Saving the dates

A look back after a year of going solo with a calendar in the cloud. Making the final switch from paper was bittersweet.

Final reminder

The neon orange envelope declares – FINAL REMINDER. Renew today! Three devoted decades to the Day-Timer method and it comes to this. We will part ways with a simple ‘thanks for being a loyal Day-Timer customer’ form letter.

My romance with Day-Timer began early as a busy media executive. Equipped with a wire-bound, faux black leather week-at-a-glance pocket planner, I was ready for anything. Our relationship progressed. The pocket portfolio escalated from one page per day to two as time and records became more precious. Our engagement was textbook with thoughtful reminders how it is more important than ever to stay organized and in control.

A rich wine-colored genuine leather folio announced my arrival to management. I left it open so my team would know my schedule and include me in theirs. Within a few weeks, I was no longer in control and my boss took me aside with time management advice: “Sometimes you just need to block out an hour or two to buy a shirt.” No longer left unguarded, I started lugging the folio everywhere customized with narrow hot lists, full-year fold-outs, To Be Done short-trimmed sheets and what was to become my crutch: the telephone call back. Day-Timer and I were official. My planner rode shotgun next to the bolted-in car phone.

Our honeymoon over, the folio’s flaws started appearing. Stuffed to the brim with ‘must do’ documents, valuables spilled out in awkward moments. My solution was a cowboy-rugged Western coach distressed leather zipper model that could rope ‘em while looking casual. Like many young couples, we put on a few pounds. Our diet was one page per day, one quarter at a time plus NO more vinyl business cards holders or solar calculators. Alas, my other notable crutch – the yellow legal pad – fit snuggly inside the folio, so we continued pressing 5-6 pounds. My visits to the chiropractor start.

Next step: Reduce, refine and reorder a nifty, petite burgundy-weave Italian leather zippered desk number. My bloated folio was archived by storage set and replaced by a tasteful Euro-style that was sensibly compatible with black, brown or blue. I discover Nokia. Notes were cryptic with items recorded in pencil. I was seeing results and getting ready for the next phase. Marriage, motherhood and juggling childcare, fits and starts with a new business and a bigger home all suited my elegant Euro companion. We stayed together for many happy years. I wondered if the well-worn corners represented endurance, lack of direction or that I was too busy for details. It did not matter. We were all-in in this phase.

Nevertheless, a bigger challenge came and a sensible black zippered Armorhide desk planner took me into battle. My fold out year-at-a-glance was packed with school closings, appointments, sporting events, meetings and callbacks. My now ex and I scheduled times to schedule time. I never took a call without making a note. Post-its were miniature legal sheets to accommodate 6pt font. I was a portable, lean, fighting machine. There was no competition for my champion. While I sported both Mac and PC laptops, neither featured calendar software. It was a heady fax/phone/email world. Winds are shifting and my latest Nokia slips easily into my pocket. Armorhide secretly hoped Y2K’s impending doom would revive a fading career.

Transitioning to the publishing world, I felt sure Armorhide was the right choice for the 21st century but soon enough there was a new sheriff in town: Outlook. For the next decade I secretly two-timed noting each appointment, soccer game and conference by keyboard and pencil dutifully checking in mornings with reconciliation on Sunday. I ignored integration pleas while gleefully building thousands of records into proprietary software. I upgraded to the fine-grain Nappa leather Verona, semi-gloss black of course. Call back pages remained a staple as conversations and 24/7 dates blurred. Enter Blackberry 1, text 2, email 3 and the inauguration to paperless.

A surprise save brought out the hero in my Verona. Without double dipping, I would have faced a world without a schedule. My former employer closed the door and wiped Outlook clean. Gmail sounded more official than Yahoo so I dove in. My open email window had colorful folders, task lists, and labeling plus calendar software to boot. I import and export to get a working calendar on my phone. My dusty Verona silently watches wondering if call back records will be enough to keep us together. Verona’s pages are blank and anxious with curiosity: She has become so social. Who are these new fans, friends and followers? We welcome a family of iPhones Christmas 2010. I am a start-up entrepreneur now and technology is for the taking.

