• 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.
  • Greg Gerik
    Greg Gerik on September 16, 2014

    Shaking Up Social: Attending the Social Shake-Up in Atlanta

    Last year, the Social Shake-Up was one of the best social conferences to attend and this year promises to be even better. Here are a few of the hottest topics and sessions at the Shake-Up this year that are sure to deliver and drive this industry forward.
  • LPope
    Leah Pope on September 23, 2014

    Using Social Intelligence to Build the Sales Pipeline

    The social web has opened new channels for consumers to discuss products and brands, share opinions and ask for recommendations. Brands today must take a more responsive approach focused around interests relevant to the individual consumer. With the right tools in place, brands can uncover these opportunities, engage strategically and directly contribute to trackable lead generation.
  • Last week, Facebook changed its Newsfeed algorithm again. They say the change will surface your friends' posts and pages when they are the most useful and relevant. I doubt it, but okay. And right on cue, Facebook tacticians are looking for ways to recover diminished reach due to the change. Like Google, we have pinned our hopes on a fickle hero. Perhaps it’s time we remind ourselves of the lesson Google taught us.

    I remember waiting for the Google Dance.  Old school SEO experts know what I’m referring to.  Years ago, Google would update its index once a month.  Online marketers would watch their search listings hoping for a jump in rankings.  The next day, forums would fill with the lucky and the damned, those who thought Google was awesome and others that swore it was Satan incarnate.

    Google still dances but its index changes are fine tuned and uneventful.

    Now we watch Facebook like shy geeks at prom.

    Last week, Facebook changed its Newsfeed algorithm again.  They say the change will surface your friends' posts and pages when they are the most useful and relevant.  I doubt it, but okay.

    And right on cue, Facebook tacticians are looking for ways to recover diminished reach due to the change.

    Like Google, we have pinned our hopes on a fickle hero. Perhaps it’s time we remind ourselves of the lesson Google taught us.

    What Google and Facebook Really Wants

    I don’t doubt that Facebook wants to make money by erecting tolls booths on the path to your followers but I don’t believe that profit is their primary goal.

    Their goal is to get every human hooked on Facebook.  They do that by creating an insanely useful and relevant tool to connect with your friends.

    Google already makes billions lining the path to your content with billboards (i.e. Adsense and Adwords). Sure they want to make a pile of cash but I believe their primary goal is what they say – to organize their world’s knowledge.

    Both Google and Facebook need YOU to accomplish their goals.
    They need you to care about your content’s quality and value.
    They want you to attract audiences using innovative approaches and strategies.

    Facebook AND Google cook up new ways to inform, entertain, and educate your audience at a dizzying pace.

    The last thing they want you to do is to parse every change in their algorithm looking for patterns, shortcuts, and other nonsense.  Just create insanely great solutions, options, perspectives, and tools to problems that annoy the piss out of your audience.

    You’ll Sleep Better

    I’ve stopped watching Google and analyzing Facebook.  Its more productive and fun to watch and analyze you.  Afterall the best strategy has always been to give you what you need.

    Perhaps it’s time for you to change your focus too?

    OlegDoroshin / Shutterstock.com

    Combining both social media marketing and trade show exhibiting can make a huge impact if you are looking to get more customers and grow your networking circle. This article outlines some ideas to bring more attendees to your booth by getting the word out online before, during, and after the trade show.

    Social media has transformed the way we connect with customers, prospects, and other industry professionals. Social media has become such an effective way of growing businesses and increasing brand awareness that, according to a survey conducted by LinkedIn, 8 out of 10 small and medium-sized businesses you it to drive growth. While using networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ can help build an online presence, trade shows can help drive traffic to your business through face-to-face interactions with your target audience.

    Combining both social media marketing and trade show exhibiting can make a huge impact if you are looking to get more customers and grow your networking circle. Below are some ideas to bring more attendees to your booth by getting the word out online.

    Before the Show

    • Promote your trade show display by creating a video and posting it to YouTube, Facebook, your website, etc. This video should tell your audience who you are and what they can expect from your company at the event. Teasing your viewers with a little preview of what to expect will peak their interest.
    • Hash tags are very useful in reaching a very specific audience. Find out what hashtags your event is using in order to connect with other attendees and exhibitors. Also, use hashtags that are related to your industry to reach out to other people who may not be aware of the show.
    • Write blogs that will let readers know how you are preparing for the show, why they should stop by your booth, and any additional details of the event.

