Facebook Ads In Your Inbox

Fear not, it’s really not the end of the world, however it may be the end of an era. Or is it the beginning of another? Facebook is trying REALLY hard to make some money, and has implemented changes that allows YOUR Messages inbox to be monetized – Yes that’s right, they are beginning to sell your inbox to the highest bidder. Enter the “Inbox delivery test.”

On an announcement in Facebook, the marker has said the following:

“Facebook ads are designed to get the most relevant messages into your Inbox and put less relevant messages into your Other folder. We rely on signals about the message to achieve this goal.

Some of these signals are social – we use social signals such as friend connections to determine whether a message is likely to be one you want to see in your Inbox.

Some of these signals are algorithmic – we use algorithms to identify spam and use broader signals from the social graph, such as friend of friend connections or people you may know, to help determine relevance.

Today we’re starting a small experiment to test the usefulness of economic signals to determine relevance. This test will give a small number of people the option to pay to have a message routed to the Inbox rather than the Other folder of a recipient that they are not connected with.

Several commentators and researchers have noted that imposing a financial cost on the sender may be the most effective way to discourage unwanted messages and facilitate delivery of messages that are relevant and useful.

This test is designed to address situations where neither social nor algorithmic signals are sufficient. For example, if you want to send a message to someone you heard speak at an event but are not friends with, or if you want to message someone about a job opportunity, you can use this feature to reach their Inbox. For the receiver, this test allows them to hear from people who have an important message to send them.

This message routing feature is only for personal messages between individuals in the U.S. In this test, the number of messages a person can have routed from their Other folder to their Inbox will be limited to a maximum of one per week.

We’ll continue to iterate and evolve Facebook Messages over the coming months.”

If you are a marketer. This may be really GREAT news! If you are an individual that thought Facebook was safe from messages like this – well things are a changing. Marketers will now be able to PAY to assure that everyone and anyone will see their messages.

Is Using Klout Right for You and Your Business?

Last week I took some of my own advice when an online social media tool just didn’t seem to be working for me. I stopped using it. OK, more specifically, I opted out of using Klout. According to Klout, you are scored based on the ability to drive an action. In other words, every time you create content online or engage with someone, you influence them. Klout scores this collected data in order to measure:

    • How many people you influence,
    • how much you influence them
    • and what the influence of your network is.

Instead of being beneficial to me however, it was a huge time-suck that wasn’t returning any investment on time. In fact it is likely that Klout was sending my personal user data to the next highest bidder. So I weighed the pros and cons, and decided the lack of personal privacy was not worth it. I’m not alone in this either, as many people have been opting out as their outrage in the Klouts algorhythm and privacy issues has grown.

Being that social and online media is a big part of what I do however, this was a carefully weighed decision. I needed to remind myself that the primary reason I initially tried it was to understand Klout’s power and how it may help my clients – And it is a powerful tool that can help you better understand how you motivate YOUR clients. Personally however, that’s why it scared me.

As an individual Klout was tracking my personal relationships and not necessarily my business relationships; I network a lot and can pretty clearly indicate the potential clients I have spoken to as a result of my Tweeting, blogging or being on Facebook. I blog for clients, I have my own blog, my blog has its own Facebook page, however Klout was pulling information from my personal social media accounts instead of from where I truly wanted to consider my influence over others – From my actual work. Go ahead and measure how many times my business tweets have been responded to, or how many fans I have on my blog’s Facebook page or RSS followers on my blog, just don’t touch my personal information.

I can already determine how well my blog posts and websites rank, so for me the tool wasn’t providing anything I didn’t already know. I understand that sometimes my business and personal life converge into one persona, but Klout was using my personal network to measure my value exposing me to something I don’t want, an all-knowing Big Brother invasion of privacy.

If your business is using the metrics of Klout however, that might be a reason to keep or establish an account. Businesses what to know that the time spent online is being used efficiently. They depend on data to develop strategies and commit resources for the biggest return on their investment. Some companies are even using Klout scores to directly market their products and services to influencers. These are things to consider when considering using a social media platform or new tool.

