10 Podcasts Every CMO Should Be Listening To

Our Favorite Podcasts for CMOs

As if maintaining a company’s vision while creating viable marketing strategies weren’t enough, CMOs are also responsible for staying on top of the latest marketing news, trends, and changes.

With the demand to be an expert in both leadership and subject matter, CMOS and other marketing professionals require a balance of practical leadership guidance and strategic marketing advice.

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The Difference Between Organic Social Media and Social Media Advertising

organic-social-media

There are billions of people using social platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and these people all represent current and prospective customers that you can reach with your brand. There are a number of ways brands can interact with each of these platforms; essentially it comes down to using either organic social media or social media advertising.

The Difference Between Organic Social Media and Social Media Advertising

There are many differences between opening up accounts on social media platforms and posting there, also called organic social media. and social media advertising, which is paying to reach audiences on those platforms. While both have their own assortment of pros and cons, each one has the potential to bring significant value to your brand’s social marketing strategies.

Since there’s no “one-size-fits-all” formula, it’s very important to understand the impact that organic social media and paid social media advertising can have on your business. One company may receive incredible engagement from their organic social media posts, while others may notice more traction from paid ads.

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Why Businesses Should Care About Facebook Featured Photos

facebook featured photos

When it comes to marketing your brand or business through social media, you really can’t ignore the potential that a Facebook page has to offer. Chances are that if you have a business, you more than likely have a business page on Facebook, and most of your current or prospective customers are already using the platform as well. But are you using Facebook Featured Photos to your advantage – both for your business and personally?

The bottom line is, utilizing Facebook and all of it’s ever-changing features should be incorporated as an essential part of your marketing strategy.

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Why You Should Encourage and Share B2B Customer Reviews

Why You Should Encourage and Share B2B Customer Reviews

There are many reason why you should encourage customer reviews in your marketing strategy, even if you’re in a B2B (business-to-business) industry. If you’re a software company, you can often find helpful reviews on software review sites. For other types of B2B companies, using reviews from actual customers provides potential customers with real use cases, which can better help them make a decision whether to use your services or product, as well as improve trust in your company. Consumers today highly value other consumers feedback and opinions, and often rely heavily on reviews for purchase decisions. When you solicit and display B2B customer reviews on your site or in your marketing materials, you create social proof that your business has been valuable to others.

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Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

Business Social Media: Farming vs. Fishing

As a social media consultant, I get asked this question all the time: Which social media platform should I use for my business. And my answer is always the same: It depends.

Of course, there are many variables to consider when determining your marketing strategy, and your use of social media platform(s) should be part of that strategy. And your personal preferences, or available resources, must be part of the decision making process. If you hate yourself on video, YouTube may not be your first or best choice of social channels for your business. If you don’t like to take and manipulate photographs, Instagram won’t work for you.

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The Bots Are Coming: The Rise of Chatbots for Business

Chatbots for Business - Crackerjack MarketingIf you know anything about science fiction, you know that there are two types of bots in the world: good bots and bad bots. Good bots, when implemented by businesses, can be a semi-automated way to talk to visitors on your website. Businesses, of course, want to take advantage of good bots while avoiding the bad. Since 2018 seems like it will be the year for using chatbots for business, let’s investigate how your business can use chatbots in your own marketing efforts. To start, let’s take a look at what bots are and how they got to where we are today.

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The B2B Content Marketing Survival Guide

The B2B Content Marketing Survival Guide

You’ve read it in all the influencer articles, you’ve heard it at conferences and in meetings, and you’ve listened to it through podcasts for ages now. Content is king. And, it doesn’t matter if you’re a business- or customer-facing industry, you must have content because it reigns supreme for the Google. But not just any content will do. It must be high-quality content that solves the user’s issues. The majestic, sparkling unicorn of all content. Even when that user is another business. So, how is this done? How can you compete in a world with content that is for a business, by a business? That’s where we come in with our handy-dandy B2B Content Marketing Survival Guide.

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How to Advertise on SnapChat Like a Pro

how-to-advertise-on-snapchat

 

The online advertising world is getting increasingly complicated with a growing variety of platforms to choose from. Google and Facebook are the giants in the field: Google accounts for a 78% share of the total US search ad market and Facebook ads generated over $9 billion in revenue for the company in Q2 2017. However, marketers should be looking at other platforms, too, as they often have value with more precise targeting and specialized demographics.

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The Best Daily Activity Tools for Small Business Growth

best tools for small business growth featured

In every niche market, the desire for growth among small businesses is ever present. Most people prefer to experience measurable growth as constantly as possible. However, if your daily activities are misaligned with the long-term goal of growing your business, that growth will continue to elude you for a long time to come.

Depending on the size of your business, you are probably wearing too many hats already. This means that with each passing day, you could have multiple responsibilities in management, leadership, marketing, accounting, customer support and many others. Consequently, you feel helplessly trapped in busyness.

There is a limit to how many hours you can work each day. Add to this the reality other limited resources, especially money, and then your small business growth potential will remain untapped. This is where these tools for small business growth come into play. Beyond what is possible with your working hours, these tools help business owners like you to grow brand awareness, generate more leads, and increase sales volume and ROI.

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How to Humanize Your Brand and Why You Need To Do It

how-to-humanize-your-brand

Whether your objective is to grow an audience for your blog, sell a product, or provide a service, you first need to build trust. If you want people to come to you for your travel tips or sign up for your online course, you need to give them a reason to choose you over the sea of other options out there. It sounds like this could be quite the difficult task, huh? Well, that’s not necessarily the case as long as you’re willing to put in the effort.

If you’re ready to open up and be transparent, not only about your brand but also the person or people behind the brand, you’re going to have a lot more success.

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Should You Fire Your Social Media Agency?

Should-You-Fire-Your-Social-Media-Agency-

If you want to increase your brand’s awareness, engagement, and sales leads through social media, then get ready to roll up your sleeves. In a time where things are always changing, especially in the digital world, it can be hard to stay up-to-date with everything you need to know. Social media marketing requires countless hours of brainstorming, developing new strategies and tactics, testing, experimenting, and measuring results.

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Marketing Lessons from Apple {Infographic}

marketing lessons from apple

When you think of marketing genius, the team behind Apple, Inc. may come to mind. The technology company dominates the internet, cell phone, and entertainment use across the globe. Apple is synonymous with success and technological innovation.

That recognition is priceless.

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How To Structure A Blog Post to Get More Readers and Maximize SEO

How To Structure A Blog Post

 

Even if you’re a great writer, you may struggle now and then with how to structure a blog post that’s certain to get your key points across.  In the nearly ten years blogging and helping clients with blogs, I’ve learned a few tricks on how to structure a blog post along the way which may help you.

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The Difference Between a Blog and a Website in Your Marketing Strategy

A business with no blog or website is left open to the possibility of false representation. Of course, current or prospective clients can Google you, and chances are they will find something about you online. This information could include anything from a Yelp review of your business, your personal Facebook page, or maybe even a comment you left on a forum years ago. Though none of this may hurt your business, it may not be the impression you’d like to project.

Give your audience a designated place to visit where they can find more information about you. A blog or website will be the reflection of your business that you choose to put on display. It will provide information and answer clients questions, but that’s only scratching the surface. Let’s dive a little deeper.
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Creating a Blog Content Engine

Recently, I had the honor of giving a presentation to some of the smartest people in social media. Hosted by the Social Media Association of Michigan, sponsored by Tech Town Detroit, I was asked to “cram everything I know about blogging into a one-hour presentation.”

Well, it’s pretty difficult to condense 12 years of experience into one hour. Knowing that these are savvy marketers, I thought presenting the tools and systems for keeping the content engine turning would be the most helpful since this can be a daunting task for even the most well-seasoned content marketers.

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Tips for Creating Agile Teams

Tips for Creating Agile Teams

Creating an agile team is more or less considered as a must for today’s entrepreneur, assuming you have a small, bootstrapped business. As global trends show, more and more successful businesses follow lean startup model methodology; therefore, creating an agile company and adding additional layers of flexibility and responsiveness to your team structure can really boost your results. Luckily, it’s not all that difficult to create an effective organization. Following are a couple of neat tricks you can resort to in order to add agile in front of your team.

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Hiring Interns Costs More Than You Think

Hiring Interns Cost More Than You Think

Hiring an intern can seem like a win-win situation. You get cheap labor for handling your social media, and the candidates for your internship are likely to be digital natives. On top of that, you get the warm, fuzzy feelings that come with helping another person learn and gain experience that may help him or her secure a high-paying job one day. Before you jump for joy at your free or super cheap social media intern prospects, consider that there is a dark side to this arrangement. It’s highly likely your interns cost more than you originally thought they would. Read more

Video Captions: Not Just for Watching CNN at the Gym

Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Video Captions

Top Reasons Why You Should Be Using Video Captions

These days the idea of making your content “mobile friendly” is top-of-mind for many of us in the content-generation business, but are you also thinking about making it as “people-friendly” as you can? You probably already know that as a best practice you should strive to make sure that your content is accessible to as many people as possible, but you may not be considering captions as part of that accessibility strategy. Here’s why you should.

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Social Media is More than a Part-Time Position

Can you use a part-time social media manager to achieve your online marketing goals? Will hiring a part-time social media manager be enough to acheive your goals?  Isn’t social media marketing simply making announcements to a network of people who have signed on to receive your news and tidbits? Isn’t it simply sharing links, images, and videos you find interesting or inspirational? Or is it all about building relationships and finding ways to engage with your prospects and customers? These things are definitely part of social media marketing, but they don’t tell the whole story.

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Your Corporate Social Media Policy

The Anatomy of a Social Media Policy

As a business owner, marketing manager, or executive, you may wonder if your company needs a social media policy. After all, nearly everyone we know uses a Facebook account, and lots of people are Instagramming photos of their families, or posting this weekend’s party on Snapchat. How do you protect your business when your staff are loose on the social web? Smart businesses have social media policies which govern the actions of employees in social media, whether on behalf of the company or while on their own time.

Most social media policies are crafted primarily with company protection in mind.  I’d argue that an equally important goal of your policy should be to eliminate confusion on the part of employees, making it safe for them to engage in social media without constantly asking for guidance (or fouling up). Therefore, a good social media policy needs a number of key elements in order to make it easy for employees to follow and clear for HR and executives to interpret. Even if you already have a policy, perhaps it’s worth checking to be sure you’re covering the following eight points.

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Influence Marketing: The Good & Bad of Following Up

Blogger-Outreach-All-About-The-Followthrough

“You gotta follow through all the way.” That’s what my dad, and later numerous softball captains, said over and over again every time I stepped up to the plate. (Mind you, I was no star softball player – just a casual work-league player who mostly warmed the bench.) I’ve taken that notion to heart in business, particularly, and try to be really diligent with followthrough on projects.

Apparently, many people who do blogger outreach and influence marketing do not adhere to the same concept.

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Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Why The Best Agency For You Might Not Be A Social Media Agency

Do you know who Danny Kaye is?

Danny Kaye - Jack of All Trades

I think I can be appropriately curmudgeonly in saying that most kids today don’t know who Danny Kaye, the great 20th Century entertainer, is (was).

For those of you who are unaware, he was a huge star of his time, incredibly well-rounded, with a career that worked through stage, screen, television, records, and food. He died in 1987, after giving us the classic films such as “The Court Jester,” The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” and “White Christmas,” as well as a variety show and a handful of special TV shows. Kaye was a classic comic, too, always pushing the envelope even in serious situations.

A huge part of Kaye’s appeal was his incredible well-roundedness. No matter the situation, he was able to bring something to it: a little soft-shoe, his lovely singing voice, his wide variety of foreign accents, or his in-depth knowledge of food (especially Asian cuisine).

Kaye was a real, old-fashioned entertainment jack of all trades.

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7 Tips for Success in Social Media

“Keep it simple” is good advice when it comes to most things business related, and that includes social media. Why, you ask? Well, the fact of the matter is that some of the simplest things can influence your success with social media. However, it’s also the simple things that many business people overlook or forget to do on a regular basis.

For example, it is simple to share information that is of interest to your audience, striving to make their lives better, easier, or more entertaining rather than posting repeatedly about your business and what makes it so great. That’s simple but good advice, yet it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that we should always push our products and services. Unfortunately, constantly pushing our offerings backfires in a really big way. Likewise, there are many other ways in which the simplest of things threaten to trip up even the most-savvy business people. But, no worries. We’re here to help you avoid falling into some surprisingly simple social media traps.

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7 Tips for Creating Marketing Messages that Stick

marketing-messages-that-stick

You try to create the most compelling marketing messages. You know how important it is to speak directly to your target audience and share ideas, features, and tips that will capture their attention. But try as you might, it seems like you’re pushing a bunch of boulders up a super-steep uphill. Your messages seem on-point to you, but your audience doesn’t seem to remember them. And if they do, they don’t seem to remember them long enough to buy your products and services. Never fear! You do have options—good options, actually.

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What Makes Visuals So Crucial to Content Marketing Success?

Role of Images in Content Marketing

There’s no denying that visual content has taken over our generation. With more than 3.7 billion internet users in the world and smartphone users expected to reach 2.32 billion by the end of 2017, from Snapchat to Facebook to Instagram, there is practically no end to our appetite for visual content.

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Social Media Tools for Collaboration, Organization and Creation We Love (and Use!)

This post was co-authored by Christina StricklandCori Jacobs, and Lesley Lloyd.

If you’ve attended any of our social media training sessions, you’ve heard us compare growing social media presences to building a house before. We’ve talked about how you need to build a solid foundation and then the right layers on top of that.

Because construction analogies come easily to me, let’s just roll with, shall we?

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A Lesson in Re-Branding from Snap (Snapchat)

A Lesson in Rebranding from Snapchat

Yes, you read the title right, Snapchat is now Snap. A change of name in the fall told us that the brand is now planning on expanding itself to be more than a messaging network. Since its creation in 2011, Snap has been interesting, unique, entertaining, and fun! You know about the filters (maybe you have used the dog filter a time or two), the disappearing pictures, videos, and chats, the compilation of stories, memories, ads, spectacles, and discovering other news and current events.

Rebranding became necessary to Snapchat in the fall of 2016. You might find yourself in the same shoes now. You can’t hide from rebranding (and that’s a good thing), and you can’t ignore it. If you feel the pressing need to rebrand and don’t know where to start, take a page out of Snapchat’s book on the matter.

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How to Use YouTube for Content Marketing

How to Use YouTube for Content Marketing

When you hear the phrase “content marketing,” chances are written text comes immediately to mind. However, blog posts and articles aren’t the only types of content you can use for content marketing. You can also create, publish and share your content in video format. YouTube provides a fairly easy-to-negotiate and definitely well-known platform for doing just that.

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The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

The One Social Media Resolution You Need to Make This Year

It’s that time of year again. If you’re like many of us, you’re probably deciding that this year will be different. 2017 will bring a better you, and perhaps a better business too. That’s right. You can and should make resolutions for your business. But before you get off to the races, preparing your long list of business resolutions, we want you to know that one resolution stands out in importance. It involves social media but doesn’t focus on crafting more posts or finding more followers.

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8 Twitter Hacks for Better Content Marketing

Twitter Hacks for Content Marketing
Often, business owners try Facebook out as their first venture into social media marketing. They know they need to have a Twitter presence too (because their audience is there), but they often drag their feet, finding Twitter intimidating or believing it’s complicated. The truth is Twitter is no harder to use than Facebook; it’s simply different. But no worries; we have you covered. Here are 8 Twitter hacks to make successful tweeting easier:

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Honing Your Influence: Influencer Tips to Make You the One All Brands Want to Hire

Influencer Tips to Make You the One All Brands Want to Hire

Being an influencer wasn’t even a thing ten years ago.

In fact, if someone asked you what you do for a living and your answer was “I’m an influencer” you would sound like a pretty nefarious person out to do some pretty nefarious things.

In today’s landscape, however, being an influencer means that you are a powerful and engaging member of the online marketing community making bank for getting things done!

