Friday Nov 02, 2012

9 Ways Facebook Monetization Could Change Your Marketing

Think Facebook monetization isn’t a head game?

Bored kidImagine creating something so functional, fun and addictive you literally amass about 1/7th of the planet’s population as an audience. You have 1 billion users that use it at least once a month. But analysts and marketers look at what you’ve done and say, “eh…not good enough.”

What if you had a TV show that garnered 1/7 of Earth’s population as an audience? How much would a spot cost? And how fast would marketers write that check, even without the targeting and engagement analytics Facebook offers?

Having already changed the marketing landscape forever, if you’re Facebook’s creator, you’d have to be scratching your head and asking, “Wow, what more does a product need to do?” Facebook’s been busy answering that very question with products and betas that will likely directly affect your brand’s strategy.

Item 1: Users can send physical gifts to friends through Facebook based on suggestions from user data. A giant step toward the potential power of social commerce.

Item 2: Users can pay $7 to promote posts for higher visibility. Individual users, not just marketers, are being leveraged as a revenue stream. Not impressive enough? There’s also the potential Craigslist killer Facebook Marketplace.

Item 3: Mobile ads. 600 million+ access Facebook on smartphones. According to the company, half of the $1 million a day generated by Sponsored Stories as of late June was coming from mobile. Ads in News Feeds seen on mobile had click-through rates 23x higher than on desktop News Feeds or the right side panel.

Item 4: App developers can buy install ads that show up in mobile News Feeds so reliance on discovery in app stores is reduced.

Item 5: Want your posts seen by people who never liked your Page? A test began in August where you could appear in non-fans’ News Feeds on both web and mobile.

Item 6: How about an ability to use Facebook data to buy ads outside of Facebook? A mobile ad network is being tested to get your targeted messages on non-Facebook apps and sites surfaced on devices.

Item 7: Facebook Collections, Facebook’s answer to Pinterest. Users can gather images of desired products and click through to the retailer to buy. Keep focusing on your imagery.

Item 8: Facebook Offers, Facebook’s answer to the Groupons and Living Socials of the world. You can send deals to your fans’ News Feeds.

Item 9: Facebook Exchange lets you track what fans do on Facebook and across the entire Web. Could lead to a Facebook ad network leveraging Facebook users and data but not limiting exposure to the Facebook platform.

Marketers are seeing increasing value in Facebook (and Twitter for that matter).  But as social grows and adjusts, will marketing budgets aimed in that direction grow and adjust accordingly, and within a reasonable time frame?

@mikestiles
Photo Christie Merrill/stock.xchng

Friday Oct 26, 2012

Pinterest and the Rising Power of Imagery

eyesIf images keep you glued to a screen, you’re hardly alone. Countless social users are letting their eyes do the walking, waiting for that special photo to grab their attention. And perhaps more than any other social network, Pinterest has been giving those eyes plenty of room to walk.

Pinterest came along in 2010. Its play was that users could simply create topic boards and pin pictures to the appropriate boards for sharing. Yes there are some words, captions mostly, but not many.

The speed of its growth raised eyebrows. Traffic quadrupled in the last quarter of 2011, with 7.51 million unique visitors in December alone. It now gets 1.9 billion monthly page views. And it was sticky. In the US, the average time a user spends strolling through boards and photos on Pinterest is 15 minutes, 50 seconds.

Proving the concept of browsing a catalogue is not dead, it became a top 5 referrer for several apparel retailers like Land’s End, Nordstrom, and Bergdorfs. Now a survey of online shoppers by BizRate Insights says that Pinterest is responsible for more purchases online than Facebook. Over 70% of its users are going there specifically to keep up with trends and get shopping ideas. And when they buy, the average order value is $179.

Pinterest is also scoring better in terms of user engagement. 66% of pinners regularly follow and repin retailers, whereas 17% of Facebook fans turn to that platform for purchase ideas. (Facebook still wins when it comes to reach and driving traffic to 3rd-party sites by the way).

Social posting best practices have consistently shown that posts with photos are rewarded with higher engagement levels. You may be downright Shakespearean in your writing, but what makes images in the digital world so much more powerful than prose?

baby picture1. They transcend language barriers.

2. They’re fun and addictive to look at.

3. They can be consumed in fractions of a second, important considering how fast users move through their social content (admit it, you do too).

4. They’re efficient gateways. A good picture might get them to the headline. A good headline might then get them to the written content.

5. The audience for them surpasses demographic limitations.

6. They can effectively communicate and trigger an emotion.

7. With mobile use soaring, photos are created on those devices and easily consumed and shared on them. Pinterest’s iPad app hit #1 in the Apple store in 1 day. Even as far back as 2009, over 2.5 billion devices with cameras were on the streets generating in just 1 year, 10% of the number of photos taken…ever.

