• TheDigitalJen
    Jennifer Stalzer on November 19, 2013

    Tough Lessons to Becoming a Socially Engaged Brand

    About 18 months ago, MasterCard set out on a mission to become the most socially connected and engaged brand in the payments space. As I look back, here's a look at almost ten hard lessons we learned.
  • ChristopherCarfi
    Christopher Carfi on December 9, 2013

    Five Trends That Are Going to Affect Marketing in 2014

    Agile marketing is now a common approach, and includes a healthy loop of building, testing, measuring, learning, refining and improving. There are five trends that you need to be on the lookout for when creating your marketing plans in the coming year, a combination of focus on results and a set of new channels that can connect directly to the bottom line.
  • JeffreyDachis
    Jeffrey Dachis on December 18, 2013

    Real-Time Marketing 101: It All Starts With The Trends

    Imagine you are a marketer in 1951. Harry S. Truman is president and Milton Berle is the most famous person on T.V., raking in 80% of all television viewers every night of the week. It’s the dawn of modern mass marketing. What if you were the first marketer to figure out how to use T.V. to sell stuff? You’d probably be in pretty high demand. The potential to sell your products would be effectively limitless. Well, an innovative, new marketing channel with the potential to rival television for its importance has arrived and marketers are starting to take notice.
  • Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on April 18, 2014

    Six Best Practices for Creating a Content Marketing Strategy

    Content marketing is the linchpin of demand creation –the link between brand awareness and lead generation. Done well, it builds familiarity, affinity and trust with prospective and current customers by providing information that resonates – in the right format, through the right channel, at the right time.
  • IBM Social Business
    IBM Social Business on April 18, 2014

    Patterns in Achieving Social Business Success by Leading and Pioneering Organizations

    Here is an excerpt from “Patterns in Achieving Social Business Success by Leading and Pioneering Organizations,” an exclusive whitepaper brought to you by IBM. This whitepaper provides a step-by-step guide for determining your strategy to achieving social business success.
  • Spredfast
    Spredfast Business on May 1, 2014

    The Social Media Pocket Guide: Six Ways Marketers Should Use Social

    This guide walks through each of the “Big Six” objectives and provides a tactical overview of the business case, team considerations and actual content examples and templates to use for your social media initiatives. 
Download the guide now and use it as a cheat sheet on how to get started today using proven tactics and best practices.
  • Actiance
    Actiance Compliance on May 9, 2014

    The Forrester Wave: Social Risk and Compliance Solutions, Q2 2014

    Forbidding employees to use social networks because they may expose your business to risk is no longer a viable business strategy. According to its new report published today, “The Forrester Wave™: Social Risk And Compliance Solutions, Q2 2014,” Forrester Research, Inc. says “the practice of prohibiting social [is] no longer feasible.”
  • Spredfast
    Spredfast Business on June 9, 2014

    6 Blueprints for Social Network Success

    The Big 6 social networks offer tremendous marketing opportunities - but each one is very different from the next. That’s why Spredfast has assembled the 6 Blueprints for Social Network Success. In this quick-read collection, you’ll discover more than 50 constructive, actionable marketing tips and real-world examples from major brands like Hyatt, British Airways, Target, and General Mills. Let’s start building!
  • Synapsify
    Synapsify, Inc. on June 16, 2014

    Piecing Together the Story: Synapsify’s Annual Voice of Customer Industry Survey and Insight

    This eBook reveals the common practices and challenges faced today by social media managers/directors and brand insight analyst and conducted an online survey of 70 social media and content analysts professionally recruited for this survey. The survey results are presented as part of a complimentary eBook in which insight industry professionals shed light on their challenges and common practices they face in understanding the true voice of their customers.
  • Anyone on a social network can be an influencer and have the potential to cause a viral backlash, especially when it relates to a blunder in a company’s post. So, how do you know if your business is on the right track or just “doing it wrong”? If your company is carrying out one or more of the following tactics, you might want to reassess your strategy or start preparing for a social media fallout.
    Social media is unique because it’s the only advertising medium where companies and individuals compete on an equal playing field to have their voices heard. Anyone on a social network can be an influencer and have the potential to cause a viral backlash, especially when it relates to a oversight in a company's post.
     
    So, how do you know if your business is on the right track or just “doing it wrong”? If your company is carrying out one or more of the following tactics, you might want to reassess your strategy or start preparing for a social media fallout.
     
