Archive for May, 2010

11 Myths of Social Media Marketing

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Though social media marketing is rapidly advancing in terms of adoption and sophistication, many marketers and business executives still struggle with it. They wonder if their organizations are doing enough, if they are doing things right, even if they should be involved in social media at all. This confusion is partly due to some still-common misconceptions about social media marketing. As the goal of Social Media is Simpler Than You Think was to demystify social media marketing, this post will attempt to de-myth-ify it.

Social media intern - the face of your company?1. Social media is so easy we can hire an intern to do it. Because social media is fundamentally about conversations, the individual(s) behind your social media activities is often perceived as the public face of your company. This person is answering questions about your products and/or services, responding to or redirecting complaints, sharing interesting content, providing more information…you’ll probably want to be a bit careful about who gets this responsibility. ->

2. Social media marketing is really hard. True, there are techniques that work better than others, guidelines that are good to know, rules of etiquette to follow and common mistakes to avoid, but the general skills called for aren’t all that uncommon, and the specifics are teachable. It helps to be creative, curious, articulate, friendly and helpful. Okay, so not just anyone can do it, but it’s not rocket science either.

3. Social media is only for the young. Argh, no! On the consumer side, the largest cohort of Facebook’s user base is the 35-54 age group, and the fastest growing is the 55+ cohort. On the producer side, the most important attributes are interpersonal skills and industry knowledge. Age is irrelevant in social media usage, and life experience is a plus for social media marketers.

4. Social media is free. Um, no. While recent studies show that about half of marketers say that social media reduces their overall marketing costs, it is by no means without a price. The primary budget effect of social media marketing is to shift costs from media buying to labor. The tools of social media are (mostly) free, but the time, effort and expertise required to make social media marketing effective has real costs.

5. Since social media marketing is labor-intensive, we should offshore it. Ooh, not a good idea. While offshoring works well for tasks like IT consulting services and software application development, it tends to be less efficacious for market-facing activities. Thoughtful companies keep their SEO efforts local (to avoid link-spamming, for example) and after evaluating all of the costs, many are even moving call centers back onshore. And see myth #1 above.

6. Social media marketing success is all about rules and best practices. Not really. True, there are guidelines as to what works well (being sincere, helpful and knowledgeable) and what doesn’t (trying to use social media sites as one-way broadcasts of your marketing brochures), but the field is new enough that many of the “rules” are still being written. While there are some techniques that seem to work well and are worth replicating, and others that should clearly be avoided, there’s also a great deal of space for creativity in this rapidly expanding and evolving area.

7. Social media marketing has no rules. Now, just because there isn’t an established cookie-cutter approach to social media marketing success doesn’t mean there are no rules. Don’t be excessively self-promotional, don’t try to automate everything, be sincere, add value—there aren’t a lot of rules, but these are a few very important ones.

8. Social media marketing gets immediate results. Almost never. Sure, you may run across an example somewhere of this happening, just as you may hear about a couple who got married three weeks after they met. It can happen, but isn’t common and shouldn’t be expected. Social media is about building relationships and influence. It takes time, but the payback can be much more lasting than a typical “marketing campaign” as well.

9. Social media marketing is too risky. This fear is most common in the medical, financial services, and other regulated industries. And it’s certainly true that there are situations where a company has to be somewhat cautious about its social media participation and content (another reason to keep myths #1 and #5 in mind). By all means, be aware of your specific industry and regulatory environment and put necessary safeguards in place. But people in your marketplace—customers, prospects, analysts, journalists, shareholders and others—are talking about your company and/or industry across social media channels right now. The real risk is in ignoring those conversations.

10. Social media marketing is new. Not really. Certainly the tools are new: Twitter has only been around since 2007, Facebook since 2006, and even blogging has been popular for less than a decade. But social media marketing is fundamentally about participating in and influencing the direction of conversations about your industry and brand. Those practices are timeless, but social media has increased the velocity and magnitude of such conversations.

11. Social media marketing doesn’t apply to my business. There are isolated niches where this is true. For example, if you build weapons systems for the U.S. military, you not only don’t need social media marketing, it would probably be best to avoid it. And there may be a few other such situations. For virtually every other type of business however, someone, somewhere is discussing your brand, your industry or your competitors in social media. You’re missing out if you’re not listening and participating.

