Design, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Social Media

5 Valentines Posts To Do Right Now

I am a huge supporter of the Annual Content Calendar for social media posting. With Valentines Day fast approaching its time to get serious about using it. So I will start with a few statistics and then share five ideas that you can incorporate in your posting efforts over the next couple of weeks.

Let’s Start With The Numbers by Statistic Brain

$116.21 is the average amount people spend on Valentines

61.8 % is the percent of consumers who do celebrate Valentines Day

Why are these important?

53% of women say they would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentines day.

I love the 53% break-up statistic! Serious business Valentines Day! It’s the war between the sexes: Women want to be thought about and rewarded for all the things they do – even when they say they don’t want anything it doesn’t hurt to surprise them with a small token of your love. Same goes for customers. They say they don’t want you to post too much, but when it comes to dropping some dollars, they only are kind to those who share information.

So as a small business, you can (and must) help your customers by offering them information and ideas–for Valentines Day help them know what to write in their cards, put in their gifts, or just keep them focused on the most important events of the day. In other words, be relevant to your customers so they don’t “break up with you.”

So Let’s Get Started with Your Posts

You should be scheduling a post every day no matter what the theme or holiday. Let’s start with some post types: quotes, articles, images, stories, and offers. Use a program like Canva (below) to help you make pretty posts for your Facebook and Instagram accounts. Then start off the year by beginning to think about your products and services differently (like through the eyes of your customers, especially those who have no idea who you are) and then think about how you can repackage and offer them in ways that appeal to a different generation. The goal for every business is to grow your customer base.

So let’s begin with Valentines Day. I know what you are thinking: a good number of people only buy chocolate and flowers on Valentines Day, but offering your customers a warm, fuzzy feeling over the upcoming holiday theme of “Love” is good customer service. And remember: not everyone cares about Valentines Day as a day to “get something.” But we are all aware that the day is happening and it is nice to be included in some way.

Here are 5 ideas to Inspire Your Valentine Content:

#1 Create Gift Guides – Who doesn’t love a good gift guide? Come on, we are all really, really busy lately and spending a few hours figuring out what to get our significant other is a huge pain. So make it easy and fun by putting together a few of your products especially for Him or Her. Just in those two groups are lovers, spouses, family, and friends. Why not share the “love” with everyone by including everyone to give gifts? My Dentist is quite creative by offering unique gifts for his customers at Valentines—he buys a few boxes of chocolate and wraps them with a Teeth Cleaning Certificate!

#2 Contests – “Best Engagement Story”, “Silliest Valentines Gift”, “Cutest Pet Couple”…the possibilities are endless when it comes to contests that ask customers to share their stories with pictures. Ask people to post them onto your page with your specific contest Hashtag. Offer them a movie night as a prize. Why would you do that when you are not a movie theater? Because it is relevant to the holiday and the contest. But most important is that the more people who post on your page, the more they share with their friends (who don’t yet know you), and the more people who see your page, the more engagement your posting will have—and that is the goal here. Traffic and engagement! Becuase that will lead to sales.

#3 Date Night Ideas – This is a good time to think about your neighbors and ways to co-brand your business. What could be a fun “Date Night” on your main street? Outline it, have menus, ask people to share their ideas. Post lots of fun ideas, silly ones, and of course, ask people for their stories and ideas so they will share. Magazines are filled with ideas right now—share the links to the articles and offer your personal take on them. Be the source for information.

#4 Love Notes – Post some interesting poems and even some famous love letters to give your fans and customers ideas on what to say to their beloved. Do some DIY ideas here too—perhaps hosting a Valentines Card get together with craft items so people can make a personal statement and then post the card onto your page to enter them into a drawing. Emojis may be fun but they do not say “I love you” like a love note!

#5 Anti-Valentine’s Day – So think about my dentist for example. He is taking an anti-teeth product (sweets) and placing it with something he does (teeth cleaning)—and it says I love you, right? Well, there are plenty of people who hate sweets, hate romance, hate spending money on holidays. Post comics, gag gift ideas, and anything “Anti-Valentines” that gets people sharing your posts from your business page. Have fun and be sure to ask people to share their stories with you!

