Our Favorite Things To Do In Salem During October

The exterior of the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s October and, as a Salem-based business, we couldn’t be more excited. October in Salem is such a magical time and today we’d like to share with you our favorite things to do in the witch city during the month of October.

Go To Far From The Tree for Cider.

 
Nothing screams fall quite like apples. We’re so lucky to have a cidery here in Salem and Far From The Tree is an exceptional one. What we love about this place is they aren’t afraid to experiment with their ciders. They make unique ciders that have featured jalapeños, black tea, and maple syrup in them! Far From The Tree has a cozy taproom, delicious pop ups on the weekends, and they host regular events such as trivia, movie nights, and local bands.

Visit the Salem Witch Museum.


We had the pleasure of creating a new website for this iconic museum this year. The Salem Witch Museum is the museum to go to if you want to learn all about the 1692 Salem Witch Trials and witchcraft today. The first part of the tour is presented through thirteen life-size stage sets, figures, lighting, and stirring narration. The second part is a guided tour that explores paganism, how Hollywood has shaped our perception of witches, and Wicca.

Go to the Hawthorne Hotel Annual Halloween Party.


On October 27th, the Hawthorne Hotel is throwing its 20th Annual Halloween party. If you haven’t been, you haven’t properly experienced Halloween. Their annual party includes three floors of food, fine costumes, live music, DJs, physics, and a costume contest. This year’s theme is “Happily Never After.”

Visit the Hocus Pocus filming sites.


Who doesn’t love the Halloween classic, Hocus Pocus?! The film takes place here and, as such, was filmed here. Old Salem Village was filmed at Pioneer Village, Max’s house is 4 Ocean Street, Allison’s house is the Ropes Mansion, and the Halloween party that Max’s parents attended took place right across from our office at Old Town Hall.

Watch Cry Innocent: The People vs. Bridget Bishop.


The best way to understand the Salem Witch Trials is to attend Cry Innocent: The People Vs. Bridget Bishop. In this live action play, Bridget Bishop is convicted of being a witch and you are put on the Puritan jury. You get to cross-examine the witnesses and make the final verdict. Cry Innocent is the longest continuously-running show north of Boston.

Have you come to Salem for Halloween before? If so, what’s your favorite thing to do? Let us know in the comments.

Photography Exercises To Help You Become A Better Photographer

A camera next to a keyboard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are hosting a photography workshop in three days. It’s called Capturing Better Photographs & Videos For Your Small Business. This workshop is aimed for business owners who feel self-conscious to post pictures and videos to promote their business because they’re not a “photographer” or a “videographer.”

In this workshop, we’ll be teaching attendees the basic camera settings for their camera of choice, be that a DSLR or iPhone. When we’re done teaching the class, the attendees will explore Salem and take snaps and videos. At the end of the class, we’ll critique everyone’s work in the hopes of making them feel more confident.

Today on the blog, we’re going to be covering photography exercises you can use to help you become a better photographer.

100 Paces

This exercise is what we’ll be doing at our photography workshop. Go out for a walk (try going without your phone to avoid distractions) and take a snap of everything you see. This exercise will help improve your observation skills and how to capture more objects.

Recreate Someone Else’s Photo

Try recreating your favorite photos. It gets you thinking, “What do I like about this photo? What do I have to do to achieve its specific effects?” Your favorite photographers probably did this exercise too.

Start A Photography Blog

Starting a photography blog is great for two reasons. 1) It serves as a creative outlet. And 2) it will help you stay accountable with taking photos regularly.

Take 10 Photos Of A Scene

This exercise will make you more creative. It’s easy to photograph something from 1-2 angles. This exercise will spruce things up and get you thinking about perspective and storytelling.

Take A Break From Social Media

Social media can cause a lot of anxiety. It can put pressure on us to post everyday, and to maintain having a certain theme to our grid. By going off it, you’re able to block out the noise and develop your own style. It also gets you doing photography for yourself and not for the likes, shares, and comments.

 

What do you think of our tips? What do you do to improve your photography?

