Category Archives: Marketing

Google Isn’t Worried

The success of Google+ will be one part Google genius and one part competitor shortcomings. 

FACEBOOK – The One Trick Pony 

Facebook is the most pervasive social network to date because it changed how we connect with each other in a way we never could have imagined.  I look at my Facebook Page and it’s like a time capsule of my life and relationships.

Unfortunately, Facebook does not give us much control over the content we consume.  The famous Facebook algorithm determines what posts are interesting to us.  Then there are a few simplistic ways to tailor our feed.  We can select people as “Close Friends” or decide on a friend-by-friend basis whether we want to view all, some, or just important posts.

Facebook hasn’t realized that we’re not always in the mood to read the same types of things.  Personally, I like to read news and tech articles in the morning.  By the afternoon, I’m in more of a Bravo TV and People magazine sort of mood – with a sprinkling of friends and family throughout the day.  The bottom line is that I love to research new social media trends, but not at the same time that I’m stewing over how stupid the Kardashians are.

Our Facebook news feed preferences are pretty static.  Facebook figures if you like to read the news in the morning, then you better like reading it in the afternoon too.

Google+ Circles gain an edge in this arena.  They let you filter your feed so whether you’re in the mood for Social Media, Technology, or trashy celeb gossip, you can switch from one to the other fit your mood.

TWITTER: A Disorganized Mess of Incredible Information

Twitter fanatics will crucify me for saying this… but Twitter is a mess.   It suffers from severe disorganization and Google+ is capitalizing on it.  Half my Twitter feed is filled with people’s comments to each other.  They’re out of context unless I click on the post to explore further and let’s face it… 9 times out of 10 I just don’t care.  I don’t want to see people’s comments unless it’s organized as a thread under a post that I find particularly interesting.

Twitter is one big guessing game (which to me, can often be a timewaster).  There are no thumbnails or article descriptions.  I can’t see photos unless I click on the link and my only clue as to whether I’ll like an article is the 140 character hook posted with it.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do find a lot of interesting stuff on Twitter, but sometimes I have to wade through a fair share of garbage to find it.

Google+ understands that we are visual people.  I want to see an image and an article blurb before clicking on a post.  I want the comments and responses to be organized in a thread below so I know if I’m adding to the conversation or just repeating something that’s already been posted.

The great thing about Twitter is that it’s so public.  The awful thing about Twitter is that it’s so public.  Twitter is an amazing resource because you can follow so many different people with so many different interests without having to be friends.  This makes for an amazing resource, but it also might limit what you want to share.

A few months ago I found myself interviewing for a new job.  I had to fight the urge to retweet Howard Stern or reply to anything that could appear unprofessional to a potential employer.  With Google+ Circles I can post publicly the topics that I want to discuss with the world and more privately on ones that are just guilty pleasures.

Google Genius

While Google+ Circles are the answer to most of Facebook and Twitter’s shortcomings, Google’s genius makes G+ a force to be reckoned with.  G+ offers the most control along with the most intuitiveness of any network available.  Plus, Google is standing behind its commitment to integrate the tools so they can all be accessed in one place.

Google+ is becoming more and more integrated with Gmail.  Whenever you receive a G+ notification, you can intiate hangouts from chats and comment and +1 posts from your email.

Google Local is now officially a G+ feature so while you’re sharing funny cat videos with your friends, you can easily look up reviews for local pet stores.

If you own an Android phone, you can allow your photos to be automatically uploaded to the site (a huge timesaver) and then edit them right in Google+.  Hangouts are better than Skype because you can involve multiple people and share your screen all while wearing a pirate hat and… it’s all free.

Events are far more organized and easier follow with than a Twitter.  Plus they can support tons of photos.  Just check out this transcript from a weekly #GardenChat on Twitter and try to make sense of it.  Then compare it to a Google+ fruit tasting event at Andy’s Orchard.

