Currently Viewing Posts Tagged social media marketing

Still using stock photos on social? It’s really time to stop.

If your grandparents looked like they crawled off a Clairol box, then congrats on hitting the genetic lottery. For the rest of us, stock images showing perfect people in perfect families just aren’t relatable. They also just don’t work well on social and here is why…

What is one of the worst things brands can do on social media? Use stock photos! Stock photos and product shots on social make us cringe, but the practice is all too common. If your social media marketing strategy involves stock imagery and products shots we have rounded up the top reasons to convince you to change it up.

Here are the top reasons not to use stock photos in your social posts:

1. Who are these people anyway?

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 11.13.04 AM

If your grandparents looked like they crawled off a Clairol box, then congrats on hitting the genetic lottery. For the rest of us, stock images showing perfect people in perfect families just aren’t relatable.

Showing images of real people using your products, who are truly enthusiastic, are going to go much further with your target audience. Your brand’s likes,  share and overall engagement will go up.

2. Cans lack soul.

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 1.38.36 PM

It’s a can of cat food. Yes, if you are a cat owner you probably have a brand of cat food that you like. And, if you are the cat food company then you probably paid thousands for a photo shoot in which each piece of niblet of meat in this can was arranged.

But, chances are if you saw this can of cat food pop up in your newsfeed accompanied by copy like “Like this if your cat eats this”- you would not even pause for a second look. Even if it had the most gorgeous label in the world. It’s still just a can.

On the other hand….

If you are a cat food company and post a pic of a real cat a user shared on your wall or on another social platform, who is super cute, and put your branding on it, BOOM. Magic happens…

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 11.24.23 AM

People will share. Fancy Feast rocks this tactic all the time on Facebook, and their images get a lot of love. Always think about your brand’s content from the user’s perspective- not just the brand perspective.

If your brand is posting cans, bags and other product shots- not matter how lovingly poised that product may be, it will never have the soul of a user generated image.

3. Stock photos aren’t funny, smart or interesting

Couple brushing teeth in the bathroom

Think about it for a moment. You went to school for photography. You have to make extra cash. So, you create the most generic images possible like the above “couple brushing teeth” and add a million random tags to the photo in the hopes that your image will be downloaded enough times that you can buy groceries this week.

The result: Boring images.

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 11.39.15 AM

This image was posted on Colgate’s wall. A consumer is proving the whitening power of their toothpaste with a photo taken in black light.

That would be a very funny post from the brand as well, but instead Colgate responded “HAHAHA” and let the post wither on the “Recent Posts by Others” vine, instead of using the image in a post on their own wall with thanks to the user who submitted it.

Instead they use images like this…

Screen Shot 2013-04-24 at 1.27.46 PM

I don’t mean to pick on Colgate or their agency or in-house person tasked with picking stock photos of perfect people with perfecter teeth.

They are just typical of the way brands use images to little effect on social.

So, use real user generated image on your wall and consumers will see that you are paying attention to them, and even better that you are celebrating their relationship with your brand. They may also post a pic in the hopes that they will get a star turn in your brand’s posts.

Have you made the switch from product beauty shots and stock images to user generated on social? Leave a comment and share your thoughts!

Facebook Quick Tips for Community Managers

Community Managers handling social media accounts for clients sometimes want to find the best and fastest way to zip across all channels. We figured, why not increase your Facebook fitness and share some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way to ‘pump you up!’

Community Managers handling social media accounts for clients sometimes want to find the best and fastest way to zip across all channels.  We figured, why not increase your Facebook fitness and share some of the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way to ‘pump you up!’

SNL Skit Hans and Franz with Arnold Swarchenegger

Image via Tumblr.com

 

1.  Spelling Fail – How to Edit Post after It’s Out There

Keep in mind; this only applies to posts that have images attached to them.  Nonetheless, good to know when you’re in a pinch and already established high engagement.

Let’s just say you found a tiny little mistake (oops!), well this is how you can fix it after it’s been put out there for the world to see.  The best part is… this also applies for the scheduled posts in your Activity Log.

 Here’s how:

a)  Click on the time stamp of the post you want to edit

Facebook Screen Shot How-To 1

 

b)  Click on “Edit”

Facebook How-To 2

 

c)  Then make the necessary edits in the text box and then hit “Done Editing”

Facebook How-To 3

Huzzah!  All fixed.

 

2. Keyboard Shortcuts for Facebook

Thanks to Mashable we can now do our daily Facebook routine sans mouse.  It’s sort of like playing a game on our keyboard.

Shortcuts are based on your browser so you need to memorize the sequence:

Facebook shortcuts

For the action shortcuts visit Mashable.

 

3. Organize Your Inbox

Want to move messages that you know you’re done with?  Then you can move them out of your inbox and into the “Other” folder. This way you can control how many messages are in your inbox.

Here’s how:

Facebook How To Move Message to "Other" via Facebook.com

Image via Facebook.com

 

Tag you’re it!  What other quick tips do you have to share with fellow social media ninjas? Sound off in our comments below.

Can’t get enough of Facebook tidbits and news from Flightpath?  Have no fear just click here.

Facebook isn’t Real…Why This Matters for Marketers

The Facebook you is the best you possible….You are not writing social media content for people, you are writing content for the people your consumers want to be.

Chances are the person you are on Facebook and the person you are IRL are different animals.

The parent you on Facebook shared the most darling thing your daughter said this morning. The Facebook parent you never yells about putting shoes on to go to school or loses it in a homework battle with your 12 year old.

The Facebook you is the best you possible.

The friend that remembers every birthday. The buddy who always knows what to say to a friend in need. The life of the party, a great entertainer, providing an endless stream of amusing images, videos and random thoughts. The supportive spouse “in a relationship” with the most fantastic person in the world.

You are not alone. This is the life we all lead…on Facebook.

There are more than a billion Facebook Yous roaming around Earth right now and all of us “yous” have a lot in common. We try not to share content that is mundane or even worse, a downer. “On Facebook” is the new “in public” so we all mind our language, and post the best moments of our lives as though we live in some sort of never-ending Christmas card.

We all realize on some level that Facebook isn’t real life, like this blogger who refers to Facebook as Fakebook. But, none of us really want to share all the day-to-day difficulties of life when we can use Facebook and the rest of social media as our happy place, especially when everyone is a little paranoid about employers/bosses/recruiters and worst of all their moms reading their posts.

So what does this mean for the Social Media Marketer You?

You are not writing social media content for people, you are writing content for the people your consumers want to be.

Posts that celebrate the best in people will be liked. Images that depict the positive connections we have with others and our environments will be shared. Videos that were created to entertain friends of friends will be shared, embedded, commented on.

Facebook Yous will never share your ad copy, except for the rare cases when it truly entertains, connects or celebrates. When you are creating your next content calendar for a client, ask yourself if you would share it on your own wall. If the Facebook You is happy with it, the rest of us will be too.

