Archives For facebook

google-plus-logoFor the month of July, I’ll shift my social media time to Google Plus. I don’t want to call this an experiment because I’m not going to try to prove anything. However, I do want to learn something from this experience and discoveries I make about the network and myself.  I say myself, because I’ll be quitting Twitter and Facebook for that month as well.  My messages on those networks will read something like:

On Google Plus for a Month.  Connect with me there, or email me or pick up the phone and call me.

As Twitter and Facebook being one of my main sources of breaking news, latest headlines and articles, I curious to see if I’m able to keep up without skipping a beat on Google Plus.

My primary motivation to focus my attention on Google Plus for a month is because it is a great social network, but I have somehow neglected it. I feel the need to learn more about it, explore opportunities to learn something new and expand my circles.

Click here to connect with me on Google+.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few years, chances are you read and subscribe to a blog or two.  If you run a business, you’ve probably heard or perhaps even been advised by some young whipper-snapper at your company to start a corporate blog. Maybe you did some research or consulted with your peers, but still aren’t fully convinced starting a company blog is worth your time and resources.  Perhaps you’ll change your mind when you consider the following reasons to start a corporate blog:

Blogging Improves Your SEO

Google and other search engines love new and fresh content.  If you’re a static brochure-like site with only a handful of pages it will be hard, even impossible, for you to reach the ranks and search results you desire.  By blogging, you’re adding more pages for search engines to index, increasing the number of keywords you’ll be found for and drive more new visitors to the site everyday.

Educate Your Customers So That You Could Focus on Sales and Service

These days, we do most of our research online.  Even if we get a recommendation from a friend, we will inevitably go online afterwards to find more information.  Educate your customers when they visit your site so that when they call you for an appointment, you could focus on sales and service.  I am not talking about boasting about your product and how it will blow the competition out of the water.  Ignore the urge to mention your products in every single post. For example, if you sell Espresso machines, you can teach your customers about different types of coffee, how to remove coffee stains, etc.

Blogging Helps Build Trust

Let’s face it, we’re more comfortable doing business with those who we know and trust. On his blog, Dave Fleet commented on the issue of blogs as trust builders:

Blogs don’t build trust. Genuine people, writing like themselves rather than machines, writing useful, authentic content rather than just messages, build trust.

I couldn’t agree more.  Creating a blog will not instantly make the public trust you.  Like building trust in the real world, you need to show genuine interest in connecting with your audience, be genuinely helpful, transparent and honest.  Be human and help me relate to you. And blogging is one of the best online platforms to help you do this.

Start and Lead the Conversation

Would you rather be on the sidelines or in the game?  Blogging provides you with a unique online opportunity to start conversations.  By writing compelling content you can start conversations and attract an audience from around the world, not just your neighbourhood.

Your Competitors are Blogging

I absolutely despise using this as a reason to blog.  But I can’t stress it enough, your competitors are doing it! And I bet, if they are doing it right, they are generating more online traction than your company.  But don’t fret, if your competitors are doing it, you can do it better.  Google wasn’t the first to do Search, they just did it better.  Same thing with Apple, they weren’t the first to do mp3s, they also just did it better.

Your Online Hub

Forget about facebook or Google+ branded pages as your online hub.  Your blog must be the hub of all your online activities. Tie all your other social networks to it. This is where you’re going to direct your audience to, this is where you’ll connect with them, share your expertise with and build trust with them.  And if you do it right, they will become your customers and ambassadors. You have more control over what happens on your blog than any other online social network.  From design to content to where the conversation with your audience goes.

Display Your Talents

Use the blog to display your team’s talent and expertise. Your audience wants to know what you do and what you’re good at.  If you’re a new kid on the block, use blogging to showcase your talented team and their skills.  And you don’t even have to stick to work related skills.  Maybe you got an avid mountain climber, or a cyclist.  Celebrate their successes and stories on your blog.  Not only will this humanize your company, but also help others relate to you. And one of the first things we learn in Sales 101, “People buy from People Who Are Like Them.”

