Author Archives: Social Neptune Panels

YouTube Strategies to Help Your Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard
With its more than 100 million videos viewed each day, tens of millions of unique visitors; did you know that YouTube is the number 2 search engine on the Web in terms of inquiring volume?  It sounds impressive, but what does that mean for local businesses trying to reach customers?  You need to separate yourself from your competition!

Have you ever uploaded your own creation? Chances are, probably not.

If you own a small local business or if you are nationally known and don’t want to mess with video hosting and access issues, YouTube provides a free, easy way to host your corporate videos. Below I have listed some of the ways that you can take advantage of using YouTube for your business and help grow your media awareness.

Boost Your Brands Presence

Similar to traditional television ads, YouTube can help your business by increasing overall brand awareness. In fact online advertisements may be even more effective than TV ads. A recent Milward Brown study found that online advertisements resulted in 82% brand awareness while similar TV ads only led to 54%. Be sure to have content that is entertaining and informative to capture your viewer’s attention. Remember you are trying to make your audience aware of your brand, so your video should have content that represents your company. This way the next time a viewer sees your logo somewhere, they will associate your brand with it. Use YouTube to make your business more than an impersonal entity. Video tours can show off an office space or give a behind the scenes look at the process that goes into the everyday operations of your business. Let customers connect with the heart and soul of your company: the people who make it what it is. By featuring workers in action or even highlighting individual employees with video bios, you allow your company to have a personal touch that everyone can relate to.

Don’t be afraid to create awareness about who you are and what you do; it’s important to let people know who they’re getting this valuable information from.  You should encourage users to take a step towards a relationship with your company by having them subscribe to your YouTube channel or company email newsletter (if you have one).  By building your YouTube subscriber base you’ll automatically reach a built-in audience of potential customers who have opted-in to seeing your latest videos. For example you could say “Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more moneysaving tips on ways to improve your outdoor living space,” and include that call to action graphically in the video. Alternatively, driving people to a newsletter is another way to form the start of a relationship with that viewer.

Optimize for YouTube Search

Nearly 24 hours of new video is uploaded to YouTube every minute of every day.  In order to be found you need to optimize your video so that it can be found on the site.  Here are just a few things to think about when adding your video to YouTube.  Include important keywords in the title and be sure your tags include those keywords as well.  Choose an appealing thumbnail that clearly depicts what your video is about.

To continue the outdoor living space example, you may want to title your video “How to design an outdoor living space that will adapt to your backyard. XYZ hardscaping top tips for designing an outdoor living space on your budget.”  Your tags might be “how to, hardscape, outdoor living area, pavers, plants, landscaping, DIY” etc.  The thumbnail could be a shot of you planting some flowers (assuming that YouTube gives you that as an option). Your title, keywords and thumbnail all gives your viewers the information they need to decide whether your video will help meet their need and solve their problem.

How-To Videos

Not all content has to directly promote your products. How-to videos that give viewers tips and hints on solutions related to your industry are a great way to give your customers a valuable gift that creates a feeling of goodwill, but also, importantly, is likely to be shared with others. For example, a barbeque restaurant might share a video about the perfect basting technique, or a graphic design studio might do a monthly series on simple Photoshop tricks. Neither one gives away sacred secrets that will hurt their business, but they do create relevant, helpful content that their customers – and potential customers – can use and appreciate.

Product and Service Demos/Details

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But when it comes to showing off your company’s products, a video demonstration or overview gives your customers more than a photo ever could.

Whether videos are used to demonstrate key features of new products or show off that product from all angles, YouTube gives you the perfect opportunity to let customers see your product in use, how it’s meant to be seen

Produce High Quality Videos

You don’t have to be the next Spielberg, but your videos should be professional and easy to watch.  Shaky hand-held camera work, poor audio quality, bad lighting or lack of coherence in the story all lead to viewers changing the virtual channel.  Pay attention to the lighting. Use a tripod to create smooth viewing experience. Use microphones and pay attention to the audio.  Try to tell a story or clearly walk viewers through the video and what you’re doing.  By paying attention to these basics you’ll standout from the massive amounts of poor quality content on the site – earning you more attention and more interest from viewers.

Give the Viewers a Follow-Up Action

Following the AIDA model you want to create a desire for viewers to take a follow up action.  If you’ve created an informational video about landscaping tips you want to give the viewer a compelling reason to follow up with you and a clear path to do so.  One way to do this is to provide a special offer and a unique web address in the video.

For example a call to action such as “Print step by step instructions and receive 10% off our in-home evaluation by visiting MySite.com/youtube,” gives your viewers an actionable next step with clear value. The unique URL and discount will also provide you one measurable way to determine how successful your YouTube video is.

