The subscription model is nothing new. This method of payment has been used by cable companies, utility providers, fitness clubs, magazines and more for years. Though, lately, it has been introduced in more interesting ways. You may have noticed it with Manpacks, the service that delivers men’s essentials to your door, or with Birchbox, Glossybox, and Loose Button’s Luxe Box. If you’re a pet lover, it could have been with Toys4Tails or Barkbox. Subscription commerce for products other than Teleco’s and fitness clubs are making a grand entrance.
Social media for small business
The amount of content created increases dramatically every day. People are saturated with more advertisements, media, and content than ever before. Yet they still seek more: they are still loyal to TV shows (5 hours per day!), consistently browse the web, and are always on their smartphones. People love content and can’t get enough of it. Though what they are seeking is often times only really REALLY good stuff. Why would they want anything else? So how do you create content that will drive the traffic and success you are looking for?
If it were a game of golf, that could be answered very simply; you want the ball in the hole (Goal) using the driver (tool). Similarly with social media, goals also always come before the tool, the objectives before the tactics and so on. Don’t flip the funnel here. The last thing that you need to concern yourself with is the tool to measure.
Most recently, I worked with a client who wanted to find a solution to match the measurement tool they have already been using. BIG – RED – FLAG. They did not think logically. I told them “Your business objectives should define your social media goals, which then define those objectives to influence what tactics and measuring tools you should chose.” It made sense to them in the long term, after the campaign was done when they realized their numbers were all off. Between all the other shared content and accessing an extremely complicated measurement system, we could not summarize all our findings and results in a clearly articulated document. It was a mishmash. [Note: we came into the project halfway through so did not get the chance to tell them this from the beginning.]
Jay Baer, one of my favourite bloggers, speaks to this all too clearly in his ‘A hammer isn’t a house’. He discusses how choosing the right tools for your metrics is the last item in the funnel of Social Media Metrics Sequence.
You have to know WHAT you are trying to measure first, and then audition candidates for HOW to best perform that measurement.
For a long time my team once juggled between Twitter lists, spreadsheets, shared googol docs, and email. And guess what? We still do!! These platforms allow us to collaborate, share, measure and monitor our online activity for us and the client. What wasn’t needed was a spiffy application that told me the publics sentiment for our 5th level competitor. We didn’t’ care! So why pay for something that wasn’t going to help us?
Most recently though, my company Spark Boutik, started working with a great measuring application (name not to be disclosed until I understand the full breadth of it’s ability) for the sake of trying to understand why these tools exist in the first place. It surely has helped us discover things about our business, certain industries, companies, people and a combination of that. But the ultimate question still remained “What do I do with all this data?”. It is so easy to become hypnotized by fancy charts and graphs, likes and dislikes, smily faces and sentiment grades. But it is not all necessary.
Quite simply, with all this data accumulating out of our control and understanding, it is important that you chose your measuring tools based on you metrics and ultimately your business objectives. The final results should be ones that you understand and that can tell what you did right, wrong and how awesome you are getting with Social Media (PS – if you suck at it, contact me - I can definitely help you)
Yeah, you’re right. I don’t run a tech startup. But living in San Francisco means I am surrounded by it all day, everyday. At first, I was intimidated, then I got bored of the jibber jabber, then I realized…Wooaa! These startups, this lingo, this MVP – Product/Market fit – metrics – conversions – stuff is really helping me out.
Tech startups CAN set an example for service based businesses, as I wrote in this blog post. Earlier on I also realized that people in my industry and other online marketing people really DO need to know the basics, the basics of UX, UI, metrics, conversions and so on (Check out this post about that very idea).
My point, don’t discard the tech startup mentality if you run a service based business. Consider taking a few pages from their book and appreciate how they work, especially the part on being lean.
