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Monetizing Social Media

Putting Out Facebook Fires - 3 Quick Tips

Here's an article I wrote for The eTail Blog:

Recently, brands like Oreo have been faced with public outcries on their Facebook pages. On Monday, the Kraft Foods brand posted a status update with a rainbow-hued version of its cookie with the caption, “Proudly support love!” and “June 25/Pride.” The update got a big response from the brand’s 26 million fans. While thousands of positive responses took note on Oreo’s page, the negative posts were astounding. Many people were threatening to never buy Oreo’s again.

When a brand gains thousands and, in some cases, millions of friends, it’s an accomplishment to be proud of. But, what happens if your public suddenly revolts on social media? What should your organization do if you “make a mistake?” And how do you know if it was, in fact a mistake, or if the positive reactions outweighed the negative?

In the unlikely, unwelcome event of a Facebook crisis, take note:

1. Plan Ahead.
Planning is everything, as they (whoever they is) say. Establish a company-wide social media policy. Outline rules for responsible administration. Appoint a Social Media Manager, team, department, or hire appropriate talent to be proactive about promoting your brand and reactive toward customer service issues. Have these individuals monitor all actions taking place on your page daily, and make it clear who should get involved should a fast reaction be necessary. If your organization is being proactive and knows the strategy for combating an issue, you’re already a step ahead.

2. Act FAST!
The faster you respond with a thoughtful, strategic response on handling the issue, the faster your negative comments will be pushed further down on your wall and out of view. If it’s a large enough crisis, (like in Oreo’s case) millions of people are reading/hearing/tweeting about the issue, then you need to act quickly. Assess the damage, because you’re not going to change policies over complaints. But, by stating that you respect their opinion and loyalty in an immediate matter, you show customers that their comments have been received and understood. It’s not always necessary to have an answer to each negative post. However, it’s important that your fan base know your company will have a resolution to the matter at hand.

3. Respond Publicly.
The worst thing you can do with your Facebook fans is make them feel like they’re engaged in a one-way conversation. Always respond to individuals publicly on your page. A private response makes your organization look like it has something to hide. A fan made a public post on your Facebook page, and you should respond with a public post back. Brands need to understand what their fans’ expectations are and be prepared to deal with any problems that arise. When you respond publicly, thousands of fans see that it was addressed, and it demonstrates that you care about your customers and appreciate their loyalty.

By taking these three precautions, your organization will be able to effectively and efficiently manage a problem, if a Facebook crisis ever should arise.

Posted by: Brittany Landenberger at 3:17 PM
Categories: social media, facebook, social media marketing, social

The Facebook Response to Pinterest

A recent TechCrunch article titled "Pinvolve Converts Facebook Pages Into Pinterest Pinboards, Increases Repins By 150%+" looks at how a new Facebook app called 'Pinvolve' allows users and brands to add a Pinterest-style page to their Facebook presence. The app essentially pulls in all photo posts, along with any Comments or Likes. And the crazy thing is that the company that designed it, Bazaart, has been able to increase Repins on its Facebook page by 150% - and so have many of the 1,000 users who have downloaded it.
 
Typically, when Facebook sees a new social platform as a viable threat to the amount of time people spend on their platform, they do one of two things: buy the startup, or quickly recreate the experience within Facebook before the challenger grows too big. 
 
One fairly successful example of this two-pronged strategy is Facebook's response to Foursquare, where they quickly launched Facebook Places to try and derail Foursquare's rapid growth. Next they bought another competitor Gowalla to further squash any competition.
 
One example where Facebook was too late to the game was when they tried to cut into the Twitter experience by allowing @mentioning in Facebook status updates. This did little to impact Twitter's growth. They should have bought them when they had the chance!
 
By supporting the Pinvolve app, it's clear that Facebook recognizes the threat Pinterest poses for stealing audience time away from their platform, which it will if their users cannot get the same experience within Facebook. Interestingly, Google+ also seems to recognize this shortcoming in Facebook's default experience, as they have they have been recently positioning themselves in the media as a social platform for sharing images.