    During the Show

    • A picture is worth a thousand words, so make sure to take plenty of them and post them to all of your social media accounts, blog, and website. Show your audience why they need to be at your booth.
    • Post videos interviewing the booth staff and attendees. If your company is demonstrating a new product, posting a video of it can also be very effective.
    • Use QR codes throughout your booth that will take visitors to a downloadable brochure, your company website, or anything else you might want your visitors to see by simply scanning it with their smart phone.

    After the Show

    • Go through your lead forms or business cards collected at the trade show and send out invitations on LinkedIn in order to stay connected with them after the event is over.
    • Write a blog post that will sum up everything that happened at the event, which will hopefully get your audience excited about attending the trade show next year.

    Both social media and trade show exhibiting continue growing in popularity, so learning how to combine the two with these steps will help you get the results you want.

    How would you incorporate social media into your trade show booth? 

    During The Social Shake-Up in Atlanta, I had a chance to moderate a brilliant panel starring Adam Naide, the social media lead for Cox Communications; Tracy Bell, Enterprise Media Monitoring Executive, SVP at Bank of America; and David Schweidel, Associate Professor of Marketing at Goizueta Business School at Emory University. The topic of this session was clear: how to define a data-driven social campaign.

    During The Social Shake-Up in Atlanta, I had a chance to moderate a brilliant panel starring Adam Naide, the social media lead for Cox Communications; Tracy Bell, Enterprise Media Monitoring Executive, SVP at Bank of America; and David Schweidel, Associate Professor of Marketing at Goizueta Business School at Emory University.

    The topic of this session was clear: how to define a data-driven social campaign. I invite you to read the recaps by Shay Moser and Stefan Pederssen.

    The conclusions were very similar. It’s not because we can approximately measure everything that creative ideas become more impactful. In fact, it’s all about the feelings you leave behind that matter - shaping a strange chemistry within organizations and customers is the key to making data-figures that count.

    It’s all about a story.

    It can appear paradoxical but before even starting to process data, brands should probably go back to basics: what are their inner stories? Who are the stakeholders and protagonists? What’s the plot?

    This very old-fashioned approach now makes total sense, as a story provides a framework of analysis for any attempt to process data; brands stage stories, stories explain key momentums of communications and marketing effort. Data are not absolute: they’re always related to an objective, to competitors and to attention. Stories and narratives prioritize tasks, hierarchize the marketing funnel and crystallize specific actions.

    Dr Marie Taillard and Judy Bayer wrote a powerful article last year explaining that “the idea is for the analyst to navigate back and forth between the data and the developing story to ensure a good balance between the creative narrative and the analytics that reveal the facts and details of the story.”

    There are as many data frameworks as there are stories.

    Essays, novels, romans, poems - if they all use the same features (mostly words) they can’t be compared, as if there was “one best way”. – do you mean to say ‘one better way’, or is this a quote?

    Therefore as the panelists mentioned, data should be aggregated, consolidated and transformed to create relevant indicators for the business’ story. Instead of focusing on the metrics (i.e. numbers of shares, likes, number of mentions, “positive” vs “negative” etc.), organizations should focus on objectives and what they want to demonstrate.

    In other words, focusing on metrics without context nor purpose in a non-sense. When it comes to an insurance company, do customers really care to “love” it? Probably not. What’s more important is the level of trust. The creative development of an insurance company should then focus on how to gain this trust, improve it, and feed it. Not necessarily trying to be loved.

    Data is not the enemy of creativity: conservatism is.

    Many commentators try to oppose creative people with maths people. It’s actually deeply illogical; data are enemies of creativity only when they give ground to conservative people to not move the brand forward.

    Data should actually bring some inputs to edgy minds: in 2012 a survey from the American Assembly, a non-partisan public policy forum affiliated with Columbia University found that nefarious file-sharers tend to purchase 30 percent more music than customers who do not download anything illegally. Based on that study, Iron Maiden used information about illegal downloads of their albums provided by Musicmetric to pick in which areas the band should play for their upcoming tour. Data and creativity are not two opposite sides - they are part of a value chain in which the two inspire each other.

    Data: the textbook for digital brands’ actors and actresses.

    In social media marketing, “listen first” is the very first principle. Brands might then eventually start talking with educated guesses coming from these social insights.

