12 best practices of successful social media promotions 0

Posted on January 05, 2013 by Rob Petersen





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?

20 definitions of resilience 0

Posted on November 13, 2012 by Rob Petersen





None of us ever ask to be put into situations that try our character, spirit, values and resources. But we all know they do come along.

I live in an area hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. I also made the decision to start a business in the worst economy since the Great Depression (although I didn’t know how bad the economy would get until after I made the decision to start).

It taught me a lot about resilience; what it accomplishes, how it overcomes obstacles and why there are benefits to trials. Now seems like a good time to reflect on resilience.

Here are 20 definitions of resilience.

  1. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world the master calls a butterfly. – Richard Bach
  2. Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open. – Alexander Graham Bell
  3. Resilience – if you think of it in terms of the Gold Rush, then you’d be pretty depressed right now because the last nugget of gold would be gone. But the good thing is, with innovation, there isn’t a last nugget. Every new thing creates two new questions and two new opportunities. – Jeff Bezos
  4. Passion, not pedigree, will win in the end.-  Jon Bon Jovi
  5. If you are going through hell, keep going. – Winston Churchill
  6. Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. – Confucius
  7. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education is not; the world is full of educated failures. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. – Calvin Coolidge
  8. It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. – Darwin
  9. Out of difficulties grow miracles. – Jean De La Bruyere
  10. You may not realize it when it happens, but at kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you. – Walt Disney
  11. Life is like riding a bicycle, in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving. – Albert Einstein
  12. Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  13. The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places – Ernest Hemingway
  14. The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It’s the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun. – Napoleon Hill
  15. It’s not the load that breaks you down; it’s the way you carry it. – Lena Horn
  16. The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” – Japanese Proverb
  17. We can either watch life from the sidelines, or actively participate … Either we let self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy prevent us from realizing our potential, or embrace the fact that when we turn our attention away from ourselves, our potential is limitless. – Christopher Reeve
  18. Seeds of faith are always within us; sometimes it takes a crisis to nourish and encourage their growth. – Susan Taylor
  19. There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. – Edith Wharton
  20. Man never made any material as resilient as the human spirit. – Ben Williams

How has resilience made a difference in the way you live? Are any of these definitions of particular help to you?


11 case studies prove social media ROI for nonprofits 3

Posted on September 08, 2012 by Rob Petersen


Light at the end of the tunnelIn a tough economy, it’s especially tough to be a nonprofit because people have less to give.

But it looks like there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Although nonprofits report being “cut to the bone” in their budgets according to the Urban Institute, the American Association of Fundraising Council reports Americans gave more than $298.42 billion in 2011 to their favorite causes despite the economic conditions, up 4% from 2010 and reflective of recovering economic confidence.

Individuals who share a common interest, conviction and passion for a cause drive nonprofits and account for 73% of donations.


2011 Nonprofits Contributions By Source Pie-Chart

How effective is social media given these dynamics? Here are 11 case studies that prove social media ROI for nonprofits.