Those are just some quick ways local businesses can take advantage of YouTube.  There are dozens more, but starting with the basics will put you in front of potential customers who need your help. 

What tips do you have for making YouTube work for business? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Resources:

http://www.bizjournals.com/bizjournals/blog/socialmadness/2012/05/3-ways-to-use-youtube-to-market-business.html?page=all

http://www.spyderbytemedia.com/5-ways-youtube-can-help-your-business/

http://www.reelseo.com/5-ways-small-businesses-advantage-youtube/

Neptune Panels: Top 10 Frequently Asked Questions

By Jonathan Allard 

waterfalls, waterfall, backyard waterfall, water feature, fountain, facts about neptune panels, what is neptune panels, how to install neptune panels, hardscape, hardscape design, aquascape, aquascape waterfall, neptune panels

Q. Do I need a permit or engineered plans to install a water feature?

A. That all depends on your local ordinances. You should check with your local building inspector before work begins.

Q. What is the proper care that I should take for my molds?

A. There are several things you should do. First, you should seal them. Keep them out of direct sunlight. Never use mineral spirits as a release agent on them. Don’t let the panel mix start to build up on them. Clean and re-seal as needed.

Q. What should I do if the mix is too wet or too dry?

A. If the mix is too dry simply add clean water slowly a couple ounces at a time and remix. If the mix is too wet you can let it stand for several minutes in which it should start to stiffen up or you can add a small amount of Portland cement and remix.

waterfalls, waterfall, backyard waterfall, water feature, fountain, facts about neptune panels, what is neptune panels, how to install neptune panels, hardscape, hardscape design, aquascape, aquascape waterfall, neptune panels

Q. Can I build a water feature below 32 degrees?

A. Yes you can, providing you take all the industry-standard precautions for below freezing concrete installations. This would include, warming blankets on the ground before you pour, as well as keeping the entire feature above freezing temperatures for at least seven days and nights after you pour.

Q. What is the desired thickness for each panel?

A. You should try to keep you panel 1/2” thick.

Q. How many bags of Neptune Panel mix will I use for each panel?

A. You can figure an average of three bags for 2 panels. This is based on a ½” thickness average. This will vary slightly + or – based upon the individual molds.

Q. Do I really have to apply sealer to my molds before use?

A. Yes you do. By sealing the molds you are closing any little pores that the panel mix might be able to penetrate into. By allowing the composite to penetrating into the pores of the mold, it will not allow you to release the panels without ripping the molds apart.

Q. Can I make my panels outdoors?

A. Yes, just be sure to cover be freshly poured panel mix with a light plastic sheathing. This will prevent rapid evaporation of the water and will mitigate the amount of cracking you could get.

waterfalls, waterfall, backyard waterfall, water feature, fountain, facts about neptune panels, what is neptune panels, how to install neptune panels, hardscape, hardscape design, aquascape, aquascape waterfall, neptune panels

 

Q. How long do I have to wait until I can use my Neptune Panel after it has been demolded?

A. We recommend you wait at least 24hrs before using or hanging your panels after they have been demolded.

Q. Do I have to color my project immediately or can I wait?

A. You may wait to color your project as long as you do not seal it. When you are ready to color you will need to make sure that you remove any dust or debris from your project so you will get a good bond with the color.

 

Do you have any Additional questions or concerns? (Check out our FAQ’s page for more)

Click here if you would like to learn more about Neptune Panels

 

Neptune Panels: Coloring Your Water Feature

By Jonathan Allard
water feature, waterfall, fountain, waterfalls, how to color a water feature, neptune panels, how to color a waterfall, how to color a neptune panel
With the construction phase of the water feature now complete, you’ll want to do a general site cleanup of all tools, construction material, and debris to give you a clean environment to start coloring. To protect the area around the water feature from any overspray or drips from the color, you will want to hang or lay plastic over it. This should include any finished flatwork, buildings, and plants or trees. You should also use a leaf blower to remove any dust or fine particles from the water feature to ensure a good bond by the stain.
It is now time to bring your water feature to life. We will do that with color. A lot of dealers
start out very concerned about not being very artistic. There is nothing to worry about; coloring your project is about technique that requires just a little practice and having no fear. You see, as with nature, nothing is perfect. There are no two stones or rocks that look exactly alike or have the exact same coloring or even texture. Since nature doesn’t color every stone perfectly consistent, neither should we.

water feature, waterfall, fountain, waterfalls, how to color a water feature, neptune panels, how to color a waterfall, how to color a neptune panel

