• 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.
  • Duo Consulting
    Michael Silverman on October 15, 2014

    4 Reasons Drupal Is the Best Social CMS

    It turns out Drupal and Social Media are a match made in heaven. Because of Drupal’s system of modules, integration with external websites can be as easy as installing a module that fits your site’s needs. And once these modules are installed, you will have a central place to manage profile information and plug-in modules, such as follow and share buttons.
  • Social relationships and social media channels must have a synergy so that each person in those relationships gets the most out of them and is able to bring their businesses to the next level. It is not enough to simply form connections and then let them sit without actually developing those relationships. Social media is an extremely powerful tool that can enhance the social media experience and truly add value to those connections.
    Social relationships and social media channels must have a synergy so that each person in those relationships gets the most out of them and is able to bring their businesses to the next level. It is not enough to simply form connections and then let them sit without actually developing those relationships. Social media is an extremely powerful tool that can enhance the social media experience and truly add value to those connections.

    This article is the 2nd in our series on Business Relationships with Social Connections. In the first part of our series, we introduced the idea of exploring how social media affects relationships. We began by asking “How Does Social Media Redefine Relationships?” In that first article of the series, we asked you, the readers, some important questions about social media and relationships. We also defined some of the most important words used in social media that are used so often, but not often differentiated or explained. Now, in part 2 of this series, we will identify which social media channels are most suitable for cultivating each one of the social relationships identified in part one.

    Friendship: The good thing about a friend is that you can often find him or her anywhere and often in the least likely of places. Therefore, you have the ability to make a friend using any social network; however, we deem Facebook to be the social network that really helps build friendships. You can share multimedia easily on Facebook and send private messages. Of course, you can do this on pretty much all the social networks, but Facebook has become a much more relaxed and social network full of people sharing, caring, and building lasting relationships. It is easier to develop friendships on Facebook than any other social media channel.

    In the early days of Twitter, I would have jumped to say that Twitter can help a person to develop friendships. However, things on Twitter have changed by light years since 2007. The enormity of this social network makes it difficult to develop meaningful friendships. However, I would not say that it is impossible to develop friendships on Twitter simply because of hashtags and trending topics. It is possible to find people who have similar interests and then cultivate a friendship 140 characters at a time.

    Google Plus just doesn’t have the kind of traction necessary to build friendships. However, it does have tools that you can use to communicate with friends, such as video hangouts. LinkedIn is probably the least likely network for building friendships since it is relegated to professional relationships, sales calls, and job searching.

    Fans: Building fans and followers is one of the major goals of just about every business that is using social media. We define fans as mostly associated with Facebook since that is the term that is most used for people who like a business’ page. The term fan originated with Facebook as they called their business pages “fan pages” before switching them to brand pages. When dealing with your customers, fan is definitely a more endearing term than follower since being a fan indicates more than just liking something or wanting to follow a company’s updates.

    Followers: Since follower is more of a general term, it really can apply to any of the social networks. If you have a business page on any of the social networks, the people who like the page or “follow” you can be referred to as followers. Following a page can indicate that a consumer is interested in getting updates and information from your brand.

    For Facebook, when a person “likes” a page, that person is essentially following that page since he or she will get updates in their own stream when that business posts something new.

    On Twitter, as well as on most other social networks, it is actually a “follow” button, so people who follow a brand on Twitter, by definition, are followers.

    Business Connections:  Business connections are synonymous with LinkedIn. Since LinkedIn is the professional network, this is the best place to build business connections as well as perform other business-related tasks such as making sales calls, recruiting new employees, or finding a new job.

    Influencers: An influencer is a much more powerful word. If you become an influencer, you don’t just have followers or fans, but you have people who regularly react to the things you post of social media. They can advocate for your brand and will be prone to share your message and encourage others in their network to purchase your products and/or services. You can gain influencers in any social network; however, Facebook is probably the most likely channel to produce influencers because of the types of media that can be easily shared and then seen by their own social networks.

    Conclusion

    Each social network has certain types of relationships that are most likely to form within it. When you use your social channels in the ways that are most appropriate, your business can benefit by developing the right connections, being an influencer, and garnering a benefit from being shared among the networks of your friends, fans, followers, and business connections. Remember that your business should be on social media to engage with others. Keep in mind the appropriate behaviors for each social channel and you will experience success within each one.

     

    As the workforce is shifting toward striking a balance between personal and professional lives, the concept of workplace is shifting from a brick-and-mortar office to a more virtual environment. The reason this is so popular? People are increasingly more interested in having control over how, when, or where they work from.

    As the workforce is shifting toward striking a balance between personal and professional lives, the concept of workplace is shifting from a brick-and-mortar office to a more virtual environment. The reason this is so popular? People are increasingly more interested in having control over how, when, or where they work from. According to the latest New Way to Work Index report from Unify, 43% of employees would choose flexible working over a pay raise, reflecting just how much importance they attach to workplace flexibility.

