Saturday, 31 January 2015

Everything We Really Need to Know About Social Media We Learned in Kindergarten


We live in a culture virtually enveloped by digital media, 24/7. For adults and children alike, social media has become central to our very identities -- both in how we interact with our close friends and family, and in the many ways we present ourselves to, and engage with, our broader worlds. As I prepare to speak at asymposium about the influence of social media on our children's development, I have been acutely aware of my own behavior as someone for whom social media has become essential to both my professional and personal lives.
Just this morning, I was in a 5 a.m. taxi headed to the airport, and realized how cold and rude my behavior may have seemed to my cab driver, who kept talking to me as my eyes stayed glued to my phone checking early morning emails and posts. He was right there in the front seat, and I'm not proud to say that I was too wrapped up in a different conversation to respond gracefully. I think most of us have some version of that kind of digital distraction that doesn't reflect who we truly aspire to be.
When it comes to our kids, the worries are multiplied. Just the other night, I heard a story from my friend of three boys who were seniors at a local school. They were expelled from school over an unfortunate sexting incident, the latest case of a growing national phenomenon. We are concerned, rightly, about our children's privacy, online bullying and about a digital trail of youthful indiscretion that can follow our children in ways they may not consider -- concerns we never had to worry about when we were their age. It is overwhelming to us all as our policies and educational systems struggle to keep up with the speed of our ever-changing digital world.
The good news? We can find some encouragement and comfort by going back to the pre-digital basics and keeping it simple with common sense from the heart. Because almost everything we need to know about helping our kids navigate and use social media productively and happily we all learned ourselves in kindergarten. Here's what I mean about some old-fashioned rules we can apply to the new digital road:
1. Walk Before You Run: Go slow when introducing social media to your children. Just as you carefully selected your child's first library of books, take the time to put together a resource list of tools and sites that are an appropriate fit for them developmentally.
2. Listen First, Talk Next: We can use social media to learn about and listen to dialogues our children are having. This is the most important lesson of the#IWillListen campaign. Having a trusting, open relationship with our children is a key element in building a foundation for navigating through these tricky issues. As parents we have to be present to hear what our children are expressing about their lives, online and off.
3. Play Nice in the Sandbox: It seems like such a simple idea, to play nice with others. But too often we know social media is associated with meanness. It doesn't have to be that way. It's possible to have social media with soul -- using this remarkable digital technology to make meaningful connections, recognize and champion others, acknowledge the feelings we and others may have and draw families and friends closer together even when we are geographically distant. Social media can do that, but only when we act with integrity and presence.
4. Look Both Ways Before Crossing (and hold my hand!). Each time your child enters into a new social media platform, it's critical to take the time to make sure you and they understand the dynamics and implications. So, just like crossing the street for the first time, parents need to stay close.
5. Take a Nap, and Get Your Rest! Sometimes we need to take a break from it all. When we disconnect our connections are so much more meaningful. We adults have learned later in life that there's too much of a good thing when it comes to social media. Taking time to unplug is essential.
6. Color Outside the Lines. As in other areas of life and learning we want to teach our children not to be afraid to be their own person, online and off. Just because their friends are on social media, it doesn't mean they have to be. Kids need our support in whatever choices are authentic and comfortable for them. I am probably the only mother on the planet who wishes that her adolescent son would get a cell phone and use a little bit of social media.
7. Tell the Truth! Being aware and honest about your own use of, and feelings about, social media is key to having meaningful conversations and connections with your children. Opening up authentically about your own questions and concerns can lead to productive dialogues with kids of any age. Honesty is the first step towards awareness and awareness can lead to healthy choices and change.
8. Perhaps Most Importantly, Practice What You Preach! Long before kids have spoken their first words, they are watching and observing us. That's why it's critical for parents to model healthy social media use, for both work and personal communications. If you are feeling, or are observing, smartphone and social media addictions in your self or your children, put yourselves on a social media diet and say no. This is one frontier where kids and parents are truly exploring together how to find the right balance. A few unplugged hours outside together as a family can work wonders in many ways!
In the end, social media is an extension of what we already know, say and feel about ourselves. And the basic rules of good behavior still apply. The immediacy, pace, and multiplier effect is new, and that can be both scary and empowering for us all. It's up to us to decide if we can infuse these tools with the values that make us truly human -- at every stage of our lives.

Friday, 30 January 2015

8 Social-Media Sins That Are Sure to Get You Unfriended and Unfollowed

8 Social-Media Sins That Are Sure to Get You Unfriended and Unfollowed

According to a recent social-media engagement study, Americans now spend more time on social media than any other Internet activity, including email. Social media isn’t going anywhere and businesses, small and large, are now recognizing their online presence is an essential part of their marketing strategy. Eight out of 10 small to medium-sized businesses now use social media to drive growth for their business, and three out of five say they’ve gained new customers through social media marketing.
There’s no denying social media is an excellent tool to interact with customers and clients, but simply posting something on social media for the sake of being active online isn’t enough. If you aren’t careful, your constant retweets and oversharing can quickly get you an “unfollow.”
These 8 habits are sure to alienate you on social media:

1. Always Selling

This is one of the worst social-media pet peeves, says Brian Paldin, CEO of the social-media marketing company, The Razzi Group. Social media is a conversation, says Paldin, and no one wants to talk to a salesman. Posting only when you have something to promote is a quick way to get your company unfriended or unfollowed.
Instead, Paldin recommends interspersing sales pitches with photos of your company party, quotes, blog posts, links to articles with content that provides value to your followers rather than constant promotional sales posts.

