HOW Design Live 2016 Recap

On the weekend of May 21st, Marbury Creative Group (MCG) designers, John, Carol, and I, enjoyed two days at HOW Design Live 2016. Filled with breakout sessions, keynotes, and workshops, HOW Design Live is five days of creative inspiration and practical application to refuel designers’ passion for their work. (from http://howdesignlive.com/index.php/about) And boy did we leave refueled.

Before I tell y’all how wonderful the conference was and some of the fabulous things we learned, I would like to start off by saying that I am not a morning person. Especially on the weekends. I was up Saturday AND Sunday at 5:30am – which is 2.5 hours earlier than my Monday – Friday schedule! Though my eyelids felt glued shut, I was so excited to go explore Atlanta, meet new colleagues, learn from creative leaders, and experience HOW that even the early mornings were worth it.

John, Carol, and I covered a lot of ground in just 2 days. We sat in 6 keynotes covering topics like technology and the future of design, designing globally, and a conversation between Debbie Millman and Chip Kidd about Chip’s personal journey though life as a designer. We also interacted with industry colleagues in breakout sessions covering topics like design tips and tricks, management, package design, creative thinking, and much more. Luckily the designers at MCG have varied design interests, so we were able to divide and conquer session topics to learn as much as possible—and there was plenty to learn!

I left HOW Design Live with a notebook filled with notes and inspiration and excitement to get back to my computer and get to designing! Here are 2 of my favorite nuggets of inspiration:

1. How to shut your monkey
Danny Gregory came up with the idea of your monkey. Your monkey (commonly known as your inner critic) is that nagging voice inside you head that says you aren’t good enough. That color isn’t right. What were you thinking when you came up with that idea and concept!? Why in the world would you ever use that typeface in that layout?

We all have it. It is something designers and creatives struggle with daily. I learned how to shut my monkey – to control that inner critic of mine and get more done with out that nagging voice!

2. Adobe apps are awesome!!
I attended a session with Justin Seeley who works at lynda.com, an online tool for designers to learn how do use the Adobe programs. He introduced us to all the cool features of Adobe Creative suite and showed us that Adobe has some amazing apps that help designers take their design to the next level. Creating patterns, brushes, capturing color pallets in an environment, and so much more. We can start layouts on the go and finishing them on the computers.

By the end of the weekend I was exhausted, but it was totally worth waking up early! I am so appreciative of Rob and Shelly for giving the designers this amazing opportunity to develop as designers. Thanks to HOW, the MCG Studio is even more energized to serve our clients with industry-leading techniques and new ideas creative strategies!

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When to say “I do.”

In the early days of any business, owners find themselves forced to wear many different hats… sales, finance, human resources, and marketing to name a few. But as an organization grows, the owner and/or their internal team quickly realize there are not enough hours in the day, nor do they have the ability to deliver the level of attention needed in each of these functional areas.

Recently, we’ve been meeting with business owners and marketing folks at companies that find themselves in exactly this transitional period — they’ve outgrown their internal capacity to deliver and are facing the reality of adding to the expense column by hiring outside professional services. So, just when is it the right time to hire an advertising agency for a growing business?

This is such a great question. And it’s a decision most struggle to make at some point in the life of a business. Unfortunately, there is no “one decision fits all” answer. But here are a few things to consider as you evaluate your company’s specific needs:

Money: It’s true. Ad agencies cost money. But it’s crucial to look at this new expense as an investment in your business. And like all investments, you are correct to expect a return on these dollars. Before hiring any ad agency, make sure you have a good understanding of how they bill, what they bill, and what analytics they will provide that shows the value received for the money spent. Some portion of your investment is certainly brand building in nature, and as such, is difficult to quantify with a measurable ROI; however, most tactical initiatives can and should report on the success of the tactic.

Time: You have heard the expression “time is money.” What would your business gain from you being able to focus all of your attention on your “real” job? And have you considered the dollar value/impact potential on the business of having that opportunity? Partnering with an ad agency can free up valuable hours needed to maintain an effective marketing program, thereby allowing you and your team to be more focused on increasing sales, building relationships with customers, or targeting new markets.

