Category Archives for Social Networking

The Real Life Social Network

This is a fantastic look at the real life social network and the online social network. It's a presentation done by a Google employee and has some very interesting insights. In particular segments and groups of friends and relationships. I'll be adding thoughts, bullet point and additional info for the post but for the time being here is the presentation.

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Promoting Your Facebook Presence

I’ll bet you have some great Facebook Strategies you’ve implemented like the ideas below. Add a comment below and the best suggestions will be added to this list with a link back to your site.

I know social media marketing is a hot topic these days and there are a lot of companies attempting to get their foot in the door with social networks. The appeal of these networks is incredible, mainly for the viral and exponential nature of the system.

My network is a connected graph with exponential growth possibilities. My 400+ friends all have approximately 350 friends (on average and informally) if any company can get their foot into the door and illicit a response from my friends and their friends then the brand spread and effectiveness of that “sharing” can be astounding.

Does your Social Media Strategy Make Sense?

Social Media Strategies

In addition to that it’s much more than the one way conversation that Television, Radio and even a Landing Page can provide. I get feedback, I gain key influencers, brand advocates and it’s the consumers doing the marketing for me. This dynamic is much more than a shift, it’s a paradigm shift in the way we consumer, promote and self market to each other.

So what does this mean for the average company and internet marketer?

Well to be quite honest it means that you’re not likely doing anything with your social media presence. The fact is that the vast majority of companies out there are not effectively utilizing their Facebook presence.

Having said that I have informally seen a great deal of excellent brand identities on Facebook. I’m also going to ignore some of the more popular examples here like Ford, Starbucks and Heinz.

I’m looking at smaller operations that have actionable changes you can make that will help you make more of your page, presence and ROI. Some of my personal favorites are:

Northern Edge Algonquin Park
Echo Valley Ranch and Spa

Looking at these three, and yes all of them come from my casual usage of Facebook rather than any in depth digging. These are quite simply excellent pages that keep me interested, returning, visiting and interacting. This is isn’t a massive empirical case study, this is me looking at things that just “work”.

Let’s break it down what do these people do that most people do not do on Facebook?

  1. Mention users by name. They thank new members and reference them directly. This is a great way to start a 2 way conversation.
  2. Utilize events. I’m always surprised at how few brands actually maintain the events on their page through the events application. It’s not only a great way to determine participation, it helps to organize the event as well.
  3. Allow user submitted photographs. This is a key for the travel and tourism sector since it’s so applicable but it’s something that many brands can leverage. Think about it, lots of room here for innovative ideas.
  4. Respond to comment threads without sounding impersonal. By actually naming the commentor and responding like a real live human being rather than a 2 dimensional drone then there is a ton of opportunity to interact directly with your users and build strong relationships.
  5. Asking questions. This doesn’t have to be exactly polling per say. Just update the status and ask a question, you might be surprised at what comes out of it, like lots of comments and even more visitors and people interacting with your page which is the goal here.
  6. Exclusive Facebook only Offers. I get alot of grief for ever bringing this up but it’s a key way to get new users. I know you have users on your main domain already, maybe they are members of your facebook presence, maybe not. But do not offer the same thing to both, welcome them to join you on Facebook to become eligible - exclusivity is important, plus joining you doesn’t cost a thing.
  7. Nifty, groovy, neato Facebook applications. Now obviously if you have the budget creating an extremely useful custom Facebook application is preferable here since it makes you stand out from the crowd in a big way but for those on a shoestring budget consider adding even the most simple applications like Social RSS which will automatically post your content from your blog or news site onto your facebook page without human intervention. It’s simpe, it’s free and it keep your content flowing on Facebook. There is nothing worse than a stale page.
  8. Add notes to your Facebook Page. This means unique Facebook only content. Yeah that’s right, only on Facebook. This increases the exclusivity of being a member, if you clone your current efforts then you will severely reduce the attraction and interaction on your page. What is the point after all of having members who do not interact? Nada, zip, zero.
  9. Use videos. Not high production quality videos. I mean grass roots real live videos, simple, fun and engaging. Think about a walk through of your office, handheld videos from events. This is Facebook and Social Media Marketing is not the same as traditional marketing. You don’t need a fancy intro, a bit of camera jiggle is fine and non scripted videos make people like you more, you’re real. You are after all real, aren’t you?
  10. Incite conversation. This means being controversial but not rude. We don’t want to get people angry (unless your goal is to rile people up into action) but you do want to get them talking on a controversial debate. Why not? Play the referee, being on either side of a debate will alienate people to you and we definitely do not want that.

