The Social Media Landscape [Infographic]

Last year, I posted a great infographic from CMO.com that did a terrific job of roadmapping the social Web. The graphic has been updated to reflect the landscape in 2011. As social media continues to evolve, it’s difficult to keep up with all of the changes. This infographic will help marketers to quickly understand how each tool/platform can help in the execution of online campaigns.

The acceptance of social media’s importance by consumers has increased very quickly. People who believed it was relevant to digital marketing were thought to be overreacting and exaggerating its significance. These days, a social-media marketing strategy has clearly become a a vital part of advertising and customer outreach. Marketing channels, platforms, and tools that lack a social component — a way for consumers to actively engage with brands — are probably doomed to fail. But what worked last year may not work today, which is why it’s important to track this ever-changing space.

Read More

12 Reasons to Use Social Media to Grow Your Business

Social media is fast becoming an essential part part the marketing mix for brands. Companies are increasingly using social tools to monitor conversations about their products, competitors, and industry, and engaging with their customers to build strong relationships. According Forrester Research’s most recent Interactive Marketing Forecast, social media marketing will grow at an annual rate of 34% -– faster than any other form of online marketing and double the average growth rate of 17% for all online mediums:

And new research from Access Markets International Partners shows that almost 70% of small and medium businesses actively use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to promote themselves. But simply posting what your CEO had for lunch isn’t going to help much with your branding efforts — it’s important to strategically use social media tools to increase exposure and reach your target audience.

Here are 12 compelling reasons to use social media to help grow your business:

1. Own your brand’s social presence: If you don’t create official channels online, it’s only a matter of time before your fans do it for you and create their own profiles and communities around your brand. It’s important to claim your brand name across all the major social media platforms. Here are two sites that will help you do this:

  • KnowEm: KnowEm has the highest number of sites (over 350) available for checking username availability. Simply by entering your desired username, you’ll be able to find out instantly if it’s still available. KnowEm also offers paid plans, from just signing up and registering you at 150 sites, to a full-featured plan which also fills in all profile details, complete with pictures, at 100 to 300 different networking sites.
  • namechk: Covering 72 major social networking sites, namechk is simple, fast, and easy to use. If your desired username or vanity URL is still available, you simply click through each one to claim it. If your brand isn’t consistent across the Web, namechk can help you by determining which usernames are still available on a number of the most popular sites.

2. Look like you “get it”: Your target audience is becoming more shrewd about leveraging social media sites as an integral part of their daily lives. If you want to appear relevant and in-step with the latest advances in technology, your potential customers will want to see you on these sites as well. If you don’t have a presence, you appear as if you’re not very savvy.

3. Brand recognition: You need to go where your customers are, and they are increasingly spending a great deal of time on social networking sites. Using social media enables your company to reach a huge number of potential customers. Getting your name out there is incredibly important — studies suggest that people need to hear a company’s name at least seven times before they trust and respect it enough to become a customer.

4. Take your message directly to consumers: Social media tools enable you to directly engage consumers in conversation. Be sure to build trust by adding value to the community consistently over time.

5. Increase your search engine rankings: Social media profiles (especially those on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) frequently rank highly with major search engines. Creating keyword-rich profiles around your brand name can help generate traffic for your both your social-networking sites and your company’s Web site.

6. SEO benefits: Many social media bookmarking sites use NOFOLLOW tags that limit the outbound link value of posts made on their sites, but there are still many leading sites that allow DOFOLLOW tags — including Friendfeed, Digg, and Mixx. You can also benefit from posting to bookmarking sites that use NOFOLLOW tags if people read your posts and link back to your Web site.

7. Social media content is now integrated with search results: Search engines like Google and Bing are increasingly indexing and ranking posts and other information from social networks. Videos from popular sites like YouTube can also be optimized for indexing by the major search engines.

8. Brand monitoring: Having a social media presence gives you a better understanding of what current and potential customers are saying about your products and services. If you actively monitor social conversations, you have the opportunity to correct false or inaccurate information about your brand and address negative comments before they take on a life of their own.

9. Generate site traffic: You can create additional traffic if you regularly post updates on social networks that link back to your Web site. Social media bookmarking tools like Digg, Reddit, and Stumbleupon can also generate additional traffic to your site if you create frequent articles and blog posts.

10. Find new customers through your friends: You shouldn’t neglect your personal social media accounts as potential avenues to promote the activities of your business. Posting regular updates relating to your business and activities can remind your friends about what your company does and influence them to use your services or make referrals.

11. Find new customers through your company profile: Your company profile is a great opportunity for you to post regular updates on your activities and about important news and trends in your industry. This will attract the attention of new customers interested in your industry and increase your reputation as an expert in your field. It’s important to post regularly if you want to increase your followers or fans and convert them to potential leads.

12. Niche marketing: Social media enables you to reach very specific subsets of people based on their personal preferences and interests. You can create unique social media profiles to target these audiences or create strategies based on addressing individual interests.