Pinterest Asking Brands What Features They Want – Pinterest Analytics Anyone?

Buried deep within the Pinterest Help Center for Businesses is a page that may outline Pinterest’s roadmap for rolling out product features for brands.  Pinterest is asking brands to vote for features they are interested in seeing, but as of this writing each proposed feature has less than 90 votes.

Getting inside the heads of the minds behind the fastest growing social media platform has been an interest of marketers ever since Pinterest came out of seemingly nowhere a few years ago. While there has been a lot of speculation about the platform offering brands analytics, advertising opportunities and other tools to make creating and monitoring Pinterest content, Pinterest has remained silent.

Buried deep within the Pinterest Help Center for Businesses is a page that may outline Pinterest’s roadmap for rolling out product features for brands.  Pinterest is asking brands to vote for features they are interested in seeing, but as of this writing each proposed feature has less than 90 votes.

Features Pinterest wants to know if marketers are interested in:

  • Hashtag Searches
  • Business Analytics
  • Scheduled Pins
  • Moving/Editing/Upload Pins in Bulk
  • Nested Boards/Sub-Boards

Hashtag Searches

Pinterest: “Right now, our search does not support hashtags (ex: #hashtag). It’s a feature we know would be useful for pinners and businesses and that we may add in the future. If you’d also like to see hashtag searches on Pinterest, vote for it using the “Me too!” button below.” 

People are already using hashtag searches on Twitter and Instagram (and you even see people use on Facebook even though they don’t work there).

On Twitter, creating a hashtag generates a link so when a user clicks a hashtag they will see all content in which people are using that tag. On Pinterest, people have been using hashtags, though they do not work to create links to other content. Pinterest search is notoriously bad and much of the reason Pinterest search is so bad is because users do not add text to the images they are pinning.

For marketers, this is frustrating because we can’t track content intended for a sweepstakes entry or discussion around our brands very well. So hashtag searches would be a great improvement- make sure you click “Me Too!” here if you would also like to see this feature.

Business Analytics

Pinterest: “Right now, we don’t offer analytics tracking for business accounts.  It’s a feature we know would be useful for business accounts and that we may add in the future. If you’d also like to see this feature on Pinterest, vote for it using the “Me too!” button below.”

There are no Insights for brands on Pinterest. Clients are always dumbfounded by this. Brands are spending time on developing Pinterest followings that they know are effective, because they see the inbound traffic from Pinterest as a referring source Google Analytics. If you have ever had to compile Pinterest metrics for a client report you know what a headache it is. Save your intern from manually adding up likes, comments and repins by voting “Me Too!” for this one as well.

Scheduled Pins

Pinterest: “Right now, we don’t have a way to schedule the time at which a board or pin is published.  It’s a feature we’re thinking about carefully and may add in the future. If you’d also like to see this feature on Pinterest, vote for it using the “Me too!” button below.”

Scheduling content via Facebook’s relatively new tool is useful for brands. However, social media marketing 101 is to post content at the time of day when you get most traction and how do we know when our content is getting the most attention if we have no analytics. This one seems less urgent to me than rolling out analytics and hashtags, but it would be a nice feature to have.

Moving/Editing/Upload Pins in Bulk

Pinterest: There is no way to move, edit or upload pins in bulk right now. We know this would be a useful feature for pinners and businesses and it’s one we may add in the future. If you’d be interested in this feature, let us know!”

So here is my hesitation with this one. While the marketer in me says go for it upload content, content, content! The person inside me doesn’t want to see The Gap upload 700 pins on a Wednesday afternoon and flood my home feed, forcing me to unfollow them. So this seems as though it would only truly work for brands if it was released with a baked in scheduling feature so brands can control the flow of their output otherwise if content from brands gets too high, Pinterest could throttle brand posts out of necessity- Facebook style.

Nested Boards/SubBoards

Pinterest: “There is no way to nest one board within another. If you’d like to show content from one board on another, you can repin the pins from the first board to the second. If you’d be interested in this feature, let us know!”

This one seems like the least interesting idea of all. Creating a Pinterest rabbit hole of boards within boards within boards seems like it may make content more difficult to find- already a huge headache for brands.

What Pinterest should have on this list of proposed features:

  • API Development
  • Promoted Pins
  • Other Advertising Opps.

Leave a comment and let us know what you think about Pinterest’s ideas for the platform, better yet- go here and tell Pinterest which features you would like to see by clicking the “Me Too!”

Facebook Ads CPC vs CPM vs Promoted Stories – What’s a Social Media Marketer to do?

It was common knowledge among social media folks that CPC ads were a much better value for marketers. You expected to pay a cost of .35 to nearly a dollar a click depending on your targeted audience (like Manhattan moms who are very pricey to target). An average Facebook ad CTR of .05% seemed to be the industry benchmark for judging the success of an ad. But, that has changed.

CPC, CPM, Promoted Stories, Promoted Posts – there are a lot of options facing social media marketers interested in advertising on Facebook. It used to be that there were only two choices for advertising on Facebook CPC (cost per click) or CPM (cost per impressions).

It was common knowledge among social media folks that CPC ads were a much better value for marketers. You expected to pay a cost of .35 to nearly a dollar a click depending on your targeted audience (like Manhattan moms who are very pricey to target). An average Facebook ad CTR of .05% seemed to be the industry benchmark for judging the success of an ad.

For years, if you chose CPM your ad would be relegated to a lowly position on the bottom right hand of the user’s newsfeed and gain very few clicks. CPC ads outperformed CPM ads in all tests that we ran here at the agency as well.

But, that has changed.

While Facebook has talked a lot about the value of their new Promoted Stories ads and Promoted Posts, they also quietly chose a new favorite child in the CPC vs CPM debate. We noticed this at Flightpath when CPC ads that have been performing for years suddenly stopped being even displayed and our testing of CPM ads started showing amazing results.

We switched clients over to CPM ads and saw our average Facebook ads CTR jump from an average range of .05% to .20% jump to a range of  .50% – .80%. Then we added in Sponsored Stories, to run simultaneously with the CPM ads, and the average CTR jumped even higher to a range of .80% to 1.2%.

At the same time, we are seeing the average CPC fall from that .35 – $1 range down to a bargain basement .06 – .15 CPC. So, for the same Facebook ad spend our clients are getting about 6 times the likes they were getting earlier this year. This is really helping to rapidly grow page likes without having to dramatically up Facebook ad spend.

Why are ads suddenly cheaper and performing better?

So, this is why we think this dramatic uptick in Facebook ad performance is happening: remember months ago when advertisers like GM pulled their Facebook ad spend because they didn’t feel they were getting much of a return and remember when Facebook’s stock came out of the gate to dismal results?

