Archive | February, 2012

Optimizing Pinterest for Business

27 Feb

Pinterest is hot. White hot. The 2011 Crunchie award winner for Best New Startup has been on a roll lately, hitting almost 12 million monthly unique visitors and crossing the 10 million milestone faster than any previous independent site, according to comScore. And a new report from Shareaholic indicates Pinterest is already generating more referral traffic to websites than YouTube, Reddit, Google+, and LinkedIn combined.

The social content curation service has captured the attention of millions with a unique platform that allows users to express interests and ideas through visually appealing images on virtual bulletin boards. The Pinterest frenzy provides marketers with an opportunity to leverage its
compelling visual nature and weave it into a cohesive social experience within a brand’s Facebook community.

Here are five ways brands can leverage Pinterest now:

1. Add Pinterest Content to Your Existing Facebook Presence.

Images are more effective than text at encouraging engagement, and an effective technology platform will allow you to surface visually appealing content on one or more Facebook Tabs. This content can be presented as a simple pinboard, as part of a game, or even in the News Feed. But as you pursue this, don’t forget that over 40% of Facebook’s traffic comes from mobile devices. Make sure your platform can effectively surface tabs on mobile devices. Vitrue’s platform does this today, and we expect other platforms will follow.

2. Optimize Your Web Properties to Draw People to Your Pinterest Content.

You can always put a “Follow Me on Pinterest” button on your website. But remember, a user’s choice to “Follow” may not be brand-specific, but rather board-specific. This gives you an opportunity to segment your followers in ways relevant to your business. Lowe’s does a nice job of this and has seasonal boards (the Big Game, Valentine’s Day), themed boards (Craft Ideas, Unique Pet Projects), and boards that tie to specific merchandise areas (Lighting, Bedrooms, Bathrooms). You’ve likely already had to start thinking about segmentation using Facebook Open Graph Objects. Pinterest Boards offer many of the same segmentation opportunities. A well-designed strategy will have you adding “Follow Me” buttons in places appropriate to the segment.

3. Tell Your Existing Social Audiences About What’s Happening on Pinterest.

Social networks mean different things to different people, and the chances are good you’ve already invested considerable effort in growing your fan/follower bases on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. Make sure that you periodically post Pinterest content to those streams, and in a visually appealing way. Animated photo slideshows and other visuals can be used to surface Pinterest content right into fan News Feeds, for instance. The resulting acquisition of Pinterest followers and the deeper engagement with fans across multiple properties can pay great dividends.

4. Make Your Pins Work Harder For You.

This means using a URL shortening and redirection strategy, preferably one that aggregates your Pinterest analytics (views, Repins, etc.) in a central location. This will allow the metrics to be combined with, and compared to, those from your othersocial properties. You also need to combat the link rot that can occur when the source image feeding your Pin is removed from its website. With content as visually driven as Pinterest’s, broken links stand out like a sore thumb. Lastly, the pinned images themselves can be set to click through to a variety of sites. Imagine a Pin of a product that, once clicked, takes you to a flash sale where the product is sold at a discount after a minimum purchase threshold is met. All of this is possible now!

5. Arm Your Staff and Agency Partners With Tools to Help Them Pin Great Content.

Content is king, and anything that makes it easier for your teams to identify and curate great content represents a competitive advantage. The Pinterest “Pin It” button works quite well for consumers. Unfortunately it wasn’t designed for marketers and is therefore missing some features that would let you include analytics tracking as a simple part of the “Pin It” process. This won’t last long, as tools to fill this gap are already under development.

Pinterest is still in its infancy, and time will tell if it continues its rapid growth or plateaus. But it certainly exhibits the potential to provide visually engaging experiences for consumers that marketers can weave into their social communities. Brands can start simple, then evaluate for effectiveness along the way. Being able to experiment with new and innovative platforms is part of the fun and excitement of social. And brands should start experimenting today.

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Using Social Media to Promote your Spring Festivals and Events

20 Feb

Social media offers the perfect way to promote a large festival, whether it’s a music, art, corporate, or other event. Many people attend festivals with friends, and social media can turn the entire experience – before, during, and after – into a shareable one. Social media is about bringing people together. Why not use it to bring people together at your event?

For large festivals – upwards of 100,000 attendees – social media has become a critical component for promoting the event and inviting festival-goers to participate before, during, and after the festival. But you can even use social media to promote a smaller, more intimate affair. The trick is to use social content to bring people together before, during, and after the event.

Here are five tips anyone can use to promote an event – large or small – using social media.

Focus on the Stars

When using social media to promote a large event, it’s incredibly important to know which acts, names, performances, and shows will draw the most interest.

The first step before creating a Facebook page, launching a Twitter stream, designing a social contest, or any other social media tactic is to figure out what your event’s biggest draw is. Is it a big-name band? A star CEO? A celebrity appearance? A landmark piece of art?

