Here at Spark Growth we’re going bananas over Chirpify, an increasingly popular platform that lets you make “in-stream” payments via social media with just one post. With Chirpify, buyers and sellers engage in commercial transactions directly on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Here’s the breakdown on how this amazing platform can potentially rock the online payments world.

Vine is the newest kid on the social media block, and with branded Vines being 4 times more likely to be shared than branded videos, it’s definitely time for your business to consider incorporating it into its digital marketing strategy. A Vine video can show off your brand’s personality and voice, all within a nice six second looping video that is perfect for the short attention span of today’s public. Although we at Spark Growth are excited to share another fun marketing tool with you, we also want to make sure you’re not wasting your time with the new app. Here’s what you should aim for when using Vine to market your brand:

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Spark Growth's copywriting partner MarketSmiths knows a blog's no good without pico de gallo. Read what blogger Jackie Potts has to say about what your business blog might have in common with a fish taco stand in the Himalayas... So you’ve launched your new website. You’re live; you’re public; you’re exhausted. Congratulations! What now? We hear this question often from our clients, along with: I sell virtual whitewater rafting, canine chapeaus, or flying squirrel advertising. Why on earth would I need a blog? Here are some persuasive stats: Companies that publish 15 or more blog posts per month generate five times more Web traffic than companies that don't blog at all. Even those who blog 9-15 times per month generate three times more traffic, according to a recent study by the good folks at Hubspot.

Amy Noelle is the culinary genius behind Sugar Flower Cake Shop.  Sugar Flower Cake Shop creates unique special occasion and wedding cakes made from local and sustainable ingredients featuring realistic-looking flowers handmade from sugar.  We thought we'd ask her a few questions about how she's mastered social media for her business.  Here are some of her "slices" of advice: When do you like to post? How often do you post? I like to post when I actually have something to say.  The timing varies, though.  We are more active on the weekends as that is when our cakes are ready for their close-ups.  I recently learned a handy-dandy trick from Andrew and Pooja at Spark Growth Partners who dazzled me with the ability to schedule Facebook posts.  I just started this today and have posts ready for the rest of the week!!  Super excited that I don't have to remember to put super important posts out there when I know I'm going to be busier in the shop. What are your favorite blogs? Sugar Flower Cake Shop has a great relationship with Martha Stewart Weddings, so I'm always tuned into that blog.  We follow a ton of wedding industry professionals to see what they are up to.  My favorite non-wedding blogs are from NYC Business Solutions (helping to keep me on track as a business owner) and Urban Simplicity (helping to keep my stuff, and sometimes my brain, organized!)

By Pooja Desai Patel Some of the first Pinterest pages I followed included brands such as Etsy, Anthropologie, and Tory Burch. But it was only a few weeks ago that Pinterest officially opened its doors to businesses. Prior to this, commercial use was actually prohibited by the site. As a loophole, each business simply signed on to Pinterest as an individual. In light of this change, business users should transfer their accounts to a business account. As a result, they will have access to separate tools and be subject to different terms. So what are the benefits of converting to a business account?

By Pooja Desai Patel http://nymag.com/nymag/letters/hurricane-sandy-editors-letter-2012-11/?mid=twitter_nymagThe Spark Growth team would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to the survivors and victims of Hurricane Sandy. Much of our NY team was directly impacted by the storm but thankfully, we are all unharmed and now fully with power. It is amazing to see how cities and towns have come together during this challenging time. We want to personally thank the tireless and heroic first responders, fire-fighters, medical staff, volunteers, emergency care teams, neighbors, friends, families, and countless others for their love and support. The majority of us prepped for Sandy based on the information that we saw in the news via our televisions and computers. But, with the widespread power outages and thus, the lack of access to pertinent information, what are the best ways to stay connected during a massive storm like Sandy? For most of us, the primary source for information was our smart phones, for as long as the battery and internet lasted. While some cell towers were down and out, many were still functioning. Facebook and Twitter were the two main information hubs that people were using to get and send updates. Here are a few tips for all cities, towns, and news stations to keep their residents and viewers informed before, during, and after the storm:

The people over at Social Maximizer wrote an interesting article on Twitter Hashtags and how they can be useful for businesses.  Hashtags, expressed with a "#" symbol before a word, are ways to group your tweets with others' and get them discovered quickly and by more people.  For brands, this allows you to create buzz around a specific topic that can bring traffic to your website and social media platforms, ultimately leading to the potential of more sales.  Find out the why and how after the jump.

By Matt Rebackoff At 11:30PM Saturday night, I watched as Shawn Carter aka Jay-Z, with help from his wife Beyonce, finished up an historic eight concert run to open up the billion dollar Barclays Center in Brooklyn.  The rust colored behemoth of an arena will be home to many things, chief among them the newly re-located-from-New Jersey-Brooklyn Nets. While you might not like or even agree with Jay-Z's lyrical content, his success is undeniable. In addition to his TWELVE number one albums, Mr. Carter owns a clothing line (Rocawear), a record label (Roc Nation) in conjunction with a concert distribution deal with Live Nation, and part ownership in the Brooklyn Nets. His net worth as of 2011 was $450 million. Jay-Z grew up in the Marcy projects in Brooklyn, just seven minutes from the arena he recently christened that houses the team he helped bring back to his old neighborhood and whose franchise he is now the face of. Full disclosure, I am a huge fan of Jay's, but this does not change the fact that any business can learn from his path to success.

The Next Web recently posted in it's Social Media section an article about a way for companies to use Instagram more effectively.  Companies have been jumping on the IG bandwagon at an astounding rate, realizing the photo-social media platform has tremendous potential to reach consumers.  Instagram recently overtook Twitter in daily mobile views, a huge milestone for the fairly new app.  But while these companies realize Instagram's potential, they haven't quite been able to leverage the program properly.  How do you keep track of what people are capturing and sharing about your company? And how do you show off all those great prints which users have uploaded of their own accord? This is where Nitrogram steps in. How it Works Anyone with an Instagram account can can sign and try Nitrogram for free. Once you’ve landed on the homepage, you can then add any...