That a pretty basic actionable breakdown of things you can work into your social media marketing strategy without breaking the bank or hiring a team of 10 people to manage. This stuff is easy, so get on out there and start optimizing your own Facebook presence, these actions have a huge ROI and lead to many many good things.

Anything else that I’m certain I’ve missed? I’ll bet you have some great Facebook Strategies you’ve implemented like the above - comment below and the best suggestions will be added to this list with a link back to your site.

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Pepsi Cheer – Social Media Done Wrong

The Pepsi Cheer?

The Pepsi Cheer?

Update April 21, 2010: Looks like I was quoted over at Media.asia in Five things you need to know about: Social media and brands by Andrew Knott. Nice to be referenced however briefly.

You’re probably doing Social Media in your Internet Marketing mix, most companies and marketers have jumped on that bandwagon faster than people become Dallas Cowboys fans when they go on a winning streak.

To be honest, chances are if you’re doing Social Media you are most likely completely wasting your time and resources because you’re doing social media badly.

No offense. But the large majority of marketers simple do not use Social Media the same way they might use other forms of media and advertising.

No ROI (Return On Investment). This can also be measured in Brand terms rather than dollar amounts.
No clear and definitive goals.
No strategy.

If you took a few hours, set up a Facebook group, Facebook fan page and Twitter feed then simply post to those profiles then you’re completely wasting your time.

Stop.
Stop Now.

Doing Social Media badly is much worse than not doing Social Media at all.

As with everything in Marketing you need to attach a value, strategy and execution plan to each and every program you put in place. If you don’t then frankly you’re Marketing badly.

Case in point.

Let's pretend this didn't happen, OK?

Let's pretend this didn't happen, OK?

The Pepsi Cheer was an abysmal failure from a Social Media standpoint and from a Marketing standpoint. Here is a good overview from Marketing Mag:

Pepsi Seeking One Million Members for Pepsi Cheer

This campaign was the brain child of the Toronto Agency Capital C (Yeah that's right their corporate website is hosted on Typepad - very edgy).

Before we look at Pepsi’s Social Media Strategy results, let’s have a quick look at what they implemented:

On Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/PepsiCanada
http://www.facebook.com/PepsiCanada#/PepsiCanada?v=app_193041964437

Twitter
http://twitter.com/PEPSICANADA

and

http://www.pepsi.ca/jointhecheer/default.aspx?bhcp=1

Here’s what Pepsi wanted to do:

  1. Create a contest to create a Cheer for Hockey Canada and the 2010 IIHF Mens’s Hockey Championship in Germany.
  2. Have the winning cheer promoted via Social Media, on television and radio.
  3. Have fans at the events use the cheer during the games to be started by Pepsi employees in the crowd (really bad idea).

The winning cheer was an annoying (in my opinion) “Eh! Oh-Canada! Go!” which was a customer submitted cheer and was then heavily promoted through advertising mediums (all listed above).

Now on a fundamental level this idea should have died in a brainstorming session. You never ever mess with the patriotism of Canadian Hockey fans. Here in Canada, Hockey is a big part of people’s sports watching mix and particularly since Canada dominates International Hockey (even though we lost in the finals to the US this past year).

The cheers Canadians have been using for years are pretty popular and there was never a need to add a new one to the mix when it was clearly a very shallow corporate marketing initiative.

Their brutal social media implementation also caused them more brand damage than had they done absolutely nothing. Pepsi and their agency failed to remember one key component of Social Media.

It’s a conversation with people. People can (and should talk back).

