How to Take Advantage of Trending Topics

Trending

Social media marketers know the key to reaching a broad audience is through an understanding of what it is their targeted audience wants to see. To remain relevant, note-worthy and timely, you’ll have to do a bit of research to find out what those wants are. Doing so will help you better comment on the topics and become part of a greater conversation.

One of the greatest ways to do this, is to take advantage of trending topics on multiple social media platforms, which, luckily, make it easy for you to determine the data you need. By better understanding your audience, you’ll be able to create content that interacts with them and brings your message to the forefront. Here’s a list of the best places on the internet to gather data to help you become the trendiest spokesperson for your company: [Read more…]

Stop Ripping on @JCPenney’s. #TweetingWithMittens was brilliant.

JC Penney's Mittens

It seems like a lot of bloggers and mainstream media publications are talking about JC Penney’s #TweetingWithMittens stunt on Twitter. Most are saying that it was a misstep. As they complain about it, they fall into the trap perfectly. It’s being talked about by journalists, Twitter users, and even other companies trying to get their own clever Tweets into the mix. The jokes on all of them. This campaign worked beautifully. When you consider that they didn’t spend millions of dollars to advertise during the Super Bowl and are being talked about as if they had, the ROI is very apparent.

The biggest complaint I’ve seen is that it’s not like the Oreo brilliance last Super Bowl. That is irrelevant. Lightning didn’t strike twice and it didn’t have to. People are talking about it. Even while a huge chunk of people were embarrassed for their apparent “drunk Tweeting” escapades, they still talked about it. The only real mistake that JC Penney’s made is that they let the secret out of the bag a bit too soon. Oh well. Nobody’s perfect.

[Read more…]

Adapt Your Business for the New Facebook Algorithm

Algorithm

Today has never been a more important time to solidify your business’ online presence, especially with the progression of Facebook algorithms constantly changing. Social media plays an ever-growing role in not only engaging in customer interaction, but also in building your overall online reputation.

Business owners are having a harder time these days adapting to Facebook’s newest algorithms, stating in their announcements that if companies want reach, they should pay for it. And while many companies are starting to utilize Facebook ads more, there are still numerous methods to gain user visibility that are either completely free or very-low cost. Here are some ways which you can use Facebook to gain more social proof and essentially grow your company: [Read more…]

6 Offline Tactics to Get More Twitter Followers

Twitter Pillows

By now, you probably already realize the vast marketing potential that exists within the Twitter landscape. With 231.7 million active users and 100 million people logging in every single day, there’s a huge attentive audience on Twitter that’s ripe for the marketing picking. And with a new report showing that promoted Tweets boost offline sales by 29 percent, it’s clear that if you take the right approach with your Twitter marketing, you can get some seriously impressive results.

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Of course, the first step to getting your Twitter marketing campaign off the ground is to build an audience of targeted followers. The internet is flooded with articles that will tell you how to do increase your Twitter following, but you’ll notice that almost all of these articles focus on online tactics, such as using a Twitter management tool such as Hootsuite, promoting your Twitter profile in your email signature, getting followers from your blog, and so on. But what many people overlook is that you can go offline to build your Twitter following too.

Here are some of the most effective offline tactics you can use to get more Twitter followers.

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  1. Add your Twitter info to your business card—You still have business cards, right? Despite everything going digital, business cards are still an important marketing tool, and you need to have professionally designed business cards that make a good first impression for your business. However, in this new age, it’s not enough to have the typical old business card with your name, job title and phone number. Your print business cards need to reflect the times we live in, and that means promoting your online social media presence on them. Put your Twitter info on your business card with a call to action to follow your profile.
  2. Put your Twitter link on all your print marketing materials—Your Twitter information should be on all of your marketing materials. That means it needs to be in your brochures, advertisements, flyers…everything. You can either put the entire Twitter url on there (e.g. www.Twitter.com/yourusername) or just your username (@yourusername).
  3. Give in store customers a special offer for following and interacting with you—One of the most often overlooked ways to promote your social media presence offline is in your storefront. Your customers should see information about your Twitter presence throughout your store. For instance, you could have a sign at your checkout stand encouraging customers to follow your brand on Twitter and offering them a special offer for doing so, like 10 percent off their purchase. Or if you run a restaurant or café, you could have little signs at each table promoting your Twitter page.
  4. Integrate Twitter into your direct-mail marketing—Think direct-mail marketing is dead? You’re wrong. When done properly, direct-mail marketing can generate a return on investment that exceeds nearly every other type of marketing. Now, integrating direct-mail marketing with your social media marketing can help increase your results. When sending out any direct mail, make sure to include your Twitter info and push any current social media promotions you might be running. With effective cross-promotion across channels, you can get better outcomes and a better return on your investment.
  5. Use QR Codes to direct people to your Twitter profile—QR Code marketing has become very popular over the past couple of years. Typically, companies use QR Codes to drive their audience to their website or a specific landing page with an offer, but you can also use QR Codes to promote your social media profiles. For example, you could have a marketing piece with a QR Code that says something like “Scan this QR Code to Follow Us on Twitter!”
  6. Promote your profile at networking events—If you attend networking events to build your business, these provide you with a great avenue for building your Twitter following. People go to networking events to connect with others, so meeting people and exchanging Twitter information is a natural fit. Ask for follows at the end of your conversations. This lets you keep the relationship going more easily.

