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Brand Marketing Strategy and Execution

Goal Setting for Digital Marketing

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As with personal goals, it’s never too late to start setting digital marketing goals. No need to wait until the New Year or fret if you don’t get them set by the end of January.

Yes, it’s never too late for setting digital marketing goals, though it can be too early. Let me explain; goal setting for digital marketing can benefit from some level of baseline knowledge. How would you know what to aim for if you have no idea what is realistic for your business?

Build a Baseline to Reference

If you’re new to measuring certain aspects of your digital marketing, consider taking 1-3 months to measure and record, developing a baseline from which to create your goals.

If you have been measuring for a period of time these numbers should be part of your goal setting decisions.

What Else to Consider

Well, that baseline number up there of course but also:

  • The platform averages for your industry. For example, comparing Average Reach on Twitter for a Logistics company and a Clothing Retailer may be like comparing apples to alligators.
  • Direct competitor performance.
  • Age and level of awareness of the business
  • Age of the business’ presence on a certain platform

Know what to measure

Each platform/channel/area of effort (whatever you want to call it) will have relative metrics to track but all of this should be feeding into a big picture marketing plan with big picture marketing goals. These are the details, these are the brush strokes that make up your masterpiece for the month/quarter/year/etc.

Let’s use two major social platforms as an example of what to measure:

On Facebook

  1. Engagement – How people are interacting with your content on Facebook
  2. Reach (but be aware that organic reach is tough to come by. Any significant Reach is likely to come from paid promotion, at least to get rolling and build awareness).
  3. Page Likes – Despite some reports, page Likes aren’t just a shallow metric to measure your popularity. Quality Page Likes help to amplify your Reach and increase the effectiveness of your Facebook Advertising.
  4. Negative Impact – Diving into the Page Likes section within your Facebook Insights shows you a Net Likes section. Here you can quickly see a count for Unlikes of your Page. Unlike aren’t uncommon, even for the most popular brands, but if you can correlate any large sections of Unlikes to recent posts, ads and/or frequencies listen to your audience and make adjustments. On the ads in particular, check out this article on reducing ads fatigue.

On Twitter

  1. Impressions – numbers of times users saw your tweet
  2. Engagement Rate – the number of engagements (clicks, retweets, favorites, follows, replies) divided by the total number of impressions. This data is more valuable month over month than say day-to-day.

Depending on your marketing and business development goals you’ll likely be looking to convert that social activity to leads and ultimately projects/sales. That’s where your website goals and data comes in.

Website Metrics to Track (Google Analytics):

  1. Sessions/Users – this is the number of visits to your site and the number of Users (or visitors) making up those visits.
  2. Referrals – where those Users are coming from and what they’re clicking on to get to your site. Tracking URLS for your social media sites can help better clarify those actions.
  3. Exit Pages – unlike Bounce rate which can vary based on page content and the desired outcome from your landing pages, Exit Pages allow you to take a closer look at when your visitors are leaving on their journey through your site. From here you can take educated actions that help carry the visitor closer to conversion.
  4. Conversion Rate – Just like it sounds, how your website is performing based on the number of visitors who reach the desired goal (conversion)
  5. Top 5 or 10 Pages – Look at these monthly to help connect the dots between new content and social media efforts with onsite traffic and behaviors.

Set “Stretch But Don’t Snap” Goals

In the end goals should be aggressive but obtainable – realistic but take some of your best effort to achieve. Seeing your team start to close in on goals can be great motivation. On the flip-side, seeing a gigantic gap between where you are and where you want to get, can lead to a serious case of throwing in the towel.

Tell us about your digital marketing goals or if you have a question fire away in the comments or on twitter. Grab more digital marketing insights here.

Photo credit: Jeff Turner

Keep Organized With These Small Business Marketing Extensions

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Marketing for a small business can get hectic, time-consuming, and unorganized. Between the hundreds of accounts, sites, and content resources used everyday, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Luckily there are plenty of browser extensions that can be added to your web browser to help keep your efforts clutter-free. Here are some great extensions that the Shout Out team uses to stay sane:

Awesome Screenshot:

Screen capturing is nothing new, but Awesome Screenshot is the most versatile and capable screenshot tool I have come across. It allows you to capture either a selected area, the directly visible area, or the entire web page. After you have selected your screenshot, you can annotate it in a variety of ways, and even censor sensitive information. The final benefit of Awesome Screenshot is it gives you the option to email, share the url, or save the image. Showing edits needed on site pages, individual posts or photos has never been easier.

 

Hootlet:

If you’re in charge of social media for your small business, there is a good chance you are no stranger to HootSuite. Hootlet is their browser extension which helps you save time and effort. You can post to multiple social media profiles at once, schedule your posts, and find targeted content all without leaving your browser window.

bitly:

bitly is a link shortening/ branding extension that does so much more. After you create custom bitlinks, you can then manage and review their performance from the analytics and reporting from bitly. It keeps your social sharing looking clean, and helps you track click-throughs.

 

riffle:

Riffle is the Twitter dashboard you’ve been looking for, assuming you were looking for a Twitter dashboard. Get a Twitter profile’s vitals, influence assessments, top shares, usage and it’s activity rate all in a single dashboard. It’s a great way to learn about your followers or potential influencers.