More and more each week I get requests to help companies with their online strategy, more so, with wireframing UX, and UI. I haven’t created so many mockups in my life! I am by no means a designer (Christ, I haven’t even used illustrator) and by no means a UX/UI or wireframe expert. But you know what? I KNOW good design when I see one. [Ok, you are 100% allowed to call me a hypocrite as my company's own website is a bit sour, but at least I recognize it] <– on that note, if you know of a really good designer that can make it better please email me.
So here blurs the line in expectations of online strategists and social media folks of all kinds: we are expected to know, or at least, under stand it all. What is social media? When does design, development, and user experience come into play? In my opinion, it’s at every level. If you claim to be a social media ‘guru/expert’ here are my words of advice:
Pick up a damn UX book, purchase balsamic, head to a design conference, chat with a developer and learn – even just basically – the many different components of the web. It will make your job that much easier and your clients will appreciate you more.
Why? Because you need to know if certain elements of the strategy you are creating for a client are feasible, can be completed within budget and on time, and even make sense.
Why? Its where the web is heading. YOU are expected to know these things, maybe not in much detail, but you must be able to appreciate them.
“In order for someone to appreciate something they must first understand it” – Valerie Maltoni
And for this advice, I charge you $1000 USD.
(If you’re an ‘expert’ skip to the last line and answer the question.)
No longer do you have to rely on word of mouth or pay exorbitant amounts to get your business’ brand known. Now, you can get the word out internationally – for free! Free’s still a word people use, right?
How do you make Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media work for you and for your business? We ALL know that these tools are free and are a great marketing tool for you, as long as you have the willingness to be creative and persistent, and persistent, and persisten, and persistent …
Everyone knows of the “Old Spice Guy” or the many charity campaigns with an internet component. While you may not be able to afford to hire actors, you can use pieces of these tried-and-true campaigns to help your low-budget “bootstrapping” strategy. For example, you can ask customers to name your newest advertising campaign in exchange for product or services, or you can lead a “Tweet for charity” event and offer to donate while raising money and brand equity. Lowe’s Home Improvement recently offered a weekend of coupons event in which emails were sent for a chance to win 90% off coupons or free merchandise. This gave them the opportunity to create a database of customers while generating plenty of Facebook buzz.
The exponential rise in internet use has led to fundamental changes in the advertising and marketing world with no end in sight: if anything, the rate of change is only accelerating. While some argue that the internet is merely another advertising medium, albeit with an unprecedented audience and reach, others point to a fundamental shift in the way that companies now interact with their customers. So this begs the question: Is having the right copy and artwork still enough? With the rise of affordable technology available today both could be replaced with the use of Photoshop and someone savvy enough to use it. Even with a website, your online presence must consist of more than merely loading all available information about your product and hoping for the best. Today you need to be aware of the new relationship between media, technology and user communities. To engage the internet consumer you need to provide a compelling user experience (UX).
There is a great scene in an episode of Mad Men where Don Draper delivers a pitch for a Kodak product, The Carousel. The way that he invokes nostalgia and family to sell what is simply a slide projector is a great example of user experience by deftly merging the associated sentimentality and emotion with the product. It is a vivid example of how user experience encompasses all aspects of the customer’s interaction with a company, its services and products. But how have things shifted since? Are Engagement and UX the new art and copy? How could Don Draper possibly pitch that product today?
Technology is a glittering lure, but there is the rare occasion when the public can be engaged on a level beyond flash, if they have a sentimental bond with the product.
A website, therefore, is not only a medium for providing information but must also have a clean, elegant and to-the-point design that anticipates a user’s needs and addresses them in an efficient, entertaining and comprehensive way. It needs to engage the customer by providing an interactive ‘digital experience’. In addition, this now occurs in the context of massive online communities where there is an ongoing dialogue between consumers. The community of Facebook users alone, for example, is over 500 million strong. Try to imagine a magazine with that sort of circulation! Your product can reach an undreamed of level of user awareness through the right ‘tweets’ or ‘likes’ but, make a mis-step, and your reputation can just as easily be destroyed overnight.
