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Social Media: Beyond Facebook

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Whether you’re an already established business, or just starting things up in your basement, social media plays a crucial role. It’s impossible to go a day without hearing “Facebook” be mentioned in some sort of context.

That being said, it comes as a surprise when businesses ignore other social media sites. Such as Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, WordPress, and more. According to business2community.com, about 76% of businesses are using social media for business objectives. Don’t let your business be the 24% that has no idea what they are doing!

In our last blog post, which you can find here, we explain a few different types of social media outlets, along with the benefits they bring to your business. So today, we’d like to focus on one specifically: Pinterest.

Pinterest has blown up Beiber style (yes, we just made a Justin Beiber reference). Social media’s rising star has proven itself worthy of it’s high status, showing statistics that prove high traffic for businesses. While Facebook is still accounting for a little over a quarter (26%) of traffic, Pinterest has experience the most referral growth by gaining almost one percent in the last 7 months.

Here is an example of our own Pinterest board:

 

 

 

 

 

So what exactly are you supposed to “pin”? Honestly, anything and everything you would like.

First, you divide your “Boards” into separate categories. For example, on Stonemeta’s Pinterest we have boards such as “Funnies”, where we pin funny pictures and links to funny sites. We also have a “Cool new gadgets” board, where we post neat/useful gadgets that people may find interesting. We also have a couple boards dedicated to a couple of our staff members, where they share their personal favorite sites, images, and more.

If you have a blog, website, or anything online and would like to add the Pinterest “Pin It!” button, check this out http://www.mommywords.com/2012/01/add-pinterest-pin-it-button-to-every-post-to-getsocial/. Make your site as social as possible, and for yourself how Pinterest can get traffic flowing!

Social media revolution of 2012

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“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how WELL we do it”.

-Erik Qualman

 

In the past 2 years alone, we’ve witnessed social media take over the world (literally). What’s crazy is that there is still people who haven’t hopped on board. What’s even worse, there are STILL companies that don’t find social media to be a necessity. If you or someone you know has the same mentality, watch this video.

 

It will completely change your views on social media, and proves (over and over again) that social media isn’t just a “fad”, it’s a revolution.

Which Social Media tactic is right for you?

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If you were to research the most well known people in your field of interest and/or industry, you will most likely see that they all have one thing in common (besides a decent looking bank account): A voiced opinion via social media platform.

Social media, as you all know by now, is huge. You can’t go anywhere without seeing some form of social media advertising in your face. Each business is different. This means a different audience, potential client base, and more. In turn, recognizing which social media site to use becomes crucial in connecting with your audience on a personal level. Although engaging in as many social media sites as possible is extremely useful, on an engagement level, as well as SEO level, let us take a moment to briefly explain what social media sites are good for which type of engagement:

FACEBOOK:

What it’s best for: Interacting on a more personal level with your fans/contacts/customers.

Secret Weapon: Facebook pages house all information about your brand or your company in one place.

Who uses it: The largest segment of users on Facebook is aged 21-24. Males at 17.5 and females at 16.6. Closely following are 18-20 year olds, and 35-44 year olds.

What you should be sharing: Blog posts, videos, photos, questions, and answers.

 

TWITTER:
In 2012, stats for Twitter have shown that 140 million active users tweet an average of 340 million tweets per day!

Best For: Short, to the point updates. You can monitor conversations about your brand, and in turn find potential customers!

Secret Weapon: Customer service!! Certain brands are starting to use instant status updates to address customer concerns on the spot in front of an audience.

Who’s using it: Females are 54.7%, while males are 45.4%. 42% of users are aged between 31 and 49, while 42% of users are 18-29.

What to share: Links to content that is relevant to your audience, questions, and conversations that will allow you to interact one on one with followers. Make sure you keep track of hashtags (trending topics).

 

LinkedIn:

Currently has more than 150 million users.

Best for: Showing off your professional accomplishments and linking to others.

Secret Weapon: Create a group you can lead and create discussions about your particular industry. Also, make sure you show your expertise by answering common questions on an answers page.

Who uses it: 51% Male 49% Female

20%-aged 25-34

23%-aged 35-44

21%-aged 45-54

What to share: Relevant content with all followers or just other members of a group, along with answers to questions that others ask.

 

Google Plus (+): Over 100 million users, gaining thousands daily.

Best for: Starting conversations and adding specific people to it (you can achieve this by puttin a “+” before their name, and alert them of the conversation).

Secret Weapon: CIRCLES! In circles, you can organize your contacts into groups and target your messages to each group specifically and separately. Ex: Family, friends, acquaintances, work friends..etc.

Who’s using it: 30% are Female, and 70% are Male. Most are engineers, web designers, students, software developers, and marketing professionals.

What you should share: Insight, blog posts, questions and answers related to your brand/product/industry.

 

Last but not least, Pinterest. Simply put, Pinterest is an image-based social network where users create virtual bulletin boards for a variety of topics ranging from cooking, places to visit, to great books they’ve read. It works on the concept that a picture is worth a thousand words. Pinterest uses Boards that are a collage of photos and short descriptions. Users can follow all of another user’s boards or they can just follow certain boards. In short, it’s a social network where you act based on what you see and NOT based on what you read.

