The Power of Help in Marketing

The Power of Help in Marketing

In his book Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype, Jay Baer extolls the value of smart marketing by providing self-serve information, radical transparency and real-time relevancy. I love this philosophy and look for it in my own interactions with businesses. Here are three recent experiences about the power of help for marketing your business.

1. Women’s Plumbing Repair

I had a leaking shower-tub faucet, so I searched for a “plumber near 94612” and found “Women’s Plumbing Repair” on Yelp. The reviews looked excellent so I called. Instead of getting a receptionist though, I got an answering machine message saying, “Please do not leave a message here as I have hundreds of messages that I’m unable to check. If you need help, please call or text my cellphone number at …” I was surprised by this message, but also impressed, because if they had so many messages on their voicemail. To me, that meant they must be busy and therefore good at what they do. So I called and left a message on the cell number. Jac called me back and left me a message this time. She said to send her a text with the details of when we could meet etc, so I did and we scheduled something. Since I figured she would likely need a part for the faucet, I asked her if she wanted a photo and here’s what ensued.

1 Power of Help 1 SMS conversation 2 Power of Help 2 SMS conversation

3 Power of Help 3 SMS conversation 4 Power of Help 4 SMS conversation

Not only did she tell me how to get the part, but she also referred me to a supplier who could help me source the part, and she told me that I could do the work myself. Wow! She didn’t want to charge me. Yes, my job was small, but I was quite willing to pay to get it done. Instead of her taking every project, Jac is building up goodwill by being super helpful. As the Yelp reviews and her full voicemail box attest, the power of help is definitely working.

I got the diverter part from the manufacturer and another one from the supplier and both were free. I did need some help installing it, but I was able to get that from Jason, my handy HOA maintenance person who I’ll talk about next. Oh and one more thing, since this post is about marketing and social media, my neighbor Philip offered to help anyone having a similar problem on Facebook through our private neighborhood group, so all in all it was very much a community project. Philip showed me how to remove the faucet, Jason helped me drill away some of the travertine (marble) to allow for the new diverter to be installed and Jac helped me find the part.

I am extremely grateful to all three people here and was particularly impressed by Jac’s helpfulness. I definitely know who to call if I have a bigger plumbing issue or need to refer a plumber to someone. In fact if you’re ever in need of a plumber in the Oakland area, I recommend you call Women’s Plumbing.

2. Jason Parker HOA Maintenance

The Power of Help for Marketing on Facebook, an example of a post from Jason Parker, HOA Maintenance manJason Parker is a handyman who helped our HOA on various small projects in the building. He has built a reputation for being helpful not just by fixing things and helping people install new lights, TV mounts and electrical wiring, but also because of the tips he offers on Facebook from time to time, just for the good of the community. Every few weeks, Jason posts a tip to our private group page which is very helpful. He doesn’t ask if anyone needs help or offer his services. He simply provides useful information out of the blue. This is usually information which someone might need and use at some point, but it is unsolicited and just plain helpful. What this does is keep Jason top of mind for building residents and homeowners. It also makes people feel like they know and understand Jason and that he can be trusted. Then the next time someone needs some done work in the building, who do you think they think of first? That’s right Jason Parker HOA Maintenance man is who. He’s also available via text and phone and is just a really good guy. He has used power of help to build strong relationships with residents of our building and in so doing, we trust him and think of him first for any odd jobs that we need to get done.

3. Smog Fail Repair

I recently needed to get my smog check certificate for renewing my registration and took my car to the nearest Smog Test station. To my surprise, the car failed. How horrifying! The tester told me that I could get the car repaired by my mechanic or any smog repair shop and also that I could apply for financial assistance from the State of California to offset some of the expenses. I asked if the failure could be due to the cooler weather or the car being cold and the tester said no. The tester also indicated that the car had failed quite substantially, so I was very concerned.

