Foursquare, a data machine

Foursquare, originally a mobile check in app for getting brand discounts and perks for consumers, was founded back in 2009. Seven years later, the app has decoupled into two apps (Swarm and foursquare) and is still allowing similar functionality, but for brands, this app is a whole new treasure chest of opportunity. It is a data machine.

Why should your brand care? Four reasons.
All the data
As stated in Wired – [Foursquare offers] massive amounts of location data that other companies collect. Lots of apps can access your GPS coordinates, but matching those coordinates to an actual place—such as a restaurant, a gym or a home—is more difficult, [and Foursquare helps with this]. Imagine, knowing where your consumer frequents on a daily basis. When they go to the gym versus when they run errands and where. What types of food and designers they prefer. It’s a goldmine of data for brands to uncover and relate to their own consumer and brand goals.
The accuracy
Not sure how accurate an app like this could be? Well according to Business Insider and Foursquare, it predicted the drop in sales of Chipotle in advance of its actual drop.

On April 12, Jeff Glueck, the CEO of Foursquare, published a post on Medium predicting that Chipotle’s first-quarter sales would be down nearly 30%. That was based on foot-traffic stats built from explicit check-ins and implicit visits from Foursquare and Swarm app users who enable background location.

Some call it alternative data. It’s not like the norm we’re used to in marketing statistics and data collection, in the past, but with our smart phones in our pockets, our smart watches on our wrists, and soon our smart earbuds in our ears, the data companies will have on where we are and what we’re doing will be unfathomable. Marketers rejoice.

Note – Currently this data is more accurate especially in cities versus suburbs/rural areas where it may have less usage.

You know what your target consumers are actually doing (before/during/after).

It’s based on their interests and what matters to them. You aren’t checking into something unless you have a purpose or interest behind it.

According to Fast Company – The company’s 35 million users have helped created a database of more than 50 million points of interest, from bars to restaurants to ice cream shops. While many companies have powerful location databases—Yelp, Yext, the Yellow Pages—Foursquare’s database is unique in that it’s inherently social: It was built on the 4 billion check-ins that users uploaded via the app.

It’s one thing to write a review, or state what you think on Facebook, it’s another thing to actually go somewhere and spend time there on a regular basis. Your habits and where you go, are a part of who you are as a person. Ask yourself, what did you do today? You’re likely to mention where you went, right? There you go. Foursquare has a timeline of where you went and in turn your target consumers. They know the % of consumers who are likely to go a nail salon after the gym or perhaps the grocery store. These trends and accurate points are helpful in knowing when they’ll visit your brand because it’s not just about being near the store/location, but when they actually step foot inside (which Foursquare can tell you).

You can create content and opportunities that really matter to your consumer and target them accordingly

Brands (along with their internal teams and agencies) can also work with Foursquare to determine the right content and approach for your specific audience based off the data collected. For example, your brand could consider targeted offers, or partnering with a retailer to provide a more exclusive opportunity. And with Foursquare’s offering pinpoint your brand can provide targeted content specifically based off of the data, where consumers actually go, utilizing their ecosystem of apps (including publishers/advertisers), audience segments (creating custom audiences based on the data and interests), and lastly working with partners (examples include but are not limited to AT&T, Samsung, and more).

Bonus:

And as a fun little scoop, most recently Foursquare determine who the audience was to visit comic con most and their related habits – as seen here.

Hello  “search and discovery” and “alternative data” – the new Foursquare. The Foursquare that most brands are thirsty after.

This post was originally written for socialnomics.  
Revision: Foursquare currently has 50 million monthly active users, over 100 million venues worldwide, over 10 billion all-time check-ins

The Top Ten Reasons We Love Social Media

As brands, social media has been a way to reach and interact with consumers on a level that resonates with their behaviors on a day to day basis. They’re already there. They’re using channels they way they prefer. For example on Pinterest they’re planning and dreaming for their future; while on Periscope they’re getting an inside look; and on Instagram they’re building and sharing their own stories.
And as brands that is pretty great. It allows us to understand our target audience and provide content that will truly matter to them, where and when they prefer it. So instead of the 2016 lists we’re all about to read, let’s remember why social media is important to our brands, and why it still will be in 2016.
So as digital marketers we love social media. We love it simply because:
  1. You can get content out fast
  2. You are able to respond to consumers faster
  3. You know what your competition is doing on the same channels
  4. You can curate content
  5. You can see what themes are trending to create new content
  6. You can be involved within cultural phenomena
  7. You are able to create a dialogue
  8. You are able to see what content works right away
  9. You will know what content to put paid media behind
  10. Your brand can stand out
And that’s just part of the story. Your brand can also choose the channels that work best for success. Choose the content that will resonate deeper with your audience. And of course, finding the right paths to purchase, and helping consumers become loyal advocates through driving their followings to your brand as well.
Why does your brand, as a digital marketer, prefer to budget, spend, and invest in social media as a way to reach consumers?
Image sources:
Priority Media Plus
Business2community
 
This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

Instagram: Contests that Work

Instagram, the ever popular mobile app allows brands, influencers, and consumers to share and unveil their visual stories. Brands tease products, show insider stories on the development of campaigns. Influencers are tapped to help unveil new releases, do giveaways, and/or help promote the brand in unique and fun ways. Consumers – well consumers are doing whatever they want. They show their daily lives, a sneak peek into what makes them who they are, and the brands they choose to connect with.
And one thing, consumers seem to love on Instagram are contests. But here’s the thing, contests need to be simple, easy to complete via mobile, and not time consuming in order for consumers to participate.

A few simple contest methods that work:

1. Upload Photo and Tag with hashtag
2. Like and Comment on Post
3. Repost Image with Hashtag
4. Like and Tag Others

Make it cooler by:

1. Incorporating both brand, influencer and UGC elements. For example, allow an influencer the reins to your instagram handle for a day. Especially when it’s someone attractive (yes, really) people flock to the handle to check out what they have to say and what they post.
2. Giving a fan the chance to be featured is always fun for the consumer
3. Doing the contest around a special time of year, event, and/or tv show to boast the type

One contest that consumers could do without:

The Loop giveaway – This contests typically involves several steps including but not limited to:
1. Liking the photo of an influencer.
2. Answered a question in the comments.
3. Clicking on the next influencer tagged in the photo.
4. Repeating Steps 1 – 3 with that said influencer.
5. Repeating this several times (potentially up 25 or 30 times) until you are brought back to the original influencer you started with.
Who has time for that? I was dismayed the first time I attempted this because I thought the giveaway was cool. After going through 3-4 rounds of the above, I gave up and walked away. If it takes more than 90 seconds to enter a contest, I’m out. There are two things that work when it comes to contest on Instagram – simple and creative/fun. If it’s not that, then don’t waste your time brands!

Cool vendor to consider:

Offerpop is a great partner that helps brands have a contest across social channels and site experiences. It allows the contests to go beyond the instagram interface. For example, people can enter a contest simply by uploading a photo through instagram (or channel of choice) and tagging appropriately with a particular hashtag and they’re entered. Then those entries can but thrown together in one place for all consumers to see and/or vote on for a second layer to the contest. I particularly like the example offerpop did with the Colts here because it involves puppies. Puppies always win. We know this.
Photo Sources: Firebellymarketing; scottgombar
This post was originally written for Socialnomics. 

Plan your Brand Voice & Tone with These Five Tips

Do you want to be a brand that is boring and bland on their website, blog, and social media?

I hope not. Instead, ensure that your brand invests some time, resources, and money – so your brand voice and tone across your content efforts is consistent and enjoyable.