Note:

All Neptune Panels colors come in a concentrated form. You will have to dilute the color by using distilled water only. In order to get two or three shades of each color use the ratio of distilled water to color as follows; 3 parts distilled water to 1 part color, 2:1, or even 1 to1. This will allow you a greater range of color and more natural looking shading. By diluting one color and using all the different shades of the color you will be less likely to have a checkerboard style, coloring pattern. The checkerboard look will typically occur when the installer does not dilute down the color and uses it in a concentrated form.
There are some basic principles that you should follow that will allow you to have success immediately after training.
The key to coloring all projects no matter where you are in the country or what colors you may use is as simple as starting with the lightest shade, to the darkest shade. When you typically color a project you will probably only use three or four colors. The key to realism is when you dilute each one the colors and you’ll end up with 8 to 12 colors and/or shades.
Once you have chosen the color scheme you are going with, dilute to the lightest color first, and then begin brushing it on your project. Once you have finished coloring your rocks, you can move on to a darker shade. With Neptune Panels color you do not have to wait for one coat to dry before applying another coat, even if it is a different color. There is an acrylic added to the color that allows it to bond to each other whether or not the bottom coat is dry. This is very beneficial to you, the installer, as it saves time and money as it allows you to continue working.
water feature, waterfall, fountain, waterfalls, how to color a water feature, neptune panels, how to color a waterfall, how to color a neptune panelAs you continue coloring from the lightest to darkest shades, you should also be swapping out and using other colors at the same time, in the same fashion. One way to think about coloring is you are actually low lighting the cracks and crevices as opposed to highlighting all the ridges and peaks. Just remember, you can always go darker but it’s not so easy to go lighter. If you’re stones look perfect close up, odds are they may look fake from a distance.

When coloring, as long as you don’t seal the feature you can always tweak the color. If the customer is very specific in what they are looking for, make sure you get approval on the coloring before you seal the project, you will save yourself a lot of trouble down the road.

Helpful Hint:
When you sell a water feature to a homeowner, do not let them pick the colors, but simply pick a color scheme only. Let them decide if they want to have for example; blues and grays, browns and tans, or even the South West reds. Odds are, you will never have color corrected photos and even if you did, every stone you color is different so you would never be able to match it exactly anyway.

Was this information helpful?

What are your experiences with coloring water features?

Neptune Panels: The 5 steps to Constructing Water Features

By Jonathan Allard
How is a Neptune Panel Water Feature constructed?
Maybe you have read through our 5 Step Process, which is also listed below, and still not sure how the system works. Here is a quick video on the 5 steps in application.
 
 
Here is the overview of the 5 step process that is listed in the video:
Step 1: Making panels 
Neptune Panel molds are made from true stone textures to capture the most realism on the market today. With a simple mixing procedure panels are made by casting the mix on top of the Neptune mold. By adjusting the way the mold lays, you can produce countless different shapes with just one mold. Panels can be de-molded after a minimum of 4 hours, and reproduced several times a day to allow for a stockpile to be built up to be ready for any project that comes your way.
Step 2: Prepping the site.
To prepare for a typical medium-sized stand-alone water feature you will need approximately a half day to excavate and install rebar. Your pond will be excavated and at the same time you will excavate for your footing. After that you will install your rebar in grid fashion and tie at all intersections. This typically can be done with a 2 man crew and minimum tools. Your plumbing will also be done at the same time.
Step 3: Pouring the catch basin and frame footer.
With a small crew you can expect to be able to pour your pond and footer area for the frames in a matter of 3-4 hours. You will wet set the frames into the footer area as well plaster, carve, and texture the pond.
Step 4: Hanging panels.
Once you are ready to hang your panels you will want to start at the lowest area of the front of the feature. Work in rows around the entire structure moving upward. After all your panels are hung you can begin to mud the seams and do all your patch work. This can take anywhere from 5-6 hours or several days depending on the size of the feature.
Step 5: Coloring and Sealing.
Now you are going to color your feature using the Neptune stains. Choose a color scheme and use sprayers and brushes to apply. Just as with nature, nothing is perfect. There are no two stones or rocks that look exactly alike or have the exact same coloring or even texture. Since nature doesn’t color every stone perfectly or consistently, achieving perfection on your project requires a degree of randomness.
If you would like to see more photos of projects and the panel system in action, “like” us on Facebook or follow us on Pinterest!
Was this video helpful?
What kinds of things would you like to see Neptune Panels blog about?
References:
http://blog.neptunepanels.com/2013/02/25/how-to-build-backyard-water-features-with-neptune-panels/
 