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The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

The Ins and Outs of Twitter Chats and Parties

If you’ve been on Twitter for an extended period of time, you’ve seen a Twitter chat and party or two. Maybe you’ve participated in or hosted one or two! It’s one of the ways brands and businesses are connecting on Twitter. Most importantly, chats and parties are a direct connection to your current audience and to the audience you’re trying to reach. We’ve had tremendous success in hosting Twitter parties for some of our clients! Our efforts yielded participation rates of up to 233 (averaging 185 per party) people and 8,194 tweets in just one hour!

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Alternatives to Vine (and What to do When a Channel Gets Shut Down)

alternatives to vine

Twitter through some of us for a loop (pardon the pun) at the end of October, by announcing the closure of Vine, its 6-second video app. This is big news whether you loved and/or were involved with Vine or not. Twitter is now refocusing, and we can’t wait to see what that looks like. In the meantime, social media marketers who have made an investment in the app now need to take serious steps in another direction. If the Vine stars we knew, loved and laughed at can move on, then you can, too. This is a great time for you to revisit your social media strategy to make sure that you have a backup plan if you used Vine, and to make sure the rest of your channels are covered in case one of them bites the dust.

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Do You Really Need a Business Blog?

Do You Really Need a Business Blog

Any business can create a blog, and as you know, many, many of them do. But when the time comes to plan your own, you may be wondering whether you really need one at all. After all, you probably have a website, and you should be making your mark in social media. So how do you decide if you say “Hello World!” with a blog or just stick to your already traveled Internet terrain? Here are some questions to ask yourself when making this important decision.

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21 Secrets to Getting More Blog Comments

21 Secrets to Getting More Blog Comments
Are your brand’s blog posts getting enough (or any) comments?  Do you wonder if anyone is actually reading your posts? More than likely, your posts are getting read, but you might not be getting the amount of interaction you’d like. While Facebook likes and shares are great, blog comments are the highest expression of social media love. Of course, we’re not talking about the weird “Buy these awesome name-brand shoes!” comments, but even comments that may disagree with your point of view tell you that people are paying attention to your brand.

Blog comments also have a bit of a snowball effect. Once one or two people respond to your post, other people start to jump into the conversation too.

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3 Ways to Deliver Successful Content

3 Ways to Deliver Successful Content
Content marketing is the bridge between you and your target audience – it connects you to people you otherwise might never reach. The goal of your content is to get the audience so interested in your content that they can’t help but cross the bridge to your side. However, we all know that sometimes our content misses the mark and our audience isn’t interested for very long, or even at all! What’s keeping readers engaged? Your story is! What makes up your story? Your content!

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How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World

“How to Better Understand and Connect with Customers in a Digital World” is co-authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland”

With the majority of adult Internet users spending time on social media sites, it’s no surprise that social media is such an important way to get your audience’s attention and connect with those in need of your products and services. But if there is one thing many businesses have learned the hard way, it’s that talking at your audience simply doesn’t work. That sort of strategy (or lack thereof) results in your message becoming a part of the online background noise.

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6 Crucial Tactics to Improve Your Facebook Advertising Efforts

6 Crucial Tactics to Improve Your Facebook Advertising Efforts

Facebook is an excellent place to post ads for your brand. Why, you ask? Though most advertising questions don’t have a simple answer, this one definitely does. Essentially, just about everyone is on Facebook in some capacity or another, so advertising there means more and better chances to reach your audience. Just what do we mean by everyone? Well, upwards of 70 percent of adults spend time on this platform. With well-targeted ads and a good strategy, you can reach a significant portion of your audience, whether you’re targeting a B2C or B2B audience.

Of course, the fact that everyone is on Facebook is really just the tip of the iceberg. There’s also the fact that Facebook really makes it easy to hone in on a particular audience based on locations, demographics, interests, behaviors, and connections. And once you target a particular audience, there is so much you can use Facebook ads for, including boosting likes and engagement and increasing website clicks and conversions. You can do all of this on the budget you set AND use Facebook’s tools to track your progress, so you can easily optimize your ad campaigns.

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8 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Content Marketing

8 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Content Marketing

8 Simple Ways to Breathe New Life Into Your Content Marketing was authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland.

If you’ve been at content marketing for any length of time, you’ve discovered that it’s all too easy to become comfortable or even complacent. You know what you’re doing, you’re no longer a newbie, and things are running like clockwork, but are you doing all you can do? Could doing a bit more improve your results?

Yes, you are putting effort into producing compelling content, but there is always room for improvement. Why should you bother? Well, the bottom line is that even small improvements can prevent your audience from growing bored and losing interest while also providing your current followers with a reason to keep coming back for more. And you want new visitors, right? Taking the time to refresh and reinvigorate your content also encourages sharing and helps to draw new visitors in your direction.

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Creating Brand Voice on Social Media

Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media

“Building and Protecting Your Brand Voice on Social Media” was co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

Every brand needs a strong brand voice. What is brand voice, you ask? Essentially, it’s the tone and style you use when communicating with your audience. Your brand voice not only tells your audience who you are and what you have to offer, but also proves critical in engaging your audience members and motivating them. Your brand voice gives your audience a feel for your brand’s personality, and since the explosion and rapid growth of social media marketing, it’s become more important than ever before.

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The Essential Guide for Startups Using Social Media

The Essential Guide for Startups Using Social media

In years gone by, it was enough to create some business cards and set up a website, but today you need so much more. Today, your prospects are ever more social online, and your audience will expect to not only see you but also interact with you via social media. Too many startups view social media as an afterthought rather than an essential part of succeeding in business. They soon discover just how critical it is for encouraging interest, building a reputation and developing lasting relationships with potential customers Fortunately, you have this essential guide to help you start off on the right foot.

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Surefire Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

“Surefire Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas” was co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland.

Ways to Generate Blog Post Ideas

Sometimes the hardest thing about having a blog is figuring out what to post on it each week. Maybe you started with a bank of grand ideas, but as you used them up, your blog started to feel, well, a lot less fresh. Perhaps you’ve struggled for ideas since the very beginning. The good news is you can stop liberally applying your forehead to your desk.

Here are some of the best ways to generate blog post ideas:

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How to Market Your Brand Using Live Video

how-to-use-live-video-to-marketing-your-brand

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so what does that mean for live video broadcasting via tools like Periscope, Meerkat, Snapchat, Facebook Live, and Blab? I’m going to say live video is worth a million words. Why? Well, as far as content marketing is concerned, we all know how important it is to educate and inform your audience in a way that is also entertaining. We also know how important it is to reach your customers where they spend time and encourage them to connect with your brand. Live video makes this easy.

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21 Things Your Competitors Do on Instagram that You Don’t

What Brands Should Do on Instagram

Instagram has grown by leaps and bounds since its inception. What started off just trying to gain a foothold in the social media arena now has an incredible 400 Million+ people who are active on it monthly, and over three quarters of those users are in the United States. This is an important place to be if you’re serious about your brand. But the competition is fierce! There are many brands that have nailed it on Instagram.

This is both good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that, yes, like I just said, the competition is fierce. The good news is, you’re reading this blog post and we’re going to tell you exactly what they’ve done to become so popular.

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Reasons Why Your Influencer Marketing Isn’t Working

influencer-marketing-isnt-working

With over 100 billion active users on Facebook, and one million people using Instagram monthly, social media is a definitive part of our communication culture.

Among the average daily users wanting just to connect with friends and share fun pics of their kids, are what we call influencers, individuals with large, vibrant communities and audiences who tune in to connect with them on a regular basis.

And they are powerful.

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How to Run a Remote Business With the Right Tools

How to Run a Remote Business With the Right Tools

There are many benefits to working remotely. Even if you typically work in a traditional office, you’ve dreamt about escaping to work from somewhere else from time-to-time. This is the lifestyle we at Crackerjack Marketing have adopted and loved for a little over six years now: our team is 100% virtual, and we all work out of home offices (or sometimes on the road when we travel for business or pleasure). While we believe there are huge benefits to working remotely, we do rely very heavily on digital tools to help our team stay in touch and in sync with each other.

Simply put: the right tools help your company, your partners, and (if you’re an agency) your clients work together efficiently and effectively without having to be in the same place.

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How to Provide Great Customer Service Using Facebook

how to provide great customer service on facebook

Social media sites have become more than just platforms for marketing and advertising. They’re also important channels for soliciting and receiving customer service—all in the public eye. In fact, a recent study showed that nearly half of American consumers use social media to ask questions or to talk about their experiences (good and bad). What does this mean for you? How you treat your customers and what they have to say about you is increasingly visible. Mess this one up, and you stand to lose not only one disgruntled customer but a whole slew of prospects.

I’ve already talked about why your brand should be using social media for customer care a few weeks ago. If you’ve been following along here at Crackerjack Marketing, you already understand the importance of how your brand is represented in social.

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7 Ways to Gain Facebook Fans Without Using Paid Ads

How to Get Facebook Fans Without Advertising

Facebook used to be considered a progressive part of a brand’s marketing plan. These days, it’s not “progressive,” it’s an integral part of your plan. Consumers aren’t impressed with the fact you have a Facebook page for your business; expect you to have one.

Of course, merely having a Facebook page with your logo isn’t enough. Consumers also seek out social proof.  In other words, they look for indicators that your business is thriving and responsive, including your number of fans, how often you post and how much your fans interact with your page.

As Facebook’s continued changes to its algorithm have made it harder to get consumers’ attention on this platform, many marketers have turned to paid advertising to help with fan acquisition. We use Facebook advertising for our own clients as well and think it should, most certainly, be included as part of your overall social media marketing efforts.

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Why Your Brand Should Use Social Media for Customer Care

social media customer care

Social media is a viable avenue for providing service to your customers. As more and more consumers embrace social media for personal use, they are also reaching out to companies this way.

Some brands listen and respond better than others, and these are the brands that enjoy increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. In most industries, consumers have a good deal of choice when it comes choosing where to spend their money, so encouraging loyalty is an important goal. In fact, a 2015 study from Garnter revealed that customer service, not price point, is the most competitive factor in the purchase decision.

Customer service isn’t an either or proposition, so you don’t have to choose social media customer service over traditional methods. In fact, you shouldn’t choose one over the other at all. Social media isn’t “up and coming” in the customer service realm, consumers are already taking to their favorite social networks with complaints, suggestions, and compliments.

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Twitter Strategy

“4 Steps to a Better Twitter Strategy” is co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland.

Better Twitter Strategy

With over 106 million users sending more than a total of 140 million updates per day; you can see why we think Twitter is an essential platform for your business. We’ve written about Twitter a lot, everything from finding people to follow, finding content to share and explaining why Twitter Moments matters to your brand.

Now that you’ve gotten the basics down, it’s time to fine tune your Twitter strategy so you can maximize the benefits.

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Charitable Giving Campaigns Best Practices and Examples

social media charitable giving campaigns

Have you noticed the rise of brands implementing social media charitable giving campaigns or, as some may know them, “share-to-donate” campaigns? It’s no big surprise. After all, sharing on social media is what people love to do most. When you combine that with a good cause, you’ve usually got a recipe for success. Right?

Well, maybe or maybe not. While it’s true that this type of social media campaign could present a huge opportunity for your brand and your chosen charity, it could backfire on you and generate the wrong kind of buzz if not executed thoughtfully.

The good news is that when done properly, charitable giving campaigns really do create a win-win-win situation for your brand, charity, and community. In this blog post, we’re going to take a closer look at four brands that got it exactly right. We are also going to give you some tips for planning and creating a successful charitable giving campaign.

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How to Tweet Like a Pro

advanced twitter tips

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you can probably tell we’re all aflutter about Twitter. Even though we wonder why Twitter is so darn difficult for people, we’re big advocates for using Twitter as part of your overall social media strategy.  It’s a powerful tool for building your business.

What do you do when the ideas just don’t flow as readily as you’d like? What can you do when you’re long on enthusiasm but short on compelling ideas for tweets? No worries! We’ve compiled a list of ideas you can use to get you through those difficult times as well as great resources for finding content to share.

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The Art of Content Curation and Making it Work for Your Brand

What Is Content Curation

Content is king, right? But that doesn’t necessarily mean you have to write every word of it. After writing blog post after blog post and article after article, with an eBook or white paper thrown in, you may feel as if you’re penning the Great American novel rather than marketing your business. The good news is you don’t have to type until your fingers fall off. Original content is certainly good, but content curation helps get the job done too.

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How to Find People to Follow on Twitter

“How to Find People to Follow on Twitter” was co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

how to find people to follow on twitter

You know the influence of Twitter. It is, after all, a powerful and engaging social media platform. But, if you’re not following anyone and no one’s following you, it’s neither powerful nor engaging. You need followers (beyond your family and friends), and you need to be following other interesting Twitter users too. So, how do you do that? We have you covered. Here’s a quick guide to finding people to follow on Twitter.

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10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes

10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes was co-authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland.

10 common content marketing mistakes

Promoting your business with content is an excellent strategy for raising awareness of your brand and getting your customers’ attention. But some businesses don’t get the benefits they should, because of easily avoidable errors. Here are some common content marketing mistakes you should avoid.

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10 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic

Co-Authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland

10 ways to increase blog traffic

Creating blog content is one of the best investments you can make in promoting your business. The stats are clear:

  • Brands that create 15 new posts monthly average 1200 new leads each month.
  • Blogs increase the number of pages in the search engine index by 437%.
  • You’ll get 55% more visitors by having a company blog.
  • Whichever way you look at it, blogging for business is a good thing.

Many brands build a blog and expect the traffic to roll in simply because it’s a super awesome piece of web real estate. They’re in for a rude awakening when their launch day comes and goes with hardly a couple of stragglers stopping by to read what you’ve written.

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Why Is Twitter So Darn Difficult for People?

why is twitter difficult

I do a lot of social media training, which I really enjoy. I work with small business owners, executives, front-lines social media managers, and people who are trying to gain skills for their next job.

I’ve trained on social media strategy, on blogging, and on just about every platform out there: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. As well as Twitter.

And it’s really remarkable: Every person I’ve ever trained on Twitter seems to think it’s the most difficult and confusing of all the social networks. So I’ve spent some time thinking about why this is the case. Here’s what I’ve concluded on what makes Twitter difficult.

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Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for eCommerce Businesses

Pros and Cons of Social Media Marketing for eCommerce Businesses

One of the most common answers I hear to the question of “how do I grow sales for my eCommerce business” is: social media. But what does that mean? Everyone’s “doing social media,” but are they doing it correctly, and more importantly, does it work for your business?

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5 Things You Should Know About Facebook

5 Things You Should Know About Facebook

We use social media sites every day, but how much do we really understand about how to use them effectively in marketing? To help you, Crackerjack Marketing is creating a series of posts to guide you, and naturally, we’re starting with Facebook.

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5 SEO Changes That Will Affect Your 2016 Strategy

 

seo changes

If you’ve been paying attention to search engine optimization (SEO) this year, you know that things have changed. That has big implications for how you handle SEO in the year to come.

1. Goodbye Keywords; Hello User Intent

Once upon a time, a focus on keywords was the hallmark of good SEO. That’s been on its way out for a while, and is now a definite no-no. Keyword data is only useful if it tells you about user intent because it’s user intent that you’re optimizing for. Your SEO and content strategy will change depending on whether visitors your site are doing general research, looking for specific information or are ready to buy your services. And whichever it is, focus on keywords will be much, much less important than delivering what users want.

2. Focus on UX

UX, or user experience, is about having a site where visitors can easily find the information they need and have a positive experience on your site. If they don’t, they may “pogostick” away. That will increase your bounce rate and reduce your search ranking because Google will track that behavior and decide that certain pages aren’t relevant to users.

3. Building Authority

Google authorship may be dead, but that’s probably in name only. Make no mistake; Google is tracking your authority and the content you publish is one measure of that.

The more authoritative content you publish and the more visitors you attract, the higher your page authority and domain authority will be, making it even easier for potential customers to find you in search results.

Don’t forget about external authority signals. Publish content on well-respected sites or take part in high-profile webinars and events to increase your online authority.

4. The SoLoMo Trifecta

Social, local and mobile (SoLoMo) are also integral to your 2016 SEO strategy. Social signals also indicate authority and trustworthiness, so being active on social media will make you more visible. Google now indexes tweets – who knows what other social media content they will add next year? Think about whether Blab, Periscope or Instagram should be part of your 2016 social media strategy.