Pocket:

Save the content you find for later with Pocket. This nifty extension will save, categorize and sync content so you can access it later, from any device. Pocket is a great way to curate articles, videos, or photos to share from your brand’s social media accounts.

MozBar:

The MozBar browser extension provides free SEO metrics and data. You can search keywords, locations and individual search engines. MozBar also lets you analyze on-page elements with their Analyze Page overlay. It provides you with a break down of social shares and metrics. Save time on SEO research by adding MozBar to your extension arsenal.

Other useful extensions that will save you time and effort:

Check My Links:

As the name suggests, this extension is a link checker that scours through your page or post and will make sure all your links are working. Once it’s done it will highlight working links in green, and it highlights the broken links with red. This is a great time-saver, especially when you’ve been editing content for an entire day.

RiteTag:

It can be hard to know which hashtags to use on your social media posts. RiteTag takes the guessing out of it by grading your hashtags on a three point scale. Updates shared through RiteTag are also monitored for click-throughs, replies, retweets, favorites, and follows.

Check out the extensions above and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear of any extensions you use that have simplified your daily workload.

E-Commerce Tips: Be super at selling stuff online

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It’s also one of the busiest, most expensive, and stressful times. As customers continue to clamor online for deals, steals, and gifts, here’s a few ways to make sure your store and products stand out in this digital shop frenzy.

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JetBlue Uses Social Media for a Social Movement

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Social media is a powerful business tool, but it can also be an amazing vehicle for doing good. JetBlue recently caught my eye when I heard about what they were doing to embrace social media and create a social movement by giving back to their travelers in the form of social sharing. With their Fly It Forward Campaign, they’ve asked individuals to tell them “If you were given one flight to spread good where would you go?” The goal is to provide fliers with a ticket to make the world a little better with the one request that they pay it forward.

It takes the simple action of traveling and makes it something much, much more. It’s about what you will do when you get there. The brand is investing and empowering travelers to give them access to making their dreams real and doing something that truly matters. JetBlue Senior Vice President of Commercial, Marty St George said it best, “It’s easy to get caught up in the mechanics of travel and overlook the reasons why people travel. Everyone travels for their own reasons. It’s those stories, those connections with individuals that inspire us all.”

Fly It Forward started first with crewmembers nominating members of their communities they thought were worthy of a flight. Tameka was selected a first. As a director of I Grow Chicago, she provides a safe-haven for at-risk community members by connecting them through yoga, urban farming, art, and culture. Her purpose is to teach community ownership and help individuals realize that they matter. With JetBlue, she had the chance to visit the United Nations as a delegate and learn from other communities who fight against similar obstacles in order to bring it back and share what she knows.

The next evolution of the experience is the process of passing it on. The beauty of it is that these individuals have never met. It’s not a good friend or a co-worker that they know who wants to go somewhere amazing. It’s about giving these travelers a chance to hear the stories of other like-minded individuals who want to make a difference or want to experience something that would be life-changing and passing on that same opportunity. You can follow the stories as they take flight and unfold on jetblueflyitforward.com and help continue the mission by nominating yourself or submitting a worthy traveler’s story through Twitter using #FlyItForward.

 

If your brand can take consumers to a place they never thought they could go, give them the vessel to do that. Whether it’s through communicating encouragement, empowerment, or physically providing them with the tools they need…that’s a powerful position to be able to do something good.

A Simple Guide To Marketing On Reddit

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Everyone knows that social media marketing can be an incredibly powerful, and these days necessary, marketing tool. Most marketers gravitate to Facebook because it is easy to understand. The slightly more tech savvy will be engaged in twitter or maybe Pintrest. But very few marketers will dive into marketing on Reddit, and they are missing a world of opportunity.

Reddit can be a scary place for a marketer:

  • It doesn’t have a beautiful and slick UI like most of its social media brethren. In fact, it’s more like the craigslist of social media.
  • It’s divided into thousands upon thousands of subreddits. More are added every day.
  • Its users are made up of some of the most tech-savvy and skeptical people on the internet.

Although it’s ugly, incredibly divided, and its users are unforgiving, in my opinion, Reddit is one of the best places a marketer can be today. If you identify where your market is and speak to them in a genuine and honest voice, they can be some of the greatest influencers out there. If you’re interested in capitalizing on one of the best social media outlets in existence, here is my quick and dirty guide to help you do so:

  1. Identify your relevant subreddits

If you are thinking that you are just going to post a link to your blog or website and be on the front page of Reddit, you are sorely mistaken. Trying to land something on the front page is a waste of time. Instead, spend a good amount of time and find out where your incredibly active subreddits are. There is practically one for everything. The people that frequent these subreddits will be incredibly passionate about whatever it is that the subreddit is about.

  1. Become a part of the community

You’ve heard us say this a hundred times before but I am going to say it again. It is called SOCIAL media for a reason. You need to actively participate in the community to have success there. You may have thought you identified your perfect subreddit, but once you get active in it you may find out that is has an entirely different tone than what you thought it would have. Start out by commenting on threads and answering questions. Gradually work your way into posting links.

