• 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.
  • Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    An Introduction to Employee Advocacy

    Employee advocacy is an emerging new marketing strategy where companies empower their influential employees to authentically distribute brand approved content, create original content, and in turn earn recognition and rewards for their activity and participation.
  • BeverlyMay
    Beverly May on July 28, 2014

    4th Annual UX Awards are September 11-12 in San Francisco- get 15% off early bird tickets on us before July 31!

    4th Annual UX Awards, the premier awards for exceptional digital experience, will be held in San Francisco on Sept. 11-12 2014!
  • Tying social media marketing the bottom line, through multichannel attribution and powerful (and even free!) tools like Universal Analytics, we can backtrack sales and return on investment to specific marketing channels to repeat what works and change what doesn’t. This post will prove true what many companies are coming to know: Social media marketing isn’t just child’s play, it’s big business!

    Marketing technology bandwagons are a great thing, especially when businesses can get in front of them. From the first companies in the 90’s Dot-Com boom to the first campaign on Pinterest, there’s a huge value in going into uncharted marketing territories with a vision. That vision, extended to all marketing mediums, presents a real opportunity for the winners of tomorrow. Today, these “uncharted” territories tend to fall into three categories: social, local and mobile.

    Once just a playground for teens and college kids, social media has evolved into a pillar of communication in life for nearly every one of us. It’s no surprise that social media marketing quickly followed suit, ingraining itself into the business models of both the platforms (Faceboo, Twitter ect.) and the advertisers (anyone looking to have their message heard). At the core of this dynamic is content (including organic, native and paid) and investments are booming, as shown below.

    social media marketing spending chart

    Via http://www.emarketer.com/Article/All-Eyes-on-Native-Advertising-Despite-Uncertainties/1009895

    The reason social media investments are booming comes down to three core driver: Ecommerce, Customer Lifetime Value and the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). Simply put, social media marketing allows companies to build an owned following and have the ability to reach out to customers without interrupting them like a radio commercial would. This reality is why social media cannot be matched by mediums like PPC, SEO or content marketing alone.

    Social media now even allows companies to sell products beyond their websites and on Facebook or Twitter, a revolution for ecommerce and a great reduction in friction for conversions and sales. Social is growing into a powerful tool, and in the right hands, it produces both short and long term value for businesses.

    In a world where businesses are judged by the quarter, it can become easy to neglect long-term revenue drivers like customer lifetime value and the zero moment of truth. Resultantly, companies typically tend to focus more on proven “must-have” methods such as SEO and content optimization, leaving social as a side-project. Although short-term revenue drivers like social ecommerce are still in an infantile stage, social media currently plays a huge role in the early stages of the customer lifecycle and ZMOT, or word of mouth marketing as it pertains to digital media.

    To consider the value of social, we need only see how company praises and criticisms can spread like wildfire on networks like Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, and the resultant booms and busts that tend to follow because of the bandwagon effect. When a customer is happy or unhappy with a product or company, they don’t just tell their friends anymore- they tell the world and people respond.

    Resultantly, opinions are then aggregated and shared online and reviews are combined and sorted for potential new customers in an Amazon-like style. Due to social factors, the tides of customer and industry blessings can change in an instant, necessitating flawless conversion marketing, value delivery, conflict resolution and amplification of positive experiences on the business end. Whether a customer is in discovery to post-purchase, social can now play an important role in the entire buying cycle. For businesses, certain tools like social suites and remarketing platforms, can help to move customers along this cycle, boosting satisfaction and the bottom line of social ROI.

    The chart below illustrates the percentage of total web generated traffic by popular channels (including SEO, social and direct), where you’ll noticed inbound mediums received a disproportionate percentage of marketing investments given the traffic generated. For social, considering:

    1.       the amount of web traffic it drives

    2.       the ability to quickly communication with customers

    3.       the ability to disseminate information

    4.       the ability to resolve disputes

    5.       the ability to drive sales

    Social starts to been seen as the core marketing pillar that it is.


    social media traffic as a percent

    via http://socialfresh.com/inbound-traffic/

    Yet, as any marketing professor will tell you, we must always be mindful of the need for a strong marketing mix. As overreliance on any one channel can become a competitive weakness, diversification into other marketing mediums such as SEO, PPC advertising and site and content optimization becomes critical. Because the digital landscape is ever changing, companies with the foresight to experiment translating messaging across new customer-connected mediums will own their territory online and grow over time.

    Tying it all back to the bottom line, though multichannel attribution and powerful (and even free!) tools like Universal Analytics, we can then backtrack sales and the return on investment to specific marketing channels to repeat what works and change what doesn’t. Over time, this will prove true what many companies are coming to know- Social media marketing isn’t just child’s play- It’s big business!

    Share in the comments section down below how your organization is using social media and the results you’ve seen over time.

