• 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.
  • marin-software
    Brenda Ton on October 25, 2014

    Why Cross-Channel Retargeting Drives 200% More Clicks

    To help enterprise advertisers optimize their growing retargeting programs, Marin Software surveyed 233 digital marketers of leading brands and agencies to produce an 18 page report covering important trends, benchmarks, and best practices for cross-channel retargeting success.
  • Businesses that succeed at social media marketing are able to create unofficial brand ambassadors that are genuinely excited about their products and services and willing to share them with family and friends. But there are also several obvious risks for brands using social media to connect with customers. From illegitimate pages and pornographic avatars to brand attacks of a political nature, companies are often faced with a number of challenges.

    There are a number of benefits for brands that build an engaging presence on social networking sites. Businesses that succeed at social media marketing are able to create unofficial brand ambassadors that are genuinely excited about their products and services and willing to share them with family and friends. But there are also several obvious risks for brands using social media to connect with customers. From illegitimate pages and pornographic avatars to brand attacks of a political nature, companies are often faced with a number of challenges when they take their marketing efforts online. Due to the sheer size and ever-changing nature of social networks, these issues can be difficult to track and regulate. If they aren’t dealt with quickly, brands can lose customers and their reputations can be adversely affected.

    How should companies manage risk? After all, participation in digital forums is no longer optional for businesses that want to grow. But managing the risk exposure of your brand can be a full-time job and the vast majority of companies are unable to staff accordingly. Experts in the risk management industry have the following recommendations for companies looking for ways to protect their brands on social media.

    Implement a social media usage policy for staff and audiences

    Anyone can create a brand profile online. A common case study, especially for small to medium-sized businesses, is that a well-intentioned member of your marketing team might think that they are helping spread the word about your business by launching a branded Twitter account. But there are a few inherent issues with this approach if accounts aren’t part of a broader social media strategy or provided oversight for brand consistency.

    One common issue is that it can be confusing for potential customers who may be getting conflicting messages from multiple brand profiles. Dan Nadir, VP of Product Management at Nexgate, a social media and brand protection company says that, “Despite having good intentions, the content that’s posted on an unofficial account may or may not align well with brand messagingEven worse, completely fake brand accounts are frequently created that attempt to embarrass the brand or defraud unsuspecting customers.”

    In other cases, like the recent US Airways Twitter debacle where an employee accidentally tweeted a pornographic image to an unhappy customer, shared content is harmful and embarrassing. Similarly, it is important to have guidelines for the audience or community you are allowing to share content on your accounts and pages.  For example, having a link to an acceptable content use policy on your company’s Facebook page should be required and allows your brand to be clear about content that can and can’t be shared.  That way, in the scenario where an audience member comments on a Facebook post with an X-rated image or a link to one, it is clear why it may be deleted.  For companies interested in protecting their brand online, the first steps are to implement and enforce a social media usage and content policies for staff that regulates personal use while on the job, branded account use by employees, and content policies for the audience of branded accounts.

    Be proactive and diplomatic when handling customer issues

    There have been countless media reports of companies behaving badly on social media, from community managers deleting customers’ posts and team members responding inappropriately to customer concerns to robot tweets from well-known brands. One recent example is a large bank that came under fire in 2013 for auto-posting generic responses to Twitter users.

    When it comes to handling customer issues online, it’s important for company employees to be well trained and diplomatic with their responses in order to effectively protect the brand. Deleting customer complaints and replying with robotic responses that aren’t addressing the issue can do more harm to your company than good. The most effective social media policies include a clear chain of management and escalation, for when front-line marketing or customer service staff don’t have an understanding of what to do.

    Monitor potentially damaging scenarios

    Another issue that businesses need to be aware of is the world of negative SEO: when others create social media pages or profiles with the intention of harming your business. Nadir says, “It takes just minutes for someone to start up a fake business account. They can reach out to fans with the promise of special discounts if they provide their credit card information.”