    Putting A Spin on Every Trending Topic
     
    Marketing in real-time has been proven to yield higher consumer engagement, but when brands start leveraging unrelated topics as a means of promotion, they can skew their brand’s voice and be perceived as insensitive. “When there's a big event going on, or something is trending, social media editors have a tendency to want to get their brands involved. But there's often a challenge there in fitting your company's mission into an external narrative,” says Marketing Professional, Danny Groner. “If there's no natural connection to be made, don't force your way in”.
     
    One notorious example can be taken from the marketers at Epicurious, who reacted to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings by tweeting that cranberry scones and cereal would help the city get through the tragedy. Needless to say, it was a tasteless tactic that caused a backlash from consumers and the media due to the exploitive nature of the tweets. 
     
    Ignoring Followers
     
    Active correspondence is a great way to provide customer service and to advocate a company’s brand. Keeping a close eye on content and updates will not only allow businesses to monitor the most successful content, but also allows a company to provide the best in community building practices by replying to comments and questions in real time. "Everyone wants to know that they have a voice, and that their voice is being heard.” says Sherrie Rohde, Community + UX Lead at Rebellion Media. “Countless times I've seen customers be grateful, and even surprised, that they received a response—even if it wasn't necessarily the response they were looking for. Listening is one of the most important skills as a community manager or social media manager, and replying lets people know you are listening”.
     
    In May 2014, Black Milk Clothing lost thousands of followers after ignoring negative comments from a Star Wars Day post that embodied the opposite of the brand’s culture “commandments”. Its social media team even went as far as deleting comments and banning dozens of users from the Black Milk Facebook page, (including quite a few customers that had helped to build the brand). Hundreds of people took to the company’s fan groups to express their disappointment in the way the situation was being handled, which created a multitude of memes and comments directed at the company, including some from media personalities and potential affiliates. 
     
    Using Automatic Responses & Scheduled Posts
     
    Although considered to be a time-saver, there is nothing beneficial with taking the “social” out of social media by using automated and scheduled posts. More often than not, these automated and scheduled posts do more harm than good, showing insensitivity if posted at the wrong times (i.e. American Rifleman) and a lack of customer care (i.e. American Airlines). 
     
    Andrew Schulkind, Digital Communication Strategist for Andigo New Media, feels that “Automation, unless done extremely well – and carefully – always runs the risk of being more announcement-like than conversational”. These automated social posts give individuals the impression that your social media is run by a bot, which can affect perceptions of the company’s communications and customer service quality. 
     
    In 2013, Mark Hamilton took to Twitter to talk about how he’d been chased away from a Bank of America by cops, leading to a stream of other tweets criticizing the bank. Unfortunately for the Bank of America, it only made things worse by responding to activist messages with automatic tweets that talked about helping them with account issues. Called out about the bot-like responses, a spokesperson explained that the tweets were not the work of bots, but rather real people. The incident and company’s response only reinforced the point of view that the bank lacked “a heart and soul.
     
    Reposting Content Without Researching
     
    Rumours and hoaxes spread like wildfire on social media, so researching verified sources and finding adequate backup for posts is crucial to showing fans that you have the real story and that your brand can be trusted as a true expert. 
     
    Look at Delta Air Lines recent “giraffe tweet” as an example of an unverified social blunder. They created a tweet that was meant as a celebratory message for Team USA, after defeating Ghana in the 2014 World Cup Match. The company posted a photo of a giraffe to signify the country of Ghana. Immediately, Twitter users informed Delta Airlines that while Ghana has abundant wildlife, it doesn't have wild giraffes. The lack of research on Delta’s part gave onlookers the impression that they were smug and ignorant.
     
    Creating Posts Without A Plan or Purpose 
     
    With social media, you can’t be sure how a post will do even with testing behind it. The best method is to plan for both the good and the bad, while being knowledgeable about the public’s sentiment towards the brand. Ensuring that your post is purposeful helps to streamline your comments and reposts, whether it’s to discuss an event, invite specific people to a conversation, or to shed light on a topic. Samantha Pena, Content Strategist for Hudson Horizons, feels that companies who experience the largest post failures are ones that hoped for the best without planning for the worst, which gained them, in the end, much negative feedback. 
     
    In November 2013, JP Morgan hosted an #AskJPM Q&A session on its Twitter, without citing a context or specific topic. The vague tweet offered individuals the opportunity to bombard the company with hostile questions and negative comments. The company, in turn, had to cancel the session. If JP Morgan had researched and gained knowledge of public sentiment surrounding its brand before attempting to engage openly on Twitter, it could have avoided the harsh comments directed towards the company.
     