Best For: Disbursing of your product, service information, customer engagement, links with other social networks, contests, gifts, SEO, and exclusivity.

Secret Weapon: You can literally insert ANY link you want into the thumbnail by editing. Direct your customers to your site to up your SEO.

Who Uses It: As of March 2012, 72% of users are female, and 29% are male. 28% are aged 25-35, 28% are 35-44, and 25% are 45-54.

What to Share: Everything and everything. You want to make sure you have an intriguing/interesting thumbnail, but Pinterest has categories for anything you can imagine.

 

 

 

Where were you at the MOT?

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NEWS RELEASE

Stone Meta Social Media Offers Tips for Ensuring Auto Dealers
They’re at the MOT When Consumers Start Shopping for Cars

CRYSTAL LAKE, IL – March 6, 2012 – Social media strategists Stone Meta Media advises auto dealers to consider if their digital presence puts them at the consumer’s moment-of-truth or MOT, the critical decision point when their desire for a new vehicle emerges.

The MOT is the convergence of online marketing variables making it much more likely it’s your dealership and your inventory the consumer finds quickly and first when looking for vehicle product and dealer information.

“If you’re not there, at the MOT, the consumer’s likely going connect with a competitive dealer who is,” stresses social media marketing strategist Rob McClurg, CEO of automotive social media company Stone Meta.

“Digital marketing has moved on now, to where simply being on line isn’t enough – a dealer must engage consumers in a triage manner, where website, social media and online reviews all connect with the customer at the MOT,” McClurg adds.

It used to be before consumers made purchase decisions that they relied on input from their physical social circles – friends and coworkers. They once consulted print publications for their reviews of various products and services. Today, this third-party review process is now through social media, where consumers seek others’ perspectives on everything from kitchen products to restaurants and auto dealerships to auto repair services.

Here’s how to be there at the MOT when a consumer’s looking:

1. Engage consumers via Facebook: Stone Meta encourages dealers to embrace a swarm and herd social media strategy that makes the site buzz with activity and interest — managed social conversations, monthly promotions, special coupons and local links which, coincidently, create business opportunities for the dealership.
2. Integrated dealer website: Create the most effective and consumer-friendly and consumer-engaging website you can and then make it easy, easy, easy for consumers to find it, whether looking for it by make and model or simply searching online using broader keywords. Your website must link to your Facebook site and vise versa.

3. Online reviews and sites: Have a plan and program for monitoring online review sites where your business and/or products are likely to be reviewed. Manage any negative reviews using sound reputation management practices. Use Facebook to post reviews and let fans post reviews on it as well asking others opinions about your dealership and the products and services you sell. Consider ways you might link from review sites to your dealership inventory pages; make a review forum available on your website to gather favorable commentary and glean process improvement insight from those that are not.
4. Engage consumers live: Consumer engagement isn’t just for online interaction, but must carry over to the moment the consumer walks onto the dealership property. It is on thing to be helpful and cheery online – and that attitude does make a huge impression – but that impression and judgment continues when the online shopper steps into the store as well. Unfortunately, this step is one dealers can and do often neglect or forget.

About Stone Meta
Stone Meta Media is a professional marketing firm offering a strategic suite of social media management services. The company is headquartered in Crystal Lake, IL. For more information, visit www.stonemeta.com or contact Rob McClurg at 815-333-3332.

Facebook, Other Social Media Simply Modern Twist for Auto Dealer’s Best Advertising, Word-of-Mouth

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TINLEY PARK, IL – November 28, 2011 — For dealership management still skeptical about social media, Tom Gorham would like a few words with you: take it on faith.

The faith he asks for is to believe social media will revolutionize dealership marketing the way the dot-com era did in the late ‘90s. This time around, the outcome will be something traditionalists understand well: word-of-mouth marketing, says Gorham, Internet Sales and Marketing manager for Apple Chevrolet, located here, and an editor and social media and reputation management blogger for Automotive Digital Marketing.

“Certainly the promise of social media requires faith today, just as dealers required faith at the dawn of the dot-com era of marketing,” Gorham says. “The truth of social media is that it’s word-of-mouth advertising in a modern package. This is the new way dealerships get all-important referral business.”

Not too long ago, Gorham reminds us, sales associates joined civic clubs like Lions, Rotary and Exchange, not to sell cars but to network. They believed that socializing would eventually result in a customer or referral. Today, Facebook, YouTube and other social media sites are where the modern dealership socializes – and where it will generate business opportunities.

“As a consumer, there is comfort in purchasing a product from a business that others have talked about in a positive manner,” says Rob McClurg, CEO of social media marketers Stone Meta Media. “In the past, we would hear business or product reviews while visiting family, going to dinner with friends, or getting a haircut.  The same word-of-mouth reviews exist today, but social media has expanded the reach of our ears exponentially.”

Dealers attending NADA ’12 can learn more about Stone Meta Media at Booth #3356.

Apple Chevrolet’s marketing takes advantage of a variety of digital channels. These include banner advertising, YouTube, car-shopping sites like cars.com and autotrader.com, search engine marketing and the dealership’s own website.

