Facebook giveaways? Definitely cool. IF done the right way.

I have seen a thousand posts on my FB feed for giveaways.  Some of them are really cool! Since I am basically the unluckiest person in the history of winning things, I wasn’t shocked to see (when I tried to enter one) that I didn’t win.

What I was shocked to see (after a little browsing around various FB merchant pages- mostly created by the moms-gone-crafty types- hey momtrepeneurs are great- free market yadayada)  was how these businesses operated their giveaways blatantly breaking Facebook Pages TOS.

You know the type of giveaway I am talking about the ” like this, comment, and share for a chance to win (insert cool merchandise)”.

I reviewed my TOS to make sure I wasn’t missing anything and lo-and-behold: there it was.

So all of these giveaways that violate the TOS could potentially get their FB page shut down.  And for small businesses who use their page as a means of taking orders for product, this could mean a HUGE dent in sales.

It’s a huge risk.  FB is always changing their TOS, but when it comes to your bread and butter, not wise to tempt the hand of fate. Make sure you visit the TOS pages frequently so you don’t inadvertently violate them (and then get banned/deleted).

Maybe I am wrong, but it seems awfully cheap to be giving away stuff for a measly like or share.  At least get yours audience to interact and create cool ideas with you- that’s what a couple of my favorite clients are doing right now and it’s working so much better than the cheesy giveaways that some brands promote.

 

People will give you their customer loyalty if you attach them to your brand in a meaningful way. Ask them to help you name a product, that is an endearing way to engage your audience.  When consumers like, they buy.

While you may not see your likes shoot up to 80,000 in one day- or even one decade- you can bet your fans are loyal and they go the distance with you.   These are the fans that will engage because they are interested, not bc of a freebie. Quality over quantity.

And by the way- who even cares about likes? I want to see a real discussion going on- whether it be debating fabric colors, customer service related, or a real dialogue that shows the brand is outstanding. Likes can be easily purchased as we have seen lately. It takes a lot more time to put thought and effort into a comment and that is what you ultimately see with quality brands.  That is what you want to strive for with your own brand.

Success is not overnight.  And if it is, you’re doin it wrong!  Slow and steady wins the race!

What is your take on these giveaways?

Southwest Airlines Using Social Media to Improve Customer Service?

It has been quite clear for a while now that social media is an effective tool for giving your audience the gold standard of customer service.  Many businesses feel that delving into the social media world is risky.  One major reason I’ve heard from some of my clients is the big “what if someone were to complain on your Facebook page or write something nasty on Twitter?”

Well, what if?  What DO you do?  Erase it?  Not the best idea considering that despite the few minutes it was on the worldwide web, google could have indexed it.  Someone saw it.  You can’t pretend it didn’t happen.  So the best possible thing to do is exactly what Southwest Airlines did a few days ago when Green Day band member was removed from a flight for not hiking his pants up and then tweeted about it: they re-tweeted him, acknowledged his displeasure at the situation, and promised to correct it.  Then, (gasp) they went and put him on the next flight and I am sure apologized.

Rather than ignore the complaining tweet, they harnessed this as an opportunity to show their customers (and the rest of the world) that they did indeed pay attention to what their customers wanted, and used the power of social media to put forth the highest standard of customer service.

Inevitably any business is subject to complaints.   Why try to hide it when anyone knows that you can never please EVERYONE?  The best possible thing to do 100% of the time is be totally transparent, which shows your honesty as a business person, your credibility, and that you will do whatever you can to keep your customers happy or correct mistakes that will inevitably happen.

How have you used social media as a useful customer service tool for your customers?  How have you approached a grievance posted on your social media from an unhappy customer?  And how have you turned it around to make it into a win/win situation for you and for your customer?

Facebook Places vs. Foursquare

Foursquare and nearly seven years ago, Facebook was founded by Mark Zuckerberg. According to Socialnomics.com, it took a mere 9 months to rack up 100 million users. Since then, the world has been dazzled and amazed by the continuous development of the Facebook platform, as well as other social networking sites like one of the newest- Foursquare.  This platform was created in the latter months of 2009 and had accumulated 170,000 users by December 2009. In comparison to Facebook,  Foursquare doing pretty well considering how focused the practical application of this new social media site is.

Here are some of the great things about Foursquare: The nature of “checking in” to different businesses where groups of people meet to socialize or congregate encourages healthy competition amongst your friends for badges, “mayorships,” and even discounts on the product that is being promoted.

