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Archive for the 'Social Marketing' Category

Righteous Reach

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

If you want to be wildly successful  in digital marketing, or any marketing for that matter, you need both reach and engagement.  It’s not the number of Pinterest followers, Facebook “fans” (I prefer the old term), or Twitter followers you accumulate, it’s the number of people actively involved with your company, organization or brand that’s important.  By righteous reach, I mean connecting with as many people who are in your target market as you possibly can.

Now, if you have the advertising and marketing budgets of GM, P&G, Nike or other companies in the Fortune 500, getting that reach may not be the most challenging part of your day.  However, for most smaller companies extending reach to a significant scale is a difficult task.

Reach

One thing you can do, and doesn’t cost a cent, is continually (and I mean continually) asking everyone in your organization to think about what they can do to help extend that reach.  Even if you don’t uncover any ‘home run’ ideas, hitting a lot singles can have a big impact.

For example, discuss promoting your website, Facebook page, etc. on your packaging and make sure every employee inserts links of your digital properties in the footer of their email.  Check that your PR department is promoting all of the ways that your customers can connect with you, and ask if there are opportunities to cross-promote with your corporate partners.  Does your customer service staff remind the folks they interact with that you have a Facebook page or Pinterest board?  Is your email marketer thinking about how she can cross-promote Instagram and is your social marketer thinking about how he can generate interest in your email newsletter?

You’d be surprised how a little evangelism can help you reach the promised land of expanding your marketing reach.

Pintrification of America

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

If you haven’t been in a coma during the past six months, then you most definitely have heard of Pinterest.  And, if you are marketer, you better have either (a) integrated Pinterest into your social marketing strategy or (b) had serious discussions about how you can integrate it.

Will Pinterest continue to grow at its current pace or will it be the latest social media flavor of the month?  Although I expect the former, who can really know?  What is clear to me, however, is given the overwhelmingly positive response from women, Pinterest is providing something of real value, something that women adore (in the U.S., the majority of Pinterest users are women; however, in some other countries, Pinterest is skewing more toward men).

The fact is that women love browsing Pinterest.  It’s inspiring, hopeful, positive, beautiful, helpful, encouraging, and pleasing.  It’s not simply a means to an end for finding something – it’s an enjoyable journey.  It’s the digital equivalent of a woman flipping through her favorite magazine while taking a relaxing, warm bath.  If you haven’t spent much time on Pinterest, try searching for ‘chocolate cupcake’ on Google and then do the same thing on Pinterest.  You’ll see what I’m talking about.

As marketers, we need to understand what it means for us.  How does this ‘Pintrification of America’ impact our ability to build awareness, engage, and interact with our target consumers.  How do we stay relevant and interesting in this pintrified world?

Yes, it’s easy to pin a photo of a product, but we need to be more intentional than that.  We have to think in terms of what’s going to be “pinteresting” to our audience?  What’s going to grab their attention?  What are they going to think is ‘pinworthy’?  What worked for your catalogs, publications, and website may not be “pinteresting” enough.  A straight-on product shot will seem boring and bland. How-to’s and helpful tips don’t just need to be educational, they need to be visually interesting.

So, how has the rise of Pinterest impacted your marketing efforts?  What are you doing to stay relevant and interesting (pinteresting) in this Pintrified world?

Facebook’s EdgeRank – What You Need To Know

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

FacebookBy now, almost every marketer has read statistics similar to the following about the ubiquity of Facebook:

  • Over 500 million users
  • The average user has 130 friends on the site
  • 50% of active users login every day
  • The typical user sends 8 friend requests per month
  • The average user spends 15 hours and 33 minutes on Facebook per month
  • The typical user visits the site 40 times per month
  • The average user spends 23 minutes during each visit
  • More than 30 billion pieces of content are shared each day

As such, marketers are starting to awaken to the promise of Facebook – not only as a social media platform but also as a social marketing tool.  Companies increasingly are setting up Facebook Fan Pages and focusing on getting users to ‘like them’.  However, in order to leverage the power of Facebook as a marketing tool, you need to understand the process that determines whether posts from your Facebook Page will even reach your fans.

For most Facebook users, the news feed is the lifeline to their network – it contains all of the activities of their friends and pages they have liked.  A user has two choices for her news feed:  ‘Top News’ and ‘Most Recent’.  Most Recent is a chronological order of all activity and Top News (the default) shows the content Facebook believes would be most interesting to the user.

One of Facebook’s challenges is continuing to provide a useful and relevant experience for its users as the total number of users increases, each person’s individual network expands, and the number of activities grows.  For the average Facebook user, a news feed with all activities listed can become overwhelming and crowded with uninteresting content.

