Case study: Facebook contesting to promote events

The annual, Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Jazz Festival has brought jazz music lovers together throughout the Quad Cities for decades. But, the Board of Directors in 2013 wanted to expand the festival audience by marketing to major cities throughout the country while on a limited budget.

To accomplish this, the TAG Team created a Facebook contest, offering a grand prize of free passes to the concert, a weekend hotel stay and a $100 gas card for travel expenses.

The contest was marketed in five major metros across the country using Facebook ads targeted at traditional jazz fans. The advertising medium allowed TAG to hit a highly targeted audience for about $1 cost per thousand, a fraction of the cost of traditional advertising.

Contest entrants had to like the Facebook page and sign up for email marketing messages so the Jazz Society could continue to market to them after the contest ended.

  • Nearly 67,500 people were reached
  • 139 emails were collected
  • Contest entrants came in from 78 different zip codes within target markets.


Click on the link to see this and other case studies.

Social Media: How to use top platforms to reach your marketing goals

social platforms

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, with so many social networks out there it can be hard to tell how to use them best to market your business. Each network is used differently by users, which means your marketing tactics should be different for each one.

Read on for tips on how to do it.

Connect with consumers through Facebook

Facebook is great for initiating two-way communication between you and consumers. Include calls to action and questions in your posts to get the best engagement with your followers.

Quick stat: 31 percent of Facebook users report it plays a role in influencing their purchasing decisions.

Validate your expertise through Twitter

Tweeting links to interesting articles about your industry gets your Twitter handle noticed by other users, and situates your business as an expert in that area. But remember to interact with other five times for every original tweet.

Quick stat: 21 percent of Twitter users report it plays a role in influencing their purchasing decisions.

Boost your website’s Search Engine Optimization with Google+

Google automatically places websites with Google+ accounts higher up on its page search results with related key words. Hello page one visibility!

Quick stat: 61 percent of top brands are represented on Google+

Educate consumers through YouTube

Photos and short descriptions aren’t always enough to educate your consumers about your products, services or know-how. Create short videos with tips, tricks and advice to demonstrate what makes you stand out from competitors.

Quick stat: 90 percent of online shoppers find videos useful when deciding to make a purchase.

Generate leads through blogging

You recognize the need for your product. You understand the value of your services. The trick is to get consumers to do the same. Starting a company blog on relatable topics is a great way to do this – plus demonstrate your professional expertise.

Quick stat: 61 percent of online consumers made a purchase based on blog recommendations.

Showcase your work to targeted audiences through Pinterest

Pinterest is dedicated to saving pictures that link back to a website. Businesses can use this channel to upload pictures of their work and link it back to their website. Target audiences are best reached when other boards are included with related interests. Home improvement, fashion and travel are among the top industries to utilize Pinterest.


Flooring specialist? Include a board of before and after projects you’ve completed and link it back to your contact page on your website. Create other boards for your page such as home improvement tips and DIY crafts to draw in your target audience.

Quick stat: 25 percent of Pinterest users report it plays a role in influencing their purchasing decisions.

Learn more about social media marketing by downloading our free white paper.


Exploring social media options for your business beyond Facebook

So you’ve mastered the art of social media marketing on Facebook. Congratulations, you have taken a giant step forward towards achieving your social media marketing black belt.

But alas, young grasshopper, you’ve still got a ways to go.

Several new up and comers are joining the ranks in influential social media sites, and we as your TAG Sensei are here to share. Read on for our top five social sites for businesses we’d like to give shout outs to:



1. Similar to Facebook, but popular with younger audiences and in major metros. If your product or service is geared towards consumers aged 24 or younger or attracting customers in larger markets, Twitter is the route to go.




2. Use this bulletin board style website to “pin” content that fits into your target demographics’ interests. Create boards ranging from fashion, to hobbies and interests – oh, and don’t forget, a board displaying your products or services.



3. Use this photo sharing website to upload your favorite photos to bring your business to life for your followers. Connect it to your other social media networks and watch your Klout score – a number 1 through 1000 representing your total social media influence – rise.



4. Use this video sharing website to visually showcase the services or products your company has to offer. Tutorials and how-to’s work better than commercials.



5. Use this blogging website to verbalize your expertise in your line of work. Teasing just enough information to get them excited about your topic, but not enough for them to execute anything without your assistance.


Click here to find out how TAG can help your social media campaign!

On the Value of Facebook Analytics


Making sense of all of the numbers, charts and graphs describing the performance of your business’s Facebook page can be overwhelming – especially if you can’t make heads or tails of what any of the vocabulary terms mean.

One of the most frequent terms that get thrown around when looking at Facebook is “page likes.”

The truth is, keeping an eagle’s eye on your running total of likes while ignoring the rest of the information Facebook offers can be detrimental to your social media campaign.

As a Social Media Marketing Specialist, what pleases me the most is seeing fans actively engaging. Whether it is sharing a link, commenting on a status update or liking photos in a recent album, it demonstrates the relevancy the page has for fans and strengthens the relationship between client and consumer.