Posted by: Dan Opallo at 3:00 PM
Categories: facebook, Pinterest, Social Media

Social Media Consumer Data Presents New Opportunities for Email Targeting

Every day, consumers are posting information to the social web that can be leveraged by marketers to refine the targeting of their campaigns, whether that be generating reviews, recommendations or comments in forums.  They are also voluntarily sharing public information about their lifestyle preferences and interests that can be tapped for significantly better targeting across channels. In order to take advantage of this data, email marketers need to actively source and append their customer and prospect email databases with the wide array of social data that is available from a variety of sources.

Facebook has access to lifestyle and demographic information on over 800 million people worldwide. That’s more than most traditional data providers will ever have. When you combine this information with data sourced from listening platforms and social data providers like Fliptop and Rapleaf, you can start to build rich subscriber profiles based on this high-value, self-reported information. StrongView offers a proprietary tool that enables you to append and then query off of this data, which is currently returning a 70% match rate simply using name and location. The match rate is even higher if you’re appending off an email address as the primary key.

In addition to these tools and services, brands can also be direct and ask their customers for assistance in pairing the data. This can be accomplished with campaigns sent out from email and social media. Email subscribers can be asked to connect with your brand on Twitter, Facebook and other networks. Similarly, members of a brand’s social networks can be encouraged to opt-in to their email communications.  Enabling Facebook Connect and Twitter Sign-on capabilities, as well as promoting Facebook applications can be another way to access this data. Chances are your social media team is investing in building Facebook apps to drive brand engagement. Are you getting access to the data that they receive through that process?

Instead of leaving social media marketing to the brand marketers, email marketers need to collaborate with their brand counterparts and look for opportunities to leverage the massive amounts of data on the social web to learn more about their email subscribers.  By collecting social data, appending it to your database and leveraging it to increase the relevancy of your messaging, you can exponentially improve the performance of your campaigns across every channel.

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 10:15 AM
Categories: social media, email targeting, Facebook, Twitter

Top 10 Social Media Marketing Takeaways from MediaPost's Social Media Insider Summit

Earlier this month, StrongView sponsored and spoke at MediaPost's Social Media Insider Summit in Lake Tahoe, NV. The conference producers put together another fantastic program, featuring innovations from great social brands like Coca-Cola, Dell and American Express. Over the course of three days, there were a number of great presentations, panels and roundtables that provided valuable insight for any brand looking to advance their use of social media as a marketing channel.  Following are just some of our key social media marketing takeaways from the event:

1. The Economy is in Bad Shape… but Social Media Continues to Grow. According to Jordan Rohan, Managing Director of the Internet and Digital Media practice for Stifel Nicolaus, most of the world is still digesting the fact that the US GDP is growing around 1% and Europe is flat. China’s growth is also slowing because it is so dependent on US consumers, whose spending has dipped dramatically. We are entering a bear economy, but social media is one of the few sectors that will continue to grow in the coming years. In fact, Forrester Research predicts that social media will rev at a 26% CAGR over the next five years to become a $4.4 billion industry by 2016. (Source: US Interactive Marketing Forecast, 2011 To 2016)

2. Facebook Rules Social Media. Facebook currently has 50% of the U.S. population as active members, and the average Facebook user visits Facebook 38 times per day. These are astounding metrics, and yet many brands are still struggling with their monetization strategies on Facebook. Most experts agree that you need to build a strategy around the fact that engagement takes place in the news stream – not on the brand fan page. In fact, Starbucks is currently generating 156 impressions in the news feed for every 1 visit to their brand page.

3. Twitter is One to Watch. 92% of US Consumers have heard of Twitter, but only 8% use it. There is huge growth potential for Twitter and marketers should keep an eye on them as they begin to monetize their traffic. Some analysts think that a Google acquisition of Twitter could pose a significant challenge to Facebook’s market dominance. As for your marketing strategy, keep in mind that Twitter is all about breaking news. Therefore it’s important to keep your content strategy fresh. The #1 reason that people stop following a brand on Twitter is because the content became repetitive over time.

