What Brands Can Learn About Social Media From Game of Thrones

Posted by Christina Strickland on Jun 5, 2014 8:00:00 AM

Social media doesn’t just emulate life. In some ways, it emulates television too, especially good television like Game of Thrones. If you’re a fan, read on to learn what Game of Thrones has to teach those of us who work with brands who strive for social media success. Not a fan yet? There’s still plenty to learn here. Read up, avoid the spoiler (towards the end), and then start watching.

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A Little Social Listening Goes a Long Way

Varys, aka The Spider, has little birds that bring him news. He can’t be everywhere at the same time, but his little birdies keep him on top of things. The same concept applies to social listening tools. You can’t be everywhere or listen to everyone on the Internet at all times. Skip the little birds, though, and use a social media monitoring tool, such as Radian6 or CustomScoop, to find out what people are saying about your brand and its products and services.

Step out of the Box and Try New Things

Life is pretty dull if you do the same things day in and day out. Jon Snow is a natural risk taker. First, he took up a post on The Wall, and in Season 3, he got frisky with Ygritte, a Wildling. He must later account for his actions (Season 4), but even then, he’s not content to settle for what’s always been done. Knowing that the Wildlings plan to strike Castle Black, with the White Walkers to up their odds, he argues for going on the offense rather than staying put to defend the castle. He also wants to seal the tunnel under Castle Black to keep enemies out.

Ser Alliser Thorne is adamant about staying put. His argument? They’ve never done it before, and they won’t do it now. Jon, on the other hand, is all about trying something new to get better results. Fortunately, for social media users, trying new things isn’t as risky as joining The Night’s Watch or fighting White Walkers. Be proactive about trying new initiatives in addition to continuing the tried and true. This is critical for reaching more of your target audience and keeping its members interested. As in the Game of Thrones, complacency has no place in social media.

Get a Great Team 

Daenerys Targaryen, or Khaleesi (whatever you choose to call her), has something going for her that every business social media user should have. No, it’s not the ability to walk through fire, though that could come in handy. Instead, it’s an awesome team. The Dragon Queen Ladyhas a translator, advisors, a community manager, and an entire army of advocates. That army? She’s not dragging it along for the ride or threatening it into submission. Her soldiers are with her voluntarily because she won them over. You can do the same with members of your own audience, and they will become advocates of your brand.

Be a Giver

Back in Season 2 of Game of Thrones, brave little Arya Stark made friends with Jaqen H’ghar and then managed to save his life. How did he return the favor (three times over)? Well, he offered to kill three people for her (because “only death can repay life”). While we certainly don’t advocate killing anyone, there is an important social media lesson to be learned from Jaqen H’ghar: Always give more than you get. Be generous with your retweets, shares, and promotion of your community’s content. Jaqen H’ghar received something valuable from Arya before he became a giver, but social media users should deviate a bit from his example. With social media, it’s important to start giving before you get anything in return. Still, the main principle is the same. 

Show Them the Money 

There’s so much we could learn from Tyrion Lannister in terms of using wit. But since we are still awaiting his fate in the season finale (or perhaps the next season premiere), it’s too soon to draw any parallels here. One thing we can learn for sure, though, is that money talks and, well, you know the rest. This is especially true when it comes to advocates. Tyrion has paid Bronn handsomely for his services. In exchange, Bronn has been a loyal and dedicated protector. I know you’re probably thinking of how {Warning! Warning! Spoiler alert! Skip to the end if you haven’t made your way through this season yet!} Bronn has decided not to testify for Tyrion at his trial. The same lesson applies here, though. Bronn received a better offer, and again we see what happens when you show them the money. Keep in mind, too, that even though Bronn is no longer Tyrion’s paid advocate, he isn’t testifying against him either. The takeaway? Yes, it’s nice when we get something for free, but value your advocates and compensate them well.

There’s one more thing you can learn from the characters of Game of Thrones: Always seize the day. Apply these tips today to make sure you won’t miss a single opportunity to grow your social media network and meet your business goals.

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Topics: social media, marketing strategy

What Top Brands Can Teach Us About Social Media

Posted by Christina Strickland on Apr 18, 2014 9:03:00 AM


Social media has changed the way brands reach customers. It has redefined interacting and sharing, provided new ways to use content to promote products and services, and made engagement easier. If that’s not enough, it’s also amplified the voice of the customers. Here’s what three top brands can teach us about social media and viral content. 

