• 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.
  • Contrary to what some may think, it takes more than a camera to make a YouTube campaign work — you need the right YouTube influencer. From visual planning to collaboration, choosing the right content partner can bring your brand to the top.

    As a savvy marketer, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to connect with your audience and grow your bottom line, so why not YouTube?

    What’s not to love about fan engagement and authenticity with native video marketing campaigns? It seems like the perfect solution.

    Unfortunately, however, it’s not as simple as slapping a video on YouTube and praying for popularity. YouTube users’ diversity matches any marketing demographics’, and they’re even more discerning about what they’ll watch. Each subset has unique characteristics and desires that you need to tap into to build an audience for your product.

    Take Honda, for example. The car manufacturer created a stir this summer when it heavily slashed its TV spending in favor of a music-oriented YouTube channel called “Honda Stage.” Executives were highly optimistic about the venture — which was supposed to serve as the linchpin of a wider branded entertainment web effort — but the campaign didn’t deliver, garnering less than 50,000 views within 24 hours of its release.

    YouTube isn’t so much about the content as it is about the personalities and distribution. Indeed, it almost doesn’t matter what video you upload — it will do infinitely better if you upload it to a channel with a lot of subscribers.

    Honda went wrong by trying to elbow its way through the mass of YouTube creators, rather than hitching a ride with someone at the front of that crowd.

    In other words, if you want to be successful on YouTube, don’t pick up a camera. 

    Reap the Benefits of a Content Partnership

    If you’ve paid attention to the shifting digital marketing environment, you already know that YouTube is worth your time. The platform’s revenue grew 51 percent in 2013 and accounts for more than 6 billion hours of viewership per month.

    What you might not know is how effective content partnerships can be in helping you make a human connection with those numbers. YouTube partnerships help you:

    Produce authentic and enthusiastic branded content. At the end of the day, content creators control the YouTube platform and the media that’s uploaded on it.

    Viewers trust that YouTube influencers won’t sign deals with brands that aren’t accurate representations of their values. This creates a powerful level of authenticity and trust between the stars and their audience, which is extended to your brand.

    Further your reach into desirable demographics. Taco Bell wasted no time in partnering with YouTube star FreddieW on a Fiery DLT commercial that gained more than 1 million views. The ad aired across ESPN, CBS, MTV, and more, and it showcased the tangential benefits of working with a YouTube star: access to a stellar social media network.

    By partnering with one YouTube influencer, a brand like Taco Bell rides the wave of popularity into his large social media footprint. It also expands its reach into the star’s desirable 18- to 35-year-old demographic, which makes up 30 percent of YouTube video views every month.

    Increase engagement with native content. Kmart has also embraced YouTube video marketing, creating its own YouTube show “First Day,” featuring popular Internet star Molly McAleer. The show, now in its second season, features outfits and costumes exclusively from Kmart. It costs a fraction of major network shows or network TV airtime and focuses on the most promising numbers out there: native ad space.

    Over the past 15 years, display ad engagement has fallen from 9 percent to barely 2 percent. Compared to the 25 percent likelihood that a consumer will look at a native ad, it’s clear which strategy provides the biggest advantage.

    Partner With the Right YouTube Talent

    There’s always a caveat, isn’t there?

    Don’t expect to see these benefits unless you take the time to identify and nurture a relationship with the right YouTube talent for your brand. Use these four tips to ensure that you connect with a partner who will deliver authentic content that aligns with your marketing goals:

    1. Start the Planning Process With YouTube in Mind

    It’s the brands that reach out first that connect with the best and brightest rising stars. Plan your marketing process with YouTube in mind from the beginning.

    2. Align Your Brand With the Right Content Verticals

    Content verticals run YouTube, and audiences are driven to these verticals based on level of interest. To stay relevant, understand what type of content your audience is interested in, and identify the right YouTube star for that topic.

    3. Make the Message Clear

    The most effective campaigns are organized around a clear marketing message. The more focused your message is, the more likely your content creator can relay it effectively to the audience.