Dated materialYou know the rest of the story. We stay together through 2011, then renew once more for old times sake before going our separate ways. No events are scribed in 2012. I slip open the dated material enclosed appeal knowing it is for the last time. You offer Send No Money Now and Simply Check “YES” but we know: It is over. Order your dated pages today! says it all.

No regrets. It was a well-recorded run.

Digital and Social Media coupon technology evolves

Does your business use digital and social media for coupon distribution? Publisher MediaNeedle offers an excellent overview of popular digital and social media coupon technology platforms. While the Daily Deal companies like Groupon and Living Social have well-publicized shortcomings, they continue to fine tune their deals to customers going deeper in business categories like travel and experiential offerings. Niche sites and deal aggregators are designed for a more experienced and sophisticated value seeker. CoupSmart shareable coupon social media technology is distinguished by allowing the brand to keep valuable customer data, rather than the deal company owning it.

Read the entire post here:

The Rebirth of Daily Deals

Many thanks for this post from mdorman on May 28, 2013 on Media Needle.

Inspire word of mouth recommendations from your loyal fans

Woman using coupon 1.22.1392% of consumers around the world say they trust earned media, such as word-of-mouth or recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising—an increase of 18 percent since 2007, according to a study from Nielsen, a leading global provider of information and insights into what consumers watch and buy. *

Many marketers have put considerable effort into enticing fans to join their communities on Facebook, google+, Twitter and Pinterest. And why do fans accept the invitation? They are extending their approval and loyalty, but they are also expecting exclusive offers, invitations or opportunities to participate in promotions. What have you done lately to retain those fans, show appreciation and inspire word of mouth recommendations from your fans and followers?

CoupSmart, (full disclosure: Raise Your Share provides sales & marketing for the company) is all about the science of social couponing. According to CoupSmart, 58% of consumers cite coupons as the top reason to follow a brand on Twitter and Facebook. That means your posts, your pics, and your poems– they’re all fine and dandy, but (per usual) it’s money that really talks. Realize that there’s been a one-third increase in coupon usage since 2007. That’s huge.

So what’s the big deal? Why social coupons?

More consumers now than ever are pre-shopping. That is, they’re making decisions before they even leave the comfort of their home or office. In today’s faced-paced world, people know what they want, where to go, and how much they’re going to spend before they shop, and that’s all heavily dependent on where the deals are. According to CoupSmart’s research, the percentage of consumers searching online for coupons before making a decision on what to buy and where to shop doubled in 2011 to– wait for it– 64%.

CoupSmart offers a simple and straightforward concept

(1) Offer an exclusive deal, (2) make it worthwhile for the consumer and (3) make it available only for a limited time. It sounds simple, and it is. CoupSmart’s tech makes it so. Like all things social, the key is to let your strategy work for you. Services like CoupSmart are delivered to your fans on Facebook. Automated analytics work with you to track who responds, how often, and which offers they redeem, providing a sense of accountability for where, exactly, marketing dollars are going. The key is turning the passive observer into an active user – a fan into a customer. Offering an exclusive offer to your fans, which, in turn, allows them to make a word of mouth recommendation by sharing the offer, satisfies your fan’s expectations and gives them a way of including their friends too! Everybody wins.

Contact Raise Your Share for more information about what CoupSmart can do for you. Want to learn more about couponing with social media? Follow CoupSmart’s blog now.

* Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages report, 2011

3 social networking sites to bolster your strategy

Blog 1.15.13If you’re allocating portions of your advertising budget for social or digital media, odds are you’re investing in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and/or LinkedIn. When it comes to market share, the logic is sound: Twitter and Facebook continue to dominate the world of social, Google has yet to loosen its grip as the “Boss Tweed” of search engines, and LinkedIn is a no-brainer for companies looking to expand their presence in the professional digi-sphere. For those with some spare advertising change (or not) and a bit of gusto, consider viable alternatives with your marketing strategy.

