Archive | May, 2012

Introduction to Social Media

28 May

In simple terms, social media is best understood as a group of new kinds of online media, which share most or all of the following characteristics:

Participation:  Social media encourages contributions and feedback from everyone who is interested. It blurs the line between media and audience.

Openness:  Most social media services are open to feedback and participation. They encourage voting, comments and the sharing of information. There are rarely any barriers to accessing and making use of content – password-protected content is frowned on.

Conversation: Whereas traditional media is about “broadcast” (content transmitted or distributed to an audience) social media is better seen as a two-way conversation.

Community: Social media allows communities to form quickly and communicate effectively. Communities share common interests, such as a love of photography, a political issue or a favorite TV show. And on and on….

 

How does social media apply to your company? By having a presence on the social media sites such as facebook, youtube, and twitter (just to name a few), your not only expanding awareness of your brand, but also creating a platform of which to engage, interact, and thus socialize with your customers, fans, and ultimately convert those individuals into new customers for your products and services which again, solidifies your brand in a global market place.

Still overwhelmed by social media? Sala Social Marketing has the knowledge and ability to create and deploy a strategic social marketing campaign which will expand your company / brand exposure to your target audience, and strengthen your bottom line. Increase fan and follower base, engagements with your brands content, and advertise your business within the social market place.

For more information on how we can help you expand your brand on social media, email Jessica@SalaSocialMarketing.com

Adding Social Media Into Your Event Marketing

21 May

Events, whether they are a local tweetup, a championship game or the world’s largest conference can be notoriously difficult to plan, promote, and execute. But the end result can be amazing, and that is why we plan them in the first place.

Whether you need to work with organizers, generate buzz, or share post-party photos, social media should be a primary weapon in your arsenal. With the power to share comes the ability to spread the word, increase awareness, and accomplish your goals.

Many conferences and event planners have come up with unique and powerful ways to promote and plan gatherings via online social tools. This guide will help you understand how social media can power and drive an event, step-by-step:

Step 1. Plan with social media tools

As with any event, the first step is to plan. This goes beyond the simple logistics – it’s about locations, agendas, and the people that will help you make it happen. Whether you’re inviting people over for a small BBQ or you’re planning a conference, here are some useful social media tools to get the planning started:

 Skype: Use Skype for conference calls and chats about event planning. Bouncing ideas back and forth via video or audio can make the brainstorming process move much faster. Gchat and Tokbox are also fast and easy ways to engage audio and video conversations.

PBworks: The wiki is an ideal platform for planning events – it’s easy to add notes, edit information, and organize content. Both mediawiki (the software that runs Wikipedia) and PBworks (formerly PBwiki) are good choices, but PBworks has been a favorite of organizers because of its business features, better document-sharing features, and RSS notifications.

Google Calendar and Google Docs: Assign tasks and meetings using a collaborative calendar like Google Calendar and work together on your event information using a software like Google Docs.

If you need a more detailed file collaboration and calendar system, consider Basecamp, a business project management solution. CalendarHub is also a good calendar tool with event feeds and scheduling.

Step 2. Organizing and inviting

Once you have the basic plan in the pipeline, it’s time to get your ducks in a row and start inviting some people. This is different than promotion – you’re making sure to invite key guests, speakers, family, and whoever else is important to the success of your gathering, conference, or party.

PBworks is once again a great tool for keeping information on the event organized – you can publish guest lists, speaker lists, and more with PBworks. But if you’re going for a more professional feel, we suggest actually setting up a blog: Creating and posting updates to a WordPress or Drupal blog is generally worth your while.

For inviting and organizing guests lists, always be sure to set up a Facebook event – this will be one of the first places your guests will look for event information. You can go beyond a simple Facebook invite for added emphasis: Anyvite and Eventbrite are two solid solutions for inviting guests that include RSVPing and customization features.

Step 3. Promotion and distribution

Promotion is the key to any successful gathering. Without it, you will not attract the interesting people that you’re looking to bring in. There are several levels of promotion and dozens of social media tools available, enough to write another full article about, but we will only highlight some of the most important details.

First, be sure to have as many distribution channels available as possible. Your potential guests or attendees must be able to easily find you on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, and for business events, LinkedIn.

Twitter and Facebook should be your primary promotional tools – they are built for spreading a message. On Facebook, be sure to set up a Facebook Page – they are better than groups because you can appear in News Feeds every time you update the Page’s status. Creating a Facebook Event is also key, as well as having guests and members update their own status with links to the shindig. Twitter’s key is retweeting and hashtags: be sure to have an event hashtag and promote it, and ask for retweets of the most important information.

