5 Social Networks & Apps Businesses are Getting Creative On (Other Than Facebook, Twitter, G+ & Pinterest)

In 2014, some 73% of online adults use a social networking site of some kind. Facebook remains the platform of choice but according to a study by Pew Research Center, a striking number of users are now also diversifying to other platforms with some 42% of online adults using multiple social networking sites simultaneously.

As a business, you want to be where your customers are. Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are obvious social networks you should be using to increase your business reach and impact but there are other popular social networks out there that you are neglecting and that can potentially do your business a lot of good.

1. Tumblr

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For one, millions of people from all over the world use Tumblr every month to find, follow, and share information. Tumblr is the perfect social network empowering businesses to create content and get it in front of the audience they deserve. By all accounts, Tumblr gives you a means to create a brand identity you can be proud of and tell your story using any number of media including pictures, animation, text, music, video, and more.

Quick stats:

– 125k new users sign up on Tumblr every day

– There are 140M blogs on Tumblr

– With 63B posts

All you have to do to tap into this traffic is sign up on the social networking site (a process that takes under 30 seconds) and you can create content and engage with the very active Tumblr community by being an authentic member.  How you tell your story on Tumblr is entirely up to you. Tumblr also makes it super easy for businesses to syndicate content across the web and other networks.

2. Instagram

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Instagram is unlike any other platform. The single focus of this social network is captivating imagery and this gives brands an avenue for rich visual storytelling. How you tell the story of your brand is what makes you unique. Instagram, in turn, promises:

– An engaged community; Instagramers are passionate about the platform.

– A visual medium where captivating imagery takes the center stage

– And a beautiful and inspiring environment

Quick stats

– Instagram boasts 200M active monthly users

– With 65% of those users being outside the United States

– 60M photos are shared on the network everyday

– That generate 1.6B likes

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How to Inspire and Engage Your Audience on Instagram

Nike on Instagram

On Instagram, in addition to its primary @nike account, Nike runs other accounts including @nikebasketball, @nikefootballand @nikewomen.

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The question is: Why? Why the extra accounts and the extra work?

You see, the reason why @nike is so successful on Instagram lies in its understanding that being passionate about a sport means being part of a community. And Nike built communities on Instagram defined by, not country borders, but by passion; the passion of fans and athletes from around the world.

@nikerunning is, for example, perhaps one of the most successful Instagram accounts. The way it brings together everything running related and the global running community is extraordinary and gives them a reason to feel that they are part of something bigger with hashtags like #werundirty. And all of this is brought to life on Instagram, with photos and videos.

General Electric on Instagram

General Electric is an American multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut. Now if you were ask to picture what the Instagram account of General Electric looks like, first off, you would probably wonder: Does it have an Instagram account? And secondarily, you will probably visualize photos of light bulbs or videos of how a refrigerator works.

Now let’s see how wrong you are.

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The team behind @generalelectric is not here to promote appliances. Instead they are selling a bigger story; A story of powering, moving and curing the world.

Before Instagram, people didn’t know what General Electric stood for but in Instagram, the company saw the opportunity to develop an understanding for what GE does. In addition to successfully building awareness for its innovative technology, General Electric has managed to become one the most esteemed contributors to the Instagram community.

How they did it? It’s all about getting your messaging priorities to align with your business objectives and thereafter committing to a high bar for content for images posted typically once a day.

Ben & Jerry’s on Instagram

@benandjerrys is another Instagram account that deserves a special mention for the sheer way that it brings its ice cream brand to life on the social service. Focusing on things like key flavors, fun and the brand values, Ben & Jerry’s was one of the first brands to join Instagram in February 2011 and is now, one of the most successful accounts.

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@benandjerrys is, in effect, a visual storytelling platform that connects people from all over the world.  In fact, at least half the photos that Ben & Jerry’s shares on Instagram today are from community members.

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How To Use Pinterest To Help People Discover Your Business

On November 20, 2013, Pinterest introduced Place Pins. Now, we are going to go deep into this latest addition to the Pinterest arsenal, but before that, let’s look at some updated Pinterest stats that will no doubt reflect the reason why Pinterest is not just another social network. It is, in effect, the fastest-growing social media site of all time and in its 3 years of existence, Pinterest has become a huge traffic referral for businesses.

