• 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?
  • Why is President Obama now seeking to increase internet service provider (ISP) competition in America? It's about ensuring that the U.S. is prepared for the next wave of disruption in the Global Networked Economy.

    Leichtman Research Group (LRG) latest market study has found that 79 percent of U.S. households get a broadband Internet service at home -- that's an increase from just 20 percent in 2004. Broadband adoption reached 95 percent of all households with Internet service at home -- that's an increase from 94 percent last year, 89 percent in 2009, and 33 percent in 2004.

    The mean reported time spent online at home per day is 2.8 hours among all individuals online at home -- that's up from 2.2 hours per day in 2009. Given these findings, why is President Obama now seeking to increase internet service provider (ISP) competition in America? It's about ensuring that the U.S. is prepared for the next wave of disruption in the Global Networked Economy. In order to compete globally, he believes that America requires infrastructure that's at parity (both capabilities and retail price) with the recognized broadband market leaders around the globe.

    Challenging the Broadband Duopoly

    LRG also found that the seventeen largest cable and telephone providers in the U.S. -- representing about 94 percent of the market -- acquired over 700,000 net additional high-speed Internet subscribers in the third quarter of 2014.

    These top broadband providers now account for 86.6 million subscribers -- with top cable companies having over 51.2 million broadband subscribers, and top telephone companies having nearly 35.4 million subscribers.

    Other findings from the market study include:

    • Overall, broadband additions in 3Q 2014 amounted to 135 percent of those in 3Q 2013.
    • The top cable companies accounted for 83 percent of the net broadband additions for the quarter versus the top telephone companies.
    • The top cable companies added about 580,000 subscribers, representing 133 percent of the net additions for the top cable companies in 3Q 2013.
    • The top telephone companies added about 120,000 broadband subscribers in 3Q 2014 – compared to a gain of about 80,000 in 3Q 2013.
    • Over the past year, there were about 2,930,000 net broadband adds – compared to about 2,540,000 over the prior year, and 2,925,000 two years ago.

    Despite there being 86.6 million broadband subscribers in the U.S. via major cable and Telco providers, the industry has added subscribers at a faster pace over the past year than it did over the prior year. According to LRG, over the past year, cable companies accounted for 86 percent of the 2.9 million net broadband adds.

    Apparently, the American ISP duopoly of cable and Telco providers is prospering, regardless of government attempts to generate more competition in the marketplace and thereby increase broadband service capabilities while lowering the retail cost of services.

    global network / shutterstock

    B2B marketers across all verticals are constantly challenged with driving qualified leads to hand off to Sales, all while making sure that cost per lead (CPL) is optimized – the less the CPL, the better. As a result, an entire ecosystem of tools, strategies and tactics are at marketers’ fingertips today.

    B2B marketers across all verticals are constantly challenged with driving qualified leads to hand off to Sales, all while making sure that cost per lead (CPL) is optimized – the less the CPL, the better. As a result, an entire ecosystem of tools, strategies and tactics are at marketers’ fingertips today. There are even third-party companies who specialize in acquiring qualified leads for B2B marketers.

    Their tactics vary – from buying lists and cold calling them, to PPC or full-fledged inbound marketing. Whichever the tactic, the vendor that delivers the most qualified leads with the lowest CPL is the one marketers want to work with.

    What does a lead cost?

    Thanks to the folks at Madison Logic we have a good understanding of what the average B2B lead costs in marketing, healthcare, business/finance, human resources and technology.

    • Marketing: $32
    • Healthcare: $60
    • Business/Finance: $43
    • Human Resources: $38
    • Technology: $31

    This is great benchmarking data for B2B marketers in those verticals. However, the challenge is to get CPLs even lower, if possible, because the lower it gets the more profitable the campaigns can be.

    Building an audience to mine for leads

    Many B2B marketers are focused on organically building an audience through content, social media, search engines, sponsorships and a variety of other channels. The ultimate purpose of building this audience is to mine and nurture it for leads. It takes a lot of hard work, resources and time to build an audience of significance that delivers acceptable to low CPLs and the quantity of leads needed to be profitable.

