• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on January 22, 2015

    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.
  • MCohen
    Marcy Cohen on January 21, 2015

    Could a Pair of Bedazzled Bowling Shoes Lead to Social Good?

    What if 2015 became the year when the collaborative model didn’t just make it easier to buy groceries but helped emerging economies on their path to inclusive growth? What if it could be a force for social good?
  • What’s the Mention feature on LinkedIn? You may have never heard of it before, but using the Mention feature on LinkedIn is a great additional touch-point you can use with an influencer or decision maker.

    “What’s the Mention feature on LinkedIn?”

    You may have never heard of it before, but using the Mention feature on LinkedIn is a great additional touch-point you can use with an influencer or decision maker.

    This is how it works.

    Let’s say, Susan has written a great article you want to share. You can hit the share button on the article and write in the text box “This is a great article on sales management by —and they when you start to type “Susan”, if she’s a first connection, her name will populate. Select her name, and her name will show in blue as a hyperlink to her profile. You can do the same exact thing when you write a comment.

    A few amazing things happen when you mention someone on LinkedIn:

    1. In this case, Susan will receive a notification you are sharing her name.

    2. If Susan has a Twitter account and you share your update on Twitter (meaning you check the Twitter box on the LinkedIn share button) when the tweet goes out, Susan’s handle will automatically be populated in the tweet. So you’re you’re automatically mentioning Susan, both on LinkedIn and Twitter in 1 share.

    3. When other people see your update and your reference of Susan, they can click on her name to view her profile. Susan will now have new people viewing her profile.

    All of this is to say, Mentioning someone is a great way of staying top of mind, acknowledging other people’s work, and helping them get greater recognition. Which in turn helps you increase your profile with them.

     

     

    JuliusKielaitis / Shutterstock.com

    Super Bowl XLIX is less than a week away! Whether you plan to sit down and watch the big game or not, your fans are most likely tuning into the game. Use these three ideas to engage your fans during the big game.

    Super Bowl XLIX is less than a week away! Whether you plan to sit down and watch the big game or not, your fans are most likely tuning into the game.

    In 2014, Super Bowl XLVIII drew an average of 111.3 million viewers, peaking with 117.7 in the final half hour.  That means there’s a good chance the game was on in at least half the households in the U.S.

    It also means the Super Bowl can be a fantastic marketing opportunity — if you approach it the right way.

    The first thing you need to do is determine whether your business really has anything to offer that’s relevant to the Super Bowl. If the event doesn’t fit your brand in any way, it may not be worth the effort.

    However, if your brand does have something relevant to offer — e.g., food, sports, fun, games, etc. — there are a few ways you can get your audience talking about the Big Game that could benefit your business.

    Use These Three Ideas to Engage with Your Fans During the Big Game

    1. Run a “Guess the Score” Promotion

    This year the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks will pair off on February 1st. One of the easiest and most fun ways to get your fans talking is to ask them to guess the score of the upcoming game.

    Using ShortStack’s Guess the Score Template you can build a quick promotion where your fans provide their name, email and score guesses in less than 30 minutes. 

    You can then use Facebook’s custom Super Bowl audience to target your ads.

    Don’t forget to offer a fun and relevant prize to the fan who comes closest to the final score. Use the email addresses you collect to start building a marketing list for special promotions and educational materials that pertain to your company.

    For even more exposure, publish your Guess the Score promotion to Facebook and to the Web and drive traffic from all of your social profiles and online marketing.

    Guess the Score
     

    2. Use Hashtags to Engage with Your Audience

    There’s no question that Twitter is going to be ablaze with Super Bowl hashtags on the day of the game. In 2014, 25.3 million tweets by 5.6 million authors and a unique audience of 15.3 million accounts talked about the Big Game.

    It’s going to be easy to get lost in the tweet haze if you try to run a day-of promotion, but there are a few Twitter hashtag ideas you can implement before the game comes.

    For one, you can carry on the “Guess the Score” idea to Twitter and ask fans to guess what the final score will be and include a hashtag like #guessthescore.

    You can also ask your fans to predict some other popular stats, like how many yards will be run by each team, how many touchdowns will be thrown, or how many passes will be caught. Whoever has the most accurate guess could win a surprise gift from you!

    With so many active people online it may benefit you to simply join the conversation. Do your research on the hashtags that are being used and start some chatter about what’s going on. Your fans will enjoy seeing a human side of your brand and you’ll have a bunch of friends to talk about the game with! John Donnelly, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Crimson Hexagon has some great advice for brands looking to join the conversation for the Big Game:

    “While every brand would love to be the next Oreo, remember that there’s a great deal of value in engaging your niche audiences—even if you don’t make a “Top Ten Super Bowl Tweets” list,” he wrote in an email. “You don’t have to appeal to the general public in every tweet. Instead, focus on what your community and customers respond well to by leveraging predictive analytics, and how they’re interacting with the game, and use that to propel your engagement strategy. It may not get you headlines, but if it helps you build affinity among your customers and potential customers, I’d consider that a big success.”

