How To Gain More Facebook Fans For Free

  • Encourage Sharing– Have fans share a post on their personal page to increase awareness to their friends. Examples include offering a coupon only available for sharing, free entry to an event you’re hosting, incorporate charity component where $1 from every share is donated.
  • Tag Like-Minded Fan Pages– Create a community, promote partnerships and expand your social presence to companies like yours persuades their fanbase to follow your fan page.
  • Linkage for Likes– Incorporate links to your social media accounts on your website, printed materials, press relations and blog, employee email signatures…and everywhere you can think of.
  • Incorporate Call To Actions– “Like this post if you agree” to encourage engagement. Or ask a question to learn more about your fans.
  • Change Your Cover Photo– Ensure that the image is periodically updated. Do this seasonally, based on what is happening in the news or in your brand. Keep fresh content for maximum fan engagement.
  • Host A Contest– Give away something on your property or linking to your community. Most things come down to “what’s in it for me” thought process so give fans a reason to follow your brand.
  • Use hashtags– This is a relatively new feature Facebook rolled out; use to create awareness for marketing campaigns. Search for hashtags used by your customers and participate in their conversation; also search for your competitors to learn more about what is working.
  • Review Analytics – Knowing your audience is a key marketing rule and the same is true in the social media capacity. With facebook providing analytics for each post created, learn what type of post gets most likes – photos, links, quotes, etc. – and when is most engagement occurring – weekends, nights, mornings. Utilize your findings for future posts to increase chance of showing up in fan’s newsfeed.


Looking for more tips?  Facebook Says These Are The 20 Best Brands On The Social Network

LinkedIn is Good for Business

Six degrees of separation is used to describe the power of LinkedIn.  In theory, any individual on earth is potentially connected to any other individual on earth, through a chain of six or less links.  In practice, LinkedIn, which is the largest professional network in the world, has the power for you to use your existing connections and to make new connections, which in turn will be used to secure additional connections.  The potential positive impact is enormous; and one that should be sought by all professionals looking to grow their business.

In February of this year, LinkedIn reported that it has more than 150 million members and is growing at an estimated rate of about two new members per second. LinkedIn members come from more than 200 different countries and territories.  Executives from all of the 2011 Fortune 500 companies are on LinkedIn, and more than 2 million companies have LinkedIn company pages.  These huge numbers of professionals and businesses are, through LinkedIn, literally at your finger tips.


What does LinkedIn allow you to do?

  • Aside from its enormous reach, perhaps the most significant characteristic of LinkedIn is that it levels the playing field. LinkedIn effectively permits you to compete with larger and more well-established businesses.  You have the ability to tell your company’s story, share interesting content in multi-media formats, highlight specific products or events, engage followers, and establish yourself as experts in your industry.  Professionals, who otherwise may not know about your organization, have access to all of your pertinent information on LinkedIn.
  • LinkedIn members rank more predominantly on Google and other search engines meaning that your membership will greatly enhance your visibility to a global marketplace.
  • LinkedIn capitalizes on what every marketing professional knows is the most valuable tool for generating new business: referrals/word of mouth.  It does so by permitting you to prove your expertise in your industry (see next bullet point), and also through recommendations that your colleagues, customers, business associates, and others can document on your page.
  • LinkedIn helps you to establish yourself and your employees as experts.  By engaging in informative and interesting dialogue and by participating in LinkedIn Groups and LinkedIn Answers, you have the ability to set yourself up as leaders in the industry.
  • While exchanging ideas, information and knowledge with your peers on LinkedIn you are also keeping yourself updated on industry happenings and trends.  Furthermore, you are positioned to keep track of your competition.
  • LinkedIn has been used since it was first established as a resource for employment, both from the perspective of potential employers, and potential employees.  LinkedIn can help you find the very best employees and the very best employers.
  • LinkedIn helps you to maintain the connections you’ve worked so hard to create.  As customers or colleagues change jobs or move, you stay connected.
  • In addition to linking LinkedIn to your website, you can connect all of your social media sites including Twitter and Facebook ensuring maximum impact.