    One way businesses can off-set some of these challenges is by partnering with a third-party that already has an audience of significance. This can alleviate some of the pressure on B2B marketers to grow their own audience quickly, while keeping CPLs as low as possible.

    Case Study

    After much due diligence we chose to subsidize our own lead generation activities by working with NetLine, a lead generation company that exposes brands’ advanced content (ebooks, whitepapers, guides, studies, etc.) to their large and prudent audience. We specifically opted to leverage their self-service product called LeadFlow.

    NetLine allows customers to collect its standard/un-filtered lead data for $9.00 per qualified lead. Customers with unique qualifying criteria can choose to add supplementary form fields (filters) at additional cost. Based on the average cost per lead for a B2B healthcare company of $60, marketers in this field can potentially reduce their cost per lead by up to 85 percent.

    Their web properties and channels reach over 75 million unique monthly visitors across a multitude of channels and audience touch-points. This has led to the conversion of over 23 million leads. Below shows how NetLine promotes and distributes its customers’ content.

    Content Distribution NetLine

    We established several additional filters on top of the standard questions due to our rigorous qualification process. This drove our CPL to $27, which is 16 percent lower than the average cost of a marketing lead. As a customer we were able to score our form field answers with letter grades in order to assist their proprietary targeting algorithm to find more qualified leads over time.

    By partnering with a third party for content promotion and distribution we’ve been able to land 735 incremental conversions that we likely would have never received. Of the 735 conversions 122 met our tough qualifications. This 17 percent qualification rate meets or exceeds the typical monthly qualification efforts of our organic audience building.

    As you’re putting your content promotion plan together for this year don’t forget to consider third party companies like NetLine that specialize in distributing your content to the right person on the right channel and at the right time. By paying close attention to your CPLs you can find them an excellent source for incremental leads while simultaneously reducing some of the pressure on your own audience building activities.

    h/t Michael Brenner

    Image credit: Flickr

    Welcome to another Social Media Today webinar, part of the Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of Scaling Social Globally: Best Practices for Engaging With an International Audience.

    This week I moderated another Social Media Today webinar as part of their Best Thinker webinar series, this time on the topic of: Scaling Social Globally: Best Practices for Engaging with an International Audience. This webinar was sponsored by Act-On Software and featured Mike Stenberg (@stenmic), Global Vice President of Digital Marketing for Siemens, and Andrew Ashton (@AndrewLAshton) Social Media Analyst at Yum! Brands. We discussed the best practices in scaling a social media team and content on a global basis.

    Here are 3 of the key take-aways:

    1. Team structure matters – Andrew talked about an approach he called the Dandelion approach: having a central team that can provide training and social media tools to more distributed teams that can engage on a local level.
    2. Roll out a common set of tools – Both Mike and Andrew talked about having one tool -- like BrandWatch or Netbase, respectively -- to give them one version of the trust across all markets. In Mike’s case, he has 160 markets to evaluate, while Andrew has 120. Strong translation capabilities and sentiment scoring were also mentioned as key features.
    3. Make it feel like one social team globally – Both Mike and Andrew also highlighted that while it’s important to have the local teams engage in a dialog with clients, they also felt you needed tools like Yammer internally to help coordinate efforts and answer questions in real time coming from the local teams.

    To get a copy of the slides or listen to the replay, please click here. You can also scan the highlights of this webinar on Twitter by reading the following Storify: 

    Our next webinar is on Integrating Your Content Marketing Strategy with Employee Advocacy; be sure to sign up for it or view the schedule of other upcoming webinars.

    "Dear Socially Stephanie, I see everyone using hashtags. Do they actually work? I just don't get it. Help!"



    Dear Socially Stephanie,

    I see everyone using hashtags. Do they actually work? I just don't get it. Help!