It’s only fair to compare G+ to its social network competitors.  But while G+ has improved upon a lot of it’s competition’s shortcomings, it’s important to see that Google comes to the table with a lot of innovation that the other networks had never considered or attempted.  Say what you will about the Google+ following, their organic growth will continue to build and integrate into the tools we already use every day.  It won’t happen overnight, but it’s bound to come. 

Afterall, it’s Google.  What’s the rush?

This blog is part of a week long Google+ series.  To read more about G+, choose any of the blogs below:

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7 Resolutions to Make your Social Media Kick Ass in the New Year

It’s that time of year again!  Time to take stock of our businesses and establish goals for the year ahead.  Whether you’re determined to drive more sales, boost clientele, or expand your market, it comes back to a commitment to get the word out.  Social Media Marketing is not only the norm now, but is becoming more and more sophisticated and complex by the day.  No need to worry!  These Social Media New Year’s Resolutions will keep you on the right path all year round.

1. Post regularly and consistently

A lapse in posts is a kiss of death to your Social Media Marketing.  It doesn’t matter if it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.  When people find a Page that no one has posted on in weeks (or worse, months) and sometimes several months, they assume it’s no longer active and move on.  You’re better off not having a Social Media Page than having one that’s inactive

2. Lay off the sales pitches

Social Media is not meant to be a billboard.  Social Media is meant to be… well… social.  It’s an extension of your business.  If someone were to walk into your store or office, you wouldn’t go straight into a sales pitch, would you?

A continuous stream of self-promotion may attract some of your current clientele but does little to generate new followers (aka new business).   Even your most diehard fans will get bored with uninterrupted posts about sales, products, and pleas to come visit.

3. Keep it interesting to keep them coming back

Figure out who your demographic is and what interests them, and then post about that.  Say you own a children’s store.  Your target market may be interested in more than your new shipment of stuffed animals.  They may be interested in healthy recipes for the kids and fun activities that keep them moving.

This may be a good opportunity to take on the role of educator.  Share interesting facts and resources.  Pretend you own a winery.  You could post interesting facts about the history of wine, feature articles about the proper way to taste wine, make wine pairing suggestions for specific meals.

4. Acknowledge your fans

Social Media is not a one way street.  Elicit fan posts with questions, polls, competitions and more.  Respond to every comment promptly.  When you build relationships with your fans, you’re also arming them to be your biggest evangelists.  Consider this:  Every time a fan comments on your Wall, it appears in their stream for all their friends to see.  Talk about word-of-mouth!

5. Market your Social Media Pages

Unless you have an extremely well-known brand, people will not just FIND your Social Media Pages.  This is the year to develop a strategic web strategy and attract new followers.  Mention your Pages in online forums, share the links whenever possible, and incorporate them into your other marketing efforts.

6. Claim your business Google+ Page

Google+ is expected to grow exponentially in 2012.  Don’t get left in the dust.  If you’re not ready to commit to Google+ just yet, try posting something once a week for now just to stay in the game.  This way you’ll be able to transition quickly when you’re ready to jump in with both feet.

7. Measure your results

All the time and effort you put into your Social Media Marketing is worthless if you don’t know how many people you’re attracting and whether they fit into your target market.  Learn how to make Facebook Insights work for you.  This also may be the year to invest some time and money into a dashboard or hire a Social Media Marketing firm, even if it’s just to measure your results.

A few things you should be measuring: Am I posting at the right times?  Am I posting enough?  Am I hitting my target market?  What posts do people click on?  What posts do people ignore?

Commit to these 7 Social Media Resolutions and you will have a successful marketing campaign.  The biggest commitment, however, is time.  Earmark the time needed to fulfill each resolution.  Figure out which resolutions you can realistically make the time for and hire someone to do the ones you can’t.  It’s that simple.

Image courtesy of Flickr, Franklin Park Library.

