Friday, September 30, 2011

Online Gamers Make Great Online Shoppers

The idea that online gamers might be more receptive to online seems like common sense to me. After all, they are more likely to purchase items online and likely more comfortable navigating a virtual landscape. Online advertising to a gamer is like a billboard along the highway to a trucker: It's just part of the scenery and nothing to be afraid of.

The next step fr marketers is to find a way to target their adds in front of the most receptive gaming audience. Demographic reports of the online gaming community show that as a whole, the average of the online gamer is increasing; more adults than ever before, both male and female, are turning to online gaming for entertainment. They till virtual farmland, build virtual cities and fight virtual battles. No matter what your particular interest there is likely a virtual gaming environment devoted to it.

For now, it seems like a good idea to get your ads in front of online gamers in way you possibly can. Eventually I expect there to be more targeted methods for reaching just the specific online gamer demographic that suits your market.

Overall, social gamers buy more than expected. For example, 32% say shopping makes them happy, 7% would use real money to purchase a virtual item not for the game, 14% have used real money to purchase virtual currency, 13% use a branded virtual good, and 18% paid to play a game or get items in a game.

On average, gamers spend $42.70 on in-game items or virtual currency. A quarter of the survey participants report buying virtual currency at least once weekly, and 55% would rather earn virtual currency than purchase items with real money.

When it comes to ads in games, 45% are open to viewing in-game ads to earn virtual currency, 42% are more motivated to play a social game that offers real-world rewards, like a coupon or gift card, and 41% will review the game or spread the word through their social network page to earn virtual currency.


Click here to read more about the buying habits of online gamers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

(You Can) Drive Traffic To Your Web Site

Building a web site is only the first step, and some say the easiest step, when it comes to generating online traffic. Just because you create a destination doesn't mean people will flock to it. In fact, with millions upon millions of web sites to choose from, your web site will languish in anonymity if you don't have a plan to bring it the attention it deserves.

With all the attention being paid to social media marketing these days some folks have completely forgotten the importance of search engine optimization. SEO is still a crucial tool for generating web site traffic. If you expect web surfers to find your web site based on their interests then you need your site to be well placed in search results.

Making best use of SEO means having a good grasp of the message your web site is trying to get across and who you are trying to reach. Making good use of keywords people use to search for your topic is also a good idea. Google has a great set of keyword search tools that can help you accomplish this.

Once your site is set-up, design looks good and SEO is in place, then you can start using social media sites like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube to help drive even more traffic.

In the end it is not the destination which makes for a successful web site--it is the path you build to it that really matters.

Check outside links

As part of optimization of content, a company needs to look at “inbound links,” which are created whenever another site links to the company’s site. These types of links can improve page rankings for a site, but they can also be detrimental if the links are from disreputable sources. Flint recommends that executives take some time to follow search engine results and look at where links to the company lead. In some cases, it can be wise to request that other sites take those links down.

Conversely, encouraging other sites to link to your page can have a beneficial effect. Links can come in all forms, such as linking to the company site from a press release that appears on a news service, or including the company page link whenever an employee posts a comment on a blog or other site.

Consider paid search

Another option for increasing search results is to pay for it — often called “sponsored search.” These are the listings on the top and side of Google and other search engines, and companies pay on a per-click basis. These accounts can be set up through services like Google AdWords and Microsoft adCenter.

Click here to get more traffic tips from Finance-Commerce.com.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Listen To Your Social Media Network With TrendingTarget

Porter Novelli is aiming to further enhance the social media toolbox by adding a social media listening tool called TrendingTarget that will track social media conversations around a specific audience rather than specific keywords.

Unlike with a keyword search, TrendingTarget finds your audience for you and then lets you know what terms they are using to talk about you. This is a completely different approach from a keyword search which requires you to know what words they are using to discuss your brand (or company, or topic).

TrendingTarget is not the first system designed to try to give users a snapshot of what is being said about them via social network sites but it is the first to take a different approach to the method. For now it only works with Twitter, but the company says they intend to expand its reach in the coming months. (Facebook would seem like a better source going forward, but perhaps there are more obstacles to overcome when dealing with Facebook than Twitter.)

If you want to see a sample of how TrendingTarget works you can check it out at MomTrending.com.


