Social Media Marketing

  1. What Facebook’s New “Buy Button” Means for Your Business

    Facebook Ads Facebook Ads

    You know that guy with the bagel cart rolling by your office in the morning? You were busy getting started on your business of the day, then this guy rolls up and well, now you’re hungry. “Ok,” you think to yourself. “I’ll grab a bagel.”

    The convenience of the impulse buy is hard to ignore. And more often than not, it doesn’t feel like we’re being sold or marketed to. We usually feel pretty confident that this is our decision. Yes, we didn’t know we were about to make this purchase, but we are totally in control and definitely want it. Right?

    Recently Facebook announced their new Buy Button which will allow your customers to purchase products from businesses without ever having to leave Facebook, mobile included. Your customers will be able to complete their entire order process (even shipping settings and payment) all in one cozy nook of the world’s favorite social media home away from home. Whether this sounds scary or convenient, it’s time to start planning how your business will adapt. Here are 3 things to consider when examining the new Facebook Buy Button, and what it means to you and your business.

    1. Say Goodbye to distracting ads and hello to engaging content.

    If you’ve ever tried Facebook ads to promote your company or goods and services, the buy button is a good thing. Buying online ads are hard to quantify from a success point of view. Sure you can track clicks and click throughs, even track where purchases came from. But these efforts typically work better in concept than application. Here’s the next step. Stop buying traditional Facebook Ads. With the buy button you no longer have to throw money at distracting your customers. You can, instead, connect with them via your content. Content that they’d be choosing to engage with anyway. Have a cool new product you want to get out to market, or even test? This could be where you do that.

    It’s a fact of life that many content owners are now looking to their “readers’ offers” initiatives to build e-commerce into their content sites. – Forbes (http://www.forbes.com/sites/haydnshaughnessy/2014/07/18/facebook-shopping-button-could-be-amazon-reviews-on-steroids/)

    2. The impulse buy: The next generation.

    This is certainly a whole new (more impulsive) impulse buy. The genius of it is basically this: Remember why that bagel cart concept works? Similarly, imagine a group of yourself and your closest colleagues and friends chatting around the water cooler about the things you collectively are interested in. Coffee, technology, low calorie drinks, impressively sharp knives, a new hybrid car. Now imagine while casually talking with your friends about these subjects, one of them said something like, “Well, if you’re interested I can get you a box of those knives for $20 less than the store.” They don’t have to earn your trust. They already have it. You don’t have to drive out to the store, or search prices online. You don’t have to do anything really. It’s organic digital content for sale. You’re seeing it in your news feed because you’ve already established, digitally, that it’s something of interest to you. This is the benefit of the Facebook Buy Button concept. And this will be the primary reason why it will work.

    Don’t forget to consider when you post also. Since these aren’t traditional social media ads running automatically, you must be conscious of when you post content with the ability to buy. Read our recent blog post on The Perfect Time to Post on Social Media.

    3. The power of viral reviews

    According to Convert With Content 87% of consumers are influenced by positive reviews, and trust customer reviews 12x more than manufacturers’ descriptions. With the new Facebook Buy Button capability, customer reviews will come first and the product second. In a way, customers have already been trained to reverse engineer their purchases online. It’s been going on for years and the new Facebook Buy Button will only sharpen this modern consumer skill.

    You need to understand how this will bring on competition for your sales. Facebook won’t be alone. Already, Twitter has announced it purchased a payments start up for integration in it’s ever-growing platform. Don’t be surprised if more join soon. The time to plan accordingly and add some grey area to your direct and indirect competition matrices is now. Wondering why your customers stopped buying sunglasses from you? Have they evolved where you haven’t?

    The future of online retail may be upon us. LIKE it? Don’t buy it? Tell us what you think with your comments below or let us know on Facebook!

  2. The Pinning of Breaking News

    news networkCNN is on Pinterest.

    Yes.  You read that right.  And they are not pinning recipes or the latest cute shoes.  (Well, actually, there are some cute shoes on the Style board, but I digress.)

    We all recognize that social media channels have come a long way.  It’s fascinating to marketing nerds (like me) how the brands that we know, love (and hate) have learned to use the plethora of social media channels to their advantage.  

