• 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.
  • So you are finally listening to the advice of your marketing guru, agency, etc. and are sending out an email newsletter on a regular schedule (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Now for the big question…are you compliant? If you aren’t following the basic guidelines from the Federal CAN-SPAM Act then you are putting your business and pocketbook at risk, to the tune of potentially $16,000 per violation.

    So you are finally listening to the advice of your marketing guru, agency, etc. and are sending out an email newsletter on a regular schedule (monthly, quarterly, etc.). Now for the big question…are you compliant? If you aren’t following the basic guidelines from the Federal CAN-SPAM Act then you are putting your business and pocketbook at risk, to the tune of potentially $16,000 per violation.

    What Is This CAN SPAM Thingy?

    In 2003, George W. Bush signed into law the CAN-SPAM Act, which mandated national standards for the sending of commercial email to recipients. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the enforcer of these rules. CAN-SPAM is short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing. For the most part, this law has not been enforced as well as everyone had hoped it would. But this year, the new FTC Director of the Bureau of Consumer Trade has made it clear that they will start going after businesses who violate these rules. As you can see from her actions this year, it’s high on her priority list. That, combined with Canada’s new Anti-Spam Legislation for our friends in America’s hat, means it’s time to start paying attention to this.

    Oh Crap! What Do I Need to be Doing?

    Believe it or not, there is a pretty simple set of rules to follow. Here’s what you need to do to ensure you are CAN-SPAM compliant:

    • Do not send to anyone that has not expressly opted into your email marketing list. While the CAN-SPAM act says there are no restrictions against a company emailing a customer or anyone who has inquired about your products or services, it’s a better policy to just ask for permission. In your online forms, it’s as easy as adding a checkbox that says “Subscribe me to news and offers.”
      NOTE: If you are medical practice, not only are you responsible for CAN-SPAM compliance, but also HIPAA compliance. The penalties for HIPAA violations are stricter than in the CAN-SPAM. You cannot email patients without their express consent.
    • No harvesting emails! If you are thinking about buying an email list, the same rules apply. If they have not opted into being marketing to by you, you should not be sending to them.
    • Make it easy to unsubscribe. Anything you send out needs to have clear instructions to unsubscribe and it needs to work! If someone does unsubscribe, you must remove them from your list within 10 business days. You must also list your postal address in the email so that if a subscriber chooses, they can write to you.
    • Communicate relevant content. If you are a bike shop, you should be talking about bikes and related topics. Your subject line and From address should reflect that.
    • Don’t be deceptive. Your From, To, and Reply-To names must accurately reflect who you are and your business. Subject lines must reflect the content in your newsletter message.
    • Be Responsible. Ultimately you are responsible for compliance, including actions taken by any 3rd party vendors you use. Even if they violate these rules while working for your, you are still at risk.

    So What! I’m a Small Business and the Likelihood of Them Catching Me Is Slim

    Not so fast. If you are reported to the FTC for non-compliance and they decide to follow up and investigate, penalties can be up to $16,000 on each email violation. That means every email address you improperly sent to can have its own separate penalty. It’s also considered a misdemeanor in criminal court. Still think it’s a good idea?

    The bottom line is whether it’s you or your vendor sending message on your behalf, it’s worth a little due diligence to make sure you are doing it right. Make sure whomever is sending emails for your company (even if its your front office staff sending out to a group of 10 customers) is familiar with the CAN-SPAM laws and HIPAA guidelines if applicable.

    Twitter chats can be a great way to utilize social media and build a relationship between a business and its audience. Unfortunately, people have short attention spans and Twitter has a lot of conversations going on simultaneously that can quickly distract your audience. Here are a few ways to make sure your next Twitter chat is a real success

    Twitter chats can be a great way to utilize social media and build a relationship between a business and its audience. These unique 30 to 60 minute real time conversations that use a dedicated hashtag can really help in getting feedback on a particular service or product your company has to offer.

    Unfortunately though, people have short attention spans and Twitter has a lot of conversations going on simultaneously that can quickly distract your audience. By simply picking a topic to discuss and promoting it ahead of time may not always get the kind of response and engagement you are looking for.

    Here are a few ways to make sure your next Twitter chat is a real success:

     

    Stay Current

    By tying your Twitter chat into a current event that is topical will always get people expressing themselves and giving their opinion. People like discussing things in the news, especially topics that are controversial in nature. If you add some of that in your chat you may get more of a response and more people utilizing your hashtag.

    Incorporate Multimedia

    Pictures (and video) are worth a thousand words! It’s not just a saying. It’s a fact. By incorporating multimedia into your Twitter chat will not only keep participants organized but also engaged, and less distracted. One tool that that works well with Twitter chats for multimedia engagement is Nestivity. This community engagement tool enables users to organize Twitter conversations into structured “nests,” that includes a multimedia Twitter chat vehicle called Tweetcast.