But let’s say you’re not a retailer. What if you’re a B2B whose products or services aren’t visual? Should you worry about your presence on Pinterest?

As with all things, you need a keen awareness of who your audience is, where they reside online, and what they want to do there. If it doesn’t make sense to put a tent stake in Pinterest, fine. But ignore the power of pictures at your own peril. If not visually, how are you going to attention-grab social users scrolling down their News Feeds at top speed? You’re competing with every other cool image out there from countless content sources. Bore us and we’ll fly right past you.

Tuesday Oct 23, 2012

4 Ways Your Brand Can Jump From the Edge of Space

jumperCan your brand’s social media content captivate the world and make it hold its collective breath? Can you put something on the screen that’s so compelling that your audience can’t look away? Will they want to make sure their friends see it so they can talk about it?

If not, you’re probably not with Red Bull. I was impressed with Red Bull’s approach to social content even before Felix Baumgartner’s stunning skydive from the edge of space. And then they did this.

According to Visible Measures, videos of the jump scored 50 million views in 4 days. 1,700 clips were generated from both official and organic sources. The live stream was the most watched YouTube Stream of all time (8 million concurrent viewers). The 2nd most watched live stream was…Felix’ first attempt Oct. 9.

Are you ready to compete with that?

I ask that question because some brands are still out there tying themselves up in knots about whether or not they should tweet. The public’s time and attention are scarce commodities, commodities they value greatly. The competition amongst brands for that time and attention is intense and going up like Felix’s capsule. If you still view your press releases as “content,” you won’t even be counted as being among the competition.

Here are 5 lessons learned from Red Bull’s big leap:

1. They have a total understanding of their target market and audience. Not only do they have an understanding of it, they do something about it. They act on it. They fill the majority of their thoughts with what the audience wants. They hunger for wild applause from that audience. They want to do things that embrace the audience’s lifestyle and immerse in it so the target will identify the brand as “one of them.” Takeaway: BE your target market.

2. They deliver content that strikes the audience right where they emotionally live. If you want your content to have impact, you have to make your audience’s heart race, or make them tear up, or make them laugh. Label them “data points” all you want, but humans are emotional creatures. No message connects that’s not carried in on an emotion. Takeaway: You’re on the inside. If your content doesn’t make you say “wow,” it’s unlikely it will register with fans.

3. They put aside old school marketing and don’t let their content be degraded into a commercial. Their execs seem to understand the value in keeping a lid on the hard sell. So many brands just can’t bring themselves to disconnect advertising and social content. The result is, otherwise decent content gets contaminated with a desperation the viewer can smell a mile away. Think the Baumgartner skydive didn’t do Red Bull any good since he wasn’t drinking one on the way down while singing a jingle? Analysis company Taykey discovered that at the peak of the skydive buzz, about 1% of all online conversation was about the jump. Mentions of Red Bull constituted 1/3 of 1% of all Internet activity. Views of other Red Bull videos also shot up. Takeaway: Chill out with the ads. Your brand will get full credit for entertaining/informing fans in a relevant way, provided you do it.

4. They don’t hesitate to ask, “What can we do next”? Most corporate cultures are a virtual training facility for “we can’t do that.” Few are encouraged to innovate or think big, if think at all. Thinking big involves faith, and work. It means freedom and letting employees run a little wild with their ideas. There will always be the opportunity to let fear of everything that moves creep in and kill grand visions dead in their tracks. Experimenting must be allowed. Failure must be allowed. Red Bull didn’t think big. They thought mega. They tried to outdo themselves. Felix could have gone ahead and jumped halfway up, thinking, “This is still relatively high up. Good enough.” But that wouldn’t have left us breathless. Takeaway: Go for it. Jump.

In putting up social properties and gathering fans of your brand, you’ve basically invited people to a party. A good host doesn’t just set out warm beer and stale chips because that’s inexpensive and easy. Be on the lookout for ways to make your guests walk away saying, “That was epic.”

Thursday Oct 18, 2012

Finalists for Community Manager of the Year Announced

cmylogo

UPDATE 12/17/13: Oracle Community Manager of the Year Award

To learn more about the 2014 award program and to receive an official application, please email.

The Oracle Community Manager of the Year Award recognizes excellence in building online community.

In many ways, community managers are your organization's customer experience. They provide dedicated customer service on your social media channels. They protect your brand 24/7/365. And they engage in honest conversations with your prospects, users, advocates, and buyers -- the people who care most about your products and services.

If you're a community manager, this award is for you. We hope you'll nominate yourself, a close colleague, or a friend. Whether you manage a Facebook Page or another channel, and no matter if you call yourself a Community Manager, Social Media Manager, Brand Manager, or Marketing Manager (or something else entirely!), your voice and expertise are welcome here.