    Back in 2012 (that’s about 10 years ago in social media time), CNN wrote a story about Pinterest.  The writer called it the “hottest website” of the year.  At that time, Pinterest’s unique visitors grew 400% in four months and were driving more visitors than YouTube!  (Breaking news:  Pinterest has remained a hot hit.)

    Apparently, it took CNN a couple of years to decide Pinterest was sizzling enough to spend time pinning natural disasters, travel photos, food reviews and exotic animals but clearly someone finally saw a business need. 

    Exactly what is that need?  Web traffic?  Brand building?  Audience expansion?  The list goes on – and that is a fundamental question that we are asked every day at our agency.  There seems to be a pervasive feeling that businesses should be here or there in the social media marketing context.  But “where” is “here” and should they be “there”?

    #Confused?  You’re not alone.

    Ask Yourself the Right Social Media Questions

     

    social media

    Instead of asking where you should be as the first question, instead ask:

    1. What are my business goals?
    2. How do I want social media to help me meet those goals?

    Social media is a collection of channels that have specific audiences and primary uses.  Do you want to launch a new product?  Enhance your SEO for an ecommerce website?  Build subject-matter credibility?  Until you know the answers to those questions, you are not ready to ask where, here, or there.

    The ladies behind the genius daily newsletter The Skimm understand the role of social media in their business.  What they want first and foremost for their fast-growing company is a following.  They want large numbers of ravenous fans that love reading and sharing their curated content.  They are using social media to help build that following to great heights
and it’s working!  This strategy will give them a more legitimate platform to raise significant capital and diversify their products in the future.  From there, their social media strategy may evolve, but for now, numbers of fans sharing their content is their goal.  Period.

    popular social channelsSocial Media for Business

    If done right, social media can do many positive things for your business.  It can build your brand, create a buzz, establish expertise, engage with customers, drive traffic to another online location and more.  It is crucial not to forget that the purpose of social media marketing is to fulfill a need that satisfies your specific goal by touching your target audience in a way that produces the results you want.

    (Note: In the time it took to write this blog, the followers on CNN’s Pinterest page went from 51 to 1,081.)

  3. Book Review – Contagious: Why Things Catch On

    Contagious: Why Things Catch On

     

    As a digital marketing manager specializing in social media, I’m like a proud parent with the “My Child is on the Honor Roll” bumper sticker: I love social media and it’s easy to idolize. But a book I read recently gave a practical reminder that social media is a supportive communications vehicle, rather than a marketing strategy. For true success, a great social media presence requires contagious content!

    Book Review | Contagious: Why Things Catch On

    Jonah Berger’s book, Contagious: Why Things Catch On is a must-read for anyone seeking to differentiate their product or service in the marketplace and gain viral exposure through customer referrals.

    In the opening, Berger hooks every reader with this stat from a study by the Keller Fay Group: only 7% of word-of-mouth happens online.

    Now, before you throw your MacBook out with the bathwater, reconsider this surprising information through another lens – there is not a lack of valuable opportunities accessible through online marketing, but rather there are even more opportunities to trigger off-line conversations about your brand through strategic digital marketing. A key take-away from Contagious is this:

    Social media should be designed to support off-line conversations for maximum impact.

    Contagious breaks down the author’s six driving principals (STEPPS) uncovering why and how content becomes viral and, well, contagious.

    1. Social Currency - People care about how they look to others. Help them feel smart and appear in-the-know by giving them something they can share with others that will boost their social IQ. Whether it’s a funny video that just broke on YouTube or the phone number for the best tax pro in town, find a way to be their next bit of social currency.
    2. Triggers – As Berger says, “top of mind means tip-of-tongue”. By creating a context for your product outside its typical space, you’ll be thought of by your audience when they least expect it. (Try going just one Wednesday without being reminded that it’s Hump Day a la the Geico camel and tell me that triggers don’t work. I dare you!) 
    3. Emotion – “When we care, we share.” Emotional content reaches a place deep inside us that begs us to share it. Case in point? Every mom who’s watched this Publix Valentine’s Day commercial.
    4. Public – “Built to show, built to grow.” When your product or service leaves visible behavior residue, it’s more likely that it will be imitated by  others. Whether it’s the orange Cheetos dust (literal residue), a Bloomingdales big brown bag, or a yellow LIVESTRONG bracelet, find ways to help your products or services advertise themselves.
    5. Practical Value – Want your content to spread like wildfire? Berger shares the most simple solution of all: offer content with incredible value and package your knowledge and expertise so people can easily pass it on. From infographics and handy “how to’s”, people love sharing tools to simplify and solve everyday problems. Help them be a hero!
    6. Stories - Everyday brand stories travel under what seems like idle chatter. Berger stresses that stories are vessels, just like the famous Trojan horse. A narrative or story that people want to tell will carry your idea long for the ride. (Example: Think Jared from Subway.)