“Our overall strategy is to create a web – like a spider web – of interconnectivity with all of these connections, which link back to our website. Social media is part of this web, and social media’s currency is…socializing. Because of this currency, it is a challenge for dealership managers to assign an ROI to social media,” Gorham says.

Any dealer can measure the impact of this socializing — how many people become ‘Friends’ on their Facebook page and how much traffic comes into to their website from Facebook, using web analytics..

“So, here’s a measurement any dealership active in social media can take right now. Simply take note of the referral business coming into the dealership since the dealership got active in social media and what the historic rate had been,” Gorham says.

Whether socializing at the local civic club or to a broader fan base via Facebook, the aim of attendance isn’t to sell something, but to socialize – with the long view hope that that interaction will one day result in customers and referrals.

“Only 17% of people on Facebook are in the market for a car at any one time, so what do you say to the other 83%? You socialize with them,” Gorham stresses.

Gorham says his social media company, Stone Meta Media, helped him put in place this socializing strategy. He charges that company’s social media experts with handling the dealership’s day-to-day engagement activities, though Gorham engages the site daily himself.

He says the social media marketers’ social media strategy aligns with forward-thinkers. For instance, this from Alistair Rennie, IBM’s general manager for social business, writing recently in Forbes.com:

“We’ve always been social beings. Social media has just amped up these natural tendencies. When we apply social technologies and cultural guidelines to our companies, to business, that’s when massive change is going to happen.

“Like the PC or the mainframe or the Internet, these innovations will reshape work and customer experience. In the process, they will end up separating the winners from the losers,” Rennie wrote.

For instance, Apple Chevrolet’s Facebook page is a big proponent of building social networks. One way it does this is by displaying customers’ photos with the vehicles they’ve just purchased. Customers reply how much they love this recognition and that their friends often take note as well.

Gorham or one of his staff makes sure those images go up on Facebook almost immediately. His staff has created more than 1,600 YouTube videos, each presenting a personalized vehicle walk-around for parties having inquired through social media, the dealership website or other means. These videos, part of Google.com’s premium video channel, connect viewers back to Apple’s website www.applechevy.com

Stone Meta social media marketers help with sweepstakes and contests the dealership runs on Facebook. These engagement tools have helped the dealership rapidly increase its Facebook fan base to nearly 5,000; In October, its Facebook page conducted a Breast Cancer awareness sweepstakes, and to drive more local-area fans into engagement with the dealership page, conducts regular sweepstakes for local sports clubs tickets. By encouraging local fans, the site is more likely to create fans who’ll do business with or refer friends to the dealership.

Apple Chevrolet sells 2,000 new and used vehicles a year, of which 90% of those buyers have been brought into the store through some form of the dealership’s digital marketing. One recent Facebook giveaway for Chicago Bears tickets help Apple Chevrolet capture 85 new Facebook fans directly from their own backyard.

“We’re experimenting today with all sorts of ideas and I trust one day from all this that what we and other social media proponents at dealerships are doing will one day evolve into best practices…and what exactly is ROI in social media,” he says. “It’s measured in word-of-mouth, but this can take a long time to ferment into results.”

Adds Stone Meta’s McClurg, “We now listen to friends all over the world on a daily basis, make buying decisions based on their thoughts and brag about our purchase decisions with them, in person and increasingly online. I find it hard to believe that anyone would argue that word-of-mouth referrals are not great for business. So, why wouldn’t we all want our referrals on social-steroids?”

For more about Stone Meta Media, visit www.stonemeta.com or call 815.333.3332. or visit at NADA ’12 in Las Vegas February 3-6 at  Booth #3356.

Rob McClurg Dealer Magazine Article

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The Oxymoron of Small Business Social Media Marketing

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I’ve worked with a great number of small businesses that I admire, both as social media consulting clients as well as potential customers. I am happy that I have helped several companies get to their next level with regards to their social media marketing, but I also find that many companies that seek my services are looking for social business expertise with a budget that does not place sufficient value on the experience they need. Social marketers have a complex yet unique combination of traits that make them true artists in their field. Are small businesses ready to appreciate the value that they bring?

If we analyze the situation further, however, we start to uncover the many issues that small businesses have with social media marketing. That’s why I call it an oxymoron. Let me explain further.

Small businesses have limited budgets, especially in departments that are not immediately revenue-generating contributors. This means that, unless you can show immediate sales through engaging on social websites, the value is not seen by many a small business. Small businesses got to where they are by being lean and only investing on services and people that bring immediate results. Once they see results, money flows, but until then, it is a classic chicken and egg scenario.

But that’s only part of the greater oxymoron between small businesses and social media marketing that I see. What can small businesses do to overcome these challenges? Let’s first examine the contradiction in greater detail.