Tips for optimizing your LinkedIn Company Page:

  • Put your best face forward.  Make sure your information is current, interesting and engaging.  Don’t make silly type or grammatical errors!
  • Invite people to follow you.  Email your contacts, post on your Facebook, and tweet about it on Twitter.  Place a Follow button on your website.
  • Update your status in a creative and engaging way to help to maximize your visibility. You can do this by asking questions, starting dialogue, posting a call to action and more.
  • Join groups! Groups are considered to be the most powerful feature of LinkedIn, serving as a way to connect you with thousands of like-minded business professionals.  Join all relevant groups and engage in dialogue with them.  Better yet…start groups!  This places your website as the featured site, and your name as the owner, helping to showcase you as an expert in your industry.  Use these to direct traffic to your website.
  • Participate in LinkedIn Answers! By establishing your expertise, you are also establishing yourself as the go-to-person that business professionals will seek out.
  • Used LinkedIn Ads!  Because LinkedIn is comprised of business professionals, your ads are likely to be seen by real decision-makers.
  • Encourage people to make positive recommendations for your business. Even better– do the same for others, without being asked.
  • Use LinkedIn Apps to better showcase your videos, documents, presentations and more.


Many professionals have used at least parts of LinkedIn for many years. If you’re not yet doing so, join these savvy business people in this enormous network.  You won’t be sorry!


Fancy New Features with Google+

Anyone who attends IVY’s presentations knows that we like to give you a heads up about what to watch in social media.   Hot new products aren’t always worth your time to explore them but when a giant like Google attracts 25 million people to their new social media platform in just a few weeks — we think that’s worth a glance or two.

Google+, also known as Google Plus, is taking a swipe at Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare with their new social media platform.  It’s got some pretty amazing features…

“Circles” allows users to choose the circles of people you want to communicate with in different ways.  For example, you might chose to have one circle for your family, one for your friends, another for classmates, colleagues and an entirely separate one for your work supervisors.  This handy little feature means your mom or your boss can’t stalk you as easily as before.  You are able to share the different sides of yourself with the appropriate group of people.

Challenging FourSquare is “Hangouts.”  This feature lets you alert chosen people where you are located in real time.  If they don’t come to see you personally, conference your text messages with the Google+ feature, “Huddle.” Automatic photo uploads from your phone are much easier with “Instant Upload”  and you selectively decide which of your circles should be able to view your photos.  This is a nice privacy feature Facebook does not offer.  Even better, Google+ will allow you to permanently delete the photos and other content you post.

Finally, the engineering wizardry of Google’s search algorithms comes alive with “Sparks” where content that interests you is sent as soon as it is available; so when you are ready, it’s there for your consumption.

According to a published report in PRWeb Magazine,  nearly 2/3 of over 2,000 web developers surveyed by Appcelerator/IDC, believe Google can catch up with Facebook in the social networking scene with Google+.  When asked why, 68 percent of developers say that leveraging Google’s assets (eg: Search, YouTube, Maps, etc) trumps Facebook’s social graph lead.

Information about business applications for Google+ has not been released yet and may still be in the research and development stages.  Developers are spending their time working hard to respond to the few early adopters who were asked to test out the platform.  Google+ appears to really be listening to suggestions.

Clearly the battle of the Internet superpowers is gearing up.  Facebook is attempting to develop search engine capabilities and “Facebook Mail” while Google enters the social media fray for a second time (Google Buzz died amidst a flurry of unresolved privacy issues).  We doubt you’ll want to be on the sidelines for long with this great new technology ready to be tackled.

How to Construct a Social Media Plan

How to Construct a Social Media Plan

It’s true: those who fail to plan, plan to fail. While social media is often perceived to be random, rudderless and routine (and sometimes is), a well-structured Social Media Strategy can make a significant difference in your communications with prospects and clients.

