Tag Archives: social media marketing

Introducing the NEW Facebook Timeline

Courtesy of SOCIAL MEDIA TODAY.

You may have heard that Facebook will be rolling out their new profiles and features, including “Facebook Timeline”. As developers for Facebook, the team at MarketMeSuite got early access to it.  This post explains the new lay out and features. The big change is actually on your own page, not so much on your news feed/homepage. The layout is completely new and different.

1- Cover Photo

The big change is the photo across the entire top of your page, the “Cover Photo”:

As Facebook themselves say, it will now be the first thing anyone visiting your page see. It packs a punch and the visual impact is something not seen o Facebook before. You have complete control over the photo, much like a profile photo and it can be changed and updated as often as you like so you don’t have to worry about it being set once it’s in place. However, it is not something you an opt out of and remove so be sure to pick images you like!

Do note though, that Facebook has banned using this space as a banner for advertising, commercialization or infringement of others.

2- Data Storage

New Facebook will be storing your data is a newfangled manner. All in one place! Whether it’s you photos, videos, your friends list, apps or anything else, they will all be located in the same place. This is not to say it will all be a jumbled mess on your page but rather set in a clear and precise row where you can select the topics of your choice:

It’s definitely much easier to see what you are looking for and access it easily. When things are set out clearly, time and patience are saved, this is something that may make Facebook much more stream lined and efficient.

3- The Activity Timeline

Here is one of the key new features, where the idea of the “Timeline” really comes into its own. The activity timeline shows all of your updates, friend making, photo uploads etc that you have ever done. From the very first day you started using Facebook. It is also where you will be controlling your privacy settings for all posts, past, present and future.

This data can not be seen by any of your friends or other Facebook users so you can rest assure that your information will be secure and private so you can be as selective in your publishing and topics as you like! Be aware, this is not your notification prompts, they remain the same in the top bar.

4- The Real Timeline

The timeline, of everything you do on Facebook and in your day to day life. Whether you log your events in updates or fill in the blanks, add photos or videos, talk to friends, it is all logged here from day 1 to now! Whether you want to scroll back manually or select a date form the side side bar, you can see every single piece of data you wish.

This is great if you wish to locate a certain update, photo, status update or “Liked” data. Knowing you can find it easily but date or just scroll through means you have all your data at your fingertips ready to share with others or keep for yourself.

For Better Or Worse?

This new Facebook has been an eagerly anticipated event. Even though it had not been released to even developers until last week, it’s a popular topic of conversation or many social media fans. And it’s caused a ripple and divide in opinion. Some consider it a masterpiece in social networking future technique. After all you have every single piece of data you would ever need, you have control over it and it gives you far greater control over your social media and online sharing and interaction.  However, others consider that it may be invading too much into ones personal life, as they will be asked to add D.O.B, key events, memories, personal events and feelings that happens outside of the social  network. Does Facebook really need to know this? Is it all just advertising and an act of power at showing how influential they are? But saying that, people have the option to opt out of adding that data and keeping it as limited as possible so do Facebook really hold any sway over its users? People also argue that Facebook make far too many changes and it’s hard for users to keep up with them and be constantly learning new ways of how it works.

Key Take Away

When this new Facebook is pushed out to everyone, the only person whose opinion matters will be yours. You get to pick what you add, which data to share with Facebook. It’s an objective view and it will be a change which will have provoke various outlooks and opinions, sure to be heard through many a blog and article and even among friends. One thing is for sure, it’s a change that you will have to get used to, love it or hate it.

Who Wrote This Article?

I’m Nikki and I work at MarketMeSuite, the social media marketing dashboard. We have some Great news! We are now free! Please check it out and be sure to let me know what you think!

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Why the QR code is Failing (and How To Fix It)

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Courtesy of Sean X. Cummings and iMediaConnection.

They have become the standard violator appearing on advertising; in the corner of print ads, across billboards, on buses, or in pieces of direct mail — even peppered throughout this article. You’ve seen them; that little block of even littler squares. Unfortunately the technology behind QR codes was not invented for advertising and marketing; we are just co-opting its usage, and it shows.

From the relative lack of public understanding of what they even are, to the dearth of creativity in their usage, the QR code is destined to become just the little box that geek built. But if it does go the way of CueCat, only we are to blame. Here’s why.

