Saturday, 31 October 2009

Our Blogs Mission and Intent

Social Media sites such as Digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, and Facebook have changed the way content providers and web publishers distribute content. The traffic that social media sites send to web publishers has now become one of their most significant and indispensable sources of traffic. Increasingly, publishers are thinking of every page as a potential entry point for users and adapting the user experience on article pages accordingly.

This blog will explore some of the best practices employed by publishers who have been successful in gearing their brands, user experiences, and content toward increasing traffic from social media sites and providing a relevant experience to help engage those users and more importantly monetize the traffic. 

Thursday, 29 October 2009

CREATING SYNERGIES ACROSS MULTIPLE SOCIAL PLATFORMS


Almost daily we get asked for advice about Social Media and creating synergies across multiple social platforms.   That said, our strategist has decided to extend some helpful “Tips and Tricks” every once in a while and here’s the first pass.

  1.  You are not omnipotent and cannot be everywhere online. Social media is too broad  - - and just when you think you’ve got a broad swath of your target covered, a new ‘Tween’ community will pop up in Eastern Europe with seven million users.  Look at it like the soft drink market; every country may have there own Cola, but there’s only one Coke.   Start with the social ‘notables’ for your demographic and psychographic target and recognize that you have to be in fewer places, but need do more with those places you commit to – hence the need for cross-media synergies.
  2. Activate and energize your followers (or “fans”), as they are not simply to be collected like Hockey cards.  Engage them to generate content (comments, reviews, etc.) and always strive to ensure the relationship is symmetrical and participatory, with a clear value-exchange.
  3. Acknowledge the world is changing and the future of the Web is distributed.  It’s a push world now, not a pull world and the days of corporate monologues are dead.  Take the best 2-5% of your existing (most active and participatory) website content and extend it into the social places where your fans and prospects are spending their time (i.e. Fish where the fish are.)
  4.  The most successful social media initiatives today marry offline activities with online.  Why? Simply because virtual is still virtual.  The highest levels of activity and engagement are achieved when online activities are used collaboratively (synergistically) with offline activities to promote, amplify, and energize the base.
  5. Social media is not meant to replace or offset your ongoing online marketing activities.  It’s supposed to be complementary.   The real secret is to combine the two by using social forwarding tools to extend and evolve the conversation.  Extend social media as another brand touch-point to grow email distribution and segmented ‘opt-in’ lists.
  6.  Use the right bait.  Extend the right social media and message based upon your target demographic and psychographic profile.  Forrester™ has an online tool that can assist at http://www.forrester.com/Groundswell/ladder.html

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Announcing the Goodbuzz™ Newswire Service


Optimized for social-media enabled distribution platforms, the Goodbuzz™ e-PR Newswire Service enables press releases to be a key part of a company’s marketing, visibility, public relations and search engine optimization strategies.

Goodbuzz™ sends press releases directly to the media and premium online locations all over the Internet where interested readers can easily find it.  In addition, a direct-to-consumer distribution platform provides the tools to optimize your releases to make them easy to find by interested people and to rank higher in search engine results.

Goodbuzz™ helps brands socialize in ways that increase their relevance and value in the eyes of their consumers. We ensure a credible social voice is extended online and consumers sense a symmetrical relationship. In this new online world — actions speak louder than advertising— and the relationship between influencers and brand affinity become paramount.  This is where we come in. ;)

For more information on Goodbuzz™ e-PR, please contact: andrew.giles@goodbuzz.ca 

SOCIAL INFLUENCE MARKETING (SIM) DICTIONARY


Common types of word of mouth (social influence marketing) are listed below.  Note: This is not a complete list -- we’re publishing it as a means to begin a dialog toward standardization, and we welcome your comments.

Buzz Marketing: Using high-profile entertainment or news to get people to talk about your brand.

Viral Marketing: Creating entertaining or informative messages that are designed to be passed along in an exponential fashion, often electronically or by email.

Community Marketing: Forming or supporting niche communities that are likely to share interests about the brand (such as user groups, fan clubs, and discussion forums); providing tools, content, and information to support those communities.

Grassroots Marketing: Organizing and motivating volunteers to engage in personal or local outreach.

Evangelist Marketing: Cultivating evangelists, advocates, or volunteers who are encouraged to take a leadership role in actively spreading the word on your behalf.

Product Seeding: Placing the right product into the right hands at the right time, providing information or samples to influential individuals.

Influencer Marketing: Identifying key communities and opinion leaders who are likely to talk about products and have the ability to influence the opinions of others.

Cause Marketing: Supporting social causes to earn respect and support from people who feel strongly about the cause.

Conversation Creation: Interesting or fun advertising, emails, catch phrases, entertainment, or promotions designed to start word of mouth activity.

Brand Blogging: Creating blogs and participating in the blogosphere, in the spirit of open, transparent communications; sharing information of value that the blog community may talk about.

