Aside

Four Tips for Creating a Successful Facebook Fan Gating Welcome Video With Your Brand’s Celebrity Spokesperson

If you have a famous spokesperson/endorser for your brand, it can be a little difficult to pin down some unique and fun ideas for your Facebook fan page. Recently, I was faced with the same scenario and I decided video was my weapon of choice.   Here are some tips for using video content to fan gate your Facebook page.

Tip 1: Exclusive should really mean exclusive.

Becoming a fan of your brand should really mean something.  Sharing exclusive content is all part of that effort to gain new and retain your fan base.  By providing exclusive content, you’re making your fans feel special and privileged, like they get to see something before any of  their friends do.  Tech tip: Use a closed YouTube link of your video and embed it on your Facebook page.  From there, your Facebook fans will be the only people able to see the video.

Tip 2: Keep it simple.

The opportunity to make your Facebook fan page video a  large production is tempting, but I say skip it!  Instead, focus on your message while maintaining a more realistic and inviting video concept. For example, depending on your marketing spend, you may shoot regular commercials for your product or service.  You could easily grab some footage of your celebrity spokesperson while on-site of your most recent commercial shoot. 

Tip 3: Give your audience something to do afterwards.

So, you’ve created this great video and believe your Facebook visitor’s journey is over, right? Wrong! Think about what’s next for the viewer.  Most likely, you want them to take a deeper look into your cool product or service.  Why not point them to visit your website for a free sample, or a free trial? Or how about asking them to sign up for your email mailing list?  Whatever you decide, don’t let the journey stop with the video. Make sure you plan your content ahead of time.

Tip 4: Prepare and plan your content early.

Knowing your overall idea is important before shooting your welcome video.  Create story boards and scripts early and clear it with your spokesperson prior to going on-site.  It is essential you do this just in case your subject has some issues with the content.   Also, if necessary, review the spokesperson’s contract prior to even sending your video idea over.  Your company may or may not have electronic distribution rights to video content.

Have you ever created a Facebook Page welcome video with your company’s celebrity spokesperson?  Do you have any additional tips? Please add them in the comments.

Five Foolproof Tips For Creating QR Codes

There’s no doubt Quick Response (QR) codes are the new “shiny object” for marketers who are looking to serve customers with relevant mobile content quickly and effectively.  If you’re new to using these codes, here are five quick tips to help you get started.

Tip 1: Know Your Purpose

This seems like the biggest “duh,” but you would be surprised how many marketers start creating codes but don’t think about their true intent.  So, what’s your goal?  More mobile application downloads? More followers or fans on Twitter and Facebook?  Increase email sign ups? Whatever it is, make sure you know this beforehand and really think it through.

Tip 2: Clue In Your Users

Even though QR codes are rapidly gaining widespread adoption, many people don’t know their purpose.  Giving a teaser is the best way to remedy that.  Instead of just putting the code out there, make sure to include some verbiage such as “Scan here for a special surprise” or “Use your QR reader to see more great offers from Company X.”  That way, if the user doesn’t know what the code does, they can go to their mobile app store and search for “scanner” or “QR reader.”

Tip 3: Measure Your Success

There are a ton of free tools out there that help you not only create but measure how your QRs are doing.  My favorite at the moment is the QR Generator by Good Survey.  It’s free to make as many QR codes as you want, but it limits you to three codes you can obtain analytics for at a time.

Bit.ly also has a new QR code feature to their link shortening service.  Now, they create a QR code automatically for any hyperlink that’s shortened with their service and provide free analytics as well.

Tip 4: Be Aware Of Print Material Types

One of the best ways I’ve seen QR codes used is on signage and print materials throughout retail stores.  However, I recently had a disappointing experience with this.  I was in the grocery store a couple of weeks ago and saw a QR code on a refrigerator for a new coffee creamer.  I tried to scan the code three times but each time I tried, it wouldn’t work.  After the third try, I gave up and noticed that the material the sign was made out of had a glossy finish and created a glare that prevented me from scanning the code in the well-lit grocery store.  For your QR codes, I would recommend using a matte finish on any print materials especially since many larger companies cannot control their placement of their signage throughout their stores.