With these six tactics, you’ll be building your Twitter following even when you’re not online. The key, of course, is consistency. It takes time to build a quality Twitter following. And remember, it’s not all about numbers. It’s about quality. Make sure you’re focusing your efforts on attracting targeted followers who will actually be interested in building a relationship with your company.

The One-Two Punch: Print and Social Media Marketing

One-Two Punch

In today’s world, there is a huge focus on social media and Internet marketing.  While the Internet has definitely made it possible for businesses to connect in new ways with clients and customers worldwide, the Internet has not totally replaced traditional print marketing, nor should it.

Social media marketing should not be a stand-alone tool, but instead you should have multiple different marketing channels that are available to you and that you work to seamlessly integrate.  Print marketing and social media marketing, for example, can go hand-in-hand in order to reach the most customers and potential customers.

 

How Print Marketing and Social Media Marketing Can Complement Each Other

Print marketing and social media marketing can integrate in many important ways as long as you have a clear marketing approach that you take across all of your different marketing channels.

Some of the different ways that print marketing can complement your social media marketing include the following:

  • Allow participation in contests in social media that can result in real-world prizes that someone can enjoy. For example, you could run a contest so that everyone who follows you on Twitter or who re-tweets something you post is entered to win a great promotional item from your company.  Promotional products are great advertising because when people use a product with your brand on it, this spreads the word about your brand and company to others. A social media contest to win a promotional product gives you lots of bang for your marketing buck because you generate buzz when people enter (and talk about entering) the contest AND you get the benefit of giving someone a promotional product that can be used. You can purchase such prizes from a company like Quality logo Products out of Aurora.
  • Include hashtags and an easy newsletter signup on all print media that you distribute.  Whenever you send out a direct mail marketing piece, provide a print brochure or otherwise give someone print materials about your company, you should be sure to include hashtags that can invite people to visit your social media channels and talk about the product. You can also include all of your information on websites as well as social media channels and user names (like your Twitter handle) so that people who see your print material can quickly and easily find you online.  Those who receive your print material can then visit you on social media as well.  Be sure to make your social media names representative of your company and simple and easy to remember in order to encourage more people to visit your sites.
  • Build a database of potential customers through both print and social media. When someone obtains print material from you, ask for that person’s email address to be added to your online mailing list using a service like Mail Chimp.  When you get someone’s email address, you can then contact them over the Internet and invite them to follow you on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites.  Likewise, if you are running a contest for those who follow you on social media, consider asking for a physical address (to be kept private, of course, not publicly shared on Facebook or otherwise on social media).  When you get the physical address of a customer or potential customer, this makes it possible for you to send print material.
  • QR CodesUse QR Codes.  QR codes can integrate online and local ads by making it easy for people to access your digital information. A QR code included on print material can allow people to connect with you digitally in a very simple and easy way. For more information on generating and using QR codes, click here.
  • Include social media mentions on print material. If you send out marketing material or newsletters in print, you can include things that people have said on social media about your company. These statements act as a reference, and those receiving the print material may become curious and sign onto social media to learn more about what people are saying about your company.

These are just a few of the key ways that you can integrate print marketing and social media marketing. There are many different approaches to take and the right choice is going to depend upon your specific business model. However, you should not assume that since social media marketing seems to be the wave of the future that it is the only kind of marketing you should do.

A comprehensive marketing plan should include social media marketing, email marketing, a great company website, and print materials. You will have multiple ways to connect to clients and customers, won’t have to worry as much about losing trust because of a change in email address or because of a move, and you can offer content and information that people appreciate in multiple formats. This just makes good business sense.