    Data as a whole should be like the words in a textbook for a theatre play: the elements in which we shape a tone of voice and a cultural territory - in which a story is different from another one. It is not a film in the sense that as with a live performance, the actors sometimes fail, or need to adapt with their audience. But it’s something that needs to be prepared, just to keep a coherent approach.

    Something which may appear forgotten in today’s automation world.

    Real time marketing leads to some skeptical thoughts; we’re not doubting that its impact is potentially tremendously high; but seeing ten jokes on Twitter using the same triggers about a specific event happening during Superbowl, starts becoming boring. This is due to the “live” transformation of low-level data not changing the brand and the perception of consumers. Data should reveal less obvious expectations and usages, instead of confirming a marketing plan. No one talks about Coca Cola and happiness online as everybody associates the brand to fast-food, fries and breakfast. The main objective for Coca Cola using data in their creative process, will be to move this perception into new fields: sports, positive lifestyle etc. “Be part of the solution, not of the problem” regarding obesity.

    In order to make people in today's world take notice of your marketing campaign, you need to be active on multiple mediums.

    In the multimedia world that we live in today, people are constantly bombarded with various marketing campaigns. It is such an everyday thing for most people that they simply tune out all of the advertising and go about their daily activities. For these people, ads have become like white noise. In order to make people in today's world take notice of your marketing campaign, you need to be active on multiple mediums. This will ensure that you reach the largest audience possible, not only people who are already aware of your products. This article will discuss each medium and how it should be approached.

    1. Social media

    Social media is mentioned first because it is the fastest growing medium by far. Like it or not, we are living in the age of social media. You can either get on board the train or get left behind at the station. Businesses that fail to embrace social media will eventually be surpassed by their competitors who are taking full advantage of it. With one billion users of Facebook and well over 300 million users of Twitter, social media has the power to instantly reach people in demographics and locations that would have been impossible 10 years ago. There are also social media sites like Reddit and Foursquare that have amassed huge followings. Having a presence on these sites could literally be the difference between your business succeeding or failing. These sites are a great way to interact directly with your customers and find out what they want, what they like about your business and what they don't.

    2. YouTube

    YouTube is every company's dream come true. It is one of the 10 biggest websites in the world, it is used by millions of people every day and it does not cost anything to post video commercials for your products. An enormous amount of videos on YouTube are simply ads made by people and companies that are selling everything you could imagine. This type of free advertising is worth its weight in gold, provided you know how to attract people to your ads. Making entertaining and informative YouTube videos should be a top priority of every marketing department.

    3. Email

    After you have gone through the process of creating a profile for your top marketing leads, this information can then be used to construct a targeted list of possible new leads. Targeted direct mailing lists can tend to be on the expensive side. However, if they are put together correctly, marketers have the power to produce the most loyal customers and cost effective leads through direct mail advertising. They will also generate the best response rate. The wording of any direct mail that you send out must be worded carefully, so it is not flagged as spam. You also want to keep the message short and sweet. If you send somebody a wall of text, they are unlikely to read all of it.

    4. Radio

    Terrestrial radio that we all grew up with seems to be dying a slow death. Ratings are slipping due to the advent of satellite radio, a subscription based service. Because you have to pay for satellite radio, it is not bound by FCC restrictions. Thus, they can broadcast programs that are much more edgy than you would ever hear on regular radio. In terms of marketing campaigns, the type of radio you choose depends on the audience you are trying to reach. Most businesses are trying to target people who are more affluent. In this case, satellite radio is the way to go. This is because most of the high end cars sold today come with satellite radio as a standard feature. Also, people who can afford to pay for satellite radio have disposable income.

    5. TV

    While still important, TV campaigns do not have the power they once did. This is due mainly to the advent of DVRs that enable people to effortlessly skip past commercials. The use of DVRs has exploded in recent years. Therefore, a company should think twice about investing a lot of money in a TV campaign that many people may skip past. However, if a show's audience matches the demo you are after, it may be worth the risk.

    Twitter chats are an essential part of your digital marketing diet. In fact, these online conversations offer valuable information and far-reaching benefits to both seasoned and aspiring professionals from any industry.

    It's no secret: Twitter chats are an essential part of your digital marketing diet. In fact, these online conversations offer valuable information and far-reaching benefits to both seasoned and aspiring professionals from any industry. And while many will continue to debate whether some of the information gleaned is insightful or insipid,  I can certainly attest to its remarkable power—being part of a team of moderators who manage a well participated, multi-themed chat exploring the limitless possibilities of social media (#smchat). So you may ask, "Are there a clear set of best practices that can help maximize time and thought investment in this activity?" From my experience to date, there are some good habits worth noting. And below are some considerations. These are frank, personal impressions which I hope will resonate instinctively and be of help over the long term.