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1. Coca Cola Highlights the Importance of Accountability and Transparency

Coca Cola is undeniably the most sought-after brand when it comes to the soft drink industry. Still, it is impressive to see how this big brand is embracing the social media culture to follow through with customers and promote its campaigns.

For instance, Coca Cola created an Expedition 206 campaign in which it used social media to pick three individuals to act as the company’s Happiness Ambassadors. These individuals will go around the world to interact with people and share the idea of happiness on a personal level and via real-life contact. Using videos, photography, blog postings, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social networks, the three will share their adventures with the world as they happen.

It’s heartening to know that a big brand like Coca Cola realizes the importance of being accountable and transparent to its consumers by making them part of the campaign through social media.

Coca Cola knows how to touch people’s lives. The proof of this is evident in how the company effectively defined sharing happiness. Where will happiness strike next? Isn’t that worth a share?

2. Dove's Meaningful Content

When we think about soap, we think of making our skin smoother, healthier and cleaner. We think about beauty being only skin deep.

Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches have changed the paradigm of content used for promoting a brand. It promoted something intangible and deep that made it more interesting. It dealt with a self-esteem boosting message: “You are more beautiful than you think.” It was a great piece of a meaningful content without showing much of the logo. You wouldn’t even think it was a soap advertisement.

Social media is more than just knowing a certain product’s specifications. It has changed the arena of human experience. We want to be aware of almost everyone’s perspective. How we look at things and what people think about us—that’s what we really care about. That’s what we really want to share. That’s the reason this content became the most viral ad.

3. IKEA’s Interactive and Engaging Way of Bringing Great Relevance to Your Home

Change begins at home. No matter who you are or what your design tastes, there’s something IKEA offers that will really help create a beautiful space.

Some of IKEA’s campaigns use interactive and engaging online videos to make small places big. They are useful for everyone. Others follow the instructions shared through blogs or through content that has been shared on the Web and via social media.

The satisfaction IKEA brings its customers and the fascinating content it creates is a great experience worth sharing with family and friends.

These three big brands shared major social media lessons by highlighting the importance of authenticity, accountability and transparency when communicating with customers. Moreover, creating more meaningful, interactive and engaging content inspires consumer to share their great experiences with their friends, families and other members of the social community.



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Topics: social media, marketing strategy

Are You Committing These Social Media Sins?

Posted by Christina Strickland on Apr 10, 2014 9:00:00 AM

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms are part of our daily lives. They serve as highly effective strategies for marketers and as social mirrors and megaphones for individuals. How interactive are you? How well do you know your favorite platform? Are you a social media sinner or saint? There are seven fatal sins of social media. Are you guilty or not? It’s time to find out.
 

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Misappropriation
        

“Do not unwrap a piece of candy with a sledgehammer.”

The analogy of unwrapping a piece of candy with a sledgehammer is a brilliant example of misappropriation. The sledgehammer in the cyber world is anything that catches the social media user’s attention, and the piece of candy is the brand.

Whenever something is trending online, do you take advantage of the social media craze to promote your brand? Just because you want to get your audience’s attention doesn’t mean you should force a connection between the trending topic and your brand. The content about your brand may look like spam if it doesn’t provide a clear relation to the hottest trend. Likewise, it may give the appearance of intentionally soliciting social media engagement. Remember that a trend doesn’t last forever, so don’t get carried away. Keep your brand’s footprint on the ground.

Abandonment

If only your post could talk, it would beg you not to leave. The moment you introduce your brand to the Internet marketplace and then suddenly drop off from engagement, you are stealing the curiosity and peace of mind of the millions of people who see your brand and wait for answers to queries about your product. You are boosting their social media anxiety, especially if they are sharing your content and commenting on your posts but you are not responding at all.

Taking your brand to any social media platform is one of the best marketing strategies, but abandonment does not contribute to a worthwhile result. Never leave your post. Engage and personalize your interaction; doing so will make your brand remarkable.

