• Act-On Software
    Act-On Software on November 18, 2014

    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.
  • Facebook's war on marketing is causing an unexpected side effect: it is challenging brands to create better marketing.

    Facebook has brands worried…again.

    A recent article headline from Ad Age magazine summed up this concern perfectly, announcing that “Facebook Cuts Brands’ Reach Once Again.

    Of course they did.

    One of the biggest issues facing the largest social media platforms today is how to monetize their offerings. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter are all working on a solution to this same challenge, and it has marketers justifiably worried. What will they start charging for? And how will they ransom the data they have collected?

    The problem for brands is that we no longer live in a “paid, owned and earned world” of media. A growing amount of media and audiences are rented. Space on Facebook is rented. Tweets and Twitter audiences are rented. Instagram pages, vine videos, and YouTube channels are all rented. What this fourth category of media means is that all the associated data and insights generated from users doesn’t belong to brands. That insight, also, must be rented … usually in the form of advertising.

    So when Facebook announced last week that they are making another change to further hide “overly promotional posts” from brands, it was widely seen as another move from the platform to try and steer brands towards spending more money on advertising. And it may work.

    It is tempting to see this as a bad thing. After all, the more money Facebook can extort from brands in order to reach consumers or access deeper data and insights the worse it will be, right? No one wants a world where Facebook can control the pricing for all digital advertising and effectively charge whatever they want.

    Yet the signs are already on the wall that this is not the world we are heading for. Instead, Facebook (and others’) war on marketing is causing an unexpected side effect: it is challenging brands to create better marketing.

    Great marketing isn’t overly promotional. In fact, it usually doesn’t seem like marketing at all. It solves a need. It provides value. It entertains. Great marketing is immune to algorithmic shifts for a very simple reason: consumers actually like it and want to share it.

    This is one of the reasons why content marketing has become such a powerful tactic in the world of marketing. It is not about creating more blog posts or videos. It is about creating something substantial. Something that is more than an ad or a promotion. The good news is plenty of brands are rising to meet the challenge.

    Revlon is partnering with Refinery29 to create a beautiful curated series featuring trendsetters, musicians, entrepreneurs and entertainers called Beauty Nation. The effort features amazing photography, engaging editorial and appropriate and interesting product integration from Revlon.


    A few months ago, HP partnered with Vine video star Robby Ayala to produce several videos featuring one of their tablets in an entertaining way that was looped more than 12 million times and became one of the most popular videos on Vine.

    Robby Ayala - HP

    Just last month, Honda released a mind bending two sided video promoting the new Civic which is sure to win some marketing awards and rapidly went viral on YouTube with millions of shares and plenty of media coverage.

    Each of these efforts succeeds because of brilliant creativity, smart product integration and a focus on providing an entertaining story and experience that people are highly likely to share. It also happens to be the kind of marketing that is immune to getting filtered or hidden by algorithms.

    The panic marketing teams are feeling at the recent Facebook announcement is certainly understandable. But I think it may not be solely driven by the fear that Facebook will be able to charge and make more money through advertising. It may also come from the realization that boring, lazy marketing is now actively getting filtered, forcing brands to get more creative and produce better marketing.

    For that reason, Facebook may just be doing us all a huge favor.

    top image: facebook / shutterstock

    Retargeting on social media is quickly becoming common practice. Using data wisely may be the key to navigating the line between creepy and effective.

    Have you ever visited a website, or liked a company’s Facebook page, only to see ads for that website or that company appearing on your sidebar or in your social media news feeds? Kind of creepy, isn’t it?

    Creepy though it may be, it won’t be changing anytime soon. In fact, it’s probably going to happen more frequently. This is just another example of marketing’s changing landscape. Big data has taught us to learn a lot from the vast amounts of information produced everyday. Retailers can learn shopping habits from transaction records. Healthcare industries can be more reactive by anticipating outbreaks before they happen. There’s no limit to what businesses in any industry can learn. And while information can be gathered from almost anywhere, there is one medium that has drastically changed how we gain information more than the others.  

    Social media has disrupted the communications industry. Of course, we immediately equate social media with the ability to stay in touch and share pictures, but it runs so much deeper than that. Social media has had a profound impact on marketing and advertising industries. Social media has opened the floodgates of consumer data and drowned out demographic advertisements. In fact, the days of targeting specific demographics are dying. Companies will no longer have to gamble the success of their marketing campaigns on the assumption that they understand the broad needs of a large group of people. Instead, companies can gain tremendous amounts of detailed information on individuals through their social media accounts. With algorithms that are becoming even more complex and reactive, social media information is creating a world of individualized marketing. One where ads and promotions are tailored to meet the specific needs of specific people.

    Many people aren’t comfortable with the idea that businesses are using social media to spy on them. In fact, social sites like Facebook always face some level of controversy surrounding their new algorithms and privacy policy changes. People love the idea of free social networking sites, but don’t like knowing these companies are profiting off their personal information.