I have a 1998 BMW 323is and have been taking it to Bavarian Professionals for years. (I was referred to them by a friend I trust.) I drove home from the Smog test station and called Bavarian Professionals. I told them that my car had failed the smog test and they said they would be happy to schedule an appointment, but I might want to try driving the car for a bit longer before getting a smog retest. They recommended driving the car for at least 15 minutes on the freeway before getting the car tested again, apparently because the catalytic converter takes a while to warm up. They could easily have taken my car in and charged me for a diagnostic and any repair they felt like doing, but instead they told me the truth about the car and offered a free solution. I said I would try that first before scheduling an appointment, so a couple of weeks later, I did just that. I drove the car on the freeway for about 30 minutes and then took into into the same smog test station as I had been to before. The car passed the test easily and there were no questions asked. What a relief! If I had spoken to a mechanic who was just trying to get money out of me, I probably could have spent a few hundred dollars on needless repair. I am extremely grateful for the honesty of Bavarian Professionals who once again rose to the occasion to earn my trust. Their power of help leads to happy and loyal customers like me. I will always take my car to them for service.

Lessons from these examples:

  1. While it may be tempting to take any job that comes your way, think about it from a longer view perspective. How many people would have heard about the service provider if each of the above people had just taken the job instead of being helpful? And how many people will hear about them since they were helpful? That’s right, a lot more.
  2. Doing the right thing earns trust and trust is crucial to staying in business and earning more work than you can handle.
  3. Make sure your car’s engine is nice and warmed up before you get a smog check.
  4. Always offer value and treat your customers like you would treat your friends.
  5. As Jay Baer says: “Smart marketing is about help, not hype.” Helping earns trust. Being helpful can be a powerful marketing tool.

Your turn:

Have you had any experiences in which you were particularly wowed by the customer service or “un-marketing” of a business or service professional? What does the power of help mean to you? Please share your experience in the comments below. Thank you!

5 Steps to Viral Video

One of my students recently shared a video with me that I hadn’t seen before in true word of mouth marketing style. The video is about a boy who held on to his dream and a filmmaker who was inspired the kid’s imagination and tenacity. Of course it helped that the filmmaker stumbled upon Caine, our protagonist, but even so, here are the 5 reasons why this video went viral.

If you haven’t seen the video yet, it’s a great story, have a watch:

What constitutes a viral video, you ask? Any video that has millions of views in a relatively short period of time. The viral nature of the video comes from it being shared or spread so much that it receives all those views. Everyone is talking about it and sharing it both online via email and social networks, as well as offline in person via word of mouth.

5 Reasons the Why Caine’s Arcade Video Went Viral:

  1. WIIFT: What’s In It For Them?
  2. It’s a story about a kid who had a dream. We’ve all had dreams like this and can empathize with Caine. For you, the viewer, the story gives you a feeling of empowerment. This makes you feel like you can do this too. We are inspired by stories of others’ dreams becoming reality, because we want that same experience for ourselves.

  3. Inspire and Entertain
  4. The video is inspirational because Caine obviously has a great imagination and innate talent. These are things we all want and admire in others. We are inspired by Caine’s courage and entertained by his story. Of course the videographer has edited the video to make us feel this way. Remember that this is your challenge when you’re making your viral video. Always keep your viewer in mind. Think about how they will feel. What will make them share your video?

  5. Celebrity Endorsement
  6. The protagonist is cute and likable. We want him to succeed. Since Caine seems like the underdog, we have more affinity for him. We like to see surprise and we delight in unexpected success. The celebrity here though isn’t necessarily Caine himself. The endorsing party is the videographer who was inspired by Caine’s story to make the video about him. The videographer was able to gather enough people to make Caine have such a successful day at his arcade.

  7. Have a Heart
  8. The story is entertaining and pulls on your heart strings. The joy on Caine’s face as he realizes what is happening is priceless. We share in both his ambition and his achievement. A happy ending is always a good way to encourage sharing. When people feel good, they want their friends to feel the same way, so they share what is making them feel good.

  9. To Be Continued
  10. The story is… To Be Continued…
    Just like any good TV series, there is another episode after this one. This makes us feel like we want to know more and encourages us to share the video with friends and family. Viral video requires this kind of sharing.