Small Budget or Resources not Available but Investment is Necessary
It’s obvious that without a specific budget allocated, you can’t hire or appropriate the adequate resources to ensure that you create a robust social strategy and implement it effectively. This is why small businesses often end up hiring social media interns or having someone who might lack the experience but is available to do the job. If you’re going to be active in social media, you need to have a general education of the lay of the land. You need to have used the tool from a business perspective; otherwise, it could backfire. Those that are utilizing social media on behalf of your company also have to have a business background to understand the potential implications of the conversations they are having on behalf of your company. Needless to say, it is truly a case of you getting what you pay for, and a small budget can severely impact the chances of a small business to be successful in social. Social media requires budget because it costs more than what most small businesses think.

It also takes time to socialize with people, and it is no different on social networking websites. Social media is a commitment, not a campaign, and an investment in resources is the first sign to see whether or not a small business is serious about wanting to be successful in online social circles. Resources required go beyond the person or agency you hire for social media – social media often requires the entire organization to get involved and provide resources to support the effort. Without strategically allocating resources, it will be hard for a small business to be successful in social media. As my old boss used to say, it is truly a case of, “No free lunch.”

Immediate Returns Wanted but Long-Term Investment is Necessary
Nobody makes a splash in social media and immediately gets lots of fans or a loyal following. It takes time to socialize in person as it does online, and therefore immediate returns in social are hard to attain. Small businesses, however, look for quick gains from their investment and are quick to get frustrated if they don’t see things developing that affect their bottom line in a relatively short time span. This short-term view can negatively affect their social media activities, and it helps to explain the many “salesy” social media accounts run by small businesses that we see out there in the social web.

Social media requires a time commitment in addition to an investment in resources.

The Returns Requested are Simple When in Reality it is More Complex
One thing I find is that some small businesses, without a social education, feel that merely having lots of Facebook Fans or Twitter Followers means they are doing well. I’ve said it before, but fans and followers can be bought. The real business ROI of social media is how it affects your bottom line, and often social media ROI has impact on your entire organization that many a small business owner does not see in advance. Small businesses shouldn’t get fooled in thinking that a simple metric can determine their success in social media. This is an area which calls on the small business owner to exercise their leadership and read beyond the hype and understand how social business yields benefits for the entire company.

Conclusion: Social media requires a minimal commitment of time and resources with a long-term approach and a need for metrics that are aligned with your business. Even if you were to have a Marketing employee devote half of their time to social marketing, it would require a few thousand dollars a month in terms of resources, not to mention time and an education. ROI for social media within a business context does exist, but it often requires the CEO to believe in the vision and sometimes begin launching social media implementation through experimentation. If you invested 10% of your marketing budget into social efforts, it is a good place to start to see the potential effect that your program can have on your bottom line – and then some.

There are no rules in social media nor guarantees that any business or person will be successful at it. Yet there is a guarantee that we are spending more of our time on social sites and that opportunities abound for small businesses, even without brand recognition, to take advantage and build a new revenue-generating community of present and future customers as well as find new business development opportunities through monitoring conversations and engaging with the participants. The only long-term solution for such an oxymoron is the continued education of small business leaders with regards to social business, a task which I am committed to and investing my time and energy to fulfill.

Don’t get me wrong – there have been many successful small businesses who have adapted to and become successful at social marketing, but they are like the goldfish in the image above, swimming against the stream of their industry norm.

By Neal Schaffer

 

Social Media Language, Taking Over the Oxford English Dictionary

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Social media has taken the world by storm. There’s no doubt about that, it is but a fact. People talk about all things social media and networking every single day, whether it be at work, in business or even personally with friends. You’ve probably over heard groups of people talking about the latest gossip on Facebook yourself, it really is everywhere. People talk about it so regularly now, that language which is associated with social networking has officially made into the Oxford English Dictionary. This helps prove just how substantial sites like Facebook and Twitter are in today’s professional and personal worlds.

A prime example of a term which has become common place in day to day life and thus made its debut into the Dictionary, is derived from Twitter and is the term, “Re-Tweet”. The official definition of this word is, as stated in the Oxford Dictionary,

  • Pronunciation:/riːˈtwiːt/
  • verb: (on the social networking service Twitter) repost or forward (a message posted by another user). Noun: are posted or forwarded message on Twitter” -Courtesy of BBC Online

Social Media Terms, Will They Replace Traditional Words?

The likes of Twitter and Facebook have become such an integral part of peoples lives that it’s no wonder we talk about it, usually using the language associated with the working of these networks. It’s easy to use this language when it so easily and best describes the functions they carry out. The more people talk, the more popular language and terms become, hence why they are immortalised in dictionaries as known and accepted phrases within modern language.

Technological terms are just as important to modern society than more broad and well known terms and words. It’s possible that they may even replace older phrases. A good example of this would be “Friend Me”, as in the Facebook action of requesting friendship. Personally, I detest this phrase as I believe it’s incredibly lazy use of language. However, although it’s not accepted in the Dictionary yet,  it doesn’t mean that it wont be in years to come. This is because it’s a word which you hear more and more and so it’s gaining traction. The popular a word is, especially if used globally,  the more likely it can be added to a dictionary. You never know, to “Be-friend” someone may be a thing of the past but I sincerely hope not. Be-friending just sounds so much more pleasant and correct but the feelings of one person means very little!