    3. Host an Instagram Contest

    Instagram is an ideal place to have a Super Bowl promotion because people are spending the day gathering with their friends and family and participating in a fun event! They’ll be taking pictures at their parties, so it’s the perfect time for businesses to ask their fans to upload pictures of themselves enjoying the game in exchange for a chance to win a prize. Make sure you throw a relevant hashtag onto your promotion so you can easily track entries.

    Here are some activities you can request photos for from your audience:

    • A photo of you wearing your favorite team’s jersey
    • A photo of you and your friends watching the game
    • A photo of your Super Bowl snacks
    • Reaction videos if your team wins
    • Pictures of your kids’ outfits
    • Pictures of how you dressed up your pets for the game

    super bowl marketing

     

    Image credit of @ballerinajmz on Instagram

    Do you plan on leveraging the Big Game in your marketing? Let me know your ideas in the comments!

    Social media still has a bit of a reputation as the Wild West of the communications world. So Facebook’s recent announcement that it would empower users to flag hoax news seemed like a step in the right direction. In a post on its blog, Facebook said the new feature would help it police the proliferation of fake news making its way onto the platform.

    Social media still has a bit of a reputation as the Wild West of the communications world.

    So Facebook’s recent announcement that it would empower users to flag hoax news seemed like a step in the right direction.

    In a post on its blog Facebook said the new feature would help it police the proliferation of fake news making its way onto the platform.

    But like most things on Facebook, how you mark a post as fake is complicated:

    • First you go to the top-right corner of a post and select "I don’t like this post."
    • That brings up a window titled "Help Us Understand What's Happening."
    • Then you select "I think it shouldn't be on Facebook."
    • That brings up several choices including "It's a false news story."

    If enough people flag a piece of content as a hoax Facebook’s algorithm will tag it as such and save the rest of us from wondering if it's real or not.

    So this would all seem to be a good thing, right? As the Washington Post wondered: Did Facebook just kill the Web’s burgeoning fake-news industry? 

    But what about abuse of this system? You need only look back to November to see how it could be abused.

    It happened when The New York Times was reporting on Florida State University football players seemingly getting preferential treatment when local police ticketed them. When the Times’ official Twitter account tweeted out a link to the story, according to a report in USA Today, the tweet was quickly marked as spam.

    The story says it is believed many FSU fans tagged the tweet as spam so that it would disappear from Twitter.

    Upon being contacted by Times staffers Twitter restored the tweet, but not before hundreds, if not thousands of users, had seen it marked as spam.

    So, could this happen on Facebook? Could hundreds or thousands of advocates for some cause mark a legitimate post as a hoax and have it flagged as such? Of course.

    How do Facebook, Twitter and other social networks fight this virtual whack-a-mole approach to dealing with hoaxes? They have to have humans at the controls. No algorithm on its own can solve this problem.

    So, what do you think? Will Facebook’s new ability to flag news items as fake be abused? Will it create other problems?

    According to the new 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer Study posted just six days ago, we are more jaded than ever about news – trusting what we hear about on social media far more than from media sources. But I feel this survey is extremely misleading, even detrimental to the importance of media.

    Is a declining trust in media real?

    According to the new 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer Study posted just six days ago, we are more jaded than ever about news – trusting what we hear about on social media far more than from media sources.

    What led to this happening? Social media is stealing their value away as the first source of breaking news and content marketing has exploded into a rich source of fresh perspectives, opinions and expertise in an unprecedented volume.

    But I feel this survey is extremely misleading, even detrimental to the importance of media.

    Milestones

    One of my favorite parts of this SlideShare is the sharing of annual milestones discovered by the survey:

    • Fall of the celebrity CEO
    • Trust shifting from “authorities” to peers
    • A “person like me” emerges as a credible spokesperson
    • Businesses more trusted than government and media
    • Young influencers have more trust in business
    • Trust as an essential line of business
    • Rise of [influencers as?] authority figures
    • Trust is essential to innovation

    I would debate several of these, however, as the questions are a bit leading. It is very prone to misinterpretation. As with any survey-style of research, answers are also skewed based on who was interviewed and their personal perspective, even timing when they took the survey based on what influenced them that specific day.

