• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    The Rules of Engagement on Facebook

    If you want to make your content sharable and searchable on Facebook, you need to have a thorough understanding of Facebook principles and the general rules that apply to content and behavior.
  • Rooted in science and art, proper storytelling is the root of successful marketing. Stories don't just contain information, but they also have the power to influence mood and emotions. And emotional response, according to a Psychology Today article called Inside the Consumer Mind, outweighs rational analysis when it comes to influencing purchase decisions.

    It's probably not a stretch for me to claim that people have loved stories since the human race developed the ability to tell them. I can imagine the earliest hominids using grunts and gestures to tell stories around the camp as a way to educate, warn, and of course, influence their fellows. We might imagine our earliest ancestors developing the craft of storytelling until it became hardwired into our brains as part of what makes us human.

    Stories don't just contain information, but they also have the power to influence mood and emotions. And emotional response, according to a Psychology Today article called Inside the Consumer Mind, outweighs rational analysis when it comes to influencing purchase decisions. Now it's time to reflect on how you can use storytelling in your successful marketing campaigns.

    1. Be Honest

    Of course, you are telling stories. Characters might be fictional, but the brand has to deliver on the promise. A tooth fairy doesn't actually collect teeth. Parents don't promise that the fictional tooth collector will leave a pony. Kids know they can leave teeth under their pillow and expect them to get replaced with a dollar or some other reasonable reward. The Tooth Fairy, be she mom or dad in real life, delivers on the brand and everybody's satisfied. You are free to exercise creativity, but you can't do it at the expense of trust in your brand.

    2. Create Personalities

    Flo, the gecko from Geico, and State Farm's mayhem guy help differentiate similar products in a competitive business environment. Instead of just using unmemorable and dry statements that one insurance company or another reliably covers car and home accidents, the companies have developed brand personas to make them memorable. You don't have to have a mascot, but it is helpful to infuse your brand with a personality.

    3. Make Your Brand the Good Guy

    Instead of using clearly fictional mascots, like the Geico Gecko, you are free to develop a persona that is more rooted in real life. In fact, as authors, many of you will represent your brand as yourself. If you write fiction, you might pull main characters from your stories to represent your brand. Either way, be sure to present your own brand representatives as interesting characters that your potential audience cares about.

    4. Tell a Complete Story

    The best marketing storytelling follows the rules of fiction in that there is a clear problem and resolution. In simpler terms, there must be a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion. Even if you do it very quickly, delivering a complete story satisfies your audience and doesn't just confuse them. Of course, this still leaves room for cliffhangers, and that brings up the fifth point...

    5. Leave Them Wanting More

    Well, of course, we hope the end result of storytelling is leaving our audience wanting more. Crafted correctly, proper stories should influence an audience to return for more of the same, and eventually, a purchase of your products. As book marketers, you need to let your audience know where to find the rest of the story.

    What's Your Story?

    As marketers, we know we cannot just use dry phrases that emphasize features and benefits but lack any narrative quality. Storytelling helps market brands by stimulating both intellect and emotion, so now it's time for us to develop your story, and of course, give it a happy ending.

    It's easy for a business to get wrapped online with social media without connecting that activity to their brick and mortar retail locations, but that's a result of misunderstanding the way retailers should be integrating their online activity. Social media is an extension of retail locations, not a separate entity.

    It's easy for a business to get wrapped online with social media without connecting that activity to their brick and mortar retail locations, but that's a result of misunderstanding the way retailers should be integrating their online activity.

    Social media is an extension of retail locations, not a separate entity.

    That's not to say that you can't create additional revenue online, but unless you plan on closing down the physical locations your online activity should also be a bridge into your stores. There are a number of traditional retailers who have found creative and effective ways to build that bridge. Here are some things you can do to increase sales in your stores and build your online following at the same time.

    Offer In-Store Coupons and Discounts

    Although this tip seems like it comes from Captain Obvious, it's still a great idea and one of the simplest to do. We've been conditioned to give incentives out to potential customers in order to get them to like our pages and create more online engagement. That's still a good practice (even though Facebook is putting down the clamps on this), but why not turn it around? In addition to incentivizing a social following, give them a reason to get out of the house and trek to your actual location. You could do this in a number of ways, but the simplest way - and possibly the best - is to send discount codes to followers that are only good in-store. You could also do this via email or text, which would also allow you to build up a mailing list. Good social media management software will be able to integrate your sms and email campaigns as well so you can track the results.  

    Giveaways and Freebies

    What's better than a discount? A freebie, of course. Fashion company Marc Jacobs took advantage of this fact when they opened a pop-up store in Manhattan during New York's Fashion Week to show off their new line of Daisy fragrances.