So now, just get to it and make the posts. Track your fans, likes, and foot traffic. Notice how many people are noticing that you are posting something daily and relevant instead of just “Buy My Stuff” content. And please, share your stories with me on well (or not well) things went.

Maria Bereket is a Digital Media Marketing Consultant and Coach, LinkedIn Strategist, and Social Media Trainer. Her work focuses on bridging the gap of the digital divide by teaching people how to use social media to grow their business through social media thought leadership. She is an innovator and creative task master, so don’t contact her if you are not looking for growth and change. Teaching people to embrace technology and learn how to communicate in a digital world is her super-power. Connect @mbear88 or email her at

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business, customers, Marketing, Personal Brand, Social Media

KISS: 3 Steps to Social Marketing


Have you ever heard of the KISS Principle?

Keep It Simple Stupid: The more explanation something needs, the less effective it will be.  Well, not always, but when it comes to getting started on a new project, simplicity is the key.  And when it comes to Social Media Marketing, I would say that the KISS Principle is what is missing.  Sure, it seems a simple process of setting up a bunch of sites and then posting pictures and quotes, but why then is it so hard to get businesses to do it?  They all know they need to get it up and running, but when it comes to explaining it to the CEO it is not so simple to explain exactly how to do it. Am I right?

So here you go, a 3-Step KISS Principle to get your Social Marketing up and running in 2015.

1.  Write Out and Post your Goals.  Without these there cannot be a marketing plan.  You knew that already, but what you may not know is that “goals” does not equate to percentages, numbers, and metrics.  Goals are your simple, heartfelt reasons you do what you do.  Yeah, like a mission statement, but more directed to the year ahead.  You see, social networks don’t give a hoot if you want to sell 35% more widgets.  Social networks care about your reasons for selling widgets. Because behind the blinking colors, on the screen are people. So instead of writing out: Sell 35% more widgets in 2015, try this:  Help more small businesses solve the problem of (fill in your solution to their problem.)

Why is that goal better? Because we all have problems that need to be solved.  If your widgets will solve them, it feels like a solution when you say to want to help me, rather than sell to me.  Get the subtle shift?  You want to connect with me, help me. You want to engage your social network with things that we care about.  Your P&L Statement doesn’t impact our lives at all, but get rid of our problems?  You got a deal.

Stick with your top five goals, and be sure to post them everywhere.

Everywhere?  Sure, did it ever occur to you that your employees would like to know why they do what they do for your business? Don’t you think there might be a bit more smiles if they knew you were problem solvers rather than number crunchers?  Try it, it works.

2. Have and Post Your Social Marketing Calendar. “What is that?” you ask. Well, that is the calendar of events in the company and community that matter to your employees and customers. Break it down into three-month intervals–like the seasons perhaps. Look at the community where your business is located and see if they are having any local events that your company can participate in; find a cause and invite your employees (and customers) to join you on a 3k run/walk for the local animal shelter; is it restaurant week somewhere?  Post it, encourage your employees to participate in it….and then what?

Take lots of pictures of happy smiling people, colorful visuals, and yummy food and then post them. Make sure to hashtag the #eventname, #city, #yourcompanyname. Encourage people to vote on the pictures or share their own from the same event. Engage in a conversation with the people in your company, your community, your current and future customers.  Don’t stand on the sidelines trying to get people in your door, go outside and participate in the world around you!

Benefits include: Employee fun and happiness.  Community involvement and goodwill. And most likely, some good press for your company and customers who stay loyal and refer their friends.  But it starts with posting the calendar and the OK for everyone to participate.  And that brings us to number three.

3. Have a Simple, Do/Don’t Social Media Policy in Place.  The key words here are “simple, do and don’t.” You do not need a lawyer to write up a 32-page list of social media posting mumbo jumbo, but you do need to have a policy in place called “Social Media Policy.” Two pages Max!  Do’s on one page, Don’t on the other. (KISS remember?)

Start with the goals sheet from #1.  What are you trying to do?  Establish relationships with customers and the community?  Well, then encourage your employees to participate in that by giving them guidelines on how to help.