Tip 5: Test, Test and Re-Test Your Codes

The worst thing that can happen with a QR code is they do not work. It can be very embarrassing and damage your company’s credibility in an instant. The best way to prevent this from happening is to test your codes with different phone operating systems (OS, Android, Blackberry etc.)  and different QR reader applications.  Make sure you test right after you create each code and after the printing phase if you’re creating signage. (Action idea: Get your employees involved by sending the code out to them so they can test for themselves. Be sure to ask for feedback too.  This is a really quick (and not to mention cheap) way to test your newly created QR codes.)

Are there any other tips you can think of?  I would love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments below!

Dealing With The Unexpected

Three weeks ago I dislocated my right knee while kickboxing.  As you can imagine, I was absolutely devastated especially since our wedding was just over four months away at that time. I think the emotional pain hurt more than the physical.  It’s tough going from running around bride-to-be to a couch potato.  Hello depression…

After a few days of emotional episodes and moving through my personal stages of grief, I began to accept the situation instead of fighting it.  I was so touched by a number of people who expressed their concern and offered to help if I needed anything.  Even one of my closest work friends and wellness mentor sent me a box of yummy organic veggies for me to enjoy.  And then my best friend sent me a new health book.  Both were so incredibly thoughtful.  Even my company has allowed me to work from home until I am cleared to drive.  (Thank goodness, I think I would go crazy if I didn’t have something to keep my mind busy.)  My hubby-to-be really deserves the most of my appreciation though.  He’s been taking very good care of me by making me healthy meals, cleaning, doing the shopping and even bathing me since I can’t take this massive brace off.  He won’t let me lift a finger.  This unfortunate situation has really brought us much closer together.

Fast forward to today.  It’s been three weeks since my accident and I’m actually feeling OK.  The swelling has gone down a bit and I’m in little to no pain.  I visited my orthopedic, Dr. Lager and he said my MRI looks fine and surgery isn’t necessary right now.  He told me I could “take a few steps” with the assistance from my crutches and loosen the brace on my leg to bend ever so slightly starting on Monday.  July 11 is the next time I will see him and hopefully he’ll clear me for physical therapy.  Until then, it’s ice, ice baby and limited mobility.  Will post again soon!

Our Precana Experience

Let me preface this post with saying that I am a born and raised Catholic.  I have never truly had any issues with my religion, but as I have become older and decided to marry, my opinion of the church has changed significantly.  This post is not meant to offend anyone and these opinions are strictly my own.

Yesterday, we had to attend our first session of precana.  That’s right I said first, as in there will be more than one session.  I was actually hoping the experience would be more positive, but I have to say, I was completely unimpressed.

The first exercise had to do with perceptions of our spouse-to-be.  Sadly, this was probably the best exercise of the day.  Mike and I worked as a team to fill out our sheets and then compare them to one another.  We learned that in some instances our opinions of ourselves differ than the ones of our spouse.

Afterward, we spent the rest of the day hearing speakers who were married couples for 20+ years on topics such as finance, sexuality (ugh) and God.  Although important, these topics were not as informative as I hoped.  Either the information was too general, in which we knew everything that was presented, or we simply didn’t agree with what they were saying.  Either way, the day made for a good topic of conversation at dinner that night.

The truth of the matter is, we paid $90 for a marriage requirement that was really of no use to us.  As mentioned earlier in the post, we have more than one session.  The second session is next weekend and that will cost us an additional $125.  That’s on top of the $750 “donation” to the church for the ceremony.

There’s no doubt celebrating a marriage is expensive.  But establishing requirements where people are being gouged to do so is beyond ridiculous.  I’m just hoping next week’s session is better.  I’ll be sure to update.  Have a great week!

Social 2011 Here I Come!

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I’m on the train as I write this heading to Social 2011 in Boston. I’m really excited to share opinions and ideas with people who are just as passionate about social media as I am. There’s no doubt I’ll be walking away with some newfound knowledge and friends.

What a difference a year makes. A year ago, I was dreaming of a career in social media and asked myself on multiple occasions, “Can I really make a living with this stuff?” I found my answer. I’m so lucky to have the privilege of waking up every morning and doing something I love. I feel accomplished. I feel like I matter. I feel like I’m making a difference.