Lead Generation

Lead generation is the sum of all reasons above. It all helps you generate leads, and at a lower cost. According to Hubspot’s State of Inbound Marketing 2010 Report many businesses recognize the value in blogs and social media.  It is evident in the share of their marketing budgets and % of leads inbound marketing generates.

It’s 2012, does your boss still think Social Media is a fad?  It has never been more urgent to convince him or her otherwise; because the longer you wait the more catching up you’ll have to do.  According to research by Ad-ology:

Just ten percent [small businesses] say they will not use social media in 2012, down from 24 percent for 2011 and 39 percent for 2010.

This is in line with other studies and surveys.  An email provider, Constant Contact, surveyed nearly 2000 small businesses. In their  Fall 2011 Attitudes and Outlooks Survey, they reported that:

Small businesses are using social media marketing more than ever before; of those surveyed, 81% report using social media marketing, up from 73% in Spring 2011

These studies indicate a significant shift to digital as many more decision-makers and business owners embrace social media and mobile.  So, how do you convince your boss to embrace the social media?

Show the Case Studies

Find a handful of case studies of companies using Social Media successfully.  ‘Successful’ use of social media could mean many different things to different people.  Some are only interested in ROI, some will care only about how active the audience is, and others will only think about how Social Media is helping their SEO strategy.  Whatever the case may be, find case studies that fall in line as closely as possible to what your boss cares about.  Look for cases studies that can relate to your company as well.  Size, geography, industry, and so on.  Your boss will need to relate to them.

Keep an Eye on the Competition

If you need to, present a case study of your top competitor.  If your competitors are using social media to dominate the online networks, show your boss what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Show the Data

There’s an abundance of online resources, research, studies and surveys that illustrate how social media is increasingly being integrated into our daily lives.  There are studies focused on SMB’s as well as on the users themselves.  Look for studies that represent your customer base.  Not only show how many of your customers are using social media, but also how they are using it.  Are they spending more time on Twitter or Facebook?  Do they turn to social media for purchase advice? And so on.  Make your boss see the light by focusing on how this data changes over time.

Use Real-Time Examples

Let’s say your company sells organic toothpaste.  Perform a search on Twitter using Tweetdeck (or a similar app) to pull live search results.  As you can see there are a lot of people talking about toothpaste, but no one is talking about your 100% certified organic toothpaste.  Wouldn’t you want to join the conversation or even lead it?  Wouldn’t you want to educate your potential customers about your toothpaste?  Wouldn’t you want to create compelling content that drives traffic to you?  There are a number of approaches you can take here.  I’m just tossing out some ideas.  Show examples of companies delivering live customer service, take a look at @Mailchimp or @Freshbooks.  You can even go ahead with personal examples that you feel have the potential to illustrate the effectiveness of Social Media.  Maybe your network responded to your request asking for restaurant suggestions or you grew your mailing list by 10 fold by creating compelling content?

Bring In the Experts

Still trying to convince your boss?  Try bringing in some industry experts.  If the budget doesn’t allow for a professional speaker, there are a number of firms that specialize in online marketing and social media.  Bring in these experts, for lunch and learn or even for a sales pitch.  Don’t be threatened.  The experts will only add credibility to what you’ve been trying to pioneer in your company.  Sometimes it just takes an outside voice to nudge the scales in your favour.

Show the Results

Last but not least, show the results.  Maybe you got the green-light to run a pilot project, or just been moonlighting on your own.  You need to be able to show your boss some kind of tangible results.  Maybe you generated additional leads at lower cost, perhaps you built a mailing list, or pushed your company to the top of Google’s search results?  Whatever it is, you need to prove that it works.

