Tag Archives: socialmedia

Twitterfeed Rocks

twitterfeed_faviconThere are a slew of Twitter applications out there, but I must proclaim that Twitterfeed is my favorite one so far. I’ve been using it for some marketing engagements recently and have found it to be a very useful tool – one of the few Twitter applications I’ve found with the right mix of simplicity and richness in its feature set.

Twitterfeed is primarily intended for bloggers who want to automate tweets with links to their new blog posts, but I’ve been using it to post relevant links from feeds across the web to interested twitterlings.  As a huge advocate of content marketing, using a tool that can automatically share useful content with prospects is extremely powerful.

From their usability perspective, Twitterfeed has done one of the most important things a successful Twitter application-maker needs to do; they’ve made it incredibly simple to use.  From allowing you to get started by signing into the app with OpenID, which allows you to sign in with your account credentials sites like Yahoo! and Google, to the automatic connection with your Twitter account when setting up your RSS feeds makes Twitterfeed very easy to use.

If you haven’t checked it out, I highly recommend giving it a whirl.  TwitterFeed Rocks!

Social Media Step One – Go Where Your Customers Are

As more companies are embracing social media, instead of hearing “Should we participate in social media,” I’ve been hearing “How do we get started in social media.”

In regards to which platforms to participate on, I advise companies to be on the same platforms as their target audience.

For B2B companies, this usually means you’ll want to use LinkedIn and  Twitter.  Here you should be able to find and monitor your target audience.  If they are on these networks, you can use them as new channels for communicating with them.  For consumer-oriented companies, options to build your social media presence are expanded.  In particular, Facebook can be a good place to set up a page for your company or product.

Different networks reach different audiences and require different etiquette and dedications of time, so plan accordingly.  If your prospects and customers are using social media, you should too.

The first step of getting started is finding out where your audience hangs out.  Once you identify these networks, you can craft a social media plan of attack with maximum impact – one that reaches and interacts with and delivers value to your customers.  First things first, go where your customers are.

Where are your customers using social media?  Leave a comment with your experience.

Eight Steps to Creating Viral Content

Creating content that goes viral is the holy grail for marketers.  But why do some ideas flop and others spread like wild fire?  Follow these steps and improve your ability to make your content viral.

1) Find an interested audience.
For content to become viral, an interested audience must be able to find it. Social media is a great channel for content to get found, but don’t forget that a good SEO optimization of your content and building an audience with other useful content and tools will be a baseline to achieve before you can give your content the best opportunity to go viral. Expand your content’s reach by posting a teaser or a complete version of it on an industry site or searching for relevant articles to comment on that your audience will see and find the content you create relevant.  In short, you need to find a targeted audience for your content to flourish.

2)  Provide valuable content.
If what your offering isn’t useful, then it won’t be a viral hit.  Bring something to the table that your audience values and you’ll cross the minimum bar of getting the content in the hands of someone who might consider sharing it with others who’ll find it useful too.  Content must be valued by an audience before it’s shared by it.

3)  Allow your content to be easily shared.
Identify how your audience shares content and make it easy for them to share it the way they want to share it.  If you want to offer an ebook, slap a creative commons license on it and make it freely available to everyone to share however they want.  Consider embedding a hyperlinked share button or link to Twitter that spawns a tweet sharing the e-book in a couple of mouse clicks.  Links to social bookmarking sites through tools like ShareThis are an easy way to enable your content to be shared how interested consumers of your content want to share it.

Statistics show that email is still the most popular way people are share things online so don’t forget to include the ability for your audience to share content via email.  If your most interested audience includes executives that aren’t as computer happy, make your content easy to print out or requested to be sent by mail.  In short, make it easy for people to share your content the way they want to share it.

4)  Create relevant and original content.
Nothing inspires someone to share something with others than the spark of inspiration that a novel idea or resource that’s fresh and useful can produce.  Recycling a viral hit won’t have the same impact as the original unless you cater to a different audience and put an original spin on it.  Create unique, useful content and people will take notice and create buzz about it.

5)  Make your content pretty.
The last thing people want to read is a white paper without any formatting.  How boring!  Spice up your content with a clean layout and eye-catching visuals.  For example, use different fonts, colors, text sizes, and call out boxes for the key components of the content.  If you can layout content using the landscape view you’ll really open up your options for how the content is presented.  A good looking piece of content makes great content even better content and increases the likelihood it will be shared.

6)  Embrace social media channels.
Social media platforms like Twitter are designed for content to go viral.  This is really where marketing technique can come into play.  Ideally, you’ve identified where your audience is and if they are on social media channels, your potential for making content viral will increase tenfold.  Tweet about your content and encourage others who liked it to share it through there network.  Good content on social media channels spread fast, use them to make your content viral.

