Thursday, December 20, 2012

Social TV Check-In Applications

Allowing viewers to "check-in" to TV shows seems to be a new trend in creating viewer interaction with programming, and giving analysts new numbers to measure.  Although I, personally, haven't quite gotten into it, there are millions of people doing it, and products popping up left and right.  A study by Trendrr, in fact, measure over 21 million people checking into SpongeBob Squarepants!  There's even a bit of money being thrown around by investors at the technology, so it's definitely something that I'm keeping my eye on.  I have started a running list of Social TV Check-In Applications.  Take a look at the list and please comment if I've missed one, or one breaks out after posting this article.  Here's the list in no particular order:  

  1. Clicker (www.clicker.com)
  2. GetGlue (www.getglue.com)
  3. Miso (www.gomiso.com)
  4. Philo (playphilo.com)
  5. TV.com Relay (www.tv.com/relay-splash)
  6. Tunerfish
  7. Yap.tv
  8. Intonow (http://www.intonow.com/ci)
  9. Viggle (http://www.viggle.com/)

References:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Why Purchasing Twitter Followers is a Bad Idea

Mitt Romney recently made headlines for purchasing followers.  There was some media backlash, which didn't help him at the time in improving his ability to seem more "genuine" to the American people.  It was unfortunate circumstances for Mitt, but it's not uncommon practice.  Business, Celebrities, and political figures alike are doing whatever they can to acquire the cachet that comes with having a large following.  Entertainment personalities use it to try and prove credibility in order to get bookings, growing businesses want to appear larger and more mainstream, and I already mentioned what politicians are doing.  Of course, it has always been the job of Marketing firms to grow the reach and expand the presence of their clients.  However, social media has caused some to turn to one of the more "dark arts" practices of marketing today -- purchasing followers.
 
It's hard to spend any time on Twitter and not notice the messages from users like @TeamFollowBack and other unsavory accounts claiming that you can get thousands of followers in a day.   The funny thing is that it's technically true.  You can pay them, and they will make sure your follower count rises.  These are the kinds of twitter follower purchases that I've found out there:
I could go on, but I the list literally goes on forever.  This trend of follower purchasing services started out as sort-of annoying to me about a year ago, but it's now so widespread, that it has even caused me to think twice about these services.  Even Fiverr has a listing for 1,000 followers at $5.  These types of sites promise the following kinds of features:
  • More followers
  • Replacement followers (when accounts get blocked by Twitter)
  • "Money Back Guarantee"
  • Almost Instantaneous results
  • Great Customer Service
If I didn't know better, I would think these to be legitimate companies.  They look and feel like solid companies with a solid business.  For the time being, these companies are probably making money, and probably seeing their revenues grow as the market grows with businesses attempting to grow their social media presence.  But it won't last...

I know, it may be tempting to purchase fans, but follow (no pun intended) your gut on this.  If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.  MediaBistro has caught onto the trend, and exclaimed their warning about this practice.  A recent article in the New York Times cited that Twitter itself has several lawsuits out against businesses creating and selling fake accounts.  Other services are seeing success to weed out fake accounts. Statuspeople and Fakefollowercheck.  It's only a matter of time before we see a "hip" congressman try to pass legislation on the subject.

My prediction is that there will be a turn in the market, at some point, where credibility will override volume of followers, and these analytical tools that weed out the fakes will become so accurate and robust that the market will fear having spammy followers.  It sounds like wishful thinking at the current moment, but with Twitter and other services on the hunt, I think it will happen.  It's certainly "trending" that way;)  Besides, isn't the point of followers to attract new customers, and people whom might actually like your product in the first place?  Purchasing followers, of which most are fake accounts (or controlled by people working on the clock) goes against that philosophy.  They'll do you no good other than give you a higher follower count.  Plus, they'll probably end up annoying your true customers.   Don't let the desire for more followers overcome your good sensibility, and make sure you don't get sucked into the follower purchasing race.

Do you agree?  Let me know if you have any experience with these companies.  I'd love to hear more support, or even the other side of this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

College Basketball and the Universal Truth of Marketing

It's all about marketing.  At least that's what I've come to believe living in the second decade of the 21st Century.  It doesn't matter if it's a sexy brand like Apple, an industrial piping distributor, or a University - everyone needs solid marketing.  Most of us think about marketing in terms of selling a product.  In college basketball, that usually means tickets.  However, this is a great example of how it is actually so much more.  Those of you who know me, have gathered by now that I am a huge University of Arizona sports fan.  This is especially true of U of A basketball.  I regularly check in on the local headlines in Tucson to see what's going on with the team.  A few days ago, I was fascinated by one paragraph in the local AZ Star sports section.  The funny thing about it, is that this paragraph really had nothing to do with with any actual in-game activity.  Rather, it was about how Sean Miller, the head coach of the basketball team, approaches his role as a coach.

When he came to the U of A from Xavier, he brought with him a philosophy of hard work, smart ball handling, gritty defense, and, uh Marketing.  In fact, he has unofficially assumed the role of Chief Marketer along with his many other duties that involve actually coaching the players. The reason he takes marketing so seriously can be explained in terms of talent.