  1. Have something to say

Once you feel like you have become part of the community, don’t just start throwing up links to your website every day. People will sniff that self-serving type of stuff out super quick. You need to have something to say, and it needs to be good. After spending some time on the subreddit you should have a pretty good idea of what kinds of things people are really interested in. Take those interesting ideas and write something about it on your blog, or post something about it on the subreddit giving advice or asking questions. Don’t just start submitting links to your shop page or company website every other day to generate traffic.

Being successful on reddit, really just boils down to a few things; find the right people, be genuine, and don’t abuse it. As I said before, these are some of the most savvy people on the internet, if they sense one thing off about who you are and what you are doing you won’t get anywhere. However, if you’re smart about it and become a genuine person in their community, it will be one of your best audiences out there.

What Instagram Can Do For Your Business That Twitter Cannot

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I don’t follow a ton of people on Twitter but I’ve carefully built a feed of:

1) people or brands who share and create useful content
2) people or brands I know or those I’ve connected with in some fashion and
3) folks who are simply kind, entertaining and engaging online.

I’ve built some rewarding relationships on Twitter, met great people and even collaborated on ideas and projects. It can be a valuable platform as long as you’re giving as much as you’re taking away.

Despite all of this deliberate cultivation of tweet sources, Twitter can feel like a social media Groundhog Day – a loop of the same “6 Ways to Whatever” and a broken record of links. To combat this problem Twitter has better integrated images and videos into tweets over the passed year. And it has helped. Stats show engagement rates increase as much as 151% on tweets with images. We’re visual people. Our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text.

So imagine your brand’s visual story being told on a platform inherently geared toward images. Instagram isn’t all selfies and lattes. Companies large and small across a variety of industries are finding creative ways to utilize Instagram as a vehicle for social communication.

What Instagram Can Do For Your Business:

Help You Show More Culture: Consumers, in general, you, me and we, want to know more about the people behind the brands we engage with. It’s easier to connect and relate brand voice and brand tendencies with a person or group of people than it is to a logo or name or product packaging. That hasn’t necessarily changed from consumer interest 20-30 years ago but the way it happens and the scale at which it happens certainly has.

Instagram is the chance to provide a glass door look into your culture; from philanthropy to pumpkin carving, Instagram is a chance to show the human side of the business and even activate employees to do the same.

Help You Show More Quality and Value: If you create a product Instagram is the perfect place to provide proof of quality, from the materials you use in the process, to the packaging. If you provide a service give folks a peek at the brainstorming. Let them see the breadth of team, skills, and work that goes into delivering a great service experience.

Help You Show More Travel: Heading out for a conference, client meeting or event? Use Instagram to capture highlights and local interests. Relevant hashtags and location tagging helps you connect with audiences that could ultimately turn into buyers.

71% More Likely to Purchase Based on Social Media Referrals

This stat is from a 2012 article but even if that number is skewed slightly the fact remains that social done right builds trust. Instagram provides a visually driven way to communicate and connect. More Instagram How-to’s here.

How is your company using Instagram? Share your challenges and successes in the comments below.

How To Create Well-Designed Emails

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A few months ago, we did a post for our favorite Attention Grabbing Email Marketing Campaigns. As was mentioned by a few team members (myself included) a well-designed, eye-catching email is something that we found to be the most attractive aspect of different campaigns. Being able to grab someone’s attention is the first step in getting the engagement you hope for in email marketing. But what makes for a well-designed email?

 

The goal is to motivate, not intimidate.
When we talk about good email design in a marketing sense, we are mostly referring to design that marries form and function. The reason this is so important is because it will motivate action, leading to a higher conversion rate. If an email is designed well, a viewer will clearly and calmly be able to locate and utilize a call to action, understand the incentive or promotion, and know who it’s coming from. As a marketer you want to make it as stress-free and appealing as possible. The consumer assumes all of the risk: lost time, doubt in a company, or doubt in security. Using design appropriately can reduce these concerns, and bridge the gap between you and your customers. Here are 5 ways to create an effective and attractive email:

Example Email from IFTTT

Example Email from IFTTT

  1. Use a Header– Put your logo or company name at the top of your email, making it clear who is sending the message.
  2. Create a Hierarchy- Just like any other form of content, having a hierarchy allows a reader to skim and quickly decide whether they are interested or not. It also helps to break up your content (someone is more likely to skim or ignore a large block of text.)
  3. Easy to Navigate– If a reader wants to learn more on your site, make it easy for them to get there. The easier you make this, the more likely you are to see conversions. One of the best ways is to have a Call To Action that is pronounced and clear.
  4. Use Imagery-The power of a picture has been praised repetitively. Using photo and video assets will always help. But it is important not to overcrowd and clutter with visual aids, using only what you need will also keep the file size down.
  5. Less is More- While this is usually true in most of design; it especially applies to email design. Having a clear message, promotion, or incentive tells your viewer exactly why you were contacting them. Keep your email simple, legible, and organized. This is the best way to get the attention you deserve for your content.

 

On average, viewers spend around 15 seconds looking at marketing emails. With such a small window of time to make the right impression, use your space wisely. The less clutter, excessive content, and clickable areas there are, the easier it will be to navigate and understand.

Social Media Success Summit – Part 1

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This month we’re participating in Social Media Examiner’s 6th Annual Social Media Success Summit. The online conference focuses on all things social media with more than 45 of the world’s leading social media pros. Last year’s conference drew in 3,000 like minded marketers. Since we’re halfway through the conference, we thought we’d share a few highlights from some of our favorite sessions.