The current use of QR codes in advertising is…
I could finish that statement with “stupid,” “useless,” “uncreative,” or “uninspiring.” Surprisingly, that is not news to anyone at advertising agencies or brands. QR codes seem to be a last ditch effort; an ignored piece of “Hey, throw a QR code on there that leads to our website.” But why bother? The general public seems largely oblivious to what they are used for, and why they are on all those ads. In my informal “on the street” survey of 300 people last month, I held up a sign with a QR code on it and the phrase: “Free gift if you can tell me what this is.”

I was not asking them to decipher it, just tell me what it actually was. Here are the results:

  • 11 percent correctly answered QR code or quick response code
  • 29 percent responded with “Some barcode thingy”
  • Seven percent guessed some variant of “Those things you stare at that get 3D when you cross your eyes. What picture is it? I can’t seem to get it”
  • The remaining 53 percent tried everything from a secret military code, Korean (uh really?), to an aerial street map of San Francisco

My survey was conducted in San Francisco, the veritable Mecca of the planet for tech, so it only goes downhill from here. When I asked those who knew it was some type of “barcode” how they could decipher it, 35 percent answered “with their phone.” When I asked them to actually “read” it with their phone? Only 45 percent of those were able to do it, and it took an average of 47 seconds for them to take out their phone and find the application to read the QR code — not exactly a “quick response.” Remember that agencies are putting these on moving buses and highway billboards.

To read the rest of the article, CLICK HERE.

10 Tips for Facebook and Twitter Success

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Courtesy of Julie Glassman and IMediaConnection.

There’s no denying the importance of social media. You get it. Your team gets it. The question is, do your customers care to get it, or are they tired of being asked to “like” everyone and everything they meet? The big problem nowadays, with endless tweets, friends, pages, profiles, and tags — is how to engage desired audiences in such a way that your brand is perceived as relevant.

In a world defined largely by social media — from business reviews to cultural revolutions — you cannot simply be where your customers are for the sake of being there. You must be there for a reason, and that reason must not be entirely, if at all, self-serving. Social interactions with customers must be authentic and transparent, and must also offer something real in exchange for eyeballs, consideration, and loyalty. Every “like” must be viewed as currency, and audiences must be rewarded for their willingness to accept you with something they deem valuable.

What steps must you take to be perceived as genuine? It’s simple really… You actually need to be genuine. Forgotten how? Here are 10 simple things to keep in mind.

The old, new truism: Know your audience. But for real this time.
Ever thought about your customers in a way that has nothing to do with your business? Ever wonder who they are when they are not buying your products or services? Do you know what matters to them intrinsically, from saving whales to raising children? If not, it’s high time you found out. Connecting is not simply about getting on Facebook or Twitter, but interacting with your customers, in authentic ways that resonate with them — deeply. How? In a move that may seem antithetical to traditional marketing wisdom, when it comes to social media, it’s better to be reactive than proactive. Instead of planning your next big social media stunt, spend some quiet time observing your customers’ social behavior online. Kick back, hang out, listen, learn — and then interact. The simple act of getting to know your audience means knowing what works for them… and, more importantly, what doesn’t. This will likely save you much time, money, and embarrassment in the future.

Choose your friends wisely
You’re only as good as the company you keep, so choose wisely. With all the groups and influencers available to you via social media, make sure to align yourself with those befitting of “who” you are and how you want to be perceived. Befriend appropriate influencers and communities, in real and meaningful ways, and their followers will ultimately extend their trust to your brand. In social media, not all press is good press. What matters most today is not just word-of-mouth, but the right words out of the right mouths.

Look at yourself through rose-colored glasses
So what if you sell shoes. You can also sell something far more important. Emotion. Ever wonder how Zappos created such a loyal following? By thinking about employees and customers with heart. In other words, Zappos deems itself not a retailer, but a customer service organization that, oh, by the way, sells stuff. How does this translate to social media? Zappos, a living, breathing, feeling organization, engages customers via prolific, company-wide Twitter use, providing a transparent, unedited glimpse, at the caring, fun, emotive employees (CEO included), behind the curtain. They also actively solicit customer feedback, via Facebook, so that users always feel heard — and, better yet, listened to and understood. The rewards for keeping it real. Bet you’ve bought something from Zappos in recent months, if not weeks or days?