7 )  Connect with influencers.
While most internet users are passive readers that aren’t likely to engage or share content with others, influencers will create the word of mouth of your content to help it go viral. The right influencers have the ear of your target audience.  If your content is useful to them, their followers in your target audience will liekly follow suit and help spread your content to other interested parties.  Develop relationships based on value and influencers can help your content go viral within the circles you covet.

8)  Don’t get discouraged, try again and continue to offer new useful content
For every viral content hit, there are hundreds of would be hits that don’t pan out.  If there was a tried and true formula to identify pieces of content destined to be viral, that content would likely already exist.  That said, if you create enough useful, creative, original pieces of content that are valued by your target audience, you are bound to find a hit that will be well worth your investment in your content creation and delivery. And even if it doesn’t hit, your efforts should help your SEO and increase targeted traffic to your website.  Bottomline: Don’t get discouraged, keep creating content and attain viral marketing success!

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Social Media Tool from StumbleUpon is Su.pr

Tim Ferris of 4-Hour-Work-Week fame has been collaborating with StumbleUpon (a favorite time suck pastime of mine) to create a new social media management tool, Su.pr.

StumbleUpon Toolbar
Image via Wikipedia

From the looks of it, we are in for a real treat.  Su.pr promises to save you lots of time in your social media management routine and help improve your traffic too!

Tim Ferriss points out how in this StumbleUpon juiced blog post.  Here’s why he thinks Su.pr could become the hub of your social media empire.

Prior to SU.PR (pronounced “super”), I had to use ping.fm for updating Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn at the same time, bit.ly for basic analytics like click-through, scattered tools for viewing retweets, and nothing allowed me to schedule tweets well.

It was all a serious pain in the ass.

Enter Su.pr, which allows him to:

– Get suggestions for optimal posting times: get more traffic per post
– Schedule as many tweets or posts as I want, for any time
– See my click-throughs in real-time
– Post to Twitter and Facebook at the same time, with more platforms in the pipeline
– Use my own short URL (i.e. http://www.fourhourblog.com/ab123) instead of someone else’s branding

This is all really great stuff that will save a ton of time for social media content developers and publishers.  It remains to be seen whether the traffic for content improves, but the analytics that are included in Su.pr are what really get me geeked about trying it out.

The built-in analytics make this tool especially sweet for marketers not already using bit.ly.  Deploying measurable social media content should help improve your case for including more social media investments in your organization.

Now it’s just a matter of when this service will be available to everyone.  In the meantime, follow the StumbleUpon Twitter profile and keep your eye out for a claim code tweet for your own Su.pr account.
UPDATE:
After trying it out, Su.pr while potentially great for the reasons listed above, has framing issues that some might remember from the Digg toolbar.  This framing issue wreaks havoc on getting accurate analytics and can be a real pain to use when comparing traffic from non-Su.pr visits.  Another issue I’ve had is with the scheduled Twitter posting being significantly delayed. 

What do you think?  Is Su.pr going to change the way you manage your social media content?

Technology Marketers Should Follow Digg’s Lead

Digg announced it’s plans for a new advertising platform today.

Digg Ads will provide it’s advertisers a pricing structure that is dependent on how well their ads are received by their audience.

digg-logoThe more an ad is Dugg, the less the advertiser will have to pay. Conversely the more an ad is buried, the more the advertiser is charged, pricing it out of the system.

In other words, place relevant ads that link to content Digg users are likely to Digg and pay less. This will be great for improving ad quality on Digg, but what I really like is how Digg is using it’s own technology to make this platform go.

Too many times I’ve come across online businesses that don’t use the products they develop or sell. At the very least share examples or case studies of your tool being used by your customers. If you aren’t doing this, alarms go off in my head and I quickly click the ‘Back’ button in my browser to find a more suitable solution.

Marketers of software and technology products and services should take note. Use what you sell in your own business. Show your tool in action.

This should build trust in your product and help prove that it can accomplish what it claims. There may even be an opportunity to use your tool in unique way. The use of Digg’s technology with Digg Ads is something that can be duplicated with many other tools on the web. At a minimum, use demos or webinars to prove your tool can solve your customers’ problems.

Consultants should apply this rule too. If you are a social media expert, then you should obviously be using social media tools in your own web strategy whenever possible. Seeing is believing. Show clients that you not only talk the talk, but you also walk the walk.

