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Instagram Influencer Marketing – How to Make the Most of It for Your Brand

Influencer marketing on Instagram

When it comes to influencer marketing, Instagram ranks first among the social media platforms most commonly used by the influencers. Influencers employ Instagram to promote their personal opinions and specific brands’ products when hired to do so.

Influencers and influencer marketing are certainly not a novelty at this point. In fact, this infographic shows that about 40% of these influencers are already in long-term partnerships with specific brands.

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[Infographic] Using Color Psychology to Boost Website Conversions

Colorful flowers.

As humans, we’re very visual creatures. It’s an evolutionary imperative. In nature, colors play a big role in survival. Bugs, for example, may be colored red to signal to predators that they are poisonous. Flowers are brightly colored to better attract bees.

Applying color psychology is a powerful way to boost website conversions. Check out this detailed color psychology infographic to learn what emotions specific colors convey and what will covert best for your brand and industry.

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Key Takeaways from Social Media Camp 2019

Social Media Camp 2019
This year, Stikky Media attended Social Media Camp 2019. Read on to learn about our experience at this unique Canadian social media conference, topics covered by the speakers and our key takeaways.
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6 Digital Marketing Trends You Cannot Ignore in 2019

6 Digital Marketing Trends You Cannot Ignore in 2019
The digital marketing landscape in 2019 is undergoing dramatic changes. There are a number of new digital marketing strategies and trends that are starting to assume importance in this landscape that encompasses SEO, content marketing, social media and PPC. These include elements such as visual search and artificial intelligence, which not too long ago, might have been dismissed as the stuff of sci-fi movies. But, we now know they are real and here to stay. As a business, you need to use them in order to succeed and get ahead because the digital marketing strategies that worked last year may not necessarily prove effective this year.

Here are 6 of the hot digital marketing trends for 2019 that irequire your attention.

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Getting Dynamic with Google Ads

Getting Dynamic with Google Ads+Ad Writing Automation

The inevitable switch from Google AdWords to the new Google Ads is here; since October 18th 2018 the new Google Ads experience has fully replaced Google AdWords. This is the third in a series of three posts on the new Google Ads with a focus on utilizing Google’s dynamic ad features. The other posts focus on 4 tips and tricks in Google Ads and outlining campaign creation, reporting and optimization in Google Ads. If you’re unfamiliar with Google Ads we recommend you read both of those posts, which will get you up to speed in no time.

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Top 5 Factors Influencing B2B Sales Lead Generation Online

Generating sales leads online for B2B products and services can seem counter intuitive at first. After all, those business deals tend to rely on personal relationships developed over years of networking and sales prospecting. In fact, I know a few B2B salespeople who tend to avoid doing any of their networking online. They claim, “not enough time,” “not efficient,” “not how I work.” That is, until I explain the top 5 factors influencing B2B sales lead generation.

Once sales leaders understand the connection between these critical B2B marketing factors and revenue, ears perk up. Funny how that works. (more…)

The One Weird Thing the Best B2B Content Marketers Do

I’m going to make a confession I never would have before: I’m starting to really, really love reports. I was never a numbers girl; I’ve always emulated the best B2B content marketers happy to highlight the benefits and beauty of words over numbers (forgive me, math people! numbers are beautiful too!). But now, I can’t get enough of numbers, percentages and graphs!

So it was with… unusual joy that I perused a new report, the B2B Content Marketing 2015 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends–North America by Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs. Following the recent publication of Hubspot’s State of Inbound, I thought this report provided a great counterpoint and some interesting supplementary data.

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Top 5 Takeaways from HubSpot’s State of Inbound Marketing 2014

Whenever a report like Hubspot’s State of Inbound comes out, I get all excited. Some data! Some stats! New things to learn! Benchmarks to compare my work with!

And this year’s report did not disappoint, either. With 54 pages of data gleaned from thousands of respondents in marketing and sales, Hubspot once again gives us a good overview of the world of inbound marketing, from budgeting to planning to measuring.

And since not everyone has the time to read all 54 pages of the report, I’ve pulled my top 5 takeaways to share with you.

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10 Brilliant Landing Page Call To Action Insights

Mastering the art of the call to action is essential to inbound marketing success. After all, you want visitors to click on your gated content downloads or to try your product or service. But getting the copy just right can be quite a challenge–I must admit I’ve been grappling with finding the right copy for some of our own calls to action

So I’ve been looking around at what experts are saying about the best landing page call to action techniques and best practices to help me craft better buttons and graphics for us and our clients. Here are 10 insights I gleaned from my readings all across the web. (more…)

5 Skills Marketing Students Must Master To Succeed

Title image.5 skills marketing students must master to succeed

After a summer full of sun, fun and maybe summer work for some students, it’s now time to head back to the classroom and hit the books. There’s little I personally like more than the back-to-school time of year, despite the fact that I’m no longer a student. I love the warm sweaters, new books, changing leaves and especially: learning new things.

I would like to share some of my knowledge and wisdom for business and marketing students beginning their degree or returning for another year. 

You will learn lots of information and skills in university, but, if you don’t master these 5 basic skills, you will likely have a hard time succeeding in today’s fast-paced marketing world.

1. Writing

Writing is the most essential and most useful skill you will ever develop as a marketing professional. Get your writing skills in order.

typewriterThe ability to communicate using the written word has many, many purposes. Purposes that go far beyond your boss being able to understand your emails. Good writing, as it turns out, is a plain, good, life skill.

According to research, those who write well have a better chance of getting promoted in their chosen profession. Why? Because writing well means having the ability to communicate well.

Communicating well is essential to becoming successful at marketing.

In marketing, writing well will be beneficial to you as you will probably be asked to write blog posts, prepare presentations, and build proposals or reports. Without a well-developed foundation in writing, completing those common tasks required in the field of marketing could be difficult.

2. Basic Web Design

Designing a websiteBeing able to manage a website is another essential skill for future marketers. Although people in the marketing team are seldom asked to build websites from scratch, it’s useful if you know the following basic web design skills:

  • Format and update content.
  • Correct small errors. 
  • Manage plugins in your CMS (Content Management System).

A little ability with HTML and CSS can give you that little extra boost you need to get hired, too, so take that web design course if it fits in your schedule.

3. Social Media Management

Birds on a wireBecause it’s still considered recent, social media is not yet taught in most business schools though some programs are emerging. Whether you’re looking for a social media degree, certificate, or even an online refresher from a site like Udemy, there are plenty of opportunities to level up your skills. The ability to manage a social media stream and use it as a communications/PR/marketing/customer service tool is increasingly important. 

And if nothing else, your personal Twitter account counts as “social media management”. Showing you can maintain a consistent personal brand voice and produce content that engages followers is what matters for employers.

4. Analytics

Analytics chartsTomorrow’s marketer is as much at ease with data manipulation as he or she is with creating visuals for a campaign. Marketing initiatives are now so tied to analytics data that it’s hard to do one without the other.

I know, I know, not everyone’s a numbers person (I’m the first one to admit that), but being able to manage both the creative and the qualitative sides of a marketing campaign is going to be essential as everything moves towards the digital space–even TV ads.

5. Networking

Group of people.It can be a little depressing to be a student today looking at job numbers: fewer and fewer students end up with full-time, permanent jobs when they graduate.

But those who do usually have something special: they spent some time learning how to network effectively and used these skills to make their way into a job. Networking is one of the most fundamental soft skills you need to learn for success in the business world, and the earlier you do so the better.

Networking can be done in person, of course, but there’s also plenty of ways to do it online too.

Ready for the new school year?

With a focus on the 5 essential soft skills (as well as your grades, of course), you have a better chance of succeeding in the marketing world!

10 Signs You’re Dealing With Sleazy Marketing Consultants

Marketing, as a field, doesn’t have the best of reputations. Despite being an essential function in any business, trust in marketers is kind of low; according to a recent survey of CEOs across the world, 80% of them don’t trust marketers.

