Creative Ways To Use Your Facebook Timeline


For those of us who help create and manage social media campaigns across many platforms, changes to any social media channel’s format often present a host of challenges – and opportunities.  Once you’re past the angst of having to deal with an entirely new format, it’s time to think about ways you can leverage this new development to your advantage.  Here are just a few creative ways you can use Facebook’s new Timeline layout to elevate your brand:

Design Creative Cover Photos

Like an overpowering billboard, the new 851 x 351 pixel “cover photo” is up to you to plan and use effectively.  With a little creative elbow grease, you can transform this expansive area into something downright awesome.  Not everyone is capable of graphically designing with the complexity of the space provided in mind, let alone using the free online opportunity to their real advantage.

Yes…there are rules to using this space to Facebook’s specifications.  This is not a space for commercial use.  Inviting your visitors to like your website, or tell your friends about your business is not allowed.  Nor can you include such things as price or purchase locations – and don’t think this is a place for your business address and contact information.  But do think of it as a first impression to your brand’s overall image, a visual “hello” to old and new fans.

Don’t let that discourage you from promoting your business.  If you’re stumped, take a moment to review these examples of effective Facebook Timelines. 

There’s no reason you can’t use your timeline area to promote the benefits of your brand – and change the image out frequently to keep your Facebook audience interested and engaged in your ongoing progress.

Pin Or Star It For Emphasis

Some information on your page may be promotional in nature.  Pinning your posts to the top of your page will keep that one special post at the top of your timeline for an entire week (7 days).  If you’re running a business promotion or have a conversation that’s become extremely popular, pinning your post to the top is one way to control the content on your timeline page without the previous landing page options.

Pinning is easy:

On your Facebook fan page timeline, choose the post you wish to pin to the top.

Hover your mouse over the top right hand corner of the post and the pencil will appear with the options Edit or remove.

Click to Enlarge Image

Click the pencil.

The menu will now appear with the option to Pin to Top.

Select Pin to Top.

Another Timeline option Facebook as enabled is the ability to “star” posts – enabling them to be given preference in your timeline.  A starred post will expand to display across the full-page of your profile – a wide 403 pixels.  Consider starring messages that have great images of your brand, or even you, to emphasize its importance to your audience.   Here’s a great example that includes a video in the post – for a wider screen appeal:

Celebrate Your Brand’s History

Facebook’s Timeline features “milestones” – a great way for you to make special note of your brand’s development over time.  Did you start in a garage only to grow into an office?  We’re products or services added to your company mix that were new to your business sector?  Milestones are a great way to tell your brand’s story in historical order.  Don’t forget to  make note of any awards you’ve received, sales goals achieved, or new campaign launches that may have been memorable.

Here’s another good opportunity to engage your employees – and even your fans to help you identify which milestones they feel were most important in your development.  You might even be surprised by their answers and insights!

This tactic works especially well for older brands with rich histories that have been ingrained in our culture.  Take for example Ford and ESPN – both of whom share old television campaigns we may likely remember (if you’re old enough!).

    One consideration  here is to review all of the past content your brand has used, and integrate them into your timeline as historical milestones.

Create A Contest

One of the first and most talked about Facebook/Timeline contests has been from Red Bull.  The socially savvy used their own timeline as a platform to launch a well received scavenger hunt.  By searching through the brand’s timeline, and learning about their key milestones, clues were provided to win the contest.  A simple and effective way to both educate and engage a loyal following of growing fans.

Or, for example, take Coca-Cola – who has hidden clues and riddles in their posts on their Facebook page.  Once unlocked, it takes you to a third-party website; an easy way to track the promotions click-through rates to prizes.

There’s no doubt these are just the beginning of many creative applications to come from agencies and brands around the world.  As the administrator of your brand’s Facebook page, it’s time you started thinking about ways to creatively use it to your unique advantage.

How are you planning to use it for your brand’s page? 

Forget “The Box”


I literally wince every time I hear someone (often from another agency) say “we need to think outside the box” on this project/campaign/strategy.

Forget “thinking outside the box”.  There is no “box” in today’s marketing.

