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Archive for November, 2010

twitter logo with bird

Social media platforms have always encountered some resistance by users when they implement advertising, but as users we understand that ‘free’ tools cannot remain ‘free’ forever.

Now usually, we, the users, can get onboard with advertising when it follows two rules (1) the advertising is discreet and (2) we are given full disclosure i.e. we know it’s an advertisement.

Google has Google Ads running along the right-hand margin of search results, and in a different coloured box at the top of the search results, clearly labeled ‘sponsored link’.

Google Ad Screen Shot

Facebook introduced ads in a similar fashion with them displaying along the right-hand margin of the page as well.

Twitter however, has broached advertising a little differently, with ad-sponsored Tweets.

There has been a reasonable amount of controversy surrounding this since 3rd party companies such as Ad.ly started and now Twitter has its own official advertising using ‘promoted’ tweets. There has been a lot of talk about how ads in a Tweeter’s stream could dilute their authority and there has been many a discussion surrounding both this, and the idea that a user, with enough followers, could monetize their Twitter stream.

However, my concern is that ads in Twitter don’t always look like ads. Unlike other platforms, ads here are integrated into my information stream, and although some are clearly labeled ‘promoted’ and some have the word ‘ad’ in the tweet, it still seems to me that it would be easy to miss, at least to begin with.

Ad.ly advertises itself as a Celebrity Micro Endorsement Platform and has over 5,000 celebrities and 150 brands on its books.

ad.ly website

And while some of the ads seem to be marked ‘ad’

ad.ly tweet ad - nina dobrev

Some are harder to spot

ad.ly tweet ad - brian norgard

It seems to me that advertising on Twitter is currently a little murkier than elsewhere, and perhaps is too discreet. The big problem is that these promoted tweets are being pushed into our stream along with everything else, not off to one margin, and so while some companies have seen success by using ‘promoted’ tweets, I wonder how scalable these successes are? Promoted tweets are still pretty new, and so the current benefits are probably not going to last forever, and it will be the early adopters who reap the rewards.

Once everyone jumps on the bandwagon will the click through rate remain as high? Will we get suspicious of those we follow thinking everything they tweet might be an ad? Or might we be so overloaded by ads in our twitter feed that we leave Twitter altogether?

What do you think? Do you mind seeing celebrity endorsed tweets? Have you used promoted tweets?


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Little Girl Holding A Thank You Sign

When I was young, my mom used to always say this to me before I visited a friend’s house . . . Don’t forget to say thank you. It was ingrained into our heads as kids and yet as adults we can forget this most basic lesson, especially when it comes to business.

 

This is my first autumn in the US and hence my first Thanksgiving holiday, and while there seems to be a lot of discussion about the rights and wrongs of this particular holiday, I feel if you boil it down to the simple act of giving thanks, and having a specific day to remind us to do it, there’s nothing wrong with that. Taking a moment, however brief, to give thanks for the good things in our lives is not only a lovely thing to do, but a healthy action, as I can only imagine that thinking about the positive aspects of our lives must have some psychological benefits.

 

We all like to be thanked when we do something for someone else – it makes us feel good and appreciated. Many businesses use the Friday after Thanksgiving (referred to as Black Friday) to have big blow out sales – a way to thank their customers and kick-start the holiday shopping. However, these sales are fairly self-serving.

 

Tracy Anderson, a dancer turned fitness guru famous for her endless list of celebrity clients, yesterday sent out a video to her mailing list. It was a 10 minute video which started with a message from Tracy telling everyone to enjoy themselves for Thanksgiving and enjoy their food, that there was no point in depriving themselves and going to bed feeling dissatisfied, and that Thanksgiving was only one day. Tracy then introduced her LA team of fitness instructors and tells her viewers that this video includes a new quick workout routine created with Thanksgiving in mind, to help offset all the lovely food that is consumed, it is her Thanksgiving present to all her followers.