Facebook had to devise a plan to get advertisers excited about spending on the platform so investors would be consider buying Facebook stock. Lowering the cost of ads and rolling out Promoted Stories (which not all Facebook users like, but they seem to click on them anyway) is a great way to get advertisers excited and spending.

If you are still running Facebook CPC ads for your clients, set up a separate CPM campaign with Promoted Stories pronto for testing. The results will blow you away.

Interview: Chris Brogan on Podcasting & ROI of Social Media

What I am always trying to do is tie a mainstream, real world metric to these goofy online metrics because I just don’t care how many video views we got, or what our Klout is. What I say is “Did the cash register ring?” If the answer is yes, then we met our goal.

This is part 2 of our interview with author, blogger and social media expert Chris Brogan.

Over the last few years there has been a greater adoption of social media by companies looking to use social platforms to connect with consumers. Chris Brogan has been busy speaking, blogging and advising companies on how to do just that for the last 12 years as one of the biggest rock stars in the social media world.

Brogan is co-author of New York Times bestsellers The Impact Equation and Trust Agents, (both cowritten with Julien Smith) and author of Social Media 101 and Google Plus for Business. Both in his roles as CEO & President of Human Business Works, co-founder of the PodCamp new media conference series and as a blogger himself, Brogan has a long history of shaping the way that companies approach the social web. Flightpath took the opportunity to speak with Brogan about his take on how companies could better utilize social media, measure ROI and just do social better.

In your book, The Impact Equation you have an equation for success that includes platforms, ideas and so forth. What do you think companies are missing as part of the equation?

Brogan: The real hope of the book is letting people know how you get your idea to resonate with people in such a way that they take action. What Julien Smith and I who wrote the book together, found and believe is that everyone seems part of this figured out.

They might have a great idea, but not a big enough platform for anyone to see it. They might have an amazing idea and an amazing platform but they haven’t found a way to connect with people so that people can run with the idea.

I think that getting that whole set of chains to turn the same way and pull the same gear is what I am really working on the hardest.

Flightpath: How have you seen the social space change over the time you have been in it?

What has changed in 12 years is that we humans expect a much more custom, personalized humanized response in business. There was none of this in the 80’s and the 90’s. There was none of us going “Oh man, I didn’t hear back from someone specific at Delta, I got a form letter.” That is just how life was. I grew up with my family yelling at the TV, now everyone tweets at the TV. There are some vast differences, but I think it is all good stuff.

Flightpath: I’ve known you for a long time from podcasting, and think it’s interesting that you are launching a new podcast, The Human Business Way. Within all the forms of social media, podcasting is really the one that never blew up and went so mainstream. So, I think its interesting that you are investing in podcasting as a way to get your messaging out. Do you think that podcasting still has the promise it did in 2006?

Brogan: That is my favorite question so far. This is a really interesting time for this medium called podcasting. When we were at it, I didn’t get into it until like 2006 or 2005, but I know that you were in it before that even and that you have one of the longest running ones in the world.

When I got into this space, I was just like everyone else in that space thinking this is going to be great- we are going to topple TV stations and the radio and the world is gonna be ours and I am going to buy a bunch of stickers, because that seems to be what everyone did.

Then that collapsed because at the time no one had the technology you had to be like a PHD to figure out how to get the podcast onto whatever device. It was just so much work. Now we are in this world because I can record, edit and post from the my phone. The process is just much more streamlined now.

At the same time, podcasting suddenly picked up a lot of news from the strangest of ways. So first off, all the nerds came and made podcasts and life was good for all 3,000 listeners that we shared. Then, the mainstream discovered podcasting and all they used it for was archival distribution of their mainstream junk and that was boring, although it got more people to listen.

Now, these mainstream people who have said F you mainstream and they are becoming apart of this new thing like Kevin Smith and Adam Carolla and every other comic it seems has a podcast. They have brought new attention to podcasting people are seeing that they really can listen to whatever they want.

So, the reason I invested in it is because it is right out of the Impact Equation. It is Contrast, not everyone has this kind of a show. It’s Reach- putting me into a whole new place that I haven’t been, like iTunes. I got an email the other day from a listener saying “This is great do you have a website” and I thought “This is great, I have made it.”

Its one of these things where we think we shouldn’t be doing it, it’s not a great idea because is takes a lot of time.  That is why I am gonna do it. I know it is a way to get more engagement with people.

Flightpath: So the last question is a question that every social media marketer who deals with companies is posed. It is “What is the ROI of social media?” Just how do you answer that question, or do you not- or is it a terrible question?

Brogan: I do it all the time, and I tell you what I do. I say that there is no blanket answer because what you really need to do is always this: you have to say that you are going to tie this activity, this effort, this event to a direct and obvious revenue stream

So for example, if I am helping a beer company sell more beer, then I would do it through Facebook and through the bars. I would choose very specific bars and I would create very targeted promotions for the bars and do all kinds of work to pump that up via the social web. Then I would ask the beer company how many more cases of beer did the bar order this week versus last week and that is the measurement.

What I am always trying to do is tie a mainstream, real world metric to these goofy online metrics because I just don’t care how many video views we got, or what our Klout is. What I say is “Did the cash register ring?” If the answer is yes, then we met our goal.

In ROI, the first question should always be “What is the I?”  If you put no money in and you are wondering where the return is, then you are obviously not doing it right.

Second, if you are saying more what is the time involved to get a yield, then that is a harder question that is like asking how long does it take to grow a garden. To me, there are some different metrics to look at in that case. What I always look at specifically in ROI is a real world number that I can move with an online technology.

 

Read Part 1 of our interview with Chris Brogan here.

Interview: Chris Brogan on Humanizing Social Media – Part 1

To me this is the hardest and most difficult challenge, because I have to explain to a business that should you treat customers like real live humans. That you should give them incredible, concierge class service and that should you do this it is going to change so much more than you can measure in a spreadsheet.

Over the last few years there has been a greater adoption of social media by companies looking to use social platforms to connect with consumers. Chris Brogan has been busy speaking, blogging and advising companies on how to do just that for the last 12 years as one of the biggest rock stars in the social media world.

Brogan is co-author of New York Times bestsellers The Impact Equation and Trust Agents, (both cowritten with Julien Smith) and author of Social Media 101 and Google Plus for Business. Both in his roles as CEO & President of Human Business Works, co-founder of the PodCamp new media conference series and as a blogger himself, Brogan has a long history of shaping the way that companies approach the social web. Flightpath took the opportunity to speak with Brogan about his take on how companies could better utilize social media, measure ROI and just do social better.

Flightpath: One of your gifts, and probably a huge reason why you have become such a force in social media is your outgoing personality and ability to make everyone you talk to feel important. You are also very successful transcribing this emotional connection across social media platforms. So, how do you advise companies to connect emotionally with consumers?