    Originally posted at the MITX Innovation Blog.

    Image via Flickr

    Do you find Twitter to be an indecipherable mess of characters and abbreviations? Here's an overview, along with some important notes, to help you get the most out of Twitter's common processes.

    So how do you do the Twitter? It’s one thing to have a Twitter profile, but it’s another thing to be active on the platform. And once you are active, it’s another thing again to utilise Twitter to best effect. While every user has a different approach and different goals for their Twitter presence, it’s worth noting the various types and uses of tweets to help guide your own process. Many things are still being tried and tested, different practices will have varying levels of success, but here are some basic Twitter protocols, along with the how and why of their most common uses.

    RT (Retweet)


    Re-tweet example

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    Retweets and favourites are the most commonly used Twitter processes, outside of tweeting itself. In the first iteration of Twitter, there was no actual ‘retweet’ function - it was created by users, who started re-posting tweets with ‘RT’ at the beginning. Some still see this as the best way to retweet, logic being that if you press ‘Retweet’, it shows up in the notifications feed of the person you’ve re-tweeted, but they don't have the option to reply or favourite the tweet – they have to respond to you separately.


    Re-tweet in Notifications stream

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    Even worse, if you re-tweet something that’s been re-tweeted by several other people, your re-tweet goes onto a list - if the originator doesn't click on that list, he/she will be totally unaware that you’ve re-tweeted them.


    Re-tweet list

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    This is particularly relevant for social media marketers, as you’ll often use the re-tweet as a means of connecting with a potential client: if your name ends up on a list of re-tweeters, using a RT for this purpose is pretty much pointless.

    Using the original RT process - copying the tweet and putting ‘RT’ at the beginning - ensures the originator will always see that you’ve re-tweeted them, and they’ll be able to respond and engage with you easily.


    Manual RT example

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    That may not always be your aim when re-tweeting, but something to consider in your process.

    Another aspect of this to keep in mind is that if you never actually re-tweet anyone, your feed will only ever show your own tweets:


    No re-tweets in stream

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    This is the first impression people are going to have when they visit your profile – having just your own tweets in your stream may give the impression that you’re only a broadcaster and could lessen your appeal to those looking to connect. Breaking up the feed with some re-tweets can look more inviting for people scanning through your output.


    Re-tweets in stream

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    MT (Modified Tweet)

    Sometimes you want to re-tweet someone but you want to add in your own message. In order to do this, you may have to lose or modify some of the original message to fit into the 140 character limit, but you still want to credit and acknowledge the tweet originator. You can do this by copying the original tweet and putting 'MT' at the start, along with your modifications or additions:


    Modified tweet

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    MTs are generally used when you want to share the original tweet, but add only a small modification – if you’re changing the original tweet wholesale, you can just re-write it and forget the original wording – though crediting the source tweeter is always best practice.


    I read a description once that said ‘favourites are like a nod, re-tweets are like a high-five’. I’m not sure that’s always true – some see re-tweets of your own @mentions as self-serving - but I do agree with the characterisation of Favourites. It’s like a nod of acknowledgement, a thumbs-up to the originator. Favourites are your basic, minimum acknowledgment – if you want to say thanks with no fuss, just click on that little star and let the sender know you appreciate it.


    Favourited tweet

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    Favourites are also a good way to make subtle contact – for every favourite, you’ll show up in the originator's notifications feed, which may prompt them to click on your profile and, eventually, connect. But just like re-tweets, if you Favourite a tweet that ends up getting several favourites, you might end up as another profile on a list that may never get seen.


    Favourites list

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    For instance, don’t bother clicking favourite one of Justin Bieber’s tweets if you want him to let him know you care:


    JB - Popular guy

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    Favourites also show up in a separate list on your profile, so people can get a better idea of what you’re into by looking through that list – but be wary, if you’re trying to present yourself in a professional manner, maybe best not to favourite the latest semi-offensive joke tweet from that comedian you really like.

    Pinned Tweet

    In early 2014, Twitter introduced a new Pinned Tweet feature which allows you to select your favourite tweet and pin it to your profile. This means every time someone visits your Twitter home base, the tweet you’ve selected will be the first they see.


    Pinned tweet example

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    This is particularly handy for bloggers who want to promote their latest posts – you can pin it and leave it up, updating it whenever you post a new piece. You can also use it to showcase your most popular tweets to ensure people get a glimpse of you at your Twitter best.

    Tweet Length 

    Tweets are 140 characters long, right? Not much room to work with, but best practice is to try and keep your tweets shorter than the limit – even down to 100 characters if you can. Why? Leaving more room gives other people space to add in their own comments when they quote or re-tweet your stuff. Like with MTs, people like to be able to add their own take on tweets they share. Leaving space at the end of your tweets allows them room to do so.