This is exactly what the ultimate goal of any Facebook campaign should be – an outlet for two-way, transparent conversation. Analytics that tell you how you’re doing in this area include:

  • Demographics: tells you the age group and gender of your fans to let you know if you’re hitting your target customer
  • Post reach: tells you how many pairs unique visitors have seen your content
  • User engagement: tells you how many fans have interacted with your page in some way
  • When fans are online: tells you what time of day most of your fans are on Facebook
  • Best post types: tells you the types of posts your fans respond to best – photos, statuses, links, etc.

Analytics are most effective when they are measured over time. Whether you want to gauge the success of a two week contest you just finished, compare the current month with the previous month or year, you can do it with Facebook analytics.

With 93 percent of U.S. adults on Facebook today, the moral of the story here is to not ignore the tools Facebook offers you to better your page and your connection with fans. To check out how TAG’s social media specialists can help you improve your analytic numbers, click here.

5 Tips for Instagram for your Business

Instagram is an app that allows users to post photos and videos and add artistic filters to them. It is a perfect way for a business to market to customers while having fun at the same time.

1) Behind the Scene Photos
Instagram is a great way to show your customers and followers what you’re doing behind the scenes. Consider posting photos showing your company, employees or products that people wouldn’t see without Instagram. For example, post photos of your employees and what they are doing to create the product.
2) Capture Close-ups
Instagram images only post 612 pixels square. People viewing your photos are most likely on their smart phone. Take close-up photos instead of wide shots. By doing this you will capture the essential parts of the photo you want and followers won’t have to squint to see what you’re posting.
3) Follow Your Company’s Interests
Searching users for people you know is a good way to follow people. Once you’ve found all of the people you would like to follow search for tags instead. For example, if you were an outdoor store search tags such as: #Outdoors, #RockClimbing or #TrailRunning.
4) Add an Icon
Link your Instagram to your website by adding the Instagram icon and have it connect directly to your profile. If someone is on your website, you can keep the connection if they follow you and integrate your marketing efforts.
5) Connect Your Posts to your other Profiles
Instagram allows you to post photos to a variety of social media outlets. You can share your photos to just Instagram, or by connecting your other profiles, you can also send them to Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Flickr  and Tumblr, reaching a wider audience.
Stephanie DePasquale-Soebbing, Social Media Marketing Manager

Super Bowl Ads? Worst. Batch. Ever.

It should come as no surprise that the Big Game is generally a secondary point of interest in our household. Given my career (and the fact that I’m a lifelong Detroit Lions fan) the commercials have taken center stage for most of my adult life. That said, while the game itself was among the most interesting, the ads of Super Bowl XLVII marked a new low.

The tone was set very early in the first quarter when goDaddy completely negated any interest that one of the more lovely humans on the planet might create by attaching her face to another that no HD viewer could love. Now, lest that be taken as a superficial slam against one less physically gifted, my objection centered on the sound and the close-up examination of poor personal hygiene. Notable? Unquestionably. Memorable? Unfortunately. A positive statement about brand? Fuhgeddaboudit. (I know I’ll be trying for a while yet.)


Beyond a goat that, presumably, will kill for Doritos, a couple of Fellini-worthy attempts to sell cars to… Clowns? Carnies?…there just wasn’t much worthy of comment. Two emotional appeals, one featuring the Clydesdale who never forgets and another resurrecting Paul Harvey for a genuinely touching tribute to the American farmer, were worthy, if a bit predictable. The overwhelming impression of the batch was that they just weren’t very smart. Much like SNL skits at the end of a dismal slog of a writing week, each tried to generate a few seconds of interest and audience connection on a thin premise that couldn’t sustain either.

Here’s hoping the inevitable parodies are better.

Stephanie DePasquale-Soebbing, Social Media Marketing Manager

TAG positions client as expert in TV interview

Anyone who turned on the television over the Thanksgiving holiday likely saw the Lowe’s Black Friday commercial featuring the Nest Learning Thermostat.

Our client, Crawford Company, in Rock Island, is a certified professional for the Nest, so we capitolized on the product awareness and contacted local media, offering to connect them with an expert at Crawford to explain how the revolutionary product saves up to 20 percent in energy costs by learning your schedule.

We succeeded in placing Pam Lang from Crawford Company on Paula Sands Live. In the four-and-a-half minute segment, Lang explains the differences between traditional thermostats and the Nest, how the new technology learns the schedule of the homeowner and how much money the product can save a typical homeowner in a year.

The segment had an advertising value equivalency of $2,970, and Crawford has already sold one Nest since the interview aired yesterday. It was great exposure for the company.

But there’s more to this story than media placement and a high AVE. Lang had never been interviewed before, so I offered to do a mock interview with her to prepare her for any questions Paula might ask. We covered everything from the differences between the Nest and traditional thermostats, to other energy-saving products Crawford provides and easy solutions homeowners can do themselves. After the mock interview Lang was much more relaxed and confident and it showed in her live interview.

“I cannot tell you how many times I have said in the last 24 hours I am so thankful for Stephanie coming in last week to give me a mock trial,” Lang said. “She gave me direction, suggestions and helped my confidence to prepare for the show.”

