How To Combine Email Marketing and Social Media

How to Combine Email and Social MediaAs a marketer or business owner, you may find yourself thinking about which digital marketing channel to invest your budget in. You have a wide variety of tools at your disposal including email, content marketing, and social media, so choosing the best one for your budget and for your organization can be challenging.

If you are looking for strong ROI, you might choose to devote a portion of your resources to email marketing. If, on the other hand, you have limited resources and are not in a hurry to increase your sales or profits, you might go solely with social media.

Can’t decide? The good news is that you don’t have to choose between email marketing and social media—the two channels work best when used together. You can maximize your email marketing strategies by integrating them with your social media campaigns and vice versa.

Email and social media may seem like two entirely different marketing channels, but they actually have a lot in common. Both of these channels provide you with the opportunity to increase traffic to your website, build relationships with new customers, maintain these relationships and earn your customers’ loyalty, and of course, significantly boost your company’s ROI.

3 Ways to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media for the Strongest ROI

So, how exactly do you merge the two platforms together? There are plenty of strategies that you can try, but there’s no need to worry. It’s not as daunting as it seems. Here are some examples.

  • You can leverage social media to cultivate your email list by adding social media share buttons to your email messages.
  • You can encourage your email list to follow your social media pages by sending them irresistible offers.
  • You can align the messages in your emails with your social media posts by using the same branded hashtags.

Want to know more about how to combine email marketing and social media? Contact us and we’ll be happy to chat.

This was a guest blog courtesy of our friends at CampaignMonitor

Why Instagram for Nonprofits?

More than the images that it is so well known for, Instagram makes imagery engaging, evoking primal emotions – such as humor, concern, awe, or intrigue.

Instagram is another platform that nonprofits can use to reach a broader audience. Most of Instagram’s users are of a younger demographic. By using Instagram you will be able to reach the younger subscribers and members that other forms of social media might not reach. More than 500 million people have an Instagram account and 59 percent of online adults ages 18-29 use the network. More than 300 million of them use it daily.

What makes Instagram different from social media networks such as Facebook or Twitter is the way people use it. Instagrammers frequently check the site, often several times a day, and engage with posts at a much higher rate than with other social networks. In short, people who use Instagram LOVE Instagram.

To succeed with Instagram, it helps to have a clearly defined strategy, a noticeable visual style, a commitment to regular posts, and an in-depth knowledge of your target audience (subscribers and members).

On average, nonprofits post to Instagram 1.5 times per day. If your company is creating and sharing great content designed with followers in mind, you will be well received. When used thoughtfully, Instagram is a great way to reach and engage younger volunteers, and advocates.

Content Strategy for Instagram

With millions of photos and videos posted daily to Instagram, how will you break through the clutter and reach your audience?

Balance Consistency and Quality: Post regularly so followers have content to examine. The images posted need to be compelling in a way that also provides context and understanding of your brand. There is a balance in consistency and quality that must be struck for a successful Instagram effort.

Tell a Story: Every post should tell a story about your brand and message. Use the caption to expand on the image – develop the story a visitor may not know just from looking at the picture.

Nonprofits Doing Instagram Right

St Baldrick’s Foundation is the self-proclaimed “crazy head-shaving charity,” trying to make a difference for kids with cancer. They use a combination of photos that tell personal stories and graphics that educate and inform. All of the funding that they have received goes to the most promising childhood cancer research. They focus on “passing it on” in every post.

Why Use Twitter?

Twitter is a tricky to work with due to the limitations of the media. Tweets are limited to 240 characters, meaning your message must either be brief and to the point, or split over multiple tweets. In addition, there is no tried-and-true formula for creating the perfect tweet. Your audience may respond to content that another group’s audience may not. The best judge of audience response is likes and retweets, with the latter helping spread your message to others who might not be subscribed to your feed.

Find Your Voice

It is best to develop a distinct voice for your your organization, allowing tweets to be differentiated from the rest. Find a voice that works for your organization, your follower, any members of your organization, and so on. Just remember, social media is about trial and error. Try something, look at how people react, adjust, and try again.

Tweets that work well tend to:

  • Have a personal, human voice.
  • Contain interactive media (memes [material – such as images or snippets of text, that is rapidly passed around the internet], photos, vines, videos, links).
  • Provide updates of real interest to followers.
  • Start a discussion among followers.
  • Inspire the readers with compelling and inspiring quotes

Tweet Engagement

In order for tweets to reach as many people as possible, some general rules of thumb apply:

  • Keep your tweet at 100 characters or less.
  • Use no more than two hashtags per tweet (Hashtags are keywords related to the topic or theme of your tweet. A hashtag is marked with the pound sign (#) before the word or phrase.)
  • Tell your followers to re-tweet (or “pass it on” as we say).
  • Tweet during business hours and on weekends
  • Ask service leaders to tweet to their audience for you.

What Is A Facebook Page?

An active Facebook page creates opportunities for new people to discover  your organization, and can serve as a path for connecting subscribers with new content being offered by your organization. People who “like” your page may see your posts in their News Feed when they visit Facebook. They can then like and share your posts with others, distributing your message to those who are not currently part of your page. At the very least, a business-centric Facebook page can contain contact information allowing visitors to find your online presence and store.

When to Use a Facebook Page?

A Facebook Page is ideal for organizations wishing to expand and connect with the ever-growing global network of Facebook users. For many non-profit organizations, having a single Facebook page helps people find, and stay up-to-date with, a unified voice and message.

What is a Facebook Page For?

A dedicated Facebook page can inform visitors of your organization’s message, relevant news items, developments within your organization, new products, and links to news items of interest to you and your subscribers. It allows you to respond in real time to developments around the world — offering your thoughts, opinions, and reassurances on a variety of subjects.

We Have a Page, Now What?

Creating a business-centric Facebook page is simple, as it only requires the following:

  • About – Give people a quick preview of what your organization is about and what its message is.
  • Profile Image – Help people recognize your organization when they receive a post from your page in their News Feed.
  • Videos – Present infomercials, advertisements, personal messages, breaking news, and the like in either in audio-only formats (thus preserving anonymity) or in full audio-visual releases.
  • Events – Your page is a great way to direct visitors to an online calendar that indicates when major events involving your organization will occur.
  • Notes – A section that can be used for longer messages or statements.

Verified Facebook Business Page

If your organization qualifies, you can be eligible for a Verification Badge, which would tell your followers that any content being posted is official and from your organization itself. In addition, a verified page will show up higher in search results to attract more visitors.

Posting to Your Facebook Business Page

The primary communication channel on Facebook is through posts from your organization. This is the easiest and simplest way to contact followers. The actual posts themselves are simple to create – your updates can be about anything you think subscribers would be interested in. After you have published your post, Facebook gives the option to:

  • Give Important Posts More Attention.
  • Hide a Public Post from Your Timeline so not visible to the public.
  • Delete a Post from Your Page.

Video on Facebook

Video posts perform well on Facebook and are an effective way to create a visual connection between the information presented and subscribers. More than 65% of all video views are happening on mobile devices as people turn to Facebook at different times and places throughout the day.

If your organization has a YouTube channel, be aware that videos uploaded directly to Facebook have proven more successful than those linked to other video players. Part of the reason is that videos uploaded directly to Facebook fill the entire width of and play directly in one’s News Feed, offering a seamless viewing experience. Directly upload videos also autoplay, making them more eye-catching than a video thumbnail. If you link to a video hosted on another site like YouTube, the link appears with a small thumbnail from the video.

Control your Facebook Business Page Content

In the Settings section, you have control over your page and the way your content appears. You have general controls for page and post visibility, whether people can post and/or comment on your page, and who can make changes to your page. You can also control the apps you use on your page, and create posts from your organization’s email.

Achievement: A Non-profit Facebook Page Success Story

Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s

Campaign Goals: The Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s is an event to raise awareness and funds for Alzheimer’s care, support, and research. The Facebook campaign aimed to recruit participants for the walk, as well as fundraising for the organization.

Impact: Using Facebook, the Alzheimer’s Association organized and rallied supporters from across the country to its yearly fundraising efforts.

The Alzheimer’s Association Facebook page directed users to the Alzheimer’s Association website in order to create awareness about the Walk. During the 2015 Walk season, nearly one-quarter of overall traffic to the Walk to End Alzheimer’s website was referred from Facebook. Facebook was a significant source of referral traffic for online registrations.

Based on anecdotal evidence, members often want to help, but do not always know , while those seeking help or additional information may not necessarily know where and how to find out it. By creating a Facebook page and offering information about specific ways members can subscribe, serve, and support your organization, they will know more, and what they can do to share your message.

Top 5 Factors Influencing B2B Sales Lead Generation Online

Top 5 factors influencing B2B sales lead generation onlineGenerating 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.

Of course, if you’re among those looking for tips to improve your online B2B sales lead generation and conversion efforts, learn from B2B companies that don’t plan for and invest in an online presence. They’re missing out on our increasingly global marketplace, where potential leads can’t visit your office but can still get to know you through virtual means.

To differentiate and close more online leads, keep reading. Here are Stikky Media’s top 5 factors influencing B2B sales lead generation if you want to convert more qualified visitors into leads.

1. Website

We can’t say it often enough: your website is the virtual equivalent of a first impression. If it’s old, badly designed or simply inexistent, you’ll miss out on quite a lot of potential leads just because visitors will be turned off.

An archaic-looking website jumps out right away, and so do amateur ones. With today’s wide variety of looks and styles, as well as advanced technical possibilities, websites don’t have to be boring. They still need to be usable, but the possibilities are rather close to endless (see some beautiful websites).

What does your website need to be attractive to leads? In short, you need:

  • A clear value proposition
  • Calls-to-action
  • Social proof
  • Good “About us” page
  • Contact info
  • A blog (you’ll see why it matters for B2B leads below)

All of this should be packaged in a visually pleasing website that still follows web usability best practices.

2. Portfolio or case studies

The second most important element to convice potential clients is a good portfolio page or, if you’re not in the creative field, at least a few case studies.

These are really important because they show how your past and current clients have found success with your product or service. If there’s no proof of your company’s ability to serve what it promises, it’s not likely that you’ll develop any kind of trust with visitors and leads.

For example, our projects is a great source of information for our potential clients. There they can find examples of websites in similar fields and categories as their business, and they can check out our work to see if it fits their style and needs.

Case studies are a bit different. They go in more depth about the process, solution and results of using your product or services. They work especially well for complex products and services; they also help a lot for companies with long sales cycles.

3. Content

Content is a rather vague and general term when it comes to the internet; basically everything on there is content. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll consider content the helpful information found on your website. What “helpful” means depends on who your target audience is.

To determine your level of expertise and your involvement in the field, a potential lead will look through your website for evidence of helpful, informational content that teaches him or her about your product or service, your field of work, etc. This can be developed in several forms:

  • Blog posts, white papers, ebooks
  • Videos
  • Infographics
  • Slideshare presentations
  • Webinars

Again, companies with longer sales cycles will find that using a variety of content types will help leads move along the cycle faster. Share some relevant content to hook them up, follow up with some great lead nurturing emails, and voilà! a lead that your sales team can close in no time.