Are you using social media to grow your business? Please share your experiences!


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


12 Social Media Marketing Myths

For brands, resistance to social media is futile. Millions of people create content for the social Web on a daily basis. Your customers have been using it for a long time. Your competitors have embraced it. If your business isn’t putting itself out there, it should be.

But there are some recurring fallacies and misconceptions out there. Many companies are finding that these tools don’t live up to the hype, especially small businesses. There are a lot of challenges that aren’t immediately apparent. Are you considering Twitter, Facebook, et al as part of your marketing plan? Before you jump in, keep these myths in mind:

  1. Social media is cheap or free. Yes, many social media tools are free to use, including Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, the social network building tool Ning, and content aggregators like StumbleUpon and Digg. There are many free blogging tools, too, like WordPress, Blogger, FriendFeed, and Twitter. But incorporating them into a corporate marketing program requires time, skill, and money.
  2. You can make a big splash really quickly. Sure, sometimes this happens. Social media is great if you’re already a star, but there really isn’t any such thing as an overnight sensation. For example, tweets can drive traffic to articles, Web sites, Facebook pages, contests, apps, videos, etc. — this is easier if your audience already cares about your brand or if you have a truly original product or idea that excites people to the extent that they want to share with their friends. But it takes a lot of time and dedication to keep your content fresh.
  3. You need to be on all the big sites. Most brands that have succeeded with social media sites generally focus on just a few of them. Just because the media says it’s cool to tweet doesn’t mean it has anything to do with your business. If you plan to frequent social networks, don’t spread yourself too thin. The companies that choose their weapons wisely and give it their all are the ones that succeed in the social space.
  4. If you create something that’s great, people will find it. How’s that supposed to happen? Unless you can drive traffic to your social media effort, it’s akin to a tree falling in the woods with no one around to hear it. Many tools can drive traffic, including Twitter, Digg, StumbleUpon, blogs, and SEO, but word of mouth trumps them all  — one friend telling another, “Hey, check this out!” is very powerful.
  5. It’s for kids. Contrary to the perception that social media is for tweens, teens, and 20-somethings, older demographics are rapidly evolving into this space. According to analysis by iStrategyLabs, Facebook experienced 276% growth in users aged 35-54 in 2009 and is its fastest growing segment.
  6. You can’t build quality relationships online. The thinking on this goes that it’s a waste of time connect with people online that you don’t know in real life — that it’s a pointless exercise that doesn’t lead to lasting relationships with your brand. It’s actually quite the opposite: Social media enables you to be face to face with your target audience. Even if they don’t turn into paying customers, you still gain valuable insight into what they think and what they react to.
  7. It gives away content and ideas you should be charging for. Simply put: The more you give, the more you receive in social media. You need to let go of the idea that all the content you produce is is proprietary, engage with your audience, and encourage them to share what you’ve created.
  8. It’s a fad. The drumbeat about social media has become deafening. Yet many marketers remain skeptical, hesitating to expand budgets and expend resources on a craze. But social media is a fundamental shift in communication — it isn’t just a new set of tools, but a new sphere of networking, communicating, living, and organizing. It has become intertwined in our lifestyles, so it’s here to stay.
  9. Anyone can do it. It sure sounds that way, doesn’t it? There are a lot of people, from whiz kids to more experienced marketers, who claim to be social media experts. Some even portray themselves as gurus. But how many of them have created successful social media initiatives for clients? To be effective, a campaign must integrate social elements into all aspects of marketing, including advertising, digital, and PR. Theory is no match for experience, and the best social media marketers now have years of experience incorporating interactivity, forums, viral video, apps, social networks, blogs, user-generated content, and contests into the marketing mix.
  10. It’s a cure-all. While social media is a great tool for online reputation management, it’s not a panacea. Don’t get so wrapped up in the concept of of the social Web that you ignore the other problems with your marketing strategy. Social media is another in a long list of tools you should leverage for brand messaging.
  11. You can do it all in-house. You need strategy, tools, contacts, and experience — a mixture not usually found in in-house teams, who are often tempted to use the wrong tools or to reinvent the wheel… which leads to (you guessed it) lousy results. How many in-house teams have the expertise to conceive and implement a social media campaign AND drive traffic to it via blog advertising, SEO, Twitter, etc.?
  12. Social marketing results can’t be measured. There are a variety of methods and tools you can use for this; I’ve covered some of them here and here, and more become available every day. You can monitor blog comments, mentions in the media, traffic stats, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, comments on your content, real-time blog advertising results, click-throughs to your Web site. The tools are out there, and the number of people who know how to aggregate and interpret the data is growing.

What other myths are out there about social media? What lessons have you learned as you’ve tried to get your arms around social engagement as a marketing tool?


Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

















Advertisers Embrace Facebook, Other Social Networks

Social ad spending will become a higher priority in 2010, with the combination of mobile and social advertising generating more opportunities for advertisers to reach their target markets for branding and engagement. eMarketer forecasts that 2009 ad spending on social networks will surpass $1.2 billion when all expenditures are tallied, a year-over-year increase of almost 4%. And social-media ad spending is anticipated to grow more than 7% next year:

109034

According to Debra Aho Williamson, author of the report Social Network Ad Spending: 2010 Outlook:

As more marketers incorporate social networks in their business, they will no longer look at them as siloed destinations. Instead, they will look to increase the impact of their social network presence by linking it to other marketing initiatives, both online and offline.

So social network advertising is set to intersect with other kinds of advertising. Geotargeting, earned media (the additional unpaid exposure a brand receives when consumers talk about it online), social search, and social ad networks will be pivotal themes next year.

Facebook has become the preferred social network for marketers

Facebook is poised to surpass MySpace in advertising revenue. At 350 million users, Facebook is the premier destination for marketers in the U.S. and in many other countries. In 2010, marketers are expected to spend more than $600 million on Facebook (vs. $385 million for MySpace), accounting for nearly one-fourth of worldwide social-network ad spending — up from 20% in 2009:

109039

Facebook Pages are increasingly becoming an integral part of brand advertising.  They will become even more popular as Facebook introduces the Open Graph API, enabling branded social experiences to occur anywhere on the Web.

Williamson also says,

When companies budget for social media marketing in 2010 and beyond, a substantial portion of their expenses will go toward creating and maintaining a fan page, managing promotions or public relations outreach within a social network, and measuring the impact of a social network presence on brand health and sales.

The viability of social media advertising was reinforced during the holiday shopping season, as many retailers turned to social media destinations like Facebook and Twitter to bolster their efforts to reach potential shoppers. Kohl’s, Best Buy, and Target were among the companies that leveraged social networks for customer engagement. Online ad spending dropped overall in 2009, but the increase in buys on social networks has created opportunities for brands to increase their market share. Ad buys on these sites could account for up to 5.4% of all online advertising.

As advertisers search for new avenues to grab customers’ discretionary income, the shift away from traditional online advertising will continue to accelerate.

What’s your opinion? Do you think Facebook will surpass MySpace? How has MySpace been able to retain its revenue lead for so long? Please leave a comment!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

NHL: Great Use of Twitter Lists for Branding, Outreach

Wondering how to use Twitter Lists to support your marketing strategy? Let’s take a look at the National Hockey League’s use of this new feature to engage its fans.

National Hockey League
Image via Wikipedia

As I described recently, Twitter Lists enable you to easily follow a group of users who have been grouped together by other Twitter users. Selecting people to include on a list is an endorsement of the value of their contributions.

The NHL has taken this concept one step further by leveraging lists as a crowdsourcing tool. Here’s what they did:

Yesterday morning, they tweeted

nhl-twitter-lists

Tweets flooded in from their 115,000+ followers. There are now 20 lists for users to check out, which is unfortunately the upper limit. (Twitter may want to rethink this in general, but especially for brands trying to reach out to their customers.) While the NHL waits for approval from Twitter to add more lists, some can be found here at the account of Michael DiLorenzo, Director of Social Media Marketing and Strategy for the NHL. In addition, the NHL’s Twitter account is now part of more than 800 user-created lists.

Quite a success story. The NHL’s effort has enabled it to collect customer data and helped its fans to connect with each other. The response from fans definitely shows how Twitter Lists can be a major resource for companies and organizations seeking to reach out to their constituents.

Related articles:

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Saturday Social Marketing Round-Up

Here’s some great weekend reading in the social marketing sphere:

Is social media marketing making search campaigns cheaper?
Have you been wondering why Google’s make such a big push into display and social over the last few months? Well The Wall Street Journal has a theory: Google’s revenue growth is down 25% this year and marketers are getting more bang for their buck in search.

Toronto Twitter Tweet Up
Image by Dave Delaney via Flickr

Social Sites Send Fewer, but More Loyal Visitors than Search
While we all like our sites to have visitors, a loyal visitor—one who returns for later visits—is especially valuable.

When Two Worlds Collide: Social Media Marketing & SEO
All of the basics of SEO will still be important, but your social media presence will be a critical part of securing your search traffic. Social media will most likely become just as important as content creation and inbound links for priming the SEO pump.

Mobile Social Networking Blurs Lines
Both mobile and social are emerging channels. Combine the two of them together, and well, you have an even less mature proposition. Not necessarily a lack of marketing opportunities, but more complications getting programs off the ground.

Less than 10% of small businesses twittering
Businesses of all sorts are becoming more social, but it seems that the most recent social tools aren’t being widely used. According to a new report from BIA/Kelsey only 9% of small businesses are using Twitter to market or engage.

Related articles by Zemanta
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]