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Best Random but Interesting Posts, Articles and Resources of 2009

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

There’s no magic to linking to a YouTube video, but want to know how to link to a specific point, by minute and second, in a video? How can you make the most of those last few minutes before delivering an online presentation? What exactly is “Web 3.0?” Beyond standard content like case studies and white papers, what other information formats work best for b2b lead generation and nurturing? You may think of multitasking as easy or difficult—but is it unethical? Where can you find the best online tools for competitive intelligence?

Best Random but Interesting Marketing Tips of 2009Discover the answers to these questions and many more here in the best miscellaneous marketing articles, lists and blog posts of the past year.

A Top 25 List of Social Media, Web 2.0 & Marketing ‘Best-Of-Lists!’ by Futurelab

Gary Hayes muses about the value of “top” lists, and the motivations of those who create them, then provides his own semi-scientific list of the best best-of lists from sources like Ad Age, Junta 42, Evan Carmichael and Mashable.

The top 24 facts for selling more in B2B by LEADSExplorer

A collection of two dozen observations, insights and pearls of wisdom for b2b sales success, such as “It is not the increased efforts for getting more contacts, but the effort of getting the best contacts that will increase your sales,” and “Having a lot of contacts, telephone calls, email exchanges and meetings with potential customers is not the best approach. It is better to have a real conversation, being able to question and to listen to your potential customer using the previously gathered information.”

Link to a specific part of a YouTube video by Matt Cutts

A short but helpful post on how to deep link to a specific point in any YouTube video by minute and second.

A Big List of Sites That Teach You How To Do Stuff by ReadWriteWeb

Josh Catone offers his list of “a large number of very helpful sites that teach you how to do things.” These do-it-yourself sites provide online instruction in everything from arts & crafts and cooking to technology and woodworking.

Webinar Marketing Tip – Use Those Precious Last Few Minutes Before The Webinar by Nurture

A helpful reminder about the importance of reminders. For webinar presenters, sending periodic follow-up messages throughout the weeks and even minutes leading up to the webinar is critical for maximizing attendance.

25 Free Social Media Marketing & SEO Ebooks, White Papers + Other Downloads by SEOptimise

***** 5 Stars
Tad Chef supplies an outstanding list of ebooks and white papers related to social media in general, blogging, social media marketing and SEO.

Web 3.0 Concepts Explained in Plain English (Presentations) by Digital Inspiration

Amit Agarwal showcases six online presentations explaining the distinctions between Web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0.

100+ Alternative Search Engines You Should Know by Hongkiat

Google may be fine for regular web searches, and even for some more specific purposes like image or blog search, but in this impressive list of special-purpose search engines you’ll find sources for targeted searches for PDFs and eBooks, product catalogs, books, comics, music, sound effects and more.

Need Content? 20 Formats to Consider by Savvy B2B Marketing

***** 5 Stars
B2B companies often use white papers, webinars, case studies and newsletters to promote their products and services, but Michele Linn provides a fantastic list of additional content formats to consider, including specialized glossaries, research reports, buying guides, articles, video and interactive applications.

Your guide to creating an eye-popping agency website by iMedia Connection

Though Lisa Schiavello’s advice here is ostensibly focused on website design for agencies, most of the recommendations (e.g. use white papers and case studies, incorporate social media, and analyze traffic data) are broadly applicable to a wide variety of firms.

SpotMixer and Google Pair to Offer Self-Serve Online Video Ads by ClickZ

Fred Aun explains how SpotMixer‘s do-it-yourself online video ad technology can now be used to make videos that can run over the Google Content Network or on YouTube, making video advertising affordable for small businesses.

The Ethics of Multitasking by Bloomberg Businessweek

Reporting that “a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that people who fired off e-mails while talking on the phone and watching YouTube videos did each activity less well than those who focused on one thing at a time,” Bruce Weinstein makes the case that multitasking is not only unproductive and stress-inducing, but unethical as well.

The 3 Most Common Mistakes of Web Presentations by iMedia Connection

Zack Grossbart advices presenters to avoid these mistakes when presenting online. He warns that your audience “will multi-task and you can’t stop them,” but supplies tips on how to “burst” your content to “pull people back into your presentation and make them pay attention.”