4. Expertise of employees

When you deal with a business, you ultimately deal with its whole team, whether you spoke to them in the sales process or not. So it’s good to know that the people who are going to build your product or provide the services you need know what they’re doing.

Bios on team pages can help with that, but do you know what’s more effective? Blog posts.

Every member of your team (or at least a representative of every department) should contribute to your company’s blog. As a potential lead looks at your website and your blog, he or she will see that your employees know what they’re talking about and provide helpful advice.

If that doesn’t contribute to visitor trust, I don’t know what does!

5. Presence on social media

Last but not least, having a presence on social media is among the top 5 factors influencing b2b sales lead generation. A potential lead will also take a look at what you’re saying on social media. There are way too many examples of companies losing bundles of customers because of a mistake on social media (talk with our experts about our online reputation management services, if it should happen to you).

A carefully planned social media presence that still lets individuality and human-ness shine through is the best way to convince site visitors that there’s a human behind every interaction. (Nobody likes robots THAT much.) They’ll have a look at how you interact with followers, how fast you answer to mentions, questions and inquiries, and check out the content you share.

As in the factor above, make sure that your social media presence contributes to your reputation for expertise and helpfulness.

Putting it all together

All these factors will make a difference in how many online B2B sales leads you get. Having a strong digital strategy will help you figure out how to put these pieces together to increase your leads, conversions and sales.

Need Help Implementing the Top 5 Factors Influencing B2B Sales Lead Generation?

Want more details about how you can make your website more effective? Contact the digital marketing experts at Stikky Media to help you convert more online visitors into sales.

Photo by Flazingo.com

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.

But what if your product or service doesn’t really lend it self to lengthy testimonials? What if you just want to sell more copies of your ebook or your innovative kitchen gadget? What if you want more people to join your online community or inquire about your consulting services? Social proof (the idea that when a lot of people do something, you want to do it it too) is where you should put your efforts. Whereas testimonials can easily be falsified or manipulated (all you need is one satisfied client), social proof uses hundreds and thousands of people to show the effectiveness or interest of your product or service.

Social proof is a great way to establish that what you offer is popular and therefore worthy of money or time. It’s how you prove that you have a captive and engaged audience and use that information to leverage more leads and sales.

Smart technique #1: Give it away for free

Bloggers have long known that giving stuff away for free–ebooks, advice, exclusive content by email–is the best way to quickly grow an email list.

A big email list is one kind of social proof–so is the number of downloads of an ebook or orders for a sample. Giving things away for free to get any of these kinds of social proof is a quick and easy way to get more interest in your business or blog.

Build your social proof by announcing the number of people who requested your content:

  • “Read the book that delighted X people!”
  • “Join X others in our community!”
  • “X others have tried our product… it’s yours for free!”

The higher number you have, the more convincing your offer will be–but beware, only use this technique when you have 1000+ people, as anything below might actually hurt your efforts.

Smart technique #2: Encourage reviews

Social proof also comes through reviews. Whether the place to review your product or service is Yelp, Urbanspoon, Goodreads, TripAdvisor, Amazon or whichever one it is in your field, you want to encourage customers to review, especially if the feedback is positive.

A long list of positive reviews confers lots of social proof to the product; 33% of buyers list “Customer reviews” as one of their top influencing factors.

However, getting people to spend the time to review on the internet may require a little coaxing and convincing, so it’s important to make it really easy for them. Here are some ideas:

  • Provide a custom link on your thank-you email
  • Put a QR code on receipts you give customers
  • Add a call to action: “Liked our service/product? Tell us on (website)!”
  • Embed a link in your ebook or PDF directly to your book listing on Amazon and Goodreads

Most sites keep some kind of rating that potential customers can see at a glance; the more positive reviews you have, the better this overview rating will be, so encourage satisfied clients to put their word in.

Smart technique #3: Start a newsletter

Although it’s not a type of social proof per se, a newsletter is still the best way to engage your audience. And, as mentioned in #1, a newsletter with tons of subscribers can provide its own social proof, especially if you’re a web-based consultant, writer or speaker.

Your newsletter is different from blog updates; a newsletter usually offers some kind of exclusive or curated content that isn’t available on your website. It gives your audience a reason to give you their email address instead of just getting the RSS feed.

Smart technique #4: Go viral

Okay, going viral isn’t really a “technique”; it’s usually something that happens without us having much control over it. But there are few things more effective for social proof than content going viral.

Even though virality is mostly in the hands of the people who consume your content, there are things you can do turn the odds in your favor. We’ve covered this topic on a previous Stikky Media post, so go there if you want to learn more about the recipe for viral campaigns.

Smart technique #5: Get a famous evangelist

Sometimes social proof can come from one person–one powerful, influential, popular person on social media.

Take for example how Guy Kawasaki is the evangelist for Canva, the easy DIY graphic design web app. His support means that he talks about Canva a lot, uses Canva for his own content, and generally spreads the word about Canva to his social networks.

To get such an endorsement, you need to have something quite exceptional to offer and you need to have built a relationship with the influencer over time. But it’s certainly not impossible to achieve.

Social proof is on the rise

Because of all the content available today, the need for social proof is more important than ever. Social proof

  • Distinguishes your product or service
  • Confirms its popularity
  • Shows that others have enjoyed it
  • Ascertains its quality

Working on your social proof today using one of these techniques is an investment for the future of your business.

6 Must-Haves Of Successful Blogs

While blogs are the cornerstone of content marketing, when you compare the number of successful blogs against the total number of blogs that exist on the internet, you’ll notice the ratio is very, very small. Only a fraction of blogs build an audience of more than a few hundred, and only a few rare ones get subscriptions of 100K+. Ever wondered what these top blogs have in common? In this blog, we’ll share 6 must-haves of successful blogs.

Blog element #1: A unique perspective

It’s not enough anymore to just provide information. Information is easy to find; there’s a how-to and a listicle for every topic you can imagine, and even those you can’t.

What makes perspective special? Perspective is opinion informed by experience. Perspective is personal yet has wisdom for others. When it comes to blogging, readers like to connect to their authors, not the information itself. We like to read from humans, not machines; this is probably the only thing that’s keeping the writing robots from taking over.

Perspective is the human element in information, and a unique one is absolutely necessary for a successful blog.

What’s your unique perspective? What have you learned through your years in your profession or field? What wisdom can you impart to others?

Blog element #2: A compelling voice

What makes Seth Godin so popular is his compelling ability to compress a lot of questions and thoughts into very short posts. What people love about Mark Schaefer is his honesty when it comes to difficult issues within the marketing field. The list could go on, but if you think of your own favourite bloggers, you’ll see what I mean.

Finding a voice is at once the most common and the most frustrating piece of advice you receive as a new blogger. Honestly, there’s no way around it but to blog often and trust that your voice will eventually settle itself.

What makes other people listen to you when you speak? Are you funny, perceptive, incisive? This might be a clue to your blogging voice too.

Blog element #3: Great visuals

We can’t talk enough about the effectiveness of visual marketing. Every successful blog will use visuals to emphasize the message, to summarize the content or to add an emotional touch. We’ve been working with Canva to make awesome blog graphics that are easily reshareable on social media as well.

The trick with visuals is that you don’t need to think too hard about it. There are plenty of beautiful stock photo websites (we like PicJumbo, Unsplash and Gratisography in particular) that you can use in your graphics or on their own. Just always remember to put at least one photo or visual in every post.

What photos or images inspire you? What emotions do you want to convey? Show us on Instagram.

Blog element #4: Relevant content

Relevance is another tricky thing to define, but here’s how I conceive it:

Getting the right content to the right person on the right channel at the right time.

Being relevant is a balance between talking about what you’re interested in and talking about what your audience is interested in. If you write about things that you don’t care about, you’ll lose steam quickly; but if you just write about what you’re interested in, you’re likely to lose those readers who don’t share all of your interests.

Writing about a variety of topics in different tones–some opinion, some factual, some controversy, etc–will keep readers interested in the long run. Relevance also requires a lot of time spent looking at what others are doing on their own blogs.

What would you like to read about if you were an executive in your field? What information would keep you coming back to your blog? Share and follow us on Facebook.

Blog element #5: A mailing list

Few business blogs can really be useful marketing tools without mailing list. Successful blogs will use mailing lists to send daily postings, newsletters and other offers to their readers. A blog with a mailing list keeps you top of mind and is just standard nowadays. It’s hard enough to keep up with all the content websites publish on a daily basis, so emails are a great way to keep your readers notified of new blog posts.

As far as inbound marketing goes, email is still the best tool you have to turn subscribers into leads and to nurture them into prospects and clients. However, make sure that the way you collect your email addresses follows the Canadian Anti-Spam Law, or you could be in pricy trouble.

Are you subscribed to mailing lists? What makes you click or delete?

Blog element #6: A social presence

If you think that you’ll get visits just by writing blog posts, you need to reassess how you understand the blogging world. Visitors rarely find new blogs to follow through Google; instead, they come through shared links from trusted sources (on a blog they already read, on social media, etc). Your blog should have a constant and active presence on social media, not only for broadcasting, but also for sharing other people’s stuff and having discussions with them.

A warning: “not doing” social media is the surest way to banish your blog to the obscure abyss of all the unread stuff of the internet. You don’t need to be on there 24/7–this is what automation is for–but at least be there a few minutes every day to share your content and engage with others’.

Do you strategize your social media or do you just go with the flow and inspiration? Retweet and share your thoughts with @stikkymedia on twitter.

What element is missing from your blog?

Is there something on the list that your blog is missing? You can still have a great blog, but maybe it’s not working as well as it could. Our 6 must-haves of successful blogs work together to get the best marketing bang out of your blogging buck, so it’s worth spending some time refining them.

Which is the one that is the most difficult for you? Get in touch with our team of digital marketing experts to discuss your blogging challenges and how we could help.

 

Intriguing Results From 3 Content Idea Generators

I don't know a blog writer who doesn't go through writer's block sometimes. Yet to keep your website fresh and current, you need to keep updating your blog with interesting content that keeps your visitors coming back for more. So what do we do when we're really, really out of ideas and still need to write blog posts?

Fortunately, there are content generators we can use to get our brains storming. In the three examples I used, you input a noun or two and the generator spits out sentences (blog post titles, mosty) incorporating those nouns.

Many of the results are over-the-top SILLY and many of them you will find simply unusable. However, they take any key idea and instantly spit out such a baffling variety of possible directions that they can be beneficial to any blocked writer. 