What can we learn from this? No matter the offering, the important element is to identify one or two things that matter most to desired audiences. Whether it’s emotion, social conscience, giving back, or something as simple as savings, get it out there, to the right people in authentic, fun, simple, and social ways.

In the words of Sally Field, “You like me.” Well, no… actually they don’t.
According to a March 2011 Forrester Research report on the “digital behavior of young consumers,” people simply do not want to be friends with brands. So how do you earn the trust and endorsement of customers? Give them a reason to like you. Forget about what you are selling and focus your time and energy on your winning personality and character instead. You know how the hot girl always ends up with the smart, funny guy? Well, social media typically takes off when it entertains, endears, and ingratiates. More often than not, connecting legitimately comes down to exposing your weaknesses, taking yourself less seriously, making someone laugh, and just palling around.

Think about it: Would you want to be friends with your corporate persona?

Ask not what your customers can do for you, but what you can do for your customers Social media is not just about acting sincere; it’s about being sincere. It’s not enough to simply say you care about something, but rather to demonstrate that you actually care. Identify what customers want or need from you and make it happen. Create opportunities for meaningful, two-way conversations. Solicit feedback, ask questions, get audiences involved in decision-making, or partner with someone or something that matters. Make sure, however, that your connections and queries are relevant and congruous to your existing brand, business, and practices and always, always follow through. If you ask what customers want or need, you must be prepared to change. Fake it and audiences will call BS on you faster than they can “unlike” you.

Conversely, just because customers say it’s so, doesn’t always mean they’re right. Use your head. You’re in charge for a reason. Consider audience feedback and needs in aggregate and through a seasoned marketing, sales and business lens. Just because one or two cyber bullies make a lot of noise doesn’t mean you can’t simply cover your ears. Case in point, Starbucks new logo is just fine people.

You care about me because I care
Brands need to stand up and take notice of things outside of themselves — with authenticity and humility. You can’t simply choose the cause of the day — “Hey look, we’re green” — but rather, pick something because it fits seamlessly with who you are and what you, and your audience, actually care about. Corporate social responsibility, awareness and action, must be congruent with the brand. Then, and only then, will it be perceived as real, engaging, inclusive, thoughtful, long-term and social.

When the going gets tough, go online
The web can be a dangerous place for brands these days. Ratings, reviews, rumors, pictures, video — consumers are more in control than ever before, and managing public opinion and perception can be next to impossible. That’s why being a legitimate, accepted participant in the online lives of key customers and influencers is mission critical. In other words, when things go wrong, you can turn to your “friends.” Social media puts you back in the driver’s seat, in real time, as you react (carefully) to the events, press, reviews, snafus, changes, and developments that affect consumer opinion and confidence. Haste, transparency, honesty, humility, and reverence can keep a potentially harmful story from going viral.

Change is good
Online, loyalty is not dependable. In fact, it means very little. What’s here today is most certainly gone tomorrow. Brands must keep their eyes on the ball, tracking trends, watching for audience fluctuations and never feeling too safe, too smug, or too comfortable. The truth is, you can never nail social media. One success can be followed by a major failure. The good news is that the web allows you to change anything and everything on the fly, and updates to your social media interactions and strategies needn’t be expensive nor ground breaking. Be careful not to be all over the map. Remember who you are and why audiences like you in the first place, and then focus on being relevant, fresh, inventive, and always one step ahead.

One cannot survive on social media alone
Don’t forget that real life matters. Social media does not exist in a vacuum and does not a successful company make. Everything you do online requires support; reinforcement and follow-through at other available customer touchpoints. Don’t expect users to know about, or understand, your social media initiatives without proper support elsewhere. The appropriate mix of promotional vehicles and campaigns is always a good idea. What’s more, even the best social networking cannot save you from a failed product, customer service interaction or business snafu. People will talk, so mind your Ps and Qs, socially and otherwise.

It’s social media, not brain surgery
In the end, perhaps we’re over-thinking things a bit. Do we plan this much before we go to a dinner party or a BBQ? Do we think about what we’re going to say when we meet a friend for coffee or a beer? Not really. So, what’s the most important lesson to be learned here? Get to know your audience, interact, engage, be real, and have fun doing so. It’s social media folks! Get the best version of yourself out there and simply be social.