Here are three options you’re probably not considering yet:

Pinterest was the dark horse from day one, but is starting to show up on marketing strategies, especially for retailers. According to an eBizMBA ranking in December 2012, Pinterest is the 10th most-used social networking site on the web. With 15.5 million users, Pinterest could be a gold mine for the social-savvy company looking to break into a relatively untapped (at least in comparison to Facebook) area of new media marketing. Businesses that rely heavily on visuals (interior designers, publications, photographers, jewelers, fashion designers, etc.) will find Pinterest to be an ideal platform. The best part— it’s free. Businesses can’t advertise directly on Pinterest. They instead “pin” photos to be followed and shared by fans. As the old adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

For those familiar with StumbleUpon, this might seem like a curve ball. Advertise with a site that allows users to “stumble” around the internet aimlessly? How? Truth is, there are some advantages to paid discovery with StumbleUpon. For one, you’re automatically exposing your business to a user demographic that’s primarily composed of educated young adults and college kids. The perks? There are no ads or links here. Just webpages. StumbleUpon exists for the sole purpose of trafficking surfers to other sites. So there’s no Timeline, no profile, no blog— the traffic’s delivered to your doorstep.

Earlier this year, Foursquare completely revamped their advertising model, allowing companies to begin to pay for promoted updates. According to Forbes, “adults who used Foursquare in the last 30 days are 72% more likely than adults in general to live in households with annual income of $100,000 or more.” That’s one heck of a demographic. The fact that the same study also found that Foursquare users “are more than twice as likely to indicate that an important reason for using/visiting social networking sites is to show their support for favorite brands and companies” is just icing on the cake. With over 20 million registered users, at the very least, claim your business listing to make sure your information is accurate and get free access to Foursquare’s business tools.

3-ingredient recipe for a social media analytics cocktail

SM analytics cocktail 12.5.12 Nowadays, just having a Facebook or Twitter page isn’t enough. If your business is “about” social, it’s about upkeep, attention, infiltration, and relevance. Guessing, experimenting, and straight-up repetition is the shots-in-the-dark methodology for too many social media campaigns. Interacting with customers and growing your fan base is a full-time job … and a science. Reaching people comes down to measuring and interpreting.

According to Boot Camp Digital, 72% of businesses don’t know how to measure their ROI. There’s no point in allocating marketing dollars to social media when you don’t have a clue if it’s working or not. The key to calculating ROI is measuring your activity, and the activity of those who visit your site(s). Thankfully, there are platforms out there to keep up with the progress of your pages. The question is, which one is right for you?

Truth is – most are awesome. Think of SM analytics as a cocktail – a balanced blend of flavors, spirits, and garnishes. When considering which platforms to utilize, think in terms of threes.

Basic 3-ingredient recipe ~

1) Plain and Simple Flavors: Google Analytics

It’s free! Google’s platform is the industry standard, not only because we google, but because we also love not paying for tools. Analytics measures everything from sales for e-commerce businesses to content and social feed analytics. What’s popular? What’s performing? What’s not? How do visitors interact with the features on your site? This is analytics 101.

2) Birds-eye Spirits: TweetStats

Monitoring your tweets is underrated. Twitter is relatively simple to keep an eye on using a separate platform to keep things clean and clear. TweetStats is a free platform that allows you to monitor and measure tweet density and tweets per day/week/month. It also allows you to examine those numbers in relation to your competition. How do you compare with similar businesses in your field?

3) The Wildcard Garnish: CrazyEgg

It’s not free (ranging from $10-100/month) but may be worth the extra change. The best feature CrazyEgg offers is “heat maps.” Aside from standard bookkeeping features available with free platforms like Google Analytics and Flurry, CrazyEgg shows you what pages people are viewing, which parts of those pages their focusing on, how much (and to where) surfers are scrolling, and where they’re clicking. This platform doesn’t just function as a tool for knowing what your fans are interested in, it also serves as a great way to reexamine your design. Are people focusing on the parts of your pages you want them to pay attention to? CrazyEgg puts a whole new spin on traditional graph-and-stat analytics.

A solid analytics recipe employs a traditional measurement tool with basic traffic information via charts and graphs, a Twitter-specific platform and some additional third-party platform that works a new angle on data analysis to provide for a more well-informed and dynamic examination of activity. Cheers!