Optimizing your local search listing is also a must, especially since Google now shows just three local results in its answer box. If you haven’t checked out your Google My Business listing, now’s the time to do it.

Mobilegeddon hit earlier this year, which meant that some sites that weren’t mobile-friendly took a search ranking hit. That’s not going away. If you’re using a mobile device, you mobile-friendly pages are labeled, so why would you visit any others? Mobile device users are known to make quick buying decisions, so ignoring this metric could be costly. Search Engine Watch says Google has practically abandoned desktop-focused SEO and advises readers to do the same.

5. Quality Optimization

From the beginning, Google has tweaked its algorithms to make sure that web users see better content. That won’t change. If your content isn’t good, no-one will see it; make it great and you improve your chances. One thing that’s been happening in Google’s search results is the provision of rich answers. That means when users type in questions, the answers appear in a box at the top of the page. If your content appears here, you’ll get more traffic, as Stone Temple Consulting found. The secret? Clear answers to simple questions.

The bottom line? Anyone trying to game Google is wasting their time. SEO in 2016 means working to earn authority by delivering stellar content and an online experience that users value.

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Why You Should Avoid Digital Sharecropping

digital-sharecropping

Using social media is now a fact of life, but there’s one key mistake business owners have to avoid. If you have an active presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or whatever social media is best for your business, that’s fantastic, but you must avoid the perils of digital sharecropping. What is it? It’s where you put your eggs in a social media basket and have no web presence of your own.

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Memes for Marketing: Should You Use Them?

memes-for-marketing

Is it possible to go a whole day online without seeing a meme? Wherever you look on social media, you find those amusing combinations of images and text sending a short, sharp message.

Originally a meme was simply “an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture” (Merriam-Webster) but now it can be a piece of content – usually visual – that spreads quickly and may even go viral. A case in point: all the memes around Donald Trump, many of which focus on his hair.

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5 Ways to Get More Eyes on Your Blog Content

Creating blog content is one of the best investments you can make in promoting your business. The stats are clear:

  • Brands that create 15 new posts monthly average 1200 new leads each month.
  • Blogs increase the number of pages in the search engine index by 437%.
  • You’ll get 55% more visitors with a company blog.

Whichever way you look at it, blogging for business is a good thing. But not everyone will read your blog, so to get more from content marketing, use your blog content in other ways so that more people will see it and interact with your company.

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Why Twitter’s New Moments Feature Matters to Brands

twitter moments
Did you notice something different over on Twitter recently? Twitter unrolled its new, and, quite possibly, most important feature called “Moments.” Moments takes what everyone is talking about and puts it into a tidy place for the user to find. Now we don’t have to jump in and get lost, mid-conversation. This is a great way to check out and interact with what’s going on on Twitter, before you dip your toes fully into the stream.

What EXACTLY is this “Moments”?

Essentially, Moments makes trending stories have a longer life. It yanks it from the rapids of the Twitter river and sticks some stuff into a calm little pond, where it waits patiently to be fished out. With the click of that neat little lightning bolt icon, a list of important highlights, along with live tweets, awaits. You’ll never have to wonder what’s happening on Twitter, ever again!

How does Moments work?

It’s quite simple, really. Well, no, it isn’t, but we’ll make it simple. We mentioned the lightning bolt icon already. You click it, which then brings you into the Moment app. What you see on that neat, magazine-like screen is a list of new and emerging stories that are popular in your network. If what’s going on doesn’t strike your fancy, you can click on “Sports” or “Entertainment” and catch up on what’s been going on over there.

How will it affect my own Twitter stream?

It’s supposed to affect your Twitter stream! Moments and your stream are new besties. They don’t go anywhere without the other. Moments tells Stream everything, and vice versa. Together, they are supposed to make a more robust, enriching, newsworthy experience. As Moments grows and learns how the user, well, uses Twitter, the content in Moments will be more individualized, tailoring itself to your own, personal likes.

How can Moments benefit brands?

Twitter is a cultural zeitgeist. As a brand on Twitter, you need to be aware – no, ahead – of the trends. Currently, we can stay on top of trends by staying really active on Twitter, checking out trending hashtags and using Twitter lists. Twitter’s new Moments feature now gives you another way to keep your finger on the pulse of the Twitter sphere.

As a brand, it’s not enough to settle for not being left behind the conversation, you want to be the leader. Imagine if your content was selected to be part of the curated collection!

At the moment, “Moments” (see what I did just there?) are only curated by a couple of Twitter partners but Twitter will be opening Moments up to more users in the future which, in turn, could present huge opportunities for creative thinking brands to set trends!

Twitter created a game-changer with Moments. Unlike some other features that Twitter has played around with in the past, this one is going to last a lot longer than…a moment.

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5 Tips for Brands Using Periscope

5-periscope-tips
Getting acquainted with Periscope and learning what it does was an important first step. Now, however, you have to figure out how to use this innovative new social media tool for your brand. Don’t worry. We have you covered with five tips brands can use to make the most of Periscope:

1. Promote

Promote your broadcast before, during, and after your event. The more you promote, the more people will actually view your broadcast, and even better, share it. Use all of your social media accounts to let your audience know what you have planned. Shout it from the rooftops while you’re live too, even if this means assigning someone else to promote or schedule posts/tweets in advance. And once your broadcast has ended, it would be a mistake to fall silent. Your broadcast will remain available for 24 hours, so make sure your audience members know they haven’t missed out, even if they couldn’t tune in when you were live.

2. Vary Content

There’s nothing worse than all promo, all the time. While you do want to promote your awesome products and services some of the time, you don’t want to turn your audience off by trying to sell your brand at every turn. Fortunately, Periscope lends itself to such varied content as educational videos, tutorials, FAQs, announcements, interviews, focus groups, and surveys as well. You can even use it to provide VIP access, customer support, and product demonstrations.

3. Engage

Just because it’s a different type of social media doesn’t mean all of the best practices you’ve learned fly out the window. Your attention-grabbing broadcast is a great start, but you still need to bring it home by engaging your audience. Post questions on Twitter to get your audience not only thinking about your content but also talking about it. Get involved in discussions about your broadcast and take the time to respond to comments.

4. Share Reviews

Without question, great reviews can work wonders for your brand. According to a study by Dimensional Research, a whopping 90 percent of purchase decisions are influenced by online reviews. Now, combine that with the appeal of not just video, but live video. Use Periscope to ask your customers for feedback and use it again to share live video reviews—good reviews, of course. You can’t lose!

5. Build Trust

Consumers are much more likely to buy from and return to brands they trust. Use Periscope to provide a new level of transparency by allowing your customers to see your face (or your employees’ faces) and listen to your voice as you answer questions about your brand and products. And as much as possible, keep it unscripted so that your message comes across as natural and genuine while showing off a bit of your personality.

Periscope isn’t just the latest hot thing. It’s a valuable tool for reaching your target audience, getting its attention, and boosting engagement. Use the above tips to incorporate Periscope into your brand’s marketing plans.

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5 Reasons Your Brand Should Be on Periscope

periscope

No brand can afford to rest on its laurels, thinking last year’s, last week’s or yesterday’s marketing is enough to keep its audience interested and engaged. You have to continually market, finding new ways to gain exposure and get the right people paying attention. One exciting new way to do that is with Periscope.

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How to Get the Most Bang for Your Buck with Content Marketing

content marketing value

Everybody wants a magic bullet. And if you’re using content marketing to promote your business you may want it more than most. There are so many sites and types of content out there, so how do you find out what really works to you get great performance and return on investment, and content marketing value for your efforts?

The good news is, you don’t have to look far to find the answer, because Buzzsumo and Fractl have done it for you, analyzing 220,000 articles over a 6 month period from June to November 2014. The infographic is published on Hubspot. Here are some of the key findings, along with the lessons to learn about your content strategy.

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Tales From the Crypt: Bringing Your Company Blog Back to Life

resurrect a blog

No matter how motivated you were about starting your blog way back when, it’s all too easy to let it slide. It starts with a day of posting missed here or there. Then you start missing weeks, telling yourself it’s no big deal and you’ll get back on track…er…soon. Before you know it, your blog has gasped its laugh breath and you’re faced with deciding whether to bury it or try to perform a modern miracle of resurrection.

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Why It’s Worth Investing in Content Marketing

content marketing investment

Many people don’t trust advertising any more, especially millennials. That’s why you need content marketing. If you create content that speaks directly and personally to your target customers, they are more likely to trust you. And if their friends also recommend your content, you will win their trust and loyalty and they are more likely to buy into your offer.

Content marketing lets you reach your audience in lots of different ways and helps your search rankings and online authority. But to get the benefits, you have to see content marketing as an investment. Not everyone does, even if they should.

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Instagram Content Ideas for Brands

instagram ideas for brands

Visual content is king, and Instagram is its court. More than any other social media platform, Instagram provides your audience with a way to visually connect with your brand, taking a virtual look inside your business. Of course, any social media platform is only as good as the content you post on it. To put Instagram to work for your business, post images that are not only creative, beautiful, inspirational, or fun but also accurate representations of your brand and the subject matter you find important. Above all, aim for fun and interesting, taking care to avoid obvious marketing.

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How to Decide Which Social Network is Right for Your Business

which social network

There are already more social networks than we know what to do with. In addition to those trying to fix social networking, like Ello, there are networks for almost every niche. So how do you pick the ones your business should spend time on.

Let’s be clear: it’s almost impossible to do several social networks well on your own. If you’re a small business without an individual or team dedicated to social media, you’ll find it hard to handle all the social media marketing tasks for every network. Unless you’re planning to hire a marketing agency you have to pick a place to start, whether that’s Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or another network.

Here are some of the questions to ask to help you make the decision.

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Finding Your Brand Voice

brand voice

Oscar winner Colin Firth could be the perfect person to ask about finding his voice – his virtuoso portrayal of a stuttering King George in The King’s Speech so cogently highlighted the frustrations of not having a clear way to communicate with a community. Some brands are equally tongue-tied, unclear about what the brand should sound like, leaving them either silent in social media or sounding haphazard and unrehearsed.

Get over your brand speech impediments by considering the following concepts, all of which play an important role in a well-rounded social media brand voice.

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Negative Comments About Your Brand? Make Them Work for You

negative comments
It’s never pleasant to receive negative comments and reviews. You work hard to deliver your very best products and services, and bad feedback stings. However, every business receives negative feedback from time to time. It’s how you handle it that sets you apart and keeps your customers coming back to you despite one less-than-stellar experience. And it’s how you respond that influences new customers to give you a chance, despite any negative reviews. The most important thing to remember is that social media is a public forum. Your audience (current and potential customers) will be paying attention to how you handle criticism and complaints.

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Social Media: The KonMari Way

social media konmari

The KonMari Method is taking closets everywhere by storm. If you haven’t heard of it yet, it’s a system of decluttering that focuses on keeping only the items that spark joy in your life. And though the book that reveals the system, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, is all about organizing your belongings at home, you can use it for social media too. Here’s how to organize your social media the KonMari way:

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How User-Generated Content Can Tell Your Brand Story

User Generated Content for Brand Marketing

Your brand story is so much more than a collection of facts about your business. It’s even much more than how you feel about your company and what makes it tick. It’s a unique, complex combination of the facts about your brand blended with the emotions your brand stimulates in its customers. Essentially, it’s a human-to-human representation of your business. Fans are already posting to Instagram and Facebook, why not empower them and harness their user-generated content for brand marketing?

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The Essential Guide to Guest Blogging

guest blogging

Co-Authored by Sharon Hurley Hall and Christina Strickland

So you thought guest blogging was dead? While Matt Cutts initially suggested that, he later clarified that he was talking about guest blogging for SEO link building. Guest blogging for reach and authority is alive and well, but you have to do it right. That means getting a professional to handle your guest blogging campaign. 

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Exploring Mobile and Social Analytics

Exploring Mobile and Social Analytics

In my last post I explained some of the insights analytics offers to help you improve your marketing campaigns. This time round, I’d like to look at two aspects of analytics in more detail: social and mobile analytics. Over the last couple of years, Google has enhanced these features significantly, so it’s worth seeing what you can learn. The reason this is important is because the more you know about how your customers are using mobile and social, the better you can target your marketing.

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How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

How to Improve the Success of Your Marketing Campaigns with Analytics

It’s only a small snippet of code, but it’s the difference between knowing whether your marketing is working or failing miserably. I’m talking about analytics software, which packs a powerful punch in terms of helping you to understand your website, social media profiles and customers and letting you know whether you’re succeeding in getting attention for your brand and making your business better known.

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Will Your Customers Be Wearing Your Website?

Will Your Customers Be Wearing Your Website?

The Mobile Market Shift – Are You Ready?

Will your customers be wearing your website soon? The chances are that they will be. If you pay attention to technology news, you know that wearable computing (it’s exactly what it sounds like: computing devices that you wear) is set to make the mobile market even more mobile.

The most common devices are smart watches. These started by allowing you to manage smartphone functions from a device worn on the wrist. But some of the latest ones fly solo, so you don’t need a smartphone to use them. (Check out the Samsung Gear S for an example.) That’s the revolutionary part, and it’s why if you’re not ready for mobile market changes, it’s time to think seriously about what that means for your website and marketing. Google Glass may be wearable, but something that’s just like the watch you wear already, but better, is likely to be more popular.

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Google Algorithm Updates: Should You Be Worried?

google algorithm

The Mopocalypse is here. What does that mean for your marketing strategy? Let’s take a look at Google’s mobile-friendly update and other algorithm changes and see what you need to do next.

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How to Hire the Right Writer for Your Content

How to Hire the Right Writer for Your Content

Never underestimate the value of great content to your business. Companies that get content right get more attention and more leads, and if their marketing funnel works right, that usually translates into more sales. But in order to get those benefits, you need to have the right writer for your content. Since the writer is creating content to represent your business, you can’t afford to leave it to chance. Here are some tips on finding the right writer to deliver on your content strategy.

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Social Media Management Checklist

Social Media Management Checklist

So you’ve signed up for a bunch of social media accounts? Now, you can sit back and bask in your accomplishments, right? Wrong. So, so wrong. Signing up for social media accounts is only a small part of the battle. You need more than just a presence on well-known social media networks. You have to engage on them, and, well, be social. This means putting daily effort into developing your network and increasing your online visibility. How? By attending to housekeeping, monitoring, posting, and reaching out each day.

Here are some must-do tasks to include on your social media checklist:

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The Power of the Ask – How to Encourage Social Sharing

social sharing

Did you know that among the five most popular words on Twitter are the words please and retweet? That tells you something very important. If you want to encourage people to share your work on social media, sometimes all you have to do is ask. It’s a call to action, social media style. Most people can’t resist a heartfelt appeal mixed with a little politeness. That’s why one of the things it’s most important to master in your content marketing is the call to action.

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Social Media Advertising: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, Oh My!

Social Media Advertising: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn, Oh My!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever wanted to know how to use social media advertising for your business, particularly your B2B business? Look no further – here’s our guide to advertising on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

We cover general advertising tips, plus capabilities and use for each of the three major social ads platforms.

Feel free to download and share this eBook direct from Slideshare. (Hint: View the Notes for the presentation by clicking on the Notes tab next to comments and statistics.)

And of course, if we can assist with your social media advertising programs, please don’t hesistate to contact us!

Social Media Advertising Overview: Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn from crackerjackmarketing

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5 Ways to Use Google Analytics

5 Ways to Use Google Analytics

You’ve probably heard plenty about the importance of tracking and monitoring in your online business. And while there are many tools designed to help you collect and analyze data about your online audience, Google Analytics is one of the most well-known.

Here are 5 ways you can use it in your business:

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May the Force Be With You: Your Blog Editorial Calendar

blog editorial calendar

You are the social media Jedi, and your editorial calendar is The Force. Use The Force, my young Padawan. Use it well.

Making your blog or social media into an effective marketing tool is a challenge, and so many people get lost along the way. It’s harder than it sounds to not only post regularly but also post content that attracts the right type of traffic and keeps it coming back for more. Even harder is getting your audience to engage by commenting on your content and sharing it. When the going gets rough, though, you’re not at the mercy of fate. Here are three ways your blog or social media editorial calendar can make your job easier.

