Early Adopter Effect & It’s Implications for Non Mega-Brands

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A few weeks ago I read an interesting study by Business Insider about brands that “get there first” (so to speak) when it comes to new social networks.

They found that there’s a positive relationship between being an early adopter and a brand’s audience size. Basically, the brands who created their profiles on a new social network the fastest also tend to have the most followers.

It makes sense – the longer you’re on a social network, the more time you have to accrue more followers. But, there’s much more to the story for bigger brands.

  1. Longer Lead Time - The big brands who are first the game likely already knew the network was about to launch. Their agency partners or higher ups probably have met the owners, or have been told about the network by a rep in anticipation of future ad dollars. Because of these relationships, bigger brands have more lead time to think about the network and a strategy that aligns with their goals and other efforts. This way when a mega-brand creates one of the first branded profiles, it looks good and it makes sense, which translates into better engagement with users and…..more followers!
  2. Press – Once a company creates one of the first brand profiles on a new network, the digital presses go crazy. Is it good? How are they using it? Is it used correctly? The commotion is endless. I like to call this the “early adopter” early adopter effect. All of us social, techy, digital, UX people flock to see it. We gaggle over it. Then we write articles about it, sharing our opinions about whether it’s the right fit for the brand or the network or both. The more articles we create, the more traffic is  driven to look at that brand’s profile. And, thus, the more attention and followers the brand builds.

So how can you compete with these massive brands?

  1. Read, Read, Read. Keep up to date on new startups & tech news, so you can try to predict the next new thing.
  2. Dive in, personally. Get the app, make your own profile, and be a part of the community as an individual. This experience will really give you the insights you need to figure out how this network may be used to connect your brand and its consumers.
  3. Create Cross-Medium Social Strategies. When you create social strategies, don’t think about how it lives on one social network, think about how it lives as words, images only, videos, etc. This way when a new medium is created, you’ve already got some way to imagine how to use it.
  4. Be agile With Existing Content. No one ever said you must reinvent the wheel when a new network launches. Instead of thinking about sourcing new content, think about how this technology serves to make your existing story or strategy come to life? Then think about what content you already have that can be altered in some way to work for this network. #makeitwork
  5. Get Buy-In Early On. If you want to take advantage of this “Early Adopter Effect” you need buy in on this type of approach from your higher ups (or from yourself, as the case may be). This will give you the excuse you need to prioritize reading about the network, being a part of the network individually and figuring out how it fits within your strategy. You need to be able to drop everything in order to play catch up with the bigger brands who have a leg up. And in order to drop everything, you need a quick approval process…or none at all.
  6. Agency Partner. No matter how big your brand is, it’s always good to have a relationship with, or an ally at, an ad agency. The good ones make it a part of their job to know everything there is to know about new & emerging social networks. When you combine that knowledge with creativity and an intimacy with your brand and your brand’s social strategy, the turn around on an amazing new social presence can happen with just one call.


Are you an early adopter when it comes to social media?

It’s a Jungle Out There: How to chose the perfect Facebook ad format for your goals

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Facebook advertising is more sophisticated than it was a year ago, or even 6 months ago. When advertising was first introduced to the platform, Right-hand Side Ads were the only option, but now the options are almost endless (at least with the various types they seem endless!).

Navigating these different ad options can be tough for a marketer to do without a ton of experience under his belt. There are so many things to consider:

  1. What are your goals?
  2. How are you measuring success?
  3. What kind of content do you have at your disposal?
  4. What kind of content does your target audience engage with the most often?
  5. How do you want users to change with your content?

To help you more easily choose the right ad type for your specific needs, here’s a rundown of the different ad types and the best ways to use them:

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

Right-hand Side Ads

These are the traditional ads provided by Facebook that allow advertisers to get in front of users who are on their desktop devices. The important word here being…DESKTOP. They aren’t served on mobile devices, so if you’re trying to reach people when they’re on the go, this is not the best option for you. Also consider that at the end of January 2014, Facebook mobile users surpassed desktop users.

Right-hand Side Ads work well as a means of awareness and continuity for the rest of your campaigns – they’re a great way to keep your brand and message top of mind throughout your campaign.

With a platform like AdRoll, you can use Right-hand Side Ads to retarget users and get them back to your website or landing page to achieve higher CTRs and engagement rates.

Facebook Promoted Post Ads – Link & Image

Recently, Facebook changed its algorithm (EdgeRank), making it nearly impossible for brands to appear in a user’s News Feed without serving an ad. So, if you want to make sure your post gets seen, you’re going to need to put some money toward it. The good news is that promoted posts (when done correctly) are very engaging and see low CPCs.

There are two different types of Promoted Posts to use for different purposes.

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts

Image Promoted Posts used to be the only option for Promoted Posts. This was based on the knowledge that users interacted with image posts more often than link or text posts. In fact, photos on Facebook generate 53% more Likes than the average post. So if you’re looking for user engagement in the form of page Likes, post Likes, comments, or shares, Image Promoted Posts are a great way to go.

The one downside to Image Promoted Posts is that you cannot ensure a click to your landing page or Facebook tab with one of these posts. When a user clicks on the image, he or she is taken to a larger version of the picture, not to your website, so there is no way to guarantee that a user actually gets to your site. When bidding on a CPC basis with these posts, you aren’t paying for a click to your landing page, you’re paying for a bigger image view.

The best way use Image Promoted Posts is to increase your Page Likes or interactions with your brand in general, as they garner more shares and Likes (in my experience) than any other format.

Link Promoted Posts

Facebook Link Promoted Post

Facebook Link Promoted Post

A month or so after Facebook introduced the new link post format with much larger images, they also introduced Link Promoted Posts. Like Image Promoted Posts, Link Promoted Posts can be served to users on both mobile and desktop devices and are best used for directing users to another landing page or Facebook Tab, because no matter where a user clicks on your post, he will be directed to your landing page. In that vein, if you’re measuring success by the amount of leads your campaign as generated, or entries your contest received then Link Promoted Posts are the most efficient use of your budget.

Facebook has also introduced Cost Per Action bidding, which allows an advertiser to pay only when a user has visited your website or when a user completes some pre-determined action (like filling out a form). In my experience, though, the average cost per action is much higher than your average cost per click AND Facebook will generally serve fewer impressions of your ad because they’re not guaranteed to make as much money off of it.

Page Like Ads & App Install Ads

There are a few other ad types I haven’t mentioned, like Page Like Ads & App Install Ads. As their names suggest, Page Like Ads are used to help you generate more Likes to your page and App Install Ads (allowed only on mobile devices) are used to advertise a new app to user.

The best campaigns use a mixture of all of these ad formats (except for the App Install Ads, which don’t apply to all situations). As they all serve a different purpose, they’re complementary in that manner – Increase awareness with Right-hand Side Ads, increase user engagement with Image Promoted Posts and, further down the funnel, capture a user’s information with link promoted posts.

What other questions do you have about the different Facebook ad types?

I’m more than happy to answer them – just tweet @social_allie.

A Decade of Facebook

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In just a few weeks, Facebook will turn 10 years old.

To put it differently, I’ve been using Facebook for a decade.

Somehow it’s not even a teenager and it’s one of my best buds.

But it’s not just a reliable pal, it’s also revolutionized the way the world communicates.

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook didn’t go it alone, but it did give social media the mass appeal it now enjoys, paving the way for some of our favorite networks (Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram…Jelly?!) to thrive.

I remember when I built my original profile on thefacebook.com. I’d known about “the Facebook” for a little while, but I had to wait for my .edu email address to sign up. Yeah..remember that? When only college students could sign up??

Back then, I used it for the basics: posting pictures and finding out if my fellow classmates were single (I sort of don’t want to admit that). It became the first stage of profiling, even before the exchange of numbers for old-school texting.

Soon it was event central. If you were having a party at your dorm, you were definitely making a Facebook event and inviting all of your friends (well…maybe not all of them).

My first Facebook profile picture

My first Facebook profile picture

It wasn’t until my sophomore year that Facebook finally launched their Newsfeed. Yes, I’m serious…there was a Facebook without the feed…which I, at the time, checked probably 17 million times a day.

Fast-forward four years, and Facebook (& Twitter & YouTube & LinkedIn) had become a mainstay of my job, even though there were no classes about it in my undergrad advertising program. The marketing world was changing while I was in school, and by the time I had my first “real” job, social was the topic of conversation for CMOs across the country. Four years…that’s it.

By the time Timeline was introduced in 2011, small businesses and huge marketing companies alike knew that social media (not just Facebook), could not be ignored. And it’s not because it was another outlet to shout at consumers, it’s because consumers were now growing up, as I had, with social media. It was not only a part of our everyday, but Facebook was now a part of our story.

Sure, there are still significant negative associations with social networks (privacy risks and big data are a few), but I challenge you to consider the significant strides we’ve made since Facebook gave social media its popularity.

Family, friends and brands are able to connect and converse (like actually converse) with each other, while also communicating with an entire circle of people, so that it’s not just one conversation, but it’s one and many simultaneously. We’re able to remember the important things happening in each other’s lives and feel connected, even if we haven’t seen or heard from someone in years.

So I’m sappy. But Facebook is one of my oldest friends and I interact it every single day, multiple times a day. So, to me 10 years is a big deal. And I’m anxious to see what will happen in the next 10.

What’s your first memory of Facebook?

If you’re interested in a little more Facebook history, check out this infographic by Inside Facebook.

Data-Based Advertising: Targeting with Facebook Partner Categories

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When isn’t Facebook in the news? It seems that, no matter what, there’s always a story. Facebook stock has gone down! Facebook stock as gone up! Facebook changes its layout…again. Facebook allows video ads! The list is endless.

So, sometimes the really HUGE information can get lost. In this case it’s Facebook’s partnership with Acxiom, Datalogix and Epsilon. Techcrunch and some of the other tech-savvy pubs covered this news. But somehow its importance to advertisers just didn’t break through. Instead, consumers were more worried about the impending transfer of personal data from these services to Facebook (understandably so).

But from an advertisers standpoint, this news is groundbreaking. These data services will match up a user’s online browsing activity (outside of Facebook) with their Facebook user IDs, thereby allowing Facebook to provide advertisers over 500 new unique targeting groups (with more to come).

These third-party data services provide additional data to make your target audience come to life in an even more relevant manner. Here is an overview of the targeting capabilities provided by these data services and a little more about each company:

Facebook Targeting Partner Categories

Acxiom is a data company with 32 billion data records. It’s one of the industry leaders when it comes to compiling, managing, and applying consumer & business data for marketing. Facebook’s current partnership with Acxiom allows you to target based on the household information of a user (their dwelling type, the market value of their house, whether they rent or own, etc.). You can also target users based on what sort of bank cards/credit cards they use, whether they invest some of their money, and what their job role is (administration/managerial, clerical, educator, farmer, financial, etc.).

Acxiom - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix has a database containing more than $1 trillion in offline purchase-based data. They convert this data into an online universe of custom-made targeting profiles. Facebook’s partnership with Datalogix seems the most beneficial as it includes general buyer personas (e.g. fashionista, healthy & fit, green consumers, sportsman, etc.), retail categories (flower buyers, childrens products, pet supply, etc.), and subscription service categories (enrolled in online higher ed, has a mortgage, signed up for online auto insurance, etc.) to make it a bit easier for advertisers to put together their targets.

