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What Will Social Media Marketing Be Like in 2014?

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Looking back in 2013, you would notice that most of the success stories in small or large scale businesses have a little bit of the ‘social media element’ in it. Although its marketing and sales capabilities have really never been officially stamped with approval or accuracy, nobody questions the power of social media in the business world.

Viral videos on YouTube, stories on Facebook, contests on Instagram and polls on Twitter – these are the pillars of social media marketing in the past 3-5 years. But what’s in store for the coming 2014?

Rick Mulready, an LA-based social media blogger, consultant, speaker and host of the Inside Social Media podcast, shared his bold predictions in his post in Entrepreneur.com. Here is how he foresees the coming year in social media:

1. Short-form video will lead the way for a visual storytelling revolution. 
Short, concise videos tell a deeper story than pictures will only become more important in 2014. Platforms like Twitter’s Vine app and Instagram’s 15-second video make it extremely easy to produce and share this short-form content so marketers need to take the time to not only understand how to use these platforms but also how users consume content on them.

2. Businesses will embrace the concept of ‘fandom.’ 
Fandom is essentially the sub-culture of raving fans that exist within a brand’s overall customer base. These are the fans that are going to do a lot of your marketing for a business, the ones who will promote it to other people. In 2014, businesses will make a bigger effort to identify and embrace the fandom. Connecting with and giving these fans the tools to help them spread the word about a business will go a long way.

3. Google+ will be bigger and more important. 
Google+ now has 300 million monthly active users. To put this in perspective, Facebook and Twitter have about 1.2 billion and 232 million monthly active users respectively. Not only has Google+ become a popular social platform but its integration with Google search results and Google Authorship makes it a absolutely mainstream in 2014.

4. There will be a bigger focus on context. 
Businesses have already started to embrace content marketing as ‘king’. But for 2014, the need to put out more content will become less important, in favor of focusing on and creating content that’s contextually relevant to the social channels you’re using.

5. More businesses will get into paid advertising.
With so many brands using Facebook to market their business, paid advertising will need to be a critical part of their social strategy if they want their content seen by more of their fans. In addition, Twitter is beefing up its paid advertising options with products like the recently announced “tailored audiences. If a business is serious about reaching audiences on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, paid ads will need to be part of its plan in 2014.

Building an Engaged Social Media Community to Boost Lead Generation

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Building an Engaged Social Media Community to Boost Lead Generation

Some business marketers opt to buy their audience instead of growing them from the ground up. While both methods have relatively similar results in terms of numbers, the latter is more inclined towards engagement – that is, growing a community that genuinely supports your brand image not because they have to but because they want to.

It’s more rewarding to see people respond to and share your content, and in turn increasing your odds at generating high-quality leads. To achieve this, you should know where to get your “seeds” and plant them in the right places:

Start with familiar people

The good thing about today’s social media is that it gives you the functionality to search for people you know by connecting your address book or other social networking platforms. Tapping these personal and professional relationships can give you a good kick-start.

Let them know you’re “in” – use official badges

The top social networking sites, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn, all have official follow buttons/badges provided for its users. Using these items lets new visitors know that you’re in the social media loop and it will enhance the chances of connection and sharing. It also gives them the convenience of logging in to your site using their social media accounts so they don’t have to fill out empty fields.

Make your business signature more “socialized”

In the olden days, signatures only bore the name, contact details, email address, job position and name of company. But this is the age of social media. Your signature should also include social media accounts (use buttons for a neater look) and while you’re at it, throw in your blog site link.

Get the team involved

Chances are your colleagues and other team members have social media profiles of their own, and they have no problem disclosing their affiliation with your company. Why not ask them to link back to your site pages or blog posts? Better yet, get them all on LinkedIn so the impact is multiplied.

Respond to your audience

The goal is to maintain presence on social media as much as possible, but you’ve got to have reason each time you appear. It could be that you’re posting a daily blog item, or you’re giving shout-outs and updates. Another good reason is when you’re responding to their queries and reactions. Each time your reply comes up, other people would see your account and link back to other posts and site pages.

Create social media-friendly content

Not all content are suitable for social media. There has to be an element of being viral, thought-provoking and visually appealing. Most people are drawn into fan pages and communities because of content, above anything else.

Destroy your brand’s online reputation in 6 (preventable) ways

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Destroy your brand’s online reputation in 6 (preventable) ways

Every day, people swarm into your blog or website to check your content, and they make all sorts of commitments: creating an account, signing up for newsletters, or even making a purchase. But sometimes there is also what we call a “close call”, where a reader is just about ready to make a commitment – but at the last second that person had a change of heart. Forever.