Once you’ve determined what the draw is, focus your social media outreach on that main directive. Your entire social program should focus on driving awareness among large groups of devoted fans – and encouraging these fans to spread the word among their own networks.

Don’t forget that sometimes a less well-known act will gain the most praise during and after events; you can do followup outreach after the event is done based on these surprise hits.

Keep the Conversation Going

Your social media outreach program will probably include a mix of Facebook, Twitter, social contests, viral video, mobile check-in services, and other tactics to increase buzz about your event before it happens.

Normally, your main goal is to influence as many ticket sales or RSVPs as possible. But even after tickets are sold and RSVP lists are filled up, don’t just sit back and hit cruise control. Make sure to continue your social media programs right up the big day – and then keep them going during and after the event.

People don’t want to participate in conversations about a big event then just have the social sites go dark after it’s done. Use social media to keep the excitement alive during and after the event, too.

For example, during the festival, host a virtual info booth on the festival’s Facebook and Twitter pages – giving festival-goers with smartphones access to all the info they needed while they were at the show. Need to know which entry gates have the shortest lines? Which comedy shows were sold out? Where there’s space for a picnic blanket? The virtual info booth delivers practical info in real time.

Make Experiences Shareable

Part of the power of social media is sharing – creating the type of content people want to pass to their friends. When promoting an event with social media, make sure the content you create is highly shareable – music, videos, contests, games, giveaways, fun information about the headline stars. Then, make it easy to share via “share this” buttons. Encourage people to share content in return for rewards; if a fan shares the festival page with 30 friends, give them a discount on their tickets, for example.

In addition, remember to make experiences shareable by mobile, so festival-goers can continue sharing during the event itself. (Hopefully, people won’t be glued to their mobile device during an exciting, entertaining arts and music festival, but many event-goers will have their smartphones and will want to use them to share the experience of the event with friends who couldn’t join in the fun.)

One way to create shareable experiences at a festival is to host a social tent at the event. Inside the tent, festival-goers could take photos with friends and instantly upload them to Facebook. Encourage everyone to tag each other in photos.

Why not also produce some viral or engaging videos about the festival? One idea would be to unique video series that gets to the heart of why people come to the festival year after year, or why they decided to attend for the first time – then screen the video in the tent on big screens. You can also post the videos on Facebook and YouTube to give festivalgoers a chance to share with their friends before and after the event.

Location, Location, Location

Don’t forget to add a mobile component to any social media promotion for a big event. Mobile check-in apps like Foursquare can be used before and during the event to drive buzz and encourage sharing.

Make sure to work with organizers to create multiple pre-event and during-the-event check-in spots, and make all venues with a special tag. For weeks before the event, you can encourage people to check-in at these sites in return for potential badges or prizes. A large number of check-ins creates the “I want to be there, too” reaction in friends.

One way to use mobile to promote your festival is to create mobile check-in badges. Long before the festival, you can go grassroots and create dozens of official venues around won where people can check-in with Foursquare. This may take a lot of planning, especially in a big city, but it’s worth the effort to drum up registrations to your festival. Make sure to distinguish your festival’s venues from others with a special # tag, and award prizes to festival-goers who check in the most.

Don’t Forget QR Codes

While QR codes haven’t yet reached the “must-do” in social media promotion, their use is skyrocketing, especially among young people. During the month of June 2011, according to one study, 14 million mobile users scanned a QR code.

You can use QR codes on posters advertising your event, allowing mobile users to quickly scan the codes to get more information on tickets, venue, headliners, and more. These codes can also lead people to your social sites, so they can join in on the conversation. Once at the event, QR codes posted around the venue can offer attendees a chance to keep the conversation going through promotions, offers, and social links.

At your festival, make sure to post QR codes around the event urging festival-goers to “like” the event on Facebook and follow it on Twitter. You can also embed information into these codes about how to keep up to date on the latest festival news after the event ended.

Social media is a powerful force to bring people together. Anyone planning a large festival should use it widely and use it well.

2012: The Year of B2B Social Media Marketing

13 Feb

For B2B marketers to be competitive and grow in 2012, it’s essential that they not only realize the value of social media, but make a commitment to improved execution. An e Marketer article recently reported on a new Accenture study, which saw a huge gap between “knowing” and “doing” when it comes to social media in the B2B Marketers survey group. The report found that almost two-thirds of B2B marketing executives view social media as an “important” channel to interact with customers, partners, and stakeholders. The problem is that only 7 percent of the survey group felt that their organization was leveraging social media very heavily. Even more telling, the survey found that 9 percent – nearly a tenth – of B2B marketers were not using social media at all.