“What’s powerful about an audience-first approach is that you don’t have to guide the tool; instead, the tool guides you,” said Gary Stockman, CEO of Porter Novelli. “In keyword search you have to anticipate what the audience is talking about: your product, brand, your competitor’s product, your competitor’s brand. You wind up with these exhaustive lists of keywords. Unfortunately, if you haven’t anticipated what the audience might be talking about, you might not hear what they’re saying.”

By listening to the full range of an audience’s conversations, he said, you not only know when they’re talking about your company, but you also know when they’re talking about a competitor or interesting trends that might help you make inroads for future online conversations or marketing campaigns.

Israel Mirsky, the company’s evp of emerging media and technology, declined to disclose specifics (the so-called “special sauce”) on how they identify the people who comprise the key consumers groups. But he said they used publicly available information in people’s profiles and online posts to assemble an initial list and then vetted the list to make sure spammers and other low-quality accounts were not included.

But TrendingTarget is entering an already crowded field, with companies like Radian6, Bluefin Labs, and Crimson Hexagon promising to glean consumer insights from social signals. According to TechCrunch's Crunchbase, more than 40 startups are tagged with "social media monitoring."


Click here to read the entire AdWeek story about TrendingTarget.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Facebook Timeline: Just What Users Want or Too Much?

Facebook has added a new feature that could make it or break it for them in the race against Google+. Timeline will make it even easier for users to stalk one another on Facebook.

Timeline keeps everything documented that a user has done since signing up with Facebook. Want to know everything that another user did on Facebook on April 6, 2008? Timeline makes that easy.

A handful of users have been granted access to Timeline already. Facebook will be making it available to all users in coming weeks. Reviews so far have been mixed as to whether or not Timeline is worth it.

Timeline looks really great, but will users see the lack of privacy as a downfall? A move like Timeline could make it for Facebook, but with mixed reviews already, Facebook could be making it easier for users to start using Google+ more.

Facebook has risked alienating users with Timeline, the company's new user interface that surfaces users' histories online at a time when some of their most important legacy information is buried behind tons of older information posts.

As the UI name suggests, Timeline begins by showing photos of users, from oldest to newest. Newest information is presented in a Ticker on profile page, which will provide "stories" about games that users have played, movies they've watched from Netflix, and music they've listened to from Spotify.

Users who see this application activity in their friends' Tickers can click to enjoy the same application services. The News Feed will remain a valuable source for relevant information about a users' friends.
Click here to read more about Timeline and its potential effect on users.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Jason Falls Cuts Through The Social Media BullSh@!

Erik Deckers and Jason Falls know a few things about social media and marketing. In fact, the co-authors of No Bulls**t Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing have decades of experience between them as professional bloggers and marketers, so it's no wonder they wrote the book on the subject.

Both Falls and Deckers are big fans of taking the mystery out of social media and focusing on tactics which are both above board and effective.

Unfortunately there are thousands of so-called social media managers out there who would prefer to keep their clients in the dark about social media so they are free to over charge for under-performing.

Fortunately we have guys like Falls and Deckers to keep their industry honest and help anyone interested in learning more about the effective solutions offered by social media marketing.

How do you know if you’re using social media incorrectly? What are the signs?

If you’re not meeting your goals, or more specifically, if you’re treading water and hearing nothing but crickets chirping from your audience. Whether it’s producing content, pushing coupons or deals or soliciting feedback from an audience, if you’re not getting interaction, downloads, comments, transactions, etc., then you’re not doing it well enough. It may not be wrong … just not compelling. Companies that are making progress in their social activities are seeing comments, interactions, responses and the like. But they are also seeing business metrics moved … downloads, registrations, issues resolved, purchases.

There’s a lot of hype with social media. Do you feel that it lives up to the hype? Why or why not?

It all depends on what your hype is. If you think social media will save your business or suddenly drive tons of people to love you, you’re going to be disappointed. Social media is a tool or channel. If your product or service sucks, it won’t save you. If you think social media is a fun and interesting new way to connect with customers, build relationships and serve your audience, you’ll probably not be disappointed.


Click here to read the rest of Falls' interview with Forbes.com.

Yet Another Facebook Rumor Spreads Across Users

It seems like many users are always posting warnings to all of their friends about Facebook charging its users. With all of the changes being made to Facebook at this time, it is understandable while some users might believe the information.

Sources everywhere are assuring Facebook fiends that they will not be charged for the Facebook services anytime soon. They make plenty off of advertising to the 800 millions users they have.

The chain letter claiming Facebook will begin charging this year alleges that the site must charge its users a fee to pay for the new profile design.