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1. The conversion rate of traffic referred from Pinterest is 50% higher than the conversion rate of traffic from other sources.

2. Pinterest users are spenders. They spend more money on more goods more frequently than Facebook, Twitter and Google+ users.

3. Pinterest generates four times more revenue per click than Twitter.

4. Pinterest generates 27% more revenue per click than Facebook.

5. 47% of U.S. online consumers have made a purchase based on a recommendation from Pinterest.

6. 80% of Pinterest pins are repins, which means that, although Facebook is the all-time social sharing champion, Pinterest is not far behind.

With stats like those, it comes as no surprise that an increasing number of businesses are leveraging the Pinterest platform to 1) help people discover them, 2) increase visits to their websites and subsequently 3) generate leads and sales.

And it’s working!

About Place Pins

Last year, right before the holiday season, Pinterest launched a new feature that will potentially benefit local businesses massively in increasing in-store traffic. This new feature is called Place Pins. Basically, Place Pins is a new type of pin. It allows Pinterest users to map their pins to certain locations. Originally, the point of this new feature was to benefit travel planners (Every day people pin about 1.5 million places of which more than 750 million pins are of travel destinations). But now that the feature is rolled out, it’s fairly obvious that it has great application for local businesses as well.

The Significance of Place Pins

In effect, Place Pins combine the beautiful imagery that you would expect of a travel magazine with the practicality of an attached online map that you can share with your friends. These maps can be accessed from anywhere on your Android device or iPhone. This means that, with Place Pins, you can find places and get directions on the go. Imagine how convenient such a tool would be if you were in the middle of nowhere in Spain and you needed somewhere to crash or somewhere to go for a warm meal. Place Pins also include details like an address and phone number right on the Pin.

To create a board of Place Pins, simply select “Add a map” when you create a new board. You can also convert an existing board to a board of Place Pins. You can then map your new and existing Pins on the board.

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Stop Collecting Facebook Likes! What Are You Going To Do With Them?

Tell you what, if you go to my Facebook profile right now, you will see that, over time, I “Liked” at least a dozen high fashion brands and two dozen local attractions including restaurants, hardware stores and a few travel agents. For one, there is this little French restaurant 3 blocks over that I have been meaning to drop by for quite some time now. Then there is dinner cruise I am always thinking I will book one day for my birthday or Valentine’s Day.

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Basically, I am a potential customer for each and every one of these businesses and I absolutely love the fact that Facebook and the other social networks make it so easy for me to keep up with what’s happening around me. I mean, if tomorrow, the little French restaurant is having a special event like say 50% off steaks, I would want to know but at this point, I am not an actual customer of any of the establishments I “Liked” on Facebook. My “Like” means very little. And I’m not even talking about tweets or +1s!

So here is a question for you marketers.

Why are you guys still obsessed with Facebook likes and Twitter followers? Is it getting you anywhere?

You need to realize that at the end of the day, social media is all about increasing your business potential. A good social media campaign increases the reach and impact of your brand and exposes you to the right people. But an even better social media strategy involves work that converts this potential into action.

So are you ready to get your social media strategy right?  Let’s get started!

1. Don’t Be an Attention-whore. Be Tactful!

For social media success, you need eyeballs on your content. What you need to know is this: Getting on people’s radar is a tactful process. You can’t mastermind crazy stunts to build your brand awareness. Sure, faking a hack (*cough* Chipotle *cough*) might draw some attention, but do you think that kind of brand awareness leads to action?

If you are going to invest in social media marketing, make sure people talk about you for the right reasons. You want your followers and Facebook fans to convert into buying customers.

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Online Highlights of 2013 | The Most Popular People, Places and Events of The Year on Social Media

With 2013 coming to an end, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have published details of how the world snapped, tagged and posted their way through the year.  From the new Pope to pop stars like Justin Bieber, 2013 has seen some familiar faces and surprisingly popular places.

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Online Highlights of 2013

Let’s talk Instagram. With more than 150 million users worldwide and around 55 million photos posted everyday, Instagram is the perfect way to look back at the year that has almost gone. Earlier this month, the photo-sharing social network revealed its most popular picture and the most Instagrammed locations, cities and hashtags of 2013.

This year, the most ‘liked’ photo on Instagram was Justin Bieber’s picture with Will Smith, collecting more than a whopping 1.5 million likes.

