Posts Tagged 'online marketing'

Social May Artificially Validate Motivation and Intent But…

sweeti jar

 

Don’t let the title scare you. it’s really a simple notion actually. It goes something like this. You’re a marketer, you’re tasked to sell something online. You know about Google’s algorithm, you understand how to optimize for search, you know that you will be using WordPress because of it’s ability to add plugins and content on the fly. You have everything that is needed except actual people, buying customers and or web traffic if you will. You decide to make it social. Or become… wink wink, social.

You’re thinking that if  you meet, follow, friend and like enough people that you might be able to sell them on your product or they will find your site and buy. You figure that if you create social profiles everywhere and try and be everywhere at once, you have a better chance of selling stuff.  You and everyone else!

So…Are you trying to sell a product or make friends?

What’s your intent? To find buyers or to find friends?

What’s you motivation? To make money and to sell product or be social?

We call it social media but is social a means to an end that has nothing to do with being truly social? and what’s that “media” part of the term supposed to refer to? What is being “truly social” even mean? In order for there to be harmony, success and sales, do you as a marketer need to keep swimming in social circles in order to create genuine relationships in the hopes that one day after you have gotten past the whole trust thing that your prospect/customer will eventually buy something from you the company? That’s a helluva sales cycle. Most companies don’t have enough time to wait for that! Is there a workaround for that?

There’s an old saying and it goes like this. Quit trying to make out with the person who’s name you don’t even know yet.

Maybe we need to start calling a spade a spade. At the end of the day social and search may get you in the door and as a marketer you may have done your job of using what is at your disposal, but at some point it will still come down to trust, price, value and the user experience and not necessarily being everywhere and being “social.”  What if you made your intent perfectly clear in a social setting that you want to sell people something, how would that work out?  Sadly, it might not be pretty. Which means that you’re back to square one. Trust, value, price and user experience.

From a transactional standpoint social might get the conversation started for both parties and in some cases it might somewhat be artificial or even superficial for both parties-but in the end, it will always come down to you guessed it, trust, price, value and the user experience.  The problem is until marketers figure out a better way to convey trust, value, price and a great user experience-they’re going to have to bide their time getting to know who you are.

Are marketers okay with that?

 

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It’s Time For Retailers To Raise Their Games-Five Quick Reminders

The static website is dead long live the static website

According to a study from Accenture, comScore, and dunnhumbyUSA aimed at helping consumer packaged goods (CPG) marketers, visitors to CPG brand websites buy 37% more in retail stores than non-visitors to the brand site. The study also concluded, that to maximize impact, website content needs to be updated regularly and contain brand value messaging that both engages visitors while also providing compelling reasons for them to purchase the brand at retail. Without sounding too much like Captain Obvious, here’s what retailers need to remember:

  1. Update your content regularly
  2. Give the user a reason to be there
  3. Give the user a reason to come back
  4. Reward their loyalty and visits to the site
  5. Give them an incentive to visit the site and a physical location

The study found that visitors to CPG brand websites are valuable and frequent buyers of the brand in retail stores, completing 41% more transactions than non-visitors. So it goes without saying, incent and enrich the online experience and tie it into the store experience and sales go up and buyers return.

Social Media begs the following 50 questions:

Below are 50 questions that prior to the creation of social networks, had no home. But now, all of these questions have a relavent place in the hiearchy that is “social networking” and thus needed to be answered. Because, though there are millions upon millions of people out there that know about social networks, there are millions that are clueless. Before we start answering these questions, are there any that I might have neglected or forgot to ask? Let’s get to it then.

  • What is a social network? For this answer we head to Youtube. You can watch it now, or come back to it.

