• 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.
  • 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.
    Selling socially can be a hectic process, especially for those just starting. Everyone has to start at the beginning, and many of today’s social selling experts learned to focus their efforts after plenty of trial and error. These social selling gurus have spent countless hours honing their skills, focusing on a specific part of the sales cycle and perfecting their strategies. While you’ll still need to develop a holistic social selling strategy, these stories can help identify certain areas for greater focus.

    When was the last time that you had a social selling eye exam? Have your shots been slightly off mark lately? Perhaps it’s time to refocus your efforts.

    Selling socially can be a hectic process, especially for those just starting. Everyone has to start at the beginning, and many of today’s social selling experts learned to focus their efforts after plenty of trial and error.

    These social selling gurus have spent countless hours honing their skills, focusing on a specific part of the sales cycle and perfecting their strategies. While you’ll still need to develop a holistic social selling strategy, these stories can help identify certain areas for greater focus.

    Focus on Pipeline Progression

    It’s easy to focus only on the number of sales you are making, which is after all the end goal. However, there are several key metrics that contribute to overall success. Chief social selling evangelist Jill Rowley argues that a more thorough analysis is required.

    Here are examples of additional metrics to track that can directly impact your pipeline.

    • Quality of leads
    • Connections, Number of connections within target companies
    • Current social activity
    • Referrals/recommendations

    If only there was a tool to track these types of metrics in a professional, sales-driven setting…

    Focus on the Earliest Possible Engagement

    Speaking of pipelines – there are some social selling experts who argue that focus should be placed more toward the front of the pipeline, where the initial engagements take place. HubSpot’s Matt McDarby offers this tip for social managers looking to refocus their team’s energies.

    Focusing on the early stages of the sales cycle requires extensive research into prospect behaviors. If salespersons spend enough time observing prospects and identifying their buying signals, they will be more prepared for those first engagement stages. Some frequent buying signals include:

    • Questions about industry-related topics
    • Critiques of a competitor’s solution
    • Job changes

    Of course, it can be challenging to follow all this information manually. Perhaps there is a tool to automate and deliver targeted content about your prospects on a regular basis…

    Focus on Social Proof

    Testimonials, recommendations, case studies and referrals – these all provide insight into your target prospect and company. Professional sales consultant Colleen Francis argues that salespersons should focus primarily on these signals to guide their strategy.

    How do you know that you (or your prospect) hold significant social proof on LinkedIn? Look for these signals:

    • Multiple endorsements for a variety of skills
    • Several positive endorsements of the product/services themselves
    • Connections at industry-relevant companies and competitors

    Some of this data is readily available on LinkedIn profiles, but it would likely take a lot of time to search through them all. There is another way, though…

    DON’T Focus on the Status Quo

    Okay, so you’ve built a strong social selling strategy and you’ve found success in your early trials. Great! Don’t stop there. Even if you found an answer for your client, you’ll need to be prepared for follow-ups and new opportunities as the sales relationship develops. Introhive’s Rob Begg offers some advice for social sellers – keep going!

     

    If you are a social media marketer working in the online advertising space, split testing via social media needs to become a part of your vocabulary.

    Two colleagues within the same clothing company firmly believed that they had the best idea for a Black Friday promotion. In the olden days, there’d be a lot of arguments before one persons idea would prevail and the others would falter. Often times, there would be no real data to support which associate was right and which one was wrong in this type of situation.

    Fast forward to the digital age that we now live in. Within 24-hours, an A vs. B test could be set-up via social media where two sets of advertisements could be targeted to the same demographic on Facebook. Each associate who claims to have the "best idea" would get to see how his or her respective campaign performs. Based off of the click through rate of the advertisement and the conversion rate on the landing page (total sales generated) there could be a clear-cut winner to determine which promotion was the most successful.

    If you are a social media marketer and dabble with online advertising, split testing via social media needs to become a part of your vocabulary (if it isn’t already). Let’s look at several examples of social advertising split testing that should become a part of every online advertisers game-plan moving forward.