I must say to my personal defense that most marketers I know (including us!) really, really want to help produce demand for your product or service. We’re interested and involved in our clients’ success, and we do our best to help them achieve their goals. (more…)

5 Types of B2B Content That Work Like A Charm

5 types of B2B content that work like a charmOne of the challenges of B2B is finding the right type of content that will interest your audience and get them to consider you as a potential provider of products or services. It’s easy to see content from a B2C perspective: consumers like to get helpful information and get to trust a brand before making a purchase. But why should it be any different for B2B? After all, they are still buyers with needs, challenges and objections; they’re just buying for a company rather than for themselves.

With this in mind, it’s not difficult to start thinking up some content types that would work well with B2B buyers. They are a bit different from B2C, but they can still be effectively reached through inbound marketing. (more…)

5 Facts About Millennials Every Marketer Should Know

5 facts about millennials every marketer should know

The leading edge of the Millennial generation, born in 1980, is turning 34 this year. But don’t be fooled by their age; Millennials are actually very different from their 35+ counterparts, especially when it comes to media consumption and technology.

Experian’s Millennials come of age report highlights the major demographic, psychographic, attitudinal and behavioural trends of this generation. Here are 5 facts from this report that every marketer should know if he or she wants to succeed at reaching them. (more…)

5 Smart Ways To Build Social Proof For Marketing

Testimonials are a tried-and-true marketing technique that can help overcome objections and convince people to buy your product or service. They’re used everywhere: on TV, in advertorials, even on the web. (We have ours too!) They’re especially useful for more expensive products or services, where the investment is significant and potential customers need some reassurance that it will perform as expected. However, testimonials can be tricky; especially on the internet, they can be made up or paid, and it’s really difficult to verify their truthfulness. (more…)

5 Secrets For Insanely Effective Landing Pages

Effective landing pages

I’ll be honest right from the start: landing pages, these essential elements of inbound marketing, are difficult to get right, at least in the beginning. You’re used to filling them up yourself when you see a great offer on the internet, but when it comes to doing it for your business, it’s really not that simple. However, the new rules of digital marketing say that landing pages are one of the foundations of effective inbound marketing, so if you do inbound, landing pages are a must.

Landing pages need a special recipe to convert clicks into leads… but what are the secret ingredients? (more…)

The Marketing Anatomy Of A Homepage

The marketing anatomy of a homepage

Your homepage is your internet storefront. You only have a few seconds (no more than 5, actually) to impress your visitors and keep them from bouncing away.

From a digital marketing standpoint, your homepage is one of the most important elements. You have to strategize it, polish it and kep it updated. In other words, your homepage has to be perfect.

Let’s have a closer look at some great home pages and take them apart to understand how they work. (more…)

Father’s Week: The Best 2014 Father’s Day Campaigns

Best Father's Day campaigns of 2014

There are Father’s Day campaigns of every style: funny, serious, thankful, touching. Although most of them are about getting Dad a gift, some of them go a bit further. 2014 has plenty of interesting Father’s Day campaigns, so let’s have a look at those we liked the best. (more…)

Victoria’s Best Social Businesses–What They Do Right And What You Can Learn

As a digital marketing professional, I’m lucky to live in one of the most social (media) cities in Canada. Many of our social media influencers were among the first to take up Twitter as a community-building tool, and we have some of the foremost social media professionals this side of the Rockies doing their work in our beautiful city. It might be because social media work is rather flexible and can be done from anywhere; where else but in Victoria would you want to live if you had the chance? (more…)

Do You Have The Personality To Be An Online Marketer?

There are certain personality types that characterize a great number of online marketers. It’s important to clarify that ‘online marketing’ is a category of work that involves an extremely wide range of skills. There are the esoteric analytical stats gazers, the flamboyant social managers and the idiosyncratic content maestros. (more…)

Good Web Design = Marketing Success

We don’t often get to talk about websites and web design on the Stikky Media blog. These subjects are covered on the North Studio blog (which I also manage and write for). But the other day I was having a discussion with Marcus, our digital marketer, about the link between good web design and successful online marketing. In fact, few people realize how much your website influences your marketing results, especially when it comes to SEO. (more…)

How To Get Free Followers To Your Small Business Twitter Account

You have a new business Twitter profile and you’d like to get more followers. You want followers who will actually pay attention to your tweets and who are part of a relevant audience, be that locally or within a certain sphere of industry. You’d like more followers, and for free…

Free Followers – Without Spamming or Cheating?

Yes.

Free Followers – That aren’t in distant regions or irrelevant as a target market?

Yes. (more…)

Pinterest Is Testing Paid Ads–What We Know So Far

Since its meteoric rise to popularity in 2011, Pinterest has garnered a lot of attention from marketers and social media professionals. We know that visual marketing is a very effective way to reach your target market–after all, “a picture is worth a thousand words” isn’t a cliché for no reason. Pinterest, with its focus on beautiful visuals, easy sharing and an intuitive user interface, has everything marketers need to get their products known and shared. (more…)

Boobs Don’t Convert: Why Using Sexy Pictures Doesn’t Increase Your Online Business Unless You Sell Sexy Pictures

Don’t worry, there won’t be any “not safe for work” photos in this post. But one day or other, we have to talk about this rather controversial topic: the use of sexy pictures to sell stuff on the internet.

It’s almost cliché to say that sex sells. Brands and companies have used sexualized pictures to sell all sorts of things, from cars to shoes to handbags to ties, to name just a few. And of course, the internet isn’t immune to this. I’ve seen ads with scantily-clad women to advertise things as diverse as online games, content milling companies and even post-secondary education programs. No joke, I swear! (more…)

I’m a Content Strategist Now… What Does That Mean?

What’s content strategy? What does it do? Why does it matter? If you’ve been bathing in the world of web content for a few years, like me, these questions have obvious answers. But if you’ve only dipped a toe in digital marketing, it might sound like just another buzzword, more “marketese” that doesn’t really mean anything to you or your business.

Well, my first task as Stikky’s new Content Strategist is to convince you that content (and content strategy) is a very real, very significant and very effective part of any digital marketing campaign. (more…)

Kick-Start Your Digital Marketing In 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you're a digital veteran or an online newbie, every business nowadays needs to have some kind of digital strategy (if you don't have one yet, consult our article on why you need a digital strategy). Every year, it becomes increasingly clear that if your potential clients cannot find you online, you might as well not exist. How do you ensure that you can grow your business with the power of the web? With a good digital strategy that's adapted to the times, of course.

For our first post of 2014, we would like to give you some ideas on how to review, reassess and adapt your current digital strategy to a field that changes faster than most people can keep up with (that's why we're here!). If you don't have an online strategy yet, consider this a basic guide to building one for 2014.

Strategy basics: Look at your goals

A good digital strategy uses your business goals as a starting point. Without clear business goals, you can't really come up with good digital goals that support your business in the way you want it to go. Here are some examples of goals and how digital strategies can help.

Increase traffic to your brick-and-mortar business

If you have a business with an actual storefront, one of your goals probably is to increase the amount of people who walk into the door. You can do this in many ways: a more attractive storefront, street signs and traditional publicity. But the digital realm can also be useful to you. Just think of Yelp recommendations, UrbanSpoon reviews and TripAdvisor comments and how these influence whether people are going to visit your store or not. Ignoring these review sites can come at a big cost to your reputation, both online and offline.

A good digital strategy for this goal includes regular monitoring of review sites and answering promptly to comments and complaints. It also, of course, requires you to have a website of your own (get one if you don't) where people can look up more information about your business and your products or services. It may also involve keeping a good presence on social media as well as paid advertising on appropriate online channels.

Increase traffic to your website

If your business is exclusively or mostly online, then the equivalent of more traffic through your doors is more traffic to your website. Digital marketing provides many tools to increase traffic: paid advertisements, an informative and well-maintained blog, guest posting and a good presence on social media. Cutting through the noise of the web gets more and more complex every year, but there are tried and true ways to cut through the noise: good engagement with visitors, content with great value, an e-book or speaking at conferences.