For him, the equation looks something like this: More ticket sales equal more fans equal more impressed recruits equal more big commitments equal more potential success in the future

Let's take a look at his tarket market, these are 18 year old kids, most of whom think of academics as an afterthought.  They choose a school based on the perceived ability to propel them to professional fame and fortune.  Most of them are being courted by programs all over the country (and sometimes internationally).  Recruiters need their message to resonate with the athlete   The spectacle of Arizona's Red and Blue scrimmage, bringing in Arizona Alumni like Steve Kerr, Sean Elliott, Tom Tolbert, Andre Iguodala, etc. in a packed arena, are an attempt to show these kids the kind of success they can have.  Yeah, it sells tickets and pumps up the fans to buy more season ticket packages, but it's really a way to sell the recruit on the program.  Miller has even take to Twitter as a way to connect with the younger generation.  Many tweets, you'll notice, have an angle.  These are carefully planned messages designed to attract positive attention to the program.  

Despite the fact that the Arizona program has been down (which is a relative statement for fans with high expectations at the U of A) for several years, Miller has managed to recruit nation-leading talent to the program - lead, in part, by the Marketing effort.  He's convincing them that it's not just a basketball program, but a family and a way of life.  He's selling them a lifestyle.  Well, I for one hope that Miller's "Gold Standard" (more branding by the coach) continues to bring success to the team.  In today's uber-competitive college sports market, Coach Miller will need to utilize every tool possible, including the marketing, to get on top.  Bear Down coach!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Hollywood's Digital Trends for 2012

Well, Digital Hollywood's Fall visit to Los Angeles has come and gone.  I was fortunate enough to get to sit in on 3 days worth of sessions.  Topics from these sessions ranged from Social Media to Connected Television.  Here's a summary of what I took back from the experience:

Social

The common element, pervasive in every session at Digital Hollywood was Social Media.  The media and entertainment community is fully entrenched in social media.  Whether it's sports programming like the NFL or MLB, reality competitions like X-Factor and The Voice, theatrical productions like Hunger Games, or broadcast programming like Pretty Little liars, social media is having a big impact on the industry.  It is being used to engage audience like voting for a contestant on a game show.  It certainly is being used to promote a show using all the popular platforms like Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, Pinterest, and Get Glue.  It is also being used from an analytical perspective to help Theatres add showing of movies like the Hunger Games that exploded in social activity in the final weeks leading up to the premier.  Interestingly, it is also being used to manage fans.  Further, social media allows marketers and customer service to augment their resources with free assistance from "super fans" who actually answer questions, thwart negative criticism, and drive attention to creative productions.  They do this for little reward, usually just recognition and their own passion for the project.  This is an amazing outcome of social media.

While there was agreement that social media is playing a huge role, there was a bit of disagreement in the types of social media that had legs.  Some seemed to think that middle-man applications like GetGlue, Foursquare, etc. wouldn't survive in the future.  The technology used in these programs would be mimicked or purchased by the brands or the larger social platforms.

The "second screen", on the other hand, didn't have much disagreement on its importance in the consumption experience.  Every major brand is developing a second screen application.  Whether it's a game, a portal to access additional information on a program, or a mode of interaction with the program, second screen applications are being treated like an extension of content, complete with additional advertising sources.  It is becoming so important, second screen capabilities are being written into production contracts.  This is a big deal.

Mobile

Mobile is huge.  There are twice as many mobile devices out there as there are desktop computers.  The disparity between the two will only grow in the future.  As mobile becomes ever more popular, resources are being committed to provide the ability to deliver to these devices.  There are some challenges.  Advertisement delivery to mobile hasn't yet been figured out.  There is actually a bit market instability as demand for mobile advertising seems to exceed the supply.  Arbitrage is taking place in this arena.  This is likely to smooth out over time, but there was an overall tone of opportunity in this department.

Personalization

The personalization of the web has some unintended consequences.  Named "The Filter Bubble" as well as the "Echo Chamber", the ability to personalize and filter our media experience is reducing our exposure to messages outside of our preferences.  This creates a bubble like effect that could actually make us more ignorant.

That being said, complete personalization is not there yet.  For example, the Netflix/Hulu account for a family television is not able to distinguish the family member holding the remote.  Mom may get Bobby's preferences, and Bobby may get Dad's preferences, which makes things less convenient.  We could see this change in a hurry as most predict that the tablet and smart phone will replace the remote.  This, of course, would allow the recognition of the device to kick in.

With all this personalization, people are now being inconvenienced by logins, and submitting password information to multiple sites.  With API's, things like Facebook Connect allows us to login with Facebook, and remove connections through Facebook if we lose trust in another application.

Finally, the mobile movement has caused the web to simplify.  People are no longer enamored by graphics, animations, and complexity.  They are actually annoyed by them.  People want a simple interface that makes it easy to perform specific tasks.  They still want it catered to them, however.

Storage

Storage is another trend.  The new HD and 3D formats take up space.  Media companies are searching for ways to make storing data more efficient.  For example, Disney currently has around 14 petabytes of data in storage on the lot.  They have the capital to handle it.  Smaller media companies don't have the resources available to manage the bandwidth and storage needs of their productions.  This is why the cloud model is becoming more and more attractive.  Companies like Amazon, Mozy, Dropbox, etc. are able to lease their masses of storage servers as a services, which makes things a lot less complicated for the brands.