 

  • Is it like MySpace? Well maybe we should qualify what MySpace is!
  • What’s Facebook?
  • Is it like blogging? Hmmmm…first, let’s explain what blogging is!
  • How does it work? Social networks are  networks of relationships that we have formed that tie us to others that may have a something in common with us. Think the 6 degrees of separation game. Think about what happens when you meet someone new. You ask where they work, where they grew up, where they went to school etc etc. Eventually, you realize that this person knows the girl that you work with and is a relative of your best friends boss.  Even though you’ve never met before, you’re both part of the same social network — a friend of a friend if you will. So, Social-networking sites “make off-line relationships more transparent” by allowing us to see (with pictures, videos and links) who our friends are, who our friends’ friends are, and who our friends’ friends’ friends are — all in a supposed easy-to-use format. Like a MySpace or Facebook. When you create a profile on a social-networking site, you are putting yourself out there and saying, “Hey world here I am, who knows me? and who wants to be my friend? and who do you know?” You can use the social site to:
    • look up old friends; make new ones
    • share music, photos and videos
    • join groups based on interests such as politics, hobbies, sports, religion or pets.
    • find jobs or love; or network with other professionals.
  • Are you on MySpace or Facebook? If you are 18-34, This might be one of the key face to face questions you may ask of someone within the first 5 minutes of meeting them.
  • What do I do with it? Here is an interesting response from Marcel de Ruiter and his blog Shaping Thoughts
  • How many social networks can I join? According to Mashable, last year there were 350 that they thought were worth mentioning, but I imagine that that number has grown exponentially. Pick your niche and I bet you can find a social network for it!
  • How many hours should I spend in social networks? Although Jennifer Laycock has some thoughts on this, I’d say this depends on what you want to get out of your social network. Depending on the number of social networks you join, you really should pick just a few and develop those. It really should amount to time spent once you are home from work or school. But not to the extent that your school work or your job performance starts to suffer.
  • How can I grow my business with social networks? Entrepreneur.com has a great piece on how to grow your business using social media. But make sure you have a firm foundation and understanding of what you are getting into before setting out. This also will allow you to ask better questions, should you choose to have someone grow your business with the help of social media.
  • What is the value proposition of being in a social network? According to Jill Konrath “A value proposition is a clear statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. The more specific your value proposition is, the better. ”  However Jim Long seems to have nailed by saying that “At the end of the day, isn’t the value proposition that it connects people on a deeply personal level across time and geography? I think so, Jim…
  • What do I get? It all depends on what you want. Just like anything else, what you get out of it is in direct proportion to what you put into it.
  • Am I spending my time properly by being in or on a social network? A great post on this sits here, titled “Avoiding information and conversational overload from social media” My thanks again to Jennifer Laycock
  • Am I using it right? There is no right way or wrong way, though if you do nothing with a page that you have created, then chances are, not much will happen with it. Remember, the essence of social networking is to find your voice and find others who have the same voice. Finding others just like you is one of the primal instincts of mankind and animals alike. We like to run with our packs. Find your pack and the experience will be golden.
  • Am I using it wrong? See the above answer.
  • How do I know the difference between Facebook and MySpace?. Chris Salazar has an excellent post on this exact question, so for those who truly do not know the difference between the two check it out.
  • Do the developers really know what I want and care about on a social network? Of course they do… to a certain extent. Social networking sites are not successful unless they know or have an idea what people want. And ever since Facebook opened up their development platforms, the widgets are flying in. Widgets expand the things that you can do with your page and actually help you network with others.
  • Do I care what they do with my information? You should, so watch this:

 

