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3 Instagram Lessons You Can Learn from Taylor Swift

October 31st, 2014 No comments

Taylor Swift uses Instagram just like I do. She takes photos of her cats, maybe takes a short clip of them jumping into boxes or snaps a photo of something that she baked that evening.

But, unlike me, Taylor has 12 million followers.

Aside from sharing her fascination with cats and baked goods, she also leverages Instagram to tease music she’s working on through behind-the-scenes glimpses into the recording studio or photos of lyrics that are yet to be released.

The brilliance of marrying these two techniques is two-fold. Not only is she using Instagram to market her albums, but also the personal and fun posts on her Instagram account give fans a glimpse into her world. By inviting fans into her home, it makes them feel like they’re actually friends with Taylor.

Cats

 

She makes her fans feel like they’re not too different than her (despite millions billions of dollars).

This strategy is part of Taylor’s value proposition. She tries to make her fans feel like friends. To supplement this strategy, she hosts and personally appears at secret fan parties around the world for “all-star” supporters, making Swifties feel special just for being her fans (I’m still waiting for my invite, Tay).

This is in stark contrast to the “arms-length” celebrities who keep themselves locked up in giant, fancy mansions in the Hollywood Hills with 12-foot ivy-covered fences and 24-hour security, quietly posting the occasional PR-induced Tweet.

Fan-Party

 

By using Instagram, when Taylor hears her song on the radio for the first time, her fans are there. It’s not portrayed as a mass message; it’s sitting in her car with her while she’s listening.

Video-song-radio

 

Although brand marketers face different challenges and restrictions than a 24-year-old pop icon, they’re playing in the same space.

Taylor follows three simple rules that all marketers can use when posting to channels such as Instagram:

 

1. It’s a visual storytelling tool

Instagram is not a place for glossy-colored ads. It’s a journal – a way of sharing what you’re experiencing throughout the day. Its great-great grandfather, LiveJournal, was the same way.

Use Instagram as a way to record and share what’s going on with your brand. Seeing highlights and teasers of what’s to come is exciting for fans and makes followers feel like they’re getting an inside view of what’s happening.

House Warming Gifts

 

2. Integrate across social media platforms

This technology has been available for quite some time now. The ability to share Instagram posts across Twitter and Facebook lets the poster create one post on that platform and share it across other social networks.

This is a powerful way of reaching audiences despite how they process content. But keep in mind Twitter sometimes shares a link to Instagram rather than the photo – which some brands might view as problematic, unless your customers are highly motivated to view the post.

 

3. When necessary, promote

Maintaining a healthy mix of promotion and social posts is the secret to retaining followers on social platforms, especially Instagram. Posts are supposed to be a fun, visual update on what’s going on. This could include an occasional special promotion or announcement, but promotions shouldn’t be the only activity.

New York

 

You might also like

Community Marketing: 1 million Instagram impressions via creative design contest [MarketingSherpa case study]

Social Media: Leveraging visual marketing on Instagram and Pinterest [More from the blogs]

Social Media: How to turn customers into brand advocates [More from the blogs]

Social Media Marketing: Sporting goods company increases Facebook reach 366% with content contest [MarketingSherpa case study]

 

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Social Media: 4 simple steps to calculate social media ROI

September 24th, 2013 2 comments

Recently, I went to visit some friends in Rochester, N.Y.

While waiting for my flight out there, I started browsing Facebook on my phone. After perusing a few status updates and pet pictures, I landed on Ray-Ban’s Facebook page.

Amidst the questions and comments, I saw a really nice pair of Clubmasters I like. While waiting for the return flight, I decided to catch up on some tweets from people I follow.

Coincidentally, one person I follow tweeted about the same Clubmasters sunglasses I was looking at on Facebook a few days earlier and included a link.

So, I clicked on it and was redirected to Ray-Ban’s e-commerce site. I spent a few minutes customizing pairs of Clubmasters to find the perfect combination to suit my tastes. I was tempted to order them, but it was time to start boarding – maybe some other time.