To show you how this works, I've decided to demonstrate for you what three free online content generators do with the phrase 'writer's block'. Check it out:

Portent's Content Idea Generator has been a favourite internet destination of mine for a few years now. Its results are goofy and it's not the most useful for serious or informative blog post ideas, but if you're looking for ideas that are entertaining or eye-catching, its results are great for that. Here are Portent's results for "writer's block":

  • How Writer's Blocks are Part of a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy
  • 17 Things Spock Would Say About Writer's Blocks
  • 7 Unexpected Ways Writer's Blocks Can Give You Better Hair

Hubspot's Blog Topic Generator is suitable for ideas pertaining to serious or informative blog posts. In this search, a few of the results are usable, which isn't bad at all for one quick search. Here are Hubspot's generated ideas for "writer's block": 

  • 14 Common Misconceptions About writer's block
  • The Ultimate Cheat Sheet on writer's block
  • Think You're Cut Out for Doing writer's block? Take This Quiz
  • Tools Everyone in the writer's block Industry Should Be Using
  • 20 Myths About writer's block

Content Row's Link Bait Title Generator offers ideas that, like Hubspot, are mosre suitable for serious or informative blog posts. It's a convenient one because it spits out the most results per search so you're able to scan through many results with a quick glance. However, most of them are completely irrelevant for our comparative search.

It seems some search subjects would generate much better results than others.  For "writer's block", it offered a few pages' worth of results; here are the ones from the first page:

  • 5 incredible health benefits of writer's block
  • 11 things the media isn't telling you about writer's block
  • 8 unbelievable things you never knew about writer's block
  • 8 reasons writer's block will change the way you think about everything
  • the most incredible article about writer's block you'll ever read
  • 8 things the media hasn't told you about writer's block
  • 8 deadly uses for writer's block
  • 20 reasons to stay away from writer's block
  • how to master writer's block in 30 days
  • why writer's block suck/s
  • how writer's block can make you filthy rich
  • 9 reasons you can blame the recession on writer's block
  • why writer's block is/are destroying america
  • the 7 worst things you could do to your writer's block
  • 6 reasons to be addicted to writer's block

Which of these results would you be most likely to use? Is there one that stands out that you could run with in writing?

My personal favourite is from Portent's Idea Generator: “7 Unexpected Ways Writer's Blocks Can Give You Better Hair”. I tend to tug on and fiddle with my hair when writer's block gets me frustrated. Next week I'll blog about THAT!

 

4 Social Media Tasks You Should Never Automate

4 social media tasks you should never automate

If you want to do it right, social media management takes a lot of time. So much so that it’s now some peoples’ full-time job. But not everyone has the budget to hire a social media manager or coordinator; enter Social Media Automation Tools. Programs like Buffer, Social Oomph, Hootsuite and many, many more all promise to make your social media management easier, more seamless and less time-consuming. However, it’s vital to not automate everything. In this blog, we’ll break down 4 social media tasks you should never automate and why.

Social media is still social, and nobody likes to talk to a robot when it comes to developing relationships (or talking in general). Some things still need to be done in real time, by a real human. Here are some social media tasks that should be done by humans, not automation.

1. Twitter DMs

There is nothing (and when I say that, I mean it) more annoying than automated DMs that pop in your Twitter inbox whenever you follow someone new. It’s not personal, it’s not interesting, and most of all, it’s definitely disruptive. If you want to plug your Facebook page or your website, do so in public. I won’t mind if you use a @mention in your public tweet. But for the love of Twitter etiquette, DON’T DO IT IN A DM.

The issue with automated Twitter DMs is that they are neither sincere nor relevant. A DM is a special event, when someone wants to make sure I listen to what they have to say. Sharing a Facebook page or a homepage link is not such an event. Your homepage is already in your Twitter profile–I’ll visit if I want to.

Sending an automatic Twitter DM to new followers is possibly one of the most damaging things you can do to your social media reach. Very few new followers are likely to stick around if you bother them this way.

2. Every single tweet you publish

Let’s stay in the realm of Twitter for the moment. Although it’s okay to use some automation for tweets (we do it too), you should leave space for real conversation and engagement with your audience. Thank your new followers personally. Reply to interesting tweets. Share relevant content on the spot. Favourite a few things. Ask questions and keep up with the conversation. Be a human.

The trick is to find what works best when automated and what’s better to do in real time. Sharing interesting content and your own blog posts can be done with automated tools, but replying to conversations, starting them or just being in the flow needs some real, involved brain power.

3. Customer service

The reality is that most customers these days request customer service via social media. Whether it’s a tweet or a message on Facebook, customers expect an answer almost instantly.

If there’s no real person at the other end of your social media account, your customers are going to notice. Really fast. An automated “thank you for your question” is fine during off hours (as long as you announce every day that your team is offline) but anything less than “as fast as possible” for an answer is going to damage your reputation with this particular person–and everyone who follows him or her. Trust us, if you do something wrong, everyone else is going to know about it. We’re quick to complain, and very slow to praise. Customer service certainly belongs among the social media tasks that should never be automated.

4. Following and unfollowing

Some tools let you automatically follow and unfollow people based on certain criteria that you usually set yourself. But honestly, how does a tool make the difference between someone that’s worthy of following (even if they don’t follow you) and a spammy account (even if they follow you)? This applies to Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus and even Instagram.

I like to manage follows and unfollows manually. I can assess the value of an account much better than any automated tool. It’s not only whether or not they tweet often, but what they tweet about. It’s easy to fool a tool by using the right keywords, but a human? Not so much. If you want to have real control over your network, you should keep a hands-on approach to follows, likes and circles on your social networks.

Are there any other social media tasks that you’d rather do yourself than automate? How do you feel about those who automate any of the above (or anything at all)? Is there a task that you always automate? Share your social media automation experiences with us on twitter @stikkymedia. If you need help, learn more about our social media marketing services.

 

How To Make “Post To Page” More Visible On Your Facebook Page

Say your goodbyes: it’s now impossible to make “post by others” show on your Facebook business page timeline. We have a super popular post about how to make that possible, but it dates from a few years, and Facebook business pages have changed a lot since then.

However, we still receive questions and comments about why the advice in that post doesn’t work anymore; it’s because you simply cannot do it anymore. The new Facebook business page has a completely different structure.

But it doesn’t mean that all is lost. You can, in fact, learn how to increase Facebook page visibility and enhance reviews you receive on your Facebook business page. In this blog, we’ll explain how to make “Post To Page” more visible on your Facebook page.

What the new Facebook business page is like

Before we begin, let’s have a look at what the current Facebook business page looks like.

Stikky Media Facebook

On the right, you have your business timeline with your posts and people’s comments on them. On the left, you have the informational stuff: People, About, Photos, etc. So basically, everything that isn’t part of your page’s timeline (basically your status updates and photo, link and video shares) is on the left.

1. Find “Posts To Page”

If you scroll down the page and look to the left, you’ll eventually find “Posts To Page” (the new name for “post by others), usually after your photos and videos. Remember that this is ALL in the LEFT column. The right column is reserved for your status updates.

This is what the section looks like:

Got it? Great.

2. Find the “Manage sections” option

You need to know where to look for this one, but here’s some help. Right to the left of the little “arrow” at the top of the section, there is a hidden pencil icon. Hover in this area, and you’ll eventually find it:

A little “Manage” option pops up. Click on it.

You’ll see another popup, this time called “Manage Sections”:

Click on that.

3. Change the position of the “Posts to page” in the right column

When you click on “Manage Sections”, you’ll see this window:

Once you’re here, all you need to do is click on the little shaded area to the right and drag the sections around to change their order. If you want the Posts to Page to appear higher on your Facebook page, simply move it up.

Note that you cannot move “People” and “About”. The position for these sections is set in stone (or code, really).

Once the sections are in the order you like, click “Save”.

Tadaa! You can now your Post by Others section closer to the top.

What do you think of this new structure? Do you think that posts to your page timeline should still be integrated in it, or is it a better idea to keep them separated, as Facebook seems to think?

If you need help with your social media marketing, contact our digital marketing experts.

 

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?

Our marketing pros are definitely at the forefront of using social media for business. Whether it's for the tourism and hospitality industry (a big piece of the business pie around here), the tech startups (a growing piece of the pie) or even higher education, our businesses and institutions have set best practices for social media for years. We've been inspired by–and learned from–many of them here at Stikky Media. Here are some of the businesses in Victoria who do a great job at being social.

1. Cabin 12 

Local restaurant Cabin 12 has hosted the Victoria tweetup for years, at least ever since I started going, sometime in 2011. Their Twitter feed is a prime example of great social engagement, with a mix of food photos (all right, let's be honest: food porn), funny quips, sports encouragement (go Habs go indeed!) and chats with customers. 

Through this great engagement, Cabin 12 has become a local haunt for local social media enthusiasts. I mean, you can even pay your bill in Bitcoins! The owners have always believed in the power of social media and use it really well too. 

2. Butchart Gardens

Among the premium tourist attractions in Victoria sits the world-famous Butchart Gardens. I've had the chance to interview the social media manager for an article I wrote, and I really admire the way he approaches his work strategically.

Among other things, he mentioned how his particular destination is really good for an Instagram account. Having followed it for a while, I must say I agree; when your business deals in beautiful things (fashion, flowers, home decor), a visual network like Instragram or Pinterest is the perfect way to promote your business online.

3. Monk Office

For something boring like office supplies, you'd expect that social media engagement wouldn't be the most effective way to use your marketing time. However, Monk Office, a Victoria-based office supplies company, shows that the opposite is true. From an engaged Facebook page with business information, contests and funny stories to a Twitter account that promotes local events, environmental sustainability and excellent content, Monk stays connected to the companies (and employees) who use its products on a daily basis.

Monk also takes advantage of Pinterest to showcase its office designs and furniture, along with a bunch of boards related to office and art supplies. I love Monk's integrated strategy and how it uses every channel differently. It's a prime example of a successful local company leveraging social media for B2B purposes.

4. Smiths Pub

After a friend of mine complained on Twitter that she was served a shaken instead of a stirred martini, Smiths Pub told her she was put on the "stirred only" list. According to my friend, they've been as good as their word.

Listening to your customers on social media is an essential skill that all businesses should master. People are talking about you; if you're not listening, your voice can't be included in the conversation. 

Also, they're the local Habs bar, which means that they're awesome. But that's just the Montrealer in me. 

5. Victoria Police Department

Although the Victoria Police Department isn't a business per se, its engagement on social media has been an example that every public organization should follow. Along with a fascinating blog that tells the stories of the Victoria beat, VicPD uses Facebook and Twitter to share stories, alert citizens of accidents or ongoing operations, and ask the public for help in locating missing people or providing information on wanted criminals. 

VicPD knows that the success of many of its investigations and operations rely on the public's trust and cooperation; joining them on social media is a smart move to be a more integral and trusthworthy part of the everyday life of Victorians.

What can we learn?

Through these examples of successful social media engagement from businesses (and organizations) to the Victoria community, we learn that finding the right channel, social listening, an integrated strategy and some great stories are key elements. Not every channel is right for your brand, and not every channel should be used the same way. Moreover, your efforts and time will be better spent if you have a strategy informing your interactions and if you have interesting stories to share.