Julie Glassman is the founder and partner of BRAND Consulting.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

Don’t Make These Social Media Blunders

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Courtesy of SignOnSanDiego.com

Social Media is hot these days. No matter what the size of your business, you should be using Facebook, Twitter, blogging, YouTube and LinkedIn daily to get your content online, so you can be easily found and “shared.” Social Media should be considered another marketing tool, and it involves planning, strategic thinking and tracking metrics just as any another element in your marketing mix.

The mistake comes when a business jumps too quickly to get its social sites up. Starting a social media marketing campaign without prior thought and planning cannot yield the results you are looking for. If you don’t start with a goal, how will you know when it has been met?

Here are the top five social media mistakes that businesses make:

No social media marketing plan

Once you determine your goal for your social sites, it’s much easier to determine who in the company should manage it: marketing or customer service or both. Don’t be afraid to have multiple people at your company responsible for different aspects of your social media voice. There are many reasons a business wants to have a social media presence:

• Build a loyal community

• Allow its customers a way to provide instant feedback

• Be a valuable resource for information in your niche

• Offer limited time coupons

• Provide faster customer service

Lack of posting frequency to social sites

Once you create the sites, how often should you post to them? It depends on how quickly you want to improve your search engine optimization (SEO) and grow your network. Here are some best practices:

• Blog: Once a week minimum. Once per day is best.

• Twitter: Once a day minimum. Three to six times per day is best, spread out throughout the day.

• Facebook: Once a day minimum. Three times per day is best, morning, afternoon and evening.

• LinkedIn: Personal profiles should have status updates daily. Groups should post a weekly discussion topic.

• YouTube: Post three times per week if it’s a short update (three minutes or less). Once a week if longer Q&A or “Product Review” type format.

Not using keywords

Social media is so much bigger than building a community of loyal “followers.” The smart business knows that keywords are the way to be found online. To improve your SEO, you must use your keywords often. Many businesses don’t realize that Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn can all be used as search tools, and if you conduct a keyword search while you are logged in to one of your social sites, you’ll get results within that site, based on your query. All business social sites are public and 100 percent indexed by Google, so tweets and posts can come up in natural search results.

Lack of engagement

Your social sites won’t yield the results you are looking for unless people are participating. Participation includes:

• “Liking,” sharing or adding comments to your Facebook posts

• “Retweeting” your Twitter tweets

• Subscribing and commenting on your blog or YouTube videos

Your posts should tell people what you want them to do. Always reply back when they have taken the time to comment. Be personal and add value.

No call to action

When people find your content online be sure to tell them what to do next, e.g., call you, fill out your online form, subscribe to an e-newsletter or download a free report. How will you entice and capture them to get them into your sales funnel? Make sure your offer “adds value” and tells your visitor “what’s in it for them” so they will be more likely to respond. Provide valuable content, build relationships and don’t always sell.


What Makes a Blog Successful?

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It’s a question that many people would like to have the answer(s) to. After all, the proliferation of blogs—giving way for an entire new cyber-term, the ‘blogosphere’—is one of the main engines for the expansion of the internet itself. In this context, there are obviously going to be more and more people searching for the ways and the means to turn their ordinary blog into a successful blog.

At the most basic level, creating a successful blog is much the same as creating any kind of successful website, though there are certain special considerations due to the niche that blogs occupy and the purpose which they have.

Let’s delve into some of the finer details, then, that can help you achieve your blogging goals:

For starters, don’t try to create a mega-blog that covers any and all topics, but rather curtail the focus of a given blog (and, if you really want to blog about other topics, create separate blogs for each). This is basically an issue of avoiding biting off more than you can chew—a move that will most surely prevent you from achieving a successful blog.

Highly-ranked blogs are inevitably those that focus in on something quite specific and offer highly relevant information on that topic and only that topic; follow this model and you will be setting up the right kind of framework for your blog.

Secondly, make sure that you’re aware of the general buzz in your particular area/topic when you start writing your blog entries. A blogger that knows a lot about their particular topic is going to be the blogger that can actually pump out the kind of highly relevant information we mentioned above, so don’t just start rambling before you’ve done a little reading and researching.