Manipulation

Nowadays, people spend a great deal of time on Facebook newsfeeds viewing other people’s updates, videos and photos. Since social media has emerged as an effective tool for marketing, developers have designed and introduced more powerful tools to help marketers get the maximum value out of their social media marketing efforts.

For instance, Facebook’s Edge Rank determines which posts appear in the newsfeed. The reason brands are posting photos is simply because they remain in the newsfeed for longer. Since people can be manipulated into viewing your posts, why not invest in sharing inspiring content?

Ignorance

Did you know you can’t use Instagram photos in advertisements without express consent?  Did you know it’s illegal to ask Facebook users to share a post as part of a contest entry? Did you know any social media platform can suspend you if you’re not carefully following its rules? 

It only takes one tick on the “I agree” box without reading the terms and conditions to be ignorant. Take the time to read the terms of service.

Monotony

Are you getting redundant with your content?  If you were in your audience’s shoes, would you get bored? Monotonous posts kill interest.

Unleash the creativity in you. Research and create content related to your audience’s passion. If your followers like photography, do not talk about photography techniques all the time. You can come up with fresh content, such as the latest but cheapest camera accessories on the market or different ways to clean the camera.

Narcissism

Do you find it annoying to see your news feed flooded with photos of the same person or quotations and updates of people glorifying themselves? Selfie syndrome is an inevitable reaction in our social culture. We are now living in the me generation.

Remember, social media is not just about you. There are billions of human beings contributing posts to a platform. Make your content stand out and worth sharing.  Isn’t it cool to get recognition from other people?

Uniformity

Let’s figure out how uniformity affects the social media strategy. Each social media site favors different types and frequencies of content. For instance, images do better on Facebook. Twitter is limited to 140 characters, but you can post more frequently to Twitter than to Facebook.

Casual language is acceptable on Twitter and Facebook while most people prefer professionalism when using LinkedIn. With these key differences, you simply can’t cross-post the same content at the same time and get the same level of effectiveness.

Interaction and engagement are keys to meeting your social media goals and keeping your audience’s interest. Avoid the seven fatal sins of social media, and you’ll have the best chance of standing out in the social media crowd.


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Topics: social media, marketing strategy

7 Top Must-Have WordPress Plugins for Your Business Website

Posted by Christina Strickland on Apr 3, 2014 9:00:00 AM

The way you design your website has great impact on your online customers.  Consumers consider the look and feel of your site. A clean and professional design looks trustworthy and adds visual appeal to a webpage. In particular, customers want website information clearly stated and categorized, and that’s what makes WordPress a dominant force in the blogging arena. Plugins are a major part of this.

What are plugins?  Why should we care about them?

Plugins are tools that extend the functionality of WordPress. They offer custom functions and features so that each user can tailor the site to his or her specific needs. Some of the plugins can be downloaded for free, and some are available at a reasonable cost.

You may be overwhelmed with the thousands of available plugins, but we will help you save precious time and money. This article provides the top 7 essential WordPress plugins for your business website.


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1. Content Aware Sidebars

Do you want to make your WordPress site more dynamic by controlling which content your sidebars are displayed with?

The Content Aware Sidebars plugin allows you to manage an infinite number of sidebars for any widget area and assign it to specific pages, posts, categories, and so on.

Once you create a new sidebar, it will show up in the Appearance - Widgets with all the other widget areas.

2. Enhanced Text Widget

The Enhanced Text Widget is a free plugin that enables a more feature-rich text widget for your use.

The following are some of the features supported by the widget:

  • It allows you to hide or show the widget title.
  • You can turn your widget title into a link
  • Assign CSS classes to the widget.
  • Supports text, HTML, PHP, Flash, JavaScript, and shortcodes.

3. WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPress SEO by Yoast allows complete control of page titles and meta descriptions on a per page/post basis as well as for each category or tag page.

Some other useful features include 301 redirection and setting up rules for search engine robots, such as follow, nofollow, index, noindex, and so on.

It also allows you to customize the Facebook and Google+ descriptions for individual pages or posts in case you don’t want to use the default meta description field.

One thing you won’t have to worry about anymore is the rel=“canonical” tag. The WordPress

SEO plugin automatically adds it to every page and post, so you can be sure Google won’t penalize your website for duplicate content due to dynamic URL string variations.

