Is Your Website ADA Compliant?

 

We live in a time of inclusivity, where businesses and individuals are taking important and necessary measures to ensure that the company’s operations, staff, and cultures are inclusive of all people, regardless of race, religion, orientation, ability, or country of origin.  Today, website accessibility is more important than ever thanks to the rise in mobile devices, iPads, and generally everyone everywhere constantly in a state of “connectedness.”

At Sokos Social, many of our Agency Clients are asking us what might seem to be a simple question: “Is my website ADA compliant?” While we are marketers, not attorneys, the Sokos Social team conducted our own research on behalf of our clients, and we hope this post can provide some context to the situation and clarity on what you need to know.

There has been a tremendous increase in lawsuits regarding website ADA Compliance, with municipalities in our local area like Manatee County and the City of Bradenton Beach sued successfully over web accessibility.  Despite that the targets of most lawsuits currently are municipalities and big businesses, there is cause for concern on behalf of small business owners and non-profit organizations, as well. Over 27 ADA lawsuits are filed on average each and every day. Not every suit is legally in violation of ADA laws but, of course, this does not stop one from filing. 

Part of the reason we at Sokos Social have seen an increase in client inquiries about ADA compliance is that other local Marketing and Web Design firms have resorted to “ambulance chasing” techniques most commonly used by attorneys, sending letters and communications warning them to potential fines and litigation.  They join law firms in targeting what they feel are “low hanging fruit,” specifically smaller businesses, governments, and non-profit organizations, who they know rely on small teams, smaller budgets, and time constraints with the hope they will just “pay up.”

A basic test that we advise our clients to consider is this: if you have a publicly accessible office, store, or venue where you must meet accessibility requirements for public access to your establishment, it’s a best practice to take measures ensuring your “digital” presence is ADA accessible as well. 

What Does Website Accessibility Mean?

Spoken in the most basic terms, you should ensure that your website can be accessed by anyone, regardless of disability.  

What this means to you: the vision-impaired must be able to use an audio translator, so all of your written content needs to be spelled out and logical. These users could also be dependent on screen reading software. All media (think videos, pictures, audio clips, etc) would need to have tag descriptions that are logical. An easy example: when you download a picture of your team members at the office from Facebook, the file name may read something like this: 96003482i478337.jpg.   It’s common for even the best web developers, marketing associates, and employees to just upload that picture to your website. In order to be ADA compliant, that picture needs to both be re-named and the image description updated to be understood by anyone. 

 

Think if you were not able to see: how would you know what that image was depicting? The ADA-compliant way to handle would be to name the file “Team-Members-at-Office.jpg” and add a description stating “members of our team working at the office” so that screen readers can read aloud the description of the image to someone visually impaired.

What can you do to be compliant?

At Sokos Social, we’ve researched the best ways and most cost-effective ways to keep up with changing ADA regulations. It is in your company’s best interest to consider this investment an insurance policy against potential risk and litigation – but more importantly – it is also enabling you to reach and serve a growing percentage of the population (and your potential customers) who arer disabled or impaired. Through a new our partnership with AccessiBe, for one low annual fee we can configure your site with AccessiBe.  

AccessiBe utilizes Automatic AI (Artificial Intelligence) for Web Accessibility & Compliance with WCAG 2.1 AA Level and US Section 508, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and European Union Standard EN 301549.  Audits are performed automatically and provide over 96% AI-powered remediation. The remaining 4% are reported during daily automated compliance monitoring scans and will be remediated manually by your Sokos Social Team.  The only exception to our automated solution is PDFs, documents, and video subtitles, which are priced separately. This is simply because the assets listed are added files, which are not a part of your website’s codebase. 

Please note: AccessiBe will not change a thing for the majority of users. It will only be activated when turned on via the interface (or a Screen-reader if the user is blind), as an overlay to your website, and only to the user’s specific session. Therefore, AccessiBe won’t affect your design, user interface, or site performance at all. The entire process is automated, from remediation to becoming compliant. Additionally, AccessiBe doesn’t collect user data, so it doesn’t affect your GDPR compliance. 

The annual cost to Sokos Social Agency Clients is $750, with an additional $49 set-up fee for the first year.  Non-Agency Clients who have had a website designed by Sokos Social within the last 2 years are offered the same rate.