    4. Don’t Control — Collaborate

    YouTubers devote a lot of time and energy to planning their videos to maximize engagement and audience retention. Rather than risk destroying that creative element, view work with YouTubers as collaboration — not outright ownership of the content and creative idea. By fostering a dynamic relationship with a content creator, you won’t limit yourself to one-time partnerships or limited campaigns.

    In any industry, the challenge presented by online marketing is turning prospective customers into enthusiastic brand fans on a tight budget. That’s where the benefits of strategic YouTube content partnerships and native video marketing come into play. Get more engagement on a smarter budget by embracing YouTube content partnerships — and the reach that comes with them.

    With the company's new program FbStart, app developers can work with Facebook and its partners to turn their ideas into something that can be easily downloaded and desired by all. Oh, and did we forget to mention it's completely free?

    Over the past few years, Facebook has literally taken over. Reportedly spending over $22 billion in acquisitions, the social media titan has expanded its presence through companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Parse. Now, with its extensive arsenal, the company has taken to teaming up and tackling a bigger business venture involving startups.

    With the company's new program FbStart, app developers can work with Facebook and its partners to turn their ideas into something that can be easily downloaded and desired by all. Oh, and did we forget to mention it's completely free?  

    Free "Goodies" Could Take Your Startup to the Next Level

    FbStart was originally open only to developers who attended the annual f8 conference. It is now open to any developer with an app that has been live for more than 30 days on the Apple or Google Play app store. With applications pouring in from over 60 countries, Facebook has already accepted over 500 developers, and more than half are coming from outside the U.S.

    Once accepted, Facebook and its partners put the lucky company in one of two main tracks: the "Bootstrap Track" for startups that are newer and less established on the market (an $8,000 package of tools and services) or the "Accelerate Track" which is for more established and start-ups that are already growing (a $40,000 package with preferential status). Also, both will receive free Facebook Ad credit totaling five hundred dollars. 

    How Social Networking Can Help You Create the Next Candy Crush

    While most of the apps are not worth much now, they could be potential "gold mines" for future advertising.  Facebook's Vijay Shankar wrote about the FbStart program in a blog post saying, "Facebook will offer events, programs, and best practices for participating developers, with the expectation of year-round opportunities to engage with the Facebook team. By providing mobile app developers with the essential services you need to get your business up and running or to take it to the next step of growth, we're hoping to help expand the overall app ecosystem."

    Building a $70 Billion Dollar Industry Even Bigger

    The start-up program intends to help developers "build, grow, and monetize their apps using Facebook," along with the help of its partners who will help "with product testing, recruiting, customer care, video conferencing, document management and more." Tapping into this estimated $77 billion dollar market could mean big bucks for not only Facebook, but companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon; all of which have also been trying to increase their presence in the mobile world.

    According to a recent study conducted by Ad Age and RBC Capital Markets, about 84% of respondents reported using Facebook as their dominant social-media marketing channel. Most people have realized that desktop websites just won't cut it anymore, and that using mobile sites to help with marketing is crucial to reach customers. Starting your own site and making sure to have it optimized for mobile devices is a detail that many businesses are beginning to realize is of the utmost importance.

    Apply Today, Start Growing Tomorrow

    Have more than one app you want to kick-start into high gear? Submit them both. Is your app not integrated with Facebook yet? They don't discriminate. While spots are filling up at an impressive rate, there is still some room left in Facebook's new venture. The first batch of developers expects to "graduate" as early as April 30, 2015. Apply today and watch your app grow.

    Here's a complete list of current FbStart partners:

    • Adobe – Creative Services
    • Parse – Cloud Services
    • Appurify – Mobile App Testing
    • Asana – Project Management
    • Blue Jeans – Cloud-based video collaboration service
    • Desk.com – Customer support app
    • Hootsuite – Social media monitoring
    • MailChimp – Email marketing
    • Proto.io – Mobile app prototyping
    • Quip – Mobile Productivity suite
    • SurveyMonkey – Online survey platform
    • Transifex – Localization
    • UserTesting – Usability testing
    • Workable – Recruitment
    • Appmethod – Cross-platform app building 
    • Braintree – Mobile payment platform
    • Get Satisfaction – Online customer connection

    You can visit developers.facebook.com for more information and applications. 