4. Akismet

Akismet is a blog commenting tool that helps cut down on spam.

To set up Akismet, go to Akismet.com and register to get a WordPress key. Insert the assigned key in the Akismet settings of your website, and say goodbye to spam! That’s how easy it is!

5. Digg Digg

Let your site users participate, via a one-click experience, by liking or sharing the page or content they are on.

The Digg Digg plugin adds a floating box to your website. It supports all popular social media websites, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, and Pinterest. You can customize the social media services you want to show your users, selecting those relevant for your niche.

6. W3 Total Cache

Cache is short-term storage, and its necessity varies, depending on your website.

Using the W3 Total Cache plugin will provide winning speed improvements, especially for websites with heavy images and scripts. It has all the caching features you will need, but it’s still best to test each feature carefully.

7. 404 Redirected

You’re excited to open a link, but you didn’t reach the landing page and got stuck with a 404 error. How do you feel?

It’s important to monitor the broken links and optimize the search engine for your website. Otherwise, your potential customers might leave your website immediately upon seeing a 404 error. Also, Google will not pass PageRank to your 404 page.

The 404 Redirected plugin shows all URLs that return 404 errors. It allows you to 301 redirect those to actual pages on your site, send traffic to the appropriate content, and pass PageRank to the correct pages.

Plugins can make the difference between a website that appears amateurish and one that is not only efficient and professional looking but also easy to access, navigate, and enjoy. Install the above plugins to ensure a better online experience for you and your customers.

 

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Topics: marketing strategy, content & inbound marketing

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials

Posted by Archie Alibasa on Feb 28, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Do you know a teen or young adult who isn’t tied to their mobile phone? According to Pew Research, 80% of 18-34 year olds own a smartphone – and they’re all using them a lot. If you want your brand to appeal to this audience, implementing an effective mobile marketing strategy is the way to go. But how do you capture the attention of individuals who are always on the go? A good start would be to capitalize on the channels that they always access on their mobile devices.
 

3 Ways to Use Mobile to Reach Millennials


Social Media

When it comes to mobile marketing, social media is the top channel to reach millennials. Make sure that your social media strategy translates from desktop to mobile; since the layout space for mobile devices are smaller and more compressed, less text and more pictures and graphics can garner more attention and interest from millennials. Promote your brand by sharing relevant yet fun videos and photos on social media networks like Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. Other social sharing sites most appealing to the younger generation include Snapchatand Vine.

Email Campaigns

Email campaigns feel old school. but continue to be a golden ticket in the mobile age. A Rosetta Marketing survey reveals that 68% of millennials check their emails hourly;

Millennials love to shop on their mobiles, so use email to promote coupons and showcase products. Announce contests and sweeps via mobile, and promote upcoming events. Another option is to collaborate with email deal providers like Groupon and LivingSocial to promote your product or service for you, or barter emails with other like-minded companies to get in front of a new audience.

Be aware that millennials will delete emails that are not optimized for mobile devices – and make sure that the click-through experience is also optimized for mobile.

Apps

Millennials absolutely love apps; they use them for many purposes, which include entertainment and gaming, social networking, online shopping, and utilities.  One type of app that is proving to be a hit to the younger crowd is instant messaging. This type of apps pose a huge potential when it comes to advertising your brands, because millennials relish the idea of being able to instantly connect with their friends. The immense popularity of this platform convinced Facebook to acquire instant messaging service Whatsapp for an eye-popping $19 billion. Despite critics calling it as one of the most lopsided deals in internet history and other pundits expecting an eventual bust, Facebook believes the acquisition will be worth every penny as they express optimism the number of Whatsapp users will surge to 1 billion within the next few years.

Another effective way of integrating apps into your mobile marketing scheme is to leverage television advertisements to drive mobile engagement as explained in this MediaPost article by Eddie DeGuia.

Should you create your own, branded app? It depends on whether you have enough content to keep it interesting and active. Otherwise find ways to use existing apps, including social networks and text messaging apps.

Final Thoughts

It’s not only important that you engage in mobile marketing to reach millennials, you must also optimize online content for mobile devices. And keep your eyes and ears open for the next new thing, it’s likely millennials got there first.