Referral Programs: Creating tools that enable satisfied customers to refer their friends.

Energizing Advocacy: Why use Social Influence Marketing (SIM)?

Most traditional marketing tools and techniques are increasingly becoming ineffective:
+ Companies are paying $5 to $250 (or more) per lead, yet less than 1% of leads are qualified (source: Forrester)
+ Conversion rates have plummeted to 2% or less (source: Forrester)
About 75% of consumers abandon shopping carts (source: Shop.org)
+ Consumer receptivity to paid media and marketing is at an all-time low. Only 16% trust company blogs and 14% of consumers trust advertising (source: Forrester)
+ 69% of marketers say marketing has "no discernible effect on consumers" (source: World Advertising Research Council)

Social Influence Marketing however provides marketers with a compelling, cost-effective solution:
+ 94% of consumers trust Word of Mouth via Social Influence Marketing (source: Forrester)
+ 84% of business buyers say Word of Mouth via Social Influence Marketing is the #1 influencer of purchase decisions (source: Forrester)
+ Word of Mouth via Social Influence Marketing marketing delivers a 15X ROI, notably three times higher than traditional marketing (source: Harvard Business Review)
+ Word of Mouth via Social Influence Marketing is the fastest-growing form of marketing and 77% of marketers plan to increase their investment in Word of Mouth & Social Media marketing (source: eMarketer)

HOW US CONSUMERS SPEND THERE TIME ONLINE | 2004 VS. 2009

In 2004, US consumers spent 42% of their online time on communications-related activities such as reading and sending email, whereas now (2009) they spend only 27% of their time doing so, according to the OPA data cited in the Factbook.  What's filled the gap? Community-focused social networking sites such as Facebook now account for 13% of users' time, up from virtually nothing in 2004.





Findings:
In addition to devoting more of their online time to community sites, consumers today are spending more time on content sites and search, and less time on commerce sites, than they were in 2004.

As for what specific activities US adults perform online today:
—90% send or read emails
—88% use search engines
—76% check the weather
—75% buy a product
—72% get news
—66% to make or buy a travel reservation
—60% to look for news or information about politics
(According to April 2009 data from the Pew Internet & American Life project included in the Factbook.)

Monday, 26 October 2009

Advanced Brand Strategy - Taking a Page from Organized Religion

Want to build a brand that stands the test of time?  Take a page from organized religion. Notable brands and religions have a lot more in common then you’d think.  Both share:

A Sense of Belonging
Psychologically, ‘sense of community’ is one of the major tenants of self-definition. Belonging to a group can involve language, dress, and/or ritual.  To be part of the group gives meaning and association with a larger group provides emotional safety and a sense of belonging and identification.   The influence is bi-directional.  Think: Nike, Apple, or Harley-Davidson Ownership; the individual shares mission with the larger group.

A Clear Vision
Both Religions and Brands are unambiguous in mission and intent (to reach heaven, achieve spiritual enlightenment.)  Like religions, successful companies and successful brands have a clear, and very powerful sense of mission.   Think: Apple’s Steve Job’s statement in the mid-1980’s, “Man is the creator of change in this world.”  

Power Over Enemies
Successful religions strive to exert power over their enemies (and have so since the beginning of time.)  Taking sides against the “other” is a potent uniting force psychologically.  Even more so if there is an identifiable enemy, as it gives us the chance to not only showcase and articulate our faith, but also to unite ourselves with our fellow believers.  A community united by a common enemy.  Think: Coke vs. Pepsi, Apple vs. PC, Us vs. Them.

Sensory Appeal
All great religions, (whether church, temple, or mosque) have unique sensory appeal.  The air, the incense, the smell of the wood, the ornate stained glass, and the sound of the organ or bell.  All integral parts of the otherworldly experience.  Whether annoyance or longing, sensory qualities evoke an emotional response.  Think: “Hello Moto” or Intel’s Sound Branding.  Maybe the smell of a new Mercedes, or the sleek, aesthetically pleasing lines of the iPod. 

Storytelling
Whether New Testament, Torah, or Koran---EVERY major religion is built upon a heft of history and stories (mostly gruesome and miraculous.) Most notably, the rituals (i.e. praying, kneeling, meditation, fasting, singing hymns, receiving the sacrament, etc.) are rooted in these stories (and therefore are repeatedly and unconsciously reinforced.)

Grandeur
Most religions celebrate a sense of grandeur and awe.  This ensures that one comes away from the experience as mere mortals dwarfed by something far greater than ourselves.    Even today, no building in Rome is permitted to be higher than St. Peter’s Cathedral.   At the Temple of the Golden Buddha in Bangkok is a nearly eleven foot tall, two-and-a-half ton Buddha made from solid gold (and valued at close to $200 million.)  Think: The Bellagio Hotel, Louis Vuitton’s flagship store in Paris, Apple’s store in NYC, Google’s offices.  All created their own Vatican and stir up notions of grandeur.