As a consumer, I’ve become cynical and skeptical about being marketed to.  The more impressions I get every day, the more I crave value, relevancy and authentic messages and images.  I want to connect on a much deeper level to the brands that I choose to love and allow into my life.

Look around us at the brands that are succeeding even in today’s economic climate – Avatar, iPad, Old Spice are a few good examples.  No matter how rotten the economy, or how en vogue it is to abhor conspicuous consumption, we’ll gleefully plop down our precious earnings for brands  that inspire us, entertain us, and in general, provide us a respite from the traditional ad pitch.

With social media, it seems that the experience economy has literally exploded.  No matter what your social status, your spot in the world, or your preferences, your life has picked up speed to a blurry pace.  By the time traditional advertising has caught up with you, you’ve already seen it, reviewed it with your friends, and if you liked (or disliked) it – shared it with a much broader group of individuals that the traditional ad agency may not have even begun to target.

And so it goes that social media is here to stay – in a big way.  I’m personally not convinced that social media is marketing alone – but just an important channel that must now be considered in every campaign, from every perspective conceivable.

Today, more than ever before, brands need to be fast.  They need to be smart.  And they need to speak to their audiences in more specific, relevant ways that people will actually pay attention to, and share with their community.  Traditional media may still be the foundation of that communication, but it’s certainly not the mainstay.

What do you think the future of marketing looks like?  What brands are resonating with you…and why?  Please share your thoughts, we’d appreciate your viewpoint!

Social Media Do’s And Don’ts


Social media is, by its very nature, an ongoing conversation.  Without honestly and openly engaging your audience, you’ll simply be shouting into the void.  I’m often asked what I think makes social media effective, and thought I’d share a short list here, and see if you have others.

Social Media Don’ts:
:: Directly selling your product or service to your audience is a turn-off.  With all the obtrusive messages we receive on a daily basis, who wants another uninvited sales pitch?
:: Self promotion falls into the “direct sale” category.  Learn from your competitors, and keep the conversation flowing.
:: If you receive criticism (and you likely will), don’t ignore it – address it.  Never continue an argument over anyone’s perception.  Listen… learn… and adjust if necessary.
:: Having multiple online names and associated emails  can be confusing to your audience, and may make it more difficult if you’re trying to brand yourself effectively.
:: Fact and figures may be interesting, but don’t use them to prove how smart you are.
:: Never try to be anything other than who you are.  In time, everyone will see through your fake facade.
:: Don’t engage every channel you can think of to connect with irrelevant audiences.  Be targeted… in everything you do.
:: Don’t use just one social network.  You’ll get more insight by trying one or two primarily – and certainly learn more about your potential audiences that way.

Social Media Do’s:
:: Listen, listen, listen to your audience and prospects.
:: Actively listen to your customers.
:: Strategically listen to your competitors.
:: Honestly listen to your critics.
:: Listen and converse with your  followers and fans.
:: Ask questions of, and listen intently to your industry leaders.
:: Always be responsible and honest whatever you write.
:: Be authentic and stay positive.
:: Be helpful to your  fans and followers – you just never know who might be a prospective customer, or know someone who is.
:: Always double-check your tone, language, spelling and grammar before you send or pass-on information, comments, and reviews.
:: Respect all copyrights.
:: Develop and post a clear policy that protects your confidential information.
:: Focus all your efforts on customer value, at all times.

:: Determine specific goals and make sure you’ve included a mechanism to determine your success or failure (ROI)

I’m sure there are many, many other “do’s and don’ts” you can think of.   What are some you think are important?

Syndicate Your Twitter Feed


twitter

Here’s a great list of easy ways to syndicate your Twitter feed that I ran across on Einfo blog.  Originally, the information was obtained from Profileomat.com – a helpful profile aggregator.

