Archive | August, 2014

4 Marketing Lessons from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

25 Aug

If you’ve gone anywhere near a social media outlet in the past couple of weeks, you’ve undoubtedly seen your friends, their friends, countless celebrities and plenty of others participating in the “Ice Bucket Challenge” to raise money for the ALS Association, an American non-profit that helps spread awareness, increase research and improve patient care for those suffering from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

The Ice Bucket Challenge has thus far raised more than $40 million for their organization, an astronomical increase in donations when compared to the money given during the same period last year. This amazing increase is due to over 700,000 new donors, a large majority of which became familiar with the ALS Association through the Ice Bucket Challenge.

So what exactly did the ALS Association get so right with their Ice Bucket Challenge project? How did they get millions of people across the country to not only pay attention, but to also take action? How can you emulate some of this success in your own marketing efforts? We’ve outlined a few key reasons the Ice Bucket Challenge is so successful, as well as some tips for mimicking those elements in your brand’s social media and marketing efforts.

The Challenge is Simple

Everyone is familiar with the act of dumping a bucket of water over someone else’s head. We’ve seen it done in countless slapstick comedies and probably pulled an awesome water bucket prank on a sibling or friend as a child. The simplicity and familiarity of the Ice Bucket Challenge makes it applicable to pretty much everyone; being able to challenge family and friends adds another element of inclusion and encourages participants to spread the word, all of which adds to the ALS Association’s exposure. It gives them the opportunity to raise awareness about the disease among people who might otherwise have never known. And it’s easy!

Simplicity should not be overlooked when it comes to your brand’s marketing and social media efforts. Crafting an initiative or challenge that the majority of people can recognize, participate in and share with their friends can equal loads more shares, inquiries and new followers.

The Challenge is Sensational

People like content that catches their attention. A video of an always-pressed, perfectly groomed fashion designer allowing someone to dump water over his or her head is going to get engagement and shares because it’s sensational; it draws people’s attention and, the majority of the time, inspires them to share with their friends and family.

Awe is the number one emotion associated with shares of social media content. Being able to create awe in your audience (watch this famous celebrity get ice water dumped on their head!) is a pretty good indicator that they’ll be clicking the “share” button on your content, and you’ll be enjoying far-reaching exposure with new potential followers and brand ambassadors.

The Timing is Impeccable

 

The Ice Bucket Challenge couldn’t have surfaced at a better time; after all, in the midst of a hot summer, dumping a bucket of cold water over someone’s head is a pretty hilarious response to the heat. The ALS Association’s impeccable timing of the Ice Bucket Challenge shows that they understood how much more likely people were to participate, and share the challenge with their friends, during the hottest month of the year. Their foresight has, of course, garnered tremendous returns for their organization and, hopefully, for patients with ALS.

Similarly, maximizing your brand’s effectiveness on social media means knowing when to strike, whether with a campaign, new content or a challenge or initiative of your own. Knowing your audience and your content well is the easiest way to perfectly time your brand’s social media activity.

Never Underestimate the Power of a Good Cause

There are a few concepts in the world that humanity, as a whole, generally understands: the birth of a new baby, a college graduation, an engagement ring, an especially beautiful sunset at the end of a long day. We don’t have to be scholars or philosophers to experience joy at these occurrences, and that sense of joy is part of what connects us, human to human, throughout our lives.

Similarly, the life-altering diagnosis of a deadly disease is something with which we can all empathize. The ALS Association has kept their quest to raise money for awareness and patient care at the center of the Ice Bucket Challenge, never failing to remind participants that their efforts are going towards helping make a better tomorrow for those suffering from this awful disease.

That kind of focus translates easily to people from all walks of life. Learning how to craft a message that resonates with your audience, and provides them with a sincere motivation to act, contribute or participate is indispensable when it comes to success on social media. Show your audience that your brand is honest, provides a helpful service, and benefits people. The power of a good cause, as evidenced by the Ice Bucket Challenge, is among the most potent ways to get people involved.

Did you participate in the Ice Bucket Challenge?

 

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5 Essential Pinterest Tools To Power Up Your Pinterest Marketing

18 Aug

Pinterest has seen dramatic growth since its inception, with well over 70 million users worldwide.  Even though Pinterest is now concentrating on growing internationally, most of its appeal is still focused in the US, where over 70% of the users are young, affluent women, itching to spend their money.  A study by RichRelevance shows that the average order placed by Pinterest shoppers is $169, compared to $95 on Facebook, and $70 on Twitter.

Many top brands have caught on early, and now 60% of major brands have a Pinterest account.  It has become a very valuable platform for businesses looking to increase sales or connect with potential customers.  Many smaller businesses have also seen their traffic and sales increasing dramatically, therefore it is a platform not to be ignored!

The rise of Pinterest has spawned many tools, and services related to analytics, scheduling pins, and creating images.  Many have come and gone, but the best are still going strong.  Some of the tools are free, and others have different paid packages, to receive more advanced features.