Exploding your website traffic requires a perfect storm of social media engagement, interest from influencers and having a strong, original message. How are you going to achieve this in 2014?

Increase online sales

This goal is often related to increasing traffic to a website–but increased traffic doesn't always mean increased sales. Sometimes a website may have many visitors who give up because the buying process is too complex, or the calls to action are not clear, or your payment process does not seem secure enough. Here are some questions to ask yourself: 

  • Is it easy to buy something on my website? Can someone buy a product with a few clicks or does it require a long process that might discourage new customers? Try buying one of your products and assess the process.
  • Are visitors asked to take action early in the process? After they are on your website, can they clearly know what you have to sell? What are my calls to action and where do they appear in the buying process?
  • Does my website seem trustworthy? Would someone who has no prior knowledge of the company or the product feel safe buying from me?

These are only a few ideas, but these should get you thinking about your sales process and how it might affect your overall performance.

Launch a new product or service

If your goal for 2014 is to launch a new product or service, the most important thing to do is to reach and attract the people who are most likely to buy it. In this case, building a buyer persona and developing an outreach strategy will help you find the right audience for your new product or service. Add to this the basic strategic points mentioned above, and you have everything you need to attract clients and sell your products, both online and off.

New online tactics: go where the people are

There are millions of websites on the web. How do yo get people to come to yours? Here are some tactics to adopt to get the most out of the new trends in digital marketing.

  • Get a Twitter account and monitor it closely. People who contact businesses on Twitter expect a near-instant response. Never leave your Twitter followers hanging.
  • Get on Pinterest. One in three American women are now on Pinterest. That's not counting men, or other countries. Getting on Pinterest is becoming as essential as a Facebook page.
  • Change your Facebook approach. As Facebook changes, so must you. Facebook now rewards a high number of social reactions–likes, comments and shares. Make content that provoques reactions to take full advantage of these new parameters.
  • Write more. Content is the uncontested driver of traffic. Writing more, and on various outlets (guest blogging, Medium, Huffington Post, etc.) in addition to your own blog will help bring more eyeballs to your website. If you don't have time to write more, we offer copywriting services.
  • Send newsletters. Email newsletters are still the best way to contact customers. The strength of a business (especially online) is not evaluated by the number of visitors but by the number of email subscribers. If you don't have a newsletter yet, it's the right time to start one.

These are a few tactics to adopt for the coming year–things change fast and a new channel can appear, but these are basic techniques to help maximize the return on your digital efforts.

Online tracking: hunt for data

Tracking specialists would tell you that this is the age of data. Although we wouldn't necessarily want to live in a world that's all data all the time, it's important to keep an eye on your traffic and sales data to make the most of your digital strategy in 2014. Here are some basic tips to get you acquainted with data this year.

  • Get to know Google Analytics. Google Analytics is your friend. It has tons of interesting data on your website traffic and visitors. If you're not sure where to start, consult Google's guide or contact us for some one-on-one training.
  • Keep social media statistics. Most social media channels will provide some stats for their users, but there are more sophisticated tools out there that can help you track follows, likes, shares, tweets and pins. 
  • Set goals. It's not everything to know how to read data: you must decide what data is important and what numbers you want to see change. Setting specific traffic or data goals can help focus your online marketing efforts.

Once you know your way around the graphs and tables provided by Google and other online tracking tools, it's easy to get a glimpse of how your business is doing. You cannot effectively implement a digital strategy without keeping an eye on the numbers. If you're not too good with that stuff, we can also keep track of your numbers for you.

Is 2014 your best online year yet?

With these ideas and tips, you're well on your way to making 2014 your best online year yet. Focus your efforts towards specific goals and see your online marketing objectives met–and even surpassed! If you need help with any part of your strategy, don't hesitate to contact us for expert digital marketing advice. 

What are your business goals for 2014? How do you integrate digital marketing in your general strategy to help reach these goals? Share your ideas, thoughts and tips in the comments!

Image by Sean MacEntee

Digital Marketing Resources

digital marketing

 

The great thing about digital marketing is that everything is available at the touch of a mouse, even the help for doing it well. There are many resources online that can help you with your digital marketing. I have listed a few below that I believe are of great quality and can help your business conduct effective digital marketing whether it be creating content or understanding and using your analytics.

Digital marketing resources:

Occam’s Razor by Avinash Kaushik: An excellent analytics blog written by Avinash Kaushik who is an author, digital marketer, Google Evangelist, and a Co-founder of Market Motive.

Google Webmaster Tools: This site provided by Google will help you to optimize your website so that is easily searchable when using the Google search engine.

Smart Insights: Smart Insights is a great resource for when you’re ready to take action. They “share actionable marketing advice to help develop your business and personal marketing skills.”There are free downloads available on their website that take you through step by step processes to help obtain your digital marketing goals.

Convince and Convert by Jay Baer: They call themselves “social and content accelerators”. This blog is a great support tool for social media and creating great content for your own company. Convince and Convert is ranked as the world’s #1 content marketing resource. Jay Baer, the president of Convince and Convert has been involved in digital marketing since 1994 and was named one of America’s top social media consultants by Fast Company magazine.

 

I hope you find these resources as helpful as I do!

 

Image attribution: DigitalRalph

eCommerce for the Holidays

The Target Corporation released a beta website this week called Target Awesome Shop. This website is just that –awesome – with its stunning images and ease of navigation. The website is run by Pinterest, displaying the most popular items of that day. This makes for an easy way to find the deals and best value.

An image-friendly, easy-to-navigate website is what people want this holiday season. Many customers are turning to the internet to research the products they are interested in, and more often than not, to purchase these products online if the option is available.  You may have to spend a little in shipping fees, it does save you the gas to the store and the stressful rushing around from shop to shop looking for that specific item.

While I prefer the great cardio burn from going to the mall, I cannot disagree with the tack the online component of Target stores is taking. ECommerce is becoming more popular for everyday shopping and it’s the visuals that are making this possible. Target may be a multi-million dollar business with many resources on hand, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t reasonable ways to share images to get people excited about your product or service.

 

Suggestions for making products gift-worthy online:

  • Create a Pinterest account. Curate your products and create boards with themes. Display items to show why it would be worth it to buy two or three of your products rather than one (Ex. An image that shows just how useful the case is to hold those top of the line drawing pencils).
  • Create an Instagram account. Use photos and video clips to show the product/service in use.
  • Utilise Twitter and Facebook to create special online promotions (Ex. free shipping on a $25 item if you share this link on your page and get 150 likes).
  • Post how-to videos on your website so people can easily see how the product works.
  • Have easy, understandable landing pages for purchasing.

One thing to remember about the social websites is to make sure they link back to your website where the customer can purchase the product. Incorporate your URL in posts often and create hashtags that include your company name. It’s the season of giving so give customers a reason to give your product!

Image attribution: FutUndBiedl

Buyer Personas – You Need Them

Buyer Personas – You Need Them

Imagine this: you are the owner of a company with an amazing product you are passionate about. You just got it selling in 3 major stores as well as selling the product on your website. It’s doing well but how do you maintain this growth and differentiate yourself from your competition?

The answer is to engage your customers in your brand and inspire them to purchase it. People are becoming more and more fluent in social media and blogging—your company needs to be aware of this and take advantage of the different online mediums to reach your target audience. And not only do you want to reach them, but even better, you want to connect with them.

Connect and Engage with Your Customer

Dr. Seuss says “A person’s a person” because after all, we are humans and emotions are what drives our decisions. A consistent story will ensure the company’s true personality shines through. After you have cemented who the company is you need to cement who your purchasers are. The best starting point is to create your buyer personas.

What is a buyer persona you ask?

A buyer persona is a profile of the type of person who is interested in purchasing your product or service. You may have more than one buyer persona so you need to make sure you are connecting with them all effectively.