Who's your favourite social business in Victoria or in your city? Did we miss anyone you like? Tell us who we should feature in a future post!

 

4 Facebook Lessons From Victoria’s Latest Community Pages

We live in a pretty awesome place. There is the ocean a stone’s throw away, a beach at every corner, the mildest weather in Canada, mountains all around us, the best hiking trails in the world, some of the best food on the West Coast, and many, many other perks. But one thing that only locals know is Victoria’s highly engaged social media crowd.

Our dinner choices are fueled from blogs and UrbanSpoon reviews; our events are plastered all over Facebook and Twitter and are always full; our people use Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and direct messages on Twitter to meet each other for coffee or dinner. Hey, we’ve been named the Canadian Capital of Selfies for a reason!

In any case, once in a while, people in Victoria start community pages that take off right away. Two of these recent pages, Shit Parkers of Victoria and Spotted in Victoria, have seen fast rising memberships and participation; the Spotted in Victoria people have also opened a website to monetize the popularity of their page by selling ads.

Through looking at what these two pages do, we can learn a lot about what makes a page successful on Facebook. Here are our findings.

1. Capitalize on strong emotions

Behind the success of Shit Parkers of Victoria is the fact that a bad parking job is going to affect your own ability to park. Of course, there’s usually more space to park in, but bad parking shows a basic disrespect for the rules of the road. Basic disrespect makes people angry. If you capitalize on this emotion and post more bad parking jobs to be angry about, it’s likely that followers will share, and their friends are going to follow suit.

Shit Parkers of Victoria posts about only one thing: bad parking jobs in Victoria. The formula is simple and yet suprisingly effective. It’s the same as why pages of cute animals work so well: cuteness is also very shareable.

So, lesson 1 from these community pages is to focus on a single emotion or characteristic–anger, cuteness, etc.–around which to plan your content.

2. Use crowdsourced content

Spotted in Victoria uses another way to engage its community: by making the community essential to its success. The basic idea behind Spotted in Victoria is to anonymously share spottings of attractive people, thank employees for their hard work or otherwise send a message out to specific people while remaining anonymous.

This page quickly took off because the Victoria population is actually quite small (around 300 000 people) and it’s likely that you know someone who knows someone who knows whoever is spotted. It’s all based on the good feeling we get when we share to help other people; however, this page is only possible because people participate.

3. Post content people care about

In both Shirt Parkers and Spotted, you get content that people care about. Whether it’s outing terrible parkers and shaming them publicly or expressing attraction or thankfulness through anonymous messages, this is stuff that affects our daily lives.

If you can find an aspect of your product or service that affects your clients on a daily basis, it’s a potential angle to use for your Facebook posts.

4. Stay connected to the community

Another thing that the two pages have in common is that they are rooted in their communities. They use, and speak for, the Victoria community.

Of course, not all communities are geographical. Others are based on interest or profession. But the best Facebook pages all have a sense of community going on.

To build a sense of community, develop your content around what brought your followers to your page. If it’s a love of chocolate ice cream, use that. If it’s living in a specific town or neighbourhood, it’s easy. If it’s a certain profession or hobby, use that too. Focus on what brings your followers together rather than what you think they want to hear about.

Know the limits of Facebook

Of course, the success of your page will depend on how many factors. Some business types, like B2B, don’t do that well on Facebook since Facebook users go on there for personal reasons, not professional ones. Of course, it matters to have a Facebook page if only to claim the space and use it for SEO, but you shouldn’t put effort where it’s not going to provide any ROI.

However, if your business is consumer-focused, Facebook will most likely be an effective tool to promote your products or services, as long as:

  • You capitalize on strong emotions
  • Use crowdsourced content
  • Post content people care about and
  • Stay connected to the community

If you need help figuring out if Facebook is the right tool for you, don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also read this helpful post about the basic strategies behind every social media channel.

Your 7-Step Guide to Excellent Content

Content this, content that, content here, content there: content is everywhere. I've made my argument elsewhere that it's an important part of your digital strategy, no matter your business size or type. And in order to reach your marketing and sales objectives, your content must be excellent. But I realized something lately: that lots of people don't really understand what excellent content means, or how to reach that level of quality. The web is clogged with sub-par, badly written, uninteresting, plagiarized and useless content.

Quality content isn't that difficult, but it requires a bit of thought, lots of practice and some advice from colleagues, clients and friends. Over the years, I've developed a not-so-secret method for excellent content and I'm going to share it with you today.

Step 1: Determine your audience

This advice is actually contrary to a lot of what you'll read on the internet. You'll often hear "start with your passion!" or "write for yourself!" Although it's good advice for writing in general, when producing content for business, the roles are reversed. You're not writing to express yourself through art; you're here to inform, convince or entertain. If you don't know who you're talking to, at least in general terms, your content can easily miss the mark. 

Let's use an example. If you are in the beauty business, your audience is probably women. A blog post about beauty trends for men is not likely to interest them… unless it's about how to get their boyfriends and husbands to adopt a beauty routine. One topic has many different angles, which may suit different audiences. It's a bit how we convince our boss to adopt a new technology vs. how we tell our employees of the upcoming technology change.

In rhetorical terms, this is called audience analysis, and it is the first step for any business document, including business blog posts.

Step 2: Look at yourself

Who are you? What are you values, your goals, your aspirations? What fascinates and interests you? Who do you look up to? Who inspires you? Gathering momentum from myself is the way I start every piece of content. If I have already chosen a topic, I will do an inventory of my knowledge about it. What do I know about this? What do I not know? What are my questions and assumptions about this topic?

This section will often take the form of notes, especially if this is a new topic for me or if it's a longer, research-based document. But because I'm an experienced writer, I do this part automatically for most blog posts. Beginning writers will find notes useful to get started and to structure their content.

It's also really important to determine your own perspective on a topic. It will often have an effect on the tone and overall style of the piece. If you have an unusual or polemical perspective on a well-known topic, for example, you should take it into account. For example, I have a certain attitude towards SEO, and I'm not shy about it. But I'm honest and I can defend this opinion–and hopefully change other people's too.

Step 3: Look at others

Nobody knows everything about everything. Even in subject matters where we are experts, there's always something new to learn (or so I hope!) Looking at what others are saying about your topic is an important part of getting excellent content out there. You don't want to repeat what's already been said: you want a new perspective, a fresh take, a second opinion. (See step 2.) This step also involves doing factual research to support your claims (like statistics) and to fill gaps in your knowledge.

In rhetorical terms, this is called context analysis. You need to know in what context your content will be consumed to position it properly within that context. 

Step 4: Choose a goal

Now that you know who you're writing to, what you're going to talk about and what other people are saying, you need to decide to what purpose you are writing. Are you writing to inform? Keep your tone neutral and factual. Are you expressing an opinion? Use a personal style and argumentation techniques. Are you trying to entertain? Humour and a lighthearted language will work well. Your purpose in writing will dictate the language, format and flow of your piece. 

For example, this is an informative piece. The flow is logical and has a step-by-step format. My post on sexualized social media ads was meant to be persuasive: I wanted to convince you to avoid using these types of ads on Facebook. The piece follows the typical nuanced opinion format and there's more of my personal voice into it.

Your goal is at the heart of the language, formatting and style choices you will make for your piece.

Step 5: Sit down and write

This is simultaneously the easiest and the hardest part of producing excellent content. Especially for beginning writers, the fear of the blank page and a lack of confidence can defeat even the most determined. But if you're a business, it needs to be done. So there's no good reason to fret, delay and procrastinate. The writing will only be finished if you start it.

There are many techniques that writers use to get their writing done. Here are a few:

  • Use deadlines
  • Build a routine
  • Program email/phone reminders
  • Go to a quiet place

When you start writing more frequently, you'll figure out the routine or motivation techniques that work best for you. The secret? Don't give up, experiment and keep notes about your writing efficiency.

Step 6: Revise

Your writing doesn't have to be perfect on the first draft. I repeat: your writing doesn't have to be perfect on the first draft. Revision is just as important to writing as knowing your audience, getting ideas and writing the first draft. Think of revision as a way to "re-envision" your content with fresh eyes.

Revision isn't just proofreading. Revision means being open to rewriting, restructuring and sometimes completely changing a piece. This is why getting plenty of time to write helps: you have time to let your piece rest before going back to it.

Step 7: Get an outside opinion

Sharing your writing with colleagues before publication will help you notice things you might not have during the revision phase. Writers tend to get really close to their own writing, and it's easy to overlook things like assumptions, faulty logic, red herrings and other rhetorical mistakes. Before you hit "Publish", make sure to have at least one or two people read through your content.

Of course, your beta readers will also note grammatical and spelling errors that you might have missed. It's okay; everyone makes these errors. As long as you correct them before publishing, nobody will ever know!

You're ready to write!

Here it is. Producing excellent content isn't magic or rocket science; it's applying a workable, efficient writing process every time you sit down to write. 

This process is just a model; you can change it and add or remove some steps as you wish. Some people prefer to share their content earlier in the process to get feedback as they compose; others would rather show the most polished writing they can manage. 

How about you? How do you approach business writing or content production tasks? Share you own process with our community!

How To Get Free Followers To Your Small Business Twitter Account

 

How to get followers that notice you on Twitter

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.

Finding people who follow back

Let's take a moment to learn how to determine whether or not an account we follow will follow us back. By following accounts that follow us back, we can build our follower list while also building an audience for our content that is more likely to 'hear' what we're tweeting. If you simply want a massive number of instant followers regardless of where they are or whether they'll ever read a word you tweet, this method won't work for you. If you want a respectable follower count made of people relevant to you that you don't have to pay for, this is a method that works.

It works like in real life

First of all, when you're new to Twitter or have a small follower account, the 'popular' accounts are unlikely to follow you back. In most 'scenes,' there are various waves of 'popular' people based on how long they've been involved in that scene. A good example is the small town where I live, where a steady trickle of newcomers arrive annually to make this place their home. There are established social circles here, composed mostly of people who have lived in this community for a long time. The established people are not generally unfriendly to newcomers if they take notice of them, but they often aren't so quick to bring newcomers into their inner circles.

Meanwhile, the steady trickle of new arrivals happily recognize in each other their 'newbie' status and begin to establish their own social circles. After a few years, those circles are no longer made of newcomers as their members are no longer so new to the community; in fact, there is increasing overlap between their circles and the older established circles. And of course, new waves of newcomers have arrived in the meantime, creating their own social circles, and so the chain goes.

The longer people live here, the more overlap there is between the upper established circles, but the freshest newcomers first establish connections mostly with each other.

It can work similarly with newcomer accounts on Twitter.

Twitter circles

There are older established Twitter accounts that have tons of followers and who often follow a far smaller number of accounts. Those big, popular accounts often won't follow a new account back, unless their follow/follower ratio is almost equal, in which case they probably follow back anyone who follows them. But as far as the ones with hundreds or thousands more followers than accounts they follow, it is highly unlikely they will bother to follow your new Twitter account back, no matter how relevant or interesting your content may be.