What other mobile platforms do you use to reach out to millennials? Let us know in the comments below!

 

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Topics: marketing strategy, tweens & teens

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

Posted by Stephanie Schwab on Feb 24, 2014 9:30:00 AM

We hear a lot about top digital brands and wonder what sets them apart. It’s not just a lot of luck. It’s not even offering a product or service that no one else sells. Instead, these brands earn this designation through hard work, creativity, and effective strategizing. According to digital agency 360i, there are 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands – and adhering to most, if not all, of these habits can set a brand far ahead of the pack.

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands The 7 Habits are:

  1. Being a Skilled Conversationalist: Top digital brands don’t just talk at their audiences. Instead, they are talented at creating and participating in conversation that leverages their content and messages for the building of lasting relationships.
  2. Being Authentic: Top brands identify truths relevant to their audiences and incorporate those truths into their content. As a result, they are able to inspire their audiences.
  3. Being Data Driven: Most brands understand the importance of collecting data, but do they know what to do with it once they have it? The top brands effectively use the data they collect for the optimization of their campaigns as well as to gain insight and inspiration for their efforts going forward.
  4. Being Discoverable: Even the most creative and inspiring of campaigns can fall flat if a brand is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Top digital brands learn where their customers are and position themselves to have a discoverable presence where their customers and prospects spend time online.
  5. Being Relevant: The conversation is currently changing in the digital arena. The brands that excel are those that stay relevant through effective navigation of current conversation.
  6. Being a Content Creator: Content is still king, but in an ever-changing market, brands must strategize and take creative approaches to producing and distributing the right type of content at the right time. Top digital brands do this exceedingly well.
  7. Being Constant: Top digital brands develop and steadfastly maintain core values while remaining constantly alert for new ideas and approaches.

Let’s look at two brands, one old and one new, which exemplify many of these 7 Habits.

Oreo: Reinventing a Classic Brand

Consider Oreo as an example of an oldie but goodie that has reinvented itself through social media. For example, Oreo incorporates fun, attention-grabbing memes and current events into its “Daily Twist” campaign. The real-time Super Bowl 2013 “Dunk in the Dark” campaign was another excellent example of its skill as well as its effective use of top-level marketers to make smart choices. Oreo is also discoverable, doing extremely well on Facebook, where it has over 35 million likes, and on Twitter, where it has over 283,000 followers. Further, its website does a fantastic job of engaging the brand’s audience by allowing its community to share Oreo moments.

7 Habits of Top Digital Brands

Oreo’s best habits: Authentic, Data-Driven, Relevant, Content Creator

Warby Parker: Newcomer Built Digitally

We’ve seen how a venerable brand has reinvented itself digitally, so let’s also consider the relative newcomer, Warby Parker. This brand is not only newer but also an industry disruptor: they sell eyeglasses entirely online for one price point of $95.

Because of its only-online approach, this brand had to prove itself digitally and socially strong right from the very beginning. To this end, the brand provides its customer service socially via Facebook and Twitter. It also encourages engagement and draws attention by asking customers to share videos of themselves trying on Warby Parker glasses and then posting their videos on Facebook. Shoring up its efforts are buzz-generating events, Internet ads and online video campaigns.


7 Habits of Top Digital Brands


Its April Fools campaign is a good example of this brand’s skill. It offered customers doggy eyeglasses via a fake pet eyeglass vertical called Warby Barker. When customers added Fido’s eyeglass choice to their cart, they received an April Fools message! And the photos of doggies wearing stylish eyewear? Simply brilliant, and adorable.

Warby Parker’s best habits: Data-driven (they were born that way), Discoverable, Relevant, Content Creator

Top digital brands recognize how critical social and digital is: it’s the fabric of their companies. But they work very hard at capturing and keeping the attention of their audiences. You can’t go wrong if you strive to make the 7 Habits of Highly Digital Brands the habits of your brand.

 

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Topics: marketing strategy, content & inbound marketing

Facebook’s Latest Algorithm Change: More News in the News Feed

Posted by Christina Strickland on Feb 21, 2014 9:30:00 AM

Facebook isn’t just for sharing photos and wacky statuses anymore. What started as an uber-personal way to stay in touch with people you know in the physical world has evolved into a tool for keeping up with people around the world (whether you’ve met them in person or not) as well as for engaging with your target audience. However, some of Facebook’s latest algorithm changes are intended to make Facebook more new-focused. In December 2013, Facebook announced that it would focus its news feed more on news from media sites while continuing to ensure that users would see news relevant to them, whether it comes from “a close friend or a news source halfway across the world.”
 