Brogan: The answer to that is a little challenging because when I go in there and tell companies you really have to really connect with emotion, their eyes go up into the top of their heads. They say ‘Oh I thought there was some kind of software we could buy and a switch we could toggle and then we could go back to thinking about our golf game later.’ It’s really difficult because every time I’m telling people that this is a great way to get more value, what I am also saying is that this takes more work.

I had a conversation with a woman who she runs the Microsoft New England Research and Development Center here in New Boston and we were talking about those experiences you have when you write a company complaint, challenge or question and you get a very personal response back.

In her case, a specific kind of ice cream that was supposed to be showing up at Whole Foods that she loved from the West coast and it just wasn’t in the store. So, she wrote the ice cream company and got a letter back from the CMO (this is email not even the social web) but she could tell it wasn’t a form letter- it was a very personal letter right to her. It wasn’t like she wrote it as a woman who runs Microsoft, she wrote is as a woman who likes ice cream. The CMO responded very personally and said ‘Well, it’s a brand new deal and distribution might be a little slow. I’m really sorry but you might want to look for these 4 flavors.’

What came back from this, of course, is that she tells everyone this story. She told me this story. To me this is the hardest and most difficult challenge, because I have to explain to a business that should you treat customers like real live humans. That you should give them incredible, concierge class service and that should you do this it is going to change so much more than you can measure in a spreadsheet.

Flightpath: There is so much process that agencies go through to come up with those canned responses and they all seem to begin with ‘We appreciate your concern, thanks for your input’. So should agencies working on behalf of clients dealing with a disgruntled customer situation use canned responses or are you saying that all social customer service responses be custom?

Brogan: I think that it is so easy to do a hybrid of that. It is so easy to do. You can do 2 or 3 paragraphs of the absolutely canned stuff, and if you add one sentence at the beginning and one at the end it feels very custom. That is what I advise. Now believe me, there is times when there is a canned response required. Say Kindle Whispernet goes down and every Kindle owner cant get get a book or something like that. That is a great time for a canned response.

And that’s fine, but I don’t even believe that volume is an excuse. I think that if it is a huge outage kind of a thing, than that is an announcement not a correspondence. I think that the opportunity for custom is when anything comes outside of the typical workflow. If someone is really mad because they missed their plane that is a perfect time for a personal message. If this person spent the time to complain than they are worth the time to reply to, because what you do next decides where they spend their next dollars.

Flightpath: Marketers of course want to impact purchasing decisions and often the question they come to agencies with is which platform they need to maximize impact. How do you move the conversation away from tools and back to the importance of building human connections?

Brogan: It’s so funny because in working with a lot of people in this space, I always get tool questions. I will be in a roomful of people and I will be saying, “How did your grandparents sell? How did they buy 50 years ago?” and they will be like “What does this have to do with Pinterest?” and I will be like nothing. This has zero to do with Pinterest.

This is not the future, we do not have jet packs. We are not wearing foily costumes. What I need to tell agencies, marketers and business professionals of all kinds is that the tools are always in service of the work and the work is a lot simpler than the fear that goes into the tools.

The reason we ask so many tool questions is we are so afraid of using them wrong. We are afraid of this Brave New World feeling of being on a social platform. But, the more you use the tools to convey real legitimate human experience and the less you use the tools to emulate methodologies that agencies worked on from past experience, the better the opportunity.

The other thing I tell agencies all that time is that your job is no longer to be the voice of the company. Your job is to be the ears of the company and to help the company be their own voice.It is time for companies to reclaim their own voice. So, agencies have this opportunity to be listeners/teachers. Professional listening is a huge opportunity. That is a vast shift from the way that things are going.

Read part 2 of our interview with Chris Brogan here!

Connections 2012 in Indy

Not sexy, but has good ROI. No, I’m not talking about the disadvantages and advantages of an Accounting degree. These are some of the popular perceptions of email marketing. It’s tried and true, but there’s nowhere new to go. Is that true? After going to ExactTarget’s Connections Expo last week, I’m tempted to respond with an emphatic “no.”

Not sexy, but has good ROI. No, I’m not talking about the disadvantages and advantages of an Accounting degree. These are some of the popular perceptions of email marketing. It’s tried and true, but there’s nowhere new to go. Is that true? After going to ExactTarget’s Connections conference last week, I’m tempted to respond with an emphatic “no.”
On October 16-18, over 4,000 email marketers from all over North American converged in Indianapolis for the conference. From the keynote to the panels and talks, three themes emerged that chart the course for the evolution of email. These three themes mark not just trends all email marketers should keep up with, but chances to push the envelope on their campaigns and make their medium a bit sexier.

 

Social ≠ Afterthought

 

We all know social media is huge. Businesses, agencies, and the like are trying not only to figure out the next big social network, but how to monetize it, turning “likes” into dollar signs. When it comes to email, the standard approach has been to place the icons of the usual suspects (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and maybe Instagram). If you find yourself doing that in your campaigns and you believe that’s all it takes to make your emails “more social,” then you’re missing out on great opportunities to do so much more with all of your channels.
Case in point, during the keynote address, speakers referred to ExactTarget tools designed to send Facebook data from a company’s FB page straight over to their subscriber database. With opt-in controls built right into Facebook’s interface, there can’t be a more efficient form of email capture and list building.
However, don’t expect users to agree to give you access to their Facebook data just because they “liked” your page. Remember to create a promotion first. As mentioned at Connections, an increasing number of businesses are opting for everything from random chance sweepstakes to video contests. As part of the rules and requirements for entering, users have to consent to sharing their email address and possibly some demographic info.
That’s just one of many examples mentioned at Connections of how marketers can leverage their social channels to improve the performance of email, especially in the email capture department. One could even see a bump in their list building efforts by incorporating an email capture form onto their Facebook page. If you’re going to do that however, you should put a good effort into…

 

Making Your Email Capture Sexier

 

Okay. So, you’re going to your favorite store’s website because the newest, greatest thing just came out. One component tucked away at the bottom of the homepage catches your attention. It reads “Sign up for our FREE newsletter!” What is your reaction? I can bet it’s not “Whoa! A FREE newsletter? Gimme!” And yet, this is what we see on so many websites.
A number of panels I attended at Connections emphasize the power of the value proposition. Put yourself in the user’s head for a second and think, “Is a FREE newsletter enough to risk getting bombarded by this guy’s email marketers?” Instead, speaker after speaker suggested to us the idea of putting forth an offer. “Be the first to get all the inside deals and sales.” “Only insiders get all the best beauty tips from the pros,” or even “Sign up for our deals and get a 20% off coupon for your next purchase”
Once your email capture efforts begin to take off, pat yourself on the back. However, don’t believe your job is done quite yet. At Connections, another emerging trend impacts the very look and feel of eblast content itself. It’s a factor a lot of us email marketers have taken for granted for years as we thought it would never change significantly: screen size.

 

Have You Met…mCommerce?

