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Unbounce CTA conference – September 2014

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

Unbounce put together their first kick-ass Call-to-Action (CTA) conference (cussing really got the point across in a ‘no-bullshit’ kinda’ way) in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. It was in Vancouver that we learned how to create a successful landing page and post-click experience for our clients.

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 Behold 25 Tweet Takeaways ~

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Don Draper Marketing: Mad Men, Then And Now

Monday, July 7th, 2014

“Advertising is based on one thing: happiness. And do you know what happiness is? Happiness is the smell of a new car. It’s freedom from fear. It’s a billboard on the side of a road that screams with reassurance that whatever you’re doing is OK. You are OK.” ~ Don Draperthumb---don-draper

We all know Don had his issues, but marketing and branding a company certainly wasn’t one of them. While the advertising and marketing landscape has changed drastically since the Madison Avenue days, Don had some pearls of wisdom about branding, promoting, marketing and sometimes (NOT all the time), even humanity.  Viral posts didn’t exist during the real Man Men days, but these marketing cliché’s are still relevant in the inbound age.

But first, let’s go back to his musings on advertising and happiness.

Sure, billboards still exist. And occasionally those ‘Next Exit Gas/Bathrooms’ signs do capture my attention after two bottled waters. But we all know great marketing includes gathering data, testing and optimizing. And it’s a helluva lot easier and cost effective to edit a landing page or Facebook ad than it is to create a new billboard.

While there have been somewhat recent studies suggesting that billboard advertising is still effective, this is dependent on several factors and “studies” are just that, studies. These are usually smaller investigations or analyses of a subject or product. Digital marketing is inbound marketing, which allows those looking for what you’re selling, to find you.  With Google Analytics and numerous social media software insights, we can capture ALL the data.  After analyzing this data, we can find out what’s working and what’s falling short, tweak the campaign and come through with higher conversions/sales.

But what the anti-hero’s point was that when done well, marketing and advertising gently suggests what to buy, making you feel – on some level – happy. The advertising business is about people and shared values, now more than ever.  Smart businesses today find a way to connect with that passion and that happiness.

The brooding character also said, “Even though success is a reality, its effects are temporary.”infographic---don-draper-200px

While this is slightly antagonistic, there’s truth in the statement given the increasing competitive landscapes. The focus has to be on tomorrow. With this way of thinking, it urges those marketers to continue to research, observe, strive, measure, test and optimize – ensuring more success, longer.  Your competitors are constantly thinking of new promotions and trying to capture your audience. It’s vital to stay on your toes, constantly learn and engage your audience with interesting, educational and valuable information.

“You are the product. You feeling something. That’s what sells. Not them. Not sex. They can’t do what we do, and the hate us for it.”

Consumers are making purchases based on how the product makes them feel about their identity. Sell more than just a product.  And to do that, it takes a village.  Advertising, web design and digital marketing agencies are no different.  Even creative genius, Don, didn’t act alone. He often relied on his advertising protégée, Peggy.

Together, we are creative. We create ideas, promotions and reasons that your product is different. We find ways to have potential customers view your service as if they didn’t know how they lived without it. Our programmers are constantly navigating the changing technical landscape and absorbing the latest updates, ensuring your online presence will pop and entice savvy consumers.  And don’t hate us because our designers rock. It’s what they were born to do.

“Change is neither good or bad, it simply is.”

If Don only knew how irrefutable this statement was. Well, in a way he did…because the writers did.

Change is the only constant in the digital marketing and advertising world. Within marketing, lies branding and good branding must appeal to human nature. Marketers use stories and images to evoke emotion and build relationships, while aligning with the brand.

It’s human nature to want to connect. And everyone loves variety and adventure, to some scale. Consumers are using a slew of social channels today not only to connect, but to grow and to contribute. We want to feel like we’re making a difference. Today’s competitive landscape requires that digital marketers stay ahead of the curve and often, designing the curve itself. We’re all publishers to some degree and this helps incite change. It just is.

“What you call love was invented by guys like me…to sell nylons.”