    It is important to remember that social media is about community engagement and trust. Real-time conversations and great customer service can bring a business far in the social realm. Individuals are not ignorant, and being on a platform that allows for a voice to be heard means that each and every person is important. Actively managing your communities will allow your company to reap all the benefits that social media can provide, while avoiding the many potential pitfalls.

     

    John Paul Sartre would have had a heyday living in the social media age. Which is more real, your physical existence or your digital existence? Who knows, and I'm not here to debate it either. The existentialist introduction was simply to set the atmosphere for the almost mystical question that I am here to address. It falls somewhere between the completely abstract "why is a duck?" and the considerably less bizarre "to post, or not to post?" It is asked repeatedly, and it receives a wide range of answers, all sincere, most ridiculous.

    John Paul Sartre would have had a heyday living in the social media age. Which is more real, your physical existence or your digital existence? Who knows, and I'm not here to debate it either. The existentialist introduction was simply to set the atmosphere for the almost mystical question that I am here to address. It falls somewhere between the completely abstract "why is a duck?" and the considerably less bizarre "to post, or not to post?" It is asked repeatedly, and it receives a wide range of answers, all sincere, most ridiculous.

    That question is: "How often should I be posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and others?"

    Here's Your Answer

    The answer is obvious of course. Facebook posts should be sent exactly 9 times each day, with nor more than 3 clumped within a 2 hour period. On Wednesdays you should add 2 posts at midday and on Thursday evenings you should skip one. Twitter is 14 times each day between 8:34am and 3:27am, with no more than 3 repeated. Pinterest should be avoided between 5 and 7pm weekdays but can be doubled up on Sunday afternoons, particularly during football season. LinkedIn is more of a weekday 9-5 things since it's business oriented, and you don't want to repeat things very often there either. As for Google Plus, since it's mostly males interested in tech... hey, you still with me?

    If so, why? That insane answer came from the top of my head, but if it had been derived from years of data it would only have slightly more credence as an answer. Your business is unique, your employees are unique, your customers and clients are unique. Why wouldn't the solutions for your business be unique?

    Consider your customer base. Say you had 4 mothers of 3 children each in your base who were all 29 years old, and each mom had 2 girls and 1 boy, but they lived in Montana, New York City, Miami, and Seattle respectively. With so many similarities, they would still probably vary immensely on most of their habits and hobbies. Using statistical data is a very generic metric until the data comes directly from your customers. Then it means everything.

    Maybe I'm Overstating

    I'm using blanket statements just to push the point a little, but obviously there is some validity to statistical data or they wouldn't still teach statistics in school. My point is that this data should be  a piece of your decision-making process, and that the bulk of that process should be based on your own specific data. That is the most effective formula for sharpening a marketing strategy for better penetration.

    So please don't turn your back on statistics forever on my account. They are perhaps the best shortcuts for jump-starting your planning, because they give you a generic baseline from which to start measuring. Once you start your own measurements, however, the truly important data will begin to roll in and give you a preliminary answer to your question.

    Let the Measuring Begin

    How then do you establish your own metrics and data collection habits so that you can schedule your posts to optimize their engagement? Very simply by using software, specifically a quality social media dashboard. The dashboard will allow you to create and curate posts (using the 80/20 rule) and then schedule them using whatever statistical data you want to, such as this infographic of the best times to post to different networks produced by Fannit.com.

    Once you have sent out several weeks or more of scheduled posts, you can use the analytics and reports to create your own baseline to move to. Better dashboards will not only automatically determine the best days and times based on your real engagement, but will also provide you detailed reports and customizable reports so you can derive your data the way that suits your company best. They will also allow you to customize or "white label" your posts so that they don't appear to be coming from third-party software, creating a more professional appearance and increasing even more the probability of engagement.

    The Best Formula

    If you're still hoping for some quick-fix answer to take away and implement, I'll at least give you a formula that will definitely work.

    Your customers' social habits + entertaining and engaging content + data analysis of reactions to your posts over time + a good social dashboard = Optimized posting and more sales

    That's the best I can do, but it's also the best anyone else can do. Don't buy the snake oil being peddled about what is best for your customers and your business. Your own research will be immensely more valuable. All you need is the right tool, and a comprehensive piece of social media management software will do the trick.

    Does your company have a blog? If the answer’s “no,” it may be time to start one. Content marketing should be a major component of your organization’s larger outreach efforts, and a business blog can play a big role in these campaigns. Here are five tips to help rock your business blogging and content marketing strategy.
    Does your company have a blog?

    If the answer’s “no,” it may be time to start one. Content marketing should be a major component of your organization’s larger outreach efforts, and a business blog can play a big role in these campaigns.