2. Overposting

Posting the same type of messages multiple times a day is a sure-fire way to alienate your audience. Lysa Miller, owner of Ladybugz Interactive Agency in Boston, a web-design and social-media strategy agency for small businesses, recommends posting relevant content once or twice a day. No one wants to see a dozen photos a day of pizzas from the restaurant they followed on Twitter, but they may be interested in a new recipe (posted once, not three times a day).

3. Oversharing

Sharing info from other sites can be an annoyance to your followers. Avoid sharing articles from aggregate news sites such as BuzzFeed, as these don’t show any originality to your business and are shared too many times online by individuals.
“People don’t want to see a business oversharing those kinds of viral stories because they’re going to see that content from their friends,” says Miller. 

4. Lack of Original Content

“Customers need to know you’re interesting enough to follow,” says Miller. Retweeting other people’s messages or posting articles from other sites doesn’t tell the consumer what your company is about and shows a lack of originality. Paldin says once every two days is a good time to retweet or share content that isn’t yours. Focus on creating original content, such as a blog post on your website or a portfolio item you can share with followers.

5. Not Having a Strategy

“Posting random links and content just to put something up is not a good idea,” says Miller. Create a calendar of posts you want to share in advance, leaving room for some last minute additions.
“When you’re messaging people, you need to know what that message is and you need to plan that out in advance,” says Miller.
The best way to create a strategy is to look at who your customers are and find out what their needs and wants are related to your business. Paldin has even done surveys for some companies in order to create a social-media strategy, asking followers to tell him the type of content they would like to see on the company’s social-media channels. When creating your social-media strategy, think about how the information you share is going to help your customers be loyal to your business.

6. Unnecessary Tagging

This is just bad social etiquette, says Paldin. “You shouldn’t be tagging people in photos or in posts that are not associated with them.” While tagging people in a picture or a post may help you to increase the post’s visibility, it’s a fast way to annoy people and will quickly get you an “unfollow.”

7. Being Disengaged with Followers

“If you’re looking to get your customers to continue to follow you, you need to pay attention to what they’re doing,” says Paldin. Since the whole idea of social media is to engage with customers, Paldin recommends following people when they follow you, like their photos, ask questions and always respond when they reach out to you. “What’s the point of having 10,000 followers if you only have two percent engagement? Wouldn’t you rather be a company with 1,000 followers but 10 percent engagement?” says Paldin.   

8. Reposting Too Much

Sending the same link 10 times a day may increase your click-through rate, but it can also annoy followers who see your reposts as digital clutter. “People want to see activity when they scroll through your feeds and your comments,” says Paldin. But if the activity is all the same message, they’re going to see you as annoying.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Power of Visual Content Marketing and Brand Storytelling in a Nutshell

Are you tapping into the power of visual content marketing to tell your brand story? Visual marketing empowers brands and the people within them to share their business and personal stories and lives real-time. No longer is it required to have a full time, dedicated design team on staff to serve up a good healthy dose of visual content marketing for your audiences and clients to devour!
Now even small marketing teams can easily take photos with an iPhone or other smart phone, mobile device and use them to engage their audiences via the social networks such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and blogs within seconds.
Visual marketing enable you to show your products without telling people about them. Viewers can then easily make their own decisions without feeling “sold” or pressured from you and your business. Let the visuals tell your story and help you close the sale!
Did you know that the human brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than the time it takes for the brain to decode text?
46.1% of people say a website’s design is the number one criteria to determine the credibility of the company.
Visual marketing can often help you inspire, connect and engage with your audience more quickly and better than what a simple text message can do.
Check out this episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast for a succinct definition and summary of how you can use visual content marketing in your business or to build your personal brand. Included are loads of statistics just in case you still or sold or have a colleague or executive than needs to hear the data before investing.
In this episode I put visual marketing in a nutshell for you with a goal of inspiring you to begin including visual marketing into your marketing strategies and tactics to drive improved results. If you are already using visual marketing but not seeing results, hopefully the podcast will inspire you to take it to the next level.

Episode Highlights

  • Definition of visual marketing
  • Why visual marketing?
  • Benefits of using visuals to tell stories
  • How visual marketing can help you close business
  • Why it’s becoming easier for marketing teams to use visual marketing without a dedicated design team
  • Loads of statistics on the power of visual marketing to inspire, connect with and engage audiences

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Why you should take a social media sabbatical


One of my clients told me that social media sabbaticals are the new treks through Nepal. Taking a social media sabbatical is trendy, takes some courage, and for most westerners, it’s outside the realm of possibility. But (thankfully for me), it doesn’t require as much physical fitness as a hiking the Himalayas.
I’ve spent the last two months on a break from social. No tweets, no instas—nothing. I went an extra step and stopped sending newsletters or doing interviews, as well.
Rewinding to whatever “the norm” was before my break: I spent lots of time on social media. As an author, product maker, self-employed, brand-builder type person, I’ve used social to build awareness of what I do and what I sell. I use it to connect, network, and stay in touch with friends (most of whom I’ve become friends with on those networks).
There haven’t been active notifications on any device I own for years (they’re far too distracting). So even before my hiatus, I only noticed social when I logged into it, which was often.
I went from a few hours a day on social to none.

And it was quiet.

 Why you should take a social media sabbatical
Almost eerily quiet.
Remarkably, it wasn’t as difficult as I thought it’d be. The time I would have spent tweeting or posting photos was spent working instead. And my work was done quicker. Not just because the time typically spent online socializing was replaced with space, but because I had no choice but to work on my work for longer. Which meant I could get more efficient with it.
For those of you who may have been following along with me, you already know about my penchant for experimenting. One of my favorite experiments is to take something I think I can’t live without and try to eliminate it from my life.
Sometimes I fail (for example, living without furniture is possible but really bad for one’s back). Sometimes I realize what I thought would be lacking isn’t lacking at all (like when I turned off all notifications on all my computers and phones). One time, I realized that giving up spending any money for six months (other than for food) makes it really hard to publish a book that requires money to hire experts (like editors, photographers, etc).
What I liked about my experiment to take a long break from social was that it opened up space. Space to think. Space to be alone with my thoughts. Space to explore.
And most of all, space to focus.