    Can’t imagine how to incorporate all of these principles in one Facebook post? Fear not! Try adding even one or two of these ingredients to your brand’s story and you’ll see a big impact.

    Keep this diagram handy after you read the book and remember to add some contagious content into your marketing mix to give both your social media and off-line communications a boost!

    Contagious Framework STEPPS

     

     

     

     

     

     

  4. What a 109-Year-Old Brand Can Teach Us About Content

    Content Marketing

    Image Source: http://bit.ly/1kawgrM

    There are many things we can learn from Rolex- from how to maintain a luxury brand to how to keep that brand relevant throughout the years. What’s interesting now is that the brand that once used to balk at the idea of having a Facebook page and other social sites is now the one to teach us all a thing or two about content.

    Here are five of what I deem to be Rolex’s top content tips:

    1. Don’t publish content for content’s sake. Constant content is great, but just because it’s National Hot Sauce day does not mean that you should post to Facebook, Twitter and Google+ about it. This would only make sense if you were Tabasco or a food-based company.

    The content you post should always be relevant and serve your audience.This idea often gets lost when content is posted simply for content’s sake.

    2. Select which media channels tell your brand’s story best. Content comes in all forms, but the form you pick matters. If you are trying to convey an in-depth story about your company’s history, video will most likely be your best bet. Video is engaging and a great way to truly show your company’s history and culture. Try telling an interesting, but lengthy story via Pinterest or an Instagram post…it just won’t work.

    3. Creating buzz is not the intent. Craft content thoughtfully, privilege quality over quantity, and talk only when you have something to say and when you feel it’s right. Buzz is fleeting. Yes, it is good in certain cases, but what you want to share is content that has legs to it and can stand the test of time. Not only does this give your brand value, but it also gives you the SEO benefits we’ve all learned to love.

    4. Listen socially, i.e. scrape brand mentions from social networks and use that data — what people are saying and how they’re saying it — to identify what consumers want to see from the brand on social media. Who best to tell you what to say than your audience? They are the ones interacting with your posts and providing free feedback without you prodding for it. Use this data to your advantage and sculpt your messaging to fit, not only your needs and wants, but your audience’s too.

    5.  Identify what will matter to customers not tomorrow, but ten years down the road. Yes, customers are concerned with what’s going on in the immediate future, but when it comes to content that has longevity to it, think beyond today. What will your customers be searching for and talking about in the next month, 2 years, or 10 years? Your content should be relevant to your followers, but it doesn’t have to apply only to current events.

     

    Source: http://mashable.com/2014/04/17/rolex-marketing-strategy/

  5. It’s About Time: The Perfect Time to Post on Social Media

    social timing

    If you’re a business owner, you probably recognize how important a social media presence is and may already be using social media to market your business. But why do some posts seem to work better than others? Why do some posts bring in lots of business, site traffic, sales, interaction, all of the above – while other posts just go flat? While content may still be king, it’s timing that is at war for the throne. Want to be social media royalty? Follow these tips for the perfect time to post on social media!

    Tip 1: Get the Day Right!

    When it comes to posting for your business on social media, not every day has the same rules. You could be posting the sale of the century, but if you’re not conscious about when you post, few people may even see it. For Facebook the highest day for likes, shares and comments is Wednesday. If you’re looking for retweets and follows, you have more options with Twitter. Scheduling tweets for Monday – Thursday will ensure your best results each week. LinkedIn also sees better activity in the middle of the week, while visual platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr do better at the end of the week and on weekends when most Americans aren’t at work.

    Tip 2: It’s About Time!

    Early riser? Well, not all of your fans are on board, but some of them are. Posting before noon will ensure the highest activity on your Pinterest page, LinkedIn and Google+ accounts. Post as late as Midnight through 1:00AM for Pinners, while the 7:00AM through 9:00AM range is crucial for activity on LinkedIn.  9:00AM to 11:00AM is prime time for your Google circles.