    Here are five tips to help rock your business blogging and content marketing strategy.

    1. Settle on a style
    One of the rules that is common to virtually all types of marketing is the need for consistency. Despite what many people claim, surprises usually aren’t all that popular. Consumers would much rather know what they are getting themselves into than experience the unexpected.

    That’s true when it comes to business blogging, as well. For a blog to be successful, it needs to attract a large audience and, crucially, it needs to hold on to those readers. And if you want readers to keep coming back for more content, you need to firmly establish what they can expect from your blog.

    That’s why style is so important. You want your blog to have a distinct, stable style. Whether it’s serious or funny, casual or formal, the writing will help you to attract and hold readers. Obviously, any given style is going to be off-putting to some consumers. That’s okay. If you try to please everyone, you’ll only end up pleasing no one. It’s far better to settle on a style and then work to perfect it, maximizing your appeal to your chosen audience.

    A style guide is very useful in this capacity, as industry expert Jason Baker explained to Business News Daily. While a style guide won’t have an impact on the tone of your blog, it can smooth out inconsistencies in many other areas.

    “Having a standard way to deal with names, capitalization, italics, links, etc., helps you establish that trust,” Baker said, the source reported. “And if your blog features multiple writers, a style guide will help you bring all those voices under one roof.”

    2. Have a content strategy

    [[{"fid":"117701","view_mode":"default","fields":{"format":"default","field_file_image_caption[und][0][value]":"","field_file_image_caption[und][0][format]":"filtered_html","field_file_image_alt_text[und][0][value]":"content strategy","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"alt":"content strategy","style":"line-height: 1.538em; float: right;","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]For a blog to work, there needs to be content. This doesn’t just mean you need words to fill up space – you need to actually have material to explore, messages to share, information to impart. You need to have something worth saying. Without a content strategy, your blog will likely just become a series of fluff-filled sales pitches. That’s not the sort of thing that anyone wants to read, and your customers will avoid the blog.

    But creating a blog with worthwhile content, produced regularly, is a lot easier said than done. It can be a genuine struggle to come up with new blog topics day after day, especially if you have a lot of other responsibilities at your business that demand your attention.

    To overcome this problem, you should consider developing a detailed content creation strategy. This should include not just what kinds of subjects you plan on covering in the future, but an actual calendar, complete with potential headlines and sources. The more information you can plan out in advance, the better. If you don’t have this plan in place, you’ll either be forced to scramble in order to meet deadlines, or miss deadlines and potentially lose readers.

    A content strategy can also address the question of who’s going to write all of these blog posts. If you are the sole writer, then that’s not an issue. But if you’re divvying up the workload among a number of employees, it’s important to have assignments distributed well in advance so that there is no last-minute confusion that can undermine your posting schedule.

    3. Editing matters
    Editing is a key component of successful business blogs, according to Baker. Specifically, editing can improve your blog posts in two ways. First and most obviously, proofreading will help ensure that everything you offer to your readers is grammatically correct without any typos, misused words or other silly, avoidable mistakes. These are the types of errors that can be difficult for the person who wrote the blog post to see, but easy for someone with another perspective to catch. It only takes a few extra minutes, and it can save your company a tremendous amount of embarrassment down the road, Baker explained. After all, these mistakes will reflect extremely poorly on your company, making your company appear unprofessional and sloppy.

    The other way that editing can have a major impact is in terms of the style. As mentioned before, you want to establish and maintain a consistent style for all of your blog posts. This can be tricky for one writer, and even harder if you have a team in place. A style guide can help, but even more useful is a single editor overseeing all content. This way, you’ll have one person in place who can offer feedback and make adjustments to smooth over differences, making it seem that all of the content meets your standards.

    4. So does design
    Most people realize that design matters a tremendous amount when it comes to websites. The same goes for business blogs, as Chic Marketing contributor Amanda Clark recently highlighted. When you create a new blog, you will have a number of templates to choose from, along with many optional features. If you go with a poor design, your blog will suffer.

    Clark recommended limiting the sidebars, widgets and other flashy, unnecessary details that can potentially surround your blog posts. While it may be tempting to jazz up the page, these offerings can often distract readers from the blog itself, driving away your fans. However, she asserted that you should absolutely include social media buttons, making it easy for readers to share your content through their various social channels. This will tremendously help improve your blogs exposure, gaining new readers with every post. The easier you can make it for your readers to share your blog posts, the more of them will do so – it’s as simple as that.

    blog15. Generate conversation
    But what makes a reader want to share your blog post? There needs to be something compelling about it, something that makes readers want to get other reactions to the piece. That means you should aim to generate conversations with your blog posts. You want people who read your content to immediately feel the desire to weigh in and share their own thoughts and feelings on the topic in question.

