Monthly Archives: July 2012

3 Social Media tips that can save your Business hours of frustration

The first goal of internet marketing is getting people’s attention. But there’s too much noise today. And it’s only getting worse.

Your potential customers have thousands of things to pay attention to. And their Twitter Stream or Facebook News Feed is already full of other alternatives to your product or service. The problem is that companies want to rush in to the tools and tactics of social media, without giving much thought to their overall strategy. And the result is that they look, sound, and feel just like everyone else. They’re lost in a sea of mediocrity.

So the key to social media is to stand out. If you want to see return on your efforts, then you need to separate yourself from the competition. Here are 3 social media tips that you can use to save yourself hours of frustration.

Tip #1. Define Who You Are – The first step to any marketing strategy is to define who you are. But not some wishy-washy “mission statement”. Think deeper. Businesses don’t take enough time to really flesh out their principles and priorities. The result? They sell commoditized products/services, are virtually indistinguishable from the next competitor, and don’t have a clear vision of who their target audience is.

The first step to positioning is by believing in something. Companies today want to “market” to everyone, and are afraid of taking a stand one way or another. But when you try to appeal to everyone, you really appeal to no one. Instead, you need to “market” to those people who share your worldview. These people aren’t just casual consumers, but your raging fans. Start with your strengths:

  • What does your company/brand really stand for?
  • Who do you (specifically) serve?
  • What is the unique solution you provide?
  • What specific qualities does your company embody?
  • Why does your company even exist (besides to turn a profit)?
  • Why are your products/services better than everyone else?

And it also helps you answer the next tip…

Tip #2. Position Yourself – How will you be different from all the competition? If you don’t come up with a unique positioning, then you’ll be forgotten. You’ll get traffic, but it will bounce and never return again. One way to define who you are, is by defining who you aren’t. By taking a stand, you’re aligning yourself with a specific set of beliefs or opinions. So by default, the “other guys” are your enemy. This enemy could be a company, a trend, an industry, or an attitude towards business. But it’s personal.

For example, Apple believes in amazing products, beautiful design, and easy-to-use interfaces. Their enemy is complexity, scope-creep, and the companies behind bad products. Here are some quotes from Steve Jobs:

  • “If, for some reason, we make some big mistake and IBM wins, my personal feeling is that we are going to enter a computer Dark Ages for about twenty years.”
  • “Pretty much, Apple and Dell are the only ones in this industry making money. They make it by being Wal-Mart. We make it by innovation.”
  • “The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.”

Obviously you don’t have to be this explicit. But you also don’t have to guess about who Apple is, or what they stand for.

Tip #3. Do Less – Finally, do less. When you don’t have a lot of time, energy or money, then you need to focus where you invest to make a bigger impact. That means put more resources into fewer things. But what do you start?

1. Focus on the essential: Your website, your blog, and email marketing. – You own each of these channels (including all the data or content you’re creating), and they’re proven to be the most profitable channels. So start there. If your website is sub-par, your blog’s content isn’t engaging, or your email marketing is nonexistent, then start here first!

2. Focus on the highest ROI activities: Now figure out where you’re receiving “uncommon” results. – Maybe your style of creating content resonates with people and you see a lot of engagement. Or maybe your Facebook page sends a ton of traffic back to your website. Whatever the case, you should be able to identify one or two tactics that are really giving you a lot of return.

There’s absolutely no reason you need to prioritize more than two social networks. None. So don’t follow what everyone’s talking about. Pinterest for your business might be a waste of time.

Because most companies (outside of the Fortune 500) don’t have enough time, money or staff to make the returns worth the cost. They will eat up a lot of your time and energy, without giving you the returns you need.

And your goal is to stand out, not fit in. So instead of spreading yourself too thin (like every other business), go deeper and create a more rich, fulfilling experience for your customers.

You’ll get a higher ROI on your time & money, while also being able to stay sane in the process. And you’ll have a better chance of keeping people’s attention, which is the first step of social media marketing.