Google Is Closing Google+

Google+ symbol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In 2011, as social media started gaining popularity throughout all age brackets, Google decided to hop on the train and start its own social media platform Google +. On October 8, 2018, Google announced it will be closing the consumer version of Google+ over the next ten months, with a completion set for August 2019.

Why Google Is Closing Google+

Google’s reasoning for closing its social network is due to a lack of use and security issues. In the blog post where Google announced Google+’s closing, Google reported Google +’s usage and engagement is so low “90 percent of Google + user sessions are less than five seconds.”

Did Google+ Ever Impact Ranking?

For a while, Google+ did impact search results. Since Google+ was set up to rival Facebook, Google really tried to generate conversations on Google+. Back in the day, it would highlight Google+ content in search results and in Google News. There was also a time when Google+ was essentially Google My Business.

Google+ Features

Google+ launched Circles, Hangout, Huddle, and Sparks to make it a more social platform.

Through Circles you can personalize your friend groups. Rather than sharing all of your updates with everyone your friends with, you can select which circles see what.

Hangout is Google+’s video chat and instant messaging. You can communicate up to ten users at once through Hangout.

Huddle was a group chat for phones, and Sparks was a place where you could find content on your interests.

When Google+ was unable to replicate Facebook, it switched its strategy and used Google+ as a medium to bind not only Google services between themselves (Google+ is integrated with Gmail, Google Maps, Google Drive, and Google Calendar), but Google with external services. You may have noticed a website offering you registration via Google+ before.

What are people saying?

Many marketers have been saying the demise of Google+ has been a long, drawn out death. Over the years, many marketers stopped creating a strategy for Google+ and a lot of websites took it away an option to share. Google’s top executives stopped using it about three years ago.

According to an article published yesterday by Business Insider, Google is beta-testing Google+ features for businesses. One of the features is tags. Tags will make it easier for employees to engage in conversations across their company and they will also help employees follow specific content. Google is planning on providing analytics with tags so employees can see what employees are viewing their content. Google is planning on unfolding more features in 2019. 

What do you think about Google closing the consumer version of Google+? Did you ever use the social network and have a strategy for it? What are your thoughts on Google unrolling features for the business version of Google+? Let us know in the comments.

Facebook Stories Ads

A laptop opened up to Facebook.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Brace yourself. There is a now a new way to advertise your business through Facebook.

Toward the end of last month, Facebook announced it is launching Facebook Stories Ads. Facebook began testing the idea back in May in the US, Mexico, and Brazil. The advertisement you will see in Facebook Stories Ads will generally be videos. As we mentioned last month in our blog post, B2B Marketing Tips, Facebook is prioritizing video content more than ever.

Facebook Stories Origins

Facebook brought ads to Instagram Stories in January 2017 and launched Facebook Stories in March 2017.  Facebook made Stories available to Pages in October 2017. Facebook has said Facebook Stories is being viewed by 150 million people. In August 2018, Facebook reported that 400 million people view Instagram Stories.

In the next few weeks, Facebook is going to start testing the placement of ads inside Stories on Facebook Messenger as more than 100 million people use Stories In Messenger each day.

What People Think of Facebook Stories

An Ipsos survey commissioned by Facebook showed 62% of people said they became more interested in a brand or a product after seeing it in a Story. Additionally, more than 50% of the people surveyed said they have made more online purchases as a result of Stories.

That same survey found 68% of people polled said they use Stories on at least three apps regularly, and 63% said they plan to use Stories more in the future.

It really appears that Facebook is trying to optimize its advertising on every platform. Facebook acquired in February 2014 and on September 28th, Gadgets 360 reported WhatsApp is working on implementing ads too. Facebook has received a lot of bruises this year. Perhaps it’s trying to utilize more avenues to increase their revenue.

Do you watch Facebook Stories? What do you think of this form of advertising? Are you interested in using it to promote your business?

How To Keep Your Data Safe From Breaches

A blurred photo of the Facebook icon.