Here are five things to consider as you plan your voice and tone and how it will work across your marketing channels:

  1. The Style Guide: When it comes to revising your brand voice and tone or starting from scratch, it’s important to consider a style guide that your company can follow. This allows your team to ensure they are speaking the same language and not telling a different story across channels.
  2. Be Consistent: Having one tone on your website and another on your blog, may be confusing to some. Although there may be a different audience reading your blog, it is important that both audiences can tie the two to your brand and not feel that the two experiences are disconnected.
  3. Relax on Social Media: Channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram are much more relaxed. Brands should be human, casual, and talk like you would to your friend when conversing over dinner. It’s not meant to be strict, restrained, and forced. Instead brands should consider using each of these channels as the audience does. As a human, which some brands like Tory Burch do very well.
  4. Tweak as needed: Although it’s important to be less “stodgy” on social media, each channel is different and it’s ok to make tweaks as needed. For example your brand may be more formal on LinkedIn, but more conversational on Facebook. That’s cool. Just keep a consistent voice across each about the type of content you are putting out, and who the brand stands for.
Check out my advice brand tone and voice through community management and read my full post on Social Media Club!

Five Tips to Building your Band of Brand Loyalists

It’s easy to find someone to sponsor your brand and your brand content, but to find someone who will do it without a paycheck, now that’s when you’re in the loyalist category. Loyalists are excited about news from the brand, new content put out, they follow them on social channels, they are advocates on behalf of the brand, and they are current customers. They’re the ones you can count on when shit hits the fan, and some mishap happens, or the brand is being bashed for something that was misunderstood by others. Those loyalists will speak up, they will stand behind the brand, and they will continue to be a customer. In turn, those loyalists will inspire others to consider the brand. Or at minimum, create some awareness that “this brand” is worth checking out.

So how do you create brand loyalists? There is no “follow this checklist” and you’ll have a band of loyalists at your door. It takes time, and it takes effort, and it’s different for each brand. However, there are some things that are important for each brand to consider as they figure out what works best for them.

Here’s a quick list to have in your back pocket at all times (but please don’t be fooled by the word, quick):

1. Transparency - Be transparent and honest about your brand. Either way the consumers will find out the truth, so why not tell it yourself. Brands like Toms may have it easy as their stories inspire others to act, give back, and truly love the brand. Others have it harder, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to tell your story in a way that impacts and connects others.

2. Have the best customer service ever - Customer service can make or break many customer relationships. Brands like Amazon have impeccable customer service to a point that they don’t question when something is wrong, but aim to fix the problem swiftly and make up for it. I remember one time when an item I purchased was delivered to the wrong location, I was so disappointed. Within 12 hours, it was in my hands due to their customer service help. Impressive.

3. Create Connections that Make an Impact - Customers don’t want to be treated as “just another wallet to take from.” They want to be appreciated. It can be as small as remembering their name when they walk into a store, or reaching out to them via a Tweet to say thank you. Nordstrom does a great job at this, when they say thank you whenever their mentioned by their followers on Twitter. It’s a small token, but it’s appreciated nonetheless. Whatever the effort, the effort is worth it to make a connection with your customers.

4. Give Value through Content - Providing value is a key component for any brand. Content is one way to go about that. For example, IBM has over 5 unique tumblr blogs, where they pump out different content on a daily or weekly basis. They are keeping their customers hungry for more – through consistent, quality, and fun content. It’s educational and entertaining – which is no easy feat! Take pointers.

5. Always be there - Your customers aren’t going to go to your website to see what you’re up to (at least not regularly). So be where they are. Be where they with thoughtful value and appreciation for their time. Provide them with content they want, customer service they deserve, a please and a thank you. And having a sale on your products, doesn’t hurt either!

In short, relationships that brands have with consumers are much like regular relationships. They take time to build, and can end quickly. Take the time to build a trustworthy one with true honesty/transparency, keeping in touch, being emotional, and offering true value. With time, that relationship will blossom and become amazing. Some will last a lifetime, others will fade. In the end, it’s better to have build some that lasted a few months than none at all.

This post was originally written for Socialnomics and my full post can also be found here. Thanks!

How to: Determine if you Should Develop a Mobile App for your Brand

The mobile app question is becoming an all too frequent one with brands these days. A better question is…”why do you want a mobile app?” Or how about “what will it achieve?” And also, “Is it better than a responsive website?” Yes, it’s true mobile apps are plentiful and more brands are hopping on board, from the useful app to the content distribution app to the game app to the “i am completely useless please don’t bother downloading me” app. What will your mobile app provide to your consumer? Is it worth the download? Let’s break it down with the questions you need to answer before you get started:

1. What is the purpose of the app? It is important to determine if the app will be useful or at minimum entertaining for the audience to use. For example, if it solves a pain point and brings forward a solution, that is great.

2. Will a RWD site be easier and more effective? This doesn’t mean RWD is a shortcut or a simpler solution. RWD may be a better solution for your audience depending upon their habits and your reasoning for wanting an app.

3. Can your brand build the app in-house? If not, it is important to determine if there are additional costs your brand may accrue due to outsourcing the project.

4. Where are your developers located? If they are located abroad, time zone issues may cause delays in efficiency (not always, but sometimes).

5. What platforms will your app be available on? It is valuable to understand where your audience plays – are they iphone or android users? If they lean more one way than another it may help to launch one one first, and then the other. Test and Learn.

6. How will you promote the availability of your app? No one will know your app exists unless there is some budget set aside to promote the existence of the app, not just on your owned sites, but potentially across social, newsletters, and paid search to drive traffic for downloads.

7. Can your team update regularly for bugs and fixes? This is important to ensure people don’t get frustrated and delete your app after a couple tries.

8. Will your app be an investment or accrue revenue? Having a revenue model in place is helpful, but not necessarily the primary reasoning behind an app. It may be to increase engagement and provide another way for consumers to interact with the brand.

9. Do you have a mobile strategy in place? I cannot stress enough that a strategy is helpful before even reaching out to developers. Just like one needs a content strategy or a social media strategy, a mobile strategy is helpful in order to determine the right look/feel, content, promotion, audience, and how to differentiate amongst the competition.

10. Does your idea already exist? If so, how is yours unique? This is always a tough thing, but sometimes if your app is already there, don’t bother. That being said, sometimes there is a way to differentiate and make your app stand out with a feature others have not implemented or don’t have the ability to implement.

This list isn’t exhaustive so if you want to add to this list, feel free to do so in the comments below. And if you want more advice on how to start out on your first mobile app (or your 2nd or 3rd), feel free to reach out as well.

NOTE: This post was originally written for socialnomics. You can see my post here.  
Image Source: http://blog.farreachinc.com/2012/03/27/app-store-optimization-aso/

Five tips for Producing Vine Videos for your Brand

Vine videos are not just any video content; they require specific expertise and care when producing them in order to cater to the vine audience as well as the mainstream audience. Some brands like Burberry have taken specific note to the “stop motion” feature and succeeded in doing it well. Others could probably use a little more “finesse” as you would put it. But enough about the brands who do it well and those who may not…here are a few things to consider when making your brand’s Vine videos (aside from ensuring you hold your camera horizontal and not vertical, of course):

1. Create storyboards: Like any other brand content, for example blog content, your team should plan ahead on the what the message will be, whether it’s part of a series,  how it folds into the larger marketing effort, etc. Once you have the strategy behind the Vine videos you want to create, storyboards help the producers create the content in a consistent and efficient manner. It also helps to keep the story aligned across several vine videos that may be in a series including the look, feel, tone, and voice.

2. Consider a freelancer: The majority of brands may not have “professional viners” in-house or those who deem themselves to be proficient at making these short form videos. That’s ok! If your budget allows it, consider finding these professionals and having them help your brand out with their expertise. It may be worthwhile not only to get started, but also to learn from them on stop motion. camera moves, and even simple things like the correct lighting.

3. Make your Vine Searchable: Like on Twitter, hashtags help your content be found easier within Vine and outside it. Using branded and common hashtags are important so that your content doesn’t get lose in the void of hashtags that no one uses. And in turn linking them with your own hashtags helps to build momentum around your brand.

4. Categorize it: The new feature (if you’ve updated your app recently) allows individuals and brands to categorize their Vine content in categories like Comedy, Art & Entertainment, Cats, Dogs, Beauty & Fashion, Food, Health & Fitness, Music, Nature, News & Politics, Sports, Urban and even the occasional “weird.” When publishing your Vine videos within the app it’s important to keep these categories under consideration, because like hashtags it’ll help your audiences see your Vine, share them, and get even more eyeballs upon your awesome content.