The buyer persona will help you to focus and identify personality traits and behavioural information to ensure the story you want to tell will resonate.  To get started on creating your buyer personas you can:

  • Interview current customers
  • Poll your followers through your various social media channels to learn both the behaviours and demographic of the people who already take interest in your brand
  • Draw on existing knowledge of your customers.

Persona outline example (from StikkyMedia and Q College)

The main goal is to maintain clarity throughout all of your branding including blogging, social media, clothing, and any other messaging/swag your company might have or need. By knowing your customer, you can speak to them and inspire them to purchase your brand. Check out this handy buyer persona template with examples.

Now go get started on your buyer personas!

If you need help creating buyer personas or any other aspect of digital marketing ranging from SEO through paid search, we’re here to help. Contact us today.

Video: The New Tool of Web Marketing

As internet marketers, the main problem we try to solve is: "how do we cut through the noise and make your voice heard?" With so many websites out there, it's easy to feel like our little spot of the web is ignored by everyone who could enjoy our product or service.

If you're a regular visitor to the Stikky website, you may have noticed a new service: video production. Video is the latest tool in our digital marketing toolbox to help your website become more visible in search engines, more attractive to visitors and more engaging for potential and current clients.

The popularity of video on the web

With the rise of smartphones and digital cameras, video is literally everywhere. Go to any major event, important tourist spot or popular hanging place and you'll see someone filming something. You can guess that the video will soon be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo or other video hosting site.

On YouTube alone, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. In the US, more than 80% of internet users watch online videos on any given month. People like video. It's easy, it's simple and it's fun to watch. Our long relationship with television makes us prone to engage with online video in a way that text alone can't quite do.

But I'm sure you don't need a list of stats to convince you that video is an effective marketing tool on the web. Just look at the sites you enjoy and the messages that stick with you, and you'll quickly realize that video is often a part of them.

Video for SEO

But enough about generalities. You want to know if video works for you in your SEO efforts!

According to Forrester, a page with video is 53 times more likely to make it to the top spot of search engine results pages.

When Zappos, a major online apparel retailer introduced video on its website, sales increased by 30%.

When it used video to inform employees about their healthcare benefits and enrollment period, Flimp Video Solutions calculated a 77% engagement rate and a 108% response rate.

There are a lot more stats about video out there, but these few tidbits show how useful and influential video can be to attract visitors to your website, to inform them and to convince them to take action.

Why video works

Video works well for several reasons:

  • Non-verbal language conveys information otherwise inaccessible through writing alone
  • Humans have an innate tendency to judge others through their facial expression
  • Video conveys emotion more easily than text
  • Something that moves attracts our attention and keeps it

In short, video humanizes your business or website. It provides a warm human connection that's impossible to convey through text and images. A visitor who sees your face, hears your voice and can watch as you interact with your environment is much more likely to trust you and your business.

What kind of video can you do?

Now that you know how and why video works for your internet marketing strategy, let's take a look at what kind of content works well.

Company profiles. Think of it as a video version of your "About Us" page (the most important page of your website after your home page!). You can tell the story of your business or your product and share the heart of your company with visitors.

Product demos. One thing we love about product videos is how to it presents the product in context. There's only so much a photo can tell. How big is it really? How does it work? What does it do? Showing your product at work in a video can answer all those questions in a few seconds.

Testimonials. Let your customers share their own story with potential customers. Testimonials are a tried-and-true technique to increase trust in a product or service.

News releases. Catch the attention of editors and journalists around the world with a video news release. Tell them why your news is important in your own words!

Employee profiles. A companion to the company profile and the testimonial, employee profiles present your qualified and dedicated team to the world. Help potential clients put faces to the people they contact in your company!

These are the typical business videos available on websites, but you can have fun and be creative. Think great characters, entertaining stories and a human connection!

Announcing our partnership with SoMedia Networks

Stikky Media now has a video production partner: SoMedia Networks. This Vancouver-based company is the world leader in video-on-demand production for the web. With their help, we can provide you with professionally scripted, filmed and edited videos for your website. By integrating video in your digital marketing strategy, you can improve your SEO results, increase your sales and develop an engaged and attentive audience that would be hard to catch through text alone.

We're super excited about the new possibilities of this partnership, and we hope you'll join us by integrating video to your website!

Photo by jsawkins

Are You Putting Your Internet Marketing Efforts In the Right Place?

Every year, Mary Meeker of KPCB publishes a report about trends in the internet world. Not only is it always a highly anticipated event, but the resulting presentation is usually chock-full of really useful information for those who use the internet to market their products and services.

With a hefty 117 slides, it would take a long time to go over everything in detail, and not all of it is useful to marketers. However, we found some very useful tidbits that we think will be useful for future internet marketing planning. Here's what we found:

1. Mobile attention is growing–but not mobile advertising

According to this graph, despite getting 12% of people's attention, mobile devices only get 3% of the advertising money.

On the other end, look at what's happening in print. Advertisers are still spending 23% of their budget on print advertising, while the amount of time spent on print media is very low indeed. 

As this graph shows, Internet and mobile are still developing areas for advertisers. Mobile is especially fertile ground, since advertising noise is quite minimal for now.

2. Facebook is in decline

They'd like you to think that it's not, but in global numbers, Facebook is actually in decline. Not by much, but it definitely shows a trend, which is possibly caused by consumer fatigue (or young people flocking away from Facebook because their parents are on it more and more.)

As you can see, it's not a very big drop–more than 90% of users are still on Facebook. But YouTube, Google+, Pinterest and Tumblr show interesting potential, especially for marketers. It's time to diversify your strategies!

3. People feel good about mobile

There's one thing that marketers wish they could do every day: know how consumers feel about their products. This kind of information is difficult to quantify, but Meeker's report provides us with interesting insights:

Smartphones make people feel connected, excited, curious and productive. Depending on your product or service, using one of these attitudes to build your message can be the element that makes your campaign a success.

4. The rise of tablets is astounding

In just three years, tablets have become more popular than both desktop and notebook PCs. Just look.

Think you can get away with a website that doesn't quite work with tablets? Think again. Soon enough, people will use their tablets more than other non-phone devices (if that's not already happening). Responsive design is a great solution, but so are apps, depending on your needs. 

Give the report a look and let us know what you found interesting or useful! What kind of strategies are you looking for when it comes to your digital and mobile future?

 

4 Social Media Resolutions Every Business Owner Should Make

A new year is upon us, and with it comes those pesky resolutions. Join a gym. Quit smoking. Eat less cheese. Eat more cheese. Whatever your intentions, it’s time to make them a reality and start the year off right.

That said, most New Year’s resolutions fail miserably. So why not choose a resolution that’s actually doable? One that will increase credibility and visibility and ultimately boost sales?

Here are 4 social media resolutions you’ll actually want to keep:

1. I will write more high quality, original content. And then I will share it.

Google loves fresh content. Loves it. And so do your readers! Compelling, unique content is the foundation for a solid online presence. It’s what makes the internet tick.

That said, make it your goal this year to sit down and produce. Write better blogs. Write more blogs. Write website content. Make videos. Create visuals. Create interviews. Write things people actually want to read, so when you share them on social networks they’ll be shared and re-shared, increasing your SEO, your traffic and ultimately your sales.

2. I will learn to love Google+.

Despite the hype, businesses have been slow to embrace Google+. Whether they deem it too complicated, too unnecessary or too different (from Facebook, natch), they’re missing out on one of the most valuable social platforms around.

The truth is, Google+ affects your business whether you’re signed up or not. When your customers search on Google, your page, along with your profile image and recent posts, may show up on the right-hand side of the results when relevant to a customer’s search. Relevant posts, photos and videos can also show up within search results for your page’s followers. And if you’re not signed up? Well, you won't have all of this tasty exposure. Sign up immediately and reap the benefits of this SEO bonanza.

3. I will network with the social media community, both online and off

Here in Victoria, we’re lucky to have an incredibly active social media community. Not only do we interact online, but we also hang out at countless real-world events, from Social Media Workshops and Camps to Tweetups and Twestivals. Heck, mayor Dean Fortin even signed an official document proclaiming June 30th as “Social Media Day.”