3 custom app builders that reinvent Facebook pages on a shoestring

App integration can play a critical role in optimizing the potential of your small business’ Facebook page. Yet, the problem for many tends to be the intimidation factor— app design presents itself as an unfamiliar and seemingly daunting endeavor for marketers and small business owners who don’t consider themselves “techies”. Capitalizing on Facebook apps doesn’t necessarily mean you need to be fluent in code or have deep enough pockets to hire someone who does. There are a significant number of custom app builders that aren’t only “noob-friendly,” but dirt cheap, too.

Pagemodo | $13
In terms of ease-of-use, Pagemodo excels. This builder allows individuals to select tabs from a wide array of pre-designed templates, upload photos and custom app designs, and generate clean, simple, grade-A Facebook tabs for things like menus, directions, digital business cards, and photo albums. The downside of Pagemodo? With ease-of-use comes certain restrictions; that is, customization is limited due to the simplicity of the apps. Templates are relatively static, and outside altering color palettes and text, personalization is somewhat restricted. There’s no RSS feed feature and cross-media integration with other pages, like Twitter or Pinterest, can be sketchy. Nonetheless, Pagemodo is cheap. At around $13/month for unlimited tab creation, it’s the best option for marketers who are brand new to the Facebook app game.

Social Page Builder | $20
Social Page Builder is multi-layered, doesn’t require HTML knowledge and starts at around $20/month. But what gives it an edge on Pagemodo (and makes it a prime pick for the SM-dedicated marketer) is how customizable it is on a template-basis. Users can remove, add, and edit entire layers of the provided app templates with ease to create stylish, custom tabs that are unique to their business. SPB also allows its users to use its software on 15 different pages. That means you can integrate custom apps into your business’s Facebook page and any other pages you might be utilizing at a given point in time.

Shortstack | $30
Shortstack is a catch— it’s what Raise Your Share uses on select Facebook pages. For demanding perfectionists, Shortstack’s templates are about as customizable as SPB’s, and allow for [nearly] seamless integration with other social pages. Shortstack has pre-built templates for Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter feeds. It’s also RSS-enabled and allows users to host contests and integrate Google Analytics. While there’s a slightly bigger learning curve, the price makes up for what it lacks in ease-of-use— you can start today, for free (though the unlimited package is $30/month).

Generating a social media strategy for small business

Social media and big business have a special kind of love affair. The problem is, when it comes to small businesses capitalizing on social resources, there’s often the all-to-daunting question of where, exactly, to start. This confusion often spawns a seemingly prototypical response: Social is not right for my business. It is easy to dismiss the potential of social media marketing when that first blog or tweet goes un-talked about. Read on for some tips for where to start when generating a social media marketing strategy for a small business.

Be your own bookie
Numbers are key to knowing where to focus your energy. While outsourcing is an efficient solution, it’s not completely necessary to launch by employing a third-party analytics or automation platform. Keeping track of your social activity might be, at first, as easy as logging your daily ratio of tweets to re-tweets. How many individuals “Liked” an update? What was the subject matter of that post? All of these are things to note.

Know the relationship between media and platform
The type of media you’re trying to publish has a close relationship with the platform you are using for distribution. For instance, Tweeting is ideal for hyperlinks, URL’s and quick bytes of information. Pinterest is great for images. Facebook is excellent for sharing, contesting, couponing and telling stories. Think about what you are putting out there and recognize the ideal platform to utilize.

Rebuild your brand
When you go social, you are telling the world that you are ready to interact. You have just showed up at the party of the year and it’s time to prove to everyone just how interesting you are. Maybe the sign outside your office is beige; your best customer is your eighty-year-old relative or you only have three employees— none of it matters anymore. Stepping into the world of social media marketing is a fresh start for your brand, your image, and the dialect through which you choose to translate. Why are you different from your competition? What do you want people to notice? Think of it as the first day of high school.