    Follow Up

    Twitter chats are a great way to get people talking and engaging. But after that hour goes by what’s next? Make sure you get those people’s Twitter handles and follow them as your business. Then continue to engage with them by initiating one-on-one conversations right on Twitter. Personal touches go a long way, and by reaching out to them directly may turn them into brand ambassadors for future chats and perhaps even into new customers.

    Twitter chats are a great, fun way for a business to engage with an audience. But for it to be successful, it needs a lot of organization and planning ahead of time.

     

    Monica Lewinsky has a Twitter account – as of Monday, Oct. 20. While the launch of @MonicaLewinsky is not national news, it is news on a grand scale because, while she will forever be connected to the transgressions of her chaotic White House youth, Lewinsky is a survivor – recharged and reinvented and, on Twitter, brilliantly rebranded.

    Monica Lewinsky is tweeting – as of Monday, Oct. 20. While the launch of @MonicaLewinsky is not national news, it is news on a grand scale because, while she will forever be connected to the transgressions of her chaotic White House youth, Lewinsky is a survivor – recharged and reinvented and, on Twitter, brilliantly rebranded.  

    On Twitter, Lewinsky describes herself as a social activist, public speaker, contributor to Vanity Fair and knitter of things without sleeves. With more than 32,000 followers (and counting) in only six short hours of going live with @MonicaLewinsky, the world may be more than ready to meet this version of Lewinsky. 

    What may have motivated Lewinsky to break a 10-year silence and jump bravely into the Twitterverse?

    Lewinsky is on a mission to end cyberbullying, as she shared with an audience at Forbes inaugural 30 Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia recently.

    Lewinsky knows all too well the perils of bullies. She views herself as the first person to have survived having their reputation destroyed worldwide via the Internet and, as such, she knows all too well the pain a viral phenomenon can cause one’s life.

    Lewinsky’s 1998 sex scandal that resulted in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment was played out on a global stage, resulting in a rabid media frenzy, public ridicule and, as Lewinsky has shared on numerous occasions, a deep sense of personal shame and even, sadly, suicidal thoughts.

    Lewinsky was barely 25 when the world’s critical view was cast upon her.

    According to a recent article on Forbes.com, Lewinsky shared how miserable her life became in the months after then-unknown gossip website the Drudge Report broke the news of her relationship with Clinton — an epic public humiliation exacerbated by the release of the Starr Report online later that year, offering intimate details of their trysts. Lewinsky found herself dazed as she would stare at her computer screen, in shock over the private details of her life now readily displayed for a global audience of critics, commentators and hard-boiled, often brutal, pundits.

    In the immediate years following Lewinsky’s Clinton drama, she tried to capitalize on her notoriety. She designed handbags. She hosted a reality dating show. At one point, she even relocated to the United Kingdom, where she attended the London School of Economics and got a master’s degree in social psychology. Still, despite her efforts, she could not remove the stigma of her Clinton saga.

    Imagine having your actions at age 25 brand you for life – globally.

    Who could survive such a chastisement – one that reeked of ostracism, penance and sequestration.

    Monica Lewinsky…love her, hate her, criticize her, mock her. She survived. Today, at 41, she is readying to carry her message to Twitter and share her views on cyberbullying – and her own personal journey.

    Here’s 3 reasons Monica Lewinsky joining Twitter is a good thing.

    1. Life Goes On – Tweet Strong: Lewinsky taking on Twitter is proof that no one is ever fully out. No matter how insurmountable one’s problems may seem, and regardless of the time one needs to rebuild, rebrand, refocus and heal, the world remains an open canvas for one’s life. Paint on it whatever you feel reflects you – your expertise, your philosophy, your dreams, your power. Life goes on, tweet about it. It doesn’t matter if you are ever retweeted – tweeting is your right.
       
    2. It Is Never Too Late Tweet Your Brand - Or Rebrand: Lewinsky is no fool. She has courageously stayed focused on rebranding herself. This is a good example to anyone who may feel their personal or professional status is set in stone. It is not. You can reinvent yourself. You can rebrand yourself to reflect your current hobbies, interests, professional accomplishments and future goals. All it takes is a commitment to delivering a brighter, fresher message – and the willingness to convey that message on social media platforms. Social media is the most immediate, prolific and significant personal branding platform available today – ideal for branding, and rebranding.
       
    3. Your Tweeting Can Change The World – Or One Life: No one can proclaim that Lewinsky does not know from which she speaks, the perils and pains of cyberbullying. She has been lampooned, taunted, scoffed, parodied, jeered and hazed – across the Internet. If she has the strength and dignity of spirit to face the world, with a confident smile, and stand up for a cause that is dear to her, and many others, is that not wondrous – even extraordinary. One tweet can change a life – it can inspire, motivate and even fascinate. One tweet can lead to thousands of tweets that carry a message of hope to those who have also faced adversity, challenge and offense. Will Lewinsky become a Twitter great, championing hashtags expressing grievance for cyberbullying? Perhaps. One thing is already apparent; Lewinsky’s move to define and brand herself on Twitter is a step in the right direction – for her and for us all. 
    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.