    Hashtag-Hopeless in Houston



    Dear Hashtag-Hopeless,

    Do you want the good news or the bad news first? The bad, you say? Okay, then: Hashtags are here to stay, so you've got to get on board. But the good news is, I'm about to give you a crash course in all things hashtag in less than a thousand words. You ready to do this? #LetsGo.

    Where to begin? Let's bring it back to the days of old. And when I say that, I really don't mean that old: I mean a few years ago, when hashtags were just emerging on the scene. They were originally a way to categorize things, a way to search. You see, before Twitter search got incredibly smart, hashtags served as a means to find everything in one place. Today, they are less about search and more about context.

    You still following? Good. When we talk about context you can think of hashtags like this: your hashtag is your roof, while all the tweets connected to it make the house. It's the meeting place for all things about a specific category.

    When it comes to using hashtags, you want to have a few different approaches. Think about broader hashtags like #socialmedia and very specific hashtags like #socialmediaweek. #Socialmedia can contain content that is about social media in general, while #socialmediaweek contains content only about this one particular event.

    The point of using hashtags is to connect with others using the same hashtag. Okay, you might be saying, what about when people hashtag things like #ohmygodisthisreallyahashtag? Forget about that. Does that connect you to others using that hashtag? Nope. Or at least not the right person. (That having been said, some people use long hashtags like that for comedic effect -- but whether that works or not depends on your reader's particular sense of humor.)

    Now let's talk about hashtags from a business standpoint. You don't need to hashtag everything. In business, we want the hashtag to be effective. If it doesn't work for your business in some way, don't even bother. In fact, to make things even easier on you, I'd stick to these three reasons for using hashtags.

    1. Community building. This is a hashtag that you and your fans, community and customers use to identify themselves with the group. It's like a secret handshake, and everyone who uses it is part of something. Think about using your business name or something related. You want to own this, so it needs to be specific to you -- do a thorough search to make sure no one else has used it.

    2. Branding purposes. Hashtags can be very effective for branding your images, ideas and messages. If you go this route, you need to create a hashtag and stick to it. Branding takes time so be patient and be consistent.

    3. Trends and real-time events. Because trending hashtags indicate that there is already a ton of conversation around a topic, it's a good way to connect with a mass group. Take the #SuperBowl, for example: that's definitely going to trend, so you can use it in your messaging to connect with those following along. The #Oscars, too. Real-time and live events are a fun way to jump on the hashtag bandwagon.

    Stick to these tips and you'll be in good hands. The one exception? Instagram, where the more hashtags you use, the merrier. You see, on Instagram the only real way to get found is by using related hashtags. So feel free to use hashtags for the three reasons listed above, and beyond. I've heard that 7 hashtags is optimal, but hey, why not explore for yourself?

    All right, my friend. How you feeling? Good? Welcome to #hashtag nation. Good luck!


    Do you have a question for Socially Stephanie?

    Please email [email protected] and let Stephanie help you solve your social quandaries, queries, and boondoggles. (Questions may be edited for length and clarity.)

    Sometimes we need to stop obsessing over our own campaigns and just sit back and re-watch the funny and viral videos from the past year. One to give our mind a creative break, but also to start soaking in what elements came together to make these videos so successful. Some of the best Ideas I have ever had are when I was "taking a break" and "wasting" time watching youtube videos and, BAM, inspiration comes.

    The 10 Most Viral Videos of 2014 
Sometimes we just need to relax and not work only implementing any tips. But the reason I wanted to post this is these videos killed it on social media. Most of them were syndicated on big sites like 9gag and buzzfeed. But when we look at all the most popular videos from 2014 the one common denominator they all had was massive amounts of social shares to the direct video. Meaning althought powerhouse sites like 9gag are effective, they are not enough to push a video to massive virality. Grassrooots social sharing is still probably the most effective way to get content to more eyeballs.

