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Archive for the ‘Best Practices and Workshops’


What I learned from (at least) 14 social media mistakes 6

Posted on July 21, 2013 by Rob Petersen

 

 

 

Social Media mistakes

  •  90% (over 9,000,000) businesses say they actively engage on social networking sites
  • 74% find it valuable
  • 42% say 25% of new customers  find out about their business from social networking sites  (Source: Mantra)

The numbers indicate businesses find value in social media.

My experiences started a few years ago when the numbers were lower. I didn’t have a guidebook. My most valuable lessons came from mistakes.

Now, I teach social media at both Rutgers CMD and the University of California. I have an ebook, 166 Case Studies Prove Social Media Marketing ROI (downloaded by 55,000+ on the sidebar of this website. it’s free). A decent portion of company revenue at BarnRaisers comes from social media related activities.

I’m still learning from mistakes.

Here’s what I learned from (at least) 14 social media mistakes I’ve made.

  1. TO BUILD AN AUDIENCE TAKES TIME: Social media is “earned” media (not “paid”). It takes more time to build an audience you earn. Most people, including myself, underestimate. But an “earned” audience stays with you longer than one you pay for and is worth the effort.
  2. GRATITUDE TO OTHERS WORKS MUCH FASTER THAN TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF: It was humbling at the start to look at how slow an audience builds until I stopped telling and started thanking others. Chris Brogan said to talk about others 3X as talking about yourself. It was very good advice.
  3. YOU CAN’T BE GOOD OR BAD AT SOCIAL MEDIA; YOU CAN ONLY BE YOURSELF. Initially, I wondered if my contributions were good or bad. It would have been better if I wondered if I was being myself.
  4. RELEVANT CONTENT IS A BRAND’S 2nd MOST VALUABLE ASSET: After a product of service, relevant content is a business’ most relevant asset. I found the valuable posts came from people who were able to teach someone something new.
  5. LISTEN TO THE RIGHT METRICS: There was a time when I thought a Klout or Kred score was worth pursuing. Now I know the metrics in the Google Analytics of your website that show the social networks (Traffic Sources) where your audience comes from is a much more valuable guide.
  6. TECH DOESN’T WORK AS WELL AS TOUCH: I’ve never relied on automated posts. There nothing wrong with sending the same message out on different social networks. But I was concerned that it relied too much on tech, I would miss the opportunity to touch.
  7. SHOW UP CONSISTENTLY: You don’t have to be on social networks 24/7. You do have to be there consistently and at the same time usually helps. You’ll find your audience looks forward, even relies, on seeing you and that’s a way to earn their trust.
  8. RE-PURPOSE YOUR CONTENT: You’re going to be putting in time so why not make the most of it. The time you put into your content can be re-purposed. For example, a blog can be re-purposed as an email newsletter. A series of blogs on the same topic can be made into an e-book.
  9. SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT FREE: The commodity in social media is time, not money. I didn’t realized how valuable that commodity was until I had less of time because of social media. Value your time appropriately.
  10. LOOK FOR HOW YOUR AUDIENCE EVOLVES: Foiled Cupcakes owner Mari Luangrath built her cupcake business to +600% above forecast by building relationships on Facebook and Twitter. As her audience evolved to corporate accounts, her attention went more to LinkedIn.
  11. ALL COMMENTS ARE NOT EQUAL: When I initially got comments like “I’ve bookmarked your blog” I thought I was doing something right. It was actually spammer trying to get links. You have to look at the email address of someone writing a comment.
  12. DON’T BE AN OBSESSIVE EDITOR: I’ve spent, and spend, way more time editing than the attention the obsession to editing yields in visitors. I’m not discouraging people to pay attention to details. But, if you wait for everything to be perfect, you’re likely not to start.
  13. DO IT FOR THE FRIENDS: Fellow Rutgers CMD faculty and friend, Mark Schaefer, is a well known name in social media. When he started, he did it for the friends. Why wouldn’t you. Your friend can come from any social network and from all over the world.
  14. INVITE MORE OFTEN: I thought if I invited people to join my networks, it might seem as if I’m too pushy. Now, I realize that, without actively inviting others, I just have less fans and followers.

