If tradition holds, even in this economy, retailers whether brick and mortar or cyber, will see their business hit black today for the first time in 2012.  Forecasters are calculating how much they think we’ll spend on Black Friday-the day after Thanksgiving, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday-the Monday following the holiday weekend.

These days kick off the Holiday shopping season, and are a strong indication of what to expect. Consumer spending makes up more than two-thirds of all economic activity in America. And this year there is a lot riding!  Retailers such as JCPenney, Macys, Gap and Sears, have boosted not only their traditional promotional advertising efforts but are using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Instagram.  Stores are offering freebies and slashing prices and using social media to promote their deals.

Is your business ready for Black Friday and all the other days that end in -y?
This is a REALLY brief rundown of what goes through my mind when I meet with a business for the first time. It is not as comprehensive as my conversations usually are and doesn’t delve into strategy but I think it is enough to get a mind twirling around Social Media for business!

What I am noticing is the clever way brands are using various Social Media Platforms to gain momentum as we enter the season of giving. These advertisements that work don’t sound like they are selling you something but appear as solutions:  “Avoid Traffic-shop online at____”, “Hate Crowds try shopping online at___.”  I think the key is to make it sound natural, something you would actually say to someone if you were standing in front of them. I say things out loud just to test how it sounds.
Here is also a great list of some cool Mobile advertising trends.
If you’re an online marketer, hopefully you have already kicked off your holiday-shopping promotions.  Black Friday has been a trending topic on Twitter and Google Plus for days now.  The deals out there are AMAZING. You can get twice what you could get last year, for half as much!  However, if you are reading this and thinking, “I missed the opportunity already,” it’s ok….you can fix that!  What you want to do is re-group quickly.  Set up a meeting (or if you are a one-person shop) sit down and think about the following:
SET MANAGEABLE GOALS
-Awareness
-Brand/Reputation Management
-Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Rankings
-Relevant Website Visitor Traffic
-Improve Sales for a Product or Service
THINK ABOUT STRATEGY
-What is your unique selling point?
-What type of campaign is this going to be?
-What does your audience know about you right now?
-Do you understand how your target audience uses social media?
-How will you humanize your brand?
THE BASICS
-Good picture
-Interesting bio with keywords to your brand
-Great background
-Include website or blog url address
-Make sure your accounts are not protected so people can easily see your information
-Content has to match consumer, give them a reflection of themselves.
TARGET FOLLOWING (Twitter lets you target people)
-Sign up for the Twitter Directories http://wefollow.com/ and http://www.twellow.com
-Look for people you have something in common with
These are both free and a great way for SEO and indexing as well as other Twitterers looking for you or your service.
-http://search.twitter.com/ You can search to find people that you have things in common with, this is where you will also follow the people who are following them.  You can use the advanced feature to locate people of like interest, find out what people are saying about you, your brand, your industry etc.

MAINTENANCE 
Most people like to think that the party starts, when they get there but when you are trying to get and keep people’s attention, it is important to be attentive
-Listen to what they are saying
-Check out their profiles ask questions that pertain to stuff you read
-Check out their websites
-Follow people you think are interesting
-Answer ALL @replies
-Retweet, Re-Tweet and Re-Tweet Again!
-Download Tweetdeck or Hootsuite organize your accounts
I also love Sprout Social but it doesn’t track Google Plus which has become has become extremely important to not just my strategy but MANY of my friends and clients. You can check out Lynette Young’s book, “Google Plus for Small Business” for more ideas how to use this platform!
PROMOTION
-Promote your Social Media Networks on your website and vice versa.  Ideally you can use Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus and/or LinkedIn to drive traffic to your website or blog and vice-versa.
-Promote your Social Media platform participation in everything you do: Business cards, letterhead, vehicle wrap, Broadcast and Print Media.
-Consistently talk about it when you are out in public. You can even download Social Media Mobile Applications like Twitter, Facebook and Google Plus in to your phone and add people while standing in front of them.  Use it as a conversation ice breaker, simply ask, “Are you on Google Plus?” If they do add, and follow them.  If they don’t, this is a great opportunity to share what you do and how they can take advantage of your business or service if they did, i.e. coupons, advice, product information, etc.
HAPPY HOLIDAYS