Has Facebook Peaked?

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While we marketing types tinker away on our Facebook-for business-campaigns, the “numbers people” have discovered something sort of shocking about the world’s most used social network. According to a report in The Guardian, new users aren’t exactly flocking to Facebook anymore and growth has appeared to stall.

The Guardian explains the Facebook drop-off like this:

“In the last month, the world’s largest social network has lost 6m US visitors, a 4 percent fall, according to analysis firm SocialBakers. In the UK, 1.4m fewer users checked in last month, a fall of 4.5 percent. The declines are sustained. In the last six months, Facebook has lost nearly 9m monthly visitors in the US and 2m in the UK. Users are also switching off in Canada, Spain, France, Germany and Japan, where Facebook has some of its biggest followings. A spokeswoman for Facebook declined to comment.’The problem is that, in the US and UK, most people who want to sign up for Facebook have already done it,’ said new media specialist Ian Maude at Enders Analysis.”

In other parts of the world, however, Facebook is still growing and folks are still signing up. In Brazil, for example, Facebook sign ups grew by 6 percent last month. Yet without significant growth in more developed markets, Facebook will have hit a glass ceiling. Social media experts are wondering if an inevitable “MySpace effect” is coming next for Facebook.

Can another hipper, younger and more dynamic social network knock Facebook off its perch? Perhaps, but for small businesses and mega brands alike, Facebook marketing is still valuable and worth our time. Sure, it isn’t the end of the digital marketing rainbow some once thought it was, but Facebook is a great tool for informing folks about your business and for engaging your customers and following. No other social network gives you the ease and access to so many people worldwide to talk about your brand.

But that’s what we think. You tell us: Is Facebook marketing still relevant or on its way to becoming extinct? Sound off below!

Blog Like the Big Brands: ABC

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Blog creation is a full-time job when your company has lots of products, services, divisions, personalities and general stuff to talk about. Juggling every aspect of your company in one tiny blog can be exhausting — and can make your blog feel schizophrenic. But multiple blogs devoted to every arm of your brand isn’t exactly a walk in the park, either. So what’s a super busy brand to do? If you are network television giant ABC, you blog a lot… but do so selectively.

Television networks, as we can imagine, are busy places with hundreds of programs and campaigns to promote. Therefore, ABC doesn’t even try to blog about every single show, star and entertainment event on the network. Instead, ABC uses blogging to chat about buzz-worthy OMG shows that folks talk about around the water cooler at work. Juicy dramas like Revenge, Scandal and Once Upon a Time are a blogger’s paradise as the episodes feature all sorts of moments fans can talk about. ABC skips blogging about sitcoms and some of its older, more established hits in order to, presumably, blog about newer shows that need promoting.

The conversational nature of blogging also works well for ABC’s News division, which has dozens of blogs on everything from sports and entertainment to global headlines and business news. Blogging the news can still be reputable and trustworthy while inviting conversation from readers.

Another smart blogging idea from ABC is being smart about how and what your business blogs about. Realize that not everything your company does, while important in its own way, makes for great blog reading. Instead, use blogging to talk about the goods and services you love. Because nine times out of 10, the things you are passionate about are the topics that make for great blog posts.

Whether you’re running a network or a cake decorating company out of your garage, blogging is a super way to talk to your client base. Use provocative and interesting blog topics to find out what your followers are thinking (and don’t forget to heavily encourage to them to leave comments).

 

Five Things You Might Have Missed!

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Can blog writing lead to a book? Is crossdressing on Facebook a sign of good marketing? And which shoe brand made a major Boston blunder? The answers to these and other questions can be found in our weekly list of Five Things You Might Have Missed.

1.) Not Skirting the Issue: Want to draw attention to a hot button national issue and raise awareness? Use Facebook marketing and do it in a dress. Or at least that’s what seems to be working for men in the Kurdish community in Iran who are showing their support of women and gender equality. Photos of Iranian men in traditional women’s clothing started popping up online yesterday on Facebook. The page currently has 10,000 supporters and over 150 photos of guys in women’s clothing. Meanwhile the campaign has made international headlines.

2.) Meat the Burglars: Kent’s Meats and Groceries of Redding, Calif., solved two problems with a new online video. By using real-life footage of a recent the bungled burglary attempt by a portly dude in a bandana, the store turned a headline into a potentially viral video hit and put its brand name on the map. Plus, the stranger-than-fiction comedy features that awesome theme music from Benny Hill.