It’s pretty well known that B2B companies have been comparatively slow to adopt social media strategies. They certainly have lagged their B2C counterparts in terms of jumping into the social media marketing space over the last few years. But now more than ever, it’s time to put the pedal to the metal. Why? Revenue. Simply put, the saying “he who hesitates is lost” couldn’t be truer right now – and the loss can be measured in cold, hard cash.

There are a number of reasons for B2B companies’ seeming reluctance to employ social media in their marketing. First, companies that sell to other companies tend to be more conservative and bottom-line focused overall, and measuring the impact and results of social media strategies is still a work in progress. Relatedly, many B2B companies have believed that the social media phenomenon is mainly about networking and sharing likes and photos with friends on sites like Facebook – not about driving inbound interest and improving demand generation. For example, think about Facebook’s IPO and its potential $100-billion valuation. The darling social network behemoth is going to be under more pressure to increase profits to match that price tag, which means they will need to up the ante in regards to its own advertising options…and that includes catering more features towards the nascent B2B social media marketing market.

Also, as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn inevitably become better at capturing leads, B2B marketers are going to be forced to spend more time and money on them. The unveiling of Facebook’s data regarding its customer growth, for example, could be the nudge that makes B2B marketers take notice and beef up their Facebook marketing strategies. Indeed, more than 800 million users listing professional-related preferences is no lead pool to scoff at!

Social has been creeping into the overall shifts taking place in B2B marketing for the past few years, and early-adopting companies have seen success – as panels at forward-thinking conferences like SXSW Interactive and Enterprise 2.0 to online publications dedicated to the practice like BtoB Online can testify. But 2012 should be the year – has to be the year – that social becomes standard operating procedure. There’s too much money being left on the table otherwise.

Leveraging LinkedIn for B2B Companies

5 Feb

From Facebook to Twitter to You Tube, there’s no limit to the number of social networking sites that can be leveraged to interact with customers and prospects, and build positive brand awareness.

LinkedIn, however, stands apart from the crowd. The roots of popular sites like YouTube and Facebook are founded on the entertainment side of things. But since its creation, LinkedIn has been geared toward the professional business crowd.

If you haven’t already incorporated LinkedIn into your online marketing mix, consider the latest statistics:

  • LinkedIn has more than 60 million members
  • A new member joins LinkedIn approximately every second
  • Executives from all Fortune 500 companies are LinkedIn members

Get started with a LinkedIn marketing strategy today with these five tips:

1. Build a Network, Then Start a Group

Getting started with a LinkedIn marketing strategy involves two important steps, the second of which is dependent on the first:

  • Create a personal account and build a network of contacts. Reach out to customers with whom your business has a solid relationship – those who truly know your company and its products or services. Ask them to write recommendations for your company, which will appear in your profile. And don’t forget to ensure all employees are part of the network as well.
  • Once your personal account is setup, create a group for the brand. By creating a group for your brand, you’ll be able to maximize reach beyond your network. Within the brand group, you can start discussions, share news, post jobs and create subgroups.

2. Make the Most of Your Profile

For the LinkedIn community, your profile will be this first item they see, so treat it as you would any landing page. To make the most of your profile:

  • Hyperlink using keywords. Include relevant URLs in your profile, and use links with anchor text. For example, instead of “My Blog,” use a keyword to describe it such as “SEO and Online Marketing Blog.” (see image below)
  • Use keywords in descriptions. That includes the summary, specialties, experience and all other description categories.
  • Include an image in your profile. LinkedIn, after all, is a social networking channel. So add as many personal touches as possible to maximize engagement and put a face to the brand.
  • Caption: Include blog or website links in your profile using anchor text.

3. Leverage Third-Party Applications

Today, there are a host of third-party applications available to help you make the most of your LinkedIn activity. For example:

  • Box.net: Add links to files like resumes and marketing kits
  • Slideshare: Share business presentations and demos with your network
  • Company Buzz: Monitor messages sent out on Twitter about your brand or other subjects
  • TripIt: See where members of your network will be travelling to and when you’ll be in the same city

 

4. Update and Engage Frequently

Think of LinkedIn marketing efforts as you would blog, Twitter or Facebook marketing efforts: The more activity and interaction, the better the results. To consistently engage with your network:

  • Sync blog posts to your profile with tools like Blog Link or WordPress LinkedIn Application
  • Frequently update your profile with the LinkedIn status feature, much like Facebook status updates
  • Leverage the LinkedIn Question and Answer function – participate in others’ questions and ask your own

5. Promote Your Profile

In order to expand your network, LinkedIn marketing efforts – like anything else – must be promoted in other channels. Include a link to your profile on your website and blog, in individual blog posts, in email signatures and even on business cards. Be sure to optimize your profile for important and relevant keywords. Allow enough of your profile to be public so search engines can rank that content accordingly.

These tips, of course, are just the tips of the iceberg when it comes to LinkedIn marketing tactics. What specific tactics have you found successful for marketing on LinkedIn?