Ultimate List of Top 29 Tools for Competitive Intelligence by Lakeshore Branding

***** 5 Stars
Chris Campbell provides an outstanding list of tools for gathering insights and information about your competition, including SpyFu (finds competitors’ AdWords keywords), Compete PRO Search Analytics (see what keywords drive traffic to a given site) and Google Trends for Websites (traffic data and geographic visitation patterns of your competitors–pretty cool, though it works only for relatively large, high-traffic sites).

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Best Web Analytics Tools and Tips of 2009

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

There’s a great scene from the original Cannonball Run in which one of drivers hops into his Ferrari convertible, rips the rearview mirror off of the windshield, tosses it out and then says to his startled co-driver, “What is behind us—does not matter.” In the world of analytics, all information is, by its nature, backward looking (you can’t measure what hasn’t happened yet). But it isn’t the historical measures themselves which are of interest to analysts, rather the trends they reveal and path(s) forward they illuminate. In short, to be valuable, analytics must be actionable; they should provide hard data to clarify what you should keep doing, what you should stop doing, and what you should do differently.

Learn more about creating custom reports in Google Analytics, improving site conversion rates, interesting tools that extend the capabilities of Analytics and more here in some of the best articles and blog posts on web analytics from the past year.

Google Analytics 101, Part 1 by Search Engine Watch

Frequent best-of contributor Ron Jones provides an excellent introduction to Google Analytics for newbies, and even intermediate users may learn something new here.

Eyes on the Prize with Custom Reports by Google Analytics Blog

Sebastian Tonkin provides step-by-step instructions for creating custom reports within Google, such as a report showing the conversion rate for visitors from a specific geography or traffic source.

Web Analytics and Segmentation for Better Conversion Optimization by SEOmoz

A detailed tutorial on using the Advanced Segments Tool in Google Analytics to gain insights into measures such as differences in conversion rates based on content viewed: sure, that popular blog post drew a lot of traffic, but was it productive traffic? Advanced Segments can help answer such questions.

6 Tools Every Google Analytics User Should Have by ROI Revolution

For technical analysts, Shawn Purtell reviews six—actually seven—Firefox extensions, Greasemonkey scripts and other tools that enhance the functionality of Google Analytics. One example is Social Media Metrics, a tools which “allows you to see social media and link bait statistics for your specific pages.”

Is Yahoo Analytics Better than Google’s? by ECommerce Guide

David Needle reports results of a CMS Watch study which gave higher marks to Yahoo’s analytics tool in a couple of areas, including higher default pageview limits for larger enterprises, and the ability to access and view raw data, which would “let you continue to maintain a historical record instead of starting over” if you ever move to a more robust paid analytics platform.

Polaris Puts Google Analytics On Your Desktop by I’m Just Sayin’

A brief but helpful review of Polaris, a free Adobe Air application that delivers eight of the most popular Google Analytics reports straight to your desktop without logging in. A slick, quick way to stay current on your web traffic stats.

New AdWords ID Data in Google Analytics API by Google Analytics Blog

Alex Lucas explains how to combine data from Google Analytics and Google AdWords to “get a (more) detailed picture of the performance of…ad creatives and keywords.”

New Google Analytics Features Can Help You Track Your Social Media Success & Failures by Social Conversations

Li Evans showcases several new features recently added or planned for Google Analytics, such as new goal tracking types, custom variables, mobile apps tracking and custom alerts.

100 Ways To Measure Social Media by MediaPost Social Media Insider

What metrics can be tracked in social media? David Berkowitz offers up his list of  “100 thought-starters.” Some are easy (e.g. numbers of fans and followers), others are more challenging and may require more sophisticated tools, but it’s a great list for generating ideas.

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Book Review: Maverick Marketing

Monday, May 17th, 2010

In Maverick Marketing: Trailride into the Wild West of New Marketing, Tom Hayes invites readers on a gallop through the new west of innovative marketing campaigns, to help generate new ideas to stand out from the herd. Written for creative types and marketing strategists on both the agency and client sides of the fence, the book highlights edgy tactics and concepts that have enhanced brand success. Although the examples come primarily from b2c campaigns, b2b marketers may pick up some useful creative ideas here as well.