Avoid Facebook’s Bad Side… Use an App – Facebook Sweepstakes: Part 2

Everywhere you look, businesses are advertising a new Facebook promotion.  We offered up a variety of contest ideas in our last webinar, Keep the Holidays Jolly with Social Media Marketing

These promotions are a Win Win.  Fans get the opportunity to vie for prizes and interact with their favorite brands, while businesses grow their fan base and engage in a fun way with their customers. 

What most people don’t realize is that there are very strict Facebook Promotions Guidelines. Ignoring these rules can turn an opportunity into a nightmare if Facebook suspends or deletes your account for violating Facebook Terms of Use.  Facebook apps have been designed to make your promotions look polished, while keeping you out of trouble. AppBistro lists promotion apps from several different creators at different price points.  Shortstack offers a free account option to get you started.  A good app and a basic understanding of Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines will keep you out of hot water.

This is NOT a Facebook promotion!

All of Facebook’s Rules come back to a single idea:  They do not want to be associated with your promotion!  In other words, make it abundantly clear to your entrants that Facebook does not sponsor or endorse your promotion.  Find an app that takes care of the fine print, like clearly stating that the info being provided is for you, not Facebook.

Your Wall is not the place for a promotion

You can’t simply post a promotion on your Wall or ask Fans to post photos or comments to your Wall as a condition of your contest.  Facebook considers this as using “Facebook features or functionality” to participate in your promotion.  Apps can create a special tab for entrants to do things like vote or upload photos so that it’s not directly on your Wall.

No “Liking” Allowed… or is there?

Let’s face it, the primary goals of a Facebook promotion are both to grow and engage your fan base.  Facebook says you CANNOT ask Fans to Like your Page in order to enter your promotion.  However, you CAN ask people to Like your Page in order to view more information about your sweepstakes.  Apps with a fan gate will require entrants to Like your Page in order to view the content on the promotion tab and then enter.  This way, you still get those new Likes without breaking any rules.

Don’t let certain words get you in trouble

Most apps give you the option of customizing text to explain your promotion.  Think very carefully about the wording of your promotion.  Facebook even differentiates between “contest” and “sweepstakes.”  If your winner is chosen entirely by chance, like a random drawing, then you’re holding a “sweepstakes.”  If your promotion requires any kind of skill, like playing a game or submitting photos, then you’re holding a “contest.”

Did you know that the word “Wall” falls under Facebook’s copyrights and trademarks?  When advertising your promotion, or writing the text for your contest app, play it safe and avoid using words like “Wall” and “Like” in association with your contest.

Collect Email Addresses!

When Facebook says they don’t want you to use “Facebook features or functionality” in association with your promotion, they are referring to more than just Likes!  You cannot notify your winners by posting on your Wall, their Wall, or even messaging them through Facebook.  You have to find an alternative way to announce the winner, like sending an email or calling them.

The rules surrounding Facebook promotions can be intimidating, but don’t let them dissuade you from coming up with your own promotions!  Contests and sweepstakes are an incredible way to attract new Fans, interact with your customers and make your Page a little more fun!  A simple app will help you avoid any pitfalls and remove a lot of the guesswork.   If you’re STILL unsure about what’s right or wrong, send us an email and we’ll point you in the right direction.  

Don’t miss out on Part 1: Nothing Says “Happy Holidays” like Free Stuff!  Facebook Sweepstakes

Nothing Says “Happy Holidays” like Free Stuff! Facebook Sweepstakes: Part 1

Nothing makes the holidays merrier than free stuff!  With the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, businesses are looking for inventive ways to catch your attention.  Facebook sweepstakes and contests are a Win Win.  Not only do you get a chance to win prizes just in time for the holidays, but businesses can get your attention during the busiest shopping season of the year. 

Here are 5 Facebook sweepstakes and contests to cover everyone on your shopping list and even spread some holiday cheer with others.  Don’t delay!  With the holiday’s just around the corner, some of these sweepstakes end very soon!