The Pepsi Cheer Gone Wrong

The Pepsi Cheer Gone Wrong

This is exactly what people did and it wasn’t pretty.

Let’s look at some very basic stats:

Pepsi’s Facebook Fan Page: 134,926 Fans
Pepsi Canada’s Twitter Profile: 1034 Followers

Basic Negative Results

Pepsi - I Don’t need yer damn cheer
231 members
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=259956356825

The" Eh! Oh! Canada Go!" chant is a national embarrassment
64,762 Members
http://www.facebook.com/groups.php?ref=sb#/group.php?gid=217528662837

Twitter Search for Pepsi Cheer
http://search.twitter.com/search?q=pepsi+cheer

I’ll actually run a reputation report for this later in the week and add this to an overall case study, since this is such a blatantly bad idea.

Let’s have a quick look at why I’m saying this was not only a bad Marketing idea but it was a failure from a Social media perspective:

  1. Pepsi struck a chord with a national sport and national pride. Basically saying “You’re doing it wrong Canada”. Bad idea.
  2. Pepsi blatantly promoted themselves over simply promoting cheering for the team.
  3. Replacing the cheer was unnecessary. There are a number of cheer Pepsi could have latched onto and promoted. This likely would have gone over well.
  4. Their social media profiles simply ignored any backlash except for a few references to cheering “any cheer you want”. Too little too late.
  5. The Pepsi Canada Twitter stream did little to engage anyone talking on Twitter except for positive feedback and inane Re-Tweets about their promotion.
  6. The Pepsi Canada Twitter stream was hardly used but it was still there. Hey Pepsi Marketing Team - here’s a tip. Don’t use it if you’re going to use it badly.
  7. http://search.twitter.com/search?q=pepsi+cheer has far more negative sentiments than neutral or positive ones. Clearly Pepsi made a mistake here since they’re ignoring the fans they tried to approach. Oops that only serves to piss people off.
  8. The negative groups on Facebook almost outnumber the Fans of the Pepsi Cheer Fan Page. As a side note there is a decent set of sign up forms and calls to action on internal tabs of the fan page but there appears to be little focus to the fan page. They would have been better off to have participated in other Fan Pages (example: Hockey Canada) than to try to become the hub of Hockey Fans.
The Pepsi Cheer clearly annoying.

The Pepsi Cheer clearly annoying.

This is just the beginning of this fiasco for Pepsi in my humble opinion. They’ll be dealing with the backlash for quite sometime. Particularly since they appear to be staying the course on the same bad Social Media Strategy.

Another dumb move.

The key take aways here:

If you are going to do Social Media properly then do it properly and think about what you are doing, devote resources, a strategy and team to it.

If you think you need to have a presence on Social Networks just for the sake of being there, then you’re dead wrong.

If you are going to do a half assed job of Social Media Marketing then do yourself a favour and don’t do it at all.

Additional References

Junior Hockey Chant Falls Flat - Vancouver Sun

Traditional Cheers Given Vocal Support - Star Phoenix

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50 Twitter Tips for Conversion

So here it is: Twitter.  It’s everywhere being hyped as the next great thing, but what can it do for your business?

Like any emerging technology the uses are somewhat open ended and there are still many questions.
A few things are absolutely certain:

  1. Twitter offers you an opportunity to engage a large number of people who are comfortable online. Which means they will either purchase online or talk a lot online.
  2. Twitter is growing dramatically. How long that growth will last is up for debate but the reality is that it is here now and barriers to entry are very low. It’s free and only requires and strategy which is embracing.
  3. Twitter can benefit your company through customer service, product promotion, marketing and PR just to name a few.

I’ve put this guide together to get you started on your Twitter campaign and strategy. It is our hope that you find this guide useful. Please forward this to your friends, colleagues and relatives!

Also I'm looking forward to your comments, additions, thoughts, and general input on any of this.