As you’ve probably heard, Facebook is experiencing some kind of bug that is affecting brand page post impressions.  As you can imagine, some brands are growing frustrated as there’s hardly anything being done about it.  It’s been a month now, and no resolution in sight.  It is almost on monthly basis now, Facebook manages to anger and annoy either its users, app developers or the advertisers.

I started drafting this blog post soon after the Roger Ebert fanpage going down story broke. So the urgency to publish it, couldn’t be greater.  The marketers who solely rely on Facebook as their primary marketing channel and brands that use it as their central online hub for all their online activity are about to get a rude awakening.  As relying solely on Facebook can and will bring your marketing and social media engagement efforts to its knees.

This is not an anti-Facebook post, but rather a cautionary article.  Yes, facebook should be part of your marketing mix, yes you should connect with fans on facebook and you should use it to help build your company, product and/or brand awareness, but don’t make it your online hub.  There are a number of reasons to approach Facebook with a plan B in your back-pocket.

Terms of Service

Facebook’s Terms of Use (ToU) aka Terms of Service (ToS) is mess.  Seems like Zuckerberg and his legal team never know what to put in.  And when they do update the Terms, they seemed to be in a need of always hoping to clarify some parts. Why don’t they just make it clear in the first place? I understand that ToU evolve over time, but Facebook never seems to get it right.  I can’t even think of any other company that had to make so many ammendmends and backtracks on new changes to their ToU in such a short time.  Backlash and petitions are well documented.

Too Much Control

Just when you think you have a solid business model and a common place to connect with your audience, Facebook can simply pull the plug on anything at a whims notice, if any at all.  The common denominator is mostly because something doesn’t fit Facebook’s mantra (read: draconian terms of use), or their business model. So, putting all your eggs into one basket (read: facebook) will have a detrimental effect on the survival of your business, as was the case with Blue Noodle. A Toronto based company that ‘helps casual social game publishers monetize in-game advertising.’ Most of their efforts were focused on the Facebook platform. An anonymous Blue Noodle employee was quoted on a CNN Fortune blog article Investor immorality: The strange case of Blue Noodle :

“All seemed okay until January, when Facebook announced that game publishers would be required to use Facebook Credits as their exclusive currency. We had put most of our eggs into the Facebook basket, and that was like a shot through the heart,” says a former Blue Noodle employee who requested anonymity. “There wasn’t really a Plan B.”

Blue Noodle is partly to blame as well, but this incident illustrates the type of effect Facebook changes can have on 3rd party developers’ and partners’ business models.

Furthermore, facebook has a history of shutting down popular fanpages, groups and profiles.  In addition to Roger Ebert’s page going down mentioned earlier, they also shutdown a fan page for Realtors which had over 47,000 fans, and Robert Scoble’s profile in 2008. Facebook can give you all the tools you need  to connect with your audience and marketing insights you need carry out effective campaigns. But at the end of the day they ultimately have the final say if you get to use those tools or not.

Lack of Customer Support

If your profile is disabled, fanpage goes down or app isn’t working, how are you going to get help?  Is there a number to call? No! For a company with such a large base of developers and high-spend advertisers, you’d assume there would be a better way of getting instant help.  But there isn’t.  Some users take their questions and frustrations to Twitter where in some cases it generates so much buzz that Facebook reps are forced to respond immediately.

No Respect For Users’ Privacy

Facebook is locked in constant battle with users over its privacy controls.  One of the most annoying and frustrating things most users find with Facebook, is the default position of ‘opt-in’ to being set to ON whenever they introduce a new feature.  More recently, Facebook introduced a face recognition feature which groups similar faces together to make tagging of your friends easier.  This angered and annoyed many users as the feature was ‘on’ by default without users’ knowledge.  A history of disrespect for users’ privacy has led the lawmakers to ask Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to probe Facebook. If Facebook’s leadership has no respect for their users’ privacy what do they have to ensure you trust them with your brand?