    While Social Media does have its place when building your community, there are other areas you need to focus on in order to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. This article will show you where your attention needs to be drawn to and why it’s crucial to your on-going success.

    These days community building seems to have a major focus on Social Media. How to attract followers in their thousands, how to be available 24 hours a day to engage with your audience and how to listen socially, are all topics you’re likely to come across. Search any popular search engine for the term “Online Community” and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.

    While Social Media does have its place when building your community, there are other areas you need to focus on in order to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. Today I’ll show you where your attention needs to be drawn to and why it’s crucial to your on-going success.

    Social Media and Owned Communities

    Before I dig deeper into the benefits an online community can have for your business, it’s important to define what’s meant by the term “Online Community”.

    In this instance I’m not talking about a Facebook Group or a list of engaged users on Twitter. In this day and age, it’s simply not enough for you to post the odd Tweet here and there or a couple of updates on your Facebook Page.

    To really be successful, you need to have a more comprehensive approach to social business. This will involve using your company website as a central hub for communication, having dedicated forums where you can communicate directly with your customers and a functional internal communication system to ensure your staff are all on the same page.

    Essentially you’re taking your Social Media efforts to the next level. You’re upping your game to something with far more potential.

    Online Communities and SEO

    There are many benefits to building online communities. One of those being the SEO benefits it can have for your organisation’s website.

    Google algorithm updates such as panda and penguin removed many of the old ways of ‘doing SEO.’ They represent the lengths to which Google will go to try to weed out poor or low-quality content.

    Everyone who wants their websites to rank well within search engines and are looking for an approach that will overcome the inevitable issues which arise every time they change something. They want a way of doing SEO that goes beyond just chasing algorithms – something which building online communities does.

    Building an online community can be a better approach than its digital marketing alternatives, because it’s authentic, genuine and provides valuable information.

    Online Communities and Relationship Building

    Community building brings you what no other SEO or web marketing effort will - relationships with real people. Word-of-mouth is and continues to be the most trusted form of advertising available to businesses and in order to thrive today businesses must earn attention and build an audience, a.k.a. a community.

    By doing so you are opening up to industry influencers, colleagues, people who will read and share your content (which also raises the profile of your brand), current and potential customers and more. By attracting those customers at a lower cost you are beating your competition, finding new niches and verticals for your business, and, above all, building a much better business.

    Not only this but by building an online community, you actively create a network of online supporters and friends via the targeted distribution of valuable content - it’s the most sustainable approach to marketing on the web.

    Overall it’s time to stop thinking about online communities as just another social network to update. Forget about Social Media for a second and think about some of the best conversations you’ve had in the past, conversations that go over the 140 character limit.

    Those are the conversations you need to be having both within your organisation and with the customers you serve. Conversations that build awareness, influence and value. Your website should be at the heart of those conversations, creating connections that will nurture trust with your customers that will last for years to come.

    The traditional funnel has worked well to drive sales using traditional marketing media, and there is no reason it should not work with today’s online media, particularly social networks.

    The traditional funnel has worked well to drive sales using traditional marketing media, and there is no reason it should not work with today’s online media, particularly social networks. If you’re a professional marketer or salesperson, then you know all about sales funnels and how important these are to the success of your business.

    For those of you who may be wondering, a funnel is a conceptual model that represents the customer’s journey from the time he or she first hears about the product to the moment of purchase. Our job as marketers is to optimize the funnel, in essence get as many people through as possible.

    Funnels 101

    Traditionally, funnels have been a 6-step process consisting of the following stages.

    1. Making people aware of your product

    2. Providing prospects with information to get them to consider your product

    3. Allow people to build attachments to your brand

    4. Allow people to purchase your products

    5. Reward customer loyalty

    6. Convert customers into brand advocates

    Now keep in mind that the concept of funnels was first introduced just before the 20th century and it has held up quite well even to this day. But for your online marketing to truly benefit and take off, you need to update your funnels to take advantage of 21st century marketing channels. This is particularly true for social media marketing.

    The New Funnels: Dealing With Distraction

    The metaphor of calling them “funnels” may not even be correct any more. In the past, marketers have strived to “shovel” people into the top of the funnel; the funnel is then expected to do its thing and sales are supposed to trickle out through the other end. But this model assumes that buying behavior is linear, and it definitely is not.