If possible, all of these accounts need to link to one central blog, PBworks, or event page. If you’re using an Anyvite or Facebook event as your main distribution method, be sure that’s where every one of these social media websites links to.

Here are some more advanced promotional tools to consider:

Ning: Some organizers create their own social networks to build up hype and to keep connections even after the event has occurred.

Upcoming and Gary’s Guide: Add yourself to major event websites. If it’s a nightlife event, Going may be a good choice. For technology, Gary’s Guide is a smart place to be listed. Upcoming by Yahoo is a good listing of events all across the spectrum.

If your event is social media-related, don’t forget Mashable’s Social Media Events Guide as well.

Step 4. Optimize the event for social media sharing

When the day comes and everyone is arriving, be sure that you keep people happy and that you’ve optimized your event to create additional buzz. You didn’t do all of this work just to have people complain over Twitter, did you?

Have high-speed wireless available – this allows people to tweet and converse more easily. Promote following the event’s Twitter account for event updates. Don’t forget to have a unique hashtag for the event. Have a web page or even a giant whiteboard where people can share their social media contact information too.

For people who cannot attend the event, consider setting up a live stream. Live video services like Ustream and Mogulus make it possible to stream out key portions of events. You don’t have to stream everything – just the good stuff. If you can’t stream, upload videos to YouTube afterwards.

Finally, and most importantly, listen to your audience – do they complain about a specific speaker, the food, a lack of responsiveness? Address their needs by tracking the Twitter conversation for a large event. For small events, simply ask them for their feedback or have an online survey guests can fill out.

Step 5. Post-event social media communication

Contrary to popular belief, the event is not done when everyone leaves. There’s still more to do to make sure the event leaves a lasting impression, especially if you intend to have future events or even an annual one.

First, be sure to continue communication with all the attendees. The web page where users can add their social media contact information is vital towards this end, as are the emails you probably have access to. Send them thank yous, updates, and information. Be sure to promote friending or following your social media accounts.

Next, do not forget to share all the media generated by the event. Upload photos to the Flickr account and post videos on YouTube (Vimeo and Viddler are also good alternatives). Post recordings of your live video streams as well (you did have a live video stream or two, right?).

Keep communicating

Good communication is central to the success of any gathering. Even if it’s just a one-time event, keeping in contact with everyone who attended could result in invaluable contacts or lifelong friendships. Promote social media and good communication whenever you’re planning and executing an event and your extravaganza will turn out to be more engaging and more popular than you may have ever realized possible.

10 Ways Your Email Signature Can Support Your Marketing

14 May

You know that you’re a true email marketer if every single one of your emails includes a call-to-action. And I’m not talking about email marketing blasts here. What I have in mind are the individual, personal email messages you send on an everyday basis. Yes, your personal email signature can provide a serious marketing opportunity.

You are most likely already using your own email signature to provide information about who you are and where you work. But you can take this practice to the next level by updating your signature to reflect the marketing campaigns you are running today. Company employees, particularly those in sales and marketing, might be missing out on another opportunity to spread brand awareness or nurture prospective customers with their personal messages. Encourage them to turn their email signatures into a marketing mechanism, and they will most likely leap at the chance to sound smarter and help you in your promotional efforts. You, in turn, will get more traffic to certain pages and boost conversions.

Wondering what exactly you can promote through your email signature? Here are ten awesome suggestions:

1. Your Website (Homepage)

The least you should promote in your email signature is your company’s website. In order for this tactic to be efficient, you have to make sure your homepage acts like a landing page. In other words, it directs the visitor’s attention to the activity you want them to take. Including your website’s homepage in an email signature also helps to expand awareness of your brand.

2. Your Blog

Your blog is one of the smartest things you can include in your email signature because it provides value to the community and gets updated on a regular basis. The fresh content on your blog is more engaging than a static homepage and will most likely retain the attention of the visitor for longer. Also, don’t forget to include calls-to-action throughout your posts, because once a reader has landed on your blog, you want to encourage them to take the next step and become a lead. Using the free tool, WiseStamp, you can create a dynamic email signature that includes an RSS feed, which shows the title of your most recent blog article and automatically updates as new articles get published.