Unethical Business Practices

This post is full of examples of Facebook’s bad behavior, but the incident involving Facebook paying off a PR firm to smear Google takes the cake. These kinds of tactics are usually reserved for dying, spineless and desperate companies.  Is Facebook really that insecure about Google’s latest attempt at ‘social networking’ with Google+?

Spam and Phishing

Spam and Phishing is nothing new.  As the users shift their time spent on internet to Facebook, so do the spammers and scammers. These illegal activities come in different forms. Some are disguised as legitimate applications, others are just links or fan pages.  Spammers and phishers can quickly hijack latest craze, event or even a brand, and disguise it as a legitimate app or a fan page.  If Facebook scammers can exploit Steve Jobs’ death and take advantage of naive and unassuming Facebook users, what’s there to stop them from hijacking your brand?

To conclude, there is absolutely nothing wrong with using Facebook as a marketing channel and a place to connect with your customers, fans and followers.  However, I would be wary of treating it as the only online marketing channel and a central hub of all your online activity.  Instead, you need diversify and setup a hub of all your activity elsewhere.  A place where you have more control and that connects to your other online properties, including your Facebook fanpage.

Not all social networks were and are created equal, or with the same intended purpose.  Some intend to help you stay connected with friends and family, some focus on your business life, some help you explore and share online content and others are everything in between.  But they all do the same thing, help you stay connected to people in your life, hence the name social networks.  When I meet someone for the first time, they are often surprised that I am part of so many social networks. So the most common question I hear is How do you use all these networks, don’t they all do the same thing? Here’s my answer:

Facebook

I use it to stay connected to close friends and family.  I never accept invites from people I don’t know.  In order for me to connect with you on Facebook we would have had to meet in real life.  I don’t share much content on here as I used to.  If I wasn’t in marketing, I’d probably close my account.

LinkedIn

This is where I stay connected to my professional and business contacts.  LinkedIn also serves as my live resume.  I am more likely to connect on LinkedIn than on Facebook.  However, I only connect with current and former colleagues, classmates, thought leaders, like-minded individuals, people I’ve done some kind of business transaction with, and sometimes for strictly networking purposes.  I tend to share content that is relevant to my contacts, my industry and career.

Twitter

The bulk of my social networking/social media activity happens on here.  It’s very easy to get a pulse on what is happening in your neighbourhood, your city or the world.  Very easy to connect with me as my profile and twitter stream are public.  I tend to follow back if you seem interesting, have a real name in your profile and are a conversationalist.  I broadcast almost everything and anything on here. See for yourself @andreipetrik

Stumbleupon

One of my favourite sites and web discovery tools.  I use it mostly for web discovery than it’s social networking functionalities. It’s a highly addictive service that helps you discover online content that you wouldn’t have thought of looking for on your own.  It also serves as my social bookmarking site.  Check out my discoveries.

YouTube and Vimeo

I am not very active on these two sites as much as when I was doing video and film work.  If you find my profile, feel free to connect, but if you send me a message through YouTube or Vimeo don’t expect a quick response.  I watch the videos, but almost never subscribe to channels or participate in comment sections.

Slideshare, Goodreads and Flickr

These three services are used to bookmark, favourite and keep track of content I find interesting.  I never use their social networking functionalities.

Foursquare

This is a location based social network that allows you to check-in to various locations to earn rewards, meet friends and discover other places around you. I am not actively building my network on here,  as I have already connected with friends, colleagues and followers from existing networks.  Useful to check out local deals nearby.

Google+

It’s a new network, launched in Summer of 2011.  My usage is slightly increasing every week.  One day I hope it replaces Facebook. At the moment I’m in the network building phase, and ever so often I’ll share some content. Follow me on Google+

Quora

Quora is a Q&A site with built in social networking functionalities.  In addition to connecting to my existing following, I also use to connect to thought leaders and experts.  Whenever I seek outside expert advice, tips and opinion is this my one and only go to Q&A site.  LinkedIn has same functionality built into their service as well.

