• 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.
  • Consumer trust in brands are at an all-time low. To stand out from the noise and nurture brand love, marketers need to develop smart advocacy strategies.

    Being a marketer is tough.

    There are whole industries designed to ignore you. You strategically run a commercial during the finale of a widely popular show – only to have your audience DVR it. You run a radio spot during rush hour, hoping to catch people during their commute, but they change the station. Even your digital ads are turned away by ad blocking software.

    It seems impossibly difficult to capture the attention of your audience these days.

    But have you ever noticed that when you talk about a restaurant you recently visited, everyone around the office is all ears? Or that when your friend upgrades his/her phone, you want to know all about the new features and unique capabilities?

    This is the world we live in today. And in this world, trust is more important than ever.

    The bad news is that people don’t trust what your brand has to say about itself. Less than half of consumers worldwide (47%) say they trust television, magazine, and newspaper ads – almost a 25% drop from 2009. And in the US, trust is even harder to come by… only 25% of US consumers say they trust ads. Sounds pretty depressing, right? It is. But there is hope for marketers, because while people don’t trust your ads, they do trust recommendations from others.

    In fact, 90% of consumers worldwide trust recommendations from their friends and family, and 70% of consumers trust online reviews. This means that an Amazon write-up about your product will influence a potential customer way more than the billboard ad you just ran.

    Marketers need to rethink marketing.

    It’s time to leverage the power of consumers and amplify the voice of brand ambassadors.

    It's time to create a customer advocacy program.

    Creating an advocacy program is one of best things a brand can do to start building meaningful relationships, engage their most loyal customers, and empower organic word-of-mouth both online and offline.

    Here are seven things you'll need to keep in mind as you start building out your program.

    1. A defined objective… do you want buzz or love?

    Don’t confuse exposure with advocacy. So before you do anything, define your ultimate goal – is it short-term buzz or everlasting brand love? Creating a sustainable network of advocates – customers who support your brand and will talk about it to their friends – will take more time to build, but will guarantee long-term commitment.

    2. A VIP list of advocates

    A smart brand puts a heavy emphasis on recruiting passionate and dedicated advocates. If you don’t invite the right people into your network, you won’t achieve the right results. So be very selective about those you invite.

    3. Long-term engagement

    When you think about how to get your loyal communities talking, be creative. Make sure you choose technology that offers a number of exciting ways to keep your advocates engaged and interested. Allow the members of your network to connect with you, as well as with each other.

    4. An open feedback loop

    Comments, complaints, and suggestions actually make a difference in the company’s products and services, so take them to heart. In doing so customers will feel more involved and appreciated.

    5. Exclusive Perks

    It is extremely exciting for your advocates to be first in line for information about your new products, access to your events, and sneak peeks behind the scenes. It reminds them that they were specially chosen to be part of an exclusive group and makes them feel even more connected.

    6. Amplification

    Once you’ve created a community of customer advocates and engaged with them, why not extend the goodness and the impact of the program beyond just a simple social share? Consider amplifying your amazing community members by displaying their conversations and content proudly across your digital properties. You can even use their endorsements in place of traditional ads.

    7. Metrics

    No matter what platform you choose to build your advocacy network on, make sure that you have a solid set of metrics to track the effectiveness and impact of your campaigns.

    And Finally...

    The most important thing to remember for a successful customer advocacy program is that you are in it for the long haul. You need to plan ahead to keep members engaged and interested – don’t be afraid to go the extra mile to build strong relationships with them and show them that you truly care. And when the time comes and you need their support, they will be there to have your back, every single time.

    If you are looking for more tips and insights about building the customer advocacy strategy, I discuss the topic in more details in this e-book.
     

    The holiday season is beckoning and as an online entrepreneur, you must be thinking on how best to exploit the immense potential available. To get more traffic during this season, you have to be creative and innovative and one way of doing this is by leveraging on social media.

    The holiday season is beckoning and as an online entrepreneur, you must be thinking on how best to exploit the immense potential available. To get more traffic during this season, you have to be creative and innovative and one way of doing this is by leveraging on social media.

    Whether you are talking of Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Easter Holiday, Black Friday or any other holiday, you have the power to capitalize on increased traffic using social media. You have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google +, Tumblr or Pinterest, where there is immense opportunity

    Cracking the Numbers?

    The National Retail Federation (NRF) figures say that holiday season sales keep on increasing every year by an average of 4%. This means you can make more money by tapping seasonal traffic. Pew Research reports that 72% of all internet users are on social media. Facebook has over 1.15 active members and Twitter boast 550 million users.

    Drawing Seasonal Traffic Using Social Media

    While the numbers might be impressive, you cannot say the same about using social media to draw traffic. Most business executives fall flat on their face trying to use social media to draw seasonal traffic. Here are simple tricks on getting this right:

    ·         Know what you want: You must have some business focus, be it creating lasting relationships, marketing or just drawing any traffic. The trick lies in matching your business goals with social media users’ expectations.

    ·         Prepare early enough: When you start publicizing your seasonal offers early, you will have more tract than your competition. People tend to decide where to shop early and when they already know you are there they will not continue looking.