When you started in social media, did you make the same mistake I did? What have you learned? Have you learned more from your our successes? Or your mistakes?

12 tips. How to write for your audience and search engines 3

Posted on May 12, 2013 by Rob Petersen

 

 

writing for your audience

  • 80% of people find a website by typing keywords into the query box of a search engine
  • 42% click on the website in the #1 organic search position
  • 90% click on a website on the 1st page (Source: SEO Book)

These facts show, for any company doing business on the internet, search engine optimization (SEO) is a requirement.

But search engines don’t buy, don’t download and don’t fill out requests for more information. People do. That’s why, although search rank is important, a top rank is only as good as the content on the website at getting visitors to take the action you want.

How do you accomplish both? Here are 12 tips on how to write for your audience and search engines.

KEYWORDS

  • DO KEYWORD RESEARCH: Keywords are the currency of the internet. They establish relevance to both your audience and the search engines. So look for the words consumers use to express their unmet need; how many express it and how often. Two tools that are a valuable guide in this discovery are Google Trends and Google Adwords Keyword Tool.
  • CREATE SITE ARCHITECTURE: When search engines crawl your site, they are trying to give your audience the best match for the words that express their unmet need. So give both your audience and the search engines something to work with and make it easy on them. Organize your keywords and content to create a more complete picture.

Site architecture map

  • DIFFERENTIATE BY BEING SPECIFIC: The people who are most ready to take action are most likely going to be more specifics about what they need and less willing to wade through a lot of information. So help them on their journey with content that includes “long-tail” phrases, not just “short tail” keywords. If you were in the market for a digital camera and ready to buy, wouldn’t you be looking for the brand and model, not just the category?

Short tail vs long tail keywords

LINKS

  • IDENTIFY AUTHORITIES: “It”s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This truth applies to life and doing business on the internet. That’s why hyperlinks (the blue text that goes to other websites) play a pivotal role. They connect you with authorities on your topic. If  the search engines determine, through links, you are connected to authorities, they raise your rank. There are many link tracking services. Options range from free to subscription services. A few to consider are: Alexa, ClixTrack and Linktrack and Linktrackr and options from free to subscription.
  • WRITE HYPERLINKS INTO SITE CONTENT: The search engine are cracking down on websites that load backlinks into the back end of their websites but they are rewarding websites that do it, authentically, by featuring relevant links in content like suggested above. Also, consider social network pages as links and build your “social authority.” This is increasing greatly in importance.
  • USE INTERNAL LINKS THROUGHOUT YOUR SITE:  Hyperlinks are also good for connecting pages within your site. This give both your audience and the search engine the opportunity to spend more time with your business and get to know you better. And that’s always a good thing.
  • CHECK FOR BROKEN LINKS: Make sure everything is working as it should. A website analytics tool, like Google Analytics  is your GPS system. Google offers Google Webmaster Tools for spotting any critical issues.

WRITING CONTENT

  • TITLE YOUR KEYWORDS IN THE URL, TITLES AND HEADERS: The reason for being for each page is a key consideration for you, for your audience and the search engines. Put your keywords in url’s, and titles. Here is where you need to include them.

keywords in url, titles and headlines

 

  • WRITE MORE THAN 200 WORDS ON EVERY PAGE: Your audience and the search engines want to get to know you. Although there are  a number of opinions, at least 200 words per page is a good rule of thumb.
  • WRITE FOR 3 TYPES OF VISITORS: Regardless of the website, there will always be 3 types of visitors. “Researchers,” who expect to be educated and want lots of information. Reviews and testimonials are important. “Shoppers” look for comparisons. They want to know the facts, but they want the Cliff Notes version. “Buyers” are ready to take action but they want the specifics, as clearly called out as possible. All are important. They also are not mutually exclusive either. One can move  from one stage to another.