As always, it all comes down to understanding how much time you have available, and how you allocate that time to get the biggest bang for your buck. Don’t choose to “Do” or “Not Do” something because someone tells you to. Choose to “Do” or “Not Do” it based upon your needs, resources and return on the investment!

5 Tips to Manage Your Social Media Streams

While at the Search Marketing Workshop the other day, I was asked by an attendee “How do you effectively manage your social media outlets?” The individual lamented over feeling overwhelmed, not knowing how to make best use of their time and energies. Managing Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and their blog – on top of managing their overflowing e-mail in-box, employees and day-to-day business functions. Many businesses out there are challenged by this juggling act! So here are some quick tips to align your social media strategies with your business goals to help you deliver your message to customers through social networks.

#1 Give The Gift of Time
Yes, time is money. However it is money well spent when you consider the potential return on this particular investment. Take a few minutes each day to check your social media platforms, post updates, respond and to any actions on the sites. This also helps to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening within your business and your industry.

#2 Be Consistent and Frequent
With social media, successfully converting followers into customers requires consistency and frequency in messaging. The philosophy “If you build it, they will come” does not work.

Social media users who interact with your brand frequently are more likely to be turned into brand evangelists. Decide on your general frequency of posting – Once a day? Once a week? Somewhere in between? Developing this “delivery calendar” helps to avoid rushing to find inspiration and allows you to get into the social media mindset.

#3 Season Each Social Media Platform Uniquely
Even the best chef’s know that seasoning is key I creating a dish. So while linking your social networks may help an audience find you, messaging on Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter should deliver a slightly different flavor. So why change the messages?

For one thing, consider that each has a limit to what can be said: Facebook status updates have 420 characters, Twitter allows 140 characters per tweet, and blog posts are typically have 300-1000 words. Crafting these messages differently allows you to utilize relevant keywords that might help you get found easier, and certainly get people talking about your business – which is the ultimate goal of social media in the first place! You might consider that LinkedIn might include information specifically business news, Twitter might offer up specials or tight calls-to-action, Facebook might direct your customers to your blog posts, industry information, trends and statistics, and your blog might have a more personalized message.  There is no magic recipe when creating the messages, just that each platform should be a bit unique!

#4 Embrace your Inner Picard
… And “Engage!” This is the part of your social media strategy that is the most time consuming. What messaging will inspire your audience to read, react and respond? Not thoroughly planning and creating this engagement message may mean that no one will listen.

According to a recent ExactTarget social marketing study, 38% of Fans will UNLIKE you because your posts are boring or repetitive while 24% of Fans will UNLIKE you because your posts are too self-promotional. Therefore consider that your content should cover a wide range of topics and interests to your audience; hot topics or trends, industry news, links to thought-provoking studies or articles, or your thoughts on something you have seen, read or viewed. Your content doesn’t have to always be information created by you; however it should be relevant to your audience interests.

#5 When All Else Fails
You have social media outlets. You need to be there. You just don’t have the time to effectively manage your accounts. This is the moment when you realize that you need some help. There are many great tools available to help manage social media sites. Sites like NutshellMail, HootSuite, and CoTweet allow you to schedule your Tweets or Facebook posts, aggregate and track your social media updates into a single location – thus organizing your platforms into a single location. Another option is to hire a third-party as your social media partner who works with you to create, manage and post thoughtful, meaningful content on behalf of your business.

The 5-10 hours a week spent preparing and implementing your company’s social media platforms can have a great impact. Using these tips will help manage your day to generate leads that move users into taking action which leads to engagement and hopefully mutually beneficial end result. So remember to breathe deeply, break your day (or week) into smaller manageable tasks and take control of your social media – It’s much better than letting it take control of you!

Is Your Business Ready for a Google+ Page?

