• Russ Fradin
    Russ Fradin on July 29, 2014

    Why Employee Advocacy Matters

    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.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • LPope
    Leah Pope on September 23, 2014

    Using Social Intelligence to Build the Sales Pipeline

    The social web has opened new channels for consumers to discuss products and brands, share opinions and ask for recommendations. Brands today must take a more responsive approach focused around interests relevant to the individual consumer. With the right tools in place, brands can uncover these opportunities, engage strategically and directly contribute to trackable lead generation.
  • If you are a social media marketer working in the online advertising space, split testing via social media needs to become a part of your vocabulary.

    Two colleagues within the same clothing company firmly believed that they had the best idea for a Black Friday promotion. In the olden days, there’d be a lot of arguments before one persons idea would prevail and the others would falter. Often times, there would be no real data to support which associate was right and which one was wrong in this type of situation.

    Fast forward to the digital age that we now live in. Within 24-hours, an A vs. B test could be set-up via social media where two sets of advertisements could be targeted to the same demographic on Facebook. Each associate who claims to have the "best idea" would get to see how his or her respective campaign performs. Based off of the click through rate of the advertisement and the conversion rate on the landing page (total sales generated) there could be a clear-cut winner to determine which promotion was the most successful.

    If you are a social media marketer and dabble with online advertising, split testing via social media needs to become a part of your vocabulary (if it isn’t already). Let’s look at several examples of social advertising split testing that should become a part of every online advertisers game-plan moving forward.

    Ad Copy Testing:

    Within the creative on Facebook advertising, there is the option to enhance the headline, text and news feed link description. It is critical to have multiple variations of ad copy. The verbiage on your headline and text can make all of the difference between making a conversion and someone never clicking on your ad. For starters, create two different headlines and two different variations of text and descriptions to see which one performs the best. By constantly testing, you’ll start to learn what messaging resonates the best with your audience.

    Click through rate, “Likes”, “Shares” and reach will be the most telling measurements as to the top performers of the advertising copy. Search Engine Watch provides great tips for Facebook advertising success!

    Landing Page Testing:

    You have mastered testing out your ad copy and description and now want to take this one step further. Create two different variations of a landing page where you will send the user after they click on your ad via social. If you dominate your landing page experience, you’ll be able to drive more conversions and decrease your bounce rate.

    According to unbounce.com, every landing page should have the following:

    Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

    a.     The main headline

    b.     A supporting headline

    c.      A reinforcement statement

    d.     A closing argument

    2.     The hero shot (images/video showing context of use)

    3.     The benefits of your offering

    a.     A bullet point list summary of benefits

    b.     Benefit and features in detail

    4.     Social proof (I’ll have what she’s having)

    5.     A single conversion goal – your Call-To-Action (CTA) (with or without a form)

    You will be amazed with the difference that adding a video instead of an image and changing up your headline on the landing page can make. Knowing that a winning landing page strategy can increase conversions makes it a must for all online marketers.

    Imagery Testing:

    Just like changing up the text up can make all the difference when it comes to the verbiage on an advertisement, changing up the imagery can drastically alter the results (in a positive way) for your Facebook advertising campaigns.

    Imagine an advertisement for an apartment community. When scrolling through your newsfeed, you see a beautiful photo of their resort style pool. The next time, you see the same advertisement but instead of the pool, it is a generic blue background.

    The difference in click through rate and interaction if you have a professional looking photo that correlates perfectly with the ad copy opposed to a below average graphic that confuses the reader can be drastic!

    Continue to tweak the imagery and messaging on display advertisements as this can make a big difference in conversions for your company.

    David Ogilvy, the famous marketing executive, famously said, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” This quote should be bolded, printed out and taped onto every social media marketer’s office wall. Whether it is advertising or daily social posts, you should always be testing and trying to improve. If you are not willing to test, you won’t see massive improvements to your social media marketing campaigns. 

    Since the early days of computing, ever shrinking computers have been on a collision course towards human integration. The distinction between what is physical and digital continues to dissolve. I observed a friend of mine the other day had 6 devices on his person; 2 phones, 2 tablets, a fitbit, and a laptop. But, even those devices are being “splintered” down even further. The numbers of sensors (tiny little computers) embedded within today’s mobile devices are exploding.

    Since the early days of computing, ever shrinking computers have been on a collision course towards human integration. The distinction between what is physical and digital continues to dissolve.

    Early stage prototypes are already allowing neurological signals to manipulate the physical world directly via the integration of molecular and atomic level components. Think it and it simply happens. The implications are profound.