    Prospects often leave the funnel at some point, most likely distracted by something else. But it has happened, and more often than you may think, that the same people who get off the funnel find their way back into it and may even complete the journey all the way to conversion and purchase. Quite frankly, it looks more like a Rube Goldberg machine than a funnel.

    Social media provides the means to direct people to the mouth of the funnel. This is a fact that we do not need to dwell upon because social networks have demonstrated time and again that what they do best is get people to connect.

    But when people get distracted and leave, social media also provides the stickiness so that they don’t wander too far away and you can reel them back in, provided your social media accounts are optimized and your engagement strategies are topnotch.

    The key to driving people through your social media funnels is engagement. Interesting and relevant content provides the awareness that attracts prospects. Engaging content provides the enticement that keeps your prospects coming back. Provide great content on a consistent basis and you have the framework for building trust between yourself and your prospects.

    There has been a subtle but definite shift in the way companies use the internet, social media and other marketing channels, and also in the way that people search for what they need. Using inbound marketing tactics has helped many businesses succeed where others have failed. If you feel like your business is suffering, have a look at our checklist and see if it's time to make the switch!

    Inbound marketing is reshaping how businesses present themselves online!

    This remarkable series of techniques allow virtually any business to create a powerful online presence that drives sales, while lowering their overall marketing costs! It's a one-two punch that puts a global audience within reach of even the smallest startup business.

    Is it time to think about inbound content marketing techniques? We've got ten signs that your business is ready to move into the future with inexpensive and effective online marketing!

    Ten Reasons That It's Time To Embrace Inbound Marketing

    I. Decreasing Foot Traffic

    First of all, inbound isn't solely for online sales! More and more people are researching products and businesses through mobile devices, even while they're driving around. A strong inbound campaign makes it easier for them to find your doorway when they want a local shop in your industry.

    II. A Stagnant Website

    Virtually everyone has a website, but is yours actually creating value? Your website can be a powerful marketing tool, but it takes inbound techniques to build that value. Inbound allows you to reduce the costs of your website, while increasing its productivity.

    III. Poor Lead Conversions

    Inbound means targeted marketing. Instead of the "shotgun" approach of traditional mass-market advertising, you can select the best customers to bring into your website. Imagine a fisher with a net that only catches the fishes he wants. That's inbound marketing.

    IV. High Customer Acquisition Costs

    Accordingly, one of the strongest arguments for inbound is that it creates customers that are far less expensive to acquire, often half or less what traditional sales techniques cost. That translates directly to more profits and a faster positive ROI on your marketing investments.

    V. Unengaged Customer Base

    Engagement is currently a watchword in marketing. The companies that do best online, are those which have an active and engaged customer base who genuinely like the company and their products. The outreach you gain with inbound marketing makes this far easier to achieve.

    VI. PR Challenges

    On the flip side, inbound and social media marketing also allow a company to quickly mitigate PR problems. Inbound marketing allows for near-instant response to changes in perceptions, and innumerable ways to shift a discussion the way you want it to move.

    VII. Marketing/Sales Rifts

    It's a traditional problem in businesses that their sales and marketing departments frequently dislike each other, or even become outright hostile. Inbound content marketing forges a closer bond between them, because they're sharing data and customer information throughout the process.

    VIII. Industry Respect

    Succeeding in global business is about more than just your customers, it's also a matter of how your own company is perceived. Maintaining a quality blog and other other pieces of content allows you to contribute ideas to your industry. Creating a blog that's read by other influential industry figures will increase your standing and your reputation as a trendsetter.

    IX. Rebranding Efforts

    Because this is a holistic discipline, it's excellent for rebranding efforts. If it's time for a major image change, the data-driven techniques behind inbound content marketing will take you far. They'll help you identify target markets, reach out to them, and construct a "whole body" corporate image that appeals to your most-qualified buyers.

    X. Desire For Global Reach

    More than anything else, content marketing puts you in touch with the world. Currently, more than a third of the entire human species is online. That's more than two billion potential customers. Any business can succeed with a customer base that large, and content marketing is the best way to reach out!