    PARTICIPANTS

    • Spontaneity is key, but timeliness is of the essence Most chats are prefaced by a round of introductions. Although friendly and reassuring, I personally limit (if not completely leave out) these seemingly endless greetings (actually, I am known to just parachute myself in the midst of a chat). There's nothing wrong with pleasant hi-there-hello's but be focused and on point with the limited hour you have in drawing people's attention to and interest in the discussion.
    • Digression is encouraged, especially if advancing non-obvious aspects of a given topic I typically refer to moments of inspiration as "sparks" and will invariably refer to this term from time to time because of its understated, onomatopoeic beauty. If you start seeing chatters branch off into tangents, join them! You will be astounded at what fresh nuggets of insight you'll be able to sift through these exchanges.
    • Self-promotion can be awkward: attempt at your own risk Perhaps it's because I haven't actually brain-farted an e-book worth reading. I don't know. While there's nothing wrong with the odd, brave 'shameless self-promotion' you are, in essence, owning up to two things: a) that you are willing to risk demonstrating a faint moment of egoism, and b) that you have no qualms at all with that decision. Is that really the kind of impression you want to leave?
    • Hashtag spamming is really not a good thing. Really, don't even bother. In almost all scenarios, there will be a random tweet that will piggy-back off the rousing (sometimes frenetic) pace of your Twitter chat. Usually, these tweets are entirely unrelated to the topic at hand. So something like this: 1001 Ways to Improve Your Social Selling - URL - #LookAtMe #ImShameless #TwitterChat will inevitably pop up randomly in your timeline. Don't be that person. It's really not worth it. You're only giving people more reason to unfollow, mute or out right avoid you.

    MODERATORS

    • A framework is ideal but sometimes not necessary. Preparing a brief abstract that positions your theme and substantiates the various reasons why you think a given topic is worthy of discussion is, IMO, the best case scenario. Offering leading questions beforehand also helps incite reflection prior to the actual chat. This makes for more willing (and prepared) participation. However, there are some Twitter chats that simply fire off a topic and questions on the fly. Sometimes this can be equally exhilarating. However, I do notice that these types of chats tend to already have a handful of regular participants who are savvy enough to go with the flow.
    • Co-moderation is a good, sustainable format It's like tag-teaming. Not only do you ensure longevity of your involvement in Twitter chats but also afford having fresh ideas circulate within your team. Online conversations on Twitter are meant to be community-driven. So it follows that having at least two people assigned to a given chat topic makes for a more pragmatic, sustainable approach to your format.
    • Echo chambers are evil. They really are. Yes, I myself have been guilty of contributing  to the reverberating hollowness within these accursed chambers. I don't think moderators actually intend to come off as sounding like broken records. But I have seen a fair share of repetitive question-and-answer banter that trigger eye roll's and ugh's like an unconscious twitch. Is it laziness? Did you not have enough time to prepare? Are you justifying using your Captain Obvious megaphone because you want to help new entrants? Whatever the reason, the "define your objectives" meme is a dead horse. If you persist with flogging it to amplify canned loops of thought, you risk boring your participants. Worse, turning them off. Be daring. Ask tough questions and stir the pot once in a while so you can surface truly novel perspectives and creative input.
    • Be encouraging and inclusive So no, I won't take back what I said about keeping your intro's short :) Although there is something to be said for quickly responding back to first-timers and making them feel welcome. What often works for me is keeping the tweet short and sweet,"Hi! Welcome! Feel free to dive right in or ask us any questions #TwitterChat" Most who are unfamiliar with how Twitter chats work will listen and lurk at first. But once someone acknowledges their presence and interest, they open right up and become surprisingly attentive and collaborative during the dialogue. Also, make sure you share others' input with an RT, favourite or quote. This helps strengthen affinity and confidence among your participants, especially when they know their presence is valued and their '2 cents' is useful to others, too.

    Some view chatting on Twitter to be annoying; they see these random exchanges as polluting their timelines. And while the MUTE button exists for this reason, many either ignore the chatter and carry on unfazed or simply unfollow you. What has YOUR Twitter Chat experience been like? Do share