What is the Top Social Network to Drive Visits to Corporate Websites?

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The answer might surprise you…

LinkedIn, with 64%. Compare this to Facebook, coming in at 17% and Twitter at 14%.

More details here on surprising LinkedIn stats, but this is one that I think merits the question, “Should we be active on LinkedIn as part of our social strategy?”

What are your thoughts?

8 Tips for Influencer Marketing

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twitterforcashMany brands have implemented Influencer Marketing campaigns – equipping key demographic users with products/services that they will use/review/share on their own social networks.

It’s a program that I also endorse and recommend. Here’s a few few quick tips:

  1. Aim for a mix of your Influencer backgrounds. Focus on your core demo, but also be diverse.
  2. Invest in new Influencers. They will grow with you and maintain loyalty.
  3. Watch out for “PR Friendly” Influencers. They will share your message/brand, but their content may be light/empty.
  4. Treat them well. Give them more than enough to work with and make them happy.
  5. Share their content on your own platforms. Even if it’s not all 100% positive, this is what you asked for.
  6. Build on their efforts. See who interacts with their posts – now engage those users.
  7. Maintain them as a segment. Don’t just view them as 1-and-done, this can be a potent group.
  8. Add new Influencers. Bring new people into the fold, keep it fresh.

Got any tips to add? Leave them in a comment…

3 Tips to Consider Life Without Facebook

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skynet_FBFor the past several months, I’ve watched Facebook’s changes to paid post reach, content throttling, Mark Cuban’s comments, and the most recent, Facebook “Emotion Experiment”.

There are so many ways to go with this… but one has to wonder just how far Facebook will go and possibly completely caving in on itself. It was never going to be G+ that would “dethrone” Facebook, but it seems that Facebook itself may create its own demise. Either that, or it pulls “a SkyNet”, becomes self aware and launches a full scale nuclear attack against us humans.

I’ll save my personal opinions on the emotional experiment for a chance to discuss them with you over a drink . But here’s my professional opinion on what to do about Facebook as a social marketer:

  1. Start to Branch Out: Maybe you have been focusing on core platforms for a while. It’s time to start to determine what other social media spaces may fit your brand.
  2. Review your Facebook Ad Budget: What could you do with this money if you no longer spent it on Facebook? Consider all or even just a part of that ad spend. What else is possible? Increase head count? Different ads? New directions?
  3. Consider What You Will Lose: Similarly, what would you lose if Facebook went away? Whether or not you decide to limit your Facebook marketing or it implodes on itself, where else can you get what Facebook is giving you now?

In closing, I’m not suggesting that you close out your Facebook Brand Page. But I am definitely suggesting that we all take a moment to consider what life without Facebook might be like.

The Business Case for Snapchat: Disappearing Content in a Content Marketing World

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Snapchat-LogoLove it or hate it, Snapchat is a bit of a big deal.

Having turned down acquisitions for a reported $3 billion (from Facebook) and yes, even $4 billion (Google), Snapchat is the ephemeral juggernaut of the social world. While the total number of users isn’t officially disclosed, they were reported at 30 million in Fall, 2013, with over 400 million snaps per day. That’s an active bunch.

Considering the average user age is 13-23, this is exactly where marketers want to be, in connecting with users while they are young. A few brands have already jumped in, Taco Bell (a frequent innovator) and sports teams such as the New Orleans Saints and (very recently) Pittsburgh Penguins come to mind.

Like Instagram, Snapchat is a mobile only platform (though there are Instagram web profiles). The kicker with Snapchat is, of course, that the content has a limited life span. It’s gone either after you view it, or with Snapchat Stories, lasts for 24 hours. It’s very plain to see that Snapchat works as it solves a very real problem of life in the “share everything” age we are in – the content disappears. What happens on Snapchat, stays on Snapchat. It’s the Las Vegas of social networks. It’s the exact opposite of a Facebook Timeline.

If you’re a marketer – why then, would you want to be using Snapchat? What’s the value in sharing content that disappears in a Content Marketing. Why wouldn’t you use something you can “keep” like a Vine or Instagram video? Why would we make content that we’re going to allow to disappear?

The answer is because you may find new users there. They may follow you, and then they may follow you on your other platforms as well.

The other factor here is something that I think we should use a reminder as marketers. Embrace it. Change is constant. Remember that social marketing can be fun. Ephemeral content still has value and is an interesting concept. Things don’t always work out as planned (remember when you couldn’t wait to build your G+ Brand Page?). The ephemeral reality of Snapchat is that it may lead you to new followers. And in turn, new customers. Or maybe not. But you’ll probably learn something about your marketing and your market at the very least.

