Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sleeveshirt Consulting Spotlight Entrepreneur

Oldie but goodie from April. I have not shared this on my blog yet - was proud to be named the Spotlight Entrepreneur for April !

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Darcy Simmons Wills of Simmons Social Media
Darcy Simmons Wills is the founder of Simmons Social Media- a social media firm that helps small businesses to navigate the social media waters. Their mission is to take the burden of social media strategy and administration off of the small business owner by managing it on their behalf. Small businesses across the US (virtually) and locally in the Finger Lakes and Southern Tier area of New York lean on Darcy to establish strong social media strategies, grow fan bases and ultimately drive sales.

Simmons Social Media
When did you decide it was the right time to take the leap into self-employment? 
I have been a stay at home mom for almost nine years and while I needed to return to work – I did not look forward to the daily grind of going to an office everyday. I had been doing some consulting work for some small businesses – saw a need and decided to take the plunge and made it official.

What is the most challenging aspect about being an entrepreneur? 
Self discipline is the most challenging aspect of being an entrepreneur for me. There are so many distractions when working from home and having flexibility. You really need the self discipline to stay focused on the task at hand.

What is your #1 tip for balancing work and family? 
Organization. Being organized ultimately allows you to balance work and family. Being a work at home mom has many perks – flexibility one of the big ones. However, to utilize this perk- you must be organized – keeping track of your time, schedule and appointments – personal and professional. You might have the flexibility to attend your children’s school book fair but if it is not on your calendar and you forget it – missed opportunity. We have opportunities in all facets of our life and to take advantage of them you really need to be organized.

Favorite social media site?
Right now Pinterest is my favorite social media site. I love that I can find information on almost any subject- pin it  and save it for future use or for my clients. And as a mother – love it on so many different levels !

When you’re not working, what is your favorite activity?
Spending time with my family and being able to treasure all the special moments with my two young boys.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
My business will still be assisting small businesses with social media – I just have no idea what the social media arena will look like and what new players will have entered the arena. But I will continue to navigate these sometimes rocky social waters while helping small businesses and have a fabulous time doing it. 

Have social media questions or just want to connect with this fabulous lady?

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Have Fun with Foursquare !!

I have been doing some research on a number of applications and tools that will be of great assistance to my various restaurant, food service and hospitality clients. The list is over 50 apps and tools – I may not blog on every single one. But Simmons Social Snippets will be running a series of blogs pertaining to this research. Summer is practically here – my boys have one and a half days left of school – how did that happen! These apps and tools will be very useful this summer so I hope you enjoy and use any and all information I am sharing.

The first tool we are going to explore is Foursquare. Foursquare is a location based application that is always growing and upgrading – offering more and more to its members and businesses who are on it. Essentially all businesses are on Foursquare – but not all businesses have claimed their venue. If you are a business who offers services to consumers – you should claim your venue. By claiming your venue – you can elaborate on the very basic information that is listed for your business. You can add as much information about your venue as you want. If you are a restaurant – you can put your menu on foursquare.

You can Foursquare Specials to attract new customers or reward loyal ones. As a business, when you offer a special, they will be highlighted as orange pin on the map and pop up when someone searches for places to go.  Your special may be redeemed by checking in upon arrival at your business. The customer simply needs to show the special that is on their phone to a staff member when they want to redeem it. I recently did this at Sweet Frog – it was so easy and yummy ! You can create a Foursquare special – running a contest, offering a discount or giving a small gift for a number of check ins. You can monitor the performance of the Foursquare special through the Foursquare for Business app. You may also turn the special on or off from this app.

Recently, Foursquare has introduced a new feature called My History. In a partnership with Samsung, Foursquare will use Samsung customers’ check-in histories to create infographics. These customized heat maps will contain the Samsung logo on their latest Samsung 4 model. There is a “The Next Big Thing” tab that gives recommendations to the users based on previous checked in places.

Summertime is upon us and everyone will be traveling and checking in !! They will be using Foursquare to find places to eat, things to do and terrific deals ! Make sure your business stands out on this fun app and brings people through your door. I know I am going to have fun this summer checking in :)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Social Media Frontiers: Pinterest App Update Adds Notifications And Mentio...

Thank you Will for a great update on the Pinterest App...

Social Media Frontiers: Pinterest App Update Adds Notifications And Mentio...: Pinterest has updated its mobile app services for Android and iOS devices. Pinterest for Android version 1.5 and Pinterest for iOS ...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Five Fabulous Tips to make your Facebook Page Fabulous

We all have a love/hate relationship with Facebook - we love being on it - hate the time it steals from us and the constant changes. But if you are a business owner there are 1.1 billion reasons (current statistic of the number of people on Facebook) you should have a Facebook business page. So here are five tips to make your Facebook business page fabulous.  