TRACKING

  • KEYWORDS: Now that you have your plan in place, track your progress is raising your rank every month. A good tool to track your progress is SEO Book Rank Checker (Firefox Extension).  
  • INDEXING: The more search pages your are on, the better so know how many search pages you are “indexed” and work to increase the number. Marketing Grader from HubSpot lets you see how your doing.

To write for your audience is as important, if not more, as writing for the search engines. Do these 12 tips help teach you how to do it?

12 best practices of successful social media promotions 0

Posted on January 05, 2013 by Rob Petersen

 

 

 

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Social media promotions refer to brand building incentives and offers that gain attention through social media sites, website traffic, buzz and word of mouth. Here’s a case in point.

TortillaLand is a brand of fresh tortillas from Circle Foods found in the refrigerated section of stores like Costco, Walmart and major grocery chains, primarily on the West Coast. Distribution across the country is increasing and social media promotions are playing an important role.

Once people try TortillaLand, they swear by the fresh-baked taste and authentic eating experience (“like eating a fresh made tortilla at a restaurant”). But the brand’s low awareness and store placement in the refrigerated section, away from main Mexican food aisle, presents businesses challenges.

Since these are challenges where fans and advocates can help by spreading the word, TortillaLand has run 5 social media promotions on their Facebook Brand Page within the past year. They’ve helped increase sales +35% versus year ago, built a valuable database, taken Facebook “Likes” from 885 to 15,351 and proved a high return on investment (ROI).

Needless to say, they work. Here are the promotions:

  • Win 3 iPads; 1 for you, 2 for friends (run twice)
  • 1000 Free TortillaLand Coupons
  • 1000 Free TortillaLand Coupons for Winn Dixie
  • Cinco de Mayo Cookware Giveaway

Here are 12 best practices of successful social media promotions.

  1. DEFINE DESIRED RESULTS: Begin be being clear about what you expect. If your brand is an impulse buy or has a short buying cycle, short term sales increases are certainly possible. If it takes a number of months from first contact to conversion, consider the value a new database provides from entries and use it from re-contact and conversion.
  2. CHOOSE THE SOCIAL PROMOTION APP TO MATCH YOUR BUDGET: The software to run the promotion can cost from $200 to $5000+ so there is a budget range to meet the need of any business from a local pilate studio to a CPG company. Social promotion apps are available from companies like Wildfire,  Strutta and Votigo.
  3. CREATE A HIGH-VALUE OFFER: In promotion, the offer is king. Although high value can be a high dollar amount (like 3 iPads), you’d be surprised how high value “free” coupons are in the hands of people who love your brand.
  4. MAKE SHARING PART OF THE OFFER: If you want fans to spread the word, do something to motivate them like give a prize for them and their friends or an incentive (e.g. 10% off) is they “Like” your Facebook page.
  5. SET A RELEVANT TIME FRAME: Six to eight weeks is considered to be the right amount of time to see meaningful business results while creating urgency to act among fans
  6. SPREAD THE WORD: You have to spread the word so think of all you have available to tell fans who will tell their friends and so on – like email lists, Facebook Fans, Twitter Followers. your company blog. Social media sharing generally increases outreach by 33%+.
  7. ESTABLISH RULES FOR ENGAGEMENT: Post frequently on social networks (3+ times/week) but look closely to see when and where you are getting the most engagement (e.g. comments, “Like,” Shares, RT’s). Engage when you are getting response; Pull back and look someplace else when you’re not.
  8. INTEGRATE INTO THE MARKETING MIX AND INCLUDE MOBILE: Social media promotions should be part of brand communications and featured on your website. 43% of social media users say they access their social networks by mobile devices and 20% of visits to a website, on average, are from mobile devices. Not all promotion apps are mobile friendly but generally do offer a mobile alternative. Don’t overlook mobile and be clear with fans about mobile entries – “here’s how to enter from your mobile device…”
  9. BUILD A DATABASE: A valuable asset of any social media promotion is the database that comes from entry forms. In the case of TortillaLand, it is now a major business building tool. It has been segmented by state. It is used to reward fans, ask for their help with specific items in specific grocery chains and is used for survey research.
  10. LOOK FOR UPTAKE FROM SWEEPSTAKES AND COUPON BLOGGERS: Many people underestimate the media impressions that come from sweepstakes and coupon blogger. Coupon bloggers generate major traffic, have significant followings and are sophisticated internet marketers. This is another reason to create a high-value offer. So it has appeals to them and their audiences.
  11. SET ASIDE SOME PROMOTION FUNDS “JUST IN CASE”: Interest and entries is likely to peak at the start and near the end. If needed, save some funds, not a lot, for Facebook Ads or Facebook Promoted Posts. They can have a strong impact.
  12. DON’T FORGET THE POST-PROMOTION PERIOD: Once the promotion is over, the communication isn’t. Announce the winner quickly and don’t leave fans waiting. Consider an interview with the winner in a blog and e-mail to humanize the event. Survey your database as to what other offers, incentives or news is most relevant and motivating to learn for the next time.