PSY-chosis: K-Pop can Teach Marketers how to go Viral

Now as a marketer, how would you know what could have caused that? What did the reader see that made him turn away for good? Most of the time, there’s really no way for you to know for sure (unless that person provides feedback). The only safety measure you could use is to inspect your site for possible flaws that, without your knowledge, have been ruining your brand’s name for quite some time now.

Cheap content – If you’re writing for Google instead of your prospects, it could be why you don’t have good conversion rates despite of a good SEO ranking. Truth is, traditional SEO has become so old-fashioned that people would run away fast the moment they see it. They know and appreciate when a write-up is meant to solve problems, to teach or provide valuable insight.

Not doing what you say you will – Scenario: a newly-registered customer specifically opted out on any email newsletters or updates, but your system goes ahead and sends stuff anyway. Result: reputation permanently damaged. If they can’t rely on you on a simple detail like this, why would they trust you with their business?

Appalling sales tactics – Face it: no one wants to play the fool. Deceiving or misleading people are irreversible name-destroyers and there’s no value in doing them. Don’t use fake testimonials. Don’t say the stock is running low when it really isn’t. Don’t indicate that it’s free if you’re planning to charge them in the end. Don’t risk losing thousands of prospects by making money out of deceiving 10 people.

Getting into online fights – While it could probably give you certain publicity, the long-term effect is more injurious. Engaging in this type of behavior would only reduce your brand to a lower level each time.

Making your site an ad billboard – Business owners pay good money to make sure their website visitors could focus on and absorb their product, while you drive your own visitors away by plastering unattractive ads on your landing page. And for what, a few bucks in ad revenue?

Ignoring typos and photo fails – While you’re thinking “It’s not that important to waste energy on proofreading or creating quality images”, your readers are thinking, “ This company couldn’t even bother correcting a simple misspelling or installing Photoshop; there’s no way I’m using their service”.

Social Media Management: 3 ways to uncover and boost ROI

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Social Media Management - 3 ways to uncover and boost ROI

survey from Manta, a business community site, gathered insights from more than 1,200 SMBs and found out that among those who invested on social media for their marketing campaigns in 2012, only 40 percent saw a return on their investment.

This might be a mystery to some people who are constantly witnessing the power of social media in their daily marketing activities. If it’s so powerful, why can’t they see their investment blossom? This phenomenon could might as well add to the growing myth that social media is indeed a non-ROI venture.

It is, however, still a myth.

The truth is, social media can ensure ROI; you only need to take necessary steps to see to it that you’re getting the most of your time and money.

Be very strategic. According to Mana Ionescu, president of Lightspan Digital in Chicago, many small businesses waste several hours a day in coming up with a perfect tweet or Facebook post. To save time and energy, she suggests creating sort of a “daily task manager” to organize specific tasks during the day, such as scheduling photo posts or retweeting certain relevant posts. Managing the tasks will make up for lost time and also makes it easier to track. Being strategic is working smarter, not harder.

Provide a clear action path. One of the reasons why companies don’t see ROI is the fact that the social media process is often incomplete. When people check out you content on social networking sites, they have to be directed to a specific path that leads to conversion. Without it, the very purpose of social media marketing is defeated. After reading your article, what’s next? After seeing your tweet, what’s next? If they don’t clearly see your call-to-action buttons, they stop at being mere readers and not potential customers.

Give away free stuff only when it makes sense. Freebies are not supposed to be acts of goodwill; you don’t give stuff away just for kicks. There should be a defined goal in that process. Encourage a trade between you and your recipients by asking for information in exchange of the goods. If you don’t see the benefit of giving a free product to a low-chance prospect, don’t bother. Instead, exert your energy on figuring out what would make that person become a customer, and base your freebies on those needs.

If you think Social Media Marketing is easy, Take a Look at this

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If you think Social Media Marketing is easy, take a look at this

When you do your daily rounds of social media-hopping, you may stumble upon several businesses and brands enjoying a successful following on Facebook, Twitter and other sites. Curious (and a bit jealous), you might think it’s an effortless feat to accomplish, since there are so many of them scattered around the web.

The truth is: setting up a team for social media marketing is not that straightforward as you think.