Twitter

Amy Schmittauer, founder of Savvy Sexy Social, hit home three key points: Be Human, Be Relevant, Be Giving, during her session on “How to use Twitter to Build Relationships that Lead to Business.” On the surface that may just seem logical in the realm of social media, but it’s how you do it that makes a difference.

Conversations are crucial. Amy advised “Listen and talk to people. If you do nothing but this, you’ll find success.” It shows people that you DO talk to people, and you’re listening and interacting. People judge a follow on how much you engage with your community. The nice thing is that Twitter discussions don’t take up the news feed, like tweets on your timeline, because its just a dialogue between two people. So go ahead and carry on.

How do you get more engagement on Twitter? Go find conversations!! Everyone who wants to have conversation isn’t necessarily looking for it. Find conversations you can be a part of, and tweet with people you follow. Or tweet with people who are following you, but maybe you haven’t followed them back yet. Check out their timeline, find out what they’re talking about, and if there’s something that interests you.

We’ve mentioned before how much we like Twitter lists, but Amy recommended taking it a step further for engagement and consider utilizing for a specific event, such as a conference. You can list speakers or acquaintances that you want to connect with before or after the conference.

Visual Content

Another presentation that caught our attention was, “How to Use Visual Content to Drive Massive Social Media Engagement,” by Kim Garst. The statistics that Kim provided on visual content were staggering:

  • Visuals are processed 60 times faster by the brain than text
  • 90% of all info that is transmitted to the brain is visual
  • 40% of visual content is more likely to be shared
  • 46% of people think website design is #1 in deciding if a company is legitimate
  • 65% of people are visual learners

With statistics like these backing up her presentation, it’s clear that companies who aren’t capitalizing on visual content are missing out. Kim also mentioned three key things to consider when creating visual content: 1) It’s not about you, it’s about them. 2) Consider what your audience cares about, outside of your product or service. 3) Your visual content has to appeal to your prospects’ lifestyle. Most importantly – Be Real! So many companies out there put out content that isn’t authentic. Kim advises that you post a photo of your co-workers ‘behind the scenes’ rather than stiff stock photos.

LinkedIn

Lastly we couldn’t resist the chance to check out Viveka von Rosen‘s session on “LinkedIn Prospecting Gold! 5 Steps to Finding, Engaging and Closing Leads with LinkedIn.” LinkedIn has huge applications from a B2B perspective, but many users seem to still struggle with how to get the most benefit out of it. Here’s a look at some of the advice that Viveka shared:

Like Google your profile must be optimized if you want to be found by prospects. Check your connections’ skills sections, and those are great keywords. For premium users, utilize the new keyword tool to incorporate keywords into your summary section, interests, and experience description. When you add keywords, add them to CONTENT! Two to one people will find you through the keywords in your content.

Save your searches. Once a week LinkedIn will send you an email of three leads that fall into that category from your searches. Seems kinda like a no brainer, right? When you search company pages don’t forget to click on “People You Know,” to see who you’re connected to. Find out what groups they’re in and you can join and look for an opportunity to connect. For a little extra help on any additional information you need, use an eGrabber Account Researcher tool to get phone numbers, email addresses, and public company information about a prospect.

Utilize LinkedIn Connected. It allows you to tag people or create lists according to what they are to you. And, because tags are private, you can send messages to a group of people. Viveka said it’s a little time consuming to set up, but worth it. You can also add private notes right on their profile. For example, a note about where you met someone or specifics of your conversation. You can also set up reminders to follow up with them.

Lastly, use messages as opposed to email because email can sometimes get caught up in spam filters. You’re 20% more likely to have your message read than an email.

We’re looking forward to the upcoming sessions covering video, content and Instagram marketing. Stay tuned for Part 2 of our highlights of the Social Media Success Summit.

 

 

Click Bait

Cut The Crap With Click-Bait

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Let’s all face it – Facebook isn’t what it once was. We are flooded with ad’s, promoted posts, and articles for companies we’ve never heard of. It’s a headache and a daily struggle to dodge these to get to the juicy stuff.

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook when I noticed a little birdie complaining about how misleading titles and descriptions are for articles shared on Facebook. Quite frankly, I have to agree with her. It has become a game for companies like Harper’s Baazer and Huffington Post who post multiple articles on facebook a day. Both add “descriptions” of what they claim lay inside the article…  However, it’s a game of whether or not the description/title is telling the truth.

Here is what my little birdie says on her Facebook post: “Case in Point: The title of this article has no reference or direct correlation to the story. In the article, they make no comment or quote on the people who have too much time on their hands.”Elite DailyPhoto credit: Elite Daily

This new trend is called Click-Bait. According to Amy Porterfield, “Click-bait is when a link is shared in a Facebook post with a title that sparks curiosity but does not really tell people what the article is all about. This essentially teases people to click a link but does not give them all the information so they are not exactly sure what they’re going to find on the other side of that click.”

The good news? Facebook is cracking down. On August 25th on the Facebook Newsroom page, they stated. “We’re making two updates, the first to reduce click-baiting headlines, and the second to help people see links shared on Facebook in the best format.”

Cheers to that, Facebook.