When you take the time to cultivate meaningful offline relationships with social media movers and shakers—relationships that consist of more than just retweets and likes—you’ll take your online presence to the next level. In addition to learning tips and tricks from the best of the best, you'll increase your business exposure, boost your credibility and maybe even transform followers into customers. You’ll have the chance to help and be helped, and solidify your brand as a dynamic, informed and engaged member of the community.

4. I will respond to all comments in a timely manner (even if they’re negative)

Treat comments as a good thing, even if they’re not what you want to hear. After all, comments are evidence of community, and community is what will propel your business forward.

Take the time to individually respond to each person, spending extra time turning the negative experiences into positive ones. Just don’t forget that some commenters are trolls for the sake of being trolls, so don’t take it personally if you can’t turn around 100% of the negativity. Even if you’re unsuccessful, other users will appreciate your efforts and remember your good faith.

What are your social media marketing resolutions for 2013?

What is Growth Hacking?

Simply put, growth hacking is a passion to grow. Grow users, grow subscriptions, grow community. One part marketing and one part technology, it’s a new way for startups to take their business from zero to success with little or no traditional marketing.

Sound too good to be true? Take a look at Hotmail.

When it launched in 1996, Hotmail was just a fledgling email service with awkward capitalization. But when investor Timothy Draper had the brainwave to add “PS: I love you. Get your free e-mail at Hotmail” to the bottom of each email, the service finally took off.

This simple growth hack led to a viral adoption of Hotmail, with an average of 3000 new users a day. Within 6 months Hotmail was up to 1 million users, and 5 weeks later they officially hit the 2 million user mark.

At one point during this phenomenal growth, co-founder Sabeer Bhatia sent a single email to India. Within 3 weeks, Hotmail had 300,000 users there.

No advertising, no cash. Just a sneaky two-liner thrown in at an opportune moment.
 

Other famous growth hacks:

Dropbox: Used an incentive-based referral program (tell a friend, receive a 500MB increase) to increase signups by 60%.

Airbnb: Finagled their way through Craigslist's closed API and built an automatic “post to Craigslist” function, tapping into a worldwide channel with millions of users.

Wall Street Journal: Offered free Wi-Fi in high-traffic areas of New York, and sent users to a special landing page that captured email addresses and job titles—perfect for future targeted email marketing—followed by an email containing a free 4-week subscription offer.

As you can see, growth hacking isn’t a set-in-stone strategy. It’s a mindset, not a toolset, that requires flexibility, creativity and opportunism. Because each product is unique, growth hackers must find equally unique solutions to achieve the desired growth. It could be as simple as improving your site’s load times, or as complex as engineering content sharing widgets.

And because all growth hacking articles end with a disclaimer that goes something like “Growth hacking is nothing without a great product,” I’ll throw that in as well. Because it’s true.

Hack all you want, but if your product or service isn't awesome, you won't succeed.
 

This is Why Your QR Code Campaign is Failing

Title image for post on QR campaigns

QR codes are deceptively simple. They can be created for free in a matter of seconds and they provide an instant connection between the physical and virtual worlds, but that doesn’t mean you can just slap a code on a wall and call it a campaign. No, like any good digital marketing campaign, QR codes require creativity, nurturing and planning.

What is a QR Code?

Quick Response Codes, aka QR Codes, are barcodes that hold a lot of information. When used in consumer marketing, QR codes are used to inform consumers about the product the QR code is on. To do this, QR codes are scanned using a QR code scanning app on a smartphone.  Then, after the code is scanned, the user is directed to a URL embedded in the QR code.

QR code on a cell phoneThis time-saving tool enables users to access information about products and services with their smartphone; but, without having to type in an address, or look through a search results page. Essentially, QR codes create a direct link between a product and a consumer.

As you can imagine, when used correctly, QR codes can be a powerful marketing tool. But, if you fall victim to the most common QR code campaign mistakes, your campaign might be doomed to fail.

Read on to find out the most commonly made mistakes are made in a QR code campaign.

The Destination is Not Relevant

QR codes take some effort by the user to decipher. If the information discovered with a QR scan is not relevant to the item it was found on, precious time has been wasted, and, the user may be unimpressed.

And, unimpressed users don’t easily return. It’s vital to your QR campaign to make a positive first impression.

It’s important that the time taken to scan a QR code is worth the customer’s time. Consider the many steps required by a user to reach the final scan destination:

  • Take out phone and find the scan app.
  • Scan the code (multiple times if the code isn’t easily accessible)
  • Wait for the page to load.
  • Finally, reach the QR scan result.

Once the multiple steps to access the QR codes content are completed, the content better be awesome and, of course, mobile-friendly!

For a better way to coax consumers to scan a QR code, let them know exactly what they’re scanning for. Promises of coupons, discounts, freebies, insider info, or anything else that will encourage consumers to carry out the scan from start to finish.

The Location is Not Accessible

Dead end signThere are appropriate places for QR codes, and then there are places that aren’t as effective or appropriate.

Appropriate locations should be in places where people can easily access a QR code. High traffic areas where people tend to congregate and wait are ideal choices. Some examples of appropriate locations for a QR code are:

  • Waiting areas: buses, bus stops, airports
  • High pedestrian areas
  • Labels, business cards, posters, or any other place where people will want to learn more
  • Storefronts (to direct customers to online shopping when your physical business is closed)

Locations that should be avoided to feature QR codes are:

  • Places with poor or no internet connections: subways, in-flight magazines, library basements.
  • On things that move, like vehicle exteriors, bicycles.
  • Inside of packaging and other hard to find spots.
  • On fast food packaging, where it will be obscured by greasy patches and melted cheese

The QR Code Isn’t Appealing

QR codes that aren’t customized, or made visually remarkable, can be easily overlooked. To make them more appealing, noticeable, and approachable, you can apply graphic design techniques using an online editing tool. 

Graphic design to customize your QR code can include: rounding the corners of your QR code, changing the color (it can be anything as long as it’s contrasting enough to scan), or, to add interesting elements to the QR codes frame for a unique look.

As well, if you generate your code with a 30% error correction you can easily replace the redundant boxes of code with your own logo!

The QR Code is Broken

An example of a 404 page not found pageBefore releasing your QR code into the public realm, make sure it works. Test it multiple times, and be sure to test it using different devices and browsers. As well, after you’ve tested it and ensures it works, plan to re-test it regularly.

You’d be surprised at how many companies direct their users to a 404 page or an invalid security certificate. And remember, although your QR code lasts forever, the information attached to it doesn’t have to. It’s easy to change the destination from the back end without changing the QR code itself, so there’s no reason to leave users with expired promotions or out-of-date information.

How Is Your QR Campaign?

Did you identify with any of the QR code mistakes listed above? If so, likely a simple correction is all that’s needed to get your campaign back on track. Try adjusting the content connected to your QR code and make it more relevant, or, find better locations to have your codes featured.

If after making adjustments in your QR code campaign, you’re still not seeing the results you had hoped for, consult with digital marketing experts. Stikky Media are leading marketing professionals that can get your QR code campaign moving in the right direction.

For tips and ideas on how to improve your business presence online, check out our blog!

4 Easy Ways to Improve Your Google+ Business Page

If you haven’t yet created a Google+ page for your business or brand, now is the time to hop on board. With over 250 million users and counting, Google+ is another great way for your company to connect with customers and the fans who love you.

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Facebook SEO: 6 Ways to Optimize Your Facebook Page

Wondering why your Facebook page isn’t performing well? The answer may lie in an unexpected place: search engine optimization. Read on to learn how to optimize your Facebook page.

Facebook pages are a great way to promote your business online, but only if you can be found. Luckily for you, Facebook, in partnership with UK-based marketing agency Distilled, just released a neat video that shows you exactly how to boost your Facebook page ranking in search engines. Aimed at business owners, not SEO masters, the video gives an overview of what search engine optimization actually is, and lays the groundwork for more traffic, more likes and more online success.