Don’t post personal, confidential or proprietary information.
Don’t misrepresent yourself or your company.
Don’t lie or make personal attacks.
Don’t post political, religious or personal views in the name of the company.

Do let people know you work for the company.
Do think before you post.
Do post only things related to the work we do and the goals we want to achieve.
Do let someone know if you think you messed up so we can fix it.

If you give people guides to behavior, and you yourself are participating, then it will work out.  Too many Don’t and not enough Do’s and people will not take the time to participate, and you want them to participate so that your “social marketing” is social. Not to mention, it will engage your current employees and attract new ones who want to be a part of your business.


Yes, I know there are metrics, SEO, hashtags, and a whole lot of other “marketing” things that need to be addressed, but you just need to get things started.  You need tracks in the snow so people will find you.  You need to get started, 3-months at a time, and before you know it, you will have likes, connects, shares, comments, and ultimately you will sell 35% more widgets by year end.  In fact, you may just surpass 35%, and pick up some really amazing clients and employees in the process.  So jump in and please let me know your progress!

If you need a simple Do/Don’t Social Media Policy just email me at and I will send you one for free.  It is so simple that anyone, any industry can use it.

#socialmarketing #socialmedia #KISS #hashtags #goals #employeeengagement #socialmediapolicy #2015 #smallbiz #socialmediacalendar #designbear

business, Marketing, Social Media

6 Ways to Model your Social Media Plan for 2015

Social Media Signpost Shows Information Support And Communication

Social media marketing is an overwhelming process of posts and images shared across Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and others. Sure, it’s easy to be fun and relevant when you are Nike or Virgin Airlines, but what do you do when you are a boring business solving every day, difficult problems for consumers? How can you make your social media sound fun? Forget fun, how can you get people to read your content in the first place?

The best way to start off your new 2015 plan is to model it after someone who already makes it work. There are lots of very successful companies out there, but let’s take a look at one of the most necessary (and boring) businesses there is: Taxes. Liberty Tax is well known for its statue of liberty signs and street dancers who bounce up and down trying to get you to notice their offices around the country, but did you know that their Facebook page is just as effective?

Let’s take a look at a few of their posts and see if you can model your own posting by following their strategy.

#1 Relevant Content. This is one of their new year posts that touches everyone who spent just a tad bit more than expected over the holidays. It is not directly about taxes, but it falls under the overall services that a good tax Advisor would offer its clients: money management. There is no sales pitch, just useful, relevant information that establishes Liberty Tax as an authority.

#2 Be The Resource. It is important that every business become a resource of knowledge to help navigate the overwhelming amounts of information that come across our newsfeeds. Who do you call to get answers to questions? Well, that should be you. Affordable Care Act is not directly related to the services that Liberty Tax would provide, but why not offer the knowledge in tips to their followers and then gently offer their number for them to call?

#3 Problem Solving Tips. Using the hashtag #taxtuesday, Liberty is offering tips and solving problems while at the same time optimizing their content consistently. #TBT became a thing because enough people understood the consistent message of posting old photos on Thursdays. Find your voice for tips and problem-solving and then make it a day of the week that people begin to look forward to.

#4 Branding. Liberty Tax is all about the Statue of Liberty. That green foam statue hat on top of the white sheet is waving its arms at us from January through April on most street corners. We recognize it. It is their brand identity. In our visual world, we need to have these touch points to distract us from our overwhelmed lives, and Liberty Tax does it well. Everyone posted a Happy New Year Image, but when we use our branded image to reinforce the message, there is a purpose behind the post.

#5 Fun. I suppose that Willie Nelson wouldn’t find this post that fun, but for everyone else– who doesn’t want to feel a sigh of relief in a world of celebrity news? Here are real situations related to the business of tax that are fun because they involve someone else. Find newspaper comics or stories that make light of serious situations and people will look forward to your information.