How Visual Media Can Help Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard

If you haven’t noticed within the last couple years or so, that social media and video marketing have become a key player in the success of a business both big and small, then you’re missing out. These are great ways to interact with consumers and clients who have an interest in your company.  It is a great way to bring all types of information to a single platform using images or videos. It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and more importantly videos are consisted of thousands of images, just think of the impact visual media has. There are many ways to incorporate visuals into your current marketing strategy by using social media sites such as; YouTube, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, among others. These sites are a great way to post and share updates of current projects, reflect on other projects you may have done, and communicate with the community. This is very important because with technology becoming so fierce, we rely on instant gratification and the fact that knowledge is power. Visual media is more important now than ever before.

Wikipedia refers to the concept of “visual marketing as harnessing the power of images and visuals (which) makes a marketing plan more powerful and more memorable. Images — when done deftly – can turn concepts and intangible things into something concrete. That helps people envision a brand and its message in their mind’s eye — and remember it when it comes time to buy”.

It is under the assumption that visual media is more for large corporate business’. This could not be further from the truth. You too should incorporate this concept and reap the rewards. With the swimming pool waterfall business being such a visual niche, it is important to have these images and videos that are best going to portray what you do, and that is art. Most people will not understand the intricacies behind a swimming pool or waterfall by just reading about it through an article on your website or newspaper. Having clean, detailed images of projects on your website, and a YouTube channel with videos of product information and some “how to’s” are going to leave a much bigger impression on the consumer than one with no visuals.

Social Media Examiner has a great article called “26 Ways to Use Visuals in Your Social Media Marketing”. This article helps in getting started or maintaining momentum in sharing more visual content and in creating a visual conversation with your audience. They do so by going through the ways not only to post images, but how to enhance them for a much larger impact.

References:

http://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/26-tips-visual-social-media-marketing-strategy/

http://blog.theberrycompany.com/blog/digital-marketing-2/the-power-of-visual-marketing-for-small-business

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visual_marketing

Neptune Panels: Swimming Pool Contractors Guide to Loyal Customers

By Jonathan Allard

Picture compliments of swimkids.com

We know that in today’s swimming pool market, customer loyalty can determine whether your business fails or succeeds. It will not matter how great your advertising and marketing is, if you do not have excellent customer service, you will lose contacts. They want their questions answered within hours, not days, and they want to feel secure when they purchase your product or service. You’re running a swimming pool waterfall business; this means returning customer emails in a prompt manner and answering all questions from customers. Great businesspeople know that the number one reason for a strong business is a strong customer base. Building this base takes time, patience and skill, but in the end it pays off because your customers will continue to return to your website and promote your business through referrals. This brings us to our first way to keeping customers loyal.

swimming pool waterfalls, waterfalls, swimming pools, pools, how to get loyal customers, how to make customers happy, how to keep customers

A Website that is Easy to Navigate

A great website design will gain customers trust and friendship from the start. You want your first impression to your customers, before they even decide to make a purchase, to show that you have a clean and well organized website that is easy to navigate through. Your website should be professionally designed and be clear and tidy, which means keeping advertisements and other obnoxious banners to a minimum.  Having links to a Facebook and Twitter page on your website will allow your customers to keep in contact through these popular social media platforms, further increasing their trust in your business and website.  A good website will also feature informative articles that teach your customers about the products and services they are going to get are beyond professional. Consider adding a blog onto your website so your customers can gain more understanding about who runs the website and what your purpose is.

Train Your Employees on Customer Service

If there is only one thing you are going to do well, then it better be customer service. While the dynamics of installing swimming pools and waterfalls are constantly changing, one thing that will never change is that having quality customer service is the best way to gain your customer’s trust and loyalty. But what exactly does it mean to have “excellent customer service”? By following the tips below you can be sure your customers will trust your website, and in turn be more likely to promote your products on a repeated basis.