 

By far, one of the biggest themes that came up at Connections was mobile, and for good reason. Mobile Commerce, or mcommerce, is a rapidly growing sales channel. iPhones, Android phones, iPads. People are using these and other devices more and more not just to check their favorite sites, but to make purchases. Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru writes that mcommerce is expect to account for $31 billion, or 7% of overall ecommerce sales by 2016. And this behavior crosses over into email. Based on our case studies, one in every three subscribers will open an eblast or enewsletter with a mobile device. Even if the subscriber doesn’t make the final sale on their iPhone, it’s becoming more and more important each year for businesses to reach their customers in a way that adapts easily to that tiny, tiny screen.
Enter responsive design. According to Smashing Magazine, responsive design is “the approach that suggests that design and development should respond to the user’s behavior and environment based on screen size, platform and orientation.” For example, a two-column layout with 12 point fonts may be perfectly readable on the desktop. In the mobile environment, however, your readers will be squinting and going through the trouble of zooming in to read your well-crafted copy.
For years, this design approach was purely in the realm of websites and landing pages. At Connections, agencies have begun to stress the importance of bringing responsive design over to the inbox. Here at Flightpath, we’ve developed code that allows for responsive design principles to work in the email environment. Never worry again that your sales offer is falling on deaf ears because your customers can’t read it on their Droid.

 

On the Way Back to New York

 

As I stared out at the Midwestern sky through that tiny window on my plane back to LaGuardia, I thought about all the information I picked up that week. Until then, I believed campaigns were tweaked according to well-disciplined A/B testing paradigms that bring modest, but consistent results. While that’s part true, a “bigger picture” view of the trends helps a campaign not only stick out from the rest of the pack, but it pays off significant dividends later on in higher engagement, more conversions, and a “sexier” email channel.

Ad Week Wrap Up Report – The Digital Influence

Truth is conversations is a by-product of the digital/social age. The two way thing is of course key, but so is the long form nature of YouTube and the flow/frequency of blogging especially the likes of Twitter and Tumblr. What was also cool was the realization that every agency I heard or ran into talked digital.

Advertising Week just concluded and it was cool, if not “epic.”  My favorite panel featured the creative leadership from great agencies including Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners, Leo Burnett, Anomaly, Mekanism.  I believe reason the week (and panel) was great comes down to the idea of “conversations”… a term used by the CCO of Leo Burnett to describe meaningful consumer engagement VS doing ads of any particular kind in any medium.

Truth is conversations is a by-product of the digital/social age. The two way thing is of course key, but so is the long form nature of YouTube and the flow/frequency of blogging especially the likes of Twitter and Tumblr. What was also cool was the realization that every agency I heard or ran into talked digital. But then again, every agency is a digital shop or at the least, an “immerging hybrid”- by virtue that digital is the defining cultural gatekeeper- so if you don’t get digital, it’s hard to imagine (like impossible) that you are connecting with any teen let alone adult based on lifestyle or media consumption behavior.

This made me think of the several things we think about and practice that make digital agencies unique to now and the future:

  1. It’s Never Over- campaign content is a constantly evolving reality…a site, ad networks, 3rd party, social ads are “A/B” tested and tweaked throughout its life based on empirical reads, emotional wear out or because we can/should.
  2. Speed to Market- the ability to commercialize creativity/points of difference “ideas” in hyper time is now a competitive hammer that marketers swing freely and hard.
  3.  It’s ONE World- digital is totally integrated and linked (it is a web after all!) unlike TV, radio, print, retail where getting it synced up is tough for turf reasons and/or logistical ones.
  4. Technology Lives for Change- where as media like 30 sec TV units have been the standard for decades, digital platforms (and ad units change all the time) like “Parallax” reinvents how engagement plays out- vertical fluidity VS horizontal randomness.

As I said, I loved Advertising Week- it made last  week rock.  It got a lot of people thinking and rocking.

Why Awesome Facebook Posts are Your Brand’s Best Mobile Strategy

As brands watch more and more of their traffic come from mobile devices it may be a good time to evaluate what your brand is doing on the one part of your Facebook presence that mobile users can see: Timeline.

Facebook is facing a quandary when it comes to brand pages. While an increasing number of Facebook users are utilizing the platform on their smartphones or tablets, the Facebook tab content that brands spend so much time and money to develop are not visible to these users. We know more users prefer Facebook brand pages to brand websites and we also know that smartphone usage is on the increase.

So what is a brand to do?

Facebook app development remains an integral part of a brand’s presence on Facebook. The brand immersive experiences, like sweepstakes and other fun apps are designed to engage and inspire users to share and they do. But, as brands watch more and more of their traffic come from mobile devices it may be a good time to evaluate what your brand is doing on the one part of your Facebook presence that mobile users can see: Timeline.

The best Facebook brand posts have must-see, must-share content. So how do you take your branded posts from meh to marvelous?

1. Use user generated images in your posts

I know that everyone social media expert on the planet will tell you that social media posts with an image get more attention than those that don’t. But, this advice is a bit different.

Ask your community to share pictures, not highly posed shots of them holding your product at salesmanish angles, but real photos of the sort they probably already have. Pictures of their home, kids, pets and the like- whatever category is relevant to your brand. Use them in all of your posts and you will see interaction skyrocket.

People like to see themselves represented and I for one could go the rest of my life without seeing another stock photo used in a Facebook brand post. We implemented this with a client at the beginning of the year and have seen monthly unique interactions grow from a respectable 6% to a totally awesome 40%.

2. Make your posts relatable

 How many times have we seen a post with copy like this: “It’s back to school time! Like this post if your kids are ready for school.” Ugh, snore. Sounds like the opening line of a very boring PTA meeting.

Take that basic idea and add copy with an accompanying image that the mom you are speaking to can relate to: “Here is Barbara from Poughkeepsie enjoying her coffee in peace this morning. Like this if you are enjoying the silence of back to school time!” It’s better, more from a mom point of view and the consumer you are trying to engage will have a higher likelihood of interacting with the post.

3. Create inspirational branded images

 A lesson we can all learn from the popularity of Pinterest is that inspirational images get shared. That lesson applies to Facebook as well.

Take an inspirational quote about life, home, self-care whatever makes sense for your brand and put it meme style on an image (even better an image shared by a user). Ask your community to share and boom, your branding is out there being shared with a larger audience and is connected with a powerful, inspiring message which is all good. We have been using this tactic for a few months and have had some images shared 20,000+ times.

Creating better Facebook posts means higher engagement from all users, especially those viewing your brand page on a smartphone. Creating killer Facebook apps is still important, but until Facebook allows tab content to be viewed via mobile spending time creating content designed for interaction and sharing is a win.


Leave a comment if you have tips for making the most out of Facebook posts for the brands you represent.