Datalogix - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

Datalogix - Facebook Advertising Partner Targeting

When I first learned the word Epsilon, it was as a letter in the Greek alphabet (I have my 10th grade teacher to thank for having memorized the entire thing!). But Epsilon, the data company, provides transactional data and consumer-reported survey data. Its partnership with Facebook now allows advertisers to create target audiences based on the type of business a person works for, their occupation, whether they have auto loans, if they donate to charitable causes, buy magazines, and more.

Epsilon - Facebook Data Partner for Targeting

All of these data options make it easier for advertisers to reach audiences that they might not have been able to in the past. Gone are the days of having to resort to LinkedIn to reach someone in a certain profession. Gone are the days of guessing the items people purchase based on their “Likes.” Now there’s actual data to back these suspicions up.

Because of these partnerships, Facebook ads will not only be more targeted, but they will also be more relevant to they users they’ve targeted. B2B companies, retail companies, and all other companies now have the capability to know that they’ve targeted the right person with a message that’s relevant to them.

Twitter TV Ad Targeting: Qualifications for Advertisers

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This morning at its #Twitter4brands conference, Twitter unveiled two new services: TV Ad Targeting & Twitter Amplify. We’re most excited about the new TV Ad Targeting project, but have discovered that it may be a VERY long time before advertisers and brands will actually be able to use it, especially because of its budget restrictions and exclusivity.

Here’s what we learned about the new products:

Twitter Amplify:

We knew when they announced the Vine app that Twitter was trending toward making video a more prominent part of the Twitter user experience. But we had no clue what was on the horizon. This morning we learned that media brands and their ad partners can promote short television clips on Twitter. It’s been in Beta for a while, with 5-10 second replays from NBA basketball games. But brands will now be able to include their message at the end of the clip. For instance, a clip from “The Weather Channel followed by an ad for a restaurant chain,” (Mashable). How this smaller advertisers will be able to take advantage of this, we’re not exactly sure yet. But what we do know is that promoted videos are an amazing way to really engage an audience.

TV Ad Targeting:

I’ve always been a fan of the technology behind Social TV analytic company Bluefin Labs. Since being acquired by Twitter, though, we had yet to see any major changes in the platform. Until now. This morning Twitter announced a new product that will allow you to promote tweets to users who have just watched your ad on tv, thereby securing post-commercial viewing engagement.

Twitter is now enabling brands to consider the entire Social TV experience and giving them a chance to break through. Want users to watch your commercial and then visit your amazing website or start playing your social game? With TV ad targeting on Twitter, this is now a reality. The Social TV movement has finally come full circle.

But you’ll have to hold your horses, because the project is currently in Beta and only being offered to current Twitter ad partners. I was also sad to find that the reality is that this is a product only brands with large marketing budgets can afford.

Here are the qualifications needed before Twitter will allow you to use Twitter TV Targeting (as confirmed by an account executive at Twitter):

  • Run national TV advertisements in the US that span multiple days (ideally across multiple shows and/or networks)
  • Run TV ad targeted campaigns for a minimum of one week, in line with TV schedule
  • Promote tweets that reinforce the same message as TV ads
  • Allocate a minimum of $100K incremental (per handle) to “Promoted Tweet” campaigns coordinated with TV ads.
    • $50K of this must be allocated to TV ad targeting, with remaining funds to be allocated at the client’s discretion.
  • Have spent at least $25K with Twitter in 2013

With these new opportunities, will you rethink your Twitter advertising budget?

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Facebook Advertising: Targeting Niche Audiences

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While I strongly recommend well-thought-out social media strategies that predominantly include organic social media tactics, I also understand the necessity for paid social media advertising (though I wouldn’t advocate for Twitter promoted trends unless you have a luxurious marketing budget).

Paid social ads, particularly Facebook ads, are relatively cost efficient, have the ability to kickstart a campaign and, most of all, they provide one of the most highly targeted mediums available.

Gone are the days of the “cast a wide net” theory. Now it’s the online networks and publications with the ability to provide hyper-targeted niche audiences that are of most interest to advertisers. Facebook is one of the best when it comes to reaching these tightly woven target audiences.

For some reason, though, whether it be the hype associated with the Facebook IPO or the general misuse of Facebook ad campaigns by the average user, the amazing targeting options and high click-through rates of Facebook ad campaigns are often lost on marketers.

Some suspect that their target audience simply isn’t on Facebook or that Facebook users don’t click on ads. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In Q1 of 2013, Facebook reported that it had 1.11 BILLION users. A wide variety of reports confirm that these users also check Facebook daily, if not multiple times per day (especially on their mobile devices)…even while they’re working out. And if you’re using the correct combination of creative elements and have the correct strategy in place (e.g. lead generation), Facebook users WILL click on your ads.

Now that we’ve tackled that elephant in the room, let’s dive into what exactly the Facebook targeting options are:

  1. Demographics: You can target users by location (by zip code, city, state, country, within x miles of specific cities), age (any range up to age 65), sex, and relationship status (married, engaged, single with interests in males or females).
  2. Birthday: You can create ads that are targeted at people who have a birthday in the next week (or other specific timeframe).
  3. Precise Interests: Facebook considers information such as the Facebook pages the users “Like,” the apps they use, and any other information they have added to their Facebook timeline, to determine their precise interests. These can be drawn from their listed interests, activities, education, job titles, groups they belong to, and more.
  4. Facebook Broad Categories: If you need a little help developing your target audience and can’t quite come up with precise interests, Facebook also has broader categories. These are also based on users’ status updates or any actions they have taken on Facebook.
  5. Education: Target users by the year they graduated, whether they’ve graduated or are still in college, which university they attended, and even which subject area they majored in.
  6. Connections: In addition to this demographic data, you can also target people who have “Liked” your page, joined your group, RSVP’d to your event, or users who have used your app. You can even reach the friends of people who have taken any of these actions, which is a powerful way to gain new users/”Likes,” as friends tend to have similar interests.
  7. Partner Categories: Here’s where it gets even more robust. Facebook has partnered with Acxiom, Datalogix & Epsilon to provide over 500 unique groups (with more to come) of people to target via Facebook. These services allow Facebook to combine information from their partners (which is based on a user’s online browsing activity on websites other than Facebook) with the information gathered from the user’s activity on Facebook. Click here for more about targeting with Facebook’s Data Partners.
  8. Custom Audiences: Custom audiences allow advertisers to target their ads to a specific set of users based on a previously owned list of phone numbers or email addresses. Basically, Facebook matches these email addresses and/or phone numbers with Facebook user IDs and encrypted data to build an audience that’s completely your own.
  9. Lookalike Audiences: When you create a custom audience list, you can also create a “lookalike audience” that includes people who are similar to your custom audience list. This way you’re reaching people who have the same interests and demographic information as your custom audience, but that you have not established a connection with just yet.

Allie db&r social media specialist

I’m Six Stories Up at db&r

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Allie db&r social media specialistIt has been such a long time since I’ve posted on socialallie.com. Shame on me! Here’s the deal – Most of my blogging efforts are now through db&r. As their Social Media Specialist, I curate and write for our blog (sixstoriesup.com). I’m still writing!

So, while I think about my next post exclusively for socialallie.com, I thought I’d share some of the most recent blogs I’ve posted for db&r.

It’s All Relative – Social Media Engagement To Stand The Test Of Time | Nov. 6, 2012
Today, I turn 26 years old. Maybe you think I’m pretty young… or just maybe you’re thinking that’s the perfect age (and I’m hoping this is the case!). As I prepared for a simultaneous election and birth-day, I began reflecting on what it means to be 26 in a “social” world: how has my social media use changed over time; how do I use use social media differently from my parents, my older sister, and my co-workers; and most importantly for us at db&r, what does all this mean for social media marketers? Continue Reading…

Must-Read Posts: Presidential Debate, Social TV, Social Style, Pinterest & More | Oct. 18, 2012
It’s been a busy week (well, couple of months really) here at db&r. Even still, we always make time to stay in touch with the latest online conversations. Here are some of our favorite blog posts, articles, or videos from the week so far: Continue Reading…

Five for Friday: 5 Mac Memories in Remembrance of Steve Jobs | Oct. 5, 2012
It’s exactly one year after one of the greatest innovators of our time passed away – Steve Jobs. When we realized it had already been a year since he passed, we had nothing but memories of our first interactions with Apple. So, for this week’s Five for Friday we pulled together our first Macintosh memories. Continue Reading…

Myspace Redesigns & Repositions: New Myspace Features [Slideshow] | Sept. 27, 2012
A few days ago Justin Timberlake tweeted a link to what I call “the little video that could,” which recaps the new Myspace design as well as some of its functionality. This video has the whole social media world tweeting up a storm. And why? Not just because of its “sexy” design. It’s how the brand seems to be repositioning itself as more of a partner to Facebook and Twitter than a replacement. This move could potentially allow the network to penetrate the mass market…quickly. Continue Reading…

Google Reader & Marketing Your Brand: Why & How to Use RSS Feeds & Google Reader | Sept. 10, 2012
Google Reader has been around since a beta was launched in Google Labs in 2005 – I first started using the service about three years ago. But I’ve discovered that not everyone understands or is even aware of what Google Reader is, let alone how to use it for marketing purposes. So here’s your guide to using Google Reader as a marketing tool. Continue Reading…

Demystifying Facebook Advertising: 9 steps to optimize your Facebook ad campaigns for success | Aug. 14, 2012
Ever since GM pulled its ad dollars from Facebook back in May, there’s been a ton of conversation around the worth and effectiveness of Facebook ads. When Facebook became an IPO, the controversy continued. Now the question is not only whether Facebook advertising justifies a major ad spend, but are also whether Facebook will even be around in a few years. Continue Reading…

Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics

How to Measure Social Media ROI – by yourself

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ROI (Return on Investment) has been THE buzz word for the past six months or so (well before Facebook became an IPO and stole its thunder). Why? Because now that social networking sites are here to stay, marketers are being forced to carve out a place for it in their overall marketing budgets, instead of using discretionary funds for “emerging technologies.” But it’s no easy task to get the buy-in on a whole budget dedicated to social media marketing (SMM) – especially if you work for a small business.

First of all, many people perceive that social media marketing is virtually free.

Networking sites themselves are “free” to be a part of, but managing them correctly and devoting the time necessary to developing a strategy and creating unique content is in no way FREE. Large corporations have huge sectors and agencies and freelance writers devoted to keeping their blogs and social networks alive. That’s a lot of actual dollars and cents.

To boot, if you ever took an intro level economics class, you know about “opportunity costs.” These are the costs you incur by not doing something else. For instance, if you spend 2 hours writing a blog post, you’re losing 2 hours where you could have been creating an email. If your emails on average garner about $800 each, then to make spending your time creating a blog post worth it, you’ve got to at least generate $800 in revenue from it, right?

If only it were that simple. Social media marketing is a little different from traditional marketing- it takes time to build a base, a reputation, and to increase your site’s SEO. If your ultimate goal by participating in SMM is to increase revenue, then you’ve really got to think about three things:

  1. The resources you have involved in it – How much money do you have, how many people do you have to draw on for the effort, how much time is your team spending on social media?
  2. Your more immediate goals – be they awareness, engagement, purchase intent, etc.
  3. How much value you associate with each social networking touch point (a twitter follower, or a facebook fan etc.).

TechCrunch reported that the value of a Twitter follower is less than one cent. Others think Twitter followers are worth closer to $3/month. There’s really no conclusive evidence because it’s always a case-by-case basis.

Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using MetricsSo how do you figure out what the ROI of your social media marketing strategy is?

1. Instead of associating value directly to dollars, associate value to your key performance indicators (KPIs).

Ex. How many of our twitter followers shared our content or purchased our product? 

2. To delineate your KPIs you have to think long and hard about what your end goal is.

Is it awareness about your brand? Is it to influence purchase decisions? In what part of the marketing    funnel are you trying to reach your target?  

3. Determine how active your followers are on average. Some indicators of their engagement level on various social networking sites are how personalized their Facebook or blog comments are and by how much time they spend on your landing page or site.

Do they visit your page, whether it be your Facebook page, blog, etc., once and then never interact with it again? 

Some advocate for creating a social media scorecard. This method incorporates manually grading or balancing different interactions (a video view versus a tweet).  These “grades” are dependent upon your SMM goal(s). You basically create a weighted scale to help you determine your ROI.

After you figure out the value of each KPI, you can put them in order and then multiply the number of interactions with the grade. Add them all up for a total campaign score. More about this method to come.

What factors do you include when calculating your social media ROI?

The Karmic Way: Rules of the Twitterverse

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I recently finished reading The Tao of Twitter by Mark W. Schaefer. I was so happy that someone finally put words to what I’ve always felt people who haven’t truly immersed themselves in Twitter have trouble understanding – the reciprocal nature and “genuine authenticity,” as Schaefer calls it, of the twitterverse.

It’s true. Twitter is almost an anomaly. It’s both a platform and a publisher. It’s about both creation and consumption. But probably the biggest complexity I’ve found (and warmly embraced) about the Twitter world is the simultaneous one-to-one and one-to-many nature of conversations.

This is why it’s hard to get started. At the same time you’re conversing with someone you’ve just met in a twitter chat or on a #FF (Follow Friday) you’re also sharing this content with all of your followers and anyone who checks out your stream (unless it’s via DM). To some it’s a bit daunting – all of this, well, openness.

But if you can get past your initial privacy concerns and dive in, you’ll find Twitter to be one of the most rewarding outlets for not only your content, but also for networking and developing true relationships.

Some argue that these relationships are only skin deep because Twitter encourages competition – it seems as if everyone’s racing to get the most followers. But, as Mark mentions in the book and I’ve discovered over the years, it’s not actually very helpful to have a bunch of followers. What’s beneficial is having “targeted followers” – followers who you’re interested in reading content from and who are equally as interested in your content. If you can remember this, you really will be able to build relationships with your followers.

Once you become an avid tweeter, you’ll also understand the “rule of reciprocity” that is inherent in following someone. Usually if you follow someone with similar interests, they’ll follow you back. If someone shares one of your blog posts, or retweets you, somewhere down the line, you’ll return the favor for them.

Twitter is, then, a platform that’s run on sharing with and actually caring about your followers – who’d a thunk? It embraces quid pro quo (tweet for tweet) in the most authentic and friendly sense.

That’s why I’ve always felt as though Twitter was a micro-world based on karma. I thought: “It’ll just give you good karma to RT this post or follow that guy who just followed you. It’s the way of the world.” But I could never find a great way to describe this karmic sentiment until Mark referred to it as the Tao, or the way, of Twitter.

Mark mentions a few other facets that make Twitter a friendly, helpful, and ultimately golden resource for everyone in his book and so I highly recommend picking it up and giving it a read. It may not be 140 characters, but it’s short and sweet all the same. No matter what, though, I hope this has been the spoonful of sugar you needed to keep you on track with your twitter regiment.

How do you use Twitter for business?

Facebook Advertising – Premium Ads & the new Timeline

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Facebook Timeline is now mandatory for business pages, whether you like it or not! Prior to the switchover Facebook business pages you could produce a professional looking page with lots of options for fan engagement without a large budget.

With the new changes, though, Facebook business pages are definitely not as “small biz friendly.” The new format brought changes to Facebook’s EdgeRank, the look and functionality of business pages, as well as changes to their advertising options. There are now “premium” advertising options for the big guys – things like logout page ads, mobile ads, Facebook offer ads, even news feed ads!! The regular ads we’re used to will pale in comparison.

On top of this Facebook has also changed the amount of characters allowed in an ad to 90 characters so that they can fit more ads on the advertising panel. Meaning that not only will you have less space to get your message across but that you’ll also be competing with more ads. To compete, you’ll need to focus more on the image you post along with your ads – making it stand out from the rest.

So, what are the premium ad options?

1. News Feed Ads – Before this option, the only way an ad could make it to your News Feed was if one of your friends shared or liked the link. Now – businesses can pay for the News Feed placement of Featured or Sponsored Stories Ads regardless of the ad’s actual “Edgerank.” The ad will look like any other post in your feed, except for it will be tagged as “featured.” To the average user, this could be viewed as pretty intrusive, but it is a great opportunity for marketers to get some prime time impressions with their fans’ friends.

2. Logout Ads – I never log out of Facebook, but there are tons of people out there who do, actually around 37 million per day. Facebook is looking to capitalize on this by allowing big brands to purchase advertisements on the sign off page. But only one ad will show up on the sign off page at a time – one huge image for one huge impact. The thought is that these ads will convert more people because they are already ending their Facebook experience and are ready to jump to another site.

3. Mobile Ads – It’s happened. Facebook can’t help itself from serving ads to the 350 million active users who access Facebook via a mobile device. The mobile ads you purchase will appear in the News Feed, but no panel ads (the small screen prohibits side ads).

4. Offers – Premium accounts can now provide discounts and offers to their fans. Offers as easy to create as a status update and are super share-worthy. Combine an offer with a Sponsored Story ad and you’ve got a winning advertising campaign.

And the doozy….

5. Reach Generator - Brands can now pay to guarantee that at least 75% of their fans see a particular post (as opposed to the 16% an average post receives). This is good news for the big brands with deep pockets, but for smaller companies it’s out of the price range. Maybe in the coming months this option will be available at a more reasonable price, but for now it’s an advantage that the major players have over the little guys.

What’s the problem? All of these options sound awesome. The problem is multifaceted. First of all, consumers will be served more ads per day than they’re used to. Second, only certain businesses are allowed these features. The offers ads are great, but small businesses don’t have access to them. Nor do small business have access to News Feed ads.

Until there’s a different EdgeRank for underdogs – allowing their ads or posts to be revealed more often, big businesses are the ones who will be #winning with these new ad changes. One of the reasons so many smaller companies flocked to Facebook in the first place was the ease of use and low overhead it took to compete with their competitors – even the larger brands. Now – that is not so.

From a user’s perspective – yes, we will be receiving more ads then ever from companies. Fortunately, the ads that we’ll see will (or should) engage us more than ever.

What other implications do you see coming from the new ad changes?

Sources:

WOMMA Webinar with Cara Friedman at Likeable Media

Mikal Belicove. How Facebook’s ‘Offers’ and ‘reach Generator’ Can Deliver More for Less. Entreprenuer.com. March 7, 2012. http://www.entrepreneur.com/blog/223062

Analytics & Social Strategy – Do they exist?

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I’ve been working on this post for a while. Why? Because to be completely honest, there’s a ton of debate around social media ROI and analysis. As I’ve researched, though, I’ve found a few tips that can help you in the right direction when it comes to measuring the success of your social media efforts.

I want to start by stating that it’s not all about the money. Let me qualify that – I mean, every marketing initiative doesn’t directly translate to actual dollars. A lot of marketing is about maintaining current relationships (CRM – Customer Relationship Management). Here’s a great quote I found in a recent STORES article:

“It may be hard to accept that the sweet spot for social is more about deeper engagement and brand building than a lift to the bottom line.”

Marketers are pointing to the ever expansiveness of social networking and claiming that even if you can’t evaluate the numbers properly, you still have to be involved with social media marketing. Nielsen’s Social Media Report noted that nearly 80% of Internet users visit social networks and 53% of active social networkers follow brand. No matter what, social networking is important for brands.

But, if you can’t measure the success of your latest social media campaign, then it’s almost impossible to determine areas for improvement and growth for your next social endeavor. So there’s no way that we can completely ignore the numbers!

Here are some low barrier to entry ways to start measuring the success of your social media efforts:

At the beginning of a campaign, be it a new facebook contest or an integrated social media and online event, the most important thing to do is to delineate what factors you’ll be looking at to indicate either an achievement or a failure. This could be increased engagement, awareness, preference change etc. There are many options in the marketing funnel.

Then, you must determine what Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s), will help you figure out if you’ve achieved this goal. What do you want your new followers or community to do – how do you define conversion? This could be FB likes, email opt-ins, ad impressions, site traffic, twitter followers.

Once your campaign launches, you then have to monitor them – looking at social “analytics!” What are people saying, are they retweeting you, how much? Are they sharing the content via FB, or forwarding an email, how often? Are they recommending your product or brand via Yelp or other networks? Are theyblogging about you?

You can find most of this information on your own, using Facebook insights, Hootsuite analytics or bit.ly for twitter (and Twitter also has its own website analytics), YouTube analytics, google analytics for web traffic levels and sources and you can even use technorati.com to search the blogs that include your brand name or topic.

Still wondering what the value of these followers and shares is? Check out my next post about low-level social media ROI!

How are you currently analyzing your social media efforts?

Is your brand a good Valentine? How to evaluate your brand sentiment via social networks

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Valentine’s Day always makes me think about my family, friends, and if I have one, my significant other. I usually smile thinking about my parents and my sister – remembering our special Valentine’s Day dinners. I feel so lucky to have so many valentines in my life.

But more importantly, in the days leading up to the 14th, I’m forced to reflect on my relationships and to evaluate if I’m a good Valentine myself. Do I want to spend Valentine’s Day with myself? How do my mom, my sister, my father, my boyfriend and my friends think of me?

Brands should be doing the same thing, regularly. It’s important to monitor what your followers and your customers think of you – and how they think of you so that you. In other words, what’s the general brand sentiment? 

Why is this an important thing to monitor? Sentiment is a good indicator of how well you’re doing as a company and it can help discover more & better ways to engage with your followers. So if you haven’t started yet, you should start monitoring brand sentiment this Valentine’s Day, but how?

I can tell how I’m doing based on the heart-shaped notes, chocolates, and maybe even flowers I receive, but how can brands tell how they’re doing? Thank goodness for social networks! Now there’s a whole new avenue for people to express themselves. To find out how we’re doing and what our customers are thinking about us, all we have to do is leverage this information.

First, the easiest thing to do is to set up search streams in either Hootsuite or Tweetdeck, so that any time your brand or company name is mentioned via twitter, it will show up. You can do the same with Google alerts, so that when there’s a mention in a news article or blog you’ll receive an email straight to your inbox.

In the same search stream you can search popular keywords in your industry or community as well – if there are popular owners or employees you can search their name as well. If you’re not using a twitter aggregator, then you can just do a normal search on twitter.

The next part is determining the “sentiment” of each of these mentions. Clearly, a recommendation is positive while a complaint is negative. For all of the negative comments, you should try to respond – try to find out more details about the problem and figure out a way to make it better. As you go on, this can become a means of customer service and market research.

There are some free services out there to help you evaluate your brand sentiment and I list some below. But it’s best to track sentiment on your own – that way you can respond in real time!