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The top location of the year on Instagram was the Siam Paragon shopping mall and leisure complex in Bangkok, Thailand with Times Square in New York and Disneyland in California in the second and third places respectively. No European landmarks made the list, which also includes New York’s Central Park and Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. London was the fourth most geo-tagged city behind New York, Bangkok and Los Angeles.

The year’s top hashtags on Instagram include #friends, #food, #fashion and #selfie with the most popular being #love.

Moving on to Facebook, this year, the most talked about topic on the social network was Pope Francis with Miley Cyrus, Nelson Mandela and the former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher also in the top 10. News events that dominated the most talked about topics on Facebook also includes the birth of Prince George.

In Twitter verse, Leah Michele’s post after the death of Glee co-star Cory Monteith and the tweet confirming the death of Fast and Furious actor Paul Walker were the most re-tweeted posts of the year.

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What’s Google Saying?

In 2013, people searched for:

1.    New Beginnings

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– On July 22, the Duchess of Cambridge gave birth to a baby boy, delivered at 16:24 BST at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, west London.

– As of August 19, fifteen countries (Argentina, Belgium, France, Iceland, Netherlands , Brazil, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Uruguay) and several sub-national jurisdictions (parts of Mexico and the United States) allow same-sex couples to marry.

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– This year, Pope Francis was the most talked about person on the planet.

2. Goodbyes

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– Cory Monteith, 31, actor on the television show “Glee” died on July 13 after struggling with substance abuse for years.

– Nelson Mandela, 95, colossus of the 20th century who emerged from 27 years in prison to negotiate an end to the white minority rule in South Africa died on December 5.

– Paul Walker, 40, star of the “Fast & Furious” movie series died on November 30 in a car crash.

3. Consumer Electronics

This year, the most searched-for consumer electronics were:

– The iPhone 5s. Although overall opinion to the debut of Apple’s new smartphone seemed to be positive, there were some moments caught on social media that drew wows while others were just ho-hum.

– Samsung Galaxy S4. Samsung’s biggest release this year was the Samsung Galaxy S4.

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– PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. According to the annual Google Year-End Zeitgeist, PlayStation 4 beat the Xbox One on the consumer electronics searches chart.

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4.    Other Global Top Trending Searches

1. Harlem Shake. The Harlem Shake is an Internet meme in the form of a video, which became viral early February 2013. The video currently has 68,406,520 views on YouTube.

2. Boston Marathon. The Boston Marathon is an annual marathon hosted by several cities in eastern Massachusetts. This year, during the 2013 Boston Marathon, at 2:50 p.m. EDT, two explosions occurred about 180 m apart on Boylston Street, in the last 205 m of the course. Three spectators were killed and more than 200 people were injured.

Boston-Marathon-Bombings

3. Malala Yousafzai. In a world where girls are gazed at more than heard, this newsmaker is no less than a revolutionary. Being featured on Time’s magazine cover as the 100 Most Influential People in the world, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, recipient of the 2013 UN Human Rights Prize  as well as many other awards and laurels, this girl surely knows how to get her message across. A pen is surely mightier than the sword as they say.

Malala-Yousafzai

4. Miley Cyrus. The 20-year-old singer took raunchy performances to a whole new level at the MTV Video Music Awards this year with an explicit display of tongue wagging and twerking.

5. Oscar Pistorius, Aaron Hernandez. The two most Googled athletes of 2013 include Oscar Pistorius and Aaron Hernandez. Oscar Pistoriusis a South African runner who used prosthetic legs after having both limbs amputated at the age of 11. He won numerous gold medals at the Paralympic Games and participated at the 2012 Olympic Games. Pistorius was a source of inspiration for the disabled until the sad news broke that he murdered his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Aaron Hernandez has a similar story. A star on the rise, in the summer of 2013, he was convicted for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player for the Boston Bandits. He faces a life sentence in prison without parole.

Oscar-Pistorius

6. Typhoon Haiyan. Typhoon Haiyan was an exceptionally powerful tropical cyclone that devastated portions of Southeast Asia, particularly the Philippines, in early November 2013. It is the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record and at least 6,109 people died in that country alone.

