Archive for October, 2009

Think What Not to Brand: 5 Things You DON’T Want Others to Say About You or Your Business

When we talk about branding, we’re really talking about how you want people, i.e. your customers, to talk about you and your service/product. And if we can get this concept down, we’ll have success on any media platform from social media to website to advertising.

  • Think of 5 things you want others to say about you and your service
  • Think of 5 things you DON’T want others to say about you and your service
  • What does it take for people to say what you want them to say about you, but not about your competitors?
  • Why should your customers trust your brand versus the others?
  • What functional and emotional benefits you can offer to your customers?
  • On a scale of 0-10, what would your customers rate you in terms of service satisfaction?
  • On a scale of 0-10, how likely would your customers recommend or refer you to others?

Once we’ve identified these items, we can begin to discuss the language, messaging and visual image you aspire to convey through your brand.

My little annecdote: On the client loyalty surveys we conduct with customers, we always ask the following set of questions:

  1. Would you recommend us?
  2. Are we your top-of-mind partner?
  3. Are you getting quick enough responses from us?
  4. Do we demonstrate knowledge of the marketplace?
  5. Are you happy with our products/services ?
  6. Are you happy with the process we deliver our products and services?

Ultimately, these are brand perception questions and the answers to them can help us figure out what we need to work on for successful branding.

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Fortune 100 Companies Favor Twitter Over Facebook

SEOmoz Social Media Marketing

Image courtesy of SEOmoz’s Social Media Marketing Guide

The Affinitive blog talked about a “land grab” is happening on social media. If I may develop on this idea, I think an “attention grab” among consumer brands is fully out the gate. Imagine thousands of brands are trying to get your attention on TV, Radio, Newspapers, magazines and now – social media.

Twitter and Facebook are clearly surging as the strongest players in this great battle for attention—voted by Fortune 100 companies to say the least. According to a recenty study by Burson-Marsteller and Proof Digital, Twitter has now become the social media platform of choice among Fortune 100 companies. 54% of companies are active on Twitter, versus 29% on Facebook and 32% on corporate blogs. (Twitter experienced 3-digit surge in user growth this year, active user growth is projected to reach 18 million by end of 2009. Click here to read about Facebook growth.)

If you look at the activities companies have on these three platforms, they are actually pretty similar:

  • Distribute news and updates about their company
  • As an extension of their customer service
  • Announce marketing promotions (promotions/deals/contests)
  • Part of employee recruitment/human resources efforts (job postings)

Give or take, job postings probably don’t happen on corporate blogs as much as they do on Twitter and Facebook, and same thing for deals and promotions, which appear much more frequently on Twitter and Facebook, but not on corporate blogs.

Twitter and Facebook share various common characteristics but companies are clearly jumping onto Twitter at a much faster pace than onto Facebook. According to the study, 25 of the 54 companies that are active on Twitter are also active on Facebook. Although no specific reasons were discussed on the study as to why stronger engagement is found on Twitter vs. Facebook, there are some identified challenges about the ease of Facebook adoption from a corporate perspective:

  • Facebook page setup requires time for organization and optimization
  • Users need to get used to the fairly complex layout to find their way around
  • Opt-in applications require users to grant access or connect
  • Users are less likely to provide immediate response as they do on Twitter, which is built to capture real-time gut-reactions
  • Side-bar advertisements and highlights on Facebook compete for attention

I think I can come up with more reasons, but that’s not the point here. Just like any business, companies are looking for quick and lasting ways to engage customers on a regular basis as frequently as possible. The brand has to be front-and-center, and the conversations should be the core. Twitter provides for that and makes it easy for people to hop on and use. One doesn’t need an hour to learn how to use Twitter, but Facebook can be quite involved if you want to take advantage of its full suite of features and functions.

Then again, for those who have spent enough time on Facebook and have benefited from the dynamics it offers, Facebook is still one of the most loved inventions for the connection-craved generation and brand-saavy customers…it surely has my attention and the attention of my 150 friends.

Media Convergence: Did You Know 4.0

Love it! A must-see video created by The Economist on the shift of digital media landscape donned with facts and figures.

Media Convergence Forum, with a nice line-up of social media heavyweights, is taking place on Oct. 20-21, 2009 in New York City http://mediaconvergence.economist.com/

Become Part of the Statistics: Integrate Social into Your Business

Courtesy of NYTimesAre you over 55 and an active computer user? Then welcome to the fastest-growing-demographic club on Facebook!

