Social Media Marketing

  1. Snappy Parenting & the Changing Social Media Landscape

    As a digital marketing professional, social media is a big part of my life, whether I like it or not.  And it is because of this importance to my business, that I am pretty in-the-know about what my kids are doing when they bury their faces in their phones.

    Look, my kids are 16 and 12. I discarded my social naivetĂ© years ago and I am done justifying it to my friends. My kids literally taught me how to take a selfie. They can art direct a photo better than a lot of professionals.  They share content with me that is relevant and helpful to my business – and they don’t even know it.  (It would not be cool if they knew this.)

    SnapChat: Snappy Parenting & The Changing Social Media Landcape

    A Professional Selfie.

    Several months ago, I started to notice that my son no longer commented on my Facebook posts. I knew it was becoming passé to his age group, but the latest statistics are fascinating.

    There are 3 million fewer teens on Facebook now that in 2011; that’s a 25% drop.

    No business wants to see their bread and butter clients flee this quickly.  On the flipside, users in the 55+ age demographic exploded in two years by over 80%.  Plus, Facebook owns Instagram where the kids go when they flee Facebook.  Where will the kids go next?

    Tumblr, Flickr and Vine are favorites – and have you heard of  We Heart It?  It may be exhausting to think about, but it’s a day in the life of teens.

    Ironically, my kids are teaching me a lot about social media behavior.  (It would not be cool if they knew this.) They are interesting not only because they share my DNA, but also because they are a great focus group.  Case in point, Snapchat.

    Our clients currently do not have a compelling marketing need for Snapchat, so it has not been a “need to know” – yet.  (I’m busy still trying to make sense of Google+.  But I digress.)  My children recently requested this wildly popular photo sharing app. I have heard all the negatives and I wanted to know the positives. So along with doing my own research, I had them write a paper about why the want Snapchat. I needed convincing (in other words, I needed to learn about their behavior in their own words).

    The truth is, Snapchat has intimidated me for a while.  My children sharing pictures that I may never see?  How could I allow that?  However, having been a recent “victim” of social espionage, I was reminded that photo sharing is tricky. (A photo was lifted from my private account and given to a media outlet, which then proliferated in seconds.)  Suddenly, thinking of my kids exchanging self-destructing photos didn’t sound so bad, as opposed to photos that live “forever”.  If they are going to post photos anyway, what is so horrible about them disappearing? It was beginning to make unlikely sense.

    After reading the Snapchat white paper penned by my 12-year-old and speaking to five other trusted moms, my children and I are diving into the world of Snapchat together.  My goal is to learn from their behavior as a parent – and apply these observations as a professional.

    Let the snapping begin


  2. Dodge Durango Pitched by Ron Burgundy: It’s Kind of a Big Deal

    Ron Burgundy is undoubtedly Will Ferrell’s most defining character, but let’s be honest. He’s the last spokesperson anyone expected Dodge to tap for launch of the 2014 Durango SUV.

    Dodge Durango Anchorman 2 Campaign Banner

    Yet, Dodge’s leap-of-faith campaign to cross promote the 2014 Durango and “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” has clearly succeeded.

    The measurable results of the multi-platform broadcast, social media and publicity campaign are already stacking up for the Durango with:

    • a 59% increase in year-over-year model sales, followed by a 36% increase in November sales over the previous year,
    • an 80% traffic increase to the Durango model website after the campaign launch,
    • and a 100% increase in key performance metrics indicating purchase intent, such as use of its “Build & Price” and “Locate a Dealer” tools.

    Need something to delight your afternoon? Enjoy Ron Burgundy’s most popular spot for the Durango, which has garnered over 4.2 million views on YouTube since October 4, 2013. When you’re finished, go ahead and watch the other 17 campaign spots here.

    You know you want to.

  3. Mobile Advertising: Is it Right for Your Business?

    Have you noticed how display advertisements are appearing on your mobile phone throughout the day? We see mobile ads in mobile apps, web browsers, and on social networking sites. Have you ever clicked on one or wondered about the ROI of mobile advertising? New research is helping us answer these questions.

    A recent piece in the Harvard Business Review (Making Mobile Ads That Work) tells the story of a recent study in which three researchers reviewed a marketing experiment to find the answers. Looking at a sample of 40,000 consumer trials, the team found that mobile advertising can certainly work, but much better in some cases than others.  In short, the researchers concluded that the best situations for using mobile ads are those in which the product (a) is practical and (b) involves a higher level of deliberation by the buyer.  The examples provided include:

    • life insurance policies
    • furniture
    • gym memberships
    • brokerage services

    What is the rationale for this finding?  According to the research, ”mobile display ads…cue consumers to revisit facts they already possess.”  If an offering “is relevant to them, people are more likely to have retained–and be motivated to recall–information about it.”  In such cases, the researchers found that mobile ads:

    • increased positive attitude by 4.5%
    • increased purchase intention by 6.7%
    mobile advertising example

    Mobile display ads, like the example shown here, work best for practical products that involve a higher level of consideration.