Another social media term that has now officially graced the pages of one of the world’s most respected dictionaries is, “Follower”. This is described as,

  • Pronunciation:/ˈfɒləʊə/
  • noun: someone who is tracking a particular person, group, or organization on a social networking site”. Courtesy of BBC online.

The fact that they have made it into the OED means that they are terms which are deemed to be with us for the long run. Fiona McPherson, senior editor, has said that these are all terms which will be with us for years to come, “Some words are flash in the pan, but you can normally gauge by using your own judgement whether or not something is going to have a life.”

Times change, people move on and as they do, so does the language they use. Whether you agree with all the changes in “hip and young” words, even spellings, social media has created a language all of its own and this acceptance of it by official books means it’s definitely part of everyone’s lives from here on in. It’s time to embrace this change and get yourself up to date with all these newfangled technology terms!

By, Nikki Peters

 

How Social Media Has Helped to Reshape Marketing

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Marketing is an ever-changing landscape, which we’ve seen with the rise and fall of SEO and the revolution of Inbound Marketing led by the guys over at HubSpot. Social Media has also become one of the big influences in marketing, becoming an integral part in any successful business marketing strategy.

Here are some ways that Social Media has helped to reshape marketing.

Facebook and Twitter’s new influence on Search
With how ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ plus ‘retweets’ are becoming more and more important in getting the word out, the big search engines have started to realize that those public announcements are like a vote of confidence from the sharer. Permanent links were what all SEOs had dreamed about. Now, SEOs are hoping to get their links shared by influential tweeters, which are proving to influence search ranking factors. Here’s an unexpected case study on a tweet’s effect on rankings by SEOmoz Of course, there is more value than just the boost in search rankings from ‘likes’ and tweets. There is brand exposure and clicks, which also are valuable things in marketing. But there is no doubt that with the search industry continuing to grow, that Social Media should be an important part of any SEO strategy, what with the growing influence Social Media has on search rankings.

Companies Focus on Engagement versus Selling
Think about how back in the day we used to have our local dry cleaner who everyone in the family knew and who knew everyone in the family, the convenience store clerk who you talked to about your problems at work while he made your favorite cup of coffee, and the homely waitress at the local diner who knew how to get your eggs just right. Those were the days that were less about profit and transactions and were more about creating genuine, personal relationships. Businesses now, through Social Media, are working to reverse the effects time has had on the personal customer experience by engaging users to create more loyalty. It’s not unusual to get an @reply from a company saying thanks for sharing a neat tweet or even engaging in an intellectual or simply fun exchange with you.

Blogging to Build Influence and Authority
I was recently approached by the awesome Noah Kagan who asked about leveraging blogging to build influence and authority after seeing my name pop up in some of the bigger outlets in the startup space. An authority in the marketing realm himself, I was more than happy to oblige because I had much respect for the former Director of Marketing at Mint.com and current Chief Sumo at App Sumo. Wise professionals and marketers like him are continuing to understand the value in blogging. Both in the networking value because you become part of the writing community where other writers treat you as a peer, and in the authority you build, becoming an expert and influence in the space you write about. I also had a recent chat with Scott Gerber, expert on young entrepreneurship, who is syndicated in outlets like Entrepreneur, WSJ, FoxNews and more. By blogging, he became one of the leading sources in everything about young entrepreneurship, and is constantly receiving inbound inquiries (perhaps more than he can handle) about what’s new in youth entrepreneurship.

Social Media as a New Distribution Channel
By using channels like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, you leverage your network, your second- and third-degree networks and heavily trafficked platforms for mass distribution because of the viral potential these channels have. Here’s an interesting study by ChompOn showing the value of social action in online commerce. These days, it’s less about the stale press release, which is arguably dead, and more about empowering customer evangelists, who are more trusted referral sources in spreading the word. In fact, some businesses leverage Social Media to create hype or make announcements about exciting things they’re doing. The popular Robert Scoble played an integral role in helping to launch the awesome Flipboard app, which couldn’t support all the great hype it got during launch, but was able to rebound.

Social Media Advertising
It’s amazing what’s happening in marketing these days, especially in advertising, which supposedly became a dying channel once other cost-effective channels like SEO and Social Media started popping up. But one new form of advertising emerged from all this change, Social Media advertising. For example, you can do Youtube video and channel sponsorship. Some of these YouTube vloggers even have agents, just the same way famous movie stars and athletes do! But with sponsorship of a Youtube vlogger, you can promote your business and product to that special vlogger’s community of thousands of subscribers that might even reach millions of viewers. A killer success story here is with custom women’s shoes startup, Shoes of Prey, sponsoring a 16 year old video blogger to create a video promoting their product which led to 500,000 views in one week and a permanent tripling of sales, absolutely nothing short of most marketers’ dreams. Then, there’s also sponsored blog posts, which are noted as such, on blogs with massive followings to get links and traffic, plus a permanent post to be used as reference when Googlers search it, or when readers are looking for something related to your business on that blog. There are even endorsed tweets, with networks like Ad.ly where you can pay to get a celebrity to endorse you through Social Media. Other networks even let you sponsor the average layman to tweet your link letting their followers know they support you.