For as long as brand social has been around, there’s still an amazing disparity from company to company on the role of Community Manager.

At some brands, they are the lead social innovators. At others, the task has been relegated to interns who are at the company temporarily. Some have total autonomy and trust. Others must get chain-of-command permission each time they engage.

So what does a premiere “worth their weight in gold” Community Manager look like?

  • More than anyone else in the building, they have the most intimate knowledge of who the customer is.
  • They live on the front lines and are the first to detect problems and opportunities.
  • They are sincere, raving fans of the brand themselves and are trusted advocates for the others.
  • They’re fun to be around.
  • They aren’t salespeople.

Give me one Community Manager who’s been at the job 6 months over 5 focus groups any day. Because not unlike in speed dating, they must immediately learn how to make a positive, lasting impression on fans so they’ll want to return and keep the relationship going. They’re informers and entertainers, with a true belief in the value of the brand’s proposition.

Internally, they live at the mercy of the resources allocated toward social. Many, whose managers don’t understand the time involved in properly curating a community, are tasked with 2 or 3 too many of them. 63% of CM’s will spend over 30 hours a week on one community.

They come to intuitively know the value of the relationships they’re building, even if they can’t always be shown in a bar graph to the C-suite. Many must communicate how the customer feels to executives that simply don’t seem to want to hear it. Some can get the answers fans want quickly, others are frustrated in their ability to respond within an impressive timeframe.

In short, in a corporate world coping with sweeping technological changes, amidst business school doublespeak, pie charts, decks, strat sessions and data points, the role of the Community Manager is the most…human. They are the true emotional connection to the real life customer.

Which is why we sought to find a way to recognize and honor who they are, what they do, and how well they have defined the position as social grows and integrates into the larger organization. Meet our 3 finalists for Community Manager of the Year.


JeffJeff Esposito
with Vistaprint
Jeff manages and heads up content strategy for all social networks and blogs. He also crafts company-wide policies surrounding the social space. Vistaprint won the NEDMA Gold Award for Twitter Strategy in 2010 and 2011, and a Bronze in 2011 for Social Media Strategy. Prior to Vistaprint, Jeff was Media Relations Manager with the Long Island Ducks. He graduated from Seton Hall University with a BA in English and a minor in Classical Studies.

StaceyStacey Acevero with Vocus
In addition to social management, Stacey blogs at Vocus on influential marketing and social media, and blogs at PRWeb on public relations and SEO. She’s been named one of the #Nifty50 Women in Tech on Twitter 2 years in a row, as well as included in the 15 up-and-coming PR pros to watch in 2012.

CarlyCarly Severn with the San Francisco Ballet
Carly drives engagement, widens the fanbase and generates digital content for America’s oldest professional ballet company. Managed properties include Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and G+. Prior to joining the SF Ballet, Carly was Marketing & Press Coordinator at The Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge, where she graduated with a degree in English.


We invite you to join us at the first annual Oracle Social Media Summit November 14 and 15 at the Wynn in Las Vegas where our finalists will be featured. Over 300 top brand marketers, agency executives, and social leaders & innovators will be exploring how social is transforming business. Space is limited and the information valuable, so get more info and get registered as soon as possible at the event site.

Friday Sep 21, 2012

How to Hashtag (Without Being #Annoying)

chimpThe right tool in the wrong hands can be a dangerous thing. Giving a chimpanzee a chain saw would not be a pretty picture. And putting Twitter hashtags in the hands of social marketers who were never really sure how to use them can be equally unattractive.

Boiled down, hashtags are for search and organization of tweets. A notch up from that, they can also be used as part of a marketing strategy.

In terms of search, if you’re in the organic apple business, you want anyone who searches “organic” on Twitter to see your posts about your apples. It’s keyword tactics not unlike web site keyword search tactics. So get a clear idea of what keywords are relevant for your tweet.

It’s reasonable to include #organic in your tweet. Is it fatal if you don’t hashtag the word? It depends on the person searching. If they search “organic,” your tweet’s going to come up even if you didn’t put the hashtag in front of it. If the searcher enters “#organic,” your tweet needs the hashtag. Err on the side of caution and hashtag it so it comes up no matter how the searcher enters it.

You’ll also want to hashtag it for the second big reason people hashtag, organization. You can follow a hashtag. So can the rest of the Twitterverse. If you’re that into organic munchies, you can set up a stream populated only with tweets hashtagged #organic. If you’ve established a hashtag for your brand, like #nobugsprayapples, you (and everyone else) can watch what people are tweeting about your company.