    Hashtags are linked conversations – you click on any hashtag and you’ll be taken to a listing of every mention of the same hashtag on Twitter, showing you the wider conversation around that particular topic. Hashtags are still widely misunderstood and mis-used, but applied correctly, they can greatly expand your tweet reach and help you connect with specific communities on the platform – but any more than two tags and you’re running the risk of over-doing it.


    Tweets and Hashtags - Buffer blog

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    A common hashtag mis-understanding? Hashtags are not an extension of your tweet. There’s no point making up a hashtag if it’ll never be used by anyone else. You see people doing it all the time, adding odd hashtags to add context to their description:




    Some people make up tags just for the fun of it, but if you’re seriously trying to utilise hashtags, putting an # in front of a random phrase or word is not particularly helpful. If you need to know which hashtag to use, visit Hashtagify and enter in any term you like – Hashtagify will come back with the most used hashtags in relation to that term, along with a number to indicate how popular each is. You pick the most relevant one, add that to the end of your tweet, and there you are.


    If you enter someone’s @username in a tweet, that tweet will appear in that user’s notifications feed, giving them a chance to respond. If you enter an @username at the start of your tweet, that tweet will ONLY be seen by that user and any users that follow both you and that person. A common mistake people make is that they’ll enter an @username at the start of a tweet, thinking it will be seen by everyone who follows them. It won’t. You can avoid this by putting a full-stop before the @username to begin your tweet – this will ensure it’s seen by all your followers.


    .@mention example

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    There’s been a big focus on visual elements of late, and for good reason – figures show that tweets with images are re-tweeted at a significantly higher rate than those without. For every tweet, you have the ability to add in an image that will appear with your message. In fact, you can add up to four images to every tweet – they will appear in box format, in the order you uploaded them.


    Four images in one tweet

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    Adding in images is a great way to increase engagement, and there are clever ways to utilise Twitter’s image options to create additional context for the info you’re sharing. You can also add in videos that can be played in-stream with your tweet.


    Embedded YouTube video in Twitter stream

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    These are the basic functions of Twitter that you need to know in order to mix it with the tweet elite. Understanding these functions will help fast-track your performance and expand your thinking on what’s possible in 140-characters or less.

    Consider this infographic from the digital marketing agency mainstreethost. According to the research shown, a brand’s biggest advocates have the fewest followers. Also, fewer than 1/10 social mentions will actually come from power users.

    In order to maintain an energetic social media presence and an ambition content posting schedule, sometimes we really need to think that every person who sees and engages with our social posts is a power user; those all-important industry influencers who have the power to make your content go viral.

    And while that fantasy can certainly help keep you motivated, it’s important to be aware – even if only in the very back of your mind – that it’s not really the case. Do I say this to dishearten you or rain on your parade? Certainly not. But it is important to be mindful of the need to make every interaction with an influencer on social really count.

    Consider the infographic below from the digital marketing agency mainstreethost. According to the research shown, a brand’s biggest advocates have the fewest followers. Also, fewer than 1/10 social mentions will actually come from power users.

    So what should a social media market do? First, make sure that you are aware each time a power user or influencer mentions your brand or your brand’s category. If you really want to interact with a power user, but they’ve never mentioned your specifically, keep an eye on their feed for mentions of the industy in which your brand operates. It’s a great excuse to tweet at them and get your name in the mix. You should be monitoring those emails you get from Twitter alerting you to mentions, and also set up Google Alerts for your brand name and industry keywords.

    Another tool to try is a brand advocacy tool. These products make it easy to automate interactions with your brand advocates and biggest fans, and get more people – including influencers – talking about you. Check out GaggleAMP and SocialChorus as options.

    And when you do get mentioned on social media, make sure you make the most of it! Leverage that user-generated content for your own promotion and content purposes.

    (Click infographic to view larger)

    social media infographic

    Boring or sanguine is no longer good enough. Even sturdy or stable won’t cut it if you have ROI to contend with – and most of us do. Content, and in particular, the tip of the spear on that content, must have something poignant or funny or alarming or dramatic or sexy that speaks to an audience, and drives them to take action and share the fact that they've taken that action.

    In my roughly five years writing for Forbes, most of my posts and videos were consumed by between 1,000 - 10,000 internet-dwelling mammals. One story, however, stood out. It was a piece I wrote about my adopted hometown of St. Louis called "St. Louis Doesn't Suck" – an homage to a city that, in my opinion, does not get its due for a variety of reasons.

    The question being: Why did so many people read a story that was perceivably regional in nature? The answer is actually rather simple: The headline.

    This is of course nothing new. Headlines, as Mashable's Lauren Indvik capably noted in a story two years ago about The Atlantic, is less about SEO (as once was the case) and more about "spinning" a story to drive its viral potential. It is why when my team develops real-time, humor-driven content for certain brands, we always include a compelling "book cover" – inclusive of both a headline and an image with a bite – for social posting.