Social media promotions don’t run themselves. You have to be involved but the learning, results and ROI can be very rewarding.

If you’re interested in trying TortillaLand fresh tortillas, here’s where you can find a store in your area. If you think this type of thinking can help your business, here’s where you can find out more about social promotions.

Do these best practices demonstrate the value of social media promotions for your brand?

7 ways Facebook helped a town weather Hurricane Sandy 11

Posted on November 04, 2012 by Rob Petersen

 

 

 

Hurricane Sandy

The need to keep a community informed, connected and calm in a crisis has not been felt more this year than in mid-Atlantic and Northeast states devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

In the town of Connecticut where I live, roughly two years ago, a Facebook brand page was started: New Canaan Office of Emergency Management. It’s mission: “To protect the lives and property of the citizens; and prepare for emergencies, coordinate emergency response and recovery, and collect and disseminates emergency information.” Did they live up to their word?

Hurricane Sandy caused 68% in this mid-sized Connecticut town to be without power, 132 downed wires, 140 roads closed, serious electrical fires, one that trapped firefighters, and flooding. Then, there were reports of price gorging on water and gas by local merchants, scams and rogue FEMA agents.

Yet, during a time of hardship, anxiety and worry, “Likes” for the OEM went from 2054 to 2826. Why? Their demonstration of care and commitment replaced as atmosphere of chaos and crisis.

New Canaan Office of Emergency Management

How did they do it? Here are 7 ways Facebook was used by the OEM to weather Hurricane Sandy.

1. PUT TIMELINESS AS A FIRST PRIORITY: Every post to the OEM was answered within a short time even if it wasn’t the desired response.

Hurricane Sandy post

2, LET PICTURES TELL A 1000 WORDS: Photos were posted multiple times a day

OEM Hurricane Sandy pictures

3. USED APPS TO REPORT ON EVERY NEIGHBORHOOD: Google Maps App was a fixtures that showed what was going on every street. In this map, the red pins are downed wires on roads; the green pins are downed trees. This is the map 5 days after the hurricane. At first, it was much more dense with red and green pins as well as yellow pins for fires.

Google Maps

4. PUT A FACE TO THE POSTS: The name, Mike Handler, stood behind every post.

Mike Handler OEM Facebook Post

5. LOOKED OUT FOR ONE ANOTHER: When the underside of humanity showed up, the OEM quickly stepped in.

OEM Hurricane Sandy Post

6. PRODUCED CALM BY DEMONSTRATING CARE AND COMMITMENT. Gratitude started to be the subject of people’s posts.

OEM Hurricane Sandy Thanks

7. SOCIAL MEDIA PROVED FASTER THAN THE NEWS MEDIA: Every major news outlet in the area turned to the OEM for the latest activity and update. Their “news” was often what the OEM had already reported.

Many town  in New Jersey and Long Island endured much worse devastation but the hurricane hurt this town. It is equally clear the Office of Emergency Management helped this town and proved a “best practices” in crisis management of how it can be replicated by others.

