• 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.
  • No one wants to be friends with someone who always wants something from you… the same applies for a brand friendship. Building a relationship with niche audiences isn’t going to go very well, if all your content speaks to brand only.

    What are Brand friendships?

    Okay, I admit it, I’ve coined that term. But if you think about all that is being talked about in Social Media, brand friendship is really where it’s at. All the articles and blogs speak to the elements of engagement and ultimately it all adds up to viewers becoming friends with their brands. So what are the elements that brands need to implement in social media that make viewers want to become their friends? Here are a few basics in the development of brand friendships:

    1) No one wants to be friends with someone who always wants something from you… the same applies for a brand friendship. Building a relationship with niche audiences isn’t going to go very well, if all your content speaks to brand only. You need to be helpful and a brand needs to speak to the concerns of it niche market, and yes sometimes it has to go “off” scope to provide some context. No one wants to be friends with someone who always wants something from you….the same applies toward brand friendships.

    2) Not many people appreciate unpredictability in their friends, or at least someone they can’t really read….so why would they want to have that with their brand friendships? Develop a tone. Be engaging. Be social. Keep your voice to your content, whether it’s a Facebook post, a video on YouTube, an Instagram picture, tweet of a blog post, your message  must be carried in the same way. Think of the brand as a person. A person may have many ways of expressing themselves…sometimes happy, upbeat or at times serious or sad…regardless of tone the content should remain consistent.

    3) Being a good friend takes effort… from both parties. The premise here is that brand lives within a market, an environment. It shares that environment with its niche market and therefore, must be sensitive to their values, attitudes and viewpoints. So if there is a concern or a public outcry that has relevancy to the niche market, the brand must participate. Communication must beauthentic, engaging and ring true. No one wants to be friends with someone that doesn’t evolve and makes no effort to take the relationship to a new level.

    4) Don’t be a wallflower. If you’re only going to show up at the party and not engage…well then you provide no value… and really you aren’t working on developing friendships. Whether it’s enjoyment, knowledge or just simply inspiration, make sure that there is value in what you are bringing up. Brands need to offer up entertainment, information and value. There are many ways to do this, so just don’t pick one way, always. Variety is necessary to keep your friendships constantly growing.

    5) No shows…are a no-no! You know how some friends are there and then they are not. Well that’s not cool. From a person or from a brand. Being present, being timely and being mindful is a must. Viewers that have decided to let you in their circle must be respected in kind.

    These are only a few tips on developing brand relationships. I’d like to hear on how you’ve cultivated brand relationships here.

    The bottom line is that social networking and business VoIP are always bound to meet during your conversion campaign. They use different methods to share data but they will offer the possibility of making a company viable. You get to save money and gain time, which are vital for the increase of profits in the long run.

    Social Media Marketing is complicated and a true necessity for small companies. The VoIP services will help you enhance a social footprint. In the event you lack online components, you cannot complete in the modern market as it is really aggressive and competitive. The companies that use holistic promotional plans with a focus on the users will be able to distinguish businesses from what the competition offers.

    VoIP Will Extend Customer Reach

    When you opt for professional phone.com VoIP services and similar you will be able to stimulate customer feedback through status updates and tweets. Small businesses are capable of keeping conversations alive for a longer time interval. These are really important for message distribution, networking and gaining a fast feedback. The VoIP service will assist in the extension of a reach, making everything much simpler on the long run.

    Mobile App Integration

    We are faced with an obvious move towards mobile browsing. Many small companies nowadays use mobile apps. They are great for many different reasons and integrating VoIP phone services will make it easier to keep everything connected while offering optimal usage for visitors. Through VoIP you will find it so much easier to get information and filter everything through appropriate channels. Users can also put together video, email and audio so extraneous components end up being consolidated.

    Converting Customer Engagement

    You use social media marketing in order to create customer engagement. Converting that engagement will be possible when you are active on basically all necessary social networks. Try to engage all the social channels in a proper, proactive way so that you can then take advantage of business VoIP settings. You can easily end up saving time and money because of the speed offered and the cost-efficiency that is brought to the table.

    Both VoIP services and social media marketing campaigns stand out as affective marketing tools. They do not cost a lot of money and you can so easily set up everything in under 10 minutes. VoIP stands out as a tremendous alternative to the regular phone line. This is one thing that many do not understand.

     VoIP After Social Media Engagement

    Since VoIP is really cheap, you can actually end up faced with the possibility of calling the prospect as soon as possible. Every single marketer out there realizes the fact that cold calling is much more effective than trying to make a sale through an online channel. That is why you can easily use social media marketing in order to gain contact details for the prospects you want to eventually sell something to. As you get the number, make the call and try to sell your business.

    The bottom line is that social networking and business VoIP are always bound to meet during your conversion campaign. They use different methods to share data but they will offer the possibility of making a company viable. You get to save money and gain time, which are vital for the increase of profits in the long run. 

    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.