/website. It’s a great way to explore other items or products that you haven’t seen before.

New Look - Pinterest Pins

That’s the latest about Pinterest! Got some tips that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments. Happy pinning!

Make your LinkedIn profile stand out by adding projects

LinkedIn is the social network that doesn’t get much love.

It’s professional and buttoned-up. It’s not as fun as Facebook, or as pithy as Twitter.

And – aside from your profile photo and any image that shows up as part of a link that you post on an update – there’s nothing visually interesting going on.

Until now.

If you have accumulated a visual, creative portfolio as part of your career, you can absolutely show it off – by using the add a link feature in the Summary or Experience areas of your profile. The Summary area allows you to show off all your projects in one spot; adding to the Experience area allows you to add work to specific positions.

STEP 1

LinkedIn Edit Profile

To get started, make sure you’re in the edit mode of your profile.

STEP 2

LinkedIn Summary Section
Scroll down and find your Summary or Experience section. Click the add a link icon.

STEP 3

LinkedIn URL Title

Enter the URL for your project – you have a wide range of sites to pull from because LinkedIn has partnerships with about 100 providers, including SlideShare, Prezi, Twitter, Pinterest, Issuu, YouTube, and Vimeo. Click Enter, and then LinkedIn will pull the title and description of your item. Edit the title and/or description, and click Save.

FINISHED!

 

LinkedIn Projects

Now you have a new multimedia project to showcase on your profile.

Although you can add specific projects to your positions, I like having them all in one spot in the Summary. I have webinar slide decks, a video, blog posts, and my Twitter stream. It’s a great way to display my skills in social media content creation, writing, editing, presentation design, and video editing.

Voila! Your LinkedIn profile just got a whole lot more interesting and interactive.

Have you tried adding your projects to LinkedIn? What do you think of these tools? Let me know in the comments.

How can your business get noticed in the new Facebook news feed? More visual content

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

A look at the new Facebook news feed (image from Facebook)

The most important lesson from Facebook’s news feed upgrade announcement this week is this: multimedia is critical to your business’ success on Facebook.

Photos and videos will appear larger in the news feed – currently that content makes up 50% of the stream. And there’s a good reason for that. Facebook users are more engaged with multimedia than with text updates alone, or with text and a link. MBooth found that videos are shared 12 times more than link or text updates, and photos are liked 2 times more than text updates.

It makes sense. for Facebook users – your fans and followers – photos and videos are a huge part of their social media activity. A recent Pew Internet and American Life study shows that almost half (46%) of online adults post photos and video, while 56% have completed at least one photo-sharing activity.

For small businesses who are already using photos and video, the changes validate the time and effort they spend on creating that content. For those that aren’t, it’s time to take stock of your content creation for 2013, and change those New Year’s content resolutions. The top content types that small businesses in a BusinessBolts.com study planned to increase this year were written content; 53% wanted to focus on video, and 30% planned to increase photo creation. If your business placed multimedia towards the bottom of the list, your smartphone is going to be your new best friend.

The time is right for multimedia content, especially for small businesses on a small budget – no one has to purchase expensive equipment, or hire high-end professionals to show off their business. Everything you need is on your iPhone or Android. The tools are extremely easy to use, and you don’t have to spend hours on your photos or video. A couple of images in a small album or photo collage, or a short video (really short if you’re using 6 second clips from Vine) are all you need. If you haven’t already, download Instagram and Vine, and start capturing engaging, interesting visual content.

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!

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