The phony warning reads thus:

IT IS OFFICIAL. IT WAS EVEN ON THE NEWS. FACEBOOK WILL START CHARGING DUE TO THE NEW PROFILE CHANGES. IF YOU COPY THIS ON YOUR WALL YOUR ICON WILL TURN BLUE AND FACEBOOK WILL BE FREE FOR YOU. PLEASE PASS THIS MESSAGE ON, IF NOT YOUR ACCOUNT WILL BE DELETED IF YOU DO NOT PAY
Click here to read the rest of the article and see a slideshow about 9 common Facebook scams.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Social Media Does Not Replace SEO

It seems everyone's attention is being directed at the marketing potential of social media. While it's true that social media marketing is an excellent tool; it provides an already sizeable and growing audience; and costs almost nothing to participate in, it is not the only online marketing option available that has a low price tag.

You might remember a little thing known as search engine optimization. SEO was once the big dog on the block when it came to leveraging the marketing potential of the internet. For the most part all that is required to make good use of SEO is to insert well-placed keywords into your web content. Keywords relevant to a specific search term are more likely to attract visitors.

Lately more and more people have turned their backs on SEO completely in order to pursue social media marketing campaigns. But this is a huge mistake. SEO is no less important now than it was two years ago. In fact, considering that more and more people are being drawn online by their combined interest in joining the abundance of social media services, overall use of the Internet is increasing, making Search Engine Optimization more important than ever.

Like social media marketing, SEO doesn't need to be expensive. Anyone can do a fairly decent job of optimizing their web site by doing a simple keyword search and inserting terms which are specific to their product or services. Or, hire a social media marketing professional to help you optimize your web site for search.

But whatever you do, don't ignore Search Engine Optimization altogether, or you'll be missing a potentially large slice of the Internet pie.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Social Media Superstar Hacked? Maybe-Maybe Not

Mark Davidson is considered by many to be a social media superstar. Following a series of Tweets posted last night this may or may not be true.

Someone claiming to be one of four ghostwriters for Davidson posted several unflattering Tweets to his account, at one point admonishing him, "(You should have changed your password!)"

It is possible that the Tweets were indeed posted by a disgruntled employee. It is also possible that the entire event is a publicity stunt concocted by Davidson as a lesson for his many Followers. If it's the latter, kudos to Davidson for his creativity!

If it's the former, well, he might just learn a lesson himself.

The Internet can be a wild and weird place, especially when one's accounts aren't kept safe. Overnight, Mark Davidson, a self-described "Internet sales & marketing professional," had his Twitter taken over by someone purporting to be "one of three people who have been ghostwriting @markdavidson's tweets for the last 4 years while he is out playing golf." Davidson, who has a presence on every social network known to man, boasts nearly 56,000 Twitter followers. But that's not Davidson's doing, according to the mystery ghostwriter, who claims to have been fired yesterday. Online revenge has a large audience, at least.

"Right now @markdavidson is probably asleep," the vigilante tweeted from Davidson's account in the middle of the night. "He isn't that nice and he is cheap. I regret not quitting." It went on: "He can barely type social media much less know what it is." The scorned employee admitted to being "drunk and angry," not to mention underpaid. "Good luck, bro," the ornery imposter added before signing off for the night. "And change your freakin' password!"


Click here to read the entire article.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tout Is Like Twitter For Video

'Survivor' fans have no doubt heard of the latest social media network, Tout, simply because host Jeff Probst has been using it answer fan questions and tease the new season of the show.

In fact, Probst is probably the highest profile user of new short-video service, but not its only celebrity. Shaq, Mitt Romney, ESPNFantasy and even The CW network are already posting their 15 second videos.

Tout works very much like a video version of Twitter. Users create an account, shoot a 15 second video of themselves (there's handy countdown clock so you know when time is up) then post it through the Tout network or through Facebook and Twitter. Tout also lets you upload videos you have posted to YouTube, which is great because right now it's only available for people with Apple devices.

If you're looking for the next big thing in social media, video seems to be the right direction. And Tout is definitely the next big thing in video.