The video is a little long, so here’s a breakdown of the key points:

1. Include keywords.

Search engines rank websites on extremely complicated algorithms, but one thing’s for sure: The top-ranked websites contain the key search phrases people are looking for. This principle also applies to Facebook pages, so make sure your page contains the appropriate search terms. The best place to put them? The ‘About’ section. Fill that space with keyword-rich info about your business, such as your services and location.

2. Choose an effective user name.

Usernames are all about balance. If you choose an obscure name, nobody will be able to find you. And if you choose a name that is too specific, users will be less likely to ‘like’ your page.

The actual name of your business is typically your best bet because that’s how most people will search for you. Don’t forget to claim your username for your Facebook web address!

3. Generate likes and links.

Because so many websites want to rank for the same keywords, search engines take another metric into account: the number and quality of links pointing back to the site. The better the links, the more the “trustworthy” the website is considered to be and the higher it will rank in search results.

Every time a user likes your page, a link will appear on their profile. And because most profiles are public, search engines will pick up on these links and push your page higher up in the search results. All the more reason to build an exceptional page that people will want to engage with.

4. Purchase Facebook ads.

Already have great content? Facebook ads are another way to gain more visitors and more likes.

5. Set up your business as a Facebook Place.

If you’re a local, physical business, make sure you’re set up as a Facebook Place, which allows users to check in at your location. When they check in, they will immediately be presented with a like button. You can also offer discounts or special promotions as additional incentives to like your page.

6. Link your Facebook page to your website, and vice versa.

Facebook provides a variety of plug-ins to allow your website visitors to easily like and comment on your content. But not all plugins have links to your Facebook page that the search engines can read, so be sure to add a direct link to your Facebook page from your website.

Click to launch video:

 

2012 & 2013 Social Media and Tourism Industry Statistics

2012 Tourism Statistics

In response to the overwhelming desire for up-to-date social media and tourism statistics, here are some new numbers for 2012.
(UPDATE: We have now updated this post to include new and additional statistics from 2013. These are indicated in blue text. Note that in most cases we have not completely replaced the 2012 statistics, but added new metrics we felt were relevant to the information.)

In response to the overwhelming desire for up-to-date social media and tourism statistics, here are some new numbers for 2012. (Please note: Stikky Media did not create these statistics. For a list of primary sources, see below).

The world is expected to witness 1 billion arrivals by the end of 2012, according to the World Travel Market. And as a result, the relationship between travel and technology is closer than ever, with businesses continuing to turn to social media to promote their services and reach customers in a more intimate and personal way.

Mobile

By 2015, 9 out of 10 consumers will have a mobile subscription.

  • 29% of travelers have used mobile apps to find flight deals
  • 30% have used mobile apps to find hotel deals
  • 15% have downloaded mobile apps specific to upcoming vacations
  • 85% of leisure travelers use their smartphone while abroad
  • 72% post vacation photos on a social network while still on vacation
  • 46% check in to a location (eg Facebook and FourSquare) while on vacation
  • 70% update their Facebook status while on vacation
  • 61% of US travelers report using social media while on vacation
  • 85% of travelers use smartphones while on vacation, and 46% use tablets
  • The most popular use of smartphones while traveling is for finding restaurants (36% for smartphones, 21% for tablets) and accessing social media (32% for smartphones, 19% on tablets)
  • In 2012, 57% of business travelers used a mobile device to book travel
  • More than 40% of online traffic related to travel comes from mobile devices
  • 44% of travelers use their phones to research travel while they’re actually traveling

Top five uses of smartphones while traveling:

  • Take photos
  • Use map features
  • Search restaurants
  • Search activities and attractions
  • Check in prior to flight

Consumer Trust

  • 92% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising
    • an increase of 18% since 2007
  • 70% of global consumers say online consumer reviews are the second most trusted form of advertising
    • an increase of 15 percent in four years
  • Only 47% of consumers around the world say they trust paid television, magazine and newspaper ads
    • confidence has declined by 24%, 20% and 25% respectively since 2009

Despite these numbers, the majority of ad dollars are still spent on traditional or paid media.

Results of the Nielsen 2013 survey:

  • 84% of consumers trust word-of-mouth recommendations, or earned media, above all other forms of advertising.
  • 69% trust owned advertising, in the form of content of branded websites—up 9 percentage points from 2007
  • 68% trust consumer opinions posted online
  • Traditional ads still strong: 62% trust TV ads, and 60% trust magazines. Only newspaper ads showed a decline, from 63 to 61%.

Increased trust in online and mobile ads:

  • 56% of respondents trust consumer-oriented email messages
  • 48% trust ads in search engine results, online videos, or on social networks
  • 42% trust banner ads, up from 26% in 2007
  • 45% trust display ads on mobile devices
  • word-of-mouth formats—earned media and consumer reviews online—prompt the highest levels of consumer action—84% of people will take action thanks to the former and 70% to the latter.
  • Roughly 2/3rds of respondents take action some of the time based on ads in traditional media, and half are willing to engage based on social network and mobile display ads.

 

Reviews

Post-vacation, 46% of travelers post hotel reviews.

  • 40% post activity/attraction reviews
  • 40% post restaurant reviews
  • 76% post vacation photos to a social network
  • 55% “liked” Facebook pages specific to a vacation

Influence

Social media has a huge influence on travel bookings. Of those who used social media to research travel plans, only 48% stuck with their original travel plans.

  • 33% changed their hotel
  • 10% switched resorts
  • 10% changed agent/operator/website
  • 7% holidayed in a different country
  • 5% switched airlines

TripAdvisor

  • 69 million monthly visitors
  • More than 60 million travel reviews and opinions from travelers around the world
  • More than 90 percent of topics posted in the TripAdvisor forums are replied to within 24 hours
  • 82 million people have downloaded a TripAdvisor app
  • 2800 new topics are posted every day to the TripAdvisor forums
  • More than 150 million reviews from over 60 million members worldwide

Facebook

  • 900 million monthly users at the end of March 2012
  • 488 million monthly active mobile users
  • Approximately 80% of monthly active users are outside the US and Canada
  • More than 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook per day
  • An average of 3.2 billion Likes and Comments generated by Facebook users per day
  • More than 42 million Pages with ten or more Likes
  • Facebook is available in more than 70 languages

2013 Stats:

  • 1.23 billion monthly active users as of December 2013
  • 945 million monthly users of Facebook mobile products
  • Approximately 81% of daily active users are outside the US and Canada
  • Photo uploads total 300 million per day

Twitter

  • Twitter search is one of the most heavily-trafficked search engines in the world, serving over one billion queries per day
  • 500 million registered users
  • 175 million tweets per day

 

Sources:

The World Travel Market (WTM) Industry Report and Global Trends Report
Nielsen: Global Consumers’ Trust in ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows in Importance
Lab42: Techie Traveler
Facebook Key Facts
TripAdvisor Fact Sheet

Nielsen: Earned Advertising Remains Most Credible Among Consumers
T
op 15 Valuable Facebook Statistics
TrustYou Travel Marketing Statistics

8 Reasons Why Your Business Needs a Blog

Not completely convinced that your business should have a blog? Remember this: Content is king. And with the abundance of both free and inexpensive blogging platforms floating around the web (WordPress being one of the most popular), there’s no reason why your business can’t set up a blog and start connecting with customers in a matter of minutes.

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Mobile Marketing Statistics Every Marketer Needs to Know

Did you know that 90% of Americans who have a mobile device have it within three feet of them 24 hours a day? Or that nearly 42% of US mobile subscribers now use smartphones, along with with 44% of mobile users across France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK?

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Infographic: Should Your Business Be On Pinterest?

When the first version of Pinterest launched in early 2010, the creators lost sleep over whether anyone except for a handful of close family and guilt-ridden friends would ever use the site. Well, turns out their fears were unfounded. Not only have they attracted over 16 million users, they’ve also opened up a whole new world of social media marketing.