But that’s boring!

Neil Gaiman (who’s at least 42.7 times more smart than I am) says that the best way to come up with really awesome ideas is to get really bored. But we don’t let ourselves get bored anymore.
When all the small gaps in our days are filled with refreshing or sharing, there’s no room left to just sit and breathe and let whatever thoughts that want to happen… just happen. There are more ideas—not fewer—when you remove noise.
There is no longer space in our lives. We can’t wait in line without getting on our phones. Or sit on a bus. Or eat. Or wake up. Or wait for an elevator. Or watch a sunset.
Extra, dangling seconds force most of us to reach for our pockets and pull out our tiny computers that connect to the Internet. We must scroll and react to whatever shows up on our screen, as if by some neurological impulse.
creative thinking 730x458 Why you should take a social media sabbatical
Social media definitely forces me to think about whatever is on my screen. Sometimes it’s something I don’t want to think about, like football (American or European). Sometimes it’s something that riles me up, like proposed pipelines going through my Province. Sometimes I’m taken from a happy place to being angry, frustrated, sad, or hurt.
It’s all outside of my control because I’m passively letting whatever stimulus floats into my tiny screen affect me.
When social is gone, I’m more in charge of my stimulus. I get to pick what I want think about (sometimes) and what I focus on. Or what I want to learn more about or not learn about at all.
When you work for yourself, social media is almost like a water cooler. I miss that aspect of it, because most connecting in my day happens online. Sure, I still text with my good friends or email or Skype. But the circle of people I connect with is much smaller when I’m not on social.
Without social, I only connect with people who I’m decent friends with. Not the periphery of people I like and like to interact with, but am not very close to. Without social, there are no new people in my circles, either. So my world got smaller.

Sometimes a quiet small is good.

education 730x276 Why you should take a social media sabbatical
There are no interruptions, no comparisons of what I’m doing versus what others are publicly achieving. No mob to join in with or chastise when current events become the hot topic. There’s just me—myself, my thoughts (a scary picture – painted by rats with a penchant for the macabre), and my work.
I realized that society doesn’t stop happening if I’m not tuned into it 24/7. Bigger things will find their way to me, maybe not instantly, but when I’m ready for them. Important people will stay in touch. Even though 60+ days passed, social won’t be a drastically different landscape with new rules and customs.
Who knows if I’ll be on social media less now that my randomly chosen amount of time to be off it has passed. Or if I’ll go back at all. Most of the time now, unless I’ve got something silly to say or I miss people there, I don’t feel like I want to go back. I don’t mind that the space it used to take up is now simply kept as space.
Unlike a trek through the Himalayas, I’m not sure if I’ve come back from this sabbatical a changed man or with a radically different view. I’m certainly not more worldly (although I have grown a dishevelled beard). But it does remind me that sometimes feeling like I could be missing out is really just missing out on the present.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

How to Use the Mention Feature on LinkedIn

“What’s the Mention feature on LinkedIn?”
You may have never heard of it before, but using the Mention feature on LinkedIn is a great additional touch-point you can use with an influencer or decision maker.
This is how it works.
Let’s say, Susan has written a great article you want to share. You can hit the share button on the article and write in the text box “This is a great article on sales management by —and they when you start to type “Susan”, if she’s a first connection, her name will populate. Select her name, and her name will show in blue as a hyperlink to her profile. You can do the same exact thing when you write a comment.
A few amazing things happen when you mention someone on LinkedIn:
1. In this case, Susan will receive a notification you are sharing her name.
2. If Susan has a Twitter account and you share your update on Twitter (meaning you check the Twitter box on the LinkedIn share button) when the tweet goes out, Susan’s handle will automatically be populated in the tweet. So you’re you’re automatically mentioning Susan, both on LinkedIn and Twitter in 1 share.
3. When other people see your update and your reference of Susan, they can click on her name to view her profile. Susan will now have new people viewing her profile.
All of this is to say, Mentioning someone is a great way of staying top of mind, acknowledging other people’s work, and helping them get greater recognition. Which in turn helps you increase your profile with them.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Getting More People to Like Your Facebook Page is 99% Worthless

Someday, I will have the opportunity to prove to a client or prospect beyond any reasonable doubt that this is true. In the meantime, I will continue to write about it in hopes that the facts will win out.
To prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, I would have to take a page that has zero fans and send massive engagement and traffic with a small budget. Then, we’d need to look at the statistics to show that a page that starts off with zero likes can have more than just paid reach. It can have more organic reach than pages that have tons of likes.
We do have examples, not to the extreme of having zero fans, but by demonstrating that through strong content and proper use of advertising we can get strong organic reach. Here’s a quick one that’s pretty clear:
Facebopok Page Likes
As you can see, this page has 2,458 people liking it. However, you’ll see that the small budget, in this case around $15, was able to get it good paid exposure. More importantly, it generated more organic reach than the number of people who like the page.
Now, let’s look at a different page. It has nearly 8 times as many likes, but the reach is minimal.
Facebook Page Likes are Worthless
The gap is crystal clear. Facebook has been pulling back on organic reach for some time. While many will say that it’s all about greed and the bottom line to force pages to use money to get exposure, it’s more likely about what the users want. When they see page posts on their news feeds, they are much less likely to engage with those posts than the posts of their friends and family. Still, they’re a business, so the reduction of organic reach and the rise of sponsoring posts is the end result.
You’ll notice that I said that page likes are 99% worthless. There’s one minor benefit. Some would call it credibility. Others would call it ego. Either way, having a page that people are liking gives a psychological boost to the page to let people demonstrate how popular their page really is. While likes are infinitesimal in importance compared to reach, it’s still a benefit.
Focus on content. Put a budget behind it. Give your page real reach rather than the artificial benefits associated with page popularity.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