When Google+ Pages for businesses was launched last week, I began to reason through and consider if it was a good or bad thing. After all it has the equal potential to spin-out into the next big thing in social media, or the potential to tank into the depths of past failed attempts – think Google Buzz.

As a Google+ “lite” user (that would be the occasional user) I have access to the pages, and have visited quite a few newly launched Google+ business pages. They look really great. Yet I’m still left with a feeling of dread – Great, it’s one more page I have to set-up and maintain. Lingering questions plague my thoughts: Is it really all that? Do I really need to be there? And What if I am not an early adopter for a Google+ page? I would guess many businesses are thinking some of the same things.

I know though, that when I am sitting face-to-face with a client and they asked me, “Do I really need to set up a Google+ Page for my business?” – I would say this: The best way to answer this is to take a step back and truly question your marketing strategy and overall goals. Asking yourself the right questions will help you to better understand if you should pass for now and wait, put your toe in the water with Google+ Pages, or dive in deep.

To better illustrate things, you might consider asking a few simple questions.

Is your business ready to implement a Google+ Page? Ask a couple of key questions to find out.

There are many opinions floating around the internet right now about Google+ Pages, and even individuals claiming to be “experts” with the new platform, ultimately though, having clear business goals that necessitate adding a new social media site to your existing marketing toolbox, and the time and resources to maintain an additional social media platform will determine your need to set up a Google+ business page. After all, doing one thing right (and taking best advantage of current trends) instead of trying a little bit of everything and doing it poorly is the better answer.

Social Media Activity Influences Google Rankings

Attention Businesses: Study Finds Majority of People Conduct Research Online – Google uses a complex ranking algorithm when determining how to rank websites across the web. Factors such as inbound links, Meta Tags, Title Tags, anchor links, keywords in body copy, page load speed, and hundreds of other signals influence where a website will rank in Google search results.

Many businesses may not realize that another signal is social data from social networks like Facebook and Twitter SEOMoz released a study this week correlating data from over 10,000 keyword rankings and the factors that influence Google to highly rank a website. The study found that social media activity is well-correlated with higher Google rankings. And Facebook may be more influential that Twitter. Facebook “Shares” is the single highest social media metric correlated with higher Google rankings. The number of Facebook Shares was more indicative of higher rankings than other Facebook features such as ‚ “Likes” and Comments.

The correlation for Twitter‚ data (that is, the number of tweets), on the other hand, is far less than Facebook. This is not to say stop using Twitter and focus on Facebook. And in fact, we can probably expect some unethical SEO’s (the industry term is black hat SEO’s) to try to game the system by spamming with Facebook and Twitter. This won’t work. They’re misinterpreting the correlated data.

In reality, the data in the report reflects best practices for marketing. Create good content, share good content, and engage with fans. If you’re effectively using Facebook and engaging with fans, every time a fan shares one of the links to your website, it will increase the chance of your website ranking higher on Google.

This report is a reminder that businesses ‚ both B2C and B2B ‚ should use social media, not only because it’s good SEO, but because it makes good business sense. Creating a social media presence, actively engaging, following, re-tweeting and re-posting, and becoming part of the conversation will aid your business. While a change won’t be seen overnight in your Google ranking, consistent participation will help your future Google rankings.

Report Finds Social Media Engagement Drives Revenue

The more deeply a company engages with social media, the more likely the company is to increase revenue, says a research study conducted by Altimeter and Wetpaint. Titled “The World’s Most Valuable Brands: Who’s Most Engaged‚” the report ranks the Top 100 global brands in terms of their social media participation. The report claims to show a statistically significant correlation between higher social media engagement yielding higher company revenue.

We found the researchers methodology illuminating. In our experience, many companies are using social media but few of them are quantifying their efforts or directly measuring ROI. Most companies don’t even know what social media success looks like.

Altimeter and Wetpaint set out a way to quantify a company’s social media marketing efforts by evaluating 40 different attributes. The resulting metric is called “engagement.”