If the idea of opening your physical location to the world is eerie, you can modify your privacy settings. This is another feature that is great about Foursquare- the privacy settings are designed in such a way that you have sole control of what you show other users, and your friends.  The only downside that I can see to this social networking site is that you stand to lose credibility if you are caught being the mayor of… let’s say… a specific bar, especially if you visit that establishment too many nights in a row, it tags you as being on a “bender”.

Not exactly something most users would want their supervisor, clients, or Mother to see.   Always remember, what you post on the internet could be there for days, weeks, months, years, or even gasp forever. Yes, it’s true. Take heed now. The security settings are pretty simple and straightforward so most people (possessing average intelligence) should be able to avoid these possibly awkward situations.

Does Foursquare have any significant competition?  Yes.  It does.  Recently, Facebook developed and released an application called Facebook Places.  To put it mildly, it’s not great.  The concept behind the Facebook version of Foursquare seems a bit rushed and there are inherent flaws in the design that we are now discovering actually pose quite a privacy risk.  When you post on the internet, or any social networking site, the assumption is that you are there to socialize.  The assumption is that you want to socialize with your friends and share information.  However, each user has a different comfort level of what type of information they would like to share.  The privacy controls that Facebook set forth allows the ability to custom tailor each Facebook account to meet the discretionary needs on a per-user basis.

In the past there have been some “issues” with privacy settings.  There is a ton of information on this topic- so I’ll save that for a later article.   Recently, I was updating my Facebook privacy settings- and was surprised to find new settings for Facebook Places:

  1. Facebook privacy settings allow you to control who can see which places you check yourself in to.  This is good, obviously.
  2. Facebook privacy settings allow you to enable or disable if other users at the same location can see you in the “people here now” area of the application.  This is also good if you do not want people to know your every move.
  3. Facebook privacy settings allow you to enable or disable whether or not your friends can check you in at places.  This is where it gets tricky.

The Facebook Places tool does offer some control over settings as listed above. Some being the operative word here.  The users of this tool must actively check themselves in, as opposed to automatically being checked in as they move around town.  So this is good, obviously, however by default, friends can tag you at places where they have checked in to whenever they want.  Although you won’t show up in the places application if you don’t allow it in your privacy settings, your geo-tag will show up in your friends statuses, their friends statuses, and anyone else who can see the various tags involved in the specific place where you’ve “allegedly” checked in to.  But wait!  There’s more!  All of these tags that you can’t see- you can’t do anything about.  Because they are all controlled by your friend’s privacy settings, and the privacy settings of their friends, and friends of friends.

So now that we’ve discovered that your friends can tag you into one of the places where they’ve checked in, the question of validity arises.  In this application, a tag is (or appears to be) just as “official” as a check-in.  Once you are tagged in a post, your friend, other people who are tagged, and their friends can see this.  If they have their account totally “open” so that anyone can see their wall, then guess what?  Literally everyone can see this “check in.”  Nothing that you can change in your own privacy settings can prevent this.  This opens the door for mis-information to be spread around the world-wide web very quickly.  Obviously each user can un-tag themselves in any post that they can see- however it might be too late, the damage could already be done.

According to a recent article on MSNBC.com, a miffed co-worker or angry friend can “broadcast to everyone (including your boss) that you are in a coffee shop, museum or airport — even if you are sitting in your cubicle working. Even if you haven’t agreed to use Facebook’s location service. And even if you aren’t logged in to Facebook.”

This seems pretty frightening to me.  Imagine what could happen if this spirals out of control- here are some hypotheticals:

  • What would stop a Facebook Places user who opposes the current Administration from broadcasting odd, untrue, and possibly damaging things about our President?  Seemingly, nothing.
  • What would stop an angry ex-girlfriend/boyfriend from broadcasting malicious things to the world that could defame the character of the other half of that previous relationship?  Probably nothing.
  • What would stop a co-worker gunning for your position from broadcasting that you were out doing non-work related things during work hours?  Certainly not the weak-to-non-existent privacy settings that Facebook provides….

The point of this article is not to “slam” Facebook, because I think it is a great marketing platform for businesses, social circles, and Farmville fundamentalists alike.  The point of this is to make everyone aware of the frequently changing privacy settings- and that every single time a new feature is added, or changed, your privacy settings are compromised all over again, and in this case, some control is removed completely.  This seems ridiculously unfair and stands to cause problems that transfer over from the cyber world to the real world.