One way that Facebook is attempting to meet this challenge is by providing the Top News news feed.  The content displayed in Top News is determined by Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm.  While Facebook doesn’t provide specifics, it has shared the components of the formula:

Facebook's Edge Rank

Don’t worry, you don’t need to dust off your old high school or college math text books.  No complex computations are necessary.  A brief overview of each component is all you need to get started on the right path.

Affinity score attempts to show the strength of interaction between the user and another Facebook entity (user, brand, etc.).  If you click on posts from your Mom every day, comment on her wall, like her updates but never interact with the 1st grade teacher you friended, the affinity with your Mom will be much greater than with your 1st grade teacher.  Affinity is a one-way score:  I may have a different affinity score with you than you do with me.

Weight pertains to the type of activity and it is believed that certain activities are assigned more weights than others (e.g. a comment may be worth more than a like).  The more engaged someone has to be to interact, the higher the weight is likely to be.

Time decay depicts that new content is going to be given preferential treatment over older content.  Typically, as a post ages, it becomes less relevant and so it will lose EdgeRank.  As with most social media, people want new and fresh content.

From a marketing perspective, the key takeaway is a simple ‘post it and hope they will read it’ approach won’t work. You have be more planned than that.  As with any other marketing tool, it’s all about engagement.  It’s thinking about what type of content will most likely generate a positive reaction – which content will your audience find interesting.  Which content will generate the type of response that keeps you in someone’s Top News news feed?

Understanding how EdgeRank impacts your ability to stay connected with your fans is the first step to effectively using Facebook as a critical marketing tool for your organization.

Source of Facebook data referenced: facebook.com & pingdom.com

Turn Up the Radio

Monday, March 7th, 2011

While in the car the other day, I was listening to a morning drive radio program and I was struck by how many people were calling the station to relay relatively embarrassing stories.  As I thought more about it, I realized how good radio programs are at starting conversations.  Something with which many companies and brands struggle.

Photo via santibon on Flickr

For those radio programs that rely on listener interaction, stimulating conversation is a necessary part of their program.  To be successful, they have to motivate listeners to call in to recount stories which will not only interest other listeners but further stoke the discussion.

Picking up a phone and dialing a radio station isn’t a herculean effort, but relatively speaking, especially in this time-taxed age, it does require some effort (it’s more of a time commitment than clicking on a button to re-tweet or forward an email).

So, what can we learn from radio?  It seems that there are four key takeaways relating to successfully starting a conversation that we can apply to social marketing:

  • Subject Matter.  Yes, this is an obvious one, but more companies than you think just appear to ‘phone it in’ (love the  puns).  There is a lot of competition for people’s attention so you have to select subjects that your audience is going to be interested in – not ones that only serve your company/brand.  It takes work.  It takes time.  This usually means thinking beyond your product or service and really focusing on the customer.
  • Need to Ask.  Don’t forget to actually ask your audience to participate in the conversation.  This is equivalent of the radio station announcing their phone number and asking people what they think.  You’d be surprised how many more contribute to the discussion when you explicitly ask (we’ve tested this).
  • How to Ask.  The way you phrase the question can have a significant impact on the response.  Sometimes you want to ask a very open-ended question and sometimes you will want it to be very specific.  It really depends on the subject.  Over time, you will learn the best approach for the type of question and your audience.
  • Listen and Learn.  In most situations, radios programs are just asking the questions for the entertainment value.  But as marketers, we can learn extremely valuable information regarding the motivations, interests, frustrations, etc. of our target audiences from those conversations.

So turn on the radio and let the old dogs teach us social marketers a new thing or two about social marketing.

Ten Tips for Addressing Customer Service Issues Via Twitter and Facebook

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

How would you respond if you called a company’s customer service department and the agent told you to send an email to another customer service group and someone should be able to help you out?  Pretty frustrated, right?  Well, you see that type of response frequently by companies on their social networking sites.

It happens because sites like Facebook and Twitter are often under the domain of an organization’s marketing or public relations department and there isn’t sufficient coordination with the customer support group.  The problem is that your customers have and will increasingly turn to websites like Twitter or Facebook to air grievances and seek resolution.customer-support

Your customers don’t care which department is responsible for “social media oversight” or your organizational structure.  When they tweet you or post a comment on your Facebook page, they expect the same type of results (if not better and faster) as if they picked-up the phone and dialed your phone center (or emailed or contacted you via online chat).

Given the public nature of social websites, prompt and effective customer service on Facebook, Twitter and the like is extremely important.  Not only should you want to take care of your customer, but because your response is seen by prospects, other customers, vendors, and partners, it also impacts your brand.

