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?

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.

The Unified Approach to Social Marketing

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I previously blogged about the segmented landscape of social networks – it’s a niche world now with many valid places to be like Pinterest, foursquare, Instagram, etc…

So brands are now busy in many of these spaces, but I still think the approach is a bit scattered for the most part. There is a way out of this and I’m calling it the Unified Approach, but I didn’t invent it.

The idea here is to encompass all the social and digital spaces into a single entity. Gather up all your assets like Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and locate them into a sub brand that unifies them all. A few sports brands have done this – a great example would be the Boston Bruins DEN (Digital Entertainment Network).

This makes sense for a lot of reasons. It provides an organized approach to multiple networks – fans can choose how they follow their team. But the key here is also how it impacts corporate partner and media sales. If you work in that business, then you know it can be a challenge for sales teams to position and sell social assets; and likewise, clients often require a lot of education on what they are buying and even how to buy it.

The unified approach provides a clear vision of what all these assets represent – but – the kicker is, by combining all your social assets into a single package, you can also position this on the media buy – not just the sponsorship buy. The total of all these social assets can be a significant number and allow you to position this as a media buy opportunity.

The unified approach makes a lot of sense for a lot of brands – and as a last point, I still think you need to pick your spots. Should you participate in all these possible social networks? How do you prioritize? How do you allocate resources to manage it? How can you monetize it?

That’s where this blog post turns into conversation – use my Contact Page if you want to talk about it.

Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest: Social Segmentation

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There are currently at least 7 different and completely valid social networks for sports marketing.

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. YouTube
  4. Google Plus
  5. Foursquare
  6. Instagram
  7. Pinterest

This is all about social segmentation vs. fragmentation.

Not that long ago, it was a binary system of Facebook and Twitter. Back in 2009, Twitter was struggling to be considered as a worthwhile platform. It was a “Twitter, too” approach. 3 years ago, most teams met social networking and marketing tasks with a “platoon approach” of multiple resources each contributing time to maintain the networks. It made sense at the time, but (I was right) this was a rapidly growing mandate – not just in terms of scalability (increasing populations), but now in terms of multiple platform management.

In 2009, one of the main elements of my work was to provide a focus on social media sports marketing to prove a business case to increase head count to manage the space effectively. Now, many teams have made this investment. What we are seeing now, is social media segmentation – niche networks that offer different value and benefits to fans and teams alike. The space is now a much more dynamic one than the binary Facebook/Twitter paradigm.

I’m not going to focus on Facebook or Twitter – we’ll take these at assumptive value. YouTube has huge value for many sports brands, but for upper tier leagues, hosting video on your own assets like your website or app makes the most sense. YouTube can still be a great value add, however.

Google Plus is a place you should be from a search value alone. This not about G+ vs. Facebook, it’s about Google enhancing what it already does best – search. A G+ presence will improve your search rankings and help your peripheral market find you.  Here’s where casual fans start – by searching on you. I had initially cautioned teams to hold off and to add G+ strategically, not just because it was there. Now’s the time to move (shout out to @peterstringer)

That leaves 3 social networks to focus on: Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest.

Foursquare

Many teams have dabbled here, but Foursquare belongs in your digital asset mix. After all, you are in a location focused business. Your building, arena, stadium or field is a destination for thousands, and in many cases one of the prominent buildings in any city. You’ve already got this going for you, so make the most of it. Reward fans for checking in, and look to corporate partners to provide innovative activations. Try to get as much immediate gratification as possible with the reward, something they can redeem or benefit from during the event.

In addition to the building, having your team check-in while it’s on the road as well brings fan value and reinforces your Foursquare presence. It’s also a chance to share “insider” photos and content. Remember, Foursquare is a social network – not just, “Look where I am now.” Providing content and conversations here is what it’s all about. It also integrates with other sites like Facebook and Twitter which is important.

Lastly – Foursquare is all about mobile. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, mobile is where you need to be (now, go claim that rock on Foursquare!).

Instagram

In continuing with the focus on mobile – Instagram is a mobile photo sharing app. There is no destination site behind it. It’s a simple concept with a cool twist – there are a number of cool effects and retro filters you can apply to your photos. Users follow one another and can “heart” (read as “like”) photos and comment on them as well.