So what kind of hashtags should you include? They should be directly related to the core message of your tweet. Ancillary or very loosely-related hashtags = annoying. Hashtagging your brand makes sense. Hashtagging your core area of interest makes sense. Creating a specific event or campaign hashtag you want others to include and spread makes sense (the burden is on you to promote it and get it going).

Hashtagging nearly every word in the tweet is highly annoying. Far and away, the majority of hashtagged words in such tweets have no relevance, are not terms that would be searched, and are not terms needed for categorization. It looks desperate and spammy. Two is fine. One is better. And it is possible to tweet with --gasp-- no hashtags!

applesMake your hashtags as short as you can. In fact, if your brand’s name really is #nobugsprayapples, you’re burning up valuable, limited characters and risking the inability of others to retweet with added comments. Also try to narrow your topic hashtag down. You’ll find a lot of relevant users with #organic, but a lot of totally uninterested users with #food.

Just as you can join online forums and gain credibility and a reputation by contributing regularly to that forum, you can follow hashtagged topics and gain the same kind of credibility in your area of expertise. Don’t just parachute in for the occasional marketing message. And if you’re constantly retweeting one particular person, stop it. It’s kissing up and it’s obvious.

Which brings us to the king of hashtag annoyances, “hashjacking.” This is when you see what terms are hot and include them in your marketing tweet as a hashtag, even though it’s unrelated to your content. Justify it all you want, but #justinbieber has nothing to do with your organic apples.

Equally annoying, piggybacking on a popular event’s hashtag to tweet something not connected to the event. You’re only fostering ill will and mistrust toward your account from the people you’ve tricked into seeing your tweet. Lastly, don’t @ mention people just to make sure they see your tweet. If the tweet’s not for them or about them, it’s spammy.

What I haven’t covered is use of the hashtag for comedy’s sake. You’ll see this a lot and is a matter of personal taste. No one will search these hashtagged terms or need to categorize then, they’re just there for self-expression and laughs. Twitter is, after all, supposed to be fun.  What are some of your biggest Twitter pet peeves? #blogsovernow

Monday Sep 17, 2012

Mobile Deals: the Consumer Wants You in Their Pocket

special offerMobile deals offer something we talk about a lot in social marketing, relevant content. If a consumer is already predisposed to liking your product and gets a timely deal for it that’s easy and convenient to use, not only do you score on the marketing side, it clearly generates some of that precious ROI that’s being demanded of social.

First, a quick gut-check on the public’s adoption of mobile. Nielsen figures have 55.5% of US mobile owners using smartphones. If young people are indeed the future, you can count on the move to mobile exploding exponentially. Teens are the fastest growing segment of smartphone users, and 58% of them have one. But the largest demographic of smartphone users is 25-34 at 74%. That tells you a focus on mobile will yield great results now, and even better results straight ahead.

So we can tell both from statistics and from all the faces around you that are buried in their smartphones this is where consumers are. But are they looking at you? Do you have a valid reason why they should?

Everybody likes a good deal. BIA/Kelsey says US consumers will spend $3.6 billion this year for daily deals (the Groupons and LivingSocials of the world), up 87% from 2011. The report goes on to say over 26% of small businesses are either "very likely" or "extremely likely" to offer up a deal in the next 6 months. Retail Gazette reports 58% of consumers shop with coupons, a 40% increase in 4 years.

When you consider that a deal can be the impetus for a real-world transaction, a first-time visit to a store, an online purchase, entry into a loyalty program, a social referral, a new fan or follower, etc., that 26% figure shows us there’s a lot of opportunity being left on the table by brands.

cashierThe existing and emerging technologies behind mobile devices make the benefits of offering deals listed above possible. Take how mobile payment systems are being tied into deal delivery and loyalty programs. If it’s really easy to use a coupon or deal, it’ll get used. If it’s complicated, it’ll be passed over as “not worth it.”

When you can pay with your mobile via technologies that connects store and user, you get the deal, you get the loyalty credit, you pay, and your receipt is uploaded, all in one easy swipe. Nothing to keep track of, nothing to lose or forget about. And the store “knows” you, so future offers will be based on your tastes.

Consider the endgame. A customer who’s a fan of your belt buckle store’s Facebook Page is in one of your physical retail locations. They pull up your app, because they’ve gotten used to a loyalty deal being offered when they go to your store. Voila. A 10% discount active for the next 30 minutes.

Maybe the app also surfaces social references to your brand made by friends so they can check out a buckle someone’s raving about. If they aren’t a fan of your Page or don’t have your app, perhaps they’ve opted into location-based deal services so you can still get them that 10% deal while they’re in the store. Or maybe they’ve walked in with a pre-purchased Groupon or Living Social voucher.

They pay with one swipe, and you’ve learned about their buying preferences, credited their loyalty account and can encourage them to share a pic of their new buckle on social.