Your turn: What’s your favorite viral video? Do you know why it went viral? What did you learn from how it was made and what made it a viral video?

Repurposing Content Across Different Platforms

An Excerpt from: Like Follow Share: Awesome Actionable Social Media Marketing to Maximize Your Online Potential

11.4 Repurposing Content and Material Across Platforms

Like Follow Share: Awesome Actionable Social Media Marketing to Maximize Your Online PotentialSocial media has brought about truly significant changes in the way we produce and receive information. A piece of news that in the past might have been distributed as one unit, in one specific way, can now be posted as four or five separate bits of content. For example, 25 years ago, a company might have written a single press release to announce the launch of a new product. Today you could write a detailed blog post about your new product, or even several posts if you wanted to provide the story of its development, list its technical features, interview the designer, and explain how to use it. Then you could tweet brief announcements about the launch party the day before, and the day of.

Post photos of the new product on Instagram, along with a link back to your blog or webpage. Make a behind-the-scenes video before the product’s launch, and afterwards make a video demonstrating how to use it. Post that video on YouTube and on your company’s Facebook page. Make a cool infographic with some details about the item or your company, or even about similar products and post it on Pinterest. Update your company’s LinkedIn profile or add a Spotlight page to provide more information to your professional network, or even post it on LinkedIn from your personal profile since LinkedIn now offers longer posting capabilities.

While this might seem like overkill, remember that all of your customers or potential customers will not be following you on every form of social media. Even if they were, people generally only see a fraction of all the content that is posted because of the way their news feeds are structured. For example, an individual person might follow your company on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but they haven’t logged in to Instagram since last July and they have 750 friends on Facebook so your post got lost in the noise. That means that they only actually saw your tweet!

Furthermore, you will not be posting exactly the same content on each page – Instagram has a photo, while your blog has an article. The content will be adjusted, customized to reflect the culture of different social media sites. Producing different content is not only a cheap way to extend your marketing; it’s an essential tool for reaching your audience. Remember that people have different learning styles as well as different levels of interest and understanding about your product. While some people would prefer to read, others like videos. For someone who is only tangentially interested in your product, a tweet might be all they need or want to know, but an industry insider will be eager to read all of the in-depth details. You can actually help the public and the media understand your product better by providing materials and information in a variety of formats to meet their needs.

Blog as Social Media Marketing Hub - Repurposing Content

For repurposing content: your blog is the center, or hub and all other networks can be used to share content from the blog and also point back to the blog. © 2015 Suse Barnes

Another way to create fresh content is to ‘spin’ popular or detailed topics into multiple posts. Take one key concept or piece of information and write about it from a variety of different perspectives, or as a series. For example, I could take one topic, vegetarian cooking, and write “Vegetarian Cooking for Beginners,” “Top 5 Tips for Vegetarian Meals” “Video: How to Make Vegetarian Lasagna” and “The Vegetarian Revolution”…and so on. This level of detail can be attractive to people who are hunting for quite specific advice.

If you are short on time and resources, you will definitely need to make the most of the content you have created. Here are just a few of many repurposing content shortcuts that anyone can use. Start by choosing a solid piece of content, perhaps your “evergreen” content, or just one that got a lot of likes or has really great information. Then, create an outline or list of the main points and share it on social media. Or, find a great one-line quote from the text or an interview and use it to create a word-image to post on Instagram. Alternately, you could tweet a great quote from the article, with a link back to the original post. Combine some statistics or data from a blog post with an image and post it on Facebook, or create an infographic to post on Pinterest.

Your turn: What have you found to be most beneficial when sharing content on social networks? Do you share the same content on all networks? Or do you repurpose or spin the content to best meet the needs of each visitor on each different social platform?

Periscoping the Periscope App

What is Periscope and Why Should I Care?

The live streaming app Periscope was recently acquired by Twitter. In this post, we’ll look at why Periscope and competitor live streaming app, Meerkat as well as other similar mobile broadcasting solutions. We’ll also describe why these live streaming apps will be game changers in social media marketing as well as citizen journalism.