Creativity: Perhaps the single greatest value an ad agency brings to your business is creativity and impact on your message. Many businesses find the outside perspective and competitive research capabilities of an ad agency bring a refreshed focus to your business’ unique selling points. Much too often, businesses get lost in using industry jargon, or trying to be all things to all people. Having an outside perspective helps focus the message and gives your business a strong voice in the market.

Yes, the leap to partnering with an advertising agency requires a financial line item investment that, up to this point, you have done without. But the payoff from this investment, if executed correctly, will be well worth the dollars. Finding a partner for your business allows you to benefit from the focused attention of trained marketing professionals, while freeing up you and your internal staff to focus on business development and delivering on your brand promise. This will pay dividends and ensure your company’s continued growth and success.

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HTTPS isn’t just for security anymore

You’ve probably seen many websites display HTTPS instead of an HTTP in their domain address. Previously, we often saw it with the larger e-commerce sites accepting credit cards and it provided a sense of security. The “S” stands for…you guessed it…secure (HTTPS -Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure). It means all communications between the website and your browser are encrypted. So it’s safer to transmit data!

It’s an easy process to convert your site from HTTP to HTTPS. You simply need an SSL certificate. When installed and activated on your web

server, the HTTPS protocol allows for secure connections. You need to ensure your web provider purchases the correct SSL certificate (since all are not created equal) but the point is, it’s an easy process that we can provide. It requires minimal cost and can have a large impact. Most of our clients have already converted to HTTPS simply to guarantee their customers feel that level of security, especially if their site transfers ANY information.

But there is another benefit … SEO!  Google wants websites to be secure mainly because users like sites more when they FEEL and SEE they are secure. In addition, it means that the site is transporting data safely, which is always a good thing. In August of 2014, Google announced they would be giving minor boosts to sites that switch over to HTTPS.  As a result, websites that implemented this change have seen positive results over the past 2 years in search engine rankings. And, we all want to stay in Google’s good graces. So, we recommend switching over to HTTPS if you haven’t already and get an SEO boost, too. It’s killing two birds with one stone!

If you would like to learn more about making the switch to HTTPS, contact Shelly@marburycreativegroup.com. I promise, it’s much easier that you think!

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UPDATE: Our New Year’s Resolutions

If a new year means a new you, you might relate to a few of our resolutions for 2016.  As we step further into the new year, these are a few things we want to keep top of mind!

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Photo credit: bit.ly/1Z8ylsj

Heather

My resolution is to stop watching viral videos involving dogs that I know will make me cry. You know the kind… videos of dogs greeting their owners who just got home from war or biped puppies using a modified wheelchair for the first time. Failed. YouTube cry-fest 1/2/16.

John

I have a few resolutions for 2016. I will be nicer to my pets and feed them using fine china. I resolve to drink less beer than last year. I will stop making fun of people who like to use Comic Sans. I will safeguard my Blistex so it doesn’t end up in the dryer. And finally, if I win the lottery, I will give half my winnings to good causes. Failed. One load of laundry ruined 2/1/16

Shelly

My new year’s resolution is to give a well-crafted response to anyone that messages me through Facebook to sell me something. Normally, I just don’t respond. But, in 2016, I am going to nicely let them know that I don’t want to buy their body building formula, body wrap or cosmetics. It’s annoying and simply makes me more likely to not buy something. Also, I resolve to give my sweet tooth more exercise this year by eating more candy! Succeeded. Still waiting on solicitation.

 

Photo credit: bit.ly/1Isv3OK

Photo credit: bit.ly/1Isv3OK

Steve

My new year’s resolution is to only post positive or funny comments on Facebook. While we’re being hopeful, I give myself 6 weeks, tops! Failed 1/28/16

Rob

In 2016 I resolve to take up smoking and then to quit cold turkey. How hard can it be? Succeeded 1/2/16

Whitney

My new year’s resolution is to keep a succulent alive. I am proud to say I found minor success with this in 2015 and hope by the end of this year, my thumb won’t be green with envy of the local plant supply store. Succeeded. But, we’re only two months in.

Carol

My new year’s resolution is always to commit to not committing to making new year’s resolutions. Does that count as a resolution? Shoot. Failed? Succeeded? 

Cheers to a new year with new opportunities to do great work with great people. They say sharing your resolutions can help hold you accountable. You can share your resolutions with us on Facebook or Twitter!

 

2015 in Review (From the Group’s Point of View)

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” – Hal Borland

We’re excited to see what 2016 has in store for our clients, company, and our neighborhood. Here’s what we’ll always remember from 2015.

Heather

During this year’s frigid winter, good Samaritans tied scarves and knit hats to trees in cities with homeless populations. Anyone in need could take the items to keep warm. I like any story of altruism; people just helping others.

HealtherRob

All four of my kids, their three spouses, and my wife and granddaughter spent a week at the beach. It was awesome, particularly during a campfire in a full moon, making s’mores! It was awesome!!

Carol

Without question the most memorable event of 2015 for me personally was my 50th SURPRISE birthday party! My husband was planning it for at least 6 months and was in cahoots with Marbury folks to keep the deception going…even faking our company Christmas party to throw me off track! He booked a Beatles tribute band, cooked awesome food all by himself, made wine glass charms, designed the stage setup, coordinated with my out-of-town family to make sure those that could  would be there … and Whitney made amazing tickets and custom beer glass decals…  Every little detail was taken care of! I walked in to “All You Need is Love” playing with 90 of my friends waving little Union Jack flags, singing, and donning John Lennon’s signature round shades.  He even tried to get Sir Paul to send me a hand-written note. But the icing on the cake was the NEW CAR!!! I have to say I am one blessed lady with the most wonderful, loving husband in the world! God is Good!!

Carol

Courtney

This Disney Parks Advertisement really stood out to me this year. I love seeing Disney characters so I know the joy kids of all ages having a down day would feel! This is uplifting in a world full of sad and hateful events.


Shelly

My favorite event this year was The Power of Pink for North Fulton Hospital. We had so much fun! It started with the girls going to Dry Bar to get their hair done and then having champagne while we got ready. Then we went to go support the cancer survivors, and help raise money for this wonderful cause through a casino night. It was very inspiring to meet these amazing women! We get so busy doing the materials and branding for our clients, it was great to be there and be a part of it. It’s also a good reminder on WHY we do what we do.

Shelly

Steve

In 2015, Sweden shifted to a 6-hour work day.* To this I say: “Heck-to-the-yeah!”

John

The celebration of an anniversary is always a wonderful thing. This past year, Marbury Creative Group celebrated its 5-year anniversary at the Glenn Hotel in downtown Atlanta. There was crazy traffic that day causing some folks to not make it. It took my wife, Penny, two hours to get to the party! From the decorations: a giant number 5 with photos from the last five years with an identical giant 5 for folks to sign, glowing table decorations with talk bubble on sticks with awesome facts about our customers and employees, a looping video with some of our past projects and of course the video skit of the employees overdubbed with children’s voices. Awesome view, awesome food, great music and a room full of wonderful people. It was a highlight of the year! It was an awesome event and I did not want the evening to end.

Whitney

This past summer I milked a cow. While visiting my boyfriend’s family in Pennsylvania, I learned a little bit about farm life and even got to milk Sally!

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Erin

Thanks to NASA’s New Horizon spacecraft, 2015 was year that science re-confirmed that Pluto is, in fact, a planet. Pluto was always a planet in my heart but it helps to have scientific evidence in arguments.

Erin

 

 

What moments in history or personally from 2015 will stick with you? Share yours with us on Facebook.

*Steve is seeking work sponsorship in Sweden, if anyone is looking for help, please contact us.

 

Our Christmas Memories

Christmas is a special time of year for many people and our Group is no exception. We’d like to share a few of our favorite Christmas memories!

Carol

For me, wonderful Christmas memories always involved my grandmother, Laura Marcy Askren. I think one of my favorites was going downtown to Rich’s with her to ride the Pink Pig. At the time, it was an enclosed suspension train, and not a regular “mini-train.” Then after the ride, “Nana” as we called her, would take us to the cafe in the store for lunch. My grandmother was the epitome of what a grandmother should be. She loved us all (me and each of my 5 siblings) and was very much involved in our lives. She always enjoyed scheduling fun things for us to do. I also fondly recall my sister and I going to her house to make fancy Christmas cookies every year. My favorites were the “stained glass” cookies that used sugar cookie base and melted Life Savers for the colored “glass.” She was an amazing baker and an overall excellent cook. I will always treasure the memories she made with us, and I miss her very much.

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Shelly

Every Christmas morning, we get up REALLY early and head out to my parents to celebrate Christmas with the family. Once Santa stopped stuffing our stockings, my sister and I made our own tradition, where we stuffed each other’s stockings each year. So, before everyone else wakes up, Nikki and I open our stockings together. Once the whole family is there, we start the fire in the living room and enjoy mimosas and breakfast together before doing presents. It’s so cozy and one of my favorite parts of Christmas!

 

Heather

I asked for a hamster EVERY Christmas for like, 4 years. I’d write it multiple times on my Christmas list so my parents would know how much I wanted one: HAMSTER, Tamagotchi, Skip-it, HAMSTER, Polly Pocket, Furbie, Troll doll, HAMSTER…you get the idea. Then one Christmas, I didn’t get the hamster. I never got the hamster.

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Rob (Grab the tissues!)

We used to draw numbers to exchange gifts in elementary school. One year a friend of mine opened his, and stated, “A pair of socks?!? What kind of a stupid gift is this?”  Then the older boy who had been held back two times reluctantly piped up, “My mom made me bring those. She said she would be grateful if I got a new pair of socks.”  Even at age 8, it broke my heart. So, I told my Mom, and she got our church together, and on Christmas Eve, we took a carload of new clothes and toys to this boys’ home in the trailer park (back in the day you could ask the teacher for the address). I stayed in the car so that the kid would not be embarrassed, but I knew this is what God would want Christmas to be all about.

 

John

Our very first Christmas together as a married couple, living in a brand new home, we decided to get a B-and-B tree (balled and burlapped – a tree sold with their roots in soil wrapped in burlap and tied with twine or wire). We drove to North Carolina and purchased a tree that was about 4 feet tall. The day after Christmas, we planted the White Pine in our front yard. Today, 26 years later, the tree is a little too big for us to decorate as we did the first couple of years since it is now about 30 feet tall. It’s fun to tell visitors to our home that the tree was our very first Christmas tree.

3-John

 

Courtney

My favorite Christmas tradition is our yearly ornaments. When I was a baby, my babysitter made me a felt ornament with a picture of me that year and wrote the date on the back. My mom did this every year from then on and it is fun to pull them out every year and see how much I’ve changed. We are now doing this for my niece and I hope to continue this tradition!

 

Steve (Tearjerker alert!)

My daughter, Emma, then age 11, came to us and said she wanted to “adopt” a girl and her family for Christmas. She told us she didn’t want any gifts for Christmas, but instead wanted to spend the money that we would have spent on her, and allow her to go shopping for this family. How could you argue with that? So we went shopping and bought a bike, toys, clothes, diapers, and food gift cards — something for everyone in the family. We went as a family and presented everyone with our presents. They were extremely appreciative and had even cooked us an authentic Guatemalan dinner. But instead of us joining them around the table, they served us the meal as their special guests. They spoke very little English, but it was an amazing evening of fellowship. I was so proud of my daughter (how many kids would give up Christmas presents), and our family was so incredibly blessed by the experience.

 

Erin

One of my fondest Christmas memories was a very special gift from Santa. It was a goldfish that lived in a bubble gum machine-style tank. When you cranked the handle, the light turned on so I, er-the fish wouldn’t be afraid of the dark. In college, I tracked down another one of those tanks and proudly displayed it in my dorm room. 

4-Erin

 

Whitney

When I was in elementary school my grandparents gave me a large chocolate-colored teddy bear for Christmas. I named him Brownie. I loved Brownie bear so much that his fur started getting very matted! The next summer I went to a weeklong sleep away camp and didn’t bring Brownie bear with me because he was too big. My mom mailed him to me so I was truly a happy camper!!

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We hope you and your family make your own special memories this Christmas and every year there after. Share your favorites with us on Facebook and keep spreading the Christmas spirit!

 

 

Psychology of Christmas Music

Do you hear what I hear? The familiar seasonal sounds of Christmas music… since October.

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Does music play a role in what you buy? There’s an obvious influx in shoppers during the holiday season, easily recognized by crowded parking lots and longer check out lines, but is music really to blame?

Let’s see what science has to say.

In 1982, a New York City grocery store did a study on the tempo of music and its effects on their customers’ shopping habits. The store played slower tempo music and found that customers spent significantly more time in the store than usual and bought on average 32% more, when compared to times when the store played faster tempo music. This is easily explained by our body’s reaction to fast versus slow music. When we hear faster music, we tend to pick up the pace.

The volume of music was similarly tested on another store’s customers. Would music played at a higher volume affect customers’ buying habits? In the 1960s, a field experiment was conducted. It determined that females exposed to loud music while shopping think less time has passed than actually has. Whether this lead to an increase in spending was not determined.

So, how would Christmas music affect seasonal spending? Would the presence of Christmas music playing in the background while you shop urge you to purchase more holiday-related items?

In general, Christmas music is nostalgic (at least until you’ve heard Jingle Bells for the umpteenth time). Nostalgia invigorates feelings of happiness, which can lead to budget bumps on the spot, something retailers don’t mind. And if you catch yourself singing along, the irritation associated with overplayed seasonal sounds suddenly disappears.

A very formal survey of the office revealed that 90% of the group believes that Christmas music does influence your holiday purchase decisions. The general theme: Christmas music offers a subtle cue of the season and it’s expectations (aka: shopping).

As Christmas rings closer, are you still excited to hear Christmas music? When do you think is too early to start playing Christmas music?

Share your thoughts with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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A Season of Giving Back (Not Returning an Ugly Sweater)

The holidays are generally a time of chaos between company parties, activities at school and shopping for gifts. Instead of waiting in line to buy something that might get returned or end up in the donate pile, we have a proposal. What if the center of the season was giving back, rather than giving gifts?

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At Marbury Creative Group, we want to focus less on the “stuff” portion of the holidays and instead give back. We believe a simple pay-it-forward, act of kindness mentality can go a long way. Selfless giving doesn’t require a lot of time or money but can be pretty impactful. Imagine what a difference could be made when each of us made just one act of kindness a month!

We’re not the only ones. Even big brands are hopping on the helping hand bandwagon.

  • Jimmy Dean launched a campaign early this month to turn Monday mornings around. Their message is simple: turn your Monday morning into time to do good. Buy someone’s coffee, hold a door open or volunteer with a local organization. They’re even organizing specified times for employees to take time to do good deeds. Now, we’re not saying every company has to give employees time off to volunteer but their message is doable. Big or small efforts alike are appreciated and that’s a message we can get behind. To learn more about their campaign, follow #MondaysforGood or read about it here.

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  • REI has announced that they will be closed the day after Thanksgiving, otherwise known as Black Friday, one of the largest shopping days of the year. Why? They want their employees and customers to spend time outside, not shopping. Maybe you’re not the outdoorsy-type, but what do you think about not shopping one day and instead spending time with family or giving back? Closing your store on the proverbial first day of the holiday shopping season is a bold move but we think their reasoning is admirable.

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  • Better World Books donates a book every time you buy one on their website. As of this summer, customers have helped them donate over 17 million books!
  • Twice as Warm is a made-in-America winter clothing retailer that gives new winter clothes to local shelters. With each purchase they give a new clothing item to someone in need, supporting their slogan “wear one, give one.”
  • Yoobi sells bright-colored school supplies that benefit kids. With each purchase, a Yoobi item is donated to a classroom in need. To date, the company has impacted the lives of 1 million children. If you knew your purchase was doing someone good, would you shop more with that company?

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So, how can you give back? Do you have a few extra minutes to help a neighbor carry in their groceries? Or help out in the school carpool lane? Do you have a few bucks to spot someone for their coffee on Monday morning?

Let us know how you’re going “stuff-less” and giving back instead this holiday season. Share your ideas with us on Facebook and Twitter.

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Digital Data: How to Trick, er Treat the “Now What?” Syndrome

Last week, I was browsing target.com for a candy holder for our office. You know the kind, where a wicked witch hand cackles at you each time you try to sneak a Hershey kiss out of the bowl. It’s the perfect addition to our spooky seasonal office décor. Anyways, I got a call from a client, clicked out of my browser and went on with my day forgetting about that fun, festive candy bowl… Until she began haunting my browser.

I’m sure you’ve fallen victim to “retargeting,” whether it be a witch or another product. Let’s face it, it’s cool (but also a little creepy)! It brings me to today’s subject: using data to stay in front of your customer.

While most marketing budgets don’t have billions to spend on advertising each year, data is often inexpensive and easy to measure. Most of our clients are one step ahead because they know how important tracking and analyzing data is to their marketing campaigns but sometimes don’t know what to do with it. Let’s call this the “now what?” syndrome, if you will.

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To treat the “now what?” syndrome, we generally prescribe analytics programs that report on the big picture and capture a campaign’s full digital landscape. We’ll look at website analytics, social media, and results from monthly newsletters and analyze how each digital piece works to further our goals. Are our social media posts leading traffic to the website? Does our newsletter encourage engagement with our social networks? Is our website delivering on our primary goal?

These types of analytics helps us continually tweak and revise our ongoing social and newsletter campaigns (even if just an article) as well as make adjustments to the website. Remember, data is only valuable if you implement the changes it points to!

So now what? Are you “tracking” data or are you doing something with it?

Don’t let a lack of analysis haunt you! Give us a call at 678-735-5227 to find out if your retargeting efforts are working.

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How Facebook Says to Use Facebook to “Boost Your Business”

(and Debunking the “Pay-to-Play” Mentality)

Facebook has hosted a handful of conferences across the country called “Boost Your Business.” These conferences were geared towards small and medium-sized businesses interested in using Facebook advertising to promote and grow their business. Shelly and Erin took a trip to Nashville to learn about new offerings directly from the best at Facebook.

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We brought home a lot of great information that we are implementing in our clients’ social media planning and strategy.

Here’s the tip of the ice-Zuckerberg:

  • Facebook Advertising Targeting Options. As Facebook veterans, we know how to create and manage ads using Facebook’s Ad Manager, but the site and its offerings are constantly changing. New advanced targeting features like “look-a-like audiences” can find even more of your target customers! Through Facebook advertising, you can now connect with your customers based on their offline behaviors such as traveling and device usage, website visits and people who are similar or look like your target customers. We’ll be using these advanced targeting options and tools to reach more of our clients’ customers through Facebook advertising.
  • Tools for Businesses. Facebook offers a plethora of resources online for small and medium-sized businesses to use and advertise their business on Facebook. Story Packs for Businesses are one of those useful tools for beginners. Facebook says, “effective advertising on Facebook is just about telling good, compelling stories to your customers,” and that’s something we agree with completely! So how do you tell that compelling story on Facebook with your fans?  Story Packs give Page admins ideas on where to start when writing and sharing content to their business Page. Another cool tool: Creative Tips for Businesses help Page admins write copy, choose a picture and post to their Page.
  • Instagram for Business. Although Instagram for Business still has some serious growing up to do, Facebook has made a few improvements since they purchased the photo-sharing social network in 2012. In their Business Strategy Guide, they provide best practices for creating content, sharing videos and improving general presence. Each day, Instagram grows in popularity, paving the way for more opportunities for businesses to reach their customers on the social network. Check it out and see what you can do with Instagram for your business.
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Shelly and Erin met with Facebook guru, Mari Smith, to talk shop.

Overall, we were impressed by how much Facebook cares about growing small and medium-sized businesses. They have made a clear commitment through their staff and tools to help all types of businesses. That “pay-to-play” mentality we hear floating around just isn’t the case. Of course, they’re making money off your advertising dollars, but only 2 million of the 40 million small and medium-sized businesses are using Facebook to market their businesses. In addition, there are very few places to advertise with the targeting and tracking capabilities that Facebook offers.

We manage social advertising budgets for our clients ranging from a few hundred dollars to thousands, so you don’t have to spend a lot of money to see how it can work for your business.

Have a question or want to learn more about Facebook advertising or just using Facebook to market your business? Let us know. We’re on Facebook and Twitter. We’d love to hear from you!

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