1.     Make sure you claim your vanity URL. Once you get 30 likes – you can claim your username. Simply go to - Edit page – Edit settings –Basic information – Username. Ideally, your company name is your username. However, you may have to play around with your username if the one you want is taken. Take your time when choosing an username - usernames are not transferable and you can only change your username once. Customizing your Facebook username to your Company name will make it easier for people to find your business, brand or organization on Facebook.
**This rule applies to all your social media sites – you should secure your company’s name on as many sites as you can. Do you have to be active on all those sites? Absolutely not, it will take time to figure out which social media platforms work for you. But it is a good idea to secure your company name before someone else does..
2.     Utilize the App bar on your Facebook timeline - these apps are just to the right of the About section.. You want your Facebook page to be the one stop place for your company’s social presence. Add as many apps that you use to your page - YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest apps to name a few. You can use various services to help you with these apps. Woobox is one of my favorites – extremely easy and offers a bunch of free services. You should link your social sites as much as you can so anyone visiting one site can very easily find your other social sites. You can also move the apps around so make sure the first few are important apps – not the number of likes your page has – that is already very visible on your page – so move the like box to the second row which is not visible unless you click on the little arrow.
3.     The About section is a very important section on your Facebook page. You are not allowed to have your website url in your cover photo and they just tightened those restrictions. But you can have it in the visible part of the About section. Simply put in this section. And use all the characters you are allowed in the About section. As of this posting there are 155 characters visible in the About section. This is prime real estate – tell as much as you can about your company in these 155 characters.
4.     Do not leave any section of the description or other information blank. Fill in all information – it is that simple.
5.     Photos – make sure your profile picture and cover photos are crisp, clean and appealing. People love pictures so you may also want to change them up every once in a while. And your social media profile pictures should be consistent throughout your social media sites. The photo requirements are pretty similar for profile pictures and cover pictures on the social media sites. If the requirements change (like Google + cover pictures’ just did) make sure you change the pictures to meet these requirements. You do not want a fuzzy or distorted picture because your picture is the wrong size.

I hope this blog is helpful to you for your Facebook page and makes it easy for you to make your page as fabulous as possible. Remember to have fun with Facebook and all your social media sites - social media is just that --FUN !

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Starting Line

As a social media professional – the one thing I have continually struggled with is blogging. There does not seem to be enough hours in the day.  I cannot seem to get the words on the paper and it is not for lack of things to say ! 

I have come to the realization that one of the stumbling blocks of my blog might be its purpose. Social media is so big, has so many directions and changes daily. What to write about – where to start. The mission of Simmons Social Media is to help small businesses. I accomplish this in many ways – consulting, social media management, content creation and keeping myself and clients up on all the latest and greatest from social media. So I am narrowing down the purpose of my blog. I am going to start with the basics of social media and incorporate any and all relevant changes and of course fun – this blog will always be fun.
So let’s start navigating the social waters together and hope we do not fall in without a life jacket !

Where do you start? There are so many social media sites – where do you begin. You will want to be on the main social media sites – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube and Google+ and then there are the niche social media sites. The niche social media sites are different for various businesses and it will not take you long to realize which sites work the best for you. For example, if you are a restaurant- you will want to be on Foursquare, Yelp, TripAdvisor to name a few travel and review sites.  I believe you should secure your business’s name on as many sites as you can. You do not need to engage on all these sites but it is a good idea to make sure you create an account and secure your business name before someone else does.

When setting up your accounts, you want to make sure all your information is consistent across the board and try to use the same pictures – profile and cover on all the sites. The actual setting up the accounts will seem time consuming but once you have created your accounts – it is time to have fun, start being social and engage with your audience.

Remember social media is just that – social – have fun !!  

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Marriage of a Small Business and Social Media

The Marriage of a Small business and Social Media

I am in love with social media – I am social, love the constant flow of information and the need to stay on my toes with the constant (almost daily) changes. I also understand not everyone gets the same joy out of social media and does not want to make this committment. Enter the social media managers – strategists – directors – consultants. Social media is not going anywhere – it is growing and changing and will continue to do so for a very long time. So you might want to think about ring shopping for social media.

My biggest goal as a social media consultant is helping the small business owner to overcome their fear of social media and actually enjoy this fantastic phenomenon. I think one of the biggest challenges for small businesses is the constant changes in social media. Social media changes on a daily basis and you must keep up with these changes because they are usually aimed at making the social media experience an easier and better one. Social media is no longer viewed as a trendy or passing fad, having a flexible and well managed presence on social media is a must. Social media has the ability to reach so many people and businesses so quickly that you want to do it right.

There are so many social media sites -you must decide what social media sites you need and want to be on – you do not need to, want to or could be on every site. You want to be on the top social media sites - Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn and a few niche social media sites that will work for your business.

 Picture Your Streetᵀᴹ is a small business which locates and photographs authentic street signs that feature first names – “Social Media helps a small business like ours to keep abreast of industry trends, find distribution opportunities and to interact with customers. We see social media as an integral part of our marketing efforts and are constantly looking for ways to engage and translate leads into sales.” They are able to engage on many different levels of social media and make each work for them.
Heather Larkin, a Thirty-One consultant points out that social media is a multi-tasker’s dream and where she gets the most for her marketing buck. “The reality is, all of my business thus far, has been generated via Facebook. I announced the start of my business, held an online start up open house, booked over 10 parties (all FB events) and ultimately, generated over $3k in sales all through the use of Facebook. Going and growing forward, I hope to better understand and utilize other forms of social media in order to reach even more potential customers. “

Small businesses want to engage the top social media sites but may find that the majority of their efforts are concentrated on one social media site. "As a small bagel/sandwich shop we use our Facebook fan page on a daily basis.  It allows us to reach out to our fans and keep them up to date on our feature bagels, cream cheese or pastries. We also use it to advertise any new specials or holiday themed features (like pink bagels for Valentine's Day!).  We also use it to offer food combination ideas for those that like to try something new.  Most of all, we love the personal interaction with our customers and all of the positive feedback." Erryn Wilson, owner of Best Bagels in Town – Vestal  -

So think of social media as a courtship. You take time to get to know the various social media sites that are pertinent to you – then you begin to engage on these sites and finally you marry (connect) these sites together so you have a consistent message of your small business and brand.

And finally, remember that marriage is all about changes and how you deal with these changes. Social media changes constantly and these changes will usually deal with features that help you to save time or improve your ability to highlight your small business with social media. Social media is just that – social – so have fun with it.