So now I’ll say… when predicting the winner of Facebook Places vs. Foursquare, I’d definitely have to say- overwhelmingly, Foursquare, for the win!  Facebook needs to get on it, fix the security settings, and fix the glitches.  Once that is done, they will be in top shape to compete against the surprising power of one of the newest additions to our savvy little social networking world.

ReTweets: Followers, Semantics, Timing, and Virtual Snowballs

Who would have ever thought that such an innocuous little feature on Twitter could have turned into such a ground-breaking concept for SEO and viral marketing?  Certainly not myself.  I’ve had a Twitter account since I heard Barack Obama had one back in 2009.  I also heard on that same day that he was making tourney picks for the NCAA Championship.  This inspired me so I jumped on my computer and started tweeting about how cool I thought it was that THE PRESIDENT had a Twitter account and that HE ALSO PICKED HOOPS.  So obviously, being a very astute and like-minded constituent, I hoped he would see my Tweets.

No such luck.  I got frustrated and bored and ignored Twitter for a while.  THEN a little bird (how ironic) told me about the re-tweet feature.  So I decided to research the phenomena.  According to Dan Zarella, viral marketing scientist, and author of “The Science of ReTweets”- there are “four factors that make certain Tweets more viral than others.”  I’ll break it down for you along with my analytical drivel.  I’ll try to make this concise.

1) Followers do matter.  Zarrella states that although more followers might mean the likelihood of possible ReTweets increases, the correlation is weak and other factors may play a larger role.  He breaks it down using a mathematical formula:

Dan Zarellas ReTweetability Metric

Once looking at those numbers, Zarrella states that based on the trends he sees, he finds the content is actually more important.  The quality of the Tweet is much more important than the number of followers a user has.  This makes sense to me.  Quality matters.  Obvious.

2)Semantics and your Tweets: Zarrella suggests that while analyzing the semantic content of Tweets, several trends become obvious such as key language that gets the most ReTweets.

  • Include a call to action such as “please ReTweet“- although you think it sounds a bit elementary, it works.  Please refer to the K.I.S.S. theory.
  • Regular timely updates on Twitter get more ReTweets also.
  • Freebies are popular (I don’t necessarily think that I would strongly push advertising freebies for all types of business, typically retail does better in this aspect)
  • Self referencing (Tweeting about Twitter)
  • Lists are major
  • Blog posts are very popular among ReTweets

For further information on key words that are ReTweeted the most, please see Dan Zarrella’s article.  He also notes that polite calls to action (where the word “please” is used) have higher rates of being ReTweeted.

3) Timing is everything- Tweets posted during business hours – Eastern Time– are more likely to be ReTweeted.  The best time to Tweet would be hypothetically at the beginning of the work day.  According to Zarrella’s research, there is a marked increase in ReTweets during business hours and from then on throughout the day and into the night.  He suggests Tweeting at the beginning of the day to capture the most ReTweetability.  I agree with this.  Research that I have done on social media shows that the best time for new blog articles to be posted is also during EST business hours.  One could hypothesize this is because more people are surfing the web at work…. I believe this could be one of the factors as to why these hours are the best times to see ReTweets.

4)”ReTweet Cascading” is the theory that people will ReTweet content that they have already seen posted as a ReTweet.  I can say without any doubts, this is true.  At least for myself it is.  I cannot imagine my thinking is too far off from everyone else using Twitter- I am more likely to ReTweet something that I see my friends ReTweet.  For the same reason that people form friendships outside of Cyberland, they also form virtual friendships with like-minded people.  Chances are, if I like something enough to ReTweet it for my followers to see, it’s something I think they would like.  Ipso ergo, they are probably going to ReTweet it as well, thus causing a chain-reaction, a virtual snowball effect.  Zarrella also shows through his reasearch that the  more times content is ReTweeted, “the more likely it is to be further spread.”

Hopefully this information can lend some perspective when you are considering what your next Tweets will be.  For more information on Dan Zarrella’s research, you can see the link referenced above, and you should also take a look at another article he authored on some key words and phrases that will get you the  most ReTweets. 

Effective Advertising and the White Noise of the Web…

There is a lot of noise out there, especially when it comes to the world wide web and advertising.  There are millions of people with important things to say.  How do you set yourself apart from your competitors in a meaningful way?  How do you get your very important message out there to the right people?  Social media is the answer, if its being implemented correctly.

So, let’s say you’ve decided to venture into the world of social media… you’ve set up a few accounts, perhaps even uploaded some pictures.  You’ve very astutely filled in all of the pertinent information fields, and probably have even found some “friends” or “fans” depending which network you’re on.  Then… you come to a screeching halt.  It’s ok.  It’s totally easy to do when you don’t really know what to say.