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How to Convince Your Boss Content Marketing is Worth It

content marketing worth it

“What’s the point of content marketing, anyway?” It’s a question many in-house marketers hear from those higher up the chain. It doesn’t matter that YOU know it’s worth it; the question is how to convince your C-level colleagues that this kind of marketing is worth their investment. My experience of doing this shows that there are four areas you need to cover to show what content marketing can achieve.

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Social Media Lessons from The Walking Dead

walking dead

What You Can Learn About Social Media From The Walking Dead

You can learn a lot from watching The Walking Dead (TWD), and not just how to survive a zombie apocalypse (Hint: Always stay with Rick and Daryl). Believe it or not, TWD teaches lessons that are critical for social media. Here are 5 social media tips you can take from TWD.

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Relationship Building Via Social Media

relationship building

We know what you’re thinking: platforms like Facebook and Twitter are perfect for generating leads. And yes, you can use social media for lead generation. But if you focus on that alone, you really don’t get the gist of how this thing works. The be-all and end-all of social media for business is, wait for it: relationship building. Without it, you’re dead in the water.

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Social Search: What the Heck Is It?

social search
With so many social terms whizzing by, it’s easy to forget if you’re coming or going. Maybe you finally have terms like engagement, consumer advocate, and ROI figured out. Well, now we want to toss another one your way — social search. Don’t worry, though. We have no plans to leave you twisting in the wind. We’re going to lay it all out for you, in terms you can understand, without so much as wrinkling your brow.

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6 Ways to Help Your Marketing Agency Do a Better Job

6 Ways to Help Your Marketing Agency Do a Better Job

Are you planning to hire a digital marketing agency this year? Here’s what I’ve learned from working on thousands of projects that can help set you up for success.

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How to Annoy Your Fans on Social Media

annoy your fans

As in the brick-and-mortar world, it is surprisingly easy to develop social media bad habits. You know how you start out eating ice cream at midnight just a couple of nights per week? Then, before you know it, you’re eating a bowl of the good stuff every night before bed, and packing on the pounds. The same goes for social media. Bad habits snowball until your formerly interested fans wants to hear from anyone but you—anyone.

Often, we develop bad social media habits in the hopes of becoming more efficient and effective, but these no-no’s actually undermine our efforts. Here are 5 ways even smart business people annoy their audiences on social media. Take a look and pledge to avoid them at all costs:

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7 Types of Content to Include in Your Strategy and Why {Part 2}

7 types of content

In my last post, I looked at the importance of including long form articles, data rich infographics and online video in your content strategy. Now here are four more content types to round your strategy out.

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7 Types of Content to Include in Your Strategy and Why {Part 1}

types of content marketing

When creating content, a good rule is to make it deep and wide. That’s why you have to think beyond the blog when developing your content strategy. Don’t get me wrong; blogging remains one of the most important ways to increase your influence and authority and to grow both trust and traffic, but why stop there? To get the full benefits of inbound marketing, you need to create shareable content.

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What Brands Can Learn About Social Media From Game of Thrones

What Brands Can Learn About Social Media From Game of Thrones

Social media doesn’t just emulate life. In some ways, it emulates television too, especially good television like Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan, read on to learn what Game of Thrones has to teach those of us who work with brands who strive for social media success. Not a fan yet? There’s still plenty to learn here. Read up, avoid the spoiler (towards the end), and then start watching.

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What Top Brands Can Teach Us About Social Media

What Top Brands Can Teach Us About Social Media

Social media has changed the way brands reach customers. It has redefined interacting and sharing, provided new ways to use content to promote products and services, and made engagement easier. If that’s not enough, it’s also amplified the voice of the customers. Here’s what three top brands can teach us about social media and viral content.

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Are You Committing These Social Media Sins?

Are You Committing These Social Media Sins?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are part of our daily lives. They serve as highly effective strategies for marketers and as social mirrors and megaphones for individuals. How interactive are you? How well do you know your favorite platform? Are you a social media sinner or saint? There are seven fatal sins of social media. Are you guilty or not? It’s time to find out.

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Content Marketing: 5 Goals for Your Business

Content Marketing: 5 Goals for Your Business

When using content marketing for your business, you probably have one, very clear main goal in mind: making more sales. However, there are a bunch of other goals that help you achieve this one. Having a firm idea of what they are will help you gain perspective and make sure your content marketing efforts are moving in the right direction.

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3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

Do you know a teen or young adult who isn’t tied to their mobile phone? According to Pew Research, 80% of 18-34 year olds own a smartphone – and they’re all using them a lot. If you want your brand to appeal to this audience, implementing an effective mobile marketing strategy is the way to go. But how do you capture the attention of individuals who are always on the go? A good start would be to capitalize on the channels that they always access on their mobile devices.

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7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

We hear a lot about top digital brands and wonder what sets them apart. It’s not just a lot of luck. It’s not even offering a product or service that no one else sells. Instead, these brands earn this designation through hard work, creativity, and effective strategizing. According to digital agency 360i, there are 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands – and adhering to most, if not all, of these habits can set a brand far ahead of the pack.
The 7 Habits are:

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Reaching Teens Using Social Media

reaching teens with social media

Co-Authored by Stephanie Schwab and Archie Alibasa

“The Young and the Restless” is not only a popular American soap opera, it’s also an accurate description of the teens today. According to Forrester Research, teenagers today, including the group considered “millennials,” have a strong need to be connected on the internet more than any other generation.

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How To Apologize To Your Customers

How To Apologize To Your Customers

There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle most things in life, and that includes crises of the technology hacking variety. Two recent hacking crises do an excellent job of illustrating how companies handle crises. One, involving Buffer, occurred in October 2013 and was handled quite well while another, involving Snapchat in January 2014, just wasn’t. One of the major differences between the crisis management demonstrated by these companies? The apology. Customers want to know that the companies they patronize care.

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The Pros and Cons of Social Media Contests and Promotions

social media contests

Social media contests are win-win opportunities for consumers and brands. Consumers enjoy the opportunity to win something–a gift certificate, a vacation, a t-shirt, a book, or a lamp. Who doesn’t love free stuff? And brands have the opportunity to grow their fan bases, build awareness, and engage with their target audiences. Here’s how contests can benefit your brand:

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What Is a Digital Footprint?

What Is a Digital Footprint?

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase “digital footprint” and wondered just what it meant. Essentially, it’s a trail of data created by your presence in the digital world. It includes the presence you create with your website and blog, of course, but encompasses so much more than that. It’s the measure of all that you do online, which can include everything from updating your statuses and creating bookmarks to generating reviews and appearing in search results. As far as social media is concerned, your digital footprint is your online presence in relation to the interactions you have with others and the movement/sharing/engagement of those interactions across the Internet.

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4 Steps to Creating a Content Marketing Engine

4-Steps-to-Creating-a-Content-Marketing-Engine

Once you’ve decided that inbound marketing is right for you, what’s next? As enthusiastic as you may feel, it’s only natural to puzzle over how you’re supposed to go from being an traditional, advertising-heavy company to a creator and distributor of content that attracts, engages, and moves your audience through the marketing funnel. The answer? You need to create a content marketing engine so that content creation becomes easy and seamless. Here’s how.

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7 Key Assets for Inbound Marketing

7 Key Assets for Inbound Marketing

You likely already have several key inbound marketing assets at your disposal. These platforms help you interest, educate, and entertain your audience, moving your prospects through the inbound marketing continuum. Your goal is to take your audience members, who are essentially strangers at the beginning of your relationship, and convert them into customers and brand promoters. How many of these marketing assets do you already have working for you?

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Creating Customer Personas for Inbound Marketing

Creating Customer Personas for Inbound Marketing

Some things just aren’t one-size fits all, and content is one of them. To effectively engage your audience, you’ll need content that caters to the specific types of consumers you are trying to reach. And how can you get that? Start by creating customer personas that fit your audience members, and then tailor content to fit each persona. Essentially, you’ll use these personas to drive your inbound marketing strategies.

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What Is Inbound Marketing?

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing, while not an entirely new concept, has become quite popular, particularly with B2B marketers and with consumer marketers too. The reason for its growth is due in large part to some of the new ways that people communicate: via the social web and blogs.

Inbound marketing is actually a powerful combination of digital marketing methods, including content marketing, social media, SEO, lead nurturing and email marketing. And it’s considered today’s “new” way of marketing. In the old world of marketing, you could buy people’s attention – throw enough money at TV ads and you’d get a huge audience. But in today’s increasingly fragmented media market, and with those new communications methods, that’s very hard to do, so there has to be a better way.

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Social Listening Like a Rap Star

Social Listening Like a Rap Star

The social media revolution was – is – all about talking. It’s about putting your ideas out into the world to see how they connect and collide with others’.

But if the social media revolution is about talking, the social media revelation is about listening. (See what I did there? Eh, eh?)

Social listening is a hugely important piece of successful online engagement because it has everything to do with understanding our audience(s), developing a sense of empathy, and speaking to our customers in a language they can relate to. Unfortunately, though, it’s also the step that’s easiest to ignore. Why is that?

I think we ignore it because it’s genuinely hard, and it’s often overwhelming. It’s easy to get lost. For what should we be listening? To whom should we be listening? On which channels?

These are difficult questions that deserve thoughtful answers. Yet, to butcher an Oscar Wilde quote, social listening is too important to be taken seriously. So let’s have a little fun with it, shall we?

Interactive Social Listening Exercise

The following is an exercise to get you and your team excited about social listening, and ready to think about it strategically. It might also make your colleagues blush (win-win!).

Step 1: Listen

Gather your team. Anyone involved in social media, communications, marketing, etc. Play them this song (“Overnight Celebrity” by Twista – free player embedded below). Resist the urge to giggle as your colleagues squirm and contort their faces out of confusion.

Step 2: Analyze

Explain to them that they’ve just heard “Overnight Celebrity,” a song by one of the fastest rappers on the planet, Twista. Ask: what did you hear? What was the song about?

Step 3: Organize for listening

Break the group up into three sections and ask them to listen for the following things:

  • Group 1: listen for every time Twista says the word “girl”

  • Group 2: listen for names of brands and other celebrities

  • Group 3: listen for items you may find in a home

Step 4: Listen again

Play the song again (yes, again), asking each group to write as they listen.

Step 5: Analyze

When the song is over, refer to the lyrics of the song, posted here. Which group did the best? Which got the most results, which got the most accurate results, and which got the most interesting ones?

Step 6: Reflect

How did it go? How did people feel about this exercise? How did this new framing change the way everyone understood the song?

Step 7: Take the conversation to the next level

How does this experience compare with listening on social media? Well, Twista, as mentioned above, was once known for being the “fastest rapper” – so it’s hard to just hear the song and try to get the big idea. But when we focus our listening, we can “hear” better. The same is true for social listening.

Step 8: Consider this question

How do we focus our listening?

Note that answering this question has a lot to do with why we’re listening in the first place.

There are lots of reasons to “listen” online. A few are:

  • Brand management: understanding how, when, and why people talk about us

  • Community engagement: understanding our people and what they care about

  • Content curation: finding good “stuff” to then contextualize and share

Ask: why are we listening? Which reason takes priority? What comes second? How do those reasons tie into our greater goals and strategies?

From here, take the conversation home. Think about what you need to listen for, and why. And don’t take yourselves too seriously. Let the playfulness of the activity spill over into this discussion; know you can – and should – adjust how you listen.

Folks have a lot to say on social media and it’s up to us to listen. Let’s learn to listen well…and not get lost in the lyrics.

This is a guest post and awesome exercise from Miriam BrousseauBy day, Miriam is a social media strategist and coach, working in a joint position with The Jewish Education Project and Darim Online. By night she is half of the “biblegum pop” duo Stereo Sinai (the other half is her husband, producer Alan Jay Sufrin). She loves learning to be a mom to an awesome baby boy, devouring all things Alice in Wonderland, Star Trek (Next Generation, mostly), and Oscar Wilde, and dangling stuff in front of her cats. She tweets as @miriamjayne and blogs at mjbrosseau.tumblr.com and, more recently, at miriamswhiteboard.tumblr.com.

Social Listening Like a Rap Star

How to Promote Your YouTube Videos for Free

How to Promote Your YouTube Videos for Free

YouTube videos can be an important part of your social media marketing plans. However, creating high-quality, informative, entertaining videos isn’t enough. You’ll need reliable ways of getting the word out and securing the right kind of attention for your videos. Here are several free ways to promote your YouTube videos:

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Creating Content for Inbound Marketing

Creating Content for Inbound Marketing

Content is at the core of what inbound marketing is – it’s what attracts people to your brand, product or service, versus you needing to go out and find them. Think of content as the honey which attracts the flies!

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5 Keyword Tips for Pinterest

5 Keyword Tips for Pinterest

Have a good handle on creating attractive, shareable pins and pinboards? Want to give your pins a boost and ensure that the right people find them? Here are 5 tips for using keywords to draw more attention to your pins and pinboards:

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6 Tips for Video Marketing Success

6 Tips for Video Marketing Success
Interested in video marketing, and wondering where to start? Don’t let this valuable tool intimidate you. Here are 6 tips you can use to get started and succeed with video marketing.

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How to Use Keywords on Your Website

keywords on your website

If you’ve been building a website or reading up on search engine optimization, it’s like you’ve come across the term “keyword” in your reading. Keywords are an important part of your website’s success. Strategic (and appropriate!) use can make a big difference in your organic search traffic.

Before we delve into how to use keywords on your website, let’s cover the basics. Read more

Social Media and SEO Rankings

Social Media and SEO Rankings

In the past, backlinks were a top focus for boosting SEO rankings. Your position in the search engines was highly dependent on the quality of your backlinks. Today, social media signals are critical to SEO rankings. In fact, according to a Searchmetrics study, 7 out of the top 8 factors that influence SEO ranking are social. This is encouraging if you’re putting time and effort into your social media accounts.

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How To Throw a Social Media Party

How To Throw a Social Media Party

My friend Sree inspired me a while back to think about how to throw a social media themed party, so I’ve been gathering some pins and links about food, decor and activities. Maybe you can use some of these ideas at one of your work or play gatherings.

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Critical Twitter Lessons to Aid Your Marketing

Critical Twitter Lessons to Aid Your Marketing

Twitter is one of the big boys when it comes to social media marketing. If you’ve yet to begin using it for your business or don’t know how to use it well, this post is for you! The following articles will get you up to speed and help you use your Twitter account as an effective marketing tool.

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Pros and Pitfalls of Sponsored Content for Brands

Pros and Pitfalls of Sponsored Content for Brands

Recognizing that many consumers have become bored and disillusioned with traditional ads, many businesses are looking to create new types of advertising. Although technology makes it easier than ever to create and post attractive ads online, and many advertising opportunities are fairly inexpensive, consumers less likely to pay attention to them. Therefore traditional ad options just aren’t as attractive as they used to be. Sponsored content, also called branded content or native advertising, is filling a gap for advertisers.

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Getting Started With YouTube for Marketing

YouTube can be an effective platform for promoting your products and services in a creative way. Many people find watching a creative video much more interesting than reading simple text on a Get Started with YouTubepage. But success with YouTube marketing requires a solid plan. Start by answering the following questions:

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Help! My 9 Year Old Wants To Be On Instagram!

Help! My 9 Year Old Wants To Be On Instagram!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is the “right” age for a child to be involved in social media? This is a question I get asked a lot, both as a practitioner of corporate social media and also as a co-founder of the Digital Family Summit.

Some might think there is an easy answer. Nearly all account-based websites, by necessity of COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), provide terms of service which state that the minimum age for account holders is 13. As a parent, it might be easy to say to a kid, “the rules are 13, you can join when you’re 13, and that’s that.” But this answer is far too simplistic.

I know plenty of kids under the age of 13 who have benefitted greatly from creating and using social media. By the same token, I know of or have heard of many kids who are 13 and over who have been miserable using social media, or who have had serious social and mental issues related to their use of social media.

Please note that I am not advocating that you allow your under-13 children to sign up for social media accounts. I am not. However, I’m a realist in that I know it happens every day, and I’d like to provide at least a little bit of guidance as to how kids, of any age, can engage in social media appropriately. In my mind, that guidance begins with parents understanding the issues at hand.

