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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Laws of Content Marketing

The Content Marketing Institute defines content marketing as follows: "Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action." Or "the art of communicating with your customers and prospects without selling." Brian Davis, a content marketer at MovĂ©o Integrated Branding discusses five laws of content and what they should mean to a brand.

The first law Davis outlines is the law of consumption.  He states that "As the rate of content consumption increases, the value of fresh content increases."  As people get more and more involved in viewing updated, relevant information, it becomes more and more valuable.  Ever check a website that has been updating daily for the past 6 months that takes a week off?  The desire for new content is overwhelming, despite the real value of that content.  With more information, and ways to receive it than ever, developing content to match the consumers needs has increased in value.  It has been shown that audience engagement actually increases when content is filled with new commentary and context.  The added relevant content excites the user and causes the brand to receive more attention.  This is great news for those able to rapidly produce new content.  However, it also means content is perishable if it is not posted in a timely manner.  Further, 20% of firms mentioned that developing enough content was their biggest challenge.  So while constant updates show potential for brand awareness and support, it also risks requiring excessive attention to keep up with consumer needs.  

Second is the law of complexity. "The amount of chaos in a system tends to increase with the complexity of the system. This holds true for the second law of content as well; As the complexity of content increases, the challenge of managing it increases." With the increase in mediums and possibilities ensuring unique content that fits its platform, coordinating campaigns, avoiding redundancies and ensuring the content is served and consumed at a rapid rate requires added organization, management, and coordination between not only the producers of the content and those managing the media, but also between those managing broader brand development and goals and even product placement.  Failure to implement this organization and structure can cause content "being created for content’s sake".  This muddles and tarnishes the brand and its message to consumers.  In order to avoid these problems hiring out these tasks can enable the next wave of online marketing and content to fully access to strengths of different mediums.  

The third law of content marketing Davis writes about is the law of reputation. "As the number of content sources increases, the importance of source reputation increases".  Much of current content on the web unoriginal, or lacking in reflection or purpose.  Further, much content designed by corporations is focused on search engine optimization to match algorithms and show up high on search lists.  The consumer of this content can often detect this uninteresting gimmick and will quickly move away from the site if this is all its content reflects.  This causes increasing importance in who the sponsor of the content is.  The more reputable source will cue the consumer to trust the content and keep reading.  So instead of focusing entirely on getting high hit counts, instead providing useful information and long term trust with the consumer may provide more valuable to the brand.   

Next is the law of evolution. "As technology improves, the production value of content goes up."  With new opportunities emerging for more exciting displays of information, interactive advertisements, and intense post production of videos the possibilities are event greater for enhanced user experience and engagement.  Most notably is the increase in ability to implement viral video marketing, or to create video content to post online.  While this content is more engaging, it comes with a price tag.  The resources and energy it takes to create video content vastly outweigh a text post, or even a clever image or other media campaign.  Being able to accomplish this might mean outsourcing or hiring out more of the work to be done depending on the capital levels the company has at its disposal.  41% of those polled said that producing content that was engaging to their prospects and customers was their biggest challenge.

Finally, the fifth and final law Davis mentions is the law of exchange. "As the value of content increases, the value of what it is exchanged for increases".  By providing free information the company demonstrates to the consumer what it has to offer.  In the best case scenario the individual is impressed enough to buy the product that is offered.  Worst case they are exposed to the brand and contact is maintained, with the potential for future information to be sent to the individual.  Additionally, with increased brand recognition and endorsement from other reputable sources a brand will see increase returns for its product.  

The potential in content marketing proves to be high, and important to consider in looking at any online media campaign. Davis notes the possibility that none of these laws may stand the test of time.  Despite the current plethora of evidence to support them, this could fade over time, or new laws could be built to replace them.  For even someone involved in the field for over a quarter century, awareness of how constantly this world can change never leaves the periphery.

Content available here:

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Article in Review: The Secret To Viral Success

In the article The Secret to Viral Success, Marguerite McNeal explores what causes viewers of online videos to share clips on social networks. The short answer: Emotional Connection.  Content or videos that move individuals lead them with the desire to be the source of this idea for others.  This is equated with the desire to share stories; One hopes to create emotional familiarity and community based on shared experience.