Interested in learning more?  Let your Client Success Manager know you’d like to proceed with ADA Compliance Installation or drop us a note at Hello@SokosSocial.com.

Network Makes the Dream Work

It’s true what they say: it’s all about who you know. If you are a professional, chances are you have been invited to, or have attended a networking event. Although to some it may not seem like networking events can impact your business, the connections you may encounter can possibly add huge value to your organization. There are a number of benefits associated with networking, like learning valuable tips from experts in your industry and especially making your brand more visible in the community.

While some individuals thrive in social situations, we know that introducing yourself to others can be a little more difficult for the introverts in the room. We have some helpful networking tips if you are new to the professional world, or would just like to brush up on your social skills for events in the community.

Move Around the Room – If you are more on the shy side, introducing yourself or starting a conversation out of the blue can fill you with dread. However, typically at networking events, there are smaller conversations happening. Mingle around the room, and stop to linger for a conversation that may sound interesting or beneficial to you. If there is already someone you know in that conversation, even better. A shared connection gives you the opportunity to be introduced to a new group of people and ideas.

Quality over Quantity – Some individuals define a successful networking event by walking home with a bundle of business cards. While that may feel satisfying at the time, it may not be the best approach. Our magic number is 3. Focus on establishing 3 solid connections at your event, and really get to know these people, instead of checking them off on an imaginary  list. Scout out the type of people and organizations that you would like to connect with and why they could be beneficial to you and your organization. This makes the connection more strategic and valuable to you and your business.

Market Yourself – For some, it can be difficult to praise yourself and your successes to the world. Remind yourself that you have just as much to offer at this networking event as everyone else there… that’s why you were on the guest list! People coming together sharing ideas from different experiences is what makes networking valuable to us all. Realize what you bring to the table that adds value for others.

Nonverbal Communication – While it is very important to choose your words wisely when pitching a new idea to someone, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that speaks volumes. While having a conversation with someone, always make eye contact with that person. Having your focus on them makes the person feel more validated, and will be more likely to open up to you and share information. Body language is also the key to appearing  more confident and, in return, increasing others’ confidence in you. Be aware of fidgeting or moving around while speaking. A strong stance with your arms comfortably at your sides (not crossed!), and your feet firmly planted on the ground gives the impression of confidence and dependability.

Follow-up – After attending the event, it’s important to conduct follow-up emails to your new connections. Our founder, Eleni Sokos, suggests creating an email template for following up with new connections. Of course, this template should include friendly greetings, and mention common connections or opportunities for collaboration. Go one step further by customizing each follow-up email with a couple key tidbits that demonstrate your appreciation for the time you spent engaging with that person. Try to remember things like their spouse’s name or an upcoming vacation to establish a personal relationship. Always include a subtle call to action whether offering to buy them a coffee, or encouraging the person to join your company’s email list, or invite them to send you a Facebook friend request. These last steps in the process of making your networking goals become actions will help deliver results from your outreach efforts.

We hope that these tips to network will make the whole experience less intimidating to our more introverted friends. After all, networking is supposed to be fun and beneficial . When we come together to share ideas and innovate, we create a better community.

Our talented team of Marketing Rock Stars regularly attend networking events representing our clients in the community. If you would like to become one of our clients, email hello@sokossocial and let’s get networking!

Our Clients Feel Like Family

It’s safe to say that the work that our team does day-in and day-out would not reach such a high level of quality if we lacked passion for what we do. Sokos Social specializes in meeting the marketing needs of clients in three main sectors: financial, hospitality and nonprofit organizations. Our team loves bringing vibrant, upbeat energy to the workplace every day. But what really motivates us is watching our clients grow their businesses thanks to their work ethic and passion for their mission.

Many of our clients are entrepreneurs who have cultivated their dream into reality. Some clients are nonprofits whose work is close to our hearts. Nonprofit organizations create a vision of how the world should be, and then get to work implementing it! Experiencing first hand their commitment to such important causes inspires us every day to become better, both in and out of the office.

