Time to Consider Google+ for Marketing

The recent announcement of Google+ brand pages has marketers asking the obvious question, “Should I bother with another social media channel?” Most companies by now have some sort of presence on Facebook and Twitter. It’s working well for some and not so well with others. It’s safe to say at this point that a lot of time and resources are required to reap the benefits of social media marketing. So why Google+? Well, here are a few unique points:

Google+ has a smaller user base (40 million compared to Facebook’s 800 million). Fewer users can be a positive as there is less clutter and more focus on content itself. Facebook is packed full of updates with all of the integration that is taking place. Google+ is driven more towards professional and industry specific content. Companies may find an easier path to connect with a relevant audience.

Google+ offers unique functionality that Facebook or Twitter do not have available. “Hangouts”, or live audio/video chats, provide a direct opportunity to engage in discussions to get feedback or present exclusive content. Some companies such as Dell are looking into using “Hangouts” as a place for customer support and sales so the customers aren’t required to call on the phone.

Google+ will integrate with other Google offerings. Moving forward, Google will continue to unify its products with Google+. We’ve already seen the integration in its beginning stages with the +1 buttons. Deeper integration with Google Place and Maps, web and image search, and YouTube will come next. The integration will increase a company’s visibility on social media and with organic searches.

B2B Marketers Still Uncertain About Social Media

According to research from Accenture, almost two-thirds of B2B marketing executives view social media as an important marketing channel. However, only 7% felt that they were leveraging social media very heavily while 9% were not using social media at all. Business-to-business marketers have been acknowledging the value of social media yet have been slower to adopt social media strategies compared to business-to-consumer marketers.

Another study that compares B2B and B2C social media involvement showed that 12% of B2B companies are not using social media compared to 2% of B2C companies. B2B marketers say that technology, tools, metrics, and collaboration could be useful to strengthen their social media programs. Uncertainty of social media is definitely a factor in holding back B2B marketers in getting serious with social media. The fact that it is still a relatively young marketing channel has B2B marketers taking the wait-and-see approach.

It boils down to the age old sales and marketing question, “How much has it contributed to our bottom line?” Like many other marketing efforts, the number is tricky to quantify with social media. Thus, marketers are apprehensive in putting too much time and effort into social media at this time.

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British Artist Draws New Twitter Followers

British artist Greg Burney has exploded on Twitter thanks to a very creative social media marketing strategy. Burney began with around 70 followers before he came up with his Twitter project called #drawmyfollowers. With the project, Greg Burney set out to do a sketch of every single new follower that followed him before November 14. He would then send the sketch to that follower. The message tweeted on October 31 read as such:

Not realizing the impact this was going to have on his Twitter profile, let alone his time, Burney had to ultimately had to tweak his promise. Within two days, he had 700 followers. Some media outlets picked up on it and the followers kept on coming. He then changed his November 14 deadline to promising to sketch his first 3,000 followers. If you’d like to get in on the action, it’s too late. I went to his page this morning and he now has over 5,000 followers. Brilliant!

By thinking outside of the box to use his craft and tie it into the social media platform he wanted to promote, it’s safe to say that it’s mission accomplished for this artist. We sure hope he enjoys sketching- he has his work cutout for him.

Twitter’s Growing and Essential for Business

This isn’t a how-to guide for businesses to use Twitter. Rather, it’s the latest evidence and support that if you’re not using Twitter for your business, you should be!

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo recently announced that Twitter has more than 100 million active users, half of them are logging in daily. WOW! And right now 250 million tweets are posted each day, up from 100 million per day in January. That’s some serious growth.

But so what? It’s growing. Good for Twitter. What’s it to me and my business? Well, how about these five key facts from a recent study about the relationship of Twitter and consumer behavior:

1. 60% of brand followers are likely to recommend brands to a friend

2. 50% of brand followers are likely to buy products from that brand

3. Consumers follow brands for exclusive content, promotions, and to be in the know

4. 75% of consumers on Twitter have NEVER “un-followed” a brand

5. One-third of brand followers this year are interacting with brands compared to last year

 

And don’t expect the growth to slow down. With Apple’s recent release of iOS 5, Twitter sign-ups have tripled and been a big boost for the company.