3.) From Nightmare to Dream Come True: If you’re still wondering about the power of brilliant blog creation, the story of Shane Burcaw should convince you to start blogging. Burcaw is a 20 year old with spinal muscular atrophy and he blogs about his daily life with humor and heart on his Tumblr “Laughing at My Nightmare.” Publishers took notice of the truthful and highly-followed blog and Burcaw just got signed to Roaring Book Press.

4.) Tougher Twitter: Worried about security breaches on Twitter like the disastrous one that happened to the Associated Press this week? So is Twitter. On Wednesday, the social media giant announced plans to make future attacks even more difficult. The company promises it has new ways, including a two-step verification process, to thwart Twitter hackers as outlined in this article from The Consumerist.

5.) Boston Boo Boo: We wrap up this week with an unfortunate t-shirt from Nike which read “Boston Massacre” and was splattered with fake blood. The shirt, which was made long before the tragic events at the Boston Marathon earlier this month, was meant to “reference the Bronx Bombers sweeping the rival Red Sox during a key regular season series in 1978 and in the 2006 MLB Playoffs. The phrase itself was borrowed from the notorious 1770 incident in which British solders opened fire on civilian protestors in Boston, killing five and wounding six,” according to AdAge. Nike quickly pulled the shirt and apologized profusely for the t-shirt.

 

Google+ Marketing is Easy Marketing

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166678900Google+_Marketing_Is_easy_marketingWe’ll admit that when Google released its social media platform, Google+, awhile back, we weren’t thrilled. I mean, another social network to market on — and an untested one at that? The whole prospect seemed exhausting… especially considering that Google had tried and failed before at the social game. Besides, how many more networks do we need? Even the most nimble marketers have reached their limit. Yet something strange has happened since Google+ was released in 2011: Google+ has become really cool, relevant and super simple to use.

In terms of registering and getting started on a social network, no platform is easier than Google+. If you have a Gmail account, this process takes about two minutes; if not, it’s still easier than getting started on Facebook (and a lot more fun). Google+ wisely wants its users to get in the action right away, so “start screens” take new members through the best of the sites features and how to use them. Setting up a branded page is just as easy and can be done in a matter of moments. Once a company is ready to go and get schmoozing, a great place to start is the Communities section. Every possible interest and topic is covered in these groups and they are a great place to meet followers, promote your brand and explore how Google+ really works. Like any new social media account, it takes some time to find people and make connections, but Google+ is truly unique and well worth the little investment it takes.

Social media marketing on Google+ means your brand gets all the benefits of Google, including the search engine, YouTube, Calendar, Chrome, Wallet, Maps and Hangouts — to name just a few. Yes, by marketing on Google+, your posts stretch to all of Google products. Powered by the most-visited site on the planet gives every social move you make longer-lasting power than it would have anywhere else.

Writer for Copyblogger Demian Farnworth says there’s another powerful reason to consider Google+.

“Where a tweet or a Facebook post has a shelf life of 30 minutes at the most, a Google+ post can be found during a search by someone in your network … no matter how old it is,” he writes.

But these are not the only reason to consider Google+. It also has dozens of unique features and is incredibly image and video friendly. And all you need to get started is to visit Google. Does it get any easier?

Long Live Article Marketing or RIP Article Marketing?

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Not too long ago, article marketing was the be-all and end-all for a successful content strategy. Articles, we thought, were a sure-fire way to get our brands, websites and products noticed on search engines like Google. Marketers touted their power to brands; SEO professionals told clients to get on the article marketing train or perish.

Six or some years later, however, things have really changed. Thanks to social media marketing, the image sharing revolution, digital PR and stricter search engine algorithms, the way we market online rarely relies on articles anymore. So should we still bother with the practice of article marketing?

“Yes, article marketing still converts and converts well, but only if it is done right,” writes journalist and SEO expert Warren Wooden in a recent blog post for Business2Community.com. “Where most people fail at article marketing is they are not placing their articles on sites that get read much, they are not writing about a related topic, and they don’t bother linking to their site with an appropriate link.”

Wooden isn’t alone in the opinion that article marketing is still worth marketers’ time. In fact, the channels for distribution have quadrupled over the years, making it even easier for folks to read your articles. Sites like LinkedIn work wonders for getting technical and professional pieces in front of the right eyes. Twitter is another great social media channel to promote links to articles. Also, business and industry blogs have exploded since the inception of article marketing and there now thousands of blogs to market your articles to.