    Not only are people and things being connected to the Internet, but previous “networks of one” are being splintered into their own thriving digital ecosystems. This pattern, started long ago, continues to propagate.

    To make this a bit more tangible, consider the following: Mainframes used to contain the digital footprint of entire countries, then entire organizations. That was subsequently splintered into a network of interconnected desktops within one physical location. These networks then began to span geographies. Corporate desktops were further splintered into home computers, and then portable laptops that went everywhere with its human companion. Fast forward a decade, and these portable computers have multiplied. I observed a friend of mine the other day had 6 devices on his person; 2 phones, 2 tablets, a fitbit, and a laptop. But, even those devices are being “splintered” down even further. The numbers of sensors (tiny little computers) embedded within today’s mobile devices are exploding.

    MORE READING: Micro Everything

    It is not too far fetched to imagine that one day, the very core building blocks of the human body will be networked. In fact, it’s already being simulated. Millions of connected atomic and molecular nodes will be doing what they’ve always done, but with a corresponding digital footprint. Their networkability will open up new frontiers that most of us can’t even grasp today.

    MORE READING: When our Neurons are Connected to the Net

    We are witnessing the digitization of everything happening around us, and to us, which is unleashing unprecedented complexity and opportunity.

    Intimate Computing?

    The idea of combining the words “intimacy” and “computer” likely never crossed the minds of most people in the 1960s, with the exception of the vision and work of people like Vannevar Bush, J.C.R. Licklider, and Douglas Engelbart but today we hear studies claim that 57% of women would rather give up sex than their smartphone. An experiment that removed smartphones from college students with the intention of reducing distraction, actually introduced more distraction because of the anxiety that the students experienced being “disconnected”.

    The coming widespread adoption of wearables will take intimacy and personalization one step further on the journey towards deeper digital/physical integration.

    Participation in digital networks used to be something we did in its own silo – its own space, largely detached from the physical world. In the near future, a fundamental shift will happen. Most of our lives will happen on digital networks by default, each of us generating terabytes of data, and leaving a permanently recorded, constantly evolving trail of digital exhaust in our wake.

    But there’s still a ways to go. And next step ahead of us on the human journey is the transition from mobile devices (one day we’ll laugh at this archaic moniker) to wearables.

    But are the wearables of today even… wearable?

    The simple fact is that we’ve been talking about wearable technology for quite some time. The smartwatch actually dates back all the way to the 1980’s. IBM displayed a smartwatch prototype in 2000, and Microsoft released one in 2004. Here we are, decades later and the most innovative consumer device manufacturer in modern history is just now launching version 1.0 to the public.

    Early experiments have taught us that taking a computer and placing it on our body has been met with a unique new type of resistance to the next wave of technology. Google Glass provides a great example. Talking to someone wearing Glass is awkward and uncomfortable. Smart watches have opened themselves up to mockery and satire because who really wants a mini-smartphone slapped on their wrist? And what is the real added benefit?

    That said, the promise of augmenting our capabilities, and rendering previously unquantifiable complexity with unprecedented simplicity has much of the developed world excited.


    Where and how wearables are gaining traction

    New use cases are emerging daily.

    Early adoption in wearables has largely been in four primary areas (with the some better known areas associated);

    1. Enterprise and Industrial

    • Field Service
    • Manufacturing
    • Warehouse Automation

    2. Healthcare

    • Surgery
    • Insurance

    3. Military

    • Sensor based tracking
    • Augmented Reality
    • Exoskeletons

    4. Consumer

    • Elderly Care
    • Gaming
    • Augmented Reality
    • Health and Fitness

    Consumer based successes have largely centered around health and fitness and the growing “quantified self” movement.

    But, a key difference on the consumer front is that wearables are not just being leveraged for their utility. They are increasingly becoming an expression of our identity. Just as clothes, hairstyles, jewelry are expressions of ourselves; the technology we adorn our bodies with may ultimately be a significant contributor to our own “personal brand”.

    Apple repeatedly highlighted this reality in their recent unveiling of the coming AppleWatch. They invested significant sums of money in designing for fashion, as well as function.

    But, they are not alone in their efforts. Initially crude and functional wearable devices are morphing into cool and futuristic fashion accessories that attempt to stand on their own, while simultaneously integrating new technological capabilities. Consider the recently released smart polo shirt from Ralph Lauren, or the pending new jewelry line, Mica.

    Earlier this week, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN, I watched Will.i.am control the entire sound performance of his concert with a new wearable bracelet that he is set to announce and release to the public in mid-October.