Security still remains an important factor here, but the technology around the transportation and storage of data is quickly improving.  There was a bit of disagreement in whether or not the set top box was a necessary security component to delivering content.  Obviously the cable guys were in favor of the box.  However, there was an equally compelling argument that software is able to do the same thing as the box, and not clutter up the entertainment stand in the process.

Physical storage was another topic.  The UltraViolet brand produced by the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) seems to have a lot of promise for those wanting to reduce the space taken by the DVD collection.  A rights management system at the core, UltraViolet gives hope that one day all of our DVD collection can be stored in the cloud, and remain there, safe from damage, theft, or loss for the rest of our lives.  Currently, companies like Walmart (Vudu) allow people to bring in their physical DVDs and convert them to an UltraViolet title stored in the cloud.  This is just another example of the general consensus that hard drives and disk space will be a non issue in the future.

Production and Distribution

Overall, technology has evolved to the point where almost all devices are able to store, stream, and play video.  Quality short form and long form content is valuable to all types of brands.  The main challenge seems to be in distribution.  On that note, distributing content is becoming easier and easier with today's technology.  The term used for this was the "democratization of distribution".  Services like paya.com allow producers to set rules for licensing and commerce.  This means that you don't just have to go through the big guys like Apple (iTunes) to sell your content.   On the same token, production costs are going down.  Equipment and tools are affordable and accessible now more than ever.  This seems to indicate that platforms like Youtube, Vimeo, etc. have an opportunity to capitalize on the growth of lower (and even higher) budget productions if they can perfect the distribution of them.

Metadata

Metadata was a big topic of discussion in multiple sessions.  Metadata sets the stage for the discovery and search-ability of content.  However, companies are challenged with Metadata entry.  Automated methods like content recognition (ACR), and closed captioning are a step in the right direction.  However, significant manual effort is needed to input metadata into content.  This becomes more daunting on full length features when frame by frame metadata is required.  Crowd sourced metadata was one potential solution, but this method runs the risk of reduced control over entry quality.

Competitive Differentiators

It was interesting to see the differences in opinions regarding core competencies.  There was really no agreement on what companies should be focusing on.  Netflix, for example, does their own encoding.  They also focus on their own user interface and search methodology as their core competencies.  This was rather surprising as I would have thought that the storage/delivery aspect would have been the differentiator.  Encoding.com provides transcoding services for media companies to outsource.  Their growth suggests that more and more companies are outsourcing this component as an activity that is not part of the core competency.  There was also some disagreement about the user interface (UI). There is a movement by cable companies to ditch the tvguide service and build their own listing and search platform.  Others argued that this could be simplified by simply going with a Google Search type of model that is used by GoogleTV, or a queue model used by Hulu.  Perhaps the answer is somewhere in between?

Changing Business Models

This is one topic that seems to have a bit more clarity now than even a year ago.  The business model employed by MSOs of providing a multitude of channels for one recurring price is being tested.  Youtube has sunk a lot of money into its "Channels", urging celebrities and producers to create quality content for free (ad supported of course).  New applications like HBO Go have planted the idea that purchasing a one-off channel will, indeed, be an attractive option for brands.  Of course, this will have to run its course as it was also noted that most networks hold long term contracts that will run throughout the rest of this decade.  Regardless, the technology and demand seem to be at a point where we can pay for our own lineup of channels a la carte.

"The web may be the savior of the broadcaster"

The other business model that is changing is that of the producers and talent.  Big studios, broadcasters, and agencies are no longer the gatekeepers of value.  The web has changed everything.  Social media and the low barriers to entry have allowed Youtube and social media stars to flourish on their own.  Talent and shows are now able to negotiate deals with agents and studios based on established popularity from the web.  Of course, the linear broadcast and box office are still the money makers, but that model is also evolving.  Dollars are slowly shifting from linear to digital.  The community seemed surprised at the pace that it is changing.  Most thought it would have evolved faster.  Nonetheless, web based programming is commanding more and more dollars and attention.

The Envied

There were a few brands that were mentioned over and over again.  Here they are, in no particular order:

  • Google - With their new channels, capabilities in search and mobile, endless supply of capital, and the desire to bring quality content to Youtube, Google was the envy of Digital Hollywood.
  • HBO - Aside from great content, the idea and technology behind the HBO Go app were raved about at Digital Hollywood.  There was a general consensus that premium, pay for subscription brands like HBO and Showtime are in a better position to do this than ad supported brands.  However, the community is in love with the technology and promise that the app brings to the industry.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Social (Media) Capital and Why It's Important to You

Today's world of social media is rewarding those people that build huge followings online.  Fans, followers, connections, and friends are like a form of currency in social media.  Just like money, having more tends to buy you more.  Those of you who had MySpace accounts in its heyday probably know of Tila Tequila.  She was one of the first personalities that was able to grow relevance in the entertainment industry primarily through social media.  In 2006 she was the most popular figure in all of social media.  She built a profile to over a million and-a-half friends, with a huge gap to the number 2 profile.  Now, if you take an objective step back and think about that, you know she didn't acquire that out of celebrity status alone.  If that were the case then the cast of Friends, Brad Pitt, and every other A, B, and C-lister would have been at that level long before Tila Tequila.  She worked MySpace for all it was worth, and rode that popularity to other gigs in music, television and fashion.  She had either brilliant foresight or great advice from someone in her social network.  Regardless, she has profited, greatly, from those connections within social media.

