Thoughts on #Socialnomics 2014 by Erik Qualman

Erik Qualman is at it again, with an updated 2014 installment of his #Socialnomics video (see below). If you are still unsure of the impact social can have on your company, consider these statistics from the video:

  • “53% of people on twitter recommend products in their tweets”
  • “93% of shoppers’ buying decisions are influenced by social media”
  • “90% of consumers trust peer recommendations only 14% trust advertisements”

Whether or not your company is using social networks, your customers are — in order to inform their purchase decisions and opinions about your brand.  Being active on social media gives companies an opportunity to listen, connect and contribute to the opinions consumers form of their products. Or as Erik states “Goodbye 4Ps – hello 4 C’s of digital: creating, curating, connecting culture”.

What do you think?

How to Get Your Company to Go Viral on Facebook

Facebook Thumbs UpFacebook ads are the least expensive form of advertising, according to a study by the Content Marketing Institute. With just 25 cents, companies can reach an audience of 1000. Compare this to the average cost of $32 per 1000 viewers for newspaper ads and it’s easy to see why online marketing has increased in popularity. As more and more companies adopt online marketing, you’ll begin to see a rise in competition. Stay afloat by using Facebook’s new content sharing algorithm to go viral.

Change Your Marketing Strategies

Instead of posting repetitive, generic content, reach your target audience with meaningful posts that will pique curiosity and, in turn, increase views. Advertising Age warns of a gradual decline in organic reach and says that companies will have to counter this by spending money on sponsored ads or post trending content that is relevant to their brand. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to pay for views or alter your marketing strategies.

Create Relevant Content

For a post to reach an audience of thousands in a matter of minutes, it should be clickable, engaging and current. In other words, before pressing “share,” make sure the content is relevant to your target audience. For the Sharpie brand, relevant content for this company would consist of DIY crafts that use their products, office humor, inspirational quotes and workspace organization.

Think outside the box when crafting a new post and keep your company’s mission statement in mind. Take into account any trending news and always put yourself in your consumer’s shoes. Ad Age sums up the importance of content relevancy: “If you’re going to inject yourself into the conversation, make the interruption worthwhile.” Before your post goes live, ask yourself this question: is this something I would personally want to share with my friends?

Keep Track of Consumer Data

Recently, new features have been added to Facebook Page Insights, including an easy start- and end-date slider, advanced filtering and post-clicks statistics. But the most dramatic change gives administrators the ability to see how many fans are online any given day of the week as well as the average number of fans who see your posts per hour, says Social Media Examiner. Use this feature to your advantage by updating during peak days and hours to increase views.

Share Across Social Media Platforms

Sure, you can identify a successful post by its number of likes, shares and comments on Facebook, but it doesn’t have to stop there. Go global with your sharing by updating across other media platforms like Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube. You can turn the photo that accompanied your Facebook post into a Pinterest pin to redirect users to your company’s Facebook page. Or follow in the footsteps of Lifelock, which shares LifeLock videos on Facebook that have been uploaded to YouTube. The trick here is to work smart, not hard.

Improving Your Facebook Ads

facebook ads

facebook ads (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Facebook ads can be a relatively cost effective way to increase awareness and even to generate sales.  Social Media Examiner has an article — 4 Ways to Improve Your Facebook Ads — that serves as a good starting point.  The article mentions 4 ways to improve your Facebook ads: 1) Meaning of Colors, 2) Language that Reflects Brand, 3) Impact with Images & 4) Effective Targeting. I think two of the most important ways to improve ads (of any kind) are missing: 1) Providing Value 2) Catchy Wording.

State Value & Benefits in Ads

I think it’s important to remember in any marketing communications or advertising that customers want to know what’s in it for them. Instead of a list of features, they want a list of benefits. While Facebook ads have a set limit of words and images, these should be used to inform the audience of the value you are offering them. It’s important that messaging reflect your brand, in terms of voice and image, but without communicating value, you are relying on what the customer knows of your brand (which may be nothing at all).