Research into what emotions are likely to lead to video sharing.  Given 16 possible responses based on a specific emotional response, whether it was positive or negative, and whether it was a strong or weak emotion.  They found that regardless of the video evoking positive or negative emotion that if the video was able to provoke a high arousal, it was more likely to be shared.  That being said, positive videos produced more shares than negative ones.  Of further interest is that the videos that were positive and evoked a strong emotional response were more memorable than other videos, making those types of videos more appealing to advertisers.

Despite sharing rates of videos being relatively low, .5% of views being shared on average, and successful campaigns garnering little more than a 1% share rate, it is still a very significant indicator of success for a campaign.  When a video is shared it demonstrates support and advocacy by a consumer which is worth plenty more than a simple view.  Further those who follow a shared video from one of their networks are 15% more likely to enjoy it than having found a video on their own.  In addition, those who enjoy videos more have loads of correlating statistics associating them with increased brand recall and association, however there was no increase in brand purchase intent or brand recommendation.  Also of note is that brand appearance in a video is not correlated with decreased share rates.  As long as the emotional response to the video is high, brand presence tends to be irrelevant. Interestingly, longer videos, as compared to the 30 second TV clips we're so used to, of up to three minutes have larger potential to evoke a stronger emotional response.

It appears that the key to viral-ity is emotional arousal.  The emotions can be varied from humor to motivation and awe.  The stronger the response, positive or negative towards the video, the more likely it will be shared.  And those elusive shares are the goal, for shares not only demonstrate support for the brand and product, but further give the video access into smaller communities with individuals more likely to enjoy the video and recall the brand.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Social Media and the UCSD Sailing Team

The UCSD Sailing Team uses a lot of social media to connect with its followers.  It has two Facebook groups, a Facebook page, email account, Google group, school run website, and two Twitter accounts.  These various avenues off different opportunities and provide different information about how effective its outreach is.

A few of these mediums are used more for communication than for promotion.  For example, the team has a private Facebook group which is used to organize practices and meetings.  However, it is also used to organize promotion.  The team uses the other Facebook group and the Google group for its alumni, updating them on the team's results, how they can help give back, and about alumni related events.  This can be seen as localizing some of our content to those who have a more intimate relationship with the team.  Further the team email account is used for professional communication and as a long term address that people can use to contact the team, instead of constantly changing captain's email addresses.  This leaves the Facebook page and the Twitter accounts as outlets for team promotion and marketing.

The Facebook page is the primary source of promotion of the team.  It is the source of updates including photos, accomplishments, regatta results and more.  It is where we broadcast our pride and receive commentary and support from our friends and family.  One should note that this is different from the objectives of a for profit organization in using social media.  Though similar in how the team strives to excite its audience, it is different in that in return the team only desires support, not increased sales, trust, or loyalty.
Facebook Graph Measuring Total Reach and Engagement

In the graph on the right one can see a large jump in total weekly reach, and a measurable increase in the number of people talking about the page starting right after February 4th.  So the question becomes, what happened here?

On February 5th the team posted incentives for its members to invite their friends and family to "like" the team page.  The team responded very enthusiastically and managed to secure roughly 50 likes in this drive.  This caused a boost in total viewership of our content to rise from 721 people from 1/29-2/4 to a peak of over 2,000 people for the range 2/5-2/11.  As noted in other articles however, total likes or weekly reach isn't whats necessarily more important.   The team also saw a jump in the number of people talking about the page comment.  In January the team collected a total of 51 likes, 21 comments, and 4 shares on its content.  So far in February the page has seen 79 likes, 8 comments, and 4 shares.  The anomaly here being comments, but it should be noted a majority of those comments were on one post where people requested T-shirts and hoodies, not enthusiastically supporting the team.

In addition to this push for more followers, the page also increased the number of its posts.  While in January the page published eight posts, five of which had photos.  In February there have already been nine posts, four of which have photos.  This increased rate in publishing brought the page into more people's news-feeds and provided more opportunities for engagement.  From the data we can see that there was a positive response in engagement corresponding to increased number of posts.