Stephanie De Pasquale-Soebbing spent nearly 10 years working in print, TV and radio newsrooms before joining TAG Communications, Inc. The experience allows her to create public relations campaigns that catch the eye of assignment editors to secure media coverage for TAG clients.

Facebook promotions that don’t break the rules

Facebook has very specific rules about how to conduct promotions, giveaways and exclusive offers on pages. The problem is many page administrators are not familiar with the rules and often violate them without knowing. Here are some of the most common violations and how to avoid them without compromising your marketing efforts.


While it is very easy to host a giveaway or contest that requires fans to like a status, share a photo or comment on an update, doing so is a violation of the Facebook Pages Terms. Facebook prohibits using its site functionality, such as liking a photo or commenting on a status, as a means of entry or a voting method.

You can get around this by hosting the giveaway or contest in a Facebook-approved app. There is some set up time involved, but you’ll be in compliance with Facebook’s terms of use, plus you’ll be able to collect valuable information about the entrants, such as email addresses for future marketing.

The same rules apply to giving away a prize to your 1,000th fan. At TAG Communications, we recommend hosting a giveaway that requires fans to enter on a Facebook-approved app and picking a winner when you reach a fan milestone.


I often see businesses violate Facebook’s rules for promotions when they’re hosting a sale. Facebook prohibits the use of pricing or discount percentages in photos. That means you can’t post an image of the ad you ran in the newspaper that says all shoes are 50 percent off or that all tank tops are now $9.99 in your status update.

You can post a photo of the item that is on sale and write a caption that says, “We’re having a summer clearance event. All sandals are deeply discounted. Hurry up and get a pair before they’re gone.”

The same rules apply to posting images of coupons for fans to print out and bring in the store for a discount.

A workaround is to feature your sale products in a Facebook-approved app. There you can include pricing, discounts, printable coupons and online redemption codes. Plus you can like-gate the app so that only your fans can see the deals and receive special discounts, which will help boost your likes and engagement on Facebook. If that sounds too complicated, TAG Communications can help your business set up and manage and promote the app.

Cover photos

Many of the same rules that apply to promotions also apply to cover photos. Facebook does not allow price, purchase or contract information, references to other elements on the page such as an arrow pointing to the like button, calls to action such as “Tell your friends,” or information that belongs in the About section of your pages such as address and phone number.

What you can, and should, include in a cover photo is a dynamic image that represents your brand. This could be a broad image that illustrates what you do, product imaging to call attention to seasonal items for sale, or a customer-submitted photo showing your products in use.

Stephanie De Pasquale-Soebbing specializes in social media marketing at TAG 

5 ways to engage Facebook fans

1. Include a call to action in your posts

The best way to get fans to interact with your business on Facebook is to tell them how. Phrases like, “Check out this link,” “Like this status” and “Share this photo” are all specific ways fans can engage with your brand on Facebook.

2. Ask questions

Unlike traditional marketing, social media is vehicle for having a two-way conversation with your customers and potential customers. If you just talk at your fans, your marketing efforts are not going to be effective. Asking questions is also a great way to start the conversation, inspire comments and gauge the thoughts of your fans on a topic related to your product or brand.

3. Post photos and photo albums

Fans are two times more likely to interact with photos than a plain status update. That’s because the Timeline format is geared toward photo and video sharing. Try sharing a photo of your product, a funny or engaging picture related to your industry or even a photo album of the office potluck to share a behind the scenes look at your business.

4. Let current customers know you’re on Facebook

OK, this seems pretty simple. But you’d be amazed at how much fan growth you can achieve by posting a link to your Facebook page in your email signatures, website and marketing collateral. A “Like us on Facebook” decal in your storefront isn’t enough. Include the direct link to your Facebook page to make it as easy as possible for your customers to find you.

5. Host a contest

The easiest way to drive engagement and grow your likes is by hosting a contest. Give away a product or a package that your fans would appreciate. But make sure you host the contest through a Facebook-approved app so you don’t violate Facebook’s terms of service. If that sounds a little overwhelming, TAG Communications can help set up and manage a contest for your business to maximize engagement and fan growth.

Stephanie De Pasquale-Soebbing specializes in social media marketing at TAG Communications, Inc. Email her at

JA honors TAG Communications president

TAG Communications, Inc., President and CEO, Mike Vondran has received a National Leadership award for his work with Junior Achievement of the Heartland.


Vondran received a bronze award from Junior Achievement for his leadership with awareness efforts of the organization’s mission to prepare young people to succeed in a global economy. Vondran is on the Junior Achievement of the Heartland board and is the current marketing/awareness chair.


“I am a huge fan of Junior Achievement and the lessons that can be learned via participation,” said Vondran. “I grew up in Dubuque and Junior Achievement was a big part of my high school years. Junior Achievement instilled my entrepreneurial spirit and lit my fires.”


Junior Achievement of the Heartland works with 56,000 students in 25 counties throughout Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin. For more information, visit their website