  1. AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION: Although the AHA is a large national organization, fund raising occur largely through local, grass-roots events. Even today, most donations still occur through the manual process of paper and clip boards. AHA changed the context of connecting with consumers at events from paper and clip board to text messaging.  Donations increased 5X through text messaging in just 10 minutes versus the  manual process that took days, even weeks, and costed more.
  2. AMERICAN RED CROSS: When the earthquake in Haiti occurred, American Red Cross had a flickr group with hundreds of behind the scenes pictures of their operations and a Twitter account with over 150,000 followers. Their Facebook group which incorporated media from all of their social media outlets had over 190,000 followers. American Red Cross quickly sent their text-to-donate message across their social media outlets and it became viral. Within a week, they raised $5,000,000 from texting alone. Over $20,000,000 was raised in a matter of months through social media.
  3. BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH: The updating of personal status on social network pages for women with breast cancer received more media attention and impression on CNN and newspaper networks for a higher ROI than the paid efforts of numerous PR firms and built stronger advocacy.
  4. CANADIAN CANCER SOCIETY: Mark aka, “The Guy At Home In His Underwear,” is a Toronto native and a testicular cancer survivor. He was given 25 days to raise money for testicular cancer “one Facebook friend at a time”. The challenge was to get 25,000 ‘Likes’, in 25 days for Stanfield’s Clothing, an underwear manufacturer, through a photo of Mark at home in his underwear. If Mark could complete this challenge, then Stanfield’s Clothing would donate $25,000 to the Canadian Cancer Society in support of testicular cancer awareness. Mark’s consistent posting and fan support delivered 50,000 “Likes” within 25 days to overachieve the challenge and demonstrate advocacy for the cause.
  5. CARE2: 9% of Americans have texted a charitable donations from their mobile phones. The Care2 network recruited an additional 30,000 through timely text alerts and petitions with an integrated social media plan
  6. FOUNDATION ABBE PIERRE: A French based charity named after a priest who devoted his life to getting people off the street and finding them a decent home. They joined Facebook in 2010 and built up a fan base of 7,000 in their first year, but in the last 6 months they have increased this by over 200,000 fans and gathered a further 50,000 signatures on their Facebook petition. Does this translate to ROI? Yes. The organization was spending $1 per signed petition and, though a signed Facebook petition, spent 4X less plus built a very visible support network they could turn to again.
  7. HELPING HANDS: A local affiliate of the Oregon Food Bank sponsored a Thanksgiving fun run, Give N’ Gobble. The campaign goals were to increase overall donations, registered runners, volunteers and awareness in the Portland metro area. The race director hired Bonfire Social Media to create a search optimized blog, Twitter and Facebook pages. The blog served as a platform for race news, interviews, photos and easy race registration. Donations increased by almost 50% versus the previous year; runners increased by over 25%; volunteers increased 2X; web traffic increased 76%; pages indexed by search engines increased by 150%.
  8. LIVESTRONG: The Livestrong Challenge involved the purchase of yellow gel bracelet that became ubiquitous. It cost $1 and raised $10,800,000. It also occurred almost entirely through social media and a blog serving as the hub to generate awareness and tell the story. This occurred in 2009, at the height of the recession that was particularly hard on non-profits.
  9. SAVE THE CHILDRENZynga, the company behind popular social media games, called on all FarmVille players to buy more virtual radishes. Partnering with Save the Children, Zynga created “in-game” donations to raise money for all those affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Whenever players purchased virtual sweet potatoes in CityVille, radishes in FarmVille, and kobe cows in FrontierVille, they raised money; all of the proceeds went towards the Save the Children’s relief efforts. It raised $1,000,000.
  10. WORLD WILDLIFE FOUNDATION: Used social media to promote Earth Hour, an event to generate awareness of wildlife conservation and endangered species. Their YouTube channel ranked 9th for most subscribed non-profit organization). WWF also had a Facebook group which they used to engage the public in meaningful discussions and to raise awareness about their efforts. When WWF official Earth Hour began, the video was viewed every 4 seconds, and the topic appeared 56.1 million times in Google within a 24 hour time span. Earth Hour (#Earthhour) was amongst the top three Twitter trends. Their Earth Hour Canada group on Facebook had more than 100, 000 people participating. They even created a Facebook application that supporters could use to remind their friends to turn off the lights. This was significant awareness all gained as Earned Media through social media, at a fraction of the cost if it had been Paid Media.
  11. WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME: The World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. On Facebook, they posted a photo: The photo posted here states “This is our web editor, Martin. He’s about to go shopping in a food market in Pakistan. He’s got 100 rupees (US $1.00) to spend. How much food do you think he’ll be able to buy?” This resulted in over 80 comments and 140 ‘Likes’. On YouTube, they posted a video and raised $36,000 on World Food Day. It has helped feed over 650,000 children.

When it comes to proving ROI, revenue (or donations in the case of nonprofits) is always a primary measurement. But these case studies demonstrate, in addition to revenue, social media achieves other important results – getting petitions signed, providing disaster relief, fighting hunger, protecting the planet and helping find a cure for diseases.

They also prove, when a nonprofit builds a base of support through social media, advocates are ready to jump in and help the cause.

Out of demand from nonprofits to better understand and put social media to use, this November, from the 12th through the 16th, Rutgers University is offering a Mini-MBA on Social Media for Nonprofit Leader and Public Official. One of the course will be Measurement and ROI which I teach.