    Ad Copy Testing:

    Within the creative on Facebook advertising, there is the option to enhance the headline, text and news feed link description. It is critical to have multiple variations of ad copy. The verbiage on your headline and text can make all of the difference between making a conversion and someone never clicking on your ad. For starters, create two different headlines and two different variations of text and descriptions to see which one performs the best. By constantly testing, you’ll start to learn what messaging resonates the best with your audience.

    Click through rate, “Likes”, “Shares” and reach will be the most telling measurements as to the top performers of the advertising copy. Search Engine Watch provides great tips for Facebook advertising success!

    Landing Page Testing:

    You have mastered testing out your ad copy and description and now want to take this one step further. Create two different variations of a landing page where you will send the user after they click on your ad via social. If you dominate your landing page experience, you’ll be able to drive more conversions and decrease your bounce rate.

    According to unbounce.com, every landing page should have the following:

    Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

    a.     The main headline

    b.     A supporting headline

    c.      A reinforcement statement

    d.     A closing argument

    2.     The hero shot (images/video showing context of use)

    3.     The benefits of your offering

    a.     A bullet point list summary of benefits

    b.     Benefit and features in detail

    4.     Social proof (I’ll have what she’s having)

    5.     A single conversion goal – your Call-To-Action (CTA) (with or without a form)

    You will be amazed with the difference that adding a video instead of an image and changing up your headline on the landing page can make. Knowing that a winning landing page strategy can increase conversions makes it a must for all online marketers.

    Imagery Testing:

    Just like changing up the text up can make all the difference when it comes to the verbiage on an advertisement, changing up the imagery can drastically alter the results (in a positive way) for your Facebook advertising campaigns.

    Imagine an advertisement for an apartment community. When scrolling through your newsfeed, you see a beautiful photo of their resort style pool. The next time, you see the same advertisement but instead of the pool, it is a generic blue background.

    The difference in click through rate and interaction if you have a professional looking photo that correlates perfectly with the ad copy opposed to a below average graphic that confuses the reader can be drastic!

    Continue to tweak the imagery and messaging on display advertisements as this can make a big difference in conversions for your company.

    David Ogilvy, the famous marketing executive, famously said, “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” This quote should be bolded, printed out and taped onto every social media marketer’s office wall. Whether it is advertising or daily social posts, you should always be testing and trying to improve. If you are not willing to test, you won’t see massive improvements to your social media marketing campaigns. 

    Since the early days of computing, ever shrinking computers have been on a collision course towards human integration. The distinction between what is physical and digital continues to dissolve. I observed a friend of mine the other day had 6 devices on his person; 2 phones, 2 tablets, a fitbit, and a laptop. But, even those devices are being “splintered” down even further. The numbers of sensors (tiny little computers) embedded within today’s mobile devices are exploding.

    Since the early days of computing, ever shrinking computers have been on a collision course towards human integration. The distinction between what is physical and digital continues to dissolve.

    Early stage prototypes are already allowing neurological signals to manipulate the physical world directly via the integration of molecular and atomic level components. Think it and it simply happens. The implications are profound.

    Not only are people and things being connected to the Internet, but previous “networks of one” are being splintered into their own thriving digital ecosystems. This pattern, started long ago, continues to propagate.

    To make this a bit more tangible, consider the following: Mainframes used to contain the digital footprint of entire countries, then entire organizations. That was subsequently splintered into a network of interconnected desktops within one physical location. These networks then began to span geographies. Corporate desktops were further splintered into home computers, and then portable laptops that went everywhere with its human companion. Fast forward a decade, and these portable computers have multiplied. I observed a friend of mine the other day had 6 devices on his person; 2 phones, 2 tablets, a fitbit, and a laptop. But, even those devices are being “splintered” down even further. The numbers of sensors (tiny little computers) embedded within today’s mobile devices are exploding.

    MORE READING: Micro Everything

    It is not too far fetched to imagine that one day, the very core building blocks of the human body will be networked. In fact, it’s already being simulated. Millions of connected atomic and molecular nodes will be doing what they’ve always done, but with a corresponding digital footprint. Their networkability will open up new frontiers that most of us can’t even grasp today.