Making social networking more interactive, Tout, can be used in combination with Facebook and Twitter to create short video Status Updates, captured from your smart phone. Tout’s mission is to deliver a more enhanced, face-to face social experience by sharing “life as is happens” in full color, sound and motion! Tout is a marriage between Twitter (which has a 140 character limit) and YouTube (the video sharing component). This networking outlet connects friends, family and people in a new and exciting way through a 15 second video that records, shares and saves life’s moments. This social media tool can be used for marketing and business purposes or as a way to connect with your network when promoting a social cause of campaign. So next time when you want to connect with your network and share your experiences simply…..TOUT IT!



Click here to learn more about Tout.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Social Media Marketing Is A Moving Target

If there is one truism about social media marketing it is this: the landscape is always changing.
What you know today about social media marketing will likely become obsolete within six months. This is because the nature of social media is to be constantly changing and evolving to suit the ever-chagning whims of the end user.

This is nothing new. As a species human beings are never satisfied. Because we are all different we all have different needs. We want different things. Social media is constantly changing in an effort to meet this wide variety of needs and wants.

The key to successful social media marketing is not to master the tools of social media, after all Facebook may be big today, but not so long ago MySpace was the social media behemoth to beat. Instead, focus on the essence of social media which is developing relationship marketing techniques that utilize as many tools as you can manage.


7 Social Media Facts You Need Now
Here are seven recent social media research findings and what they mean for your marketing plans.
  1. Want to find me online? Try social media. Social media networks and blogs account for more than one out of every five minutes spent online. The top three areas where Americans spend their time online are social media and blogs (22.5 percent), online games (9.8 percent), and email (7.6 percent) according to Nielsen data. Further, four out of five active Internet users have visited a social media network or blog. What this means for marketers: Social media must be must be integrated into your marketing strategies to reach your audience. You actually need to listen and participate, not just give lip service to social media.
  2. Don't rule me out based on age. Roughly two-thirds of online adults use social media networks describing their experience in positive terms according to Pew Internet and American Life Project. Usage among older segments has increased.

Click here to get the rest of the list.

Social Media Reaches More Than Young Generations

Young generations are commonly known as what dominates the social media websites. A recent Pew Research study showed a new generation up and coming in the social media world.

Between 2008 and 2010, the amount of social networking sites users decreased by around 10 percent for the age groups of 18-22 and 23-35. During the same time period, the amount of social networking sites users in the 50-65 age range rose from 9 percent to 20 percent.

The survey also shows that Facebook dominates the rest of social networking sites by a landslide. For those thinking that reaching people through Facebook for business is a waste of time, it may be time to think again.

The number of those using social networking sites has nearly doubled since 2008 and the population of SNS users has gotten older.

In this Pew Internet Project sample, 79% of American adults said they used the internet and nearly half of adults (47%), or 59% of internet users, say they use at least one of SNS. This is close to double the 26% of adults (34% of internet users) who used a SNS in 2008. Among other things, this means the average age of adult-SNS users has shifted from 33 in 2008 to 38 in 2010. Over half of all adult SNS users are now over the age of 35. Some 56% of SNS users now are female.

Facebook dominates the SNS space in this survey: 92% of SNS users are on Facebook; 29% use MySpace, 18% used LinkedIn and 13% use Twitter.

There is considerable variance in the way people use various social networking sites: 52% of Facebook users and 33% of Twitter users engage with the platform daily, while only 7% of MySpace and 6% of LinkedIn users do the same.


Check out the rest of the Pew Research survey by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mix Social Media Marketing and Email Marketing For Best Results

Despite social media gaining popularity over email, a combination of the two for marketing is ideal, according to Constant Contact, Inc. The theory makes sense because whoever is marketing would then be reaching out to two different demographics constantly or reaching heavy users of both social media and email twice as hard.

The article cites the average click-through rate to be almost 60 percent more click-throughs when using both social media and email than those who market through email alone. With people converting to using only social media to get people's attention towards business, this isn't the time to forget those who still rely on email.

"Small businesses are always asking us, 'Email marketing or social media marketing? Which is the best use of my time and resources?' In fact, it's not either/or; it's both. Use email to communicate with your current customers and social media to reach new customers," said Rick Jensen, chief sales and marketing officer for Constant Contact. "What's the best way to use both? We've created a playbook to help our customers get started and be successful with email and social -- fast. We already know our email marketing provides superior results, and we're so confident that this combination will deliver even more success that we're guaranteeing results."

Effective immediately, small businesses and nonprofits that sign up with Constant Contact can take advantage of the company's new satisfaction guarantee, which provides a full refund after 30 days if they are not 100 percent satisfied with their results; no questions asked. Getting started with Constant Contact has never been easier or more risk-free. Small organizations can get started using email and social media marketing with the company's signature free 60-day trial, the new 30-day money back guarantee, or a combination of both.