Defined by the Quest: The Three Types of Marketing in 2014

Quest Marketing

One of the most amazing parts of my job is spending time reading, watching, and testing the practices of others. It’s conceivable that the true secret to my success over the years has less to do with creativity and more to do with listening and deciphering. You have to listen to the channels like Google and Facebook. You have to listen to your customers. You have to listen to your customers’ customers (if you’re an agency like me).

The annoying part of my job is sifting through the recycled techniques and reinvented terminology that surrounds so many marketing practices. In most cases, it’s the same old things repackaged into a different form or applied from a different angle. Those are valuable, but not gamechanging. Still, it’s important to go through them all in order to find the hidden or not-so-hidden gems that arise. The best practices I’ve found over the years haven’t been on the pages of Mashable, Search Engine Watch, or Social Media Today. The real winners have come from some of the least likely sources.

With all of that out of the way, let’s get to the point. There are three types of marketing. Despite all of the various names – push and pull marketing, social media marketing, gravitational marketing, search marketing, influence marketing, content marketing – the easiest and arguably most pure way of looking at it is to tackle everything from a perspective of venue and intent. Where are the people going and what are they doing when they get there? It’s important for me as well as business owners to look at it from this perspective because the collision of the various marketing types is forcing a holistic marketing model to outperform niche marketing techniques or specialized strategies.

In other words, if you look at venue and intent, you can craft your overall marketing strategy much more easily. We look at it as following the quest – what are they doing, why are thy doing it, and how can we be there to help them choose our clients. When people buy your products, they are fulfilling a quest. No, they’re not slaying an actual dragon, but if they’re on a quest to buy a car, then your dealership selling them a car is the culmination of that particular quest.

Here are the three types of marketing for 2014 (well, early 2014 at least – it changes so quickly) that we like to tackle:

Fulfilling the Quest

This is the easiest to understand and often the hardest to achieve because of the simplicity of purpose. Everyone knows that if someone is interested in buying a car, they’re probably going to go to Google, Bing, or one of the various classified sites to start looking. They might go to review sites and OEM sites as well, but for the most part they’re ready to seek the fulfillment of their quest, they’re going to try to look for cars.

Search engine marketing of all types, whether it’s SEO or PPC, gives you the opportunity to drive them to your website so they may fulfill their quest. They aren’t searching for Honda dealers to have fun. They have a purpose. They’re in buying mode. This is where you have to be in order to help them fulfill their quest.

Renewing the Quest

More businesses are starting to do this. Many of them tried to do it in 2009-2012 and failed miserably. Part of it was because the venues such as Facebook, banner advertisements, retargeting, and other forms of “passive” marketing arenas weren’t developed to the point that they are today.

Now, the goals have come full-circle thanks to the overall availability of the internet. Mobile devices have made checking social media sites and reading websites the common activity when there are no activities to do. As people ride a bus, wait in line at the bank, or even perform other mundane activities like watching television, they are also surfing the internet. They aren’t going to Facebook to buy things, but they’re open to the concept. They’re open to having their quest renewed.

When they go to Fox News to see what’s going on and the retargeting ad pops up in front of them, they are reminded that they are still on a quest even if they aren’t actively on it at that point. When the business they visited last week pops up on their Facebook news feed, they get that reiteration that they still need to buy something. It might take a dozen instances of seeing a brand and its message before they actually click through, but the statistics are showing that it’s working. Not every sale is made through Google. In fact, some of the most important and actionable clicks come through other venues when they’re not in active buying mode.

Creating the Quest

Of the three, this is the one that’s ignored the most. It’s the hardest to do and the least rewarding when not done right. However, it can be the most rewarding when companies are able to make it sing. This is one that we focus on in particular because in our industry, nobody is doing it right.

In many ways it’s like good old fashioned advertising. No, it’s not like the commercials that we see on television today. Think along the lines of the early days of television when brands were built by establishing a problem that people will see in the normal course of their day and then having that problem solved either in the middle of the initial marketing effort or after further research.

The reason that it’s so hard today is because of attention span. We have seconds instead of minutes to get the message out through most advertising and marketing venues. There’s no longer time to tell a story…

…or is there?

