Small Business Saturday

Thanksgiving has always meant turkey, stuffing, gravy and family, but what about and credit cards, shopping bags and cash registers opening at midnight? Although Black Friday has been creeping into Thanksgiving, some consumers have been generating more interest in the shopping day that includes a full day’s break after the feast: Small Business Saturday.

Historic Third Ward Milwaukee / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

More than ever, this two-year-old shopping event calls for small businesses to undertake special public relations and social media efforts. The Shop Small organization has completed a lot of the leg-work as far as social media, with more than 3.1 million supporters on Facebook.  Plus, the American Express-sponsored event has advertised a $25 gift card offer to cardholders who purchase at small businesses on Saturday, November 24.

However, small businesses should develop a social media plan, tailored to their own shops. By participating in the event through social networking efforts, you can contribute to the community-based “buy local” efforts in your area—as well as help drive your sales. According to the “Shop Small” infographic, independent retailers that are in communities with a “buy local” initiative reported revenue growth of 5.6% on average in 2010, compared to 2.1% for those elsewhere.

The Shop Small website provides pre-made, editable email messages and posts for Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn for the convenience of small businesses. Whether your business follows these outlines or creates your own messages, we’re offering a few tips in spreading the word:

  1. Stick to your usual platforms Now is not the time to open a social media account to promote this weekend’s event. Continue posting where you have already built your fan base, whether this be through your Facebook page, an email account, or simply the window of your store (you can download free “Shop Small” signage.)
  2. Control your posts – Avoid posting too little so that the message does not go out, but do not post so much that you bother customers. Post enough so that you show your involvement and share how you are participating,
  3. Thank your customers – Do more than just announce the event; give your customers a reason to come out with any special offers or rewards. Then, thank the customers for their support through your original communications channels.

As a small business, we appreciate the efforts of this day in supporting small businesses, as it proved last year with these shops.

As PR professionals, we also applaud American Express for conceiving the idea for the event and setting an example for an increasingly successful – and smart – integrated public relations, marketing and social media campaign for their own business.

We’ll be shopping small and local at the Easton, PA Farmers Market. Who are you supporting this Small Business Saturday?

Photo credit: Historic Third Ward Milwaukee / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

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The 2012 Election: The Most Social and Mobile Friendly Election?

In elections gone-by, people learned about candidates through TV, radio and more recently a campaign website. Today, social media and mobile technology have drastically changed how the public interacts with political campaigns. People can now learn about the election and candidates through social media outlets and apps, live blog and tweet the debates as they happen, share their opinions and ensure their thinking and opinions reach the candidates directly – or at least their campaign staffs. Social and mobile technologies have changed political elections by empowering the electorate to stay up-to-the-minute … every second of the election!

Socially Friendly
On Facebook, people are sharing opinions on the presidential candidates by updating their Facebook statuses throughout the debates, and sharing their opinion on key issues and more. Facebook is also a great way to learn about the candidates through their pages. In fact, both President Obama and Governor Romney are encouraging voters to get on Facebook. Read about it here: http://on.mash.to/Y6QRoh.

Instead of watching the debates on TV, websites like YouTube allows others to watch the debates – even from their smartphones – and share their opinions and color commentary. Twitter is another great place to follow candidates and related conversations via hashtags. Voters can engage in conversation with others about the election, retweet their favorite candidates tweets, check-in to the polls and much more.

There’s an App for that…
Today, there is an app for everything and elections are no exception. Need help finding your way to the poll on election day? The VoterHub App can easily help you find your way to the polls. Want to donate to a campaign? There’s an App for that too. Looking for live election night updates on your iPhone or Android … that’s right, there is an app that can help.

VoterHub also provides information on everything you need to know about the election. According to Mashable, “VoterHub, a new app from AT&T, the Pew Center on the States and Politics-360, is designed to be a non-partisan one-stop-shop for everything voters need to know on Election Day.”

If you find donating to your favorite campaign to be a chore, check out the The Rise of Mobile in Election 2012 to learn more about political mobile apps and how to donate with ease.

The New York Times – and others, we’re sure – is offering moment-by-moment election news coverage direct to your phone.

Just how mobile is this election? Mashable created an awesome infographic to explain.

Final Thoughts…
This election is most interesting because of the prominent role social and mobile technologies are playing. All of us can share our thoughts and opinions with hundreds of friends, who in turn broadcast those messages to hundreds more. It has made the election extremely interactive. I think the 2012 election will be remembered for many things, most especially for its use of social and mobile technologies to engage with voters.

Tell us what social platforms or mobile apps you prefer to keep up with the campaigns.