A week later, I noticed a PPC ad in my browser for Ray-Ban. I clicked on the ad, visited its site again, and checked out a video on “Clubmasters Remastered.” I was about to order them for a second time when the phone rang.  A few friends wanted to meet up at the Lemon Bar, a favorite dive for Jacksonville Beach locals.

After a few margaritas, I got a wild hair and decided to finally purchase those Clubmasters. I got home and plopped down in front of my desktop computer, navigated to the e-commerce site I visited earlier, and bought those suckers!

So goes the saga of the multidigital channel user and multidevice user, for that matter. What a mess!

 

Is accurate attribution even possible?

We have entered an era that presents new challenges for marketers.

How do we accurately attribute credit for conversions with so many possibilities? When it comes to crediting digital channels, a number of attribution models exist that can provide clarity. However, when talking about social media, some models are better at accomplishing this than others.

For example, social media is generally not a last click before a conversion.

Therefore, basing a marketing budget solely upon this method would undervalue the contribution of social media to the conversion process. Google Digital Marketing Evangelist Avinash Kaushik wrote an excellent blog post on attribution modeling, addressing these issues. He opined the Time Decay Attribution Model does a fairly good job above and beyond the last click, and I would agree.

Time decay assigns more credit to media that is closer in time to a conversion, rather than giving full credit to the touch point closest to a conversion as last-click does.

In the Ray-Ban example, instead of Facebook receiving zero credit for my purchase, it would receive at least some credit even though it was my first touch point. This gives a much more realistic picture of how users are engaging versus a last-click model.  Of course, it is the lesser of evils, not immune to biases.

 

How should you attribute social media ROI?

Now that we have a pretty decent way of attributing credit to digital channels beyond last-click, the next challenge is finding a way to accurately quantify the monetary value of social media.

There are a number of businesses offering solutions on how to determine social media ROI. However, I am not aware of a totally foolproof method. It’s still like the wild west out there and one can become lost.

To provide some direction, I’ve reviewed white papers and other literature floating around in cyberspace, piecing together the most compelling elements into a set of steps to estimate social media ROI that goes a little further than the methods I’ve mentioned.

 

How does your social media stack up against paid channels? 

The idea of analyzing social media’s value here is by indirectly comparing similar paid channels to social media first. It’s like assessing what the cost of a social media page would be if it were equivalent to a banner ad, for example. We might multiply the number of Facebook page impressions by the typical CPM of our banner ad campaigns to calculate cost.

A white paper I found offers six ways to measure social media and is responsible for that particular example, which I illustrate in Table 1 below.

The article does a great job of laying out this concept for a number of social media platforms. Other sources have expressed similar approaches. I cheekily refer to the whole of them as “vicarious values.” It’s not quite catchy as an acronym, but it encapsulates the main idea well enough.

 

Step #1. Determine the vicarious value of your social media channels

 

Table 1. Calculating the vicarious value for Facebook 

 

It’s likely your business uses multiple social media sites, so you would need to account for the vicarious value of each social media platform to calculate total vicarious value.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume our only social media presence is on Facebook.

We can easily calculate social network revenue since Facebook’s vicarious value is the same as total vicarious value in this case.

 

Step #2. Determine how many time decay conversions are attributed to your social media channels

This is where time decay attribution comes in.

So, for our example, we used data were taken from the Google Analytics Model Comparison Tool found under the conversions navigation menu. Facebook is our only social media platform. We can go ahead and assume Social Network (Table 2, Row 5) means only Facebook.

 

Table 2. Facebook’s time decay conversions represented as Social Network

 

Under the Time Decay Conversions column, we see 3,029.57 conversions were attributable to Facebook.

 

Step #3. Calculate the revenue due to your social media channels

The conversions attributable to Facebook (Social Network) amounts to 2% of the total conversions as illustrated below.

 

Table 3. Channels as percent of total conversions 

 

 

Step #4. Subtract the vicarious value from the revenue attributed to your social network   

From here, you can calculate revenue due to Facebook by applying an average sale price for your goods or services to the number of conversions as seen in the formula provided in Table 4 below.

Now, do you remember that vicarious value we figured out in Step #1?

Here’s where it matters.

 

Table 4. Calculated estimate of ROI for Facebook 

 

By subtracting the vicarious value (labeled cost here) from the total revenue due to your social network, the remainder gives you the profit.