    MORE READING: When our Neurons are Connected to the Net

    We are witnessing the digitization of everything happening around us, and to us, which is unleashing unprecedented complexity and opportunity.

    Intimate Computing?

    The idea of combining the words “intimacy” and “computer” likely never crossed the minds of most people in the 1960s, with the exception of the vision and work of people like Vannevar Bush, J.C.R. Licklider, and Douglas Engelbart but today we hear studies claim that 57% of women would rather give up sex than their smartphone. An experiment that removed smartphones from college students with the intention of reducing distraction, actually introduced more distraction because of the anxiety that the students experienced being “disconnected”.

    The coming widespread adoption of wearables will take intimacy and personalization one step further on the journey towards deeper digital/physical integration.

    Participation in digital networks used to be something we did in its own silo – its own space, largely detached from the physical world. In the near future, a fundamental shift will happen. Most of our lives will happen on digital networks by default, each of us generating terabytes of data, and leaving a permanently recorded, constantly evolving trail of digital exhaust in our wake.

    But there’s still a ways to go. And next step ahead of us on the human journey is the transition from mobile devices (one day we’ll laugh at this archaic moniker) to wearables.

    But are the wearables of today even… wearable?

    The simple fact is that we’ve been talking about wearable technology for quite some time. The smartwatch actually dates back all the way to the 1980’s. IBM displayed a smartwatch prototype in 2000, and Microsoft released one in 2004. Here we are, decades later and the most innovative consumer device manufacturer in modern history is just now launching version 1.0 to the public.

    Early experiments have taught us that taking a computer and placing it on our body has been met with a unique new type of resistance to the next wave of technology. Google Glass provides a great example. Talking to someone wearing Glass is awkward and uncomfortable. Smart watches have opened themselves up to mockery and satire because who really wants a mini-smartphone slapped on their wrist? And what is the real added benefit?

    That said, the promise of augmenting our capabilities, and rendering previously unquantifiable complexity with unprecedented simplicity has much of the developed world excited.

    Wearables_Interest

    Where and how wearables are gaining traction

    New use cases are emerging daily.

    Early adoption in wearables has largely been in four primary areas (with the some better known areas associated);

    1. Enterprise and Industrial

    • Field Service
    • Manufacturing
    • Warehouse Automation

    2. Healthcare

    • Surgery
    • Insurance

    3. Military

    • Sensor based tracking
    • Augmented Reality
    • Exoskeletons

    4. Consumer

    • Elderly Care
    • Gaming
    • Augmented Reality
    • Health and Fitness

    Consumer based successes have largely centered around health and fitness and the growing “quantified self” movement.

    But, a key difference on the consumer front is that wearables are not just being leveraged for their utility. They are increasingly becoming an expression of our identity. Just as clothes, hairstyles, jewelry are expressions of ourselves; the technology we adorn our bodies with may ultimately be a significant contributor to our own “personal brand”.

    Apple repeatedly highlighted this reality in their recent unveiling of the coming AppleWatch. They invested significant sums of money in designing for fashion, as well as function.

    But, they are not alone in their efforts. Initially crude and functional wearable devices are morphing into cool and futuristic fashion accessories that attempt to stand on their own, while simultaneously integrating new technological capabilities. Consider the recently released smart polo shirt from Ralph Lauren, or the pending new jewelry line, Mica.

    Earlier this week, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, IN, I watched Will.i.am control the entire sound performance of his concert with a new wearable bracelet that he is set to announce and release to the public in mid-October.

    Wearables Rising

    As higher processing power, and access to more powerful and ubiquitous broadband becomes wrapped in smaller and more innovative and fashionable form factors, the data explosion we’ve seen in recent years will continue to accelerate exponentially.

    The ultimate adoption of wearable computing by the mainstream will continue to evolve our world towards a more connected, more intelligent, and more complex environment. Some changes will be subtle and others will be transformative.

    In the next post, we’ll explore the implications and considerations for each of these groups with extra attention focused on the implications on CIOs and the Enterprise.

    This post is brought to you by InnovateThink and Cisco.

    IMG Credits: Bionicly, trends.google.com