In this brave new world you cannot engage the fickle internet customer simply by creating the right copy and artwork (although you need these as well), instead it is vital to know your customer and his or her needs. This requires knowing and interacting with your customer at a significantly more sophisticated level than in traditional advertising. Customers now say ‘I will allow your product into my consciousness, but only so long as you do so in a way that entertains me and that is relevant to what I want’.
‘I will allow your product into my consciousness, but only so long as you do so in a way that entertains me and that is relevant to what I want’
For more tips on UX see the presentations from the WarmGun conference on Slideshare.
(Thumbnail image from catalystresources.com)
Social Media basically involves people who choose the online world alongside the real one to interact and socialize with friends, strangers, and businesses. When social media first hit the scene, no one really took it seriously. All the new apps and platforms popping up where thought to be the next ‘ICQ’ or forum. Many thought it was just a bunch of kids goofing around on the Internet. Ha! These days, if a business or organization does not have a Facebook page or Twitter account, they are considered behind the times.
The Fox television show Glee demonstrates how effective social media is as a way of achieving fame, popularity, fortune, and maybe some marketing success to boot. The plot of the show is simple: a high school teacher attempts to rebuild the glee club to its former glorious heights and recruits a motley crew of students to achieve his goal. The success of this show can teach us all a thing or two, whether we are using social media for small business purposes or to make a play at world domination.
1. You can make it big on YouTube. Every episode of Glee is made to be broken up into small segments, perfect in length for YouTube.
2. You don’t have to be “cool” to go viral. The Glee song and dance numbers are full of joy and happiness and performed by the school’s stereotypical misfits and nerds! They aren’t ‘cool’ , but hey anything goes.
3. People crave a little of that joy – songs from the Glee soundtrack consistently top the charts on iTunes.
4. Spread your social media net wide. Like peanut butter, just spread it.
5. One blog or website is not enough. Glee is on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, iTunes, blogs, and forums. Keep it consistant and focused, but do use more than one platform.
6. Integrate your media net. Glee has song clips that link up to the iTunes store, audio and video clips that link to where you can purchase the full episode, and the great big gift-wrap bow that ties it all together: advertising.
7. Build anticipation. Glee’s pilot aired in the spring, leaving fans a whole summer to look forward to the next installment.
8. Give freebies. The pilot for Glee was available free online all summer long.
9. Keep tabs on traffic. Where are people coming from and where are they going?
10. Use what you find to your advantage. Searches for Glee spike after every episode — make sure all those searches have lots of good results to choose from.
11. Toot your own horn. As Glee’s cheerleading coach said, “I have to put in a call to the Ohio Secretary of State notifying them that I will no longer be carrying photo ID. You know why? People should know who I am.”
“I have to put in a call to the Ohio Secretary of State notifying them that I will no longer be carrying photo ID. You know why? People should know who I am.”
12. Make your own catchphrase. Glee fans call themselves “Gleeks” and are proud of it.
13. Look to the past for inspiration. Glee’s success is partly due to the modern social media craze, but no one can dismiss the nostalgic element of the actual glee club!
Oh, Hell to the no! Look, I’m not down with all this background singing nonsense. I’m Beyoncé, I ain’t no Kelly Rowland! – Mercedes Jones
Don’t be a backup singer with your social media. Be the Prima Donna, the first one on the stage and the one who gets all the attention.
What Glee-esk things are you doing to leverage social media?
Very often when you make a purchase in a store, the cashier asks the same question: “Do you have your card?”
The cashier’s not asking for your Visa or Mastercard. She’s talking about those ubiquitous reward cards that track how many times you might order a bagel, a latte, an ink cartridge refill, or whatever you happen to be purchasing at the time.
Buy 10 and get one free. Purchase six and get the next at half price. Promotions differ, but the concept remains the same: the store wants to inspire customer loyalty, and it’ll reward you for it.
Some people benefit from loyalty rewards and save money. Others find the cards annoying. Imagine if you could replace the process with something that suits your lifestyle better. Instead of having your card punched at the sandwich shop or scanned at the pharmacy, how would you feel if you received a mobile-based coupon on your smartphone?