Here are a few tips to help provide excellent customer support on social websites like Twitter and Facebook:

  1. Understand that even if you don’t have a Twitter profile or Facebook fan page for your company, your customers will still voice complaints about your organization on those sites and you need to be prepared to react.
  2. Develop a process to handle customer service issues that are communicated via sites like Facebook and Twitter.  Include all relevant groups within your organization and make sure that you treat the posted complaint like an email, phone call, or chat – in others words, be proactive in contacting the person who originated the issue and be ready to help them.
  3. Have social monitoring in place so that you can respond quickly to issues.  If you are still developing your process, you can use social monitoring to get a sense of how many issues you might encounter on a daily or weekly basis.
  4. Don’t forget that social media time (especially Twitter time) elapses at a much quicker pace.  Just like 1 human year equals 7 dog years, 1 real world hour equals something more like 7 twitter hours.  Responding in 48 hours isn’t seen as being prompt in the social media realm.
  5. Be strategic about when you communicate publicly and privately.  Not all communication with the customer needs to happen via public comments.  The initial contact should be public so that others are seeing you are being responsive but often the follow-up (getting specifics, etc.) is better done via email, phone calls, or direct messaging.
  6. Even though we live in a digital world, sometimes the best way to diffuse a situation is by talking the disgruntled customer over the phone.  The extra effort can go a long way and is usually appreciated by the customer.
  7. Make sure there is some process to provide a summary report of complaints and issues back through the organization. The best way to handle customer problems is to prevent them in the first place and complaints and reported issues should be valuable feedback to sales, marketing, engineering, research and development and product development.
  8. Be transparent!  Don’t, and I mean never, try to diffuse a situation or defend your company through a response where you pretend or give the allusion that you are just another customer or unbiased community member.
  9. Don’t think that only ‘big’ companies need to worry about customer support on the social media sites.  People use the web do research on all types of companies (big and small, national and local).
  10. Obviously, don’t forget that anything you post publicly can be viewed by everyone.  Think about how your response will be perceived by others – don’t be dismissive or defensive.

Is there anything that I missed?  What suggestions do you have for companies to be successful in addressing customer service issues via websites Twitter and Facebook?

Focusing on the Right Numbers

Friday, April 16th, 2010

numbersYou’ll hear companies tout the number of Facebook fans, Twitter followers or email subscribers they have, but those numbers don’t mean much.  Sure, everything else being equal, you would rather have more fans than fewer.  What is really important, however, is how engaged those fans, followers, and subscribers are.

My wife has an address book that she has kept for as long as I can remember.  She has hundreds of names, but many of the people listed are ones whom we have lost touch with.  We don’t know what is going on in their lives and we wouldn’t be invited to a birthday party, wedding, or graduation party they hosted.  In fact, a large percentage of addresses and phone numbers probably aren’t valid anymore.  We certainly can’t count everyone listed in that book as a friend, even if their information is still current.

The same holds true with your online marketing lists.  People may have signed-up because of a contest, by mistake, or were once interested in your product.  The reality is a significant portion of many companies’ customer lists are disengaged.  It happens – people lose interest, move on.

So instead of focusing on how big your list is, focus on how many people you can really get engaged with your company, brand, service, or product.  That is the number that really matters.

Online Marketing: Focusing on the “And” Instead of the “Or”

Monday, August 31st, 2009

choicesToo often there is a discussion about which is the ‘best’ online marketing tactic or channel (e.g. Facebook vs. Twitter or social vs. email) as if we can only choose one.  As marketers, we need to focus on having conversations with our consumers how they want and where they want.  For some, that is still email and for others it might be Twitter, Facebook, or something entirely different.  The more places we can be providing relevant content and useful information, the more successful we will be.

We recently conducted a number of online surveys for one of our clients in order to get a better sense of the audience overlap among their Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and email newsletter subscribers. What we found was interesting:

  • 40% of Twitter followers didn’t subscribe to the email newsletter and 60% weren’t Facebook fans
  • 50% of Facebook fans didn’t subscribe to the email newsletter and only 5% were Twitter followers

While there is some overlap, our client is getting a much greater reach by embracing all three channels than if they were only using any single one.

So instead of focusing on the ‘or’ (e.g. is Twitter or Facebook better), think about the ‘and’ – how we can best use all of channels and tactics like Facebook AND Twitter AND email AND video AND ….

Content, Content, Content

Monday, June 29th, 2009
Photo: Sharyn Morrow

Photo: Sharyn Morrow

No matter what type of marketing you are engaged in (search marketing, email marketing, social marketing, etc.), the first, and perhaps most important, thing you can do is ensure you are providing relevant and useful content.