Twitter Hits 100 Million Users, So What’s Next?

Twitter announced this week that the social network hit 100 million users and that 50 million of them log in everyday. Wow, that’s an astounding number! Twitter defines an active user as an account holder who logs in at least once a month. 40 percent of current Twitter users are signing in just to observe what’s going on, without sending messages. There are 200 million registered Twitter accounts total.

So now what is next for Twitter? What can users expect to see changing as this social network grows? One thing that CEO Dick Costolo is aiming for is no more fail whales. If you use Twitter often you’ve probably noticed an improvement regarding the site reaching capacity. This is because last year, Twitter beefed up their infrastructure to accommodate to their growth which they plan to keep up with during their next phase of growth.

Twitter also plans to aim for the mainstream. While 40% of users don’t actively tweet, Costolo has talked about creating workflows to turn passive users into active ones. Simplifying a user’s ability to find content is another goal. While there is so much mainstream and niche content floating around on Twitter, many users aren’t up to speed enough to know how to find it. For example, using hash tags and other characters are foggy to many users so Twitter aims to have the content delivered or at least a lot easier to find.

Design changes are also on the horizon for Twitter. They plan to simplify the interface and make it consistent between platforms where Twitter.com will look the exact same as Twitter on tablets and mobile phones.

One thing Twitter will not pursue are obnoxious ways of increasing revenue. Costolo says the health of Twitter is great and although he is presented with hundreds of ways to increase revenue beyond advertising, he declines, “The advertising business will sustain us”.

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Google+ Vs. Facebook: Feature-By-Feature

Recently Google launched its new social network, Google+, in hopes of  delivering a huge blow to the Facebook empire. My first thought was this: I don’t want to invest the time in diving into Google+ when Facebook suits my online social needs perfectly well. My plan was to wait until I witnessed a large amount of my friends migrating over to Google+. Within a few days, I was noticing many of them were far too curious and invites were flooding my Gmail. So what else could I do but check it out myself. Here’s a little info on the features of both:

FEEDS

The feeds in Facebook and Google+ are very similar in that they both allow users to post text, links, photos, and videos. Facebook’s feed has “Top News” as well as the “Most Recent” posts which are visible to whoever your “friends” are. Google+ has a “Circles” friend organizational tool where posts can be shared with as few or as many people as you like. However, its criticism is that it is much like a populated Twitter feed.

FRIENDING

Google+ works different than Facebook in “Friending”. Adding contact in Facebook is a two-way street where users must accept you as friends in order for you to connect. Google+ allows any users to follow you while you can follow anybody as well without having to accept friend requests. This is a huge difference between the two making Google+ more like Twitter than Facebook. The “Circles” feature in Google+ allows users to put all of their contacts into groups and if desired, be able to communicate with particular groups without all of their friends seeing a particular post. That’s a very handy tool.

Google+ users can also create profiles using any name they’d like, far different from Facebook’s real-name only policy. This could potentially make it difficult to find people you’re looking for.

NOTIFICATIONS

Notifications in Facebook and Google+ are pretty identical. Both tell you when someone comments on your post, tags you in a photo, or wants to be your friend. The only difference is that Google+ shows all notifications beneath the same tab where Facebook has a tab for messages, friend requests, and other activity.

BUTTONS

The buttons for Facebook and Google+ are very similar where users can click the buttons to show approval of particular content. Facebook however, also has sharing capabilities where a user’s “Likes” show up in their feed. Google+ doesn’t do this.

PHOTOS

Facebook has turned into the largest photo sharing site on the web making it simple to upload, share, and tag photos. The Google+ functionality is very nice as well and differs from Facebook because users can edit their photos easily. Editing features including rotate, crop, adding colors, and effects. The editing can be done in the photo album itself by clicking an “Actions” tab. Also, in Google+, comments appear to the right of the photos rather than the bottom like Facebook so you don’t have to keep scrolling up and down.   