    In contrast, mobile ads are less effective for:

    • day-to-day essential products that require little deliberation (i.e. deodorant or soap)
    • simple pleasures like a candy bar or bottle of wine
    • high-dollar splurges like a luxury cruise or designer handbag

    So if you are considering whether to employ mobile advertising or not, think about your product/service in the above context.  If your offering is one that is both practical and deliberative, mobile ads are particularly worthy of your consideration.

  4. Instagram Advertising ROI by the Numbers

    Instagram advertising is here and showing great potential. The first Instagram ad by fashion brand Michael Kors was spotted in November 2013 sporting a “sponsored” label and created quite the buzz.

    Michael Kors Instagram Ad | The First Instagram Advertising

    Image Courtesy of Social Fresh

    Instagram revealed last month that it would begin offering sponsored posts and delivered a preview of what it would look like. Instagram has held fast to ads only being served from trusted brands on the platform at this time with a possibility of opening up to smaller companies. Sponsored ads appear on the feed of the brand’s targeted demographic.

    So what were the results?  Let’s look at the numbers:

    • 33,000+ new followers, an increase of 16 times the average follower gain compared to the brand’s average for recent posts on other social channels
    • 370% more likes within 18 hours of being posted
    • 217,700 likes compared to the 46,000 the brand receives on average
    • Kors’ five most recent posts the average engagement rate was 3.57%

    Nitrogram, Instagram’s analytics company, believes 6.15 million people saw the ad.

    “Over 5% of the impressions led to Likes on these ads that we’ve run. That’s pretty tremendous considering most of the ads we see on the internet we ignore,” said Kevin Systrom, Instagram CEO.

    At the GigaOm Roadmap conference, Systrom also noted that many of the comments requested information on where to purchase the featured watch.

    The results make you wonder what is to come from advertising on the photo and video sharing platform. Although the post generated almost four times that of Michael Kors’ traditional Instagram posts, as shown in Nitrogram’s metrics, the numbers show that over time the likes and reach diminished. The results also show that 20% of the comments were negative and only 1% expressed clear purchase intent. It will be interesting to see how these numbers will change over time.

    Everyone’s eye is on you, Instagram.

  5. Content Marketing Infographic

    Content marketing is an ever-evolving marketing practice area.  Although the idea of content marketing has been around for decades, the explosiveness of digital marketing has taken it to a whole new level.  The content marketing infographic below paints a present-day story of how producing content can help your brand find and win customers.

    Content-Marketing-Infographic

    An infographic on the state of content marketing.

     

  6. Social Media Marketing Drives Search Engine Marketing

    Every two years, Moz (formerly SEOMoz.org) surveys a group of SEO experts and asks them to give their opinions on what factors they believe will be most important in driving search engine rankings.  Since Google and other search engines do not make the mechanics of their algorithms publicly available, surveys like this are important to try and identify patterns and trends.  The results of the 2013 survey are now available online and there are some interesting conclusions to be drawn.

    In the world of SEO, things change quickly and dramatically.  In order to gain a little context, it may be helpful to review the results of an older survey (i.e. the 2009 survey) to see how the times have changed.  Just four short years ago, having the proper text inside a link was crucial; now, that practice is almost frowned upon.  As such, keeping tabs on these factors is important to any marketer who wants to rank well in keyword searches.

    While some of the survey results are pretty technical in nature, there are some really important generalizations that can be made.  Most notably, social media marketing continues to increase in importance with regard to how search engines rank a particular page or site.  From the survey results, here are some key take-aways on this point:

    • Google+ - How many +1′s (the equivalent of a Like on Facebook) that your page/site has is very high on the chart.  If a company has no Google+ presence, the time has come to move forward in creating and developing one.  Better late than never!
    • Facebook Likes, Shares, and Comments – Your pages must be tied to Facebook and boldly solicit Likes and Shares.  Google looks at the number of times your pages are liked and shared and considers these as votes for your content.
    • Twitter Influence – Your site and content will be measured for its appeal on Twitter.  The more tweets and influence on Twitter, the more favorably characterized your page will be.
    • Content, Content, Content  - This is not a new revelation by any means, but it is a known quantity that high quality content drives search engine visibility AND the three categories mentioned above.  Sites without fresh, interesting, and engaging content don’t receive social media attention from Google+, Facebook, or Twitter.

    There are many other conclusions to be drawn from this important survey, but it’s abundantly clear that truly working on your social media strategy will go a long way toward increasing your site’s search engine visibility.  A brief snippet of some of the results are below, but you might consider reviewing the full survey results for yourself.

    A glimpse of the 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey results.

    A glimpse of the 2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors survey results.