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Twitter Rolling Out Self-Serve Advertising for Small Businesses

Timeline, Premium Ads, patent lawsuits, IPO delays, proof-of-ownership emails—it seems like Facebook has had all the fun lately. But while Mark Zuckerberg and friends are busy soaking up all the attention, Twitter has been flying under the radar, cooking up some sweet new advertising tactics for small businesses.

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Timeline for Pages: Creative Marketing Inspiration for Brands

Not all brands are in love with the new Facebook Timeline, but a few early adopters have jumped on board and stepped up their creative game.

As these brands show, Timeline is about more than cool cover photos. It’s about defining your brand, showing off your personality and providing a continuous flow of interesting and engaging content.

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Brands on Pinterest: Who’s Doing it Right

When Pinterest first launched back in March 2010, it was dismissed as a feminine space for brides-to-be, aspiring kitchenistas and crafty, DIY types. While it’s true that Pinterest users are overwhelmingly female (97%, actually), the site is not as niche as it used to be.

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Stikky Media Wins Social Media Campaign of the Year!

With content from our interactive media division, northStudio360, we were recently the proud winners of Social Media Campaign of the Year, presented by Social Media Camp. The award, dubbed a “Westie,” was judged on creativity, sociability and results. Here’s how it went down:

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Deadmau5 Asks Fans to Design His Next Rodent Head

Deadmau5, the Canadian-born electronica musician, needs a new rodent head. It’s a unusually big request—he’s famous for wearing over-sized mouse heads on stage during performances—so he’s turned to Talenthouse.com to design a one-of-a-kind mau5head that will be featured on deadmau5’s official website and worn during his “Unhooked” shows.

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Toyota Friend: Would You Accept a Car’s Friend Request?

Toyota and Salesforce have joined forces to create Toyota Friend, a private social network for Toyota owners. Its name makes it sound like a lame role-playing game where owners give their cars cutesy names and elaborate personalities and spam each other’s walls with requests for virtual spark plugs, but it’s nothing like that.

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Starbucks Goes Gaga, and Other Successful QR Code Campaigns

Scavenger hunts are always awesome, but Starbucks just upped the awesomeness by including QR codes—and even better—Lady Gaga. Without using raw-meat bikinis or elaborate egg vessels, Starbucks found a clever way to connect their stores, their digital networks and their customers.

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Why the Tourism Industry Needs a Special Approach to SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) should be a main component of any industry’s marketing plan, but for the travel industry it’s absolutely essential. According to a Travelport report, online search engines continue to dominate the travel industry with two out of three leisure travellers (66%) and 59% of business travellers using them to research travel.

The internet has revolutionized the tourism and accommodation industry by giving travelers access to greater choices, better deals, more flexible plans and a wealth of media designed to immerse them in the destination before they even get there.

This quick, simple and convenient travel planning is a big step forward for the industry, but it has also transformed travel into one of the most highly competitive niches, requiring specialized, industry-specific optimization strategies. To survive, businesses need to gain an understanding of what consumers are searching for and learn how they can leverage internet search technology to maximize not only traffic to their site, but also to the destination itself.

But when it comes to SEO, it’s not enough to rely on keyword-rich text. On-page content is important, but there are many back-end factors to consider, including title tags, meta tags, image optimization, internal link structure, multilingualism and foreign search terms. And as of recently, social media can also affect your Google ranking.

In addition, Google rolled out a new feature last September that dramatically affects search results. Businesses can now claim Google Place Pages that allow them to verify and supplement their business information, including products, photos, videos, hours of operation and more. These Place Pages not only take up a major chunk of the first page, but they also pull in reviews—both good and bad—from multiple sources. Google designed Place Pages to help customers make informed decisions where to go, but now it’s more important than ever before for businesses to maximize their online presence.

Here are the stats:

  • 95% of natural clicks come from page one of Google, Yahoo and Bing
  • 3% of clicks came from page two, and 2% came from page three
  • One out of five Google searches are related to location
  • The number one spot on Google search results gets double the traffic as the number two spot, and the second through fifth spots combined
  • 41% of searches unsuccessful after the first page choose to refine their keyword search phrase or their chosen search engine.
  • 80% of completely unsuccessful searches are followed with keyword refinement

Pepsi’s Social Vending System: Pop-Swap With Thirsty Friends and Strangers

Vending machines have always been social. People crowd around and share their thoughts on the best way to steal drinks, how far you can shake the machine before it falls over and whether or not the Coca-Cola script is really an obscene image.

Pepsi recently created a vending machine that’s truly social, in the 21st century sense. It’s still a prototype, but their “Social Vending System” allows users to gift beverages around the country.

Here’s how it works:

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Crowdsourced Travel Magazine Coming to an iPad Near You

Everyone loves a good social media experiment—especially when it involves free stuff.

Travelati, an upcoming travel magazine, is giving away tons of freebies for the best travel tips and unique stories. They’re crowdsourcing all of their content, so travelers can receive American Airlines Advantage miles, airline gift cards and lounge access in exchange for the best photography, video, writing and spoken word. If you’re not a writerly type but still want a shot at magazine fame, you can phone in your story.

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Have Tripbod, Will Travel

Travelers naturally gravitate toward referrals and recommendations. They’re social creatures who trust other travelers more than traditional marketing, and they’re always on the lookout for atypical tourist activities. Social media is a great way to get the most current insider info, but what if you could skip the planning and get a personalized itinerary from a trusted local? It’s kind of like Rent a Friend, only less creepy.

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Foursquare Helps Tourism, but DMO’s Aren’t Checking In

Foursquare has over 6 million users and over 381 million check-ins, but very few DMO’s are using the using the geo-location service to boost tourism. Explore Chicago was the first to really get involved with Foursquare, and since then, only a handful of DMO’s have joined.

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Destination Marketing Organizations Need to Stay Social

Ideally, the tourism industry is win-win situation. While travelers escape their normal routines to frolic and explore, they enhance the quality of life for the community by creating employment, generating tax dollars and attracting facilities and events that appeal to both visitors and locals.

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Tourism Saskatchewan Goes Mobile

Tourism Saskatchewan has always been on the forefront of awesomeness, with innovative live chat, video, and promotions, but they outdid themselves with the release of their mobile website.

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Anything is Possible When Your Social Media Smells Like Old Spice. I’m on a Horse.

Despite his smug persona, I still want to be on a horse with Isaiah Mustafa. I want to fake-swan dive with him, picnic in a boat with him and hang out with his friends. Who wouldn’t want to ride a raven through space?

It’s nothing romantic—I don’t even find him that attractive. It’s just that he looks like the kind of guy who could transform a wedge of cheddar into a Simon and Garfunkel concert. He knows what I want. He’s cool. And I want to smell like him, even though I’m a girl.

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Small Town Tourism, Big Social Media

Facebook might be the third largest country in the world, but it still feels like Facebookville, population 620. For the kid whose mother read about his weekend shenanigans on Facebook, it’s a bad thing. For small towns, it’s a blessing.

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Social Media and the Tourism Industry Statistics

Note: These stats are from 2011. For more up-to-date numbers, check out our most recent blog post, 2012 Social Media and Tourism Industry Statistics.

Travel and tourism marketing isn't the one-sided method it used to be–today's travelers are relying more than ever on word of mouth. In response, the tourism and hospitality industry is turning to social media to promote its services and to engage customers in a more personal way. Next year, almost two-thirds of travel companies plan to increase their social media marketing budgets. Here's why:

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Social Media Done Right – Rosetta Stone

Rosetta Stone's Facebook page
Note: Updated September 2018

I was first introduced to Rosetta Stone three years ago after it was recommended to me when I wanted to learn Danish in preparation for moving to Copenhagen. I was really impressed by the product and recently decided to purchase the program again to learn Greek – a language I have wanted to learn since I was a kid.