    That’s not the only issue that brands need to monitor. Another common problem is social media users with pornographic avatars posting content on unsuspecting company pages and even posting pornographic content on the account. Twitter revised their terms of service in 2009 to help keep pornography out of users’ profile pictures, but it’s still a lingering problem on many social networking sites. As a result, businesses are looking to use content moderation solutions that identify and filter out content posted by users with pornographic avatars or pornographic content itself. Nexgate has paired up with UK-based image scanning technology provider Image Analyzer with the intention of extending their image analysis capabilities to provide the broadest coverage for automatically keeping pornographic content from showing up on clients’ blogs and social media accounts. This technology approach will provide the speed, scale and efficiency in content removal that frees moderation teams and services to focus on real customer and community engagement versus burning time and service fees on reviewing and handling obviously bad content.  

    There are countless benefits for companies that choose to add social media to their marketing toolkits, but there are also a number of risks. In order to help mitigate risk, businesses need to be proactive about social media usage policies and staff training. It’s also important to handle customer issues professionally and monitor potentially damaging issues. But for most companies, the benefits outweigh the risks. Nadir says, “Unlike many other channels, brands have the ability to target their customers very specifically. They can really focus in on getting specific messages to certain groups and then creating and fostering real engagement with those individuals or groups.”

    Shares and retweets are excellent ways for your message to go viral and for ensuring it ends up in front of as many potential leads as possible. There is not a magic wand you can wave to make your social media content go viral, but there are a few steps you can take to get more shares and retweets from your social media content.

    According to a Forester Report published by CMO, advertising spending on social media platforms is expected to increase by double digits by 2019. Currently, social media content is how most people follow what is going on in the world. If you want to reach your target audience, you need to use social media. Shares and retweets are excellent for your message to go viral and ensure it ends up in front of as many potential leads as possible. With that said, there is no a magic wand you can wave to make your social media content go viral. There are a few steps you can take to get more shares and retweets from your social media content. 

    The most important step to create social media content with the potential to go viral is to simply make sure you are tuned into your industry. This will ensure that when something important breaks, you are to date, and can take advantage of opportunities as they arise. One great tool that helps you to stay on top of news is Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, you can subscribe to company blogs that are relevant to your industry, thus ensuring that you are always current.

    Keep in mind that while it is important to stay current, if you are going to create material that gets the most possible shares and retweets, you need to differentiate your content. Ask yourself: what it is about your content that would cause a reader to hit the retweet or share button? What is your spin on the story? Focus on coming up with something original.

    Remember to focus on “why it matters”. Make a point of giving your readers valuable information. Too often companies approach content marketing by simply spewing information without saying anything that actually matters. Do not leave your readers in a position of wondering why they bothered to read your content. Remember that your readers' time is valuable. Make sure that they are glad they took time out of their busy schedules to read what you had to say.

    Regardless of how great your content might be, there is little chance that it will be shared if you do not create a plan for actively promoting and making it shareable. For example, think about elements you can add to your content that will increase the likelihood of being shared, such as video or images.

    Take the time to get to know the various social media channels and the types of content that is most likely to be shared on those platforms. According to a report published by Quick Sprout, users on Twitter are more likely to tweet images than videos. In fact, images are retweeted 128% more than videos. The report indicated that the majority of images retweeted were humorous. While there is a common perception that the most popular tweets are related to personal stories, the Quick Sprout report found that in terms of retweeting, list-based articles and “how-to” articles received three times more retweets than any other type of content.

    In the process of writing content that is worthy of being retweeted, always keep length in mind. Twitter-based content is usually short. In order to increase the likelihood of being retweeted, keep your message well under the maximum character limit, so that users do not have to worry about editing the initial tweet. Make it as easy as possible for users to retweet your message.

    Facebook tends to work differently than Twitter in terms of content sharing. According to eMarketer, photos are the most popular type of content shared on Facebook. In fact, photos comprise 75% of the content on Facebook. When you create content specifically for a Facebook campaign, including photos is an excellent way to gain more attention. This is mainly due to the fact that photos tend to be easier to consume than large chunks of text. Keep in mind that not all photos are the same. When creating shareable photo-based content, make sure that you only use high-quality photos. It is also important to include relevant links with all images that you post on Facebook in order to divert traffic back to your website.