A number of teams are quite active (and effective) in Instagram such as the Dallas Mavericks. While the platform is becoming immensely popular, its still relatively small and the team to follower ratio is lower – so there are a lot of engagement opportunities.

Instagram also let’s you share with Twitter, Facebook, Foresquare, Flikr, etc… so it’s well connected. You can leverage it to enhance the photos you’re sharing, tap into a niche platform and look to host contests by searching for tags (much like Twitter).

Pinterest

The new kid on the block, Pinterest has got a lot of people “Pinterested” to say the least. One of the key factors here is the largely female user base – initially as high as 97% (!). So the obvious take here is how teams can look to market to their female fan base on a site like this. Pinterest is essentially a larger pin board in which users can display things that they like. It’s gotten a lot of legs very quickly, and some teams have been quick to take note, such as the Pittsburgh Penguins.

While the jury may still be out on Pinterest (was this simply a case of #Pinsanity?), it’s carving out a place in social marketing that it worth taking note of.

In summary – with dedicated resources for social marketing, the goal is to be nimble and use a multi-platform approach:

  • Be where your fans are – and there are millions of them in these places
  • Provide unique value and content pertaining to each platform’s strengths
  • Avoid redundancy in what you post
  • This is a dynamic space in terms of platform scalability/features but also in niche
  • Fans First. Social media should be social, don’t just post – interact, engage, share, thank and converse

The Super Bowl and Social Media Sports Marketing

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With the big game just around the corner, I wanted to share a few Super Bowl things I thought were interesting…

Sometimes rivaling the game itself, Super Bowl commercials are of big interest for everyone from the hardcore to the peripheral fan and specific interest to those of us focused on sponsorship. This year saw not only “teasers” for some ads, but the outright release of the entire ads on YouTube.

With nearly 10 million views (at the time of writing) The Honda Ferris Bueller commercial debuted this week – does this diminish the “actual” airing during the Super Bowl? I say yes, but if Honda sells a record number of CR-V’s – isn’t that the point?

Last year, Foursquare clocked over 200,000 check-ins in a nationwide Super Bowl event. I’m guessing that should be well over 500,000 this year – and in addition, Foursquare has partnered with Pizza Hut and American Express.

Here’s the official Super Bowl 2012 Foursquare page.

We’ll see a ton of content on Twitter from fans, media and celebrities no matter what happens at the Super Bowl, and there’s potential to break some records here too. With over 9,420 tweets per second, Twitter and the NFL broke some records this past season with the #Tebow playoff pass.

Twitter launched Ad Scrimmage this week, which kicks in for the week immediately following the game to allow users to vote on their favorite Super Bowl commercials,  so be sure check that link again.

There’s also a Super Bowl Facebook Page.

When you look back 4 years ago, when the Giants and Patriots last met in the Super Bowl, social media was still pretty new – and now these two teams have fully embraced social marketing. Mashable provides a good breakdown of this analysis here

The Super Bowl event committee  has a Stay Connected Hub with a staff of 50 resources to monitor and respond on various platforms.

Will you be tweeting? Or checking in? See you online…

15 Fan Engagement Ideas

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Here’s 10 ideas to engage fans – take ‘em, break ‘em and make ‘em your own:

Twitter

  1. Complete the sentence: @PlayerOnTwitter hits like a _______ !
    • Swap players in and out, use other attributes as well…
    • Use #’s to measure and track, also for trending purposes
    • RT what fans push out… show em you are listening
  2. Ok fans, let’s get it trending… RT #GoYourTeamGo!
    • Use other #’s depending on the game situation
      • Use humor, be fun
  3. Fans – send us  a pic or tweet in your @Team gear
  4. Who will score the 1st #YourTeam goal tonight?
  5. RT @SomeFan: What a wicked play!
    • RT what fans are tweeting for key moments in games
    • Use them for game updates – don’t have to come up with them all
  6. Hey fans – send a tweet to our opponent tonight, let @otherteam know we’re ready for ‘em!
  7. If there’s 1 thing that makes #YourTeam fans the best, its _________
  8. #YourTeam fans – what’s your pre-game ritual?
  9. Where are you watching from tonight #YourTeam fans? Let us know…