The best way out of this debacle is to become opinionated.  Drink lots of coffee and find a soapbox to stand on.  In order to throw you a nugget of wisdom in regards to your soapbox derbies- here are some things you should consider when it comes to being opinionated about your business:

1) DO NOT rant about the person who cut you off in traffic today.  DO rave about a product or service that has helped better your business in some way.

2)DO NOT take strong political positions on your social media, unless you are a politician, or unless legislation directly effects your business and you can back it up with factual information.  Although you may have many people who agree with you, your business facebook page is not the proper platform.  DO take strong positions on industry-relevant matters.

3)DO NOT post about anything on your blog other than work related content.  If it is not directly tied into your industry, find some way to make it relevant.

4)Get involved in other discussions surrounding your industry.  Join a forum, post on message boards, find out what people want to know about.  This helps your content to be relevant.

5)Resist the urge to “moderate” your comments on your company blog.  I mean- completely disable the “approve comment” feature on your blog.  If people see that their comments have to be “approved”, this will further discourage them from speaking their mind.  Even if a comment is negative to you or your business in any way- this is the platform to show your customers that you want to make it right.  This is the platform where you stand up for your product/service.  It shows you care about giving the gold standard of customer service without “censoring” what people write.

6)Avoid schlepping your product/service all over the place.  The point of social media is to increase web presence- however you don’t want to come across as being annoying with your product schtick.  You want your audience to feel that you care about bettering them in the process.  Offer networking opportunities, best practices, webinars, etc.

You will without a doubt be seen as a master of your craft if you provide useful information.  What are some of your social media strategies?  What do you like to avoid when populating content?  What are you more prone to read when looking for information on your industry?

Video on the Social Media Revolution

My cousin, Tom Hart, also a budding entrepeneur sent me a link to this video to ponder.   Not only did I ponder it, I stared at my screen in amazement.  Facebook took 9 months to reach ONE HUNDRED MILLION users.  Crazy, isn’t it?  If you don’t believe in the brute force of social media now, you most certainly will after watching this video.

The Best Advice I Ever Got Regarding Marketing and Sales

I was going to change the title of this inaugural blog post to be catchy, sassy, marketable…. but I thought better of doing so.  Imagine that- a marketing person actively trying to NOT market something.  I just felt that I had to let everyone know that sometimes it’s just a better idea to keep things simple.  I would even go so far as to say that sometimes we become too pre-occupied with the nitty gritty- that we lose focus on our priorities.

We lose focus on what the goal really is.  Is our goal to make sure you have the prettiest and fanciest newsletters- OR is our goal to make sure the people you send newsletters to extract useful information and actually READ them?  While the former may be true to an extent- aesthetics are indeed important-the latter is the most important.  Not only do you want your target audience to read and find your newsletters useful, you want them to see you as a master of your craft- not solely concerned with the bottom line- but also with the health and vitality of your industry as well.

Long long ago, a wise former boss of mine (Al Casazza, CBS Radio) told me “Kristin- people buy from people they like” – ok so that’s a fairly simple concept, yes?  No.  Not in the way my brain works.  For once in my life-I was totally stumped.  The meaning of this profound tidbit totally escaped me.

Homeward bound I skulked, dejected and sad.  How would I find a way to get these people to LIKE me and not just see me as another person they had to pay?  How in the world would I ever do this?  I could bake my clients cookies.  I could bribe them like all of the other sales reps did with bottles of wine or platters of sandwiches.  I could do lots of nice things… if I were rich.  At this rate- I was doomed!

It took me years… but I finally found the answer.  People like people who care.  They want to do business with companies that have a social conscience.  Would you rather patronize a business that was solely concerned with profits- or a business that was passionate about what they did and passionate about bettering their customers in the process?

All things considered equal- I’d much rather get the product/service that I needed while also getting some useful information in the process.  Time is money and in this day and age you need to believe wholeheartedly in the power of two-fers.  Two-fer-one- marketing excellence AND a pearl of wisdom.  Genius.  Julie Cottineau does such a great job explaining what I am so poorly trying to say.  Read on…

In closing, I truly hope that Daly Marketing can fulfill all of your wildest marketing dreams. 🙂 I hope I can get everyone as excited about this as I am- and if I don’t- I’ll try to distract you with catchy slogans and sparkle-graphics. Totally kidding about the sparkle graphics!