5 best reasons to recruit with Facebook Ads

It’s no coincidence that Ford and Coca-Cola have stepped up praise of Facebook ads in recent weeks. Despite initial skepticism resulting from both the novelty of the platform and the inaccurate comparisons to Google AdWords, big-ticket advertisers are beginning to realize Facebook ads’ ability to drive sales.

But Facebook ads aren’t just good for sales. They also represent a tremendous opportunity in the field of recruitment because they can essentially target and attract candidates who are unreachable through traditional channels. If you want to know why your recruitment efforts need Facebook ads, here’s why.

1. Fish Where the Fish Are – To say that Facebook is the world’s largest social network is to miss half the picture. It’s not just that Facebook has more monthly active users than Twitter, LinkedIn, and MySpace combined. The site has also achieved an unprecedented level of integration into the lives of its users. Each day, 526 million people log into Facebook, with 398 million of those individuals logging in six out of seven days a week.

What does this mean for recruiters? Well, Facebook is where you’ll likely find your candidates hanging out. But posting a job is not enough. You need to drive targeted traffic to your Facebook page with Facebook ads, which lets you turn the network’s 900 million users into the world’s largest talent pool.

2. Target Your Ideal Candidates – You can target your ads with a wide range of criteria including location, education, work history, and interests. Your campaign can be as specific as targeting only recent graduates of U.C. Berkeley with degrees in computer science living within 25 miles of San Fransisco (800 users on Facebook), or as broad as anyone in the United States who “likes” music and graduated from high school (25 million users).

Regardless of education level, skill set, or geographic location, Facebook’s targeting mechanism makes it easy to find the right person. What’s more, by targeting only those people who are likely to be interested in a given position, you effectively focus on just high-interest candidates. Contrast this with online job boards, where recruiters can get flooded with irrelevant or unqualified applicants. Targeting through Facebook ads means that a greater proportion of the applications you receive will be from qualified, interested candidates who are more likely to accept an offer than those recruited through traditional channels.

3. Recruit at Low Cost and High Value – Like most online advertising platforms, Facebook charges on a pay-per-click basis. This means that you’re not going to be throwing money out the window on uninterested users. You’ll only be charged if someone takes the initiative to click on your job ad in order to explore the opportunity further.

4. Attract Passive Candidates – It is one of the great challenges of recruitment — particularly social recruitment — to grab the attention of the ever-elusive passive candidate. This cohort is neither thrilled with their current employment, nor active in the job hunt. Yet, passive candidates are often the most qualified, especially for mid- and senior-level positions.

Fortunately, Facebook ads catch the attention of passive candidates by presenting them with career opportunities while they’re perusing Facebook. As a result, passive candidates will be exposed to your targeted job openings.

5. Build a Facebook Talent Community – One of the most powerful functions of Facebook ads is to drive traffic to your Facebook page. This traffic — if met with engaging and relevant content — can be converted into likes. That, in turn, becomes your talent community.

People who like your page are often those who match your company culture and have the kinds of interests that make them high-quality candidates. As fans, they will receive updates from your careers page, including notifications of new job postings, making them the ideal talent community. The gist is that Facebook ads give you the chance to put the world’s largest social network to work for your recruitment efforts. The network’s enormous membership and precise targeting mechanism allows you to pinpoint your ideal candidates and leverage them to build an online talent community. The result is a low-cost, high-effect recruitment campaign.

Whereas job boards charge a fixed fee that is entirely irrespective of performance, Facebook ads only cost you when high-interest candidates explore the positions you post. And while LinkedIn’s membership is disproportionately white-collar, Facebook’s demographics closely mirror the general population. As such, it is possible to recruit in any industry and at any level.

Read the full article: 5 Best Reasons to Recruit With Facebook Ads »

The Future Isn’t About Mobile, It’s About Mobility

While the globe grapples with uncertain economic realities, “mobile” appears to be gold.