Encouraging Content Creators

Digital content creation can be a tremendous creative pursuit for kids. I think the ability for a kid to express themselves through writing, photography or video should be encouraged, and if engaging in social media makes those creative expressions more appealing to kids, I’m all for it. But that’s where the slippery slope of what’s appropriate begins.

Not all social media is created equal, especially when it comes to kids’ use of various platforms. I think social media for kids breaks down into two primary categories:

1) Personal platforms: Blog, YouTube, Flickr
2) Networked platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest (and others)

Let’s consider the benefits and pitfalls of each of these categories for kids – and their parents.

Personal Social Media Platforms

Personal social media platforms are those that can be kept fairly individualized; there’s no need to “network” in order to make them valuable to a tween or teen who wants to get online.

For all of these platforms, it’s possible to have a private presence, where you can restrict access only to people you approve. Parents can control who a kid is allowed to invite – family, close family friends, and potentially very close friends of their children.

Here are some helpful links detailing privacy settings for personal platforms:

WordPress (blog) Privacy; I also recommend disabling comments on posts 
YouTube Privacy
Flickr Privacy

For each of these platforms, it’s possible to set up accounts, provide access only to a few people, and then allow kids to have a lot of flexibility as to what they post and when. Of course, parents still must monitor the content that goes into these platforms, and should have access to the account via the kid’s password (see below).

Though you could subscribe to someone’s YouTube channel or add them as a contact on Flickr, it’s entirely possible to only broadcast using these channels, vs. consuming others’ content and following other people or streams. Vigilant parents can ensure that kids aren’t adding subscriptions or contacts to their accounts, keeping these platforms a one-way (outbound only) street. Kids get to build an audience and show off their work, and parents can worry a little bit less about who they’re following or what content they’re consuming.

Networked Social Media Platforms

The “Big 4” networked social media platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, are really only interesting (to anyone, not just kids) if the account is networked with others – they follow people and people follow them back. On Facebook, this is always a mutual thing: you must follow everyone who follows you on Facebook. On the other three platforms, you could follow anyone and anyone could follow you, with no need for mutual approvals.

Given the social nature of these platforms, it’s vitally important for parents to understand and help set up appropriate privacy settings for their kids accounts.

Twitter and Instagram both offer “private” feeds, whereby you must approve everyone who requests to follow your account. Instructions on setting up these types of accounts are found here:
Twitter Protected Tweets
Instagram Private Photos

Facebook has very strong privacy settings to control who outside a person’s friends can see and interact with their posts and profile. However, by its very nature (because friending must be reciprocal), Facebook cannot be wholly private or by invite only. Therefore, the most important thing for parents to think about on Facebook is setting up very clear guidelines on who kids are allowed to friend.

Pinterest does not really offer a private setting; however, there are secret boards, so you could set up an account and then only use secret boards, granting access to close friends and family only. This might get a bit tedious, though, so be conscious that Pinterest may be a bit harder to police.

The One Social Media for Kids Rule

I’ve read a lot and heard a lot of “rules” that parents have set up for their kids in social media. I suggest only one real rule, and it’s actually for parents:

Parents must be closely, intimately, involved with their kids social media use.

I know you don’t want to hear this: If you aren’t prepared to be engaged in your kids social media accounts daily or a few days a week, minimum, then you probably should not allow them to be on social media at all, regardless of their age.

If you acquiesce to your kid’s desire to be on social media (particularly if they’re under age 13, but even after that), but then you don’t police their use, I really don’t know what to say to you. Would you allow your under-13s to stay overnight by themselves? Do you let them wander through your city alone? Letting them participate in social media unsupervised is the same, or even worse: you have no idea what they’re going to see, hear or become a party to.

General Social Media Guidelines

I do have some suggested social media guidelines for kids and parents (assuming they agree to the above rule). This is just a starting point; I recommend that you create your own expectations for how your kids use social media, discuss them with your kids, and then adhere to them very strictly.

  1. Be sure you have your child’s passwords – if they change them, their account is taken away, no second chances.
  2. Help them set up their privacy settings so that only their friends/followers can see their stuff:
    • WordPress, YouTube, Flickr: By invite only
    • Instagram: Private Photos
    • Twitter: Protected Tweets
    • Facebook: No non-friends can see their stuff
  3. Make sure they never turn location services on. Ever. If they do (which you’ll know if any of their posts are tagged with locations) – back to the first bullet – account taken away, no second chance. This protects their physical privacy and helps prevent stalking and bullying.
  4. Log in to their account(s) on your phone or laptop as them occasionally – so you’re seeing everything they’re seeing as them, including, most importantly, the messages they’re receiving (which you won’t see if you’re if you’re only following them). Make sure they know you’ll be doing this and then follow through on it by doing it regularly – set a calendar reminder to do it once or twice a week at minimum.
  5. Set the expectation that your kid can’t allow as a follower or friend anyone that you (their parents) don’t know personally. This means they can’t friend or follow anyone that they don’t know in real life, which in most cases also means no friends of friends, and definitely no one they only know online.

You could add many other layers on top of this: how much time kids can spend on social media, which devices they can use, whether they’re allowed to use social media (and/or their laptop and mobile devices) in their own rooms or if they have to be in a public area of the house….I could go on and on.

The most important aspect of any rules or restrictions is regular, ongoing parental involvement in their kids social media. The rest are details.

I know there are many, many opinions on this and I’m eager to hear yours. Please post in the comments if you’re struggling with this, have had a good or bad experience with your kids and social media, or if you have tools or guidelines to recommend.

Image source: Digital Family Summit

 

4 Sought-After Instagram Influencers

4 Sought-After Instagram Influencers

Reaching out to respected influencers on any social media platform is a good way to build awareness and credibility for your brand. Many major brands have discovered the benefits of developing relationships with Instagram influentials; these top photogs have the creativity to produce appealing photographs for their brand clients. And bonus: their high follower counts may help you boost your Instagram followers, too, when they show off their work for your brand to their audience.

Here are four Instagram influencers who are among the most sought-after by well-known brands.

1. Brian DiFeo @bridif

@bridif instagram influencer working with brands

This Instagrammer is a co-founder of The Mobile Media Lab, a creative agency focused on Instagram marketing. Boasting nearly 130,000 followers, DiFeo started out with Instagram in 2010, not long after the photo-sharing site was launched.

In 2011, he offered to take over the Newport Folk Festival’s Instagram account, asking only for backstage passes in return. Since then, he has had his hand in everything from fashion show photographs to Instagram campaigns for the likes of Honda, Armani Exchange and Evian.

2. Anthony Danielle @takinyerphoto

@takinyerphoto - Instagram influencer working with brands

Danielle, also a co-founder of The Mobile Media Lab, joined Instagram soon after its launch as well. But just eight months after opening his account, during which he slowly gained followers, he earned the status of suggested user. Danielle has been named one of “15 Stylish People to Follow on Instagram.”

Danielle is known for taking candid photographs of New Yorkers, but in late 2011, brands began seeking Danielle’s help, and Puma flew him to the Volvo Ocean Race in Abu Dhabi. He has also completed projects for Evian, Armani Exchange, Delta, and Michael Kors. He has more than 190,000 followers.

3. Bex Finch @bexfinch

@bexfinch instagram influencer who works with brands

Freelance photographer and sought-after Instagrammer Finch got started with Instagram in December 2010. She created the widely-known hashtag #fromwhereistand, which is associated with looking at life from while looking down at feet (hers and others’). Since building a following on Instagram, she’s toured with the band Grizzly Bear, traveling to countries like Denmark, France, and Germany. She’s also photographed the band Bon Iver and traveled to Haiti with Artists for Peace and Justice. Thanks to her Instagram presence, which includes nearly 200,000 followers, she’s also been offered editorial jobs in California and had the opportunity to wield her camera on other international trips.

4. Steph Goralnick @sgoralnick

@sgoralnick instagram influencer working with brands

Goralnick expresses her creative calling as both a freelance photographer and a graphic designer. Like many of the top influencers on Instagram, she joined in October 2010. Goralnick primarily uses her account, which has more than 350,000 followers, to document her life and share photographs she finds interesting or beautiful. She also enjoys traveling and taking photographs during her adventures and explorations.

Delta took notice of her penchant for sharing great photographs and her interest in traveling, inviting her on one of its trips in an effort to promote its non-stop flights from New York to Los Angeles, providing such perks as good food, wine, entertainment, and accommodations at a Beverly Hills Hotel. Goralnick has also worked with such brands as TheDaily and Evian.

Working with outside creative professionals can benefit many social media and content marketing efforts, from Instagram to YouTube to your blog. Have you worked with creative influencers in your marketing? Please share your experiences in the comments.

 

Increasing Your Likability Via Social Media

 

Increasing-Your-Likability-Via-Social-Media

While many use social media for marketing, it also has the potential to help in other ways. One of the most important is improving likability. Though likability is a simple thing, it can have a huge influence on sales. People want to do business with companies with good reputations, and taking that one step further, they want to do business with other people. And since no one is eager to do business with people they don’t know or individuals they don’t like, likability can be a huge part of sales potential in small business.

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Is Your CEO Fluent in Social?

Is Your CEO Fluent in Social?

My four-and-a-half year old is learning the finer points of the English language. Like the fact that the plural of “mouse” is “mice,” not “mouses” or “mices.” Until I started teaching him these kinds of English nuances, I’d forgotten how hard it is to learn a language from scratch.

This got me thinking about how we’ve all learned social media. For my son’s generation up through the current crop of college kids, social media is part of the fabric of their existence. They don’t give any thought to the concepts of short-form text content, sharing video, or checking in to a location. But for most of us, most likely including you, we’ve learned social media the hard way: as if it were a foreign language we have to learn from the ground up.

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A Guide to Successful Pinterest Promotions

A Guide to Successful Pinterest Promotions

Co-Authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

Planning a social media contest? Pinterest tops the list of the best platforms on which to run contests and promotions. Why?

It’s pretty laid-back on the rules and easy to use, offering loads of room for creativity. Ready to get started? Here are some tips for making your Pinterest contest a success:

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Social Media Spring Cleaning

Social Media Spring Cleaning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring is fast approaching, and you may have plans for spring cleaning in mind. Don’t limit the spring cleanup, clear out, and reorganize to your home, however. A brand-new season is a good time to make a fresh start with your social media accounts as well. Get rid of all that old information and web clutter, add new contacts, and post some fresh content! Here are 5 social media spring cleaning ideas to help you get better organized, become more efficient, and engage with your audience:

Out With the Old

Trash old emails, direct messages, and other contacts that no longer have a use. Received a bunch of spam? Get rid of that too! If you’ve been saving messages with the plan of using the information within them later, stop procrastinating and either use the information now or store the information in its proper place, such as a relevant folder or your Contacts list.

In With the New

Do you have contacts in your inbox that you have yet to enter or save in the appropriate folders? Now is the time to get this done. Then, sort through all those business cards you’ve collected and make sure you’ve added each person to your lists/folders. What good are contacts if you never reach out to them? Check the comments on your blog and social media pages for contacts to add as well.

Clean up Your Information

You’re sure to have some outdated or incorrect information in your profile and on your pages. Now is the time to delete it and add up-to-date, valuable information in its place. Maybe your company has experienced a change in key employees, added new products or services, or accomplished important goals. Make sure your profile and pages include all that you want to share.

Make Sure It Works

Check your links, videos, and audio clips to make sure everything works as it should. If a prospect wants to click through to another page or check out your content, the last thing you want are broken links or videos that won’t load. Such issues are big turn-offs for prospective customers.

Roll out the Fresh Content

Research new topic ideas and get on a regular posting schedule. This is especially important if you’ve slacked off on posting lately. Include some posts that provide company news or update your audience on your products or services. Provide helpful how-to’s, write posts that answer frequently asked questions, and upload attention-grabbing photos and videos. If you focus on a particular topic much of the time, shake things up with a new angle!

What have you been putting off for far too long? Add it to your social media spring cleaning list!

3 Great Examples of B2B Companies Using Instagram

3 Great Examples of B2B Companies Using Instagram

As far as image-driven social sites go, Instagram has proven its value for sharing fresh, creative content. Far from being merely pretty, Instagram provides brands with the chance to engage markets visually, establish an emotional connection, and increase their followers. However, B2B brands often overlook Instagram, believing it’s better for fashion, news and travel companies.

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How to Use Content Marketing for B2B Lead Generation

How to Use Content Marketing for B2B Lead Generation

Content marketing is a primary lead generation tool. In fact, close to 70 percent of marketers use content marketing for lead generation. Why? It’s been proven over the years that it’s effective and beats out many other efforts at attracting leads. For example, studies demonstrate that many consumers are unimpressed with the plethora of ads they see each day, say “no” to telemarketing calls, and trash carefully crafted marketing messages sent through the postal mail. If 86 percent of potential customers skip ads, you need another way to reach them, and compelling content consistently performs in this area.

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Is Facebook Right for Your B2B Brand?

Facebook for B2B Brands

If you read my recent post on Social Media Explorer, you know that I’m not really a fan of Facebook for B2B (business-to-business) businesses. That’s because Facebook is generally a personal domain. People may be willing to connect to brands which intersect with or enhance their personal lives, but I’ve seen resistance amongst Facebookers when faced with messaging from a B2B brand (clearly targeted at their business lives). Read more

Is Cold Calling Obsolete?

Is Cold Calling Obsolete?

With so much discussion of online sales tools and social media, it may seem that cold calling is a thing of the past. Many might say good riddance, as they dreaded making cold calls anyway. Before you strike it from memory completely, however, consider the point of a cold call, which is to make a personal contact with someone who needs your product or service. That point is far from obsolete.

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Common Questions about Blogging for Brands

blogging for brands

Co-authored by Stephanie Schwab and Christina Strickland

Your brand blog should be the cornerstone of your content marketing efforts. Yes, Facebook, Twitter and the rest are essential too but they shouldn’t be your only home on the web. It’s what both practice and teach here at Crackerjack Marketing. (You can read more about why here.)

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, hopefully you understand the benefits of blogging for your brand. Whether you are new to blogging or a long-time content creator, you may have some questions.

How Often Should I Blog?

If you ask most people who have been blogging for a while, they’ll tell you, “The more, the better.” That’s because every post gives you exposure on the internet. It gives more people a chance to discover you because good content, updated frequently is one of the main reasons Google (or any search engine) uses to decide your fate in getting listed in search results.

The reality is that blogging is writing and if you are a beginner, you may find writing challenging. Writing a blog also takes time. But you’ll discover that the more you write, the better you get at writing and the easier it is to do. So let’s assume that you’re not going to be writing a blog post every day of the week to start. What schedule can you keep up with that is reliable? The most important advice we can offer is to get started and keep at it. Don’t let a week go by without at least one blog post. Once you get more comfortable with blogging, you should increase the frequency of your posts.

You’ll learn to write down ideas as they come to you, sketch out your posts and hit the keyboard. Blogging is a practice that requires discipline. Build from one post a week to two or three. That’s a frequency that will help you build your online presence quickly and start getting traffic, comments, and learn what’s of interest to your readers.

Blogging three times a week is an excellent rate. If you can continue at that pace, and assuming your content is relevant and helpful, you’ll see results much faster than starting slowly.

But for many, dipping your toe in the water is more realistic. With the idea that the goal is to get fully wet and start swimming, it’s fine to start off slowly. No matter what, though, no matter how little traffic you see in the beginning, do not quit. It takes time to see results. Slowly but surely, you’ll be discovered and read. You’ll meet people. The benefits of blogging will become apparent to you, and they are many.

Once you’ve committed to blogging, don’t think of it as an optional activity. Consider it as important to your business as paying the bills or opening your door in the morning.

How Long Should a Blog Post Be?

While you understand how important relevant, valuable content is to the success of your blog, you may have questions about length. If you visit a handful of blogs, you’re likely to see blog posts that vary considerably in terms of length. So how do you decide how long to make your posts? Which length will your readers prefer?