Active Listening to Incorporate Customers into the Feedback Loop
The age of Social Media came with the age of active listening. Consumers now had a voice, and businesses were now lending an ear because businesses that didn’t faced a ton of flak from those now empowered and vocal consumers. But with all this active listening came active responses, allowing companies to figure out better ways to serve and target their audience after learning more about their core consumer’s desires and needs. Active listening and responding to your community keeps businesses lean since they’re getting feedback and iterating based on that feedback, which is more than just analytics and data alone.

Danny Wong

 

Why PR Should Take Social Media Seriously

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There are two parameters that help define PR, reach and influence and getting your corporate message out efficiently without filters is also vital in the age of digital media, where cynicism of the old methods is pervasive.

So why does Social Media need to be taken seriously?

  1. It’s more believable and trustworthy than the filtered mainstream media that has many vested interests
  2. Its fast and efficient as it can be sent from smartphones before it even hits the traditional media channels (remember the Iranian Elections)
  3. It has leverage. (One Friend tells another, who tells many more, who then tell others.. its exponential,and  it helps to have great original content or a good story)

So what is the reach of Social Media? and which have the most Influence? When you look at the the players like Facebook and Twitter, and the other Social Media’s platforms numbers, the motivation for being involved becomes compelling and should negate any excuses about being engaged in Social Media.

Eight Major Social Media Channels

  1. Facebook: The Premier Social Networking Site where you can add friends, post photos, share your life and join groups
  2. Twitter: Share information, “follow” other people and get your information out as a “live” stream.
  3. YouTube: It is the Social media channel where you can upload and share Videos, subscribe to channels and again add friends
  4. LinkedIn: A social media site that operates primarily in the the professional networking and business relationships segment
  5. MySpace: A social networking platform that enables the easy sharing  of  multimedia nd works well as a multimedia aggregator
  6. Digg: A social platform that enables you to post your articles and others can vote on whether they like your story or not.
  7. Blogs: An interactive way of sharing content informally and receiving comments
  8. Wikipedia: The socially generated encyclopedia which is updated and edited constantly by the online community

Their Reach

  • Facebook: Over 200 million members and 80 billion monthly page views (Techcrunch)
  • Twitter: It now has over 44 Million unique visitors a month (according to Comscore)
  • YouTube: Over 100 Million visitors in March and over 13.8 Billion video views in March alone (YouTube report)
  • LinkedIn: Over 16 million unique visitors a month with a a very affluent demographic where the average user is 39 and makes $139K ayear and over 500,000 C-level members (Quantcast)
  • MySpace: Just under 100 million visitors a month and 43 Billion page views (Techcrunch)
  • Digg: More traffic than the New York Times with 23 million unique visitors a month and 4.5 billion pages views (Techcrunch)
  • Blogs: Over 5 million blogs are tracked by Technorati, the “Bible” of Blogs with 600,000 being corporate blogs (Technorati)
  • Wikipedia: Nearly 63 Million Unique visitors June 2009 (Compete)

Note: If you want to look at some really interesting numbers have a look at (Future Marketing Trends at FutureBuzz.com)

So what is the Reach of the Old Media? and what does that say about their influence.. is it growing or waning?

  • USA Today” (largest read newspaper in the USA)  2.1 Million a day (Audit Bureau of Circulations) which if it was unique views per month of 63.1 million (which it isn’t it. would still be 3 x smaller than Facebook)
  • AARP is the most widely circulated magazine in the USA and reaches 24.5 million which is slightly more than Digg (Audit Bureau of Circulations) but still 8 times smaller than Facebook
  • Fox News Channel (highest rated news channel for 90 months) has 15.6 million viewers a day (Huffington Post)..The same as the number of unique LinkedIn visitors sees monthly.
  • Rush Limbaugh the largest talk radio in the States  has 14.75 million a day is less than half the 40 million unique visitors to Twitter each month (Talkers Magazine)

Note: 40 % of people blogged in 2008, 50% got their news online and 35% from print newspapers (Pew Research)

So what are some of the PR Values of the New Media?

  • Twitter: You are able to listen and to respond to what people are saying about your brand in the market place within seconds with worldwide reach
  • Blogs: Corporate blogs provide “recency” by allowing companies to provide the latest information delivered by RSS feeds to customers that position your company as a thought leader in their industry and getting its message out without “corporate speak” making the corporation seem human rather than faceless.
  • Facebook allows you to improve customer satisfaction(that’s good PR) by more than 17 times according to research done by the the Aberdeen Group
  • YouTube allows you take take control of your brands image on YouTube by creating an account and utilising its growing SEO priority in search engines , due to its increasing growth (over 53% last year) and growing importance as a Free Marketing, PR and branding medium, have a look at 5 reasons your company should be on YouTube in this Post by Small Biz Trends.
  • MySpace provides more chance of getting your page viewed as its viewers average over 20 minutes a day as compared to CNN that averages 5 and a half minutes.
  • Digg’s PR Values are to increase the visibility of your stories by having them voted on and increase your social networking opportunities
  • LinkedIn allows you to communicate with highly affluent people that have the greatest  capacity to directly impact your business.

