Selling your ideas


Always Be Selling – Your Ideas! Talk them up whenever and wherever you can!

As you attempt to move your business forward, creating new social media avenues and improving your website, there are usually going to be several people you will need to convince that the project is worth doing.  That may be the big boss, the people in marketing or whoever controls the money. This is when your online success depends more on politics than on creative vision.

It is almost inevitable that you will meet some resistance.  There is at least one guy at your company who still thinks TV buys and press releases will get the job done.  However, it is time for your company to move forward and to break the shackles of the old rules of marketing.

Arm yourself with information before you try to sell your ideas!

Here are some thoughts on what to do when it is time to start convincing others that your ideas are the right ones.

  • Arm yourself with information. The naysayers will try to find reasons not to change things, so you have to convince them that things need changing.  I have found that most company decisions are made based on the whims of the decision makers, and rarely on any sort of measurements. Web analytics will give you a ton of insight into your company. You will have hard data about what kinds of people are coming to your website, where they are coming from and what they like to see.
  • Present the information in a dynamic way.  Be ready with a PowerPoint, but not a typical PowerPoint presentation. This should include images that convey feeling – Who is the customer? What will your new approach do for them? How will this help the company? Don’t use a bunch of wordy slides, use sparse text and plenty of imagery.  DO NOT READ OFF OF YOUR SLIDES!!!
  • Know your customers. Have some personas created in advance. Show the crowd that you know who you’re company is selling to. I know it sounds crazy, but many people have not thought out their target market beyond “the general public.”
  • Don’t hide your ideas. People often keep their good ideas under wraps.  Make sure you talk about your ideas as often as you can and to many different parties.  Start the movement from the ground up. Again, being prepared with facts and figures will help other buy in to your argument.

These are a few thoughts for today.  There are still a lot more factors to consider – like dealing with the naysayers – but the road to changing your company’s culture starts with you.  Don’t miss your opportunity!

Fritos and the Facebook focus group


I think you would find this article in The New York Times to be rather interesting.  If you are too lazy to click the link, the article, “Social Media Are Giving a Voice to Taste Buds” notes how Frito-Lay is using Facebook to test new flavor ideas in lieu of costly focus groups.  Frito-Lay has developed an “I’d Eat That” button that allows Frito-Lay to measure the popularity of various proposed flavors in different parts of the country.

This is an example of a company unlocking the true potential of social media.  Think of how much it would cost to hold focus groups in California, New York, and Chicago to find out what flavors were popular in each region.  And if a mega corporation like Frito-Lay (which can certainly afford focus groups) decides it is just as good to use Facebook, think about what good news this is for your business!

The article, written by Stephanie Clifford, notes, “While consumers may think of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare as places to post musings and interact with friends, companies like Wal-Mart and Samuel Adams are turning them into extensions of market research departments. And companies are just beginning to figure out how to use the enormous amount of information available.”

Another great piece from the article:

“When Wal-Mart wanted to know whether to stock lollipop-shaped cake makers in its stores, it studied Twitter chatter. Estée Lauder’s MAC Cosmetics brand asked social media users to vote on which discontinued shades to bring back. The stuffed-animal brand Squishable solicited Facebook feedback before settling on the final version of a new toy. And Samuel Adams asked users to vote on yeast, hops, color and other qualities to create a crowdsourced beer, an American red ale called B’Austin Ale that got rave reviews.”

While your competitors are still toiling away at the old rules of marketing, you can use social media to engage your fans and conduct market research at the same time.  Use this opportunity to brainstorm ways you can combine research and fun for your fans.

Think about it this way – you spend money on focus groups to tell you what your fans like.  Why not just go directly to fans? The will feel like they have a stake in your company – this builds affinity and allows you the opportunity to connect with fans on a more meaningful level.

When fans buy the new flavor of chip that they voted for, they can say, “I helped make this possible.” Something to think about this weekend!

Until next time…

Create your own infographics


Infographics are a great way to liven up magazines, newsletters and websites. I was reading an article by Johna Revesencio, “4 Online Infographics Generators,” and I think she offers some great resources for creating info graphics.

I tried out two of them and would suggest you give them a whirl. The one pictured on the right was created with Infogram and shows some stats for this blog. Unfortunately, right now Infogram makes it very difficult to export your deign – I had to do a screencapture and re-purpose it in PhotoShop. Also, the choices for teh chart are pretty limited.