1. Socialmention.com: This website allows you to search by keyword (brand name for instance) in multiple categories (blogs, twitter, images, news, etc.). The sentiment they use is basically the “ratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative.” It will also show you the people who are mentioning your brand the most and how often.

2. Twitrratr: To analyze your sentiment based only on twitter, Twitratr is okay. You can enter in your search term and it pops up with all of the twitter mentions in three different colums: positive, neutral, and negative. I’ve found that it’s not so useful all the time because words like “blue” make mentions appear in the negative column, but blue isn’t always negative!

3. Twitter Sentiment: Allows you to enter in a keyword and then it pops up with all of the mentions, red if it’s a negative comment and green if it’s positive. There’s no color if it’s neutral. Again – you can do this constantly on your own, by just setting up a search stream. But they do summarize the general sentiment at the top with a nice little pie chart and bar graph.

There are definitely other services out there, like Twendz etc. which require a little extra funding for pro accounts.

How do you monitor brand sentiment?

Super Bowl Challenge: Social TV changes the advertising landscape

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Social TV is changing the world. Okay – that might be a little too strong of a statement. But the reality is that social tv could very well be the television’s antidote to streaming services, Netflix, and even the high and mighty DVR.  Why? Because it’s changing the way we consume programing. It’s definitely changed my television watching habits.

If you’re a little confused, I’ll break it down for you. People tweet, post updates on FB, and blog starting the minute their favorite program airs. Tweeps use special hashtags to ensure that they’re a part of the conversation. And now, at least for me, it’s almost a crime to not follow a hashtag along with a show, game, or political event.

Why? Because I want to know what others are saying, what they’re thinking, how they’re reacting. It’s a virtual “water cooler” that you don’t have to wait until the day after to converse around.

As we all stopped watching our shows in real time or began multitasking while watching TV, advertisers and networks started getting scared. There used to be a time when there were few TV channels that everybody watched quietly, with no distractions. How can we reach our target consumers? How do we keep our viewers engaged?

A popular historical reference comes to mind – FDR’s Fireside Chats. Though I wasn’t around in the thirties or forties, I do remember stories of families crowded around their radios to hear his coined, “Good evening, friends” speeches. In fact, Roosevelt’s Fireside Chats attracted more listeners than the most popular broadcasts of the time. There’s no way it couldn’t have been the next day’s topic of conversation.

In this era, we’re lucky that we can chat back and forth during our Presidents’ addresses. We can comment on his tie, his political statements, and whether or not our vice president is on the verge of falling asleep. And in doing so, we’re all coming together in front of our TV sets and paying attention. We’re listening to the words spoken and watching action scenes with our eyes widened.

We know that social media has changed the way we consume media. But, who would have ever thought that this technology would bring us back together akin to Roosevelt’s radio addresses? Well, it’s happening. And advertisers, brands, and networks are finally realizing that by leveraging social media, a 30-second spot can extend way beyond the television frame.

I can’t wait to see what advertisers have in the works for this Sunday’s Super Bowl. In fact, it’s been reported by lostremote.com that every major Super Bowl media investment has a social tv component. Smart for the brands and fun for the consumer. This Super Bowl Sunday is going to be HUGE, and not just for my fellow New England fans. I’m predicting that the social chatter during the game breaks all precedents and saves the almighty commercial from becoming obsolete.

My challenge for you is to get involved. Follow along with the hashtags within commercials in Hootsuite or Tweetdeck streams and join in the conversation. Use NFL Huddle to keep track of all of the updates from players, hosts, and the media before, during, and after the game. If you’re a social media nerd like me, you’ll be happy you did.

What social media marketers can learn from Raven’s kicker, Billy Cundiff

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On Sunday night everyone was abuzz after Ravens’ kicker, Billy Cundiff, missed what could have been a game-tying field goal. I went to twitter after the fail, to see what people were saying, and guess what – twitter was down. Cundiff not only broke his fan’s hearts, but he also broke twitter! In fact this past weekend’s NFL social chatter surpassed the chatter of last year’s Super Bowl!

This incident brought to light a few thoughts -  Is all press good press? Do social media campaigns that flop, but get tons of press actually end up doing some good?

The jury’s out on how this press will affect Mr. Cundiff’s career. One thing is for sure, though, the fans are pretty pissed. All Cundiff can hope to do is grow as a player and hope he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. No one, who actually knows Cundiff’s record, would consider him a failure.

When it comes to social media, though, we’re quick to label certain campaigns as “failures.” It seems so final. As social marketing evolves we’re learning that these failures at least give brands a chance to be in front of their consumer. Some brands even get a mulligan (but, remember, you only get one). Consider the Dominos faux paux over a disgusting employee video. Dominos struck back by revamping not only their social infrastructure, but also their pizza!

Just last week McDonald’s twitter campaign backfired. They encouraged their followers to tell their own McDonalds’ stories using the hashtag #McDstories. Instead of heartwarming stories, the hashtag took on a life of its own with tweets that included animal cruelty, weed, and super negative thoughts about McDonald’s.

This just goes to show that when you put things out there, you never know where the groundswell will take it. A part of being a great social strategist is realizing that a lot of what happens is out of your control. The best way to quell a social media storm, is to be ready for it in the first place.

McDonald’s is a huge company and their Social Media Director knew when the tweets starting getting too negative that they should try to regain control and steer their followers in another direction by promoting their own tweet: “When u make something w/ pride, people can taste it #McDstories.”

Regardless, instead of the nasty tweets appearing at the top of search, now all that’s attached to the hashtag are tweets about their social media flop – #McFail.

The bottom line is that you’ve got to try. If you have a sound objective and strategy, even the bumps in the road won’t keep you from achieving your ultimate goal. We can all follow Billy Cundiff’s words:

“I’ve had setbacks before but I’ll move on from this. It’s one of those things that will strengthen me in the end.”

How do you prevent social media disasters?

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLK & Content Strategy

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I’m not sure when MLK day became more than just a monday away from school for me. I think it must have been in the 6th or 7th grade when I read Why We Can’t Wait written by Martin Luther King, Jr. himself. When I read his words and realized just how intelligent, powerful, and forward-thinking this man was, I understood why the nation took a day off of school and work to celebrate his achievements.

It might seem like a stretch or even a “downgrade” to relate his efforts in the Civil Rights Movement to anything related to social media. But, when I think about MLK and his road to success – there are a few things that I truly feel relate back to our efforts in social media marketing.

1. Amazing writing - Everyone knows that MLK’s speeches were some of the best speeches the world has ever witnessed. Almost every line in his “I Have A Dream” speech or in his last speech “I’ve Been to the Mountain Top” are quote-worthy. Writing that compels someone to action is the only way to create a following. No matter your limitations – be it 420 characters or 140, always strive to write beautifully.

2. Great Timing – Use timing to your advantage. King paid attention to timing, not only when he was delivering speeches, but also when organizing movements, sit-ins, and boycotts. I remember reading MLK’s advice: “except for Christmas, Easter is the main shopping period of the year…the best time to bring pressure to bear on the merchants for the needed change.” When creating content for social media, consider what’s going on in the world and be relevant. This leads to the most memorable and “viral” content.

3. Strategy – It’s true that MLK recognized the importance of spontaneous actions, like those of Rosa Parks. But he also realized that, without organization and long-range strategy, people will exhaust their energies. Though I don’t remember everything from Why We Can’t Wait, I do remember that every effort King organized in Birmingham was thoroughly thought-out such that it would make the Civil Rights Movement  a “top-of-mind” subject for Americans. Extending beyond Alabama, planned well-organized boycotts played a major role throughout all phases of the movement.

Thinking through a social strategy is what makes a campaign successful. Even with the most eloquently written and relevant blogs, without a real plan or strategy, they may very well be over-looked.

“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr., “I Have A Dream”

NCAA Basketball

Social Media Madness: 5 ways to be a real NCAA bball fan & a great social media strategist

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As some of you may know, I am a huge UNC Basketball fan. To some we’re “North Carolina,” to others we’re “the tarheels” and to me, we’re “#1.” Okay, I had to throw in that last one.

You can’t be a great NCAA basketball fan without a few key characteristics – including being crazy. And the same is true for being a great social media strategist, or marketing professional in general. So, I thought I’d sum up some of the most essential aspects to being great at one, or the other, or, for me, both.

  1. Understanding the strategy: If you want to be a really great fan, you have to understand your team’s underlying structure. Does Roy usually bulk up on great defensive players, power forwards, or 3 point shooters? When we look at great SMM campaigns, the best ones have strict objectives and creative strategies to accomplish them. This way, not only does everyone know what the plan is, but everyone also knows what the measurement for success is and how often to evaluate it. To be a great college basketball fan, you have to know what the coach is up to when he puts certain players in, otherwise you wont know if the team is actually doing what they set out to do (or win to cheer)!
  2. Knowing the rules: There are rules to every sport and while I haven’t mastered the differences between college football and the NFL, but I am well-versed on NCAA bball rules. Why? Because of the high level of competition, oftentimes the games come down to free throws or which star player is benched due to foul trouble, if you don’t know the rules, then you can’t understand what’s going on. To be a great fan, you have to know why these things are happening and what ways your team might be able to use these rules to their advantage. Each social platform has its own rules – some of the most namely are Facebook’s contest rules. To be a great social strategist you need to know how to embrace these rules and creatively use them to your advantage, otherwise your great idea might get shut down! If you know the rules, you can play on the line in just the right way. Remember Burger King’s “Whopper Sacrifice? ” Though it was eventually shut down by Facebook, its creators knew the risks associated with it and were able to promptly put up new images when it was dismantled.
  3. Keeping track of your competitors: This is one to remember. Because the social world is always discovering new technologies, it’s always changing. That means your brand’s competitors probably know something you don’t. It’s inevitable. So, it’s to your advantage to keep abreast of the new happenings in your category. Constantly evaluating your competitors efforts will help you to stay in front of their efforts and to use their failures as advice for your brand’s future campaigns. You better believe that I know which teams are the teams to beat. Everyone knows that UNC’s #1 rival is Duke, and I know every year they’ll have great 3-point shooters. Because I know about their competition, I also know that the Tarheels have to be tight on perimeter defense when they’re playing the Blue Devils.
  4. Having a schedule: Always, always, always have a schedule. Be flexible, but have a schedule. Creating a calendar helps you to remember your goals for a particular month (or week even) and what your ideas are for achieving these goals. That way you’ll always stay on track for a campaign. Without a schedule, your strategy can become muddled and unclear – and then you can’t track its success! Obviously, to be a good fan you have to watch every game. To do that, you need a schedule with which channel the game will be on, what time the game is, and who they’re playing.
  5. Being a little crazy (super passionate): The best social strategies are the ones no one else could have thought up. They use a platform in a different way or have an underlying idea that’s kind of, well kukoo. Think about the Old Spice campaign. Mustafa? Really? It’s brilliant. When you’re starting to create your strategies, give yourself 10 minutes to come up with as many ideas as possible. Don’t rule any out. Then spend the next hour scheming what would need to happen for each idea to come to life. Then you can evaluate the elements it takes to make the idea work to find out if it will work for you and your brand (considering time constraints, available resources, & metrics for success).

What makes you a great fan & strategist?

2012: A year for resolutions not predictions

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Though I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what 2012 will bring for the the state of social marketing, I’m not sure how productive all of the predictions we’ve been reading and spreading around in the past week have actually been.