Happy customer. Happy belt buckle company. All because the brand was willing to use the tech that’s available to meet consumers where they are, incentivize them, and show them how much they’re valued through rewards.

Thursday Sep 13, 2012

In Case You Weren’t There: Blogwell NYC

Your roving reporter roved out to another one of Socialmedia.org’s fantastic Blogwell events, this time in NYC. As Central Park and incredible weather beckoned, some of the biggest brand names in the world gathered to talk about how they’re incorporating social into marketing and CRM, as well as extending social across their entire organizations internally.

Below we present a collection of the live tweets from many of the key sessions

GE @generalelectric
Jon Lombardo, Leader of Social Media COE

How GE builds and extends emotional connections with consumers around health and reaps the benefits of increased brand equity in the process.

GE has a social platform around Healthyimagination to create better health for people.

If you and a friend are trying to get healthy together, you’ll do better. Health is inherently.

Get health challenges via Facebook and share with friends to achieve goals together.

They’re creating an emotional connection around the health context.

You don’t influence people at large. Your sphere of real influence is around 5-10 people.

They find relevant conversations about health on Twitter and engage sounding like a friend, not a brand.

Why would people share on behalf of a brand? Because you tapped into an activity and emotion they’re already having.

To create better habits in health, GE gave away inexpensive, relevant gifts related to their goals.

Create the context, give the relevant gift, get social acknowledgment for giving it.

What you get when you get acknowledgment for your engagement and gift is user generated microcontent.

GE got 12,000 unique users engaged and 1400 organic posts with the healthy gift campaign.

The Dow Chemical Company @DowChemical
Abby Klanecky, Director of Digital & Social Media

Learn how Dow Chemical is finding, training, and empowering their scientists to be their storytellers in social media.

There are 1m jobs coming open in science. Only 200k are qualified for them.

Dow Chemical wanted to use social to attract and talk to scientists.

Dow Chemical decided to use real scientists as their storytellers.

Scientists are incredibly passionate, the key ingredient of a great storyteller.

Step 1 was getting scientists to focus on a few platforms, blog, Twitter, LinkedIn.

Dow Chemical social flow is Core Digital Team - #CMs – ambassadors – advocates.

The scientists were trained in social etiquette via practice scenarios.

It’s not just about sales. It’s about growing influence and the business.

Dow Chemical trained about 100 scientists, 55 are active and there’s a waiting list for the next sessions.

In person social training produced faster results and better participation.

Sometimes you have to tell pieces of the story instead of selling your execs on the whole vision.

Social Media Ethics Briefing: Staying Out of Trouble
Andy Sernovitz, CEO @SocialMediaOrg

How do we get people to share our message for us? We have to have their trust.

The difference between being honest and being sleazy is disclosure.

Disclosure does not hurt the effectiveness of your marketing. No one will get mad if you tell them up front you’re a paid spokesperson for a company.

It’s a legal requirement by the FTC, it’s the law, to disclose if you’re being paid for an endorsement.

Require disclosure and truthfulness in all your social media outreach. Don’t lie to people.

Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.

Create social media policies and training programs.

If you want to stay safe, never pay cash for social media. Money changes everything. As soon as you pay, it’s not social media, it’s advertising.

Disclosure, to the feds, means clear, conspicuous, and understandable to the average reader.

This phrase will keep you in the clear, “I work for ___ and this is my personal opinion.”

Who are you? Were you paid? Are you giving an honest opinion based on a real experience?

You as a brand are responsible for what an agency or employee or contactor does in your behalf.

SocialMedia.org makes available a Disclosure Best Practices Toolkit. Socialmedia.org/disclosure.

The point is to not ethically mess up and taint social media as happened to e-mail.

Not only is the FTC cracking down, so is Google and Facebook.

Visa @VisaNews
Lucas Mast, Senior Business Leader, Global Corporate Social Media

Visa built a mobile studio for the Olympics for execs and athletes.

They wanted to do postcard style real time coverage of Visa’s Olympics sponsorships, and on a shoestring.

Challenges included Olympic rules, difficulty getting interviews, time zone trouble, and resourcing.

Another problem was they got bogged down with their own internal approval processes.

Despite all the restrictions, they created and published a variety of and fair amount of content.

They amassed 1000+ views of videos posted to the Visa Communication YouTube channel.

Less corporate content yields more interest from media outlets and bloggers.

They did real world video demos of how their products work in the field vs. an exec doing a demo in a studio.

Don’t make exec interview videos dull and corporate. Keep answers short, shoot it in an interesting place, do takes until they’re comfortable and natural.

Not everything will work. Not everything will get a retweet. But like the lottery, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Promoting content is as important as creating it.