In this post, it is important to give a shout out to a nonprofit founded by Seth Wohlberg, who is on a mission to cure Rasmussen Encephalitis, a rare inflammatory neurological disorder, characterized by frequent and severe seizures, loss of motor skills and speech that occurs in the brain. “RE” occurs most often in children under 10 and Seth founded RE Childrens Project. He has connected families from all over the world where someone in the household has Rasmussen’s. He has built a global brand with the help of social media. He also has discovered that a cure lies in securing tissue from children who had a hemispherectomy, a surgical procedure where one cerebral hemisphere (half of the brain) is removed or disabled.

Seth has made incredible progress. In my opinion, he has already seen ROI but I believe, to Seth, ROI won’t be achieved until a cure has been found. Please visit RE Childrens and learn what Seth is doing. It is inspiring and Seth, and his daughter, Grace, are two of the most courageous people I know.

Do these case studies prove the ROI of social media for nonprofits to you?


10 steps to build brands and ROI using social media promotions 1

Posted on July 09, 2012 by Rob Petersen



Give and you shall receive. This life truth is also how social media works. In fact, it’s what motivates consumers to Like a brand on Facebook. If a brand gives consumers a promotion they value; that brand receives their support and sharing with others. Sounds like a fair exchange.


It used to be businesses had to buy or rent list to have this kind of value exchange with consumers. Now, apps and software from companies like Wildfire, Strutta and Buddy Media make it easy to build it instead of buy it. Whether your business is a local pilate studio or Pillsbury, cost shouldn’t be a barrier to entry. Social promotions can get started with low out of pocket costs.

What an example of a social promotion? Rutgers University is running a sweepstakes now to win tuition to one of the university’s Mini-MBA programs and a new iPad ($5000 value). It’s running from July 5th through August 27. What’s it look like? Go to their brand Facebook page or click on the image below.

Rutgers Mini-MBA Tuition Sweepstakes


Here is how Rutgers is expecting to build business and ROI using social promotions and 10 steps to take.

  1. DEFINE BUSINESS GOALS: In this case, the goal is to create awareness of the Mini-MBA programs and generate tuition revenue that exceeds the cost of the promotion. Although promotions costs cannot be disclosed, a Mini-MBA costs from $3,300 to $5,000 to attend and it won’t take too many new tuitions for Rutgers to be in the black.
  2. CREATE A MEANINGFUL OFFER: The offer is the centerpiece of any social media promotion. Dollar value helps but more important is there is brand affinity and involvement with the audience.
  3. ESTABLISH MEASUREMENTS: Since registration occurs on their website, Google Analytics are being used to measure: 1) How many new visitors, 2) where they come from, 3) what pages they view and 4) do they go to the registration page. Facebook Insights is being used to measure: 1) Reach, 2) Likes, 3) sharing 4) engagement and 5) people who are talking about it. Booshaka is being used to measure advocates on Facebook.
  4. SUPPORT THE PROMOTION: A very small percentage of promotions go viral on their own. Virtually all require regular support. In this case, a PR release, email newsletters, frequent postings and Facebook ads, as needed, are being employed.
  5. BE TIMELY IN RESPONSE: You don’t have to be perfect in execution but you have to offer timely response if someone has a question or a problem. You win trust when you show you bent over backwards to address it.
  6. MONITOR THE BUZZ: There are many blogs that exists to let others know where the best sweepstakes, coupons and offers are on the internet. Find them through a Google Search and see if your brand is receiving mention. These serve as free advertising for your promotion.You can see how much traffic these websites  get on Alexa or Compete and develop relationships through comments with the bloggers.
  7. BUILD A DATABASE: Everyone who enters is now in your database. They are a brand asset for future communications.
  8. CONDUCT CONSUMER RESEARCH: One of the ways the database can be used is for survey research at a fraction of the cost of traditional market research.
  9. TAKE RULES AND REGULATIONS SERIOUSLY: Available apps have the space for rules and regulation but you have to write them. There are laws surrounding promotions. Fortunately, there are enough brands in many categories doing social media promotions to offer direction. For this promotion, rules and regulations had to be approved by legal counsel and two Deans.
  10. BE IN IT TO WIN IT FOR THE LONG TERM: Social media promotions are scalable and sustainable. Once you have the results and learning from one, they are meant to be repeated, revised or reworked. With each iteration, they continue to build business with measurable ROI.

Would you consider social media promotions for your business? 