    Customers who came in were encouraged to send a tweet or post an Instagram photo about the new line using a certain hashtag. Those who did so received gifts from the retailer, including perfumes, jewelry, and accessories. The result was over 13,500 mentions on Twitter and 4,300 Instagram mentions.

    Nordstrom and Pinterest

    Visit Nordstrom's profile on Pinterest. Nordstrom's use of Pinterest in their stores is now legendary among those of us who track such things. Pinterest is the fastest growing social site on the web, and the vast majority of the users are currently women, although there has been a big push in recent months to bring the guys along for the ride as well. Pinterest is also neck-and-neck with Facebook when it comes to driving sales, and beats them out in many categories. Nordstrom famously brought their Pinterest popularity into the store by creating a section of "most pinned" items, complete with labels bearing the Pinterest "P" logo. This is a great way to showcase what items are the most popular among other shoppers and fashionistas.

    Location. Location, Location-Based Shopping

    Another oldie-but-goodie that still has plenty of applications for those willing to embrace it is check-ins through social sites. Offering a discount to those who check in when in the store gives just as much advertising advantage as mentions and hashtags. Facebook might keep you from giving away goodies for liking your page, but they can't stop you from handing out discounts in real life if you can get them to check in.  

    \Digital Displays

    These might cost a bit more out your budget than encouraging tweets and check-ins with signs, but it will get attention and create engagement. Nine West is using digital displays that collect shoppers' posts that contain certain hashtags and displaying them for everyone to see in-store. That means that when they take a selfie with the new Nine West outfit they just bought or tried on, they can become part of the advertisement on display. Playing to people's vanity is always a winner. If you can't afford to get such a display, you could still have an iPad mounted for selfies and posting to social during the shopping experience.  

    Bring Home the Bacon with a Beacon

    Apple's iBeacon technology is the frontrunner in this emerging technology, and it will likely be a staple of real-world shopping in the years to come. The iBeacon searches for and connects with iPhones in reach via bluetooth, if the phone has the app on board. This tech was added beginning with iOS 7. There are also competing technologies for the same purpose, and iBeacon is even compatible with newer Android OS's - although Apple is trying to close that loophole.

    These are a few examples of how forward-thinking businesses are bringing synergy to their online and real-world commerce, but the space is wide open to new ideas. There are likely hundreds of ideas waiting to happen once someone gets the lightbulb going off in their head. Do you have a unique way that you reverse the formula and bring social media into your retail locations? We'd love to hear about them in the comments.

    Beyond creating separate Twitter accounts to handle customer service on social media, what should your Twitter bio really look like? Are there any rules you should follow? How can you truly make your customer care Twitter bio stand out?

    Beyond creating separate Twitter accounts to handle customer service on social media, what should your Twitter bio really look like? Are there any rules you should follow? How can you truly make your customer care Twitter bio stand out?

    Customers should know what to expect from the service you deliver. The way you describe yourself online says a lot about how you provide customer service and ultimately, how you do business.

    There are 5 crucial best practices to incorporate in your Twitter bio. Is your brand really hitting the right marks?

    1. Include ‘Customer Care’ in Your Twitter Name

    Be straightforward and clear. Although it seems like a small change, don’t forget to include ‘customer care’, ‘customer support’, etc. in some way in your Twitter name.

    2. Be Upfront: State That You Deliver Customer Service

    Beyond tweaking your Twitter name, don’t forget to state that you actually deliver customer service in your Twitter bio.

    e.g. “Providing customer care since”, “Customer care team, at your service!”

    3. Include Opening Hours

    When is your company able to provide social customer service? Make sure this type of information is available for everyone to see. Customers need to instantly know whether they can access you through social media or have to look for an alternative. Commonly, this is between 8am and 8pm from Monday until Friday, depending on the industry you work in.

    4. Have an Alternative Available

    Dealing with an issue after hours? Make sure you state an alternative to tweeting to your company in the Twitter bio (e.g. directing to your online help center with a link).

    5. Who’s Tweeting?

    Let your customers know who's behind your Twitter handle to give your company a human face. You will be surprised by how much this small tweak will pay off! Adding a name in the Twitter Bio isn’t possible for every company, especially in larger teams dealing with a high volume of incoming messages. But, in that case, it's a nice alternative to have your social media team and a tweet with their name.

    Schermafbeelding 2014-11-03 om 10.12.02

    One of the best examples of a company who knows how to get their Twitter Bio right is KLM, the Dutch airline company that is truly at the forefront when it comes to delivering social customer service. Updating their response time in their Twitter header really put them ahead of the game.

    Schermafbeelding 2014-11-03 om 10.11.46

    Although it’s only one step to tweak your Twitter bio, meeting these expectations is an entirely different story. Make sure that once you've agreed on the standards of service you will deliver, you are then able to live up to that promise.