  • If I am not on a social network, will I be scorned? Absolutely not. One of the biggest constraints to SN is the allocation of time that one has to set aside to “do this”. If you don’t have time, then thats fine. That would generally mean that you have your days and evenings filled with work, school and family obligations, in which case, there is nothing you can do about it and bridges will not be burned if you are not part of a social network.
  • Should I worry about social media and its effect on children? If you are a parent, if you do not do anything, then it’s like swimming in an undertow, you swim at your own risk. To not monitor what your children are doing online, not only in a social network setting, but in general, is foolish and ignorant. For more information on this subject try Connect Safely
  • What about predators in social networks? All you need to know on this subject can be found on the link, but if you are a parent you need to be vigilant and if you are a kid, just be smart.
  • Is social media measurable? According to Jeremiah Owyang “For many marketers who want to deploy a campaign on a social network, access to server metrics isn’t always available. As a result, they have to often visually monitor the interaction on the site, or measure click throughs to their site. In some of the more sophisticated platforms, a crude dashboard is provided.”
  • Is there a niche site out there for me? If so what can I do with a social networking site that is geared especially to my interests? There are tons of niche sites, in fact, in this blog, if you do a search and just title it top social sites, you should find something, better yet, here are the latest numbers for February of the top 25 social networking sites.
  • Isn’t it the same thing as chat and online forums and bbs’s? Yes and no. That is more Web 1.0 and social networking sites are more Web 2.0. Bbs’s are and were more static and had zero real time applications to them. Chat is and was real time but did not have the other tools attached to make the chat expereince more interactive and fullfilling. Social networks are more about sharing and creating and communicating. Its more about user generated content. Chat is just what it is, it’s talking and nothing more, to a certain extent.
  • It’s difficult for me to use, isn’t there a simpler way of doing it? Its going to get easier. As each iteration of social media evolves it will become more user friendly, more intuitive, and easier to set up. Remember, we are talking about something that is still really in its infancy.
  • Are there social networks for minorities? There are, though social networks are not, for the most part, geared towards any specific race, creed or color. There are some social networks, however.  that are geared more towards people of color. A primary example of this would be Black planet
  • If social networks are so cool, then shouldn’t they be available to the disadvantaged? That’s a great question and one that needs to be thrown out there for more discussion. Stanford University, touches on it here, but not to the level that it really deserves.
  • Will society eventually look down upon people who are not associated with a particular social network? I hope not, but if were to look into my crystal ball, it would seem to be heading towards a society where each person has a social network that he or she is a part of. To the degree that eventually your ID and who you are is also supported by your social network. Similar to Second Life, your social network will define you as much as your offline persona.
  • Why do I need it? You don’t. It’s a choice that you will come to on your own, once you get done reading the news, answering your email, doing a search, paying your bills and looking for flights.
  • What should I do with it? Again, it’s entirely up to you. Do nothing or you can do a little, or you can jump in with both feet. It’s your choice.
  • How is it going to improve my quality of life? The quality of your life is often defined by your friends and family and your job. Taking those 3 into the context of a social networking setting you could: Connect with friends you have not seen in a long time. Improve your relationships with existing friends.  You can connect with relatives that do not live close by. and lastly you can connect and use the power of social networks to either network with colleagues, find a new job, or improve the job or career you have now. How’s that?
  • How far can I take it? The possibilites are really quite endless.
  • What is the shelf-life for a social network? As of this writing, the big boys have no reason to believe that things will not get even better. However for the niche sites, because the business model is often supported by ad revenues, it will be tough. Though niche sites have a great value proposition, the numbers in regards to people will have to be somewhat strong for them to survive. And that remains to be seen.