5. Cross-promote your content: Aside from your audience sharing your content directly from the app, it’s important your brand does too. But before you throw it across every social platform you have, consider which of your audiences would like this content in this format and this succinct of a message. It might be great for Twitter and your blog, but perhaps not Facebook and LinkedIn. Test and learn and see what works best for your brand.

Last but not least, don’t make it a one and done adventure into Vine. If your brand is really interested in this short video content, plan ahead and be sure i’s the right place for your brand because once you’re there, you should make an investment into creating and sharing more than just one video. And most of all, have some fun with it!

Note: This post was originally written for Socialnomics.

Nordstrom: A social media case example for any consumer brand

Nordstrom's social media approach

The well known retailer Nordstrom is proving itself to be an expert at engaging with its audience across multiple social channels, as well as connecting both online and offline for continued engagement.

On thing that Nordstrom ensures is that its visual content is available on whichever channel its audience prefers — providing insight into the latest styles available in the store, upcoming sales, and much more.

Let’s take a look at Nordstrom’s Social Media Approach

Twitter and Facebook

Nordstrom uses Facebook and Twitter to provide updates on daily specials and tips through their committed community managers. The community managers are helpful, quick to respond, and always give nice, sweet comments when consumers share their latest Nordstrom finds.

Going the extra mile: When customers have a question for the store, they often use Twitter to ask it.  Nordstrom, unlike a lot of major retailers out there, do actually respond within minutes including direct messages for direct answers needed.

Email Marketing

Frequent (but not too frequent) emails allow consumers to be alerted to the new trends available in store and online, as well as sales occurring at that moment so their customers don’t miss out on a great deal.

Pinterest and Instagram

Nordstrom’s Pinterest and Instagram accounts are always up to date with their latest trends.  They include highlights of bloggers and their best customers wearing styles from the store. When customers tag their latest purchases with Nordstrom handles or hashtags, they are automatically considered for a highlight.

tumblr

Nordstrom’s blog is especially unique because it isn’t just about the products but also gives consumers an inside look at Nordstrom’s take on fashion. This includes street style pictures from the week, which is great for a quick daily inspiration and feels almost like a service that the retailer is offering its customers.

Takeaways and Lessons to Apply to Your Brand

  • Use visual content that highlights your products in a way that the consumer can see the value, be excited to share it, and potentially purchase it.
  • Provide a path to purchase on appropriate channels.
  • The same content doesn’t live on every channel; allow diversity.
  • Allow the audience to be a part of the content; User Generated Content can allow your fans to feel special.
This post was originally written for Startup fashion – for the full list of takeaways and lessons for your brand check out my full post here
 

Facebook for your Brand Part 1: Managing Facebook Updates

Facebook for your fashion business

Facebook – a channel, a sandbox, a social network, a place for brands and consumers to share content and engage – is continuously growing and adapting. In turn, brands need to adapt and change their strategy towards the channel as these changes occur – whether it’s the latest and great Hashtags, pictures being allowed in comments, or just another change to the algorithm.

In this 5 part series I will cover various aspects you should consider when using Facebook as a tool for growing your fashion business.

What your brand should keep in mind about Facebook Updates:

Hashtags:

  • User adoption is still just trickling in as hashtags are rolled out to the network audience.
  • Hashtags are not functional on mobile yet.
  • It’s a good time to dip one’s toes in and play around with using them in your posts (especially those that relate to Twitter content for cross promotion on campaigns). You may find that you like them.  You may find that you don’t.
  • Listening through tools will not work yet as this functionality will need to be integrated as it was done with Twitter before.
  • This will undoubtedly increase the ability to leverage a large audience and visibility around content, especially when paid options become available (prediction: down the road).
  • Repeat: Cross Promotion on various platforms is now easier.

Images in Comments:

  • This doesn’t work in mobile yet, but should be rolled out soon
  • Allows for greater sharing of visual content by fans. Think about User Generated Content and how this functinality can really build and grow a conversation within your comments.
  • An increase in monitoring and listening will undoubtedly be needed
  • An obvious movement towards more visual content on Facebook (as with Instagram, tumblr and pinterest)

To delve deeper into the Facebook Algorithm, check out my full post here on Startup Fashion

How to: Avoid Social Media Overload

social media overload

Social Media is not just about Facebook and Twitter, and most community managers understand it takes a lot more effort than just scheduling a tweet or post. As an independent designer, you are most likely your own community manager with a limited amount of spare time to get it done.

Unfortunately for some, social media overload can occur and a day’s work can become a tad more daunting.

Rather than submitting to this overload, prepare in advance, and get ahead of the madness with these 3 tips…

Set up listening feeds

In order to be relevant to your audience, you as a brand must listen first, and listen often to what the audience is saying, what the competition is doing, and what is occurring in daily culture and news.

Yes – that’s a lot to listen to each day, but not impossible. The key is to set up listening feeds such as RSS for your social media with specific keywords (including your brand name so you know when it’s mentioned).

Simple tools like Hootsuite are great for twitter lists as well which allow you to group your audience, the competition, and news handles in a way that it’s easier to listen and also easier to respond in a more real time manner.

Have allotted time each day

There will never be enough hours in the day for everything, but it’s important to make time to listen, monitor, and engage with your audience.

Thoughtful comments, answering questions, and asking questions in return are some of the foundational pillars of a good social media strategy.

To get my tip on allotting time and more info on how to avoid social media overload including figuring out your home base, check our my full post on Startup Fashion!

How To: Use Hashtags in Your Social Media Efforts the Right Way

hashtags

Hashtags continue to grow in popularity, and not just on Twitter. People use them even in common phrases when they speak to one another too!

But what’s the right way to effectively use hashtags in social media for your brand’s campaigns? Let’s take a deeper look:

Why do brands use hashtags

  • To corral conversation around a topic such as a fashion line, an event, or a product/service
  • To continue the conversation online such as from a video, article, or event
  • To join a conversation with a pre-existing hashtag and contribute the valuable content your brand has
  • To bring awareness to the brand/topic/tweet
  • To bring engagement around a topic such as a new fashion line
  • To utilize the second screen / socialize TV such as around an event like the oscars
  • Cross promote content across social channels – ex. email and twitter
  • To corral conversation in Twitter chats and be able to respond and follow more easily

Quick tips on creating tweets with hashtags

  • Use 1 to 2 hashtags in a Tweet (not more or people get lost in all the ###s)
  • CamelCap the hashtag: #dontdothis #DoThis
  • Be sure to keep your hashtag short and easy to remember. By keeping the hashtag brief, you’ll save your audience some room to include more commentary about your content in their RT.

Quick tips on choosing and introducing a new hashtag

  • Jumping Into Conversations: Introduce your hashtag by piggy-backing on trending or relevant hashtags when applicable to the content and/or conversation.
  • Use your social real estate – add your main hashtag in your Twitter Bio and cross promote across social media and other marketing
To read more tips and learn what to avoid when using hashtags and monitoring your conversation – check out my full post on Startup Fashion

3 FREE tools to help your brand measure Social

So many tools, so little time. It is not always easy to determine which ones are right for your measuring your social media performance.

statigram

We know the usual suspects like Facebook Insights, which is free on Facebook for Page Admins, and Hootsuitewhich allows you to manage multiple channels and get some general information about traffic and keywords.

However, I’m going to focus on 3 others…one of which are known by many but should never be overlooked, and two others which are sometimes overlooked but still quite helpful for most brands that are active across social media networks.

The essential player: Google Analytics

Google Analytics is basically a free website insights tool which allows brands to track traffic to their site.

This is useful because you can see when a social channel such as Facebook or Twitter was the traffic driver to a page on your site or not. Also you can track which ones are the biggest referral drivers – and when. This is helpful because you can see the plateaus, dips, and spikes and see which campaigns may have attributed to those.