Maverick Marketing book reviewHayes, Managing Partner and Principal at the New England Consulting Group, draws on his experience working with midsize to large clients across healthcare, consumer packaged goods, retail, energy and other sectors to illustrate both the theory and real-world examples of trailblazing marketing campaigns and practices. Along the way, he explains why maverick marketing is becoming essential, citing research from Yankelovich that 60% of adults say they feel overwhelmed by commercial messages, are interested in skipping or blocking ads, and feel the volume of marketing  is “out of control.” In this landscape, maverick marketing practices are required to reach consumers in a manner that will be welcomed rather than viewed as just another advertising intrusion.

Traditional television advertising, for example, comes under the whip. A study by the Association of National Advertisers revealed that three-fourths of large marketers believe their television advertising is less effective now than it was just a few years ago. Another study from McKinsey concluded that traditional TV advertising has lost a third of its effectiveness over the last 20 years. Hayes concludes that “media, and particularly television, is taking on the role of General George Custer of the Little Big Horn, glorified as a past hero…but under attack.” He notes that going beyond reaching to actually engaging consumers is a much more complex and difficult task than traditional advertising, an observation that applies equally well to b2c and b2b marketers.

Hayes notes that as the six-gun was the great equalizer of the Old West, putting small farmers and townsfolk on equal footing with the biggest, baddest cowboys, so the Internet today significantly equalizes the marketing power of small firms with large global brands. Hayes writes that “Many marketing experts…concur that a brand should not even contemplate national advertising without a $20 million war chest for television and $10 million in print. This creates an effective barrier to entry to many marketers and startups. In contrast, with the Net, tiny niches and slivers of segments can be reached in an affordable manner for smaller ‘mavericks.'” The New England Consulting Group even coined a name for this phenomenon: “Netralization,” the equalization of marketing power between big and small firms enabled by the Web. And as with the six-shooter, the results can even be fatal; online music services like iTunes killed giant music retailer Tower Records, and NetFlix has wounded–perhaps mortally, time will tell–video rental chains like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video.

In the author’s analysis, a maverick marketing program “must include at least three of seven key components: marketing innovation, consumer engagement, buzz or public relations, new media usage, a viral aspect, promotion, or opt-in marketing. Tying this back to his Old West theme, Hayes notes that pioneers learned there were two ways to hunt: you could aggressively march through the forest hoping to flush your game (traditional marketing), or you could, like the Indians, study the feeding habits of your prey, set out bait, and then wait for the target to come to you (maverick marketing).

Even if Hayes didn’t share so many valuable marketing insights here, the book may be worth buying just for its trivia value. For example, after noting the ubiquity of brand names Motorola and Gatorade on the sidelines of every NFL game, the author points out that “Motorola does not even make headsets, and Gatorade is not necessarily in those green buckets.” And there’s much more:

  • Viagra was originally developed as a heart medicine, but when its most notable, er, side effect, became apparent, its marketing was reoriented. Erecticle dysfunction was not a medically acknowledged disorder at that point, but it become one due to Pfizer’s marketing efforts.
  • Research has shown that the average lifetime value of a customer acquired through search is roughly 70% higher than for customers acquired through other channels.
  • Although most consumer marketing is geared toward younger age cohorts, retirees control two-thirds of all the wealth in the U.S.
  • Coca Cola failed as a cough syrup before becoming the world’s most popular soft drink. Post-Its were the result of research into extra-strength adhesive tape, and Kevlar was originally developed as a material for panty hose.

Intentionally or not, Hayes hilariously points out the hypocrisy and outright stupidity of many in the “green” movement with reference to Ben & Jerry’s and, most entertainingly, Whole Foods: “Whole Foods smartly (?) takes the offense (with regard to not stocking live lobsters in its stores) and wraps itself in a flag of `ethical sourcing.’ It utilized a study from a European Animal Authority, think PETA, which indicates that lobsters may have feelings and can learn. This is despite the great weight of evidence from biologists and oceanographers, from numerous prestigious marine science universities, who point out that lobsters have no brains and only an insect-crude nervous system…In expressing its `animal compassion,’ (by selling only frozen lobsters, which are often sourced from large, migratory lobster breeders rather than small lobster operations), Whole Foods’ action very well have the unintended impact of harming the entire species. In fact in Maine, it is illegal to sell these ‘breeders,’ which are most likely to be sold, frozen, by Whole Foods.”