 

What struck me about this Social Media marketing campaign was how it combined:

  1. Seasonal marketing
  2. Client appreciation
  3. Valuable content.

Tracy really hit a home run with this video. She takes advantage of Thanksgiving to send out a timely message. She is showing her clients how much she appreciates them and their support by giving them a free routine. And, she is providing valuable content, as her clients and followers will be thinking about how to balance their fitness and diet routines with enjoying the holidays, so this content is perfect for her target market.

 

Inkling Media recently published a post on how all businesses should try to follow the seasons with their Social Media campaigns. I agree completely and would push businesses to consider, on this day of Thanks, how they can show their customers just how much they are appreciated.

 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

PS

Here’s my thank you to you for reading … a hilarious blog post about moving home with dogs … I laughed so hard there might have been tears!

 

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Man Preventing Entry

 

Most people will say no, of course not, that they would never turn away business, never mind loyal business … but it is something we see more often than we should.

 

People who connect with your business, for one reason or another, are a powerful way to grow your business, through their positive word of mouth, and yet, time and again, we see businesses shoot that gift horse in the mouth.

 

A few blocks from where I live is a Thai Bar & Restaurant. They have large, flat screen tvs, international flags, sporting paraphenalia and $2 beer. As you can expect, this set up attracts plenty of people looking to watch sports games while having some good food and cheap beer. They were doing a roaring trade during the last few weeks of the Baseball World Series, which the San Francisco Giants eventually won. But, for some reason, instead of imbracing the hoards of people who came to watch the games and spend (lots) of money, signs were put up saying “Please don’t call us a sports bar“. This seems crazy to me. They had gained a loyal audience willing to spend money and instead of embracing them (and owning up to the fact that they had in fact created a sports bar environment) they shut down that avenue and were reprimanding people for calling them a sports bar. This when most other premises were desperately trying to attract half the kind of crowds that the Thai place had succeeded in attracting.

 

In 2006 we saw a similar situation with the champagne Cristal. Cristal had become popular among the rapper community and the champagne was frequently referenced in music videos. Instead of Cristal embracing this loyal following (and the amazing publicity they were being offered!) they turned their back on it. Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer, the company behind Cristal said in an interview “what can we do? We can’t forbid people from buying it. I’m sure Dom Perignon or Krug would be delighted to have their business.” This resulted in a boycott of the brand, organised by Jay Z. It seems crazy that a brand would deliberately want to prevent people from spending money on their product. At the end of the day don’t all businesses want to sell their product?

 

So, I’ll ask again … would you turn away loyal business?

 

I hope not. But perhaps you should check who your customers are … and maybe you aren’t trying to dictate what your customers can call you, and maybe you aren’t forbidding certain customers from purchasing your products … but if you aren’t embracing your customers, and rewarding them for their loyalty, then maybe you need to think about ways you could.

 

Bottom line … without customers we’re all out of business, and in this economy who can afford that?

 

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Man on Phone, Woman looking on sad

 

Once upon a time when a man and a women met and fell in love they got married, bought a house, had children and then the man met another women and would have some fun with her too … so says history (and Mad Men).

Now however, things are a little more complicated. Now we live in a world of varying degrees of cheating, from full-blown affairs to ‘emotional’ cheating. It seems that technology has changed our lives in many ways, and not just by making it easier to connect with our customers.

In 2005 the new way of cheating became ‘sexting’ (it even got it’s own Wikipedia page) and there were several high-profile cases covered in the media, the most recent being Eva Longoria and Tony Parker’s marraige breakdown.

However, it seems that cheating has now found a new outlet – social media.

Jason Manford, presenter of the BBC’s The One Show in the UK, has resigned after admitting that he had gone too far flirting with people online. Apparently ‘it all happened on tour’ (doesn’t it always?) and involved both Skype and Twitter. Manford has said “We would start off flirty…there were moments I thought ‘I shouldn’t be saying that’”.

