I was playing Angry Birds the other night (the original not the Rio version) getting a sick thrill out of trying to get three stars on every level 5 stage when something strange happened. I thought I captured an egg only to discover that I had been captured by Facebook. In order to continue playing, I had to “Like” Angry Birds. Now I love Angry Birds but I also like democracy. There was something very off-putting about being given the “Like” mandate. Thankfully, I was playing on someone else’s iPhone (why buy the iPhone when you can beg and borrow) who didn’t have a problem with liking Angry Birds on her Facebook page. Still, the process left me feeling uneasy but in fairness to Angry Birds the ploy is not unique to them.
Last week, The New Yorker pulled a similar gotcha on readers by posting exclusive content on its Facebook page. In order to read a featured Jonathan Franzen piece, you had to “Like” it. I understand the rationale of both Angry Birds and The New Yorker. It’s all about that million dollar word – engagement. But what has made Facebook such an undeniably powerful and popular platform is the freedom of personal expression factor. Angry Birds has over 2 million Likes. I’m pretty certain that the majority of those were not forced from users. As a long-term subscriber of The New Yorker, isn’t my loyalty Like-worthy enough?
Companies considering implementing a “Like” mandate simply to boost user activity on Facebook need to weigh the pros and cons. Yes, it’s easy to fall under the Like spell but by forcing potential consumers to give you the Facebook thumbs up you run the very real risk of broken engagement.
Last week, Social Media Examiner released its comprehensive 41 page 2011 Social Media Marketing Industry Report. In it, blogging was listed among the top four social media tools used by marketers. At least 73% of marketers polled planned to increase their blogging efforts. I knew I was doing this for a reason. This is not only good news for bloggers, it is also good news for affiliate marketers. Blogging for dollars is back!
The report also stated that 69% of marketers want to learn about blogging and how it can impact social initiatives while 72% of these marketers cited increasing traffic as a major social media benefit. For affiliates interested in expanding their reach, leveraging every social media channel – not solely Facebook or Twitter – can drive traffic to user blogs translating into increased affiliate sales. StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit are growing networks that can help your blog improve its social standing. More eyes on your blog, the better your chances of driving sales opportunities.
The integration of social media and search seems to be at a fever pitch. Likes and Tweets are having an enormous impact on search engine rankings. Though Facebook and Twitter are each important to the search landscape, the former appears to be more immediately in tune with the evolving nature of social search. Facebook pages are complex and well-optimized making them rank higher on the social network and in the search space. But at the end of the day, social search must abide by similar best practices to maintain long-term success. Here are a few best practices to consider:
- It’s OK to be Vain – The vanity or customized URL is more appealing and readable to the search engines. It is important to choose one wisely since it can not be edited at a later date.
- Pay Close Attention to Your Profile – Facebook users should input as much categorized data as possible to increase their chances of being identified in searches. Also, continually revising and updating your profile will do wonders for your search results.
- in-Likes – It really is good to be Liked. The more users that Like your page, the better your chances of having incoming links point to it.
By putting your own Face on search, you will ensure that you get positively noticed in the SERPs.
Establishing a positive brand reputation online is critical to customer acquisition and retention. Trust between companies and consumers is more important than ever in the age of social media; therefore, continually monitoring your online presence by way of social user comments and blogs should be a priority. But let’s be honest, there will be times when a negative post or two will crop up. View these instances as opportunities to connect with your detractors and bring them – and others – into the fold.
Social media makes you an active participant in the brand conversation. Sure, you want to hear the good news but the bad news can end up ultimately driving great results. By reading negative posts, you don’t have to assume where the fail occurred. It’s right there in front of you. The immediacy of social media enables you to rapidly react with special offers or promotions designed to appease your angry customer and hopefully win him/her back. Taking this step will not only get the consumer back in your good graces, it will likely flow into the overall social conversation. Best case scenario – a few negative reactions could drive many positive returns.
Here’s more evidence that this is Mark Zuckerberg’s world and we are all just living in it. Facebook is essentially giving privacy advocates and members of Congress the finger by insisting it will continue sharing user home addresses and cell-phone numbers with third-party developers. Users will be given the opportunity to opt-out of the sharing but many remain unhappy.
If this is Planet Zuckerberg, online performance marketers are pleased to be its inhabitants. Facebook is the dominant force in social networking. It has changed the digital game making social media a necessary performance channel, one that when properly leveraged can significantly increase leads and improve ROI. Social media is driven by information sharing. The Facebook Like feature has revolutionized brand building and buyer awareness. If people were truly wary of sharing information, Facebook would be inconsequential.
The privacy debate is an old one. For privacy advocates and politicians looking to garner favor with constituents, it is a hard argument to win – especially when advocacy groups like the ACLU and Electronic Frontier Foundation, not to mention Washington politicians, have Facebook accounts.
Social media is fundamentally changing the way people communicate and conduct their everyday lives. The political uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt are extreme reflections of this phenomenon.
From a marketing perspective, the situations in both regions amount to an earned media success story. Earned media refers to positive press garnered through free promotional initiatives – second-by-second tweets, Facebook posts and YouTube videos highlighting the mass injustices being perpetrated on the people. Social traffic driven by Twitter followers, Facebook messaging, or viral YouTube plays cannot be bought or scheduled. The results of an earned social media campaign must be organic online and offline.
Digital companies utilize social networks as virtually zero-cost user engagement tools that increase traffic, brand awareness and engagement. If these networks can be trusted to deliver highly measurable revenue for small to large scale businesses globally, why is it hard to fathom that, if properly leveraged, social media could politically unify and engage society?