    If the question is “do you trust news more from your peers or from media” – that perspective is everything. Most people might answer it thinking of where they hear it first, and how often. For example, if I see posts all over Facebook about the Leaning Tower of Pisa having fallen over due to a massive earthquake in Italy, then of course I might believe it. First, due to volume (it’s all over my Facebook stream), second due to credibility of links where the story originated. (Is it shared by the NYT? Yup, believed. Shared by The Onion or a small blogger? Nah.)

    Where did those links originate? MEDIA.

    But depending on questions before and after the survey, and a recent situation that might pop into my head as I read the question, I might answer peers, focusing on how the volume of posts influenced its believability.

    In the survey, one of the actual questions is, “When looking for general news and information, how much would you trust each type of source for general news and information.” The choices included online search engines, traditional media, hybrid media, social media and owned media” in order of most trusted to least.

    Duh… but wait.

    Who doesn’t use a search engine first to find information? Everyone. It’s the obvious choice. But what does it pull up? Credible news sources – media – first, along with editorial by influencers and relevant ezines and blog post aggregators.

    Without that media content, search engines would not be used – especially for breaking news and confirming or validating news.

    Reading the survey, I might then think news sources are losing credibility when the real fact is that social media volume might bring the breaking news to my attention for how important or urgent it might be – but the credible sources behind that volume actually drove the trust.

    This study belittles the value of media, which ruffles my feathers a bit. And isn’t it interesting that it’s a PR agency doing the belittling, when the value of media drives their business? Hmm.

    Why does this matter?

    Of course Edelman is viewed as a leading PR agency in the US – the world, even – but it interested me because the Trust Barometer drives stories such as “News Media No Longer Trusted!” and “News Media is Dead” – stories that encourage misunderstandings and opinions based on the wrong detail.

    If someone reports a finding from the study without looking a little deeper or thinking it through, it has the potential to spur TONS of incorrect information. I’d be very interested in hearing what media publishers have to say about the survey.

    It ruffles my feathers a little bit, but I do believe the study includes some valuable information worth acting on.

    What is the most important takeaway?

    It is MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER to focus a large part of PR around building trust.  and credibility around the company, it’s products and services. From enterprise Fortune 500 companies to digital agencies and entrepreneurs, producing content that shares expertise has never been more important.

    8 Ways to Build Trust

    Understanding the importance of building trust isn’t the same thing as actually DOING IT. So what are a few ways to get started?

    1. Build out your LinkedIn company page and regularly post news to it. Why is this important? It’s a second newsroom, and one that invites social sharing and dialog. It also becomes a timeline archive of your company’s milestones that is very search-friendly. If you are one of those companies that doesn’t invest in SEO (big mistake!), it might even rank better than your own website, making it a critical touchpoint for those looking for information on you.

    2. Take a fresh look at your blog. Are you only sharing news, or are you including an abundance of blog posts that showcase your culture, your expertise, your influential employees, and other things that establish you as a leader in your industry? Blogging is the #1 content marketing platform you should focus on doing well before you concern yourself about other content opportunities. it’s also the #1 thing that will improve traffic and SEO ranking for your website. It’s worth a heavy focus.

    3. If you don’t have a blog, start one now and post AT LEAST twice a week. Otherwise, it will take years to build up a meaningful volume. Teach yourself or hire someone to train you how to leverage search engine optimization within each blog post, and make sure each post is high quality and targeted to your specific audience. It’s a long-term commitment, so prepare yourself to not see results for quite a while but once you do, they will be strong. Do a great job or don’t bother. (Now re-read #2 for tips on what to blog about.)

    Remember that “blog” refers to your entire compilation of posts – and “post” refers to a single blog post within your overall blog. Calling a post “blog” is incorrect and akin to calling

    4. Look at your Klout score. If you promote yourself as a digital agency or an online company of ANY KIND, it’s a signal post for how real that claim actually is. Your prospective customers notice. If you are a digital agency or a social media app provider with a low Klout score, for example, then it clearly indicates your lack of a presence on social media. Ouch. 

    Klout scores in themselves are not important – but it is one of many tools used to form an opinion by those active on social media. And who isn’t active on social media, right?

    How do you build a decent Klout score? It measures and indicates activity, not influence. Building your score requires being active on at least one social media platform, consistently and regularly curating and creating original content relevant to your industry or claim of expertise.

    I personally feel Twitter is indispensable to building a Klout score because it allows (and encourages) a higher volume of sharing that you can’t do successfully with other social platforms. The stream moves so fast that constant activity is required to be visible, and Klout likes that level of activity.