    Wearables Rising

    As higher processing power, and access to more powerful and ubiquitous broadband becomes wrapped in smaller and more innovative and fashionable form factors, the data explosion we’ve seen in recent years will continue to accelerate exponentially.

    The ultimate adoption of wearable computing by the mainstream will continue to evolve our world towards a more connected, more intelligent, and more complex environment. Some changes will be subtle and others will be transformative.

    In the next post, we’ll explore the implications and considerations for each of these groups with extra attention focused on the implications on CIOs and the Enterprise.

    This post is brought to you by InnovateThink and Cisco.

    IMG Credits: Bionicly, trends.google.com

    Facebook is the biggest social network in the world with over 1.1 billion users worldwide. Having a Facebook business page for your business is really important.

    Facebook is the biggest social network in the world with over 1.1Billion users worldwide. Having a Facebook business page for your business is really important and here are 10 top tips to a successful Facebook Business Page.

    1. Post a Relevant Article Once a Week

    It is so important for your business that you are seen as a thought leader in your industry and one way to do this is to post a relevant article once a week so your followers can see you are staying up to date.

    1. Like, Share & Comment on Posts

    Engagement is key when it comes to social media and especially on Facebook. Liking, sharing and commenting on posts are a great way to increase your visibility on Facebook.

    1. Check your Notifications

    If you don’t check your notifications, you may be missing out on sales. If you don’t know that someone has left a question for you to answer on your Facebook page and you leave it unanswered for too long, they might even unfollow you but more importantly, won’t spend their money with your business – they will go elsewhere.

    1. Get Testimonials from Customers

    A great  way to show potential customers what they are going to get from you in a positive way is to ask customers who are loyal to you and your business for testimonials. If you can show that your existing customers trust you, your new customers will too.

    1. Use Photo’s/ Video’s

    To get the most engagement out of your posts on your Facebook Business Page you will need to use photo’s and video’s. Posts with either a photo or video receive 50% more engagement than those without the use of images or video’s.

    1. Check your Mail

    Some potential customers would rather send you a direct message on your Facebook Business Page regarding a product or service you are offering. Because of this, make sure you check your inbox on Facebook so you don’t miss out on sales.

    1. Find and Like New Business Pages

    Facebook is not just a social network, it is also a search engine. Utilise this by searching hashtags on Facebook to find businesses that may have your target market or businesses you want to work with. Make sure you “like” other business pages and engage with them.

    1. Share Your Blogs on Your Page

    Are you blogging? If so, make sure you share this on your Facebook Business Page. This is really important because you are offering great information to your community while increasing visits to your site that hopefully turn into sales.

    1. Update Status Daily

    Updating your status is important on Facebook because your community needs to see that you are actively using social media. 85% of Facebook users expect businesses to be using social media to communicate.

    1. Always Mention Users with the @ Sign

    If you are writing a post about a customer/business, make sure you use the @ sign to tag them in the post. This is important because you want them to know they have been mentioned by you via a notification on Facebook.

    What are you doing to build your Facebook Business Page?

    Creating high-converting landing pages can be a hard task, but with these 5 tips, you will be able to optimize your CRO and reach more and more clients.

    Creating appealing, attention-grabbing landing pages on your website is only half the battle. High-quality design won't get you very far unless the pages are optimized to convert. However, conversion rate optimization doesn't need to be excessively complicated. Here are some tips to improve landing page CRO:

    1. Outline your landing page goals

    This one may seem intuitive, but it's important to define your goals to ensure the design is on track. Think about your overall campaign if the landing page is related to pay-per-click advertising.

    Are you trying to attract new blog subscribers, get people to sign up for free trials or download a case study? It's crucial to know this information in advance because too wide of a scope can derail a campaign fairly quickly, ensuring you won't see the CRO you want. Make sure your ad copy matches the landing page for better conversion rates.

    2. Always test

    We can't say this enough: A/B testing is essential to improve CRO. Using data to make adjustments to either your ads or landing pages can help you make better choices about certain components.

    3. Think about social media

    If your company has an active social media presence, landing pages need to take on a whole new dimension to be effective, according to Search Engine Watch. For starters, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus are all different.

    Users have varied preferences. This means you can't take a cookie cutter approach to landing pages or direct followers from these different networks to the same page.

    The copy has to resonate with social media followers and should provide a unified brand experience. For these landing pages to succeed at converting, you should only ask for the information necessary for conversion.