    Every post made, comment liked, or page shared gives an insight into who we are. New features also allow social media sites to learn why certain ads don’t appeal to us, and which ones we tend to react to more. All of this data is filtered into these complex algorithms that learn our tendencies and create more and more content designed specifically for us. It’s almost like a game of 21 questions. The more we respond and react, the more we can narrow down what we are looking for. Ask enough questions, or provide enough information, and content can get very specific.

    Companies would have to be crazy to ignore this type of information. Most have realized this, and have tried to improve their social presence. Some use it simply as a means of improving interaction, but smart companies also use it to listen to what people are saying, follow their trends and glean relevant information.

    However, gaining insights from social media isn’t a cakewalk. Every minute there are 100,000 tweets, 3,600 new Instagram photos and almost 700,000 pieces of content shared on Facebook. That’s a lot, and only a small piece of the social media pie. Managing all that information is a complicated process. Companies looking to take advantage of this wealth of information will need to invest in proper services designed to handle it all. Computer frameworks like the Apache Spark are perfect for social media, because they are designed expressly for fast, large-scale data analysis. Using these types of services will allow companies to quickly execute real-time queries, develop interactive algorithms, and create big data graphics to help visualize social network information and targeted advertising.

    Big data analysis, paired with social media, has helped advertising and marketing departments deliver targeted, individualized content using hundreds of data points. So don’t be surprised if you express an interest in sports and suddenly start seeing lots of Nike ads, or you want a new computer and Best Buy tries to contact you. That’s the future of marketing, so we might as well embrace it.

    Image Source: Pixabay

    Tone is the overall attitude you as the author take towards your subject. It decides how readers will read a piece and how they will feel about the subject. It creates a mood. And, more than any other single piece of the puzzle, it determines your brand voice.
    Over the last few weeks, we’ve been examining the words you use to help uncover your brand voice.  We looked at your diction, your syntax, your similes and metaphors, and today we’re going to look at how all those things come together to create your tone.

    Tone is the overall attitude you as the author take towards your subject.  It decides how readers will read a piece and how they will feel about the subject. It creates a mood.

    And, more than any other single piece of the puzzle, it determines your brand voice.

    As I think you may have realized if you’ve been reading along, you can say the same thing in many different ways.

    “What a beautiful day!” she exclaimed, throwing her hands into the air like the birds flitting past.

    “What a beautiful day,” she grumbled, pulling on her rain coat and popping open her umbrella to create another dark spot in the sky.

    One of those statements is genuine, while one is sarcastic.  One is upbeat while the other is downcast. The difference is all in the words I chose and how I chose to string them together, the punctuation I used, and the similes and metaphors I chose. Overall, all those choices add up to the tone.

    And your tone is like your mood lighting.  The same way the colors of your website, your photography, your graphics all set a mood and a tone for your business, so too do your words. (And if they clash, it’s even worse, but that’s a topic for another day.)

    How to determine your tone and brand voice.

    If you go back and work through the exercises in the previous posts in this series, you’ll have a piece of writing all marked up with diction words circled and similes highlighted.  Take that piece of writing (or any piece of writing, really — I’m not picky) and answer the following questions.

    Using only the words you actually put on the paper (not what you meant to say or wanted to convey):

    How do you feel about your subject?
    How do you feel about your clients or customers?
    How do you feel about your worldview?

    You may find that your words are serious, comical, spectacular or distressing. You might notice that your words seem formal, informal, sarcastic, sad, or cheerful.  Whatever general sense your words convey — totally apart from what you may or may not have intended to convey — is your tone.

    How do you feel about what your words are saying about your topic?

    For example, if you found you use a lot of negative diction words, you may not like what that says about your brand—or it may feel like a perfect fit, because you’re a realist and want people to face their problems.

    I worked with a health coach who had two different brands. One she wanted to feel very loving, accepting, and helpful, like a word hug; the other was aimed at a different clientele, and needed to be more energetic, to-the-point, and witty.

    How do you want your brand to feel?

    Why does understanding your tone matter?

    Here’s the funny thing about tone: Whatever you’re feeling will come out in your writing when you least expect it. If you’re reviewing a product you don’t really like, but you want to give a positive review because the manufacturer sent you a free sample, I would bet money that your tone will shift slightly to the negative. And when you’re thrilled about something happening in your life or biz, your words will be just as ebullient.

    But when you’re conscious of those choices, you can choose different words and actually influence how your reader feels while reading. That’s a powerful tool.

    One of my favorite clients, Sarah Ancalmo, has been tweaking her brand to make sure that her clients understand (and are thrilled about the fact) that she is a luxury service provider, and that working with her is not like buying a dress off the rack, but rather custom ordering a bespoke gown from the designer.

    The blog posts we’d written in the past were funny and flirty, irreverent, witty and conversational, but when we started working on her catalogue of services, her intake questionnaires, and other documents her clients would directly interact with, we wanted the words to feel as special and luxurious as fine silk and champagne.