    Understanding the importance of comments and how they work in relation to shares is vital, particularly with Facebook. A Social Intelligence Report published by Adobe Digital Index found that Facebook comments have increased by 16% this year compared to last year. This is good news, as it indicates that fans are taking the time and the effort to make comments on content that they find interesting. In order to take full advantage of this trend, be sure to reply anytime a fan comments on the content that you post. Not only is this the polite thing to do, but it can also serve to drive more shares. Your user will receive a notification about the like, which could encourage more comments. To gain more exposure for your brand, it is also a good idea to "like" comments made by users not only as yourself, but also as the Facebook business page.

    Finally, do not expect to churn out a one-hit wonder on any social media platform if you do not participate frequently. If you are focused on Twitter, then make it a point to tweet often, and meaningfully interact with others. The same strategy also applies to Facebook and other social media platforms. By doing so, you ensure that when you do post content that is worthy of sharing, others on that platform will sit up and take notice. 

    When Chicago-based Christian Conti sent a tweet to a relatively unknown New York-based clothing company called Hawke & Co complaining about a recent purchase, they sent the 46 characters above by way of reply. The result was nothing short of a spectacular example of how NOT to use twitter for customer service.

    “We’re sure your 320 followers will understand.”

    Just 46 simple characters, yet they caused so much damage.

    When it comes to customer service, Twitter can be a magnificent thing. Customers can interact with brands quickly and efficiently and it allows brands to give themselves a personality beyond the purchase. Brands excelling at customer service attract a loyal audience. It’s different for those that don’t.

    When Chicago-based Christian Conti sent a tweet to a relatively unknown New York-based clothing company called Hawke & Co complaining about a recent purchase, they sent the 46 characters above by way of reply. The result was nothing short of a spectacular example of how NOT to use twitter for customer service.

    Hawke & Co responded to Conti’s original tweet with several (since deleted) messages, referencing that with only 320 followers his complaint wouldn’t matter. At one point the company used the hashtag #entitled. It appears that size does matter, however, as Hawke & Co’s tweet about the number of Conti’s followers went viral with several influencers picking up on it and retweeting the tweets before they were deleted.

    The irony in this? Of Hawke & Co’s 19,000 followers at the time, only 39 were real accounts. Hawke & Co deleted the tweets, send another one out that claimed it to be a social experiment and then delete that as well. To make matters worse, in a series of private messages Hawke & Co thanked Conti for the exposure he gave them. The twittersphere went wild. The exchange made it to BuzzFeed. Finally Hawke & Co issued an apology.

    In today’s cynical world, we wouldn’t be faulted for thinking this was all a brand awareness stunt. The comment about it being a social experiment could be true… but it was a very risky one to take. If you scrutinise it, this was just an example of customer service gone very wrong.

    There’s nothing wrong with a brand having a voice or a positive attitude – that should be encouraged. But what Mr Conti experienced should not. It was not appropriate.

    Every interaction with a customer should be treated with the same respect, regardless of someone’s status. Hawke & Co had the opportunity to apologize and correct the problem yet instead failed to realize the power of Twitter. Even for someone with 320 followers.

    The motto of content marketing is to create and distribute content that is consistent, relevant and valuable to an audience. The aim is not solely to ramp up the sales or social shares but to build brand name, create sharable visuals, provide great content and create value.

    The motto of content marketing is to create and distribute content that is consistent, relevant and valuable to an audience. The aim is not solely to ramp up the sales or social shares but to build brand name, create sharable visuals, provide great content and create value. With good content marketing, the results are always one – the defined audience learns to recognize the brand as a friend. Many brands have achieved a perfect content marketing score while sticking to the basics. The following are 10 perfect examples of content marketing that everyone should emulate:

    1. Moving House Checklist by Budget Direct


    This is simply not a checklist, it is a master checklist allowing Budget Direct homeowners to never be scared about the moving day again. As an insurance company, it sticks to things it knows – insurance. But that doesn’t mean the brand can’t provide value beyond that subject. By choosing a related subject, Budget Direct is still appealing to the same defined audience base and, at the same time, providing immense value. The checklist tells the reader about how to prepare for moving 2 months before the date. It keeps offering valuable tips as the moving day gets closer.