From there, we have all of the pieces to estimate the ROI.

Read more…

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Social Media Marketing: Can you compete with your customer’s mom?

June 11th, 2013 No comments

At MarketingSherpa Email Summit 2013, I interviewed our keynote speaker – Jay Baer, President, Convince&Convert – about the book he was writing. Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help not Hype will be released in two weeks, so we’re sharing that interview with you now …

 

A few key takeaways from Jay …

1:00 – Brands have to compete with customers’ friends and family on social media and in email.

1:27 – So how are you going to compete with friends and family? Just be useful.

1:41 – Make your marketing a benefit, not a burden.

2:16 – Hilton Worldwide’s instruction to employees monitoring social media – “Pay attention to Twitter. If you can find a place you can help, just help.”

3:02 – The difference between helping and selling makes all the difference.

To register to win your very own shiny new copy of Youtility, sign up this week for the MarketingSherpa Weekly Book Giveaway.

 

Related Resources:

B2B Social Media: Jay Baer discusses social media ROI and Facebook likes [Video]

5 Ways to Deliver B2B Marketing Content that Sells (Without Sabotaging Sales) (via Convince&Convert)

Value Proposition: How to use social media to help discover why customers buy from you

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Social Media Marketing: A quick look at Facebook EdgeRank

June 7th, 2013 1 comment

When I first graduated from high school, I took a job at a day care.

I was hired initially because I made it my personal goal to sign up as many kids as possible for our services. Of course, the responsibilities of more children under your supervision solves one set of problems while creating new ones.

One thing I quickly learned is that it’s pretty tough to convince a large group of kids to take a nap without using bribes of their preferred currency … chocolate.

So needless to say, my employment at the day care was brief because my true value as an employee was not just based on increasing volume, but also on how effective I was at engaging the volume that already existed.

 

Social media goal setting

A lot of marketers who have been conditioned by years of hard time spent in the midst of the media industrial complex hold the belief they should run their social media campaigns like I was running the day care – by taking a “more is always better” approach.

The idea behind this belief is simple.

Consumers who use Facebook have eyeballs. Therefore, the more eyeballs I can put onto our brand’s social media page the more “awareness” we can create which should eventually result in more business.

Because more is always better, right?

 

Fun with algorithms

The biggest problem with taking a “more is always better” approach to your social media marketing is a rooted assumption that all of your Facebook followers will see all of your content every time you post something.

Unfortunately, that’s simply not true.

Take our MarketingSherpa Facebook page, for example. On average, our posts reach somewhere around 15.26% of our followers on a given day, depending on the type of content.

So how can that be?

In three words … Facebook curates content.

According to Hubspot, the average Facebook fan spends about 40% of their time on the newsfeed as opposed to just 12% spent on profiles or brand pages. That margin makes the newsfeed the center of the Facebook universe.

So, to ensure that people have the most enriched newsfeed experience possible, Facebook curates content based upon on their homegrown algorithm known as “EdgeRank.”

 

There are three components to EdgeRank, wherein:

  • U = Affinity: which takes into account the past relationship between a Facebook user and your brand

If a user has interacted heavily with your social media content on Facebook previously, then it’s very likely they will see your next content offering in their newsfeed.

  • W = Weight: which relates to the types of content you have created. Some users prefer images while others may prefer text or video

The more a user interacts with a particular type of content through likes, comments and tags, then the more likely their preferred content types will appear in their newsfeed. If a user likes all of your pictures, then they will likely see the next picture your brand posts.

  • D= Decay: which is typically never a good thing

The older a post is, the less likely it is to appear on the newsfeed of a Facebook follower.

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Social Media Marketing: 4 questions to ask yourself about social media buttons

June 4th, 2013 4 comments

A common question we often hear about social media is “I put some social media elements onto my page and have not seen much of a difference …”

I’m sure you can relate, because social media icons are everywhere. On landing pages. In emails. Heck, I even saw some on a billboard while I was driving the other day.

Now, on behalf of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and their investors, I’d first like to thank you marketers of the world for all of that free co-op advertising.