Symbols
The cross.  A dove.  An angel, or crown of thorns.  Organized religion is full of iconography and symbolism that act as an instant global language, or shorthand.  This is also true of products and brands.  A brand or product  (symbol) logo can evoke powerful associations, just like religious icons.  Think:  Lance Armstrong (Nike) “Live Strong” bracelets.  Originally given away for free, once they became a symbol of challenging adversity and charitable giving---Armstrong’s Foundation ended up selling some $70 million worth (and inspired a slew of copycats.)

Mystery
In religion, (where the unknown can be as powerful as the known,) mystery is a powerful force.   Think of the mysteries of the Bible, the Shroud of Turin, the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Grail, or the da Vinci code.  When it comes to brands, mystery is equally effective.  Think: Coca-Cola’s or KFC’s secret formula. A mischievous Unilever employee in Asia added the sentence “Contains X9 Factor” to a shampoo bottle label.  This last minute addition went undetected by Unilever, and soon millions of bottles were shipped out.   As it would be too costly to recall, Unilever let it be.   Six months later, Unilever reprinted the label without the reference to containing “X9 Factor.”  To there surprise sales dropped dramatically and they received a slew of outraged mail from customers.  None even knew what “X9 Factor” was, but were offended that Unilever would dare consider getting rid of it.  In fact, many customers claimed the shampoo wasn’t working anymore, and that there hair had lost its luster.  It just goes to show that the more mystery and intrigue a brand can cultivate, the more likely it will appeal to us.

Rituals
When life feels uncertain and out-of-control, we often seek out the comfort of that which is familiar. Ritualistic patterns make us feel consistent, stable, safe, and grounded. Whether most of us are aware of it or not, we don’t want to tamper with the region of our brain that makes up our “implicit” memory (which encompasses everything you know how to do without thinking about it---from riding a bike to tying your shoelaces.)   Product rituals give us the illusion of comfort and belonging, while also helping us differentiate one brand from another.   Once we find a product or brand experience we like, it’s human nature to make it a ritual.   Savvy marketers find and exploit the rituals associated with their brands. Products and brands that have rituals associated with them are much ‘stickier’ than those that don’t.  Think: The many ways to eat an Oreo cookie, Lime in the Corona, or the Starbuck’s ordering process.  It’s clear that people ritualize positive experiences and keep coming back for more.  


How many of these are incorporated into your brand?  

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Goodbuzz Inc. is a Digital Ad Agency that creates social media campaigns that entice consumers to play, create, and share brand experiences. Note: Any / all product names mentioned in this document may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies and are hereby acknowledged.

Understanding the Social Influencer


KEY INFLUENCERS
In specific fields, key influencers have an incredible affect on brand affinity,  platforms, and purchase decision.  Key influencers typically have their own blogs, larger Twitter followings and rarely know their audiences personally. 

SOCIAL INFLUENCERS
Everyday people who participate in social platforms.  These users are typically in your consumer’s social graph and influence brand affinity and purchasing decisions through consumer reviews, by updating their own status and Twitter feeds and commenting on blogs and forums.

KNOWN PEER INFLUENCERS
The closest to both the purchasing decision and to the consumer. They are typically part of the consumer’s inner circle. They influence the purchasing decision most directly and have to live with the results of their family member or friend’s decision as well.

Understanding the Social Media Target Audience

Social Influence Marketing | Brand (R)evolution Manifesto Pt.1


We live in a world where brands cannot simply push messages anymore.  Today, Brands must do. They must engage with their customers across every platform, channel and device.

The days of corporate monologues are dead.  In this new world actions speak louder than advertising, and the relationship between influencers and brand affinity becomes paramount.   Online experiences must therefore ensure both the brand and the consumer reap equal returns from their relationship.  

It’s clear that brands must socialize today with consumers in ways that increase their relevance and value in the eyes of their consumers — or the brands will be completely ignored.  Brands must develop a credible social voice that is more engaging, personal, humble, authentic, and participatory than traditional advertising messages.  Today, brands must provide, for lack of a better term, a return on emotional investment to their consumers.  The good news is that the more consumers sense a (symmetrical) relationship, the more loyal they will be.  

To breakthrough the noise, brands need to create engaging, actionable online experiences and relationships.   All of this while leveraging new and nascent technologies to garner unique insights driven by detailed consumer information (including psychographic and demographic analysis, value drivers, lifestyle changes, and behavioral and attitudinal cues).   

The secret?  Rather than simply approaching Social Influence Media as a list of technologies to be ‘deployed’---savvy brands look to influence, seed, reveal and create a groundswell of “buzz”  (above or below the radar).   

Brands must find ways to activate and amplify social media to create meaningful digital conversations whether via web or mobile targeting the right message to the right consumer at the right time.  The results?  Brand Advocates and Evangelists.