    This is why I think super awesome content like Glasses.com virtual try on app or Brilliants interactive tours of thier mercades sprinter van didn't do better. Both pieces of content I worked on very hard this year as a consultant but I didnt succeed the way I wanted. My conclusion is that the content is great and higher quality than our competition but we didn't really nail down how were were going to leverage social media. Secondly we tried to shoe-horn social media on profiles that other than when we had content to promote we neglected. In order to leverage social media you have to be working on it all the time and building good relationships with customers, not just use it to blast content when you have it. That I learned this year is essentially just spam, even if you have big numbers. People don't interact with spammy accounts.

    Secondly we didnt really optimize our landing pages to capture the traffic the content generated. Next time Im going to make sure I implement some basic best practices. Best practice principles that SEM and SEO experts have discovered most definltey carry over to your social pages.

    So in 2015 make sure that you spend just as much time brainstorming your social campains as you do actually brainstorming compelling content. 

    Disclaimer some of these videos obviously were never intened to be content marketing for a specific business, but that doesn't mean we cant dissect what made these videos so successfull and use that in our own social media campains. The ones that are from businesses, make sure to click through to thier landing pages and start to mentaly reverse engineer thier success. 

    10. Too Many Cooks

    This parody of a theme song opening for an 80s-90s TV sitcom has quickly become one of the most viral videos of the year. Beginning as a nostalgic laugh about the shows you grew up with, the 11-minute video quickly deteriorates into something more disturbing. Raves by comedians, combined with dark humor and a strong production quality have made this video the topic of great discussion on social
    networks and news sources alike


    9. ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

In July 2014, the ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) Association began a fleeting social media campaign entitled the "Ice Bucket Challenge". The idea behind the challenge was that, if nominated, you would dump a bucket of ice water over your head and then nominate three of your friends to take the challenge. This brilliant content marketing campaign took the social media world by storm, and even produced a few celebrities dousing themselves in ice cold water to help raise awareness.


    8. Broadway's The Lion King Cast Shows Off On Airplane

The cast of Disney's The Lion King Broadway musical had just finished performing in Brisbane, Australia, and decided to serenade passengers as they boarded their flight back to the United States. Singing the uplifting introductory song "The Circle of Life", the amazing talent of these performers is undeniable as their a capella harmonies entertain passengers and crew alike.


    7. Hero Cat Saves Owner From Dog Attack

It has long been said that cats rule the Internet, and this video is no exception. In a shocking turn of events, a young boy's cat is able to save him from a dog attack by sensing the danger and scaring off the vicious pup before he is able to cause much harm to the boy.


    6. First Kiss Shows Strangers Making Out

In this video, 20 complete strangers are paired up and asked to kiss each other for the first time. Filmed in black and white, this three-and-a-half minute video went viral shortly after launching. The video's eye into human vulnerability and the intimacies of a first kiss played out beautifully and touched the hearts of millions around the world.


    5. Little Girls Drop F-Bombs for Feminism

The website FCKH8.com decided to make a statement about feminism by employing five little girls to help spread awareness about the realities of feminism and the plight of the American woman. Add in some vulgar language, and
    you've got yourself an Internet sensation.


    4. Woman Endures Hours of Street Harassment

A woman in NYC decided to film her daily experiences as a woman on the streets of NYC. Followed around by a camera for 10 hours straight, she documents every cat call and harassment she receives from men she doesn't know. This eye-opening video shows the realities of being a woman in a big city.


    3. Chicago Sea Otter Sensation

When Shedd Aquarium received a new otter pup, they decided to document its arrival for the world to see. Everyone loves an adorable animal to brighten their days, causing this video to quickly go viral as it was shared again and again.


    2. Devil Baby Attacks

This horror-style prank video was timed perfectly around the holiday of Halloween. Filmed as a CCTV-type prank video, a motorized stroller rolled around the streets of NYC, only to surprise and horrify onlookers when a lifelike robotic "devil baby"
    appeared out of the seat.


    1. 11-Year-Old May Be the Best Dancer in the Nation

 An 11-year-old hip hop dancer takes the number one spot with her choreographed dance to Nicki Minaj's "Anaconda". Her and her choreographer Laurence Kaiwai perform a unique routine that showcases her amazing dance talent.