Extra Tip: In addition to Google Analytics, Google Alerts and Google Trends are also helpful tools. Google Alerts allows for RSS or email updates on when your brand is mentioned in blogs, news, etc. Google Trends is great because it can help your brand compare search terms and other sites, in order to get an idea on which search terms are being used most and which of your competitors are receiving said traffic.

A great sidekick: Topsy

I’m a fan of Topsy – even the free version- because it allows brands to get some real-time information on what trends are occurring.

To read more on Topsy and my other fun tool to utilize, check out my original and full post on Startup fashion!

How To Use Social Media to Generate and Nurture Leads

Generating and nurturing leads is a key part of campaigns and the sales cycle for a business looking to kick butt and make a good profit. But did you think social media would be a great way to nurture those leads? Social media is the key to inbound lead nurturing because it allows people to come to your brand on their own accord. I am not saying you shouldn’t utilize email marketing and other forms, but social media can be a great additional source, and also to use in conjunction with your other avenues for lead generation.

3 key methods to lead generation and nurturing

1. Participate in the Convo

More than likely there is already chatter about your brand on the Internet. The key is to find it, listen often, and participate in it.

Find and Listen: You can utilize a tool as simple as Google Reader (or Feedly) in order to hear what your consumers, competition, and others are saying regarding your brand, product, or service. For example you can take RSS feeds from Topsy, Twitter, Facebook and have them all set up in your Reader. Additionally you can set up keyword alerts for your industry. Way simpler than checking every day on what’s out there or getting a billion email alerts.

Listen more: The key is to find out what the key themes are that your consumers and competitors are talking about on these social platforms and across the web. What are the pain points? Then you have an avenue to talk to them about and engage on a level that they want to be engaged on.

Engage: Don’t talk to, but talk with your consumers. Are the majority wishing they had a service that helped them do X better? Or had tips on how to do Y in a shorter amount of time? Perhaps you already have content on how they can do just that. Provide a link to a source of content to help them, rather than just selling your service right away. In short, this will help build awareness, start a conversation, and lead them through the funnel.

2. Share some Content

From part one you have begun to listen to your consumers regarding what they have to say, what they want, what they don’t want, and what information they could use more of. Now what?

Create Valuable Content: Focus on their pain points and offer content on what will help relieve those pain points. For example, if your brand is a software service and your potential consumers are having a hard time with efficiency, perhaps write some whitepapers, blog posts, or record some webinars which give them tips and tricks to increase efficiency (and of course you can throw in a little plug about how your product is the key to that efficiency).

Provide Valuable Content: So now you have this content, now what?

  1. Join the groups where your target consumers are in Facebook or LinkedIn.
  2. Use the hashtags they are using on Twitter.
  3. Share your content in these groups, on your Facebook Page, through your Twitter stream, and on your LinkedIn group.
  4. Make sure there is a link that leads these consumers directly to this content on your website.
  5. If they keep clicking, and look for more info regarding XYZ, now you know what more to provide these specific consumers. You can nurture these leads further all because you listened first, and engaged second – and on the social media platforms where they like to speak and engage (not where you think they should).

3.  Measure, Measure, and Measure some more

Did someone say the word “measure”? You may be tweeting, commenting, sharing, and chatting online with your consumers, but how much are they engaging with you? How often are they clicking on your links? Are they converting? Key areas to measure to see if you are utilizing social media to truly generate and nurture leads include:

Measure the visitors

  • Analyze how they got to your website or blog. Was it through a bit.ly link used on Twitter? Was it through a Facebook group post? Track your links and see where the majority of your consumers came from.

When did you see the most / least traffic

  • You can see which campaigns on social worked the best or least and repeat and further the better ones, and perhaps drop the lesser ones.

Conversion

  1. How many just perused (and what did they look at)?
  2. How many clicked, and converted? What did they look at and view before they converted. Was it the awesome webinars you record each week? Now you know what works and what doesn’t for your target audience.

Although social media is not going to get your lead to convert by itself every time, it is a great bonus tool to use in your nurturing process. Combine it with your email efforts, and make sure your emails and newsletters all have your social buttons on them for potential and current customers to follow and fan when they wish.

And….don’t forget to also keep in touch after you have converted those leads into customers. There is the after sale process part that is very important. Customers want more information on training, tips and tricks, and more. And if they are avid social media geeks, they may be subscribing to your Facebook feed in order to keep up with the latest and greatest from your company.

 

 

Four New Apps and Why You Should Check Them Out!

Ever wish you could be more organized with your social media efforts in re: to Facebook and Twitter? Be more efficient with your time? Get help with your strategy and campaign? And Have some cool analytics to show your success in your social media marketing efforts? Here are four tools to help you do just that!

1. TwitSprout

TwitSprout Perks:

a) A one-page Twitter dashboard: convenient, simple, and informative

b) Can track frequently – even hourly

c) Manage multiple accounts

d) Export analytics and data as a PDF or CSV

e) Brand report specially for your clients

 

Note: Takes a little time to generate as it’s still in Beta.

2. Roost

Roost Perks:

a) Can focus on Facebook and Twitter campaigns specifically

b) Can plan ahead for Tweets in order to save time and focus on other marketing efforts

c) Can produce reports to see effects of Facebook efforts, reach, and demographics/traits of those you are focusing upon

 

d) Helps you manage your networks

e) Suggests types of content to post and provides easy access to articles, blogs and other original content based on your industry and interests.

 

3. Crowdbooster

Crowdbooster Perks:

a) Already offered Twitter insights and now offers Facebook page analytics too!

b) Insights into “who” your audience is via their impressions (aka ReTweets, etc) on your brand.

c) Make reports on your analytics: Excel or PDF

 

d) Recommendations for your marketing strategy

 

Note: They will get back to you re: your invitation.

4. Sprout Social

Sprout Social Perks:

a) Cool easy to use dashboard to have all your social goodness in one place.

b) Search for targeted prospective customers, local target market, and related conversation occurring in real-time.

c) Twitter and Facebook analytics for clicks, mentions, responses, and more.

d) PDF reports

e) And now offering google analytics integration!

f) Schedule posts ahead of time

g) Keep track of check-ins, especially of particular/loyal consumers.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

5 Social Media Snafus and How to Avoid Them

Ever worry about making a “social media snafu?” That’s a good thing! Being concerned, alert, and watching what you do on your social media channels is better than posting away blindly and not having a “method to your madness.” Time and time again brands have made mistakes, and I will tell you now, it will happen to most of us. Whether it’s minor like a mistaken Tweet or larger like a contest gone wrong, we all make mistakes. But here are some “snafus” major brands have made (aka they’re human too) and you can learn from and hopefully avoid in the future.

1. Wrong Tweet!

Who hasn’t seen the Red Cross mis-Tweet? It went viral after the mistaken Tweet, but luckily Red Cross handled it well and with grace. The organization assured loyal donors they were indeed “sober” but the cool thing was the Tweets and hashtags used (which continued via Dogfish beer) raised more donations. Who knew showing a little human side could raise more awareness and create more ROI?

Despite this, it is best to keep your personal and professional Tweets separate if possible. For example, on my iphone I have both the Twitter app and the Hootsuite app. Not a fan of those apps? Pick and choose which Twitter apps you prefer for on-the-go. It’s great to do it this way so you can use one for work, and one for your own personal brand. I have definitely made the mistake of Tweeting on the wrong handle, and I find it easiest for me to keep things separate in order to avoid future “snafus” like Red Cross had.

 


2. Who has the keys?

Although the “younger” folks know how to use social media because they’ve been thrown into it at an earlier age…does that mean they know how to utilize it properly for business initiatives, strategies, and endeavors? Hopefully when making hiring decisions and “handing over keys” companies will not just hire on experience of use, but experience of business strategy and implementation. Unfortunately for Vodafone, they realized that after the fact. They had a junior employee handling their community and the young gentlemen foolishly posted a homophobic comment on the brand’s Twitter page. Immature? Yes. Inexperienced? Most definitely.

Hand over the keys with care, folks — it’s just your brand’s reputation on the line.