1. Facebook – The Twitter Facebook App (good tutorial) will pull in your status updates from Twitter.
2. FriendFeed – Another social network where you can import your Twitter feed.
3. LinkedIn – This professionally skewed networking site now provides the ability to incorporate your Twitter feed right into your profile. Just note that you have to list your Twitter URL as one of your “Websites” in order to use the “Blog Link” application.
4. MyBlogLog – This social networking site allows you to managed your online profiles, including Twitter. Once you add your Twitter information, it will pull your feed onto your profile page. The links within the posts are dofollows as well as the link to your Twitter page.
5. Plaxo – This site also allows you to pull in your Twitter feed.
6. Tumblr – A hosted blogging solution will pull in your Twitter feed as a daily aggregated post. The blog will provide dofollow links within the Twitter posts.
7. Yahoo!360 - The profile page on Yahoo!360 allows you to add RSS feeds to your profile page. No link love here. All of the links redirect, but you still have an opportunity to share your Tweets with your friends on this network.

Also do not forget to submit your Twitter feed to RSS directories as well. Here are a couple of strong RSS directories: Feedage, RSS2, Feedest, RSSMotron, and Feedagg.

If you have any other suggestions or resources – please share!

Ten Easy Marketing Tactics For 2009


Marketing business concept

Where exactly did this year go?  It seems like just yesterday, we were celebrating the beginning of 2008 – and here we are, another revolution around our sun, and it’s time to consider steps for the new year.

During this traditionally “slow” business time of year, there is a perfect opportunity to take a few steps to help set a course to consider for 2009. Here are a few things you might focus your current marketing efforts:

1. Attract – don’t sell.
Don’t promote yourself in the “Look at me! Look at me!” way that is so rampant throughout today’s social media sites.  Instead, provide your audience with insights and ideas that may prove useful to them.  In time, you’ll attract the customers you seek as opposed to turning them off to your message.

2. Add the 5th “P” – Participation .
Product, Price, Place and Promotion have been the staple of marketing for many years.  It’s time to add the newest member of the “4 P’s”: Participation. Establish a new model that allows customers, employees and partners to engage your company.

3. Find and build your niche.
“Micro specificity” is today’s mantra.  Define your target customer to the smallest detail – then target them with your specific niche messaging.

4. Audit, audit, audit.
Place each and every customer experience you provide up for review.  Every interface is an opportunity to provide a better level of service, and establish a stronger following through word-of-mouth marketing.

5. Build your social network.
Do it on Facebook, or Ning or the good ol’ fashioned way: an advisory board.

6. Eliminate stupid policies.
One bad customer experience often establishes a pattern how to treat future customers.  This is, in fact, the very worst thing you can do.  One person’s circumstances cannot be made policy for all – and in the end, you’ll be establishing counter-active procedures that hurt you.

7. Develop your social media training in-house.
In 2009,  word-of-mouth advertising will be accelerated by social media even more than it was in 2008.  Truly understanding the core basics of social media, how it works and its effects on reputation and sales should be part of everyone’s company training programs.

8. Ban the word “consumer” from your vocabulary.
Using “consumers” to describe your customers, or end-customers discounts their individuality and complexity.

9. Raise your ethics bar.
Dedicate yourself to making 2009 the year you set a higher standard for ethical behavior. Make these new standards clear to employees, partners and vendors – then enforce them.

10. Do what you love.
We hear it all the time – enough that it has become trite.  But if you truly don’t love what you do, it will show.  And if it shows, how can you expect anyone else to share your passion?

(11.)  Ok… I said 10 Easy Marketing Tactics…but certainly, there are more.

What’s yours?

The Plain Scoop on Social Media


From the talented minds of Common Craft comes this simple, and engaging explanation of social media marketing today. Simple format – clear and concise message. Enjoy…

Kick Start Your Social Media Campaign


A few of us at SmartBrand have been working hard to establish a way to help our clients create and implement a successful Social Media Marketing (SMM) campaign can prove to be one of the key catalysts in growth for a small to medium sized business. It can increase brand and PR exposure for a fraction of traditional advertising costs and effort, as well as provide larger scale market research and product/service refinement ideas at virtually no extra charge.

Here’s our official first release of that campaign. And as always, we’d certainly welcome your insights and thoughts as they relate to our offerings, and your experiences.

A successful Social Media Marketing (SMM) campaign can prove to be one of the key catalysts in growth for a small to medium sized business. It can increase brand and PR exposure for a fraction of traditional advertising costs and effort, as well as provide larger scale market research and product/service refinement ideas at virtually no extra charge.