So if that explains the rise in reach, what explains the subsequent dramatic fall after February 12th?  Post that day the data shows the end of the "Like" surge, with no increased numbers of followers to the page.  Additionally on February 10th the page posted a concluding post on a regatta that the team had just attended.  With that in the past, the content posted was likely less interesting to the audience.   Perhaps the drop could be seen as an end to the team's "newness" factor, where people's original excitement about the page fades, and they cease to check it for updates.  However, there is no specific reason that can be gleamed as to what caused this dramatic drop.

This brings us to the team's twitter accounts.  There are two of them, the first is the team's official page, posting team related thoughts about the events we're attending, results, excitement about practices, and other sailing related commentary.  The other is the team's unofficial page, the "Zombie Sailing Team", posting the thoughts of a sailing team of zombies (as all sailors have experienced showing up to a regatta exhausted).  Both of these pages are new this month, and are spreading purely virally, with no team push to increase followers or re-tweets.  While the formal page has found itself six followers and more regular updates, the unofficial page (while created more recently) is yet to garner as many followers.  The goal of the Zombie Sailing Team page is to tap into viral marketing.  Its creation was inspired by an "Ignite" talk by the creator of "The Oatmeal" (  Though it is unclear how successful it will be, it is a work in progress.

The combined trends for all of these mediums is increased engagement corresponding with increased content.  With Facebook being the flagship of the social media outreach, and other online content acting in supporting and communicative roles.  The team has secured a larger audience than ever before, and seen more support for its activity.  While the progress has been great, increased numbers of comments and shares on the page's content would indicate increased success in accomplishing this project's purpose.

Check out the various websites:

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Measuring Social Media Impacts: Part 2

Where we left off leaves one with great insights as to the importance of understanding the large quantities of information there is available through social media.  Likes, comments, and shares are just part of the information available.  The SAS's article, Social Media Metrics, further explores the information available, and what can and should be done with that data.

The white paper outlines 3 essential tools to use to gather relevant information about the engagement your social media is creating.  First are descriptive statistics, generally accessible on the page you are using, this data includes number of page likes, followers, and what channels generate more activity.  Next is social network analysis.  This involves following the links posted by your followers, seeing where your content is being shared, and seeing what stirs up conversation among followers.  This helps to identify sources and levels of influence in your media.  Third is text analysis.  This involves looking at the content of posts on the media to identify reoccurring themes and sentiment that draws attention to the media.

The text analysis element allows one to look at changes of sentiment towards a company over time.  By evaluating comments by followers using text analytic tools statements can be evaluated as positive, negative, or neutral.  By tracking the rate of each kind of statement over time a trend can be seen and acted upon by responding to the negative posts. These tools can also be used to track other brands and competitors to see where you have advantages or disadvantages over your competition.  This then becomes actionable when you promote your brand or company and when you look to improve yourself and prevent repeat negative commentary.

This tool can be further improved upon by making the analytics specific to the brand or industry involved.  If producing cameras, commentary on focus, shutter speed, durability, ect. are more relevant and should be highlighted in the text analysis.  By making the model more specific, more specific feedback can be generated and more action taken to improve your circumstances.

The Viral effect is another crucial element to look at.  Posting exceptional content and getting it published in a high profile location is great.  But what is better is when that content gets shared by those who view it.  Rapidly expanding viewership of content, or its dormancy, is important to understand.  Comparing viral posts with dormant ones using the three elements outlined above should produce a clearer picture of what made the viral post so much more popular.

Further identifying general trends in an individual market, as opposed to limited to a specific corporation can provide additional feedback as to how that company is doing relative to others.  If the specific product or service is skyrocketing as a general trend, and an individual company has increases, but not nearly as strong as the rest of the market they can be seen as being left behind.

Targeting the most powerful influences on relevant social media is another important tool.  Noticing which groups of individuals are the ones engaging with content is essential for boosting the conversation surrounding a company.  Once identified promotions can be created to further engage them or direct them to actual purchase of products or services.  Again, using text analysis helps to identify the nature of these constituents.