4. Google+ Has Built It… But Will They Come? Google+ is suffering from a chicken-and-the-egg syndrome. While they’re adding new members at the rate of 1 million a day, many of those people aren’t actively using it. Meanwhile brands are taking a “wait and see” approach because they’re concerned that Google+ might go the way of Google Wave. Part of the problem lies in the fact that Google launched its viral go-to-market strategy with a fickle group of technologists, whereas Facebook spread virally via college students at Harvard. If Google wants to drive adoption as quickly as possible, they need to go straight to the consumer. One way to do this would be to give brands the ability to send Google+ invites to their email lists and enable consumers to easily connect with the corresponding brand pages (when available).

5. Build Facebook Apps to Grow Your Database. Facebook currently has 50% of all social market share, according to Justin Kistner of WebTrends. That is a massive amount of data that is waiting to be tapped. American Express built an application called “Link, Like, Love” that delivers deals, access and experiences based on card member “Likes” and interests on Facebook. Users of the app can get rebates at checkout, access location based offers via mobile check-ins, and share offers with other friends. The app has been so popular, that the site crashed on July 19 from too much traffic. But the real genius of this program is that, as the creators of the app, American Express gets access to Facebook’s rich social data profiles for anyone who uses the app, which they can append to their cardholder database.

6. Use Facebook’s Self-Service Ad Marketplace. If you’re going to buy Facebook Ads, here’s a tip… don’t call their ad sales department. You will pay a $10 CPM if you buy directly from Facebook’s Ad Sales and only a $.70 CPM if you buy ads through their self-service marketplace. And when creating your ad targeting strategy, don’t forget to target your fans. You'll see a .35% CTR instead of a .1% CTR.

7. Tap Social Media for Customer Acquisition. Only 18% of people believe paid advertising; however, 80% of people believe word-of-mouth. Harnessing word-of-mouth for new customer acquisition can be an extremely powerful tactic. Discover Card presented a great case study on how they’ve integrated social referrals into their transactional process for registering new cardholders. Each card member is offered $50 for referring a friend who is approved for a new card, and the new applicant also receives $50. The program has been so successful that Discover is looking to expand its multi-channel acquisition program into additional channels such as mobile.

8. Humanity is More Important than Being Perfect. Authenticity is the key to a successful social media marketing strategy. Keep it human and get your message out on time before getting it perfect. When you’re crafting your creative, you should also keep in mind that people are 5X more likely to click on an image if it has a human face on it.

9. Social Media Marketing is Taking a Page from Email Marketing’s Playbook. Many of the social media marketing best practices shared during the summit could have easily been plucked from an email marketing conference. The many guidelines and tips about how to reach the right influencer with the right message at the right time, communication frequency and the best day to post sounded all too familiar. The good news is that responsibility for social media appears to be moving out of the house of PR and into the hands of marketers where it can be monetized.

10. Old School Marketers Still Have the Best Advice. There were many great sound bites floated during this conference, but the best had to be a timeless quote from David Ogilvy: “The consumer is not a moron… she’s your wife.” If you can effectively grasp that, you’ll go far in any marketing field. 

For a detailed recap of what transpired at the event, check out the #mpsmis Twitter Stream or follow me on Twitter at http://twitter.com/kristinhersant.

And tune into our blog to stay up to speed on the newest social media marketing trends.

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 11:49 AM
Categories: social media insider summit, social media, social media marketing, google+, facebook, twitter

Building Your Facebook Community

Without question, Facebook is going to be a big part of any successful social media marketing strategy; however, many marketers struggle with how to best leverage it in a way that shows respect for both the consumer and the channel itself. In my latest column for eM+C Magazine, I detail some proven marketing strategies and best practices for Facebook that have been used by major brands to build an active community of brand advocates.

For even more information on how to create a successful Facebook social media strategy, I also recommend that you also read our brand new whitepaper, "Facebook Best Practices: Building Your Brand & Your Community."

You can read the eM+C article below, or at eM+C at: http://www.emarketingandcommerce.com/blog/building-your-facebook-community

Building Your Facebook Community
By Michael Della Penna
September 09, 2010

In July, 2010, Facebook announced that more than 500 million people worldwide were actively using the social media site to connect with family, friends and, yes, increasingly, brands. While Facebook continues to evolve as a marketing platform, a growing number of marketers are looking to leverage this channel to engage consumers and build communities. But what are some of the secrets to success, and how can you leverage these best practices to build a powerful community of brand advocates?