Periscope

Periscope is a brand new live streaming app. What does that mean? It means it’s mobile, i.e. it’s on your phone, with you all the time, so you as a Periscope app owner/user can live stream video of anything anywhere as long as you have a connection to the Internet. It’s difficult to grasp the nature of the app until you actually use it. Because it is video, it requires real-time immersion to actually see first hand how it works. Without this real life experience, it would be similar to you trying to understand Facebook without having any friends on it.

Periscope App icon

We Are the Media 

If you understand that Twitter connects people all around the world, enabling conversations around niche interests, then you’ll start to be able to imagine a world where those conversations are not just text and tweets. Now they can be based on the viewing of a live event, whether that be a protest like the #Egypt revolution, sports event like the USA basketball #marchMadness or #FIFA, the world cup soccer, or even less newsy, but still interesting adventures like your personal commute to work in London, or how to make a cesar salad at a steakhouse in New York as Dave Kerpen showed a few days ago.

Alerts on iPhone from Periscope

When someone starts streaming you get alerts on your phone. @Amandaoleander is a prolific broadcaster and has already achieved a million hearts. Hearts on Periscope are like favorites in Twitter.

Meerkat alert
The above screenshot shows an example of a Meerkat alert when you are following a broadcaster.
Periscope stream of videos

Upon entering Periscope you see a list of videos that are currently live.

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There is also a list of recently aired videos.

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Meerkat having been around about a month longer than Periscope uses the “Write what’s happening…” prompt to encourage you to title your live video or schedule one for posting later.

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Videos in Meerkat show in a still in preview mode.

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When Meerkat videos are running, you see the avatars of everyone who is watching, you have the ability to comment, heart (favorite or like) and retweet or share the video.

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On Periscope, there is just the ability to comment and touching the screen produces a heart which floats above the video and fades out.

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If you understand the benefits and ubiquity of YouTube, combine that will no need to edit your video and the ability to stream live conversations in an instant from your mobile device, and you start to be able to imagine how this may change the way we consume all broadcast media. No longer are just the big Television stations able to broadcast, but you can now too!

Connecting People

Right now you can tweet to your favorite celebrity and they may indeed reply to your tweet. You can also have conversations with your fellow fans of TV shows, sports team and rock stars. How much more connected would you feel and fun would it be to have one of these celebrities live streaming a Q&A and/or showing a behind the scenes view of the locker room before a game, green room before a concert and/or just someone getting ready to watch the TV show they created with the fans that love it? Imagine Shonda Rhymes broadcasting a Q&A session during the most recent episode of Scandal. Right now the conversation happens on Twitter, but it could just as easily happen on Periscope helping fans feel more personally connected to Shonda.

Periscope is currently in an experimentation mode, since it was just launched about a week ago (and launched between Alpha and Beta phases). This means that most people and companies using it are still trying to figure best practices and original ideas. There are going to be a lot of people that don’t understand the potential impact live streaming will have, because of all the early experimentation (and pardon my bluntness, crap) that’s being posted. Just like people poo-poohed Twitter saying that it was just a bunch of people talking about what they had for lunch, Periscope and Meerkat will have and are having a similar pushback right now.

But from what I can see after just a few days of the launch of Periscope, the adoption among tech and digital marketing industry zealots and professionals means it is a phenomenon to be monitored. Early adopters are always first to play and experiment with new technology. Yes, most of what we see being shared on Periscope could be construed as meaningless, but remember, especially in the social media marketing and app industries, playing is learning.

Just as Facebook and Twitter introduced us to social media and changed the way we think about marketing, connecting and buzz, Periscope and Meerkat will provide a whole new lens into how we communicate. As Brian Solis said: “Participation is marketing.” Periscope is a new channel upon which we now have the ability to share real-time events and life happenings in an instant, easily enabling people to connect and share feedback as well. Live streaming is the next big thing in social.

