• 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.
  • As a co-founder of BlogHer, Camahort Page has helped grow the world of women blogging from niche and fragmented, to comprehensive and collective. And the events the organization’s hosted, have evolved into ‘must be there’ celebrations.

    I found myself engrossed in a recent interview piece with Elisa Camahort Page about the upcoming 10 Year Anniversary BlogHer Conference. As a co-founder of BlogHer, Camahort Page has helped grow the world of women blogging from niche and fragmented, to comprehensive and collective. And the events the organization’s hosted, have evolved into ‘must be there’ celebrations.  

    In years past the BlogHer has been host to the likes of Sheryl Sandberg, Martha Stewart, Queen Latifah, and this year, Kerry Washington, eBay CMO, Richelle Parham, and a keynote by Arianna Huffington.

    Which got me thinking, with Arianna Huffington headlining the festivities, what might she have in store for this group of thinkers, writers, and influencers? “With Arianna, we know we'll hear a thoughtful vision that considers how to stay happy when hyper-connected,” Camahort Page predicted in a recent blog post.

    But I wanted to know more. Like the real, inside scoop.

    [[{"fid":"118306","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]":"","field_file_image_title_text[und][0][value]":""},"type":"media","attributes":{"style":"margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; margin-top: 5px; margin-bottom: 5px; float: right; ","class":"media-element file-default"}}]]So I reached out to Elisa Camahort Page in this written interview, and together produced the hot topics we somewhat predict, but entirely hope Arianna will touch upon at BlogHer 2014.

    Q: How exciting is it to have Arianna back at BlogHer since her first keynote in 2006? And what does she represent to your audience of women writers?

    A:  We are thrilled to have Arianna back. Back in 2006 both BlogHer and the Huffington Post were fledgling media companies. Even then she was talking about sleep and the need to balance our fervor and passion for what we’re doing with self-care...so in a way, with both companies approaching the ten-year mark, we’re coming full circle talking to Arianna, and talking again about how to manage the 24/7 nature of our lives.

    Q: I saw a great content marketing tweet recently that said, “It’s a mobile world, we just live in it.” Do you think that’s true and do you think Arianna might very well agree?

    A: While I certainly hope we can ask Arianna herself about how the Huffington Post is adapting to the increasingly mobile world we live in, I know that we at BlogHer have found it a business imperative. Many many of the bloggers in our network now derive more than half their traffic from mobile visitors. That shift is real, and it’s continuing. That affects how you design, how you create, how you monetize.

    Q: Talk about the measurement and metrics of content. Has it gone from “nice to have” to “must have”? And what do you expect we’ll hear about it from your speakers?

    A: BlogHer is not the only company that has been at this for nearly ten years. And that means we all have years now, YEARS, of historical data. We can and do draw predictive insights from our historical data, and we tell our customers what they can expect from campaigns with us. We think anyone in this space should be able to do the same.

    It’s past time for us all to stop saying this is some kind of Wild West that is completely unpredictable. And this is trickling down to individual publishers too. If you’re monetizing your site, then you have *customers*. And while, yes, they care about your reach...and growing your reach is a great goal...they care more about your results.

    • How are you sharing with your audience?

    • How do you distribute your great content?

    • How much does your audience engage with you and your content?

    • Do they act on it?

    These are the questions we all need to answer, from the individual publisher to the traditional media outlet.

    Q: BlogHer was created in order to carve out a space for women bloggers. How has BlogHer impacted what is seen as a male dominated space in the past 10 years?

    A: I don’t think people actually ask “Where are the women bloggers?” anymore, do you? But what is even more important to us is that we have helped the women (and men!) in our network contribute to their household incomes in meaningful ways during this volatile economic time. We have paid $36MM to nearly 6,000 bloggers and influencers over the past five years. And we are very proud of that!

    Q:From Arianna to Kerry Washington, what makes for an inspiring BlogHer conference speaker?

    A: We look for folks who are, dare I say, thriving in this new global communications environment. People who are making their mark. People who are leveraging new communications tools to do so. And people who can speak articulately about how and why they engage the way that they do, online and of, with their constituencies.

     

    Should a business buy Facebook likes? With so many companies promising 1,000 Facebook likes for $50, it's sometimes hard for a business to know if this is a scheme, or not. After reaching out to some of the biggest names in social media, as well as doing some in-depth research on the topic, we've given the definitive answer on why buying fans is unethical and ineffective.

    "Should I buy Facebook likes to boost my presence?" We get this question WAY more often than we should. When talking to people around the office, we thought the answer was a no-brainer – NEVER buy fans. Unfortunately, we've seen far too many pages do just that. After a lot of reading, talking to some influential social media professionals, and using a little of our own common sense, we've answered the question.

    Below is a conversation that we sometimes have with clients, and one we wish we had with others before they made the decision to buy likes.

    I really want my Facebook page to look popular, and I’ve been thinking of buying Facebook likes. Is that OK? In a world where the amount of “Likes” a company has seems to reign supreme, it’s very tempting to get sucked into the vortex of wanting more likes than all of your competitors. However, when it comes to businesses or an organization, you want the people who like your page to be true supporters of your cause, product or company.

    But all of those people will help me build my business, right? Wrong. When you purchase Facebook likes, all of this support and engagement goes out the window. These purchased likes are either a mixed bag of random people being paid by a company, or fake accounts altogether. Either way, those people do not truly value your company or organization. The likes you get are from spam accounts, which violates Facebook’s user policy. (This means they can get banned and deleted.) These "click farms" have generated a large profit, but it's not a business you or I want to be in. David Burch, at TubeMogul, a video marketing firm based in Emeryville, California, said buying clicks is bad business. "And if an advertiser ever found out you did that, they'd never do business with you again."