Tumblr

A blogging platform, stuck somewhere between Twitter and WordPress. Although I am not a frequent user, I do love this service.  I have created an account, which one day I hope to put to a better use.  This is one of the (social networks) accounts I created strictly to expand my digital marketing knowledge and experience.  And to that point, I have a number of other social network accounts.  Created them simply to explore, and expand my knowledge and expertise of the digital marketing space.

Most recent upgrades to LinkedIn’s developer’s platform and implementation of social features over the past year prompted everyone to speculate that LinkedIn is taking on Facebook head-on. If you google ‘Facebook vs LinkedIn’ the search yields almost 23 million results.  Most results aim to answer which is better. Which is better for business, which is a better social networking, and so on.  Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges.  Yes, both are social networks, both have high usage rates and both have millions of members, but both networks serve two different purposes.

Facebook is more of a personal social network, whereas LinkedIn bills it self as a professional social network, and it is.  Instead of trying to pry members away from each other, both should be focusing on improving user experience and adding value to their current offering. Whether they like or not, most if not all users will not use either network exclusively. Check out my previous post on how I use social networks.

Almost 78% of Canadians have access to the Internet and this number will only grow as more people gain access, broadband speeds improve and population grows.  Many things that we used to do offline 10 years ago can now be done online via our computers or mobile phones.  You can look up a business, watch a movie, shop, order pizza and even get a personal trainer to workout with you without ever having her visit you.  As many more businesses build their online presence the more crowded the digital space will get.  Differentiating yourself online from the shop down the street will be even more difficult.  Having a static website or a listing in an online directory will not be enough.  Small businesses need to go beyond that.  One of the ways small businesses can stand out is to take advantage of free online social media tools and platforms.  Seems like many small business are moving in that direction, but I haven’t seen any significant online presence from these 5 businesses.

  1. Local Business Improvement Area

    The whole purpose of BIAs is to support and promote businesses in the community and stimulate local economy.  Sure most have static websites, which are only updated when a new member joins or a major event is going on.  How about developing a digital strategy that involves actually connecting with the community, whether via Twitter or FaceBook or a simple eNewsletter.  How about providing regular updates on not just major events, but maybe special sales local businesses are running?  How about allowing local businesses share success stories?  How about profiling each business using video?  How about keeping an up-to date photo gallery?  The list goes on and there are so many opportunities here.

  2. Auto-mechanics

    I don’t know what I dislike more: going to a mechanic or doing my taxes.  I know mechanics work hard and do a dirty job, but they do carry a reputation that we’re all too familiar with; everything from questionable pricing to unnecessary repairs. I think it would be earth shattering if one mechanic just started blogging and connecting with with his community. He or she can share honest tips and advice on how to keep your car running longer, how to avoid price gauging or even take questions from site visitors. Or maybe even share cool projects they are working on, like car restorations. The opportunity here is huge because no one is really doing it. So, the first one to take advantage will come out a winner.

  3. Local Gyms

    This category is my favorite, not only because I am a part-time trainer but also because there’s so much gym owners and managers can do with social media and digital marketing. Individual fitness professionals are all over social media, but gyms lack social media presence. However, they do have the opportunity to harness the knowledge and expertise of people they employ. In addition to personal trainers, most commercial gyms employ massage therapists and/or a nutritionists, why not have those professionals contribute content as well? How about acknowledging accomplishments of their members and making them champions? How about workout videos? And so on. The possibilities are endless.

  4. Lawn Care Professionals

    These professionals have an arsenal of tips, tricks and good advice of how to keep your lawn and garden in a top shape. Like mechanics they can also capitalize on the opportunity of connecting with their site visitors, FaceBook Page fans and Twitter followers in so many different ways. From answering questions to sharing their work. For this industry, I would bet that before and after photos and videos would work really well. This type of content spreads fast.