How to Build an Effective Executive Social Media Presence

Cultivating an active, engaged and effective executive social media presence takes time and attention, which is why many senior executives are late to the social media game. However, as is the case with most endeavors, it’s easy to make time for activities that provide value. Here are some ways to get started that will deliver immediate value for the nascent social denizen, encouraging further engagement and interaction and laying the foundation for a successful foray into digital realms.
Listen: Start in “listen mode.” Before you even set up an account, browse for information related to your interests on a few different networks:
  • On Twitter, find and follow hashtags relating to timely conversations.
  • On Pinterest, see how enthusiasts are collecting and curating information.
  • On Instagram, observe how others in the business are living and sharing in the moment.
Pick the most interesting of the network you’re browsing and set up an account. Remaining in
listen mode, start following the interesting accounts you find. Observe how brands in your space are interacting. Notice which sort of people are sharing the information and ideas you find interesting.
Next, find and follow peers and prominent figures within your area of interest. If Twitter is your network of choice, build lists to keep track of different topics or groups of people. Experiment with the network and explore how to tag and categorize information – some use hashtags, others allow you to build channels and lists to organize information you find. As you start to follow more people, hashtags and topics, look at using tools such as Flipboard or to aggregate content and render it in more visually compelling formats.
Share: Sharing content is the primary interaction amongst people on social networks. Influentials become (in effect) editors, conveying their recommendations to droves of followers. Developing good curation skills is the first step in gaining this sort of influence. When you come across interesting information related to the topics and people you’re following, go ahead and share it via your own channels. Important note: Make a point of sharing copious third-party information. People who limit sharing to their own content or that published by their brand don’t offer much value to others, and as a result, they tend not to develop effective and useful social presences. Stick to the 80/20 rule: 80% of the information you share should be from third parties. Twenty percent can come from the brand you represent.
Downloading a browser extension makes sharing content easier. Using a social media dashboard to organize your interactions and sharing is another way to streamline social account management when it becomes too much to handle efficiently within individual accounts
Interact: Now that you’ve spent some time listening and observing how people interact on your selected social network, it’s time to put those lessons into action. Mirroring cues you’ve picked up from peers, start interacting with others. A good rule of thumb to follow: add value with your interactions.
Measure: Measure progress in the quality of the information you gather, the connections you make and the conversations you have – not in the number of followers you accrue. Ultimately,
as your presence grows, your dexterity with social media will also develop, and you’ll develop an audience that becomes more than a professional network or source of information – it will become an invaluable personal asset and important competency that will add an important dimension to your credentials.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Scaling Social Globally: Best Practices for Engaging With an International Audience

This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of: Scaling Social Globally: Best Practices for Engaging with an International Audience. This webinar was sponsored by Act-On Software and featured Mike Stenberg (@stenmic), Global Vice President of Digital Marketing for Siemens, and Andrew Ashton (@AndrewLAshton) Social Media Analyst at Yum! Brands. We discussed the best practices in scaling a social media team and content on a global basis.

Here are 3 of the key take-aways:

  1. Team structure matters – Andrew talked about an approach he called the Dandelion approach: having a central team that can provide training and social media tools to more distributed teams that can engage on a local level.
  2. Roll out a common set of tools – Both Mike and Andrew talked about having one tool -- like BrandWatch or Netbase, respectively -- to give them one version of the trust across all markets. In Mike’s case, he has 160 markets to evaluate, while Andrew has 120. Strong translation capabilities and sentiment scoring were also mentioned as key features.
  3. Make it feel like one social team globally – Both Mike and Andrew also highlighted that while it’s important to have the local teams engage in a dialog with clients, they also felt you needed tools like Yammer internally to help coordinate efforts and answer questions in real time coming from the local teams.
To get a copy of the slides or listen to the replay, please click here. You can also scan the highlights of this webinar on Twitter by reading the following Storify: 

Friday, 23 January 2015

How to generate leads with a focused social media campaign

Landing pages make all the difference

If you’re like most real estate agents, chances are you have at least started to build a presence online. More and more agents understand the need to have a website or blog — it is your virtual storefront.
More than half of homebuyers start their home search online. It’s clearly important to have a website (storefront) for customers to enter and browse (figuratively speaking). Your website or blog helps you capture natural traffic, i.e., people looking for an address, a neighborhood, a golf course home, and so on. The concept is similar to consumers seeing an intriguing new store in a favorite shopping center, then going inside. They may browse around, find something they enjoy, and give you their information or make a purchase.
You’ve heard the saying “location is everything” — and it really is, but what if you’re not getting that natural traffic?
If business isn’t pouring in, then it’s time to start advertising. In order to make the highest return on investment, you want your advertising to be as targeted as possible. You should target not only the demographic but also the service you are promoting.
Human beings are a lot more likely to make purchasing decisions or give out personal information when they are not overwhelmed by a large number of choices and when you make the process easy for them.
Don’t confuse your prospects
Recently, a colleague of mine saw a limited-time offer in a Facebook ad and was intrigued. She saw that season passes were 40 percent off at a local ski resort, and she thought she’d found El Dorado.
Sadly, this is where the ad took her.
Landing on this page after clicking a Facebook ad for 40 percent off a season pass leads to a broken heart. Cold, lost and alone. There’s not a single hint of a season pass here, just a bunch of distractions.
You can’t expect a prospect to behave how you’d like if you send them to a page that doesn’t acknowledge where they came from or what they hope to do.
Don’t do this with your real estate social media campaigns. Instead, send visitors to a dedicated landing page.
Targeted marketing
If you’re promoting your service or listings on social media, then there is no reason to send people directly to your home page!
If someone clicks on your ad, they are likely looking for your service. So make it easy to find and use!
For example, I run targeted Facebook ads to generate seller leads.
I link every targeted ad to a dedicated landing page that continues the conversation that the ad started.
I match the headline of my Facebook ad to the headline of my landing page, which tells the visitor that they are in the right place. I also keep a consistent design across all channels. The design of the landing page is familiar to the prospect and has already enticed them to act once.
Using this technique, I have seen a significant drop in my cost per lead throughout my businesses. Landing pages make all the difference in social marketing.
What’s your favorite way to farm leads from Facebook? Have you experimented with using landing pages in real estate? Let me know in the comments — and remember that although the examples reflected in this article should apply to most of you, never assume results. Test everything!
Next time, I’ll share my step-by-step guide for setting up real estate Facebook ads.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Analysis Finds Content About Tech Trends Draws Attention to Ads About Anything