Ads Have Only an Instant to Impress

Images and color certainly have an impact on how we feel and whether something catches our eye.  Once that attention is caught, even if only for a split second, it’s vital to do your best to communicate in a way that keeps the attention.  Obviously putting your value/benefit out there front and center is key, but also to word your call to action and entire message in a way that’s both easy to read and catchy.  The example ads for #3 in 4 Ways to Improve Your Facebook ads are great examples of having catchy messaging.

What ways have you improved your Facebook ads?

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Does the Facebook News Feed Algorithm Leave Out Lurkers?

FACEBOOK LIKE

FACEBOOK LIKE (Photo credit: owenwbrown)

There’s been much news about the Facebook News Feed Algorithm which seems to remove posts from most of our friends and the pages we’ve liked — some might claim for reasons of wanting people to buy promoted posts.  While Facebook claims that the changes are to boost engagement — claiming that people are more likely to make updates when they see updates from others (but not from pages) — I think this leaves out a huge chunk of the Internet/Facebook audience — The Lurkers.

If you manage a Facebook Page for you ecommerce business, you may have noticed your organic reach and engagement has tanked lately. Analysis of the Internet Retailer 500 Facebook Pages shows engagement sunk 27% in 2013 vs 2012, and rumors abound that Facebook’s News Feed algorithm is increasingly hiding Page posts to force marketers to pay for exposure in the News Feed. Hacking the Facebook News Feed Algorithm by Linda Bustos

Lurkers are people who read and consume content — probably even regularly, but never share, like or comment on it.  They find the content valuable enough to consume, but not enough to take an action.  Many people just aren’t the type of person that feels comfortable with commenting or sharing online.  But they do find content valuable, and sites that can provide valuable content regularly are useful to this type of content consumption.

If Facebook discounts people who just read content (maybe not even clicking on the links), and removes that content from feed — is that providing a service to that type of person?  My argument is that is not.  Even the least Internet saavy has noticed that Facebook is “tampering” with their feeds.  Will this make Facebook less useful in general?  Time will say, but I certainly have seen the impact in my own content consumption — preferring to get content from my feed reader, Feedly, or maybe even Google+ which doesn’t filter my feed.

What do you think?

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Want to use Social Media? Listen, Reply & Be Human

Amtrak California locomotive train.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re wondering how to use social media for your business, it’s really not difficult — you should do the same things that you would do if a potential customer was in your store.  Listen to see whether or not they have questions, reply to any questions or concerns in a timely manner, and above all, be human.  MarketingProfs has this great article on how an old business – Amtrak – has been successful with social media:

The lessons are simple, and they should be applied by any business using social media to connect with customers.

1. Listen relentlessly. I was shocked that this “old-school” business was so attentive to the pulse of social media.

2. Reply immediately. Not only will you impress the daylights out of customers, you’ll also defuse tension and often turn it into a positive.

3. Have a human voice. I love the fact that whoever was monitoring the Amtrak Twitter account was not at all above shilling for a raise! Three Timely Social Media Lessons From an Old Business by Steve Woodruff

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The Diverse Paths for Google+ and Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg, founder and CEO of Facebook (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook is a social networking site that is trying to diversify into other applications (Poke, Messenger, Camera, etc), while Google+ is trying to integrate into the already existing array of Google Apps. CIO has a great article on the differences in the two company’s future direction:

Yet these two sites are embracing opposite strategies for the future. Specifically, Facebook is an integrated social network that is trying to become many different products, and Google offers many different products that it’s trying to integrate into a single social network.

The reason for such opposing strategies is that the problems, constraints and opportunities for each company are completely different. Why Facebook and Google+ Are Headed in Opposite Directions by Mike Elgan

While the article goes into some great reasons that Facebook and Google+ have different paths, I think that one missed point is why Facebook has been losing active users — not only because teens have been leaving and new teens have not been signing up, but also because Facebook has started more aggressively controlling what you see in your newsfeed — much of which feels like ads.