 

Apple to Buy The Fancy? Why Fancy Crushed Pinterest

Why would Apple be interested in buying The Fancy and not Pinterest? Simple. The Fancy has a monetization strategy. Brands are able to promote products on The Fancy homepage, and customers are encouraged to add items the Fancy to a shopping cart and buy directly through the site. The Fancy generates revenue for brands and itself. Pinterest does not.

Business Insider reported over the weekend that Apple is interested in buying The Fancy. If Apple does buy The Fancy, this will be a nail in the coffin for Pinterest. While Pinterest may have the dedication of middle America, an Apple owned The Fancy will have the hearts and wallets of the affluent.

Why would Apple be interested in buying The Fancy and not Pinterest? Simple: The Fancy has a monetization strategy. Brands are able to promote products on The Fancy homepage, and customers are encouraged to add items to a shopping cart and buy directly through the site. The Fancy generates revenue for brands and itself; Pinterest does not.

While Pinterest has proven a great traffic driver, brands are ultimately interested in driving sales. The Fancy was designed with a dual purpose: to drive brand awareness and sales.  Another Business Insider post reported that The Fancy is generating more than $10,000 daily in sales for the brands promoting their goods on the site.

Another great reason for Apple to purchase The Fancy is that both appeal to a higher income consumer willing to pay more for products with great design.

So, why should you as a marketer care about Apple’s acquisition of The Fancy? Months back, we contacted The Fancy and were advised that only a few brands per week receive email and homepage promotion.

At that time, there was a waiting period of a month to schedule a promotion. Once Apple purchases The Fancy, their already considerable traffic could potentially explode among the highly desirable wealthy, design conscious consumer and every brand will want to be promoted there.

If the brand you represent is interested in a promotion on The Fancy, we have a tip from The Fancy founder Joseph Einhorn: make sure you have “wicked” photos. According to Einhorn, photos on The Fancy are everything. Editorial style shots of your product will ensure good sales performance on the site.

Now is a great time to get the brand you represent in line for a promotion on The Fancy, and you will make your client look brilliant for being in early.

Countdown to BlogHer ’12

Countdown to BlogHer ’12. The Flightpath team will be joining bloggers and brands at this year’s BlogHer in New York City. Find out how you and your brand can leverage conferences such as this one to network and interact with bloggers.

In one week, the Flightpath team will attend one of the biggest conferences that will be taking place this year in New York City – BlogHer.  Thousands of bloggers from all over the country travel to be a part of this major event.

It’s amazing to think that over the years how the blogging community has grown and shown great support of each other.  Women supporting other women, not only in the business of blogging but as marketing professionals as well.  BlogHer sets the stage where brands can interact vis-à-vis with bloggers and receive real-time insight to their products and build a strong professional relationships.  Every year brands, celebrities and influencers offer their expertise during scheduled panels and this year it includes major players such as Martha Stewart, Katie Couric, Christy Turlington Burns and more.

Another growth factor for BlogHer to note is the amount of brands that partake in this conference.  With sponsors like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Hillshire Farm, Dannon, Verizon Wireless and so much more.

If you’re a marketer or a brand that has not participated in BlogHer in the past, our best advice for you is to get your team a pass to attend as a guest and observe.  This will allow you to interact with guests and see what’s in store at the conference to better prepare not only for yourself but for the needs of your client.  It will give you an advantage to plan ahead and see what works and doesn’t work to create a successful strategic plan.  Be sure to check out BlogHer for additional information.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram where we’ll be reporting from BlogHer ’12 conference using hashtag #BlogHer12.

Image Source for Header: BlogHer.com

Pinterest Brand Pages: Our Favorites

Pinterest is all the rage these days, and for good reason: it’s a social platform that actually offers something new and unique. If you are a brand rep looking for Pinspiration, here are some of the best examples of brands on Pinterest.

Pinterest is all the rage these days, and for good reason: it’s a social platform that actually offers something new and unique. And unlike Facebook or Google+, it really allows brands to get creative with their pages, from layout to content to overall purpose. If you are a brand rep looking for Pinspiration, here are some of the best examples of brands on Pinterest.

 

Coolest Design: Uniqlo


A quickly growing fashion retailer, Uniqlo only sells through its brick-and-mortar shops, which makes its digital acumen all the more impressive. Their website is great, their Facebook updates are fun, and their Pinterest page is staggeringly creative. If you scroll down their page, it animates a la a cartoon flip book, making logos spin, shirts move, and giving off an overall wow factor:

 

 

Funniest Use of Pinterest Boards by Brands: Oreck

 

So… you are a vacuum company and you want to create a Pinterest board, what do you do? Pin pics of messes of course, but how to make a pinnable mess? If you are a pet owner you will appreciate Oreck’s Furry Friends board filled with adorable pics of dogs and cats who fill hearts with happiness and floors with fur:

 

 

Best Non-Profit Brand on Pinterest : ASPCA

 

Of course it helps to have an endless supply of adorable and highly pinnable pet photos at your disposal, but the ASPCA on Pinterest does more than just post cute pics of pets.

They are using Pinterest as a tool to promote pet adoption and further the cause of closing puppy mills. By creating Pinterest boards that balance cute pics with highly shareable text based images, pinning from the ASPCA page is like slapping an end animal cruelty bumper sticker on your Subaru- it let’s everyone who follows you know where you stand.

 


Most Interactive: Bauble Bar

 

Social media, as we all know by now is not supposed to be a soliloquy but rather a conversation. This is always tough for brands. One brand doing a great job is Bauble Bar. This online jewelry retailer scours Instagram and Twitter for fans of their collections who have posted photos. Bauble Bar then pins the fans photo to their Pinterest board, which is the highest form of compliment on Pinterest and goes a long way to building community and customer loyalty.

 

 

Best Celeb Brand: Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart’s Pinterest boards look like what Stewart’s refrigerator would look like, if she allowed magnets on it. As the most followed celeb on Pinterest, Stewart is one to watch.

 

Leave a comment and let us know what Pinterest brand pages you like.

(Dan Brooks contributed to this post.)

Pinterest Analytics Tools Comparison – PinReach vs Pinerly

We took a look at 2 of the most popular Pinterest analytics tools available, Pinerly and PinReach and put them head to head to find out which offered the best Pinterest account analytics tools for brands.

We took a look at 2 of the most popular Pinterest analytics tools available, Pinerly and PinReach and put them head to head to find out which offered the best Pinterest account analytics tools for brands. So you can know  if your content is reaching an audience and also gather the stats you need to report back about your Pinterest campaign to your client.

Pinerly

Pinerly is a complete Pinterest account management platform. In our opinion, this is the best Pinterest analytics tool for marketers. It offers lots of great stats (or Pinalytics) on your Pinterest account including number of repins and likes on individual pins.

On the downside, in order for pins to be tracked by Pinerly each pin must each be created through Pinerly. This means that pins show the URL of origin as Pinerly.com,  instead of your brand’s URL. The good news is that any clicks of your pins are still directed to the URL of your choice.