All kidding aside, let me throw the questions back at you to help you get the most value from your sharing icons. In today’s MarketingSherpa blog post, we’ll focus on three questions you should ask yourself about your company’s use of social media icons.

 

Question #1. Should we be using social media icons?

All jokes about free advertising aside, most marketers likely will find some value in using social media icons. And, here’s the key. While the value might not be great, it is likely higher than the cost.

Because, frankly, as marketing tactics go, simply slapping a few social media icons or sharing buttons on a landing page is fairly easy to do.  Almost any value you get creates an ROI since it is higher than the minimal cost involved.

For example, AT&T added Facebook and Twitter icons into an email newsletter.

 

This was one small part of a program that helped the AT&T Developer Program increase its Twitter audience 136% and Facebook audience 113%.

Of course, as you’ll see in the case study above, the team at AT&T did much more than just add a few icons to an email to get that lift. But since the cost, in both IT execution to add the buttons and real estate on the email, was likely so low, and it certainly couldn’t have hurt their efforts, why not add social media icons?

Well, here’s why not. For most brands, the answer is simple: not every brand needs or should be using social media icons and sharing buttons. For example, I interviewed Steve Parker, Vice President, Direct Marketing, firstSTREET, in the MarketingSherpa webinar “Optimization: A discussion about an e-commerce company’s 500% sales increase.”

“In our case given our target market, you’re looking at an age 75+ customer, they’re not big social users. And, the ones who are on social media, they really just want to see pictures of their grandkids and their kids. So they’re not going to be as interactive in the social world. So from our standpoint, it’s pretty low on the priority list. There are no social buttons on this website,” Steve said.

He went on to share, “We’ve tested a little bit of that on some of our other properties. As baby boomers, the younger part that grew up with some social media lives grow older, yes, that will get more important. For my particular target market at this point in time, it doesn’t help.”

 

Question #2. Which social media icons should we use?

Ask your audience in direct conversations, in surveys, through customer service interactions and other customer-facing employees: what social networks do they use?

Then, be present on those platforms. See how they’re using social media.

And, look at your analytics.

Here on the MarketingSherpa blog, you’ll notice the prime social sharing button we use is from Twitter.

 

That’s because when we looked at our analytics, more inbound traffic came from Twitter than from any other social network.

You might also notice, at the bottom of our blog posts, we have social media sharing icons as well. 

 

That’s because the rest of our inbound social network traffic came from LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Facebook, Delicious and Digg.

Your analytics won’t be foolproof. Over time, this becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy (we receive more Twitter traffic because we encourage the audience to share on Twitter), but combining your analytics with active listening to your audience through many means will at least get you in the ballpark of how they want to interact with your brand using social media.

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Social Media: Why Facebook’s new Graph Search will change social media marketing

May 10th, 2013 6 comments

When I was growing up, I remember a phrase my dad would use as a delay tactic on making big ticket purchase decisions that often frustrated my mother.

“I’ll ask the boys at work,“ he would reply.

My dad’s insistence on consulting people he perceived as experts before making a purchase is telling of human behavior – customers prefer to make decisions based on information, not persuasion.

I mention this because a shift to information over persuasion is coming to social media, driven by Facebook’s new Graph Search tool.

The way Graph Search works is simple … it filters our search results by what our friends and neighbors have previously liked and shared with us.

From a business intelligence perspective, the implications of this new function could be far reaching, given Graph Search allows users to formulate their perceptions of goods and services based on reviews from people they know and trust, potentially sidestepping most marketing efforts.

Here’s an example of Graph Search in action using the surroundings of our office here in Jacksonville Beach to put this into further perspective …

 

With Graph Search, relevance is king

Imagine you’ve just bought a beach cruiser and you’re searching Facebook to find the best spots for fun and entertainment in Jacksonville Beach.

Now, let’s say you search for “fun places to bike in Jacksonville Beach.”

Graph Search will present options your friends or other bicycle enthusiasts in a given geographical proximity have liked and shared.

From a customer’s perspective, this makes total sense.

Would you prefer to sift through a laundry list of options presented at random, or evaluate choices your friends and other biking enthusiasts are recommending?

