Archive | January, 2015

The Four Pieces for Successful Social Media Marketing

26 Jan

Social Media Marketing is more than just setting up a Facebook Page or Twitter account and posting updates when you have the time.  It is also not a forum for the direct sales pitch.  It is a powerful tool that when used correctly can create leads and sales for your business.

In order to reap the benefits of Social Media Marketing there are 4 areas that must be considered.

Strategy – Developing a solid strategy or “game plan” is the key to any worthwhile endeavor.  And while the ultimate goal may be sales, the using social sites to “pitch” your products will probably backfire.  Social Media is not the place for direct sales. A winning strategy generates leads by involving the audience. This requires interesting, well-planned content.

Campaign –Once the strategy has been formulated, the campaign is launched.  While it is important to stay true to the goals and company “brand,” how friends and followers interact with the sites must be considered.  Content should be adapted to fulfill their expectations. This is what pulls people in to become customers and loyal followers.

Creativity – A Social Media Marketing campaign must be creative.  The right balance of original, educational, informative, interesting, amusing, or even controversial content will spark engagement.  While information about the company is important, it is often the unexpected, funny or quirky content that gets shared. This attracts new friends and followers.  Creative content gets the conversation started, which can turn followers into ambassadors (or even sales people).

Analytics – As with any marketing plan the efforts should be measured.  While ROI for Social Media can be a bit vague, the content and engagement on the Social accounts can be tracked and measured.  This enables you to tweak your content to make it both valuable and sharable.

Social Media Marketing has matured over the last few years. People expect companies not only to be present on social sites, but to be fully committed to keeping the sites interesting and worthwhile.  Companies that understand and use Social Media Marketing appropriately will ultimately be rewarded with satisfied customers, eager to share their experience with their friends.

 

Social Media Marketing in 2015: The Year of Quality Over Quantity

19 Jan

Social media is now solidly at the center of the communications industry. A diverse and vast landscape of social networks, each with its nuances and demographic makeups, means that there is something for every type of business, marketing campaign, and sales pipeline. Below we share some advice that will help businesses, both large and small, accelerate their 2015 growth through social media platforms.

Facebook still rules, and content still matters

Despite reports that Facebook is struggling to appeal to newer generations, it still is the biggest social network out there, with 1.35 billion monthly active users as of September 2014 (YouTube takes second with 1 billion). The increase in average age of Facebook users may actually be a blessing for marketers, with users’ spending power increasing as they grow older.

Content on Facebook remains the focal component of the product. Changes in their Edge Rank algorithm, which governs which content is displayed on feeds, have consistently been geared to squash out cheap marketing content, pushing marketers to get more creative and produce rich, engaging content.

Fortunately there is a form of rich content that will help marketers succeed on Facebook this year: video. Facebook auto-play is going to define content strategies on this platform in 2015.

To illustrate how powerful this feature is, let’s take a look at the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge was launched shortly after FB rolled out auto-play, which starts playing videos on your newsfeed without any prompt. It therefore became impossible to ignore your half-naked friend dumping a bucket of water on him or herself. Although there are many other valid reasons behind the challenge’s success, this feature is certainly one of them. Since the feature was rolled out a little over a year ago, the number of users watching videos on Facebook has more than doubled.

There will be a lot more Twitter ads

Twitter’s growing revenue is certainly due to an increase in ad money spent on this platform, but we believe marketers still haven’t realized the platform’s true potential. Ads on Twitter can be incredibly powerful, and here’s why: Twitter’s public API makes it possible to easily create lists of users that are discussing a certain topic. Marketers can even identify users with specific intentions, by using search terms such as: “I want [enter any product type]”. Lists of usernames can then be uploaded to Twitter Ads to create custom audiences to which marketers can communicate highly tailored messages. Conversely to Facebook, Twitter has not spoon-fed us targeting tools, but they have maintained an open culture that greatly empowers savvy markers. This blog post is a really good resource for getting better at targeting Twitter ads. In addition, Twitter cards now allow marketers to increase conversions and display more rich and engaging content than a mere 140 characters.

Keep an eye out for Snapchat

Snapchat’s growth has been incredible to witness. As of May 2014, over 700 million photos and videos were being shared per day on this platform. Although they have not released how many monthly active users they have, such large traffic would suggest they could be larger than Instagram, which currently has 300 Monthly active users. With the introduction of Snapcash, Snapchat’s Venmo-like money transfer service, Snapchat has at the very least shown that it will evolve considerably in the near future. One year from now, Snapchat is likely to have significantly more and diverse features than it has now. Marketers that are capable of capturing a significant audience on this platform will likely gain considerable returns.

Creative Data Collection will be key

There are a surprisingly large and growing number of tools that empower non-coders to collect data and insight about online behaviors, and most of them are free. In the past month alone, for example, we have used this Google Spreadsheets add-on to append number of followers to a list of Twitter users. We have used the Kimono Labs Chrome extension to scrape a list of accounts from a landing page. And we have used IFTTT recipes in more ways than we can remember. All of these are free tools that require no developer knowledge. Successful marketers will be those who can think creatively about ways to learn more about their target audiences by efficiently collecting data.

What does this all sum up to? The role of the marketer is shifting quickly to encompass far more than it traditionally has. In addition to effective communication, marketers will be called to understand new and changing platforms, collect and analyze data, and find new tools to work more efficiently.

High-quality, rich content will win over quantity, and informed, data-driven decisions will determine success.

Tips to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

12 Jan

Social media exploded from 2009 onwards. Since then numerous companies have climbed on board, pouring millions of dollars into various platforms. However, many of these companies have learned the hard way that amassing “likes” is not the same as generating revenue.

