• 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.
  • People are crowdfunding, making, sharing, collaborating, all kinds of their things in life. Some are getting food on-demand, rather than going to traditional grocery stores or restaurants. The world is speeding up, and people are transacting between each other, or rapid-delivery services. To help make sense of this dizzying environment, we attempted to take a snapshot of this world in motion, to try to find out what a single day comprises of.

    Data shows collaboration in the new economy is accelerating.

    People are crowdfunding, making, sharing, collaborating, all kinds of their things in life. Some are getting food on-demand, rather than going to traditional grocery stores or restaurants. The world is speeding up, and people are transacting between each other, or rapid-delivery services. We expect this to continue to accelerate as the funding from VCs dwarfs many markets, adoption rates are doubling, and the media has endless coverage over this collaborative movement. To help make sense of this dizzying environment, we attempted to take a snapshot of this world in motion, to try to find out what a single day comprises of.

     


    collaborative economy

    Infographic: A Day in the Life of the Collaborative Economy (Ver 1.0

    This version is a draft, I’d love to get your feedback (in the comments).

    Data Methodology and Sources

    Data was aggregated from online sources, first, then in many cases, I asked for clarification from startups contacts that I know. All data was from 2013-2014 sources. Only four of the eighteen sources are from 2013.  Some companies declined to provide data, or it wasn’t listed, therefore we did not include. In many cases, data was annual, or monthly, and we divided to find out an average daily rate. In many cases, companies would not provide a daily rate, so we had to conduct this exercise on our own.

    Similar Resources

    1. The Mesh Directory, by industry leader Lisa Gansky lists out over 9,000 companies in this market.
    2. The Collaborative Economy Honeycomb which shows many of the startup logos
    3. See VC funding of this market, on a Google Sheet I manage.
    4. An older collection of stats and figures in this market.
    5. Full body of work, research, data, reports, and slides.

    collaboration / shutterstock

    These days, there’s no end to what businesses can do when it comes to engaging with social media, no one channel to which they’re limited or forum from which they’re kept.

    These days, there’s no end to what businesses can do when it comes to engaging with social media, no one channel to which they’re limited or forum from which they’re kept. Now, with more than a dozen different platforms from which to choose, brands must work to be found and remain known, and to stay relevant in the digital age – the trick here being, of course, that they know well in advance which channels will ultimately serve them and their buyers best.

    Social media might seem a time investment to some, to small and midsize businesses (SMB) especially, but the return can be tenfold, so long as brands have the right strategy in place. That said, here are six ways SMBs can hit the ground running in their social media efforts:

    Let your target audience determine your social presence.

    As you begin to build out your brand’s pages on various social channels, think long and hard about the types of content your buyers consume most, and about the offers that often attract them. If, for instance, your business happens to be a courting a demographic of potential homebuyers, make it a point to share helpful guides and how-to’s that break down the complexities of real estate – a crash course on securing mortgages, a tutorial on making offers, a list of red flags to look for in listings, etc. Make it a point to educate instead of sell, and your buyers will thank you for it.

    Focus on a few select channels, not all.

    It’s better to be deep than broad in your engagement on social – to lavish a small handful of sites with your energy and attention, versus attempting to have a minimal presence across all. Consider the sites your buyers frequent and the places where your content plays best; if you’re looking to off-load a whitepaper, for example, you might try doubling down on a site like LinkedIn, where whitepapers and eBooks tend to fare best.

    Identify (and be willing to leverage) social influencers.

    If you’re looking to generate real demand for your product in the social pages you keep, search for and utilize key social influencers – thought leaders, academics and respected industry experts that command strong social followings and engage followers regularly.

    You’ll want to look for people with well-defined positions and similar views, people you believe your own buyers will benefit from hearing. Once you find those influencers, you’ll want to approach them carefully, and in a way that signals your respect for their expertise – you might solicit their feedback on a product or service you provide, or make them the first to know of developments in your organization. You can share their content as a start, to show an interest in their work and perspective on the industry.

    Understand that conversations are key.

    Once your pages are up and running, be sure to monitor each one closely to see what sorts of exchanges take place on them and within your larger social network. Try to identify the hashtags relevant to your industry or product, or the handles of competing vendors and industry publications, and be sure to follow them. This way, you’ll get a sense of what your buyers are discussing, which, in turn, gives you content to share and opportunities for engagement.

    Draw content from relevant sources.