The art of creating the quest is about putting the right content on the right venues that will reach people and establish a need whether they’re in the market right now or not. With this particular article already breaking the 1,000-word mark, there’s not enough time to go into it in detail. We’ll do that next time. Instead, watch the following video that shows two commercials that worked well in their day. Today, having a minute-long television commercial isn’t practical for most businesses, but taking advantage of the various channels online to accomplish the same goal and better is something that we know will move the needle. It’s hard. That’s the point. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.

More on that next time. For now, here’s the video:

5 Facebook Contests That Increase Holiday Engagement

Opening Presents

There’s no better time than the holiday season to give back to your fans and add a theme to your Facebook content. Closing out 2013 by using Facebook to show off your brand’s personality, offer holiday discounts to fans, and spread holiday cheer is a great way to engage your fans and get momentum for 2014.

Recent data shows that holiday campaigns on social media are both effective and easy to set up:

  • 63% of Facebook users say they’re likely to share a link to a holiday contest or giveaway
  • Fill-in-the-blank status updates receive 182% more engagement than other kinds of status updates
  • It takes 30 seconds to set up a contest using a fill-in-the-blank status update
  • It takes 10-20 minutes to set up a photo contest on Facebook — and 20-40 minutes to set up a multi-day giveaway

~ Information courtesy of our friends at ShortStack

Here are a few ways you can get started today:

1. Fill-in-the-blank contest: You’ll want to use holiday themes here. But even with just holiday topics, there are countless fill-in-the-blanks you can use.  For example:

  • The first Christmas song that pops in my head is _________.
  • The first thing I do when I get up on Christmas morning is _________.
  • The one word the best describes my family during Christmas is _________.

Status updates reel in the comments — and there are no wrong answers. We recommend using a fill-in-the-blank question for daily giveaways whenever possible.

Pro Tip: Our Status Ideas Engine has seasonal suggestions (many of them being perfect holiday contest templates) and a whole category devoted to Timeline Contests.

2. Photo contests: Use an app like ShortStack to host a photo contest. You can have the winner decided by votes or just pick one randomly. It’s a great way to reward fans, and has the added benefit of providing you with tons of user-generated content for further promotions. Make sure to give the contest a theme:

  • Best awkward family holiday photo
  • Best Christmas decorations
  • Craziest holiday weather photos

3. Giveaway a day: The social media equivalent of Oprah’s famous “favorite things,” this type of contest takes place over multiple days. It requires a new prize each day, but you don’t have to be Ellen and offer Beats by Dre or luxury vacations to see the entries pour in. For example, Perfect Balance Therapies banded together with other businesses in their shopping center to give away a daily prize and every post received tons of comments, likes and shares.

4. Nominate a friend: Everyone has a special person in their life whom they’d love to spoil during the holidays. Help your fans do that by hosting a “nominate a friend” contest. Allow them to submit a short essay or photo of the person to enter. Then let people vote on the entries or just pick a random winner.

5. Unlock a coupon: This isn’t a direct contest so to speak, but using an app that allows fans to enter their emails to unlock a coupon code is still giving them a gift, and it could deliver you ROI. Of course, this only works for companies that sell products.

The deciding factor in many of these contests is how much time you have as a community manager. If there isn’t time for your brand to build an app for holiday contests, don’t worry! Keep it simple and just focus on a Timeline contest.  Your fans will thank you for it.

Are you running any holiday campaigns? Comment below with details!

Facebook & 3 Concerns With Video Ads

Facebook Video Advertisements

As it seems, Facebook is climbing onboard the video ad boat and it is a move that is actually very fitting. With such a large audience to consider with this particular website, it was only a matter of time until videos would start to constantly appear on the newsfeeds of users. This is a great financial move on the part of Facebook but I have to wonder how much this move will impact the user base at large. While these concerns have been confirmed, they are concerns with the upcoming change nonetheless.

  1. The change will not bode well for the faltering teen demographic. As it’s been reported in the past, those within this group have utilized the site less and even Facebook itself confirmed the matter. While some of this could be considered a result of young men and women wanting to get away from the vigilant eyes of their Facebook-using parents, it can also be argued that they have started to see more in the way of advertising on a site that is meant for social engagement. If there’s one things teens enjoy, it isn’t a litany of advertisements, in video form or otherwise.
  2. These videos may not be too friendly to older computers. Your typical laptop is not going to sputter out of control and combust if only one website is open but think about the common Internet user. Is that individual going to have one tab alone open on their browser of choice? When that individual is moving from page to page, they expect a smooth experience. While videos can come together as arguably the greatest platform for marketing, it’s reasonable to worry about how much bandwidth it will consume.
  3. No one really asked for video ads on Facebook. Yes, it is true that the videos on a user’s newsfeed will play silently at the onset, which is a smart move that any Long Island advertising agency can support. That being said, Facebook stated that, “Compelling sight, sound and motion are often integral components of great marketing campaigns.” While this might be true, is there a chance that Facebook will implement a change where videos are no longer mute to begin with? The idea of this social media mogul forcing video advertising in the faces of its users will do more bad than good in the long run; this won’t apply to only teenagers, either.