Analysis Finds Content About Tech Trends Draws Attention to Ads About Anything

Technology has improved our lives in many ways, and we now rely on it for everything from work to entertainment, education and productivity. It’s no surprise, then, that technology is a very closely-followed industry, and advertisers have found many ways to capitalize on that society-wide interest.
But, what exactly can advertisers do to make the most of this hungry audience? Sure, they can advertise on a tech news site or with retailers like Best Buy. But, beyond the obvious techie crowd, there is a wealth of opportunities left uncovered.
Let’s take a closer look at what that means. Looking back at dozens of Fortune 500 companies' advertising campaigns last quarter, Taykey’sReal-Time Trend Report revealed that tech trends clearly dominated the most successful ads. When I say “trends,” I mean any topic that drives attention and engagement across any number of online sources. So the Samsung Galaxy Note 4, for instance, is a trend that may have emerged out of news articles announcing its release date, tweets from tech leaders and gadgeteers, blog comments on a review or replays on a promo video.
The trends about tech produced one out of five real-time advertising impressions last quarter, and drove outstanding engagement with ad content. In fact, ads placed around technology topics performed an average of 70 percent over industry benchmarks, with some ads performing up to 925 percent over.
What’s interesting about these trends is they have very broad-reaching impacts beyond the tech industry. For instance, ads about food and beverage goods, consumer products and retail items enjoyed the very same boosts in ad performance that tech gadgets did. People were more likely to click on a food and beverage ad when it was displayed near content about Oculus Rift or Apple Pay, over something about Lay’s new Wasabi Ginger flavor or David Guetta’s MUMMS champagne partnership. While it may seem counter-intuitive, technology brings eyeballs to even the most unrelated campaigns.
So, we know that jumping on technology topics yields the greatest value for an ad campaign. But, that’s still a vague starting point, with “technology” spanning anything and everything from mobile devices to gaming, to content streaming and social media. The natural next question is exactly which tech trends brands should target, which ones they should avoid.
Ironically, the least effective trends were those that many likely assumed would have had the greatest impact last quarter. For example, Apple’s iPhone 6 release was arguably the largest tech event of Q3, making it a desirable trend to target ads around. Yet, it performed only slightly above average. iPhone 6 trends performed only 13 percent better than aggregate Android phone trends, likely at a much higher per-click price point. Plus, specific brands like Nokia and HTC saw their trends performing two to three times better than Apple iPhone trends. Sure, you could argue that these brands were also active in the news during Q3, but they certainly didn’t spark as much discussion as the iPhone 6 did. 
Evidently, hype doesn’t necessarily mean advertising success.
On the flip side, pulling ahead of the pack and showing the greatest promise for success were personal devices, accounting for 30 percent of real-time engagements. Narrowing it down even further, wearables were the top-performing device category overall, more than 200 percent more effective than industry averages.
No one could have guessed that wearables would give advertisers the biggest bang for their buck, but perhaps even more surprising was the number-one tech trend, which was also the top trend overall. No ads performed better than those that were placed alongside the launch of LG’s G Watch R, enjoying a whopping 925 percent increase in ad engagement. Go figure!
Clearly, the most impactful trends are not always obvious to advertisers. Plenty of other unpredictable stories topped the list for top trends in Q3: Apple’s reaction to the iCloud Breach, pre-orders of Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare and J.J. Abram's tweets about the Millennium Falcon for Star Wars Episode VII, to name a few. Like the tip of an iceberg, a lot of these stories probably went unnoticed to the average consumer, though underneath it all, lay massive potential.

There is a natural inclination to target ads around major, eyeball-grabbing happenings, especially those that can be planned for, like the Super Bowl or the Olympics. But, taking a presumptive approach to advertising often means missed opportunities. The top performing trends might not be what the marketing team expects, but the fact is that unpredictable micro-trends can, and often do, have a significantly greater impact. That means better media performance and better ROI on campaigns.
Ad inventory, campaign budgets, and demographic analysis are all crucial to any ad campaign, but without the ability to pinpoint direct routes to audience engagement, they can only get you so far. By following trends and conversations happening in real-time, advertisers can better navigate these unpredictable but extremely valuable routes to more direct audience engagement.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