What I've found works for getting brand-spanking-new small business Twitter accounts good quality followers is to follow other brand-spanking-new accounts rather than the big established ones. They are more likely to follow back, they're more likely to mention you in a thank-you-for-following message, they're more likely to engage with you if you attempt to interact with you, and it's much easier to be noticed by them with your marketing and content.

How to do it: my method

If you want to get more followers for your newer account, here's one method that can work well. It's free, involves no cheating, and the followers it gets you can be of very high quality:

  1. Find a big popular account that is as relevant as possible to your business and the audience you wish to reach. The more genuinely relevant the account is, the better this method will work.
  2. If their following/follower ratio is almost equal (following roughly the same number of accounts as the number of followers they have) then by all means, follow them. They are likely to follow you back. More often than not, however, the larger established accounts have a significant discrepancy with way more followers than accounts they are following. These accounts are unlikely to follow you back.
  3. Look at the big account's follower list. This is where the follower building begins. A high number of the big account's newest followers are themselves newer to Twitter, which makes it more likely that they—like you—are hoping to get more followers themselves. They're also more likely to follow you back. Go through the first couple of pages of that bigger account's followers and find newer accounts that have smaller following/follower numbers. Follow these newer accounts if they're relevant to your business interests or regional market.
  4. Look at the follower lists of these newer accounts to find other accounts that are currently and actively following and are willing to follow newer accounts. People following other new accounts with low follower counts are more likely to follow your new account back.
  5. Spend a little bit of time doing this any time you're using Twitter and you'll be able to gain followers who are looking to get involved, to connect, and who are learning like you are. Establish your network with each other. Before long you won't be the newer accounts, but the older established ones.

You could waste your time following all the big successful accounts, but in reality, few of them will bother to follow you back, let alone notice your tweets in their streams. It makes far more sense to tweet your messages to people who may actually notice them, and I've found that new accounts are more receptive to other new accounts.

What this looks like on Twitter

Here are some examples of what to look for when determining if an account is more likely or less likely to follow your Twitter account or notice your tweets in their stream:

1)

This account is unlikely to follow you back if you are just beginning. It's followed by way more people than it's following. But even if they did follow you, if you look at how busy their stream must be following 67.5K accounts, how could they possibly notice most of your tweets?

2)

This account is a good bet for getting a followback, as long as its tweets are current. At only 40 tweets, they're pretty new, and they will also appreciate any follow they can get. The list of accounts is small enough that there is a high probability they'll notice your tweets and interact with you if you try to network with them.

3)

This is a similar scenario to the previous account. More following than followers and a few tweets means they're more likely to follow you and notice you. As long as the tweets are current, this is a good account to follow.

4)

Like the first example in this list, this account is unlikely to follow you back if you are just beginning. They're followed by quite a few more people than they are following. Even if they follow you back, their stream is so busy that they're unlikely to notice anything you say.

5)

The likelihood of getting a followback from this account depends on a few factors. Is your business type in any way relevant to them? If so, you could get a followback from this account. It would be worth favouriting or retweeting a few of their tweets first to grab their attention. Their stream is pretty busy too with 2,695 accounts, but if you could get a retweet by them it could go a long way. It's worth trying for a relevant account in this range.

6)

Unless your business or content is of direct interest to this Twitter account, the odds are slimmer of getting a followback. Their ratio of follows to followers indicates that they don't follow back so readily. This doesn't mean you can't try if you think your content is of interest to them; just be aware that you're less likely to get followed back in this case.

7)

This account is very stingy with following back; it is unlikely a new Twitter account would get a follow from them.

Final words

If you spend 15 minutes a day or so building your follower list this way, it won't generate you 65K followers in short time, but it is realistic to get a few hundred high quality followers in surprisingly little time. Before you know it, your account won't be one of the new ones anymore. Your follower count will grow much faster as other newcomers come within your business sphere and as the older established accounts begin to notice you. The business benefits of Twitter aren't so much about your follower numbers anyways – but that's another post!

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.

Businesses already have taken Pinterest by storm; yes, even the service-based businesses. Infographics share just as well as photos of shoes and macarons. As a business, you should give a good thought about whether Pinterest is a good social network to invest in. But would it also be a good place to invest in advertising? 

Pinterest ads currently limited

For now, you can only think about getting paid ads on Pinterest, because the feature is only available to select advertisers. These advertisers must make 7-figure commitments with Pinterest in order to get in. So far, these select few have included Kraft, Gap, Expedia, Nestle and lululemon. 

The Pinterest advertising process is currently very labour-intesive, with teams of consultants manually approving every promoted pin and making sure that they have value for users, are transparent and fit within the creative style of Pinterest.

As you can see, the promoted pins are very discreet, with just a line mentioning their paid nature. The photo fits with the overall style of the collection, in this case "Women's Fashion". 

Pinterest also made the decision to limit where the promoted pins appear. They will not show in someone's home feed or in people's boards. Instead, they remain limited to search results and general category feeds.

Considering Pinterest for advertising

Few of us have the advertising budget of these big companies, but there's talk that Pinterest will eventually roll out its promoted pins feature to companies of all size. We're not quite sure yet whether the cost will be per thousand impressions or per click, but we know that the current advertisers pay about $30 to $40 per thousand impressions.

If Pinterest advertising is something you might consider in the future, here are a few questions to ask yourself before you develop a plan.

  • Is the audience right for me? 85% of Pinterest users are women. The target age is 25-54. Is this your target market? If not, you will not have the kind of success you expect.
  • Is the Pinterest style a good match to mine? Pinterest users prefer high-quality photos with an artistic flair. They like things that look great, whether it's food, fashion or home décor. If your products are great for photos, they will be a good match.
  • Do I have the budget? Although we don't know exactly how much they will cost, you can expect Pinterest ads to be more expensive overall than Facebook advertising.
  • Can I get the same or better ROI through simply keeping my account active? Unlike what Facebook did, there hasn't been any talk of reducing the visibility of business boards for those subscribed to them. If you already keep a healthy Pinterest account and get website visits through your pins, you might not need to use advertising, at least for now.

Have questions about Pinterest? Contact us for a chat with our expert social media manager. You can also follow Stikky Media's Pinterest boards for great local photos, useful infographics and more.

Social Media Camp Report–Guy Steeves on Email Marketing

Any digital marketer worthy of his or her name will tell you that email is still the best and most reliable way to connect with your customers. What's better than getting directly into their computers and phones? 

Guy Steeves of Constant Contact presented a useful talk about e-newsletter marketing, and why it's still the "sexiest new social media app" (direct quote) around. Here are the highlights of his presentation.

Clicks matter most

When people discuss newsletter analytics, they tend to focus on the open rate. But according to Steeves, it's the click rate that matters. High click rates show that your readers are interested in what you have to say; they are telling you to "show me more".

The problem is, how do you get those clicks? How do you engage people with a newsletter so that they will be not only tempted, but compelled to click through?

Be of service

If you're an expert, be of service to people. Help them with questions, problems and issues. People love to get free help, so providing that help through email newsletters is the best way to increase trust and engagement. Bring your expert knowledge to those who need it the most, and they will love you for it.

Of course, the point of the newsletter is to get people on your website. This is why you only provide snackable bits of content in the email, and share the rest on your website. 

Call to action details

Calls to action are the link between your newsletter and your website. Without clear, obvious and urgent calls to action, your readers are not likely to click through your website. Calls to action need to be big and obvious, and normally placed above the fold (i.e. before people need to scroll). Make sure that your calls to action are "thumbable"; that you can click them with a thumb on a smartphone. All your pictures should also be linked to content because they are also easy to click on a smartphone screen.

The best calls to action elicit a physical, measurable response.

Measure more to engage better

According to Steeves, if you're not measuring, you're not marketing. Keeping track of your opens, clicks and other engagement measures will help you figure out what you're doing right and what you're doing wrong. 

You should also use your email newsletter to survey your customers at least a few times every year. The surveys don't need to be long–3 to 5 questions–and they can reveal lots of interesting information about your readers that you wouldn't learn otherwise.

The 2-2-2 Principle

This is Steeves' formula for email marketing: you have 2 seconds to attract attention, the first 2 words are crucial, and your readers should want to open your email today (2day)

Your subject line is the most important element of your email. It's how readers know that they should open your email right away. Without a sense of urgency (or a reputation for outstanding content), readers have no compelling reason to stop whatever they're doing and read your email.

Be aware of CASL

If you're already using a newsletter or planning on starting one soon, you need to be aware of CASL, the Canadian Anti-Spam Law

In summary, the law requires you to receive consent for email newsetter opt-ins. The consent should be expressed (as in clicking a box in a signup form). Implied consent is okay too, but it's better to receive expressed consent. After it comes into effect, the law requires that you get expressed consent from all subscribers within the next 3 years.

I'll get around to writing a summary of the law as it affects businesses who send email newsletters in the next few weeks, but keep this in mind as you reflect on your newsletter practices.

The takeaway

My clearest takeaway from this session was that email is a way to get heard, while social media is a way to get shared. A newsletter is more intimate, and ultimately more effective, than just posting on Facebook or Twitter.

Speaking of newsletter, you can subscribe to ours right here, and receive exclusive content that you won't see on our blog every 2 weeks. 

Social Media Camp Report–Tod Maffin On Viral Marketing Campaigns

 Tod Maffin

This year's Social Media Camp wrapped up on Saturday, May 3rd, but I'm still pretty excited about everything that I heard and learned during those busy 2 days.

In our first post of the Social Media Camp Report, I'll cover the opening keynote by Tod Maffin. It was funny and entertaining, pretty much the best way to start a conference. Mr. Maffin talked to us about the 6 elements of a viral marketing campaign with plenty of videos and examples to show us. Here's the most important information I gathered from the talk.

Step 1: Match audience, content and call to action

Marketing is a delicate balance between finding your audience, delivering what they want and getting them to act. So matching the three is very important if you want a campaign to go viral. If one of the elements is off (like using hip hop to market to middle-aged adults, or asking teenagers to buy a product they can't afford), then your campaign isn't likely to be shared.

Step 2: Use a single, simple concept

Viral campaigns are usually pretty simple. There's no complicated plot line, no deep character development. It's dancing, or singing, or kicking a ball, or a double rainbow. Don't overthink your concept and keep it simple.

Step 3: Use the right tone

According to Tod (and other experts), there are only 3 tones that work in viral campaigns: silly, serious and stunning. Something else might work on a smaller scale, but if you're after viral, stick to these three.

Step 4: Reward sharing

Having a video that's funny isn't enough anymore–companies should offer incentives for sharing. Everyone is a little bit greedy, and it's nice to be rewarded for our actions. Contests are great because they encourage regular and wide sharing, but make sure that the winner is chosen by your company, not by the public. Otherwise, you might end up with a Mr. Splashy Pants situation. 