The speed in which trends evolve on the internet can often be daunting, but SMM campaigns by large companies can be emulated in whole, or in part, even by very small businesses. It’s not the money. It’s the content marketing mindset that separates success and failure. Big ideas can honestly beat big budgets.

Social media marketing goals will often involve different overall strategies and social media channels. It is possible to market with the aim of achieving all the following benefits; they do complement each other and some results naturally arise when other goals are achieved (e.g. better brand awareness eventually brings links).

SMM Campaign Benefits:

Increased Revenues - New sales opportunities through customer-generated content and brand engagement.

Powerful Customer Relationships – Establish and maintain valuable customer relationships through social media networks that increase brand loyalty, cultivate a network of evangelists, and maintain ongoing dialogue that will help position future marketing and business development initiatives.

Increased Traffic to Site – Increased search engine visibility effectively drives traffic to your site from fast growth channels.

Competitive Market Insight – Valuable data on behaviors and interests which helps you better understand your customers’ needs.

Enhanced Brand Presence – Seed branded messages within existing online conversations to amplify marketing efforts and manage public perception of your brand.

The power of recommendation. – Would you rather buy from an unknown company or from a company that people recommend?

SOCIAL MEDIA SERVICE OFFERINGS:

Social Media Strategy Development – Identify content, brand messages, communities and influencers with the greatest potential for our clients’ social media engagement. Create a roadmap based on marketing strategies and goals to coordinate and execute social media campaigns as a key component of the overall sales and marketing plan.

SMM QuickStart:  (one time fee)
➢ Profile background information and data gathering
➢ Strategy Session / Goal Setting (1 hr. in person/teleconference)
➢ Asset Compilation (graphics, broadcast, public relations)
➢ Recommendations (Phased development if required)

Social Media and Blog Launch – Create personal relationships with the influencers and evangelists that have the greatest voice within their online social networks.

BlogStart:  (one time fee)
➢ Profile background information and data gathering
➢ Strategy Session / Goal Setting (1 hr. in person/teleconference)
➢ Asset Compilation (database mining, graphics, broadcast, public relations)
➢ Installation & Profile Set-up (free platform only)
➢ Content Creation Launch (1st posting only)
➢ Content Creation Schedule Recommendations
➢ Maintenance & Update/Usage Training

Social Media Distribution – Optimize communication placement through blogging, video uploading and sharing, podcasting, webcasting, tagging and social bookmarking to maximize distribution throughout social media networks.

BlogSphere: 3 month minimum.
➢ Strategy Session / Goal Setting (1 hr. in person/teleconference)
➢ Installation & Profile Set-up (free platform only)
➢ Content Creation & Scheduling – monthly/weekly/daily (goal dependent)
➢ Link SMM Outreach Campaigns with existing Sales & Marketing Strategies
➢ Mobile Media (Twitter 1x day)

SMM Influencer Direct (ID): 3 month minimum
➢ Create and distribute electronic press kit
➢ Develop & distribute content for editors, bloggers, influencers, online columnists, and industries use to disseminate to their users and readers

Campaign Management – Manage clients’ social media initiatives in coordination with your search engine optimization and paid search marketing efforts.

SMM Management: 3 month minimum
➢ Content control, archiving and tracking
➢ Internet marketing strategy coordination
➢ Monthly or weekly reporting of trends, comments and response(s)
➢ Monthly or weekly recommendations to targeted topics/tactics

Brand Development and Strategic Partnerships: Design, development and refinement of affiliate-based influencer programs to build out Clients’ affiliate networks and drive their sales.

Brand Strategy & Creative Development: Viral video/webisode production, viral email, promotions and contests, social network design: blogs, and other interactive content recommendations and distributions. Price TBD

Monitoring and Reporting – Combine technology and human insight to provide “buzz” tracking and performance analysis for social media campaign.

SMM Monitoring/Reporting: 3 month minimum.
➢ Monthly or weekly content response reporting, archiving and tracking
➢ Monthly or weekly reporting of trends, comments and response(s)

Training - Provide a full training curriculum on how to effectively utilize and integrate social media into future marketing strategies.