    Smart companies undertand this and understand the importance of a happy, motivated, productive workforce, so they are adapting to support remote and flex working arrangements. Earlier this year, Flex Jobs released a list of top 100 companies that are offering remote jobs and it’s no surprise to see companies like Xerox, Dell, and American Express featured among the top five brands that are embracing this new work culture.

    So why are these companies warming up to the idea of remote jobs? How do they stand to benefit from this set-up? Let’s take a look at three major benefits that brands are likely to draw from adopting a flexible working environment.

    Happy workforce

    It’s no secret that a happy employee is a more productive one, too. Flexible working hours give employees the freedom to plan their own schedules. Since there are fewer chances of employers breathing down their necks, it gives them a sense of ownership of the job they have at hand. As a result, they are generally not only more creative, but also more productive.

    Another reason this works is that the traditional office environment is chock full of distractions. Whether it’s the coffee station, cubicle drive-bys, the never ending cycle of unnecessary meetings, or noisy co-workers, there are all too many things to keep a person off course and less than efficient. Remote working environments allow people to dig into the work at hand in relative quiet and without interruption or distraction. And that? A big score in the producitivity column.

    Talents from across the world

    With flexible working modules, geographical boundaries do not matter when it comes to hiring the right candidate. Companies can easily stretch their talent pool across the world and hire the person who’s the best fit for the job without having to worry about the location. Also having employees working across different time zones means 24-hours are utilized optimally.

    Reduced infrastructure costs

    Remote working can cut down significant infrastructure costs due to the rise of innovations like co-working spaces, increased connectivity, hot-desking, and third spaces, which has made communicating virtually a breeze. Supported by technologies such as unified communications, cloud collaborationm and video conferencing, companies can now remain connected with their remote employees very easily, with little impact on team spirit and the ability to gather and collaborate as often as needed.

    Here’s some interesting data from recent studies related to flexible working:

    With the rise in interest in flexibility with regard to both time and location, employers and employees are hopefully getting closer to being on the same page. Employees are greatly in favor of remote and flexible work arrangements, and smart companies are discovering new ways to make this set-up work for them as well. From what the picture looks like now, both of them may be heading towards a win-win situation.

    If you’re interested in reading more on this topic, this report from the Families and Work Institute, the 2014 National Study of Employers, is a great read.

    Fall is a great season, with leaves changing colors, weather cooling into fresh, crisp mornings and nighttime coming around quicker, as days get shorter. For hospitality stakeholders, it’s also a great time to reflect upon the past summer season and start planning for the busy periods of Thanksgiving, the Holidays and the upcoming year. With this in mind, here are eight statistics that underlie important shifts taking place (or not) in our industry.

    Fall is a great season, with leaves changing colors, weather cooling into fresh, crisp mornings and nighttime coming around quicker, as days get shorter. For hospitality stakeholders, it’s also a great time to reflect upon the past summer season and start planning for the busy periods of Thanksgiving, the Holidays and the upcoming year. With this in mind, here are eight statistics that underlie important shifts taking place (or not) in our industry.

     

    71% of DMO allocate 25,000$ or less to social media management

    In a recent study conducted by DMAI, surveying over 100 destination marketing managers, it was found that 99% of organizations have a digital marketing budget, yet only 60% have a dedicated envelope for social media activities. Perhaps even more surprising was the fact that 71% of DMO allocate less than 25,000$ to their social media activities. In fact, more than 1 in 3 (37%) have to make-do with less than 10,000$ as a yearly budget!

    Annual Social Media Budget Allocation

    Annual Social Media Budget Allocation. Source: DMAI

    Read also: Social Media Challenges in Destination Marketing

    30% of social media managers say “Time” is their biggest challenge!

    Despite of all the talk with regards to the difficulty to demonstrate Return on Investment (ROI), or perhaps even budget contraints, it appears the biggest social media challenge DMO managers are facing is… lacking time to do it all! Notice that “keeping up with trends/tech” comes in second, which underlies the lack of time to understand all the new platforms and possibilities and thus “developing fresh and relevant content”, which comes only 5th amongst top social media challenges.

    Top Social Media Challenges Faced by DMOs

    Top Social Media Challenges Faced by DMOs. Source: DMAI

    25% of online travel revenues will come from mobile in 2015

    Pundits have been saying “this year will be THE year of mobile” for, well, years now. It seems like we finally hit that milestone in 2013, when revenues from travel bookings online, coming from a mobile device (smartphone or tablet), reached double digits (10%) for the first time. In 2014 this figure is estimated to reach 16-18%, and should represent one out of every fours dollars generated online in 2015! Mobile search in travel, meanwhile, reached 25% of total online travel search queries in 2012, and was estimated to be at 40% in 2013, increasing steadily across devices.