Don’s just a ray of sunshine, isn’t he? But seriously, let’s think about how the ability to construct objects of desire affects business. The wide-ranging power of effective branding campaigns can propel a business by making it recognizable and trustworthy. A brand carries meaning and associations, like love or family. Remember the ‘A diamond is forever’ campaign?  Of course you do.

Today, marketing is more truth telling and educating than convincing.  And with more information in the hands of the public, the more enlightened consumers will be.  Don and the crew at Sterling Cooper told consumers what to buy. Today, consumers want to know why they should buy it.

Unlike Don, consumers aren’t jumping into bed with the first shiny product or sexy commercial they see. Content and engagement is the ‘getting to know you’ phase. And consumers are getting to know brands and products through Google and social media. They are getting in committed relationships with brands.  Be the educator and project an image of transparency and humanity.

“Nostalgia: It’s delicate but potent.”

Ever cried at a commercial or an image on Facebook? Come on, I know you have. The theme song to ‘Cheers’ used to get me every time. Emotion is an important component in moving people to become advocates of your brand.  Use powerful storytelling and case studies to foster emotions. Add nostalgic posts and remind your audience of things that care about and love. Social media is visual, so use quality and eye catching imagery whenever possible.

“If you don’t like what is being said, then change the conversation.”

Today’s marketers can create a dialogue by utilizing digital and social media channels. Smart digital marketers listen and respond to negative press. Blogging and bloggers are a huge part of the web conversation; they are thought leaders. Understand your audience and their issues. Facilitate the creation of genuine content that they will find valuable. Don’t just contribute to the noise.

While work-day binge drinking may be out, it’s not only okay to bring a little marketing “madness” to your business, it’s crucial in standing out above the rest.

Social Media Day – June 30th!

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Mark your calendar. This year marks the fifth annual Social Media Day, created by Mashable!socialmediaday.logo.blue

On June 30th, #SMDay, thousands of people organize hundreds of meetups across the globe. From Austria to England, and Argentina to Peru, social media enthusiasts gather every June to participate in this global movement.

Mashable launched the event in 2010 as a way to recognize the digital revolution happening constantly, all around us.

What can you do?Digital curate create

Embrace the 4 C’s of digital:

  • Creating

  • Curating

  • Connecting

  • Culture

Engage in the conversation with the official hashtag: #SMDay

Here are some recent social media statistics:

  1. According to Erik Qualman, author of “Socialnomics”, in 10 years, 40% of the Fortune 500 will no longer be here.
  2. Facebook has 1.28 Billion monthly active users
  3. 75% of the engagement on a Facebook post happens in the first 5 hours.
  4. Weekends are the most popular time to share Vines.
  5. 40% of YouTube traffic comes from mobile.
  6. B2B marketers using blogs generate 67% more leads.
  7. Twitter has 255 million monthly active users
  8. Google+ has 540 million monthly active users
  9. Instagram has 200 million monthly active users
  10. 20 Billion+ photos have been shared on Instagram to date
  11. Pinterest has 40 million monthly active users; 80% are female

We don’t have a choice on whether we do social media. The choice is how well we do it. – Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics

Facebook fun fact

How Infographics Can Increase Branding & Traffic

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

While there is no denying that words are an exceedingly powerful tool in creating a brand or driving relevant traffic to your site, they are but a piece in the overall marketing equation. Why does your brain crave infographics? As humans, we are very visual creatures. And in today’s society of online A.D.D., marketers need to be clever and savvy in how they grab the attention of potential customers. thumb---infographic

While the digital form of infographics is relatively recent, explaining an idea in image form is nothing new. Infographics are the smart new digital way of communicating ideas, data and knowledge.

Did you know the world’s information is currently doubling every two years? It’s no wonder people experience information overload.

The use of visualized information has increased drastically.

  • 9900% on the internet (since 2007)
  • 142% in newspapers (between 1985 & 1994)

From 2010 to 2012, infographic search volumes have increased over 800%.

In 2013, Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, Gareth Cook, was brought in to edit the first volume of The Best American Infographics.

So, why do infographics work?