What they found is:

  • Financial performance correlates with engagement. Companies that are deeper and more broadly engaged with social media outperform their competition in revenue and profits. For example, the study found that the most socially engaged companies typically enjoyed revenue growth of 18% on average over the last 12 months, while the laggards saw revenues fall 6%.
  • Engagement differs by industry. Not surprisingly, technology and media companies are most engaged with social channels while financial service firms are among the lowest.
  • The researchers are quick to point out that their findings are correlations, not direct cause and effect. However, it’s quite clear there is a strong relationship between a company’s social engagement and its financial success.

You can download the 19-page report showing their methodology and full list of 100 companies they evaluated.

 

What Marketers Can Learn From Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen seems to know a thing or two about marketing. Take a close look and you’ll see an odd brilliance to his wacky madness. Marketers can learn a few things from Charlie Sheen to help spruce up your marketing efforts.

  • Create a spectacle. Do you remember that one car commercial showing interior and exterior views of the car? Probably not. These bland commercials are a dime a dozen. Now, do you remember that car commercial showing Detroit and Eminem (and few shots of the car)? Yes, you do. To stand out and get noticed, you have to create a spectacle and be different. In a world of sameness, be different.
  • Drink tiger blood. Charlie Sheen described himself memorably as having “tiger blood and Adonis DNA.” Subsequently, Harcos Laboratories launched “Bi-Winning Tiger Blood‚” a $4 energy drink which is “made from 100% passion specifically to make your brain fire in a way that’s not from this particular terrestrial realm,” according to the Harcos website. Be like Harcos. Keep an eye out for market opportunities to launch new products.
  • Be your own drug. Charlie Sheen says, “I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available, because if you try it once, you will die and your children will weep over your exploded body.” Take some time to identify what makes your business stand out from your competition. Then create a compelling message that answers why you are the best choice. Why should people buy from you and not from your competitor? Charlie Sheen’s unique value proposition is his “drug called Charlie Sheen‚” and no one else has it. That’s unique.
  • Stay on-message. Whether he’s “dealing with fools and trolls”, “dealing with soft targets that are strafing runs in [his] underwear before [his] first cup of coffee”, or busy being “bound by the terrestrial descriptions of the term Goddess”, he is perplexingly persistent in getting his point across. Charlie Sheen isn’t allowing himself to get distracted from his purpose. Charlie has a consistent story wherever, whenever, whatever type of media you see him in. His tone, voice, and message are consistent. Is your marketing consistent? Are you using the same tone, voice, and message across mediums?
  • Be “#Winning”. In today’s era of social media, people want to connect with people, not faceless corporations. And don’t be just a pretty face. Give your brand a personality. Having a personality and a human face lets people more easily connect with your business. Research has shown that purchasing decisions are emotional and as a result people become attached to particular brands based on some personal connection. So, be sophisticated, or be whimsical, or be #winning.

Whether he’s out of his mind or out of this world, I think we all can learn a thing or two from him. What do you think?

Integrating Social Media Channels

Saw an excellent example of using one social media channel to fuel another. And a contest to further drive results. I’m a big fan of the band Dropkick Murphys (you may know them for the song “Shipping Up to Boston” in the film “The Departed.”). I follow the fan page on Facebook and saw a post to win an iPad2.

What an impressive, strategic use of two social media channels! To be entered to win, you simply need to re-tweet all 13 count-down tweets until their new album’s release date. Brilliant! This works on so many levels. It builds Twitter followers, and it virally expands buzz leading up to the album’s release date. One of the sharper social media promos I’ve seen. And, as a fan, it makes me even more excited to go see them live next week!

Facebook Changes Coming for Business Pages

Facebook is making some widespread changes to their Pages, making business pages behave and appear more like personal pages. By and large, the changes are positive. Page admins can voluntarily opt-in early or wait until March 10 when Facebook will automatically upgrade each Page. Bear in mind, once you opt-in early, you cannot go back to the old style. Facebook has made a number of enhancements, including:

    • Pages can now leave comments on other pages. This change has big implications  –  it really allows businesses to begin interacting on a personal level throughout Facebook. We expect many Pages will see their fan numbers increase. However, as of this time, Pages can’t post on user profiles.