Aside from the theoretical ones, most of the predictions I’ve read thus far are not so helpful when it comes to considering a whole year’s worth of marketing (If you are going to read some predications, check out the 2012 Social Marketing & New Media Predictions put together by some  of the industry’s most progressive thinkers – courtesy of Brian Solis). Some predict the rise of social media, the demise of Facebook, the rise of google+, the list is endless.

Instead, what I’d like to focus on is how we can start using what we already know about social media marketing in the coming year. So many marketers have, up to this point, merely translated their traditional marketing and advertising efforts into social media lingo. For instance, remember when CVS launched their CVS_cares twitter feed? Probably not. That’s because they made their profile private, so that only confirmed followers could read their tweets. Again – it’s not an advertisement, it’s a conversation. How can someone retweet CVS if they can’t even see their tweets to begin with?

This sort of thinking completely undermines the the nature of social marketing – there’s not one set reach. Instead of relying on one commercial to reach one person, social relies on one tweet to reach one individual and then reach another individual and so on and so on exponentially.

So, in 2012 I resolve to think of social media differently.

Instead of spending my time thinking about what might change in the social media landscape, I’d rather spend my time coming up with strategies and opportunities that take advantage of the true nature of social networking. Most importantly, I resolve to develop strategies that leave room for brands to be flexible as well as responsive to consumers. I resolve to do my due diligence and research consumer opinion before diving into any strategy. In effect, leveraging the consumer’s ideas and willingness to share to create campaigns that stretch across platforms and beyond the traditional marketing mindset.

What is your 2012 social marketing resolution?

facebook-ads

Facebook Sponsored Stories & a Happy New Year

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Do you know what a sponsored story even is? As a marketer or advertiser, you notice the small differences in the different ad forms and platforms. A banner ad on a website is soooo much different from a site takeover or a sponsored tweet. But do consumers even recognize a difference? At the end of the day aren’t all advertisements, well, advertisements?

It seems as though Facebook has graciously answered that question for us – absolutely not, and especially not if your approach to advertising is user-friendly. A few months ago, Facebook added Sponsored Stories to the ticker feature on everyone’s “home” page (for more info about the new ticker click here). The Inside Facebook blog noted that this transition was a smooth one without much backlash.

So it seems only natural that Facebook would move forward and start placing these Sponsored Stories in users’ News Feeds. But, what’s a Sponsored Story anyway and how is it going to affect my experience as a Facebook user & my experience as a marketer?

If you have friends on Facebook, you probably have friends who “Like” a few brands and interact with a them on Facebook. So, it’s likely that you’ve seen an update in your news feed from time to time about “Charles Gibson” (for instance) commenting on the ABC World News Page. But, honestly how often do you see those sorts of updates? Probably not that often, and if you do, you probably ignore it.

Formerly, Sponsored Story ads were there to insure that some of these stories actually did show up as ads on the right hand side of your page. There’s an example of one of these ads on the right.

Starting in January, though, those ads will begin to surface in your news feed, looking something like this:

This might seem like a pretty lame way for Facebook to start out 2012, but there are some redeeming qualities for users. First, at least in the beginning, you’ll only ever see one sponsored story ad per day. Second, all Sponsored Stories will be marked as “sponsored,” and Facebook is smartly rolling out the program slowly to all of its more than 800 million active users.

Plus – think about it. It’s not a regular advertisement – it’s something your “friend” has already done or said. And in that sense, it could be engaging. The ads could be created around one of your friends liking Lady Gaga, checking-in to the Brooklyn Museum, or using Spotify – among other types of status updates. At least it’s not one of those random ads that you can’t relate to, right?

And for advertisers – this is going to be the help we need to continue to acquire more interaction among our followers and potential followers. The new Timeline feature has decreased the frequency and likelihood that your regular posts on Facebook will make it to your “fans” news feeds. Which means that brand pages must provide even more relevant content in order to successfully make it into a “Likers” news feed. This new Sponsored Story option gives advertisers a way to combat this. Now a brand might have a chance to make it into someone’s feed, without fighting Facebook’s unknown algorithm.

There are a few problems, though. First, you won’t be able to buy placement only in the news feed for Sponsored Stories. You’ll have to buy into them and cross your fingers that it ends up in the news feed. Facebook also hasn’t provided any pricing information just yet either.

It seems Facebook is playing a game of chess with us marketers and, so far, they’re coming out on top. eMarketer estimates that the addition of Sponsored Stories this year alone has increased Facebook’s global ad revenue in 2011 by 104.3 percent over 2010.

What do you think about Sponsored Stories? Yay or nay?

Facebook Timeline – finally here!

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The Facebook Timeline is finally unrolling for everyone to enjoy – or not enjoy as the case may be. If you’re looking for some help setting up your timeline and learning about the new interface, you’ve come to right spot.

A few months ago, I did a three-part series introducing the timeline, subscriptions, and apps. Here are links to those posts:

Part 1: Introduction to the new timeline layout
This post goes into detail about the new look and feel of the timeline. Remember, you get a chance to go through all your posts and delete, or change privacy settings before publishing your new timeline. This is an important step towards making sure your timeline is just how you want it to be for the public and for your friends.

Part 2: Subscriptions
These have been around for a while now, so you should be very familiar with them. Be aware that when you de-friend someone, they automatically become one of your subscribers, so make sure your subscription settings are set up the way you’d like them to be.

Part 3: Entertainment zone & open graph apps
Some of the new open graphs applications are pretty cool. Others think they’re a bit creepy.

For a more visual and easier presentation about the new Facebook Timeline check out my Slideshow about the new Facebook timeline. This gets a little more into detail about the implications of this new timeline for brands.

Tangerine_Tango

2012 Pantone color of the year: Tangerine Tango

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I can’t even remember a time when I didn’t like the color orange. It’s bright. It’s cheerful. As my favorite color since  2000, it’s actually been the pantone of my century. And so, I can’t adequately express how thrilled I am that Pantone has chosen “Tangerine Tango” to be their color of choice to represent 2012.

My orange crush is unusually related to my passion for social media. Both have changed my life in such significant ways. For instance, once I realized that my love for orange was something that people recognized me by, almost like my “color mantra,” I made it a part of my identity. It’s a symbol of the positivity we should bring to every situation. And if ever, and these times do happen, I’m feeling frustrated or upset, it’s the honest truth that surrounding myself with orange (and now Pantone 17-1463) somehow gets me out of my funk. Orange has changed the way I approach my work, my friends, and my life.

Social media has done the same. It’s not just something I do or even something that I like. It’s a part of how I communicate. It’s a part of how I live. I can’t just read an article anymore and think quietly to myself about it. No, now I read an article and share it to my followers, or my friends automatically see that I’ve read it via Facebook. I don’t just cook food for those who are actually eating it anymore. I cook and share pictures of my delicious dishes with my family and my friends. I don’t save my thoughts about marketing for conversations over cups of coffee (or tea). Instead, I share my ideas with people like you via a blog, twitter, facebook etc.

But this isn’t where the similarities end. It’s the energy that our new pantone of the year emits, that makes it so special. A great social media strategy has this same type of energy. It’s a bright light, a great idea, a spot on, amped-with-caffeine approach that makes a social strategy successful. There’s research and thought and PASSION behind every strategic element and that gives a campaign staying power. It gives it that certain “mustafa-genius” that we all, as marketers, strive for.

With it’s rich color, the 2012 pantone has a little more depth than other colors. Something that is also especially helpful when implementing a social strategy is a great idea that has “legs.” If a concept has depth to it, a strategy goes beyond assumptions about people’s behaviors and is driven by real human insights, then there’s no limit its virality.

Happy Pantone 2012! How has your favorite color shaded your social media interactions? 

My chucks

5 Similarities between chucks and social

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While wearing my chucks this weekend I started to wonder why so many people own them – from tweens to moms to big whig art directors. It dawned on me that my love for chucks is very similar to my love for social media.

When converses were first introduced, some out there probably thought they were just a fad – shoes that had no real value for the masses. The same was true of social media. Marketers were hesitant to jump on board, fearful of what consumers might post on their walls or tweet about their brands. But as time went on, chucks became a sign of rebellion – a sign of creativity – and social networking became a way for brands to harness this creativity into engaging conversations and interactions with their consumers.

Clearly the similarities between chucks and social didn’t end there. Here are some of my top comparisons:

  1. They’re both kind of geeky. Don’t get me wrong, chucks are definitely cool, but who started wearing them (well aside from the basketball players in Flubber)? Nerds. The same is true for social media. It started with a bunch of nerds (no offense Harvard).
  2. Rise to stardom.  When celebrities start wearing or using something, somehow the whole world catches on. I’m not exactly sure what made rock stars like Kurt Cobain and actors like Michael J. Fox start wearing all-stars, but when they did, they started a chuck-olution. Now, the most popular celebs out there wear them from Miley Cyrus to Elton John.  When celebs like Ashton Kutcher started using Twitter, we started taking notice. Now that almost all stars (like Lady Gaga, Oprah, and Obama) are using this as a powerful way to project their brand, it’s obvious that twitter and social is going to be around for a while.
  3. Something for everyone. Alert: this might sound corny. But one of the reasons I love social media as a marketer, is because of the niche groups of people I’m able to reach in a short time period. There are social networking sites like Foodspotting, Instagram, Washington Post’s social reader, there are short form and long form blog sites, there are check-in services, sharing sites, even sites that allow you to swap homes…you get my point. No matter what your interests are, there’s a social network out there that suits you perfectly. The same is true with chucks. There are not only thousands of different colors, but chucks are also customizable. Celebrities and even charities have designed their own chucks. Not to mention, the new world converses that are made of leather etc. Basically there’s a network and a pair of chucks to fit everyone.
  4. Make a Statement. If you’re looking to make a statement about yourself, in either a subtle or, well, not-so-subtle way both chucks and social media are the ticket. Wearing chucks allows you to make a statement about your personality, just like using a social networking site allows you to check-in, update, send pics, or tweet to communicate more about who you are to the world.
  5. Simplicity. The aesthetic of your typical chuck is simple, yet authentic. People wear chucks, not the other way around. When you think about social media, the core of it is simple – people want to communicate…easily. In order to be successful, a social networking site needs to be simple to understand and easily usable. People use social media, social media does not use people.

Have an opinion about your chucks? Tell me in this super quick survey!

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Thanksgiving, minus connection.

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Yesterday I spent an amazing day with family, lounging around, watching football, and eating. I made calls to the people closest to me and took around three “cat naps.” What I didn’t do, was log on to a computer.

Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but when your 3G iPad isn’t connecting to the internet, there’s not much you can do – I couldn’t even play Words With Friends. I went to my phone to tweet “Happy Thanksgiving,” but other than that I was pretty much in real world mode.

Looking back, it was genuinely nice to not do anything with people I care about. To smell the flavors of delicious foods, watch the Macy’s Day Parade (McDonald’s, that is), and simply sit. But at the time, it was uniquely frustrating. Even the book I turned to for solace started to annoy me (I’m finishing up Brian Solis’ The End of Business As Usual). 

I felt disconnected. I felt like things weren’t in their right places – like I wasn’t in the right place. There’s something about being on Facebook and on Twitter, checking-in on Foursquare, Stumbling articles etc. that gives me a sense of belonging – even if it is virtual.