How can you help the cause? The way Facebook determines whether or not something is Click-Bait is by how much time you spend on the article you click on. If you click on an article and read it for a few minutes, Facebook measures that to be something worthy of reading. If you click on the article and immediately click out of it, Facebook recognizes that is an issue.

Click-bait making you crazy too? Drop a line in the comments and share.

Photo Credit: Greg Westfall

Need a new website?

Need a new website? Terms to know…

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With so many voices in the web building world, it gets tricky to sort through it and find the solution that works best for you. Here are some terms that can help sift through the web talk and help you make a better and more informed decision.

CMS: Content Management Systems: Long gone are the days of building webpages and sites by hand coding. With the size and scale of the sites on the web now, trying to manually manage them has turned from tricky to near impossible.

Introducing Content Management Systems. What is it? A platform that provides the structure, organization and deployment of content. Software is installed on the server, that allows a user to login to an admin panel where they can access, edit, and publish content without knowing any code. The setup and customization is typically much less work than traditional websites, and with a skilled developer you can have a fast, secure, and unique site on a time table that is a fraction of what they were 5 years ago. There are a variety of CMS available, with the most popular being WordPress.

WordPress: I know you’ve heard the term. It’s been floating around for almost 10 years now. My first experience with WordPress was in 2007 when I created my first photography blog. Then, I chose it simply because it was free and it promised a simple and quick installation. I’ve been able to watch it grow into the number one CMS powering 23% of the internet.

WordPress is my choice for CMS for a variety of reasons, the first being its community. As open source software, anyone and everyone is welcome to develop and create for WordPress. This establishes a network of well… help. Anytime I have needed help or had questions someone within the WordPress community has usually seen the same issue or wanted to try the same thing.

Plugins are extensions for the basic WordPress platform. There are plenty of free options, but if you’ve got a budget you can use premium plugins to quickly turn your site into whatever you would like. E-commerce site, blog, portfolio, you name it.

WordPress also anticipates and embraces new technology. They were leaps and bounds ahead of other platforms in developing sites that were mobile friendly. That is just one example. They continue to be ahead of the curve in adopting what users want on a front and back end.

Framework: Not interested in a CMS? There are plenty of other options. The next most used option is a Framework. People often compare WordPress and Drupal. Having a limited amount of time working within Drupal, it felt less like a CMS and more like a framework. You could build a CMS with Drupal but it requires more time, more humans, and more money. It is also open source, and there’s a very loyal community, but the learning curve is steep, and building and maintaining a framework site will require a team of developers. There are lots of arguments out there on why one is better than other, but I’ve yet to run into a situation where Drupal did something WordPress couldn’t. But the White House does use it, so there’s that.

E-commerce: Like shopping online? Me too… E-commerce simply allows you to sell online. Just a few years ago this required the use of highly skilled developers. Things have gotten easier. WordPress has plugins like WooCommerce to make this possible. And there are other sites that will make e-commerce very simple for you; but beware because they are often interested in taking a significant portion of your profit.

Free software: There are dozens of free options out there for websites. Some of the most popular being wix and weebly. As a developer I did not have any fun working with these platforms. While I am sure there is a demographic that benefits from these services, I am yet to see who they are. If you are a business, or anyone seeking to establish an online presence, I have found these options tend to be just as much work, with significantly less payoff.

Still not sure what’s right for you? Drop us a line in the comments and we can help steer you in the right direction.

Social Media Help From Your Friends

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Launching a new brand on social media is difficult. It takes time to build your audience, find your voice, and win the attention of your target market. But what if you could speed that up a little bit? How you ask? Just ask your friends. Your friends, whether they are personal or professional, probably have a sizeable head start on your social media presence, and their reach is exponential. A current side project of mine with a non-existent budget has lead me to try this technique to boost our following on social media networks across the board as well as promote a single message in a well orchestrated social media blast. Here is what I did to plan this. read more

Google Plus Communities to Join

Five Google+ Communities You Should Join

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If you have a Google+ account that you use actively, you know about Google+ communities. Similar to LinkedIn Groups and Facebook Groups, it’s a categorized “community” based on a specific topic where anyone who has a Google+ page can join, chat and participate in the conversation. Below are five types of Google+ communities that are helpful and useful. These are prime examples of what a Google+ Community has to offer for your business, or personally:

Google+ Help Community

Let’s face it, when you first start poking around Google+ it can be quite confusing to get the ball rolling. There’s a community for that. Google+ Help Community is a place for your Google+ related questions. There are 338,595 members of this community that are able and willing to help you with all of your Google+ needs. This community has a wide range of topics from general help, to Google+ tips and tricks.

Apple Google+ Community

For all those Apple, Inc. users and lovers there’s an Apple Google+ Community. This community has 132,976 members who post about news about Apple, their devices, apps and everything else related to the company. The topics for discussion range from questions and answers about Apple product to trending topics about iOS updates (the most recent topic is about the iOS8 update issues).

Google Small Business Community

This is a community where businesses can get the help they need to succeed on the web by connecting with experts and each other. In addition to regular Hangouts and Q+A’s with Google+ members, trusted advisers and industry leaders, you’ll also see an assortment of other topics such as #BizBits, stats, tips, quotes and trivia for everyday learning, and #AskanAdvisor, which is where you can ask a question online to a professional. This community is backed by Google+ Your Business and has 73, 156 small business members.