 

 

Ever worry about making a “social media snafu?” That’s a good thing! Being concerned, alert, and watching what you do on your social media channels is better than posting away blindly and not having a “method to your madness.” Time and time again brands have made mistakes, and I will tell you now, it will happen to most of us. Whether it’s minor like a mistaken Tweet or larger like a contest gone wrong, we all make mistakes. But here are some “snafus” major brands have made (aka they’re human too) and you can learn from and hopefully avoid in the future.

3. Customer Service?!

Ever had a customer service rep fall asleep while making a house call? This person sure did! And unfortunately for this guy, everyone else has shared in his “nap” too.

Comcast realized this type of customer service is intolerable. They ramped up their Twitter Customer service efforts and has since become an industry leader inTwitter Customer Service help. Thus, it is possible to turn things around…and it is imperative to do so as soon as possible! Customer service is key for many brands, and without it consumers loyalty may be MIA. Using Twitter like Comcast does for instant and real-time customer service for their consumers is definitely a great way to go about it.

4. Video gone wrong!

Motrin had a promotional video where a woman described how wearing a baby sling is great to bond with her child, it can also cause the mother great pain. This video was controversial with the target market of this promotion. The video quickly went viral…isn’t that great? Not so much when mothers all around are vehemently protesting said video. There were blog posts, Tweets, Facebook updates and more regarding the offensive campaign. Yikes! Motrin shut down the video and apologized, but the video was still out there and had been seen by many.

 

Lesson? When focusing on a particular target market and using media that is instant online such as videos, strategize and make sure it truly caters towards that target market. Not all campaigns work, and there will be backlash on many occasions, as consumers all have a voice via social media. It’s the risk brands take in a market where most content is consumer generated. But, it can also be just as rewarding. So brands – strategize carefully and realize what your market wants before you release it.

5. Where’s your target market?

Speaking of target markets…where are they online? Facebook? Twitter? Blogs? It is key for brands to figure out where their target market is. And although it’s good to be present on all the main sites, it’s more important to have a “home base” and focus on where your consumers are listening and engaging the most. Target made the mistake of not doing such. They ignored a blogger, saying their consumers don’t read blogs. Tsk! Tsk! Was there market research to back this up? Even so, you don’t ignore potential and current consumers and definitely not bloggers who could and should be used for brand promotion campaigns. Old school views are not going to work when the main stream market is consuming most information via new media. In short, find your market online, listen, engage, and monitor.

 

In the end, mistakes will happen. But be graceful, be honest, and be human. Brands are not impervious to mistakes and we have seen that above. Consumers want to see and embrace the human side of brands, so let them. Just minimize the mistakes if you can via an exceptional social media management team.

Note: this post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

How to: Get Started in Social Media in 9 Steps



Many companies have realized the potential of social media and the impact it can have on a brand’s awareness and competitive advantage. However, some of those companies are unsure where to start. My first recommendation, do not just set up a Fan Page on Facebook and Twitter handle and begin posting items. That would be unwise and counter-productive. However, I do recommend obtaining a Twitter handle that is your company’s name right away (so no one else does).

But where to actually start? Here are my thoughts:

1. What is your marketing business strategy?

Remember: marketing is a business strategy because it affects so much of the core business. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Compete more effectively against your competition? Generate leads? Improve customer service? Whatever the goals are, it must be defined. For example, when I did social media for a non-profit, I was told their marketing goals were to increase awareness of their brand and attendance at their events. With those two goals in mind, I was able to think more strategically on what had to be planned and implemented, such as increasing followers on Twitter and creating incentives to attend events (on and offline).

2. Listen

See where your target audience is in the social sphere. That way you can see which platforms your consumers are already on, how well your competition is doing, and where it may be most beneficial for your company to be present – whether onFacebook, Twitter, etc. Again, looking back at the nonprofit I worked for, I was able to see most of their fans were on Facebook and interacting more there. However, other nonprofits in the same segment were on Twitter and doing quite well with interaction. Two well utilized platforms that were being under utilized by this nonprofit. However, because I listened to what was being said, and on what platform, I was able to see where the nonprofit should be (along with other platforms/services too, of course).

Note: You can listen to your consumers via socialmention, Tweetdeck, and through other great free social media monitoring tools. Example: I used Tweetdeck to keep track of a conference I worked on and what people were saying via the hashtag.

3. Create Content

It is not enough to just be present on platforms and share information. One must have quality information (content) to share that is relevant to the target market in which they compete and are present. I recommend beginning a blog first, create enough content, so when you begin Tweeting, posting, sharing, etc — you have content for fans and potential consumers to go back to and read more and learn more about what you do and why they should be interested. Some say, content is king. I say content is the one tool in your toolbox you should never let rust. So however you put it, content is essential to utilizing social media and your marketing strategy.

4. Identify Your Target Market

From your marketing strategy you should know who your target market is. From Step 2 above, you should already be listening to see where your target market is in the social sphere, and what they’re saying. Are they complaining? Praising? Questioning your product/service? Wishing something was better? This is your chance to decide how you would like to listen better, respond in real-time, and how you will do this (see part b). 

5. Identify Your Platforms

The platforms are tools to your strategy and plan. After you saw where your competition is, where your target market is, then you could decide to also be present on those platforms, and/or ones you realize that are being under-utilized and take advantage of this “social realty space.” For example, is your competition tweeting away and engaging with the target market by promoting their service, pumping out their blog content, and answering customer service questions? Well, you should be too! Note, there are many platforms, and more and more are created daily. My suggestion, find your home base – whether it be Facebook or Twitter or whatever else. Focus on that platform (because that is where your target market is) but also utilize a few others in order to stay on the competitive edge and not fall behind.

Note: there are many platforms out there, but it does not mean you need to be on all of them. Choose what works best for your business and reaching your marketing goals.

6. Set a Content Schedule

As talked about in Step 2, you need content that is relevant. Furthermore, it is helpful to set up a schedule and/or editorial calendar to keep track of weekly/daily posts written by you and your colleagues. I suggest making a “content bank” full of great blog ideas for people to choose from, setting up a weekly schedule of when people will submit their posts, and when they will actually be posted to the blog (after reading over and making sure there are no grammar/spelling mistakes).

Having trouble deciding on blog post topics? Listen to what your community and target market is saying. Do they have “pain points” or certain areas of uncertainty? Answer them! For example, if your company is in the mobile market and people want to know about trouble shooting on their own. Show them! Key point here is to give the readers what they want. Listen first, respond quickly (or your competition will).

7. Corporate Social Media Engagement Policy

Concerned on what people in your company may Tweet or post? Set up some engagement rules so you feel better and/or designate one or two people to be in charge of posting and responding. I suggest a designated community manager, but with a higher level manager to also have access in order to show the company/brand is human and upper management likes to engage with their consumers too. It makes the brand feel more real and the consumers feel they are special.

Note, it is not always easy to respond to criticism and there will be people who respond harshly to your blog posts, Facebook posts, etc. That is the name of the game though — people are allowed to comment, and your brand has to decide how to engage and respond accordingly. Sometimes it is just a spammer, sometimes it is just a disgruntled consumer — each type of comment is unique to a brand and situation and does not necessarily have an automatic response. My suggestion, ignore/delete spam. Do not ignore a disgruntled consumer — because that may lead to more consumers who are against your service via word of mouth. Find out what you can do to help this consumer and avoid this happening again. If you respond quickly and assist, this consumer may tell people how great and efficient your response was. Thus, social media is fabulous for real-time response and consumer service issues (if used properly).

8. Measure, Measure, Measure

It is essential to monitor your success on these platforms. Use Google Analytics to keep track of your blog and traffic and how that traffic is coming to your blog. Is it direct or via social media tools like Facebook and Twitter? Which blog posts had the most traffic? This will assist in seeing what consumers responded and likes the most and allow you to strategize better for future posts. It will also let you see what did not work and how you can revise your strategy if needed.

9. Test it out

In my opinion the best way to get started is to try. After you have put together your plan, “jump in!” This was emphasized by Mike Volpe, VP of Marketing at Hubspot who once said, it is not enough to dip your toes in. So, get Tweeting, posting, and sharing. And remember, social media is not instant gratification. It takes time, like all relationships and business. So, be patient and don’t forget to have fun!