As a part of this process, it is a good idea to go ahead and subscribe (RSS feeds, etc.) to a few different blogs, something that will help you stay updated. At the same time, as you go about discovering all the different voices of the blogosphere that pertain to your niche, you’ll want to try to get the word out about your blog in particular, and whenever/wherever you can drop a link back to your page (and have the owner of that other blog approve it and post it to their blog) you’ll be doing yourself a solid.

Then, there is the simple issue of the actual written content you post in your entries: perhaps nothing will be quite as important for achieving success as this. Not only are you going to want to post new content to your blog on a regular, vigorous basis, but you’re going to want to make sure that the content is quality: well-written, truthful, and relevant to your blog’s topic.

You’re going to need to weave a few keywords in there and use labels/tags in order to further enhance the visibility and quality of your blog.

And don’t forget: you’ll want to always make your entry titles as catchy as possible, and to include keywords in the titles and in the first few sentences of each and every post—that’s where they really, really matter!

Courtesy of Social Media Today.

Beyond Paid Media: Marketing’s New Vocabulary

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Courtesy of McKinsey Quarterly

Changes to the way consumers perceive and absorb marketing messages will force marketers to change not only their thinking but also the way they allocate spending and organize operations.

NOVEMBER 2010 • David Edelman and Brian Salsberg

Source: Marketing & Sales Practice

The rough guide to marketing success used to be that you got what you paid for. No longer. While traditional “paid” media—such as television and radio commercials, print advertisements, and roadside billboards—still play a major role, companies today can exploit many alternative forms of media. Consumers enamored of a product may, for example, create “earned” media by willingly promoting it to friends, and a company may leverage “owned” media by sending e-mail alerts about products and sales to customers registered with its Web site. In fact, the way consumers now approach the process of making purchase decisions means that marketing’s impact stems from a broad range of factors beyond conventional paid media.

These expanding media forms reflect dramatic changes in the way consumers perceive and absorb marketing messages.1 As a result, some strategic-marketing frameworks—such as the popular “paid, owned, earned” one—are in serious need of updating. Many marketers use this framework to distinguish different ways of interacting with consumers, forms of financing, and measures of performance for each contact. Yet the paid, owned, earned framework increasingly looks too limited. How, for example, should a marketing strategist for a company react to requests from other companies to purchase advertising space on its product sites? How should a company deal with online activists when they take hold of a product or campaign to push a negative emotional response against it?

Two media types must therefore be added to the framework: “sold” and “hijacked.” These new forms of media, which demand sustained investment and attention, challenge the traditional strategies, structure, and operations of most marketing organizations. Yet marketers should view their expanding range of media options not only as a challenge but also as an opportunity worth grasping, to encourage readers to share content or even create their own.

Five forms of media

Too many companies view marketing plans as little more than an exercise in where and when to buy media placement. Yet as the number of digital interactions increases, marketers must recognize the power that lies beyond traditional paid media (Exhibit 1).

Paid,owned, earned

Paid media include traditional advertising and similar vehicles: a company pays for space or for a third party to promote its products. This market is far from dying; options for marketers are expanding exponentially with the emergence of more targeted cable TV, online-display placement, and other channels, not to mention online video and search marketing, which are attracting greater interest. The second category, owned media, consists of properties or channels owned by the company that uses them for marketing purposes (such as catalogs, Web sites, retail stores, and alert programs that e-mail notifications of special offers).

Earned media are generated when the quality or uniqueness of a company’s products and content compel consumers to promote the company at no cost to itself through external or their own “media.” Starbucks, for example, announced in July that its Facebook fan base exceeded ten million people, the highest of any US corporation. The company directly links its recent strong performance to its social-networking efforts and “crowd sourced” innovations such as “My Starbucks Idea,” a Web site where anyone can suggest ways to make the company better. Similarly, Honda Japan undertook a promotion on the social-networking site Mixi, where more than 630,000 people registered for information about the launch of its new CR-Z vehicle. The company automatically added “CR-Z” to these users’ Mixi login names (for example, “Taro CR-Z”) and gave them a chance to win a car. Nonregistered users wondered why people suddenly had login names incorporating CR-Z. Thanks to the buzz, prelaunch orders reached 4,500 units, and actual sales topped 10,000 units in the first month.