 

  • Page administrators have the option of posting either as their self or as their Page. We’ve been clamoring for the capability to do this. We like the option of being able to comment as a person or as a brand.

 

 

  • Five thumbnail photos now appear across the top of the Page. Admins can choose which images they want to show. So, you can do things like have headshots of your staff, product images, and more. The photos randomly rotate amongst what you choose. So, unlike personal profiles, you cannot display photos in sequential order.

 

 

  • Tabs have been removed and now appear as links on the left hand side of the Page, just like on personal profiles. What we like is the menu permits longer tab names, which means developers can use longer, more descriptive titles for their applications.

 

 

  • There are also a number of minor changes including being able to spotlight favorite pages and page owners. The main profile picture has also been reduced slightly in size from 200 x 600 pixels to 180 x 540. Admins can choose to receive email alerts when a fan leaves a comment or posts on the wall. And admins can keep up with the other pages they like through a newsfeed just for their page.

 

On the whole, the changes are positive. We don’t like that the Information box is no longer next to the Wall. It’s been removed. We’d like to see it come back so that first-time visitors to the Page have some information about the business. If you want to see a new Page in action, check out ours. If you’ve begun using the new style, what do you think?

Six Ways to Create Video Content to Last All Year

Online video is a tremendous communications tool and a powerful way to promote your brand. It’s a great way to create instant credibility, reach many people with minimal effort, and “show” instead of “tell”. Plus, it’s not as expensive as you’d think.

Online video consumption is exploding. Nearly 85% of the U.S. Internet audience views online video each month. The average U.S. Internet user watches 182 online videos each month. And YouTube has surpassed Yahoo as the #2 search engine.

We recently began a new assignment for our client, the Center for Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery. CPRS is doing a series of videos interviewing their surgeons. The videos allow the physicians to showcase their expertise and build rapport with prospective patients. Plus, we’re using the videos to motivate people to act quicker and attend a seminar or call for a consultation. Although we’ve just begun, we’re already starting to see some benefits. One of the decisions we had to make was what content we were going to use for video.

To get you started, here are six ideas for video content.

Get client testimonials.
If someone has something good to say about your product or service, encourage them to provide a testimonial. Video provides a powerful way to show that your testimonials are real and not made up. Remember to have your client keep their recommendation short. You don’t want a long-winded or rambling recommendation. Also, tell your client to be specific. Details are more convincing than a generalized ‚”They were great!”

Conduct a focus group.
Assemble a round table of experts in your industry – news editors, industry analysts, key clients, and prospective clients. Discuss important issues affecting your industry. The session will be packed with information, advice, and tips. This is all great content that others will want to share. Plus, each of your panelists can help in distributing your video to their network.

Repurpose existing content.
You probably already have loads of white papers, case studies, and product overviews. Why not repurpose those papers and sell sheets into videos? No need to reinvent the wheel, right?

Put your Webinar Online.
If your organization conducts webinars, record them and archive them online. It’s a great way to start building a library of thought leadership.

Record conferences and tradeshows.
Most conferences have policies prohibiting the taping of presentations. However, many venues are fine if people want to take photographs or recordings while walking the trade show floor and visiting vendor booths. This is a good opportunity to meet many exhibitors and ask questions, get information, and compare offerings. Prepare your questions ahead of time. Most exhibitors will be happy to talk about themselves.

Capture speaking engagements.
Public speaking elevates your visibility in the marketplace and builds your reputation. After the talk, inform the attendees you’ll post the presentation online and make it available to participants. Make sure you post your video promptly.

With smart thinking, compelling content, and preparation, an organization can churn out online videos without excessive expense or equipment. We’ll be sharing the videos for CPRS in a future post.