Invest in your community
Big things have small beginnings. Share your insights with the community and develop a group of references, mentors, partners, and affiliates with a presence on social networks. Address questions, concerns, events, and trends in your area and collaborate with local entities to maximize local impact on a global scene through couponing, special offers, sponsorship, and symbiotic promotions. Keep it close to home.

Shifting marketing dollars: Digital advertising for growing business

An eMarketer study published June 2012 found marketers allocate less than 20% of their ad budget for social media. The principle discrepancy— especially for small business— may be a lack of confidence in social media’s ROI. Small businesses, in particular, seem uncertain about allocating advertising dollars for digital and social media, and whether or not the investment is a smart move. With leaner budgets, less online presence, and a localized consumer, the idea of “playing with the big boys” on the field of SM marketing seems a bit daunting. Truth is: the size of your business is relatively irrelevant. Large and small companies can win with social media commerce.

Going social with your marketing strategy is not just about rethinking where your ads will be or how much they’ll cost – it’s about what they’ll do. Marketing on social media channels like Facebook allow for list-generation— not only reaching consumers, but establishing a relationship with them. Facebook allows a business to build a community, and with the right tools, to collect a database for remarketing.

Why not Google? While Google still has a far greater market share than Facebook, there are certain pitfalls of advertising with the search engine behemoth. For one, Facebook offers a lower degree of competition when it comes to fighting for keywords and search-result priority. What’s more, Google doesn’t offer the casual internet user the comfort that Facebook does. Google is not as personalized, so advertisements tend to seem intrusive. Facebook is the consumer’s space, not yours, so the presence of a business there is far less invasive.

The cost of Facebook advertising is the most appealing factor for small businesses. Ads can cost less than ten dollars a day, pay-per-click can cost as little as a penny, and advertisers can set caps, constraints, and limitations on how much they’re willing to spend by the day, month, or lifetime of their campaign.

Facebook is not the only outlet for a business’ social media advertising budget. Among options, Twitter now has double the mobile revenue of Facebook. While Facebook still has a much larger market share, Twitter’s present and projected growth are giving Facebook a run for the money.

Meet Raise Your Share intern Sam Cleary

Sam Cleary is the Raise Your Share Summer 2012 Digital and Social Media Intern. A junior at the University of Iowa, he is a student at the Undergraduate Iowa Writer’s Workshop, pursuing a BA in Creative Writing and a Certificate in Business Administration. Sam is also pursuing a Certificate in Advanced Internet Marketing at the University of San Francisco. As Raise Your Share’s Digital and Social Media Intern, Sam hopes to supplement his interest in creative new media/social marketing by gaining hands-on experience with a wide range of dynamic media projects.

“My time at Raise Your Share has provided me with the ideal internship experience– I’m actively involved in real projects, each of which differs from the next, and have found myself a part of a team rather than merely an observer. My work here has been an intersection of all my interests: Editing, writing, publishing, blog/web design, creative brand strategies, and social media ROI. The position has yielded not only exposure, but education through immersion.”


Interactive Advertising Bureau and Congressman Chabot agree: Internet Advertising cannot be over-regulated

The Interactive Advertising Bureau, Congressman Steve Chabot and SW Ohio digital thought leaders gathered this week to discuss and review the impact digital advertising has on the state and the nation. Michael Theodore, VP Member Services for the IAB, noted “in the past, we have invited representatives from markets to fly-in to NYC. Our visit to Cincinnati, an important market for brand development and digital advertising, is one of our first fly-outs.”

According to the IAB, the economic impact of interactive advertising in Ohio results in an economic benefit of approximately $12.5 billion annually and 129,580 employees in the state.

And IAB Vice President Michael Theodore says it’s just the beginning.

“We’re going to look back 5-10 years from now and laugh that what we were seeing now we thought was so amazing and enormous.”

He points to the rapid evolution of Twitter and Facebook. He says the Internet advertising industry cannot be over-regulated. Congressman Steve Chabot agrees and at the meeting said he’s been an advocate to keep it as tax free as possible, knowing that advertising could create jobs.

Ann Thompson, of WVXU, posted a follow-up that includes a resourceful link to the IAB’s 2009 Study on the Economic Value.