Listen. Understand. Then frame the conversation.
Before attempting to develop a full Facebook fan page for your brand, first determine the nature of the conversation between your brand and its customers. When it comes to framing the conversation, the brands that build successful Facebook communities take their cues from their customers and don’t try to dictate or dominate the relationship. They do this by listening. Follow these tips to tap into multiple listening sources to uncover shared passions:

Brand audit. Type your brand name into Facebook's search bar to take a pulse of the nature of the conversations already taking place about your brand.

Leverage traditional market research. Collect information about how your customers use social media, and what kind of content and conversations are important to them. Survey your customer base through database marketing, website intercept surveys and third-party research panels. Use focus groups to drill down into the attitudes and particular content, features and functionalities that will set you apart.

Listening tools. Use powerful monitoring tools to filter the immense amount of discussions and activity surrounding your brand, and to identify opportunities and key areas of interest.

Acquire and grow: Build your fan base. So you’ve identified a shared passion that will underpin your general community framework. Up next: building your base. The best acquisition strategies leverage existing customer touchpoints as well as opportunities within Facebook's ecosystem. Take the following steps:

  • secure a vanity URL and make it easy to be found;
  • clearly define the benefits of joining your page;
  • invite existing customers via email;
  • offer something unique or exclusive, giving those who like your brand a reason to visit, engage with and
  • recommend your page;
  • test different placements of the “Like” button across your existing digital touchpoints;
  • include Facebook links on relevant paid search terms;
  • include Facebook URLs/tags on traditional advertising efforts (e.g., print, TV, radio);
  • favorite related brands; and
  • test Facebook advertising.

Stir the pot: Engage your fan base. Once you've acquired fans, create a compelling experience that keeps them engaged and actively participating. Keep in mind that engaging your fans is a journey, not a destination. Do the following to keep fans engaged:

  • provide them with unique access to special content and/or offers;
  • create and test applications like polls, trivia, simple games and widgets, making sure the underlying subject of those applications syncs with the shared passion of your community;
  • shower your fans with public recognition;
  • encourage user-generated content;
  • rotate and target content (e.g., geo-posts) to keep it relevant;
  • think internationally; and
  • adjust your content strategy accordingly.

Build trust. Being open isn't always easy. Many brands shy away from social media out of fear that their fans and followers may say something negative or turn on them. Deal with issues and problems in an open, transparent way. In fact, if you’ve done a good job offering value and engaging those who like your page, you may find they're your biggest defenders. To build trust with your fans, do the following:

  • post a comment policy;
  • remove spam;
  • be transparent and authentic;
  • remain calm and think before you act (i.e., respond/post);
  • train and communicate your goals with those responsible for managing/engaging fans; and
  • build a corporate policy and communicate that policy internally so employees understand how to engage consumers in a transparent manner.

Have fun: Analyze and optimize. So, how do you know if you're doing a good job? Tracking and analytics will help you get a handle on your page performance. Try the following tracking tactics:

  • use unique tracking codes for Facebook posts;
  • leverage Facebook Insights to understand activity and usage;
  • identify brand advocates and tag them in your database — you may even want to consider rewarding them for their support with bonus points; and
  • communicate your learnings and institutionalize them.

Finally — and perhaps most importantly — don’t lose sight of the fact that Facebook is an evolving platform. No one person can keep up with all the developments, so make sure you partner right. Find an agency and/or support system that's well versed on Facebook best practices and your brand, and has a proven ability to engage consumers.

Posted by: at 9:23 AM
Categories: Facebook, best practices, em+c, social media marketing, whitepaper

Facebook: The Substrate of all things Social

If your company is not using Facebook as part of its marketing strategy, or you don’t have a social media plan in place, listen up.  Last week, Facebook unveiled advances in its developer toolkit that gives your website visitors a simple way to connect the content on your site with their network of friends – all without leaving your website.  You can then use those connections to provide more personalized, relevant content across your site and your users' Facebook profile.