    ·         Create landing pages: When users learn about your product from Facebook, they might want to know more hence the need for a landing page for popular products. A visit to http://dealpursue.com shows how to present hot deals in order to capture a visitor’s attention. 

    ·         Cater for mobile users: Your page must be responsive for quick mobile browsing. Most social media users use their phones and hence you must cater for their browsing needs.

    ·         Captivate users: The best way to draw traffic during a holiday season is by offering discounts, gifts and other such offers.

    ·         Stay connected: One other way of making users feel appreciated is by staying up-to-date with the conversation. It is important to know what they say on social media and engaging them by offering more information or resolving issues.

    ·         Get charitable: Social media is a community and if you show you are contributing to society, word will get around quickly. It shows that your company is not just about sales but also gives back to the community.

    ·         Show your gratitude: Social media is all about interaction and if users are visiting your page, you need to show them your gratitude. For instance, you can post memes on your social media pages showing how grateful your company is for these interactions or just tweet about it.

    It is also critical to be sensitive of cultural differences, to engage users in promotions and contests, as well as ensure your page has a holiday-themed promotion during this period. In essence, you have to stay connected in order to draw users to your page. 

    Sometimes, you come across a marketing concept so simple and effective you wonder why everyone didn’t think of it ages and ages ago. I know I’m certainly not the only person who’s gotten that impression from Bryan Kramer, who spoke at Social Shake-Up in Atlanta. Bryan argues that traditional marketing categories (like business-to-business and business-to-consumer) are not only misleading, but actually problematic.

    Sometimes, you come across a marketing concept so simple and effective you wonder why everyone didn’t think of it ages and ages ago. I know I’m certainly not the only person who’s gotten that impression from Bryan Kramer, who spoke at Social Shake-Up in Atlanta. Bryan argues that traditional marketing categories (like business-to-business and business-to-consumer) are not only misleading, but actually problematic.

     

    They get it all wrong because communication – and especially communicating via social media – isn’t about the traditional B2B channels or B2C synergy… it’s about connecting humans to humans, or H2H.

    Regular readers of our blog will know this is essentially what we’ve been championing. What I love about Bryan’s way of thinking, though, is that he puts it so succinctly. In fact, simply expressing the idea as “human to human” makes it so simple that it’s pretty much impossible to miss.

    The concept appears to have resonated with a lot of other people, too. Bryan admits that he didn’t quite see the potential of it himself until some seminar attendees stopped him in the middle of a presentation he was giving on the subject and asked him to expand on the concept. The response was so strong, he went home and wrote a book about it. Soon after, his book skyrocketed to the bestseller list and he’s had the opportunity to share it with audiences around the world.

    The power of H2H isn’t just that it sounds cool, it has addresses a much bigger-picture around marketing in the modern day and reveals that…


    1. Social Interaction Is About Emotion and Engagement


    It’s the humans that have emotions and those emotions (like trust, fear, love, etc.) drive them to seek out answers to the problems and challenges they face.

    People don’t respond to traditional marketing messages in social because that’s not why they log in to their profiles. What they seek is an authentic connection, and potentially answers or a bit of guidance. You can’t provide those with a banner ad, but you can open a dialogue and establish a level of trust or even friendship by being more personal, and thinking more about the one-to-one connections.

    Call it social interaction or chatting, but it could just as easily fall under the umbrella of H2H. Whichever name you prefer to give it, you have to connect with people as a person – not a faceless marketer or company – if you want to make a lasting impression.


    2. Traditional Marketing Categories Make Branding Tougher


    When you fall into the trap of using terms like B2B and B2C, you begin to think of your buyers as categories of people – or targets – rather than individuals with emotions and motivations.

    That’s dangerous, because it forces you to start making wider generalizations and works to put you out of touch with their real wants and needs. In other words, you start trying to sell to everyone, instead of communicating with your biggest potential customers (or their influencers). That difference might seem like a small one, but it’s incredibly significant when you’re trying to separate yourself from all the companies that don’t get it yet.

    Why confuse prospects by putting your marketing into overdrive when what customers really want is to connect and be engaged?


    3. You Don’t Have to Connect With Buyers to “Win” in Social


    As I’ve hinted before, the big problem with social media marketing is that people think of it as marketing. In other words, they assume the goal is to meet buyers, interest them in products or services, and then transact the sale as quickly as possible.

    At Kayak, we do things differently. Believe it or not, we don’t even focus on buyers. Instead, we concentrate on engaging with people, sharing laughs, being helpful and answering questions when we can. Most often, those individuals don’t end up purchasing anything from us. What they do provide, however, is a stream of referrals that do double duty as endorsements because, due to our social encounters, they’ve come to know and trust us.

    The big takeaway here is that you don’t necessarily have to appeal to buyers for social media to work – you simply need to make authentic connections. That’s the way H2H works, and it does work.

    There are more than enough places people can bump into marketing messages. By making an effort to connect on a human level, people will appreciate you more and your opportunities will grow along with your network.

    Facebook loves sharing because it reinforces social and social is what Facebook is all about. And so before you know it, you’ve created your own framework for inducing massive virality around your business or around your topic of interest. This is the type of virality that will get you the numbers and, eventually, the conversions you seek.