  • Fast response time – By responding to emails and other queries in a fast and efficient manner, you build trust with your customers because they know you are interested in their concerns and questions.  If you’re a larger swimming pool company, it’s also a good idea to display a phone number in a prominent location on your website where customers can contact you directly via telephone if they have questions or comments. Even having a live chat feature on your website is a great way to communicate with your customers if they have issues or concerns.
  • Generally, but not always, the customer gives the company their contact information, which enables the business to send out newsletters and product info to continue communication with them.
  • Also a great way to stay on your customers minds is send out holiday cards, email blasts, even making personal phone calls. This will encourage repeat business and give your customers a positive perception of you.

waterfalls, swimming pool waterfalls, pond, koi pond, swimming pool, how to keep customers loyal, how to keep customers happy

Offer Unique products and Services

The next step that needs to be followed when attempting to achieve great customer loyalty is to always offer high quality products/services. These products/services should meet the customers’ needs and expectations.  In your case you are offering a swimming pool or water feature, so you must ensure the customer receives all that they purchased, including correct pool-type, a design that they agreed upon, and a finished product that is sure to impress. If you’re selling physical products then it’s imperative that the products be free of defects, including scratches, dents or other physical deformities.  If while during installation damage occurs, which is inevitable, then as the owner you must take immediate action and either offer the customer a refund or fix the issue in a quick and timely manner.

Do Not Be Afraid to Ask for Feedback

This will help you hone your sales techniques and advertising tactics, and in exchange for their participation, you can offer a referral program or percentage discount for a future visit to your business.

Gaining customer loyalty boils down to a variety of factors, including hosting a great website, offering fast and efficient customer service, and selling great premium products.  When these three steps are combined together, you will have customers that are loyal, meaning they will return to purchase more in the future.

Was this information helpful?

References:

http://www.drivingretention.com/5-tips-keeping-loyal-customers-loyal/

http://www.wikihow.com/Keep-Customers-Loyal

http://www.microsoft.com/business/en-us/resources/management/customer-relations/7-tips-on-keeping-customers-for-life.aspx?fbid=POZlSqwD-cP

 

Pros and Cons of Backyard Waterfalls

By Jonathan Allard

A backyard waterfall is a great way to incorporate art into your outdoor living space. Whether the feature is a focal point in your landscape or simply a complementary piece. Water feature designs serve more than an aesthetic purpose; the sound of trickling water can help you relax and feel calm.

Water features such as decorative fountains and waterfalls can provide a number of benefits to any environment. Most people will agree that providing components within their own living space that create a visual interest can reduce stress, which may lead to enhanced productivity.

However, adding a waterfall is not without risk…

waterfall, backyard water features, backyard waterfall, waterfalls, pros and cons of waterfalls, pros and cons of backyard waterfalls, fountains, fountain

PROS

Keeping Calm

The Advantage of Relaxation

  • backyard waterfall can provide a tranquil setting for you to relax and enjoy the outdoors–either by yourself or with friends. The waterfall can include fish or accent a swimming pool to enhance your experience while relaxing in the yard. In addition, the sound of trickling water, can be stress-reducing.
  • Most waterfalls featuring moving water also produce running-water sounds. These sounds can remind listeners of a calm babbling brook contributing to the calming effect of the waterfall. The falls noises also help cover the sounds of a busy environment. This effect is known as white noise and can help reduce the stress caused by the more mundane sounds of outdoor living; automobiles, planes, neighbors, and other environmental factors.

The Aesthetics Advantage

  • A water feature in the backyard will significantly bolster the aesthetic appeal of your outdoor space–especially if colorful fish and an eye-catching design complete this landscaping feature. Backyard waterfalls can be equipped with lights to illuminate the  feature during the evening, further enhancing the easy-on-the-eye experience.

The Anywhere Advantage

  • One of the most intriguing benefits of landscape waterfalls is that they can be installed into any area of your yard, whether it is front or back, in the sun or shade, by the pool or in the patio. 

3708_332976516799291_1394706405_n

Attract Attention

The Conversation Advantage

  • Waterfalls can become a gathering place for family and friends — especially if placed in a backyard setting —  Designers often include seating or viewing space around the feature to accommodate the attention it attracts. Not only will the waterfall be a great focal point, but it will also serve as a conversational piece.

The Uniqueness Advantage

  • No two waterfalls are the same. Waterfalls come in an endless variety of shapes, sizes, and characteristics. There are the thundering and powerful types that command attention with their sheer volume and size. There are delicately flowing graceful types that relax and mesmerize you with their intricate beauty. Then there are the ones situated in locations where its settings are every bit a part of the natural beauty. Moreover, they are unusual cascades that bend your mind and leave an impression as a result of their uniqueness.

Better Air

The Humidity Advantage

  • The moving water of a fountain allows some of the water to evaporate into the air. This contributes to the humidity of the air and may actually improve the air quality of the surrounding space. In dry climates, the presence of a water feature may reduce or eliminate the need for a humidifier.

CONS

Safety

The Safety Disadvantage

  • The water in a waterfall can pose a safety hazard. If the water feature includes an open pool, it should include design features that prevent accidental entrance by children, as this can cause some possible injury. 