So what are the new developer tools?  The Open Graph protocol lets developers turn a website’s pages into objects that can be added to a Facebook profile. The social plugins bring Facebook’s features to a website.  Let’s focus on the social plugins.

With one line of HTML code, companies can now include Facebook’s “Like” button on their web pages, which will allow users to post that affinity back to their Facebook profile.  And when a user clicks “Like,” the company gets a link from the user’s profile, the ability to publish to the user’s News Feed, inclusion in Facebook search, and analytics.

Other plugins create a more engaging experience for your users without ever leaving your website.  The Activity Feed shows users what their friends are doing on your site through likes and comments.  The Recommendations plugin gives users personalized suggestions by highlighting content based on the top "Likes" across a site.

Some examples from the Facebook blog help put this into perspective:

  1. For example, if I like a pair of jeans on Levis.com, my action will be shared with my friends on Facebook, where they can comment on it. I can also see which of my friends like the jeans on Levis.com.
  2. In other cases, I may want to create a more lasting connection to something, such as a book, band or movie. So, if I like the movie "The Godfather" on IMDb, it will be added to my profile as an interest on my “Info” tab. Once the connection is made, “The Godfather” page can send me updates through News Feed (such as a Godfather movie event), and it will appear in search results.
  3. When you’re logged into Facebook and visit CNN.com, you will instantly see the articles and topics your friends are sharing, recommending and commenting on via the Activity Feed.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the new tools will help fulfill the company’s vision of the “social graph,” which allows people to share the connections they make on any website with their friends on Facebook. “We are making it so all websites can work together to build a more comprehensive map of connections and create better, more social experiences for everyone,”  wrote Zuckerberg on his blog.

As Facebook’s social-networking features become further integrated into other websites, the company is positioning itself as the substrate for all things social.  As such, I believe we’ll begin to see companies turn to Facebook as the central repository for people's tastes and other socially identifying elements.  I know, a bold statement.  But it’s definitely hot right now – and by creating partnerships with sites like Microsoft's Docs.com, reviews site Yelp, and music site Pandora – Facebook is doing a good job of paving the way for other organizations to want to jump on board.

So what are you waiting for?  Belly up to the bar and solidify your social marketing plan.  Don’t know where to start? Experts from StrongView can help you put a plan in place. It’s a great way to expand your reach, get users engaged with your product or services, and show that your products are validated by potential customers’ social circles. And the more people that come back to your site, the more connections that will be made.  As I say to most organizations – get on the train before it leaves without you.

Posted by: Amanda Hinkle at 8:27 AM
Categories: Facebook, IMDb, Levis, Microsoft, Open Graph, Pandora, Yelp

Why Facebook Advertising is Missing the Point (and Creeping Me Out)

As the popular saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Someone is going to pay for all of this social computing... and whether privacy advocates like it or not, that payment is going to be made using people's data. However, the immense amount of rich data that's available on the social web would be squandered if it was simply used for targeted advertising.

Let's face it. People don't like advertising. They try and avoid it at all costs. They fast forward through commercials on their DVR and use pop-up blockers in their web browsers. The reason Facebook ads aren't living up to their potential is because people haven't opted-in to receive those messages... they don't want to see them!

So when Facebook shoves an ad in front of someone's face that says "35 Year Old Women in San Francisco Needed," they are trying to shoehorn relevant attributes about the visitor into an irrelevant ad. (Not to mention you are going to risk offending the woman by using her age in the ad. No woman wants to be reminded about how old she is, thank you very much.)

What’s even more disturbing are some of the more intrusive applications being created using Facebook Connect. No one wants to see what they thought was a private picture of their family staring back at them from a third party promotional application... whether it be for a video game or the Olympics. It's creepy.

Social Media is More Like Email Than You Realize
Conversely, by approaching social media as an opt-in channel, you are respecting the individuals that you're trying to target and are only communicating with those who are interested in hearing from you. This conforms with the spirit of social media and aligns with email marketing best practices. As any email marketer will tell you, opt-in marketing is significantly more effective than blasting a mass message to a rented list of names that someone claims has similar interests as what you're trying to market.