    That doesn’t mean that you need to be controversial with your blog posts. That works for some companies, but for others, it’s simply too big a risk. But you can definitely encourage conversation even without controversy. The key is to offer a unique opinion on the subject matter in question. If your blog has a very clear point of view, then readers can agree or disagree with it, even if the argument you make is not controversial. If you offer a bland blog post without any viewpoint, though, no one will feel compelled to add their own opinion to the topic.

    If you have a business blog, how do you keep it exciting over time?

    Before looking outwards at our prospects and customers we need to look at ourselves, because each of us is a unique human being with our own desires, challenges and thoughts. To understand how we can communicate, and therefore sell more effectively, we need to understand the human communication process.

    Before looking outwards at our prospects and customers we need to look at ourselves, because each of us is a unique human being with our own desires, challenges and thoughts. To understand how we can communicate, and therefore sell more effectively, we need to understand the human communication process.

    Every minute, our unconscious mind absorbs over two million pieces of information through our senses. We are” bombarded” with sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches. Yet, according to Professor George Miller from Harvard University, we can only process around seven chunks of information consciously at any given moment. That is an awful lot of information that our conscious mind chooses to ignore, or to be more accurate – delete! This means that every individual will process information based on what they are focusing on at that time.

    The information that enters our unconscious mind goes through three filters to reach our conscious mind. We delete most of it, because there is no way that our conscious mind could cope with what is held in the unconscious mind. We distort the information, based on our current situation. For example, a child may interpret the ordinary sounds of a central heating system very differently if they are left alone in the house. This is why, sometimes people can completely misinterpret what we are saying to them, they are distorting the information because they are focusing on a different meaning to the one we wanted to convey.

    We also generalize information. For example, once we have learned what a chair looks like, we can instantly identify other chairs – even though we haven’t seen every type of chair. We can generalize the way most doors are opened, how most cars are driven and even how to identify when a person is either male or female.

    After the information has been filtered into our conscious mind, there are only four things we can do with it inside our head – we make pictures, sounds, we talk to ourselves or we have feelings. The combination of these things creates an emotion that has an effect on our physiology. For example – if we feel embarrassed, we might blush ; if we feel angry, we may tighten up our muscles. Every thought we have affects our body, and the way we move our body affects our thinking. Our mind and body are totally interconnected.

    If you observe someone suffering from depression, they are often round shouldered, they look down a lot and many of them will be using a lot of negative self-talk – “Why does this always happen to me?” “I’m useless” “What’s the point?” and so forth.

    Contrast this to a person who feels really confident – they stand upright, their shoulders are back and they use eye contact. Because every thought we have affects our body, this means that our emotional state also affects our behaviour, which consequently affects and influences the results we get.

    Therefore, if we want to change aspects of our lives, including the way our prospects and customers react to us, first we have to change our own thinking: Attitude is 80% of the success factor in frontline professional selling.

    looking inward / shutterstock

    Marty Smith, an Internet marketer and startup entrepreneur, turned to the things he knew when he received a diagnosis of cancer: social media and crowdfunding to build a community and raise money for cancer research.

    Martin (Marty) Smith is a serial entrepreneur and founder of an exciting initiative: Tech Cures Cancer Fund at the University of North Carolina Lineberger Cancer Center. He is also the founder of CureCancerStarter.org, one of the first crowdfunding websites for cancer research, working with five leading cancer research centers. In addition, Marty is the founder and CEO of Curagami.com, a company whose marketing tools help SMBs curate and gamify content marketing to create profitable and sustainable online community. Oh, and he is also battling cancer.

    Marty talked to Get Social Health about the radical change in his life when he heard the words cancer and his name in the same sentence. Realizing that he didn't have the support group he needed to undergo an intensive cancer treatment, he turned to the thing he knew best, the internet, and made his health journey public via social media. Rather than accept his situation as out of his control, Marty made it his mission to raise funds for cancer research. The first challenge he undertook was a bicycle trip across the US that raised awareness of cancer, known as "Martin's Ride to Cure Cancer." As he battled his chronic case of lymphocytic leukemia, he continued to challenge himself as a fundraiser and internet visionary by creating not one but two crowd funding foundations to support cancer research.

    Listen to Marty's story and tell me you are not amazed at his dedication, tenacity and resiliency.