Many bloggers keep their posts to 250 to 500 words while others write closer to 2000 words each time. While longer posts can provide a good deal of detailed information and may help stimulate conversation, there are benefits to writing shorter posts. Among them are the following:

  • Tight focus: With a long blog post, you may feel tempted to wander a bit with your point, and in doing so, you may inadvertently lose your reader’s attention. When you write shorter posts, you have less room for wandering, and you’re more likely to stay tightly focused on your topic. Your readers will appreciate you for that.
  • Scanability: Most Internet users don’t read online content the way they read offline. Instead, they scan, looking for the highlights in posts and specific points of value. Short posts are easier to scan than long versions, but you can increase the scanability of any post by including bulleted or numbered lists, headings and subheadings, and short, easy-to-digest paragraphs.
  • Time: The longer your posts, the more time you will have to put into writing them. In fact, you may even put off writing longer posts because they do take up so much of your time. Since shorter posts require less time to create, you can post more often and have a better chance of keeping your readers’ attention and interest. Just think, if you only write once or twice a month because your long posts take so long to create, your readers may get tired of waiting and go elsewhere in search of the content they seek. If, on the other hand, you focus on shorter posts, you can write more often (perhaps once or twice a week) and provide regular content for your readers to digest.

Though there are benefits to writing short blog posts, this doesn’t mean you should NEVER write longer posts. If you have something of value to share, and you need 1000 or more words to share it well, then by all means, write a longer post. Your goal is to deliver well-written content that your audience will value, share, comment on, and come back to see more of. In the end, the length doesn’t matter as long as you meet this goal.

What Are Some Common Blogging Mistakes to Avoid?

Everyone makes mistakes. They are a natural part of life and running a business. But if you can learn from the mistakes others have made, you might make fewer of your own and enjoy a faster, smoother road to meeting your goals. Blogging for your business might seem simple and easy, but there are plenty of pitfalls that can get in your way. Here are four of the most common blogging mistakes business owners make and tips for avoiding them.

Sporadic Posts

Failing to blog regularly is one of the most common mistakes business bloggers make. Think about it: if you found a magazine you liked, but the publisher only sent it sporadically, how long would it be before you lost interest and moved on to different magazine? The same sort of scenario works with blogs. Sporadic content, no matter how good, sends readers looking for another blog that regularly posts content of value to them.

Keep your readership happy and interested by posting regularly. There are no hard-and-fast rules about the number of times you should post, but many bloggers find their readership satisfied with a couple of posts per week. Even if you decide to post just once a week, make sure you keep up with it to avoid losing the interest of your readers.

Unrealistic Expectations

It’s normal to have the highest hopes for your blog. Who doesn’t want to experience success? But expecting overnight blogging success is an all-too-common mistake. As with building a business, developing a successful blog takes time and hard work. Commit to devoting 12 months to developing your blog and cultivating your readership. Your job won’t end once you complete the first year, but it’s reasonable to see some encouraging results by then.

Focusing on Promotion

Many new business bloggers feel confused about the type of content they should post on their blogs. They often make the mistake of including too much promotional content. This can be a major mistake, as a business blog isn’t meant to serve as an advertisement. Instead, your blog should provide conversational content that is relevant and interesting to your readers. While it is okay to use your blog to make business announcements and share news of new products and services, much of your content should focus on industry news, hints, tricks, advice, how-to’s and insights into your industry and company. Keeping sales to a minimum will help you attract loyal readers.

Discouraging Conversation

Your business blog is an important tool for conversation and interaction, but many bloggers disable commenting. While their reasons for doing so, such as avoiding spam and negative comments, are often understandable, disabling the comment feature can impair your ability to connect and engage with your readers. Instead, you might find it easier to meet your blogging goals if you not only enable commenting but also encourage your readers to share their comments, questions, concerns and stories on your blog. Then, be sure to respond and keep the conversation going.

Even if you still have questions, we hope that you get started and keep going. The more you publish blog posts, the faster you’ll establish a drum beat. It’s okay if you need to change things up a little later. The important thing is to take action!

Common Questions about Blogging for Brands

Visual Content for Brand Marketing

Visual Content for Brand Marketing

The alternate title for this post is: A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words, because given the rise in visual sharing platforms today, including Pinterest, Instagram, Vine and more, it’s imperative that brands have a plan for creating compelling visual images.

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Boost Sales Via Social Media Recommendations

Boost Sales Via Social Media Recommendations

 

Success in business requires a willingness to evaluate the steps you have taken and make changes when and where necessary to meet your goals. And if you’ve been focusing your social media strategies on ads alone, now is the perfect time to reconsider and make a change. Why is a change in order? It’s simple: Today’s consumers are making more of their buying decisions based on the recommendations of their peers. To get more of their dollars, you have to make it onto and stay on their social-sharing radars.

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Using Social Media for Customer Service

Using Social Media for Customer Service

Social media is a viable avenue for providing customer service to your customers. As more and more consumers embrace social media for personal use, they are also reaching out to companies this way. Some brands listen and respond better than others, and these are the brands that enjoy increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. In most industries, consumers have a good deal of choice when it comes choosing where to spend their money, so encouraging loyalty is an important goal.

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Mobile Is Not a Strategy, It’s a Necessity

Mobile Is Not a Strategy, It's a Necessity

 

Today’s world is growing ever more mobile. It seems that everyone, from the youngest grade schooler to the happy retiree, has at least some sort of mobile device, and it’s more and more likely that device is a smartphone. These devices aren’t used for just entertainment anymore. Today’s users rely on them for everything from driving directions and work productivity to research and shopping. Since you need to be where your customers are, you need more than a mere mobile strategy or mobile campaign. You need to make your business mobile.

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What’s Wrong With Your Customer Service?

What's Wrong With Your Customer Service?

Poor customer service is among the primary complaints customers have when dealing with
companies of all sizes. And it’s far from just an annoyance. Some customers will stop patronizing a company completely after a poor customer service experience. Wondering what’s most likely to go wrong? Here are 5 of the main things likely to go wrong with your customer service:

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What’s So Special About Twitter?

What's So Special About Twitter?

 

We all know that Twitter is a household name when it comes to social media, but just why is it so special? What makes this social media platform the success it is? I’m a huge, and therefore hugely biased, user and supporter of Twitter, and there are over 200 million other active users.

These are just a few of the ways that Twitter differs from other social platforms and why I think it’s poised for ongoing success.

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Who Owns the Blogger Relationship?

Who Owns the Blogger Relationship?

I’ve been asked this question a few times recently: In an agency, when one does blogger outreach or creates blogger programs, who owns the blogger relationship? The person establishing the relationship, the agency, or the client/brand?

For me, I feel the right answer is the person establishing the relationship – and in the case of our agency, me, or one of my colleagues. Though I reach out to bloggers for the benefit of my client, it is my job (or the job of someone on my team) to find the right bloggers, stimulate their interest, negotiate the details of the agency/blogger relationship, and ensure that all goes as planned for all of the parties involved. In many cases, the client and the blogger have minimal contact with each other, as we manage all of the details. As such, we as individuals, rather than the agency or client, own the blogger relationship.

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Dead Social Networks: Lessons For All Marketers

Dead Social Networks: Lessons For All Marketers

Some social networks thrive and grow far beyond expectations while others start off with a big bang but go out with a whimper. Why? What is the difference between successful networks like Facebook and Twitter and those we’ve left behind, such as MySpace, Friendster and Second Life? Heed these 5 possible reasons some social networks fail – there are lessons for all marketers here!

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What To Include In Your Corporate Social Media Training Program

What To Include In Your Corporate Social Media Training Program

Social media can have a profound effect on your company’s success, and creating a corporate social media training program can help you take full advantages of the opportunities it provides. Social media tools can only help you reach your goals if your employees know how to use them: not just adequately, but to their fullest potential. To get the most out of social media, get your whole team involved and provide an effective training program to ensure they know what they’re doing. Below are some of the most important things to include when creating a social media training program.

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How to Use LinkedIn to Get New Clients

How to Use LinkedIn to Get New Clients

LinkedIn groups provide a good way to find new clients for your business. Remember that networking goes a long way toward getting your name out there, generating interest in you and your services, and building the kind of relationships that lead to prospect inquiries, referrals, and eventually, sales. You can get started along the right path by creating an appealing, SEO profile, connecting with others, and making regular posts, but joining the right kind of groups can provide a significant boost along the way.

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3 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

3 Social Media Mistakes to Avoid

You’ve probably heard your share of amazing social media success stories. But when you consider your own results, you might wonder why you’re not enjoying a fraction of the same traffic, attention, leads, and sales. The answer is often one or all of the three social media mistakes listed below:

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10 Ways Businesses Can Use Twitter

10 Ways Businesses Can Use Twitter

Wondering if Twitter can help your business? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Read on for 10 ways you can use Twitter for your small business:

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How Can Facebook Benefit My Business?

How Can Facebook Benefit My Business?

Facebook has become a household name, and just about everyone seems to have a Facebook account or at least some interest in logging on. If you’ve hesitated to use Facebook for business, now is a great time to jump in. There are many benefits to creating a Facebook page for your business. Here’s just a few of the benefits the website has to offer:
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5 Practical Lead Generation Tips

5 Practical Lead Generation Tips

Looking for more (and better) leads for your business? Hoping to turn more of your leads into actual sales? Generating leads and converting them into sales is a tough, ongoing process, no matter what type of business you’re involved in. Here are 5 tips for more effective lead generation and conversion:

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Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?

Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest! Oh, my! There are many different social media venues to choose from. While each one might have a place in a social media strategy, not all may be right for your business.

We presented this free social media class entitled “Which Social Media Platform is Right For Your Business?” last week. In case you weren’t able to attend, you can view the presentation right here:

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How to Get More Referrals

How to Get More Referrals

As a small business owner, referrals should be part of your game plan. Unlike other ways you can get business, referrals don’t cost you anything, except a little effort. And even better than that, people who are referred to you are ready to trust your expertise and buy your products and services. Since people they trust and care about have referred them to your business, they are primed and ready, with little selling on your part. Remember, each customer and business associate has a whole network of people who might need your services. Can you really afford to pass that up?

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How Can I Create an Effective Social Media Profile?

How Can I Create an Effective Social Media Profile?

Creating a social media profile shouldn’t be hard. After all, you have just a small amount of space  to fill. But it’s common to draw a blank when faced with all those empty boxes. You have a lot to share, but what portion of it should you put there? Here are some ideas for creating a social media profile that works for your business:

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Twitter for Writers

twitter for writers

I recently presented “Twitter for Writers” at the Business of Pet Writing Conference and at the ASJA 41st Annual Writers Conference.

Twitter is one of my favorite social media topics to present on; as a longtime user (I joined with my first, now dormant, account in early 2007) I’ve found it consistently the most valuable tool in my arsenal. It’s my go-to resource for news and information daily; I’ve learned about nearly every major world event in the last three or four years through my Twitter stream. I’ve also made amazing connections through Twitter, including wonderful friends as well as clients. Accordingly, I feel pretty passionate about why everyone should use Twitter (though I know not everyone will) and I think that passion comes through when I present about it.

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Media Kits for Bloggers

Media Kits for Bloggers
Last night I was a guest of the Philly Social Media Moms, presenting to a great group of bloggers on how to create media kits. Jo-Lynne Shane hosted and my friend Cecily Kellogg helped answer questions and get everyone get into the trenches creating their own media kits right there at the workshop.

Here’s the presentation – I hope that bloggers who complete their media kits will send them to me so I can include them in my database for future blogger outreach. (My contact info on the last page of the presentation.) Read more

Guidelines for Twitter Bios

Guidelines for Twitter Bios

Your Twitter bio is one of the most important pieces of content you will write on Twitter.  People will use it in search, to find people that match their interests. They will use it to decide whether to follow you back when you follow them.  You only have 160 characters, so it’s important to make the most of every one.  When you first get started, do the best you can to describe yourself but don’t worry about it too much; your bio can easily be changed.

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How to Hire and Work With a Ghost Writer

ghostwriter

A ghostwriter provides written content without requiring a byline or taking credit for the work. When you need written content, a ghostwriter can help you with everything from tweets and blog posts to articles and full-length books. But how do you know if you should hire a ghostwriter? Here are some hints to help you decide.

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5 Simple Ways to Show Love to Your Twitter Followers

5 Simple Ways to Show Love to Your Twitter Followers

Valentine’s Day is drawing closer and love is in the air. You don’t need a special day to show your appreciation to your Twitter followers; anytime is a good time! Here are 5 easy ways you can show your Twitter community you care:

1. Thank your new followers for following you. Take the time to read each new follower’s bio and make your “Thank you” tweet personal.

2. Retweet their tweets and share their links. If your Twitter followers are sharing good content, help expand their reach and share it with your other followers too.

3. Give them a #FF mention. #FF is the popular “Follow Friday” meme on Twitter. As the name suggests, this is done on Fridays and is a means of recommending other Twitter users to folllow.

4. Follow them back. We don’t advocate follow spam Twitter users, but you can show your appreciation to your Twitter followers simply by following them back.

5. Listen & respond thoughtfully. The biggest compliment one can pay to another Twitter user is to actually read their tweets and respond. It’s simple enough but has the biggest impact.


By taking the time to do these simple things, you’ll not only show appreciation for your Twitter family, your Twitter experience will be that much richer and rewarding for both you and your followers.

Basic Success Measures in Social Media

Basic Success Measures in Social Media

In a perfect world, before you can measure how well you’re doing, you need to know what you’ve set out to accomplish. But in reality, when you get started in social media, your objectives may be rather general. It will take time to refine and define your goals.  So let’s take a look at some of the basic success measures in social media which you can employ when you’re just dipping your toe in the waters.

One of the wonderful aspects of digital marketing is its measurability. Every day your efforts will speak to you, as you receive feedback that lets you know how people are responding to your content. This constant feedback loop allows you to constantly learn and improve.


Here are some basic methods of measurements that you can use.  These are all free tools (though some have advanced or paid options).

 

Facebook

Use Facebook Insights on your Facebook Business Page to measure:

  • Growth of Likes: how many people Like your page, and is this growing steadily?
  • Engagement per post, which includes Likes, comments and shares on each individual piece of content you create on your Page

Twitter

Use Hootsuite, or other third party tools such as BufferApp or Timely to see:

  • How many new followers you gain each week: are you gaining new followers? You may lose some too, so look at the net gain.
  • How many clicks you receive on links in your tweets: is your content interesting to people? What content seems to be resonating them most?
  • How many retweets you receive each week: do people think your content is interesting/valuable enough to share with their followers? This is really one of the most sincere forms of appreciation for your content.

Your Blog

If you have a WordPress blog, WordPress will offer some analytics including how many views and comments you receive.  However, the best way to understand what results youâ’re getting is to connect your blog to the free service provided by Google Analytics which offers a wealth of information, including:

  • Pageviews: how many pages on your blog or website were viewed in a particular timeframe
  • Post views: how many times each post was viewed (important for understanding what content is most successful)
  • Unique visitors: how many individuals visited your site/blog
  • Traffic sources: where your site/blog traffic is coming from; is it coming mainly from Facebook? Twitter? Organic search?
  • Traffic to your website: how much traffic your blog is sending over to your main website; after all, isn’t promoting your website part of the reason you started a blog?
  • Keywords generating traffic: in organic search, look at the keywords which are driving traffic to your site/blog – use this info to tailor future content based on successful keywords

When you look at any of these numbers, focus on the highs and lows. Ask yourself “why did people respond to this with such enthusiasm?” or “what made this one post receive a fraction of the response that all the others got that month?” Don’t be too fast to jump to conclusions. Remember that there are many factors that enter into any individual result taking off or bombing. While it may be something brilliant that you said, it might also be the timing, the fact that it was promoted in your newsletter or was tweeted by a celebrity. It could be the quality of the photo or the fact that there was a photo at all. Analysis is both an art and a science. Perform it with a team if possible, or at least ask the opinion of others. And remember the marketing maxim of all direct marketing: “always be testing!”

Are there other basic metrics you use to manage your digital business? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

 

Sweepstakes & Contest Rules for Bloggers (and Brands)

Sweepstakes & Contest Rules for Bloggers (and Brands)

I’ve been really angsty of late, worrying about things I shouldn’t worry about. That’s the life of a Jewish mother, I suppose. But it’s also the life of a social media marketer who is valiantly trying to stay on the right side of the law. The FTC law on sweepstakes rules, that is.

