Use Images to Improve Social Media Marketing

Photographer

It’s no secret that images are a powerful tool in human communication. Numerous psychological studies have found that our brains not only process images more quickly than text, but images also register with us on an emotional level. Throughout the history of humanity written text has only been around for a few thousand years, while visual stimulants and images have been around for tens of thousands of years. Even cavemen used images, shown in the paintings they left behind.

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The Social Media Resolution

Social Media Resolution

Let’s keep this one short and sweet. If you run a business, you fall into one of four categories:

  1. Those who are using social media and seeing mixed or minimal results
  2. Those who have used social media in the past and stopped because they saw mixed or minimal results
  3. Those who have never really bought into social media
  4. Those who are killing it on social media

It’s easy for me to say that the last option is the one that just about every business should be striving towards, but the reality is that if everyone was in category four, it would actually mean that everyone was in category one. Despite the vast nature of social media, there is still a finite amount of room on news feeds, Twitter streams, and other visible portions of social media for businesses. It’s for this reason that I am glad most fall into the first three categories – it makes my job for clients much easier.

With that said, there definitely needs to be more in the last category and the likely reason that there aren’t is because so many fall into the second category. Whether on your own or through a vendor/guru hack, you’ve lost faith in social media. That was actually okay in 2012. It became less okay in 2013. In 2014, successful businesses will make it into category four or they’ll find it harder to keep their status as a “successful business”. Everything is migrating to include social as a major component. If you rely on organic search to drive traffic to your site, for example, you may will soon find that your traffic is dropping if it isn’t already. Google and Bing are betting high on social and they’re leaning towards social signals and page/profile quality as major components of their algorithm.

Search is just the start. This is the part that amazes me the most. There are local businesses that are spending thousands, even tens of thousands of dollars on digital advertising every month but they can’t seem to justify a couple thousand dollars to dedicate to a killer social media presence and integrated search engine optimization components. It’s the most trackable, tangible form of digital advertising and marketing – the smoke and mirrors required to try to prove value are gone (at least for some vendors/gurus). Make it real or go home – that’s what we’re faced with today.

In 2014, make it a priority to re-evaluate your position. Take a pitch or two. Read some blog posts. This isn’t about buying into a trend, though that alone should be pretty obvious. It’s about reading the writing on the wall – I see so many individuals who are active on social media, yet are unable to see the value of social media for their business. It’s not your fault. You simply haven’t been shown the real deal.

Find the real deal about social media. Your business success may depend on it.

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!

Treat Search, Social, and Content Marketing Strategy as a Living Organism

Marketing Units

The merging of search, social, and content marketing into a single digital marketing strategy has been happening for years. Intuitively, many of us have been guided by this fact to create the type of strategies that bring the disciplines together appropriately. As the evolution of the three reach a tipping point that is breaking down a good chunk of the practices of the past, it has become paramount to gain an understanding of how everything works together and why the flow of data between each has such a tremendous effect on digital marketing as a whole.

To do this properly, it’s becoming necessary to break it all down into units. The easiest way to understand this is to compare digital marketing strategy to a living organism. Every action has an effect of some sort on all of the parts. With this comprehension, you’ll be better equipped to make decisions about how to craft the overarching strategy as well as how to organize the individual actions.

 

A Quick Breakdown

If the model to make this work is like a living, breathing organism, then understanding what the different units are can help you grasp how it all plays together. We’re going to be breaking them down individually then bringing them together as a whole. In preparation, here’s a partial list of the individual units that we’ll be covering.

  • Inbound Links
  • Business Content
  • Useful Content
  • Company Blog
  • Site UI and Navigation
  • Social Media Profiles
  • Social Media Shares
  • Customers and Visitors

Over the next few weeks we will be breaking down how each of these works individually to support the whole. In the meantime, start thinking along the lines of holistic processes rather than individual tasks. While the tasks themselves are important, how they affect the entire body of marketing processes is the key to finding success.

Social Curation: Monetizing Instagram One Hashtag at a Time

Instagram

With over 130 million users, the Facebook owned photo sharing app, Instagram is being utilized by 67% of top brands. Marketers have been swift to realize the potential impact of Instagram by quickly integrating it into their offsite social strategies.

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Awesome Content on the Way and Why I Haven’t Been Posting Much Lately

Very Busy

The worlds of automotive social media and automotive search marketing are converging. We’ve known this for a while and I’ve been preparing for the collision in order to help our clients make the most out of the changes. The only thing I wasn’t expecting was how tremendously complex it all was going to be.

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Reaching People on Social Media is About Consistency

Tortoise and the Hare

There’s an exciting thing that can happen when you first start advertising on social media. The organic measures of exposure are quickly fading away, so when you get that first boost of exposure as a result of spending very little money, it can become addicting.

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Stop Treating Mobile Like Social Media’s Ugly Red-Headed Step-Sister

Wendy's Girl

Raise your hand if you remember looking to web site analytics to decide if you needed a “mobile strategy”.  Honestly, that ship has sailed.

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Don’t Knock Social Media: It’s More Beneficial Than You Think

Tornado

It seems like social media sites either receive great reviews or horrible reviews—there’s no in between. Critics cite Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as the causes for poor social skills in children and adults. They also say social media produces false information and it’s the cause for people losing focus at work.

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Getting More Facebook Fans is a Minimal Need Compared to Reach

Fans

For years, the acquisition of a bigger, “better” Facebook page has been a focus of many in the social media marketing realm. There are companies that are dedicated to the task. The reality now (and for a long time, actually) is that fan acquisition for business Facebook pages is such a minor piece of the puzzle that it’s something most businesses should push to the back burner. It’s not that you don’t need them at all, but the success of a Facebook page is determined by reach and fans are only a small part of the equation.

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