 

 

 

 

 

On Friday, September 28, 2018, Facebook announced the largest breach in the company’s history. On September 25th, Facebook’s engineering team discovered a security issue affecting 50 million accounts.

Facebook has stated the attackers took advantage of a weakness in the “View As” feature. The “View As” feature enables users to see what information other people can see about them.

The hackers stole digital keys that keep you logged into Facebook so you don’t need to re-enter your password every time. Facebook promised that they have fixed the vulnerabilities, reset the digital keys for the 50 million affected users, plus an additional 40 million accounts for precaution.

While Facebook has addressed the issue, fixed it, and informed law enforcement, you should still take steps to help protect yourself.

Consider Changing Your Password.

Create a new password that has numbers, uppercase letters, and symbols. Make sure this password is separate from the other passwords you use. It’s always good to play it safe with passwords. We should note again that users’ passwords were not stolen during this breach. The hackers got access to the digital keys granted to users after they first log in so they don’t need a password for future sessions.

Beware of Scammers.

We share a lot on social media and, as such, hackers can gain a lot of personal information about you, your friends, and your business connections. Beware of hackers trying to impersonate people you know. If somebody starts asking you for money or sensitive information, don’t give away either!

Reconsider Using Facebook to Log In to Third Party Apps.

So far, Facebook has said hackers did not access any third party apps. But it’s still investigating the scope of the hack. To secure your information, don’t use Facebook to log in to other apps like Spotify and Instagram. “It’s easy and convenient, but when when you use shortcuts, there can be consequences,” said Dana Simberkoff, Chief Risk, Privacy, and Information Security Officer for the enterprise security firm AvePoint. Disable the auto-logins for Facebook.

How did you feel when the breach was announced? Has it impacted your usage of the platform?

Why Instagram’s Founders Left Facebook + The New Head Of The Company

An iPhone with the Instagram app open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

On September 24, 2018, Instagram CEO, Kevin Systrom, and co-founder, Mike Krieger announced they are resigning from Facebook.

“We’re planning on taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again. Building new things requires that we step back, understand what inspires us and match that with what the world needs; that’s what we plan to do,” Systrom said in a statement.

Instagram was founded on October 6, 2010. On April 9, 2012, Systrom and Krieger sold their 13-person start-up to Facebook for $1 billion. At the time, Instagram had 30 million monthly users. Earlier this summer, the photo sharing app hit 1 billion users.

Many news outlets are reporting there was tension brimming amongst the Instagram founders and Facebook’s founder/CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, over the direction for Instagram.

“We remain excited for the future of Instagram and Facebook in the coming years as we transition from leaders to two users in a billion. We look forward to watching what these innovative and extraordinary companies do next,” Strosberg addressed in his statement.  

In a separate statement, Zuckerberg said, “Kevin and Mike are extraordinary product leaders and Instagram reflects their combined creative talents. I wish them all the best and I’m looking forward to seeing what they build next.” With Strosberg and Krieger, Zuckerberg now has total reign of the platform.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal a day after his resignation, Strosberg stated, “the whole idea of joining Facebook was that we could scale way more quickly than we could independently.” Maybe the platform scaled larger than either he or Krieger would have liked.

Adam Mosseri, who used to head Facebook’s newsfeed, was named Instagram’s head of product earlier this year, and when the news broke that Strosberg and Krieger were leaving, many speculated he would be the top candidate to run the platform. On October 1, 2018, Mosseri was named head of the platform. Mosseri has been with Facebook since 2008. 

“To us, the important thing is keeping our community-all of you- front and center in all that Instagram does. We believe that Adam will hold true to these values and Instagram will continue to thrive” Strosberg and Krieger said in a new statement. 

A related article from the Los Angeles Times reminds us that “founders departing is nothing new in the tech industry. Apple and Microsoft have both continued to thrive without Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, namely because the companies had already matured.” With that, we can expect Instagram will continue to be a popular platform even with the founders removed from it.

What do you think Instagram will be like now that its founders are no longer involved with its development? Let us know in the comments.