Amazon

 Sweepstakes ends December 6th

Amazon has something for everyone and they’re hoping that their sweepstakes is too good to keep to yourself.  The Win With Friends Sweepstakes will not only award winners with incredible prizes (like the Kindle Fire), but let’s your friends share in your winnings.  When you enter the sweepstakes, you’re given the option to name 3 friends who will also win prizes if you win.  This is a Facebook sweepstakes done right because they offer their fans a sought after prize and a huge incentive to spread the word.

Ghiradelli

Sweepstake ends December 25th

Ghiradelli designed the ultimate chocolate lovers sweepstakes – a chance to win a year’s worth of chocolate.  Not only does a grand winner walk away with $500 worth of cocoa goodness, but they give you a chance to win prizes daily in a countdown to Christmas.  Ghiradelli made my list because not only did they find the perfect prize for their customers, but they offered an incentive to check their Page daily for a new opportunity to win.

Black & Decker

Sweepstakes ends December 18th

Here’s your chance to win any of the items from this year’s Black & Decker Holiday Gift Guide with the Match-and-Win Game.  Every day until Christmas, visit their page and attempt to uncover 2 matching squares and win some primo tools!  Black & Decker also came up with a smart way of encouraging you to tell your friends about them throughout the holidays.  Normally, you can play the game for one chance to win daily… but if you share the game with a friend, you’ll get two shots at winning.

Petsmart

Sweepstakes ends December 24th

You don’t have to be a pet owner to appreciate $10,000!  Petsmart’s Holiday Gift Grab is less about chance and more about skill.  They place 3 presents on your screen and point out one that you should keep an eye on.  With the speed that those presents start spinning and swapping you’ll lose the right box in a blink of an eye, so pay close attention.  If you pick the right box at the end, you win!  The Grand Prize is $10,000, but there are tons of other pet giveaways.  They give you 10,000 reasons to check back and play daily.

Home Depot

Voting ends December 14th

Home Depot’s contest is a special one because it truly personifies the holiday spirit of giving.  Their Gift of Good tab features photos of 9 military families who could use a little help.  One very lucky family will win $20,000 of much needed home services.  Click on the photos to read the family’s story and cast your vote for the family you’d most like to receive the prize.  Home Depot did a wonderful job of letting us know where their priorities are.  This is my favorite Facebook contest I’ve seen in a long time because just one click lets you do something very kind for a deserving family.

When it comes to the holidays, Facebook contests and sweepstakes are a fun way for customers to snag some incredible prizes and even spread good cheer.  They can help businesses interact with their fans during the most important shopping season of the year while building their fan base for the year to come. 

When it comes to setting up your own Facebook sweepstake or contest, be sure to follow Facebook’s strict rules or you could risk having your Page suspended.  If you’re thinking about creating your own Facebook sweepstakes, read tomorrow’s blog,  Facebook Sweepstakes: Part 2, for some guidelines to keep yourself out of hot water.   

It’s Time to Hire a Facebook Person When…

Entrepreneurs are exceptionally driven individuals, which often translates into a “Why would I hire someone to do something that I know I could figure out for myself” attitude.  Why would their Facebook Page be any different?  Facebook is free afterall!  As a business owner, when does it make sense to pay someone to manage your Facebook Page?  If you answer NO to any of these Facebook frustrations, it’s time to invest in some Social Media help.

Do you know how to gain followers?

You’ve created your Facebook Page and sent out the obligatory announcement to everyone you know.  Twenty or so of your friends and family members have “Liked” your Page…  Now what?  It doesn’t matter how great your posts are if no one is reading them.  Your Page will only be as successful as your ability to find and entice your ideal demographic.  

Do you have a specific Facebook goal?

Contrary to popular belief, amassing thousands of followers is not a goal.  It is the result of an effective Facebook strategy.  You have to ask yourself, “Why do I want people following me?”  Or better yet, “What would I do with them if I did get them to follow me?”  You must clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish with your Facebook Page, who you want to attract, and what you want them to do when they find you.  

Do you know who’s following you?

