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.

Creating Positive Social Media ROI panel at the Digital Non Conference Cincinnati

In the breakout session on Wednesday, September 14, from 3-4pm, panelists take on the age-old question: how do I know my investment in time and money is actually working? For marketers championing a social media program, three words hold a tremendous amount of weight: Return On Investment. How does your company launch targeted, effective campaigns and measure them effectively to gauge success? This panel will help you plan for the ultimate goal – impressive return on investment – at every stage of your social media outreach. Creating Positive Social Media ROI presenters include Jackie Reau, co-founder of Game Day Communications; Alex Shebar, yelp Community Manager Cincinnati; Patrice Watson, CEO, Raise Your Share plus moderator, Chuck Tobar, Senior Business Development Manager, Shoutlet.
Learn more about the Digital Non Conference in Cincinnati on 9/13-/914 with this short video.

Purchase tickets for the Digital Non Conference:

The price of a Facebook fan – post reprinted from Ellie Behling’s Blog, Vital Business Media

How much do you have to pay to get people to “like” you?

A new report from digital marketing firm Webtrends examined Facebook ad campaigns and the “cost per fan,” or the ad spend required to acquire fans, among different industries.

The good news for media companies is that they typically spend less acquiring Facebook fans than companies in most other industry sectors. That shouldn’t be a big surprise, considering media and entertainment-based companies have built-in fan bases, unlike a sector like healthcare that is just beginning to interact directly with customers.

The study also found that media and entertainment companies advertising on Facebook get better click-throughs than other industries.

The report analyzed 4.5 billion Facebook ad impressions across 1,529 campaigns. Across all industries, the study revealed that Facebook ads perform half as well as traditional banner ads. It also found some differences in how geographic and demographic groups interact with Facebook ads (“the older we get, the more we click”).

The price of a Facebook fan
Advertising campaigns from media channels stood out from other industries, receiving a 0.165 percent click-through rate, compared to 0.050 percent across all industries, according to Dennis Yu, managing principal of Facebook marketing at Webtrends. Media properties also acquire Facebook fans at a cheaper price than other industries (between 31 and 41 cents compared to $1.02 across all industries).

The chart below illustrates how media companies have higher click-through rates and lower cost per clicks than companies in other industries. While Facebook is usually more of a focus for consumer media, B2B media companies might be interested in how particular industries fared.

(Use quick link to the right: Industry Comparison Table – Facebook click through rates and costs per clicks)

The value of Facebook fans
The study by Webtrends, which offers a Facebook advertising platform, mostly looked at media companies that are more entertainment-focused, rather than traditional, print-based publishers, which aren’t advertising much on Facebook. Yu said more traditional publishers could be taking advantage of Facebook advertising in order to acquire fans, for instance by targeting friends of fans.

“The traditional, brick-and-mortar folks aren’t there yet; it’s a new opportunity,” he said in a phone interview.

But why is acquiring fans valuable for publishers? Yu compared the ROI of Facebook fans to the ROI of having an e-mail list; it’s another method to drive revenue to subscription products.

Yu added that Facebook is now the foundation of where people are interacting; the next step is doing something in the platform. “Now the game is ‘who can build applications and other things on top of this infrastructure?’,” he said.

Media companies have a built-in advantage because they have the ability to engage Facebook fans with content.

“Naturally, social media is a great medium for news ― it’s shareable, has emotional context, is current, and can be made very relevant to highly targeted audiences,” Yu said in an e-mail.

Publishing pros cite 5 benefits for establishing a Facebook presence now.

Five tangible benefits to consider as you are weighing your Facebook investment:<a
1. Content syndication
2. CRM/customer support
3. Story development/R&D
4. Subscription revenue
5. Sponsorship revenue
Read the entire article from emedia vitals last newsletter of 2010: