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Recently we were asked to give a social media campaign pitch in Evanston, a suburb that we did not know very well. Full disclosure: we are lovers of beer and are always on the lookout for new small breweries. The Chicago area is home to over one hundred breweries and there are some cozy little places tapping some great small batch beers. Of course there are also breweries and tap rooms whose beer offerings taste like something that your uncle just brewed with his home brewing kit!  So the challenge was to find an outstanding small brewery to visit in our trip to this suburb.

We could go onto Google and search for breweries in that area, wade through a bunch of listings trying to find a place that is located near our destination. But the best option is Google Maps. In the Google Maps app I can zoom into a specific area and then type the word ‘breweries’ in the search box.  We did this for Evanston and three breweries popped up along with their Google reviews. Naturally we started with the highest rated one and ultimately ended up going there. Well, we loved it and it has become one of our favorite local breweries, Sketchbook Brewing, which is in the charming Main-Dempster Mile section of Evanston. We did the same thing when heading to another Chicago suburb, Naperville, and ended up at Solemn Oath, another great brewery.

The lesson, besides that the Chicago area has a lot of great breweries, is that many people are using Google Maps instead of Google Search to find businesses, and reviews on Google can make your business standout.

Google Maps now has over 1 billion users and its popularity is growing. So what can you do, as a business owner, to make sure that people are finding your store? First and foremost make sure that it is on Google Maps. This is something you can do yourself. You will need a Google account, it can be your personal account, and then you need to follow the steps on the Google Support page:

1.     Open Google Maps and make sure you're signed in.
2.     Zoom in to the map where you want to add your business.
3.     In the bottom right, click Send Feedback.
4.     Click Add a missing place.
5.     Drag the marker where your business is, and add any relevant information.
6.     Click Submit.

Make sure that you add as much information as you can. Adding your phone number will let potential customers call you with a simple click. Photos are also important. We added a client’s art gallery in a small Indiana town to Google Maps and the cover photo received over 10,000 views in less than a year. You should also ‘claim’ the business so you have more control over the listing.

Now you will need review with high ratings that will encourage searchers to choose your business.  Getting 5 star reviews on Google is simple; provide great service or products. We know that it is not really that simple, but in today’s world reviews are more important than ever. 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. So how do you go about getting great online reviews? Take a lesson from Realtors. Sites like Zillow allow Realtors to request reviews from their clients. You can rest assured they are not asking any of their unhappy clients to do reviews. You can follow their lead and ask happy clients to go onto Google and leave a review. One survey found that 7 out of 10 people will happily review a business when asked. Just make sure to ask them politely and ask them to leave an honest review.     

Author: Douglas Boehm, Chicago Social Media Marketers.

Google AdWords and other PPC campaigns can be an excellent way to attract new clients, especially for businesses that are not doing well in organic search. Getting to the top of search results takes time, money and expertise. A well-designed and properly implemented pay per click (PPC) advertising campaign can be an effective solution that can move your business to the top of the search page in just days.

However a poorly designed and executed AdWords campaign can be a big waste of money. You can spend thousand or even tens of thousands of dollars and never experience positive results. That is why it is so important to not only know what outcome you want from  your online advertising campaign but to know what  steps you need to take to ensure  that your online advertising campaign is doing what you want it to do. We have put together a quick guide to help you get the most out of your campaign. 

Set Goals- Do you want to raise awareness, bring in leads or gain sales? This absolutely must be your first step.

Track your results- Google AdWords makes it easy to generate results by creating a conversion and track it by simply adding a code to your website. A conversion shows you what happens after a customer clicks on your ads, such as registering on your website or filling out a contact form. When someone completes an action that you've defined as valuable, these customer actions are called conversions. If you want your campaign to bring in online sales, you can track whenever someone reaches your ‘thanks for your purchase’ page.  Google Analytics even allows you to closely track what someone that has been brought to your website via an ad is doing in your website.

Measure your results- It is easy for a retail site to see how sales are being driven by an online campaign compared to dollars spent on that advertising. When measuring leads, a value needs to be assigned to each lead. If your campaign is not bringing in more money than you are spending, you need to make some improvements or cut your losses.

Now that the big picture stuff is covered let’s look at the nitty gritty of getting the most out of your Google AdWords campaign:

Keywords- Using the right keywords is very important. You want to attract people that are looking for what you are selling. Someone who wants to buy a new computer and clicks on your ad only to find out your site sells cars is going to immediately leave your site. That costs you money and signals Google that your ads are of a poor quality.  If Google ‘thinks’ that your ads are not good, they will display your ads less or compel you to raise your bids making your advertising efforts more expensive. Try to use Phrase keywords rather than Broad words. While Broad words  reach the widest audience, Phrase words offer  a higher level of control. Google lets you pick between the two and while a Phrase keyword will get fewer impressions they will be better impressions, showing your ads on searches that more closely match the people you want to attract. After your campaign has run for a short period of time, Google will recommend new keywords for you. Look through this list and pick the most appropriate ones to add to your campaign.  

Negative keywords- Every time someone who will never convert clicks on one of your ads it means one less potential customer will click your ad. One of the best ways to keep that from happening is to use negative keywords.  Negative keywords are words that people put in a search that will cause your ad not to show. If you only sell women’s shoes you do not want someone searching for men’s shoes to click on your ad and cost you money. Adding the word  ‘men’s’ to the negative keywords of your ad will ensure that your ad will not appear in a search for men’s shoes. Be sure to check the search terms that are triggering your ads and clicks. Invariably you will find terms that you never thought of and that you do not want triggering your ads.

Set exclusions- AdWords lets you exclude different groups from seeing your ads. You can exclude geographic areas, genders or ages. If you sell women’s shoes, then exclude men from seeing your ads. If your company caters to retired people, then exclude the younger age groups.

Pick where your ads show- Google lets you pick very specific areas where your ads show. You can pick cities, states, countries or even pick a radius around your business. A restaurant will gain little from clicks coming from 500 miles away.

Adjust your keyword bids- Not all keywords are equal. Use higher bids for terms that fit your website well and use lower bids for more generic terms.

Ignore CTR (click through rate)- If you have a huge budget then CTR matters. If you have a small budget you will have to let some searches go. Adjust your keyword bids to maximize the number of good clicks not to raise your CTR. A high CTR and a low budget will quickly blow through your budget!

Adjust your ads- Google allows you to use several ads and they will rotate them for you. Once your ads have run for a while see which ads are getting you the best results, then either fix or delete the ads that are under performing.

Adjust, adjust, adjust- Figure out what is working and concentrate your efforts there. Figure out what is not working and either fix or eliminate it. A PPC campaign is not something you setup and then just walk away from. You need to keep an eye on it to make adjustments to ensure that  it is accomplishing your goals.

After the click: A great Google AdWords campaign can bring people to your website but that is only half the battle. Once they are on your site you need to convert them to customers or clients.

Pick a good landing page- The page in your website that  your ad takes people to is crucial. Your home page or contact page will not cut it. The landing page needs to convince them yours is the right business and it needs to get them to take the action you want.

Follow up- If you are a retail site and the visitor does not make a purchase you can have Google AdWords keep track of them and tailor an ad campaign, using a remarketing list, to reach out to them. If you are collecting leads have a system in place to make sure that someone in your organization contacts them as quickly as possible.

A PPC campaign can be difficult to manage and take up a lot of your valuable time. There are some options out there if you do not want to undertake it yourself. You can hire an experienced online advertising agency to setup a new campaign or overhaul your existing campaign or you can hire them to run your campaign for you.  

Facebook used to be dominated by teens and then a terrible thing happened (at least in their minds), their parents and other ‘old people’ started using Facebook. Nothing makes something less desirable to a teen than having their parents like it. Teens scattered to any social media site they could find that their parents have never heard of. First there was Twitter, followed by Instagram and then Snapchat, but now, parents have hopped on all of these channels!

But something strange has started to happen, young people are returning to Facebook. Not in droves but in significant numbers.  UBS Evidence Lab research found that 65% of teens go on Facebook daily. That is up from 59% just 2 years ago. It is the most popular social media site among teens.

So what does this mean for your business? It means that Facebook is a great way to reach teens. Smart social marketing strategy means getting them to follow your page or better yet, having them check in at your place of business. It is important to connect with this demographic on the other social media sites but this new research advises us to not overlook Facebook.  

PictureAlicia Forestall-Boehm
For most of you, social media is part of your everyday life. You know that it is an essential part of the doing business and is becoming more important every year. But the idea of using social media to promote your art is daunting and you would much rather be in the studio making art than sitting in front of the computer trying to promote yourself and your art. Even if you are able to generate enough sales to allow you to devote all of your time to your art, you really need to be getting people to notice your art on social media. Fortunately promoting your art on social media can be fun. Often artists work in a very solitary way, and social media can provide the opportunity to network with other artists, often from other parts of the world. They can offer feedback on your work and allow you to explore their world, allowing you to see their art as well.  And let’s not forget to mention the social media “likes” and comments! Who doesn’t like some praise and reassurance once in a while!

So we’ve convinced you that you have to take the social media plunge but where do you begin. You can hire a social media company that specializes in artists and arts organizations and they can take it from there. Or you can have them get you started; creating a social media presence for you and your art and then, you take over this vital promotion yourself.  Or you can follow the steps we have outlined below and do it yourself. 

Steps to a successful social media campaign for artists:

  1. Set up social media accounts just for your art. Your personal page is where you share life events while your art page is where you share your art. Your political views, photos of your dog and where you went on vacation do not belong on a business page so keep it separate. Your art business is part of you and you can and should share important art posts on your personal page.
  2. Facebook has made it easy to setup a business page. Click on the down arrow in the upper right corner of your personal Facebook page and click create page. Facebook even lets you choose artist as a page category. Follow their easy steps and make sure to fill out as much of the about section as you can. The best part is that you do not need a separate login. You can access you artist Facebook page from your personal page.
  3. Twitter, on the other hand, does requires a whole new account. Follow these 7 easy steps to setup a new account.  If you have an existing Twitter account you will need to use a different email address to set up this new account.
  4. Instagram, while an excellent channel that focuses on visual messages, really only works on a smart phone. If you do not have one then we recommend that you skip this step. To set up an Instagram account on your phone, download their app and follow their simple and straightforward directions. 
  5. Now you should decide which platform you are going to concentrate your efforts on. In the perfect world you have plenty of free time to ensure comprehensive social media campaigns on all of the different social media channels. In reality most of us do not have the time. Facebook is the most widely used and by far the most important site. We recommend concentrating your efforts here. Twitter works best for well know celebrities and businesses but it can get your art seen by a lot of people. Instagram is easy to use and a good hashtag (#) can get your art in front of a lot of new people.
  6. Make sure your page is visually appealing. After all you are an artist so you want your art to look its best. Using high quality photos is important but a good cell phone photo can be effective. The biggest aggravation is that the best size to use for photos is different for banners, profile photos and posts. This guide will help you optimize your photos for social media. 
  7. Post often. Posting every day is ideal but you need to be posting at least 3 times a week. 
  8. Post about your art, the art world and your community. Not every post should be directly about you. Sharing informative articles will gain you followers and let people know you are a serious artist. You can share anything from a great local art exhibit you really enjoyed, the work of fellow artists, tips for artists, a new piece you have created, chronicling your process or most importantly, where people can see your art. 
  9. Community management. Community management means responding to people who have commented on your posts or hopefully have posted about you. Getting your art out there is important but building relationships is the ultimate goal. Thanking someone for a nice comment takes only seconds and it will go a long way in getting them to support you and your art.
  10. Invite your friends to follow your new page. Facebook makes it easy to invite you current Facebook friend to follow your new art page.  On the right side of your business page there is a line that says “know friends who might like your page”. Simply click on it and invite the friends that you think will like your new page.
  11. Use social media as a source of information. Following artists, galleries and art supply companies is an easy way to stay up to date on new techniques, see what other artists are doing, see what shows are coming to your city and find opportunities for yourself.
  12. Have fun.                                                                                    

Chicago Social Media Marketers is a Chicago based social media company that works with artist, photographers and galleries.

Chicago is a great city to live in and a great city to visit. It has one of America’s best food scenes, unrivaled architecture and many of the country’s finest museums. Unfortunately it is also one of America’s most expensive cities. A day at the museum can set a family back $100 or more. Luckily, at least for Illinois residents, there are many days when Chicago’s world class museums are free.  To save you the trouble of finding what museums are free on what days we have done all of the research for you and put together this list. Most of these free days are for Illinois residents only.

Free days at Chicago museums in 2017:

Art Institute Chicago:  Free every Thursday evening from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm. Weekdays from Jan. 9 – Feb. 16.

The Field Museum: Jan. 4, 5, 16, 28, 29, 30 Feb. 1 – 28

Shedd Aquarium: Free admission or you can get the all access pass for $15 instead of $39.95. Jan. 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, Feb. 6, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 21, 27, 28, June 5, 6, 12, 13, Aug. 28, 29, Sept. 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 26, Oct. 2, 3, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 25, 26, 30, 31, Nov. 6, 7, 13, 14, 20, 21

Museum of Science & Industry Chicago:  Jan. 10-12, 16-19, 24-26, 31, Feb. 1-2, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23, 28, June 5-9, 12, Sept.  5-8, 11-15, 18-22, 25-29, Oct. 2-5

Chicago History Museum: Every Tuesday after 12:30. Jan. 16, Feb. 20, March 4, and July 4.

MCA Chicago: Every Tuesday.

Adler Planetarium:  Jan. 6–13, 16, 17-20, Feb. 6–10, 20-24, June 5–9

Loyola University Museum of Art: Free to everyone on Tuesdays.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum: Thursdays are suggested donation days.

Smart Museum of Art: Always free to everyone.

Oriental Institute: Suggested $10 donation.

Swedish American Museum: Free for everyone the second Tuesday of the month

You may be thinking, Hamilton for $10, you must be joking. Tickets have been sold out for months and even if you could buy them they cost a heck of a lot more than $10. Good seats are going for $500 plus for some shows, how in the world can there be $10 tickets. Luckily for us the show is generously offering 44 seats for $10 for every show. They are not just bad seats up in the rafters in the back, the seats are all over. We were lucky enough to get front row center Hamilton seats for just $10. That’s right we were literally 5 feet from the stage. I could not tell you what their shoes looked like but I know which actors didn’t brush their teeth.    

Not surprisingly you will not be alone in hoping to buy these tickets. To make it fair they hold a new lottery for every show. All you have to do is enter a bit of information on their website. There are a few strict rules; you must be 18, there is a 2 ticket limit, you have 1 hour to buy the tickets online after you are notified you won and you have to show up at the theater to get the tickets.  The lottery is held the day of the show and you will be notified just a few hours before the show so you need to be ready to go to Hamilton on short notice.

There are a few tricks to greatly increasing your odds of winning cheap tickets to Hamilton in Chicago.

  • While you can only enter once per show there are no rules against you and your significant other from both entering. You can even enter for them as long as you have 2 separate email addresses. That doubles your chances of winning.
  • Enter for as many shows as you can. If you are free to go that night make sure and enter and keep entering every chance you can go. They only allow you to enter the day of the show so you will have to do it every day.

  • Put a tab or bookmark on your phone or internet browser to remind yourself to do it and to make it easier. 

  • Be patient and persistent.  We entered dozens of times before we won. 

  • Watch your emails for a notification you have won. You only have an hour to purchase the tickets online and winning and then missing your opportunity because you saw the email too late would be very annoying. 

Good luck. It is an amazing show and well worth spending $10 to see.  

Chicago is a beautiful city all year long, okay maybe not in January when the snow on the streets turns to black and the trees are bare. It is at its best during Christmastime. Christmas means 1 million white lights on Michigan Avenue, the former Marshall Field's on State looking the same as it did 60 years ago, Christkindlmart and all of its charm returns and buildings all over the city lite decorated for the holiday season.  
PictureCommunity Management on Facebook
There is more to making a social media campaign successful than creating interesting posts. One of the most important and often overlooked parts of a well-executed social media campaign is community management. Social media is a great platform for building brand awareness. More importantly it can be used to build relationship with customers and clients. People are much more likely to buy something from your store, dine at your restaurant or support your cause if you have established a relationship with them.