  1. We live in the information age: In one day, we create 1.5 billion pieces of content, 140 million tweets and 2 million videos. But we have less and less time and attention spans to read and take in as much content as we want. Most people decide to stay or leave a site in just 2-4 seconds. With infographics, it’s much more likely your content will be remembered.
  2. We are Visual: An infographic collects data, organizes it, and turns this information into an easy to understand visual. A well-researched and designed infographic empowers readers by breaking down complex ideas into visual groupings. Stunning images or well-designed charts simply make a bigger impression.
  3. Demonstrate & Convince: Want to learn how to do the Moon Walk? You could read about it, but it would be a lot easier to view an infographic with step-by-step pictures. An infographic also can easily tell a story, behind the statistics of just about anything you can think of. They make it easy to understand even complex concepts.
  4. Brand Awareness: Infographics have company logos embedded for instant brand awareness. And built on the same principles of content marketing components, it should tell a good brand story.
  5. Earn Links: Because of the visual appeal, infographics are easily shareable on all social profiles. They allow sites in niche industries with minimal natural linkage to earn links from other markets. Infographics can provide global coverage, at a much smaller cost, than print media ever could.
  6. Become an Authority: The research required for an infographic will help you become the expert in the topic or industry.
  7. Measurable Results: Infographics are meant to go viral. Good infographics equal enhanced search visibility and increased SEO. Infographics offer quick measurable results from social shares, backlinks and traffic.infographic---infographic-200px

Some fantastic examples:

  • 50 Years of Space Exploration: Massive infographic that displays the last 50 years of space exploration. Designed by Sean McNaughton and Samuel Velasco for National Geographic.
  • Grand Mosque: This is an infographic press release from the Gulf News (Dubai)

Information has to be digestible for it to go viral. Generate a unique connection with visitors with creatively designed, animated and educational infographics. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

 

Hashtags: Keeping Up with the Conversation

Friday, February 21st, 2014

In 1988 hashtags were firstly used on a platform named Internet Relay Chat. It was one of the first protocols on the Internet that was used to send messages in real time. For most, it was an afterthought on our telephone keypads and then a way to ensure your voicemail was delivered. Now, the pound sign is a typographical symbol with lofty ambitions.thumb---hashtag

Six years ago, Twitter’s users invented what’s now known as the hashtag and has found its way into commercials, football games and even spoken language. In 2007, developer Chris Messina proposed, in a tweet, that Twitter begin grouping topics using the hash symbol.  The pound sign (or hash) turns any word or group of words that directly follow it into a searchable link.

So, why are hashtags now a big part of our society?

The role of business in society is all encompassing and social media has forever changed the way we communicate.  Hashtags are the little links that brings it all together.

The social scene is massive and often overwhelming. The hashtag adds clarity and direction and allows for wordplay, humor and sometimes, even poetry. Their flexible and versatile and it improves the chance that other Twitter users will find your tweet in targeted Twitter searches.

Those who can adapt to society around them tend to be the ones who evolve and create new ideas. Will hashtags soon become an official piece of #punctuation in formal writing?

We’re taught at an early age, with cognitive development, in preschool and beyond, that social interaction is crucial. Social networks and hashtags particularly, create influence and an opportunity to learn and find information. #RealTimeLearning.infographic---hashtag-200px

The hashtag gives the writer the opportunity to sarcastically undermine their own tweet. Can I answer my own questions with hashtags? #Yes. Be thoughtful and choose relevant hashtags.

Here are a couple of examples:

Shoulder pads make me look awesome. #kidding

Need to go to #NYC for a wedding. Advice on #CheapTravel?

So why should your business care about hashtags?

Hashtags imply categorization, classification and commentary. Deliver metaphors in just a word or two.

Hashtags like #SMB or #smallbiz are great to seek information, resources and current news of the small business variety. The #marketing and #sales hashtag contains a lot of business-related content. Use a branded hashtag if you have a very specific message to convey.

Curious which hashtags are trending across social media? Hashtags.org tells you which tags are hot in real time. Third parties like Webstagram provide helpful breakdowns of the trendiest hashtags.

Language has evolved before and will inevitably evolve again.  Will your business keep up with the conversation?

Blogging for Business

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Benjamin Franklin once said, “Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.” thumb---blogging

In today’s online world, blogging allows you to engage your target audience, attract new customers & establish credibility.