Your plan must start with a good, interactive website, rich with ways to help people improve whatever they might want to improve. Your website should have an active blog with new posts at least once a week. These two pieces are the hub of your marketing effort and the cornerstone to your Strategic Social Media Plan.
Your website/blog should sport:

• Value to others in many forms: physical, mental, emotional or financial.
• Innovation and Humor.
• Consistency. Make your posts as frequent as possible — at least weekly.
• Media of all sorts from articles, to photos and videos should be easily accessible from your website.
• Your brand on every page: logo, colors, phone numbers, etc.
• A call to action. Free stuff is very, very good!


2) Your Plan should identify what social media vehicles, groups and blogs to join. Be selective and strategic about what groups you choose. Then, keep up with them. Participate. Add value to the conversation. Make “offers” to them that will improve something they are interested in. Send them to good links (not just your own).
3) Leverage the communities you are in to publish your informative, helpful and humorous information. It CANNOT be self-promotional.
4) Choose the right networks. YouTube is the best place to host your videos but Facebook is a great way to have a conversation.
5) Build your relationships by being available, trustworthy and helpful in all your interactions. Do NOT sell!
6) Listen to the conversations. If you hear or see something worth sharing, pass it along with a link so the credit goes where it is due.

7) Integrate your traditional marketing into your social media marketing. Cross promote your website and blog with brochures, events, advertising and give-aways.
8) Measure your results. How many new “friends” have you made? How many more subscribers do you have to your newsletter? How times have your comments or content been shared with others?
9) Sign up for free company listings with search engines.
10) Re-evaluate and re-tool when necessary; but remember, it takes a long time to build relationships so give it a year or more to determine if you are being effective with your Strategic Social Media Plan.

Did Social Media Remove a Dictator?

Did Social Media Remove a Dictator?

Did Social Media Remove a Dictator?

Social and peer pressure has long been known to cause change.  But if  you still believe there is no real power in social media, one post at a  time, one hashtag per thought, you have not been paying attention to  the debate about the Egyptian Revolution.  And, although Hasni  Mubarak could oppress and dictate the lives of Egyptians as well as,  try to block the chatter among Internet users, he could not stop the  Revolution that brought down his dictatorship of 30 years.

Certainly no social media revolution can succeed without a pervasive desire for change.  Egyptians wanted to stop the oppression.  Their cries struck emotional cords and allowed people their individual voices.  This Revolution, much like President Obama’s campaign and the peaceful transition of power in Tanisia, became a collaborative outcry of brave, committed people whose physical presence created change in a country.

On January 27, two days following the beginning of the peaceful protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, Mubarak shut down the Internet in an attempt to squelch the swelling crowds.  A young Google employee from Cairo named Wael Ghonim was arrested on January 28 and secretly detained until February 7 — he was the then-anonymous founder of the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page and initially called for and organized the January 25 protest.

The “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook Page mission states:  “Khaled Said, 28 years old, was tortured to death by 2 Egyptian Policemen in the street. The incident has woken up Egyptians to work against the systematic torture in Egypt and the 30 years running emergency law. We need international supporters to help us stand against Police brutality in Egypt. We invite you to support our cause.”

The Egyptian nation is a country of 82 million people.  Techcrunch

reports that there are around 17 million Internet users, 60 million cell phone subscribers, 7 million home phones, and 5 million Facebook users that essentially created the largest flashmob ever, with around 8 million protesters in the streets across Egypt, according to reports. Dozens of other countries, hearing the online pleas from Egyptians, gathered in their own country’s streets to rally support for the protestors in Tahrir Square.From posting videos on YouTube, to using PhotoShop to create symbolic logos for the opposition, to using Facebook to organize protests, the events of the 18-day siege undoubtedly played out online.