Piktochart takes a little more effort to use, but is a much more robust tool for creating charts with a variety of colors, charts and foreground and background items.  As a bonus, you can download the images to use in whatever format you require.  The image on the left is one I made with Piktochart – a little garish, but I wanted to test out all of the options!

Take a look at Revesencio’s article and look at some of her other suggested sites, and start making your own infographics today.

Until next time.

From Click-Z: 4 Ways to Build a Winning Digital Contest


Hey gang! I have written previously about using contests to boost your social media attention.

In her new article, “4 Ways to Build a Winning Digital Contest“, Tessa Wegert offers some great tips on running online contests that get results. I am going to paraphrase her here, but please check out her article for an engaging read!

  1. Start small – start with a small Facebook effort designed to increase your fan base. Wegert suggests using using a Facebook contest application like Wildfire. Wildfire is a very inexpensive way to run a contest, and they will take you step-by-step through the process.  I am a big proponent of it!
  2. Use hashtags – Wegert notes, “For image-based contests, ask consumers to post a predefined hashtag along with their video or photograph. It’s a small addition to each submission, but it will greatly expand the contest’s reach across Twitter and potentially generate additional online buzz.” I need to start using and emphasizing hashtags more, so this is a good recommendation. Read more about hashtags here.
  3. Use all of your channels to support the contest – Wegert says, “Support your contest with multi-channel ads whenever possible. Contests that are mentioned in TV spots and print ads, display ads, and on social sites are more likely to get moving quickly, and launching with a bang is critical when your campaign is time-sensitive and short-lived, as contests typically are.” I think all of your marketing efforts need to support each other – none should live in a silo.
  4. Socialize your contest – Wegert says, “Give participants the chance to share your contest with their peers. In addition to incorporating sharing functionality into the contest itself, invite consumers to help you judge the winners. By opening a contest to public voting, brands can recruit additional participants and improve word of mouth, and the small act of recognizing the value of consumer feedback can have a big impact on the way consumers perceive your brand.” Again, this is where Wildfire can come in handy.  They will help you set up to receive submissions, like in a photo content, and to let your fans vote on winners. This is another great way of socializing your content!

The article has some great tips, and I hope to hear from you when you decide to launch your own online contest!  Until next time…

A handbook for Facebook success


Optimize your Facebook content and engage your fans!

I was perusing my email and found that Click-Z has issued a new “Facebook Casebook”, which documents some ways large and small companies are using Facebook successfully in their marketing.

It is free of charge, you just have to sign up and have it emailed to you.  I would highly recommend getting it. I am in no way endorsed by or affiliated with Click-Z, but I consider them to be a highly reliable source of news for social media and online marketing.

Some of the features:

  • How Nutella’s Facebook ads outperformed their TV advertising.
  • How Domino’s used Facebook to create an event, driving 542,000 users to the Domino’s ordering sites on Dec. 8, 2011.
  • How to use Facebook e-commerce to allow customers to create “wish lists”.
  • How to optimize paid Facebook ads.
  • How CNET socialized their website content with Facebook and Twitter links. In addition they used HootSuite to plan out posts in advance. They raised CNET’s Facebook likes from 69,000 to 842,000, while pushing Twitter followers from 24,000 to 212,000.
  • CNET Social Media Manager Nathan Bransford notes:“It’s not the result of some huge ad campaign or anything we’ve done spending a bunch of money,” he said. “It’s all about organic growth. My philoso­phy is that there is not a social media bullet. You can’t do ‘X’ to get to ‘Y.’ People always say, ‘What do I need to do? What do I need to do?’ There’s not a magic to it. What’s important is being consis­tently good, and consistently giving people things that they want…. I think you can get in the weeds of social media and forget the important things.”

Take a look, because it won’t cost you anything but time.  What tactics have you used to optimize your Facebook marketing?  Please let me know!

Until next time…

Creating personas – Identifying your customer


Example of a user persona.

Figure 1 – example of a user/customer persona. Click for larger image.
I found this image at http://asinthecity.com/2011/05/13/explaining-personas-used-in-ux-design-%E2%80%93-part-2/

To thine own customer be true! Building a successful website or social media platform begins with understanding who your customer is.