The term for what Tila Tequila built is called "Social Capital".  Social Capital refers to the collective value of all social networks.  The term has been around for a lot longer than the Internet.  It originally referred to more human social networks like yacht clubs, fraternities, teacher's circles, and high school alumni.  It's based on the principle of reciprocity, that people within a given circle will help each other out.  Now term has been transformed for social media.  You can call it "Social Media Capital" if you like.  It's the totality of all your connections on social media.  This includes Twitter followers, Facebook Fans, Google Plus connections, and yes, even MySpace friends.  Those platforms listed are the most popular, but new ones are springing up seemingly all the time.  Social Capital can be built on any network.  The more popular the network, the more important your connections on that network become.

So the logical follow up question would be "what can I do with social capital?"  Well, there are a few examples out there today.  To think of the value of large social media followings, think of advertising.  Advertisers pay for attention. Whether it's a Billboard on a busy freeway, a popular radio station, or a sporting event like the Super Bowl with millions of people watching. The more "eyeballs" your particular medium has, the more advertisers are willing to pay to be on it.  Brian Solis has coined a term "The Egosystem" and refers to one's influence as the value driver in social media.  The more people your are able to influence, the greater your earning capacity.  Social Media networks are great because you have greater influence over your connections than any billboard or commercial will ever have.  Brands are now paying social media celebrities for tweets.  According to a Huffington post article, Kim Kardashian earns around $10,000 per tweet and Charlie Sheen earns up to $50,000 for a tweet to his audience.  There are even new platforms that are developing payment systems that are based on follower counts (we'll see if those stay around given the new Twitter changes).  I've even heard stories of bloggers using their audience as leverage when negotiating with retailers.  Some people will react based on fear that one will broadcast a negative message about their business to a large audience.  This is, kind-of, the opposite effect, but still an example of influence and social capital.

There are sure to be more innovative ways to use social capital.  I can envision, in the not too distant future, a scenario where follower counts will be common job interview questions.  If you have other examples, I would also love to hear them in the comment section.  The main point is that this stuff matters.  So get out there, build your profiles, connect with people, and make the most of the opportunity.  Your future self will be glad that your current self did.  Good luck!  

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Science of Social Media

In today's social media marketing world power is derived through fans, followers, shares, and retweets.  Where entertainers and other celebrities have an advantage in gathering such power through their fame, the rest of the world has to struggle in acquiring them.  Dan Zarella, a social media scientist with Hubspot, and author of The Facebook Marketing Booktakes a scientific approach to understanding why some people are more successful than others with social media.  In a lecture titled The Science of Social Media he explains why.  The following is a summary of his lecture.

The Social Media Hierarchy is made of three prongs:
1. Exposure  2. Awareness  3. Motivation

Exposure
  • Get more followers - More Followers increases your chance of spreading your content
  • How do you get more followers?
    • Limit Self-Reference - Stop talking about yourself.  Those who talk more about themselves tend to have less followers.
    • Limit Negativity - Negativity correlates with less followers
    • Increase frequency - You need a steady stream of tweets.  This correlates with more shares.

Awareness
  • Utilize Contra-Competitive Timing
    • Content you share during low periods of activity tends to get shared more.  This is because there is less competition for eyeballs.
    • The lowest periods of social media activity tend to be at the end of the week, from Thursday through Sunday.

Motivation
  • The better a reputation you have, the more motivated your audience will be to share.  
    • They want to look cool, so they'll share cool stuff, from cool people
    • Novel and Scarce information is power (not just any knowledge).  People want to share knowledge that they believe is scarce.
    • Be helpful.  If you frame information that will help, protect, warn people, they will more likely share it.

The Information Void
  • A WWII study revealed that rumors spread in an information void.  
    • Current events typically have an information void
      • e.g., Tiger Woods, etc. spread because no one knew the real story as to why his wife chase him out in the driveway
    • Breaking stories tend to have an information void

How to Find Topics with Opportunity?
  • Go out and find questions to answer
    • If they are asking a question, they haven't found an answer for it (thus an information void)
    • Conduct a search for a search term with "?" after it.  Look for questions around your expertise.
      • Answer those questions.

Social Proof
  • The more you see someone performing a specific action, the more you think that it is true.  This is social proof.  
    • It's a risk-reduction mechanism.  Seeing someone survive after an action will give you more comfort in performing it yourself.
      • This is the case with social media activity

Sharing Motivations
  • What motivates people to share?
    • Personal Relevance - This is most commonly shared, stories that mean something to the audience
    • Combined Relevance - Take two distinct interests and combine them 
      • For example, Dan discussed his post about the USB Absynth spoon
    • Toned down sophistication - 4th grade reading levels are shared more frequently on facebook
      • The least shared on Twitter are posts at 15th grade reading levels
  • More frequently, people are sharing stories of other people doing things 
  • Rarity gets re-tweeted more frequently
  • New/Old - Updated take on an old concept (Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DeCaprio / Steam Punk)

Most Retweeted Phrases
  1. You
  2. twitter
  3. Please
  4. retweet
  5. post
  6. blog
  7. social
  8. free
  9. media
  10. help
  11. please re-tweet (this does work.  Ask them)

Least shared on Facebook
  • Geeky jargon

Most shared on Facebook
  • sex
  • positive

Check it Out

  • View the lecture for yourself

Thursday, August 23, 2012

B2B Social Media Overview - Southwest Airlines Social CRM Tactics

There is no question that social media is changing the way that we, as individual consumers, consume information and media.  We have entered a stage in the evolution of media where businesses can no longer dictate what messages we see.  We now dictate when we want to watch a video, where we get our information, and who we rely on for information.  We now look to our network to help us make consumption decisions.  So, from a big business perspective, how should social media be treated?