Hayes maintains his Old West theme throughout the book, frequently illustrating his points by throwing in references to wagon trains, life on the prairie, square dances, saloons, Boot Hill, the town marshal, horseshoes, lariats, sarsaparilla, cookouts, the general store, smoke signals, the open plains, etc. In the hands of a lesser writer, this style could quickly become irritating, but Hayes is deft enough to weave these references through his narrative in a manner than illuminates and entertains but never annoys. Each chapter helpfully concludes with a list of “trail markers,” the key points and takeaways from the chapter.

The book has a few faults. The sections on social networking are dated. He states at one point that “no ‘promotional consideration given’ notification is required on the Net,” which is no longer true. As a byproduct of being continually updated and produced using print-on-demand technology rather than traditional publishing, the book contains numerous typos. Only 22% of consumers read blogs (the actual figure exceeds 70%). Most bizarre is the claim that Google receives 25.7 million unique views per week; the true figure is close to 1 billion per day.

Still, such minor errors aside, Maverick Marketing is an entertaining, insightful and worthwhile read for any marketer in search of strategies for success on the new frontier of participative marketing.

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Best Facebook Marketing Tips and Guides of 2009

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Okay, so you’ve seen the jaw-dropping statistics: Facebook now has more than 400 million users, and it’s still growing. If it were a country, it would be the third largest. Half of all users log in on any given day. The average user spend nearly an hour per day on the site. It’s either the first or second-most visited site on the web (swapping places with Google, depending on the day). So despite the site’s questionable value for business, particularly in the b2b realm, marketers can’t afford to ignore it. If your company wants to be where the action is in social media, you need a presence on Facebook.

Best Facebook Marketing Tips of 2009Here in some of the best blog posts and articles about using Facebook for marketing from the past year, get tips on creating a compelling page for your company, attracting fans (or “likes”), and learning from the experience of successful brands on Facebook.

4 Reasons Why Marketers Should Choose Facebook Pages Over Facebook Groups by Inside Facebook

Jessica Lee explains the advantages of Facebook Pages for businesses, including rich analytics and increased links for SEO benefit.

The Super Simple Guide to Setting Up Your First Company Facebook Page Without Blowing a Gasket – Part One by Search Engine Guide

***** 5 Stars
With a title like that, you know it’s got to be a great post. In her own entertaining and inimitable style, Jennifer Laycock walks through the process of setting up a basic company page on Facebook, plus links to posts covering more advanced next steps.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Marketing by iMedia Connection

Frequent best-of contributor Daniel Flamberg advises Facebook marketers on strategy, style and tactics for success, such as how to craft effective content: “huge numbers of users come to Facebook to fill time gaps, relieve boredom or catch up on friends and family. Your content has to fit into that mindset to be successful.”

10 Successful Facebook Business Pages by Penn Olson

Willis Wee showcases 10 examples of Facebook brand success, from Ben & Jerry’s and Starbucks to FML and Red Bull.

10 practical tips for Facebook fan pages by iMedia Connection

Carnet Williams provides valuable tips for Facebook marketing success, such as establishing your strategy in advance, providing a stream of fresh content, and giving your audience a reason to become fans.

Learn Facebook Page SEO Mastery In 7 Easy Steps by All Facebook

Nick O’Neill offers SEO tips for increasing the prominence of your company’s Facebook page and website in search.

Tips To Get People To Join Your Facebook Fan Page by Small Business Trends

The brilliant Lisa Barone outlines a strategy to convert your Facebook fans from “passive observers to a full-blown brand evangelists.”

The Big Money Facebook 50 by Slate

Brief summaries of the 50 most popular brands on Facebook, and their approaches for achieving that success.

Alert! Facebook Pages Are Changing: Are You Ready? by MediaPost Online Media Daily

Michael Lazerow walks through the details and implications for marketers of several design changes implemented by Facebook late last year and early this year, such as the increasing importance of applications.

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