When our businesses and organizations select Sokos Social as their partner in brand development and marketing we understand the tremendous amount of trust they place in us: their dream, livelihood, and vision for their business. These responsibilities motivate us to establish the best working relationship possible. Our values of working closely with clients are fundamental to a successful working relationship. And as Sokos Social grows and expands as a business, we know that individual human relationships have the most impact on delivering results and exceeding expectations. These personal relationships also lead to our own increased business development – the statistic our CEO, Eleni Sokos, takes most pride in is that 97% of our clients were referred by a friend or colleague.

Each staff member at Sokos Social can identify with a client. From the moment of client on-boarding, to recapping the end of a successful campaign, our team works one-on-one with our clients to ensure their goals are met, allowing us to develop a personal relationship with our beloved clients.

For example, our Client Success Specialist Kendall Lewis loves working with Anna Maria Oyster Bar. Kendall is new to Florida and enjoys the Gulf Coast, old Florida, fun-loving feel that the Anna Maria Oyster Bar brand exemplifies…margaritas included! When she works on Anna Maria Oyster Bar projects, she is invested in the work because she genuinely enjoys the brand. Working with this client helps her feel closer to the community as a new resident. We are thankful for the relationship that each of us have with Anna Maria Oyster Bar. We truly feel like an extension of their staff and more importantly, part of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar Family. Whether it’s joining them on a trip to the annual Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association’s Marketing + Operations Summit or having fun at one of their many events throughout the year.

“It makes coming to work easy knowing that we are making a difference,” remarks Marketing Coordinator, Dylan Howell, about working with our nonprofit organizations. Dylan actually found Sokos Social after volunteering for the Women’s Resource Center. Her passion for helping women who need it the most translates into a true desire to support the missions of for our nonprofit clients like The Women’s Resource Center, HOPE Family Services, Foundation For Dreams, and more.

Our very own Chief Executive Socializer, Eleni Sokos has lived in Manatee County her entire life. She is a foodie who has a passion for travel and creating immersive experiences, whether in person or online. Growing up in a family of restaurateurs and other small business owners, she sees her family’s hustle, resourcefulness, and community spirit in each of our clients.

There are a million reasons to love your job, but at Sokos Social we find new reasons every day. Watching the growth of our business comes from the amazing clients who inspire us every day.

What’s a Marketing Plan and Why Do You Need One?

Every organization has objectives and goals that they would like to meet. Setting a Marketing Plan makes it easier to track and execute goals for your organization. Sokos Social works with our clients to develop and implement an Annual Marketing Plan. Our team focuses on reaching your goals through digital channels, and together we map out action steps and objectives on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis through your digital platforms as well as print media, public relations, community outreach, and other types of traditional media. These objectives help meet your sales or fundraising needs through creative content to promote events, communicate new products & services, and execute strategic campaigns for your business or organization.

Sokos Social tracks the return of investment on your advertising dollars to make sure your marketing investments will directly benefit you and your organization. Paying for marketing services without a Marketing Plan is not only ineffective marketing… but wasteful to your business and resources with no way to track progress.

Our Marketing Plans involve creating a narrative each month that ties into driving sales and goals to our clients. These narratives come to life through content marketing, via blog posts, email newsletters, website content, and social media. It can be a call to action, a seasonal holiday campaign, or other strategic promotion for specific time-sensitive content.

For example, during the holiday season Sokos Social creates campaigns for our nonprofit clients surrounding the season of giving to encourage supporters to donate. Each of our clients has different objectives and goals to meet, but Sokos Social rises to each unique occasion thanks to our custom-tailored Marketing Plans.

Using a defined timeline of action steps within an Annual Marketing Plan, communication between the departments of your organization will run more smoothly as well. Sokos Social works as an extension of your in-house team to support achievement of your goals – bringing dreams to reality. With information strategically defined at a birds-eye-view level for the entire year, it’s easier for those team members outside of the Marketing & Advertising departments to embrace long-term vision for your brand and its marketing and communications.

Our clients and their teams are some of the most determined and talented individuals that we have ever met. However, even the most successful and talented organizations need an expert in the marketing field to make their goals and objectives come to life. The team of experts at Sokos Social look over your business operations & marketing with a set of new eyes to add a fresh perspective to your organization. Let our marketing rock stars invent creative and strategic Annual Marketing Plans for your organization.

Email hello@sokossocial.com to see what your advertising budget can really do for you.