Yet there’s just one little catch about today’s article marketing: Unlike in the past, only good articles with dynamic and engaging content stay alive and put you on the search engine map. Crappy, spammy articles with no soul will be bounced and are essentially a waste of your time. As Wooden put it, “Just know that article marketing is something that many people are still doing and because of that you should know that it still works. The only way to get article marketing traffic to convert is to make sure you stay on top of it and are constantly publishing new articles on article directories, guest blogs, and Web 2.0 sites. Trust me on this one, article marketing traffic will convert much better than you can imagine as long as you write high quality content.”

Want Great Videos? Ask a Fan

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Every brand wants masterful, memorable and eye-popping online video creation. There’s just one problem: Many companies don’t know where to begin. Lots of businesses mistakenly believe that simply because they’ve watched a lot of snappy, hit viral videos that they can easily make one of their own. That couldn’t be further from the truth. From simple things (like how to hold a video camera and coming up with a clever storyline) to difficult tasks (like editing and marketing) take skill and talent. Don’t have either one of those things? Well, maybe your fans do.

Fan-made videos have dominated the Internet and viral landscape for years, and the genre recently made headlines once again. Just yesterday, a fan-made music video for Daft Punk’s new song “Get Lucky” sent fellow fans and music bloggers alike into a tizzy. The clip uses pre-existing footage of featured vocalist Pharrell mashed-up with clips from the group’s 2006 documentary, Electrorama. But the fan-made pandemonium doesn’t stop there. Pop culture zeitgeist like Pretty Little Liars, Pokemon and Lady Gaga are just a handful of phenoms that have recently inspired fan-made clips.

Naturally, the smarty pants from advertising land have honed in on the power of videos created by fans. Doritos, Pepsi, Blackberry and Chevrolet have all called on the talents of their respective fans to come up with videos. Not only do these creations slice the work (and advertising dollars) in half, but calling for fan-made videos is a terrific way to engage social media followers and drive website traffic. Dr. Pepper is the most recent company to turn to followers for cheap labor and inspiration. The campaign, Be The Next 1, is looking for videos from one-of-a-kind fans with unique stories. Dr. Pepper’s followers on Twitter and Facebook will then choose which one will be featured in a national commercial.

But you don’t have to be a soda giant or a rock star to get followers excited about making videos. Simple product testimonials, footage of beloved family pets and videos of clients talking about your services are just a few ideas to get fans’ creative juices flowing. Video contests are really fun and easy ways to spike engagement and video content on social media. Just be specific about what you want, give guidelines and deadlines, set prizes and let the video-mania begin!

Blog Like the Big Brands: Chipotle

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If you’re struggling with blog writing and blog marketing, maybe our series Blog Like the Big Brands can help. Every Monday, we profile mega-brands who use blogging to engage followers, help SEO and reach out to new customers. Some companies lean heavily on blogging to help give consumers a better idea of what their brand is all about. Blogs can effectively and efficiently do this in a few well-constructed posts that get shared instantly on social media. Other companies, like Chipotle, use blogs as a supplement tool to help push campaigns and new promotions.

Healthy Mexican restaurant Chipotle, which redefined the term “fast casual dining,” isn’t just known worldwide for its burritos but for its incredibly strong brand identity. From the pictures on the wall to the Chipotle Facebook page, the company’s unforgettable logos, message and philosophy are always present. And so it is with the Chipotle Tumblr blog. Strong visuals, strong opinions about how food should be made, memorable videos and even chatter from local Chipotle restaurants are all here. Yet visitors to the blog will immediately notice that Chipotle doesn’t blog every day and that the blog isn’t packed with tons of content. Instead of covering the day-to-day at the world’s hippest burrito joint, the blog is used to promote new products and campaigns. For example, Chipotle is currently pushing its music and awareness festival entitled Cultivate. This unique idea melds Chipotle’s food, music and sustainability awareness and is unlike any other festival on the planet. So a blog is a perfect place to explain Cultivate and post videos to get future attendees excited about it.

Normally, sporadic and specific blogging like Chipotle’s might not seem like a great idea. But for a brand with such an incredible web presence throughout all channels of social media marketing, it totally works. In fact, blogging specific promotions, launches and events as supplemental to your company’s current digital branding plan is a smart move. Maybe you don’t have enough blog posts or content to talk about your company everyday. Blogging can be terrific for special contests, as a video channel or even just a home to store images of new products. The fact that a branding superstar like Chipotle does blog says a lot about the platform.