Sold

Paid and owned media are controlled by marketers touting their own products. For earned media, such marketers act as the initial catalyst for users’ responses. But in some cases, one marketer’s owned media become another marketer’s paid media—for instance, when an e-commerce retailer sells ad space on its Web site. We define such sold media as owned media whose traffic is so strong that other organizations place their content or e-commerce engines within that environment. This trend, which we believe is still in its infancy, effectively began with retailers and travel providers such as airlines and hotels and will no doubt go further. Johnson & Johnson, for example, has created BabyCenter, a stand-alone media property that promotes complementary and even competitive products. Besides generating income, the presence of other marketers makes the site seem objective, gives companies opportunities to learn valuable information about the appeal of other companies’ marketing, and may help expand user traffic for all companies concerned.

Hijacked

The same dramatic technological changes that have provided marketers with more (and more diverse) communications choices have also increased the risk that passionate consumers will voice their opinions in quicker, more visible, and much more damaging ways. Such hijacked media are the opposite of earned media: an asset or campaign becomes hostage to consumers, other stakeholders, or activists who make negative allegations about a brand or product. Members of social networks, for instance, are learning that they can hijack media to apply pressure on the businesses that originally created them. High-profile examples involve companies ranging from Nestlé (whose Facebook page was hijacked) to Domino’s Pizza (a prank online video of two employees contaminating sandwiches appeared on YouTube).

In each case, passionate consumers tried to persuade others to boycott products, putting the reputation of the target company at risk. When that happens, the company’s response may not be sufficiently quick or thoughtful, and the learning curve has been steep. Toyota Motor, for example, mitigated some of the damage from its recall crisis earlier this year with a relatively quick and well-orchestrated social-media response campaign, which included efforts to engage with consumers directly on sites such as Twitter and the social-news site Digg.

The impact of the media revolution

The changing role of older media and the emergence of newer ones extend the marketer’s role well beyond the allocation of budgets and channels. Marketers today require a deep understanding of how consumers engage with different types of media at each stage of the journey toward a purchase decision. What’s more, these different kinds of media are related and interact with one another (Exhibit 2), so marketing plans and capabilities must adapt and evolve. Paid, owned, earned, sold, and hijacked media are evolving in four primary ways.

First, different kinds of media are becoming more integrated. The reach of paid media, for example, means that they will increasingly serve as feeders into owned-media hubs, where marketers can offer a more engaging experience, get consumers interested in products, and pivot into an ongoing and more targeted stream of contacts with users or members. New ways to connect with customers, for example, are transforming traditional relationship management by requiring marketers to interact with consumers through multiple forms of media in increasingly personalized ways. JetBlue has promoted its Twitter offering through many channels, for instance, and now has about 1.6 million followers seeking a regular feed of special deals for tickets. This approach has given JetBlue the ability to deliver timely coupons at a minimal variable cost, reducing its reliance on expensive paid media while fostering closer relationships with consumers.

Second, new publishing models are emerging because the increasing complexity of consumer needs and of efforts to address them means that marketers can’t do everything—and they are leaning on media providers for help. In what’s almost a throwback to the days of the soap opera,2 marketers are partnering with media publishers to create deeper marketing experiences for consumers and to obtain content and ad sales support. Computer maker Dell and automobile manufacturer Nissan, for example, worked with the Sundance Channel to create a television talk show hosted by Elvis Costello to attract their target demographic. With ads that seamlessly blended into the show’s content, Dell and Nissan not only gained exposure to a highly engaged audience but also shifted the perception of their brands to connect with late-stage baby boomers and with generation Xers.

In addition, applications on devices such as Apple’s iPhone are spawning tools that provide useful information. For example, eBay’s Red Laser generates a list of prices for any product whose bar code has been scanned by a mobile phone. Beverage companies show where their products are available by overlaying icons onto maps on the screens of mobile phones. In Japan, food manufacturers can increase sales across entire product categories through marketing collaborations with platforms such as Cookpad, the country’s leading online recipe site, with nine million members, more than 40 percent of whom are women in their 30s.