    Too many other steps can detract from the social media network. This is a good practice for any landing page; don't ask for more information than you actually need because it can contribute to higher form abandonment rates.

    4. Don't mistake responsive Web design for optimization

    The number of mobile searches is rapidly accelerating. In addition, consumers use multiple devices before converting. Citing data from millwardbrown, Conversioner reported that the average person interacts with a website from 2.6 different devices before converting.

    This number indicates that people use each of their devices for separate purposes while engaging with Web content.

    While the rapid expansion of smartphones and tablets has caused marketers to consider responsive Web design, this isn't a substitute for CRO. While you need to provide a consistent experience for users who access your website from multiple devices, each channel needs to be optimized individually.

    5. Use directional cues

    You don't have very long to win customers over with a landing page. In fact, visitors will make a decision about whether they want to stay on the page or not within a few seconds. This is based on whether the page matches the ad, the offer is something they want, they understand the content and the design is visually appealing, according to The Wishpond Blog.

    This sounds like a pretty strong impression to deliver within an extremely limited timeframe. To get better CRO, you need to design pages that lead viewers' eyes in the direction you want them to take.

    For example, white space can grab attention, especially when it's placed next to a lead generation form. Arrows and other linear cues can also make your call to action stand out more.

    Utilizing directional cues can help you make your landing pages more focused, which provides a better experience for website visitors.

    The downstream cost of security breaches is enormous. Each one of these companies will get a bounced payment if I don’t update my records immediately. They’ll have to spend time and money tracking down customers for updated payment information.

    What’s the Real Impact of a Data Breach on Your Business?

    I discovered last week that I was one of the 56 million or more privileged to be included in the Home Depot security breach. My Visa card was compromised, and the crooks had already tried to charge more that $1000 in purchases at Walmart.

    Thankfully my credit union noticed the fraudulent transactions and blocked my account until they could get confirmation from me. Unfortunately, they didn’t have my current phone number (I dropped my landline and forgot to notify them). Instead, it took a call from me wondering why my transactions weren’t going through to find out what was going on.

    This isn’t the first time I’ve been a victim of such fraud, but I escaped the Target data breach and this is the first time in a few years I’ve had to deal with the repercussions of such an incident. I had lost track of how dependent I had become on electronic payments in our cashless society.

    As I think through how many companies are auto-billing my Visa, I’m amazed at how much time it’s going to take to straighten everything out: My insurance company, the gym, my hosting company, stored accounts on e-commerce sites. The list goes on.

    And that’s just me.

    What about the companies involved?

    The downstream cost of security breaches is enormous. Each one of these companies will get a bounced payment if I don’t update my records immediately. They’ll have to spend time and money tracking down customers for updated payment information. My credit union has answer untold calls from unhappy customers, block and refund transactions, and issue new cards.

    Home Depot of course has to deal with the brunt it. The media backlash. The expenses associated with notifying affected customers. The cost of free credit monitoring. The damaged reputation.
    The whole situation has left me feeling that the only safe transaction is a cash one, but that’s certainly not practical in this day and age.

    I know I’m not alone in this plight, and many of your reading this are in the same situation. While the personal impact is frustrating, the business impact can be much greater.

    Are You Ready?

    Security experts say it’s not a matter of “if” but “when” you’ll face a similar challenge so you need to prepare.

    • When your company has a security breach, do you know what to do?
    • Are you making appropriate efforts to protect your customers' data?
    • What’s the risk to your hard-earned brand and reputation?
    • Would such a breach have the potential to put your company out of business?

    I haven’t seen figures yet on what this will cost Home Depot, and the effects of this breach will be far reaching.

    It’s like a hurricane that affects much more than the residents, employers and local businesses in the area it hits. Insurers, mortgage companies and all the service providers like gas and electric are impacted. Friends and relatives feel the effects, even when they live far away. Car dealers, home furnishing stores, delivery services, medical practices, they all feel the pain.

    The difference is that a hurricane is a natural disaster. Hacking isn’t.

    Businesses have a responsibility to do everything possible to prevent these security breaches, although staying ahead of the game can be difficult. If you haven’t done so already, take some time in the next day or two to review your company’s security protocols and crisis response plan.

    Make sure these are solid as they can possibly be. If you don’t have them, jump on it and do something. Don’t wait until it’s too late.

    This may not be your forte, but it’s mission critical. Seek help when you need it from a qualified technology expert or security consultant. Get a communications consultant to help you with the crisis response plan. Make sure your employees know how to detect and prevent such instances, and if they suspect them, be sure they know how to respond.

    Don’t become the next data breach headline.