According to NPR, organizers promised one another that they would each bring at least ten non-connected people they knew to the protests. They even agreed on messaging tactics in advance. In order to better succeed at recruiting poorer, less-educated Egyptians to join them, they focused on economic issues as a rallying cry, not torture.

NPR further reported that the fact that everything was very organized from the beginning made people feel safe and more willing to participate.  It was not a random or spontaneous upheaval; it was well planned and organized. This web-based planning was critical, given that the vast majority of people on the “We Are All Khaled Said” page — and those who entered the streets on the 25th — were not veteran human rights activists and bloggers.

Jeff Jarvis, who blogs about media and news at, authored What Would Google Do? (HarperCollins 2009), is associate professor and director of the interactive journalism program at the City University of New York’s new Graduate School of Journalism, has this to say about the Internet and how we can and should use it:

1.         We have a right to connect.
2.         We have the right to speak.
3.         We have the right to assemble & act.
4.         Privacy is a responsibility of knowing.
5.         Publicness is a responsibility of sharing.
6.         Information should be public by default, secret by necessity.
7.         What is public is a public good.
8.         All bits are created equal.
9.         The Internet shall be operated openly.
10.       The Internet shall be distributed.

Of course, the Internet did not create this or any other revolution.  In fact, it creates nothing but a way to share, to listen and to be heard.  Whether we want to revolutionize ourselves, our business or our passions, the Internet is a powerful tool for each of us to use.

Providence Life Services Realizes Social Media Success

Providence Life Services Realizes Social Media Success

When you have a 90% score on your website that Hubspot grades against all websites in every industry…  over 7,000 people visit your site monthly… and, you use technology resources to distribute your messages to over 100,000 active emails accounts, you are leading the pack in online communications best practices.  Such is the case with Providence Life Services (PLS), a not-for-profit Christian ministry serving seniors and headquartered in south suburban Chicago.

A four person staff designs, writes and manages the marketing for seven communities, four home and community based service groups, four rehabilitation centers as well as the parent organization, PLS.  Along with PLS’  website functionality that is content rich and frequently updated,  the marketing team manages the Facebook pages for the corporation along with their independent and assisted living communities.

“Originally our participation on Facebook was driven by a desire to provide a ministry for the families of residents.  The snippets of daily life caught in photos, stories, videos, etc., are a wonderful way for the families to see what the lives of their loved ones are like,” commented Director of Communications, Melanie Jongsma.  Mary James, Vice President of Communications and Marketing added that it has become a great marketing tool, too!

“Introducing social media into the Providence Life Services marketing and communications strategy is a result of three years spent rebranding our organization which included a name change from Rest Haven to Providence Life Services,”  according to James.  “Credit must be given to our CEO, Rick Scott, for his vision to embrace social media and technology as a significant component of our communications strategy.”

Peggy Hiemer designs and manages the website, Facebook accounts for PLS and its communities along with e-newsletters to various constituent groups.  Ms. Jongsma and Ms. Hiemer led a training class for community marketing directors to teach them how Facebook works.  Their community Facebook pages launched three months ago. “The success of the Facebook pages are directly related to the interest and dedication of the onsite point person.  The more buy-in there is at the local level the more successful  Facebook is as a communication tool for the residents.”

Mary James added, “We consider it critically important for the staff to participate in the online discussion since each community is a ‘family’ of staff and residents.”  PLS never screens the comments that are made on the site or Facebook, however, they  are monitored closely.  “When a not-so- complimentary comment comes into the conversations, we are quick to find something to offset it,” says James.

Traditional marketing methods are still used by PLS since the target market responds to direct mail and events.  However, whenever we feel we can transfer a message via the internet, we will,” exclaimed James.

It’s addicting!  The fast-paced, ever changing world of public relations and marketing captures your interest and keeps you charged up to learn more everyday.  I love to find the best ways to tell our client’s stories and man, they have awesome stories!