An Arrangement of Lenses

The dictionary.com definition of periscope describes a periscope as an “optical instrument…with an arrangement of lenses”:

“Noun.

an optical instrument for viewing objects that are above the level of
direct sight or in an otherwise obstructed field of vision, consisting
essentially of a tube with an arrangement of prisms or mirrors
and, usually, lenses: used especially in submarines.”

 I like to think of the lenses (like Squidoo) in the Periscope app as opinions coming from viewers and also the broadcaster. Never before has broadcasting been so easy! If we think back to before point and shoot film cameras and then digital photography, there were only a select few who could capture a still image. Today everyone can capture any image and distribute it worldwide within seconds. Not only that, but now the ability to share your own opinion, an event, tips and anything you might find interesting via live streaming video from your phone to a network of friends and strangers.

Which one is better, Periscope or Meerkat? 

Both platforms are still in their infancy and there are lots of wish list features for each. I see huge potential for live streaming to be a game changer in social media marketing as well as general peer communications. What Periscope lacks in search and distribution on the Twitter platform, it makes up for with constant alerts of live broadcasts being made available, and ease of use.

The fact that you can’t search on Periscope for a certain topic, means you are at the mercy of everyone on the platform and who you’ve chosen to follow. Since the first set of people you’re following is pulled from Twitter though, it’s likely you’ll find a few interesting people broadcasting on topics that are engaging.

Since Meerkat allows share of the Meerkat broadcast on Twitter, people are more apt to view it after the fact, but hopefully Periscope will figure out how to show broadcasts on Twitter in the Twitter stream like it does with Vine for example.

It may be called a fad for a while, but this is the kind of new technology that people doubt before it becomes the norm. Facebook and Twitter were frowned upon for years before they became mainstream social networks. I predict Periscope and Meerkat will have similar growth.

The technology has been around for a while says Mashable’s Ben Parr on an interview with NBC news via Periscope today. Justin.TV was purchased by Twitch. We had Ustream and others several years ago, but never before has it been so easy to live stream. This is the result of increased bandwidth and enhanced video capabilities in smart phones. “It’s not a replacement for the traditional media model,” say Parr, but it does facilitate more people being able to share what is going on in the world around them at any given moment. This has implications for citizen journalism and with the likes of companies like OnPublico who facilitate people sharing local news as well as personal expertise and just plain fun.

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Ben Parr live streaming on Periscope in an interview about Periscope with NBC today.

What About Those Trolls? 

Yes, there are a lot of trolls on both Meerkat and Periscope, but since Periscope is the newer platform and seemingly easier to use, there seem to be more on Periscope. The platform is still working out the kinks, but we already see ways to block spammers and trolls.

Troll

Finally as with anything Internet, there is likely to be a lot of unsavory content (think porn) on the platform since that’s what being able to both hide behind the screen and flaunt your wears facilitates.

Be careful who or what you’re watching and be aware of trolls, but my advice to anyone wanting to share a story, breaking news, event or skill in real time is definitely to try a live streaming and/or citizen journalism app. And definitely have them available to you incase you find yourself being the first to report a story.

We used to say “News doesn’t break, it tweets.” Will we soon be saying “News doesn’t break, it’s live streaming now”?

Best Practices for live streaming:

  1. Acknowledge and thank people who have joined your live feed to watch. Actually say thank you while you are recording your video. People love to hear the sound of their own name and when it is being broadcast live, it sounds even better.
  2. Ask questions of your audience and respond to them. Remember that this is another opportunity to build a community around your specific topic of interest. Start a conversation.
  3. Be useful and helpful. Remember Jay Baer‘s “Help Not Hype” mantra.
  4. Offer ways for people to share and participate in the conversation. Ask people to share and tweet the video either during (easiest on Meerkat) or after the broadcast is complete.
  5. Keep your content tasteful and valuable. Remember that content is always going to be king, frequency is queen and entertainment is the jack of all parades!
  6. Make sure you have something worth watching. A little planning before you start broadcasting could go a long way. Think about how you are going to appear, where the camera will be and what you are going to say.
  7. Have a catchy headline/title for your video. Headlines still rule and your hook must still hook.