3. Social Media

When it comes to the usage of social media in email signatures, you have two options. You can either include a link to your personal accounts on sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, etc., or you can include links to your company’s accounts. Both are good options.

 

If you are building a personal brand, you will want to spread the word about who you are outside the company. That will help people to get to know you better and get more familiar with your interests on a personal level. Including links to your corporate social media profiles, on the other hand, will help you grow the reach of your organization and gain more followers. WiseStamp offers a ton of great social media add-ons for your signature, including a Facebook Like button that encourages email recipients to Like your Facebook page, social media icons that link to your profiles, and features that allow you to highlight your latest tweet, Facebook post, or Google+ update!

4. Book

Have you written a book? Has your manager or CEO written one? Don’t be shy about it! Share a link to the book in your email signature. That will help you build authority and credibility among the people you communicate with.

5. Conferences & Events

Is there a company trade show coming up soon? Or maybe you are speaking at a conference? Change your email signature to reflect that. While your email signature might not necessarily help you generate more registrants, it will surely spread the word about the event and gain some awareness among your target audience.

6. New Marketing Offer

If you are an inbound marketer, you must have a few offers lying around. They could be a number of different things, such as whitepapers, ebooks, webinars, or kits. Which ones are the best at converting traffic into leads? (You can tell by looking at their corresponding landing pages’ visitor-to-submission rates in your marketing analytics). Identify your best performing offers, and then expose them to more traffic! Use your email signature to share a link to a popular ebook or a webinar. Or if you’re currently featuring a new campaign that highlights a particular offer, use that in your signature instead.

7. Case Studies

Salespeople love this one! If you’re talking to potential customers, what’s better than sharing stories of successful ones? Use these examples profusely, and make sure you highlight some data points. For instance, you can mention how the ROI of a customer has increased since they started using your services or product. You can even quote a customer in your email signature!

8. Industry Research

Speaking of data, don’t underestimate the impact that facts and figures can have in a marketing context. People on the web are overwhelmed with vague information, which encourages them to look for specifics. If you publish an industry report based on proprietary research, consider including a link to it in your email signature.

9. Free Tool

If your company happens to have a free tool, such as an online calculator, educational game, or even a free trial, give it some marketing love. Free online tools have the power to engage readers and get them further interested in your product or service.

10. Demonstration of Your Product / Free Consultation

When you are having a tough sales month, consider using an email signature that promotes a free consultation with your team or even a demonstration of your product. In that way, you’ll increase traffic to these middle-of-the-funnel marketing offers and show your sales organization that you’re taking advantage of every possible opportunity to help them out.

 

Pinterest and Flickr Team Together!

7 May

Flickr and Pinterest have teamed up to provide photo-pinners with a simple tool for inspired sharing.

Last week, Flickr released a share-to-Pinterest button that will ensure all pinners past and present properly attribute images plucked from Flickr to the source of their inspiration.

Pinterest is the picturesque, visual water cooler where people “pin” to personal collections to express themselves. But the digital pin-board site, as a fast-growing social network, has quickly become a haven for copyright infringement as members pin photos without credit. Earlier this year, Pinterest released a do-not-pin code, immediately implemented by Flickr, to safe-guard protected works.

Now, the companies hope to encourage responsible sharing with a special “pin it” button for Flickr users. The button, live now, is a one-click tool located alongside Facebook and Twitter buttons in the service’s share menu. The button automatically applies photo attribution during the “pinning” process so that the photographer’s name, the photo title, and a link back to the original work are all attached to each pin. The attributions cannot be edited, staying intact as pins are re-pinned, and have been retroactively applied to all images hosted on Flickr, including those that are embedded around the web.

“Attribution is a work in progress and we’ll continue to add additional sources,” Pinterest said in a statement. The company is also rolling out attribution for Vimeo, YouTube, and Behance.

Flickr and Pinterest first entered into talks around attribution a few months ago after observing that the Yahoo-owned photo-sharing community had become a top three source of images for the inspiration site.  The companies have a joint interest in respecting the rights of content creators and together they set about hammering out a solution that would appease photographers and pinners alike.

With attributions retroactively applied to pins, Flickr photographers will get more visibility and the photo site will likely experience a bump in visits. Flickr also anticipates a significant pop in the rate at which images are pinned to Pinterest.

Today’s Flickr update is the fourth in a string of upgrades that the service has planned for this year. Future improvements will re-imagine the product experience in terms of engagement. Flickr has also made mobile initiatives a high priority for this year.