There are varying opinions among regional experts, bloggers and mainstream journalists trying to quantify social media’s role in sparking each uprising. It would be irresponsible to christen Twitter as the next revolutionary hope. But to reject the notion that Twitter and Facebook effectively united and rapidly motivated Tunisians and Egyptians to act – with little else invested but a desire for change – is to deny the powerful far-reaching engagement potential of social media.
It is the Monday after the Super Bowl. One city is thrilled, one city is miserable and a bunch of cities in between had no emotional stake in it whatsoever unless you consider the office pool to be such an investment. On Super Bowl Sunday, the main attraction is the game itself but it is also that special day when advertisers pull out all the stops to score a brand awareness touchdown. Last night, those stops included social media. Audi sought to drive results, pun very much intended, by incorporating a Twitter hashtag at the end of its minute-long commercial. YouTube and Facebook continued their practice of having users vote for their favorite ads. Call it the Super Engagement Bowl! But now it’s time for some Monday Morning Quarterbacking courtesy of a new study from ForeSee Results.
The report found that only 5% of people visiting retail sites were directed there by social networks. Instead, search and email marketing initiatives were more likely to drive relevant user traffic to these sites. This illustrates a point this blog has made on several occasions. Social media is only as good as the performance marketing expertise behind it. A pretty Facebook wall, a fun Twitter feed or a video-filled You Tube account may make you think you are an active social media maven but these alone will do nothing for your bottom line. Success for a social media campaign should not be reaction-based. Success must be results-based.
It’s too early to tell if Audi will profit from its hashtag ad or if the winning Facebook and YouTube spots will realize a significant sales boost. In the meantime, here’s a little analogy marketers should keep top of mind. In every football game, a coach will make a call that will have fans cheering wildly or pulling their hair out. But if the play call manages to produce the desired result, a score or better still a win, it achieved the ultimate goal. To quote Lombardi – the coach and perhaps Tom Brady’s favorite play – ‘Winning isn’t everything – it’s the only thing.’ When only 5% of Internet users are effectively leveraging social media, winning seems further away than many of us would care to admit.
As digital marketers embark on a new year of monetizing the social space to drive results for advertisers and clients, it is more important than ever to keep your targeting practices on course. If 2010 was about the unprecedented power of Facebook, 2011 looks to be about leveraging all things local. But in an increasingly fragmented online market, local may not always include your neck of the woods. For instance, Groupon subscribers living in Brooklyn also receive offers for the other four New York boroughs. Given the couponing site’s high level of success, this may not seem like that big of a deal especially in a major metropolitan city. However, online performance marketers incorporating such subscription-based offers into their client campaigns rely on optimized, precise audience targeting to maximize ROI. They need customers to drive the deal. And if the customers can’t be found, well, fill in the blanks.
I was recently emailed a Groupon offer for a Staten Island lounge – get $40 worth of drinks and eats for $20. That would be appealing if I lived on Staten Island. By emailing me this promotion, Groupon did the lounge a major disservice. I’m one less person making a commitment to patronize this establishment. That’s not costing me anything but for the lounge, which is already losing 50% of its potential profitability by leveraging Groupon, my lack of interest is a big blow.
Performance marketers should stress the importance of precise localized targeting with new and existing clients. There is no question that Groupon has been and should continue to be successful. Still, the Staten Island lounge would have been wise to utilize performance-based experts familiar with maximizing social and local reach. After all, it’s about driving results for your business model and not for one healthy enough to reject Google.
It’s no secret that small and large businesses alike are determined to incorporate social media into their 2011 growth strategies. Yes, Facebook will lead the way but location-based network Foursquare gained steam in 2010. The premise of Foursquare is that Internet users check-in – either at home, work or via a mobile device – to retail shops, movies and restaurants for present and future discounts. Businesses benefit by driving visits to their websites and physical locations. Social media campaigns generate buzz among potential customers. But what about creating buzz among employees?
My friends and I recently hung out at a lounge, one that was offering a Foursquare promotion involving patrons getting free chocolate covered strawberries. Free is good. When our server approached our table, we informed her of the promotion.
“What’s Foursquare? I never heard of it.” The server’s words blew my mind. Clearly confused, she turned to her manager, who confirmed the promotion. Moments later, the pro bono fruit arrived.
I suppose this could be considered a check-in success story. The people prevailed. Yay democracy! And yet, this could have been a major fail for the bar. In the case of the strawberries, the Foursquare offer undoubtedly helped solidify an already loyal client base. But if we were new to the lounge, the server’s naiveté might have seemed less endearing and more incompetent. In order for these types of online to offline social media campaigns to be successful, employees of these businesses must be kept in the know. That goes for any corporate model.
Leveraging social media can drive results for business. However, it can also drive prospective customers away if they sense your internal structure could use some social ripening.
Though they were ultimately unsuccessful, Google’s attempted purchase of Internet couponing success story Groupon clearly indicates that the Search Engine is strategically positioning itself as more of a Local Search force. Prior to making their six billion dollar Groupon offer, Google sought to effectively leverage the local market via Google Places, a revamping of its Local Business Center and Place Pages. The goal of Google Places was to simplify advertising and better target local consumers. With Groupon, Google hoped to heighten engagement and consumer intent to act for local businesses with a proven, successful model. It made sense for Google. But in hindsight, did the offer ever really make sense for Groupon?
Groupon’s ability to drive local growth is about more than Search. Customer acquisition for companies also helped deliver profitable results for local businesses en route to making Groupon a couponing giant. Google had the right idea going after Groupon, seeking to leverage the site as a Search and Lead Generation asset attracting performance marketers, consumers and companies alike. But by confidently walking away from six billion, Groupon is making a bold statement to those same marketers, customers and corporations – We’ve been driving results without Google and will continue to do so. It may be the perfect time for those in performance to get their Groupon.