  7. Social Media Infographic

    Meet Jane.  She’s a prototypical customer and marketers trying to reach her need to be smarter than ever.  Our social media infographic shows just how you can be at the right place at the right time:  when Jane is ready to make a buying decision.

    Social Media Infographic

    Social Media Infographic – Reaching the Connected Consumer

  8. Calgary Zoo Publishes Their Annual Report Using Social Media

    The Calgary Zoo realized that a typical annual report can be boring, and really, what’s boring about going to the zoo? So instead of a binder full of graphs and charts or a PDF, The Calgary Zoo created a shareable annual report using social media. They published 55 square snapshots — each accompanied by a description of its relation to the growth of the zoo — onto Instagram as their 2012 Annual Report.

    We were impressed by their unique use of social media to create a shareable album of their progress through 2012. Their 2012 Instagram account is now an annual report full of animals that brings the charm of The Calgary Zoo into a part of the business world that is usually under-designed and lacking personality. They can also be commended for creating interest in the side of a zoo that is often overlooked.

    Here are a few snapshots of the Calgary Zoo in 2012:

    Social media annual report

    Calgary Zoo's Instagram Annual Report

    Branded social media annual report

    See the full Calgary Zoo 2012 Annual Report

  9. Web Design Presentation to Orlando / Florida Cleantech Accelerator Network

    WebSolvers had the honor of delivering a Webinar to the entrepreneurs at the Florida Cleantech Accelerator Network (FL-CAN).  FL-CAN is affiliated with the University of Central Florida (Orlando, FL) and is funded by the Economic Development Administration and the US Department of Energy.  The topic of the presentation was Website Strategies and covered topics like web design, content marketing, search engine marketing, and responsive web design.  Slides from today’s presentation can be found below.

  10. Web Design Questions to Contemplate

    A client of ours recently asked us what questions they should contemplate internally when planning for a new company Web presence.  As a group, they plan on thinking through a strategy before embarking on the Web design project itself.  Wanting to be particularly practical, the client wanted discussion questions that would look at their own Internet use as a way of identifying with the Internet behavior of their customers and prospects.  Here are a few of the questions we suggested they use as conversation starters for group discussions:

    • What are the strengths and weaknesses of our current website?
    • How do you currently use the Internet when doing product or service research?
    • How does what we sell differ from that of an online retailer like Amazon.com?
    • How do you use social media?  What social media platforms do you use?
    • Do you interact with companies on brands using social media?  If so, how?
    • What social media platforms should we use, if any?
    • How can a new website help us make new relationships with new customers?
    • How can a new website help us grow relationships with existing customers?
    • What are the product/service areas that we need to build more marketplace awareness around?
    • How are our competitors using the Web?  Is there anything about their approaches that we should emulate?
    • Are there any efficiencies we can gain on the service side with a new website?  For example, are there commonly-requested documents and/or frequently asked questions that we could post online that would save us time?  Are there forms we should move online?

    Are there other questions you think they might use or that you have used internally?  Feel free to respond with your ideas in the comments.

  11. Zombies Don’t Carry Credit Cards

    If you asked most marketers, the goal of digital marketing is conversion.  For the sake of this post, let’s define a conversion as a purchase of an online product.  The word ‘conversion’ is used because the goal is to convert a web visitor to a buyer.  The more conversions, the more revenue.  The more revenue, the more profits.

    Since not every visitor will buy (in fact, most visitors don’t buy anything at all), marketers typically study the ratio between buyers and visitors.  If you sell your product to 3 out of every 100 visitors, your conversion rate is 3%.  Naturally, the aim of efficient promotion is to increase that conversion rate so that you sell to as many visitors as possible.  There are several ways to influence this figure, but we will explore them more deeply in a separate post.

    As a marketer that is striving to increase efficiency, you might measure the profitability of your promotional activity by analyzing the cost of attracting these 100 visitors and analyzing the overall viability of the investment.  If it costs $1,000 to attract these 100 visitors, the cost-per-conversion comes in at $333.33.  The marketer has to then evaluate this rate and decide whether the spend is worthwhile: that figure is a total failure if you are selling a $29 widget but a complete success if you are selling a $5,000 cruise to Alaska.

    The scenario above is not particularly challenging to grasp and it’s certainly not new.  In fact, this concept of conversion is taught at seminar after seminar and relayed in blogs, tweets, and books on this subject.  And while most marketers would agree on the methodology, it’s inherently flawed.

    Zombies Don't Carry Credit Cards

    Zombies Don’t Carry Credit Cards

    The scenario above is based upon the notion that buyers of products are Zombies with credit cards.  In other words, it paints a picture of 100 passive, ignorant consumers going through a line in lock-step while only 3 of them whip out an American Express and buy the product.  It also assumes that the ratio calculation will hold for the next 100 Zombies to come through the line.  While I wish the scenario was this simple, it’s not.  Not by a long shot.  The truth is, Zombies don’t carry credit cards.