50 TWITTER TIPS FOR CONVERSION

  1. Engage your followers. Simply throwing promotional offers at people will only add to the white noise on Twitter and you will not stand out. Send @ replies, help out, discuss and be real.
  2. Reference your site frequently. You don't even need to always reference your newest content, reference your most useful content. With the stream of messages on Twitter. There is nothing wrong with referencing.
  3. Create a custom Twitter landing page and direct users there. Use the KISS approach, one offer specifically for Twitter users, you'll notice a huge difference.
  4. Do not be afraid to unfollow people who are adding to your white noise. Like any list you want to target your audience, some affiliate marketers out there will only Tweet offers and junk. Lose them.
  5. ReTweet valuable tweets from your followers. This is a huge thing and extremely complementary. I find on my lists that there are about 5% if the users that I ReTweet multiple times. Is that a new rule 95/5? 95% of your ReTweets come from 5% of your users.
  6. Ask your users questions. There are two ways to do it. Informally by simply throwing it out there and asking for a response. Formally by using TwtPoll, which will track responses. Either way ask engaging questions of your users, something that will incite debate and opinion.
  7. Exclusive offers. When I say exclusive I mean exclusive, don't just regurgitate another offer, make it exclusive and time limited to Twitter users otherwise you risk being in the "white noise" category.
  8. Incentives for followers. We effectively use $50 Cash Cards for the nth Twitter follower for doing nothing more than simply following. We do it every thousand followers but pick your metric and follow-up on it.
  9. Monitor Twitter Search. You would be amazed at how many active discussions you can miss if you don't watch the buzz. Get in there!
  10. Join Twitter Business Directories. Two good examples are WeFollow.com and Twellow.com, add yourself to relevant categories and search out potential leads on a regular basis.
  11. Engage a key individual in the Twitter dialog. A good strategy is joining your CEO's profile to your corporate profile. Not only will you gain a wider following, you'll have the ability to channel directly to your "go to guy (or girl)".
  12. Follow PR and News Sources. You'll create a direct dialog to the people who can get your message out there.
  13. Engage Anger. If you're a business there is likely someone ready get annoyed with you. Don't shy away from them, embrace and communicate them, you may have your next great advocate out there screaming good things about you.
  14. Live Updates from Events or Conferences. This will create buzz and excitement from your user base. No one cares if "it's a hot day here in Glendale Arizona" but they might care about "The boss just gave a great tip on our newest product release".
  15. Follow people. Alot. I can't stress this enough. Some people think it is a badge of honor to have significantly more people following you than you follow. Not true. What you are really saying is I want a one way conversation, not very social at all.
  16. Figure out "Social Engagement". How do you engage social media? You be social and engage. Why many people don't understand this I will never know.
  17. Twitter about your competition. Why not? Even link to them, if you are confident in your product then you have an opportunity to show the world you have the superior product.
  18. Complement your competition. When your competitors do something right then do not shy away from it. Give them a shout out. It shows strength and confidence.
  19. Send useful links which may not be directly related to your business. It could be a news event or something you found useful. People appreciate tips and advice.
  20. Create a custom background for your Twitter page with your contact information. You would be amazed at how many people will reach out to you directly. Check out the Honeypot Marketing Twitter page, nothing fancy but it works.
  21. Add your Twitter profile to your email signature. Sounds basic enough but emails get passed around quite a bit.
  22. Add TwitterCounter and Twitter badges to your site. Not rocket science but highly effective. Internet marketing is a two way street, go both ways.
  23. Engage in polarizing discussion. Is @oprah adding nothing of value? Tell her, it will polarize but it will get you engaged.
  24. Auto Follow people who follow you. I use Tweetlater.com to automate this process but it is (to me) a common courtesy and I just think it works well, saves a ton of time too. You can purge lists once a month or so to keep your list up to date.
  25. Provide customer support. Whatever you do or sell, people will have a problem. Utilizing Twitter as a rapid response tool is incredibly effective and generally people only need a minor tip to get on track.
  26. Create a daily digest of your tweets for your blog. This not only incites the search engines into ranking you quickly (more customers!) but it provides a history and a sense that your company has fully engaged the community. That's a good thing right?
  27. Twitter your knowledge. No matter who you are and what you know, your background and experience will help those and could position you as a thought leader. Cheesy term but true. You'll become an expert and people will respect that and as such respect your company.