So in when someone is searching for your company and you want your PR to get out rather than someone elses message about your brand you need to  be across a range of social media. This gives your company the best chance of having your message seen and heard. If you do not join in the Social Media conversation, “it will take place without you” and you might not like what is being said.

In Summary Social Media’s Role in PR is about

  • Efficient delivery of your message through ensuring that search engines find you easily (SEO..Search Engine Optimization), because you have optimised your Social Media (SMO… Social Media Optimization)
  • Maximizing the level of  control over your message by being so high up in the search engine that you are the first 7 or 8 on page one, because you are maximizing your SEO through great content and spanning multiple boundaries of Social Media.
  • Ensuring that peoples different preferences for hearing your message is maximized because you have it in audio text, image and video in social media

Written by jeffbullas

Why companies should stop blocking social media

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We’re living in the age of the Internet, right?

These days news breaks on Twitter, not network TV. Video chat on Facebook, Google+, and our smartphones phones is making it easy to chat with friends, in real time, no matter where you are. The speed of information is moving so fast that some millennials aren’t even using email to communicate.

Social communication has become part of the fabric of our everyday lives.

So, why is it that 54 percent of companies are still blocking access to social media sites at work?

Certainly that number has come down in recent years, but to think that more than half of all companies are still not affording their staff to access Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter during the day. That just doesn’t add up.

Now, I’m not here to say all companies should unblock social sites in the workplace. Certainly there are times and places where it makes sense. But, 54 percent—that seems too high.

Here are some business reasons why that 54 percent should reconsider:

Companies are investing in social media as a marketing/communications tool.

Nearly all of them (94 percent), according to a Digital Media Wire report.

That means that a number of companies among the 54 percent are sending mixed messages to their employees. In essence they’re saying: “We believe in the power of social media to help us market our products and services, we just don’t trust our employees because we think they’ll waste an inordinate amount of time on Facebook.”

Employees aren’t dumb. They see what you’re doing. And they will react and speak out.

More employees are relying on social networks to do their jobs.

This is especially true of business professionals.

In the PR industry, think about your work. How often do you turn to friends and colleagues online for advice? How often do you read blogs to keep up with industry trends? How often do you refer to a how-to YouTube video to better understand a particular process or tool?

Look at the data: 25 percent of employees rely heavily on social networks in the workplace. I would guess that they are most likely your star employees (usually the folks that are the most tech-savvy and with the biggest professional networks).

Do you really want your top performers looking to work for the competition?

Millennials simply won’t accept it.

According to a study by American Express, 39 percent of younger workers won’t even consider working for a company that blocks Facebook. It’s no wonder. In most cases, Facebook has become their communication tool of choice among colleagues and friends. Why would they work for a company that’s going to block the tool they want to use and are using on a daily basis to communicate, share, and learn?

Ever heard of the smartphone?

According to Nielsen, 50 percent of all Americans will own a smartphone by Christmas (compared with 10 percent during the summer of 2008). Half of your company may own a smartphone by the end of this year. That means they don’t need your network. They’ll be (and are) accessing Facebook, blogs, YouTube, and whatever other social network they want via the phone in their pocket or purse. Blocking social networks on their computers seems pretty darn pointless, doesn’t it?

Breaks equal more-productive employees.

This might be an arguable point, but recent research suggests employees who are given short breaks to surf the Web or connect with friends on Facebook are more productive than those who don’t.

Companies are blocking social media because they fear their staff will waste too much time on Facebook. But there are a couple of things faulty with that logic: First, that’s a management issue, not a social media/Web issue; and second, who’s to say Facebook and other social media sites are the only websites where your staff can “waste time”? Ever heard of The Onion? US Weekly? Laughing Squid? That list is endless. Just because your blocking “social media” doesn’t mean your staff won’t waste time in some other fashion online.

What do you think? Are you surprised 54 percent of companies are still blocking social sites? Should that number be lower?

Arik C. Hanson is the principal of ACH Communications in Minnesota. He blogs at Communications Conversations, where a version of this story first appeared.

Stone Meta Describes ‘Swarm and Herd’ Strategy

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Social media strategists Stone Meta Media tells auto dealers the key to creating Facebook fans and keeping them engaged in the dealership’s postings is a ‘swarm and herd’ strategy.

“We use a ‘swarm and herd’ strategy to first build a large Facebook fan base for the dealership and then we use techniques like coupons, games, contests and other fan incentives on the page to begin drawing or herding fans into the dealership,” says Stone Meta CEO Rob McClurg.

Dealers like Apple Chevrolet in Tinley Park, IL, use this strategy to empower their Facebook pages. “The strategy keeps our fans paying attention to our site,” says Tom Gorham, the dealership’s Internet Sales and Marketing Manager. “They have to be checking out our page often if they want a chance to win one of the many promotions we run all the time that helps us draw customers into our dealership.”

‘Swarm and herd’ is a phrase first coined in the book Nature of Marketing, and the idea adopted by Stone Meta for social media is highly relevant. It refers to creating a large Facebook fan base first and then herding those fans to the dealership through very specific Facebook engagement events.

