Riding the Facebook publicity train

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When Tyra Banks’ produces several episodes of her talk show devoted to Facebook, you know that the craze is about to end. After all, how much longer can we collectively go on poking one another, playing Farmville, and designing our own flare? Apparently, forever.  Social networking cynics expected Facebook to have a Myspace-like descent into humility when the nation momentarily went Tweet crazy. After all, this seems to be the Internets version of natural selection: the weak get swallowed up or become extinct while the strong continue to evolve.  Facebook falls into the latter catagory much to the delight of folks like Tyra Banks, Time magazine, and every reporter in the country.  In fact, stories about how Facebook can effect a legal verdict, fuel a feud between coach and athlete, and help the US Embassy connect with Iraquis all surfaced within the last week. Even moviegoers won’t be able to avoid the “F” word when the film The Social Network, which chronicles the lives of Facebook’s founders, heads into theaters this October.  While many of us are experiencing a FB OD (Facebook overdose), there is still no reason not  to use the social networking giant’s never ending publicity to our own advantage.
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Are Moms The Perfect Target For Brand Engagement?

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It has long been known that if you can get your timing right, then brand engagement can produce long term brand loyalty. Mothers appear to be a perfect candidate for brand engagement if you can gain their attention in all the right places. Gaining their attention could be a difficult hurdle to cross; do it well and you may gain loyal customers. The question is how to gain their attention.

The art of reating engaging content for moms is no small feat. Knowing how to get that content in front of them can be a science in itself. There have been numerous reports over the last 18-24 months reporting on demographic trends and their use of online services. The fastest growth in internet use is in the female demographic and a recent report suggests that moms are more likely to use search than non-moms. The report suggests that moms will use search twice as much as non-mums and that they are quite savvy in they way they use search.

Search is the number one activity for moms (85%) followed by email (83%). Shopping was down the list at number 4 (72%) and social 5th (67%). Those numbers are important if you want to catch their attention particularly if you want to catch their attention early.

When it comes to search, there are three other factors to be considered. The first is that mom’s place a lot of trust in Google. This then leads to them selecting results from above the fold and rarely going below the fold, let alone to page two. The third factor involves the use of long tail searches. Moms are most likely to use sentences, often in the form of questions, when conducting a search.

Based on that information, the logical places to target are the search engines using long tail keywords. If you can gain a listing above the fold on page one, then your halfway there. If getting to page one is too competitive, then PPC advertising may be an option that can achieve similar results.

What is often forgotten is that 67% of moms engage in social networking. That’s where brand engagement can create initial ties. Search engine results (paid or organic)  will then reinforce those ties creating a strong brand image in the mind. If you can put it all together in a successful campaign and then follow up with quality products and/or service, you may just win the hearts of moms as they become loyal long term customers.

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Micro-vlogging takes a big step forward.

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I came across an interesting article in today’s NY Times about a video product that could be the next big thing in very tiny, very short video content. The service is robo.to and comes to you via Particle, a San Francisco based think-tank that invents

“massively small, “featureful” products that humbly aim to impact people’s lives in a big way.”

Their latest offering aims to empower individual users to post very short (up to four seconds) videos onto their favorite social media platform, thus enabling tiny video tweets and updates to all your friends. Wanna tell your posse that you just ordered a venti cappuccino? Why not use your video enabled phone or webcam to record and share that foamy milk mustache you’ve got going on? And if you have multiple social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), you can instantly broadcast that vid to all of them with just one click. As the company says on their site, “write once, publish everywhere”. But the service doesn’t stop there. Today, robo.tv is announcing the release of “TV Mode” which allows users to search videos based on a keyword or #hashtag. For example, if you type in #a in the searchbox in TV Mode, you will see all videos posted that start with #a. You can see how this could be a powerful tool once they get a few million video posts from around the globe.  This kind of short-form video content and distribution is a very simple, very elegant idea that could be used to get a visual snapshot of what is going on in the world of social media. It’s a pretty powerful little tool. One that I hope will catch on.

She blogs well. But how does she tweet?

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A new report conducted by Q Interactive suggests that women who are active in social media are turned off by brands and influencers who use the medium to push products/services to them. A report which will be released at ad:tech Chicago today suggests that 75% of 1000 women who were surveyed said they were not influenced by social media when it comes to making a purchase. While social media and micro-bloggin accounts for fewer purchase decisions, the same may not be true for women who are influenced to purchase by blogs. According to a study conducted in May of this year by BlogHer, women are more likely to purchase as a result of a recommendation or customer experience posted on a blog (%85) than on social media (%37). This comes as no surprise as women use blogs more for a source of information and to get recommendations on what to buy whereas they use social networking more as a way to keep in touch with friends and family. But as social media technology becomes more widely accepted, we may see a trend where the lines between social media and blogging start to blur. For now, however, it’s clear that women utilize the mediums for different purposes. For those women who understand and successfully use the mediums as a platform to develop a fan base, they can gain momentum in their power of influence in a salient way. For an interesting look at how some top women bloggers fare by using social media as part of their platform, check out this interesting report released by PR agency Access Communications and twitter analytics company Twitalyzer which suggests that while it may be difficult to achieve “influencer” status in the social media sphere, those who do can solidify their influencer status and create a measureable impact.

Brandcasting. How social networking can increase your brand image. (Part 6 of 7).