Some, like German firm Kern and UK company Unilever, have launched brilliant social media campaigns that have translated into cold, hard cash. For the majority of large companies, however, social media marketing has been something of a let-down.

To be sure, this type of marketing does have its drawbacks, but those negatives can be overcome with sound planning and a great foundation in traditional marketing skills.

Limitations of Social Media Marketing

First off, managing several different social media platforms is somewhat time-consuming, which means that right from the start, the initiative is costing a company money. Impatient shareholders are seeking immediate results!

Even small companies and individual Internet Marketers can’t escape this one … one way or another, someone has to commit a large amount of time to social media marketing.

Worse yet, it is easy for employees to become distracted as they engage with sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

Also consider that even if you have a minor employee handling the actual content management, a decision-maker higher up in the company hierarchy is going to have to allocate time during their hectic daily schedule to provide information and approve ad campaigns and other initiatives.

The second major drawback of social media marketing is that it can be something of a Pandora’s box. Whilst it is true that review sites like Yelp allow people to review your product or service whether you like it or not, as soon as you voluntarily engage with fans and critics in real time, you will have to monitor everything you type.

A single minor error can take months – and thousands of dollars – to rectify. There is also the unlikely but nevertheless possible situation that a trusted employee could go rogue, dumping confidential information onto Facebook or Twitter.

Social media moves fast! … your posts could be buried within hours, and you are going to have to continually create content to remain relevant. This could translate into time and money, resources you simply don’t have an infinite supply of.

Finally, a 2014 Gallup Survey of 18,525 American adults found that 62% of respondents claimed that social media had “no influence at all” on their shopping habits. Gallup claim: “Social media are not the powerful and persuasive marketing force many companies hoped they would be.”

What to Do to Turn the Tide

Turning social media marketing into a viable income stream is about three things: quality content, quality engagement, and quality reach. To begin with, though, you can mitigate the time requirement by using apps like Hootsuite that allow you to manage all of your social media accounts from one interface.

Some of these tools cost money, but the time savings is definitely worth the investment. You can also use collaboration tools like Secret Facebook Groups that allow your marketing team to collaborate in an environment that is close to where all the action is, but that you can still easily monitor.

You can very easily avoid a pitfall that many unwary companies have fallen into by simply keeping your money in your pocket in some cases. If you are inclined to purchase Facebook Likes, don’t buy Facebook likes from anyone but Facebook, and run Facebook contests sparingly. The likes you will receive from these activities vary from low-value to virtually worthless.

Finally, use Facebook Insights to find out what types of content your fans want, and then give them more of the same. Remember, social media consumers don’t convert right away … and your overall goal is to raise brand awareness.

It is also important to check Insights to see what time of day your fans are sharing your content and then release new content 2-3 hours before that time. The bottom line is this: if you create and disseminate high-quality content that your fans are willing to engage with, and you have a product that appeals to the masses, you should see a healthy return.

Amplify Your Social Media Marketing With Paid Advertisements

5 Jan

So you have an amazing story to tell, but you have no idea how to get the word out. Do you write about it in your blog? Do you share the news on social media? Or both?

Social amplification is a strategy many brands struggle with. While most businesses have a great story to tell and amazing content to share, they don’t know how to share it on the right social channels. This is why it’s important for brands to know how they can take advantage of paid social amplification.

Brands such as Oreo and Doritos have benefited from paid social amplification over the last year. For example, Oreo created a Snack Hack website that provide how-to and DIY videos via short Vines. Oreo was able to turn this content into a campaign that built more awareness of its brand.

Paid social amplification isn’t just about advertising your brand on social media; it’s about building awareness of your brand online. Paid social amplification uses advanced techniques to help brands target the right audience and spread their message as quickly as possible.

When using paid social amplification, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, every brand needs to have owned media. This means that you should already have a blog or social media accounts created. As you create owned media, make sure it’s tailored to your target audience and is well-researched. It’s also important to share your content on a variety of social challenges and even create a microsite.

After you have owned media, you can invest in paid media. Paid media simply means paying for social advertisements for your brand. For example, if you’re hoping to attract more customers through Facebook, you’d pay for a Facebook advertisement that’d attract more customers to your website.

For example, Samsung Mobile created a targeted ad that would attract more Millennials to purchase their products. The ad contained a strong call-to-action inviting customers to trade in their old device for up to $300 and also contained images of new products. This Facebook advertisement was effective because it related to Samsung’s target audience and directly asked customers to take action.

As you continue to use paid social amplification, you’ll notice that more people will become aware of your brand. Soon, you will begin experiencing earned media, which happens when you grab the attention of an influencer or blogger. Through earned media, news outlets and other forms of media will begin to pick up on your content. This is a great way to increase exposure for your brand and attract a greater following.

Now that you understand how to use paid social amplification, it’s important to create a goal for your strategy. You can’t simply purchase a social media ad and hope it increases your sales. You need to create a strategy that’s driven by a goal such as brand awareness or increasing interest, which will help you choose the most effective social media ads for your brand.

By selecting a goal for your paid social amplification strategy, you’ll be more prepared to measure the success of your campaign. For example:

Let’s say it’s your goal to build customer loyalty. After launching a paid social advertising, focus on metrics such as audience growth rate and return visits to your website. These metrics will help you determine whether your paid social advertisements were useful for boosting customer loyalty.

Increasing awareness of your brand through paid social amplification is a very effective strategy. By following these tips and integrating paid social amplification into your current marketing strategy, you’ll be more likely to attract more customers and gain exposure for your brand.