Step 5: Embrace the unofficials

If you campaign goes viral, people are likely to latch unto it and make it their own. They're going to remix it, reuse it and adapt it. The smart thing to do is embrace the movement; sending lawyers will only make people angry. You can't control what people do, but you can certainly take advantage of the opportunities that the web's creative freedom provides.

Step 6: Deliver successive rounds

Be ready to have a second and third campaign to follow up on the first. Don't let your viral campaign die from neglect; up the ante with every successive round. If you're successful, your brand or product awareness will soar to amazing new heights.

The takeaway

This talk showed me that viral campaigns can be planned to a certain extent. These steps can't guarantee a viral campaign, but they can certainly increase your odds.

If you have an idea for a viral campaign and would like help implementing it, contact us with your thoughts.

You can also subscribe to our newsletter for exclusive content right into your inbox every 2 weeks. 

Let Your Blog Bloom By Answering These 5 Questions

Having a blog is now pretty much standard fare for business content marketing. Most companies and organizations have blogs. But only some of them update it. And then only a portion of those actually does it well.

As a professional blogger, I've seen it all: the ultra-serious finance blog, the light-hearted lifestyle blog, humour blogs, review blogs, health blogs, news blogs… pretty much anything you can imagine. If you can imagine it, there's a blog out there about it. But because there are so many of them, a majority of the blogs that exist don't have much of a readership. There's only so much human attention to spare between millions of different blogs!

So when we suggest to our clients to add a blogging component to their digital marketing packages, it's not just for padding: blogs have a use and lots of value. But only if it's done well. And in order to do it well, a blog owner or manager has to answer a few questions. Whenever I'm asked to contribute to a new blog or start a new one myself, here are some of the things that I work through to do the job as successfully as possible.

1. Who am I talking to?

Audience is a very fickle thing. It can be wide swaths of people or a tiny slice of population. The larger the audience, the harder it is to please everyone; more specialized audiences, on the other hand, are harder to grow.

Choosing the right audience, then, is a matter of balance between choosing a wide enough target to have a sizeable audience and something precise enough that will let you pinpoint specific characteristics. Target audiences can be as large as "moms" or "university students" and as precise as "sci-fi tabletop RPG players who live in Winnipeg."

When you write a blog post, who are you talking to? Are you targeting a specific gender, age range or education level? Are you writing for a specific geographic area or to anyone who can read English? Putting a face to your audience will help you talk to it more efficiently.

2. What problem am I trying to solve?

People visit the internet mostly to solve problems. Maybe they're looking for a recipe for tonight's dinner. Maybe they don't know how to file their taxes online. Maybe they don't know what's the most romantic spot for a date in their town. Most successful business blogging involves problem-solving… or at least information that can lead to problem-solving. 

Thinking through the perspective of problems makes things a lot easier when I'm looking for ideas. Frequent questions and concerns from clients is also an excellent source of blog post topics. Solving specific problems also has the advantage of limiting the scope of the post to something manageable and quickly digestible. It means posts are never too long and are always informative.

3. What makes me (or my brand) special?

Maybe you're the life of the party or love telling jokes. Maybe you treat customers as if they were family. Perhaps you're very frank and like to tell it how it is. What would your friends say is the best thing about hanging out with you? The answer to this question should guide how you write your posts.

Because there are probably thousands of other blogs covering your topic, it's your voice–the combination of words, tone and style that make your own writing unique–that will make the difference. It's easier to identify with, and get attached to, a real human being with a personality than some neutral, detached robot voice.

Think about how you talk about your business with your friends and family. What words do you use? How do you express your passion and love for what you do? What makes you… you? 

4. What will be of use to my readers right now?

This is somewhat related to question 2, but it involves taking timing into consideration. Season changes, holidays, major news and events (when they are related to your business) are all occasions to discuss topics under a theme.

People in the moving business, for example, might want to increase their blogging output in major moving seasons–May and September in a university town. A landscaping company can discuss how to protect delicate plants against the winter weather in the late fall. The topics are endless.

Thinking seasonally helps you not only with finding topics but also with solving timely problems for your readers. 

5. What kind of expertise do I want to bring to the world?

When it comes to writing, I'm the expert at Stikky Media. I'm asked to look over my colleagues' work before they send it off to clients. I answer grammar and usage questions all the time. I continually try to improve the writing of all the DBI websites. I'm the writing expert.

Some people learn on the job and others are experts before they work, but eventually we all become experts in something (if only changing your own oil on your car or fixing a broken bike chain). This expertise is precious, because others can rely on it to, again, solve their problems. Your blog is a great way to display your expertise to the world (without being a smartass about it though!). If you do it right, you'll soon be known as "the barbecue guy" or "the computer girl". 

Share your expertise widely–and freely–on the web. It's those who give up things for free (not everything!) and generously help others who tend to be the most successful in their business. It gives people a reason to listen to your advice!

Just have a conversation

Despite the doom and gloom around the overcrowded blog space, I'd say there's always place for a new, fresh voice. It's not like we've stopped buying books because there are already plenty of successful authors! So take a sheet of paper, write these questions down and then answer them. Give your blog a refreshing boost!

The Social Media Channels – Post What, To Who, To Where, and Why?

facebook-logo_0.jpg

Everyone tells you your small or medium sized business MUST be on the social media channels. There are a growing numbers of channels, each of them becoming increasingly important in its own way.

So you’ve signed up for the four best-known social media channels:

  • Facebook.
  • Twitter.
  • Google+.
  • LinkedIn.

You’ve written (or had someone else write) a blog post, and now it should be posted on all four channels. There! Done. Right?

Not so fast…

For small and medium businesses that don’t have an established digital marketing team or agency working for them, social media channel differentiation is a common source of confusion. Business owners are busy people, and most of them (unless they’re digital marketers working with digital media specifically) don’t spend much time hopping social media channels. The most common mistake I see businesses make when they come to Stikky Media for help with their social media efforts is that they only post self-promoting content and, more often than not, they post the very same content across all of the channels they’ve set up for their business. This is not the most effective way to do social media. Each channel works differently and offers different benefits. They should be thoughtfully used in ways that leverage effectiveness and benefits based on those differences.

The important consideration when deciding how to post social media content is that each channel is different. Putting care into what you post on which channel and differentiating how you interact with people on each one are integral to effective social media marketing.

Here is a basic breakdown and comparison of four currently popular social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. There are many others, but these were selected for their broad usefulness to a large variety of business types.

What to Post on Facebook

Facebook Social Media TipsFacebook generally is where you talk about yourself the most because your audience is more genuinely interested in you than your contacts on the other networks. It’s more of a commitment to ‘Like’ something on Facebook—especially a business—than it is on the other networks. For this reason, think of Facebook as your business’ most loyal audience, including your employees, especially when you first open up your page.

If your business is just getting its Facebook presence started, ask all of your staff members to ‘like’ your company page and invite articulate, funny and trustworthy staff to contribute. Invite your friends, your associates, the coffee shop you and your staff frequent and the people that regularly interact with you, your business, and staff on a regular basis. From there, use compelling content and incentives to get customers, partners and more distant associates to want to connect with your page.

Facebook is where you would post photos of events and people and where you would host and promote contests. The tone of Facebook is less about professionalism (in contrast to LinkedIn) and more about fun, novelty, inspiration, and connection. Facebook can be like hosting a party, so make it entertaining! Involve fun people you know, let your company’s personality shine through, and do this through creating and sharing great content. In fact if your company hosts a party, Facebook is definitely the place to post some fun pictures of it. If you can mention or tag other business pages or Facebook users in those pictures, even better.

Quality content for Facebook can include graphical memes (images with words that people hopefully like and share), videos either via YouTube (if you have your own YouTube channel: bonus!), photographs, polls, news of relevance and interest, as well as brief thoughts that are entertaining, thought-provoking or inspiring. On Facebook, it’s common for contests to encourage interaction and to generate new ‘likes’. Just keep in mind that generally speaking, Facebook is where you assume you are posting primarily to people who already know you and/or your business and already like you.

What to Post on Twitter

People on Twitter Twitter social media tipslike to tweet about Twitter. Twitter is probably the most difficult social network to describe out of the four we’re covering here, but it can be a powerful one for traffic, b2b opportunities, and lead generation, as well as encouraging the search engines to cast a kindly eye on your site(s).

People on Twitter are often quick to follow you back if you get the knack for recognizing who tends to follow back and who doesn’t. (I will cover this topic in my next article.) Twitter is where you talk to people while assuming they don’t yet know you or your business. It is essentially the opposite of Facebook in this way. Established businesses often build a significant Twitter following based on current customers; in fact, many larger businesses use Twitter to provide customer service. But for your average company just getting started with social media, it’s best to assume that your follower base will network with you for reasons other than knowing and loving you and your products. The upside to the less personal nature of Twitter is that people ‘follow’ each other more readily on Twitter than on Facebook. A good place to start is by networking with your local business community and to broaden out your connections from there.

So what should you post to Twitter? Certainly not the same content as described for Facebook. You have only 140 characters to work with, including the Twitter handle of other users, any URLs you share (which should be shortened), text, spaces, and punctuation. It’s tricky getting used to working with this format! Things to post on Twitter include: quotes, commentary on current events, humour, inspiring words, links to content on your site with compelling and succinct descriptions, replies to other Twitter accounts who have interesting things to say or who have directly tweeted to you, and the important part of Twitter networking – the occasional ‘Retweet”, which is where you share another account’s tweet on your timeline.

An important part of establishing yourself as a new unknown on twitter, particularly for small businesses, is to make a habit of following and retweeting other accounts with the hope that some of them will reciprocate. If your company has a party, Twitter is not the place to post pictures from it. Twitter is the place where you could make general comments—witty, inspiring, wry, your choice—about the experience of the staff party, or about staff parties in general. You should also ‘shoutout’ to other Tweeters who attended by mentioning them with their Twitter @user handles.

What to Post on Google+

Google+ tipsGoogle+ is an important part of social networking for many businesses (because…Google); however, its user base is not quite as broad as either Facebook or Twitter. It’s particularly popular with people who work in technology or information sectors. However the business community is rapidly growing and it’s worth participating in it if you have the time and resources to post across numerous networks. The content is laid out quite a bit like Facebook and LinkedIn, but the community is more like Twitter – less personal, more of a professional network.

Google+ is a good place to network with other business owners who are tech savvy. People are quicker to ‘follow’ back on Google+ than they are on LinkedIn or Facebook. Plus, there are numerous communities where you can connect with other businesses and people to generate interaction, which Google regards as a boost to your online reputation. Post a range of things on Google+ with the understanding that it’s less personal than Facebook, not quite as professional as LinkedIn, and that you’re speaking to a tech-savvy audience. Photos (less personal), memes, videos, infographics, commentary, and longer posts that can essentially be themselves blog posts are all popular and effective forms of content on G+. There is an art to writing longer-form posts for Google+ and here is an excellent guide on how to write them.  (http://www.copyblogger.com/art-of-google-plus/).