Tips For Creating The Perfect Logo

Various logos drawn on sketchpad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We live in a very visual world these days. While it is important to not judge a book by its cover, it can sometimes be hard not to when Instagram and dating apps have become things we look at every day. That said, having a logo that really speaks to your brand is critical. It’s a visual that tells people what you’re all about. You don’t want people to swipe right when they come across it so here are our biggest tips on how to create the perfect logo for your brand.

Ask yourself, what’s my brand’s personality?

Your logo should communicate your business’ personality. A good way to get to the bottom of this is to answer the question, how would you want your ideal customer to describe you? What are your business’ values?

Get inspiration.

What are some of your favorite logos? What are logos you don’t care for? Create a mood board of your favorite logos and one of your least favorite ones. Doing this can help you identify you what you like and what you don’t when it comes to design. Doing this can help you see if you want your logo to be classic, vintage, modern, minimalistic, or fun? If can also help you determine if you like certain colors and want them associated with your brand.

Keep it simple.

You want your logo to be easy on the eye. Don’t add to much detail. The most recognizable brands have simplistic logos. Check out this post which shows the evolution of McDonald’s logo.

McDonald’s original logo from 1940 is very different from how it looks today. Back then, it had black font and read ‘McDonald’s Famous Barbecue.’ In 1953, McDonald’s incorporated their then mascot, a chef name Speede, into their logo. Seven years later in 1960, McDonald’s  adopted its iconic red and yellow colors into its logo and dropped Speede. It added its name underneath the logo. In 2006, McDonald’s made their logo even simpler. For the past twelve years, it’s just now known for its’ golden arch.

Choose your colors carefully.

Color psychology is the study of how colors impact human behavior and emotion. Different colors can provoke different responses. For example:

Red is known for being an extreme color. It represents loudness, love, violence, anger, and adventure.

Orange is synonymous with joy, warmth, originality, enthusiasm, and creativity.

Because yellow is the brightest color, it represents happiness, optimism, enlightenment and clarity.

Green is an interesting color. On the hand it is the perfect color to use for eco-friendly brands as it makes people think of nature, growth, harmony, and fertility. On the flip side, green can also make people think of money so it’s another good option for financial businesses.

Blue symbolizes calmness and trust.

You get purple when you mix blue and red together. As such, this color is associated with power, royalty, and wealth.

It’s hard to not think of femininity when you think of pink, but it can also translate to sweet, playful, romantic, charming, and tenderness.

Brown provokes a sense of earthiness, rustic, strength, and reliability.

Black is a great color to use if your brand offers something that is sleek, modern, and luxurious.

White symbolizes clean, modern, and minimalism.

Gray can help you achieve a mature, classic, and serious look.

Make sure the logo can scale.

No matter what size the logo is scaled to, you want to make sure it is able to stand out. You don’t want it to be blurry if it’s reduced to a small size. You want people to understand it.

Consider using a symbol.

Symbols are powerful. We can’t deny that when we see a swoosh symbol we think of Nike, or when we see an apple icon our mind wanders to Apple. Maybe there is a simple symbol related to your business that you can design and incorporate into your logo.

Do public testing.

You may think your logo looks great, but what does the public think? Get a test group together and show them a few logo designs that you have. A test group can provide you constructive criticism and new ideas on what’s working and what isn’t. Sometimes it’s good to get out of your head and soundboard your ideas off of others.

Want some more logo inspiration? Check out some logos we’ve designed over the years.

B2B Marketing Tips

Women in a meeting with laptops.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Have you just started a B2B company? Or are you new to marketing for a B2B company? Marketing for a B2B company is different than marketing for a B2C, but it’s just as important. Here are some marketing tips to help you grow your B2B company and how to offer value to your target audience.

Write a blog.


You want to have helpful content that solves your audience’s problems, and a blog is a great way to make yourself an industry expert. To get going on your business blog, ask yourself, what are the most common problems my audience has? What are my company’s goals and how can I write about them?  


Update blog posts that do well.


Sometimes a blog post does really well. You get a lot impressions and comments. People are engaging with the post because it offers value.