Most companies could benefit by spending more time thinking about what they can do to continually provide value to their customers, followers, fans, etc.  Marketing is made so much easier if you have something of interest.  Content is still king.

5 Internet Marketing Myths

Friday, April 17th, 2009

It’s amazing how often I hear the same misconceptions and misunderstandings from prospects we talk to, clients we work with, or others when discussing Internet marketing.  While businesses have become more savvy with respect to the web, some still have much to learn. 

The following are five of the most frequent Internet marketing myths that I come across:

It’s really about the latest and greatest trend.  While technology continues to amaze, some things don’t change.  Content is still king and in order to engage you have to provide something of value.  The printing press probably wouldn’t have had such an impact initially if Gutenberg had decided to print a book of mutton stew recipes instead of the Bible.  In the end, technology can’t overcome bad design, poor strategy, inferior quality, or terrible customer service. 

I can handle email subscribers in the same was as my direct mail list.  Direct mailers sometimes have a difficult time understanding the repercussions of emailing to subscribers too frequently or to those who didn’t provide clear permission.  Junk mail delivered by the United States Post Office, at worst, ends-up in the recycling bin, while unwanted email triggers spam complaints which in turn tarnishes your email reputation and makes it more difficult to get your communications to those who really want it.  Just because it only costs fractions of a penny to send an email to an email address doesn’t mean that you should.

I’ve implemented XYZ analytics application so I have done all that I need.  Implementing a service like Omniture Site Catalyst or Google Analytics is a great start, but it is just a start.  Companies need to ensure that they have trained staff dedicated to analyzing the information provided by tools like Site Catalyst.  These applications have many wonderful reports but the ‘canned’ reports won’t tell you everything in you need (often they only provide a small portion), and you have to have skilled people focused on analyzing the data in order to gain the insights needed to improve results.

SEO is free – I can just have someone already on staff handle it.  There are companies that handle search engine optimization in-house and are very successful.  But those companies will be the first to acknowledge that it’s not free.  SEO is still such an art and science that you need to dedicate real resources to truly understand how to succeed.  Also, because the rules are continually evolving, a considerable effort needs to be made to stay current and that takes time and commitment.  Companies who think they can buy a book and task someone without search marketing experience to handle SEO in her ‘spare time’ soon discover that approach is a recipe for failure.

I control the conversation.  Companies can foster, facilitate, participate, and even impact the conversation but they can’t control what is being said about their organization.  Customers are having conversations about organizations and their products and services on Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, blogs, Amazon (product reviews), etc.  There is nothing that a company do to stop it and attempts to only backfire.  Organizations must stop worrying about control and learn how to participate.

What Internet marketing myths would you add?

Social Technographics

Tuesday, May 1st, 2007

Forrester recently published a report titled ‘Social Technographics’ which examines the social computing (blogs, reviews, video creation, MySpace.com, etc.) behavior of adult Internet users.  Forrester categorizes users into six groups based on the social computing activities they perform:

  • Creators-Publish web pages and blogs, upload video
  • Critics – Comment on blogs, post rating and reviews
  • Collectors – Use RSS, tag web page (del.icio.us)
  • Joiners – Use social networking sites like MySpace.com
  • Spectators – Read blogs, watch peer-generated video, listen to podcasts
  • Inactives – No social computing activities

To some degree, Forrester envisions users progressing from one group to another like someone climbing the rungs of a ladder.  For example, an Inactive isn’t likely to jump into social computing first by uploading a video she created to YouTube.com.  Instead, she would probably dip her toe in the ‘user-generated content water’ by viewing a video on YouTube.com or reading a blog.  

According to Forrester, Creators comprise the smallest group of adult users, which isn’t surprising, as creating web pages, blogs, and video takes the most commitment and can be the most intimidating. 

Additionally, Forrester found that there were generational differences among the types of participation.  Creators and Joiners had the lowest average adult age (39 and 37 years old, respectively) and Inactives had the highest (50 years old).  Also, Inactives had the lowest percentage of broadband users (49% compared to the next lowest which was 68%).

While some of the specific findings of their survey is interesting, I think that the more important take-away from the Forrester report for marketers is the need to be thinking of how your customers, consumers, prospects, etc. are likely to participate in social computing, recognizing that not everyone is looking to or willing to engage in the same way. 

The key is to determine what types of social computing activities provide value to your community and how you can best offer a way for your users to participate, knowing that in order to attract groups like the Spectators, you need to develop a community of Creators and Critics.

More on that next time.