8 steps to demystify Social Media ROI 3

Posted on March 17, 2012 by Rob Petersen

“How do I measure social media return on investment?” This is the #1 question over 3,300 marketers ask Social Media Examiner every year in the Annual Social Media Marketing Report.

Pictures, however, tell a different story. The first one below from Google Trends measures the year-to-year change in search volume for the phrase, “social media marketing,” which is increasing significantly.


But the second, from econsultancy, says what isn’t increasing is marketers measuring Social Media ROI, even though they say it’s their #1 priority. Hmm…

According to Marketing Sherpa, the top reasons that marketers use to explain this behavior are:

  • Lack of knowledgeable staff
  • Inability to measure ROI
  • Management resistance
  • Technical complexity

To help, here are 8 steps to demystify Social Media ROI.

1. BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND: Since it’s called return on investment, begin by identifying the return you want at the end. Define and quantify your expectations. For example, do you want to: 1) Increase sales by 50%, 2) shorten the purchase cycle by 1/3, 3) double leads, 4) increase conversion by 40% or 5) decrease customer complaints by 75%.  Be as specific you can be at the start; it increases the success you have measuring ROI at the end.

2. IDENTIFY WHO TO ATTRACT: Social media is one of the best channels for building 1-to-1 relationships. Take the time to identify who you want to attract and find the social networks where they spend their time. There are are great tools to help you. For blogs, there’s Technorati and Alltop. For Facebook, there’s Your Openbook and Booshaka. For Twitter, there’s Twitter Search and Kurrently. Just go to the search box in any of them and type in the product or service you offer. In fact, put the words, “buy” or “need” in front of it and you’re one step closer to a 1-to-1 business relationship.

3. FIND OUT HOW THEY FIND YOU: As you succeed with who you want to attract, your audience is going to want to find out more about you. The first place they are going to go is your website which should have an analytics tool like Google Analytics. Look at your “Traffic Sources:” then, look at “Referral Sources” to see which social networks provide the greatest number of visitors. Assess if this is in line with the social networks where you spend your time and resources.

4. ESTABLISH YOUR VALUE EXCHANGE: Companies ask that you “Like” them on Facebook. Ok. Now what? This chart below tells you consumers are motivated to “Like” you if you show them some “Love,” first.  It also tells you, if you take this step, they show their support for your brand in return. If you need some help showing some promotional “Love,” Wildfire offers some great social media apps that are effective, affordable and make the value exchange easier for you to execute.


5. LET COMPETITORS POINT OUT OPPORTUNITIES: Social media is one of the best places, bar none, to gather competitive analysis and intelligence. That’s because you can understand a competitors business from a number of vantage points: Quantitative (“Likes,” “Followers,” “Fans”), qualitative (Positive and Negative comments, quality of engagement), strategy (competitors posts) and ideas. Let them show you opportunities. If you need to see if their social efforts are resulting in increased traffic to their website, competitive intelligence tools like Compete and Alexa can tell you.

6. PICK METRICS YOU’LL TAKE ACTION ON: There’s is no shortage of measurements in social media and monitoring them has turned into big business. I’m a believer that less is more. “Likes” and “Followers” are worth measuring if you’re prepared to take action when they go up or down. If more marketers flipped the chart below from HubSpot upside down and used it as a guideline to pick the metrics they should track, they’d be well on their way to an effective social media scorecard for ROI.


7. MANAGE THE MONEY SAVED WITH THE TIME INVESTED: By this time, your efforts should have produced gains in awareness, connections and engagement that have resulted is savings versus traditional media and marketing. But there has been a time investment which also has a cost. If you are cognizant results and resources, you have the two criteria for Social Media ROI in place.

8. BE CONSUMER CENTRIC: Even though we should all be concerned about the numbers and revenue, social media is a human media channel and never lose focus on delighting and being genuine with consumers every time you are in contact with them. If you do, you’ll find the numbers start to take care of themselves.

Social Media ROI is one of the courses in a Social Media Marketing Mini-MBA taught by Rutgers University that begins this week and is worth looking into. I am fortunate to teach and be among a great faculty that includes Augustine Fou, Matt BaileyMark Burgess, Heidi Cohen, Glen Gilmore, Greg Jarboe, Christina “CK” Kerly, Mike Moran and Mark Schaefer among others.

Do these 8 steps demystify Social Media ROI for you?


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