The Maintenance Disadvantage

  • Backyard waterfalls can require maintenance. If your feature is located near trees, removing debris can become a constant maintenance issue. Maintaining balanced water is the key to long term enjoyment of your backyard waterfall and swimming pool waterfallMany pool supply stores will have testing equipment to test your water and provide you with the analysis of your water, as well as the supplies you’ll need to maintain a balance.  Test kits are also available for you to check the water on a weekly basis.

The Disadvantage of the Attraction of Pests

  • Different types of waterfalls can attract pests to your yard. Fish falls may attract fishing birds, which will make a meal out of your fish. Raccoons and frogs may be attracted to your water feature, as well. Frogs can be interesting to watch, but they can be very noisy during the evening hours. Mosquitoes will also pose a problem in features that are not well-balanced and maintained.

 

How to Market Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business on Pinterest

By Jonathan Allard

swimming pool waterfalls, waterfalls, swimming pools, pools, pinterest, how to grow on pinterest, how to use pinterest for business, what is pinterest

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few months, you have probably heard of this social media platform called Pinterest. If you’re a female you have known about this image-capturing site for months, and have probably used some recipe ideas from it. If you’re a guy, you may be confused as to the purpose of this site which you may be hearing about for the first time. Do not worry though, we have put together the top strategies for marketing on Pinterest whether you work for a large company or own your own business.

TechCrunch reports that it got exclusive stats from ComScore showing that Pinterest had 11.7 million unique monthly visitors in January 2012. That’s up from 7.5 million in December…and a scant 418,000 last May. These stats represent the fastest sustainable growth ever for a standalone site.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a platform for user sourced, visual content, grouped into topics. From a broader perspective, it’s a social network that allows users to visually share new interests by ‘pinning’ images or videos to their own or others’ ‘pinboards’ (a collection of ‘pins’ that have a common theme). Pinterest in the visual version of Twitter, as you can hashtag all your photos and create external links within your boards. It is a great way to drive traffic to your site and other social media platforms, through media integration.

Here’s how it works:

1) When someone likes an image on a website they can pin it back to a board they’ve created on the Pinterest site. These boards can be named anything, but fall under categories designated by the Pinterest team, like weddings/events, home décor, travel, etc.

2) Individuals can see pins by people whose boards they are following, or by searching through the most popular pins (most repinned), by category, by search term, or by price. If a user has typed in the price of the object in the comment area it will also appear on the top left corner of the image (this only happens when the dollar sign is typed into the comment area. No other money symbol – like € or £ – makes the price appear on the pin).

3) Every image has a comment area, link, and options to like or repin. Viewers can visit the site that housed the original image by clicking on the image or on the URL in the top right corner of the image.

Maybe this cartoon explains it best, it’s addictive! (source)

 So how do I use Pinterest to help grow my business?

1. Use your business email (and Twitter) on account set-up: Once you receive an invitation to sign up for Pinterest (it’s still invite only!) use the same email address you use for your business Twitter profile, then sign-up with Twitter so you can easily share your new pins through your Twitter account. Pinterest doesn’t offer a connection to Facebook business pages, so Twitter it is. Of course, choose your company name as your username then add a company description, logo, and a website link.

2. Be worth following with great visual content: To get started, spend time looking around, this way you’ll get some great ideas and a feel for how the network works.

See this post here on some of the most successful brands who are using Pinterest effectively so far. Get your great, non-promotional content uploaded – see point 2! This way, new followers will have a reason to follow your pins; just as you would populate a brand new blog before you start promoting it. What images, graphics, info graphics do you have or could you easily get together?

3. Promote your brand externally:

  • Add the Pinterest follow button to your website and write a blog post to promote it.
  • Promote your presence on Pinterest through your other social networks by encouraging your followers/fans on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter to follow your pins!
  • Consider a Pinterest contest (see below).
  • Start following users you think would want to follow you back.

4. Don’t upset fellow pinners! The site naturally discourages blatant self-promotion. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, great, just don’t use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion. Think up creative ways to promote your brand on the network – showcase the lifestyle that your brand promotes. If you are in the Swimming Pool Waterfall business, do not just pin photos of how great your waterfalls are, pin photos of the work being done, waterfalls that you find interesting, even things unrelated to swimming pool waterfalls. This will engage a lot more traffic to your site, and create consumer awareness.

5. Become an expert on a topic: Become the go-to Pinterest account for pins about a certain subject or topic relating to your industry. You’ll see this by looking around the network. Some people are really owning certain spaces and you’d have to say there’s an early, possible gold-rush potential within Pinterest at the moment to do just that. I like this graphic designer and their logo love board, it is just simple but a great board. How about a pinboard that showcases life around and in your organisation, whether day-to-day stuff or events, even parties. It’s subtle, basic stuff but every little bit helps.