I’ll be sure to update on the interesting little nuggets I find out at the conference. Until then, take care!

An Update And A Promise

It’s been far too long since my last post. I do have a lot to report on, but I promise to keep it brief.

Here Comes The Bride!

I’m happy to report all of the larger planning items are taken care of. I’m feeling very relaxed throughout this whole process which surprises me, but I think it’s because I started my planning early. The only outstanding items really are the flowers, photographer and music selections. Seven months to go!

Career Update

I can’t believe it’s going to be almost a year that I decided to leave my last job and pursue my position in the online marketing world. I’m happy to report my review went exceptionally well and I think I’m finally settling in. Overall, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been.

Becoming A Healthier Me

So now is as good a time as ever to work on looking my best for the BIGGEST day of my life. I’ve lost 20 pounds since October and feel amazing thanks to working out at the local CKO Kickboxing gym 3-4 times a week. My goal is to lose at least another 10-15 pounds before the wedding.

So I hope that’s brief enough. Now to the promise part of this post. I have become just awful with updating regularly, and to me, it’s totally unacceptable. After all, my good friends and family know I’m my own worst critic. :-) So, I promise to update at least once a week even if it’s just to “check-in.” I have a few events I’m attending in the next few weeks so that should be very easy to complete.

Thanks for reading all! Take care, and talk soon!

An Untold Story…

This post is dedicated to my wonderful Grandparents, Les and Florence Kovacs.  There’s never a day I don’t think about each of you and wish you were still here with me…I love you both so much and I await the chance to be with you again one day.

Ten years ago, my life changed.

I remember like it was yesterday when my Mother came home and told me and my sister my Grandfather had died suddenly.  I remember the overwhelming feelings of sorrow, despair and disbelief that God had decided to take someone so significant in my life.  This was the first time I had ever experienced death of a loved one and unfortunately, it had to be someone I loved so deeply.  Both my Grandparents had a hand in raising me, but my Grandfather was like another Father to me.  He was always so proud of me; from softball and basketball games, to choir concerts, to police youth camp he was always there to cheer me on with my Grandmother by his side.  Throughout my teen years up until he passed away, we were nothing short of best friends.

I remember watching my Grandmother throughout the entire process of events.  I felt her deep sorrow for her beloved husband but also couldn’t help but notice how beautiful she looked at the wake and the funeral.  My Grandmother always has been a physically stunning woman, with what my Mother calls, “the curse” that she has faithfully passed down to my generation.

My Grandfather was buried on a Saturday.  After the small family gathering that Saturday, I remember giving my Grandmother a great big hug and kiss and telling her how much I loved her and if there was anything she needed she could always count on me.  We planned to go to church for Sunday Mass the next day.  As a family, my Grandmother, Mother and my Aunts and Uncles with their families attended the same church we were just in a day earlier.  When prayers were raised up for those who needed them, the reader mentioned my Grandfather and offered the Mass in his name.  My family and I burst out into tears instantly.  Oh, how we so deeply missed him already.

After Mass, we headed back to my Grandmother’s house for some family time.  We ate, drank and managed to crack a few jokes and a smile or two.  As the family began to disperse around the house and make themselves comfortable, I was in the kitchen with my Mother, Sister, and a couple of my Aunts and Uncles.  I remember I was sitting to the right of my grandmother and holding her right hand in my left.  She took a sip of her favorite beverage, Diet Coke.  When she put the clear plastic cup down, she said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute, I don’t feel well.”  My mother immediately asked, “Mom, are you OK?” I will never forget what happened next for as long as I live.  My Mother could barely get her words out before my Grandmother gave out this excruciating yell while throwing her hands up in the air.

Panicked, my Mother immediately asked my Grandmother if she was OK, while also noticing the slight droop on the right side of her mouth.  My Grandmother never answered her.  As one of my Aunts called the paramedics, my Mother being the highly-skilled nurse she is, concluded she suffered a stroke right in front of our eyes.  Horrified, we all went to the hospital awaiting the news the doctors would give us about her condition.  My beloved Grandmother, did indeed suffer a stroke.  A stroke so massive, it impaired the entire right side of her body including her speech, ability to walk and motor skills.  I could never begin to express the extensive devastation our family had faced on that day.  Just 24 hours after the burial of her husband, we now were faced another harsh reality.