How Sephora’s Earth Day Marketing on Facebook Can Work for You

This year Sephora ran an awesome promotion that I’d like to share with you.  The campaign turns virtual tote bags into a word of mouth marketing promotion that generates revenue while boosting their brand image at the same time.

sephora_facebookWith the help of Facebook’s Gift Shop, Sephora launched a Facebook campaign that promotes a tote bag giveaway in honor of Earth Day.  Users can send the virtual tote bag to their friends that will give them a code to redeem the real thing through Sephora.com.  The virtual tote bag campaign achieves two great things.  First, this type of promotion is viral. The promotion can spread like wildfire through word of mouth on Facebook and aligned social media outlets.  Second, it makes money.  By offering a limited edition tote bag that is redeemable with a promotional code from the virtual gift, the campaign’s effectiveness is directly measured to every marketer’s delight!

Another benefit with the promotion include the positive brand equity that assoiciates Sephora with a good cause, Earth Day.  Sephora reaches a growing segment of people who seek organic, natural goods.  This segment is keenly aware of Earth Day and supportive of companies that share the values of the Earth Day movement.  With these product lines highlighted, Sephora can reach a new market that I suspect doesn’t generally associate Sephora with natural products.

If Sephora really wanted to push the envelope, I would suggest they provide an additional incentive for becoming a fan of Sephora’s Facebook page so the campaign has a lasting effect of driving traffic to Sephora.com. One good strategy to recruit more fans would be to ask users to post a photo, which requires you to become a fan, in order to get an additional percentage off their purchase or some other additional incentive.  This would allow them to continually promote future campaigns more easily and allow their evangelists to continually evangelize the Sephora brand.

With over 100,000 fans so far, Sephora’s Facebook marketing strategy has been very fruitful.  Retailers could learn a thing or two by monitoring their strategy and emulating the things that work.

April Fools Day Marketing

When scheduling marketing plans, April 1st poses unique public relations opportunities and challenges.  Traditional marketers understandably hesitate to set aside much of their budget for marketing on April Fool’s Day.   In 2009, the hesitation to execute tactics on April Fool’s Day posed additional complications with the Conficker worm, which was primed to wreak havoc on the web.  Fortunately the Conficker worm scare came and went like Y2k and there were no major issues.

For Some April Fool’s Day Marketing is Foolish
B-to-B marketing isn’t very well suited for April Fool’s stunts because many companies would rather you spend time and money helping improve their business than joking around.  Also, people can be guarded on April Fool’s Day and therefore avoid being taken through the funnel your campaign is set to shape and this is a potential reality marketers would like to avoid.

For Others April Fool’s Day Marketing is Fantastic
Taco Liberty BellFor the brave, PR stunts on April Fool’s Day are a great opportunity to garner attention.  This year, Gmail offered an email autopilot that responds to emails for you, YouTube turned videos upside down, Reddit copied Digg’s homepage, and Twitter’s plan to make money was unveiled.

One of my favorite April Fool’s jokes occurred in 1996, when Taco Bell supposedly purchased Liberty Bell and was going to rename it “Taco Liberty Bell.”  This one was particularly believable because it sounded so plausible with so many other brands at the time putting their names on any and everything.

April Fool’s Day in Your Marketing Calendar
Plan for April Fool’s Day if it fits with your business. Send out a news release of something that is plausible, intriguing, and surprising enough to elicit an emotional response that makes people want to know more.  The best part about releasing fictional news is that you can be as creative as you want.  Beyond conducting the necessary legal due diligence, let your imagination run wild and get your brand noticed on April 1st.

Have you had success with April Fool’s Day marketing?  If so, share your story with a comment or contact me directly.

Why Negative Online Reviews are Good

When it comes to Web 2.0 and social media, many organizations hate the idea of losing control over what is said about their brand or products.  For many years, companies avoided engaging in newer online technologies that facilitate customer feedback in public mediums for this very reason.  How could they these mediums, monitor them all, and get any value out from them?  It was scary and social media scares many companies today.

Even negative review can be good.

Even negative reviews can be good.

Take the Dive

More recently, companies have plunged into social media, but there are still concerns about negative reviews.  I believe this to be counter-intuitive thinking.  If your product is great and your customer service is fantastic, social media is your friend.  If your social media strategy listens to, interacts with, and gives your customers a means to voice their opinions you are on the right track.

When I think about businesses, particularly B-to-C companies, that avoid entering social media out of fear, I pause and question whether their products are good enough to take the plunge.  The truth is social media isn’t for every company, but if your products are good and your customer service is great, negative reviews can actually improve your brand.