Healthy Living Community

This community is killing it in the health and fitness section of Google+ communities. This is a community all about living a healthy lifestyle. The topics discussed are about health, diet, exercise, weight loss, fitness, and workouts. Anything in the health and fitness category that you have questions about, this community is meant for you. With 107,925 members the discussions are always interesting and about trending health topics.

Medicine & Biology Community

For health and science experts, this community is something you should check out. The goal of this community is to share and discuss technological advances in medicine and biology, focused on human health and longevity. With 36,822 members all discussing topics from basic biology, to immune systems, to synthetic biology. This is an all-around impressive Google+ community.

Do you have a favorite community? Share with us below!

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Twitter

Twitter: Feeding the Need for Change

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Feeling pressure from investors to change, Twitter is speculated to be introducing an algorithm-driven feed, much like you might be familiar with on Facebook. Currently what you see in your Twitter feed is a continuous flow of content from those that you follow and the occasional insert of a promoted tweet.

At the Citi Global Technology Conference earlier this month, Twitter CTO Anthony Noto said: “the reverse-chronological system that Twitter users for its timeline isn’t the most relevant experience for a user.” Ironically, it’s the very reason why many are such fans of the feed, myself included. I prefer to know that what I’m viewing is the content that’s being posted most recent, and there’s no circulation of tweets from the prior day mixed in with content that’s being published today.

Why the change then?

Even with its 271 million monthly active users, Twitter feels the pressure to continue to grow. And one of the things they believe holding them back from that is the complexity for first-time users (hello, have you been on Google+?). So the speculated reaction is an algorithm-driven timeline feed to organize content.

What does this mean?

Organic reach on Twitter will much likely meet the demise we saw for businesses on Facebook. It might be time to become an adopter (if you’re not already) of Twitter ads and at least start testing to see what works best for you or your brand. If you still want to get the exposure you currently get, you just might have to be willing to pay for it going forward.

What can you do?

If you want to have more control over your feed, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Twitter lists. It’s not a new feature, but sometimes the benefits are overlooked. A list allows you to see the tweets from the list members you’ve created as a separate Twitter timeline…I like to call it my “clean feed.”

Twitter lists allow you to organize people based on relevant areas of interest. For example, I might create the Twitter list for myself that focuses on Content Marketing or Search Engine Optimization. That specific list then becomes a go-to-guide related to that subject matter; eliminating all the conversations in your feed, but content focused more on the specific topic of immediate interest.

You can set Twitter lists to be public or private. If you’re using your list as a business-prospecting tool or maybe to monitor your competitors, private may be the way to go. There are some perks to making your list public though. When you add someone to your list they’re notified and if they’re not already following you it sometimes encourages them to follow back. It can also establish your credibility as being an authority on a particular subject and you might find others will subscribe to your list. Subscribing to others’ lists is a nice way to monitor that feed, but without having to follow all of the members. And lastly, sometimes it’s just an easy way to introduce yourself to someone by letting an individual know you’ve added him or her to your list.

What else can we expect?

Other rumored changes are a more sophisticated search feature and group chat function. What one change I’d love to see is editable tweets! Facebook finally caught on that users wanted that capability to edit their posts. Even in 140 characters, it’s easy to make mistakes. And while that tweet may be short-lived with the average life cycle of a tweet only lasting 18 minutes, I prefer my spelling, mentions, and punctuation to be on-point for the followers who are viewing.

My hope is that Twitter doesn’t succumb to the presses to change from a follower-based feed. My biggest fear is with the continuous updates that all of these social media platforms are making, will we get to a point when no one is unique?

Photo Credit: BeauGiles

Brand Building: Attracting Your Ideal Audience

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Whether you are establishing a new brand or taking a closer look at an existing brand, one key aspect to take into account is your audience. Furthermore, are you attracting the audience you want? Successful brands are able to identify and align with their audience in a way that is both natural and genuine.

The ability to identify your ideal audience allows you to establish a connection between your brand and your consumers. Having a clear understanding of the type of consumer you want gives you an advantage when it comes to the rest of your marketing efforts. Even if you’re a small business and don’t want to exclude a potential customer, identifying your target audience is crucial to branding.

Values: The values of your company should be apparent in your brand. Are you a company who values tradition and quality? Or do you value innovation and contemporary style? These types of questions should be able to be conveyed simply through your branding. That’s why luxury brands don’t waste resources by trying to reach out to every consumer. That’s also why their branding reflects the exclusive lifestyle they want to attract.  They focus on being selective, high quality, and not available to the everyday consumer. By doing this they set themselves apart and attract the type of customer they want.

Social Media Engagement: What kind of audience does your brand attract on social media? Is it a younger crowd who enjoys entertaining and humorous content or is it an older crowd looking for engaging and informative content. Does it mirror the type of people you hope to attract as customers, or are you missing the mark? Social media is a great way for companies to see where they stand when it comes to branding. It gives both the consumer and the company an opportunity to give direct feedback to one another.

Be Original: It’s easy when developing a brand to look at what is working for other companies. While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing to do for inspiration and ideas, it is a bad thing to do when you try and mimic another brand. To stand out from the crowd and attract the attention of people, you have to find your own image. Even though two car companies are fighting for the same customers, they tend to go about it from a different angle. They have their own story to tell, and that story is unique to them. Find your unique story and use it to build a brand that is all your own.