The article then goes into advertising for their product, a text analysis tool provided by SAS, arguing that it is as effective as humans at gauging content's trends and sentiment.  By knowing when activity increased future campaigns can be based around that activity.

This article provides a useful look at the relevance of different ways to gauge and value engagement with online social media, in addition to ways to build on that data and respond to noticed data or trends.  By creating goals around more valuable media features, tracking influential users, and responding to text analytics, social media can be turned into a tool for internal development and change in addition to one for expanding awareness of a brand.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Measuring Social Media Impacts: Part 1

Creating and updating your social media is only half the battle.  The other half is utilizing data available to measure, understand and predict the impact of social media on a business.  This is what is explored in the article Social Media Metrics by the SAS institute, a leader in business analytic software and service, and an independent business intelligence marketer.

Measuring success on social media in undoubtedly difficult.  There is not necessarily a direct return on investment or even a necessary correlation between activity and returns.  Hits or page views is a meaningless view of success unless it correlates with increased sales, reduced costs, or a change in strategy.  More important however, is engagement.  A viewer of content that shows life on the page either through a comment, like, share, "re tweet", or any other mode of interaction with the content is what is worth the most.  

Of course, different types of engagement are more valuable than others.  The article breaks this down into five types of engagement.  

First is the passive viewer.  One who goes to a page in search of specific information and then leaves without a click on any content, or response to any post.  They are largely unhelpful to a firms success or bottom line.  The best way to measure this group?  By use of unique visitors to the page.  Though some of the unique visitors will include those who are highly engaged with the page, those can be tracked using other metrics.

Next is one who may return time and time again to a page, viewing the content and the page, but not engaging with it, a lurker.  Though this is a step up from the passive viewer, they too do not contribute to the business at hand.  These users can be tracked via repeat visits to a page.  Likely to be a group that visits between 3 and 5 times a month.

Third is a group which actually engages with your page or twitter account, though not actively.  This includes people such as followers, or those who "like" the page itself.  Perhaps they also casually engage with the material with occasional comments or re-tweets, but don't act as part of the page's core responders.  

Which leads to the active users.  Those who repeatedly return to the page to post comments, respond to content, and participate in interactive threads.  

And finally, fifth, is defenders of the company.  Those users who advocate, recommend, and encourage the brand.  Responding positively constantly, and coming to the brand's defense in the face of challenges by active, or non-page users.  These are your most valuable assets when looking at success in social media.

The goal of marketing on social media then changes from expecting increased numbers to correspond to increased sales, to instead, moving people up the chain to become more and more active and engaged with page content.  This can be broken down into three elements: marketing the brand, communications, and perception.  By building brand awareness and generating leads or sales, engaging people in support of the brand mission, and changing people's relationship with the brand are all tied in to social media objectives.

Once the goals and objectives are established, investment should be determined.  Contests on Facebook or Twitter can be expensive, sponsoring posts costs something, and paying people to update, comment, and post content costs a fair share too.  This investment can have a high rate of return, but the investment has to be targeted.  Mismanaged investment can yield little to no return on investment.

Next is targeting your audience.  Knowing what interests them, their attitudes, what excites them will help you to develop content relevant to them.  Are they engaged in outdoors?  Have a video contest with them and the product doing their favorite activity.  Interested in smart phones?  Have them suggest their favorite apps, of features.  Do what you can to get your fans excited.

Further determining which metrics are important to your company, shares, likes, page views, ect. and then setting corresponding targets for your campaign will help to gauge success, or gains in your efforts.  Then comparing these efforts to similar companies or organizations will give you another opportunity to gauge how you are doing.

Then once all of this is done, reassess how productive you've been, what worked, what didn't, and start all over again.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Models for Leveraging Local Marketing On Facebook

Now that we've covered the basics, how does one target audiences.  If one has a diverse following, how do they ensure that all audiences are appropriately addressed, without fragmenting the population or feeding their followers unnecessary information?  Ryan Rudd in his article,  Three Models for Leveraging Local in an Enterprise Social Media Strategy, speaks to strategies on how to avoid these problems.