Manford’s flirting via Twitter and Skype, like sexting, does not involve physical cheating the way a ‘tradtiional’ affair would, but is viewed as cheating all the same.

So, as social media makes it easier for us to promote and grow our businesses, and keep in touch with family across the globe, it also seems to be making it easier for some to be unfaithful.

Communication technology is wonderful, but as with all technology, in the wrong hands it can all go very badly wrong.

But one has to consider … ‘traditional’ affairs were conducted behind closed doors in hotel rooms, sexting is conducted on private phones …. social media is conducted in a public forum (!) … not very discreet now is it?

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So on Monday I opened iTunes on my laptop to be greeted with the words Tomorrow is just another day. That you’ll never forget. Check back here tomorrow for an exciting announcement from iTunes.

 

itunes announcement

 

And it is Apple right? So if they’re getting us all jazzed up for an announcement it’s got to be good. Speculation was rife, both online and in my apartment, about what the announcement could be – would it be an iTunes cloud? apps for Apple TV? social media plugins? Oh my god they’re going to link up with Facebook seeing as Ping isn’t going well! etc. etc.

 

So the moment comes and … erm … the Beatles are on iTunes? … that’s it? … is that really THAT exciting? … do we care? and not even that … this has been going on for YEARS  and mainstream media had already reported the agreement had been reached in advance of yesterday’s announcement, so it wasn’t even new information.

 

I for one was certainly not expecting the “BIG” announcement to be about the Beatles music.

 

The Beatles. Now on iTunes

 

And I wasn’t the only one; there was a lot of activitity on Twitter to the same affect, with tweets such as Oh My God! Music that has been available for 40 years is… available!!!! from @DannyZuker and I can now buy music from the Beatles!? If this was the fifties I’d be excited. from @colmr.

 

It was not a day we are never going to forget.

 

And, the larger issue is, not only did people feel massively let down by the so-called “big” announcement, but as a result Apple has now lost some of it’s credibility. People expect Apple to make a big deal about an announcement when there should be a big deal made about an announcement, and only then.

 

Maybe it was a big deal for Apple given how long it’s taken, but as customers we just weren’t that excited, and now, next time Apple has a big announcement I don’t think people are going to get as excited.

 

Apple didn’t deliver for people and that is going to hurt them for the next time.

 

Take home message?

 

If you have a following and those people expect certain things of you – don’t take advantage of that and make sure you deliver!

 

 

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Stressed Woman At Laptop

 

So you’ve set up a blog . . . or your boss told you to . . . but now what?  What do you blog about?

 

This seems to be a common problem for people. Either their boss has decided the company needs a blog and puts the responsibility in your lap to ‘make it happen’, or maybe you were even hired specifically to write a new blog for a company. More often than not companies make a decision ‘to blog’ without deciding why or what they want to gain from it.

 

Hopefully most will realise that blogging is a way of creating valuable content for their current and prospective clients, a way of being found through the search engines and a way of becoming a thought leader in their industry.

 

All good reasons to blog.

 

The problem is, blogs need to be written regularly, for most a minimum of 3 times a week is advisable . . . that’s 12 new blog posts per month and 156 new blog posts per year . . . starting to freak out yet?

 

Well don’t. It doesn’t have to be that scary.

 

A great place to start is to draw up a list of topics.

 

Check your email inbox. Look through it and see what questions your customers ask you the most frequently, next look at your answers and you will see that you will be able to put together several blog posts using material you already have.

 

Talk to your customer facing people, whether that’s business development people out meeting with prospects or the teams back in the office who work with existing clients. See what questions they are asked the most frequently and ask them to send you a sketch of the replies they give and there you have it, more blog posts.

 

As the blog grows and interaction increases in the comments fields you will find more blog post ideas coming to you out of these conversations.

 

It is also a great idea to keep a notebook, or list somewhere, of blog post topics that occur to you while you are out and about during the day (I email ideas to myself). You never know when an idea might come to you, and chances are if you don’t make a note of it you will forget it. Writers have used this technique for a long time . . . because it works . . . and blogging 3+ times a week is a lot less scary when you have a list to hand of topics you know will work.