    There was a time when all the rage in online marketing was grabbing as many relevant domain names as possible. The SEO-savvy would then leverage these domains to create microsites that linked and redirected traffic back to the main site. This resulted in a higher Google pagerank for the main site. In the algorithm-focused eyes of Google, the website must be important because it received a virtual vote of confidence from all these other sites. The SEO gurus had found a way to take advantage of and benefit from the internal workings of the search economy on the web.

    Fast forward to today. Google has undergone several algorithm changes, the rules of the game have drastically changed and the web universe has a new master – Facebook. Now if you’re an online marketer you know that buying additional domain names is not as effective as it once was. For starters, you need to work hard to get each one to rise up the pageranks otherwise the backlinks could do more harm than good to your main site’s own pagerank. That may be okay if you’re talking about another one or two domains and websites. But what if you had more? That’s a lot of work for an uncertain ROI.

    Facebook changes the game. Instead of buying additional domains and creating additional sites, why not create or buy additional Facebook Pages? (Long pause for effect while you allow this to sink in...)

    Facebook Pages are the new “in” platforms in the age of social media marketing. They are the social media equivalent of domains. People created these pages to feature their interests or businesses and many have built quite a following. But in reality a lot of people do not like their Pages. They don’t like managing them, they don’t like running them and they’re not making any money from them. If the Page aligns with your subject matter or your business, why not acquire it?

    Here’s what’s in it for you. If you own several Facebook properties you could share content among these properties. And that’s the simplest thing for you to do on Facebook. But just as Google once highly regarded votes of confidence among domains, so, too, does Facebook highly regard sharing among entities within its platform.

    Facebook loves sharing because it reinforces social and social is what Facebook is all about. And so before you know it, you’ve created your own framework for inducing massive virality around your business or around your topic of interest. This is the type of virality that will get you the numbers and, eventually, the conversions you seek.

    So, to summarize:

    1. Seek out people with Pages that align to your business or interest. Keep your eye out for Pages with a large number of Likes.

    2. Get to know the person behind the Page and make him or her an offer.

    3. Run the Page and build it up.

    4. Share content among your Pages.

    5. Put in place your funnels

    There is one thing that Google and its assorted trawling bots love, and that is fresh content. But often, creating bespoke, singular content is an expensive process. So how do you get the most out of new content? This post will identify new content opportunities from old or existing content.

    There is one thing that Google and its assorted trawling bots love, and that is fresh content. If that fresh content is also linked from established websites, then Google has every reason to believe the content is quite good, and will rank it higher.

    This, of course, is brilliant good for the content creator, and the website where the content is housed. Fresh content is the key to this process – the oil that keeps the engine running if you like – and is critical in a healthy inbound marketing strategy.

    But often, creating bespoke singular content is an expensive process. So how do you get the most out of new content?  Hopefully this blog will go some way to identifying new content opportunities from old or existing content:

    1. Switch the format up

    As an example, if you’ve run surveys of your clients or market, then reformat them. Don't forget to tweak for SEO as you go. Here are some options:

    • Video summary of the findings to YouTube
    • Press release
    • Segment the full report – show industry cuts
    • Social media sharing of research nuggets (Social Media B2B do this very well, embedding tweetable nuggets into an article, like this article on content marketing stats)
    • Create an infographic from the summary
    • More social media sharing and discussion
    • Micro poll your users as to whether the results still stand true
    • Publish results from the micro poll

    2. The Friday roundup / in-depth piece

    Give followers a lean-back post to digest on Saturday or Sunday. Branding Magazine sends out a summary listing of their hot posts of the previous five days. Good for those relaxing on a Saturday morning with bacon and coffee. In contrast to a round up – The Economist has a lean back section for a more in-depth read on existing topics and themes.

    3. Get all analytical

    Find out which of your posts were the most popular in terms of traffic from various search terms. Promote them on social media.  Rework those that are off target.

    Use Topsy to compare trending hashtags, or trending phrases and really target your next article.

    4. Think of your old posts

    Continuing the analytics theme – give your old posts will little traffic a tweet or a share if there’s something relevant in the news related to that post. Use this one sparingly though as it could annoy your close followers. And tailor it to each audience!

    If your blog is on WordPress, you may even want to consider the plugin Tweet Old Post which will automate it for you.

    5. Newsjack

    Your products or services might not be famous yet but helping out someone in a broadcasted bad situation can be powerful content. Oakley sent a new model of sunglasses to those leaving the Chilean mines a few years back – it was global news and everybody saw it. It gave others the chance to create loads of content around them.

    It could also be a way to reassure your clients that this won’t happen to them – like password protection. A great example of newsjackking was Lastpass providing a tool to check if your LinkedIn password was stolen. They re-purpose this piece each and every time a new website is hacked or comes to the limelight for security breaches.

    6. Croudsource an article from your comments area

    I love when people point out an idea you’ve missed on a comments section from another article or blog. Use those ideas and expand on them in another post.

    Your Turn

    Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section. I’d love to create another post!