In this biz, we know that social networking allows us to form virtual “communities.” But, these virtual communities are becoming more real than ever for those in my generation. The reason I was frustrated yesterday, was not because I couldn’t play Angry Birds, it was because I wanted to spend Thanksgiving with the people I not only interact with, but I also identify with and go to for advice. Some of those people are part of my social community.

Am I crazy? Are these communities so real that they can be missed just like any other relative or close friend on Thanksgiving? Or, is it more about the gratification of instant communication that our social communities can usually provide?

The more I think about it, the more I know that our social communities are becoming a part of our every day realities. Holding on to this insight will be and is the key for marketers when coming up with a social strategy or even just a singular post.

Our social community - who we choose to follow, Like, share with, RT and mention – are dear to us. We trust our community with our attention (which is hard to come by for marketers these days) and that means that every single thing we read or view needs to have a purpose. The closer these online communities become to an individual’s heart, the more important it is for marketers to be careful with the content they provide and context in which they provide it.

What are you doing to make content that’s important to your communities?

How to incorporate geo-social into your marketing strategy

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So what’s the deal with this geo-social stuff anyway? How are brands using it, how should brands be using it?

The possibilities are really endless. If you’re a marketer, hopefully, you’re looking at all of these check-ins with wide eyes and are overwhelmed by all the avenues you can drive down (and then check-in). Why? Consider the traditional marketing funnel – Geo-social has the ability to help brands interact with customers on each level.

1. Awareness

The utilization of geo-social can also help create buzz for a brand.  When you check-in you’re prompted to share where you are via Facebook and Twitter. Now, not only has your presence on one of these social apps motivated one person to come into your store, but it’s also been shared with their entire network.

Creating challenging adventures using services like SCVNGR and partnering with other companies is a creative way to truly engage fans and implore them to share their experiences with their friends. Hangover 2 did a great job of creating an adventure by partnering with seven-eleven stores to host fun challenges in which fans could win tickets, t-shirts and more after checking-in via SCVNGR and completing certain challenges.

2. Consideration

Offering deals via Foursquare, SCVNGR, even Groupon Instant can help during a customer’s consideration. When you open up one of these apps, it shows you all of the places in the area offering deals or challenges. If you’re considering two different burger places, for instance, you’d most likely pick the burger place with a deal, or the one with the best deal, right? Sometimes, just knowing that a restaurant or a boutique is on Foursquare makes me want to check them out.

3. Conversion

What’s going to make someone actually come in and shop with you or eat at your restaurant? Ultimately, it’s a combination of price, service and reputation right? With geo-location services, your customer now knows you’re in their area and is considering you because of your deal. Brands can also expand their reach by offering special deals with users.

These deals make a brand more attractive and could increase the frequency of visits per customer. Now it’s up to you to make a promotion that’s appealing. Or in the case of SCVNGR a challenge that’s engaging.

4. Loyalty

This is one of my favorite parts about geo-social apps. They can provide FREE loyalty and rewards programs for marketers. Set up Foursquare so that once someone checks in x amount of times they receive a free dessert or even a gift card to use the next time they come in. You don’t need any expensive technology to make that work – all you need is a business profile on an app. Not to mention, that built into each app is a sort of competition (I referred to this in my last past), that draws on our innate desire to win.

On Foursquare if you check-in the most times in a certain period of time – you become the mayor of that location. Why not offer your mayor a special seat at the bar, table in the window, or parking spot? Going one step further, marketers can then leverage these loyalty programs via geo-social apps in their advertising and messaging.

5. Advocacy

All of these things combined will contribute to a customer’s desire to become an advocate for your brand. Remember, though, that to make someone an advocate you have to truly follow through with all of your promotions and engage those who are willing to engage with you!

Any other ideas? Check back next week for more on the future of geo-social apps!

Geo-Social: What makes someone check-in?

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Raise your hands if you’ve used Foursquare, Instagram, SCVNGR, Gowalla, or any other geo-social application to check-in to your favorite watering hole. I know I have. One night at one of my favorite pubs, I started chit chatting with some of the regulars about Foursquare. We left the conversation wondering why people care about checking-in, what makes us want to share where we are with other people, other brands, even?

My initial thought was that it probably stems from our desire to share our identities with others (which I explain in more depth in my blog about what makes us go social). After researching a little further I learned that there is much, much more to it than just owning a smartphone (by the way about 35% of US adults own them – wow).

The psychological thought process of checking in on your favorite geo-social application is informed by the psychology surrounding all social networking in general. People like sharing content for two main reasons: to share their social identities and to gain social capital. Checking-in is yet another way for us to preserve and bolster our social identities and social capital.

What’s cool about Foursquare and the other geo-social apps is that they have the ability to turn coordinates on a map into actual places that people can recognize. In doing so they are attaching a social meaning to a location. Naturally, humans want to share this place with their networks to build up their status. A check in at the sold-out concert, hot night spot, or five star restaurant ups our social “street cred” and shows others we’re part of the latest trend.

Okay, so we all know that there’s something about us that just makes us want to share, but there’s something a little different about Foursquare – there’s a competitive element. There’s an almost innate desire to be the “mayor” or to claim territory (I still haven’t become the mayor of my favorite bar). But it’s true. The New York Times wrote a whole article devoted to this “friendly” competition. It describes the “petty and vicious battle over virtual pieces of turf” that geo-social apps enable. Foursquare makes our everyday travels into one big game and taps into our urge to win.

This might be why more men are using these types of apps than women. While women use social media, on a whole, more than men, a man is actually twice as likely to check-in than a woman. Women are also a little more concerned about privacy than men are. For instance, a woman might not want to broadcast her location for fear of putting herself in a bad position.

Hopefully (for marketers, at least) more and more people will start using these types of apps. It’s fun and the possibilities are endless for brand engagement. Our current affinity for these geo-social services have definitely implications for marketers going forward. Come back next week for a little more insight insight into what brands can do with this new trend.

What do you think is the future for these geo-social apps?

Resources:

1. Oliver, Simone. Who Elected me Mayor? I did. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/19/fashion/19foursquare.html
2. E.G. The secret sexism of social media. June 2011. The economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/06/geosocial-networking
3. Atagana, Michelle. Location-based services: The new social currency for teens. September 2011. Memeburn. http://memeburn.com/2011/09/location-based-services-is-the-new-social-currency-for-teens/
4. Zickuhr, Kathryn & Smith, Aaron. 4% of online Americans use location-based services. November 2010. Pew Research Center. https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=1TUTSOC1h1HLg5wv31Y1zfWyBLC2Zhvfi7r7zL9d8C2nXuY5-P8hle7sRtyVr&hl=en_US

5 holiday social media tactics

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Though my carved pumpkin still sits on my window seal, Halloween is over. Now it’s time to start sinking into our chairs and preparing ourselves for the winter. Unlike bears who slumber, we start getting busier (or at least I do). Holiday parties, shopping, flights, longer hours at the office or the store. Our pace starts to accelerate and we, inevitably, overcommit. In general, at least for me, the holidays can become a disruption.

For marketers, this means people are constantly multi-tasking and “zipping” around. So, how do you break through?

By delivering a break. No…I don’t mean adding hours to someone’s clock or making the speed limits higher. I mean providing your customers with things to make their lives easier.

Target and Wal-Mart are all about the layaway this season. Helping people purchase and store elsewhere. Retail stores offer free gift wrapping or free shipping. But how do we apply this concept to our social media strategy?

Here are 5 ways to give your customers/followers a break this holiday season:

  1. Content, content, content. It’s the holidays, what do people want? They want travel tips, recipes, craft ideas, design ideas, present ideas, ideas on how to deal with the in-laws. Use twitter, facebook, your blog, YouTube etc. to provide your followers with relevant information. Or just take them out of their busy lives with some great stories, that are well-written. If it’s a topic that a ton of people are already writing about, be sure to put your spin on it. Check out this collaboration between YouTube and Lowe’s – The YouTube Holiday Solutions Center. Great ideas like help people and helping people, gives them a break!!!
  2. Listening. If there’s anything you should know about social media marketing, it’s that you have to listen to the “groundswell.” Your customers know what kind of deals they’re looking for over the holidays. So why not ask them what they want? Then respond with some sales (even if for a short time) that they asked for. This way you’ll not only generate great word-of-mouth about your brand, but you’ll be known as a brand who cares and actually listens.
  3. Engaging. Along the same lines as listening, you should also be actively engaging your customers this holiday season. Suck them in with great questions, polls, and puzzles. Constantly update and tweet during optimal times of engagement. Be sure to stay active during the holidays even when you yourself are busy. Remember that Facebook became the most visited site in the US, exceeding traffic to Google, on Christmas in 2009. Why is this? Because people are looking for a break from their emails, they’re sharing more photos, they’re looking for deals, and spreading the cheer. So brands must be there and be active to stay engaging.
  4. Fun – Capitalize on the spirit that people have around the holidays. Come up with great contests and giveaways that spread cheer and give people a chance to connect. Start a cool hashtag, tweet fun facts about the holidays that are relevant to your brand. Give people five minutes away from their lives with elaborate social contests and funny games. Remember those dancing elves that people couldn’t stop emailing back and forth, or the snowball fight games? Associate yourself with a games like these and give busy people some fun. If you can’t create your own game, align yourself with a social game that’s already out there by being creative with in-game ads and virtual currency.
  5. Give Back – Around this time of year, people are concerned about the children and people of the world who aren’t as well off as themselves. Give those people a way to help out those in need via your brand. It’s a win/win, because it increases good sentiment around your brand and helps people help people. You’ll learn quickly that partnering with charities is one of the easiest ways to drum up “buzz” around an event or a brand because they already have a huge following and some even have a great social presence of their own. Marketing alongside one of them by creating an event in your store, a tweetup, or special shopping night can help accomplish two goals: Increasing your reach, and helping them raise money. Click here for Four Charities That Rocked Social Media last year.
What are some other ways brands can use social media this holiday season?
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Behind the costume: what makes us go “social”?

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Every year, the leaves become shades of orange, red, and yellow and we start using words like “harvest” and “cool” and…”fall.” We dust off our warm jackets and fluff our scarves. We start decorating our houses, carving pumpkins, and picking out costumes for Halloween.

And then it’s October 31st, and we get all dressed up, eat tons of candy, and walk around pretending to be someone (or something) which we’re not. This tradition, while silly, gives us a chance to show another side of ourselves. Beneath the desire to be ghoulish and festive is the need to expose our identities to others.

You can’t truly understand the American Halloween tradition unless you understand that sometimes people need a license to get spooky and let their inner goblin out. You also can’t truly be a great social marketer, without understanding the reasons why people interact on social networking sites in the first place.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on the “geo-social” trend, and in doing so I started reasoning why people check-in, why they set up profiles, and why they blog. (If you’re a marketer, you’re kind of exempt. I like social networking because it’s fun and I dream of the potential it has for brands and small businesses. So – I can’t really rely on my own reasoning.)

The impetus for the average user, though, is complex and simple at the same time; There are several reasons why we engage on social networking sites, but they’re all simplistic and draw on the principles of basic human nature.

Natural Law philosophers like Aristotle emphasize that man is by nature a social being – “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human.” Social media gives us yet another outlet to be this “social animal.”

But, it’s more than just that. At the heart of it all is our need to expose our identity – to show who we are Maslow’s hierarchy of needs shows us that Self-Actualization and Esteem are both necessary components of a healthy life. To do this we must expose ourselves to our community.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Foursquare, etc. all give us the ability to send signals to others about our selves. Think about it. When we like a brand on Facebook, tweet a link, or even answer a question on Quora, we are helping to establish ourselves as a unique individual.