    US Online Travel Market, Mobile vs Desktop. Source: PhoCusWright

    US Online Travel Market, Mobile vs Desktop. Source: PhoCusWright

    For more on this: Mobile Best Practices in Travel Marketing

    170 million reviews on TripAdvisor

    When it comes to TripAdvisor, statistics are mind-blowing, to say the least. Latest figures show 170 million reviews, with over 280 million unique visitors on its website… per month! And that doesn’t include subsidiary sites such as daodao.com in China… There are now more than 4 million properties listed across 42 countries, and 77% of users will seek reviews about accommodation, 50% about restaurants, and 44% about attractions. These reviews have an increasingly important role in the decision-making process, even more so, it seems, than online travel agencies or even friends and relatives!

    Travel Planning Dominated by Online Resources

    How Travel Planning is Dominated by Online Resources. Source: TripBarometer, March 2013

    Photos increase engagement on TripAdvisor by at least 138%

    An even more recent study conducted by TripAdvisor tells us how important pictures have become in our thought-process when considering hotels and restaurants. Indeed, compared to hotels without any photo:

    • Properties with at least one photo see an increase of +138% in travel engagement
    • Properties with more than 100 photos see an increase of +151% in travel engagement
    • Properties with more than 1,000 photos see an increase of +203% in travel engagement

    These findings make sense, since one would assume a traveler spends more time looking at photos and videos on a hotel or B&B page if there are more photos to begin with. What’s even more interesting is to find out this actually leads to more booking inquiries! In fact, compared to properties that have no photos:

    • Properties with at least one photo have +225% more likelihood of booking inquiry
    • Properties with more than 100 photos have +238% more likelihood of booking inquiry.

    Read more: Photos Impact Bookings More Than Reviews

    Only 27% of hoteliers communicate with clients prior to their arrival

    We spend so much time preparing for a trip that anticipation has become a big part, if not the biggest, of the whole travel experience. It’s disappointing to see how very few hoteliers and industry stakeholders bother to foster that excitement pre-arrival, with only 27% of hotelers sending out emails and/or newsletters suggesting things to see and do at the destination.

    travel suggestions prior to arrivalRead: What Motivates Us to Travel

    68% of leisure travelers begin their search online without a destination in mind

    leisure travelers researching online in 2013Every year, Think with Google publishes its Traveler report to better understand how leisure, business and affluent travelers research and book their travel. In 2012, we found out an astonishing 65% of leisure travelers began their search online without a destination in mind, or mode of transportation. In other words, there is plenty of space upstream to mold the minds of potential travelers towards any given destination, for any given activities. In 2013, this figure was up and now represents 68% of leisure travelers. What will it be in 2014 and 2015?

    US travelers average 38 travel site visits before booking a trip

    Another key number to keep in mind when crafting an online strategy in travel: people shop around before booking a package. A lot. According to an Expedia Media Solutions report published in October 2013, US travelers will visit 38 travel sites over a period of 5 weeks before booking a trip. In September 2014, Expedia Media Solutions looked at the UK market to see if things were different. Indeed, there were variations in how visits spread, or which sites would be more visites (OTAs, TripAdvisor, destination sites, etc.). In the UK, travelers visit 35 travel sites, so this amount is fairly consistent and shows the challenge that lies ahead in getting travel industry stakeholders to have a dynamic, mobile-friendly and transactional site with email opt-in strategies and remarketing tactics as well. Staying top-of-mind across this 5-week period is key!

    Average Travel Site Visits per Week. Source: Expedia Media Solutions

    Average Travel Site Visits per Week. Source: Expedia Media Solutions

    Which stat surprises you most? Do you know of any other key metric that should have been featured on this list? Let me know in the comment section below.

    As your brand continues to further understand and embrace the multitude of effective online channels, it is crucial to be consistent with your messaging and align your marketing efforts. There are still far too many organizations conveying inconsistent messaging in their online presence. This is an issue that necessitates attention.

    As your brand continues to further understand and embrace the multitude of effective online channels, it is crucial to be consistent with your messaging and align your marketing efforts. There are still far too many organizations conveying inconsistent messaging in their online presence.  This is an issue that necessitates attention. 

    Branding is often over-looked given the widespread digital marketing orthodoxy that delivering an abundance of online content will produce sales. Don’t get me wrong, I love content marketing.  However, taking a broader view, the content produced by your brand needs to be consistent with the overall messaging of your brand. When I say “messaging” I mean a well-conceived strategy that is firmly established and clearly defined across your organization.

    Have you taken the time to clearly define and establish your brand messaging? Maybe you’re unsure where to start? I suggest you take the time to thoroughly understand your brand properties.  When you do, think of your brand properties as having three components: essence, voice, and promises.