    Today’s consumers (the people that actually do have credit cards) have more options, knowledge, control, discernment and discretion than ever before. They are bombarded with more messages in a day (some estimates say 3,000 – 20,000) than they can possibly hope to process.  They look to friends for recommendations, make purchase decisions on their own time, and are reflective and thoughtful about financial decisions.  Assuming that a cleverly-crafted social media or Google ad campaign is going to consistently coax consumers to plunk down their credit cards to fit within the confines of a marketer’s metrics spreadsheet is inherently flawed.  Things simply don’t work this way.

    The idea of data gathering, measuring performance, and optimizing marketing results are all good, constructive activities to embrace.  But assuming that the underlying results will emanate from a “set it and forget it” approach to promotion and results is asking for disappointment.

    So how does the marketer move from the idea of a “hands-off” marketing funnel to a more practical and realistic approach?  While I’m not sure that there is a simple answer, there are some truths that marketers would do well to ponder and embrace.  Here are some of those truths that, when applied to a specific marketing challenge, would lead toward a more satisfying digital marketing approach:

    1. Conversions are rarely instantaneous – it usually takes multiple interactions with a brand before we ultimately pull the trigger.  The old marketing adage called ‘The Rule of 7′ tells us that it takes 7 interactions with a brand before most of us buy.  In today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, that number is probably closer to 77 than 7.
    2. Facebook Likes are worth something – it’s hard to say for sure exactly how much, but a consumer’s choice to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or otherwise is an opportunity for you to build a relationship.  So don’t minimize or waste it.
    3. Your social media content must be worthy – People rarely subscribe to your social media content to be nice.  They do it to gain something:  an idea, a tip, to be entertained, a deal, or just to remember you.  Before they make that decision, they’ll look to see how valuable your messaging is.  So make it count.  Be informative, helpful, and/or funny–be of benefit.  And keep doing it so that they stay subscribed.
    4. Your product must be remarkable – This is tough for most marketers when they see disappointing sales figures.  But it is important to remember that the first ‘P’ in the four P’s of marketing is Product.  Your product must be valuable, indispensable, and a must-have.  If it’s not, the rest of the four P’s (price, place, promotion) won’t do you a ton of good.  Hint:  Part of social media really succeeding for you is that people speak well of you on social media because of how highly they think of your product.  So make the product so remarkable that people can’t help but tell their friends.
    5. Consumers are skeptical – People don’t often buy from people they don’t know or trust.  Brands must build that trust.  And that doesn’t occur in a Google Adword or a broadcast e-mail message.  It happens over time through their interactions with you, the recommendations of their friends, product reviews posted by strangers, and the content you create.
    6. Marketers must have patience – People don’t all buy immediately.  They think about it first.  Consumers like to flip through pages, kick tires, ask their friends, and go for test drives.  So have patience.  If your initial clicks don’t turn into dollars within the first nanosecond, it doesn’t mean that your promotions have failed.  It means that they’ve just begun.  Expecting otherwise may set you up for disappointment.
    7. Google rewards content – We all look for things on Google.  That’s how we behave.  Your product’s buyers are looking for you right now but don’t know it yet.  Google will introduce them to you if you provide thoughtful, relevant content on a consistent basis.  That’s the essence of how Google works–it rewards the authentic marketer who writes and produces content.  So write–well and often.
    8. Some diseases don’t have cures – so while hoping for a miracle is encouraged, expecting one is probably not wise.  In marketing, there are very few miracles–defined as a bunch of buyers logging on and giving you a credit card at a hefty profit.  Plan, instead, on a slower, more gradual process where sales are earned over time–not in an instant.  If you’re looking for quick and easy, well that’s akin to a asking a physician for a cure that doesn’t exist.  You can beat up the doctor all you want, but it won’t change the facts.
    There are many more truths that we could discuss here, but the essence remains:  today’s consumers are smarter, savvier and more discerning than ever.  They’re the ones with the credit cards.  So if your conversions don’t come through a predictable, well-formed funnel, you’re probably doing something right–creating authentic, long-lasting customer relationships.

     

     

     

  12. Content Marketing: What it is and why is it Important to Web Design

    Content marketing is not a new idea.  Providing straight-forward, educational information on a product or service is as old of a tactic as the seminar or white paper.  Simply defined, content marketing is the creation and distribution of content (a blog post, an article, illustration, photograph, etc.) that informs and influences but does not advertise or sell.  There are many other definitions of content marketing available from different sources, but the common threads are information, education, and product alignment.

    Content marketing has become particularly important in recent months because of Google’s ever-evolving methodology for generating search results.  Google has publicly indicated that it will reward fresh, original content with high search rankings.  And since we are all turning to Google to find pretty much anything (and certainly the things we intend to buy), a marketer must create relevant content in order to gain exposure to these searches.  It’s simple logic:  if you want to market successfully, you must write.  Publish or perish.