Facebook is expected to announce their uniquely targeted mobile advertising model before the end of the month. Amazon is talking to Chinese manufacturer Fox Conn with ambitions of building their own mobile device to serve as a compliment to Amazon’s considerable digital ecosystem of products and services. China itself has surpassed the US as the world’s dominant smartphone market with over a billion subscribers and roughly 400 million mobile web users. Advisory firm IDC predicts that by 2014 there will have been over 76 billion mobile apps downloaded resulting in an app economy worth an estimated thirty five billion in the same year. Mobile business will become big business in the not so distant future.

However, there will be blood as the business world pursues the mobile gold rush.

We’ve seen this movie before. In the early days of the web, it was the website that created a browser-fueled gold rush — until organizations realized that maintaining a website that provided real value was more difficult than launching something quickly. The same story is now playing out in social — getting something launched on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest is easy, but building an engaged and meaningful following isn’t. And the same will happen in the rush to mobile if companies take a “channel” approach vs. a behavioral approach. In short, it’s not about mobile as much as it is about understanding mobility.

In the early days of digital, the core behavior we needed to understand was that people wanted information at their fingertips and the convenience that came with digital transactions. In the social era it was all these things plus social connectivity. Mobility means information, convenience, and social all served up on the go, across a variety of screen sizes and devices.

Mobility is radically different from the stationary “desktop” experience. In some cases, mobility is a “lean back” experience like sitting on a commuter train watching a video. In other cases it can be “lean forward” — like shopping for a gift while you take your lunch break at the park. And in many cases, it’s “lean free” when your body is in motion, or you’re standing in line scanning news headlines or photos from friends while you wait for your turn to be called.

Mobility trumps mobile. The difference between mobility and mobile is like the difference between hardware and software. Mobile is linked to devices — it is always one thing, wherever it is. But mobility changes with context: cultures incorporate mobile technologies differently. For example, in Africa, SMS technology helps farmers pay bills electronically. In America, it helps teenagers keep up with their friends — an average of 60 times a day. Mobile itself is the nuts, bolts, and infrastructure, while mobility is the context which determines if it all works together or doesn’t.

To avoid “bloodshed” in mobile, learn from past lessons in Web, digital and social. Improve your understanding of the nuances of mobility and mobile behaviors before you ramp up your investment in mobile. Resist the temptation to rely too much on a guru; hiring a guru will only take your organization so far. Many of the organizations who brought in “social media gurus” learned this lesson the hard way. A single individual cannot scale. However, if the organization is willing to put real teeth behind their mobile efforts, a single smart person can help form a center of excellence. Establishing a center of excellence that puts mobility at the core, and integrates it with other business initiatives, can get a business thinking about mobile more strategically.

Secondly, realize that going mobile is not the same thing as having an app. In fact, avoid the temptation to “app everything.” A lot of content — whether video or text-based — can easily be optimized for mobile consumption. Popular apps such as Flipboard or Pulse point to a future of consumer “appgregation” — using one app to aggregate many sources of content. Instead of creating a whole host of apps that few are likely to download, invest in making your “digital ecosystem” more mobile-friendly.

Lastly, don’t put mobile tactics in front of strategy. In the early days of the web, every site seemed to have an animated GIF or a clunky site-counter. In the early days of social, companies spent millions on costly Facebook apps with cute gimmicks but no real utility or sharing value. Today, companies are scrambling to come up with something “mobile” whether or not it makes sense for their long-term business goals, and whether or not users will actually want it. The outcome is the same in across all of these examples: a low number of visits/installs/downloads and ho-hum business results. Tomorrow’s winners of today’s mobile gold rush will boast significant (and sustainable) usage numbers due to the value of their content, whether it’s sheer utility or impossible-to-ignore entertainment value.

Today’s mobile realities are stark. Competition is fierce and users are demanding. If your company wants to put out a fitness app, you’re competing not just with Nike FuelBand or Run Keeper, but with dozens of other apps put out by scrappy start-ups.

Before doubling down on mobile, any business should first ask themselves if they really understand mobility as a behavior and lifestyle, followed by tough questions about the role mobile plays in their business. From there, a strategy for mobile, built on an understanding of mobility, can take root.