    Admirable as it is to create and share original pieces of content exclusively, curating content is extremely beneficial in the long run, as it shows your buyers you care more about educating and helping them than selling them on your services. It also has the benefit of drawing on the followings of other thought leaders and publications – share an article from Forbes that’s relevant to your industry and you’re likely to catch the notice of those who follow Forbes out of habit, who wouldn’t necessarily know to look for your product otherwise.

    Be precise in your calls to action.

    As you go about building a following for yourself on social media, don’t forget about the people you came there to engage and serve: buyers on the lookout for your specific product and service. If you’re a provider of lead generation software, be sure your offers map to marketers specifically. If, instead, you’re a third-party vendor selling tee times at a country club, strike out at golfers. The goal is to be specific in what you provide, so your followers (and potential buyers by extension) feel like there’s really something for them – and them alone – in what you offer.

    While social media can be described as a relatively recent development professionally, it has become essential for businesses of all sizes to incorporate it into their marketing strategies. Be sure to keep these six tips in mind as you reevaluate your business’s marketing plan to take your brand digital – and beyond.

    In this episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast I explain why marketing and business leaders leading social media marketing for brands of all sizes must empower their audience and give them something to join that offers value, relevancy, community and relationships that are meaningful. I also share 10 strategies and tips to nurture and grow communities that offer value to all who choose to participate.

    Humans are creatures of habit. Since marketers are humans, this means it’s easy for marketers to fall to old tactics and strategies to achieve their business and marketing goals.

    Times are changing. Smart marketers are quickly learning that it is no longer simply about eyeballs and impressions. To inspire audiences to connect with brands, marketers must connect in a human way.

    Even more important is that audiences and community members are invited to join something bigger than what they can be or do by themselves.

    It is human behavior for people to want to feel connected. They want to connect with other humans. They want to know that they are safe, cared for and that their worth on this planet will have a lasting impression. They want to feel a sense of belonging, achievement and actualization.

    Bottom line, people want to be part of something bigger than what they can be by themselves. They want to not just buy something, but join something.

    In this episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast I explain why marketing and business leaders leading social media marketing for brands of all sizes must empower their audience and give them something to join that offers value, relevancy, community and relationships that are meaningful. I also share 10 strategies and tips to nurture and grow communities that offer value to all who choose to participate.

    Episode Highlights

    • Why people want to be part of something bigger than themselves
    • Why people want to do more than buy things
    • What people look for in a community
    • How community leaders can build a “sticky fabric” that attracts and inspires people to stick around for the long term
    • 10 tips to nurture and grow meaningful communities of value

    Supporting Resources:

    How to Subscribe to Social Zoom Factor Podcast 

    As a brand, are you going to fight against user-generated content with lawsuits and copyright, or are you going to embrace the changes and the marketing potential they provide?
    With the rise of social media, blogging, image-sharing and the 24/7 access to the online sphere, consumers are filling the internet with information about brands and product experiences. The opinions of users have now become so important for customers that according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising. Review sites and niche blogs have brought specific user information to the fingertips of potential buyers, while traditional media revenues are declining in importance.

    So as a brand, are you going to fight against user-generated content with lawsuits and copyright, or are you going to embrace the changes and the marketing potential they provide?

    1. Endorse bloggers and reward their loyalty

    Tool company Fiskars has their very own community of endorsed Fiskateers, who blog about and share crafting ideas and tips. There are now several thousand Fiskateers who meet regularly at community events, and the most engaged and passionate members are honored at special parties and gatherings.

    This sort of community building strengthens brand loyalty enormously, but it can also be used to create content to reach a wider audience. Walmart Moms is a group of endorsed bloggers who write about home and lifestyle topics and have a large following. While these Moms have a wide sphere of influence, it is important to note that they were already passionate about Walmart’s products and are volunteers, and so choosing them to represent the brand feels more authentic than paying for a celebrity endorsement. In return they get access to new lines and products, as well as gaining a wide readership for their blog.

    2. Make a feature of the content

    Forward-thinking brands are using photographs of real-life people using their products and making a feature out of it, effectively putting the customer center-stage. Clothing rental site Rent the Runway encourages users to send in photos of themselves wearing the site’s dresses and let people browse by their own dress size, height and age to see how the dress looks on someone just like them, as well as clicking to ‘Love her look’. The result is a really important database of styles for individual body shapes that show an online shopper how they could look in the dress, which is an important resource for women shopping online.