    For the marketer that accepts the website as the centerpiece of a digital marketing strategy, content–not design–must lead.  One can’t exist without the other, certainly, but content should no longer take a back seat to design.

    In so many web projects, unfortunately, content is an after-thought.  Marketers get particularly excited about design and features and leave content for another day.  All too often, content is the last “task” that people want to tackle because it as seen as time-consuming, laborious, and menial.  The marketer that wants to gain search exposure (and, ahem, customers) should put content first and leave design for another day.  Ideally, the two should work hand-in-hand, but erring on the side of content is a safer bet.

    Practically speaking, content planning within the course of web design should involve more than just “copy.”  Content is not just the text on your About Us page.  In the context of a content marketing strategy, “content” is much bigger than marketing copy.   It incorporates things like:

    • titles of your navigation items
    • your sub-navigation strategy
    • blog categories and tags
    • social media strategy
    • diagrams and illustrations
    • ALT tags
    • corporate videos and descriptions
    • testimonials
    • links
    • your content calendar for future updates
    • meta-data

    Embracing content marketing as a form of promotion is critical in today’s world of customer acquisition.  Making content creation and distribution a priority in your organization puts you in a better position to gain more traction from Google and more customers from the traffic this brings.

     

  13. Facebook Advertising – Is It Really Worth It?

    It seems like everyone is spending a crazy amount of time on these newfangled social media sites. In fact, nearly 1 in every 5 minutes spent online is spent using social media. That is a lot of time and it is only going to increase. So what does that mean for you? Well, Facebook has implemented a very advanced advertising system that is just begging for you to take advantage of it.

    Social Media Examiner breaks down Facebook’s ad system which has three sales channels: Direct, Inside and Online.

    • Direct sales deals with the largest global brands, for which Facebook has dedicated account teams to manage the relationship directly with the advertiser and their agencies. These are generally referred to as managed accounts.
    • Inside sales handles the next tier of clients, who may be spending in the hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on Facebook. These clients will have a sales rep whom they deal with directly to buy advertising, but they don’t have quite the same level of strategic support as managed accounts.
    • Online channel. There are companies developing products on top of Facebook’s Marketing/Ads APIs to facilitate the buying process for self-serve advertisers.

    If you’re willing to shell out the big bucks for advertising on Facebook, it is best to contact them directly. Otherwise head over to the Facebook ad page and get started!

    Facebook makes it easy to target a specific audience. Oh, you’re interested in selling to males, ages 16-18, who live in Boston and play World of Warcraft? Well you can – with just a click of a button. The Facebook advertising platform offers the ability to target your ad to specific segments such as Location, Age, Sex, Relationship Status, Interests and more. This leads to more bang for your buck, because you are not wasting your marketing efforts on users not in your target audience.

    According to comScore, after seeing an ad on Facebook from a major offline US-based retailer, fans and their friends bought 56% more frequently online from this retailer. 70% of brand campaigns also showed a return on ad spend of 3x or better. But, that information comes from a study done in conjunction with Facebook, so take those numbers with a grain of salt.

    So how effective are Facebook ads? Recently released reports suggest that the ROI on Facebook ads are not as effective as  advertisers expect them to be. A recent study found that less than 1 in 20 users returns to a brand page within 30 days of having ‘liked’ it. According to a new poll from the Associated Press and CNBC, nearly 60% of Facebook users don’t click on ads or sponsored content.

    General Motors, the 7th largest advertiser in the US, also pulled their paid advertising from Facebook because GM executives felt that Facebook ads had little effect on consumers’ car purchases. Sources said that Facebook doesn’t provide consistent, clear-cut metrics that prove advertising on their sites works. GM wasn’t feeling the results so they pulled ads – which has caused quite a stir amongst advertisers.

    Another example shows Ajith Prasad Edassery, founder of Dollar Shower, who spent $27.51 on Facebook ads and saw the following results: 1.27million impressions, 303 clicks, and zero sales. So, while a large audience saw his ad, very few clicked it and not one user purchased anything. However, that does not mean that Facebook ads are ineffective. Adam Dion of Synergy Beads has seen a substantial increase in sales through Facebook ads. Every $50 of Facebook ads brings him between $220 and $250 of revenue per month.

    Facebook is a platform built around socializing with friends and sharing information, not shopping. There is something to be said for the ineffectiveness of traditional ads on Facebook. If you’re looking to run ads on Facebook, your best bet is to drive visitors to your Facebook page and earn customers from there. In reality, 45.7% of advertisers use Facebook ads to build awareness and brand sentiment, not generate leads.

    The effectiveness of Facebook ads will vary from case to case. It is best to try out the ad platform with a few different variation of ads and take it forward from there. See which one makes sense for your business. Finding your sweet spot with ads will help drive more fans to your Facebook page and more fans to your services. Just make sure to keep an eye on your results to make sure you’re getting the most from your money.