Build on the expensive lessons learned from past bubbles and there will be less “blood” all around.

Read the full article: The Future Isn’t About Mobile; It’s About Mobility »

IOC Gets Social With New Olympics Hub Integrating Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare

With the Olympics due to start in just over a week, the International Olympic Committee has finally taken the wraps off a new social media hub, apart from its main website, for athletes and fans to cosy up to one another. It will include integrations with leading social media sites like Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook, Foursquare and Google+, along with some content created on the site itself. The news comes at the same time that we have seen broadcasters like the BBC and NBC, Internet portals like Yahoo, and Facebook itself unveil their own digital Olympics strategies — all vying for the same eyeballs during the two-week event.

In light of all the other Olympics initiatives from third parties, on the face of it this looks like the IOC’s attempt to get its own grip on the event. There is certainly a market for Olympic content. The IOC says it already has some 2,000 athletes signed up to aggregate Twitter feeds, and that it already has more than 30,000 followers on Instagram in the 60 days since it launched an account. (The accounts are at @olympics and @facesofolympian.)

At the same time, there is also a drive from athletes themselves to communicate better with fans: “Social media has been a great way to connect with fans and share not just my stories but the stories of other amazing people and athletes. I regularly use it to share my experiences and provide inspiration,” said Oscar Pistorius, one of the athletes (South Africa, athletics) who attended a launch of the portal in London last night.

The centerpiece of the IOC’s approach will be the Olympic Athletes’ Hub, which will not only aggregate the Twitter and Facebook streams of Olympic athletes, but will be the window to all of the IOC’s other social endeavors.

The hub will include a separate section, Inside the Olympic Village where different athletes will appear for live chats with athletes staying in the village.

And there are more social media plans in the works: Instagram has also collaborated with the IOC on a special section for the hub called “Faces of Olympians” which aggregate photos taken of the athletes during the Games. This section is not yet live, but it looks like it will be a collection of candid-yet-official (read, not crowdsourced) pictures. Tagged with #facesofolympian, they will run on a separate “Faces” tab in the hub.

The IOC is also dabbling in a bit of social gaming: the Olympic Challenge (also yet to be launched) is a kind of “Fantasy Olympics” format, with fans to compete against friends and other fans predicting who will win what in different events. The game will be integrated with Facebook’s Open Graph, meaning the results will also appear in your feeds on the social network. The IOC doesn’t specify but it may well also appear on Facebook’s own Olympic page. Unlike some social games on Facebook or beyond, there doesn’t appear to be any fees associated with playing the game or financial rewards for winning.

Also coming up are Tumblr blogs covering a number of different aspects of the event: a general aggregation of social feeds; another for the Instagram photo feed; another for photos from Getty Images; and one more for Olympic fashion (street style in the village I supppose).

Foursquare is also being tapped for the event, with people being able to check in to different venues and get special Olympic Ticket badges with some free ticket giveaways in the process. More free tickets will come by way of a Facebook photo contest on its official page there, the IOC says. And as we mentioned at the Facebook launch, the IOC is also including a Google+ page into the mix.

Read the full article: IOC Gets Social With New Olympics Hub Integrating Instagram, Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare »

6 Ways to drive more Pinterest engagement

Are you engaging your fans on Pinterest?

Pinterest has been growing at an amazing pace. Recently, comScore reported that Pinterest grew by 4377% since May 2011. This is because people like to be engaged with images.

The good thing about Pinterest is that every new post is an image around which a lot of engagement can be driven. So there’s great potential to drive a lot of engagement on this social media network. Here are 6 ways to drive more engagement with images on Pinterest.

#1: Run Competitions – People love taking part in competitions, whether it’s to win a coupon, money, get their two minutes of fame or just for fun. On Pinterest, you can run competitions where the winner is the user who pins the best pictures or has the Pinterest board with the best collection of pins. You could also do something creative like Peugeot Panama.