  28. Stay on Target. You want to communicate with people and lead them to and end goal. Never lose sight of that. Sketch out your conversion path (whatever it might be) and make sure you are achieving that goal. You will be surprised at how quickly results will happen.
  29. Don't necessarily try to sell "stuff". Selling "things" may or may not work for you on Twitter. Be realistic about your end goal, branding, customer service, lead generation. Generally using Twitter as a conduit makes it a great lead generator, not a closer.
  30. Talk about how your product helped a customer. If they are on Twitter ask them to participate in the dialog and back you up. Bringing it full circle will provide you incredible benefits.
  31. Create a Twitter Interview. I refuse to engage in the mangling of the English language for the purposes of branding Twitter. Some people call them Twinterviews - horrible. Set up a series of 10-15 questions and ask the your interviewee to @ reply them. You can even ask your followers to DM you specific open questions. Works like a charm.
  32. Ask people to ReTweet but not everyday. Asking people to ReTweet directly on occasion will indicate that this is an important message. With a good following you'll get help.
  33. Don't be afraid to go offline. Sometimes you can't engage completely on Twitter so take it to phone, email or face to face (if possible). Only so much can be communicated in 140 characters.
  34. Ask your followers what they think of your offers. It's a form of Direct Market Research. Example: "Would you rather get 20% off or a free movie pass for two? Let us know!".
  35. Use TwitPic. Post pictures of your events, office, people in your office. Be human! No likes a marketing driod Twitter profile. You can *really* connect with people by being just like everyone else.
  36. Tweet company events. Did Joy in Accounting just have her first child? Tell everyone about it and how happy you all are for her. Unless of course your company is a sweatshop, which I highly doubt it is.
  37. Tweet the success of your customers. If you are B2B Congratulate your clients on a successful promo or campaign. Spread the love.
  38. Don't insult people. Unless this your personal account and you'll do whatever you want then fine. But never insult a client or competitor, you'll look bad for ages and you can damage your own future reputation. Trust me there can be an idiot factor on Twitter and it can be difficult sometimes. I know I've lashed out a few times on my personal account. Oopsie.
  39. Conduct Website Testing. If you have a new promo or landing page ask your users which they like better. You are after all trying to appeal to them are you not?
  40. Define your objectives. I have alluded to it earlier but make sure everyone in your company understands what you are trying to do. Maybe directly selling your product won't be successful but selling your service will be.
  41. Test, test, test. Twitter is an emerging technology; to be honest no one quite knows what to do with it just yet. That makes testing your message and conversion flow critical.
  42. Don't be afraid to change course. Things change and you should change with them, if you found a sweet spot for communication or sales try to move in that direction without being scared to do so.
  43. Automate your blog and Twitter accounts in both directions. We love WordPress so it's a no brainer for us. Every post gets an automatic tweet which will drive your customers to you. Simple.
  44. Integrate Twitter into your online strategy. We are huge proponents of integrated marketing. That includes Traditional and Emerging Marketing with the same message. Tip: when going online don't change the message just go a bit more grass roots style.
  45. Tell people who exactly is Tweeting. You may have a corporate profile like http://twitter.com/honeypot_mkting but start out by saying "Morning All, @dannomatic is here this morning". People like to know who you are and will be far more willing to engage you.
  46. Create a corporate Twitter Meetup. Admittedly this is a bit nerdy but it doesn't have to be. Have an open house meeting to invite your Twitter followers to the office, then Tweet about it. Buzz is amazing.
  47. Create time limited promotions and update it on Twitter. Real and effective time limited promotions could include giving out a free whitepaper or case study for a limited time. Link via DM to a PDF but only keep access open for a few hours. When it's over redirect the link to a thank you and registration for email download. Then you'll capture the traffic, which is bound to happen after time has expired.
  48. Create a Twitter only contest. Be creative but run it exclusively on Twitter and give away your product as prizing. It doesn't need to be fancy, just fun.
  49. Create a tone of helpful information. Example: "Did you know that the Magic Bullet can slice and dice? Check out the top features here..." and link to a blog post or information sheet - product knowledge is important and leads to the conversion or sale.
  50. Deep link people into your website and blog. You've likely invested heavily in that glitzy shiny website. Point out useful company information, employee profiles, product information, review, and news. It surprises us to see Twitter being used to link to one page on a website. Deep linking encourages people to dig deep into your site, increasing the opportunity for the conversion.
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Ashton Kutcher – Twitter Desperation?