No doubt most of you are aware that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) regulates advertising and marketing practices here in the U.S. They’re the governmental group who has brought us the CAN-SPAM act (email marketing), COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) and, more recently, their Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising, which helped to bring about a more open and transparent level of disclosure by bloggers about their relationships with brands, organizations and events. The FTC is also one of the governmental bodies which regulates Contests and Sweepstakes (others being the Postal Service, the Department of Justice, and regulatory bodies within each of the 50 U.S. states).

I’m on the verge of losing sleep because of the FTC. It’s because I get upset every time I see something like this in a blog post:

giveaway

What’s wrong with this picture? Well, just about everything. This “giveaway” is actually a sweepstakes and, as such, it violates U.S. and state regulations in about a half-dozen ways, not to mention Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines as well.

The bigger problem? That there are hundreds, if not thousands, of these “giveaways” on blogs each and every day. Don’t you think that at some point the Feds, or one very consumer protection-oriented state (like my own state of New York), are going to sit up and realize that bloggers are mostly doing this wrong? And what’s going to happen to the brands whose stuff is being given away in these “giveaways?” Just as with the Endorsements guidelines, the burden is more likely to be on the brands than the blogger to make sure that every giveaway they are involved with is being run in a manner that complies with federal and state guidelines.

So what’s a brand (or blogger) to do? It’s really not that complicated, you just have to be sure your sweepstakes (or contest) is run according to the FTC and state guidelines. My friend Sara Hawkins, an attorney-turned-blogger, has written a handy post with key points of the sweepstakes guidelines. Based on Sara’s post, this really great post from the Keller and Heckman law firm, and my own understanding of the guidelines, here are the definitions and rules you need to know:

Type of Promotion

A Sweepstakes is a giveaway where winners are chosen at random.

A Contest chooses a winner based on some merit: best photo, funniest tip, etc.

A Lottery is a prize drawing where people pay money for a chance to win. Lotteries are even more highly regulated and brands (or bloggers) should never run a lottery without strong legal guidance.

Thus, most giveaways are actually sweepstakes: a winner is chosen at random based on an entry (like leaving a comment).

Sweepstakes Prize Value

Sweepstakes prizes valued over $5,000 must be registered and bonded in the State of New York and Florida (so don’t offer prizes over $5,000 unless you have the time and money to register and bond your sweepstakes).

Any prize over $600 is required to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). (The reality is that bloggers must pay taxes on anything they receive with value over $25, but that’s another story entirely.)

Official Sweepstakes Rules

All sweepstakes and contests must have Official Rules associated with them, prominently available to the entrant (attorneys I’ve spoken to always prefer that an entrant must check a box to say that they’ve agreed to the Rules, though I’ve also been told that if the rules are prominent enough and verbiage says something like “by entering your name below you are agreeing to the Official Rules” you may be covered.
Key points for Official Rules:

  • Must state “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY”
  • Must include eligibility requirements (age, residence – it’s generally problematic to include entrants under the age of 18 in your sweepstakes, and, given that every country has its own requirements for promotions, it may be wise to limit entrants to U.S. residents only)
  • Duration and deadlines (when does it start, by what date must you enter, etc.)
  • Entry procedures (Can you also enter by mail? What, specifically, do you need to do to enter?)
  • Prize descriptions (very specific – including an approximate retail value of the prize, if no actual retail value is available)
  • Odds of winning (this may be “The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.”)
  • How a dispute or mistake will be handled (disclaimers for technical failures or typographical errors; identity disputes related to the winner)
  • How and when winners are selected (you must set a date for winner selection and also for how long winners have to claim their prize)
  • Right to obtain winners’ names and how to do so, as well as the right to publicize their names and likenesses (if for whatever reason you’re not collecting their name on entry, you’ll want to get their name when you certify them as the winner; at the same time, you’ll probably want to have the right to use their name and photo for promotional purposes)
  • Method of distributing prizes not claimed (often something like, “If potential Grand Prize winner forfeits or does not claim the prize, prize will be re-awarded, in Sponsor’s sole discretion.” and “All prizes will be awarded.”)
  • Liability release (this holds the company harmless in the event that the prize or sweepstakes in some way negatively impacts the winner; this is often done alongside the certification of winner, where the winner must furnish proof of identity, address and birth date to win the prize, and at the same time sign the liability release)
  • Sponsor name and contact information (mailing address at the very least, plus email address and/or phone number)
  • Legal venue (in what state or jurisdiction is the sweepstakes being regulated in?)
  • Also state “VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW”

Additional Info for Contests

Most of the same rules and requirements apply to contests, with a few additions. If you’re running a contest where you’re collecting any materials from the entrants (photos, essays, artwork, poems), you should state how those materials are to be used and returned (if at all). As well, it may be necessary to restrict photos to images of people over 18 (to stay on the right side of the COPPA laws) and also to state that any inappropriate materials will result in automatic disqualification (be sure to define “inappropriate” for your specific contest).

If you are running a contest, there’s another whole discussion your lawyers will want to have about voting for the winner vs. judging the winner. Go ahead, ask them. Double-dare you. It’ll be a long discussion. The upshot: lawyers don’t like voting on contests. So make the final winner selection based at least 60% on judging by an “expert panel” vs. voting by regular people. Or vote for round one, then have the panel pick the winner out of a number of finalists. There’s too much randomness in voting, which makes it a sweeps vs. a contest. Lawyers don’t like it when lines blur like that, you know.

Advertising the Promotion

If the “giveaway” is to be referenced in any other place besides the actual sweepstakes page itself, there are additional guidelines for advertising that apply. Each reference to the giveaway must state the eligibility requirements (age, location), deadlines, how to obtain Official Rules, and must also include the two phrases “NO PURCHASE NECESSARY” and “VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.”

Children and General Privacy

I’ve referenced COPPA law a couple of times now, and can’t state emphatically enough how important it is to steer clear of the issues related to marketing to children under 13. However, a few states, such as Maine and California, have recently written new laws governing the collection of personal information for minors under the age of 18. Given that state laws vary on this point, it’s far safer to restrict your sweepstakes or contest to those over 18, and to require proof of age for winners upon certification of the winners.

Additionally, your sweepstakes or contest should either include or reference a strong privacy policy which governs your use of their personal information, including whether or not your site collects cookies, and with whom you will disclose or share their information.

Facebook: A Whole New Can of Worms

Facebook adds a whole new additional of complexity to promotions with their promotions guidelines. Sara has a good round-up here; the basics on this are that you cannot use any of Facebook’s native applications to enter people into a contest. Native applications include the Wall, the Like button, photos, videos and using Facebook to notify winners. Meaning, in the really bad example above, requiring people to “friend” someone (or “Like” a page) in order to gain an extra entry into the giveaway is not allowed. This is a topic for a whole other post, and many people have already written it, so I’ll just suggest you Google “facebook promotions guidelines” and you’ll get an earful. Or eyeful.

In short, “giveaways” are nothing to mess around with casually. There is no such thing as a “giveaway,” they are all sweepstakes, and, as such, are governed by myriad federal and state laws to which attention should be paid. If you’re a blogger who runs giveaways the wrong way, I really hope this post gives you pause: please step back, evaluate, and decide if running the giveaways brings you enough monetary value to either a) hire an attorney to help you setup your giveaways correctly, or b) to fight a lawsuit if a disgruntled non-winner (or winner) decides to take you to task for not following the law. If you’re a brand running giveaways via bloggers, it truly behooves you take control of the situation for yourself, and to sic your attorneys on this matter immediately.


Now go forth and giveaway. Properly. This angsty Jewish mother thanks you.

DISCLAIMER: I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV. The information provided herin is not legal advice and is only based on my own experiences as a marketer with sweepstakes and contests, including counsel I have been given by numerous attorneys over my many years as an internet marketer. None of the above should be considered a substitute for you consulting your own legal counsel who will guide you and your company (or blog) in how to create and manage sweepstakes and contests.

This post originally appeared in on Social Media Explorer, where I’m used to be a regular contributor on social media topics.

 

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What’s The Most Important Thing To Say About Your Business On Your Website?

What's The Most Important Thing To Say About Your Business On Your Website?

Ok, that was a bit of a trick question. The most important thing that helps you market your business is what other people say about you.

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How To Write A Powerful Twitter Bio

how to write a twitter bio

Your Twitter bio is one of the most important pieces of content you will write on Twitter so you’ll want to write a powerful Twitter bio to make the most of this small space in social. People will use it in search, to find people that match their interests. They will use it to decide whether to follow you back when you follow them. You only have 160 characters, so it’s important to make the most of every one. When you first get started, do the best you can to describe yourself but don’t worry too much, because your bio can easily be changed. There are different styles of bio but it’s best to stick to some general rules; at least until you become a household name, and then you can do whatever you want.

How to Write a Powerful Twitter Bio

 

  • Use keywords that are descriptive of your work (realtor, chef, or copywriter)
  • Modify these terms with specific words that help set you apart (realtor in Topeka, Asian-fusion chef or email copywriter)
  • Add something personal about yourself if you occasionally tweet about it (tennis, mom, eats out a lot)
  • Even in 160 characters, your bio can have a “voice.” If it does, make sure it’s in keeping with your brand voice. The tone can be humorous, friendly, coy or sophisticated, as long as it is in keeping with the image you want to present
  • Make use of the link that can be added to your bio (this will usually be your website), but you may also add a link in your Twitter bio if you have more than one site you want people to look at to learn about you. Don’t use a shortened URL if you can avoid it, because those links are also powerful branding for you (especially assuming they’re your blog or company website)

 

Take your time crafting your Twitter bio

 

Remember that your bio is your way of saying hello to potential followers. You don’t want to be too salesy when you do it. Think about who you want to appeal to and what might interest those people. Take your time crafting your Twitter bio and modify it as you learn from your experience on Twitter what types of content appeal to your followers the most.

Please share your favorite bio examples in the comments; we’ll compile a list of powerful Twitter bios in a future post.

how to write a twitter bio

How Often Should I Tweet?

With over 106 million users sending more than a total of 140 million updates per day; you can see why we think Twitter is an essential platform for your small business. We’ve written about Twitter a lot, everything from finding people to follow, finding content to share and how to organize your Twitter stream to keep up with the conversation.

One of the questions businesses often ask is “How often should I Tweet?” This topic has been debated by social media pundits, almost since the dawn of Twitter. The truth is, there isn’t a a “one size fits all” answer. The number of Tweets you should send is directly tied to the size of your Twitter community and your content.


Here’s a few things to keep in mind:How Often Should I Tweet?

Tweet Consistently

For your brand or business, this may mean 7 days a week or only Monday – Friday, depending on when your customers are online. This doesn’t mean scheduling or Tweeting at the same time, every day. It means that you shouldn’t send out 65 Tweets in one day and then not return to Twitter for a month.

Keep Your Content Balanced

Remember, you want to be a “Mindful Maven.” If you’re Tweets are constantly about your own business or blog posts, you’re followers will catch on and ignore them. Even worse, they are likely to quickly unfollow you.

Stay Engaged

Twitter is about having conversations, not just broadcasting links or announcements. Seek out, join and start conversations. In this aspect, you really can’t Tweet too often.

Yes, you can Tweet too little, and yes, you can Tweet too often. It’s okay to experiment a little; update at different times and at different frequencies; Tweet out different types of content to find out what resonates with your Twitter followers. The most important thing is that you just do it and do it consistently, with good content and your community in mind.

 

We’re All Search Marketers Now

We're All Search Marketers Now

As social media grows and matures, it seems pretty clear that there are a few aspects of this integrated discipline that are becoming increasingly important, yet are undeveloped skills in most social media practitioners.  One such aspect is search marketing.

Just a few short years ago search engine optimization (SEO) was a highly specialized discipline, and primarily was being executed within standalone SEO firms and some digital agencies.   The guys (yeah, mostly guys, though a few gals too) who were search experts often had coding backgrounds, and they really understood the nuts-and-bolts of how the search engines, and websites, worked.  They used this info to help static websites get noticed by the engines, and then they extended that knowledge into paid search, also called PPC (pay-per-click) or search engine marketing (SEM).  Blogs came along and they figured out the best ways to optimize those too.  If you needed to build a website or blog, or run a PPC campaign, you knew who to call.

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8 Types Of Content For Facebook Business Pages

8 Types Of Content For Facebook Business Pages

Your Facebook business page is just one more point of contact for your business.  It’s a way for customers to reach you and a way for you and your community to have conversations.

Before we can answer the question of what to say on Facebook, you need to consider what type of image or personality you want to project. How does your brand “sound” when it talks to people? Are you funny, informative, authoritative, compassionate, serious, helpful, inspirational? List the words that describe the personal side of your brand and you’ll have a hint of what to say and how to say it.

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What Social Media Can NOT Do

What Social Media Can NOT Do

Social media can do many things for your small business. It can help you generate qualified leads, reduce marketing expenses, increase search engine ranking and build brand advocates. There are plenty of statistics proving how effective social media is.

As powerful as social media can be, it is not the end-all, be-all solution for your business. Before you embark on your voyage into social media, it’s important to understand what social media can NOT do for you.

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What’s The Best Follower to Following Ratio on Twitter?

What's The Best Follower to Following Ratio on Twitter

The answer is: It depends! When you first join Twitter and get started, you will mostly likely be following more people tand have fewer followers. When you’re just getting rolling, don’t worry too much about your followers.

Find people to follow who truly interest you. Keep in mind that when you follow someone who follows very few people but has many followers, it is not likely that you’ll get followed back. That’s fine. Choose important people to follow, but also choose those with a better balance of following-followers and it’s likely that some will reciprocate and follow you.

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How To Schedule Your Tweets For Maximum Exposure

Sharing links with your Twitter followers is a great way to share industry-related information, keep your followers up-to-date and, and keep them entertained.  To do this, though, you need to be tweeting these links when most of your followers are online and likely to see them.  Given time zone changes and the differences in individual schedules, it can be difficult to know exactly when to send tweets for maximum effectiveness; even harder still is to be at your computer, ready to push the send button at exactly those times.

 

scheduling-tweets

Fortunately, there is a simple, free tool called Timely which takes the guesswork out of Twitter timing and also allows you to schedule tweets in advance, so you can get out from behind your desk.  With Timely, your content will get the best possible engagement in terms of link-clicks and retweets.  Timely is extremely easy to use, so we recommend it for people who are eager to ramp up their Twitter efforts and start to publish a lot of content.

In order to use Timely, simply go to Timely.is, connect your Twitter account and enter a tweet and a link. The tweet will then be scheduled for you, in order to generate maximum exposure based on the Twitter habits of your followers.  Timely even offers a toolbar button so you can submit and schedule links as you’re browsing the Internet and come across something relevant and interesting to your community.

Timely  determines the best time for your tweet is by analyzing your last 199 tweets for link clicks and retweets.  It also keeps a historical record of the tweets you send through their service, allowing you to see the number of clicks, retweets and reach over time.  Looking at your tweet history, you’ll learn a lot about what people responded to, shared and clicked on. And that’s one of the greatest features of social media. You’ll be able to experiment, learn from your results and get better every day.

Do you use a Twitter scheduling tool? Have experience with Timely or any others? Please share your experiences in the comments.

Note: Social Media School has no relationship with Timely except as a user.

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What Is A “Call To Action?”

What Is A "Call To Action?"

You may have heard the term “call to action” and perhaps you even know how it applies to an advertisement or TV show. When you are watching a television ad and they say, “order now!,” that is a call to action.

In social media, most of your writing will probably not end with “order now.” If you want to see results, you do, however, need to have a call to action for any marketing effort, social media included. But since social media is more about establishing a relationship, establishing authority or humanizing your brand, the call to action is going to have a different tone than the screaming TV ad.


 

call to action

In social media content, a call to action might tend to be more about asking for people to engage in conversation with you. On Facebook, you may ask a question like “Share your favorite experience using ___” or “Tell us what you think about___.” That will get you more engagement than simply posting pictures and links. On a blog, you might end with a question, asking people to weigh in on a topic you have covered or answer a question that came to your mind while writing the post. These types of calls to action are asking for engagement, and they set just the right tone for your social media presences.