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Social Media Marketing: Penguin’s Twitter book club nets 14 million impressions for its hashtag

November 6th, 2012 2 comments

Some fields seem more resistant to social media than others, and the transition strategy isn’t always readily apparent. Marketers in these fields know the benefits social media can bring, but need to find a way to engage their consumers in a way that is familiar and will breed genuine excitement.

 

 

Reading, for instance, is usually a solitary pursuit. It is cherished by the people who love curling up in a comfy chair in a sunlit corner with a worn Penguin classic, or who craft their own alone time while in the middle of a crowded subway or city park.

Readers emerge from this private world to connect with other readers in two ways – local book clubs, and lining up to meet authors at book signings.

Penguin Group (USA) found a way to integrate the book world’s most social activities into social media.  Read more…

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Social Media Marketing: A look at contests from the customer’s perspective

October 30th, 2012 2 comments

I’ve previously written about using social media contests and sweepstakes to grow your social communities on the MarketingSherpa blog, but today I’m going to write about these promotions from a unique place many marketers dare not tread – from the customer’s perspective.

You see, I just happen to be one of five finalists in a nationwide program now accepting votes on Facebook. One idea will garner $100,000 in funding. (You can read more about my rooftop farming idea, an initiative focused on content marketing for grocery stores, and vote for me, Daniel Burstein, if you like.)

Getting the opportunity to see these programs from the perspective of a customer/finalist, here are a few lessons I learned and relearned along the way that might be helpful to you for your own social media promotions …

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Social Media Marketing: How I found the Facebook topic that was 371% more effective

October 25th, 2012 9 comments

I was a fat kid. Fat kids like cake. Once upon a time, when I was eight years old, I cleaned the entire house to surprise my mother. She rewarded me with a gigantic slice of cake. From that point, I scrubbed the entire floor, organized the pantry and washed the dishes in pursuit of that glorious reward — fresh cake.

The point is, if you do something right, and you recognize the relationship between your actions and the reward, it makes sense to put forth maximum effort to reproduce the action that resulted in being rewarded. The problem with social media efforts is that success usually goes largely unnoticed by businesses.

 

Find your hidden cake

I recently conducted a social media audit for a Research Partner. While working through massive amounts of data provided via Facebook Insight reports, I noticed something interesting. When filtering the most frequently syndicated content to reveal the five most viral posts ever produced by that partner, a pattern emerged. Three out of the top five posts were on the same topic, in the same format.

There’s more. The top five most syndicated posts averaged 22,424 stories created per post by users, whereas the bottom half of the top 10 averaged only 6,042 stories created per post by users.

So, not only were the top five posts more effective at causing syndication from users, but they were 371% more effective.

Since no fat kid would knowingly forgo cake, it’s probably a pretty safe assumption that no business would knowingly do less effective social posting if they knew they could be doing something more effective. (After all, cash is better than cake.) That means the company must be unaware of its achievement.

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Informal Study: Professional image content generates 121% more Facebook shares

October 19th, 2012 1 comment

All content is not created equal. For instance, according to a Nielsen report, men spend more than 247 million minutes per month viewing video via social media. Yet, women spend just 228 million minutes, despite the fact that more than 4,000 more women log on to social videos per day. Men just watch longer. If you want to engage men, videos are a superior form of content.

The still photograph remains king of the proverbial hill in terms of generating engagement with fans on social platforms. A 2012 study by ROI research found that 44% of users are likely to engage with brands if they post pictures, against 40% for regular status updates, and just 37% for video. Given that startling piece of information, a reasonable person might be led to ask the question:

 

Are all photographs created equal?

Do grainy, low-quality photographs thrown into a Facebook stream, more or less as afterthoughts, have the same impact as high-resolution, high-quality photography? Does it matter if the content is only photographic, or do graphical images also generate higher engagement numbers? Let’s look at one industry that is quite popular among the coveted 18-24 demographic on Facebook: entertainment (the companies shall remain nameless).

We begin by dividing the image content of several popular pages into two broad categories. First, there is the professional category. Images in this category tend to be high-resolution, feature-striking photography, be character based and contain only those graphics absolutely necessary to convey essential data. For example, look at the following image:

 

Click to enlarge

Read more…

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