Don’t Over-do It: Trying too hard to appeal to your audience can come off as just that, forced. Don’t make promises you can’t keep, and don’t be something you’re not. Find the middle ground that keeps true to your company, but is also attractive to the audience you hope to gain. This middle ground will be the best opportunity for success.

Lastly, think about the long haul. Build a brand that can be adapted over time while staying relevant to your target audience. Building a brand for the now is setting it up for a complete overhaul. Keeping the long-term in mind will help you build a brand that can stand up to the test of time. You will always need to adapt because your audience won’t stay the same forever, but adapting is easier than changing.

Photo Credit: Roger Reuver

Break Through Writer’s Block by Pre-Writing Your Content

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Having a great idea for a post is a huge first step, but then you actually have to write it. Imagine that.

So what happens when you sit down with your great idea, your blog title or ebook subject and you proceed to stare at a flashing cursor for the next several hours with nothing to show for it?

It’s ok. Writer’s block happens to all of us. And it can stem from a number of things like distractions, being tired, being hungry and so on. But so many times writer’s block simply means you’re not ready to write yet. Now, this doesn’t mean you sit and let the idea age like a good bourbon, no.

You can break through writer’s block by pre-writing your content. You address it. You walk up slowly, remove your glove one finger at a time and slap writer’s block across the face and say, “I accept the challenge.”

Here’s how to pre-write your content in order to break through writer’s block:

Talk it out

Tell somebody about your great article. Tell them what it’s all about. No one around? Tell your dog. Tell your cat. Tell yourself in the mirror. The goal here is to make communicating your big idea more casual. To take the pressure off yourself. Plus, sometimes you just need to hear the information out loud.

Write Down the Key Points

After you talk it out you still need to get it down on paper so you don’t forget it. Almost like an outline, quickly jot down the key points of your article. This is the basis for its existence – the what and why. The foundational ideas. For this article as an example I wrote down:

  • The idea that walking away from writer’s block doesn’t have to be the answer
  • A revival of preparation, the old fashion article outline
  • Take the pressure off of the content writing
  • Organizing all those swirling thoughts and giving them purpose

Now, what’s the benefit of the content?

Great, so you have those big ideas down. Consider those the veins for your paragraphs but now they need some life’s blood and some purpose.  This is the big value statement for what you want this piece of content to be to your readers. For me for this post it was:

“To act as a framework and plan of action for not only overcoming writer’s block but creating better content because of it.”

Give It a Voice

We talk about voice a lot here at Shout Out, more in the context of overall brand voice, but individual pieces of content can have variances in voice as well. Almost like accents or dialects. Consider this the best way to deliver your great idea when considering audience and context. For the article, as with almost all of our posts, I’m aiming for: Friendly guide. Semi-professional. Conversational.

So there you have it; pre-writing. Informal, low pressure, yet still making progress. Let us know how it works for you or other steps you might add to the content pre-writing process.

photo credit: Drew Coffman

I Voted

Political Marketing, and the New Viral Voter

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Politics is a topic we don’t broach often here at Shout Out Studio. As everyone knows you don’t discuss politics and religion with those you want to stay friends with. But I have been thinking about politics a lot lately. Specifically how some political marketing campaigns are and will be marketing to reach their target demographic in regards to this upcoming mid-term elections. As long I try to stay neutral there is no harm in talking about it, right? read more

Do Companies Really Need Social Media?

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A few months ago my brother and I were out to dinner talking about work and the topic of social media came up. In the discussion, he said, “Our company would never use social media because we don’t need it.” I stared at him for a few seconds… wheels turning, gears grinding, ready to give him my full on social-media-rules-all speech when abruptly, I stopped. He said, “Tell me… why would we need it?” Truth is, I couldn’t answer him. It took me a few days to come to the realization that I couldn’t answer him because he was right, his company doesn’t need it. They won’t ever need it.

Before you judge me too harshly, answer me this: Name one company that absolutely needs social media, one that can’t live without it. Social media isn’t a need. It’s a want. It’s a benefit. It’s an asset to you, your company, and your brand. Social media is a modern luxury that is helping brands around the world to create brand equity in the minds of their consumers.

Just now, Coca-Cola is running their “Share a Coke” campaign that is absolutely killing it. It’s personal and it’s fun. All over social media “Laurens” and “Jessicas” are posting photos with their Cokes, Diet-Cokes, and Coke Zeros. The couple below has even leveraged the popularity of the Coke campaign to add a little something special to their big announcement. This shows that Coca-Cola doesn’t need social media to kill it. It helps them kill it. Simple as that.

 

 

Photo Credit: bjornmeansbear via Compfight

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wanelo

Why Wanelo?

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It’s a question that has been on my mind for quite some time now. For those that aren’t familiar, Wanelo, is a social platform that brings together stores, product and people all in one place. The platform whose name stands for “Want, Need, Love” launched in 2010 by web designer Deena Varshavskaya.

We know that social commerce is definitely catching on, but Wanelo has always seemed like an anomaly to me. I was an early adopter and joined in 2010 then quickly returned to my more comfortable and preferred playground on Pinterest (which many compare it to). However, this could be one for the ages. I’ve heard from my younger counterparts and read the reports that it popular with the millennial consumer.