#6 Links Back to Their Site. Most of the articles posted by Liberty are from their blog. A blog being your natural and most effective way to become the resource and go-to source that people need. Finding your voice in the world of social media is essential for success. You have views, information and a whole lot of resources that people really want to read and share. Plus, having a blog and posting the content on other sites gives you the best social strategy of all: bringing people back to your website!

So take a look at successful company pages of your competitors and see what works for them. Are they consistent in their posting? (probably yes) Are they selling all of the time? (most likely no) Are they giving us a piece of their personality? (if people are following them then you can be sure the answer is yes)

Make a plan. Post on a schedule. Create your own content and share. And remember, you must be consistent!

#2015 #socialmedia #marketing #designbear #facebook #posting


business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

Good Communications 101

Be a good communicator.


Everyone knows that in this Social media-marketing world, crowded with people of all ages, talking, tweeting, posting, reviewing, hash tagging….geez, how does one define a good communicator?

Like chit chat at a party, the noise being created today by “communications” is best described as chaos, but if you stop a moment and look around, you will see that nothing has changed from the days of three-martini lunches in smoke filled bars.  People want to make connections with each other. So put down your IPhone for a moment and figure out how to connect to people.

Writing, and I am not talking about novel/screenplay quality stuff.  I am talking about finding your voice in the written word.  Why do people freak out when it comes to writing out the simplest things?  The world of social media has given those fearful of writing a voice.  A one word-hashtag loving-emoticon-120 character-loving voice.  Better to make a connection and communicate something, then nothing at all.  Now that doesn’t mean you should write awful text.  Yes, you must write well.  Think about what your one word message is and then write about it.  Take time to look at it, decide if it says what you want.  Put it aside (if time permits) and then re-read and hit send.

Images.  I personally believe that humans think with their eyes. Use them. It is a known fact that posts with images get about two to three times more interaction than ones that are text only. Now a cute kitty will not make your quarter numbers more interesting, so think a moment before you attach irrelevant images to your posts, but add them.  Get a file going of images that resonate with you and when you are “writing” go there and see if anything makes sense to use with the posts. And remember that sometimes text is just as powerful as an image, step back and look at your communications.  What did you respond too?

Video. There are 60-year old women in the Midwest using YouTube to create thousands of followers over quilting…why then can’t you figure out how to use video to reach more people? Sit down and figure out what your 3 to 5 minute message should be.  Have props.  Take a speech class, or go to Toastmasters if you are uncomfortable with speaking, but find your voice and make a video.

Social Media has lots of mediums, pick one or two. Ok, Twitter and Facebook are the most talked about social media platforms, but there are other things that might suit you better. Google+, it is growing and easy to use. Yelp, a must in today’s service world.  Pinterest is your back up personality when it comes to business. SlideShare is my go to place when I want to see what the world is presenting. And do not forget to keep up your LinkedIn site.  It is your public resume.  Update it, post articles, and join groups.  Turn off the TV at night and begin to “socialize” a bit.

Respond.  And do it immediately or you will drown for sure. I have posted moderate to bad reviews on Yelp and when the owner responds quickly (or in many cases at all) it makes me feel like I matter to them and will give it another try.  And it’s not the freebies that work here, it is the response time.  If you got a letter in the mail you would respond, right?  Show you care.

Keep Your Focus.  Don’t let someone’s critique of your service make you freak out. Our parents were right when they told us, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all.”  That is your mantra here.  Respond, but with a level headed approach.  Anger only hurts you.  Answer and respond to what they are really asking you.  Look within their posts and figure out what their agenda is and why they asked or posted such comments, then respond respectfully.

Good Luck!

Design Bear

business, Design, Marketing, Social Media

Do You Have A Map?



“If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”

After working with small business owners around the country, I hate to say this, but I am certain that this is their business strategy!

Whether they are following the pack, or remembering what their father did when he ran the company, or worse, what they read in college in the 80’s; small business owners need a clear map in order to succeed.  And success can be defined as just one extra customer a week, but without  clear goal and plan, just waiting for things to happen is like trying to figure out which way to turn at that sign above!