SMM Training: 2 hour minimum.
➢ Complete training for corporate staff
➢ Enable channel updates
➢ Determine ongoing reporting mechanisms

Of course, we believe this is a comprehensive, inexpensive approach to establishing a social media marketing campaign for just about any potential target market. That said, we know you may have had experience in these areas that might help guide our efforts – so please feel free to comment on our structure and pricing…we’d really appreciate your thoughts and suggestions!

Start A Social Media Campaign


web 2.0

I think we can all agree that all types of organizations and campaigns will use some form of social media marketing in their mix. And like all emerging communication channels, the pitfalls will come first to the early adopters.

Establish And Measure Your Goal
Good endings begin with good beginnings. Seems simple enough, right?

But far too many social media campaigns are undertaken with the expectation that entering the sphere of conversations will, by their very nature, create the campaign momentum the company is looking to achieve. In fact, social media is simply an accelerator of that campaign momentum – and certainly not a creator of it.

The good news is… social media is somewhat easy and immediate to measure. Response to blogs, web offerings and overall sales can be tied directly to the social campaign itself – especially if personalized capture points are implemented as needed for measurement.

Provide Real Value

In the social media sphere, traditional messaging simply doesn’t work. Most savvy participants are careful to not to engage in conversations without understanding the context of that conversation. Authenticity, then, rings loudly to the social media audience. More so than the internet – rules of engagement are a sign of intelligence, and as in any social setting, no one wants to be thought or branded ignorant or immature.

And more to the point, social media enables us all to truly give of our knowledge, interests and discoveries. If that information is pure in it’s nature – then a relationship of trust can be built between the company, and the social media network at large.

Dollar for dollar – that is a level of brand loyalty you simply could not afford to buy in today’s tightening, competitive market.

Social media conversation

It’s A Conversation, Not A Platform
The largest of corporations have tried their hand at social media campaigns – many (if not most) of them unsuccessfully. Part of the problem is obvious – any type of corporate dialog is suspect of being a thinly veiled attempt at sales – and not the hones conversation between brand and public it could be. Therein lies the challenge – to present and create dialog that is truly useful to all participants – and not just an attempt to announce a product or service.

Conversation is king – openness is the key to the kingdom. Restricting dialog because of self-imposed corporate brand standards simply doesn’t work in this truly social environment.

social media brands

Give It A Go!

Once the decision is made to begin your social media marketing campaign (SMM), there are a few considerations that you might review before getting started.

> Message Consumption – hopefully, you’ll develop or have a blog. One surefire way to accurately measure engagement is through monitoring who is reading your blog, where they are from and exactly what content they are reading. Most blogging services provide some form of web analytics that will provide you with these reports.

> Content Response – Who’s actually interacting with your content? Comments may very well be the easiest way to find out – and if your message is compelling or thought provoking – you’ll receive comments from both positive supporters and negative comments. Either way – you’re making progress.

> Social Media Bookmarking – Who’s adding your content to sites like Del.icio.us, Reddit, and Stumbleupon. Engage your web analytic tool and run a click map report and see how many web visitors are clicking on the social bookmarking icons. Or, simply create profiles in each of the individual bookmarking sites and search for your specific web addresses.

> Who’s Subscribing to your RSS feed? An easy way to measure how many of your readers are actually engaged is to monitor how many of them are directly subscribing to your RSS feeds

> Who’s referring and engaged about you? Many blog platforms have the ability (like WordPress) to tell you who’s linked to your site. If that’s not an option in your blog platform, you might a blog search engine Technorati for your domain’s current interaction.

> Profile Engagement: Even if you don’t have a blog, you might have a profile on Myspace, Facebook, or Mybloglog. Simply use the same methodologies for any blog, and you’ll watch the growth of friends and profile visits in real time.

Successful social media marketing (SMM) campaigns will likely be a key catalyst i for a small to medium sized business to grow their business strategy. Without a great deal of expense, and if implemented correctly, it will increase brand equity and public relations reach at a small fraction of traditional advertising costs and effort. Not to mention it can also provide market research and product refinement guided directly by the target market for little, or no extra cost.

Clearly, having a comprehensive SMM strategy for your business is essential in today’s increasingly competitive market. If you’re interested in jumping into this powerhouse marketing strategy, but simply don’t have the time or expertise to do it yourself – give us a call.

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