This requires deeper thinking than “Our customer is people ages 18-65.” It requires a detailed understanding of your customers’ demographics and – more importantly – their needs.

One place to start is by looking at the keyword searches in your Google Analytics – these are the words people are putting into search engines that lead them to your site.  This is a good opportunity to reflect – what kind of customers would these search terms apply to?

Also, take a good look, if you can, at who is buying.  Who is coming into the store?  Are there any similarities you are noticing about customers? Are they high-income? How old are they? Is it primarily men or women?

Personas

Think about your biggest target market groups, then set about creating  persona for each of these groups.

In this article, Tina Calabria notes that “Personas enable intranet and website teams to stand in their users’ shoes. They focus the design effort on supporting user goals, rather than being driven by the ideas of team members or senior executives.”

Personas identify the user motivations, expectations and goals responsible for driving online behavior, and bring users to life by giving them names, personalities and often a photo.

This process is spelled out further in this posting, from which I obtained the sample persona which you see in figure 1.

The payoff

Creating personas is a much less expensive and time-consuming way to define your ideal clients. As Beth Hayden notes in this article, 5 Ways Brands Use Pinterest To Authentically Connect.  She notes:

“Oreck (@oreck), maker of vacuum cleaners, air purifiers, and other small appliances, focuses on women as their ideal clients. Oreck marketers could potentially create a detailed ideal-client profile called “Suzy Homemaker,” and fill it in with details about where Suzy lives, whether she has kids or pets, and what her hobbies are. The U.S. Army (@usarmy) might have a few different profiles, including the young men and women they are looking to recruit, and members of the general public who are looking to support our troops.

“This exercise may seem silly to you, but don’t underestimate its importance. The more you know about the customers you’re trying to reach on Pinterest, the more successful you’ll be in connecting with them via your marketing efforts.”

What are your thoughts on using personas to get to know your target audience?

Optimizing and boosting your YouTube Rankings


Figure 1 – check out all of the search terms people used that landed them on a tennis instructional video. Expand your keyword!

Heidi-ho friends!

I was reading this article by Chris Sietsema about optimizing your YouTube content. I think the author is mostly right on, but I’d like to augment his ideas with a few tips of my own. Remember, YouTube is searchable, and anything that is searchable can be optimized!

1)      Make entertaining content. I think entertaining is the wrong word here; it conjures up painful images of corporate suits ordering the marketing department to create a “viral video.”

I think a better word to use is relevant.  Make your videos relevant.  Every business has knowledge to share. It’s just a question of when and how you share it.

A good example is this video about the odds of filling out a perfect NCAA bracket. This video was released just before the 2011 NCAA tournament and got the majority of it’s views around that time.  Now, you may be thinking, “Hey, this video only has 5,000 views.” However what you are not noting is that this video will be relevant every March, anytime someone searches YouTube for “perfect NCAA bracket.”

Sietsema also cites the ingenious “Will It Blend?” video series, which manages to make product demonstration entertaining.

The “Will it Blend” series is a great example of entertaining YouTube marketing and it costs almost nothing to produce. The videos are brief, informative and entertaining. Plus, they provide tangible product benefits.

Find some bit of important knowledge that your business can add to YouTube and start to plan not only what you will release but also when would be the right time to put that content forward.

One more note – keep it brief. I would keep your video at three minutes or less if possible.

2)      Find your keywords. This is absolutely essential in order to get your video noticed.  Whenever you upload a video, you have the option of adding keywords.  Think of any possible search term that someone interested in your video might use in the YouTube search box.

Take a look at the search terms people plugged in that brought them to this instructional/promotional video about tennis lessons (figure 1). The video profited from those searches by adding in keywords like Serena, Roddick and Sampras.

Additionally, Sietsema notes the importance of the YouTube Keyword Tool.  This is a great, free resource that allows you to see the top search words that have led people to videos on that topic.  You can also past in the URL of a video and see the search words that brought people to that video.  Try it now – and then incorporate the phrases that have garnered the most searches into your keywords.

Don’t worry about making the most polished video in the world. Just make something that is interesting, brief (three minutes or less), authentic and – hopefully – entertaining.

I encourage you to check out the rest of Sietsema’s article, where he goes into detail about optimizing video on your website. More so, I encourage you to think about ways you can create optimize your YouTube presence for improved marketing.

Until next time…