    5. If you are on a social media platform – respond to customers when they post on your page. Ignoring them creates unnecessary animosity and ill will. It also fosters a lack of trust and customer service issues. When done correctly, social media can be your most powerful resource for making customers happy and loyal, but you’ll never get there by ignoring them. It amazes me how high the percentage is of companies that don’t bother. (Shame on them; it’s way past time for them to figure it out! The larger the company, the more their customers expect from social media.)

    6. Think of ways to let your employees shine. People buy from people and trust people – branding is built layer by layer of customer interactions with those employees. Building trust is very difficult if you don’t have a company culture of empowering your employees and letting them shine individually. It can be as simple as inviting them to write blog posts for the company blog, and empowering the right people to take ownership of customer service issues on social media. If you don’t focus on these kinds of transparency and authenticity, your company remains a nameless, faceless “entity” that is disengaged from its audience. That hampers or completely blocks trust.

    7. Trust begins and ends with customer service. If you are completely focused on using content marketing alone to build trust, you are missing a significant component: branding. Branding is all about customer perception –  which fuels social media engagement (especially on Facebook pages). How big of a priority is customer service for your organization? Invest in it. Pay attention to it. GROW it. Let it help fuel your social media and publicity.

    8. Launch a program that encourages customer reviews online. Not only does this help you rank well for SEO, it has a significant impact on the customer purchase process. If you don’t look at it annually and have a program that ASKS for referrals and recommendations online, you are missing out on a very, very high-impact marketing tactic.

    These are just a few tactics to begin building trust – care to add to my list? Leave a comment!

    trust / shutterstock

    Every successful company has a unique path that was followed from conception to reality. But there are some things that are universal to successful companies.

    The path to a successful business is never straight. There are forks in the road along the way that are often identified as challenges or problems. Every successful company has a unique path that was followed from conception to reality. Another company in the same industry trying to follow that exact path would most likely fail because the combination of corporate culture and customer dynamics is specific to an individual business.

    There are some things that are universal to successful companies. They include a solid foundation, systems, processes, tools, and best practices.

    Prior to the Internet, business success was often achieved by being the first to market. Sometimes, first to market was accomplished with the introduction of the new product or service. Others, it was finding new markets to serve with established products or services. The Internet changed everything.

    Today, every product or service is a commodity that can be found in a similar form usually at a better price. Successfully competing in a global economy with hundreds (maybe thousands) of channels or platforms requires laser focus and top-notch customer service. Any lackluster performance opens the door for competitors to grab market share.

    The companies succeeding today are using systems, processes, and tools to maximize productivity and deliver consistent quality service. For these companies, marketing and service unite to create specialized customer experiences. The one objective that takes precedent over all others is continuous improvement for the benefit of the customer.

    Logistics, systems, processes, and tools are rarely exciting (except for industrial systems engineers like me) but they are very effective in creating a solid business success foundation. People tend to postpone doing things that are less fun and don’t have immediate results. This gives the companies that invest in the foundation a competitive edge. Over time, the foundation lowers costs, improves service, and gives team members more time to focus on growth strategies and individualized customer care.

    Now is a good time to start building that foundation. Here are a few items to get you going:

    Improve your transactional emails – People open transactional emails because they want to know the status of their order. This is an excellent opportunity to provide additional information about your company, products, and services that will help build a relationship with your customer.

    Invest in education – The more your employees know, the better they can serve your company and customers. The Internet is filled with opportunities to learn at little or no cost. Provide opportunities for your team to listen to webinars, read articles, and when appropriate, go to conferences.

    Streamline processes – Review every process in your organization to ensure that it provides benefits. This requires validating every step along the way. Eliminating steps reduces time and cost for completion.

    Reevaluate social media participation – Monitoring and responding to mentions is mandatory across all platforms. Participation is optional. Limit activity to the best platforms for connecting with your customers and prospects.

    Provide more information on your website – People like self-service. Use your website to provide the information customers and prospects are seeking. It is inexpensive and effective.

    Create a fun place to work – Employee turnover is expensive. Ask team members for input on how to make their work environment better. Develop and implement a plan of action to improve morale and keep employees happy.

    Dig deep into your customer acquisition and retention numbers – High acquisition rates can hide a mass exodus of established customers. This has a long-term effect because the new customers tend to be less profitable than established ones. Left unchecked, costs will rise while sales drop.

    Improve productivity – Look for opportunities to use systems, processes, and tools to reduce manual labor. The right solutions save money, improve service, and reduce boredom.

    Once you get started building the foundation, it becomes easier. You’ll find that team members have more time to focus on important functions because they are spending less time fighting fires. Adapting a continuous improvement mentality encourages everyone in your organization to contribute to making it better. The things you do now will have a positive effect on your future.

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