A Dose of Quintessential Online Marketing Statistics to Further Fuel Today’s Social Media Hype

In this year’s Ragan/NASDAQ OMX Corporate Solutions survey, they asked a total of 2,714 marketers how the manage their social media marketing teams, and these are the interesting things they found out, just to show how it indeed takes a lot of work:

Workforce

  • Of all the companies surveyed, 27% have their dedicated social media team, while 65% delegate social media tasks on top of the regular job obligations. Only 3% of them outsource to social media experts.
  • 25% of companies have interns help with social media.
  • 42% of companies have only one person who works on social media, while 40% have two or three personnel.
  • Companies not planning to hire more people to manage social media next year: 78%

Marketer qualifications

  • 25% of the companies say the most sought-after quality in social media marketers is experience, while 18% say writing skills.
  • 45% say it should be both academic degree and experience.
  • 47% of them prefer 1-3 years of experience and 44% for 3-5 years
  • Preferred degree: Communications – 77%, Public Relations – 76%, Marketing – 65%, Journalism – 42%, Advertising – 28%

Execution and evaluation

  • 58% of the companies post content at least once a day, while 22% post 2-3 times a week
  • 86% of companies measure social media in terms of likes and followers.
  • 76% measure it by web traffic, while 58% use “brand reputation”
  • 41% measure it by customer satisfaction, and 40% measure it by the number of new leads

Goals and setbacks

  • Only 5% of companies are highly satisfied with their social media campaigns.
  • Increasing brand awareness is the leading goal of companies at 87%
  • 62% aim to increase traffic while 61% aim to enhance reputation
  • Only 45% and 40% consider generating leads and increasing sales as major goals, respectively
  • 65% say that lack of time is the biggest problem they have, while lack of manpower comes in second at 63%
  • Other problems include lack of budget (41%), not prioritizing (39%), and even the thought that the task is too overwhelming (23%).

8 Bogus Social Media tips to ditch (for good riddance)

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8 Bogus Social Media tips to ditch (for good riddance)

Everyone claims to be a social media “expert” – if there is such a thing. They like to dish out advice based on unproven theories, limited experiences, and sometimes pure hunches. Not only that these advices get you nowhere, they also make you look like a fool in everyone’s eyes.

An easier task would be to debunk those tips that really don’t have any bearing on one’s social media marketing efforts. Easier, because the burden of proof is on the shoulders of these wanna-be experts, and the absence thereof means they have to be dumped in the trash bin.

So if you have these notions in your social media belief system, perhaps it’s time to take out the garbage:

Bad tip #1: You need to be omnipresentIf your audience isn’t there, what’s the point? Imagine how much energy you can save if you choose which social networking sites you need to be on, instead of being active in all of them. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are a given. If you want to expand, study the ROI.

Bad tip #2: It’s okay to automate all your posts – For blog articles, it’s fine. But for updates, comments, and conversations? It’s a no-no to let a robot determine the timing of your posts. Genuine interactions require a living person to initiate or respond.

Bad tip #3: You don’t need email – Email is like Elvis. It remains, to this day, the single most successful act in music history. And despite the mania caused by the arrival of The Beatles (social media), Elvis (email) never flinched. That is why for most people, Elvis (email) is still the best.

Bad tip #4: B2B prospects are not on Facebook – If this were true, vendors would not have reported that Facebook, and any other social networking sites for that matter, were the source of majority of their online-acquired leads in the last 3 years. Business prospects like to socialize online, too.

Bad tip #5: You should ignore negative comments – The operative word is “ignore”, which makes all the difference. You can defend your brand’s name in the most good-natured way possible, but to ignore comments altogether is a different story. Don’t let people think you don’t care enough about what people say.

Bad tip #6:Don’t bother measuring social media marketing – Contrary to popular belief, it can be measured. But because of its being dynamic, there’s no industry standard for measuring ROI. That means – you guessed it – you can measure it in your own rational terms.

Bad tip #7: You should post X number of updates today – What is the basis of assigning a fixed frequency of posts? Response rates? Visibility? If you have a logical basis for the number, then use it. Otherwise, don’t pressure yourself.

Bad tip #8: Social media needs no strategy – Just because social media is unpredictable doesn’t mean a strategy is not practical. There are other aspects of social media marketing that don’t live by spontaneity.

PSY-chosis: K-Pop can Teach Marketers how to go Viral

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PSY-chosis - K-Pop can teach marketers how to go viral

Many would think, after the worldwide popularity of Psy’s “Gangnam Style”, that Korean pop music (or better known as K-Pop) is only a new trend in the global music scene. It actually roots back to the early 1900’s when Western culture penetrated Korea after the partition of the North and South peninsula. The first known K-Pop album came out in 1925 and the genre became more widespread when the Americans arrived.