McGraw-Hill Companies @McGrawHillCos
Patrick Durando, Senior Director of Global New Media

McGraw-Hill has 26,000 employees.

McGraw-Hill created a social intranet called Buzz.

Intranets create operational efficiency, help product dev, facilitate crowdsourcing, and breaks down geo silos.

Intranets help with talent development, acquisition, retention.

They replaced the corporate directory with their own version of LinkedIn.

The company intranet has really cut down on the use of email. Long email threats become organized, permanent social discussions.

The intranet is particularly useful in HR for researching and getting answers surrounding benefits and policies.

Using a profile on your company intranet can establish and promote your internal professional brand.

If you’re going to make an intranet, it has to look great, work great, and employees are going have to want to go there. You can’t order them to like it. 

Tuesday Sep 11, 2012

Content Challenge: You Can Only Get it Here

Part of the content conundrum for brands is figuring out what kind of content customers would find cool, desirable, and relevant. The mere fact many brands have no idea what this content might be is, in itself, pretty alarming. You’d have to have a pretty thorough lack of involvement with and understanding of your customers to not know what they might like.

But despite what should be a great awakening in which consumers are using every technology and trick in the book to shield themselves from ads and commercials, brand self-obsession continues as marketers concentrate on their message, their campaign, what they want to say, and what they want social users to do.

When individuals conduct themselves in that same fashion on Facebook and Twitter, it gets tiresome and starts losing value pretty quickly. Their posts eventually get hidden. Conversely, friends who post things that consistently entertain or inform, with little self-marketing desperation involved, win the coveted “show all updates” setting.

Of course brands are going to use social to market. It’s pretty much the point of having social in the marketing mix. And yes, people who follow a brand’s Twitter account or “Like” a brand’s Facebook Page implicitly state they want to know what’s going on with that brand’s products and services.

But if you have a Facebook friend that assumes you want every one of her posts to be about what wine she likes (Mitsubishi’s current campaign is even based around weeding out pretentious Facebook friends, then running them over), then you know how it must feel for your fans and followers to get a sales pitch for your crackers or whatever you’re selling every single time.

Is there such a thing as content that doesn’t sell but that still advances the brand and makes the consumer more involved and valuable? Of course. And perhaps there are no better companies than enterprise brands to do it. Enterprise organizations are large enough to go beyond a product and engage readers/viewers at higher, broader levels…communicating expertise across entire sectors, subjects and industries. You’re going from pitchman to news source, and getting full credit for it as the presenter.

A recent GigaOM article pointed out the success a San Francisco-based startup called Crunchyroll is having. Their niche (and they proudly admit it’s a niche) is providing Japanese anime, Korean drama and Asian live action content to countries that can’t get it any other way via licensing deals. Shows are available in HD and on the same day they air in the host country. Crunchyroll not only gets 8 million viewers a month, they have 100,000 paying subscribers at $7-12/month.

Got a point, Mike? I do happen to have one. Crunchyroll illustrates the content opportunity enterprise companies have…which is to determine your “area,” the interest graph of your customers, then provide content that speaks to and satisfies those interests that can’t be found anywhere else. At least not in the same style, or of the same quality, or with the same authority. Do what no one else is doing. Provide what no one else is providing in your sector.

If underserved users are willing to pay monthly for access to awkwardly moving cartoon dragons, imagine the audience you could attract with free, useful, non-sales content in your customers’ area of interest. It’s an audience you’ll want in place when the time does come to put out that marketing message.

A content challenge is better than a content conundrum any day.

Friday Sep 07, 2012

Exposed: Fake Social Marketing

Emperor has no clothesBrands and marketers who want to build their social popularity on a foundation of lies are starting to face more of an uphill climb. Fake social is starting to get exposed, and there are a lot of emperors getting caught without any clothes.

Facebook is getting ready to do a purge of “Likes” on Pages that were a result of bots, fake accounts, and even real users who were duped or accidentally Liked a Page. Most of those accidental Likes occur on mobile, where it’s easy for large fingers to hit the wrong space. Depending on the degree to which your Page has been the subject of such activity, you may see your number of Likes go down. But don’t sweat it, that’s a good thing.

The social world has turned the corner and assessed the value of a Like. And the verdict is that a Like is valuable as an opportunity to build a real relationship with a real customer. Its value pales immensely compared to a user who’s actually engaged with the brand. Those fake Likes aren’t doing you any good. Huge numbers may once have impressed, but it’s not fooling anybody anymore. Facebook’s selling point to marketers is the ability to use a brand’s fans to reach friends of those fans. Consequently, there has to be validity and legitimacy to a fan count.