Click here to read the entire article.

Marketing Yourself : A Guide To Your Mystery Shopping Business

No Mystery Anymore: A No Frills Guide to Mystery Shopping by Lisa Donahoo (May 25, 2011) - Kindle eBook
Owning your own business is a dream for many of us. However, knowing which business to pursue and finding the resources to make that dream a reality leaves many people stuck at the starting post. A great tool for those looking to start up a mystery shopping business is the new Kindle eBook by Lisa Donahoo 'No Mystery Anymore: A No Frills Guide to Mystery Shopping.'
The No Frills Guide is with you every step of the way in the planning of your new venture, giving great advice from the legal bits and finding jobs to marketing yourself.
With this guide under your belt, you are one step closer to being your own boss and having the successful business you've always dreamed of.

Nielsen Ratings Are In (For Social Media)

Once upon a time Nielsen ratings were reserved for televisions sweeps week. Now that television is fast becoming "yesterday's dominant medium" Nielsen company has had the good sense to move on to the current "dominant medium."
Namely, social media.

These new ratings are good news for social media (Facebook in particular) and good news for Nielsen. By offering a ratings service for social media Nielsen has sudden re-invented its business model and made itself relevant.
Good move, Nielsen.

As I perused the ratings information what struck me as interesting was the fact although Facebook saw the most visitors for the month of May, Blogger had the second highest number of visits.

There is a wealth of information regarding social media usage by Americans in the new Nielsen report and you can bet savvy social media mavens (like us) will be all over it...

Indeed, among the top 10 online user categories, social networking and blogs accounted for 22.5% of users’ time, followed by online video games at 9.8%, email (7.6%), portals (4.5%), video or movies (4.4%), search (4%), instant messages (3.3%), software updates (3.2%), classifieds or auctions (2.9%), and news and current events (2.6%).


The time users remain online (35.1%) was spearheaded by myriad activities and topics, including multi-category entertainment options, adult entertainment, sports, corporate information, schools, banking, educational resources and such.


The dominance of Facebook underscores why studios are embracing the site for catalog movie rentals — despite the fact that few visitors’ watch and rent movies online compared with other activities.


Notably, 97% of social media is accessed from the PC, while 37% also is accessed from a smartphone. Gaming consoles and the Apple iPad lag way behind at 3% each. Other options include Internet-enabled TVs (2%), e-readers (2%) and portable music players (1%).


The most popular activity on portable devices is music downloading while social networking is valued higher at 30% compared to 26% for music. The most valued portable feature is GPS at 56%.


Visitors spent 53.5 billion minutes on Facebook in May, compared to just 12.5 billion minutes on Google (not YouTube). Yahoo generated 17.2 billion user minutes and YouTube (9.1 billion minutes). Others destinations included AOL (11.4 billion minutes), MSN/Bing (9.5 billion minutes) Ebay (4.5 billion minutes), EA (4.3 billion minutes), Apple (4.3 billion minutes) and Microsoft (3.4 billion minutes).

Click here to read more of the above article or click here to access the complete Nielsen report.





Monday, September 12, 2011

Posterous Enters Social Media Fray

Just when you thought it was easy to create a social media presence the playing field bursts wide open.

Posterous is introducing its new social media network called "Posterous Spaces."

Last week Amazon.com made it clear they were preparing to enter the social media landscape, even going as far as tweaking the software for its Kindle devices to play social media games and hiring an army of social media game developers to get content.

Yahoo! has also hinted it would be sticking a toe into the social media network waters, though they have been less clear what that mean.

Google+ is still gaining steam; Facebook and Twitter remain the giants in social media, but now Posterous has waded into the pool. In the past couple years Posterous has made a name for itself as an easy-to-use micro-blogging site. It has developed a network of users who have been furiously creating blogs full of multi-media content. The fact they are expanding their service to include more social media features is simply an expansion of their existing service. No doubt users of the service will be the first to adopt the new social media network.

Much like Amazon.com Posterous has a built-in bevy of users who are keen to the mciro-blogging service already and are devoted to it. this gives them an edge on others entering the social media landscape, but whether or not Posterous Spaces will lure users of other networks away remains to be seen.