I recently listened to a Q&A session with Paula Berg of Linhart PR and Southwest Airlines.  She had some very interesting insight to provide on the concept of social media for big business.  As the creator of own of the most prolific social media campaigns to date, Paula has first hand knowledge on how to implement a social media program from a big business perspective.  The following are some notes I found provocative from the session:

Humanize your Business
  • The reality show Airline was created by Southwest to provide a connection with Southwest Airlines employees
    • Job applications tripled after each show
    • Revenues increased 7% during the show's 4 years (attributed to the show)
Organize Your Social Media Strategy and Tactics

  • The Nuts about Southwest Airlines website replaced the show after the show ended
    • The Southwest marketing team picked 30 employees, told them to write when they like, and make it personal
    • The blog is the anchor of Southwest's social media platform.  All the social media channels flow from the blog.

  • Social Media Tactics
    • Southwest uses Flickr, Facebook, Youtube, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts
      • Each channel is assigned to one person to own
      • Southwest marketers are also active on aviation blogs and forums
  • SEO
    • Produce timely content and write about hot issues
    • Content production helps to Influence search, draw readers, lead discussions
  • Facebook
    • Facebook was used for promotion, fans would fall off after a promotion ended, but ultimately rose due to the marketing tactics
  • Twitter
    • Twitter was used beginning in July of 2007.  Southwest was an early adopter of Twitter
    • Promotions were announced via Twitter
    • Fare sales via Twitter and other social media channels has lead the biggest traffic days in Southwest website history
  • Youtube
    • Youtube was used to promote rapping flight attendant, customer service, aviation lessons, etc.
    • Youtube posts, both by Southwest and customers, has accounted for huge PR gains and web traffic
Case Studies
  1. Gary Kelly announced the change to assigned seating via blog post
    1. The blog post received thousands of negative comments about it
    2. By tracking comments and feedback, Southwest to change course and averted a big disaster
  2. A small(er) sized blog posted a customer complaint 
    1. The complaint to a San Diego local news report, and Today Show appearance. 
    2. Southwest chose not to participate, and was unable to impact the conversation
  3. A couple of customers were kicked off of a Southwest flight and banned from future flights
    1. The customers posted a video Too Pretty to Fly on Youtube
    2. The story was picked up by CNN and other outlets
    3. Southwest responded on their blog with a logical presentation of why the "rowdy" customers were banned.  This response mitigated the damage, and turned the tables on the conversation.
  4. Southwest was cited by FAA for safety violations
    1. They used their blog to communicate what Southwest was doing, etc. to fix the issues
    2. Katie Page and other blog professionals were revered for their blog communications
Measurement and Reporting to Executives
  • Capture and measure by day, week, month and year
  • Capture Ah-ha moments
  • Tell a story
  • When reporting, utilize
    • Graphs
    • 2-3 Case Studies
    • Use gut instincts, but use Radian6 and free online tools to supplement
  • PR
    • Do PR for your efforts. Make your efforts known
    • Reach out to reporters, news outlets, etc.
Lessons Learned
  • Educate Leaders and Employees
  • Get an Executive Sponsor
  • Engage positive people first
  • Don't be afraid to join conversations
  • Be decisive, and act fast
  • Don't rely on Numbers alone
See for Yourself
I've just captured the highlights of the interview and Q&A session with Paula Berg.  However, if you'd like to view it in its entirety, feel free to view it below:


Monday, August 20, 2012

Creating Video Content and Hustling Your Site to Success

There are two things that I keep hearing over and over again when it comes to inbound marketing.
  1. Content is King
  2. It's all about video
I believe in both of them.  I was just talking to my old pal Q, from Keysnkeys, the other day about this very topic.  We were discussing how easy it is to get sucked in focusing on the little technical details of your blog like sharing buttons, sidebars, cool little gadgets, etc.  While these things are important, they aren't nearly as important as content.  People will come to your website for your content.  They will stay for your content.  They may poke around and "like" a page because of those little widgets, but ultimately, they want to read and see interesting things.
That's what today's topic is all about.  It's called Passion-Inspired Video and Other Creative Content (GF 502), and it's taught by Gary Vaynerchuck.  Gary is the owner of Wine Library TV, and the author of Crush it!  The notes from this lecture are funny, because he's kind-of a rambler.  However, he is extremely passionate, and extremely high energy.  I really love the passion he puts into his interviews and lectures.  If you take away nothing, take away the fact that passion propels.  Gary also gives great sound bytes, so I put these notes in bullet form.  Go ahead and view the video at the end to see his lecture first-hand.  The following are takeaways from a recent lecture of his on Hubspot:


Notes:


  • We are all in the "eyeballs" business.  The goal is to get eyeballs on your stuff.
  • Video is the new word of mouth.  It's easily viewed, and easily shared.
  • Platforms
    • Lookout for Facebook as a video platform. There is some serious upside if they get it right.
    • ustream and istream are THE big platforms right now. 
    • Also bliptv and tumogile are other platforms to research
  • Mobile is going to change video. 
    • As phones get more powerful, and cameras get better, mobile video is going to explode in popularity
  • We are having the same debate now about social media that we did about websites in 1995. Live it, breath it, and start investing your time in it.
    • The ROI isn't there yet. It's so new that it's hard to prove. This is going to work. Trust in it.
  • It takes devotion
    • Buidling winelibrarytv took18 months to build, at 5 days a week, spending all day in forums and blogs promoting the website.
  • 1 case study is all you need - "once 1 person wins, that means everyone can win"
  • See Dell, Southwest Airlines, the makeup chick on youtube, winelibrarytv. Do you need more proof?
  • "There is no such thing as viral video"
  • You can't put a video out there and fall asleep. You have to hustle behind the scene. Remember, 5 days week, all day in forums and blogs when you aren't creating content for your own.
  • Mobile isn't exciting, it's the content that mobile will let us bring with us that is exciting. It's simply a way to bring our computers/tv's with us
  • Every B2B decision is made by a human being. Employees do have their own Facebook accounts. Don't pigeon hold yourself in B2B. Go to C before B if you have to. 
  • Content will always be king. Always make quality content.
  • It's storytelling - Testimonials, corporate environment (cool people at work), anything that creates emotional attachment. These are all things that you can produce content about, that people will relate to.
  • Mariano Rivera (New York Yankees pitcher) has 1 pitch. He doesn't have a bunch of others. He says "let them hit this pitch. Until then, I'll keep using it". You only need to do one thing really, really well to make money.
  • Dailybooth - like a photo booth. This is a cool concept.
  • We're heading into the "thank you" economy. People who appreciate you will give back to you.
  • Customer service and content are the name of the game. Be responsive to your fans and partners.
  • Care - return emails, respond to people. Show that you care!
  • Life first, then business - always

Vaynerchuck quote, "He who cares most wins"

Monday, July 30, 2012

Advanced Analytics for Websites

This week's session from Hubspot's Inbound Marketing University is titled Advanced Analytics: Measuring Online Marketing Success (AZ501) with professor Avinash Kaushik.  Kaushik, who is the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google, and founder of Market Motive Inc, as well as the author of the book web analytics 2.0 has some valuable insight in what, in my opinion, was one of the best modules in the program.  Take a look at my notes below, summarizing the main concepts of his course.


Introduction to Advanced Analytics

You don't necessarily need to spend a lot of money.  You just need to be smart about tracking important things.


Good Tools for Analytics 
There is a lot of data available for free

  • Yahoo Analytics
  • Google Analytics


There is also good data available for a fee


  • Omniture
  • Compete



Measureables
These are things that you can and should measure:
  • Clickstream -
    • The What - What are people clicking into?
    •  How much - How much/often are they clicking into it?
  • Experimentation and testing - 
    • The why - Why is certain activity happening on your site?
    • Multiple outcomes analysis
  • Voice of customer - 
    • What else is the customer saying?
  • Competitive Intelligence - 
    • What are your competitors doing?
  • Insights - 
    • oh baby yes!
    • What's up and coming?

Rule #1 Don't Stink

The Main Concepts

If you learn nothing else, know these points:
  • Track your Bounce Rate: I came, I puked, I left.  
    • This needs to be low (Below 50%).  
    • Use Benchmarks in Google Analytics for applicable bounce rates.
  • Watch referral visitors
    • Track if those visitors are adding value.  
    • Which referral sites are adding the most value?
    • Figure out which ones are most beneficial and divert efforts to those sites
  • Don't fret about your home page.  
    • Improve your top landing pages
    • Improve your content pages
    • Did I mention improve the bounce rate?


"It's not the recession, you just suck" - Lisa Barone

What else to Look at?
  • Focus on what's changed (rising/falling keywords, pages, etc)
    • Use click tracks what's changed report
  • Set Alerts for Goals ($ per visit, links in,)
    • Find most lucritive, linked, clicked, productive posts, topics, etc. not just traffic
  • Use a strategy of segmentation (data in aggregate sucks)
    • Separate new visitors from returning visitors.   
    • Look at Depth of visits, segment those people who view 3 pages or more
      • Love your Loyalists, and cater to them
  • Which websites give me traffic where the engagement is higher
  • Look at % of visits compared with the type of content I have on my site.  Look for mismatches
  • Create goals, and measure them.  Think about
    • People going to a specific page (example, the "all posts" page, subscribers page, about page, speaking engagements page)
Be Political
  • At the end of the day, you need to produce the data that your boss cares about.  Usually, this is $$
    • Mcro conversions - total purchases
    • Micro conversions - specific items people buy

Twitter Tips

  • Don't track followers, track message amplification
    • Use a tool called retweeted - who's retweeting you?
    • Don't use twitter as a shouting channel
      • Use it to converse with a targeted audience



Experiment
You need to be constantly testing and experimenting

  • HIPPO - Highest Paid Person's Opinion
    • We need to move away from this.  Prove that person wrong
  • Experimentation Tools
    • Offermatica
    • Google website optimizers (experiment in 6.5 minutes)


People Matter Most


  • Stick to the 10/90 rule
    • For every $10 you spend on tools, spend $90 on people