In this blog post I will show you 5 essential tools that I think you need to explode your Pinterest marketing, and also save you time!  They will enable you to create fantastic images in minutes, analyze data to enable you to target content specifically for your customers, and save time, by scheduling your content.

1) Pin Alerts

Pinalerts sends you notifications via email when someone has pinned directly from your website.

This is an excellent way of finding out which of your articles or images on your website are popular on Pinterest, and are being pinned.  This then allows you to focus more on creating content that is going to be popular.  It also identifies the pinner, so you are able to then go to their page, and thank them for pinning your content.  Chances are, they will then go and check out your website again.  This is great in terms of building a community of followers, and increasing engagement.  Pinterest analytics will only show you who has re-pinned content from your Pinterest page, not your website.

2) Pin Groupie

Group boards are an excellent way of getting your pins out there, and increasing traffic to your website.  But, hours can be spent trawling through Pinterest looking for ideal group boards in your niche.  Pinterest do not provide a search facility specifically for group boards, and up till recently, the main way of finding out about group boards was through the few Pinners who created pages just rammed with group boards, or through google search, so obviously wasn’t ideal!

Now you will be pleased to know, there is a great little site out there called PinGroupie which takes all the hassle out of locating those elusive group boards.  It will allow you to search by category, and also see the board description directly on the website, which is great to see if the board is a good fit for your business.

3) Tailwind App

 

Pinterest now has analytics features on its business accounts, but they are very basic.  To get more insight into whether your content is achieving results, and whether you need to alter your marketing strategy, you really need something like Tailwind, which gives very detailed analytics data for Pinterest.  This app has many features, including identifying your most popular pins, discovering influential followers, your engagement score, and tracks the growth of your profile.

You can get basic analytics data for free, but if you want to pay for more features, it is $149 for the lite plan, which is tailored towards small businesses, social media consultants, and bloggers.  The professional version is $399 per month.

4) Viraltag

IIf you want to make your life easier, but still pin to Pinterest on a regular basis, then you need a scheduling tool.  There are many benefits of scheduling your pins, rather than having a pinning frenzy:  It actually saves you time!  Rather than getting carried away on Pinterest, you schedule your pins, then stop!

People can get really annoyed if their homefeed is cluttered up with your numerous images of shoes..they might even unfollow you!  More people will see your pins, if you spread them out over the day, and especially if you schedule for busy times.

5) Picmonkey

Pinterest is Images.  And picmonkey is one of the best free image creation tools out there.  You can maximize the impact of your business on Pinterest, by really focusing on creating great eye-catching images.  You can explore creative ways to turn not only your product images, but reviews, case studies and guides into great visual content.

Picmonkey allows you to resize your images, overlay pictures with text, and create collages. It is also very easy to use!

This is by no means the only list of Pinterest tools that are out there, but these cover the main areas of analytics, content creation and engagement, that are necessary for your Pinterest marketing strategy.

If there are any tools that you use for Pinterest Marketing that are not included, then please let us know in the comments below.

The 10 Biggest Social Media Time Wasters

11 Aug

I started some research on some of the ways people waste time on social media and came across a bunch of articles from the late 2000s discussing whether or not social was a big waste of time for businesses. It’s funny to look back on that time period now; social media was still a question rather than a statement.

There’s no question now that social media marketing is worthwhile for businesses. And since it’s relatively inexpensive to get started, it’s a perfect tool for small businesses and startups.

But just because social media is a way of life now, doesn’t mean you (or your employees) can’t waste time on it. In fact, there are more ways now than ever before that people lose time and productivity to social media time sucks which eat away at profits.

Here are the 10 biggest time wasters with regard to social media, and how to avoid each one.

1. Not Selecting a Focus

A huge trap I see business fall into every day is failing to pick a focus for their social media efforts. That is, they try to be everywhere at once and establish a presence on every social network there is. While it’s a good idea to set up profiles on every site to secure your brand name, you don’t need to be active on every site. In fact, doing so only cuts into time you have to spend on more efficient uses.

For starters, not every social media network is suited to every industry. If you don’t have an audience there, why bother spending time on it? You could also dilute your message if it’s spread across too many networks. For example, repurposing content is an effective way for content marketers to save time and make the most of every piece of content they create. Spread yourself too thin on social, however, and you’ll find you burn through your content a lot faster, without much effect.

2. Not Having a Strategy

When you start anything new for a business, it’s vital to have a strategy. So, why do so many business owners and marketers toss caution to the wind and jump into social media with no course of action? In my experience, these people are trying to do too much at once.  It’s not uncommon for there to be multiple large goals associated with a social media strategy, and each of those goals is often broken down into small accomplishments. Obviously, you can’t do it all overnight.

Instead, write your biggest goals and complete small tasks each day that move you closer toward accomplishing them.

3. Not Having a Schedule

Another major waste of time for those getting involved in social media is not having a schedule. What if you forget to post one day? Or you devote a whole day to social when you should’ve been doing other work? It needs to be a regular part of your schedule or else it’ll become an ineffective distraction.