Typhoon-Haiyan

A look at Google Zeitgeist

10 Essential Components of A Comprehensive Social Media Marketing Plan

Creating a comprehensive social strategy is a major marketing concern and a continued challenge with the social media environment becoming increasingly complex. However, it is the central element that businesses need to make sense of their social media presence. Without a social strategy, how will you know what to do, how will you measure your performance and how will you determine the ROI of your social media program?

Social-Media-Marketing-Plan

The key to achieving excellence in social media is understanding the different components that make a comprehensive social media strategy.

1. Branding

Branding boils down to being consistent. Across the different social media channels, the same naming, imagery type and color scheme that is part of your branding need to be applied to social media. The challenge is perhaps to keep your voice consistent as well, which is the most important aspect of social media branding. You need to choose a voice to represent your business and choose a tone.

2. Content

Content in social media provides a medium for businesses to engage with social media users. Informative and shareable content benefit a business’s social media presence. That being said, content is not limited to blog posts and photos. You can think outside the box. Infographics, memes and discussions (for example tweet chats) are all different types of content that you can include in your social strategy.

3. Curation

In social media, if you only talk about yourself, people will lose interest in what you have to say. To breathe life into your social media accounts, you need to curate content that is of interest to your fans and followers and promote it together with your own content. Does your social strategy include sources from which you curate content?

4. Channels

Over the web, there are over 50 active social networks with million of members each. You can’t and should not have a presence on each one of them. You need to choose which social networks to include as part of your social strategy and subsequently determine the best practices and tactical plans for each of these networks.

5. Frequency

The next stop is maximizing your ROI for time and resources spent on each social network. No two social sites are alike and based on statistical data, you need to decide how much time and resources you will allocate to, for example, making posts on Facebook and tweeting. More frequent posting does not mean more effective social media marketing.

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4 Ways To Localize Your Social Media Strategy To Increase The Impact Of Your Business

Large multi-location brands and small businesses alike are starting to understand the importance of localized social media marketing to drive business growth and profitability. Why is localized social media stalking and interactions suddenly a hot topic among savvy marketers? How is localized marketing an effective marketing maneuver for small businesses and national brands?

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For small businesses with no international market or plans to expand in the near future, localized social media marketing makes sense. Take your average local auto shop or specialty-catering company for example, followers from another country offers the benefit of a bigger following and engagement but they are not likely to ever make a purchase.

For national brands alike, focusing on key geographic areas is an effective marketing maneuver to increase business growth and profitability. A local digital marketing strategy increases the reach and impact of the brand in their many locations and helps generate local leads.

How to Get Local on the Social Networks

1. Localize your Social Media Accounts

If your business is focused entirely on a given geographic area, build social pages that link back to a local website and fill out as much location information as possible. On Twitter, this means that you should have your city name mentioned in your user bio. On Facebook and Google+, you can also include a full address and alocal phone number.

For national brands targeting specific locations on social media, it’s a good approach to create secondary social media accounts dedicated to each area. This strategy is of course dependent on a number of variables including time constraints, resources, scalability challenges and brand messaging. If you have the resources to do so, build social pages for each of the brand’s locations on the top social media sites including Twitter and in particular Facebook on account of the recent changes made to the social site including Facebook Nearby and Graph Search.

2. Post Targeted Content

The top social networks including Facebook and Twitter have geo targeting tools that businesses can use to push localized content on the social networks. When used correctly, these tools can significantly increase brand engagement and exposure.

Let’s take an example of how geo targeting tools are useful. Large brands like Starbucks have millions of fans. With fans from all over the world who obviously speak different languages and relate to different things in life, a single global message will not be as impactful as many messages targeted to geographic and demographic audience segments. With Facebook Targeting for example, brands can customize messages to different audiences, increasing the likelihood of exposure and engagement. Facebook enables marketers to target posts by gender, relationship status, age, location and language among other things.

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YouTube Advertising Crash Course

YouTube videos get more than 1 billion views per day. Undeniably, more and more people are turning to YouTube everyday; whether it’s for entertainment, news or even makeup tips. Smart Internet marketers identified this opportunity some time back and now even Fortune 500 companies, who earlier would have stuck to conventional modes of advertising, have started taking YouTube ads seriously.

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People aren’t going to stop watching YouTube videos anytime soon and any marketer that ignores this medium of advertising is doing himself and his clients a huge disfavor in the long run. Starting to panic that you’re still not in that game? Worry not, we’ll smooth out your initiation and discuss virtually everything you need to know about starting a YouTube advertising campaign.