Peugeot Panama takes a picture of one of their cars and divides it into pieces. They pin one of these pieces of the picture onto a Pinterest board and ask their followers to pin the rest of the pieces onto one of their boards and share it with Peugeot Panama.

Their Pinterest followers have to go to Peugeot’s Facebook page or website to find the missing pieces of the picture. Usually the first 5 people to complete the picture win a prize.

Complete Any Puzzle was a very creative Pinterest competition run by Peugeot Panama.

The example above shows the Complete Any Puzzle board where the picture of a Peugeot 101 car model was divided into 5 pieces and the participants had to locate the 4 missing pieces.

With these competitions, Peugeot Panama encourages people to pin images from their website, Facebook page and Pinterest boards. This drives a lot of engagement.

Also, to win the competition, you need to add Peugeot Panama as a contributor to your board so they can see your board on their profile. This can only be done if you follow them or at least one of their boards. So they’re not only getting a lot of shares on Pinterest, they’re also getting a lot of followers with these competitions.

#2: Add Board Contributors – Fans like it when you recognize and reward them for their contribution. You can either give them something or make them a part of the product or brand they love so much.

This is something you can do on Pinterest. You can add contributors to your board as long as you follow them.

add fan as contributor

Adding fans as contributors to your board can be a great way to engage your fans and promote your board and brand page. All you need to do to add them is go to Edit Board and type in the name of the contributor in the Add Another Pinner field.

Adding your fans as contributors to your board can be a great idea—this way, you’ll have more people contributing to one board instead of just yourself.

Your boards will be shaped around your audience, which makes your fans and followers like you even more. Your other fans will also start getting more active pinning and repinning your images, hoping that they could be a board contributor one day too.

It can also save your company time as your fans can do your pinning while you focus more on running and shaping your social media campaign.

Shoots adds several contributors to their Shoot's Guest Gardening Board to enable some of their followers to pin a lot of images.

This example shows Shoot, run by Nicola Gammon, a website to help you create and manage your own garden. On their Pinterest brand page they have a board called Shoot’s Guest Gardening Board, where they add contributors and let them pin images of plants and gardens.

This helps them promote their board and their Pinterest brand page really well. It also helps them build a better relationship with their fans. Currently this board has 241 contributors, 1418 pins and 720 followers. You’ll also see that almost everything they pin here is being shared multiple times.

#3: Run Offers – Free, giveaway and discount are magical words that can get people running toward you even if you’re out of reach.

People love offers, especially if they find the product or service useful. Use the image-based nature of Pinterest to promote your offers. To do this, you can either pin images of offers from your website and detail your offer in the description, or you can create images exclusively for Pinterest where everything about the offer is written on the image.

A good offer that a lot of people find interesting can get you a lot of pins, likes and repins.

Pin It to Unlock! is a very creative Pinterest exclusive offer run by Gilt.

One company that’s creatively running Pinterest exclusive offers is Gilt Baby & Kids. These offers are called “Pin It to Unlock!” where they allow shoppers to unlock a special deal on a Gilt kids product by pinning and repinning it.

After the image of the product on the Gilt Pinterest site is pinned 50 times, access to the sale is unlocked and shoppers can buy the product at a 77% discount. This deal is exclusive to their Pinterest brand page and can’t be found on their website.

With this wonderful offer, Gilt encourages people to pin and repin to spread the word to their followers. Followers hope the offer will be repinned 50 times so they can take advantage of the 77% discount. This is probably one of the most creative ways to engage your fans on Pinterest.

#4: Get Into Your Fans’ Heads – People follow you for a reason—because they want something from you that might help or entertain them. So it’s your job to find out what they like and want, and you need to provide it. Usually it’s because they want to know more about something you offer.

A recent study by Facebook found that the images that are most shared, liked and commented on are related to the brand. So only share images that revolve around your brand and the lifestyle it provides.

Starbucks is a company that gives their audience what they want. They pin images relating to coffee and the other products they sell. On their brand page, they have a board called Coffee Moments where they pin images of recipes of various drinks based on coffee, creative pictures of coffee and pictures of people enjoying coffee.