With the release of Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, frequent, fresh, high-quality content is critical for increasing your website’s ranking.

Blogging is one of the easiest ways to improve your organic search performance because every time you write a new post, you create a new URL for your site.  Every new URL is a brand new opportunity for your website to be ranked in search. Building rich content means more traffic. And fresh content is still a key to beating out your competitors in the search engine results page. Search engines are looking for active websites on a particular searched term or topic.

Make sure you create UNIQUE content.

Search engines will penalize you for duplicate content, which is content also found on other sites.  In your blog posts, it’s important to use keywords that you want to rank for.

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Blogging allows you to build your brand as an expert. Display your talent and knowledge in articles that demonstrate why someone should hire you or purchase your product. Build trust with consistent, honest and helpful content. Blogs provide another source to deepen the connection with your customer. Customers want to feel they have a personal connection with your company. Today’s marketer helps customers solve a problem or find a great solution.

What’s a cool side effect of blogging? The process encourages you to stop and think deeper.

Create content that’s creative and interesting. Ask yourself, would you want to read it and share it with your network?

Search engine algorithms can detect if a blog provides a good user experience. Utilize tagging features and make sure the author, title and publish date are easily identifiable.  With the increasing number of people accessing information on mobile phones, it’s important that your blog is viewable on mobile devises.  Make it responsive!  If your blog isn’t responsive to mobile and tablet devices, readers are more likely to find similar information on another site. Include social sharing icons so that search engines and potential readers or customers can recognize which articles are popular.

  • Make it unique
  • Make it optimized
  • Make it responsive
  • Make it social
  • Make it creative

From Fortune 500 companies to smaller shops, millions are utilizing blogging because it provides endless opportunities for your website to rank in search.

Blogging helps you stand out among your competitors. Just ask Google.

Confessions of a Digital Marketing Executive

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

I still struggle with the idea of social networks. There, I said it. I am a CEO of a digital marketing company and I struggle with social media. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Pinterest… But before you go off and say to yourself, I knew it, it’s all bunch of hooey. Let me add, I also struggle with traditional old fashioned networking.

Put me at a chamber mixer, and I am the guy having a beer with an old friend. Over the years, I have read half dozen books on the power of traditional networking. It’s hard to ignore the math. It costs little, it can have geometric reach and according to the books, it’s easy. Well maybe for the authors.Baron Christian

So the truth is that it’s not the digital networking, it’s networking in general that presents the challenge. Being both a geek and a creative has me genetically predisposed to be an introvert.  You see, for me being spontaneously interesting, clever or funny just doesn’t happen. I could never get past the question “so what do you do?“ By the time I could muster up the next question, the conversation already reached that painful chasm of silence.  So quickly the exit line… “it was nice to meet you”, which puts an end to the networking effort. But what I did not realize until recently is that, digital networking is also tailor made for the introverted and socially awkward.

In the digital world, you have time. You get to consider you responses, you get to post something interesting when the thought occurs and you get to share your knowledge to an audience that inclined to be interested. Oh, and the best part, like Baron Christian de Neuvillette, you can have someone else help you with the words.

As our firm grew from web developers and traditional marketers, to digital marketers, I have experienced the power of social networking dozens of times. We have used it to effectively position our firm as a thought leader in our local market. Our president is asked at least once a week to speak on digital marketing. When we were looking for a new bookkeeper, we posted on social media and had a half dozen recommendations with-in hours, most of them from the more valuable employee pool, those currently working but looking to make a change. We get at least two to three opportunity leads a week.
Bottom line is bottom line results. Just as in the case with traditional marketing, reach and frequency is the key. But in this space it is not about buying more ad space. It’s about sharing knowledge.   It’s about telling the story of your brand. It’s about connecting. It’s about earning the right to do business with someone. The adage that we choose to do business with people we like and just as in that chamber mixer, if someone finds you interesting, knowledgeable and likeable; they are more likely to be a prospect or customer.

As in any endeavor, you can’t go to one mixer and say networking is part of your marketing. Networking requires consistency, participation and frequency. So get started or if you are started –do more.  Oh and if words or the lack thereof are your excuse, find your own Cyrano.