On your blog or website you can put more explicit calls to action, asking people to connect with you in social media (with your Twitter, Facebook or blog icons and links) or to sign up for your newsletter (with a signup box right there). Remember, when you ask people to take that a step that requires a commitment, whether it is receiving your newsletter or Liking your Facebook page, remember to tell them why they should do it. Answer the question which will be on their minds, “what’s in it for me?,” with information about what you will be providing through that medium, whether you’ll be giving them special offers, free e-books, new product announcement or tips and ideas.

You are putting your efforts into social media for a reason. To make sure you get out of it what you want, you’ll have to ask for it. Don’t you agree?

 

Use Social Media At Your Next Conference

Use Social Media At Your Next Conference

I recently returned from the BlogHer Conference in San Diego, the largest gathering of women in blogging – at 3,200+ strong, we’re quite the amazing group. With BlogHer, Evo Conference and Mom 2.0 Summit all happening within 1-2 months of each other, I’ve been relying on a bunch of new (and older) tools and platforms to maximize my conference-going and networking. Some of these tools may be new to you, too so I’m happy to share them with you.

HootSuite: This is my go-to app for managing my own Twitter and Facebook presences, as well as those of my clients. The HootSuite iPhone and Android apps and website allow for easy creation of a new stream that searches for the hashtag of the event you’re at – so you can quickly scan to see what everyone else is doing and saying.  I also use HootSuite to livetweet events, with the event hashtag, of course.

Foursquare: Not everyone wants to broadcast their location, but for those of you that do, Foursquare makes conferences a lot of fun, particularly for a conference like SxSW with multiple events happening at once. Seeing where your colleagues and friends check in can help you make a snap decision on where to go next. I also use Foursquare as a simple way to catalog my travels – where I ate, what hotel I stayed at, etc.

Hashable: Available as an iPhone app (or use on the web), this site allows two people to make quick connections via Twitter, which are then augmented with your contact info online.  At the recent Mom 2.0 Summit, a friend of mine made two important connections for me within the space of 30 minutes, both using Hashable.  I love this for its speed (no long-winded intro emails necessary) and ease-of-use via the iPhone app (though the website is just as user-friendly). [UPDATE 2012: Hashable is, sadly, no longer in business!]

cellphone

QR Codes: This is a bit on the heavy geek-tech side, but it’s a cool icebreaker. Use the ZXing Project QR Code Generator to create a 2-D barcode with your contact information in it.  Then store that barcode as a photo in your smartphone. If you meet people who carry a smartphone, suggest that they snap your QR Code (from the photo) using a QR code reader (I recommend the i-nigma Reader) to quickly upload your contact info to their phone. You can also print the QR Code on a business card (mine has one) but that takes more advance planning!

Group Texting: If you’re traveling as a pack, or want to make plans with people as you go, try out one of the up-and-coming group text services. These apps and services allow one-to-many texting, saving you lots of phone calls and making quicker connections than email. And, at a conference with bad mobile web reception (who hasn’t been in those black-hole ballrooms?), texts will usually get through.

Once you’ve got all your social media tools in place, think about the physical tools you use, too. Take a Sharpie pen so you can write notes on any business card, even a glossy one – those notes may be really helpful to you when you’re struggling to remember who’s who.

cards

Here’s my special trick for keeping business cards together – thanks to the crafty and smart Tauni Everett for this idea: a binder ring (with holepunch) for all the cards from a single conference. These can sit on my desk together for easy flipping and referencing.

Whatever you do, remember that networking is all in the follow-up – so whether you use Twitter, Facebook or good old-fashioned email, don’t forget to follow-up with your new contacts as soon as possible after the event.


Are you in riding the conference carousel? How have you used (or do you plan to use) social media to help keep it all together? Please let us know in the comments!

This post originally appeared in a slightly different form at the Creative Concepts Blog, where I’m a regular contributor on social media topics.

 

 

Social Media Safety for Teens

Social Media Safety for Teens

With back-to-school around the corner, now is a great time to talk to your kids about social media safety and smarts. Last summer I was fortunate to be able to present a series of seminars to a bunch of tweens and teens at an upstate New York summer camp. I think the most important concept we discussed together was the need to think about what you’re posting today, to avoid issues when a future college or employer looks you up online and discovers a youthful mistake.

Hopefully this presentation (click through to view on Slideshare.net) will help you to talk to your tween or teen about internet and social media safety.

 

Please leave a comment if you’ve had or plan to have this conversation with your kids. We’d love to hear how it goes!

 

Dirty Twitter Stream? Clean it Up with Lists!

clean up twitter stream with list

If you’re following a significant number of people on Twitter, it’s likely your stream is pretty full. It’s fun to follow a lot of people, but with so many updates flying by, it can get difficult to focus on the conversation and people you care most about. You may even be tempted to start deleting some of the Twitter accounts you follow, but that’s a difficult decision. How do you decide who makes the cut? If you started following them to begin with, unless that account turned out to be a spam account, it’s not likely you want to un-follow them now.

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The Lost Art of Blog Commenting

blog commenting

It’s likely you’ve read a lot of passionate blog posts about the importance of an effective Facebook page, active Twitter account, and optimized profile on LinkedIn as well as why it’s essential to have a corporate blog. I don’t disagree at all. Each of these is a critical component to your social media strategy, but one piece that’s often overlooked is commenting on other blogs.

Leaving comments on blogs is like the piece that belongs right in the middle of your puzzle; without it, you’ll have a hole in the middle of the bigger picture. If you’re wondering why your social efforts aren’t gaining enough momentum, consider some of the following reasons for incorporating commenting into your strategy.

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How To Survey Your Customers Like A Pro

How To Survey Your Customers Like A Pro

Knowing your customers, understanding their wants and their needs, and getting feedback quickly on new products and services, is critical to your business success. One of the best tools available for getting that information is offered by a company called Survey Monkey. It’s free for a basic service that allows up to 100 responses per survey. For a relatively small annual charge, you can get thousands of responses and a wide array of survey types and analysis through simple or complex customer surveys.

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How Twitter Can Help You Generate Business

How Twitter Can Help You Generate Business

Twitter can be a really great tool to help you find customers and to help customers find you. With over 140 million tweets per day, you can easily imagine that people are talking about your product or service. How you use it to drive sales is partly a matter of how well you search Twitter.

When you go to Twitter.com you’ll see a search box prominently on the home page. Start playing around with different searches and see what you can find that’s related to what you do. Are you a real estate attorney? Type in “real estate attorney nyc,” as follows.

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How to Close A Social Media Account

How to Close A Social Media Account

While it’s nice to think that we’d all finish what we start, sometimes it’s not that easy. You create a Facebook page for your brand because you’ve got a marketing coordinator with extra time, but poof – the headcount is cut. Or you convince your CEO to start Tweeting, and she loses interest after about six weeks. It can happen to any brand….but there’s a right way and a wrong way to bow out gracefully.

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Organizing Your Staff for Social Media

organizing staff for social media

Just where does social media belong in an organization? Is it a marketing or public relations tool? Is it owned by customer service? Is it in a category by itself?  And – is it even important to put social media in a category? The answer is yes and no. You can implement social media strategies and enjoy success without choosing a classification. But classifying it may prove critical when you are creating social media policies and planning across the organization.

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Why PR May Not Win The Social Media Agency Wars

Why-PR-May-Not-Win-The-Social-Media-Agency-Wars

The default position lately seems to be that social media is being grasped best by PR agencies, and a lot of PR agencies are winning social media business. As a former PR agency person who’s also worked in a social media shop, I’d agree that there are a lot of reasons that PR firms should win the social agency wars. But there are a lot of strikes against them too. Others have recently expounded on why social belongs in PR; I’m going to take the other side and outline where I feel PR is falling short and must catch up in order to win and deliver on integrated social media campaigns.

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The Case for Social Media Agencies

The-Case-for-Social-Media-Agencies

Previously, I’ve written about how PR firms are missing some key skillsets that they need to win integrated social media business. The post generated a lot of great feedback, Tweets and Likes, and I think it’s because it really hit a nerve with a lot of agency folk – PR and otherwise.

So here on my own blog I’ll make the correlating argument that there is an opportunity now for pureplay social media agencies to really grow and thrive.  Of course, I’m completely biased, having spent nearly five years at award-winning social agency Converseon, and now as principal of my own social and digital marketing agency (I did work in PR for a year in between – so have some credibility on the PR side as well).  Please bear with me as I make the case and then tell me at the end whether you agree or not.

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Gamification and Marketing

Gamification

Mention Farmville as a potential marketing tactic to most marketers or brand stewards and you’ll get greeted by an “ugh, really?”  I have yet to work with someone, colleague or client, who plays social games online, so very few of them are convinced that gaming is the way to reach consumers.  But increasingly, gaming is an important and growing channel with regular new points of entry for engagement.

In fact, there’s an entire new industry cropping up to help brand connect to consumers via gaming; it’s called “Gamification” and it’s exemplified by a startup, Bunchball, which helps companies including Hasbro, Comcast and NBC “gamify” their interactions with their target audiences.  The concept of gamification is simple:

  • Make it fun and exciting to be part of a community
  • Reward audiences for participation
  • Encourage pass-along and recommendations
  • Build loyalty and sales through repeat visits and purchases

Gamification can happen online or off; companies like 7-Eleven are gamifying the in-store experience, Bobber is making financial education fun for kids and teens, and programmers’ community Stack Overflow awards badges for community interaction and engagement.

And consider Foursquare, Gowalla and other location-based services.  Most of them are based on the premise of gaining something – either becoming a mayor, or finding an artifact, or getting another badge.  These services wouldn’t be nearly as compelling if the competitive aspects weren’t there, whether it’s competing against yourself or against friends.

What does this mean for brands?  You should be looking for ways to either gamify your own marketing efforts to take advantage of existing games to engage with your target audiences.  The average online gamer is a 43 year old woman and 38% of women say they play games several times a day.  So though it seems that my colleagues are all outside of that percentage, there are still 78 million users playing Farmville and millions and millions more playing other games.  Brands are placing products within games and other creative integrations are cropping up daily (no pun intended).

As a long-time geek who played role-playing games in her youth, I’m all about a good game, and love that companies are taking hold of these theories and putting them to use in attracting and retaining customers.

I’ve seen a number of great posts recently about gamification and wanted to highlight a few of them here.

Game Mechanics and Gamification Rationale

TechCrunch: SCVNGR’s Secret Game Mechanics Playdeck

This is a fantastic resource with 47 potential implementations of game dynamics. If you’re thinking about creating a game or injecting some game concepts into a campaign, start here for fantastic ideas and examples.

gamification_marketing

Maritz.com: 3 Reasons Social Gaming Is Not a Waste of Time

Refutes a recent AdAge column which was bearish on social gaming and outlines three experiences that gamified activities offer which attract and excite users.

Mashable: HOW TO: Use Game Mechanics to Power Your Business

A great construct for the process of  incorporating game mechanics. Includes this clever graphic:

QuickSprout: How to Use Game Mechanics to Improve Your SEO

I just came across this excellent post on how to use gaming components to encourage pass-along and content creation, which builds search visibility as a result.

Examples of Companies Gamifying

GamesBeat: Website builder Devhub gets users hooked by “gamifying” its service

This DIY website and blog platform has introduced game elements that encourage users to finish their web building projects. The gaming elements have increased site building activity nine times and average revenue per user four-fold.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek: The Retailer’s Clever Little Helper

Roundup of recent retailer adoptions of mobile game apps, including examples from Campbell’s, Starbucks, and AT&T.

EpicWin

Bring more fun to your tasks with this iPhone app that promises to “level-up your life” by making your to-do list into an RPG adventure.  Choose your character and tackle those long-overdue projects.  I’m a Warrior Priestess, of course.

Replicator: Subaru adds “Game Mechanics” to Cars

The car company takes gamification offline by adding badges to the back of their cars.  Sounds crazy? Maybe. But what about all those little family stickers people have on their cars, or the multitudes of colored ribbons?

Snowboard Magazine: Vail Resorts Launches Epic Mix

In what looks like an extremely cool app that makes a non-skiier like me want to go to Vail, the resort company has announced a complex application that will track guests’ activity on their computers or smartphones and via the use of RFID tracking at the resorts.  Pins will be available to commemorate each activity, with special pins available for kids.

What say you? Are you loving the gamification of everything, or hating it? Do you shut off Farmville and Mafia Wars in your Facebook news feed or are you an addict yourself?  And now that Farmville is on the iPhone, are you less bored waiting at the bank? Please leave us your thoughts in the comments.

Gamification

Gamification and Marketing

Editorial Calendar Continued: Creating a Facebook Calendar

As a further extension to my series on editorial calendars, let’s talk about Facebook.  If you’re running a Facebook brand/fan page, you’ll want to create an editorial calendar for that, too.

Facebook needs an editorial calendar too
Given how many friends people have, and how quickly status updates get pushed down on people’s home pages, Facebook recommends that brands post status updates at least twice per day in order to capture the greatest audience for your brand content.  That means creating (and posting) 10 to 14 updates per week (depending on if you include weekends – which Facebook recommends but most brands don’t do).  That’s a lot of content!

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Editorial Calendar Continued: Curating Content for Twitter

In Tuesday’s post I described how to go about setting up a steady stream of tweets to populate your Twitter account.  The post covered the mechanics of the process, so now you might be wondering where to get all that content from.  Here are a few ideas for how to curate outside sources to provide relevant, timely content to your followers.

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Editorial Calendar Continued: Twitter Editorial Calendars

In previous posts I’ve covered blog editorial calendars and programming blog content.  Let’s move on to Twitter for a bit and look at how to structure an editorial calendar for Twitter.

In reality, a Twitter editorial calendar is less “editorial” and more “planning.”  Given that you’ve only got 140 characters to play with (only 120 if you want to leave room for ReTweets), it’s not like you’re going to create groundbreaking editorial content for your Twitter stream.  Therefore, what I use Twitter for, and what many of the people I follow seem to do, is to curate links to content I feel that my Twitter audience will be interested in receiving.  This can include my own content, of course, but will also include links to others’ content.  I also make use of Twitter to get questions answered, take the pulse of my followers, and to do some (very limited) self-promotion.

Here are the steps for developing a consistent, easy-to-manage Twitter stream:

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Editorial Calendar Continued: Blog Calendar Template

blog calendar template

I’ve had a couple of requests for a copy of the spreadsheet I’m using to track my blog editorial calendar, so I’ve created a Google Docs version that anyone can view and download.

In the spreadsheet I’ve included what I consider to be the most important fields that you should fill out while creating your calendar, as well as some columns for tracking your results afterward.

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Editorial Calendar Continued: 9 Ways to Program Out Blog Content

program blog content

Hopefully now you’ve got a structure for your editorial calendar.  But it’s empty.  How do you determine what content to include in your blog?

The first place to start is to listen.  I’ve said before that I’m a huge proponent of social media listening, as that’s where you’re going to find the topics that are of interest to your audience.  You’ll want to also understand how you’re telling your brand story – what’s your voice, who’s speaking on your behalf.

So assuming that you know who your audience is, you know what you want your voice to be, and you know who’s writing (if it’s a multi-author blog), let’s look at some of the various ways to flesh out your editorial calendar for your blog.  These may not all be appropriate for you, just pick and choose to get the right balance of content for your brand.

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Basics of the Social Media Editorial Calendar

social media editorial calendar

As you may know, we’re huge fans of editorial calendars around here. We use them for all of our client work, plus our own internal content creation efforts and social media scheduling. Here’s a look at how we approach using a social media editorial calendar.

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Brands Working With Bloggers – It’s Confusing

brands working with bloggers

While I was busy last week getting my new site up and running, a major conversation was happening in the blogosphere about compensation for mommybloggers. This is a topic that I’m pretty passionate about, having recently moderated a panel about how PR and bloggers can work together, and as a long-time liaison between brands and bloggers.

From the brand side, there is certainly a great deal of confusion (and, dare I say, ignorance) about how to work with bloggers (of any type, not just moms). Here are the issues from my perspective.

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