Third, marketing experiences are becoming more personally relevant. At first glance, personal conversations and experiences wouldn’t seem to be the best way of getting the scale and reach most marketers crave. But new kinds of media enable richer interactions and improve targeting, so they encourage consumers to share the things that make them happy. McDonald’s in Japan, for example, has developed expertise in the use of Twitter and other blogging platforms to promote new products and promotions by leveraging its huge fan base to talk about how much they love the company’s food. While this fan promotion is sometimes spontaneous, it’s often facilitated and encouraged by providing these fans with free meals. In this way, paid- and owned-media efforts (such as blog and Twitter campaigns) make consumers so enamored of McDonald’s products that the company generates a significant amount of earned media.

In a related phenomenon, the evolution of new kinds of media means that consumers are engaging more often in real-time conversations, particularly on social networks and other digital platforms. Helping consumers to express themselves is a scary and significant reversal of the control marketers have traditionally tried to maintain over brands. While most marketers are already exploring tools to monitor conversations in social media, they need to develop triage and action engines to ward off people seeking to hijack their media.

One consumer electronics company, for example, has recognized that every review or rating posted about its products creates the possibility of a hijacked conversation. It now responds to all comments within 24 hours: positive feedback gets a thank you, an invitation to become a Facebook friend, and special offers; negative reviews get explanations of how to fix issues, instructions on how to navigate an interface more easily, or follow-up questions to learn more about what the consumer didn’t like. Some hotel chains, recognizing the importance of travel sites (such as the popular TripAdvisor), likewise encourage satisfied guests to post comments online, while employing staff to follow and answer negative comments. These conversations become an interactive public-research project to gather information for future improvements. In effect, the evolution of media types means that a company’s marketers are now on the front lines of its efforts to deliver outstanding goods and services.

The challenge for marketing organizations

Marketers offer rich and complex experiences. But the consumer’s standards for the consistency of information encountered in different venues, the way it is provided in each of them, and its usefulness are becoming more stringent daily. Likewise, publishing, the brand experience, cultivating advocacy among customers, and generating personalized leads are now more important. These realities create four priorities for marketing organizations:

  • Think strategically about the role of each media type. As companies move more aggressively into, for instance, owned and earned media, the role of paid media should change: it may be used to drive consumers toward a company’s owned media or, more sparingly, as a “booster” for new-product launches and other promotions. That may require tighter coordination with ad agencies regarding the design and placement of marketing content. To reflect the influx of traffic to owned media, companies may also need to change their budgets and operations.
  • Rebalance time and resources. Owned media require patience, cultivation, and sustained engagement. Like the products of any good online publisher, a marketer’s owned media need a steady stream of traffic-building programs, fresh content, and optimized design. Focused management, sufficient budgets, and appropriate performance metrics are needed to build owned-media platforms, whether they’re foundational search or social-media efforts, site hubs, alerts, or feedback-gathering communities, to name a few possibilities.
  • Develop a clear community or social-networking strategy. Companies need an agreed-upon set of rules and principles for managing and responding to single or coordinated attacks against the brand. It’s imperative to appoint an experienced community or social-networks manager who knows in advance how to coordinate with marketing, public relations, legal, and other relevant units and has the required authority and decision-making rights. The cost of failing to respond effectively can be high. One multinational company, for example, responded to accusations about its business practices by arguing with its accusers on its Facebook page, even blocking and deleting posts. That move only heightened public interest in the dispute, in effect hijacking the page until the company apologized.
  • Improve both the art and the science of marketing. Debates among pundits of marketing typically focus on whether it is an art or a science (and thus on the relative importance of creativity and analytics). Actually, the bar is rising for both art and science, and a third dimension—execution—is growing in importance as the complexity of marketing escalates and its practitioners seek to deliver a richer consumer experience. This goal calls for teams that can design campaigns for a number of very different kinds of channels, from TV to social networks to search optimization. Data must be used more effectively to reach decisions and to apply them. Technology must make the spending of each dollar more efficient in the face of greater complexity. Quality must be defined and measured, and risks mitigated and managed.

Of course, the investment in hiring staff to answer every social-media posting may be tough to justify at first, but this approach will probably become critical for mitigating the threat of brand hijacking. And to deny negative reviews and comments legitimacy, companies must be able to make the justifiable design or service improvements consumers seek.

The list of challenges is long, and priorities will vary dramatically, depending on an organization’s competitive dynamics, willingness to experiment, and skills. Few of the necessary changes can be made through mandates from on high; they must happen organically. Ideally, chief marketing officers and other leaders would put together fresh, well-crafted pilots and get the support to invest in breakthroughs that can be applied at scale.