 

Don’t forget as well to get others involved; guests posts are a great idea to lessen the blogging burden from one person’s shoulders and the guests can be people from other departments in your Firm or from others in your industry. They are also great for your readers who are then receiving content from a more varied selection of people, all of whom have different perspectives, and as the whole point of blogging is to create valuable content, the use of guest posts works out well for everyone.

 

If you’re still searching for some extra inspiration, Chris Brogan published a great post on how he blogs 3 times a day (3 times a week doesn’t look so bad now does it?) and also links to some of his previously published blog posts with suggested blog topics:

 

 

All those topics should keep you going for the first year, at least . . . Happy Blogging!

 

 

 

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Last night I was at the cinema and saw the trailer for the 7th Harry Potter film, the first part of which is released next week. Which got me thinking . . . being a social media marketeer is a lot like being Harry Potter . . . here’s 7 reasons why.

1.  Be Different

Harry Potter has a scar. It marks him out immediately as being different. There is no hiding it.

As social media marketeers we need to be different. We need to make ourselves stand out from the pack. Trying new ideas and seeing what works. If we look like everyone else, we are never going to stand out. Sure we might fail sometimes, but what if we succeed? Aren’t the successes worth being different for?

2.  Listening

Harry listens to Dumbledore’s advice and wisdom at every turn and learns from him.

We need to listen to our customers and value what they tell us, their perspective is completely different to ours and we can learn a lot from them.

3.  Follow Your Heart

Harry is friends with a half giant (Hagrid), a muggle born (Hermione), a blood traitor (Ron) and a werewolf (Lupin) among others. The ‘pure bloods’ don’t feel this is the type of company a wizard should keep. But Harry doesn’t care. He follows his heart which tells him these are good people worth knowing, and these people become his family; without them he would never survive through all the trials and difficulties that are sent his way.

Traditional marketeers who are stuck in the old, ‘pure’ ways of marketing don’t want us to follow our hearts or keep company with anything that is different. They like their old ‘pure’ friends of traditional advertising, direct mail and cold calling. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube . . . what are these strange creatures? Yes, they are different. But they can give us so much more to survive in the current world than the old, ‘pure’ ways can. We need to follow our instincts and our hearts.

4.  Value Your Friends

Harry values his friends above all others and would do anything to save them and protect them from harm – he makes many sacrifices for them, even ending his relationship with Ginny in an effort to keep her safe.

We need to value our customers above everything else. We need to engage with them, listen to them and make them feel valued. Sometimes we need to make sacrifices for them, but we have to do it, because without them we would have nothing.

5.  Break The Rules

He may be the hero of the tale, but that doesn’t mean he always follows the rules; from smuggling illegal dragons, rescuing fugitives and breaking into a bank – Harry knows that sometimes you have to break the rules to get the job done.

And sometimes we need to break the rules as well. The old marketing rules don’t work any more. They need to be broken and new ways found to succeed.

6. Don’t Be Afraid

Harry faces many terrifying things, not least of which the force that is Voldemort. He walks towards danger time and again showing a fearlessness to be admired.

We can’t be so afraid of failure that we don’t try. We need to overcome our fears and branch out and try new things – maybe it’s incorporating video into your customer newsletter, maybe it’s interacting with your customers on Twitter. If we’re so afraid of negative feedback that we don’t try new things we will flounder and stagnante. If we face our fears and walk forward we could achieve something great.

7.  Hard Work

Soon we must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy – Albus Dumbledore

Wise words from the Hogwarts headmaster himself. We know what the right choices are to get the most out of social media, they are not necessarily the easy choices, they take time and hard work, but if we want to succeed we know what we need to do.

Social Media is not magic. Harry gets to where he is in the end, mostly through hard graft, listening to his friends and letting them help him . . . not by waving his wand.

 


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