4. Not Using the Tools Available to You

The interfaces included with all the popular social networks are perfectly fine for posting and interacting with people. But they’re not the most efficient. In fact, it’s a much better idea to use a more robust social tool to tackle multiple networks at once. Something like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or Buffer will do the trick.

5. Using Too Many Tools

Social media tools can be awesome in terms of the amount of time they can save you. That being said, using too many can become a distraction. Choose a favorite and stick to it. Keep it simple!

6. Trying to Do Everything Yourself

As your social media efforts grow, the number of tasks you’ll need to complete each day will also increase. Plus, an expanded social presence tends to go hand in hand with increased business. There may come a point when you simply have too much on your plate to handle it all on your own. Should that time come, it’s perfectly okay to outsource some tasks, such as post-scheduling and analytics monitoring. You’ll still be in control of what’s said, you’ll just have some help getting that message to your audience.

7. Failing to Schedule Posts in Advance

Speaking of scheduling posts, failing to do so can put a major strain on your workload. Business owners can’t be present on social media sites at all times of the day. This is the kind of time suck that discourages business owners so much they want to toss out the idea of social media marketing altogether.

8. Getting Caught Up in Real-time Chatter

Conversation and engagement is everything that makes social media marketing great. But getting wrapped up in trivial conversations can distract from your larger social goals and your regular tasks. Keep your social conversations tight and focused to avoid wasting time.

9. Letting Every Notification Distract You from Work

This time suck probably affects every industry. While it’s important to respond to people that mention you in tweets or comments, you don’t necessarily have to reply that second. In fact, responding to every single tweet, mention, comment, or message you get when you receive it means you’re being pulled away from some other task repeatedly. This lays a major blow to productivity and fuels the corporate idea that employees just goof off on social media.

10. Failing to Engage with Your Audience

A strong part of the value of participating on social media is building a relationship with your audience while humanizing your brand through real engagement and conversion. But if you don’t bother to respond to people who’ve taken the time to reach out, you could be wasting your social media efforts entirely.

Business owners and marketers know now that social media is a vital component of any marketing strategy. But it’s not something you can just start doing without any forethought. Social media is a legitimate way to market a business, build awareness, grow your reach and create a community, but if you (or your employees) get trapped in these time-wasting traps, it’ll take a lot longer to see real results. Avoid these traps to maximize productivity and start realizing the real benefits of social media.

 

5 Social-Media Tips to Enhance Your Marketing

4 Aug

Could your marketing campaign use a little flair in the social-media department?

If so, here are five helpful tips to enhance your marketing via social media:

1. Share at the best times.

There may not an exact best time to post, but data analytics firm SumAll found the optimum times to post on various platforms as follows: 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST for Google +, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for Twitter, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. for Facebook, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for Tumblr, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. for Instagram, and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. for Pinterest.

I’ve personally found that women tend to be online late on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. I typically wait until around 10 p.m. or 11 p.m. to post.

2. Grow your email list.

Yes, email is still popular. In 2012, 91 percent of consumers reported checked their email everyday, according to a survey by Exact Target, now part of Salesforce. Furthermore, it found that email is the preferred channel for customers.

What does this have to do with social media?

Since email can be a major asset in a marketing campaign, try to gain more email subscribers. Provide a sign-up form on your website or on Facebook through one of many apps, offer incentives for customers to join an email subscription list or run a contest.

3. Conduct A/B tests.

How can a company owner learn if a social-media campaign is reaching the intended audience or figure out which components customers liked? Run a simple A/B test, also known as split testing.

GetResponse can help a business test what works when contacting customers through email. Optimizely can aid a company with A/B testing of its website-landing pages and other pages.

4. Send the right message to the right platform.

Every social media platform serves a different purpose and draws a distinctive audience. Understanding this can make your marketing efforts go more smoothly. For example, you wouldn’t want to promote a law firm on Instagram or Pinterest.

Evan LePage, a writer for HootSuite, explains that Twitter users enjoy an image that has been attached, Facebook users like pictures and can’t stand asking for likes and Google+ followers are passionate brand advocates.

 

Test each platform to see how your audience responds. I’ve found that women tend to be on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, and men turn to Twitter and Google+ more..

5. Don’t just rely on organic strategies.

In a perfect world, organic search-engine optimatization efforts would be enough for all your marketing needs. And best of all, it’s free. But the world isn’t perfect. Sometimes you have to pay for a spike in traffic.

A pay-per-click strategy is a great way to get immediate results. Use Google Adwords to advertise near specific searches of keywords and you’ll only pay if someone clicks on your ad.

And all the major social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, offer opportunities to purchase ads. Advertising is available on YouTube and Reddit.

When you pay for placements, you expand your outreach outside of your current community of contacts in a rapid and effective way. While organic strategies are great, it doesn’t hurt to shell out money for ad placements on social media networks.