How to Tap the Power of Social Media to Forge Customer Loyalty

How to Tap the Power of Social Media to Forge Customer Loyalty

As social media has becomes increasingly mainstream, the focus on utilizing such networks as Twitter and Facebook for marketing has virtually exploded. There is no doubt that social media sites offer tremendous opportunity in terms of marketing, but focusing a social media strategy solely on marketing can actually be somewhat limiting. It is possible to do much more with social media, including drive customer loyalty.
Savvy marketers have long been well aware that customer loyalty is established and re-established at each interaction a brand makes with customers. Usually referred to as touch points, those interactions are vital to building and maintaining strong customer relationships. Loyal customers do not simply buy more or buy more frequently, they also make purchases without considering alternatives or competitors to your brand. Each interaction you have with your customers provides the opportunity to reinforce the satisfaction they have experienced with previous interactions, thus solidifying their loyalty to your brand.
This is precisely why social media provides the ideal platform for developing a strong customer loyalty program. A study published by Marketing Land found that only 20 percent of CMOs leverage social networks for engaging with customers. Given that social media serves as an active venue for conversation, brands have an unparalleled opportunity to support and assist customers, thus reinforcing customer loyalty. Along with contributing to that sense of loyalty among current customers, a strong social media presence also helps to drive recommendations, leading to even more business.
Creating far-ranging customer experiences is the key to building customer loyalty into your social media strategy. When every brand experience is robust, customers don't think of going elsewhere when they outgrow their latest purchase.
Social technology gives customers the opportunity to interact with your brand and share their experiences with others, increasing exposure and setting the stage for higher customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Rather than running contests on social media platforms to collect new followers, think how you can use social media to reward your current loyal fan base. Contests are good for adding email addresses to your user base, but it is often far better to have a smaller, avid fan base than a larger number of people with no enthusiasm for your brand.
Relationships are a two-way street. Your goal is  fans who like and share your posts on social media. You need to give to receive. Take the time to like the photos your fans share on their social media accounts. Give them a shout out on Twitter and Facebook. In this type of mutually beneficial relationship, your fans are more likely to share your content. It's a great way to build customer loyalty and exposure at the same time.
Consider partnering with complementary brands for giveaways and to share educational information and content. This increases exposure to potential customers and provides value that drives continued loyalty to your brand.
Social media offers a number of important strategies to brands of all sizes and from all industries, including the opportunity to drive engagement and ultimately, customer loyalty.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

6 Strategies to Add to Your Social Media Marketing Plan for 2015

Did you know the average person spends 4 years looking down at their cell phone over a lifetime? To be honest, I’m somewhat surprised it’s not even more (but I suspect this number to increase). As I glanced around my family room on Christmas evening I noticed every one of my family members scrolling through their social feeds, excluding my nephew; he’s 6 months old, but oddly always gravitates towards the iPhone (although it’s typically just an attempt to eat it).
This is all somewhat depressing, but as my mom recently explained Facebook has given her the power to reconnect with friends and even family members that she hasn’t spoken to in over twenty years. We’ve all heard stories of long-lost siblings, lovers, and guardians finding each other via social platforms. Not to mention the powerful charitable movements like the Ice Bucket Challenge, which helped raise over $100 million for ALS, a 3,500% increase from the $2.8 million raised during the same time period the year prior, according to Forbes.
social media marketing plan baby holding iphone 
2014 has been another thrilling year in the world of social media, from Instagram reaching 300 million users, surpassing Twitter, Facebook’s continuous algorithm updates pushing organic reach to a plummeting death, LinkedIn’s new publishing platform giving users a powerful way to build their brand, and SnapChat establishing themselves as a bigger player by displaying advertisements and sponsored stories. These updates are just dusting the surface of social media changes over the past year, but what does this all mean for your marketing plan in 2015?
We all know that social media is critical to every business’s marketing initiatives. Not having active social channels for your business is equivalent to showing up to work without pants; it’s embarrassing and not socially accepted. No one wants to be the idiot who shows up to work in their underwear, but what’s the point of maintaining social channels if they’re not adding value to your business? Well, there is none. You should be using social to do one or several of the following: establishing and growing brand recognition, gaining qualified leads, or improving customer relationships (ideally all three).
In my post last year covering social media strategy suggestions for 2014, I stressed tactics such as creating a social media marketing plan and sticking to it, going above and beyond in customer service, embracing mishaps, and so on. Let me assure you, these strategies are all still critical, but with the New Year upon us I have some new and improved tips up my sleeve to add to your social media marketing plan for 2015.

#1: Build a Community Rather Than a Number of Followers

Have you ever looked through the people you follow on Twitter or Pinterest? You probably see about .05% of things they tweet or pin. I’m grabbing this metric out of thin air, but since everyone who’s anyone is on social media, even if you are posting regularly your followers are probably not very engaged with your brand. The number of people following you can only take you so far. “Twitter is sort of like the ‘live TV’ of social media,” according to Marketing Land’s Danny Sullivan. “If you’re not tuned in to catch a particular tweet live, then you’ve missed it.” This doesn’t apply just for Twitter, the reach of Facebook’s organic posts has drastically dropped making it much more difficult for brands to stand out, even if you’re following their page (we’ll get into this more in tip #3)…
Yes, having 10,000+ followers is noteworthy, but at the end of the day it doesn't matter how many followers you have if they’re not interacting and paying attention to your content. What can be done to build a community and increase engagement with your current and potential followers?
  • Insert some personality, humor, and spunk into your brand. Remember, social media has the word “social” in it for a reason. Yes, some use platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to gather industry-related or world news, but more often than not social media is used to entertain and kill time. Your marketing messages need to adjust accordingly because if you’re using the same copy that you’re using in, let’s say search or email marketing, then your followers are going to remain oblivious to your brand. BarkBox, one of the trending box delivery services on the market, which caters exclusively to adorable doggies, is one company to take note of. Founded in 2011, BarkBox has done an impressive job of growing their business in a short time frame, with a large chunk of their marketing focusing on growing and creating engaging social content. Their Facebook page is hysterically entertaining, with each post featuring an adorable pup and tagline as if the dog was actually speaking to the reader. This works because it’s a. adorable b. hysterical and c. relatable. Just check out this post below with almost 3,000 likes, 42 comments, and 170 shares after just 9 hours. This massive amount of interactions and shares not only establishes brand authority, but also drastically increases chances of this post showing up on a friend’s newsfeed (therefore gaining brand awareness, followers, leads, and customers).
social media marketing plan barkbox instagram facebook post
  • Converse directly with your followers: Literally have a conversation with them, retweet them, like and comment on their posts, and directly ask them to interact with your content. The insurance company Allstate created a separate Twitter account for their popular advertising character, Mayhem, who continously “captures the life events you just can’t seem to avoid.” Almost everything they post is geared towards talking to their fans, whether that be retweeting, asking questions, running a contest, or even sending #MayhemValentine’s to followers. This Twitter account also follows my point above regarding using humor and personality in each post. Recently they ran an overwhelming successful social media campaign #MayhemSale, in which Mayhem possed as a burglar selling all his best burgles online. It sounds sort of bizzare, but it worked and created an insane amount of buzz. Just look at the one tweet below with 4.6K retweets.
social media marketing plan mayhem tweet
To conclude, when posting to your social channels think outside of the box and devise clever ways to get your audience to interact with your brand.