On Coffee Moments, Starbucks pins images of coffee recipes, creative pictures of coffee and pictures of people enjoying it.

On another board called Beautiful Objects, they pin images of coffee-related objects like coffee mugs, coffeemakers and coffee holders.

On Beautiful Objects, Starbucks pins images of coffee products.

One of their boards is called Real Food where most of the pictures they pin are recipes of cakes, tray bakes, croissants and bite like sandwiches and wraps.

What I love about this board is that they stick to pinning images of foods that are similar to the ones they sell in their stores.

On Real Food, Starbucks pins images of food similar to the food they sell.

These pins not only help drive a lot of engagement, but they also help promote the Starbucks brand as a pioneer in coffee and coffeehouses.

#5: Add Several Images to Every Page – Pinterest only lets you pin pages where there are images (the images need to be a minimum size of 110 x 100 pixels). If there are no images of the appropriate size, your pages can’t be pinned and people who visit your site won’t be able to share them.

So make sure you add at least one shareable image to every page. A better option would be to add many wonderful images to every page, so your readers get to choose their favorite image to pin.

Someone who does this really well is Ree Drummond of The Pioneer Woman. Her blog posts usually contain several images, which gives blog visitors a variety of images to choose to share on Pinterest. If you visit the Pioneer Woman you can check out all of the images being shared from her website.

Lots of images get shared from The Pioneer Woman website.

An example of a Pinterest-friendly blog post is Strawberry Sparkle Cake—just visit the page and take a look at all of the wonderful images in that one post.

You can pin a wide range of images from each post.

If you click the Pin It button, you will see a large selection of images to choose from. This allows you to pick your favorite image and pin the recipe on Pinterest.

This works well as people will choose different images to share. People have different tastes and different people will like different images.

If you only have one image and your readers don’t like that image enough to display it on their Pinterest profiles, they might not pin it.

However, if you give them a choice, they’ll pick their favorite one and pin it. It also shows that you’re doing something extra for your audience.

#6: Analyze Pins and Images – As mentioned in #4, you need to get into your readers’ heads and share images that interest them. Find the most shared images on Pinterest and get to know who’s sharing them. You need to do this regularly to improve your own Pinterest marketing strategy.

You can do this by several methods:

  • Check out Popular pins: One option would be to visit the Popular page on Pinterest and check out what types of pins are being shared the most. You can then pin similar images onto your boards or create similar themes for your website or blog.

    The Popular page on Pinterest displays the most shared pins on Pinterest.

  • Use Google Analytics: Using Google Analytics, you can find out which of your website pages Pinterest refers the most traffic to. Then analyze these pages and images and publish similar images on your other pages.
  • Check out what’s being pinned from your site: You could also use the link (just replace “domainname” with your company’s domain name) to check what’s being pinned from your site. This will help you find out what the most popular images from your site are so you can work on creating similar images for your other pages and blog posts.
  • Use an analytics tool: Another option is to use a Pinterest-specific analytics tool like Curalate. I have had the pleasure of trying out Curalate recently and I have found it very helpful. Curalate is a Pinterest-only tool that tracks analytics based on image recognition.
  • Curalate is a Pinterest analytics tool.

With Curalate, you can:

  • Find out who’s pinning, repinning, liking, commenting on and tweeting your pins.
  • Track referral traffic—which content is driving the most traffic.
  • Find out who’s sharing your pins—this can help you identify your best fans and add them as contributors to boards.
  • Monitor your competition—track what’s being shared from your boards and monitor keywords.

Another important point to keep in mind is to add the Pin It button to every page so that your website pages and blog posts are easy to share.

If you have a WordPress blog, you can easily add the Pin It button by using the Digg plugin run by Buffer. Otherwise you’ll need to add the button separately on every page.

These are just a few creative ways you can engage your audience on Pinterest. Use these techniques or build on them to come up with your own innovative ways to engage your audience.

Read the full article: 6 Ways to drive more Pinterest engagement »

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