Digital Leadership 2.0

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When I first joined Twitter back in 2007, I followed a lot of different people. I was bullish very early on regarding social marketing, and a number of people who I followed helped to shape and reinforce my experience and opinion.

Over time, I began to find my own voice and at the same time, began to unfollow a number of those influencers – it was an evolution and a healthy one not unlike many “real world” relationships. Those days were a very optimistic time for the social media industry, when the arrival of tools like Facebook and Twitter were seen as a democratization of marketing where the tools of real-time, mass dissemination, “free” communication were at hand. The future was limitless, bright and fun. It was almost a revolution, as converts were continually faced with the challenge of having to “sell up” the benefits of social tools o the executive level.

Many digital leaders at that time were rife with appropriate optimism. Digital Leaders 1.0 were also inherently “cool” as these marketing practices were explosive and truly game-changing. Terms like “rock stars” were abound, with “killer apps” and strategies to “make your content explode”, we were a bit caught up in it. Rules changed over night, and the possibilities kept expanding.

But there is still this lingering evangelicalism that has been outpaced by the progress and acceptance of social marketing. The current landscape is not composed of renegades and rock stars, but professionals at all levels. I often see tweets continually punctuated with exclamation marks! Because everything is awesome!!! There is also this penchant for “life coach” type of advice; Tony Robbins-isms if you will.

Is it just me, or are these the kinds of people you avoid at parties or gatherings? Why aren’t more people rolling their eyes at this kind of activity?

I see effective leaders (in any industry/setting) as catalysts. This is a time for transparent experience when over 100,000 Twitter profiles claim to be social media experts. It’s time for a grounded approach, focused on business outcomes. We don’t need hype, what we do is not radical. A catalyst initiates and enables. A leader is not the hammer, it’s the nail. It’s time for Digital Leadership 2.0.

If you want to be a leader – don’t get in line, find your own voice. Start today.

Social Integration vs Destination

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LikeI made some predictions at the end of 2012 and stated my advice was to view social as less of a destination for the coming year.

So, what does that mean, exactly?

I’ve seen a number of brands do a great job with social media marketing – but have the “social too” focus. That gets enacted something like, “Like us on Facebook!”, or “Follow us on Twitter!”. It made sense to do this at first, as social media really took a firm grip on how to market your brand and saw rapid adoption and staggering growth.

This led to brands prioritizing their Facebook Page over any other asset. Broadcast TV ads directed consumers to Facebook Pages, not their website. I always viewed this cautiously – as Facebook is a separate entity. Facebook changes all the time, and as I have often said – it’s the fans/customers/consumers who really own social media, the brand is simply providing a structure for them to participate in. Brands don’t own their Facebook user data. Facebook is a completely separate business with its own agenda.

Now – where I’m coming from is to discontinue this practice of using Facebook as a destination. Its simply not enough to drive toward Likes and Follows – drive users towards goals and targets that are integrated into a larger marketing message. Drive them to a reason – to a focused message. Prioritize your own assets – your website, your app.

Social sites are still of huge importance – but what I’m saying is how you strategically integrate them into your mix is the real key. Remember, most Facebook users consume your content through their Newsfeed – and rarely come back to your page. When’s the last time you checked out a brand’s Twitter profile page? And increasingly – all these activities are happening via a mobile device.

So don’t just be “social too” – make social central to how you communicate. Don’t make someone else’s business the destination for yours.

Straight Talk on Social Marketing

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I’ve got to say this – I’ve seen way too much fluffy language on social marketing for way too long.

Statements from very well known professionals that just ring empty for me, like the requirement for brands to “create value” through social marketing.

Other over zealous statements purporting that your “social score” (don’t get me started on Klout) is the “new credit score” are well, lets say debatable at best. I’ll take my credit score any day – which is based on real dollars, not the return on my “influence”.

What does it mean to”create value”, anyway? Just how are you supposed to do that? Well, that’s the tricky part… I used to provide sales training sessions back in the day and I’ve told countless sales people to “sell the value” of their product. This only goes so far… I approach sales in a completely different way now.

Don’t take these kinds of statements as “advice” – make your own logic. Determine your own goals. People (like me and others) can help you focus those goals and draw tools and platforms to help meet them. Taking a tactical approach is crucial here – How you get there depends on your business, your people, your market.

What I’m essentially saying here is to just keep it real. Don’t accept luke-warm ideals. Don’t set out to “create value”. Set out to achieve X. Set out to make Y. Set out to promote or build. Be specific.

You are in business. Businesses sell products or services. If you do that well enough, you’ll be able to establish a decent credit score. Take that to the bank.