Take a deep breath, here are the latest stats of U.S. visits to Facebook reported by Hitwise:

  • Facebook has a year-to-year growth of 194% from its U.S. visits in September.
  • Its market share among all social networking sites has also grown from 55.2% –> 58.6%
  • Monthly active users reached 88.3 million in September.
  • 45% of users are now 26 and older.
  • Fastest growing demographic: 55 years old and over

Hands down, Facebook is by far the most cross-generational, cross-functional and cross-everything social networking site that has ever existed in human history, though the history of Facebook merely began five years ago.

According to comScore, 16.5 million adults over the age of 55 engage in social media. And in just one year since AARP unveiled its social networking platform, about 350,000 users created 1,700 groups.

So are you evolving your business forward like the rest of the marketplace is? Or are you giving yourself the excuse that you’re not part of the Internet age and simply can’t see the bigger picture of how social networking sites can help advance your business? (Don’t want to get too philosophical here, but are you focusing on the trees and missing the jungle? Trees can be your current customers, the jungle is the industry trends, business climate and your potential customers. )

For those who embrace the greatest and latest with social media, are you jumping into Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and becoming active, connecting and building relationships? Are you establishing thought leadership through LinkedIn groups, Twitter follows and Facebook fan clubs? Are you ready to conduct business, communicate and handle transactions on social networking sites with your customers?

“Are you serious about transacting on Facebook?” you might ask. Dead serious (see 1-800-Flowers’ recent e-commerce launch on Facebook). Many brands and companies are already doing so on social networking sites. And if you do have a presence on these sites, make sure you dedicate time and resources to keep them current and reflective of your latest business offers. Take advantage of your fan base and followers to create excitement about a new business launch or incentive program. And top off these efforts by measuring activities and results across your social networking sites and your website or blog. Don’t expect these tools to work for you without your first putting them to work to your advantage and measuring what they can or have produced for you. 

Here are things that Fortune 500 companies and big brands are undertaking at the moment, but let’s make sure we as business owners and managers are not too far behind:

  1. Create brand messaging for your business product/service online.
  2. Measure visits, dialogues and transactions online.
  3. Analyze results over time, identify seasonal activities and user peaks.
  4. Reach out and connect with industry experts and interact with them.
  5. Share your insights and ideas with peers and associates in your field.
  6. Dig into new tools and constantly retool and refine your presentation and messaging across media.
  7. Stay current and experiment new concepts and methodologies in bringing your business up a notch!

Webinars are IN, but keep common faux pas OUT

Webinars are IN these days, in case you haven’t noticed. And Twitter and Facebook names are becoming popular leave-behinds from presenters to continue their dialogues with the participants post-webinar. Preparing for a highly-engaging and interactive webinar is not much different from preparing to present like Steve Jobs. How do you keep your webinars informative, relevant and engaging? How do you make sure your audience doesn’t tune you out 5 minutes into the presentation? Here are a few webinar faux pas we can try avoid:

  • Starting your webinar late – like 5 to 10 minutes late – making attendees wait or drop off.
  • A moderator who has very little knowledge of the presentation content and offers no insight on the value and background of the presentation and fumbles through the transition from one presenter to another.
  • Presenters are not cued properly to begin their presentation, causing awkward silences on the line. (Need a better moderator!)
  • Loud or monotone presenters 
  • Webinar application doesn’t allow you adjust the volume of the presenters from the listening end.
  • Unsynchronized audio and visual presentations – shouldn’t they be tested prior to going live?
  • A presentation with non-working audio and requires you to dial in via phone to hear the presenter. (Why bother with a webinar?)
  • Questions or raised hands that aren’t responded to or addressed. 
  • The webinar goes on forever, say more than 40 minutes.

Some must-have and considerations:

  • A knowledgeable, communicative and assertive moderator.
  • Presenters who can present effortlessly with high energy and the right tone (and volume).
  • Iron out all the technical kinks prior to the webinar.
  • Rehearse, test and dry run your webinar at least once before you go live.
  • Keep your presentation under 30 minutes – most people’s attention span is much shorter than that.
  • Provide audio AND visual in one application. (This is 2009, not 1999.)
  • Engage your audience and be interactive! Answer questions as they come in (or acknowledge incoming questions and hold them until the end of the presentation).
  • Poll your audience to gauge their business needs, interests and inclinations.
  • Summarize lessons-learned and calls-to-action.
  • Make your presentation memorable, buzz-worthy and viral.