"Social networks are now embedded into our daily routine, but it's harder to control who sees what you share online and it's forcing us to share less than we'd like. As a result, mainstream private sharing is still stuck in the inbox(1)," says Sachin Agarwal, founder and CEO of Posterous. "Posterous Spaces brings intuitive and two-way private sharing to the Internet, across all devices, making it as simple as possible for groups of people to share their lives together."

Introducing Posterous Spaces:

Full Control Over Whom You Share With: Posterous Spaces simplifies the sharing process with intuitive and easy to expand privacy settings and posting options. It is clear to everyone involved who is part of each Space, enabling two-way sharing between multiple people to flow naturally. People can manage multiple Spaces from one dashboard with full control over who can see each post. Each post can be shared with a select few or broadcast widely with auto-posting to 26 services including Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, YouTube and others.

Permanent and Customizable: Rather than posting to a fast-moving stream where you can blink and miss a special moment, Posterous Spaces provides a permanent archive of all posts including photos in high-resolution -- for everyone in your Space to enjoy and re-visit forever. Everyone can make their Space their own by customizing its look and feel and even link it to their own domain for free.


Click here to read the entire press release on Posterous Spaces.





Saturday, September 10, 2011

Social Media and the 'Power of The Force'

The Mets will try anything for a win--and to make their fans happy when they don't win.
Which is exactly why they are turning to Star Wars and social media to drum up business.

Well, 'Star Wars Night' is one thing and selling tickets on Groupon is quite another.

But, at least they are putting an effort into getting butts into seats at Citifield. If winning games won't d it (and they have actually been winning games) social media probably will.

The night will "celebrate" the September 16 release of the nine-disc Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray, which has enraged many fans for its revisions. Darth Vader, Jedi and Stormtroopers will be at the stadium, fans are encouraged to dress up as Star Wars characters, there will be Star Wars trivia, and fans will get a commemorative t-shirt and a $5 donation to Stand Up To Cancer.

But wait! There's more! Besides Star Wars night, the Mets have been further branching out into social media...by selling tickets on Groupon. Metsgrrl was gravely disappointed, calling it "just about as far rock bottom as you can get."

But we have faith in Star Wars night, because if R.A. Dickey says it's "legit" and "fun," how can we argue? He poses with Darth Vader, names his bats after Tolkien references, and takes the train with plebs—we'd follow Dickey to the heights of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Click here to read the entire article about the Mets' plan.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Social Media Marketing For Small Business: The Price Is Right!

When it comes to marketing most of the upfront money goes right out the window.

And advertisement in your local newspaper is likely to bring a less than 1% return; nobody uses a phone book anymore, but most of us still buy and ad for our business; and television and radio charge exorbitant rates for negligible returns (at best.)

So what's a small owner to do? Try social media.

For the most part, running an effective social media campaign can be done for nothing. Free. Nada. Gratis.

Yes, you need a plan and there is an investment of time, but considering all the tools are free and simple to use, this doesn't have to break the bank. Everything else about the effectiveness of social media marketing has more to do with the content you are putting out there then the dollars you are spending.

This means any returns you see from your investment in social media marketing are practically 100%. Much better than the rates for most traditional marketing methods.

And when it comes to getting started with social media marketing, plenty of (free) help is available, like this post by Drea Prentiss: "Managing Social Media Marketing from Scratch."

Driving home the importance of social media marketing to small business owners has proven to be a challenge to its champions. Although the number of small businesses that regularly market through social networks has increased over the years, only about 50% set aside any time and money, and only 12% consider it a must, according to a recent Hiscox survey.

You may be one of the enlightened few, however, who see the abundance of business development opportunities in the virtual social interaction frontier, especially when there’s less competition there compared to other marketplaces. If so, then you’re likely looking for ways to better manage your social media marketing activities. Like any marketing campaign, it can be a disappointing vacuum if it’s not done right. So here are 10 tips for small business owners that will help them get the most value out of social media:
1. Meet potential customers where they are most comfortable – Before spending a lot of time on a variety of social media channels, develop a profile (if you haven’t already) of your customers’ social media comfort levels and most frequently used sites or online tools.

Start by looking at the age group, gender, career, and other demographics, as well as the social media activity, of your best customers. If you don’t already, ask customers for their email addresses, Facebook profile names, Twitter addresses, LinkedIn profiles, etc. so that you can include them in the fun. Consider sending out a quick email survey to your mailing list to ask readers about their social media activities.