    2. Anthropologie’s Coconut Cooler and Other DIY Drinks

    Anthropologie is an established name in fashion but look at its side act – the DIY drinks feature. The best thing about this feature is that the drinks are seasonal. The flavors and ingredients are different, which adds an element of uniqueness to the blog. Anthropologie’s fashion posts are known to be original and this USP extends to the DIY drinks segment as well. More than anything, after reading these posts, the reader recognizes Anthropologie as a friend that knows a lot about fashion and enjoys amazing drinks.

    3. Tumblr of Lana del Rey

    This is a great example of using shareable visuals for content marketing. The Tumblr blog was launched in 2014 and from the first post itself, the content marketing began. Using gifs, a popular medium on the internet (and particularly Tumblr), from “West Coast”, Lana appeals to her target audience – teens to 20s girls. Gifs allow the content to be visual, short and extremely shareable and the microblogging site is a perfect platform for this. Also, Lana’s core values – which have always been feminism and other social issues – are also mirrored by Tumblr. Thus, her audience would recognize her as a friend on these issues and thus, a reliable word.

    4. Virgin Atlantic’s Tokyo Instagram Gallery

    Crowd curation is a great technique to use in content marketing and Virgin Atlantic does it extremely well. The blog of Virgin Atlantic is mostly known for great travel content – places people should visit and what they should see there. However, they pad these posts which Instagram galleries like the Tokyo one. The photos are curated from Tokyo’s instagrammers who give the readers a peek into the real Tokyo. They have many other great Instagram galleries like Los Angeles Instagram gallery through which their readers get interesting sights with perfectly curated content.

    5. Disney’s Behind the Screen Content – The brilliance of behind-the-scenes content should never be underestimated and Disney has understood the importance of this content marketing tool. The blog of Disney Parks frequently contains posts of behind-the-scenes acts. For Disney fans, this is amazing because they want to find out how the magic was created. Everyone likes bloopers and makings, and Disney fans like it even more. These posts show that Disney knows its audience and the frequency reveals that it cherishes that support by giving them BTS perks every now and then.

    6. Equinox Plank Marketing

    Equinox reveals the value of amazing brand building using content marketing through its Plank post. This fitness club has various locations in the US and their website appeals to the most important thing that their readers look for – fitness. So, there are a lot of fitness based articles, like the Plank one, which reveal interesting facts and practical tips to stay fit. The plank post too shows, with the help of a slideshow, some key planks that the reader might be missing.

    7. Whole Foods’ Money Saving Grocery Tips

    What is the one thing that Whole Foods’ consumers cherish the most? It is eco-friendly and healthy foods. Walking into a Whole Foods is an experience in great customer service, splendid organization, healthy foods, friendly employees, and of course, eco-friendly products. Their blog mimics these ideals by frequently offering great tips, like how to save money on grocery, with content that is shareable, relatable and useful.

    8. Brew Guides from Intelligentsia

    The industry says B2B whitepapers and Intelligentsia answers with these amazing brew guides. They use great and attractive photography to offer instructions about various tools used to make coffee. The readers must be aware of V60s, Chemex and French Press but do they know how to use them perfectly? The pictures are so delicious that everyone wants a fresh cup of Intelligentsia coffee ASAP!

    9. World Business Schools Infographic of Business Insider India

    For an infographic to work, there is no need for fireworks. All it should do is provide valuable information in bite sizes. This infographic by Business Insider India provides information about the top 25 business schools on a global scale in images that are concise and cohesive. The design is clean and simple, and contains all the information a student would need from this infographic. Also, it is a time saver!