Rosetta Stone is the world’s #1 language learning software and they’ve also developed an equally amazing social media presence. They have over 2,600,000 Facebook followers, just over 90k Twitter followers and users are so engaged they often start their own discussions. So how do they do it?

They have a good base product
In order to survive in the social media world, you need the goods to back it up. Rosetta Stone’s former chief exec, Tom Adams, said it best in an interview with the Washington Post: “Set out to teach first and change people’s capabilities and then look around at technologies like speech recognition, social networking, casual gaming, all of these different things.”

Like he said, Rosetta Stone’s proven teaching methods are only enhanced by its social media presence.

Brand Consistency
A lot of companies seem to forget their social media is part of their professional appearance. Call me a snob, but if a company’s Facebook page is full of spelling and grammar mistakes, I’m out. The same goes for multiple opinions—even if there are dozens of people contributing, they all need to send out the same message. I don’t mean they all have to regurgitate the company philosophy like a bunch of robots, but they do all have to work toward a common goal.

Rosetta Stone has a set of guidelines that ensures employees are interacting correctly, and that quality standards continue through their social media departments. This might make them sound stuffy, but the result is the exact opposite. Instead of only allowing a single “Customer Success Representative” to speak for the company online, we see other employees engaging in interesting, useful conversations. They come across as well-spoken and professional, but they’re real people.

Social Media is an Extension of Their Product
Rather than simply providing a place where users learn about the product, Rosetta Stone took a social approach to language learning and created an environment where users actually learn the product.

It would be easy for Rosetta Stone to post a “word of the day” and a few grammar tips on Twitter, but that’s not their product, and it’s not engaging. By nature, language is social and Rosetta Stone knows it.

To enhance their education, they’ve created online communities where users chat live with native speakers and interact and play games with other learners. They have a photo booth where you appear in a foreign land and have your photo automatically transferred to Facebook. On Twitter, Rosetta Stone answers questions, offers words of encouragement and even hosts chat sessions that ease students’ nerves. On Facebook, users discuss everything from technical issues to language suggestions to who’s studying what and why.

Last week on their Facebook page, they posted a picture of an orange square and asked their audience, “how would you describe this colour in the language you’re learning?” At the time of writing, the question had 96 responses in a vast array of languages. This is a perfect example of how Rosetta Stone uses their social media presence to not only engage their audience, but supply the community support to language learners to fall back on.

They Write Back to You
It might sound simple, but Rosetta Stone actually responds to comments, both good and bad. And they’re speedy. One guy posted a negative experience, and within the day Rosetta Stone sent him a private message and he publicly posted how the issue was resolved.
Rosetta Stone even actively participates in a Facebook discussion devoted entirely to “What don’t you like about Rosetta Stone.”

Although accepting and taking responsibility is something Rosetta Stone does very, very well, they don’t take over conversations. A lot of people have mixed feelings about buying the program, but rather than pushing their product, Rosetta Stone lets other customers take the lead. More often than not, a simple recommendation squashes all doubts.

In response to Rosetta Stone’s “What time is it in the country whose language you’re learning” questions, a user asked all Rosetta Stone Employees: “What language are you learning and why?” Almost 15 employees responded, all with personal, human answers that made me want to be their friend. If that’s not social media engagement, then I don’t know what is.

 

Victoria’s Best Marketing Campaign

Dodd’s Furniture is a Victoria BC landmark whose owner, Gordy Dodd, frequently gives back to the community in the form of donations and charitable contributions. That’s all very nice, but Dodd’s Furniture simply runs the best ad campaign that Victoria has ever seen. Who can forget “Hindiana and the Temple of Savings” or Gordy Dodd in a full Batman costume, complete with cartoon pows and whacks? He’s been making commercials for the past 25 years and his early commercials contain even more random humour than the ones on TV today. One of his first commercials contained the phrase, “The bare facts are simple.” Naturally, it featured a poorly drawn cartoon bear whose head floats away into the forest, only to reveal Gordy Dodd’s cut-and-pasted face in its place.

Gordy Dodd moved to Victoria in 1977 and set up a 2, 000 square foot furniture store. Today he owns a 35, 000 square foot showroom across from Mayfair Mall. His secret? Being a nice guy, oh, and attaching his face to the corniest and most brilliant advertising campaign ever. But dressing up as famous TV and movie characters, shouting a couple one-liners in almost broken English and using low-budget special effects– what’s so brilliant about that? Well, two main things.

  1. Fact is, the joke is on us. The quality of the ad makes no difference. In fact, the worse the video quality, the better. This keeps the cost of his ads to an absolute minimum. Basically, his overhead is a video camera, some editing software, and a costume.
  2. The possibilities are endless. As long as Dodd lives, he will never run out of characters for his ads. He can continue this one campaign forever and will always have new material at his fingertips.

The commercials may get little more than a snicker from most viewers, and the quality may be as bad as an American used car a, but the fact remains that everyone in Victoria recognizes the brand. We see Gordy drive by on the side of a bus wearing a Donald Trump toupee (Dodd’s furniture will trump all others) or swinging through his showroom like Tarzan (You’ll go ape over our contemporary selections). A viral marketing campaign could make this guy an internet star in no time.
Even while writing this post I mentioned to a friend that I was writing about Gordy Dodd. His reply? “I met him once, greatest day of my life.” If only I could be so lucky.

A strong Social Media campaign would spread the word about these awesome videos and ensure that Dodd’s Furniture’s competition doesn’t gain any ground. Give us a call Gordy!

12 Reasons Your Small Business Needs to be on Twitter

This article was written by Jessica Swanson (@ShoestringGal) who is the founder of Shoestring Marketing. The article was originially posted here.

12 Reasons your Small Business Needs to be on Twitter:

1. Build Authenticate Relationships. Twitter allows you to begin building authentic relationships with your prospects, clients and customers. As a small business owner, strong customer relationships are one of your greatest assets.

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10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Business Owners

As business owners venture in to the scary world of managing their own Social Media campaigns, many are driving blind. A little bit of education goes a long way and we suggest following these 10 Social Media Marketing Tips for Business Owners to get started. There are endless ways to drive traffic to a website, increase brand awareness around the web, and engage with potential clients through Social Media Marketing. The ability to reach people in real time and target a relevant audience has never been easier.

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Pepsi’s 20 Million Dollar Social Media Campaign

Pepsi has decided to axe their Super Bowl ad campaign for Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, Florida this year. Instead they are dumping 20 million dollars in to a Social Media Marketing campaign. The move by Pepsi exemplifies the major shift in advertising dollars that we have seen develop over the past year. As corporations large and small continue to pull advertising dollars from traditional markets like television, newspaper, and print, we are seeing these funds relocated to online campaigns that engage customers and allow for advanced statistical tracking. This marks the first year in 23 years that Pepsi has not developed an ad for the Super Bowl.

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Social Media ROI Examples

Finding good statistics and examples of the Return on Investment (ROI) for Social Media Marketing campaigns on the web is tough. One man, Erik Qualman author of Socialnomics: How Social Media has changed the way we live and do business, seems particularly adept at finding social media statistics. In the popular Socialnomics: Social Media Revolution video he created provided a mountain of previously unavailable statistics that have now been posted and reposted all over the web. Qualman has taken this one step further by providing some Social Media ROI Examples that make the sale of Social Media campaigns much easier for those in the business. Since Social Media Marketing is such a new business, not much of this kind of information has previously been attainable, thanks in large part to Erik Qualman, some statistics and examples are beginning to pop up. Watch the video to see some Social Media ROI Examples. Listed below the video are 14 Social Media ROI Examples from Qualmans post Social Media Success Stories.

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Social Media Marketing Industry Report

A recent study of 900 marketers by Michael Stelzner of WebPro News and showed some interesting facts about Social Media Marketing. Along with gaining valuable statistics, this study provided Internet Marketers with a good starting point in getting in to Social Media Marketing. I have broken this post in to 4 parts, the statistics gathered, the major questions asked, the video, and the report itself.
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