The first model Rudd brings up is Geo-Targeting.  This tool provided by Facebook, enables someone posting on a page to localize who sees the post.  The poster can limit who sees the post based on either language or country.  Targeting your Asian followers?  Simply limit language to Mandarin, Cantonese, Japanese, or whatever other languages you care to add.  Additionally you can limit viewership of the post to those countries. You can even do both if you're trying to strictly target a certain audience.  Doing this is quite simple, all it takes is changing a single permission in the page settings.

Rudd also suggests the potential of Central Management of local Facebook pages.  By gaining admin control of each local Facebook page one can ensure that there is a consistent message and strategy coming from headquarters.  This would allow you to push centralized campaigns out through each local page.

However, this strategy risks confusing the local audience.  Take a centralized page that wants to be local over several cities in the US.  Though the Geo-Targeting feature enables access to specific cities, doing so could be negative if the language used, or message sent is posted by someone ignorant of that cities culture or recent events could be additionally alienating.  So be aware the risks and advantages associated with this strategy.

Rudd's third model is leading locally.  By sharing localities marketing strategies across local branches content, ideas, tips, and tricks the local branches can become powerful marketers utilizing information about posts brand wide.  Again however I find that if there is a lack of coordination or communication this model quickly falls apart.

These models provide room for experimentation within brands, playing with local and centralized strategies and seeing consumer response will demonstrate how this local approach can be utilized for your brand.  This furthers into social media's key trait which is that striving for interaction with the consumer.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Online Marketing: 10 Trends and 6 Don'ts

The Qualitative Research Consultants Association's Susan Saurage-Altenloh, and American Marketing Association's Expert Contributor, Jennifer Bunner, write about the in's and out's of current marketing platforms and how to avoid mistakes in digital space.

In the QRCA's article, the first four of the top ten trends in marketing for 2013 can be seen to revolve around social media marketing, which just happens to be the number one trend right now.  The next three, mobile marketing, introducing interactive formats, and technology-enabled researchers, all suggest a marketing world centered around the web.  With recent connections between people's online lives and their mobile lives with the expansion of the Iphone and other smartphones, social media can only be seen as having more potential as sites like Facebook and Twitter become embedded in these devices.  As discussed in previous posts, social media's interactive feature is exactly what makes it a special medium.  That two way conversation between a consumer and the brand develops trust and relationships in a way unlike other marketing campaigns.  And of course this is tied to "technology-enabled researchers".  To understand the successes and failures in this marketing world requires being proactive in understanding the technology involved and being able to access the data which exists therein.

Other trends found by the QRCA include increased understanding of the consumer using the new mediums available.  For instance, Hybrid research, increased automation  living the "consumer experience", and looking into behavioral economic theory all boil down to looking at what is found from online marketing campaigns and social media, and looping that information back in to see what is working and what isn't.

These trends also tie into Bunner's arguments about digital don'ts, which can also be read as digital do's when you take their converse.  Her first three? Don't market without a specific goal, don't forget to target a specific audience, and don't use flat and static content.  In other words  have specific goals, have your content be audience specific, and use exciting and engaging content that the consumer can interact with.    These are the basic ideas that are drum up in apparently every article on digital marketing.  None of this is surprising, or very insightful.

Her other ideas include ensuring that you have a multi-channel approach, so that social media isn't your only marketing operations, ensuring you include all relevant data, because, well, you should, and, ensuring that you test and optimize your campaign to see what draws more attention.  Again, I don't know what kind of business invested in social media and other online marketing wouldn't do these kinds of things, but I suppose the reminder doesn't hurt anyone.

In sum, the trends can be seen as two-fold: One, increased social media attention and technologies.  And two, increased data and information from the very mediums that are hot in marketing now.  Bunner's article simply parallels the QRCA's, stating that you should be sure that you hop onto that train as it is taking off, investing in exciting and engaging social media, and watching to see how the data reflects that effort.

Articles can be found below:

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Work Marketing in Social Media

As captain of the UC San Diego Sailing Team I have sought to improve the visibility of the team and deepen our roots to the San Deigo community.  One device that we have used to accomplish that goal is social media.