Why Should Your Business Invest in Facebook Ads?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

There are over one billion people on Facebook. According to HubSpot, 93% of adults on the Internet are on Facebook. Facebook like thumb

Facebook’s three ad formats have been combined into one:

• Page Post Like Sponsored Story
• Page Post Comment Sponsored Story
• Page Post Ad

A “Like Ad” is simply an ad on Facebook that shows one of your friends has Liked a certain page.

Now, when you promote a post from your Facebook Page, the ad will automatically include likes and comments. According to research from Nielsen and comScore, this social context leads to better performance and ROI.

“Like Ads” work for a few reasons:

– They’re easy to set up
– There’s no commitment, try a week test
– They instantly get your page exposed to new fans
– They have social proof, which encourages others to also like the page.

Facebook ads of course, have great targeting options.

Facebook ad infographic

6 reasons why Facebook ads work

1. Location – Are you a local business? Try targeting a city or zip code within 50 miles of your business.
2. Age – If you’re product is more suitable for certain ages, specify this in the set up. It’s a good idea to also create a couple-several ads, testing age ranges, to see what performs best.
3. Gender – Promoting a make-up seminar or women’s clothing? Well, don’t waste your ad on 60 year old men.
4. Precise Interests – This can be powerful and Facebook ads ace in the hole. If you’re in the business of organic pet food, you might want to target those who have “liked” animal related pages, fitness, Whole Foods, etc.
5. Broad Categories – Use this category to target people that share similar interests as well.
6. Connections – Here you can choose to show the ad to “anyone”, “Only people not connected to your page” or “Advanced connection”.
7. Friends of Connections – We all consider friend recommendations when thinking about a purchase. That’s why this feature is great. From here, you can choose to only show the ad to people whose friends have already “liked” your page. Birds of a feather flock together.

Facebook ads hold an overall premise that recommendations from friends and companies alike are going to be more effective than traditional display advertising. Andrew Lipsman, VP of Industry Analysis at comScore, and co-author of the recent study, “The Power of Like[2]: How Social Marketing Works performed a collaborative study between comScore and Facebook.

According to Lipsman, “Facebook ads can absolutely drive advertising effectiveness,” he says, “but there aren’t enough data points to generalize yet.” In other words, there are many variables at play, including the type of ad, demographics, image used, location, product and creative elements.

The study found that “fans” of retailers, on average, spent significantly more at those stores than did the general population — more than twice as much at Amazon, Best Buy and Target, and almost that much more at Walmart.

What differentiates Facebook ads from traditional online advertising is their effectiveness is better judged on the basis of the “behavioral lift” from the message a user has received after they’ve already liked the brand.

So, why do Facebook ads work?

1. They are well targeted. Advertisers can tell Facebook who exactly should see the ad.
2. The second reason lies within the creator of the ad and their ability to create good copy, striking imagery and targeting that makes sense for the product or service.

“One of the biggest benefits for Facebook advertising is that you are reaching your target demographic in their comfort zone. When a person is logged into their Facebook page, they are comfortable. When they see your ad on their Facebook page there is a certain amount of trust that is inherent and that you don’t get when seeing a random link on a Google search.” ~ Tyler Barnett, founder and president of Tyler Barnett PR.

And to make things more interesting, Facebook is now in the remarketing game. Remarketing is not a new concept for advertisers; Google has been doing it through their display network for years. For example, a shopper has been checking out a blender on Target or Macy’s. When they come back to Facebook, they can show the user that exact high-tech blender they were considering on the brands website. Because chances are, those prospects will head to Facebook later, at some point.
Studies show that there is a significant increase in the click through rates on advertisements that are integrated with remarketing. It’s a friendly little nudge at the end of the marketing buying cycle.

It’s still relatively new to Facebook as they only released this functionality in 2012 and marketers were limited to targeting based on demographics and educated guesses. Second, according to Facebook, more than 950 million people spend over 6 hours per month on Facebook’s site. That’s huge.
Facebook began opening up news feed ad inventory to Facebook Exchange at the end of March and expanded the inventory offering to all its FBX partners in May. Triggit, a Facebook Exchange (FBX) partner, says that the FBX news feed click through rates now rival those they see from AdWords.