Company Case Studies

Companies listening to and engaging with their customers are finding that negative reviews capture nuggets of information that allow marketers to better understand their customer.  From the design, delivery, and return of a product, negative reviews can actually help companies improve their brand image.  Still don’t believe me?  Perhaps these companies case studies will show you how negative reviews can be beneficial.

Rubbermaid  – Rubbermaid has had success listening and responding with better product design.  As this post shows, sometimes it’s not your product that needs help, its communicating how to use it properly.

Dell –  Distinguished itself for bad customer service and as a consequence has structured itself to address it very well online. At last check, Dell employs 35 “community ambassadors” who troll the web listening and conversing with customers on popular social networking sites, blogs, all over the world.

Merck – Merck was very resistant to using blogs and allowing comments on it because of regulatory fear (having to monitor and report posted adverse effects).  At first, the launch of one of Merck’s blogs saw a negative drug review and they wanted to take the comment off the site.  Soon, however, supporters of their life-saving drug flocked to the site criticizing the negative review and singing the drug’s praises and the preponderance of positive comments put the drug in a favorable light.

Negative Reviews Really can be Good

Ultimately, negative reviews are good for:

1. Better understanding your customer’s needs and experience  –  This knowledge will allow you to better communicate usage; features and benefits; and shed light on potential opportunities to make a better product that meets customer needs.

2. Righting what’s wrong  –  Turn an annoyed customer into a delighted one by acting swiftly and unexpectedly.  If you had an issue with a product and posted something online and all of a sudden a someone addressed your issue by going above an beyond your expectations, you’d be impressed. Imagine how one of your customers would feel if you responded in an unexpected way.

3. Generating positive attention – The adage any publicity is good publicity may make you cringe, but the positive publicity your company can garner by addressing the negative review (righting what’s wrong) can turn a frustrated customers into customer advocate.  Think of all the referrals a customer advocate that already has proven they will talk about your brand could generate because of the goodwill you’ve created by addressing their issue.

Web 2.0 is Friendlier than Web 1.0

I enjoy Web 2.0 sites like Facebook and Twitter because they foster accountability and positive interactions.

Sometime ago, people with cryptic usernames like webspider hid behind anonymity when interacting online.  In the Web 2.0 world, people are claiming their identities (which is a great for other reasons given this trend) and using social media sites in a way that more closely mimics real life interactions.

Fraudulent activity in the Web 1.0 world of shadows has given way to a more trustworthy world in Web 2.0.  This trustworthiness is a double-edged sword, but at the end of the day I find the authentic nature of Web 2.0 to be a much friendlier place to visit. The accountability of real identities ensures friendliness is the norm and mitigates the unsavory activity that Web 1.0 anonymity bred.

SmilePositive interactions are commonplace in Web 2.0.  Visits to Facebook and Twitter are full of affirmation and empathetic sentiments.  Following my friend feed of birthday wishes and affirmative comments help keep me up with all the great things going on in my friends’ lives and puts a smile on my face.  Hooray for Web 2.0!

Opportunity Abounds in Depressed Economy

When looking at problems, I try to ask myself how a problem I’m facing could be an opportunity in disguise.

The economic woes are certainly problematic – the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.  But for those who are brave enough to seize opportunities presented by the crisis may find see these woes the driver behind great things to come.

Opportunity Street

Opportunity Street

If you’ve lost your job, you probably have a lot more free time. So aside from trying to land that next job, what can you do?
Why not start a blog, start a project you’ve been putting off, or start a business?

By seizing the opportunity of starting a business during these depressed times, you will find talented people willing to work for less, government programs geared to facilitate your company’s success, and should eventually find pent-up demand for your services and products right around the time you and your company should be hitting their stride.

But how do you get started?  I’d suggest getting a group of recently laid-off talented people together and seeing if you and your colleagues can find an idea that succeed during the revitalization of America. Infrastructure, green technology, and other types of businesses well suited for these times and are waiting to be started.

You may psuh back saying that you don’t have the resources to start a business and I would say that may be true, but there are ways to run your startup with less money than you think you’ll need.  A group of entrepreneurs in New York recently met to discuss their Ultra Light Startups, start-ups that cost less by utilizing technology and support sustainable revenue models.

Also,take the time to beef up your web presence on social networking and social media sites and start building your social equity on Twitter and LinkedIn or any other appropriate site.  There are countless stories of people landing jobs through those they met through these platforms by sharing their knowledge and building up trust.

Think smartly.  Albert Einstein was a smart guy, and even he thinks there’s an opportunity for you when you face difficulty.  His quote “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” is right on target.

Heed Einstein’s advice and discover opportunity in the midst of difficulty and ride it to a successful outcome. The timing couldn’t be better.