    The majority of activity and engagement is on social media in the afternoon. The sweet spot for Twitter is immediately after lunch until 3:00PM. Facebook follows a similar timeframe, but will continue activity online a little later in the day until 4:00PM. LinkedIn surfaces between 2:00PM and 6:00PM, while Tumblr and Pinterest rule the night hours.

    There are also dead times on social media to avoid for posting major announcements and campaigns. For best results on Facebook, try not to post before 8:00AM or after 8:00PM. On Twitter, avoid posting before 9:00AM and after 8:00PM, as well. See a trend? Think about the times you are online or checking your phone. These timeframes are directly connected to the standard American schedule and remain true for most students, as well as those on the clock. Unless it’s breaking news, always post when your fans are listening- not just when you’re ready to talk!

    Tip 3: Know Your Audience!

    Although the above statistics should apply to most brands, businesses, and social media behavior in general, never discount what your audience behavior is already telling you. Catering your posting strategy to your specific audience will have produce exponential engagement right away, especially when national trends will fluctuate more often than your audience behavior does.

    One easy way of testing this out is through Facebook’s Insights tool. From your admin dashboard, Page Insights will provide access to valuable data. Get to know your audience better by exploring the “Posts” tab  and view valuable insight on timing your posts and content to correlate with when your fans are on Facebook  through the “When Your Fans Are Online” tab. Measuring your results is as simple as looking a little further down on this same page. Look for your organic reach, which will confirm if you are in fact getting in front of your fans, and review the data reflecting likes, comments and shares. Once you’ve found the sweet spot for maximizing eyes and action, you have gained a genuine edge over your competition, plus a more effective connection to your audience!

    Note: While Facebook’s built-in tools are helpful, it’s also a good idea to subscribe to a third party service that provides the analytics you need for each social media accounts all in once place. We recommend checking out Hootsuite, LikeAlyzer, Fanpage Karma and Must Be Present.

    Tip 4: Don’t Overdo It (Or Underdo It)!

     To truly see results from sticking to a social media schedule, be careful how often you post as well. Even if you’re posting relevant content during your popular time frames, posting too often or not enough may turn away fans and followers.

    Research suggests that brands should limit their posts on Facebook to once a day. Check out at this chart from Socialbakers showing how often some of America’s mega brands are posting to Facebook.

    chart-brands

    They also suggest that 3 tweets a day is the magic number for Twitter. Unless your site is a media outlet posting constantly in tandem with the published content on your site, stick close to 3 tweets a day during your heaviest times of engagement. {Pro tip: the lifecycle of a tweet tends to be less than 18 minutes before it peaks, while the average post on Facebook could reach their midlife crisis at the 90 minute mark. Keep these statistics in mind for maximizing results from your social strategy.}

    It’s wise to employ a multi-faceted strategy, factoring in each individual platform and the insights from that audience, as opposed to syncing multiple accounts together. Yes, it is convenient to see a post published on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ all at once, but this form of content scheduling behavior results in churn (your fans unfollow and unlike you).

    Tip 5: Do What They Like!

    Another use for social media insights is to view which posts your audience responds to best, such as links versus images, or posts with text only. Doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t work will save time and resources, as well as increase your social activity. From adding images to including custom infographics,  there is always a way to increase post engagement. Try these cloud-based services for more visual resources: Infogr.am, Piktochart, and Canva.

    Yes, time is money; however, free, organic social marketing should be at the top of your marketing strategy. There is no better way to interact with your fans and customers or to have fans and customers interact with your business. Pay attention to what your audience says and when they’re listening and you will maximize your social media presence towards increased business results.

    Sources:

    http://socialmarketingwriting.com/category/social-media/page/4/

    http://socialtimes.com/best-worst-times-post-social-media-infographic_b141745

    http://blog.bufferapp.com/social-media-frequency-guide

    http://tracksocial.com/blog/2012/06/optimizing-facebook-engagement-part-2-how-frequently-to-post/

    http://www.socialbakers.com/blog/147-how-often-should-you-post-on-your-facebook-pages

     

  6. 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 101

    SnapChat & Social Media

    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 which is 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.

    Snapchat from a marketing perspective

    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


  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

     

  11. 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.

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

     

     

     

  17. 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.

     

  18. 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.

  19. 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.