VIDEO

Video functionality is something that Google+ could offer that Facebook couldn’t. That is until Facebook announced last Wednesday their merger with Skype. A very good move by Facebook to quickly answer to the only clear cut advantage that Google+ would have. With that said, Google+ does have the edge in video. Facebook’s Skye video doesn’t have group-chat functionality where Google+ features “Hangouts” where you can video chat up to 10 people at once.

PRIVACY

Facebook has been heavy criticized in their privacy efforts especially in recent years. Setting your profile so your thoughts and actions are not viewed by the entire world is very difficult. In an effort to capitalize on this blunder, Google+ goes out of its way to make privacy controls a prominent feature. The privacy policy itself is much easier to read. It should be of note that Google+ doesn’t allow for a completely private profile. Facebook allows users to adjust their privacy settings themselves (though most users do not have a great understanding of them) and Google+ has placed privacy at the core of the social network.

So what is the future of the two social networks? It’s hard to foresee Google+ taking over in the short term as a lot of Facebook users, including myself, have invested a lot of time in building networks, pages, photo albums, etc. In the long term it will be interesting to see if Google+ will turn into the new hip place to be on the web and if Facebook will fade away like Myspace. My guess is no but a lot can change in a couple of years.

 

 

The Social Media Platform

Social media has encompassed our world and lifestyles. Not only is social media used for personal reasons, but now businesses have put their mark on social media. Marketing via social media is a great way for businesses to get connected with a vast amount of people at the same time. It creates communication among consumers and has the potential to attract new ones. One of the main benefits of using social media is that it is free and easy to use. All you basically have to do is create a profile and let the marketing begin! Keep in mind that content is key to having a successful social media campaign. If your content is not interesting or useful, you will have no luck with social media.

Social media allows you to share, network, publish, and discuss. Although social media has these benefits for businesses, it is hard to decide which ones to use. There are so many social media outlets to choose from that it can get confusing. Let’s take a look at the most popular social media networks and what benefits they provide.

LinkedIn: LinkedIn sets the stage for networking with business professionals. It allows you to personally brand your business and market yourself to others within your industry. It is also a great outlet for providing knowledgeable content that informs and educates users. Lead generation is the most valuable outcome of using LinkedIn.

Facebook: Facebook has more than half a billion users, making it a great way to share a message and reach a large amount of people simultaneously. It opens up a communication portal and creates social interaction. Facebook works great as a promotional tool. You can promote your products, services, and events to a mass audience, giving your business the opportunity to expand. Frequent and interesting posts will help to keep users attracted to your business.

Twitter: Twitter is your outbound messaging tool. It consists of tweeting 140 characters or less messages to users. These tweets are short and concise, creating a social buzz. This buzz creates interaction with users. While you are tweeting it exposes your business and brand, and then you get to hear who is talking about you and what they are saying. Twitter is all about listening to others through feedback.

YouTube: Known as the largest video sharing community, YouTube is also a marketing and advertising tool. It gets an informative and positive message right in front of existing and/or potential customers. Creating and sharing a video on YouTube provides the opportunity to share knowledge, market products, show off expertise, and connect with users. Videos that are compelling and entertaining will catch the attention of users, also creating interaction for your business.

To Tweet or Not to Tweet

I will admit that I finally signed up for Twitter a week ago, so I am a few years behind. I didn’t really understand the importance of Twitter until I hopped on the bandwagon. I was confused by all the hash marks and other symbols, that I didn’t recognize how powerful Twitter is as a business and marketing tool. Using 140 characters or less, Twitter can help any business promote and share its marketing efforts to a vast amount of people. Since Twitter is one of the largest social media outlets in the world, it has also become a new form of communication. Twitter is used to share content. Businesses want to share content to attract potential customers. So here’s a crazy idea: businesses can share their content on Twitter to attract customers to their company.