Other Tools

  • Google Insights - for search analysis
  • Compete.com - for website traffic, referral and search analysis
    • trends for websites - for competitive intelligence
  • Google website optimizer (free) optimost and offormatica (paid) - for a/b testing

Keep Learning
  • View Webinars by vendors
    • Omniture does a great one


The IMU Video
Here's the Hubspot IMU video for you to take your own notes.  Enjoy!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

How to Use Twitter for Business

For those of you interested in using Twitter for business, we've documented some great advice taken from one of Twitter's most productive users, Laura Fitton, of Pistacio Consulting and author of Twitter for Dummies.  I've gathered my personal summary from the Hubspot webinar and posted them below.  However, you may also want to view the recording yourself in order to get the most out of the webinar.  If so, feel free to do so by viewing the embedded video below.  Please let me know if you have any questions on Twitter for business.  Otherwise, enjoy, and learn a lot!

Introduction: The Twitter ecosystem


  • Great quote about Twitter,  "It's not information overload, it's filter failure"  - Clay Sherky

Twitter is a massive consumer sentiment engine.  There are hundreds of companies using the twitter API, and interacting with Twitter in some way, shape, or form.  Twitter is being mined for analytics and insight into consumer behavior, organization reactions, and cultural trends.  The openness of Twitter is creating a sort of humongous focus group for businesses.  It's also allowed for businesses to engage in their customers and prospects.  Twitter has become a critical component of a company's social media campaign.

What makes Twitter so valuable?
  • The power.  The man in Egypt in 2009 tweeting "Arrested"
  • Earthquakes in L.A.
  • The picture of the Hudson River crash was posted on twitter
  • Iran Protests were tweeted

Twitter disrupts
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • All networks

User Multiface

Twitter can be accessed anywhere, through:

  • Browsers
  • Mobile interfaces
  • SMS
  • Embedded Widgets

Individuals
  • Build networks
  • Utilize leveraged problem solving

Companies and Brands
  • Engage more deeply with customers
  • Customer service
  • Brand engagement
  • Drive productivity
  • Employee development
  • Research
  • Idea exchange
  • Networking

Externally
  • Customer service
  • Relationships
  • Market awareness
  • Inbound marketing
  • Cultivating relationships
  • SEO

Internally
  • Sales Teams
  • Event Teams
  • Project Status
  • News
  • Support
  • Mentoring
  • Problem Solving
  • Question Answering
  • Problem Solving
  • Purely Social

Value
  • research
  • marketing
  • networking
  • customer
  • service
  • traffic
  • news
  • sales
  • SEO
  • Listening (do this first)
  • existing business processes
  • visibility
  • relevance

Influence was...
attracting attention to yourself
...it is now shifting

Influence is...
provide attention value to others

Social Media is nothing new
  • people have been expressing themselves for ages
  • passing of knowledge
  • passing info from a trusted source to a source that you are trusted in using
  • Markets are socially mediated

How should a business get started?

To Get Started in social media, a business should:
  • start listening (this is much more important than speaking)
  • example: double dutch, you don't jump in before you have the ropes timed
  • dress nicely, introduce yourself, be a good conversationalist

How to Best Approach Social Media?

Cultivate standards of:
  • excellence
  • authenticity
  • engagement
  • Provide Value!!!

How do we start a Twitter Campaign?
  • Don't be concerned with a Twitter campaign
  • Do be concerned with twitter literacy
  • But, if you want to start, start by measuring and providing useful advice
    • Measure your shortened links 
    • Understand how your shared links are doing
    • The self-serving will flounder.  The useful will flourish


Advanced Twitter for Business


What if my customers are not there yet? 

If you don't believe your customers use Twitter, there is still reason to start with it.  Here are some Off-Platform Benefits:
  1. SEO - Twitter can help you with your keywords
    1. What domains would you purchase?  Buy those handles.  
    2. Incorporate your name too for additional words
  2. Research - Twitter allows for passive, free listening and engagement tools.  
    1. Be active 
    2. Ask questions
    3. Use hashtags, recruit groups
  3. Content Generation - Twitter can be free content on your site
    1. Use as a widget on your website.  
    2. Use to lifestream, generate content
  4. Word of Mouth - Twitter can create and enhance the word of mouth chatter about your business
    1. A great example of this is Dell (@DellOutlet)
    2. Remember that Twitter users are heavily skewed to influencers and journalists.  Be a part of the conversation with them.
  5. PR Gravity - Twitter allows you to enhance your PR effort
    1. Answer questions without seeking PR council
    2. Get your stories out to where journalists are 
    3. You can get PR results this way


How should we conduct ourselves on Twitter?
  • Be useful
  • Offer things
  • talk about what you do
  • Be more personal, be more real

Applicability
  • Listening
  • Research
  • Innovation
  • Measurement
Twitter ROI

Measure Twitter the way you measure everything you do.  What is the ROI?
  • Followers numbers
  • Follower engagement
  • Link sharing
Efficiency on Twitter

How to make Twitter NOT a time-suck:
  • Tools - focus on tools that make it easier to manage (automate searches, trends alerts, specify an account, make room for experimentation, time block)
  • Objectives
  • Discipline
  • When listening, enable specific tweets to route to certain departments for follow up

Listening Tools
  • twitter search
  • radian6
  • objective marketer
  • tweet deck (trends and tweets)

Twitter Resources
  • search.twitter.com
  • wefollow.com
  • pistacioconsulting
  • 140.com
  • pistacio's delicious bookmarking page
  • any industry-specific guide

The most important thing to remember when using Twitter, or any social media application for that matter, is to have a goal in mind beforehand.  Twitter can be a great way to supplement PR efforts, listen to conversations about your company/products, and produce content for your company.  When used correctly, it can absolutely enhance your business.  Just make sure you know what you want to get out of it, create a plan for using it, and measure your results.  Good luck out there!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Online PR and Best Practices for Inbound Marketing

We're back with Hubspot's Inbound Marketing University.  I've just taken PR for Inbound Marketing (GF 402) with a great professor, Todd Defren from SHIFT Communications.  This is some great stuff for small businesses and startups to perform PR functions on the cheap.  Take a look at my notes below.