  • Should I wait before I jump into a social network? You can take baby steps. You can try out some smaller sites or niche sites or even a shopping site for instance to just get a feel for what types of information is required, how much of yourself you want to put “out there” and what to expect in return. You will find that the larger sites are much more active, but in some cases, might be overwhelming. Take your time. Poke around.
  • If I was to use a social network, what would be the best one to use and why? A good question, Obviously the top 2 are always referenced but start with this top 25 and see if in the list, there is one that might catch your eye.
  • What separates a good social network from a bad one? Users, tools, content, and the technology. Is it always down? aAe there many users to begin with? What are some of the tools, widgets and applications they are offering that make a social network so fun to use? do they have a lot, a little? Ask yourself if this is the right group for you and go from there. Do some sleuthing, sign up and see, if not, just walk away.
  • Whats a widget and why do I care? You should. It’s what makes a social media experience that much richer. To quote Wikipedia just once, “A widget adds some content to that page that is not static. Other terms used to describe web widgets including: gadget, badge, module, capsule, snippet, mini and flake. Web widgets often but not always use DHTML, JavaScript, or Adobe Flash
  • Whats a mashup? Almost to the tee, a mashup is a way of combining more than one type of app with another to create a completely unique application.  It combines data from more than one source into a single integrated tool;  thereby creating a new and distinct web service that was not originally provided by either source. A classic example of a mashup is the combining of peanut butter and chocolate.. what did we get?   Fill in the blank____________
  • Does that matter to me? Yes and know, eventually all that you will want may be the result of a mashup.
  • How do I even attempt to create my own “page”? Thats the beauty of CMS and user generated content. No offense, but developers have really dumbed it down so that it really is quite simple to create and make your own page. And if you make a mistake, you can always go back and start over. Nothing is rarely etched in stone.
  • What kinds of time does it take to devote to social networking? Your time management skills will be tested, especially if you find your voice and your peeps. Eventually you may find yourself doing nothing but rushing home and jumping on your machine to check out your page and any action that might be associated with it. If it starts to hinder work and school, then you need to chill. Plain and simple.
  • Will corporate America take over social networks? It has to a certain degree With Newscorp buying MySpace and Microsoft sinking millions into an ad deal with Facebook, it’s inevitable that it is to happen. There is a lot of money at stake to be made and to lose, and corporate America isn’t about losing propositions. Can you say Murdoch and Gates?
  • Is there a place for social networks in society? Or is it a fad? They are here to stay. Though the social networks that you see now, may not be the social networks you see in 5 years. A lot can and will alter and change the look and feel and especially the technology running these networks, so stay tuned.
  • Don’t web developers just use it for driving traffic to websites? Some do. Social Media and Search engines have a major love-fest going on and it did not take search marketers long to figure that out.
  • Aren’t social media sites like just for collecting names so that I get hit on by advertisers? Yes and no. But right now that is the revenue model for most highly trafficed sites. Don’t forget, all of the sites we are talking about are free, so how else are they supposed to make money? Advertising and having access to the user information drives that train.
  • Will it help me get a job? There is a nice niche group of business related social networking sites. So the answer is yes.
  • Can I get famous? Maybe for the wrong reasons, though some seem to have carved out a niche for themselves say for example on You Tube.
  • Can I get a date? It’s possible, there are some social sites geared towards dating. Facebook actually has that potential, so we’ll go ahead and say yes.
  • Can I make lots of money? Again it’s possible. The potential lies within you, to leverage it the way you see fit.
  • It’s used to build brands right? Absolutely. Marketers are starting to realize that using social networks to build, promote and grow brands is and can be a very effective way to reach a sometimes unapproachable and skeptical audience.
  • Social networks are set up to influence purchasing decisions right? They can be. They can be used to support and promote products that ultimately you the consumer may buy. More and more marketers are setting up product-centric social networks in which the users are consumers and buyers of that product.
  • Why should I join one? Because everyone else seems to be talking about it and to not at least experience the power of it wouldn’t be any fun.