Twitter may seem confusing at first, but it is actually easy to use and provides many benefits to businesses.

Here are some of the benefits Twitter can bring to businesses:

  • Free and easy to set up
  • Can impact search rankings
  • Drive traffic to your business website
  • Can be used check competitors accounts to see what they are sharing and who they are following
  • Target the people you want to target in relation to your business
  • Twitter search allows you to follow relevant conversations, trends, and people
  • Hear feedback about your business from the content you share and conversations you start

Those are just a few benefits Twitter provides for businesses and marketers. Twitter also allows you to unleash your creative side. You can customize your profile, add a picture, and create a descriptive bio. Creativity combined with interesting and knowledgeable tweets will allow any business to be successful on Twitter. So the question is: to tweet or not to tweet? I will let you decide.

Social Media Addiction One Year Later

If you read our blog post from May 5th, 2010, we shared a study conducted by University of Maryland’s International Center for Media & the Public Agenda. This study featured 200 students who had to live 24 hours without social media. This meant no access to Twitter, Facebook, email, and even texting. The students in this study wrote blogs about their experience without social media and lets just say it was a traumatic challenge.

Now a year later a new study is released that went global this time. They asked 1,000 students from the United States, Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Asia to abstain from social media for 24 hours They were asked to report on any successes and failures during the experience.

Highlights of the study were interesting. Students actually used the word addiction when asked about their social media usage. Some reported that they felt depressed, lonely, and even shaky without having a social media connection. They also reported that they felt like they lost apart of themselves without social media. This led to confusion and a sense of loss. It wasn’t just access to social media these students lost for a day, they also lost email, music, news, and entertainment. So not only is social media how we stay connected with others and the world, but it is also a way of life. Social media is how people manage their lives and how they communicate.

Although this study shows that a year later we are still addicted to social media, it also helped students realize their dependence. As we are becoming a society that uses social media in our everyday lives, businesses should put their own perspective on the matter.  Marketers and advertisers should harness the benefits of social media for their business. This study should help businesses learn how to use social media and understand how consumers use it. Marketers and advertisers will be at full advantage if they can figure out how to use social media to better their business and attract new customers. Social media has so many facets to choose from, giving businesses the chance to experiment and find what works and what does not.

How Social Media Can Help Your Business

Millions upon millions of people have created their own presence via social media. It isn’t just a place for individuals to keep in touch with family and friends, it has also grown into an extraordinary marketing tool that businesses should take advantage of. Facebook and Twitter for example have upwards of 600 million and 400 million users respectively, providing businesses and marketers with a vast platform of people to market to. Marketing is an action businesses need to take to attract consumers to their products or services. Social media marketing is just a new form of  marketing in the new digital age we are living in.

Social media marketing has many benefits for businesses. Here are 4 ways social media marketing can help businesses and marketers.

1. Increase exposure: If social media is just used at its simplest form by just minimally creating a presence and updating it on occasion, you are still creating exposure to your business. Social media marketing allows for your name to be seen. Since millions of people participate in social media, the more you use social media increases your chances for exposure.

2. Increased traffic: Social media marketing allows for traffic to be increased. One benefit of social media is that you can provide links to your website or anything else related to your business. By providing links and information for people, there is a higher probability of creating traffic as your exposure becomes more proficient.

3. Lead Generation: If you think just teens and college students are using social media you are wrong. Businesses all over the world are using social media for marketing. This provides businesses with another way to generate leads and interact with them. Social media networks also provide a wider reach and database of people who could be leads.

4. Advertising: One of the main benefits of social media is that most sites are free. This gives companies the ability to have their name present without spending a dime. The best part of using social media for advertising is that users that know and like you are automatically endorsing you.

Marketing via social media is a great way for businesses to get noticed. It is easy to get started as well as easy to maintain. Social media is changing the way we market businesses, products, and services.