    I spent many hours with a thesaurus, picking exactly the right words, because that was the tone of elegant precision we were trying to create. Get became acquire. See became envision. And with those word choices, Sarah’s quirky blog voice morphed into a polished representation of her new brand.

    Words matter.

    The Internet is, at its core, a literary medium. You can have videos and images on your site or not, but you will almost certainly have words. And those words matter.

    When you spend a little time understanding how and why they matter, you’ll be heads and shoulders above your competition. Because whether your words are the equivalent of Barry White or some tinny accordion music, they’re going to set the mood for your potential customers. Better to choose the mood than to leave it up to chance!

    In this episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast I share some solid strategies and tips to help you make the most of Cyber Monday and online holiday sales to improve your online presence and help you achieve your business and marketing goals. In addition, I provide tips to help you get your cyber house (online digital and social platform) in order and provide you with unique ideas for special offers that your target customers will want to act on!

    Cyber Monday, Black Friday and online holiday ecommerce sales: either you are ready or you’re not!  Many business and marketing leaders miss out on tapping into the power of the online shopping holidays and events to increase sales, brand awareness and most importantly connect with their audience.

    Too many times they think it’s just for the big online and offline retailers. The truth is even small businesses can join the Cyber Monday and online holiday sales to drive business results. You don’t have to be Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Amazon, Apple or Target.

    By tapping into the power of mobile marketing, social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest you can really turn up the volume in sales and business over the holidays with your online platform, website and blog.

    In this episode of the Social Zoom Factor podcast I share some solid strategies and tips to help you make the most of Cyber Monday and online holiday sales to improve your online presence and help you achieve your business and marketing goals.

    In addition, I provide tips to help you get your cyber house (online digital and social platform) in order as well as provide you with unique ideas for special offers that your target customers will want to act on! I also share tips for how to announce and communicate your offer to your target audience and close with solid tips for overall success.

    Even if you don’t plan to participate in Cyber Monday or Holiday sales this year, you can leverage these tips to help get your online presence and social media platforms in tip top shape for the new year!

    Episode Highlights

    • 20+ Strategies and tips to rock your online holiday and Cyber Monday sales
    • How to select offers that your audience can’t wait to get their hands on
    • Tips to communicate and launch your offer to your target audience
    • 9 Tips to help you succeed overall with an integrated platform
    • How to leverage visual marketing and social media to humanize your brand during the holidays
    • Social Zoom Factor holiday podcasting schedule

    Supporting Resources:


    How to Subscribe to Social Zoom Factor Podcast 

    With content and commentary created on a 24-hour basis, there’s no such thing as a one-off, standalone story anymore.

    Barack Obama + Cuddles = ?

    With the conclusion of the G20 summit and APEC the week previous, there’s been no shortage of opportunities to play Word Cloud Mad Libs — Geopolitical Edition. As world leaders geared up for moments of great cooperation (and occasionally great awkwardness), we’ve been monitoring various conversations with our social listening tool for key takeaways from Brisbane. Here’s the Obama word cloud:

    G20 Social listening

    Now, it’s not every day that we see the word “cuddles” in such close proximity to Barack Obama.  Upon further investigation (read: clicking on the word “cuddles” to dig into the tweets, comments and other sources of social convo), I discovered that koalas were being trained to cuddle with world leaders — hmm.  An Australian riff on China’s panda diplomacy, perhaps? In the lead up to the marsupials having their moment with Barack, Vladimir, Angela and frenemies, thousands of tweets went out of the koalas being groomed at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary:

    G20 Social listening

    I was pretty intrigued by the effort that might have gone into koala diplomacy training, but learned from early news reports that koalas are unfazed by power and are used to greeting dignitaries, from Pope John Paul II to John Travolta.  Who knew?  It turns out that preparing for G20 simply involved cuddling by humans for no more than 30 minutes a day – after all, mustn’t interrupt the 20 hours of sleep koalas need every day.  Nobody likes a grumpy koala, least of all the world leader holding one.

    Was the hope that cuddling koalas during the summit would reset relationships and lay gripes and grudges to rest?  If so, the koalas were a triumph – and perhaps a little too effective. As Vladimir Putin and Tony Abbott spent some koala-ty time together, Abbott seemed to forget all about “shirtfronting” Putin (a rugby term for chest-bumping an opponent to the ground), as he had promised journalists after MH17 crashed near the Russia-Ukraine border. As a result, another field day on Twitter ensued with the koalas front and center.

    So what have we learned here? With content and commentary created on a 24-hour basis, there’s no such thing as a one-off, standalone story anymore. News bites are threaded together in the most unexpected ways, and every day presents moments to get in on the conversation. If koalas can get in the middle of the continued political fallout from the downing of a passenger plane, it’s possible that there are unexpected but pertinent conversations happening around issues important to us and our brands – all we have to do is find them.

    In short: an evolving social listening program is no longer a nice to have — it’s a must.  Just ask the koalas.