#2: Create Powerful Social Media Movements Across all Social Channels

If you want your audience to stay engaged, you need to be engaging. One great way to do this is to create social campaigns that run across all your social platforms. The important thing to note here is that anyone can run a contest or create a social campaign, so you need to make yours stand out by adding a charitable, inspirational, or emotional component. Any element that pulls at the heart strings works well. If your company already is involved with volunteer work, which many are, then this is one great way to inspire and engage your followers. I know what you’re thinking, it seems somewhat morally corrupt to use a charity relationship for marketing purposes, but on the other hand you’re promoting that organization and encouraging more people to get involved. So how do you apply this across several channels? Start by…
  • Telling a powerful storyA whole story? Huh? But you’re only allotted so many characters on social channels. Yes, yes, I know, but there are ways to pull powerful quotes and engaging tidbits from a story that will leave the reader wanting more, therefore directing them to your website. Charity:water does this phenomenally well. Yes, they are already a charitable company with the mission of providing clean drinking water to every person in the world, but as a non-profit organization they’ve been incredibly successful continuously trumping their fundraising goals, and I’d be willing to bet a big part of this is due to how gracefully they tell their story to social followers. Their content has a way of spurring their audience to get involved and contribute to the organization. When I first learned about charity:water at Hubspot’s Inbound conference in 2013, their heart-wrenching video spurred me to create a birthday campaign in which you ask your friends and family to donate rather than give presents. One recent campaign that they’ve shared throughout all of their social channels is called “Why I give” in which individuals who donate share their stories. This adds the human element, tells a story, and even has the power of spurring followers to action. Take a look at the post below featuring a “well-known, well-loved charity:water supporter,” Shakil Kan. The quote featured tells a mini-story and is inspirational, intriguing the viewer to click.
social media marketing plan charitywater facebook post
After following the link the viewer is then directed to the full story on the charity:water blog, where several powerful stories are featured.
social media marketing plan screenshot from the charitywater blog
I encourage you to think of ways you can use your social channels to tell motivational stories to your viewers. They don’t need to be rooted in charity. For example if you sell B2B software you could share stories from your happiest clients on your blog and then create a social campaign with a unique slogan and hashtag to promote and create a movement around their stories.
  • Brand your movement with a unique name and hashtags: Branding your movement will make it memorable and stick out in the mind of your followers. Take time to brainstorm actionable ideas that will get followers involved, whether that be by posting photos and using your hashtag to group them, running a contest, or throwing events run by your company. One actionable social media movement was run by the world-renowned fashion brand, Marc Jacobs, titled #CastMeMarc. Jacobs took to Twitter last Spring to encourage his followers to post pictures of themselves on social platforms, such as Twitter and Instagram, using the hashtag to gain the once-in-a-lifetime chance of becoming one of the newest faces of the brand. The result? Thousands upon thousands of photographs were shared across social media. Even today, long after the contest has ended, people are still using the hashtag in hopes that Jacobs won’t be able to resist their photogenic faces (i.e. the tweet below).
 social media marketing plan marc jacobs tweet image from a fan
social media marketing plan instagram #castmemarc hashtag feed
Please note: You don’t have to one of the most recognized fashion brands in the world (like Marc Jacobs is) to make this work for your brand. For example let’s say you run an athletic clothing store and offer free yoga classes at several of your store fronts – this would be a great actionable movement to brand and spread across their channels. Use the inspirational aspect of getting fit, New Year’s resolutions, healthy living, or whichever angle you believe your customers would gravitate towards. Test out a few hashtags, find the one that resonates best, and brand your movement by announcing it on your blog and social channels.