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Over the last year or so, Facebook users have seen an increase in the amount of news to be found in their news feeds. As of October 2013, referral traffic to media sites had increased dramatically (over the past year), with an increase upwards of 170 percent.  Here are examples of the numbers some media sites enjoyed from September 2012 through September 2013:

  • Time—increased by 208 percent
  • BuzzFeed—increased 855 percent
  • Bleacher Report—increased 1081 percent

The change to more media-type news in the newsfeed makes sense given these numbers and Facebook’s appeal to media sites to post more content. Some users may find the change appealing while others lament the less-personal feel of the social media website. Why? Consider this, a user’s friend likes and comments on a news article. That user may be more likely to see the news article than the friend’s other posts, regardless of the user’s interest in the news content from the source he or she isn’t connected to.

What Does All This Mean?

Whether or not your audience sees your Facebook content depends on a number of factors, including the following:

  • How often your audience members interact with you, your content, your page
  • How much your audience has interacted with the particular type of post before
  • How much attention the post is receiving—shares, likes, comments. This considers the attention it’s getting from a user’s friends as well as Facebook users overall.
  • How many Facebook users (your audience members, their friends, and overall) have hidden or reported your post

As a result of this recent change, link-shares of news-worthy content will get more attention than some other types of content. If you’ve noticed a decrease in your page’s organic reach since this latest algorithm change, you are not alone. Many businesses have noted the same issue, but there are steps you can take to reverse this problem and gain reach instead. Here are some suggestions:

  • Share more news/media links. Use the link-share tool rather than simply embedding your links. This creates a preview of the link’s destination and can help increase engagement.
  • Avoid memes. With this change and the push for more high-quality content, they are better posted to your personal page.
  • Learn what your fans like, what makes them click “like,” and why they share or comment. Then, go ahead and post more of the content that gets them sharing, liking, and commenting.
  • Always focus on engagement.
  • Pay attention to how your fans receive the links you share. Focus on sharing more of what they find interesting.
  • Experiment with posting at different times of the day and on different days of the week. Just as there is a right type of content for your audience, there’s a right time of day to post it.
  • Avoid overdoing the calls to action.
  • Post quality, creative, relevant photos and videos. This type of content remains great for capturing attention and increasing engagement.

The takeaway from this is you can expect fewer of your business’ text-based status updates to make it to your audience’s news feed. But by using the above tips, you can keep your content where your audience members will see it.

 

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Topics: social media, marketing strategy

5 Social Networks to Use to Reach Teens

Posted by Archie Alibasa on Feb 14, 2014 10:18:00 AM

“The Young and the Restless” is not only a popular American soap opera, it’s also an accurate description of the teens today. According to Forrester Research, teenagers today, including the group considered “millennials,” have a strong need to be connected on the internet more than any other generation.

Teens are able to fulfill this desire because they have the time and energy to be active online on a regular basis, compared to other age groups. One of the best ways to gain the attention of millennials as your target audience, is to reach out to them via social networks. But with so many existing, not to mention up-and-coming, social media platforms, you can’t possibly delve into all of them to meet marketing goals. Instead of juggling several social networks to keep up with the ‘trend”, it’s smarter and much more efficient to choose networks proven to be popular, effective and easy to use.  Here are the five social networks where you can establish an effective inbound marketing strategy directed to teens.
 

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Facebook

If you‘re wondering what’s the best social network for reaching out to teens, keep looking: there is no definitive answer. Teens are not the most loyal when it comes to apps, tools and social networks. For many years, Facebook has demonstrated its dominance in the social media scene; however, research conducted by Pew Reseach Center reveals that Facebook’s popularity is waning among the younger crowd. 

However, a large number of teens out there still maintain their Facebook account; when it comes to reaching out to the younger generation, Facebook is still one of the top social networks. But remember that the key to using Facebook with all demographics is engagement and participation. Your Facebook feed should not only contain photos, videos and text appealing to teens, they should also encourage responses from them. After all, most people, not just teens, get excited to see their likes, comments and followers they have on Facebook.  