By the way, that’s Mike with the real FEMA agents.

Could you use an OEM on Facebook in your community?

Mike Handler

 

7 best practices digital agencies should be doing 2

Posted on July 21, 2012 by Rob Petersen

 

 

 

If your business relies on advertising, did you know digital is the only media channel showing growth in this decade?

Ad Spending Trends

By next year according to Zenith Optimedia, digital is projected to be bigger than all media channels except television. This progress is tied to consumer buying behaviors where now:

  • 90% of all purchase decisions begin online
  • 75% of consumers shop online before they buy offline
  • 85% are looking for an independent review
  • 78% of people trust the recommendations of other people
  • 14% of people trust advertising
  • Only 18% of TV advertising campaign ever achieve a positive return on investment

(Source: eMarketer, comScore, WOMMA, webtrends)

These trends suggest a digital agency may be your most valuable business partner. Here are 7 best practices digital agencies should be doing.

1. DEFINE WHY YOUR WEBSITE EXISTS: A brand’s website is either a business asset or an expense. If it’s an asset, it exists for a business reason like: Generate sales, secure leads, increase trial, switch competitive users or identify key prospects. If the website has been created because “every brand has to have a website,” it’s an expense.

2. IDENTIFY KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS (KPI’S): “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it,” said Peter Drucker. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are the actionable scorecard to keep your business strategy on track. They are selected measurements that provide visibility into the performance of a business. They enable decision makers to take action that achieve desired results. It’s not hard to measure or manage KPI’s. This brief video explains KPI’s and how to set up a scorecard for your business.

3. DETERMINE SEGMENTATION: For every business, a wide disparity exists between best and worst customers. Segmentation tells you what customers to spend time with and which ones not to waste time with. It can be based on sales-related behaviors or website behaviors (new vs. returning, time on site, key content viewed or take desired actions). Either way, audience segmentation helps accelerates business growth and makes your business more profitable

4. KNOW WHERE YOUR AUDIENCE COMES FROM: To drive people to your brand’s website, you’re going to have to spend money or time (or both) on paid media, paid search, search engine optimization and social media. Which ones work best? “Traffic Sources” and “Tags” tell you from an analytics tool like Google Analytics. They make it possible to determine Return on Ad Investment. Something you can improve upon and control.

5. LEARN FROM THE COMPETITION: Competitive analysis and intelligence presents opportunities in real time. For example, allergy products are a fiercely competitive category every Spring. Sales are heavy influenced by uncontrollable factors like the weather that varies geographically. Using competitive tracking tools like Compete and Alexa, a client of ours was able to measure website traffic of major allergy brands, understand their marketing and advertising strategy and use it to their brand’s advantage that Spring. A report from the television ad tracking service didn’t arrive until late Summer.

6. GAIN INSIGHTS THROUGH KEYWORDS: 80% of the traffic to a website begin with a search query. As a result, large lists of keywords are probably going to be generated for search volume and CPC (cost per click).  They’re valuable for media buying but lists don’t usually reveal insights.

Here’s one way to get to insights – show keyword trends. Since we’re on the subject of advertising, here is a charts from Google Insights. The blue line measures search volume for television marketing; the red is for digital advertising. If these keywords were relevant to your business, which one would you emphasize to better meet the needs of your audience.

Google Insights

 

 

7. LISTEN TO THE VOICE OF CONSUMERS: You or your digital agency can’t tell you what consumers want from your brand online. Only consumers can. So ask them regularly. Have simple survey on the site and, once a quarter, asks just a few questions like: Why did you come to this site? Did you find what you were looking for? What would make you visit again? It doesn’t have to be fancy, just actionable.

These 7 best practices have 1 thing in common; they’re all based on generating business growth. Are they practices your digital agency is doing?

 

 

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    BarnRaisers builds brands with proven relationship principles and ROI. We are a full service digital marketing agency. Our expertise is strategy, search and data-driven results.



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