“This swarm and herd strategy creates a sense of fun, community involvement and trust and as the page continues to capture more fans,” McClurg adds, “it becomes alive with engaging conversations, monthly promotions, special coupons and local links to coincidentally create business opportunities for the dealership.”

“This is a delicate situation, herding people to the dealership,” notes Gorham. “The effort cannot be obvious or it will turn people off. It has to happen in a special and careful way, which is why we use coupons – and we’re experimenting with Groupon to offer LOF services at ridiculously low prices – to get people in on word of mouth, where we can win them over and make them lifetime customers.”

Apple Chevrolet and Chevy Chase Acura-Nissan of Bethesda, MD say their social media provider suggested a number of fan-engagement tactics to support their swarm and herd strategy. For instance, Chevy Chase Acura-Nissan engages fans using giveaways — iPad and other popular electronic incentives that encourage fan growth. Apple Chevrolet uses gas card rewards for Facebook sweepstakes and game rewards to create swarms of new fans.

“Chevy Chase started its social media marketing with about 1500 fans and after using the swarm and herd strategy grew the base rapidly to 6,000 fans. Apple Chevrolet uses the strategy and has seen its fan base jump from 300 to 3400 in just 90 days,” reports McClurg.

“Only when your social media efforts are building a large fan base can you start to herd these fans into your dealership and turn them into lifelong customers,” McClurg says.

Readers may contact McClurg at 815-333-3332 or visit www.stonemeta.com

How to Wow ’Em on Social Media

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Throwing an online “party” can be a dealership’s best social-media investment.

“That’s right, a party, on Facebook; a hosted party that gets the different personalities there mingling and talking – and not necessarily about you,” says, Rob McClurg, CEO for Stone Meta, a social-media firm.

News of a good party spreads. People drop by, then tell their friends, relatives and associates who soon join in, too.

This is the kind of excitement a company’s Facebook page should generate, and it’s the kind of ever-expanding fan base a dealership should strive to make its social-media investment successful, McClurg says.

Individually, people active on Facebook and other social sites visit their own profile pages or those of friends, families and those they follow – including businesses – off and on throughout the day.

Many dealers learn this and conclude social media is a new form of billboard advertising or a place to list car inventory for sale.

But success in this newest of media requires a different mindset, say experts. It requires ongoing involvement that creates excitement for those who visit the dealership Facebook page.

“This gets your Facebook activities going viral, spreading word of mouth about you faster and faster,” says McClurg.

“When it comes to social media success, a dealer’s ability to create and respond to postings on those sites – and to provide intriguing content that keeps fans returning regularly so as not to miss items of value to them – is everything,” he says.

Apple Chevrolet in Tinley Park, IL, tries to keep them coming back by using Facebook-fan-only coupons and sweepstakes, such as Chicago White Sox ticket giveaways, says Tom Gorham, the dealership’s Internet sales and marketing manager.

“The strategy is to keep our fans paying attention to our site,” he says. “They have to be checking out the page often if they want a chance to win promotions like these tickets.”

While Apple Chevrolet understands the importance of a broad fan base, it is able to market directly to local fans through coupons and service specials.

It is not necessarily the number of “Likes” your dealership’s Facebook page collects that makes it an effective marketing tool, but rather the number of people who continue to drop by for conversation and to see what’s new.

Chuck Brymer coined the term “swarm and herd strategy,” in his book, The Nature of Marketing.

Consider a swarm of people interested in social media. The strategy is then to herd this swarm into the dealership by using social media coupons, games, contests and other fan incentives.

As these efforts capture more fans, the dealership Facebook page becomes fluid, alive with engaging conversations, monthly promotions, special coupons and local links.

A direct pitch for customers could get a dealership un-friended fast. But a post about what happened during last night’s big game can get the conversation going.

“Like any other cocktail party, it is only appropriate to talk about your services when asked,” McClurg says. “These conversations are your best shot at getting asked about your services.”

A quick response to postings to develop ongoing conversation keeps site visitors engaged. Only then should marketing efforts be initiated and incentives such as coupons and service specials be used to herd local fans into the dealership, say Apple Chevy’s Gorham, who uses this approach.

“This is a delicate situation, herding people to the dealership,” he says. “The effort cannot be obvious or it will turn people off. It has to happen in a special and careful way, which is why we use coupons.”

The dealership now is experimenting with Groupon on group discounts for service-department work and to “get people in on word of mouth,” McClurg says. The goal is to “win them over and make them lifetime customers.”

Chevy Chase Acura-Nissan of Bethesda, MD, uses contests to win iPads and other popular electronic items as a way to engage fans and encourage their participation on the dealership’s Facebook page. A recent effort, which quickly went viral, netted 500 new fans in one weekend.

Similar practices by Apple Chevrolet have contributed to an increase to 3,400 Facebook fans from 300 in three months.

After Gorham last spring posted a comment about paying $4.36 a gallon for gasoline and asked what others were paying, site activity jumped. To capitalize on this, he then posted a gas-card sweepstakes giveaway.

It got the party going.

 

By Jim Leman