However, it is only until recently that the so-called Korean Invasion (as a homage to the 60’s British Invasion) has grown immense fame. Since 2009, a barrage of Korean artists, usually presented as groups of 3 or more members, began conquering global charts and their songs started to become part of the modern music landscape.

It’s a phenomenon that leaves people asking how, despite of the language barrier and the apparent lack of artistry in music making, do these songs capture the heart of the public across all cultures?

The answer is viral marketing.

When you first hear K-Pop songs, you don’t immediately like them, compared to American and British pop songs. First of all, it’s hard to sing-along (unless you know Korean), and second, they are generally dance tunes with singular and repetitive melodies. But despite this, the industry was able to market them internationally through constant media exposure and viral stretching.

What made it work?

Uniqueness. Even without hearing the words, you’d know right away if a song is K-Pop because of its flashy beats and digital noise. It’s a common formula that they use in virtually all of their songs (even their music video structures are formulaic). Having their own “identity” and believing in their own native talent makes it easy to market them.

Power of the web and social media. Even if the song is not your taste, you would be surprised by how you ended up liking it because of constant media exposure. If you can hear it practically everywhere and see everybody, including famous people, dancing to it, your memory has no choice but to embrace it. That’s viral marketing at its best.

Multi-weapons. It’s almost a pre-requisite for K-Pop artists to dance while they sing, and look stunningly attractive at the same time. They attack on all angles, and watching their music videos is like a blinding showcase of their abilities. In spreading content about a product, marketers should learn to highlight all the strengths in a single-performance to make a lasting impact.

Grabbing the momentum. When streams of K-Pop songs took center stage, everybody else jumped in the bandwagon. Eventually you could see Korean groups left and right, and there seems to be no sign of stopping in the near future. Similarly, marketers must take advantage of a positive trend while it’s still there. You never know when it would last, so relish the glory and make it count.

Is it time for your Marketing strategy to “check-in” on Foursquare?

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Is it time for your Marketing strategy to “check-in” on Foursquare

Here’s a great story: On October 22, 2010, when astronaut Douglas Wheelock arrived at the International Space Station 230 miles outside of Earth, he made history. No, he didn’t take pictures of aliens, nor did he stop an asteroid from hitting our planet. So what did he do?

He checked-in to Foursquare.

From outer space.

Yep. After that he was given the first and only “NASA Explorer” badge by the app, and from then on NASA became more active in Foursquare-dom. The implication is simple: Foursquare is getting more universal. You know, like the universe. Universal. Get it?

That story alone should leave you at least convinced to entertain the idea that Foursquare should be part of your marketing strategy. Its biggest growth was in the last 2 years, wherein it quickly jumped to more than 30 million active users. With over 3.5 billion check-ins since its inception in 2009, it’s slowly becoming the ultimate geo-social tool. Are you ready to inform the Mayor that you’re coming to town?

Here are the reasons why marketers need to befriend Foursquare:

  • Social word of mouth. Imagine if Justin Bieber, Katy Perry and Lady Gaga all checked-in at your business site and makes sure everyone in cyberspace knows about it. That’s 122 million people immediately getting that information, and that’s only on Twitter. There’s still Facebook, Instagram, and so on – ah, you get the point. That’s the power of social media.
  • You’re probably there already. Before you even think of getting on board, you might want to check if you’re already on everyone’s maps. In Foursquare, locations are created by people themselves, so your “physical” existence is a perfect jump board to start your campaign.
  • Trends. Just like Twitter, Foursquare also manages trends, and this becomes a convenience for people who actually use “trending” lists to decide which places and brands they want to patronize. Marketers prey on that information.
  • Instant demographic. As a by-product, marketers are conveniently provided with useful data at their disposal: frequency, day and time of check-ins, first time visitors, top visitors, feedback, and competition. This could help in identifying, predicting and controlling behavior patterns.
  • Everything “follows”. Not only that you have data at hand, you also who the actual supporters of your company or brand are. You can “follow” your visitors and “follow-up” with promos and updates. This can also facilitate in getting feedback and participation from them, which is a great source of constructive input.
  • Contests and loyalty rewards. Now that you know the people who have been keeping your company alive, why not spice things up with contests and perks? Give them more reasons to patronize your brand, and they’ll willingly heighten the buzz for you.