 What we mean by community management is responding to people’s comments on your posts and also finding where people have mentioned your organization on social media and leveraging that to your advantage.

The first aspect of community management, responding to comments on your posts, is easy and should be done every day. Everyone likes to be acknowledged and doing it on social media will start to build a relationship with your followers. At the very least you should be reading the comments on Facebook and clicking the like button. It is a very simple and quick way to acknowledge that you have seen their comments and that you appreciate them taking the time to write something. Positive or well thought out comments deserve a little more effort. A simple reply such as, thank you or we are glad you liked our post, will go a long way in creating good will with a follower.

Unfortunately you are going to on occasion get negative comments. These must be addressed. If they are false or vulgar you can hide them from your page. Friends of the commenter will still see it but no one else will. If they are legitimate you should take the opportunity to respond to the comment and explain the situation. The comments should also be used as a source of free feedback for your company.

The second aspect of community management is to search social media to find where people or other organizations have mentioned your business. If someone else has said what a wonderful company you are you want to make sure that as many people as possible see the post. A like or comment on a post signals to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram that it is an interesting post and they should show it to more people. You can also share the post on your page so your followers will see it. Negative posts also need to be responded to. Comments can be used to tell your side of the story and help reassure people that you have heard their concerns and will address the problem.

Comments on your posts are easy to find, you just pull up your social media pages. Posts about you are harder to find and take a bit of effort. The social media sites do make this easier but notifying you when someone tags you in a post. You can either log into your account and check notifications or if you want to be more proactive you can have the notifications sent to you by email. Posts where you are mentioned but not tagged are harder to find. You will need to do a search on the individual social media sites to find them. Another option is to use social media listening sites like Sprout or Hootsuite. They will automate the social media listening process for you. We recommend using these if you are getting several mentions every day.

1. Figure out what your goals are for you social media campaign.
    a. Name recognition.
    b. Bring in new clients.
    c. Distribute news to current clients.

2. Pick which social media channels you what to use.

3. Set up accounts on the different social media sites.
   a, Use consistent names, photos and logos on all of the sites.
   b. Fill the pages out completely so people can find out about your organization.
   c. Have links to your website and contact information on your page.

4. Have a consistent voice across the different sites and over time.

5. Post interesting and informative stories daily.

6.Post about things relevant to your organization but not directly about it at least 50% of the time.

7. Analyze your results and make improvements.
   a. What times do posts get the most views or likes?
   b. What types of posts do best?
   c. Are we achieving our goals?

8. Be patient. Social media success does not happen overnight. It takes time to build a following.

Author: Douglas Boehm of Chicago Social Media Marketers

The answer is yes and no. If you have limited time and are not adept at social media go ahead and link them. If you are serious about your social media campaign then do not link them.

So you may be thinking why shouldn’t I link my Facebook and Twitter accounts? It’s certainly the easiest way to go.  In fact it allows you to get 2 posts for the price of one! The problem is that Facebook and Twitter are independent social media sites. They do not work the same way. You should have an overall social media strategy and you should also have a tactical plan for each platform. Linking these two accounts means that you are posting the exact same content on both Facebook and Twitter and you are not taking advantage of the different strengths each offers.

The most obvious difference is the 140 character limit on Twitter. Twitter is designed for quick and compact updates. This limit does not allow you to elaborate on a topic or in a message. Tweeting is a skill onto itself. Facebook allows you to be more eloquent. While you should keep the majority of your Facebook posts short and sweet, you certainly should be using more than 140 characters.

Hashtag use should be tailored to the individual social media platforms. People expect several hashtags in Instagram and it is important to use them. Using hashtags on Twitter is also important but you should be more judicious about it. We are not fans of using hashtags on Facebook. People are not used to seeing them on Facebook. If you are going to do it they should be added at the end of the text. Hashtags in the middle of a sentence on Twitter is common and accepted while on Facebook it makes it tougher to read the post.

Many people will be following you on Facebook and Twitter. If they see your Facebook post and then later see the exact same post on Twitter they will likely ignore it. Getting the same message but in a different format will work to reinforce your message.

There are of course some benefits to linking the two. Linking is a good way to get your Facebook followers to follow you on Twitter and vice versa.   


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