Twitter

Who knew that a microblogging site will become a phenomenon in the field of social networking? But Twitter’s “tweets," messages that are restricted to only 140 characters, became an instant hit, especially among teenagers. This format is exactly what teens find appealing as they don’t have to come up with coherent paragraphs like the ones required in their English class. Tweets are short to write and quick to read, but they can let you in with what’s new and most talked about in and around the world, especially in the field of pop culture.  Teens also gravitate to Twitter because it’s a widely known promotional platform for celebrities. (It also doesn't hurt that Twitter allows anonymous profiles, thus potentially hiding teens' tweets from their parents.)

The short-short tweet format makes it tricky for any marketer to get the millennials’ attention. Don’t blatantly push your product or services on Twitter. Instead, create a feed that establishes an identity that teens can relate to. To gain followers, follow other prominent people, businesses or organizations. Participate in trending topics most relevant to teens and your marketing objectives.

Instagram

Teens love taking and sharing photos, and that’s why Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms for the young and trendy. On Instagram, users are not only able to share photos instantly, they can also edit these photos and write short descriptions about them. Editing can be in the form of using artistic filters and special effects enhancing their look and message. Other Instagram staples that excite teens are the “comment” and the “like” features. One way to meausre the success of your Instagram marketing campaign is by measuring the number of likes and comments you receive on your content.

Celebrities also have a presences on Instagram as they use it to connect with their fans. And where you have celebrities, a mob of teenagers will always follow. This is the reason why Instagram is a “must” when it comes to marketing to teens.

The Instagram challenge for brands is to come up with controversial, intriguing or fascinating photos that can captivate the hearts of the young. Instagram also lets users post 15-second videos. Hashtags are also a significant element in Instagram; use them to make the photos more visible to communities. 

Tumblr

Teens have a lot on their minds, and many of them choose Tumblr to express themselves. Though in many ways similar to other blogging platforms, Tumblr’s format is unlike Wordpress or Blogger. This platform encourages the creation of short blogs, or “tumblelogs,” by users for the public to read. Most Tumblrs are filled with text, photos, and videos. Some of the Tumblrs that go viral collect memes and gifs which are highly appealing to teens.

Because of Tumblr’s style and format, it has become a hit among the younger generation who love to keep online diaries and at the same time, share photos, music videos and funny stories with their friends. Tumblr is also an important source of information about youngsters nowadays: it can tell you what’s new and trending, and helps you understand millennials’ dreams and aspirations. Unlike Facebook, which appeals to a wider range of age groups, Tumblr is mostly teen and young adult territory. If your target audience is teenagers, this is the perfect avenue to get the teens’ attention and get ahead of your competitors.

Snapchat

Like Tumblr, Snapchat is mostly a teen social network. It's unique among top social networks in that shared photos are automatically deleted from the page after seconds of viewing it. This distinct and often controversial feature allows teens to share stuff to their friends, without worrying about the prying eyes of adults.

Since Snapchat is such a dynamic and fleeting platform, remember to use highly creative photos in your content that spark curiosity and intrigue among your teen audience.


Where are you seeing success with teens? Is it in one of these five networks or elsewhere? We''d love to hear your experiences in the comments.

 

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Topics: social media, tweens & teens

How To Apologize To Your Customers

Posted by Stephanie Schwab on Feb 12, 2014 9:30:00 AM

There’s a right way and a wrong way to handle most things in life, and that includes crises of the technology hacking variety. Two recent hacking crises do an excellent job of illustrating how companies handle crises. One, involving Buffer, occurred in October 2013 and was handled quite well while another, involving Snapchat in January 2014, just wasn’t. One of the major differences between the crisis management demonstrated by these companies? The apology. Customers want to know that the companies they patronize care.

how to apologize to your customers

Here’s what Buffer did right:

Buffer acted quickly. No one likes to languish, wondering whether a company is aware of a problem and has definite plans to fix it. Buffer was right on top of things, responding to the problem within about an hour and letting its community know it was pausing posts and working on a fix. This stops people from panicking and speculating about what’s to come.