For the past 10 years, my Grandmother lived as a prisoner in her own body.  Among not being able to walk, she also was unable to speak clearly or communicate with anyone around her, which left her often feeling hopeless and depressed.  As teenagers, my sister and I had our hearts dismantled as we watched my Grandmother suffer.  We were fortunate enough to know my Grandmother in her healthy state the longest of all the grandchildren, but that just made it harder to accept.  My Mother, who I believe was hit hardest, was at my Grandmother’s side everyday in the beginning to try to rehabilitate her as much as possible.  Although she made her best effort, my Grandmother was unable to undo the damage the stroke had done.

It was difficult to visit my Grandmother at times.  She would cry often and sometimes her feelings would result in anger, but I know we loved her the best we could despite it all.  It took me a long time to accept what happened and move on, but recently that wound has been reopened.

A month ago, my Grandmother was diagnosed with a very aggressive brain tumor.  When the doctors examined it, they realized it was untreatable and estimated my Grandmother had less than three months to live.  After her diagnosis at the hospital, my Mother decided my Grandmother should reside in the best nursing home available, which coincidentally was her own where she oversees the nursing department.

Grandma did make it to Christmas in which we had a nice day of gifts, hugs and some tears because we knew this would be our last Christmas with her.  Grandma looked beautiful in her dress, and even managed to get out of bed, which had been something she hadn’t done to much of since her diagnosis.  Karen and I gave her a Celtic cross which we both have one to match.  My Mother and Stepfather bought her a new television and some perfume. Overall, it was a very nice day.

I spent Sunday with Mike running around because a huge snowstorm was on its way to do some serious damage.  As I went to sleep that night, I said a prayer for Grandma.  The next day was declared a state of emergency due to the weather.  Unfortunately and fortunately, Mike has an SUV, so he went to work.  I was sitting at my desk in my office when I got a phone call from a number that is associated with my Mother’s nursing home.  Fear immediately entered into my mind.  I picked up and it was my Mother who could barely speak.  After trying to tell me what was going on, she handed the phone to one of her head nurses who told me Grandma wasn’t doing well and I should wait until the roads are a little clearer and then come down.  I knew this was it.  I was distraught when I hung up the phone.  I knew I had to see her one final time.  I sent Mike a couple instant messages while he was at work to let him know what’s going on.  Within 5 minutes he got back to me and said he was leaving work to take me to see her.  I was so thankful.

The hour and a half ride over to the nursing home seemed like an eternity.  I was so worried she would go without me saying goodbye.  Luckily, we got there and I was able to see her.  I immediately started to cry when I saw her.  She looked so ill and fragile, and very thin due to the lack of eating.  My Mother and Sister hugged me and told me to be strong for her.  My Mother helped me by asking Grandma to open her eyes so she could see me. I kissed her and told her I was there.  During my visit, so many staff members came in to see my Grandmother one last time.  They hugged my Mother, Karen and I and offered their condolences.  My Mother is really lucky to have such wonderful people work with her every day.  They truly support and love her dearly.  I know my Mother really needs it considering how hurtful this situation is.  I stayed with my Grandma for a few hours before it started to get dark.  My Mother was worried about the roads and I was unsure if we would even be able to make it home with all of the news about people getting stuck.  We weren’t sure when my Grandmother would go either, so I told my Mother I would be back the next day.  I kissed Grandma and told her I loved her so much.  That was the last time I saw my Grandma alive.

My Grandma passed away at 1:41 a.m. on Tuesday, December 28, 2010.  Thankfully, my Sister and Mother were with her when she passed.  We held the wake and funeral services on Thursday and Friday of last week.  My family and I are so incredibly saddened with the loss of my Grandmother but know she is in a better place now where she can finally talk and walk again.  I also know how terribly much she missed my Grandfather, and I’m grateful she will now be able to see him again.

I love you Grandma and Grandpa, you will forever be in my heart.