It’s my job to discover our client’s goals and then match the best processes to achieve them, within their budgets, of course.  I get to explore traditional, digital and every manner of communication to determine which tactics, whether it is direct mail or TV advertising, a new website or PPC (to name just a few) will efficiently and effectively capture the attention of prospects. 

I also get to work with great people at IVY – they’re creative, fun, caring and super smart.  We’ve all been around the industry a while so there is not a novice among us.  Our clients are very cool too and totally passionate about the services they offer.  We’ve been working with most of them for years so we know they truly care about being innovative and responsible to the markets they service.  I have great admiration for all of them and look forward to every day. 

It’s true what “they” say, if you love what you do, you won’t work a day of your life!


IVY was established in 1990 with a basic premise to offer professional, ethical and highly creative marketing, advertising and public relations services. We have successfully maintained our core values and have been part of many amazing projects, client growth and changes in the world of marketing that continue to happen at lightening speed. Most of our clients serve older adults in some capacity so we keep abreast of the opportunities and challenges they face.   Each day, we keep it real and fun and consistently deliver positive results to our clients and their markets.


As a hybrid graphic and digital designer/web developer with over 17 years of experience, I am always on the lookout for innovative digital and print visual communications. IVY Marketing Group’s broad range of projects keeps my job challenging and rewarding, as each campaign is a new and exciting opportunity to effectively communicate our clients’ messages and help them achieve their goals. It’s my passion!

My body of work encompasses a diverse design style and wide base of clients, ranging from national associations, small businesses and big name brands like Hyatt and LiftMaster. I firmly believe that form follows function and highly value the communicative power of simplicity. 

Areas of professional expertise include Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Word Press, Responsive Design, CSS3, and HTML5. The industries I’ve served include senior living, health care, hospitality and finance.


All my life, I have loved writing. As a child, I could often be found in my room “writing a book.” While “novelist” is not (yet) on my resume, I am a storyteller. I believe that everyone and everything has a great story, and it is my joy to find that story and share it with the world.

After earning my bachelor’s degree in journalism and completing my master’s studies in the same field, I joined a small advertising agency with powerhouse clients in the hospitality industry, such as Hyatt, Hilton International and Carnival Cruise Lines. I began as a proofreader and achieved the position of senior copy writer within a year.

After my first son was born, followed by two more, I started a freelance writing business that included (among several others) such clients as Advocate Health Care and Coldwell-Banker Realty. Clients in the education arena included DeVry University’s Becker CPA and Stalla CFA Reviews, DePaul University, and Naperville School District 203, for which I won two state public relations awards.

For nine years, I was employed as Communications Director for a large faith community, where I managed all aspects of internal and external communications. I was writer, editor, designer, web master, and content manager.

As such, I am experienced and comfortable writing multimedia for a broad variety of industries, products and services.

I joined IVY Marketing Group in 2013, when I began writing client press releases on a freelance basis. I loved the work—and my teammates—so much, I was thrilled when I was invited to come on board in a greater capacity.

I have immensely enjoyed getting to know our valued clients in the senior housing industry, the people they serve, and telling the many wonderful stories that come out of content marketing done right—with the love and care our IVY teams puts into everything we do.


It all starts with one idea. Working with the Ivy creative team for over two decades has always meant taking one great idea and bringing it to life to help our clients meet their goals. We enjoy the challenges offered with every creative opportunity and try to make the design process itself enjoyable for our clients.


Making certain that the projects IVY produces are word- and picture-perfect is my specialty. But I also love implementing marketing campaigns and programs that bring our clients success. Details are my thing, so it is a pleasure to have worked with IVY twice now, first after college four years ago and, recently, for the past two years.

The IVY Group is a terrific team of creative, positive and talented professionals that I love working with and, judging from the length of stay of our clients, I think they love our team, too!


Rock-climbing, training for an 80-floor stair climb event, running a 5K…This is just a tiny peek into what people 20 and even 30 years older than I am, are doing on a fairly regular basis at some of the retirement communities that IVY represents.