The proliferation of media types gives marketers a dramatically richer arsenal to deepen the engagement of consumers with brands cost effectively. Stepping up to meet the high bar of expectations, however, requires a renewed focus on execution, coordination, speed, and performance.
 

About the Authors

David Edelman is a principal in McKinsey’s Boston office, and Brian Salsberg is a principal in the Tokyo office.

How to Use YouTube to Market Your Business

When you think of YouTube you probably envision mindless videos of dancing cats, babies that bite their brothers, or epic schoolyard battles. What you probably don’t know is that YouTube is the second most popular search engine in the world right now. Yep that’s right; they are behind Google and considered a search engine of sorts. More and more entrepreneurs are realizing that marketing with YouTube is an excellent way to promote their business.

If you’re considering adding marketing with YouTube to your own small business marketing program, here are a few things you’ll need to know:

  • Setting up a YouTube Channel  [tweetmeme]

When you sign in to YouTube the first thing you need to do is set up a channel. This will allow visitors to subscribe to your content and get updates whenever a new video is uploaded. It also provides you with your own little place on the web to upload as many videos as you like. It is something you can refer people to who are new to your business.

To the side of your videos you will have a short user profile. This is where you can direct users back to your blog or website. This is a highly effective means of getting traffic to your site. Regardless of what sort of business you are in you are likely going to get a good number of website visitors from YouTube. Creating your own small business marketing YouTube channel is akin to creating your own television channel would have been twenty years ago. The only difference is there are a lot more choices these days so you’ve got to keep it interesting.

  • Introductory YouTube Video

After you have signed up, registered, and set up your channel it is time to start making those videos. Silly gimmicky stuff gets people going on YouTube and a little novelty never hurts. Keep in mind, however, that you are making a video for small business marketing purposes; your video is intended to introduce people to your company, so keep the novelty to a moderate level.

Though you want to keep things pretty professional don’t be afraid to talk about personal things and to keep it light. Don’t include any high pressure sales messages, especially in your first video. These days, consumers respect a business person who will talk to them like they are people. They like to know who you are and what you stand for and not just see you as another faceless mega-corporation.

  • Recurring YouTube Videos

After you have set up a decent introduction, introducing yourself and your company, you can start uploading videos that are more content based that include a subtle sales message. You want to keep all of your videos short, if you can. Two to three minutes is standard, but for a small business marketing video with an educational message, four to five minutes might be necessary. If you can’t get your content into a four minute video, try separating it into several segments.

Remember, your YouTube video should not be one long commercial. Your prospects have a problem and you want to introduce them to your solution. Try to embed your advertisement into something that is meaningful and informational. You might consider using YouTube as a form of tutorials on how to use your product, safety advice for your product, tips on using your particular solution, etc. I’ve even seen a few businesses create their own reality show. The sky is the limit.

  • Add Tags and Annotations

Annotations and tags are an important aspect of distributing your YouTube video, especially if you’re using it for small business marketing purposes. Annotations appear on the screen in textual form throughout the video. This is a good place to insert humorous comments about the video, which viewers love, or remind viewers of you web address.

Tags are basically search phrases. These are the terms that you want to be connected to your site. Though a few general terms are alright, be certain to include as many specific phrases as possible. This will improve your rankings and your chances of having your video found by your prospects who are searching for your solution.

YouTube has become an excellent tactic to add to your small business marketing arsenal. It’s free to get started and relatively easy to set up. The most time consuming aspect will be creating your videos, but it just takes a little time and ingenuity to get the ball rolling. So go ahead and give marketing with YouTube a shot.

  • Check Out Our YouTube Channel

Want to see what a YouTube channel can do for your own small business marketing efforts? Have a look at what we’ve done with our own channel – we use it to present tips that small business owners can implement to improve their own marketing tactics. Check it out right here http://www.youtube.com/karenscharf.

Take a look at VerticalResponse’s channel, VRtube for more ideas on how you can market your business with YouTube.

Courtesy of VerticalResponse.com

 

About the Author:
Karen Scharf is the founder of Modern Image Communications. Her company provides services that include business and marketing plan development, newsletter publication, copywriting services, graphic design, info-product development and strategic planning.

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