What kinds of things are working for you on Periscope or Meerkat? What are your favorite things to watch? Who are your top broadcasters? Do you think live streaming will change the way we interact with the world? Please include your thoughts in the comments below.

3 Ways to Rule Twitter: Tips for Better Engagement

We recently discussed the latest Twitter profile updates and how to use them to your advantage. Now that you’re creating banner images and pinning tweets with the best of them, let’s dig a little deeper. According to Twitter Brand Partner Alex Ticas, Twitter has 255 million active users. Ticas also states that there are 1 billion tweets (yes, *billion*!) every two days. That’s pretty incredible. This doesn’t mean you can’t rule Twitter! You’ll just have to work a little harder to cut through the noise.

Here are 3 great ways:

1. Choosy tweeters choose GIFs.

Those often-hilarious moving images you see across the internet are called animated GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format). They were introduced by CompuServe in the late 1980s but have had a recent resurgence in popularity.

cat animated gif

This summer, Twitter announced that the platform now supports animated GIFs. Now you can delight your followers with short animated images of fluffy animals or your latest products or sale items. As with all other image-related marketing, the possibilities are endless.

Fun fact: did you know that GIF’s pronunciation deliberately echos the famous peanut butter brand JIF? CompuServe employees used to say that “choosy developers choose GIF” as a nod to the peanut butter brand’s slogan.

 

2. Embed photos.

Rule Twitter

If you aren’t attaching images to your tweets yet, now is the time to start! This is a great way to attract more views for your tweets, so reserve this feature for your most important messages. On Twitter, click the camera icon when composing a tweet to add your image. Hootsuite now offers the option to post images via pic.twitter.com as well so that your images will show in native Twitter feeds even if you aren’t posting directly from the Twitter platform.

Social Media Examiner offers a great article on how to prepare your images for Twitter’s automatic cropping and resizing.

 

3. Find Leads with Advanced Search. 

Twitter is a great place to meet people virtually and begin the path to real-world relationships and business exchanges. But what if you want to reach beyond tweets from people and businesses you already follow? That’s where Twitter’s Advanced Search comes in handy.

Do you want to see who is talking to (or about) businesses like yours? Type “to: @username” into the search box.

rule twitter

Only want to see conversations happening near you? No problem. Here is a search for all tweets within four miles of San Francisco’s 94102 zip code, tagged with #sanfrancisco:

rule twitter

You can also search for tweets based on subject and sentiment. Here is a query for people saying positive things about black shoes:

rule twitter

Get more tips for using Twitter’s Advanced Search function with Beth Gladstone‘s excellent and detailed post on Social Media Examiner.

Do you have Twitter tips to share? Let us know in the comments section!

2014 Social Media Marketing Trends

If you spend time on social media, it’s no secret to you that 2014 is all about content. You’ve also likely noticed the lifestyle emphasis of popular content this year. Videos, images (both with and without text), and the beloved listicle are also very popular in 2014. And if it seems like your news is coming from more and more varied sources, it’s true! As the 2014 social media marketing trends infographic below by TalkWalker states, more and more brands are becoming content producers.

2014 social media trends

Talkwalker.com is an excellent social metrics platform for brands. Signing up is easy and free. And once you are logged in you can search for social media metrics on any brand you like. Track your brand’s buzz, engagement, potential reach, and see how you stack up against brands similar to yours. See what people are saying about you and get a general idea of the sentiment surrounding your brand too. But look closely! Sometimes this aspect of social listening is inaccurate. For instance, Talkwalker sees the phrase “crazy cool” as a negative statement.

As Talkwalker’s infographic states, be passionate with your content and your social messaging!

What social media trends are you noticing this year?

Getting the Most Out of Twitter Profile Changes

In our last post we discussed recent changes to Facebook advertising. In keeping with the theme of always-changing social media platforms, we’re back with must-have tips regarding the latest Twitter profile changes.