Introduction to Online PR

The entire Public Relations industry has been rattled.  PR used to be more of a top down approach.  It used mass media like TV, Billboards, and Radio to reach a wide audience.  It is now a virtuous cycle-type of approach.  Social Media is a big part of this.  The brand can now talk directly to the customer, which is great in a lot of ways.  However, brands are also terrified about how to monitor and respond via social media.


The mainstream media is also changing.  Staff reduction is commonplace at news stations all over the country.  Those reporters who managed to keep their jobs are now responsible for blog posts, web traffic, etc.


PR is becoming increasingly interactive and interpersonal.  It is moving towards the "Conversational Collaboration" quadrant where it is more spontaneous.  Enter inbound marketing...

The Customer

The typical process as a customer -
  1. He finds your website
  2. He visits the website
  3. He subscribes to a newsletter
  4. He signs up for demo
  5. He exchanges emails, talks to account reps, etc.
  6. He actually buys something
Before he can buy something, he has to first find out about your company.  If he does find out about your company, he must find your company credible and trustworthy.  It's an involved process, and not as probable without PR/Marketing effort on your part


Analogy: 
Imagine you are at a potluck.  What kind of neighbor do you want to be?
  1. Most Corporations: The Wallflower, they just want to watch a listen (too scared about regulations, disruption, to interact)...
  2. Some Marketers: The Blowhard, the one who doesn't listen, and is very loud and self-serving.  Marketers tend to want to be loud and noisy to make a splash.
  3. Ideal: One of Us, one who listens, engages, interacts

What is Online PR?
  • Frequently delivering relevant content through the right channels to boost credibility and findability

Online PR Goals:
  • To find Qualified Prospects (not tire kickers or looky loos)

Online PR Tactics



What to Research
  • what kind of google searches do they run
  • who else do they talk to?
  • who does the competition speak to
  • what blogs/magazines do they read?
  • who do they follow on twitter?
  • which facebook groups do they join?


How frequent is frequent?  Every Day!
  • blog post
  • go to someone else's blog and coversing
  • contributing relevant content through the social network
  • go to fb groups and provide content
  • every day pitch article to a news person
  • analyze web traffic/seo
  • attend events and broadcast content from the venue


How do you tell if your content is relevant?
  • The community will tell you if your content is relevant
  • Is your content often downloaded and distributed?
  • Is raw web traffic being generated?
  • Are there new trends in Google terms used to find your site?
  • Where are visitors coming from?  Are visitors converting?
  • Is content reflective of our brand?
  • Are your customers happy?


What kind of content are we talking about?
  • Press releases.  These must contain actual news.
  • Social media releases.  3 or 4 bullets of real news.  Using multimedia that bloggers can rip and use.
  • Video
  • Brevity - 60 minutes or less is ideal
  • podcasts
  • articles
  • blog posts
  • white papers, surveys
  • creating new widget, fb application, game, iphone app


How do you determine the right channel?
  • Did you use technorati, google analytics, cision, compete, to research?
  • use backtype to figure out where influencers comment (example: Robert Scoble)
  • Use Tubemogul to spread video content accross numerous sites
  • Use Tweetreach to see how far it's spreading


How important is credibility?
  • Context Analytics - survey:  
  • media prominence accounts for 25% of the brand value
  • PR converts better than targeted search marketing
Outbound Marketing is also important.  Forging relationships with News sources, etc. helps a lot!

How do you ensure your content is found?
  • Make SEO a factor in everything you do
  • Use Pressreleasegrader to grade your Press Release content
  • Use appropriate and consistent titles and tags across content titles, keywords, and posts
  • Put a lot of content out there to keep the crawlers busy
  • Use Google Insights
  • Use Google Analytics


What Not to Do
  • Don't Chase after everything.  Be targeted.
  • Don't spam the wall.  Ask a facebook group administrator to pass along content for you
  • Don't bore them.  Be brief and concise in content
  • Don't overuse content.  20 times a day is TOO MUCH.

Main Idea
  • Ultimately, show ROI at the site, and bring in customers
  • Use tools to track progress
    • Buzzgain
    • Blogpulse
    • Hubspot
    • Radian6

The social media release
  • webify the press release
  • a post card sized release
  • a few bullet points
  • media to attach
  • tweetable (140 char or less)

Use a social media news room
  • Create a corporate website domain
  • Stores all news, multimedia, pr, etc. online
  • blog format
  • keep it all in house

Resources:

Finally, view the Hubspot recording to take notes of your own.  I found this webinar to have some really good content, and I hope you do too.
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