But somewhere down the line, you go back to that blog post that did so well and notice it is a bit outdated. You still want that piece of content to be valuable, so update that blog post with the most relevant information so that it continues to rank well on search engines and gain traction.

 

Do video marketing.


Blogging isn’t the only way to provide value to your clients. As this article from Forbes explores, video is the future of media on the web. This article reports that Facebook is prioritizing video content more than ever and that video is almost as big as mobile. You could make videos that showcase your products and/or services and tutorials that visually help businesses solve their problems.  

 

Start a podcast.


Podcasts have exploded over the last few years due in large part to the rise of smartphones. Podcasts are wonderful because they can help you expand your expertise and network. This is especially true if a big portion of your podcast involves interviewing guests. When you have a guest on your show, they’ll promote it to their community, who will then want to check you out. Or in turn, if you invite a client onto your podcast, it can build a stronger rapport with them because you’re promoting them and having a meaningful conversation with them. A podcast is a lot of work (this article from Search Engine Land dives into that), but it can really help strengthen your content marketing and grow your B2B company.  

 

Use LinkedIn.


If you’re a B2B company, you have to be on LinkedIn. It is the outline platform for growing your network and finding business opportunities. Check out this blog post we wrote about how to get the most out of LinkedIn.

 

Treat your audience as people.


It’s easy when you run a B2B company to forget that your targeted audience has life outside of their job. They’re people just like you. They go to their kids’ Saturday morning soccer games, go on vacations, and binge watch Netflix just like you! Humanize your marketing. Profile your staff and share what makes each employee unique. Show your audience a behind the scenes look at your business. Show them how you make your products and/or create your services.  Humanizing your marketing is a must have as it’ll help you connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Do you market for a B2B company? Do you agree with our tips? What are some tips you do that we may have left out? Let us know in the comments.

How To Build An Agency: An Interview With Mike Sperling, Founder of Sperling Interactive

Mike Sperling, founder of Sperling Interactive

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 15, 2008 was a big and scary day for Mike Sperling. That day was his first day working full-time for himself after working at the Eagle Tribune for a number of years. Not only that, but that was the day the Lehman Brothers collapsed, causing the great recession of 2008. It was time of uncertainty, and Mike knew then he’d have to give his new business his all in order to flourish.

Mike’s business has come a long way in ten years. It’s no longer a one-man business. It’s now an agency located in a beautiful office on Derby Square in Salem, Massachusetts with 20 employees and 500 clients. With 98% of businesses failing within 10 years, Mike knows a lot about what it takes to make a business work so today we decided to interview him on how to build an agency.

What do you wish someone had told you when you were first starting out?

I wish someone told me the importance of setting boundaries. When you’re a business owner, you could literally spend all your time working, but it’s not healthy. Setting boundaries ensures you don’t burn out and have a better work/life balance.

What’s the hardest part about running Sperling Interactive?

Dealing with the anxiety of running a business. There are hundreds of decisions to be made everyday, some large and some small, and it can be overwhelming.

How do you provide good customer service to your clients?

I believe customers should feel important and have their needs listened to and acted on as soon as possible. I always try and hear my clients out. I think another way my company exhibits good customer service is we answer the phone when it rings as opposed to a computer. I feel this adds a nice human and personal touch for our clients.

What is your biggest tip for how to grow an agency?

I believe in slow calculated growth. There is no reason to take on debt or additional risk to scale the agency quickly.  Slow growth enables sustainability.

What’s something everyone should know about owning an agency?

While owning an agency is a lot of hard work, it is also a lot of fun. I get to think creatively and analytically all the time. If you’re someone who likes thinking these two ways, owning an agency might be a good fit for you.

A lot of people start an agency after having some success freelancing, how can one transition their solo career into a full-blown agency?

I would tell someone who is interested in starting an agency to take their time and to evaluate who they want to serve and what they stand for. The biggest difference between a freelancer and a business is a business has a targeted audience and a mission statement.  At Sperling Interactive, our targeted audience is businesses and nonprofits who want to reach and retain their targeted audience through custom marketing that speak to their brand. Our values are creative excellence, always going the extra mile for our clients, working like a family, and being accepting of others.

