Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing Blog Archives | Crackerjack Marketing Blog

What would a social media agency be without social media marketing blog posts? The Crackerjack Marketing team doesn’t just “dabble” in social media. We live and breathe it everyday at work, at home and everywhere in between. We don’t simply analyze, theorize and make recommendations (though, that certainly is part of what we do); we practice what we preach.

Grab a cup of coffee and get cozy with our social media marketing blog archives. Since we’ve been blogging about social media marketing for more than 7 years (just on this website alone!), there’s a lot of reading to do. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, just drop us a line and let us know.

If you’d like to find out more about how working with a social media agency can help your brand, please feel free to contact us through the chat window (down there, in the lower-right corner of your browser) or contact us by filling out this form.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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How to Market Your Brand Using Live Video

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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

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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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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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 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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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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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.

 

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.

 

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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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 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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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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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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