And on October 8th 2013, Facebook just announced an overhaul of both its basic ad-buying platform, Ads Manager, and its Power Editor, both now boasting a more streamlined interface. Now, advertisers are first asked to identify their objectives. This could be a sales conversion on a website or increasing total page Likes.

Once an objective has been identified, Facebook guides advertisers to the most appropriate ad. The advertiser then chooses where the ad appears, in the News Feed or the right column. Users can also now upload multiple images for a single campaign, allowing five different ads to run at once. In the analytics dashboard, you can now quickly assess which images are performing best.

Have you tried advertising in Facebook?

Instagram & Vine – The Mobile Video Showdown

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

blog-image-mobile-videoIf the Buggles had only known how forward thinking their lyrics were back in 1979, they may have danced to “Longer bite sized video with custom photo filters & editing features slowed down the other video app Star,” in their hit song. But it just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

The app best known for photo-sharing added video last month. Now, when any company with a large user base announces a major change to its app or site, the reaction can be both positive and negative. In this case, most of the negative reviews are due to amateur videos clogging up the users’ feeds or slowing down their ability to view photos.

Similar to Twitter’s Vine app, holding down the video icon will capture video. Releasing it will allow you to pause the video.

“It’s everything we know and love about Instagram, but it moves,” Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom said.

(more…)

What’s the Real Deal with Checking In?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

Does this sound familiar? Your business has a Facebook page and a few check-ins on Foursquare but your audience isn’t growing. You can’t remember the last time you saw a new “Like” or check-in, and you’re wondering if it’s time to give up on the social media fad altogether.

Before you give up, have you thought about what drives people to click “Like” or check in?

The answer is simple: Deals.

The bottom line is people like to save money. If liking your Facebook page or checking into your location on Foursquare can help them save money, people will be more likely to click “Like” or check in.

These social media deals can also help bring a new customer base to your business. If you are a restaurant owner who promotes deals on Facebook, potential customers might see that special and change their lunch plans to come to your restaurant.

All because you offer an online deal.

With City Wok, a Southern California Chinese restaurant and Graphtek client, we use a few different social media deals to grow the restaurant’s brand recognition, audience and, ultimately, profits. For example, City Wok’s Facebook fans enjoy a weekly deal when they say the secret word found exclusively on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

And customers who check in on Foursquare get a unique special when they show their phone to their server. As an added bonus, City Wok rewards check-in loyalty by rewarding the Foursquare mayor (the person who has checked in the most over the last 60 days) with a special discount on their order.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when launching your social media deals:

  • Promote: Let your audience know they can get a special deal by checking in on Foursquare or liking your Facebook page. Consider putting a sign in your window or near your registers to let your existing customers know about your online promotions. And once customers start liking your Facebook page, communicate with your growing audience by engaging them and having conversations online. Don’t be afraid to cross-promote, either: City Wok’s Facebook page is regularly used to let fans know about Foursquare check-in specials.
  • Be Consistent: Offering consistent deals on Facebook or Foursquare will help build brand loyalty as your audience will begin to check your social media pages regularly. If you consistently have a weekly Foursquare check-in deal or Facebook promotion, you’ll also continue to attract new customers who find your specials while using social media. Graphtek has worked with City Wok to build a loyal audience by consistently offering new deals on Facebook and Foursquare each week.
  • Train Your Staff: When setting up your promotions, be sure to establish a method of internal communication that will keep your staff educated on the current deals and how customers can redeem them. It can be discouraging to customers when they have a difficult time redeeming a deal, but a painless redemption process will help build brand loyalty and bring customers through your doors time and time again. City Wok issues a weekly memo to its staff to ensure they are aware of all check-in and Facebook deals.
  • Track Results: As with any marketing strategy, you need to track results to measure the effectiveness of your promotions. How many customers are coming in and asking for the Facebook special? How many people are checking in to your location on Foursquare? Implement a method to effectively track these results. At City Wok, each promotion is redeemed through a unique code in the POS system, making promotion tracking a breeze.

Is your business ready to cash in with a social media marketing strategy that builds customer loyalty through check-in specials and Facebook deals? Contact Graphtek today to get started!