Click here to learn more about our staff.

Sperling Interactive's office.

Why We Use WordPress Instead Of Squarespace

The WordPress icon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We often get asked by business owners and marketers what content management system they should use to build their website: WordPress or Squarespace. These are two of the largest and most popular current website tools, and our answer is always WordPress. WordPress is the content management system we primarily use to make our clients’ websites (check out this blog post to read about the other content management systems we use). In today’s blog post, we’ll be exploring why we use WordPress instead Squarespace.

Before we jump into everything, let’s dive into defining WordPress and Squarespace.

What is WordPress?


WordPress is a website builder that was founded in 2003. There are two types of WordPress- WordPress.org (where you self-host your site) and WordPress.com, which is when you pay WordPress to host your site.

What is Squarespace?


Squarespace is also website builder that was founded in 2003.  You may be familiar with the company as they have been doing a lot work recently to advertise themselves on podcasts and even the Superbowl. In May of 2018, they had up to 60 template options. It’s a popular platform for creative like bloggers, photographers, artists, and musicians.

Now that we’ve covered some basic info about the two, let’s discuss why we prefer WordPress here at Sperling Interactive.

WordPress is free.


WordPress is a free and open-source platform and Squarespace is not. When you sign up with Squarespace, you are hosting your site on Squarespace’s server. Using WordPress enables us to host our clients on one of the premiere hosting platforms, Amazon Web Services.

It also costs $12 a month to have a 20 page Squarespace website and $18 per month for a website with unlimited pages.

Editing & Coding Made Easy on WordPress

Every single WordPress website comes with a GPL 2.0 license, which means you can change the code as much as you’d like, including the functionalities of plugins and themes. Squarespace on the other hand, doesn’t offer this type of license to its users. You can only do certain edits to add small customizations to sites.  

When you sign up with Squarespace, you also have to choose a template. WordPress does offer templates (they have over 5,000), but if you want something truly custom, you can achieve that too. Squarespace does offer beautiful templates, but many of them are highly-photo based. If you don’t have high definition-photography, the templates can fall flat. Check out 1:15 of this video.

According to Website Builder Expert, WordPress does have a steeper learning curve but is a more flexible platform. We agree with this.

WordPress is Unlimited


With WordPress, there is no limit to how many times you redo your website or how many sites you’d like to build. When you sign up with Squarespace, you are limited to one site and are stuck within the confines  of your template. If you want to create another website, you have to sign up for another premium subscription.

WordPress Has Better Ecommerce Options


Nearly every website we build has an ecommerce shop to it, even if the business is a product-based business. A lot of businesses host events and need to sell tickets. The unfortunate thing about Squarespace is their ecommerce is only supported in the US, UK, Canada, and Ireland. WordPress, on the other hand, has a global presence. It also wasn’t until very recently that Squarespace started accepting PayPal.

Some of the Largest Websites use WordPress


WordPress is the most popular website and blog creation tool, powering 30% of websites (that’s 10 million websites). Squarespace has fewer websites, with an estimated 1 million. Not only that, some of the biggest blogs, news outlets, music sites, Fortune 500 companies, and celebrity websites- The New York Times, BBC America, MTV News, Beyoncé, Etsy, and the White House– were created in WordPress.

If you want to build a custom website for your business, WordPress is the content management system you should use. Our mission as a business is to create websites that truly represent our clients’ brand and aesthetic and because WordPress is so customizable we’ve gravitated towards it as a content management system we generally use.

If you’re a creative solopreneur, have amazing photography, and don’t find you need a truly custom website, Squarespace may be a better option for you.  

When it all comes down to it, you must think about your business and prioritize your needs. For larger businesses who have a lot of competition, having something completely custom is important as they need a way to stand out from the crowd. A custom site is perfect or this.

Do you agree with article? What content management system do you use? What do you like about it? Share your thoughts in the comments! We’d love to hear from you.