The social media marketing tools that emerge as effective will respect this and enable marketers to engage with brand influencers in a meaningful and effective way.  This effort will be fueled by personal referrals and genuine recommendations that ring true because the people recommending your product or service genuinely care about it. The future of social media marketing has more to learn from email than advertising. It's about respect. Not violating my privacy and creeping me out.

Posted by: Kristin Hersant at 6:44 PM
Categories: Facebook, advertising, behavioral targeting, email marketing, opt-in, social media

Tip and Insights from OMMA Social 2010

For those of you who missed OMMA Social or would like a summary of some of the key social media topics and tips, I encourage you to check out my colleague Kristin Hersant's prolific Twitter feed from the event. They are cataloged in the following PDF: /pdf/omma_social_2010_twitter_transcript.pdf

Here are just some of the topics she covered in 140 characters or less.

Brands tackle social in different ways: e.g. PR, branding, direct marketing. What will win? Whatever ties to revenue. #ommasocial 12:43 PM Jan 26th

What's more interesting than amassing 2 million followers is that audience's ability to influence their friends. #ommasocial 12:34 PM Jan 26th

Your app doesn't need 2B rocket science. Think about how to keep your brand in front of them and drive traffic across channels. #ommasocial 12:15 PM Jan 26th

Posted by: Ryan Deutsch at 3:08 PM
Categories: Events, Facebook, OMMA, OMMA Social, Twitter, social media, social media marketing

Driving Revenue and Brand Extension with Social Media

So, is Social Media Marketing for real? Do social media channels (Facebook, MySpace, Twitter) really offer marketers extended reach and enhanced program conversion? At StrongView, we are convinced they do, but only for those marketers that understand how to leverage social media within their marketing mix.

The road is already cluttered with brands that have embarked on failed social marketing strategies. This blog will be dedicated to sharing the proven practices of marketers blazing the trail to social media marketing success. Stay tuned for topics in upcoming posts focusing on such topics as:

  • The proper application of social capital
  • The proper application of social motivation
  • Testing within social influence programs
  • Targeting your most likely influencers and the impact on program performance
  • Social influencer marketing as a direct marketing opportunity
  • How the interdependence of email and social influencer marketing drives conversions
  • Understanding the most viral social channels vs. social channels that provide the highest conversion metrics

Each topic will share actual program data that will help you justify the investment in social influence marketing. I look forward to sharing my experiences in the exciting new space. In the meantime, below is some interesting data around social marketing and its growth as a key part of email marketing programs.

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a panel at ad:tech New York 2009 titled: Email 3.0. The panel, hosted by Bill McCloskey of Email Data Source, focused on new trends in email marketing with a special emphasis on social Influence marketing and rich media. As it turns out, Email Data Source has exceptional insight into what email marketers are doing within the email campaigns they deploy (check them out at http://www.emaildatasource.com/)

Specifically, if you have been wondering what your competition is doing as it relates to social media and email, consider the following trend data compiled by EDS:

  • In Q4 of 2006 there were only about 230 links to social networks within email marketing programs. All of them were to MySpace or Linked-In.
  • In Q4 of 2007, MySpace links in email campaigns more than doubled, to just over 500. While links to a new social network site, Facebook, appeared in over 400 programs. Links to a new micro-blogging site, Twitter, begin to appear with…wait for it….100 links from email programs during the quarter.
  • In Q4 of 2008, Facebook links in email campaigns take off with over 6,000 appearing during the quarter. What about MySpace? Just over 2,000…And Twitter, about 1,500.
  • In Q3 of this year, (are you sitting down?) Facebook links appeared in over 35,000 email campaigns. Twitter links appeared in over 40,000.

So what do we know based on this data? We know that direct marketers (and email marketers in particular) understand the importance of allowing their customers to share their brand message with their “social graph.” What we don’t know is how to optimize this opportunity to drive revenue and brand extension for our businesses. This blog will help demystify social influence optimization. I look forward to sharing our journey with you.

Posted by: Ryan Deutsch at 8:58 AM
Categories: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, ad:tech, email marketing, referral program, social media, social media marketing