  14. Twitter Advertising – is it Worth it?

    Hopefully by now you’ve seen our post on Facebook ads and have decided if they are right for your business. Well, Facebook isn’t the only social media site that makes it easy to advertise to users – Twitter is doing the same. In 2011, Twitter was boasting 100 million active users a day, who were tweeting near 33 billion times a day!

    Like Facebook, Twitter can be a great tool to interact with your followers and gain exposure. But, the little blue bird has its own way of doing things – instead of standard ads, Twitter lets you advertise by promoting tweets, trends and accounts. SproutSocial does a fantastic job highlighting the differences:

    • Twitter Promoted Tweets - Promoted tweets appear at the top of Twitter search results pages, or near the top of a member’s Twitter timeline when they  log in. They look like regular tweets with the addition of a “Promoted” label. Promoted Tweets that appear in search results help brands reach consumers who aren’t necessarily following the brands on Twitter.
    • Twitter Promoted Trends - Promoted Trends are trending topic links that appear on the Twitter home page. These are topics that Twitter considers to be the most popular, real-time conversations on Twitter.
    • Twitter Promoted Accounts - Promoted Accounts are specific Twitter account links that appear at the top of profile search results pages and at the top of the “Who to follow” section on the Twitter home page. Brands use Promoted Accounts to raise awareness, increase followers, and connect with an audience that is likely to be interested in its tweets.

    As you can see, Twitter ads work quite differently than Facebook ads – this is a result of how the platform operates and how users interact with it. Users on Twitter seem to be more receptive to ads than those on Facebook. Around 21.6% of Twitter users claim they have used a discount through a promoted tweet ad, and 21.2% have discovered new brands to follow on Twitter through promoted tweets. Twitter users feel ads are more relevant to their interests than Facebook users.

    Coke saw massive success with their first promoted tweet back in 2010. The soda mogul saw over 85 million impressions and a 6% engagement rate, as opposed to the usual .02% seen from other web-based advertising. That translates to around 5 million people interacting with that ad in just a days time. For what advertisers are calling ‘relatively cheap’, Twitter seems to work extremely well in some markets.

    However, not everyone has had the same success as Coke. Small business’ are having trouble breaking into the profitable Twittersphere. After spending $154 on ads, Jessica Hughes of Custom Fit Studio suspended her advertising, having gained fewer than a dozen new followers. Twitter’s ads do not seem to be as beneficial to most local businesses, although small online companies may have greater success because their lack of ‘locality’. Local businesses should instead try Facebook Ads for its specific targeting options.

    While targeting locally may not be effective for business on Twitter, interacting with users directly can be.  About 67% of Twitter users said they would be more apt to make a purchase from a follower, while 51% of Facebook users said the same. You can also take into account that more than 40% of Twitter users follow at least one brand.

    As with everything, only you can decide if Twitter Ads are right for you.

  15. Pinterest – What is it and can it benefit my business?

    Pinterest. Odds are you’ve heard the name recently (most likely from your wife or technology addicted daughter), but you’re not quite sure what it is. “A digital pinboard? With pictures? Well that is just great, but why should I care?”. Well, I’ll tell you exactly why you should care about Pinterest and what it could mean for your business.

    What is it?
    Pinterest is a social network that allows users to visually share their interests by pinning images and links on a digital pinboard. Pins consists of images or videos that link to a source location. Users create a Pinboard which consist of multiple pins, usually of the same theme. Users can upload pins directly, or pin things the find on the internet using Pinterest bookmarklet, Pin-It button, or URL.

    Let’s simplify it a bit. The main focus of Pinterest is the sharing of quality photos. Users can re-pin a photo they like on their own boards and broadcast that to their followers. Basically, it is a social network for visual collectors.

    How does it benefit my business?
    Pinerest can be beneficial to your business in many ways. It is all about how you use it. The possibilities Pinterest can provide are promising, especially for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and shops.

    Any business that relies on website traffic to increase sales should consider investing some time into Pinterest. Early research indicates that Pinterest may be more effective at driving traffic than other social media sites. According to Shareaholic, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn and YouTube combined and also managed to beat out Twitter. 90% of Pinterest’s user base are women between the ages of 25 to 34. While men may be jumping on the Pinterest bandwagon soon enough, right now the ladies are leading the way. This presents a very clear demographic of who is spending time on Pinterest, and who your content should be targeting. Just by scanning the numbers, if your customers are on Pinterest you should be too.

    You can think of Pinterest as a marketplace that lets your customers advertise for you. Posting a photo of a product allows users to like, comment, and re-pin that photo onto their own boards for their followers to see. This drives more visitors to your website where you can sell them the product directly.