Our team produced a Facebook page in late October of 2012 and updated it semi-regularly getting team members and recent alumni to "like" the page, reaching about 50 likes.  Since then the posts have grown more consistant and contained more engaging and relevant information for people to respond to, attempting to build on personalization and two-way communication that social media allows for.  Through encouraging the team to outreach to close friends and family we have well over 100 likes and climbing.  This number is now rising due to viral spread of information; When people like and comment on our content their friends see it posted in their newsfeed and in turn like our page to learn more.

In these short 5 months the page has launched to be UCSD's 3rd most liked sports team, behind varsity basketball (page established 2011) and club baseball (established 2010), we expect to pass basketball by the end of March and hope to pass baseball in May.

Facebook's "Insights" are most useful statistics in seeing what worked and what hasn't in our posts.  When we hosted a regatta in late January, anticipation, coverage of the event, and recap and conclusion spurred our reach higher than it had ever gone.  We can also see the affect of including pictures and links in our content on popularity, including engagement with the content itself be it photo views or additional clicks as a result of the post.

Additionally, we launched a Twitter page earlier this week, seeing if we cannot gain from having multiple sources of online social media.  A brief search around though shows college teams attempting to keep this up, only to abandon the page after a short while.  That being said, we gained a viral follower simply by posting with trending topics and hash-tagging other teams and groups in the sailing world.

The advice reviewed on this blog will be incorporated into these sites, however keep in mind that we are a sports team and don't sell a product, so offering deals or products is a harder task for us to accomplish.  Instead we strive for community engagement and spread of content.

To access these pages please follow the links below:

Article in Review: Success with Social Loyalty

Brett Hannath, from the TIBCO Loyalty Lab writes about why social media can be a successful tool for businesses and social loyalty marketers alike in the article Success with Social Loyalty. Hannath finds that social media's rise, and other medium's fall, is key to why it can be so successful going forward. The article includes a more evidence based view of why social media is currently, and will continue to, play a key role in marketing strategies, including loyalty programs.

Within the past 5 years there has been a dramatic decline in the ratio of time spent on print media and television as compared to digital media correlating to a decline in ad revenue for printed adverts. Social media now makes up the virtual location where people spend the largest portion of online time.

And there is a reason for this: "Media whose capabilities are limited to one-way communication are in decline, while those that enable two-way communication are rising. This is good news for loyalty marketers, because it’s two-way communication that enables the interaction and engagement at the heart of all successful loyalty programs. For companies seeking to move their customers from mere buyers to loyalty program members to brand advocates, the opportunities have never been greater."

However, there are two concerns. First, that marketers fail to utilize the two-way communication which makes social media so unique and advantageous. And second, that even well funded social media programs are not guaranteed to work, large investments based on program's social engagement have failed. However, well defined objectives and plans mitigate these risks.

There are three social media devices considered.

The first is the potential in email. With 85% of people using it, it provides access to a larger variety of consumers than other devices, including Facebook! And further it is important that email should be seen as a form of social media. There is the capability to share, through forwarding messages, to engage in two-way communication via polls or replies to messages, and site sourcing and emailed coupon codes can provide the data that many desire on the success and reach of marketing campaigns. Spreading information about deals and loyalty programs, and tasks that can be completed to get further rewards, can spread rapidly and effectively through well designed emails. However, there are also a couple drawbacks to the use of email. The first being that the younger generations are not as active on email, and the second that there is no third party viewership of activity or as powerful of a viral effect generated by this medium as there is on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook, when utilized properly can be intensely effective in increasing company reach and brand loyalty. However, many make the mistake of making their page on Facebook a perpetually changing billboard that simply posts sales, deals, and products - limiting it to one-way communication - completely missing the point of the medium. A great way to avoid this problem is to create pages for the products or programs that one's company wishes to promote, encouraging individuals to post their stories, experiences, and appreciation for the product. Providing that personalized, customized, two-way communication that is currently trending.

Twitter also has its potentials in user engagement. Its ability to allow for viral skyrockets, the "trending" feature, and the simplicity of "retweets" gives twitter the capability to reach a broad audience quickly. However, this is limited by Twitter's simple nature and character restrictions. The medium is better used for rapid sales lasting only a few hours or information and loyalty rewards of similar nature. Perhaps a rapid reward program where reward points are given out if a link is followed, but that will only be valid for 15 minutes after the tweet is posted. Loyal followers will gain an advantage and be rewarded for their attention to the brand. Further it gives people a reason to constantly return to that page, increasing viewership and building a broader relationship.