Speaking of mobile, Trademob recently reported 40% of clicks are essentially worthless, because 22% of them are accidental (again with the fat fingers), while 18% are trickery. Publishers will but huge banner ads next to tiny app buttons to increase the odds of an accident. Others even hide a banner behind another to score 2 clicks instead of 1. Pontiflex and Harris Interactive last year found 47% of users were more likely to click a mobile ad accidentally than deliberately. Beyond that, hijacked devices are out there manipulating click data. But to what end for a marketer? What’s the value of a click on something a user never even saw? What’s the value of a seen but accidentally clicked ad if there’s no resulting transaction?

shady salesmanBack to fake Likes, followers and views; they’re definitely for sale on numerous sites, none of which I’ll promote. $5 can get you 1,000 Twitter followers. You can even get followers targeted by interests. One site was set up by an unemployed accountant out of his house in England. He gets them from a wholesaler in Brooklyn, who gets them from a 19-year-old supplier in India. The unemployed accountant is making $10,000 a day. That means a lot of brands, celebrities and organizations are playing the fake social game, apparently not coming to grips with the slim value of the numbers they’re buying.

But now, in addition to having paid good money for non-ROI numbers, there’s the embarrassment factor. At least a couple of sites have popped up allowing anyone to see just how many fake and inactive followers you have. Britain’s Fake Follower Check and StatusPeople are the two getting the most attention. Enter any Twitter handle and the results are there for all to see. Fake isn’t good, period. “Inactive” could be real followers, but if they’re real, they’re just watching, not engaging.

If someone runs a check on your Twitter handle and turns up fake followers, does that mean you’re suspect or have purchased followers? No. Anyone can follow anyone, so most accounts will have some fakes. Even account results like Barack Obama’s (70% fake according to StatusPeople) and Lady Gaga’s (71% fake) don’t mean these people knew about all those fakes or initiated them.

Regardless, brands should realize they’re now being watched, and users are judging the legitimacy of their social channels. Use one of any number of tools available to assess and clean out fake Likes and followers so that your numbers are as genuine as possible. And obviously, skip the “buying popularity” route of social marketing strategy. It doesn’t work and it gets you busted…a losing combination.

Wednesday Sep 05, 2012

Social Targeting: This One's Just for You

Think of social targeting in terms of the archery competition we just saw in the Olympics. If someone loaded up 5 arrows and shot them straight up into the air all at once, hoping some would land near the target, the world would have united in laughter.

But sadly for hysterical YouTube video viewing, that’s not what happened. The archers sought to maximize every arrow by zeroing in on the spot that would bring them the most points.

Marketers have always sought to do the same. But they can only work with the tools that are available. A firm grasp of the desired target does little good if the ad products aren’t there to deliver that target. On the social side, both Facebook and Twitter have taken steps to enhance targeting for marketers. And why not? As the demand to monetize only goes up, they’re quite motivated to leverage and deliver their incredible user bases in ways that make economic sense for advertisers.

You could target keywords on Twitter with promoted accounts, and get promoted tweets into search. They would surface for your followers and some users that Twitter thought were like them. Now you can go beyond keywords and target Twitter users based on 350 interests in 25 categories.

How does a user wind up in one of these categories? Twitter looks at that user’s tweets, they look at whom they follow, and they run data through some sort of Twitter secret sauce. The result is, you have a much clearer shot at Twitter users who are most likely to welcome and be responsive to your tweets. And beyond the 350 interests, you can also create custom segments that find users who resemble followers of whatever Twitter handle you give it.

That means you can now use boring tweets to sell like a madman, right? Not quite.

This ad product is still quality-based, meaning if you’re not putting out tweets that lead to interest and thus, engagement, that tweet will earn a low quality score and wind up costing you more under Twitter’s auction system to maintain. That means, as the old knight in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” cautions, “choose wisely” when targeting based on these interests and categories to make sure your interests truly do line up with theirs.

On the Facebook side, they’re rolling out ad targeting that uses email addresses, phone numbers, game and app developers’ user ID’s, and eventually addresses for you bigger brands.

Why? Because you marketers asked for it. Here you were with this amazing customer list but no way to reach those same customers should they be on Facebook. Now you can find and communicate with customers you gathered outside of social, and use Facebook to do it. Fair to say such users are a sensible target and will be responsive to your message since they’ve already bought something from you.

And no you’re not giving your customer info to Facebook. They’ll use something called “hashing” to make sure you don’t see Facebook user data (beyond email, phone number, address, or user ID), and Facebook can’t see your customer data.

The end result, social becomes far more workable and more valuable to marketers when it delivers on the promise that made it so exciting in the first place. That promise is the ability to move past casting wide nets to the masses and toward concentrating marketing dollars efficiently on the targets most likely to yield results.