Social Media Strategy begins with a calendar.  It is a plan, written out, viewed with perspective, and guided by the mission of the business. Sometimes, it is the cart before the horse (with the horse being the business plan.)  No matter how it happens, using a social media calendar will force you to look at your business with clear goals in mind.

Here is a calendar idea I found and modified to meet my own needs:

social media calendar-DB2-template-1


First, looking out over the whole month you can see where you are going.

Second, you can delete items that you are not going to use.  I know that this one makes most small business owners happy. “Twitter and Facebook posts in one day?!” they are thinking. “When will I find time to do that?”

Start with one item.  Facebook is easy because you can schedule posts.  Choose topics that are important to your business.

If you own a school, you might want to highlight the monthly lesson goals.  If you own a restaurant, how about a specific seasonal food category.  Even if you are not cooking that food item, people want to get information from people they like….they did “like” you, right?  well then give them something to enjoy.

Look ahead at the month.  Take a pencil and write out some ideas.  Think of articles you read and saved, quotes about food or education.  If you like them, your “friends” will like them.

I love having a theme.  It makes things more fun for people.  Look at your calendar…it has a picture above it–a theme of sorts to explain how that month will be.  Snowmen for January, fireworks for July, beaches for August…you get the point.  So pick a theme for your business month.

As a dentist you might want to highlight teeth cleaning.  Toothpaste, brushes, floss, that new water sucking machine you invested in.  It is all part of your business, and if you make it accessible to your customers, they will enjoy the humor in a good spit cup photo.  It makes you real, approachable and most importantly, likeable.


You know what these are, yes and it involves writing stuff.  UGH!  Well one of the most overlooked posts are not words at all, rather they are pictures and business owners miss this opportunity a lot.  Do you make organic juice?  Do you have hand lettered menus?  Is your receptionist’s smile the absolute best?  Well, TAKE A PICTURE!  Posts that include an image are 60% more likely to be read.  So get out your phone and snap something–up close and personal.  Post it.  Make it a goal each week to take a picture in your office.  Write it out, do it.  Download Instagram and make it fun (plus you get another digital social media site that will attract attention.)
fb posts

These are for your LinkedIn profile.  You need to interact here too.  How about making it a goal to post an article a week?  It makes you look interesting, knowledgeable and helpful.  Who cares if no one “likes” it?  This is about your digital imprint.  Are you out there?  HELLO?  Just one or two posts a month is all you need to begin to see your business grow in an internet world.

Pinterest is a beast in itself.  If you have ever lost several hours, or one long weekend to the temptation of pinning images of puppies and beach wedding ideas, then you know why I have “time’ here.  You must have a Pinterest account for your business.  It is not optional.  Take a weekend and set it up, or hire someone to do it for you, but it MUST be done.  Once set up, you just need to download the APP on your phone and then take the “time” to post.  Do it on the commuter train, at the doctors office, at the PTA meeting, in the bathroom.  Just do it.  Pick a board and take the week to fill it up.  Add things to your blog just so you can pin.  Devote time.

Topics are not themes.  Topics are things that relate to your business that your clients and potential clients will find interesting.  Pick one or two and then seek out content for it.  Gum Disease–find cartoons, Dr. Oz articles, anything relating and not to technical on topics to post.  Schedule time to find this stuff.  Put in in your desktop folder marked Content Ideas or better yet, save it to your site for use later.  It will be fun, and you might just find yourself reading all those newsletters you subscribe too and just delete in your inbox!


Print out two months in a row and schedule simple tasks.  Start out small and just begin to strategize.



Where is your business going?

business, customers, Marketing, Social Media

365 Days


Part of what makes marketing work is knowing that it takes time, and practice.

The business you run has passion and purpose, but it needs exposure to be successful.

With Social Media there is a sense that everything moves at speed of light.

On the surface it does, but in reality, Social Media is a slow, well-thought out process.


Of course, when your Facebook post goes viral, you think “Wow, that was fast,”  but remember the slow process of daily posting and responding.  The coordination of pages and websites.  The blog and all its daily wisdoms?

We don’t start with the tree.

We start with the seed.

We water the seed and give it sunshine and rest.

We prune the tree.

We watch it grow.

We practice.