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

Social Media Marketing and Twitter in particular is a great way for stars like Ashton Kutcher to generate buzz. In fact it's great for anyone and any business (when done properly). Now I'm as open minded to all sorts of Internet Marketing techniques but this one strikes me as a bit desperate.

Ashton is basically buying paid advertising on another social network in order to increase his followers on a competing social network. Come on Ashton. As they would say on Twitter: srsly?

UPDATE:

Clearly  Ashton Kutcher using Twitter is not a negative thing. In fact I fully believe in the power of Social Network Marketing and provide channels for self promotion. However, As a business driven marketer and branding expert I'm still not 100% certain if Ashton Kutcher's campaign on Twitter produced any definable results other than the fact that he got some dedicated airplay on CNN. For a hollywood actor like Kutcher, this is definitely a plus, getting airplay like that will do nothing but promote his own brand, his movies and his career (and positively affecting his bottom line).

I wonder what type of metrics were taken into account except for the number of followers? Was any tracking done on Click Through Rates? How did it affect his Online Reputation? More likely than not, it was purely a branding play. I still think the Ad reduces the legitimacy of his entire Twitter campaign.

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Using StumbleUpon Effectively

Social Network Marketing is currently a hot topic in the world of Internet Marketing. Many people want to integrate a social media and social networking component to their marketing mix. The most common problem I see is Social Media Marketing thrown together in an ad hoc fashion and poorly executed.

The key risk from a marketing perspective is this: poorly executed SEO will result in no rankings, poorly executed PPC results in wasted budgets, poorly executed Social Media Marketing can result in a bad reputation, negative buzz and angry users.

You need to be very cautious when executing a Social Media Marketing campaign - do not just throw something together and start talking to an online community, the ramifications could be not only worse than you expected they could be difficult to undo.

Planning, education and execution are critical to a successful social media program. I would suggest that you consider the following points before launching a social media marketing program:

  1. Which social media sites will you be targeting? Is your content appropriate for that network? For example: Digg is extremely popular among technology and design audiences. StumbleUpon is popular for humor, entertainment and gaming audiences. Newsvine is popular among politcal junkies (these are fairly simplistic examples but you get the point).
  2. What voice do you want to project for your product to these audiences? Direct marketing doesn't generally work well. Informational, educational and interesting content is needed with a subtle hint towards promoting your product.
  3. What are you trying to say to the audience? Social Media Marketing is really about starting an ongoing dialogue with an audience, it's about building trust relationships that are subtle. Formulating a message is extremely important, continuing the dialogue in a genuine way is critical. If you are not going to do that then you need to reconsider leveraging this medium.
  4. Social Media Networks are composed of and run by real people. Remember that. This is not traditional advertising. You are developing a conversation with real people.
  5. Be prepared to hear things you may not like. You may get no reaction. You may in fact get a negative reaction. Ensure that you know how to deal with a negative reaction and always remember that someone who gives you a reaction is someone who cares. Engage them and sort it out, it will be worth it!
  6. Be prepared to engage the community as a community member. Participate in a very real way, if you do any less your programs will not succeed.

Although I've gone off on a tangent slightly, I am laying the ground work for this screencast and discussing one of my favorite sites: StumbleUpon. I'm not going to introduce Stumbleupon in this article, I do that in the screencast below. You can also learn about StumbleUpon right here.

So enjoy the screencast and I'm sure I've missed something in my overview so let me know by leaving a comment. Click Play and watch my screencast on Stumbleupon, you might find it useful!

If you are already on StumbleUpon or ready to join and get into it, add me to your friend list or subscribe to my stumbles.

Happy Stumbling!

Dan Nedelko

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