Friday Aug 31, 2012

Facebook Sponsored Results: Is It Getting Results?

man with magnifying glassSocial marketers who like to focus on the paid aspect of the paid/earned hybrid Facebook represents may want to keep themselves aware of how the network’s new Sponsored Results ad product is performing.

The ads, which appear when a user conducts a search from the Facebook search bar, have only been around a week or so. But the first statistics coming out of them are not bad.

Marketer Nanigans says click-through rates on the Sponsored Results have been nearly 23 times better than regular Facebook ads. Some click-through rates have even gone over 3%. Just to give you some perspective, a TechCrunch article points out that’s the same kind of click-through rates that were being enjoyed during the go-go dot com boom of the 90’s. The average across the Internet in its entirety is now somewhere around .3% on a good day, so a 3% number should be enough to raise an eyebrow. Plus the cost-per-click price is turning up 78% lower than regular Facebook ads, so that should raise the other eyebrow.

Marketers have gotten pretty used to being able to buy ads against certain keywords. Most any digital property worth its salt that sells ads offers this, and so does Facebook with its Sponsored Results product. But the unique prize Facebook brings to the table is the ability to also buy based on demographic and interest information gleaned from Facebook user profiles. With almost 950 million logging in, this is exactly the kind of leveraging of those users conventional wisdom says is necessary for Facebook to deliver on its amazing potential.

So how does the Facebook user fit into this? Notorious for finding out exactly where sponsored marketing messages are appearing and training their eyeballs to avoid those areas, will the Facebook user reject these Sponsored Results?

Well, Facebook may have found an area in addition to the News Feed where paid elements can’t be avoided and will be tolerated. If users want to read their News Feed, and they do, they’re going to see sponsored posts. Likewise, if they want to search for friends or Pages, and they do, they’re going to see Sponsored Results. The paid results are clearly marked as such. As long as their organic search results are not tainted or compromised, they will continue using search.

But something more is going on. The early click-through rate numbers say not only do users not mind seeing these Sponsored Results, they’re finding them relevant enough to click on. And once they click, they seem to be liking what they find, with a reported 14% higher install rate than Marketplace Ads.

It’s early, and obviously the jury is still out. But this is a new social paid marketing opportunity that’s well worth keeping an eye on, and that may wind up hitting the trifecta of being effective for the platform, the consumer, and the marketer.

Tuesday Aug 28, 2012

Moms on Mobile: Are They Way Ahead of You?

woman working with babyYou may have no idea how much and how fast moms are embracing mobile.

Of all the demographics that can be targeted by marketers, moms have always been at or near the top of the list. And why not? They’re running households, they’re all over town, they’re making buying decisions, and they’re influencing family and friends.

They, out of necessity, become masters of efficiency and time management. So when a technology tool, like mobile, comes along that assists with that efficiency and time management, we would obviously expect them to take advantage of it.

So if it’s obvious, why are so many big, sophisticated brands left choking on the dust of moms who have zoomed past them in the adoption of mobile, and social on mobile?

Let’s break down some hard truths as presented by a Mojiava report:

-Moms spend 6.1 hours per day on average on their smartphones – more than magazines, TV or radio.

-46% took action after seeing a mobile ad.

-51% self-identify as “addicted” to their smartphone.

-Households with an income of $25K-$50K have about the same mobile penetration among moms as those with incomes of $50K-$75K. So mobile is regarded as a necessity for middle-class moms.

-Even moms without smartphones spend 2.5 hours on average per day on some connected mobile device.

woman working on tablet-Of moms with such devices, 9.8% have an iPad, 9.5% a Kindle and 5.7% an iPod Touch.

-Of tablet-owning moms, 97% bought something using their tablet in the last month.

-31% spend over 10 hours per week on their tablet, but less than 2 hours per week on their PCs.

-62% of connected moms use shopping apps.

-46% want to get info on their mobile while in a store.

-Half of connected moms use social on their mobile. And they’re engaged. 81% are brand fans, 86% post updates, and 84% comment.

If women and moms are one of your primary targets and you find yourself with no strong social channels where content is driving engagement and relationship-building, with sites not optimized for mobile, or with no tablet or smartphone apps, you have been solidly left behind by your customers and prospects. And their adoption of mobile and social on mobile is only exponentially speeding up, not slowing down.

How much sense does it make when your customer is ready to act on your mobile ad, wants to user your iPad app to buy something from you, wants to be your fan on Facebook, wants to get messages and deals from you while they’re in your store…but you’re completely absent? I’ll help you cheat on the test by giving you the answer…no sense at all.

Catch up to momma.

Tuesday Aug 21, 2012

Social Content: Creativity + Common Sense

Are you stuck trying to figure out how to generate a consistent flow of quality content?  You're not alone.  Here are some the reason why brands get stuck and a formula for getting un-stuck. 

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