Note: This post was originally written for oneforty, which was acquired by Hubspot. 

Bridging the Gap: Social Media Conference

Bridging the Gap: A Mashup of Academic Frameworks & Business Applications OR otherwise known as #BTG11 was the first conference I have co-planned, and with months of preparation, Friday, February 18th, 2011 was a great success thanks to the help of my amazing co-planners Sean Zinsmeister (@szinsmeister) and Paul Schmidt (@drumming).

Our main man MC, Joselin Mane (@Joselinmane) kicked it off with great intros and prizes to the audience. Academic Keynote Erik Qualman (@equalman) then started off the conference with a great energy and had the crowd not only roaring in laughter but applause. My fave part of his Keynote presentation was the tools he recommended (sorry for the blurry snapshot). I am a definite fan of some of these tools including all the free fun Google tools, Wisestamp, Hootsuite, and Grader. If you haven’t tried them out, definitely do!

Then the Facebook panel duo, Brian Simpson (@Bsimi) and Dan Zarrella (@danzarrella) were the perfect combo. They were informative, entertaining, and best of all, the complete opposites of one another. They were fabulous at answering the questions of the audience and the crafty ones that Tamsen McMahon @tamadear (our wonderful moderator) threw at them.

Paul Gillin (@pgillin) and Eric Enge (@ericenge) were both fabulous solo speakers who taught the crowd the importance of ROI and SEO, respectively. And although I learned a lot from each, my favorite part was when Meg Fowler (@megfowler) Tweeted, “The only thing in my life with a crystal-clear ROI is coffee. #BTG11″ during Paul’s session. I mean, come on…how can you not agree? Meg also won a kickass raffle prize for that Tweet. Win-Win!

Tamsen knocked it out of the park with her moderating skills for the Content Panel, which included C.C. Chapman (@cc_chapman), Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs), Michelle McCormack (@Michellemmm) and John Deighton (@HBSMKTG). A great mix of on the panel, which allowed for great conversation on how content not only needs to be relevant, but one must take the time to create said content in order to reach one’s target market effectively.

Perhaps I am biased, but I must add that lunch was delicious!

In order to avoid food coma, Julia Roy (@juliaroy ) ensured everyone stayed wide awake with her lively presentation on Twitter for Business. It was not only entertaining but full of great case studies including Best Buy, Whole Foods and @comcastcares. Great examples of how brands should utilize Twitter…but please recall, as Julia stated, “There is no one right way to use Twitter for Business.” Great point!

And to close off the great day, Mike Volpe (@mvolpe) kicked ass and took names. He demonstrated the importance of inbound marketing and how social media is just a “piece of the puzzle”, yet an important piece of course. And one thing, people should definitely remember to take away when focusing on marketing and social media: “don’t dip your toe in the water, jump in all the way!”

But the fun didn’t stop there! There was of course an after-party for mingling, free food and drinks. And lets just say the song O.P.P. began playing…enough said? Bring it back to the 90s?

My last remark is that I am lucky enough to not only know many of these speakers personally, but am honored to know them professionally as well. Great people, Great time. What more can you ask for? #BTG11 Rocked! If you don’t believe me: check out below how much the conference Trended on Twitter. AWESOME!

If you missed out:

Presentation Slides

My Flickr Pics

More pics and videos will be added to the Facebook Page as well.

Five Influential Boston “Tweet” Hearts

Having lived in Boston for ten years now I have had the pleasure of meeting some amazing people in every field of business. Looking at the social media and marketing scene specifically — I have met many unbelievably talented people and I could make this list miles long, but I will save the novel for another time…

And since the well-loved/hated Hallmark holiday is around the corner…here are five KICKASS “Tweet” hearts for your drooling pleasure!

1) Tamsen McMahon: A gorgeous woman who the second I met, I knew I we were going to be friends for years to come. She is not only a delight to have a coffee (although she does not drink caffeine – major warning folks) with, but one of the most intelligent and inspiring women in digital marketing here in Boston. She spoke to my MBA social media class last Fall and every student raved about her presentation on the science of social media. Yes, the scientific method is not just for chem class folks — it is actually applicable to everything you do in social media marketing. Thankfully you don’t need safety goggles this time around. Want to know more about Tamsen – check our her work for Sametz Blackstone Associates or catch her Tweeting away via @tamadear…you will not be disappointed you “checked her out.”

2) Mike Troiano: A man I describe as a mix between the Sopranos and Mad Men. You may catch him with a Manhatten in hand after toiling away for many hours at the office of Holland-Mark (HM), but otherwise he is kickin’ ass and takin’ names as the digital man of HM. I admit, I had the pleasure of working with Mike, and I can say full-heartedly that it was one of the best learning experiences of my marketing career. Sssh dont’ tell  my profs of my MBA program, but Mike may have taught me more invaluable lessons than some of them did. A HBS alum, a previous ad guy, and now rockin’ the digital scene and preachin social media wherever he goes, he is a man who doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk. Also found at @miketrap.

3) Janet Aronica: This young 24 year old, may be young in age, but she is wise on social media unlike most females I have met. She rocks the oneforty scene with her content strategy, marketing genius, and quirky personality that would make even the most pessimistic person crack a smile. She is a female who has come a long way in a short time and is not just a community manager…I think a new title must be made for her to truly show her unbelievable work for the startup. If you haven’t conversed with this young social media hottie yet, check her out on oneforty or @janetaronica before you miss out!

4) Alison Zarrella: When I met Alison, I almost did not recognize her because her Twitter avatar does not do this chica justice. She is not only hot (obviously), but she is a talented community manager, blogger, and now author. Did you know she co-wrote the Facebook Marketing book? If you haven’t you must pick a copy and peruse it because Facebook is not a fad, people. Neither is Twitter. But maybe I’m biased. This female rocks the social media scene in Boston helping out the Brand management of the company she works for with social strategy that is not only valuable but relevant to their target market. Aka, Alison is a Tweet heart to follow at @alison and in her many influential efforts to demonstrate she does not take her career lightly. She is passionate about it every step of the way.

5) David Gerzof: This gentleman is not only easy on the eyes (sorry he’s married, ladies), but he knows how important it is to teach students social media and how it impacts the life around them. Not only is David a social media professor at Emerson College, but he also runs Big Fish. Yes, another over achiever who likes to make sure he has no time to sit and take a breather. But hey, you may be able to catch him with a beer at a local Tweetup where he is not only easily approachable, but a pleasure to hang with. But if you cannot seem to find the time to catch him at Emerson or Big Fish or at the next local event, hit him up at @davidgerzof for a Tweet or two.

Hope you enjoyed drooling over these five amazing folks…I know I sure did!

7 Ways to Monitor Social Media for Less

This is an excerpt from my post for oneforty…

Although social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are free in order to engage with your target audience — the tools to monitor are not always so “free.” We’ve written before about the things you need to keep in mind before choosing the right tool. There are many things these tools can track, and it’s best to narrow down what your specific needs are and then find the best tool for you and at the price you can afford. Here are a few tools that could be useful for your “specific” or “many” needs:

PostRank: A great inexpensive tool for analytics, which can also be linked to Google Analytics for an even more detailed look into your metrics. You can use it to discover your influencers, measure your performance, track online content, benchmark competition, and have a better eye on the social web. This is especially a great tool for bloggers and community managers in a company to monitor social engagement. Keep in mind that social engagement can include anything related to (for example) your blog post, such as a comment,  tweet, or trackback and any of these would be tracked by PostRank. Why not try the free trial and see the potential for yourself? PostRank comes with a free trial and has 3 pricing plans: Free for Influencer; $15/month personal; and $500/month agency.