As my colleague Earl Lear pointed out:

I think what irritates me the most about Facebook is the fact that I personally clicked the ‘Like’ button on her page so that I could keep up with her, and read the content that she posts on a regular basis.  However, Facebook has determined that I really didn’t mean to ‘Like’ her content and has chosen to silence her in my newsfeed.  The motivation here is clearly to raise the revenue at Facebook by forcing people into paying for ads but aren’t they taking away from my experience to achieve their goals and thus lowering the level of satisfaction with their product?

I guess the question is, if you liked a page, do you expect to see updates from that page?  Maybe Facebook should have distinguished between Like and Subscribe earlier so they wouldn’t have to guess what content people want to see.

While people often aren’t keen on the amount of data Google collects about them, they’ve typically been pretty open and truthful about what they’re doing — they even provide good measurement tools for both AdWords and Analytics so you can see what’s going on with your websites.

Will this openness serve Google+ in the future?  Will Facebook’s past gaffs cause problems?  What do you think?

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Relationships are Key to B2B Online Marketing in 2014

over coffee

over coffee (Photo credit: lanuiop)

B2B marketing, whether online or off, is all about relationships. With longer sales cycles, and often, larger purchase amounts, it’s the relationship that a customer has with a business that really determines whether or not they’ll make the sale.  This also means that how the customer thinks and feels about the B2B company is vital to understand, throughout the relationship — especially in customer service after the purchase.  eMagine has a good article on B2B online marketing tactics for 2014: The B2B Online Marketing Quick Checklist for 2014, and while they mention Facebook and LinkedIn, I think that social media marketing has to be one of the top tactics for any B2B company in 2014 — and that means finding the social networks that make sense for your particular business (which may mean publication or association social networks or even creating your own).  Also vital to the success of any social media marketing efforts are being able to track customers throughout the sales cycle — which means a CRM that can be tied to social networks and campaigns and can find customers who are on social networks to know what they’re saying.

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Twitter’s Promoted Tweets Going Mobile

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

It was just a matter of time before Twitter increased the amount of ads in its feed and applications. Twitter announced on Monday that mobile users would start to see promoted tweets right in their timelines. Promoted Tweets are a way for advertisers to get themselves in front of more Twitter users, and a way for Twitter to make money. This change is not surprising now that Twitter has public stockholders to please.  It’s common knowledge that ads that are set apart tend to be ignored, so putting Promoted Tweets right in the feed is a way to increase the performance of those ads.

 

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Using Hastags on Facebook May Kill Your Content

facebook engancha

facebook engancha (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Twitter, hashtags help spread news and link conversations.  On Google+, hashtags help group together related content.  On Facebook, hashtags kill your content?  According to a study by EdgeRank, when hashtags are used by businesses on status messages, both engagement and virality drop significantly.  While this may be related to the posts that are being tagged, it seems to me that this is really a problem with Facebook’s hashtag system.  Unlike Google+ and Twitter, hashtags are not easy to use or browse on Facebook — they also seem disruptive in the news feed — like you’ve just posted a Twitter post without bothering to modify it for Facebook.

Social Times has more analysis:

EdgeRank analyzed 35,000 posts from 500 business pages over the month of July this year. They were shocked by the results. At best, the hashtags had no impact, and at worst, the presence of a hashtag reduced the reach of the posts. Contrast this with Twitter, one of the first sites to use hashtags effectively, 70 percent of brands saw retweets increase with the use of hashtags. Facebook Hashtags Aren’t Very Effective, Study Says by Kimberlee Morrison

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Learn About Your Customer Through Social Listening

Listen with heart

Listen with heart (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

One of the most amazing aspects of social media is the ability to listen directly to your customers to find out their needs and wants. Unfortunately, this is not done by many companies. Instead they rather either spend lots of money on expensive surveys and market research, or avoid it altogether. There’s nothing wrong with spending on surveys and market research, but avoiding information that is right in front of you is a big mistake. [Read more...]