Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Top Three Reasons to Use the New Facebook Hashtag

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In case you haven’t already heard, Facebook has finally adopted the hashtag symbol in an effort to keep up with its competitors. This includes Twitter, Pinterest and Google+. For businesses, this new addition to Facebook is revolutionary and has the potential to significantly increase brand awareness. You might be wondering how and why hashtags are important. To help provide more insight, our team has put together the top three reasons to use the Facebook hashtag.
  1. The most obvious advantage of using Facebook hashtags is that your business can establish a greater online presence than ever before. The new feature enables hashtags to be clickable and searchable, much like they are on other social media sites. Hashtags are great for categorizing messages and starting online conversations with users interested in a particular topic. Before Facebook implemented this strategy, many business pages were virtually invisible. Now, by incorporating hashtags into Facebook posts, companies can increase their digital presence through the search mechanism. 
  2. Another great benefit of using the new Facebook hashtag is the ability to reach your company’s target audience by creating your own unique hashtag. In a recent blog article, the experts at Social Media Examiner, one of our favorite social media go-to sites, shared a prime example as to why unique hashtags are more effective than generic ones, such as #gardening, #interiordesign, #architecture, #marketing, etc. According to the article, since many users incorporate generic hashtags, their posts are likely to be pushed down the “Newsfeed” more quickly and may not relate directly to the topic on hand. Conversely, by developing customized hashtags, conversations are easier to follow and are targeted to specific audiences. 
  3. As many of you know, Twitter prides itself on real-time conversations, whereas Facebook is used more sporadically. Now, with the Facebook hashtag, real-time conversations on Facebook are quickly becoming all the rage. And, one major perk is that you’re not limited to 140 characters like with tweets. This feature allows users to interact with each other on a deeper level, rather than quick sound bites. 
If you are interested in learning more about Facebook hashtags as well as the benefits of social media marketing, please feel free to post your questions and comments below, or contact the ECPR team at

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Trifecta Leads to Surge in Builder Optimism

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For the past few years, Americans have kept a close eye on the housing market. With a struggling economy, there hasn't been much about which to get excited, until now.

Since we specialize, in part, in PR for architects, home builders, construction and design-build companies, and related industry product manufacturers, we wanted to share how a trifecta of positive developments has created a surge in confidence for U.S. home builders and various others in the field.

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo recently released its June index of builder sentiment, showing homebuilders’ confidence has reached the highest level in seven years, according to an article on Reports also showed builder sentiment rose by 8 points to 52, the biggest monthly increase since September 2002.

The confidence survey asked U.S. homebuilders to characterize sales as good, fair or poor, gauge prospective buyers’ traffic, and assess the six-month outlook. All three components of the survey climbed to the highest levels since March 2006.

So what has caused homebuilders' surge in confidence? Builders including PulteGroup Inc. and Lennar Corp. credit it to a trifecta of low mortgage rates, a strengthening job market and limited inventories. even reports the positive forecast is creating optimism among manufacturers. Texas-based Lennox International Inc. (LII), a maker of furnaces and air conditioners, is one company to benefit from the recovering market. Joseph Reitmeier, chief financial officer of LII, was even confident enough to tell it’s a good thing to be tied closely to the housing market.

“Over the last few years, it’s been tough to say that being in a business or an industry that tied closely to housing is a good thing,” Reitmeier said. “We can actually say that now.”

Fans and friends, if your job relates to the housing market and building industry, we want to know what you think. Have you seen an improvement in business growth? And, what do you think are other contributing factors to the increase in builders and manufacturers’ confidence? Provide feedback in our comments section below.

To read the entire article on and review the results of the home builder’s confidence survey, click here. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

NeoCon 2013 – Where Innovative Products and Trends are Revealed

NeoCon is North America's largest design exposition and conference for commercial interiors. From June 10-12, 2013, at the Chicago Merchandise Mart, managed by our client Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc., more than 40,000 architecture and design professionals will have the opportunity to view thousands of new products and resources for corporate, hospitality, healthcare, retail, government, institutional, and residential interiors. In addition, show-goers will have a chance to network with fellow industry professionals at showroom parties, attend top-notch keynote presentations and nearly 100 CEU-accredited seminars and much more.

Nearly 700 of the world’s top manufacturers, including 3M Architectural Markets, Herman Miller, IKEA, La-Z-Boy Contract Furniture, Steelcase, Inc., and The Sherwin Williams Company, will be exhibiting at NeoCon. New products such as commercial space furniture, lighting, building products and services, casegoods, wall treatments, files and storage products, etc. will be on display.

And, since our firm specializes in public / media relations for commercial building and design industries, we are eager to learn about new and evolving trends that arise from the show. As an example, Interior Design magazine has already uncovered one cool new trend, office seating with tablet work surfaces. This trend creates a comfortable work space, which can ultimately help increase productivity.

New for 2013, NeoCon is the first trade show to feature “The Outdoor Office,” an innovative exhibit developed by Jonathan Olivares, which was most recently on display at the Art Institute’s Modern Wing. According to a press release sent out by the show’s marketing team, as working habits change and mobile devices allow the freedom to work outside the traditional office, “The Outdoor Office” was developed with the goal of understanding the possibility of new types of work spaces located outdoors.