I’m of the generation that still has reoccurring nightmares about what the next step looked like when my grandmother could no longer live by herself. The very best option at that time was living at a “facility” and  included eating rubbery chicken and playing an occasional game of BINGO. Period. That’s why my parent’s generation begged us not to ever put them into “one of those places.”

I am so proud that IVY’s clients are at the very forefront of an industry that creates opportunities, challenges, and most of all freedom for seniors, allowing them to explore hobbies, interests, passions…the next chapter of their very full lives.

I feel reassured for my own future. Even more, I feel honored to be able to share the impactful stories about this paradigm shift in the world of senior housing. What we hear and see at our clients’ communities is fascinating and inspiring!


Keeping up to date on new public relations strategies, online engagement tactics, and promotional tools is my passion.

With my hospitality background in marketing top Chicago restaurants and hotels, I was eager to bring fresh concepts and communication strategies to our clients and have really enjoyed learning various industries.

Our clients have such exciting and unique events and programs, which really makes it motivating for me to make the most of their content.  Results like increased sales leads, website visits and social media connections make everyday rewarding and interesting.


I oversee, plan and implement projects and processes at IVY.  Often,  I am the conduit between our writers and designers, with printers, and other vendors to fulfill the marketing needs for our clients. I also manage media buys and coordinate production of advertisements.

Working for a flexible and fluid company that is constantly growing, changing and evolving is fun and rewarding. There is always something new to learn.


My bio has a big blank in the beginning—Mom and Dad rescued me in Wisconsin, and no one really knows my origins. They were probably ruff. What matters though is where I am now, running IVY Marketing Group. There are humans here who think they’re in charge. In truth, they do actually have amazing experience in content marketing and public relations, but I’m super important and the center of attention. I mean, look at this face. Right? And I know I’m the top dog because honestly, I’m the only one allowed to sleep through staff meetings and eat things that people drop on the floor.

The fact is though that I truly love staying awake at staff meetings. Everyone talks and laughs and they’re always excited. That surprises me a little because it’s not like anyone has thrown a ball to play fetch or anything. But I guess what gets my pack of peoples’ tails wagging is their work and their clients. I don’t know what a website or a blog is, but I do know that my pack must be good at them because they’ve earned all sorts of awards for these and other things. My bed had to be moved because the framed certificates were taking up so much room. Despite the inconvenience, I’m proud of these awards!

I serve several important purposes at IVY. I always let Mom (and the world) know when the mailman is here. When people come into the office, just one (usually) quick non-invasive (usually) sniff, allows me to determine important characteristics…like if they had anything good for breakfast, own any pets (pet owners are the best!) or if they stepped in anything on the way in. (It’s sort of like me conducting a first job interview.) I generously share my tummy because I know people like to give it a good scratch. I always give kisses, whether one is feeling lonely or not. And I’m always happy to share someone’s meal, especially if they’re trying to lose weight. My pack describes me as being engaging, amusing, and entertaining. (When I hear a siren, I “sing” along and it makes them laugh.) NPR talks about the benefits of having a pet at the workplace. Studies show pets lower stress hormones and improve morale and productivity. I wholeheartedly agree that a dog in the workplace is the best thing since rawhide bones.

As for my pack of people at IVY…they are amazing and always make my tail wag!


I could not be more thrilled to work alongside the IVY team.

For over 25 years, I have been employed in top executive positions across the Chicago area and have consistently built profitable businesses, generated sales, and developed and launched new product lines.

Strategically positioning companies and commodities for growth is a strong suit I’m eager to bring to ResponderHub™, IVY’s new crisis communications solution. I’m also excited to help expand IVY’s reach in the senior marketing industry.

I believe people are more open than ever to thinking outside the box and looking at new ways to reach their customer base, while at the same time reducing their cost of sale. The senior industry is exploding, and IVY is perfectly positioned to respond to the need for innovative, quality content marketing services and effective crisis communications.