Facebook

  1. Post a pic from featuring action from the next opponent: Ok fans – write a caption for this photo
  2. Do a fan poll once per week as a standard engagement practice
    • Why not look for a sponsor for this?
  3. Ask for pics from fans decked out in their team gear
  4. Scan for fan questions – answer them/direct them to the right email or phone #
  5. Thank fans for uploading their photos
  6. Comment on their status updates/posts

How to Sell Social Media Sponsor Activations

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Many teams struggle with selling social media assets. In my opinion there are 2 reasons why:

  1. Cultural Issues
  2. Skill Gaps

A few years ago, I was a fairly lone voice in my position on selling social media assets to corporate sponsors.

Today, digital assets are premium buys and social remains the most dynamic property available. Trouble is, many teams are challenged in selling it (it’s a solution sell, not a transactional sale) and some sponsors think they need it but don’t know what to do or why.

One challenge that holds up sales teams is the classic QUOTA. The development or standardization of social assets means that quotas will go up, and sales manager/director targets go up in turn. This is a cultural issue – teams continually are looking for revenue stream development, yet some stand in the way of adopting this category of digital inventory. Broader thinking is required here…

The other problem is rooted in skill.

I mentioned that social is a solution sell – one that takes a different set of skills and discovery questioning. Often, sponsors need some guidance here to develop a social strategy for the deal. In this way, many web/technical resources have become “sales engineers” of a sort – as they better understand the platforms involved – and can lend good skill sets to these sales conversations.

Since some sellers struggle with how to sell social assets – here’s a list of questions to use in your own sales process to help uncover deals with social media activations:

  • What are your own goals with social media?
  • How does your company handle admin of your social sites?
  • How does social fit into the rest of your marketing mix?
  • What results will make a promotion/activation a success for you?
  • What , specifically, would you like to accomplish here?
  • Are they any examples of successful social campaigns that resonate with you?
  • What are your expectations of my team/brand?

What we’re trying to avoid here is “Do you want to buy some Facebook updates and Twitter posts? They are $X each – how many would you like?”. These are simply conversation starters to get your partners talking – there are endless ways to structure a promotion, but you need to start somewhere.

Here are some other tips:

  • Keep it high level (to start)
  • Bring ideas and facilitate brainstorming
  • Understand their goals and experience
  • Work to conceptualize with your internal resources
  • Present options that meet those needs
  • Be prepared to adapt/adjust

One last thing… both problems – Cultural and Skill – are very solvable for organizations looking to uncover the dollar. I can help with both.

Social Media is Still Social – Isn’t it?

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In doing some regular review of how teams operate their Facebook Page, I noticed how little the teams were connecting with fans.

Every Facebook Page has a button where you can display posts from the Page or the posts from the fans as a default. Very few teams prioritize their fans’ post over their own – this makes no sense to me…

Social marketing should be… SOCIAL.

Teams would counter that their content gets lost in the stream of fan posts quickly.  Social marketing isn’t just about dropping links to the team site. Maybe I’m wrong, but last time I checked, Facebook was all about the fans.

Yes – I’ve preached about corporate sales presence in social media (a lot). And yes, a post with corporate content could get lost very quickly – but who says a single post had any real value to a corporate partner in the first place? Corporate sales needs to be more of a consistent presence/partnership – ideally, well integrated with the brand and fans alike.

If teams find it a problem that their fans are so talkative and engaged with their brand, then I think perhaps its time to return to the basics…

  • Up to 2/3rds of tweets should be @replys to fans
  • Leverage fan content by RT’ing it
  • Comment on Facebook photos
  • Thank fans for their comments
  • Customer service
  • Engaging corporate partnerships
  • Featuring content from fans
  • Providing exclusive content
  • 3-4 FB posts per day (few more on game days)
  • 1 tweet per hour on average
  • Interact with fans regularly
  • Ask for opinions, ideas

Social marketing is a dynamic place – not a static stream of team posts. These are your fans – treat them well. There are other digital assets like your website that are strictly focused on your content. Use social media for what it does best – being social. Build and reinforce those fan relationships and they will be more apt to consume/share your content, buy your product and be advocates of your brand. We call them fans – but they are your customers.