 Beevolve: A social media monitoring tool allows all types of companies and agencies to track social engagement in order to get a handle on what consumers are saying, thinking and feeling. According to Beevolve, the types of companies who will find this the most useful include: startups, PR agencies, corporate, social media agencies, digital marketing and search engine marketing agencies. Beevolve makes it easier for your company or agency to  better isolate trends and use these results to figure out whether your product, service and/or marketing  may need certain improvements. Highlighted tools include: real-time monitoring, sentiment analysis, demographics & geography, competitive analysis, influencer identification, and engagement workflow among other things. Thus, this is a crafty tool to help “mine” through review sites, Twitter, and other sites on the web to get a better insight into the products, brands, and trends that consumers have sentiment towards.  Beevolve includes a 14 day free trial and has numerous pricing plans starting from $29.95/month to custom made plans. 

 Viralheat: As many of the others, Viralheat has benefits including extensive social platform and web coverage, influencer analytics, finding consumer sentiment, analytics to determine the best ROI for your campaigns, and more. Viralheat also has some sweet clients (aka they’re on “fire”) using their tools including HP, Coca Cola,MTV, Disney, and  NHL among others. So, Viralheat must be doing something pretty impressive. And as of this past year, Viralheat integrated with Facebook, Twitalyzer, and Klout. And another great thing? The pricing isnt bad either. Viralheat offers a 7 day free trial and 3 pricing plans including Basic: $9.99/month, Professional: $29.99/month and Business: $89.99/month.

 eCairn: A tool to help marketers monitor not just the real-time web but find influencers and leverage communities they want to target and focus on.  Thus making it easier to listen and engage efficiently with those that you care to engage with. For example, eCairn assists marketers to identify influencers for blogger outreach, monitor brands, get to the specifics of what’s being said, in order to revise strategy and report back to upper-level management on how marketing is going, and what can be improved. To learn more about what eCairn can do for your company, you can also watch live demos and webinars, which are featured on their blog. It’s key when a social media based company is using social media tools, don’t you think? eCairn hastwo pricing models: Basic: $99/user/month or Pro: $199/user/month.

BrandsEye: The tool to help you protect your online brand reputation. Their monitoring can help single bloggers, small businesses as well as large enterprises. Considering brand reputation can be attacked at any moment and multiple times online, it is up to the brand to keep an eye on what is being said, why it’s being said, and what they can do to rectify such situations. A prominent example is Domino’s Pizza and their YouTube debacle and United Airlines and their issue with “mishandling a guitar” — whatever the issue may be — people talk! So your brand most likely needs a helpful monitoring tool to keep track of what’s being said, as soon as it’s said, in order for your brand to respond promptly. BrandsEye promises to be the tool to do just that. And if you run into a crisis, they also offer assistance in fixing situations too. BrandsEye is $1/month for bloggers, $95/month for small businesses and $350 for enterprise.

 Trackur: As the name suggests, Trackur “tracks” down any and all mentions of specific keywords your company would like to keep “track” of. In addition, like other social monitoring tools Trackur assists with finding the influencers, what’s being said about your brand, sentiment tag (who’s saying positive and/or negative things), have alerts kept in your dashboard or emailed directly for ease of use, among other perks. The tool offers a quick and easy service that allows you to “get running” within minutes rather than waiting for setup and demos, etc. And for those of us trying to keep up with “real-time” that could be pretty handy! Trackur offers 4 pricing plansstarting at $18/month up to $377/month depending upon the extensive use and needs you may have.

 Ubervu: The second I went on to their website I saw a livechat option, which is very helpful nowadays when one wants “real-time” assistance to go along with an applicatoin/tool/service to help with keeping up with “real-time” social media interaction. Ubervu is modeled for either businesses or PR agencies to use. Businesses can “understand customers, be on top of the competition, and get leads from social media” and PR agencies can have “all the social media in one place, white label solution for consumers, and automated sentiment analysis.” According toTechCrunch, Ubervu helps to “organize the mess.” Who needs an assistant, when you have Ubervu “assisting” your social media organizational and monitoring needs?Ubervu has 4 pricing options beginning from $49.99/month for a solo user up to Enterprise pricing options which Ubervu will need to be contacted for.

Remember: it’s strategy first, tools second. There are so many tools and so many options to decide from. Take the time to research what your company, agency, organization needs are. Do you need assistance finding influencers, monitoring what’s being said about your brand or keeping an eye on your competition? Whatever your need may be, there is a tool for it. The key is deciding what’s most important for your company/brand to invest in.

 


Finally Joining the eBook Generation

When Ugg boots came out, I did everything in my power to avoid the “fad.” They may be comfy, but they are “ugg”ly! Well, I now have 3 pairs – brown, black and gray. And yes, they are still not “attractive” persay, but they are amazingly warm and comfortable. I conformed. Crap!

Then, came along the skinny jean. They looked awkward at first, and made your feet look huge! Why would I do such a thing to my feet? Well…all I practically wear now are skinny jeans and they make you look amazing – especially your butt and thighs. Gentlemen – I do not recommend for you, though.

So, then all the eReaders came out, including the Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc. Despite being an internet and social media junkie as well as an avid blogger — I love the idea of having a book in my hand, turning the pages, and actually having the collection of books I’ve read in my apt. And then I was reading The Trilogy of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and when I got to the third book, it was still in hardcover. It was huge! And heavy! I love taking books with me while I’m on the go to read on the subway (the T as we call it in Boston), but that book was like a brick and a half! Suffice to say it took me forever to finish reading b/c I refused to carry it around. And recently I was in nyc with good friends and was interested in The 4 Hour Body – have you seen the size of that monster? Holy crap! That did it! Well I now own a Kindle and an iPad. And I am loving the convenience, the lighter weight on my shoulder, the amount of books I can “carry” at once, and most of the all the price of each of the books. So much cheaper! I still believe I’ll buy some books in paperback for the ones I love and want to keep around, but for regular reading, I believe my Kindle and iPad will be the way to go. And the fact that I can read on either and it keeps track – amazing!

First the Ugg, then the Skinny Jean, now the eReader. I am sold! What next?

Content Rules at Hubspot

Not only was there HubSpot TV with hosts Mike Volpe and Karen Rubin on Friday, Dec. 10th, but the guest stars of the show were CC Chapman and Ann Handley who co-wrote the book Content Rules ! Killer team or what?! Although the banter of the show was entertaining, my favorite part was after the show when everyone had a chance to catch up with new and old friends. Always great to see the likes of Tamsen McMahon, Doug Haslam and Laura Fitton among the crowd, but I also had the pleasure to meet some new faces such as Margot Bloomstein and Maggie Rulli. It was a pleasure to catch up and get to know folks during this fun-filled whiskey drinking casual setting at the Hubspot offices. I would chat more about the awesomeness of the book (which I just received an autographed copy of at the event) and how great Hubspot is, but I believe Cheryl Morris did a great job and urge you to read her post!

What I can say is every time I step into the Hubspot offices, I have great engagement with the folks who work there, the friends who stop by there, and it’s a pleasure to know folks such as Mike and Karen truly take the time to get to know each person. I also commend CC and Ann on being so personable and easy to chat it up with and look forward to hearing more about their book tour.

Keep rockin’ guys!

“Twitter is Stupid?!”

Twitter is Stupid!” was the ignorant comment I received from a classmate during a Q&A (after a presentation on a social media and website plan for a law office). Can you imagine the expression on my face?

It is comments like this, from individuals who have never even dabbled in Twitter, that bother me. I understand if an individual has attempted Twitter, realized what it is used for, but does not believe it is something that works for them or something they want to put the time into. However, those individuals who have looked at Twitter, but failed to actually utilize it, and do not understand the potential it has for brand management – those individuals – I’m sorry folks – ignorance is lame.

I applaud those who have tried it, are confused by it, but do not bash it. I have some law school friends who always ask “what do you tweet?” I love it when people inquire, and truly want to know what is involved in utilizing Twitter to its potential. While some folks may just Tweet personal items such as where they go out, they are still benefiting the places they tweet about. Aka enhancing brand awareness via word of mouth.

So whether you’re tweeting about the burger you ate at X Restaurant, the awesome jeans you bought at Y Store, or just how cool it was to hang out with Z — Twitter is not “stupid” – it is a tool that can be used for great potential, or wasted by “ignorance.”