So what’s this mean for brands and marketers? We need to find a way to help people find a piece of themselves reflected in our brand. We don’t share a link or “Like” a brand to promote that company (again, unless you’re a marketer), rather we share these things because they ultimately say something about our identities.

For instance, one of my favorite social media campaigns since 2007 has been Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project that went hand-in-hand with their pass-it-on emphasizing commercials. When I “Like” their Responsibility Project, I’m telling people that I like the idea of “passing it on,” that I identify with the for community members to look out for one another. And, in doing so, I’m also spreading the word about Liberty Mutual. If I didn’t identify with their message, I would never have liked or shared it.

There are certainly other reasons why people join and engage in social networking and it’s important for marketers to know and understand them all. Check back in the coming weeks for more!

What are some great campaigns that you identify with?

world series 2011 and social media

3 reasons to tune into the MLB World Series & tune up your Social Strategy

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world series 2011 and social mediaTruth be told, I’m not the biggest baseball fan in the world. What I am a fan of is this time of year. The post season, the playoffs, and the MLB World Series.

Tonight, in the heart of St. Louis, the Rangers and the Cardinals go head to head in Game 2. A tight matchup between two great franchises. But, all I can think about is the similarity between the effort it takes for the champion to triumph in 7 games and the effort it takes for a brand to have a successful social media plan. Here are the top three reasons to tune into the MLB series and to tune UP your social strategy in the coming months.

  1. Everyone is tuned in. Though ratings have dropped this year, the World Series is still one of the top-rated broadcasts of the year, pulling in around 14% televisions in use at that time.  Can you imagine the pressure? That same pressure bears down on brands and businesses in terms of social. Almost 800 million people are active on Facebook. Around 145 million people are on Twitter. And over 6 billion people are online worldwide. Think of the expectations. What does this mean for professional baseball players? It means they better not mess up. What does this mean for brands? It means they better not mess up. It’s important to think through a strategy, work as a team, and inject meaning into every swing, plan out every run, and be ready for every pitch.
  2. Stamina. I’ve heard a number of different conjectures about who will win the series. Most think there’s no question that the game will go to the last inning of game 7. This means that our favorite players are charged with being in top physical and mental shape. Why shouldn’t our social strategies be in top shape too? Think long distance with your social strategies. Be ready with a broad enough objective that no matter what the new technology is, you’re prepared to incorporate it in a holistic strategy that accomplishes a single goal.
  3. All or nothing. At this point, either you win the title, or you don’t. There’s no in between. The same is true in the social world; either you get out there, be transparent and be social, or you don’t. To be successful, a brand needs to truly embrace social media and the groundswell. The old advice for companies was to just get in there and start “posting,” but that mentality wont jive today. To gain a following, you must have goals and clear cut strategies to achieve them. Otherwise, the other team wins.
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New Facebook Part 3: Entertainment Zone

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Raise your hand if you stream via Netflix, listen to music on Spotify, or read the Washington Post. Now, raise your hand if you’re busy. Facebook’s new streaming apps are going to give you one central access location for all of your favorite entertainment services.

According to Zuckerberg, “We are making it so you can connect to anything you want. Now you don’t have to like a book, you can just read a book. You don’t have to like a movie; you can just watch a movie.”

Facebook is positioning itself as a destination, where users can record their own history via the new Timeline, share with their friends via the Open Graph, and now users can watch films, listen to music, and read newspapers without leaving the site.

Clearly, Facebook wants us to stay on the site for as long as possible – the longer we stay, the more ads we can click on! Also, Facebook will be capturing vital information about what movies or tv shows its users are discussing, creating a huge opportunity for services like Hulu and Netflix.

But, Zuckerberg has been pretty clear that the goal of the site is to be a “distribution platform” to other media companies and that these apps will help users stay more closely connected to their friends. Once users have opted in to open graph, these new apps will be able to automatically share activity such as viewing, listening and reading in the new “ticker” stream to the right. Now, without ever leaving Facebook, I can listen to what my friend is listening to or cook something my friend is cooking.

So, what are the apps you can look forward to?

  1. Spotify: If you’re not familiar with this, it’s a free music streaming company much like Pandora. With the new app, you can see what your friends are listening to, and hit play to hear their tracks instantly. So let’s introduce music to your social life.
  2. Foodily: This is one of my favorite recipe search engines. Their app gives you a dedicated, real-time feed of the recipes your friends save on the site and allows you to see your friends’ recipe boxes. When you save a recipe, the friend who initially shared the dish is notified.
  3. Kobo: I hadn’t heard of Kobo until the Open Graph (I guess this just shows you the power of the new tool). Kobo is a Borders-backed company that was the first of the major e-readers to add a social element to reading. This app will point out of two friends are reading the same book or post interesting facts about a reader’s activity on his or her wall.
  4. Washington Post: The Washington Post and the Daily, News Corp.’s national digital publication are pioneers for social news and will allow readers to instantly share the stories they find interesting with their friends. I assume many publications will follow.
  5. Netflix: Netflix said subscribers outside the United States will be able to share what they’re watching with friends on Facebook. Now it will be easier to find new television series or movies. Unfortunately the Netflix app won’t be available for the US, because of privacy laws around movie rentals. But, I’m sure another company will figure this out.
  6. Nike+: Facebook is also rolling out “lifestyle” apps that let users share routes they are running, or going to events (Eventbrite). The Nike+ app can show your running route to friends.
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How we can channel Steve Jobs in the social media world

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With my nose in the books last night, I was late to find out that Mr. Steve Jobs passed away. I remember walking home in the cool, fall air thinking how sad it is to lose…well…a genius.

Though Apple is not necessarily associated with social media, I think that the brilliance of Steve Jobs gave impetus to a more connected and intelligent universe. I know that the technology that he gave us and the words he inspired us with coalesce to help us refine not only our “social” lives, but our hard-knock lives as well.

So, I’ve interrupted my series about the new Facebook changes to bring you a few of Steve Jobs’ most famous quotes and how they can help you innovate within the social media realm.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end, because once you get there, you can move mountains.”
-BusinessWeek, 1998

Social strategy doesn’t have to be a Whitman classic. It doesn’t need to be the next Rembrandt. But, what it does need to be is relevant. People (or more specifically your audience), need to be able to not only understand, but to also easily engage with your brand via social media. Each element you add to your strategy adds to the snowball, so it’s important to remember what your original objective actually was. Then make sure that you’re achieving this objective with the simplest strategy and technology possible. Caution: this does not mean to avoid creativity. As Jobs states, “simple can be harder than complex.” Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most creative.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart. … Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
-Stanford University commencement speech, 2005

Always, always be transparent. Be a naked brand. Wake up each morning and really think about how you can engage and connect with your audience that day. Always be your brand and that means to give up control.

“Follow your heart.” What’s the heart of your brand? What do you represent to the general public? Be this. “Stay hungry ” – Don’t ever give up or feel satisfied with the status quo. Always search for ways to trump yourself. This is where the really great social strategy originates.

Steve Jobs & Think Different

Finally, “stay foolish.” Pure genius is not afraid to be different. Though you or your clients might be hesitant to try an “out there” idea, remember that no one ever changed the world without the ability to “think different.”

Thanks to Steve Jobs for inspiring and enabling a generation of us to think differently.

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New Facebook – Part 2: Subscriptions

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Do you remember your first subscription? I’m pretty sure mine was either Highlights or National Geographic Magazines. Fast forward about twenty years. Now I’ve got subscriptions to my google reader and to the digital versions of Food + Wine Magazine. As of last week, we no longer just have the ability to subscribe to published works. Now we can subscribe to people’s status updates too.

Facebook is responding to the praised privacy controls that Google+ has employed by allowing you to have greater control over who gets access to your updates as well as more control over what updates make it to your feed.

With the new subscribe button you have the ability to curate what types of updates you see from each of your friends and how often you see them. According to Facebook’s blog you can chose: All updates (everything your friend posts), Most updates (the amount you’d normally see), or Important updates only (just highlights like a new job or move).

Not only can you chose how often their updates make it to your feed, but you can chose which of their updates you see. Maybe you really don’t want to know that one of your friends just played Farmville and you only want to know when they post pictures. You have the control. These settings are going to be even more important as more “open graph” apps are available and you’ll be updated on what music or movies your friends are listening to or watching.

You also have the ability to subscribe to people who you’re not necessarily friends with so that their updates show up in your feed. This means you could subscribe to celebrities, journalists, political figures or “interesting people” as Facebook calls them.  Do remember, though, that everyone has control over which updates are shared to the public, to their friends etc. If your status update is public, your friends and your subscribers will have access to it. Conversely, you might have friends who you don’t subscribe to so that you don’t see any of their updates.

 

 

Now that the subscribe button has been out for a little while, how do you think it will change your interactions on Facebook?

Click here for Part 1: Timeline format

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hello, Facebook. Nice to meet you. – Part 1

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Have you heard that song by Social Distortion “Story of My Life”?  I’m super excited about the new facebook (rolling out for everyone on Oct. 4). Why am I so stoked? Well, in brief, the new layout of Facebook is going to tell the story of our lives. “Life goes by so fast” don’t you want an easy way to connect with what has happened over the years in a really beautiful format? I know I do. I wanted to introduce the new changes to you in a three week series. Here are the topics, starting with the new timeline format:

  1. Timeline and “Open graph”
  2. Subscriptions (which you’re probably already familiar with)
  3. Entertainment

I’ve already signed up for the new changes so that I can tell you all about it (if you want to start playing with your new facebook profile too, click here). Basically your entire life on facebook will be in a timeline format. All of your photos, updates and experiences with apps will be shared on it in chronological order.

Experiences with apps?

You’ve probably heard the buzz about Facebook’s recent Spotify acquisition. Basically, they will have new “open graph” apps for gaming, movie streaming, music streaming, etc. Every interaction you have these apps will become updates on your new profile. This means that all of your friends will see what you’re currently listening to, playing, or watching. This sharing is extremely passive, so you should be careful which apps you authorize, because once you add them to your timeline, you don’t have to explicitly give it permission to add stuff to your feed, it happens automatically.

More importantly, what does it look like?

1. You’ll get to choose the “central” photo, which spans the entirety of the screen. Gone are the days of the small box in the left-hand corner.

Facebook's new Central Photo

2. Links to see all of your friends, photos, maps, Likes, apps etc. will be just beneath this photo.

Links to your Apps, Likes, Friends, Maps will be below your central picture3. To the extreme right will be an aggregate timeline with years to help you and your friends navigate your timeline.

Links to each year you've been on Facebook are aggregated on the right side of your new Facebook profile

4. Below this will be your Facebook “activity log”.  This includes your latest updates, photo uploads, and top stories. You do have a little control over what’s featured most predominantly. You can click the star to expand a story, or you can click the pencil to hide a post. As you know, you’re able to decide who you want to share each update, photo, post with. You’ll be able to do the same with the new format. You can even add significant events to your timeline, like surgeries and graduations!

However, you might be concerned about posts from the past. Every entry has a drop down menu next to it that lets you filter who can see this item. If you don’t want to go back to the beginning, so to speak, you can manipulate this within your privacy settings. Simply make all previous posts private to your friends or whoever you chose.

Each story on your profile is editable so that you can change who it's shared with and hide/expand.