    Geneneration Y’s spend, on average, two hours a day on their smartphone and use six mobile apps a day. By 2020 they will make up 50% of the workforce. Is your organisation ready for the internal mobile comms revolution

    In the past 5 years, the way we communicate outside of work has changed dramatically. With 62% of the UK population now owning a smartphone and 30% owning a tablet, most of us have 24/7 access to the Internet.

    But we aren't using our mobile devices to browse the web.

    Earlier in 2014 Princeton University published a paper, based on Google search traffic, predicting that Facebook would lose 80% of it's web traffic by 2017. The news was publicly ridiculed by Facebook which pointed out that the majority of it users (83% in the UK) access the platform via mobile devices and apps.

    Make no mistake, for most people the web search has already been replaced by one-touch mobile apps.

    And what we do as consumers is impacting on how we like to work. Generation Y (people born in the 80s and 90s) are increasingly expecting and desiring to communicate with their colleagues, customers and clients through mobile devices. 20% of all employees now spend at least 10% of their time working remotely and 56% of Gen Ys say that increased mobile working would increase their productivity.

    There's also good business sense behind this trend. 96% of senior executives cite a lack of effective communication for workplace failures and 39% of employees who use social business tools (including mobile apps) say they have experienced 'increased connectedness'.

    In spite of this, most organisations are lagging behind in their adoption of internal mobile communications. 41% of employees say the mobile devices they are provided with are old and not fast enough, and only 11% of organisations say that creating mobile apps for internal communications is a digital priority for 2014.

    Mobile Social Communications Revolution

    Check out these two case studies to see how more organizations are meeting their employees' needs for social interaction during the workday.

    Companies of all sizes are realizing most people are more productive when there’s a social element to their work. Let’s look at two case studies that delve into this concept:

    IBM Fuses E-mail With Social Features

    IBM recently introduced a new business-oriented e-mail application. In addition to allowing people to send e-mails as normal, the service -- called IBM Verse -- has a built-in feature that keeps track of how users behave when sending e-mails and can draft future responses based on those interactions.

    You may be surprised there's also a strong social integration. For example, users can easily convert e-mail threads into Facebook-ready blog posts, which might be helpful if a person is balking at the idea of using a special text editor program to craft a blog, but is already well versed in e-mail. Also, when an e-mail is sent to multiple people, a user can instantly see the relationships between the recipients.

    Much like the way Facebook has experimented with pushing content to users based on what they are likely to enjoy or deem important, IBM Verse has a "faceted search" function. This function analyzes user actions to identify content that's specific to a particular need, and it can pick out the people who seem to be among an employee's most important contacts.

    If you have ever left a comment on someone's Facebook profile to offer congratulations after he or she got engaged or welcomed a new baby, only to discover you get bombarded with activity notifications every time another person in that person's social network offers similar well wishes, it probably didn't take you too long to figure out how to mute future notifications for that particular post.

    IBM Verse has a similar "mute thread" function, helpful if hundreds of your coworkers are replying to a thread about a company potluck, an upcoming national holiday or someone's surprise birthday party, and all you want to do is focus on work.

    IBM Verse developers spent $100 million to get the program ready for the public, and it's hoped Verse will eventually overshadow Windows Outlook as an e-mail option. For now, Verse is a free service, but a paid version with more features and a larger data allowance will become available at the start of next year. It's too soon to tell whether the social media-inspired features will help the app rise above the rest, but the offerings are at least more than enough to spark curiosity and encourage people to give the free version a try.

    WeWork Believes Creations Happen Best in a Community Setting

    Social media certainly has its advantages, but there are also great benefits to having meetings of the minds with people who are in the same room you are. At least, that's the belief and business model of WeWork, a chain of coworking spaces around the world. Currently, there are 31 locations in places like New York City, Austin and Seattle, but also as far flung as Amsterdam and London.

    Amenities range from private phone booths to meditation spaces and member workshops. According to WeWork, if a person decides to become a member and get access to any of the coworking spaces, he or she will suddenly become part of a global community full of visionary people all working on their respective goals.

    Being in such an environment can undoubtedly be inspiring, especially for people such as freelance musicians and writers, who may work for hours or days on end with very little supervision or human contact. By taking comfort in the fact WeWork locations are set up around the world, a person may feel more confident about being equipped to do his or her work to the fullest, thanks to plentiful high-tech and upscale features in each facility.

    Also, even people who prefer to be sociable mostly via social media channels have something to smile about, especially if those in-person chats increase the sizes of their social networks. After all, working among like-minded individuals tends to spark conversations, and many of them include questions like "Hey, are you on Twitter?" in an attempt to break the ice and find common ground.

    These are just two examples of companies that are doing their part to make sure the social element of a workday doesn't get lost. There are many others out there as well; are you one of them?

    Image by Jeff Sheldon