Buffer apologized—multiple times. There’s nothing worse than a company that just doesn’t seem to care how much it inconveniences its customers. Sometimes, it almost seems as if companies are afraid to admit responsibility. Did Buffer want its accounts hacked? Of course not. But it repeatedly apologized and let its users know it understood their anger and frustration. In fact, the CEO got right out there and apologized again and again.

Buffer provided frequent updates. The waiting is just killer. People want to know when they can expect a resolution. Buffer not only offered frequent, specific updates about what the company was doing to fix the problem, but it also provided these updates on multiple outlets, including its blog, Twitter, and Facebook. This ensured that its customers could easily find the updates without having to dig for them.

Responsiveness counts. Sometimes customers feel like they’re shouting questions to the wind, and nothing annoys a customer faster than feeling ignored. Buffer not only took the time to answer hundreds of tweets during the crisis, but it also continued to respond even after the problem was solved.

Especially by contrast to Buffer, whose breach came before Snapchat’s (thereby giving them a blueprint for superior crisis management!), Snapchat got their response all wrong. Massively wrong. Here’s why:

  • They let a whole week go by before it apologized to its users.
  • Their apology seemed grudging and insincere; it was included at the very bottom of a super-short post explaining how the company planned to prevent hackings going forward.
  • They didn’t encourage users to reach out to them if they had concerns.
  • They failed at keeping users updated on the progress towards a resolution.

To compare and contrast a bit further, here’s Buffer’s apology, direct from their CEO. (Click to enlarge)

buffer apology med

Hopefully you'll never need to make this kind of apology - but if you do, now you know, there's a right way and a wrong way! 

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Topics: social media, content & inbound marketing

Am I Running Too Many Promotions?

Posted by Christina Strickland on Feb 6, 2014 9:30:00 AM

You've probably heard that too much of anything can be bad for you, and this is certainly true of promotions. Discussions of social media strategies almost always include ideas for using promotions, sweepstakes and contests to gain exposure, acquire fans, boost engagement, and spur sales. And while such promotions can draw attention to your brand, they are not without pitfalls. Running too many promotions might, in the long run, lead to a less-engaged fan base. Here are some potential pitfalls to consider:

  1. Devaluation of your promotions. One of the major disadvantages of frequent promos, contests, and sweepstakes is that your audience may stop viewing them as special. To put this in perspective, consider that holidays are special, in part, because they do not happen every day. You look forward to them because they aren't part of your routine. Now, what if your favorite holiday happened every day? At first, you might view it as fun and exciting. After a time, however, it may become ordinary or even boring. The same holds true with too frequent promotions. Your audience may grow to view them as less valuable or even as part of the background noise of the Internet.
     
  2. Fair promotion friends. Fair weather friends only want to be friends when the sun is shining, and there are no storm clouds overhead. Fair promotion fans are only interested in your brand for what they can get for free. If you're giving something away or offering the chance to win something, they're willing to take you up on it. These types of fans aren't interested in really engaging, and your chances of converting them to customers are slim. If your goal is to attract brand advocates? You are unlikely to find them in this batch.
     
  3. Alienation of fans.  What about your true fans? These people come to you because they really like your brand and your products. They really want to engage with your brand and build a relationship with you. Sure, they want to hear about sales and sweepstakes, but they don't want this to be the only message shouted at them. Repeatedly.
     
too many promotions

So how can you be confident that your promotions are just enough? Here are some things to consider:

  • What's your motivation? Don't just create a promotion for promotion's sake. Create promotions for a good reason, such as to celebrate a brand milestone or to reveal a new product. If you have a good reason for a promotion and share that with your audience members, they are more likely to value your offering.
     
  • Make sure your promotions reach a significant percentage of your audience. Those that reach only a small percentage of your audience waste your time and your resources.
     
  • Develop promotions that help build brand equity rather than merely getting attention.
     
  • Aim for short-term promotions. They have more bite, and you'll have less risk of annoying your fans with frequent reminders to enter.

Sweepstakes and similar promotions can definitely play an important role in your social media strategy. However, careful planning and moderate use are the way to go if you want to engage your audience members rather than bombard and overwhelm them.

 

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Topics: social media, marketing strategy