I really like this new feel, but there’s already been a lot of backlash. Look at this from Facebook’s perspective; they’re a business, they want you on Facebook all day long and they want data…data…data. Keep in mind you’ll be able to add things like when you broke a bone or hit a significant milestone. Think how much you’ll be giving them with this new timeline. This is GOLD for advertisers.

Click here for Part 2: Subscriptions.

My Recipe for Content Strategy

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Last night, I made my favorite side dish: carolina slaw. It’s a red slaw made with apple cider vinegar, NO MAYONNAISE, hot sauce, cabbage, and a few other things. But the deliciousness of this slaw is not the point of this post. The point is that I don’t have an exact recipe.

I like it that way. There’s something about the fluidity of the process that makes it evolve and get better each time. In my experience content strategy should be somewhat the same. Businesses should have a handle on the right ingredients to use, but they shouldn’t be so precise that it impedes them from actually talking in real time.

Create a loose approach to content strategy by understanding yourself and your followers (ingredients). Here’s how:

First, you have to know who you are. Figure out your brands voices and then stick to them. With every story you tell, every URL you retweet and every video you post, you should also think about how it reflects your brand. Along with this authenticity comes credibility and right down the street is authority. Just like I know the five or six ingredients in my slaw, you should know your the adjectives that make up your brand’s identity and let those inform your approach to conversation and content.

On par with learning your brand’s voice is learning the voice of your followers. While my slaw always has the same components, I mix it a little differently depending on who I’m making it for (most kids can’t handle red pepper flake and hot sauce). To steal a quote from Rosenbaum, the king of content curation, “the web will get exponentially nosier.” This means that in order to stand out, you have to not only listen to your audience, but you also need to respond and collaborate with them (immediately). When I find out my slaw is a little to spicy, I make it differently the very next time. You have to make your content valuable, just like I need to make my slaw tasty.

To do this you have to know who your audience is. Follow those who follow you. Be personable. The whole point of these social networking sites is to continue conversations. No one wants to be talked at, they want to be talked with.

Use google trends to keep content currentBe relevant, today. Monitor all your social networks to see who’s there and what they’re talking about. Pay attention to google trends to help you stay current.

Finally, be helpful. Be there as an outlet for your audience. Get them to complain to you instead of their friends. No business wants a page full of negative comments, but if you have them you’ll learn a lot about what you need to improve. You also get the chance to respond to them and, hopefully, solve their problem. I’d rather someone critique my spicy side dish to me, than blabber to all their friends about it. That way I have the chance to show them that I can make it better.

There are other elements to content strategy, but these are its core. The point is that it’s all about giving yourself the chance to be immediate and fluid, so that you’re constantly hitting the right chord with your audience.

For the rest of my slaw ingredients, comment below!

Top Social Media Resources for #Back2School

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Labor day has come and gone. Leaves are starting to turn. Backpacks are all the rage. #Back2school is here. It’s the time for new folders, iPads of paper, and a breath of the crisp, fall air. The last long breath until the craze of the tests and papers is upon us.

Maybe you’re not headed to class, but you’re definitely headed to the busy side of life, much farther away from Cape Code or the Hamptons than you’d prefer. Take advantage of this time of inhalation by refreshing your resources. Spending a few days in the coming weeks to discover new social media news outlets will go a long way toward ensuring that your social policies and strategies are not only on par with others in your industry, but that they’re also successful and innovative.

Here are my top resources for news in the social realm to get you started:

  1. Mashable.com – Duh! This source is a no brainer. Not only do they post news almost as it happens, but they also have a really creative approach to presenting information; they use videos and beautiful infographics that aggregate information super efficiently.
  2. Believe it or not I visit Techcrunch.com at least once a day. You can go straight to techcrunch.com/social, but you’d be missing out on some really great information bout mobile advances and new “techy” items that most definitely have an impact on the social media world.
  3. Oftentimes I find btobonline.com to have really excellent articles and reports about the way businesses are using social. They also provide a bunch of “how-to” articles for beginners. The design isn’t as fresh as the previous two, but it’s a stable resource that I refer to weekly.
  4. Allfacebook.com/mediabistro.com are real data-driven resources. One of my favorite elements of All Facebook is that it has a special tab dedicated to ranking the top Facebook applications. This is super helpful for those of you who are always looking for new ways to present information etc. on Facebook (it even has a list of the worst apps so you can see what to stay away from!). Beyond apps, it also shows you the stats of the top Facebook pages and the fastest growing pages, which can shed some light on what the top strategies and trends are that day.
  5. Last, but not even close to least: Sign up to receive Smartbrief for on Social Media. It’s delivered weekly to your inbox, so there’s no work involved at all. It aggregates useful research articles, commentary on trends in the industry, social media case studies…you name it. It’s one of the most efficient ways to stay informed.

And don’t forget twitter. I have a stream devoted to searching for all tweets that include #social. But there are some really great accounts out there to follow, but that’s an entirely different post.

What are some of your favorite #social resources?

September 1st & 5 Keys to Successful Social Strategy

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September. It’s September. The summer is almost over and, here in Boston, the weather is slowly transitioning. As the sun came up this morning, I shyly peeked out of my bedroom window to enjoy one of the few summer mornings left. But, instead of a beautiful landscape of trees, I saw U-HAULs, old pick-up trucks, and tons of furniture lined up around the block. Stay off the roads everyone, it’s moving day.

It got me thinking about what makes moving days hard. The simple answer: lack of planning. There will always be those who pack everything in tight boxes with labels, stacked neatly at the front door ready to go. And then there are those who put things in piles, loosely thrown into bags and remade boxes. Those who have no idea where things will go – throwing kitchenware in with cosmetics. I’ve been there and it makes moving a pain in the you-know-what.

How do you avoid this? With strategy. Coming up with a plan with how things should be loaded and unloaded, being prepared for the “first”, and not being afraid to re-evaluate when you’re unable to get everything packed into the truck. The same applies to social.

5 elements of strategy you should employ to be successful in the social realm:

  1. Figure out who’s helping. How many people will you have moving boxes and unpacking content? Resources make a huge difference. If it’s just you – the timeline might be longer. Great ideas need the proper follow-through, just like a lot of boxes need a lot of people or a lot of time.
  2. Game plan. What’s the easiest way to move, what are the optimal truck routes, how can you avoid being stuck in traffic? Make a broad strategy statement and goal for your social program. Then brainstorm tons of ideas that will help accomplish that goal. Research what others in your category have done and where you have the space to be different. This will be your social game plan.
  3.  Schedule. What time will you start, when are you picking up the truck, who’s unpacking what? Knowing all of these things increases efficiency. Once you have a game plan, you can build a calendar that incorporates your great ideas with the resources at hand so you’ll know when blog posts can be published, when your contests will get the most traction and what content makes sense now verses a few months from now.
  4. Move! Start packing, employ your plan, use your movers. The next step is to follow your schedule day by day. Start engaging your followers.
  5. Finally, re-evaluate. If it starts to rain on moving day, you might need to change your plan. In the social realm, it’s important to pour over every bit of analytics you’re afforded. If you’re not steadily moving towards your goal, you’ll need to try to find out what’s happening. Are you posting at a bad time of day? Is your tone off for your followers? Is your content just not that engaging? Is the barrier to entry for your contest to high? Check your interaction levels constantly and change your game plan accordingly.

Happy moving!

5 lessons from my social-illiterate dad about social marketing

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It’s no secret that sometimes my dad wasn’t my favorite when I was littler. He always had something to say or a reaction I was less than thrilled with. But as I’ve grown older, I find myself leaning on my dad’s advice. It’s advice that is applicable to various aspects of my life, but especially so in the social world.

1. Don’t just listen. Actively Listen.
Just like it wasn’t enough for me to sit on the couch and listen to my dad’s feedback, It’s also not enough to monitor Facebook fans or twitter followers. What’s more valuable for brands is listening and responding. I needed to prove to my dad that I actually heard him.  Whether that means tweeting back a nice comment or question or posting another comment in a Facebook stream, brands must interact in order to engage.

2. It’s all about value.
Value yourself. Value family. Value property. It was never the wrapper left on the floor that upset my father. It was the fact that I didn’t value the house or the people in it enough to put it in the trash. The same is true for brands. It’s not enough to engage your community, a brand needs to value its community and fans, giving them content and opportunities to enhance their lives. Perceptions of a brand directly stem from what that brand openly values. In Naked Pizza’s case, all of its followers know it values good health. We know that Coke values happiness. This shapes the way we interact with them.

3. Own up to your mistakes.
And never lie. We all do things we regret. My dad always emphasized the process of cleaning up the aftermath. Fix it. When you take some paint off the wall, don’t just cover it up with some genius 7-year-old artwork, tell somebody. Then work together to patch it up. Sometimes there’s only one person in a company managing its whole social identity. If you’re that person, don’t get bogged down when you misfire. Define what it is you did incorrectly, then find a way to patch it up in real time. This usually includes getting some ideas from your colleagues. They may not be “social aficionados” but they know the brand and what it stands for.

4. Hustle.
My dad is the hardest worker I know. He literally never stops and he never stops pushing me either. He is one of those dads who yells on the sidelines and won’t stop until he knows I’m truly sweating. Supremely annoying at the time. In the social cloud, you have to hustle to give your brand a presence. You have to constantly review your analytics and refine your posting times and content. If it’s not working, you need to go back to the drawing board with your strategy, do it with vigor. Don’t stop until your customers are engaged.

5. Have Fun.
Take your time and be passionate about what you do. Every summer my dad plants a new garden, there’ssomething to plant or pick or till every night. Then he harvests everything and makes amazing canned goods. You see nothing but excitement in his eyes when he says he’s “going down to the garden”. Social Media Marketing is somewhat new. It’s exciting. Keep up with the trends and have fun. It’s not weird that you love hashtags or bit.ly’s or Hootsuite. It’s that passion that helps you make a brand relevant and fun to follow.

Not old, but unique

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Moving makes us consolidate. Makes us dream of functionality and design. It makes us envision color palettes and perfect accents. In short, it makes us reconsider our current lot. While traversing the neverending terrain at Ikea today, I noticed what seemed to be the perfect bedroom set. I was awed by its sleek design and in five minutes was very close to saying “Towanda” and replacing all of my old, shabby furniture with crisp corners and perfect organization.

But, something felt wrong. I couldn’t stop thinking about the bedroom I’ve already built for myself. Completely confused I decided to leave sans yellow bag. Though I left without a purchase, I didn’t leave without a concept. Social media has companies and brands “reconsidering their lot.” Instead of thinking of how to incorporate the best aspects of their brands into a more integrated offline and online shop, some consider changing their core. They’re too busy oohing and awing at beautiful Facebook pages to think about their page strategically.

Brands that have been around for a while, have spent real time, energy, and paint creating and maintaining their voice. They, like me, have some handcrafted furniture that’s been well-kept for years making it unique, not old. And now, all of a sudden, the move to social means it’s time to toss all of this hard work on the side of the road.

Like there’s no real equation to work off of when designing a room, there isn’t exactly a set of commandments to help brands go social. What’s important is to remember what’s at the center of your brand’s voice(s). Remembering what your customers or your fans come to you for. Take your “old furniture” and translate it to social. This may mean reforming some parts of the brand that already exist. For instance, blending your age-old product knowledge, with a more modern way of communicating it.

What are some of your favorite old meets new combinations?