    Pinterest, like all social media, may not be right for you. If you work with any form of e-commerce than Pinterest is right up your alley. It gives you a platform to display and advertise your products in a way that lets users interact and share them. It is also great for discounts and sales. If your business doesn’t translate well into images or videos, Pinterest could still work for you, but you’ll have to get more creative. As with all social media Pinterest should focus on engaging followers and building relationships with them.

    Walk Me Through It
    Lets break it down into a real world example. Let’s say you work at Toms and you’re in charge of marketing their new line of wedding shoes. You take an awesome, sharable, interesting picture and pin it to the Tom’s Wedding board. When a user clicks the photo it links them to the Tom’s Wedding catalog on the Toms website. Users who come across the photo can re-pin it on their own boards like “My Style” or “Wedding Ideas” for their followers to see.

    Because users follow boards that they’re interested in, a photo is automatically exposed to an audience that cares about that specific content. Photos of wedding dresses won’t end up on a tech-nerd’s Pinterest board. So, the photo of your product is reaching an users who would actually be interested in buying the promoted product. By simple posting an interesting photo of wedding shoes, Tom’s has advertised their new wedding line directly to their target audience.

    Why does it matter?
    Pinterest will give you unparalleled access into the mind of your consumer. By visiting fans pages you can easily identify buyer personas and create a more detailed map of your consumers. This insight is valuable in creating marketing campaigns, advertisements and future products.

    Pinterest is pioneering a new an innovative way for companies to sell and advertise their products by focusing on products visual appeal through well done photography.

    It is not just about promoting products that you think a user might want, but also why they would want the products and how they function in their daily lives.

    Who is doing it right?
    Etsy - Sitting comfortably with 102,000+ followers, Etsy has it figured out. Sticking to the theme of the website, Etsy’s pinboards consist mostly of homemade goods, vintage clothing and DIY projects. Other boards promote how their products can spice up your daily life. This is not only showing what users what they need, but also why they need it and what it can do for them.

    Example: Users look through Etsy’s ‘Cool Spaces’ board to find ideas for decorating a new apartment. An image of an innovative bookshelf shows the price and links directly to the store when clicked. Simple!

    Quick Tips

    • If your business doesn’t naturally photograph well (like us bloggers for example) there are still ways to take advantage of Pinterest. Every site has some form of visual assets that they can utilize into interesting pins – you just have to get creative! Try using Infographics, charts or other data visualizations to get a point across, or create a stimulating title card or poster for blog posts. Still stumped? Think outside the box. Snap some photos of the office environment, people you work with and customers.
    • Hire a photographer. The real success with Pinterest lies with having the most interesting and appealing photographs. Nothing can hold you back more than sloppy photography. Strive to create something eye-catching – it will help your content spread faster.
    • Create pin-boards that don’t focus on advertising your specific products, but related to what you do in your day-to-day business. Show what you represent, what you enjoy, and who you are. Add some life into your Pinterest – let it take on a personality. Remember, social media should be about engaging fans first and selling your products second.
    • Pinterest eloquently displays the price of a product if you note it in the description.

     

  16. What is Content Marketing?

    Content marketing is a quickly-emerging area of practice for marketers.  It is emerging rapidly and will continue to be more and more important as time goes on.  But before defining exactly what content marketing is, it is important to acknowledge the shifts in the landscape of consumer behavior:

    • Consumers are no longer using the Yellow Pages to shop for things
    • People are turning to Google, Bing and other search engines to shop for products and services
    • Buyers are reaching out to friends and acquaintances on social networks to look for recommendations and reviews

    If you ponder this shift in consumer behavior–especially the search for products on Google–the challenge of marketing becomes much different the old days of designing a yellow pages ad.

    Content marketing is a term which refers to the development, production and sharing of content in order to attract and engage a specific audience in profitable activity.  In short, content marketing is the practice of using information to gain customers.

    Consider the first time homeowner who has a small hole in her drywall.  Puzzled by how to fix it, she doesn’t even think of looking for a solution in the phone book.  Instead she reflexively enters ‘fix a hole in my drywall’ in Google.  If you are a marketer selling spackling paste, drywall saws, or home repair services, this represents a critical moment–an inflection point.  The goal of your content marketing strategy should be to gain exposure to this consumer at this moment.

    Content can take many forms.  It can be anything from an article or blog post to a podcast or e-book.  Content marketing can be facilitated on company websites, blogs, social networks, and user-generated sites like YouTube.  Naturally, the specific vehicles chosen for a content strategy should be selected according to the audience itself.  And similar to the tenets of search engine marketing, solid keyword research should drive the strategy.

    Getting back to our example about the role of a hole in the drywall, marketers have many many ways in which to capitalize on content marketing opportunities.  Brands like Home Depot or Lowe’s might create home improvement videos containing these search terms.  Makers of spackling paste like DAP might create instructional guides or blog posts about how to fix these holes.  Sears/Craftsman tools might create a home improvement podcast and feature this as a topic.  And all of this content can be shared and referred by customers on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    Scenarios like these are real examples of actual opportunities that marketers have to use content to sell products.  If marketers take a concerted approach to content marketing, they have the potential to not only acknowledge the big shifts in consumer behavior, but be well-positioned in the eyes of the consumer at the exact moment when they are needed.