6. Create a fan Pinboard: You can allow other users to contribute their own pins to your hosted pinboards, so involve fans and customers in your marketing as you would in any other social channel. Dedicate a pinboard to your top fans or customers – ask the customer to pin images that showcase your brand within their lifestyle. Does your product allow the user to look good, be better at something, feel better – get images the illustrate that, think of it as a pictorial testimonial.

7. Learn about your buyer personas: View pinboards of your customers, learn more about who they are and what they’re interested in. Use Pinterest as a tool for understanding the interests and needs of your ideal customers. Then… show your expertise within those areas, be valuable and interesting. Very simple, and very time consuming to do it properly. Yet that’s surely the opportunity.

8. Remember videos: Pins can be videos as well as images – worth remembering! Existing footage you can use, interviews, fun stuff, even videos that you find interesting on the web. Pinterest is all about the visual, so if you can spark an interest through all types of media, you are bound to build your brand.

9. Integrate with other channels: Do you attend or run offline events that your fan base would find interesting to see behind the scenes? How about features around the best photos and video footage – this is good for those not attending and it helps you generate interest and promote the next event you run or will be present at. Consider online integration too – you can use hashtags in Pinterest, if you use them then create a pinboard around it, tag it with a hashtag you’re using on Twitter and Google+ and help integrate Pinterest within the campaign. You can use your Pinterest account to promote a relevant section of your site this way – driving multiple links (traffic) back to your domain around a particular topic, theme or campaign.

10. Measure traffic back to your website: Make sure this is all generating results and proving it’s worth your time and effort. Whenever possible, include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins. Keep track of referral traffic and leads generated from Pinterest to see what resonates and what doesn’t.

Here are a few external references to setting up your Pinterest account:

http://visual.ly/how-pinterest-can-help-your-business

http://www.jeffbullas.com/2012/05/08/64-pinterest-marketing-tips-and-tactics-infographic/

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2017448/how-to-set-up-a-pinterest-business-page.html

 

Was this information helpful?

What are your thoughts on Pinterest?

 

 

8 Ways Facebook Can Help Grow Your Swimming Pool Waterfall Business

By Jonathan Allard

Facebook is a phenomenon that has grown drastically in a very short time, and continues to do so. It was originally used mostly by college students to keep in touch with high school friends. Recent statistics prove that it has moved beyond its original use and become an incredibly powerful business networking platform. A Facebook Fan Page is a profile for a business or organization rather than an individual, and is used to build brand recognition. Even if members have no intention of buying anything on Facebook, the relationships you establish and community you build can benefit your business in countless ways. Here, I reveal 8 ways a Facebook Fan Page can help grow your business. If you’re still not sold on this (not entirely convinced that Facebook networking offers great potential to help your company grow and reach new business contacts), here are some reasons why you can’t afford to ignore Facebook as a networking tool.

1. Establishes Another Outpost for Your Business on the Web

Creating a Fan Page provides your business with another branding platform where prospects, customers, future employees, vendors, and even the media can find information about your company and the services you provide. Unlike Facebook’s personal profiles, which are member-only accessible, Fan Pages are public by default. This means that even the individuals who are not logged into Facebook can view your business page, therefore more people have access to the information you post.

Tip: If you are looking to set-up a Facebook Fan Page, Social Media Examiner does a great article on How to Set Up a Facebook Page for Business’

2. Drives Traffic to Your Website and Other Platforms

Fan Pages have no restrictions on driving Facebook traffic to websites. In fact, Facebook encourages you to link your website to your business’s Fan Page. Redirecting even a small portion of Facebook’s huge amount of daily traffic to your website could significantly improve the amount of qualified leads on your site.

Tip: Turn Facebook members into Fans, Fans into customers, and customers into Fans by cross-promoting your Fan Page and website. Link your Fan Page to your website and insert a Facebook Widget on your site to link back to your Fan Page.

3. Improves Your SEO

Google, through its new Social Search feature, and other search and decision engines are now indexing content created on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. This means your Fan Page content has the potential to generate favorable search engine results for your business and brand. By linking your Fan Page to your website, you can leverage Social Search to drive even more Facebook traffic back to your site.