What to Post on LinkedIn

LinkedIn LogoLinkedIn is known for its unique demographics: it is a more affluent network of well-educated professionals. The content is laid out similarly to Facebook and Google+, minus the latter’s long form post capacity.  LinkedIn is not the place to post contests or silly/fun memes, nor is it the place to post staff party pictures or other content that is casually personal. It is where you represent yourself and your business carefully.

Appropriately personal content on LinkedIn could be announcing the addition or promotion of a prized member of your staff, business partnerships, or to congratulate others in your network. Out of the four channels we have mentioned here, LinkedIn company pages are less able to interact outwardly on the LinkedIn network. A business page is not able to ‘like’ other pages; only individual accounts can do that. For this reason, it’s initially difficult for smaller businesses to get connections to their page. You can certainly start by asking staff, associates and friends to connect with your business page. But once the business page is set up, do not post as if your audience knows you; post as if you are trying to impress someone above you.

LinkedIn and Google+ content is easier to cross-post, especially if you work in the technical domain. However, always make sure to tweak the tone to the channel—it’s okay to be less formal on Google+.  Popular topics on LinkedIn include economics, work and career information, leadership advice and industry trends and news. Think of the tone of LinkedIn content as being similar to what you might put in a company newsletter.


Rules – Know them, Follow them, Bend Them, Break Them.

After reading this, you might think that these are hard rules that must be followed if you want to be successful at social media for your business. It’s important to realize that these rules are all yours to break, as long as you do so thoughtfully and intentionally. Once you consider and understand the differences between these social media channels, then these suggested rules are yours to follow, bend, or break however you think is best. If you have a creative mind working with your social media, perhaps that mind will play with making your company LinkedIn profile stand out from the rest by posting humourous takes on business topics. Perhaps you have a photographer on staff that somehow takes the funniest staff party pictures ever with broad audience appeal and tries taking them to Twitter, subsequently generating untold retweets and new followers.

The truth is, there are no hard rules for social media content. The channels themselves are continuously changing, and every business talks to a different audience. The starting place is to recognize that the social media channels are different and that your business is most likely to reap rewards from your efforts if the content posted to each of them is created and submitted with these differences in mind.

5 Bad Social Media Habits You Should Give Up for Lent–And Forever

Lent is a 40-day period during which practicing Catholics give up something–usally a bad habit like smoking or drinking–to commemorate Jesus' 40 days of fasting in the desert.

But it's not just good for individuals. As business owners doing internet marketing, we can also develop bad social media habits. Want to give up something for Lent? Start by these less than desirable things we do on Facebook and Twitter.                                                                                                                                                                                           

1. Stop shilling on Facebook​

Facebook may seem like a great place to promote or sell your services, but doing so insistently (or "shilling") will only drive followers away.    Remember the social media mantra "People connect with people" and start behaving like a person instead of a business. Share  employees' good news. Post pictures of your office. Ask interesting questions. You can even find ways to present a new product or service  without making it look like an advertisement.

 

2. Stop Retweeting

Although retweeting can help spread a piece of content, a timeline that is filled with only retweets is not very attractive to new followers. Again, "people connect with people", and followers want to connect with a real person who has thoughts and emotions. Use Twitter to spread your brand's personality around, not other people's. And if you absolutely must retweet that piece, add a personal comment to it.

3. Move one-on-one conversations away from Facebook comments

This happens more often than you think, especially in customer relations. People are not interested in reading about how you're going to solve a client's problem. Whenever a Facebook comment risks pulling you into a long conversation, provide a contact email to move it to a more private space. Fans will thank you for it.

4. Stop using so many hashtags

Sure, hastags are useful to put a tweet in context, especially during major events. However, hashtagging every word from your tweet not only makes it unreadable, but it also makes you look like you can't formulate a coherent thought. Also, it's totally unethical to use popular hashtags that are unrelated to your business for promotion purposes. People pick up on it… and then pick on you.

5. Stop pre-programming your social media updates

Sure, it might seem useful to program Facebook and Twitter updates ahead of time, but you end up looking really insensitive if something major happens. On the other hand, taking advantage of timely events (as long as they're not tragic) to promote your products or services can work really well! Follow Oreo's example and tweet appropriately!

So, which of these bad habits are you willing to give up for Lent? Share your thoughts with us!

New Social Network: Vine

No, we’re not talking about a new wine-related social network (although that would be awesome), but rather a new video-based app now owned by Twitter called Vine. It’s all the rage these days, with celebrities like Tyra Banks and Emmy Rossum posting Vines on their Twitter feeds.

Here’s a quick Vine I made especially for this occasion:

 

 

1. What does it do?

Vine is super simple: you take a 6-second video that the app posts as a video loop on Twitter and on Vine feeds. The video is looped automatically.

2. How does it work?

You start by downloading the app on your iPhone. There’s a simple tutorial in the app to show you how to make a video–it works by the touch of your finger.

After making your video, you can share it with your social networks.

3. Where can I share the videos?

The Twitter integration makes it easy to share the videos directly with your followers on Twitter. The app also connects to Facebook so you care share it with your fans as well. If you embed your Twitter feed on your website, you’ll also be able to share your videos that way.

4. How can I use it?

Vine can be useful for your internet marketing in a variety of ways. It gives you an opportunity to be creative and show your business from a fun, creative angle. You can take a funny video of the staff or show how your product works.

6 seconds doesn’t seem like much, but if you watch other people’s videos, you’ll see that you can fit in a lot of content in these few seconds. The advantage: you can make an impact before your audience’s attention span fades. And the best videos? People will watch them over and over again.

Think of Vine as a video version of Twitter: conciseness and originality are key. As with any new social network, it’ll take a while to unlock its full potential, but Vine’s popularity is growing so quickly that it can’t be ignored for very long.

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?

4 Ways to Build Trust Through Social Media

We all know the best form of credibility is word of mouth. But with so many self-professed social media gurus these days, it can be hard to separate yourself from the not-so-credible pack.

Even if you go out and create a branded, multi-channel social media presence with consistent logos, colours and messaging, you’re not guaranteed to earn anyone’s trust. It’s a start—but it’s not enough.

So how do you earn trust and start building real relationships online? It won’t happen overnight, but here are a few easy ways to get started:

Be consistent

Chances are, your online marketing strategy involves multiple social media platforms and multiple employees. Having a consistent look and feel (name, logo, colours) across all of your accounts is the first step to tying it all together, but you’ll need to go even further to really gain your customers’ trust.

To avoid coming off as disjointed and fragmented (and filling customers with doubt as to exactly what your brand stands for), you’ll need to define a few things. Is your brand’s personality/voice fun? Funny? How funny? What’s inappropriate and what’s not? What’s your area of expertise? What topics do you not want to touch on?

And because people will be talking about your brand whether you’re on that particular channel or not, it’s also important to claim as many profiles as possible. That way, you can not only moderate what people are saying about you, but also avoid confusion as to which social media account is your official profile, and which ones are controlled by the masses. 
 

Invite conversation

The whole point of social media is to engage, converse, listen, share, discuss, chat. It’s a two-way conversation, not a billboard.

Do your posts invite others to engage with your brand, or are you blanketing them with advertisements? To boost the conversation, get personal. Rather than posting product information, post the story behind the product. Post interesting/humorous/thought-provoking content, ask your fans for their opinions on topics related to your business, give fans a behind-the-scenes look at your business, and always, always, always respond to individual comments (even if they’re negative).

Photos, videos and infographics get more views than a straight-text post, so don’t be afraid to mix it up. Your fans and followers will thank you for it.


Build the right relationships

Are you hanging out with the wrong crowd? I’m not talking thugs and vandals—I’m talking people who don’t inspire you, who don’t teach you, who don’t add value to your business in any way, shape or form. It’s easy to become obsessed with increasing your online following—after all, a business with 2000 followers looks way more credible than one with only 50 followers—but that number is meaningless unless it contains both your core audience and other industry insiders.

Take the time to research the people you befriend online so you can cultivate real, meaningful relationships. When you hang out with people who actually care about your industry, your business and what you have to say, word will spread and your business will thrive.
 

Create your own content

Sharing other people’s content is lovely and generous, but it’s even more important to create your own content. Without sharing your own thoughts, words and expertise, customers won’t get to know you, the brand. They may know what you do, but they won’t see your company as a leader in its field—one they can trust, follow and return to again and again for the best information.

You don’t have to post original content every day, but don’t forget to throw your own ideas into the mix. If you don’t, you’ll be missing out on incredible opportunities to bring people even closer to your brand.

The New LinkedIn Profile: Visual, Graphic and Easier to Share

I don't know about you, but I am a visual person—especially when it comes to connecting with people. So, the fact that LinkedIn has edited the layout of the personal profile to create a more visual design is definitely a plus in my books. The announcement, made by LinkedIn in mid-October, will also see more graphic visuals that will make them easier to understand and see where possible connections exist. For instance, you will be able to see a visual presentation showing which companies your connections work for (perhaps one of them is your dream company!).

Status updates will also have more prominent real estate on the page, which will encourage us to share more (which is, after all, the power of LinkedIn). The experience section will also display in a more interactive way to make it easier for connections to read and for us to edit. P.S. The mobile app for iPhone and Android has been updated (13 Nov) to include the ability to add a new headline, recent skills or a new position.

Here's an example of the new profile layout from LinkedIn's blog:

LinkedIn Profile

So, just as we are navigating our way around the new company pages that were rolled out in September 2012, we now get to switch (or divide) our focus onto our personal page as well. The good news, as I understand it, is that the personal page changes will be introduced more gradually over the next few months. If you are eager, you can request an invitation to have your page updated to the new layout by visiting the LinkedIn sample profile page.

Let us know what you think about the new profile layout and how you will use it to tell your professional story, share more with your connections and discover new people and opportunities.

3 Must-Have Social Search Tools (That Aren’t Google)

Want to know what the world is talking about right now? Looking for a juicy search term? Need to kill a few hours? Then check out these powerful social search engines:

Bottlenose

Bottlenose Social Search Engine

A real-time social intelligence engine that analyzes activity across all the major social networks. Bottlenose’s fancy algorithm, called “StreamSense,” uses in-house natural-language processing, personalization and semantic techniques to figure out trending topics and trending content.

Their never ending sea of updates is called a “stream,” and gives users a comprehensive overview of top links (including newspaper articles), recent posts, trending topics, trending images and recent comments for any given search term. You can even check out trending people, which is great for connecting similarly-minded folks.

Bottlenose launched its public beta form in May 2012. Since then, it has fielded 3 acquisition offers (including one suspected offer from Twitter) and scored nearly $1 million in financing from ff Venture Capital and Prosper Capital.

Topsy

Topsy Social Search Engine

A conversation search engine that lets you explore top links, tweets, photos, videos and “experts.” You can instantly see the number of mentions—by the minute, hour or day—for any term, phrase, username link or hashtag. Topsy also features a special influence algorithm that displays the most pertinent and popular social results, but the real gem is the social analytics tool that lets you visually compare up to 3 queries.