    10. Panera Bread’s Pinterest – All the posts of Panera Bread on Pinterest are content marketing geniuses. They give visual stories, promote the brand, offer curated content, use visuals and also give links to their blog. Most importantly, however, they match with Panera Bread’s ideals – healthy, cozy, familiar, and comfort. A lot of external sources are used and the images are absolutely delicious.

    The trick to content marketing is that the content needs to be eye catching. The value you wish to provide would not work if the content is not attractive looking. This is why visual and shareable content works so well for the above examples.

    Step inside any contact center. Meet with any support manager. There’s a common theme: staffing. How to recruit the right staff and keep them challenged at work so they’ll stick around. Add in social channels to the mix and the job becomes even more challenging.

    As you step inside any contact center or meet with any support manager, there is always one common theme: staffing. It is no secret that social has completely changed the way companies staff support teams. Understanding how social has upended certain hiring practices while reinforcing others is essential to recruiting and staffing your social teams.

    An Organization of Experts

    Many organizations are still building a social customer response team by handpicking or selectively hiring social agents with experience in a traditional call center (often their own). It is important to recognize that social is not a channel and therefore, companies must look across the entire organization of experts as potential points of customer engagement. In practical terms, that means any employee is potentially an agent. That is really hard for some companies to grasp.

    On a similar note, brands should not overcomplicate social. Thinking about the core customer care team engaging via social media support model isn’t all that different than any other support medium. Sure, the skills may be different – agents have to type as well as talk– and the risks may be higher  -– accidentally responding with information about a customer’s account on a public instead of private message, but the basic support process—listening to and empathizing with customers, crafting a solution and following it through to closure—is the same.

    The Making of a Great Social Agent

    The basic support process guided by the customer care team is also availed by other potential engagers. These engagers are employees from product development, innovation teams and other teams that have deep and specialized process knowledge and as such are part of (directly, or as back-up) to the support team. Keeping this in mind, staffing for social means considering both the core support role and the experts that support these agents. All of these aspects of the support team allow companies to enhance their ability to engage customers at scale.

    When a company can identify their experts, they need to define what it means to be a great social agent. More than anything else, a good social agent understands simultaneously the business objectives of the organization, the situation and context giving rise to the customer inquiry, the resources at-hand that can be applied to the issue, and any constraints around the potential solution path. This has been true of support professionals all along, and surely continues in an age of public, visible support interactions.

    Establishing Performance Metrics

    Once establishing what the expectations are of a good social agent, it is important to define performance metrics. There can be more nuanced metrics related to productivity due to the sheer volume of social traffic.  Some traditional metrics, like handle time and first contact resolution, may need to be tweaked a little due to the asynchronous nature of social.  At the core, the most meaningful business metrics – ROI, achievement of revenue goals and customer satisfaction – remain unchanged.

    Finding the Right Agent

    So now you are probably thinking, “OK we know who to look for and what to look for, but how do we find them?” In the past –and by past, I mean 5 years ago – reward programs targeted towards incentivizing experienced staffers to join the social ranks may have worked. But, today we are seeing certain agent qualities like empathy and humility trump policies that reward tenure. What’s important to investigate however is that the rewards for social support agents should be the same for normal support employees.

    Let’s put it this way: if social agents are not motivated by the same rewards as other employees, there is something wrong at an organizational level that probably needs to be addressed before a social engagement program is considered! Effective social engagement—leading to visible customer advocacy—depends heavily on purpose-based alignment across the organization. The excitement of support, whether as a font-line social agent or a deep-knowledge process expert, is that you never really know what the next request is going to be. Combine that with the almost universal personal satisfaction that comes from helping someone, makes for a very exciting job.  That is what should get employees fired up about going to work.

    Your Star Social Support Team

    By expanding social engagement across the organization by way of experts, employees connect more deeply with the shared business objectives of that organization. Tangible connection to shared purpose is absolutely associated with—in fact, it is a pre-cursor to—above-average employee retention. As a result, this attracts the best and brightest in the field.  Set up a social strategy with agents and knowledgeable experts and retention will take care of itself.

    If a brand can focus on these few things when recruiting and staffing their social support teams, they will be golden!