  5. Local Grocers and Delis

    Small grocery stores and delicatessens can benefit from utilizing social media. Once again, there aren’t many using social media or considered digital marketing as part of their strategy to attract new customers. Their business depends on a specific demographic and marketing by word of mouth. If you’re the first East-European deli, for example, to get your business online and take advantage of all that social media offers, the digital space in this niche is your to secure. Besides announcing weekly specials, these family run businesses can educate their site visitors about different types of sausages and kielbasas, share traditional recipes and announce when rare products arrive.

The opportunity is clear. These 5 types of businesses can easily take advantage of readily available, free or low cost social media tools to attract new customers and build trust. Not only that, but these businesses have a lot of room to carve a spot for themselves in the digital space and become experts in their industry. All they have to do is share their expertise.

The very first thing you learn when you step your foot into a marketing class is the Marketing Mix aka 4 Ps of Marketing: Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  These four elements are also part of overall marketing strategy and represent the decisions that need to be made in order to fit the needs and preferences of a specific target market.  This post isn’t about explaining what a marketing mix is, but rather me suggesting to add another element, another P, a 5th P of marketing: Presence.

Traditional Decisions

Product related decisions involve everything from the its name to the packaging. Pricing decisions involve everything from setting MSRP to deciding whether to give volume discounts to whether include the item in bundles. Place decisions include how the item is distrubuted, who will carry it, what market will have it and so on. And Promotion invovles deciding how the product or service will be promoted.  Will it be via print media, tv and radio, experiential marketing or an integrated approach?

New Decisions

Presence. Marketers are now faced with new challenges and new decisions.  They need to decide what kind of online presence they want their product, brand or service to have.  Will it just live on Twitter as a broadcaster of product updates or deliver customer support or both? Or will it be on FaceBook, run contests and share valuable information?  Will it be easily accessible via mobile device?  And I can only image the types of other decisions will need to be made as the new technologies and forms of communications emerge.  Now and in the future marketers will need to think beyond the traditional marketing mix in order to survive and stay relevant.

Why Chrome Will Eat The Fox

Use Facebook Ads to Find Your Next Job

8 Marketing Lessons from Heavy Metal

10 Reasons New Users Leave Social Network Soon After Joining

Applying Principles of Persuasion to Build a Killer Brand

With an upcoming release of the 4th installment of Terminator movie franchise, Terminator Salvation is stepping up its online viral campaign. Terminator Salvation infiltrates a number of online properties and deploys various web marketing tactics to spread the word, promote and generate buzz about the upcoming movie which lands in theatres starting May 22, 2009.

Terminator Salvation Poster

Official Warner Bros. Terminator Salvation Website
has information about the film, latest trailers, desktop wallpapers, photo galleries and more.  Tribute.ca has also created its own version of Warner Bros. site.  Official Sony Pictures Terminator Salvation Website contains similar content and links as Warner Bros. site, except Sony site looks and feel much different. Terminator fans can also play Terminator Salvation Game online against other human fans.  Choose a side (Resistence or Skynet) and eliminate your opponents.

Skynet Research is a viral marketing website. The ‘official’ website of fictional company that originally developed robotics technology to improve the lives of humans but in the future it becomes self-aware and wages war on humans with its army of Terminators. The goal of this site is to engage Terminator fans by way of user generated content. Fans can submit their robot designs and videos.  Skynet Research also has a Facebook Fan page.  Another component of the viral campaign is anti-skynet movement located at resistorbeterminated.com Fans can join the resistence here, engage in community forums and learn tactics.

Terminateyourself.com is another viral marketing website. On this site users can submit pictures (mug shots) of themselves; then images can be altered to look like damaged Terminators. Users can share the results with friends or use the picture as a profile image on social networks.

Terminator Salvation is also present on popular social networks.  On Flickr, Skynet Research account showcases user generated robot designs submitted to Skynet.  Youtube also showcases user generated videos submitted to Skynet Research. Show your love for the movie by becoming an official fan on Facebook Terminator Salvation page. And finally, fans can follow Terminator Salvation on Twitter.