A large following is fantastic… but only if it’s made up of people who will actually buy your product or service.  When is the best time for you to post? Where are your fans located?  What percentages are male or female and from what age bracket?  Analysis removes doubt.  It confirms which parts of your strategy are working, and reveals which aspects need to be altered.

Do you know what to post?

Difficulty in this area usually manifests itself in two ways:  1) You go weeks or even months without posting anything or 2) your posts are primarily focused on new products, services or sales.  Stale or inconsistent posting may be doing your Page more harm than good.  Breathing new life into your Facebook Page could be as simple as learning what type of content will attract your specific audience.

Do you have better things to do?

You didn’t start a business because you wanted to devote all your time to marketing it.  You probably started a business because you had an idea, a product, or a service that you wanted to cultivate.  Facebook can be time consuming.  To be valuable, you need to determine which times are best to post and how to attract your ideal demographic.  Ultimately, most business owners agree that their time is better spent fine tuning their services or products than burying themselves in their Facebook Page.  

Business owners struggle with a combination of these Facebook frustrations.  Hiring someone to help with your Facebook Page can be as simple as a one-time consultation to point you in the right direction.  Others enlist a professional to manage everything from the Strategy and Analysis to the day-to-day (and often hour-to-hour) monitoring, content creation, and posting.  The question is not whether you could learn the ins and outs of Facebook Marketing.  The question is how much time you want to commit to your Facebook Strategy.   

Viral Commercials are F!@king In!

I hate commercials.  Well, that’s a lie.  I used to hate commercials… until a friend emailed me a link to the new Kenny Powers K-Swiss CEO YouTube video (Uncensored of course).  It is by far the most horribly distasteful, unsuitable-for-most-audiences advertisement I have ever seen.   I would know because I’ve now watched it at least five times.

It features character Kenny Powers, from Eastbound and Down – a TV show that is objectionable to women, athletes, and generally anyone with a mullet.  He’s crude, obnoxious and kind of an idiot and K-Swiss doesn’t water him down either.  I counted 11 expletives typically reserved for HBO within the first 60 seconds (and we’re talking about a five minute commercial).  It’s not the profanity that makes this a phenomenon though.     It’s the fact that the content and language guarantee that it will never be aired on most TV channels alongside animated bears with bits of toilet paper stuck to their butts.  This ad was meant to be seen on YouTube, forwarded in emails, and written about in blogs – then seen on YouTube again.

Considering that it will never hit the airwaves, it was far from an inexpensive production.    K-Swiss parlayed the fortune they would have spent on TV air time into an impressive celebrity lineup.  They paid big bucks to include Jillian Michaels (from The Biggest Loser), NFL stars Matt Cassel, Willis and Director Michael Bay, just to name a few.

That money was riding on the hope that a very specific niche market would find Kenny Powers more hilarious than repulsive (or maybe find his repulsiveness hilarious) and tell a friend.  Two weeks and 658,386 views since the original post and I’d say the risk is paying off.  It’s not for everyone – but that’s exactly why it’s so potent.  It gives viewers the satisfaction of being in a club of people who get the humor and they in turn forward it to someone else who shares the same shameful definition of funny.

Viral marketing is powerful.  I actually paused the TV show I was watching to play the full commercial.  I not only watched the entire five minute ad from start to finish, but cued it right back up again for my husband to watch.  Both of us agreed that I should get a name plate that reads MFCOO and then watched it again before forwarding the link to anyone who could appreciate a character who says things like “Konichiwa Bitches”.

Viewers have become intolerant of material that doesn’t directly target them.  We fast forward through every commercial on our DVRs and opt for the crappy Netflix streaming selection because, hey, at least there are no advertisements.  We are more likely to click on an article that a friend posts on Facebook than if we come across it ourselves in the Wall Street Journal.  Advertisers are learning that their content can’t be all things to all people – but if they direct it at a very specific niche audience, they just might strike viral marketing gold.