Several casual furniture showrooms have opened their doors for NeoCon attendees, including JANUS et Cie, Mallin Casual Furniture, NorthCape International, Barlow Tyrie, Inc., and Poly-Wood, Inc. These showrooms will also be displaying new outdoor furniture and accessories at the International Casual Furniture & Accessories Market in September.

For more information about NeoCon, visit the show’s website at And, for those of you attending the show, let us know which product trends capture your attention!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Pins and Boards: The 411 on Pinterest

Over the last year, Pinterest has blossomed into a worldwide social network. Establishing itself as a popular niche among social media channels, this evolving photo-sharing forum has caught the attention of millions of users. The question is, what is Pinterest, and how can it help you establish brand awareness among current and potential customers?

For starters, here’s the 411 on Pinterest. This social networking site is designed to allow users to share photos in an infinite number of categories from across the Web. Topics range from favorite home furnishing accessories and fashion trends to gardening ideas and delicious recipes. The possibilities are endless, and photo categories can be easily customized per industry and product type. The key is to know which photos to post to achieve the most impact and interest, and how to write descriptive captions for effective brand building.

Here are five practical tips to manage and maintain a company’s Pinterest account as part of a successful social media marketing platform. 

Meaningful, Pinnable Content

As you use Pinterest for business purposes, create meaningful boards that reflect your company as well as other industry-related and appealing products, services and information. “Pin” different types of images including photos, videos, infographics and text that will keep your followers better engaged. The ultimate goal is to make Pinterest users or “pinners” want to click on your photos and “re-pin” them on their own Pinterest boards.

With this being said, many marketers believe that humanizing your company and brand is important and gives you an edge over the competition. Customers are attracted to the driving forces behind companies, so also create boards that showcase all levels of your company’s personnel to give followers an inside look at the team. By sharing this kind of information, you have the ability to relate to prospective customers on a deeper and more personal level.

Clear, Concise Captions

Since you are using Pinterest for marketing, it is important to include clear, concise photo captions for each pinned photo. This will help your company’s Pinterest followers know what message is being portrayed in the image. Keep in mind Pinterest has a 500-character limit for each photo caption. To ensure your followers stay engaged and interactive, use the minimum amount needed to properly and interestingly describe your image within context.

Also, Pinterest allows users to re-pin (or re-post) photos from other users. If one of your Pinterest followers re-pins an image you posted, the original image caption will likely be edited to their liking. To help prevent losing the meaning of a particular image, consider using Photoshop to include a text box directly on the photo. Just maintain a high level of design style with everything you pin.

Contributing, Competitors and Socialization

A common struggle for business owners and managers is committing the time and energy it takes to maintain a social media presence. By creating contributor boards, businesses will gain followers, increase interaction and boost company exposure by doing half the work.

The concept is simple. Invite someone to be a contributor to one or more boards. Once they accept, their pins will transfer onto the boards, thus, providing a wider range of pins to keep audiences consistently engaged.

The fundamental exercise regarding contributor boards is adding pinners with audiences similar to your own. Competing businesses will have access to customers and users who are interested in similar services and products, which means they might have interest in yours, too. Pinterest users who follow your competitors’ boards will most likely follow yours in return. By working together as contributors, both companies’ chances for exposure doubles and growth rates are expedited. If interfacing with competitors on Pinterest sounds like a bad idea to you, keep one thing top of mind; social media is only truly social if you maximize all possible connections – including interactions with others working in your field or area of expertise. 

Protocol, Decorum and Consistency

To keep boards updated with dynamic and attention-drawing content, sign up for e-newsletters from trade and consumer-based publications relevant to your industry. E-newsletters are visual and deliver up-to-date information and photos. Their content can provide pin-worthy material or spark ideas for creative posts. That’s right; not all photos should be pinned from your own website. Pins should derive from many online sources.

Create open lines of communication between you and your Pinterest fans. When pinning, make sure to include captions that encourage users to comment or share your photos. When fans comment on your boards, you will want to acknowledge the interaction and thank them. The same rule applies when fans re-pin a photo or board. Either post a comment or return the favor by re-pining one of their photos or boards. It all comes down to practicing respectful social media etiquette.

Some Serious SEO

On Pinterest, it is important to keep Search Engine Optimization (SEO) in mind when creating a pin. Set up your pins to be noticed by using eye-catching captions, keywords, hashtags, and urls (see example below). If you want to increase the traffic to your website, blog or other social media sites, try pinning original images and content from these sites at times. Think in terms of incoming and outgoing traffic when creating a pin. You can benefit from choosing pins that will entice people, and thereby cause them to click on the link that takes them to your other websites.

It is also a good idea to add the “Pin It” button to your website or blog so when people are on these sites, they can easily pin your content and photos to their own boards, which helps increase SEO for your company. 

Pinterest, A Force Worth Reckoning With

As PR practitioners it’s our job to stay on top of the latest social media trends. We consider it our job to know how Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media sites play into brand building and marketing, and how it will affect our client’s overall business strategy. Since 2011 Pinterest has demanded the world’s attention. Studies conducted by social media experts have confirmed that Pinterest is one of the fastest-growing social networking sites available. A study administered by analyst comScore stated Pinterest has grown by 4,377% since May 2011, a remarkable statistic to fathom. If you haven’t already now is the time to take advantage of what Pinterest has to offer. Needless to say, it’s time to start Pinning!

If your company is looking to include social media as part of your marketing plan and needs assistance, our team is happy to help. Learn more about our social media services and how we can help build your brand by clicking here.