#3: Experiment with Facebook Advertisements

I recently spoke with some local Boston-based paid search experts who all raved about the power ofFacebook advertising with the main conclusion that Facebooks ads are cheap and actually work. If you want to compete on Facebook today it’s pretty clear that you need to put some green bills on the table. Gone are the days when you could just post updates to your company’s wall and pray for likes. With that said costs can be easily controlled as there are several unique targeting methods giving you options to find your niche audience and not waste money on the click-happy internet addicts irrelevant to your business.
“Over the last two years, the social network has repeatedly tweaked the system to show the top 300 or so items that it predicts each person will want to read,” according to a recent article by the New York Times. “Facebook argues that people prefer to see videos, photos, news articles and updates from their friends and family more than other brands. So over time, posts by businesses have shown up less frequently.” Facebook continues to push for more advertising so if your business wants traction it needs to be advertising. With all of that said you still need to use caution and tread lightly if you’re a budget conscious advertiser because with more and more competition prices are likely to rise. I’d also highly recommend retargeting with platforms like AdRoll because with retargeting you show your ads to people that have already expressed interest in your brand by visiting your site. I often see retargeting ads on the side of my Facebook News scan (i.e. the image below showing ads for two sites which I recently visited).
social media marketing plan remarketing ads on my facebook 

#4: Host or Participate in Twitter Chats

Why would I want to go online to chat to a bunch of strangers? What respected business person would actually take time out of their day to participate in one of these cult-like chats? These were the initial thoughts which ran through by head when introduced to the concept of Twitter chats. My view drastically changed when WordStream founder, Larry Kim, raved about #PPCChat, encouraging me and my colleagues to participate as frequently as possible. So I took his advice and started participating in our industry related chats. I was surprised to find the experience to be very enjoyable; I even added #PPCChat as a recurring event in my calendar on Tuesday so that I wouldn’t forget to join in the live conversation. The chat gave me the ability to connect with others in the industry and also learn from those who have varying experiences from my own. I noticed an uptick in my personal followers and one week I was even featured as the top quote in the PPCChat write-up that’s published after every chat.
So why should your business get involved? Aside from personal branding, these chats can greatly benefit your business by giving you the ability to discover new leads, build brand authority, develop strong relationships with influencers in your industry, and further expose your brand. Host your own chat or partner with a big brand to co-host a chat; you’ll grow your follower base substantially if it’s promoted well. Explore the resources in this post to get an idea of which re-occurring chats take place in your industry.

#5: Suck Up to Influencers

This ties in nicely with the tip above because there are likely several industry influencers participating in your industry related chats. Not having any luck with chats? Luckily there are tons of other strategies you can use on social to get connected with big shots in your industry. The goal is to get these people to like you and like your brand, and I’m not talking about a Facebook like. I’m talking about a genuine emotional feeling of liking everything your business is about. Why? Once you get the in with the people that matter, your business will only continue to grow because their audience and authority with mesh with yours to cast an even wider net. Take the following four steps to socially connect with your influencers:
  1. Make a thorough list of influencers and organize them into a spreadsheet with columns linking to each of their social profiles.
  2. Favorite, like, comment, and re-share their content: Don’t favorite/like everything they post – that’s too obvious. You need to play somewhat hard to get to show that your likes are genuine rather than spammy. Try to like and favorite a few times per week and comment when you have something educational and valuable to say.
  3. Tweet at them: This strategy works very well especially when asking industry related questions. They’ll be flattered that you thought of them and consider them to be a valuable resource. WordStream’s Erin Sagin did this for an article and received responses to almost everyone she contacted to help with her WordStream blog post.
  4. Use the same hashtags: This way when they’re reviewing their hashtag feeds they’ll see your content, which will hopefully spark their interest.

#6: Share Trending Content

You should never use your social channels as a bragging platform. These channels aren’t to be solely self-promotional, this is boring and obnoxious. There needs to be a balance between marketing your brand and sharing stories and news from other valuable resources. If you kept seeing Instagram upon Instagram from your favorite clothing apparel store promoting solely their own clothing items you’d probably un-follow and avoid the store out of sheer frustration. Instead focus on a balance between sharing promotional content, interacting with your followers and influencers, and sharing other useful and entertaining content. The key word here is “other,” what is that? Follow these tips to easily determine what content is share-worthy:
  • Look for viral videos on YouTube of hilarious children, adorable animals, and inspirational moments and re-share with your own unique spin.
  • Scan the news for the highest covered media stories and add a unique perspective keeping relevant to your brand.
  • Follow & use trending hashtags to add your voice to the larger conversations happening on social media. For example on Twitter you can see “Trends.”
social media marketing plans twitter screenshot of the hashtags trending
Chose a trend that is somewhat relevant and join the conversation like the social commerce website, Polyvore did with the People’s Choice Awards in the tweet below.
social media marketing plan polyvore tweet using the peoples choice awards hashtag
  • Use Buzzsumo to find content that resonates. I just started using this tool recently, but I’ve already added it to my bookmark bar and am completely addicted. It’s the easiest way to search related industry news sites and blogs, keywords, influencers, etc. to find the content with the highest number of social shares. Study the headlines that were shared and re-share those articles/headlines with your followers. This will continue the train of sharing, but also show your followers that your social posts are intriguing and follow-worthy 

Key Takeaways

As a quick recap stop pushing out the same old snooze-worthy content on social from 2014. Instead use 2015 as your chance to…
1: Build a community and inspire action. Your followers should be people that you interact with and maintain a witty, relatable, and fun relationship with on social media. Stop selling your soul to gain followers, instead look to grow engagement. Brainstorm creative ways to keep your followers intrigued by creating truly powerful social media campaigns that will spur your audience to participate.
2. Experiment with Facebook Ads to target the audience that’s relevant and retarget those who have already visited your site. This will gain you brand recognition and grow your business if done well. Don’t be afraid to allocate a portion of your budget to test it out – the results could be well worth it!
3. Join the conversion whether that be through Twitter chats or trending hashtags. Stay on top of your industry and contribute insightful thoughts and information to build your partnerships, connect with new leads, and expand your reach. Make your influencers like you by constantly flattering them; Like their content, retweet their updates, and comment on their posts.
4. Post quality content. Use Buzzsumo to find the trending and most popular stories in your industry and add these to the mix of your own posts to intrigue your audience and validate that your channels are follow-worthy. 
I’m curious…
Have you tried any of these techniques yet? If so, how did it go?
What changes do you plan to make to your social media strategy in 2015?
Which platforms do you find work best for you audience?