    Wow! This sounds like a bad idea. Tell me more! Facebook developed an algorithm (or really a group of algorithms) which determines how often your posts appear in your fans’ Newsfeeds. And it punishes you if your content is lacking. When you buy Facebook likes, the percentage of people who engage with your content (which is likely not even everyone who organically liked your page) will shrink.

    Let's do the math:

    You have 200 organic fans of your page. Let's say 25% of them engage with your content on a regular basis, that's 50 fans.

    You buy 1000 fans (now a total of 1,200). If those 50 fans are still engaging with you, Facebook sees that only a meager 4.2% of your fanbase is engaging with your content. This tells the algorithm that you aren't producing valuable content, and you will appear in your fans' Newsfeeds even less often.

    So what happened to those 200 organic fans that loved your brand? They're still there, but they aren't seeing your posts, and one of your competitors may have caught their eye in the meantime. (Psst... Facebook has declined organic reach by 50% in the last year and rumored to decline more. Don't hurt yourself even more by purchasing likes.)

    Am I just stuck at (insert current number of likes here) for the rest of my life? Of course not! There are many more effective (and ethical) ways to increase the number of fans on your page. (Read this Facebook Marketing blog for more advice!) What do some of the biggest names in social media have to say? You don’t have to take our word for it. Our Outreach & New Media Manager took to Twitter to ask some of the biggest names in social media what they thought about the topic. Read the passionate, and strikingly similar responses below:

    What have we learned from all of this? Don't buy fans! Not just on Facebook, don't buy fans/followers on any social media platform. And if anyone tells you that they want to buy you likes... run.

    Pam Moore, a Forbes.com Top 10 Social Media Influencers and chart topper on string of other impressive lists, told us to not waste our time. She tweeted to us saying, "Focus on ppl who understand real value & work required for social biz." With a consistent and effective content strategy, your fans WILL come. And you will look more authentic, earn an audience that believes in your brand, and have higher conversion rates in the long run.

    If you're still not convinced, let me ask you one final question: Can fake likes purchase your product? (Hint: The answer is no.)

    A recent report states that only 34% of us think our measurement of social’s impact is accurate, which means we have a lot of work to do to validate value to the C-Suite. This post explores a few ways to begin rethinking return on investment when it comes to social-driven programs.

    Useful Social Media (USM) recently released its 2014 State of Corporate Social Media Briefing, which I was privileged to take part in. Like most reports, this was conducted by reaching out and interviewing people in corporate social media roles – a traditional approach to market research. (There are companies that use a new approach to market research and mine social media conversations.)

    Image of Rethink Social ROI

    Graph via Useful Social Media (USM): 2014 State of Corporate Social Media Briefing

    Regardless of research approach, one thing continues to ring true for marketers using social media: the need to demonstrate value to the bottom line, or at least in terms the C-Suite considers “valuable.” It’s scary that only 50% responded that their C-Suite is convinced of social’s value. USM’s position is that corporate social media marketers can glean the most insight from their peers, and I don’t disagree.

    There’s a big difference between what’s IDEAL and what you SHOULD do versus REALITY and what you CAN do.

    Every company, team, marketers has unique variables; things like time, budget, resources, executive support, talent, creative, and so on and so on. Plus it bears repeating that you must first define your strategy, goals and objectives, and (perhaps, most important) how you will measure success.

    Image of Rethink Social ROI

    Graph via Useful Social Media (USM): 2014 State of Corporate Social Media Briefing

    If you don’t have those critical components in place, you’re basically flying the plane while constructing it.

    That’s something every marketer can relate to.   

    It’s equally scary to think that only 34% of us think our measurement of social’s impact is accurate. We have some work to do. Based on some of the results from USM’s briefing, these ideas came to mind to help our industry rethink the value we demonstrate from our social programs so the C-Suite takes note.

    USM Finding

    How to Rethink It

    The top 3 KPIs marketers track are followers, web traffic and engagement. (excerpt from USM’s Briefingpictured below)

     

    TIP: Executives care about growing the business so you should think about revenue, cost per unit and pipeline growth.

    • Focus more on conversions. Whether it’s downloading resources, signing up for a webinar or agreeing to speak to a “sales” person.
    • Cross reference “new” clients/customers to your social groups (i.e. followers) to benchmark and track the percentage of overlap.
    • Correlate Revenue with Brand Reputation. If your social efforts resonate, they should impact your company’s overall health, too. Maybe that’s a Reputation Score or perhaps your stock price.
    74% place brand and communications as most important.

     

    TIP: Measure emotion. What does your audience care about most? Go beyond volume and sentiment of conversations and hit the heart.

    Find a company that can measure the emotional intensity of the discussions and topics you’re already tracking. Bonus points if they find organic topics you might not even be thinking about. This will require an investment but it saves big by giving you answer to “where to focus” and “how” to message so it resonates.
    Google+, Pinterest and Instagram are “rocketing”  up the chart of most popular social channels.

     

    TIP: Not every channel makes sense for every brand. Find out where your audience “hangs out,” then see if you have content that fits the appropriate use for that channel.

    Research how people use various social channels and how that use can support your goals and objectives.Pinterest is awesome for highly visual brands trying to drive traffic to its site with tips, recipes and life hacks. Instagram doesn’t drive traffic to the web but helps share a lifestyle or sense of fashion. Google+ integrates with YouTube and Events, which are cornerstones of a consultancy.

    As social marketers, it’s often hard to take time to connect the dots on all the metrics we can capture; making our datainactionable versus something to help us get better results. Take a look at the rest of USM’s briefing here and share your thoughts in the comments below.

    Image of Rethink Social ROI

    Graph via Useful Social Media (USM): 2014 State of Corporate Social Media Briefing

     

     

    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.