Here again we return to loyalty programs. Where traditional programs are limiting in their approach, based solely on what the consumer does, social media rewards consumers for connecting with other, sharing content, and increasing the viral nature of the brand. This then develops a community around the product or services provided, increasing trust and the chances for a long term relationship.

Using social media sites in combination, and, perhaps more importantly, with mobile devices, furthers the possibilities and connections that the brand can receive. Potential rewards could be given for following the brand on all of its online pages (Brand Website, blog, Facebook, Twitter), signing up for newsletters, filling out surveys, submitting to texting notifications, and more - and the rewards can be just as engaging for the company, giving those following the company virtual rewards, advantages or hints about its upcoming products, a free app (or a feature in one that you might normally pay for), again the possibilities are endless.

Changing demographics and electronics usage has been key to the recent surge in social media. Its potential for two-way communication makes it unique among marketing mediums and allow for more potential in community and trust with consumers, and potential in loyalty rewards programs with targeted products and rewards that can be more personalized to achieve a closer relationship.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Article in Review: The Six Essential Principles for Social Media Success in Financial Service Firms

In the article, The Six Essential Principles for Social Media Success in Financial Service Firms, provided by Actiance (which can be accessed through the AMA at, a few gems of useful information lie within a jumble of common sense. Though the article claims to focus on "Financial Service Firms" most all of the information is too general to be applied to any specific sector, its really just a intro to social media marketing.

The article does effectively lay out the challenge of using marketing is social media: Effectively engage clients and consumers, make content worth passing on, and capitalize on trust of those engaged with the media. Further it establishes what makes social media so useful - connecting on a personal level with your companies followers.

The article argues that the intimacy of social media is what makes it a unique medium for marketers. Further it finds that a variety of voice makes content more engaging and personalized; less of a commercial center than a community one. A struggle many have with social media is the ability to keep constant and fresh updates going online. It is unlikely that any firm could fully produce new, relevant, and exciting content at the rate that users demand. Here appears one of the gems, by having pre-approved media a company can avoid awkward untimely posts that cause a lost of interest, and less people to return to the page. An excellent example of this is the Facebook page for the GoPro video camera. Every day they have a contest to give away everything they make. They announce the winner daily giving the page new content, and a reason for fans to return the page daily. THEN (and here is the other gem) they customize the post, mentioning where the individual is from and then broadcasting events in that area that they are partnered with, or where they think it might be cool to use the GoPro camera. This is that key customizable, personal, touch that social media provides, and if its results you're after, these daily posts receive hundreds of likes, dozens of shares, and at least as many comments. Each of these responses creating stories in hundreds of other people's news-feeds. Talk about significant consumer engagement!

However, the article also warns that social media tends to parallel corporate culture. If upper management doesn't see the medium as a part of the overall strategy, doesn't know how to use it, or is just kept out of the loop, the project will lag. Conversely, if it is embraced by the top, social media has a much better chance to excel.

There are a number of additional ways the company can reach its followers beyond Facebook, Twitter, and Linked-in. Product sales and review sites are also important places to connect, or at least further understand attitudes towards your product. Not only do they give you information about your customers, what else they buy, and feedback on your product, but you can also use that information to customize your posts, to target your audience in a way that is unexpected.'s facebook page is another example to look at. Amazon has access to information readily available about what products are hot, which items are bestselling, and much much more. They then promote the products and ideas that consumers are thinking about - making not only a personal connection, but also content that is worth sharing, liking, and commenting on.

Lastly, a benchmark is needed to determine the effectiveness of the social media. Data on likes, comments, shares, and "other clicks" all have different values. By establishing goals and tracking increased engagement one can see whether or not the material is being useful and how many people are truly engaged with the media. This information should be used to shape future posts based on what content is most attractive to the audience.

Again, not a super in depth article, nor one on financial service firms, but one that is a useful introduction with a handful of good ideas.