 

Well there you have it. Some answers are better than others. Some require more elaboration than I was willing to give and ultimately, I  may have left out a few that did not come to mind. That’s why you people are here. To help me out, to grow a powerful KB for those who do not know enough about the power of the social network.

Cheers

Social media and reputation management

Ironically, I just came across this article titled 9 essential tactics for reputation managment using social media that came out the day after I wrote my post on what can be done to manage a blemished reputation using social media.

Cyber Monday Results, How Big Was It?

So, perhaps Cyber Monday is more myth than Black Friday is reality. Is Cyber Monday really this rockem-sockem day where we all come in and the first thing we want to do on monday morning is hit the “sales” offered online?   I say that because I just don’t think it’s nearly as big for online retailers as Black Friday is for traditional retailers in the malls.

 The stats bear this out. Though the numbers have improved from year to year, this would make sense since the possibility of a computer in the home has risen to a level that rivals the washer and dryer. It’s not the first big spike in traffic or sales for the holiday season, nor the last. It’s actually not even close to the biggest of the year. Here’s the proof in the pudding. ComScore Networks showed only a slight 9% increase in sales yesterday from the previous Tuesday, which was in actuality, the real start of the holiday retail season. Why you ask? Merely because sales had spiked 55%.  Thats right, 55%.

Likewise, Nielsen//NetRatings said Cyber Monday traffic from people shopping at work rose 18% from the week before. But that’s far below the 39% week-over-week spike on Black Friday from home shoppers. In fact, it’s even below the 25% at-work jump in traffic on  the Saturday following Black friday. And you thought most people didn’t work on the weekends? night.

As we stated earler,  the Cyber Monday numbers each sucessive year should grow as access to pc’s grows. Thus this year, Cyber Monday once again saw the highest unique audience of any day so far this holiday season with 29.5 million unique visits to Nielsen//NetRatings Holiday eShopping Index, according to the metrics firm.

Sixteen million of those visits came from the workplace, Neilsen//NetRatings said. That’s up 7 percent over last year. Of that, eBay, Amazon and Wal-Mart again took the top three spots, drawing 5.6 million, 4.2 million and 2.5 million unique visitors, respectively. The top shopping search engine was Shopzilla.com with 959,000 unique visitors. Customer spending on Cyber Monday totaled $608 million, up 26 percent versus the same day last year, according to ComScore.  That number is not etched in stone since it does not take into context all e-tailers.

So the point is,  though Cyber Monday has a cool moniker the fact of the matter is that it merely is just one of the more busy online shopping days of the year. In the grand scheme of things it’s merely another active day of online shopping.

7 great tips you need to know when marketing to Moms.

Did you know that there are more than 80 million mothers in the United States and 51 percent of all US Internet users are women? In addition, did you know that mothers of children under the age of 18 are “significantly more likely to go online than the rest of adult Americans?”  This, according to the Pew Internet Project.

The translation then is that ” Moms” will tend to disproportionately influence household purchase behavior. So how, as a marketer do you reach them?

1) They are savvy buyers/shoppers. More and More of them are using the internet to influence future and current buying decisions with the possible exception being electronics.

2) Working women ages of 24-54 — of whom the U.S. has some 55 million — have emerged as a potent force in the marketplace. If you’re product is not aimed at them, you are mssing the boat. These women are not only balancing work, but chances are, also a family.

3) Women  make more than 80% of the buying decisions in all homes. And women shop differently from the way men do: Females research more extensively and are less likely to be influenced by ads. Men buy, women shop. and Mom’s compare. They make buying “decisions”. Even in the online world, when selling a product,  it’s imperative that you have features and benefits as well as savings.

4) According to data compiled by AdAge, there are more than 30 million moms who read up to five blogs on a daily basis. Within these blogs can be the basis for buying decisions. More importantly, women talk, they are social, so if something is worthy in regards to a purchase, they will tell others. Viral marketing is an untapped resource in marketing to Moms.

5) The average household income of these moms is $70,000. They are computer savvy. They are educated.  If they cannot find their info through traditional search, they will find it in blogs, If not a blog, then chances are, a social network or a forum will provide the answers and or information they are seeking.

6) Early in 2006 a company called Lucid Marketing, which specializes in targeting moms, issued data that reflected just over 20 percent of stay-at-home moms and another 19 percent of moms who work part time visit “message boards” or “chat rooms” on a daily basis. A great place to market, but also an area where marketers need to be sensitive and not pushy sales peple.

7) Women’s decision-making authority has grown in part because more households are headed by women — 27% at last count, a fourfold increase since 1950-according to Businessweek. What does this mean? As online marketers, if you don’t realize that you need to segment your online marketing efforts into distinct niches, then you’ll be sure to see a reduction in overall conversion numbers.

So given the purchasing power of Women and or Moms. If you underestimate, ignore them,  and don’t bother to find out what they want. Then chances are they will ignore you and not bother to find out what you have to sell. It’s as simple as that.

What do you think women want online marketers to know about the way they buy and shop online? Do women use social networks for the purpose of making buying decisions?


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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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