If you don’t have a lot of information with which to work, research typical social media behavior for these groups (Internet marketing consultant Roy Morejon provides many helpful statistics.)

Gathering deeper knowledge about your prospects’ online behavior can focus your efforts to get the maximum effect, and it helps you judge how much time you should dedicate to social media marketing.

Click here to read the rest of Prentiss' post.





Thursday, September 8, 2011

Social Media Success Story: Virgin America

When it comes to successful use and integration of social media marketing nobody beats Virgin America.

Given that the company is located in Silicon Valley and started operations in 2007 it seems only logical they would have a good grasp of the importance of social media. But this alone is not enough to explain why they have done such a damn good job putting social media tools to use in their company.

I believe it is their willingness to try new things and their unwillingness to accept the status quo. Virgin is nothing if not cutting edge. When Sir Richard Branson started his airline most everyone else was predicting the end of commercial airlines as we knew them.
Branson believed the problems had more to do with the people who led those companies being unwilling to innovate.

It seems he still feels the same way.

Check out this article by Lauren Drell, "Flying Social: How Virgin America’s First-Class Marketing Fuels Brand Awareness" to learn more about Virgin's social media success:

In May 2009, Virgin America became the first airline to offer Wi-Fi fleetwide, in addition to outlets near every seat, so you can actually get work done on a cross-country flight without your laptop dying.

“A lot of our first support was from the tech community, and everything has stemmed from that,” Lunardini adds. In fact, the airline partnered with Klout last year to provide free flights to Twitter influencers, people who were bound to share their Virgin America experiences with their social networks.

Virgin’s proximity to tech giants like Google and Twitter has enabled the airline to forge strong partnerships within the tech space. These partnerships allowed the airline to team up with Google to offer free inflight Wi-Fi over the holidays, and to partner with Twitter for Promoted Tweets, as discussed below.

Aside from its location, though, part of the brand’s success is that, like other Virgin companies, the brand voice is cheeky, sassy and irreverent — a welcome change for passengers who are used to the grind of air travel. “In everything we do, we try to maintain that enthusiasm and tone,” says Jill Fletcher, who manages the content calendar and makes sure the brand is consistently active across all social media platforms.

Click here to read the rest of Drell's article.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Donald Trump Uses Social Media, You Should Too

Need more proof social media is an effective business tool? Mark Hunter wrote an interesting article, "Donald Trump's Use of Social Media Helps Him Negotiate" which shows how Trump uses social media not just to make connections, but to promote his businesses and his brand.

Trump is nothing if not a shameless self-promoter. Thanks to his self-promotional efforts, however, he reaps huge rewards.

Imitation is not only the sincerest form of flattery. It is also a great way to avoid mistakes others have made and get busy being successful. But don't take my word for it.Just ask Donald Trump.

Negotiations are won or lost in two critical areas. The first is the period of time leading up to the start of the negotiations, when both parties are preparing to negotiate. The second is at the end, when the two parties are working out the details of the negotiation.

With regard to social media, I am not an advocate of conducting business negotiations in public. The reason I feel this way is because it is important throughout the negotiation process to maintain respect and integrity for everyone involved. This can be very hard to ensure if stuff is being thrown around for others to read and see. This is the reason I say the best use of social media in negotiations is before the negotiations even begin.

Using social media before negotiations begin allows you to establish the context of who you are and what your expected outcome might be. Best example of this is......Donald Trump. He uses social media tools and the media in general to let everyone know who and what he is.

Trump's goal is to make his brand known, and his brand really is himself. He wants his brand to appear favorable. He does this by coming across as a shrewd businessperson, and he uses social media to further this persona. On the one hand, this gives him an upper hand in any negotiations. On the other hand it also alerts everyone who might be planning to do business with him that he most likely is going to be very tough.

Click here to read the rest of Hunter's article.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Maximizing Marketing Automation

Consumers have automation fatigue. As a business owner, you understand the value in customers that choose, follow and interact. Those are the ones that want your services. There are a plethora of tools available to boost your numbers with fake followers and friends, but choosing and utilizing automation tools wisely is the smartest step toward paying customers.

Social networks, search engines and online resources have all created new challenges for business-to-business marketers. Prospects do more research on their own, and it’s not always easy to know how to reach them.

So how do you adapt to the changing landscape, in order to engage and nurture potential customers more effectively?

Here are five areas that B2B marketers should be paying careful attention to and selecting their marketing automation tools accordingly.
Click here to read more