  17. Presentation on Web Design & Digital Media to NCSHA

    Our firm was asked to speak to the national conference of the National Council of State Housing Agencies as a panel participant. The conference was held at the Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida. The title of the session was: When to Go Fully Digital and explored the challenges and opportunities of online publishing, social media marketing, search marketing, web design, responsive web design and corporate communications. Slides from our portion of the session are available below.

  18. Year-end Business Planning: A Successful 2013 Begins in 2012

    It’s that time of year again: Budgets. Strategic planning. Goal setting.

    And that blank piece of paper is staring back at you. Where do you begin? What can you do to plan for more business growth in 2013?

    The team at WebSolvers is facing the same situation. Our business has evolved beyond just building fabulous websites for our clients. We are poised to be your #1 agency choice for digitally dominant design, brand, marketing and communications solutions. So, how do we get there?

    Well, it starts with us taking out our C.R.I.B. sheet (downloadable PDF) and creating a plan. The C.R.I.B. sheet is your planning tool to generate more:

    C: Customers
    R: Revenue
    I: Income
    B: Business

    WebSolvers-2013-CRIB-Sheet

    DOWNLOAD NOW


    We thought it would be helpful to share our C.R.I.B. sheet with you. This handy tool is a terrific thought-starter. It’s one part brainstorming guide, one part strategic thinking tool, one part motivator, and one part business-generator.

    Grab a cup of coffee, sit down, use our handy-dandy highlighter and think. You have to start somewhere, so why not start now? If you want a little audible inspiration, we also created a C.R.I.B. Sheet Playlist on Spotify . It contains some of our team’s go-to tunes for when it’s time to be creative.

    At WebSolvers, we are here to help you turn your C.R.I.B. sheet into a plan that finds and wins you more customers. And if you want some help or an outside perspective on your plans for 2013, please feel free to reach out to us!

    One more thing since we’re talking about year-end activities: have you given any thought to your holiday cards, party invitations, donation campaigns, etc? With the holidays right around the corner, it’s a good time to get going on those items. We can help you with that, too.

  19. Using Twitter Keywords to Find New Customers

    You might be quite familiar with Twitter.  You might follow some major news outlets, celebrities and friends online and keep up with their latest updates for work, entertainment, or an occasional cure for boredom.

    But one aspect of Twitter that you may not be familiar with is the very powerful Twitter search engine that is freely available through your Web browser or mobile app.  You can take a look at this tool in its simplest form at http://search.twitter.com/.

    This basic form allows you to enter any keyword and see how it is being discussed by the Twitter community at large.  A search for ‘coffee,’ for example, might bring up tweets from a commuter on a moving train, the owner of a local diner, and a Starbucks employee–all making reference to the same thing in different contexts in various locations around the world.

    Twitter Search

    The Twitter search screen can be a very powerful marketing tool.

    So what?

    Let’s take a step deeper.  Now take a look at Twitter’s advanced search screen at http://search.twitter.com/advanced.  You will notice a host of additional options available to you instead of the lone search box.  From here, Twitter lets you get a whole lot more specific with your search.  One of the most powerful features of this screen is the geolocation option.  Twitter lets you geo-locate your searches within postal code or city name.  As a trivial example, you could narrow your search to find those individuals who had used the word ‘coffee’ in a tweet within a 100 mile radius of Lincoln, Nebraska.

    So how can this help you find customers?

    Twitter’s search tool is very powerful, but it is only helpful/useful if it is applied in the right way.  For a company to capitalize on the power of this tool, the marketer must determine which words, when used in a meaningful context, may represent opportunities for that customer.  Here are a few examples:

    • A cafe located in Charleston, South Carolina might use geolocate the words “breakfast,” “lunch” and “hungry” within a 5 mile radius of its zip code.  Chances are that users that use these terms in this context might represent customers.
    • An upcoming novelist that writes legal fiction might search for the term “Grisham” or “John Grisham.”  It is likely that anyone taking the time to tweet about John Grisham will likely be open to being introduced to a new author in the same genre.
    • A golf course operator in Scottsdale, Arizona, might geo-locate the terms “golf,” “tee time” or “foursome” within a 20 mile radius of Phoenix to find new golfers.
    • A deep sea fishing tour operator in the Bahamas might enter the terms “trip,” “Bahamas,” and “fishing” to identify people on the way to town; by reaching out early, the tour operator might sign up customers long before the plane even lands.

    These are just a few simple examples of how to use Twitter’s keyword search tool.  It never hurts to experiment with something like this.  You are limited only by your own creativity.