This is one time when I say…Ignorance is not Bliss.

Save the Date: February 18, 2011

Suffolk University brings you Bridging The Gap: A Mashup of Academic Framework & Business Social Media Conference on February 18th, 2011.

Social Media and Inbound Marketing are making their way through business and culture.  This migration of ideologies creates opportunities and complexities within all organizations.  Our conference intends to connect academia and real world practices, strengthen the connection between the frameworks preached in schools and the practical applications being used in organizations.

The Info:

February 18th, 2011
Suffolk University
120 Tremont St
Boston, Massachusetts 02108

Registration Time: 8:00 am

Lunch Included.

6pm Post-Conference Cocktail Networking Event at Red Sky

The Agenda (order may be switched):

1. Academic Keynote

2. Expert Panel on Facebook

3. How to utilize SEO in your Marketing Plan

4. Expert Panel on Blogging

5. Expert Panel on Twitter

6. Industry Keynote

Our two keynotes are Erik Qualman and  Mike Volpe !! In addition we have confirmed speakers such as Julia Roy, Brian Simpson, and Michelle McCormack with Joselin Mane as our main man MC!! Stay tuned to find out who else will be speaking.

Also stay tuned for the landing site (under construction) for up to date details.

Until then…Hit us up for more info:

The Planning Committee:

Pam Sahota

Sean Zinsmeister

Paul Schmidt


My New Site!

So I bought the domain months ago — and finally “got off my butt” to put it to use! I was fed up with the .com version of WordPress and the lack of plugins I could utilize and realized the awesomeness of the .org and all it beholds. I’m sure you all are nodding your heads, “yes, dear – about time.” Well a special thanks goes to a great friend of mine, Shawn McCarthy, because with his web-building skills I was able to get this site launched in no time.

Hope everyone subscribes via email or RSS. Would love to get feedback on what you think and keep up with my thoughts on what’s fresh and new in branding, social media and charitable causes.

Love to all my readers,

Pam :)

FutureM Un-Conference

Unfortunately due to my silly MBA classes, I was unable to attend any of the FutureM events earlier in the week, but I was able to hit up a couple events Thursday night. Holland-Mark‘s Digital Man Mike Troiano spoke about “Scalable Intimacy,” siting their client example Notch Session (which I must admit is some exceptional beer — especially if you want a few without that headache the next morning). The set up of this event was particularly interesting, since it was a contest where the winners received on the spot social media advice from Mike himself. (Full disclosure: I did work for Holland-Mark and loved every minute of it.)

And who were the winners?

3rd Place: Creative Crafts for Creative Kids

2nd Place: Formaggio Kitchen

And the 1st place winner is….United Way of Mass Bay!

All 3 received specific advice on areas they were having trouble in – whether it be content strategy, which social media tool to focus on (depends on where your target market it), etc. Lets just say, the crowd was not yawning, and they were not leaving early. Mike knew how to keep the crowd laughing and entertained while teaching the crowd on how best to utilize social media to your advantage. And if you are now sorry you missed this, you can see check out the full deck from the event.

And as I tweeted from the event last night: “Remember the social, not just the marketing” – Mike Troiano.

After saying “great job” and “c ya later”, I quickly ran off to Mantra where Cyberbrew had been kicked off. There was an eclectic crowd of veteran “cyberbrewers” and newbies (such as myself). Unfortunately I missed the open bar, but I did meet some interesting folks and ran into a few good friends (Jason Rush from Boston Interactive and Joselin Mane from BostonTweetUp). Familiar faces always make an event that much better. While I laughed at the men who “networked” from one female to the other, I drank my glass of wine and chatted away…until next time FutureM, you sure did rock!

PodCamp Boston 2010

After attending numerous social media networking events such as the 140 conference, and now Podcamp (and soon to attend FutureM), I can officially claim my “nerd status” without rebuttal. Although, I was only able to attend the 2nd half of this weekend’s PodCamp conference (can you blame me for wanting to run the Susan G. Komen 5K on Saturday as well?) — it was well worth the commute over the bridge to lovely Cambridge.

I joined my good friend, Sean Zinsmeister as we hopped from David Wells (Social Media for Social Good) to Paul Gillin (B2B Social Media – Really!) to Morriss Partee (Geolocation) to Chrisopher Penn (Podcasting 101: 5 years later) to Lane Sutton and Avrom Honig (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare — It’s Taking Over Our Lives).

I definitely enjoyed David’s talk as I’ve worked for a local nonprofit (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company) for about 2 years, where I also utilized social media platforms in order to spread the word n’ do some “social good” for a non-profit that has given such cultural enrichment to the community of Boston.

Paul was more than informative on how B2B’s can and should be using social media platforms to their benefit. Having worked for a digital agency in Boston I realize that utilizing social media platforms is not just a good idea, but imperative.

Morriss hit a hot topic with geolocation. Although I am not a big fan of letting people know where I am via Foursquare and other geo apps, I realize the impact these apps are having on businesses. If a business utilizes an app like Foursquare or Gowalla in a way that consumers are pumped to participate and use it, then it can reap great rewards for that business.

Chris, entertaining as always, kept the audience laughing and intrigued by the different tools that podcasters have at their disposal for delivering their content to their audience. Who knew it could be so easy?

Last but not least Lane and Avrom were the perfect duo — they created quite a discussion regarding privacy and young social media users. How will the new generation of teens impact social media in the future? Guess we’ll have to wait for Lane and his fellow teens to show us.

After a jam-packed day — I am looking forward to seeing these speakers and those I missed again at a future conference. Until then — I salute my fellow social media nerds that I am not only impressed with the work and involvement of each person at these conferences, but look forward to see what develops next…

How do you Subscribe?

Do you subscribe to magazines the old-school snail mail way? Or do you get the digital version sent to you via email? I cannot help but still enjoy turning each glossy page filled with a ridiculous amount of advertisements…and then the other day I was trying to decide whether or not to subscribe to Fast Company. I paused when I was about to subscribe via snail mail thinking I can get all the cool articles right on the website and via email rather than having 50+ issues stacked up on my nightstand collecting dust, as they hope to be opened and taken on the T on my way to be work. It is a never ending battle for me as I do not see myself w/ an iPad (yet), so as for now I am becoming a fairly regular digital reader (thanks to Google Reader) but also enjoy my stack of magazines that I can just throw in my bag on the way to work, dinner, and/or on my future apartment balcony where I sit on my lounge chair taking in the short yet splendid Boston summer.

Where do you stand?

S.W.A.P. Boston

Want an opportunity to donate clothes or “SWAP” them with others? These events have been occurring in Toronto and Montreal Canada (among other int’l locations) and now it is here in Boston (June 5th and 6th). Thanks to Sarah Martin for putting it together here in Boston and of course all the volunteers. And if you still want to help out you have an opportunity to do so still.

Fan Page
Volunteer Page

I’ll be there. Hope to see you there too – a great time, a great experience, for a great cause.

Time to Blog?

I frequently wonder how people find the time to research and write daily blog posts on relevant topics. I write a weekly blog and this past week I have fallen behind, due to being an overzealous full-time MBA student and feeling like a massochist, for not only having 1, but 2 consulting gigs, a fellowship, and helping a school organization. When would I find the time to eat, sleep, exercise, and breathe, let alone blog? This week I do not have the slightest clue. So this is my applause to all those who write daily blogs that are interesting, relevant, and thought-provoking. I commend you, and I thank my friends/readers for suggestions on upcoming blogs for me to write. I promise, to catch up and write a kick-ass post, next week!

Stay tuned…

Social media and your furball?

People make fun of me all the time for being a little obsessed with my cat (who being 1 yr old now – still is the size of a 6 month old kitten…quite cute). However, I think I may be given some reprieve since I did not join a pet social network site and post all of her adorable pictures (even if they may be on Facebook). But for you loving pet owners that want another way to boast about your cute furball and how awesome he/she is…the site Cute as hell may be for you! And for those, who just want to see some cute animal photos – it is a fun site to get in some “oohs” and awwws.” Enjoy!