    Essence

    Your brand essence is the distillation of its fundamental qualities and characteristics. Think of it as an articulation of your brand’s unique identity while also serving as a consistent reference point for all of your marketing efforts.  When cultivating the essence of your brand, look within the core of your organization’s values and purpose (aside from the production of revenue).

    Voice

    Given your brand’s essence, if your brand had a voice, how might it speak?  You must not only define your brand voice but also embody and execute it at every consumer touch point, from website copy to tweets to email campaigns.  The right voice will show your personality, elicit an emotional response from your customers, differentiate you from competitors, and help to attract the right audience for your brand.

    It’s important to note the difference between voice and tone.  Think of voice as your brand’s consistent identity or the execution of its essence - IT DOESN’T CHANGE.  Tone, however, changes based on the situation.  Your brand’s tone will likely be different in a personalized “Happy Birthday” email to a loyal customer than it does in a detailed, informative eBook to a segment of your target audience.  It is important to understand that all tones must stem from the same brand voice.

    Promises

    Brand promises are things your brand guarantees to its customers.  When working through brand promises, keep these questions in mind:

    • What value does it add to their lives? 

    • What need does it fulfill? 

    • What problem does it solve?

    You do not need to set a limit on the number of promises your brand makes; whatever they are, though, just be sure your brand promises are authentic and consistently delivered on.

    Takeaways

    Before creating your next content calendar, strategizing your next social media campaign, or undergoing your next website redesign project, ensure the alignment of your brand messaging.  In order to successfully shape your brand messaging, it is crucial to understand who you are as a brand, which in turn requires that you understand your brand properties.

    To be clear, understanding and establishing your brand properties is just one tool used when shaping your organization’s message.  Other tools include building buyer personas, completing a content audit, and defining your value proposition.  

    Most of us true social media pros have little things that really make our skin crawl or make us want to jump and scream with excitement, but for various reasons, never muster a word about it. That’s about to change. Here are 10 true confessions of social media pros that we are too reluctant to say.

    I believe there are three types of social media professionals – the rookie, the wannabe and the actual pro.

    The rookie is the new kid on the block. Whether they’ve landed their first job at a company or have been hired by their first client, they are the newest ones in the field.

    The wannabe talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. You know, they explain their lack of followers by saying they spend all their time on their clients. Yeah, right.

    The actual pro is the one who knows what they are doing, have a roster of clients who love them (most days), either heads up social media for a company or is at the helm at their own growing business. These are the ones you see and hear about.

    It doesn’t matter what type you are, we all experience some of the same type of things at different levels. Most of us true social media pros have little things that really crawl our skin or make us want to jump and scream with excitement, but for various reasons, never muster a word about it.

    That’s about to change.

    Here are 10 true confessions of social media pros that we are too reluctant to say.

    • Even though we say we hate being called an “expert” or “guru”, inside we love it. Who doesn’t love being acknowledged for their work? We all say “please don’t call me an expert” when inside we are screaming “why, yes, yes I am!”
    • We do obsess over every.single.metric. Facebook likes, retweets, you name it, we watch it like a hawk. Sometimes it will keep us up at night. We want successful campaigns for our clients so they will keep us. Providing the accurate metrics and and good ones at that, makes them happy. And if they are happy, we are happy.
    • We’re always checking up on our competition…even if we are friends with them. While every social media pro is a competitor, many of us work thousands of miles apart and have different focuses. While I like SMBs in the Southeast, you may prefer to work with local businesses in your hometown 5 states away.
    • We are consumed with rankings. We always congratulate the ones who are on them, but we all secretly feel let down when our name isn’t there. Anyone who says otherwise is a liar. We see all the humblebrags when someone acknowledges they have been listed. Most are sincere, but you know the person is giddy as a schoolgirl.
    • We’ve stalked someone – an influencer, a competitor, a prospective client. Maybe you put your browser on “Incognito” to do it, but we’ve all stalked someone’s LinkedIn profile or Twitter account.
    • Automation is our savior. Yes, you cannot automate everything, but when you can, you do. Your time will thank you later. All of the bigger names in social media automate. It is impossible to post in real time 100% of the time. Try it – I dare you.
    • We’re all working on ebooks. Seriously. Some may have just outlines, some may have it in their head, but we’re all working on some part of it. This is just a part of the business. We all want something to use as an opt-in or a teaser or to have when we land that first big speaking gig.
    • We hate to see ourselves on video or listen to ourselves to podcasts. I know it creeps me out when I hear myself. Most actors, actresses and musicians hate to see or listen to themselves. We are our worst critics.
    • We love swag. It’s like Christmas when you go to your mailbox and you have a package from Canva or Sprout Social or some other company you work with. We love freebies.
    • We are VERY passionate about what we do. We love it and when something doesn’t go our way or go right for a client, we take it personally.

    So there you have it – an insider’s scoop in the brains of those working in social media. Do you have a true confession? Don’t be afraid to share it below!