Location-Based Ads: A Business Boon in the Making
Businesses are increasingly working to improve marketing ROI. A recent study by the Mobile Marketing Association shows that almost one in four adults use mobile location-based services. Nearly half of those shoppers who saw ads from location-based services took some sort of action.
Few metrics exist on location-based advertising and customer loyalty, but so far, results have been promising. Foursquare, one of the most popular mobile location tracking applications, gives its users the chance to become a location’s “mayor” by checking in frequently. Many restaurants, coffee shops and other locations give their “mayors” discounts and freebies as a reward for customer loyalty. Most recently GAP offered a 25% discount if you checked in on Foursquare. The idea was to encourage store exposure, as friends of those ‘checking in’ would see the deal and would, hopefully, also act on it.
The Proof is in the Numbers
Another great example, Starbucks, offered its “mayors” $1 off any size of Frappuccino. Since beginning the promotion, the coffee haven has experienced a 50% increase in check-ins. AJ Bombers, a burger spot in Milwaukee, reported a 30% increase in sales after offering free burgers to the “mayor” (plus free cookies to anyone who checked in.)
Not wanting to limit promotions to a select few, Foursquare lets businesses provide frequency-based specials to users who check in often. Pepsi has built upon this feature by using Foursquare to give points for each mobile coupon used. Loyal soda lovers can redeem the coupons for music downloads and other Pepsi Loot.
The promotion is designed to increase brand loyalty and also to generate valuable data about repeat customers – where they purchase Pepsi, how often they purchase and what they do before and after they make the purchase. In time, this data may help Pepsi and other businesses make location-based ads even more effective. (It’s all in the data)
Have you ever used location-based advertising to promote your business? If so, how did the marketing effort turn out? If not, do you find that location-based advertising increases your loyalty to other local businesses?
“Common sense is not so common.” –Voltaire
For some people, using social media comes naturally. They seem to enter each new social network knowing exactly what to do and say, and they love the experience.
For many more people, though, social media savvy doesn’t come naturally. Just creating a new Facebook or Twitter account takes time, and it might even be frustrating. Users fill in the proper details and familiarize themselves with the settings. And before actually using the network, posting messages or creating connections, they need to understand how the community works.
No one wants to offend others inadvertently by posting the wrong kind of content or ignoring unwritten rules.
Sound tricky? It can be. While someone who has grown up using social media may say it requires nothing more than common sense, the reality is often far different. That may be why over 60 percent of new Twitter users abandon their accounts within the first month of use.
Mistakes People Make on Social Media
Account abandonment usually occurs for a few select reasons. Some people create social media accounts expecting automatic conversation. When that doesn’t happen, they’re disappointed. Rather than spending time starting conversations or joining other people’s conversations, they simply stop logging on and walk away.
Others view social media as an advertising platform, splattering their accounts with promotional or self-serving messages. This may seem like common sense to people experienced in traditional marketing, but for those not versed in those marketing messages, the promotion becomes a social media faux-pas.
Rather than generating new business, these people generate hostility – or worse, they’re blacklisted as spammers and forbidden access.
The Right Way to Social Media Mastery
Expecting everyone using social media to use common sense can lead to disappointment. It’s better to approach social media as a foreign country with foreign customs, no matter who you might be. What’s acceptable in one country may be taboo in another, so do the research. Read about the networks you’re joining and their codes of conduct. If you know a social media “native” or experienced user, ask that person for some orientation.
If you don’t have that mentor available, take some time to listen and observe what happens within the network. How do people communicate with each other? How does the community react to different attitudes and behaviors? What seems to be working for others, and what seems to impede progress?
By paying attention to the people around you, the right behaviors start to seem like common sense … and only you know what it took to make it look so easy.
What aspects of social media do you think are common sense? What took time to learn? Leave your response in the comments section below.
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Renee’s one of those ladies that gives so much hope to folks like me. She makes running a business look easy and a lot of fun.” – KarmaCake.com