When considering the idea that Facebook will sell these ads for $2 million a day, it’s clear that the company stands a great chance of coming into money. Companies have to understand that this site is where most individuals on the Internet frequent. The idea of utilizing video content for awareness is understandable. Hopefully I am wrong about the concerns listed above and that these ads can benefit everyone.

Thankfully, My Powerpoint Broke in the Middle of My Social Media Presentation

JD Rucker Speaking

Do you see the darkness in the background? That’s a presentation being done without the accompanying Powerpoint. Sixteen minutes into an hour-long presentation, the power on my computer ran out.

I had forgotten my power source at home so an hour before my presentation, I was in Staples buying a new one. It was supposedly compatible and seemed to fit the computer, so I ran with it. We were in a rush and as I prepared to start I didn’t check to make sure it was charging.

It wasn’t.

It was the best thing that could have happened. The remainder of the presentation after the initial awkwardness of standing in front of an empty theater screen was better than it would have been had the presentation not failed. The reason is simple. I was forced to go back to what I knew without assistance of a visual – analyzing individual business situations. Rather than go through the tips and tricks that business owners could use for their social media, I interacted with the audience to find out their specific needs. The point, I believe, was made in a better way than had the presentation gone without a hitch.

Any business can use social media. Any.

Here’s the video. Be sure to give it a thumbs up, if only for the sheer fact that I had to go through 45 minutes without my presentation.

The Pinterest Plugin that You Need on Your Blog Right Now

Pinterest Plugin

I’m not a big fan of redundancy, especially on social media. Under normal circumstances, if you have good plugins and widgets properly placed on your blog, there’s no reason to have others. If you want to annoy me with a blog post, put an inline plugin, a floating plugin, and another one at the bottom. Oh, and throw in a “Share It” widget just in case three ways to share weren’t enough.

After years of fighting, I’m actually going to make an exception to the one-place-to-share-them-all rule. I have two Pinterest plugins on my blogs now and they’re both useful. I have, of course, the standard inline plugin. Some like the floating plugin and that makes sense, but it slows the page down a bit too much for my liking and it often isn’t visible on all devices even if your blog is responsive. I follow the unspoken rule of 5, 5, or 5 sharing options (no more, no less) and I prefer the big-5 for my particular blog (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn) but there are variations to this rule that replace LinkedIn with Tumblr if there’s no business-reason to share your site. Reddit is an obscure option of you have truly viral content of general interest or if you’re the mast of a popular niche.

I recently added the jQuery Pin It Button For Images. I have held off for a long time because I’m not crazy about it graying out the images upon hover and I don’t like that it’s an overlay, but I relented and haven’t looked back since. It works. People are pinning more. More importantly, they’re pinning the right link rather than pulling it from an archive or pinning the individual image itself. It’s light on the load and does have a nice little protection of not allowing your images to be right-clicked and saved.

One might ask why I wouldn’t eliminate Pinterest from the standard sharing section. The image button does not have a count and is only visible if people hover. Some people like doing all of their sharing from the same basic area, so they both stay up. Most importantly, it doesn’t work on all mobile devices.

The best part of the button on the image is that it acts as a good reminder to visitors. On a desktop, it whites out the image and displays the Pin It button when they hover over any image with their mouse. This is a prompt, a call to action, and it actually works very nicely.

Pinterest is quickly becoming one of the most important social networks when it comes to search. Some would say that the inclusion in Bing image results was the last surge of importance necessary to put it over Twitter on the effectiveness scale. Regardless of where you place it exactly on the social signal list, it’s definitely in the top 4. It helps with search engine optimization, period.

The traffic that can come from it can be pretty useless if you’re not selling items to a wide audience, but it’s still a good bulk play. Depending on the topic, it can be the second best traffic-driving social network showing up on analytics.

Nobody knows exactly where Pinterest will go and how long it will stay so important in the whole scheme of things for both search and social, but for now, you might as well take advantage of it while the ride is still hot. This plugin is an easy win.