Perhaps once Pinerly is out of beta, there will be a white label option as part of a premium package for brands (not anything we saw on Pinerly just guessing they are going to have a monetization strategy unlike Pinterest). It would also be great if brands could promote pins by paying to be featured in Pinerly’s suggested pins. However, there are currently no opportunities for brands to pay to promote content to other Pinerly users.

What we like:

  • Scheduling coming soon- a huge bonus for marketers since Pinterest activity peeks during off hours.
  • Analytics good enough to report back to a client with
  • Looking for feedback from users

What we don’t like:

  • Pinerly.com shown as pin URL
  • No brand promotion opportunities
  • No comment tracker
  • Still in beta- though you can request an invite here

PinReach

Billed as a tool for understanding and measuring the impact of your Pinterest account, PinReach is a lot like Klout for Pinterest.  Users are assigned PinReach scores  based upon the amount of engagement (repins, likes and comments) their Pinterest content receives.

Scores range from 0-90+. According to PinReach, most accounts fall into the 30-39 score range, and there are no PinReach users who have scored above an 89 (Etsy must not have checked their score yet). Certain types of interactions have more influence on a  PinReach score. While you get points for filling your boards with pins, you get more when others repin, like or comment on your content.

One stat that PinReach provides that Pinerly does not is the amount of comments received. While the metrics available through PinReach are mostly identical to those available through Pinerly, that’s ok because PinReach has a different goal- it was designed to be less of a dashboard and more of a high level look at the influencers and top images on Pinterest.

What we like:

  • PinReach is very straight forward and user friendly.
  • Looking at trending pins can be great inspiration for creating your own.
  • Much like a Klout score, a PinReach score is a fun way to gamify Pinterest. If you are aiming to brag at BlogHer, having a high PinReach score is just the ticket.

What we don’t like:

  • No brand promotion opportunities
  • From a social media marketer’s point of view, the PinReach score, is not necessary. (You know what we mean if you have ever watched a client’s eyes glaze over while explaining a Klout score).
  • Not the in-depth analytics you need for reporting purposes.

What Pinterest analytics tools are you using? Leave a comment and let us know.

Pinterest – 5 Tips to Get Your Brand’s Pins Repinned

80% of pins on Pinterest are repinned, while only 5% of tweets on Twitter are retweeted. The challenge is to fill pinboards with content that will get repinned. Here are our top 5 tips to get your brand’s image repinned:

Pinterest continues to grow and grow. Many brands are jumping on Pinterest looking to build brand awareness and drive traffic back to their sites. Pinterest can be a easy platform to gain spread brand messaging and product images quickly, as opposed to other social media platforms. 80% of pins on Pinterest are repinned, while only 5% of tweets on Twitter are retweeted. The challenge is to fill pinboards with content that will get repinned. Here are our top 5 tips to get your brand’s image repinned:

Don’t Upload, Pin: When you upload content to a pinboard, you are missing out. If your goal is to get people from Pinterest to your site, they cannot do that without a link. Always pin images from your site instead of uploading. If you want to pin photos that are not on your site, start a blog to hold your photo content and pin from there. This way not only will your site’s URL be featured at the top of the pin which helps with awareness, but users can click through to your site.

Be Bold & Brief: Whether you are creating images for your pinboards or scouring the internet for cool, repinnable images, chose high contrast images. If your image includes text, make sure it is brief and bold.

Pin Faster: By highlighting the text and image you wish to pin and clicking the Pin It bookmarket, the text will automatically be incoporated into the comments of your pin. For pinners pressed for time, this is a valuable tool to use.

Use hashtags: A tip for social media marketing that seems to work everywhere. Hashtags work on Pinterest just like they do on Twitter, adding hashtags to the comments on your pin makes them easier to find in search. Contests are also being conducted on Pinterest using hashtags.

Price it: If you represent an online retailer, always be sure to put a dollar sign in front of your price. This way, your pin will be pulled into the Pinterest gift section, which has a button in the navigation bar on the Pinterest homepage. The price will also appear in a banner across the left hand corner of your image.

Facebook Timeline: Brand Pages Launched

Brands have one month to monitor their competitors’ adoption of Facebook Timeline and figure out how to make Timeline work for them. Here’s an early look at the approach taken by brands who embraced the conversion to Timeline today.

Facebook Timeline for brand pages was announced this morning on the new platform for breaking tech news- The Today Show. Brands have the option of using Timeline starting today, and all brand pages will be converted to Timeline on March 30th. So brands have one month to monitor their competitors’ adoption of Facebook Timeline and figure out how to make Timeline work for them. We thought we would take an early look at the approach taken by brands who embraced the conversion to Timeline today.


Coca-Cola didn’t remove the post from their Timeline when they updated their cover photo to the new larger image required for the transition to Timeline. The Timeline cover photo was updated at 5:06 am EST, which could make Coca-Cola the first brand to make the switch. Coca-Cola has posts going back to the companies founding in 1886, using Timeline to show off the company’s lengthy history. Timeline makes perfect sense for brands who have been around for a long time, but how are brands who haven’t been around for 120+ years using Timeline?

 

Magnolia Bakery is the New York bakery made famous in Sex and the City. Their approach to Timeline is to make you hungry. By using the Timeline cover photo to show the breadth of the bakery’s line of goods and artistic presentation, they are a great demonstration of how a small business can use Timeline to visually engage consumers.

 

Apps used to reside in tabs along the left hand side of Facebook pages. With the unveiling of Timeline, tabs are a thing of the past. Apps have moved to the front and center of brand pages. Each app is displayed with an image underneath the cover photo, similar to the old pre-Timeline photo strip.

Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong foundation unveiled a cohesive approach to Timeline. Each app’s image coordinates with the Timeline cover photo. Livestrong also puts their message first. Unlike Coca-Cola and Magnolia Bakery, Livestrong opted out of using space within their app bar to promote the number of likes their page has. Instead they are using the space to promote apps where people can invite friends and become involved in the Livestrong cause.

Facebook Timeline for brand pages is just hours old, it will be interesting to see how brands roll out innovative uses of Timeline over the next 30 days.

Pinterest vs TheFancy: Social Media Marketing for Brands

Pinterest has grabbed the attention (and free time) of women and a lot of interest from social media marketers, but there is another quietly emerging player in the social bookmarking space. TheFancy is a visually stunning collection of the coolest images and products from around the web.

Pinterest has grabbed the attention (and free time) of women and a lot of interest from social media marketers, but there is another quietly emerging player in the social bookmarking space.

TheFancy is a visually stunning collection of the coolest images and products from around the web. Instead of adding images to boards like on Pinterest, users “fancy” images and add them to categories for others to view and “fancy” as well.