    Creating communities of users is a fantastic way to increase customer engagement and to center your brand on your followers. You don’t have to show customers actually using your product; creating something that captures the essence of your brand can be inspirational too. Tiffany’s & Co have launched a website called What Makes Love True that celebrates photos and stories of real-life love uploaded by fans. The pictures can be liked on the site, as well as shared on Twitter and Facebook. This encourages followers to share Tiffany’s message that true love comes in many different forms with their friends, which is far more interactive than a more traditional marketing campaign.

    tiffany user-generated content

    (Image from Tiffany’s True Love in Pictures gallery)

    3. Helping customers help others

    Companies such as Dell offer community-led support forums for their users, and this enables them to answer a wider range of questions and discuss issues than using the more traditional model of a call center. The databank of material that has built up has become an important resource to customers and makes Dell the go-to place for technology discussions. Online communities are not a new idea, but Dell also encourages users to submit their own ideas and let users vote on them, with the best ones actually being implemented and celebrated.

    Community building on this level, allowing users to discuss problems and issues and submit ideas, leads to loyal brand fans who can actually see their conversations having an effect on products and implementation.

    Trust is essential

    In all these examples of brands that encourage public feedback and user-generated material, the key element is trust. It can be difficult for companies to stand back and allow their customers to take center stage, but by putting the customer in charge brands can inspire loyalty and positive engagement.

    Originally posted on RingCentral 

    The Instagram Rule of 11 is a fairly arbitrary threshold by which a post’s success is judged. It arises from a simple fact of design on the Instagram app; when a post on the photo-sharing site is liked eleven times, the app stops displaying the individual names of those who have liked it and shows only the number.
    The internet is full of formal and informal rules, laws, and guidelines; it is a country with an uncodified constitution, where interaction between individuals rides on a delicate set of principles which even those who profess to be masters in the art do not fully understand. From Godwin’s law, which states that the longer an online discussion goes on the probability of someone invoking a comparison to Hitler or Nazis approaches 1, to Rule 34, which observes that if something exists then there is porn of it, the commandments of digital life are many and varied.
     
    When it comes to social media, however, one rule underscores all others. While it has a variety of incarnations across a variety of platforms, for the sake of convenience we’ll refer to it by its most popular guise: The Instagram Rule of 11.
     
    The Instagram Rule of 11 is a fairly arbitrary threshold by which a post’s success is judged. It arises from a simple fact of design on the Instagram app; when a post on the photo-sharing site is liked eleven times, the app stops displaying the individual names of those who have liked it and shows only the number.
     
    The rule, while it originates from what was probably a sensible but not over-considered aspect of Instagram’s design, has become a major aspect of the site’s psychology. Many users confess to deleting posts which don’t hit the magic number, and the hashtag #11likes has been used over seventy thousand times on the site as well as being prevalent on other social media platforms like Twitter, where users go to celebrate or mourn the relative success of their photographic endeavours.
     
    While it’s amusing to watch tweens vent their rage as their like count slows to a crawl, what’s more interesting is what this phenomenon can tell us about what social media interaction means in the modern world of feeds and real-time updates. Social media used to be the place where you talked to your friends, where you connected with old acquaintances – it was a place for interpersonal communication, and it would be strange to expect people who you barely knew (or didn’t even know at all) to concern themselves with your posts.
     
    But these days social media is a medium for global connection, where you can form bonds with people who you’ve never even seen in person. And for those with hundreds or even thousands of followers, their posts and the back-and-forth exchange of likes and comments are the only interaction with these people they’ll ever have.
     
    Content isn’t personal now, it’s individual, and the difference is important. Jerry Seinfeld said that photographs are like other people’s dreams – if I’m not in them and no one’s having sex, I’m not interested. With a few high-profile exceptions, no one cares about the minutiae of your everyday life; you’re not posting these things for friends and family any more, you’re posting them for the world. People want original, quality content, not just the eighth photo of your baby today or another blurry picture of lasagne. If you want that 11th like you’re going to have to produce something worthwhile, and the attention of family and friends isn’t going to cut it anymore. Produce something definitive and unique, something which people will know is you but will be appreciated in and of itself.
     
    That’s what Instagram’s Rule of 11 is, at its heart: the internet isn’t about you, it’s about what you have to offer. Ask not what your followers can do for you, but what you can do for them.