As a testament to their powerful social analytics, Topsy expects to index and measure approximately 250 billion items by the end of 2012, with over 16 trillion pre-computed metrics.

 

Social Mention

Social Mention Social Search Engine

A simple, easy-to-use tool that measures over 100 social media properties directly, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, Google etc. View top keywords, top users, top hashtags, sources, reach and even sentiment (positive, neutral, negative).

Social Mention is pretty basic, but it does dive into some deeper measurements:

Strength: The likelihood that your brand is being discussed in social media
Sentiment: The ratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative
Passion: A measure of the likelihood that individuals talking about your brand will do so repeatedly
Reach: A measure of the range of influence

Even More Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Automate Social Media Posts

Lack of engagement. Robotic presence. Potentially awkward timing. We all know your business can suffer due to excessive auto-posting, but what about your personal life? Ever thought about the consequences of spamming your friends with intimate details that may harm your reputation—both online and off?

(more…)

Infographic: Social Travel vs. Traditional Travel

Back in the olden days (circa 2008), travel used to require a Lonely Planet, a detailed itinerary and a packed tour bus. You might have jumped online once a week to let your family know you’re still alive, but other than that, you had to rely on your trusty guidebook to get you from point A to point B. It was great at the time, but thankfully the travel world has moved on to something bigger and better. Now, all you need to see the world is a sense of adventure and an internet connection.

(more…)

4 Sneaky Facebook Settings You Need to Fix Right Now

As you’ve probably heard by now, Facebook quietly pulled an email switcheroo. They disabled your primary email address and replaced it with an @facebook.com address, which you probably never even knew you had.

The world is outraged at this unforeseen (and unannounced event), but it’s really the least of your worries. Facebook is full of unwanted default settings that threaten your privacy and your peace of mind.

(more…)

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:

 

6 Ways to Find Great Social Media Content

There’s no doubt that social media is a valuable marketing tool. It’s free. It’s fun. It has incredible reach. But it also has to be maintained. It’s not enough to sign up for a few social media accounts and call it a day—you have to regularly update them with interesting news, photos and tidbits. It can be tough to keep up the conversation, but there are plenty of easy ways to keep the social media content flowing.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

8 Silly Grammar Mistakes That Are Killing Your Blog

The worst piece of writing advice I ever received? Write like you talk.

If you’ve ever eavesdropped on a conversation, you know that our verbal culture is an editor’s worst nightmare. Saturated with rotten grammar, half-baked ideas and a disturbing amount of likes, ums and y’knows, human speech isn’t exactly made for readability.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Survey Reveals Scary Truth About Facebook Friends

It’s safe to share with friends of friends, right? I mean, you kinda know them. They’re the people you were introduced to at your girlfriend’s birthday party, or the ones you met in passing at the mall. It’s only 2 degrees of separation, so why not let them see all your photos?

(more…)

Superbowl XLVI Gets First-Ever Social Media Command Center

Superbowl XLVI has a Social Media Command Center. Seriously. While you’re tossing back chicken wings and yelling at the television screen, a team of 50 will be monitoring the digital field from the comfort of their 2,300 square foot space in downtown Indianapolis.

(more…)

Mapping the World with Twitter and Flickr

Remember those light pollution—err… I mean those Earth at Night—maps that were so popular in the late 1990s? Well, it’s time to move on. Eric Fischer, Google programmer and digital map aficionado, has created something that will delight even the techiest of tech-lovers. Bye bye city lights, hello geotagged tweets and Flickr photos.

(more…)

Invitation To This Is My Jam Beta: What Is YOUR Jam?

There’s a glut of online music streaming services battling for your social timeline. Spotify, Grooveshark, Last.fm and Rdio all exist to annoy your Facebook and Twitter friends with the latest tune you listened to and what you think everyone else needs to hear. It’s like cranking tunes in your bedroom as a teenager, except the echo-chamber is the entire online world. What’s better than indiscriminately forcing your musical taste on your drinking buddies, high school aged cousins and accountant uncle?

(more…)

Facebook Finally Launches Timeline

After months of wondering if it would ever show its face in public, Facebook timeline has finally arrived! It’s not official—you have to go here to get it—but if you upgrade now you’ll have 7 days to test it out before it goes live on your profile.

(more…)

Kicked off Facebook: Why These 4 People Got the Boot

If British police get their way, rioting hooligans will soon be banned from using social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry Messenger. Senior officers met with each individual company following last summer’s riots to learn how perps use the networks to stir up trouble, and to find a way to ban them for violating the networks’ terms and conditions.

(more…)

Why I Love Twitter’s 140 Character Limit

I believe good things come in 140-character packages. In a single tweet, you can argue your case, share good news or link to something awesome. You can tell the world about your new toothbrush, your new product or your new daughter. You can even spam your friends with inspirational quotes, which they love.

(more…)

The Schools That Rule the Web

Recent studies prove it: increased engage,ent between educators and students cia email and social media has a positive effect on learning. Check out this infographic to see the schools that rule the web.

(more…)

4 Ways to Squash Silly Facebook Rumours

Facebook rumours. No, I’m not talking about Microsoft buying Facebook or Mark Zuckerberg’s pregnant girlfriend. I’m talking about those pesky, illogical rumours that spread faster than the truth. The ones that abuse caps lock, exclamation points and common sense.

(more…)

Facebook f8: Zuck-Dawg Announces Even Bigger Changes

If you hate the new Facebook changes right now, you’re really going to hate what Mark Zuckerberg announced this morning at the annual f8 conference in San Francisco. The Facebook that you know and love will be gone, and those irritating minor changes will be here to stay—plus many, many before. Basically, Facebook is getting an overhaul that coincides with a shift from user growth to user engagement. The last five years have been focused on signing people up and getting connections in place, and now that Facebook has half a billion users, the only thing left to do is get those users to share more.

(more…)

Astroturfing: Fake Reviews Aren’t Always Greener

AstroTurf. Once famous for being the Brady Bunch’s lawn of choice, the term now refers to the endless stream of opinion spam that litters websites around the globe.

You know what I’m talking about—those so-called “consumer reviews” that are stuffed with exclamation points, superlatives and robotic phrases like “Great rooms and service! Highly recommended!”

My fake-o-metre is also set off by:

(more…)

Should Teachers Be Allowed to Friend Their Students?

Missouri’s newest law—the “Facebook Law”—has caused an uproar among teachers, students and others who believe it violates their freedom of speech and association.

Why? The law forbids teachers and students from befriending each other on Facebook. That’s not the law’s only concern—it also touches on things like background checks for anyone having contact with a student and reporting alleged sexual misconduct within 24 hours—but the social media aspect is naturally the only thing people are making a fuss about.

(more…)

How to Celebrate Social Media Day 2011

Social Media Day 2011 is tomorrow! Now in its second year, this global event celebrates our connected world and gives people a chance to socialize with their online communities offline.

(more…)

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:

(more…)

Social Media Camp 2011 – #smcv11

Two days, 8 workshops, 30 sessions and a deliciously embarrassing amount of Wannawafels later, the 2nd annual Social Media Camp has come to a close. This year saw over 650 participants, almost 200 more than last year.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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

Sean Avery vs. Uptown Sports: Why You Shouldn’t Mix Twitter Business With Pleasure

It’s not surprising that hear that New York Rangers forward Sean Avery is at the centre of yet another controversy.
The 31-year-old former Vogue intern teamed up with the Human Rights Campaign and released a 30-second video for “New Yorkers for Marriage Equality” over the weekend, becoming the first professional athlete in New York to publicly support marriage equality. And according to the HRC, the Rangers, as an organization, are now rallying behind Avery in support of the campaign.

(more…)

To Tweet or Not to Tweet: That is the $25,000 Question

While some countries are left to deal with fraudulent elections, Canada is busy cleaning up the aftermath of the #tweettheresults fiasco.

Twitter is famous for broadcasting news before traditional media outlets pick it up (and for prematurely killing celebrities), but the recent election raised some interesting issues about a person’s right to tweet.

(more…)

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:

(more…)

Friends Don’t Let Friends Play With Numbers

When it comes to social media, it’s easy to get lost in the number crunch. Facebook has over 500 million users, Twitter has over 175 million. You have 357 Facebook friends, 3246 Twitter followers and your blog has been read 467 times.

You have 23 mutual friends with someone on Facebook, yet you have no idea who that person is.

(more…)

NASA Explores the Vast Reaches of Social Media

April 12th is a big day in the space world. And this year, it’s even more special—it’s the 30th anniversary of NASA’s first space shuttle launch and the 50th anniversary of the first human spaceflight, taken by Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Esperanza Spalding Wins Grammy, #TeamBieber Can’t Belieb It

There’s a retweet swirling around Twitter that says the Grammys lost 17 billion+ views after Esperaza Spalding won over the Biebs. Hmm.

With a world population of about 6,775,235,741, that would mean each person would have to love Bieber with 250% of their heart. And even with herds of dedicated Bieberites running wild on this planet, I’m pretty sure that’s impossible.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Ground Shaking? Drop, Cover, Twitter.

I’ve gotten used to the blasting over at the Uptown construction site, so when I felt a big rumble at 8:30 this morning, I completely ignored it. But while I quietly ate my oatmeal, Twitter lit up with earthquake-fueled chatter.

(more…)

Super Bowl XLV Social Media Helps Newbies Understand Football, Fit in at Parties

I have a confession: Superbowl XLV is 3 days away and I don’t know which teams are playing. I didn’t know last year either, but I attempted to hide my indifference by bringing a hideous football cake to the party. Unfortunately, it was so over-iced and under-baked that only one person tried it. So instead of passing myself off as a quiet fan with amazing baking skills, I became “the girl who brought the cake.

And I still never figured out who was playing.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Social Media on the Front Lines in Egypt

Even though Egypt is in the midst of an Internet and SMS blackout, the rest of the world is glued to the web, watching. Protesters and journalists have found ways around these roadblocks and are using social media to inform and organize.

Following #jan25 or #egypt on Twitter produces an amazing amount of results. By the time you read the first few, you’re already five hundred tweets behind. Many protesters are posting via proxy server, and some journalists are even using landlines to phone tweets back to their headquarters.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Why You Should Follow Airlines on Twitter

Over the past year, a few high-profile incidents thrust airlines into the spotlight. Scandalous highlights include Kevin Smith being kicked of a Southwest Airlines flight for being “too fat”, Air Canada breaking a young boy’s wheelchair and a Twitter hoax about JetBlue and American Airlines flying doctors to Haiti for free.

(more…)

The Top 7 Facebook Archetypes

Here’s a little magic trick. Take a look at your Facebook friends list, then take a look at the personality types below. Now, divvy them up into categories. Amazing, isn’t it? Whether you have 100 friends or 1000, each one has their own freaky niche. Do you fall in to any of these categories? Are there any that we’ve missed?

(more…)