    “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy,” as content strategist David Ogilvy told Brian Eisenberg, a self-proclaimed “online marketing pioneer,” co-founder and chairman emeritus of the Web Analytics Association (now the Digital Analytics Association). “When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

    All of this speaks to a larger issue for marketers and brands, who now must function as content producers. And that issue is that boring or sanguine is no longer good enough. Even sturdy or stable won’t cut it if you have an ROI to contend with – and most of us do. Content, and in particular, the tip of the spear on that content, must have something poignant or funny or alarming or dramatic or sexy that speaks to an audience and drives them to take action and share the fact that they've taken that action.

    “…in today’s environment of thousands of headlines, subject lines and content titles assaulting readers, more like a dam bursting than a firehose, you need to develop the skills to throw readers a virtual life raft for them to grab hold of,” Eisenberg noted when citing an experiment in which he found a 217 percent lift by simply using a more juicy headline with no changes to content whatsoever.

    You get it, Mr. or Mrs. CMO, right? If you're investing a few hundred thousand or a few million in campaign and no one pays attention, you are absolutely screwed. Your CEO and CFO will come knockin’ throwing around refreshing phrases like “viral video” and you will very soon be hitting up LinkedIn and CareerBuilder in search of gainful employment as a union horseshoe fitter. There is simply very little room for error today.

    Just remember the infamous words of actress Bette Davis, “An affair now and then is good for a marriage. It adds spice, stops it from getting boring.”

    Indeed, and as content goes, that spice of life is not just the new norm, but the new necessity in content marketing today.

    tip of the spear / shutterstock

    As wonderful as the idea of viral content might be, very few online marketers have a firm grasp on exactly what's involved in achieving the goal. As a matter of fact, many business owners look at viral content as more of a reward. If a blog post or info graphic should be successful, well that's simply icing on the cake. This is an unfortunate attitude, as crafting viral content is well within the grasp of any individual or team who is willing to put in the effort.

    For those entrepreneurs who look to social networks as an opportunity to build a stronger and more popular brand, making content go viral on Facebook is always a consideration.

    As wonderful as the idea of viral content might be, very few online marketers have a firm grasp on exactly what's involved in achieving the goal. As a matter of fact, many business owners look at viral content as more of a reward. If a blog post or info graphic should be successful, well that's simply icing on the cake. This is an unfortunate attitude, as crafting viral content is well within the grasp of any individual or team who is willing to put in the effort.

    Content Curation

    A fundamental step in creating viral content on a social network like Facebook is to adopt a very discriminating posture when selecting the subject matter. Viewers want to be engaged even when killing time, and content that is not up to the task will simply fall flat, and your efforts to go viral will probably end after a few half-hearted likes or shares.

    The User Experience

    This is by far the most important aspect of creating a viral campaign on Facebook or any other social platform. The idea of UX design, or user experience design, is a critical factor when delivering content to the end-user.

    Even when armed with engaging and original content, ineffective delivery will prevent any hopes of a viral result, and it's important to consider the entire process from start to finish.

    Visual Appeal

    From graphic elements to the way that written copy is presented, shared content should be easy for any viewer to consume. This is not as straightforward as it might seem. While your visual presentation might look wonderful on a local desktop, how will it translate once the share button is hit?

    While every social network subscribes to their own set of protocols when presenting content to viewers, creating campaigns that are easy to consume begins with your own design team. This means images that are clean and sized correctly, articles that are written with a focus on rock solid SEO, and sharing attributes that ensure social networks are given the right data to deliver your campaign effectively.

    Regardless of the information that Facebook requires when building a shared post, if you don't make that data readily available and easy for Facebook to digest, your beautiful campaign will fall apart once the sharing process begins. In order for your content to go viral, your marketing team needs to look under the hood.

    Work With Facebook

    In order to have any chance of making your content go viral, you need to play by the rules. This means understanding Facebook's Open Graph Protocol and making certain that it's implemented on your websites and your client's websites.

    Open Graph meta tags are an important part of search engine optimization and should not be overlooked if your marketing efforts are dependent on social media sharing and a positive user experience. While Facebook and other social networks will always make an effort to gather the appropriate data from your site, your shares may not translate effectively unless you take the time to give Facebook what its looking for.

    Put quite simply, you need to make the user experience as pleasurable and painless as possible. This means content that is shared easily and delivered effectively. You want the beautiful design on your desktop to be exactly what the user sees when they access their Facebook Timeline. There should be no hiccups along the way, and there shouldn't be any point in the process where too much is expected of the user. Click and share. It's only rocket science if you don't pay attention to the details.

    Making content go viral on Facebook is not necessarily a fluke. A well engineered campaign will certainly increase your chances, and will create a formula for future posts and engaging content.

    Photo Credit: Kosmas Santosa via Compfight cc