Twitter announced their new profile format in early April. Though resistance to change is typical among those on social media, it was immediately clear that the updates really did provide an enhanced Twitter experience.

In today’s post we highlight Twitter’s recent profile changes and how they can be useful to you and your business:

1. Larger Banners

The large banner images we know so well on Google+ and Facebook have now made their way over to Twitter. Get the most out of this new feature by using images that show customers what your business is all about!

Caterpillar Twitter banner

image via hubspot.com

Apple App Store Twitter banner

image via hubspot.com

The examples above from Caterpillar and Apple show two very different ways you can utilize Twitter’s enhanced banner size to share eye-catching images with your audience. Be creative and have fun!

2. Pinned Tweets

Finally, we have the ability to leave an important message at the top of our Twitter feeds for as long as we want! In an environment as hectic as Twitter, it can be difficult to be seen–regardless of the importance of your message. With the new pinned tweet functionality you can ensure your latest news will be the first thing visitors see when viewing your profile.

nike pinned tweet

Simply log into your Twitter account, click on “Me” to go to your profile, scroll down to the tweet you want to pin to the top, click the three dots next to the trash can icon, and select “pin to your profile page.” The pinned tweet will remain at the top of your profile until you select a new pinned tweet.

3. Highlighting Your Best Content

Twitter now gives your most popular tweets a larger font size, which both encourages users to post quality tweets and makes it easier for profile visitors to see your best content. More favorites and retweets than you typically receive for a tweet is all it takes to activate the larger font.

Stay tuned for more Twitter tips on the blog next month!

Keeping Up With Social Media: Upcoming Facebook Advertising Changes

If we told you that Facebook advertising changes were coming your way next month, would you be surprised? We’re guessing you wouldn’t. Marketers and consumers alike notice frequent changes (often with shock and dismay) to their favorite social networks. While sometimes these changes are for the better from a consumer perspective, more often than not social media users are frustrated by surprise layout and functionality changes. As marketers, we understand the ramifications these changes can have if they catch you off guard! Scrambling to catch up is never fun, which is why we’re here to let you know that yet another round of Facebook advertising changes is set to roll out beginning in June 2014. The right-hand column ads we all know and love (pictured below) will be displayed at a larger size starting next month. Facebook righthand column ads   The current 100×72 size will be phased out, which means the best way to get the most out of your right-hand column advertising is to create new 600×315 versions of your ads. These new ads will be rendered at 254×133 and are expected to increase engagement with your potential customers. We certainly can’t argue with that. Start planning your new right-hand column advertising strategy today and stay ahead of the curve!

Small Steps to Success

“Improve 1,000 little things by 1%…”

Dollar Sign

A few months ago, I was referred to a new customer by a colleague of another customer. Since most of my new business is referral based, I spent extra time getting to know the business of the new customer and understanding how we could help. As is quite common in the Digital Marketing industry, the project as described originally by the client turned into something a lot more extensive. What started as SEO consulting for an eCommerce site, blossomed into social media marketing, being the webmaster, blogger and web marketing analyst. Needless to say it has been a blast learning a new industry, business and making a new relationship with my client. I am also grateful for the opportunity to share a small success story about it.

What’s the biggest indicator of digital marketing success?
Dollar signs of course! And we saw a significant increase in the number of sales in Q4 2013 compared with all previous sales on the website. We started optimizing the website in August and adding the other responsibilities in September. As you can see from the chart below, the numbers speak for themselves.

Chart Showing Success with large increase in sales in Q4 2013

“You cannot improve one thing by 1000% but you can improve 1000 little things by 1%” – Jan Carlzon Former President & CEO of the Scandinavian Airlines Group (SAS)

What are your favorite success stories from 2013? Please share in the comments below.

How to Run a Successful Pinterest Contest

Successful Pinterest Contesting Tips

Pinterest Contest Guide
One of the things I love most about working in the Internet industry is that we never stop learning. There is always something new to try and offer our clients and I personally love learning just as much as I enjoy teaching. We’ve recently been hard at working learning as much as possible from top Social Media Experts at the Social Success Marketing Summit. The following Pinterest Contest Guide was inspired by a recent webinar by Melanie Duncan.