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When social networking first came on the scene with sites like Myspace, many people viewed it as technology meant for younger, tech savvy users who want to have a common digital space where they can chat, exchange music, share information and do just like teens do in Europe in their local town squares. This was an ideal solution for towns across America that didn’t have a town square; a digital piazza was the perfect solution. As time went on, it was clear that something more powerful was forming on the horizon. Sites like Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin have soon become “virtual piazzas” for much broader ranges of users that include adults, professionals and now, businesses. As I have written about in a previous micro blogging post, businesses now have the power to broadcast deals and offers to loyal customers via micro-blogging. Think of how Kmart used “blue light specials” in their stores to create a loyal following of shoppers. Now businesses can do the same without the corny spinning blue light and they can reach far beyond the confines of their brick and mortar store space. But don’t think that just because you are tweeting deals to your audience that the dollars will start rolling in. You have to have a strategy. To get started, Twitter does a nice job of explaining how the power of micro blogging can help businesses of all sizes. For the novice, I have written a post detailing how to get started with Twitter here. The subject of using social networking is a huge one, so we will just scratch the surface by offering up a few tips for the novice micro blogger.

Micro Blogging Tips

1. Keep “˜em coming back for more. Offering incentives and special deals on an ongoing basis will keep your audience engaged and willing to follow your micro blog. Also, give-aways and promotions work well in growing your audience and keeping your loyalists happy.

2.  Manage your online reputation. Because micro blogging is a social medium, anyone can have a voice. That means that you may receive negative feedback from your customers in a public format. Always address negative comments and if you can, look for ways to turn those negative comments around in your favor by offering a solution or a “make-good” for that customer. While many will agree that there is no such thing as bad PR, there is such a thing as a bad brand reputation and anything you can do to snub negativity can help in the long run and may even turn a sour situation into a sweet marketing win.

3. Bond with your fans. Social media allows you to have back and forth conversations with your most loyal customers in a public format. Always invite your fans to have a platform and create a healthy exchange with your brand. Who knows, you may discover your version of Subway Jared, Subway’s spokesperson who was one of its most loyal fans.

Again, we are just scratching the surface here. Micro blogging can be time consuming yet rewarding if you do it right. It’s up to you to do research for the best micro blogging techniques that fits your marketing strategy for your business. For a better handle on micro blogging, I recommend looking to other businesses that are similar to yours, how-to books and online resources like Twitter. Be sure to check back for tomorrow’s post, the final part of a seven part series. As they say in the local piazza, ciao.

Social networking site gets facelift. Renames itself “discovery engine” .

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As everyone knows, Twitter is the hot new social networking site that has both regular Joe and businesses all excited. Recently, a Twitter Blog Post announced a freshly painted front page. Big deal, you might think if you’re an avid Tweeter, because you rarely interface with the front page. But when you think about it, it could be a big deal to a newbie coming to the site for the first time. You’ll notice that the “what are you doing” tagline has been replaced with a much more direct, “Share and discover what’s happening right now, anywhere in the word.” And just above a search-like query box, there sits “See what people are saying about…”  Also, at the bottom of the main content area we see icons and feeds that list search, hot trends, and popular topics. This all leads to how Twitter is repositioning itself as a “discovery engine for what is happening right now”. This new strategy is aimed at newbies and businesses who want to get in on the gotta-have-it-right-now user base. So now Twitter is a discovery engine? I can’t keep up with all these new terms. I thought Wolfram Alpha was the discovery engine. Or, wait, was that Bing?

Jump on the twitter bandwagon already. Or not.

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According to a recent poll conducted by Ragan Communications and PollStream only one third of respondents were utilizing micro blogging sites like Twitter to further engage their audience in their brand.  Also, about half of those polled believed that Twitter was a fad and was likely to plateau. Well no doubt. Maybe that’s because Twitter was intended for social media and not to sell people stuff they didn’t know they needed. That’s my take, anyway. Twitter has taken steps to protect themselves from becoming an ad whore by outsourcing ad formats to third party companies that want to use Twitter as a marketing tool. In a recent Adweek article sites like CinemaTweets and ExecTweets integrate branding and social networking via Twitter. The smart thing here is that if these marketing efforts fail, Twitter can easily shed these guys like a bad sunburn in the middle of July. If they are successful at it, guess who will get the credit. Regardless, you can’t blame marketers for being a bit skittish. But people who were intended to use social media (non-advertising budgeting humans) use it successfully. Take  @davecarroll, the twitter guy who had a bad experience flying United Airlines and wrote a little ditty about it and posted a video on Youtube. I bet he doesn’t think Twitter is a fad. In fact, chances are he’ll be using Twitter to announce every United Airlines related song he writes.

You scream. I scream. Social networking screams for”¦Coolhaus.

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Move over Kogi Korean BBQ truck, you’ve had your fifteen minutes of fame. Make way for the Coolhaus ice cream truck now appearing on Twitter. Well, the truth is Kogi and Coolhaus appear to have some sort of kinship as they can be spotted parked very near each other on any given night. And they both use social networking and micro-blogging to alert their hungry fans. Remember when ice cream trucks advertised locally by broadcasting clown music as they drove down the street. You can thank twitter for silencing the clown music. Anyway, Coolhaus offers designer-like ice cream sandwiches that pair perfectly with Korean short rib tacos. You can’t miss the Coolhaus truck; it’s a stainless steel beauty that looks like it had another life as a mailman truck. It’s very stylish, just like their handsome handmade ice cream sandwiches. These frozen masterpieces are just the thing on a hot summer night in LA. Just think of all the napkins Angelinos will need with Koji and Coolhaus cruising their neighborhoods. You know, if I had my druthers, I would start a mobile wet wipe service and trail both trucks. I’m not kidding. Don’t be surprised if you see me driving the official “mobilewetwipes†Prius in a neighborhood near you. And any investors out there who want in, I’m currently taking applications.