Users share images the same way on both sites.  Retailers can add Pinterest and TheFancy buttons to images to encourage users to share, but since both sites are relatively new most images come through users clicking a “Pin It” or “Fancy It” button in their browser’s toolbar.

Pinterest and TheFancy differ in the flavor of what is shared. Pinterest has an undeniably feminine Etsy-esque feel. The majority of Pinterest users are women, and as a result there are a lot of home décor, recipes and children’s product shots shared on the site.

TheFancy has a more unisex, urban, minimalist, high-design feel. The differences between each site’s content are obvious when you look at the brands that have a presence on each. Brands currently on Pinterest: Cabot Cheese, Lands’ End and Paula Deen. Brands on TheFancy: Brooklyn Industries, Williams-Sonoma, and Yves St. Laurent.

If you represent a luxury fashion, home décor, or tech brand then adding products to TheFancy is a smart marketing move, because unlike Pinterest- TheFancy is openly working with brands to drive sales through the site.

On Pinterest, if a user (including the brands that have set up Pinterest accounts) posts a price within a pinned image’s description, the price will appear as a banner in the corner of the image. Pinterest will then automatically pull the pinned image into the gifts category on the site. This is great, however Pinterest wants to keep users within Pinterest and is not at this time making it easy for users to leave the site.

In order to reach the original site to make a purchase, Pinterest users have to click pinned images twice. Some users I have talked to were unaware that they could even do this, since when an image is clicked once users are taken to a page where they are encouraged to like, repin or comment on the image within the Pinterest site. There is no prompt or link for Pinterest users to leave Pinterest and visit the original site. Pinterest has been designed as a social media destination.

TheFancy on the other hand, has been designed to easily move users to original sites for product purchase. When an image is clicked in TheFancy, users are presented with a “Buy It” link on the right hand side. Clicking this link will take the user to the original site where that product may be purchased. This is a great feature since the whole focus of the site is discovering products that you may never come across in a retail store.

Users can also unlock special deals from retailers by clicking “Fancy It” on their product photos. These special deals are typically discount codes that can be used at checkout on the retailer’s site. Current deals offered to TheFancy users are featured within a Deals tab at the top of the page, which makes it easy for TheFancy users to find. There is also an easy to find list of retailers on TheFancy, something which is missing on Pinterest at least at the moment.

TheFancy also seems to be here to stay. With significant investment from the French fashion firm PPR, who owns brands such as Gucci, Alexander McQueen Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent and Balenciaga, as well as Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey who is also on the start-up’s board. Yves Saint Laurent announced on Jan. 30th that Fancy buttons will be on every page of the brand’s website.

For social media marketers looking to ride the surge in social bookmarking site popularity, especially to promote luxury and boutique brands- TheFancy is one site to hop on.

Facebook Timeline: Add Life Events and Marketers Could Thank You

Facebook Timeline was released last month as an invitation for all of us to share our whole lives (including pre-Facebook lives) on Facebook. What Facebook wants you to include in your Timeline isn’t restricted to your newborn picture.

When you click on a point in the past on your Timeline, you have a number of options many of which are familiar.  You can add a comment in the form of a status update to a point in your past, photo from your 1st grade class picnic or check into the dorm you lived in freshman year of college. These are all variations of the options that users are used to seeing when they create a normal present-day status update. However, there is one new option- “Life Event” that is very different than the rest.

Clicking the Life Event button brings up a list of events that are common to a lot of people’s life stories. Marking the day you had a baby, broke a bone, lost a loved one or changed your religious beliefs are just some of the options Facebook presents.

Social media is supposed to be about transparency and honesty. Although it seems people would be reluctant to share major illnesses they have had in the past, divorces long settled and weight gained or lost in reality this is what Facebook does best. In Timeline Facebook has created an even better space where we can feed the human need to connect and learn more about people we care about, though maybe not enough to actually call.

From a social media marketing point of view, “Life Event” could be a game changer.

Currently advertisers can target Facebook users for ads based on the basic information user’s provide as well as their likes and interests. If Facebook allows advertisers to display ads to users who have had certain life events, or even better- users who have had certain life events within a select time frame, this could be very exciting for brands.

Car insurance ads could be displayed to parents of children they had 16 years back on their timeline and orthopedic surgeons could target those who have broken a bone in the last few months.  Ads could be even more highly targeted, which means higher click-through rates for advertisers and more revenue for Facebook.

Facebook has yet to allow advertisers to target users based on their life events, however if they do look for even more relevant Facebook ads coming to your Facebook profile.

The 5 Most Important Things I Learned from My Dog About Marketing and Social Media

airedale-dog

(Full disclosure – I also learned this from knowing other dogs and working on great pet brands.)

1) Age is Meaningless
Is Abby 9 or 63? Sure, there are real health management concerns with an aging Airedale. But that shouldn’t mean not experiencing life and all the new things that continue evolving around us. It’s not about teaching or learning new tricks, but simply being open to the reality that new tricks are almost always built on the shoulders of old ones. So, what’s old is in fact new!

2) Barking is Like Spitting into the Wind
Yes, it gets attention, feels empowering if you are doing it to ward off intruders, but in the end, making noise or drool doesn’t mean much…especially if it blows back in your direction. Marketing used to be akin to this, but social media has changed the pushing of messaging into a new form of active engagement that leads to attitudinal and behavioral change.

3) A Smell Test is Still the Best Way of Figuring Stuff Out
Zappos has it in their DNA about touching, sniffing, and trying stuff on by the boat load – just like Abby gives everything her own smell test, and likes interacting with things before trusting them completely – with no downside to the customer. But more than that, more than ever, marketing outreach and social media are all about giving people the ability to experience brands or corporate cultures through informational transparency unimaginable a decade ago. This inclusiveness is credited with helping create deeper loyalty on the consumer, customer amd employee fronts – even in the “Occupy Age” of today.

4) Leashes Don’t Choke, People Do! (Or Something Like That.)
The simple truth is, we live in a device world. What marketers do and how they innovate with smart phones, tablets, etc. – let alone on social platforms and app-forms – is what matters in the end, especially to the end users. Great brand stewards like Apple and Amazon have done an amazing job of making a commodity of themselves. They’ve become objects of desire and utility that have kept the marketplace flowing. Pulling on the leash too hard could hurt creativity and a brand’s potential.

5) Once You Know Unconditional Love, There’s No Turning Back
Everyone who has or has had a pet knows that there’s a symbiotic life enrichment that takes place between both parties, and it’s hard to imagine not having that in your life after you’ve experienced it. Social media has given us the same thing. Social related sharing has made connecting people to people, people to causes, and people to brands so easy it is hard to imagine ever not being in the emotionally rich flow so many of us find ourselves in today. We all have seen too many photos, read too many OMG! reunion posts and watched too many ridiculous pet videos to ever think that new media is “new” anymore!

Thanks for reading and here’s some more maple bacon to enjoy with that adorable, talking dog!