How to Run a Successful Pinterest Contest

Running a Pinterest contest is a great way to gain new followers, increase traffic to your website, obtain new leads, and increase sales for your business. Within this guide, we will discuss useful tips and guidelines for running a successful contest on the Pinterest platform.

Pinterest Contest Do’s and Don’ts

Do:
1. Read Pinterest’s anti-spam guidelines and contest guidelines.
2. Remember that Pinterest is all about inspiration.
3. Reward inspired pinning.
4. Make it easy to participate and make your guidelines clear.
5. If you are going to reference Pinterest in your contest, review their branding guidelines.

Don’t:
1. Ask Pinterest to sponsor or promote your contest. This is greatly frowned upon!
2. Make people pin or repin your contest rules.
3. Run a sweepstakes in which each action (pin, repin, new board, follow, like) counts as an entry.
4. Require comments or any other potentially spam-related behavior.
5. Require a minimum number of pins.
6. Ask for votes with pins, repins, boards, or likes.

Strategy & How to Build a Contest

One of the most important aspects of running a Pinterest contest is having a strategy. Before starting your contest, determine your guidelines, the goal of your contest, and what you will award to winners.

1. Contest Type
The first step in building a successful Pinterest contest is determining your ultimate goal.

a. To gain more followers: Require entrants to follow you on Pinterest.
b. To gain traffic to your website: Ask entrants to create a new board with your company’s name in the title and have them pin their favorite images from your website (and other images about your company) to the new board. You can also run a campaign similar to this with the goal of increasing brand awareness.
c. To increase sales: Offer a select number of items for a possible giveaway and ask entrants to pin their favorites. Another option is to have entrants pin images of them using your product.

Once you establish your contest goal, create a clear outline of contest guidelines for participants. Keep it simple so your contest is easy to enter. You’ll receive more entries this way!

2. Contest Marketing

a. Don’t limit your contest promotion to Pinterest. Instead, utilize your other social networks, your website, and your mailing list as channels on which to promote your Pinterest contest.
b. Create an eye-catching contest page on your website and use this as “home base” for your contest. This gives participants a gateway to your website as well as a location to refer back to after the contest is over. This is also a great place to host key images you would like to see pinned as part of your contest.
c. Create an eye-catching “pinnable” image to help launch your contest and spread the word. This should be colorful, include your brand, and include a call to action such as “pin to win”. This should also include a buzzword such as “promotion” or “giveaway” and mention of what the prize will be.

3. Selecting Winners
There are three main ways to select a winner for your contest:

a. Collect votes. (For example, a “like” counts as one vote and a “repin” counts as two votes.)
b. Judge based on criteria such as the number of repins an entry received or pin creativity.
c. Run a sweepstakes and select the winner at random. (try a service like www.random.org to help you with this one)

Whichever method you choose, be sure to be up front with entrants in your contest guidelines!

4. Contest Follow-up
a. If you collected email addresses for all participants, notify them of the winner via email and offer everyone a discount or other small prize for their participation.
b. If signing up on your mailing list was not an entrance requirement for your contest, notify contest winners via pin comment and also update the contest page on your website to reflect this information.

Additional Pinterest Contest Tips

• Choose a great prize! Tangible items tend to work best.
• Whatever your method of notification, offer a small, limited-time discount to all contest participants. This will continue to drive interest and sales.
• Run your contest for approximately 10 days to prevent your promotion from being too short to be noticed or too long to keep people interested.
• After your contest ends, change the text on your website contest page to let participants know that it has ended and that you will inform them when the next contest begins. Have a form available for them to sign up on your mailing list.
• Pinterest offers “Pin It” buttons for you to use at: http://business.pinterest.com/widget-builder/#do_pin_it_button

Your Turn

Do you have any successful contest campaigns you want to share or questions about Pinterest? Please post in the comments below.

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