Who’s There?

So with 11 million users, I thought it could be time to check back in. I haven’t been too far though, with my mobile app still installed and observantly paying attention to big brands like Nordstrom, West Elm, and Sephora who collab with the emerging social site.

How does it work?

Wanelo works like a direct to buy resource. Skip the hunt through blogs and unrelated resources to find the product you’re looking for, this resource allows you to directly buy from your favorite finds in your feed. You don’t complete the transaction on the site, but it connects consumers with the eCommerce site where they can buy the product. Wanelo then pockets a portion of each sale. Instead of grouping items on boards like “Collegiate Gear” like you’d find on Pinterest, the items are sorted by price point. The site also shows what’s trending and allows you to save your items on your wish list or as a gift, also while telling you the popularity of collective site “saves” for that item.

Why Consider?

If you’re looking to capture the attention of younger consumers and provide the most direct access to your product (ease and convenience), it could be a platform to consider. Don’t forget many millennial consumers are frugal with their spending, so the shop by price point is an appealing feature.

Nordstrom recognized the potential: “We noticed mid-last-year that there was lots of inbound traffic coming from Wanelo, so we quickly jumped in to create an account,” said Bryan Galipeau, director of social media at Nordstrom. “Within five months, we had a million followers, the fastest growth of any of our social media accounts.”

Not yet convinced? Consider these facts as to why you might “Want, Need, Love” to have Wanelo in your online strategy plan:

  • Over 7 million products are saved 8 million times a day
  • Wanelo users spend an average of 50 minutes per day on the site
  • Products from over 300,000 stores, including major retailers to small independent shops

Earlier this year, Wanelo’s Creator and CEO, Deena Varshavskaya was named to Fast Company’s 2014 Most Creative People list. Keep an eye out for the commerce platform, I think it’s got huge potential to evolve.

Photo credit: Wanelo

 

Attention Grabbing Email Marketing Incentives

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Email marketing has a powerful influence on consumer buying decisions, and if you aren’t making it a marketing priority, you could be missing a huge opportunity for converting and retaining your customers.

Consider these stats for a moment:

  • 66% of consumers have made a purchase online as a result of an email marketing message (Direct Marketing Association)
  • People who buy products marketed through email spend 138% more than people that do not receive email offers (Convince and Convert)
  • Over 70% of mobile purchasing decisions are influenced by promotional emails (Express Pigeon)

Just getting noticed by your subscribers is the first challenge, but what will be the incentive or carrot you dangle to get the next desired outcome? Here’s a look at some attention-grabbing email incentives we’ve seen.

Gretchen Ardizzone

I’m pretty use to discounts or free shipping offers, in fact, I almost expect them, but one of the most effective email marketing incentives I’ve received is Bauble Bar’s “The Buried Bauble.” It’s ironic because I don’t even wear that much jewelry, but somehow I’m always sucked in to “The Buried Bauble.” For 24 hours every Monday and Friday, Bauble Bar secretly marks down the price of one of the jewelry items to the guilt-free price point of $10 or $20. The email provides a clue for customers to locate the buried bauble online. For example, last week’s clue was “It’s on like NEON.” Customers then search the site looking for the product related to the clue; in this particular case being led to a neon cord bracelet. Aside from staking a claim on my bargain hunt, I typically the find myself perusing the site to see what else is new. The brand does a great job with enticing customers who enjoy the thrill of the hunt and exposing them to other great products at the same time.

Shannon Blair

I believe email incentives that work are ones that stand out. Whether from a subject line that is quick and witty, to a body that is colorful and fun. Standing out and being creative is what catches my eye. Another huge bonus, when it comes to email marketing, is keeping the voice of your brand. I have the utmost respect for companies that capture my attention with a small number of characters, then while reading through their email their voice remains prominent, yet attentive. May sound generic but Apple is an email marketing genius. They do all the things listed above that I love, as well as add their own flavor with a sleek design.

Colin Smith

Something that always catches my eye while digging through my inbox is a well-designed email. If it has attention-grabbing visuals, I will usually take the time to read about the deal, product, or news. Recently I received a promotional email from Homage, and while I wasn’t looking to buy a t-shirt at the time, their quirky image of a mad scientist/warehouse manager offering “Dr. Dinker’s Mystery Pack”  was enough to make me reconsider whether or not I should add a few more shirts to the collection. Upon actually reading the email it turns out that the 4 Tees for $30 was well worth it. A good incentive is one that a customer can’t pass up. Hook, line, and sinker.

Nathaniel Seevers

I’m with Colin, a well-designed email is one of the few things that grab my inbox attention. After that, it needs to be focused (short and concise) and also relevant. I don’t have time to scroll down an email forever. And don’t try to sell me on too many things in one message. TOMS, for me, nails this most often. Their seasonal focused emails put all the information in one view with a great photo or graphic and minimal copy – usually supplemented by a solid offer.

Sonya Palmer

As Desktop applications have migrated to web apps and online tools. I’ve really learned the benefit of investing in premium services. So anytime an email asks me to share how much I love their product for a extra offers, or maybe a free trial? I’m in!

Any email incentives you’ve found to be successful? Drop us a line in the comments below or hey, shoot us an email and share!

Photo Credit: takomabibelot

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