 

4. Allows You to Engage with Your Community Easily and for Free

 A Facebook Fan Page provides an inexpensive (free) alternative to implementing customer engagement on your own site. In minutes, you can have a branded Fan Page where customers and other brand advocates can post to your Facebook Wall, share photos and video, ask and answer questions, and interact with you and one another. Creating and managing a Fan Page, complete with a Discussion tab, is easier than launching and monitoring discussion forums or message boards on your own domain. A Fan Page also gives you a direct pipeline to your Fans. You can send messages to Fans all at once or target individuals by country, state, city, gender, and even age range. Using the Events App, you can even schedule special events or promotions and then send invitations to only those Fans who live in or near the town where the event is scheduled to take place. All of this and more is available free of charge to any business or brand using Facebook.

5. Provides a Breeding Ground and Platform for Brand Evangelists

Only 25 percent of Facebook members want to be sold to, but a much higher percentage are apt to sing the praises of a quality company, brand, or product to their Facebook Friends. Establish strong relationships with a number of influential members who have plenty of connections, and you gain valuable brand promoters who authentically market and sell on your behalf.

Tip: As you post updates to your Page’s Wall, or as Fans interact with your Page, these interactions appear in the Fan’s News Feed, reaching even more potential Fans (i.e., your Fan’s Facebook Friends), making Facebook the ultimate opt-in, permission-based marketing tool available online today.

6. Listening and Observing Has the Potential to Improve Your Business

In a social setting like Facebook, customers and prospects are likely to let down their guard and share information with you and others about products and services they like, good and bad experiences they have had with your business or your competitors, and their unfulfilled needs. Each time a Fan interacts with your Page, you are presented with a wealth of information.

Tip: By default, Facebook Fan Pages include the Discussion tab. Encourage discussions to cultivate valuable market data and ideas on how to improve your business.

7. ROI-Related Metrics are Readily Available

Facebook’s Page Insights dashboard facilitates the analysis of marketing and communication by revealing data related to interactions (Comments, Wall posts, and “Likes”); discussed posts, reviews, and mentions; Fan demographics (gender, ages, geographic location/distribution); and so on. These tools improve your ability to identify and target specific demographics and gauge ROI.

Tip: Use Facebook’s powerful metrics, along with information you gather from your Fan Page, to develop custom messages and talking points that speak directly to your Fans’ needs, are suited for your community’s style of engagement, and support your business’s word-of-mouth goals and objectives.

8. Allows You to Keep Pace with the Competition, Free of Charge

Still not convinced a Fan Page is worth setting up? Then consider the competition. Even if only one of your competitors launches a successful Fan Page, that competitor can corner the market on Facebook and build a following long before you do. Stake your free claim early to establish your business as the industry leader before the competition has a chance.

Take a minute right now to do a Google search on some of your top competitors and see whether or not they have a Facebook Fan Page, and are using it successfully. If nothing comes up, do not hesitate, create a Fan Page now and become a dominator in your niche. If your competitors do come up in search, study their page and see what they are doing right and wrong to better your Facebook Fan Page.

Do you have any additional questions regarding Facebook?

Was this information helpful?

Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls

By Jonathan Allard

Last week we compiled a list of the 10 Swimming Pools You Don’t Want to Miss, and in response wanted to put together a list of swimming pool accents. These accents can be anything from water-slides to stained wood platform decking. This week we are going to focus on water features, and more importantly waterfalls.  This list of the Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls will take you through some great ideas of how one can turn a pool area into a Water Wonderland, for all types of budgets.

 

15. Simple Yet Soothing.

14. Waterfalls Are Great For Indoor Pools Too!

13. Multi-Tiered Waterfall.

12. Blending in With the Surroundings.

11. Even a Waterfall Can Have Greenery.

10. Great Focal Point!

9. Waterfall With Multiple Functions.

8. Water, Water, and More Water!

7. Natural Flow.

6. Over the Wall Waterfall.

5. Grottoes, Slides, Waterfalls, OH MY!

4. Roof-Top Waterfall.

3. Waterfall at Every Corner!

2. Tropical Grotto With an Amazing Waterfall Accent.

 

And number 1 on our countdown for the Top 15 Swimming Pool Waterfalls is…

1. The Waterfall Creates the Space.

 

As you can see there are some great ways a swimming pool can be accented to create a relaxing and tropical feel by adding a waterfall(s). Some used the waterfall as the main focal point to define the space, and others used it for more of an ambiance and aesthetic.

This list was compiled a little different than the others because as with a lot of water features, they can be built using real(natural) stone vs. Artificial Rock. We wanted to see if there were some that were obvious in which method was used, and ones that were a little more tough to spot.

Which numbers on the list were made from Natural Stone? Which numbers were made from Artificial Stone?

Let us know what you think!