To start with there are 2 kind of ad campaigns that you can run on YouTube. Regular ads and Video ads.

Regular ads are simply banner and rich media ads, something like AdWords. These are the ads that you see towards the right of a video or in the form of an overlay banner on top of the video. This form of advertising is very prevalent but not so effective. No one likes banners on top of their video and YouTube gives the viewer an option to close the overlay ad whenever they want. As for the sidebar ad, unless your rich-media content is really interesting, the ad is very likely to go un-noticed. Let’s not forget that the viewer’s prime intention is to watch their video and they are less likely to focus on any other elements of the page.

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In-video ad and banner ad to the right

The second kind of ads and by far the more popular ones are the video ads. As a YouTube advertiser you have the option of four kinds of video ads.

– TrueView In-stream

These are very much like TV ads that play before a show starts. YouTube shows the visitor 5 seconds of your ad after which they have an option to skip it. You only pay for it if the viewer watches your whole ad or at least 30 seconds of it, whichever is less. If they skip the video after 5 seconds then you don’t pay a dime.

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– TrueView In-Slate

In Slate ads appear only on videos that are 10 minutes or longer. YouTube gives the visitors 2 options- Either watch one of three ads in the beginning or go through regular commercial breaks during their video. You only pay for this when the viewer chooses to watch your video ad.

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– TrueView In-Search

They are exactly like AdWords ads that we see on Google search result pages and appear above or towards the right of YouTube search results. Much like AdWords, you only pay for this if the viewer clicks on your ad.

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How to Increase Social Media ROI | 6 Tips

Search engine optimization and social media marketing have become extremely important for most businesses to become a successful online brand. A question often asked by marketers in social media conferences and events is about the ROI on social media investments. While measuring the social media ROI is not an easy task (its another topic altogether), these tips will certainly help you improve your social media marketing ROI.

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1. The Humanization of Brands

Build-a-brandConsumers today are very active on the social sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube, LinkedIn and Pinterest. This perhaps explains the reason why brands today want to engage with their prospects through social media.

In 2012, the most important thing that digital marketers learnt about social media marketing is this: For success on the social media sites, you need to humanize your brand. You need to find a way to connect to people. On the social sites today, people choose what they like and who they want to interact with. The interaction is more often than not personal.

So basically, if you use social media to drive traffic to your website and increase your conversion rate, you need to get up close and personal with your fans and followers to make them feel like they belong. You need to be more than a brand. You need to be a name, a face and an authority figure. Share relevant links, photos and videos. Let people in on some behind-the-scene action. Build an online business community around your brand.

2. Engagement brand-engagement

In addition to having a great persona on the social sites, you also need to engage with your fans and followers. Without engagement, there is only so far you will get in terms of social media success. Without a good and workable engagement strategy, you will nullify the effect of your social media campaign.

So engagement is important but what does it imply exactly? What does engagement on the social media sites include? Does posting an update everyday count as engagement? Do redirecting people to useful resources count as engagement?

On the social media sites, engagement does not have a clear-cut definition but it includes the following:

– Reaching out to people by showing an interest in what they have to share

– Providing real value in the community by participating in discussions

– Being generous in sharing resources

– Always having the right answers ready for your fans and followers should they have any query

– Asking for feedback

– Dealing with positive but also negative feedback with good social skills

3. Transparency

On the social media sites, people put a premium on things like transparency and honesty. In the past, brands have made the mistake of providing fake profile information and misrepresenting themselves to be something they are not. Even today, the social sites are littered with fake profiles and inaccurate information.

If you want to connect with people, be a brand that people can trust to be honest. Be transparent.

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Branding For Small Businesses | What The Branding Giants Do And How You Can Copy Off Them

If you run a small-scale business, you may not have the following or fan base like a company such as Coca-Cola but there is no much you can learn about branding from the way the big players do it. To help you get started, below is a list of companies that have built their brands through engagement efforts.

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Each of these companies have done something special with their social media marketing and as a small business, you have something to learn from each one of them. So buckle up people and pay attention because you are about to enthralled.

How the Branding Giants Do it

1. Ask Users for Content

Everyone’s heard of Expedia, the online travel company. What you might not know about is the ruse used by this company to get people to share content. Expedia encourages users to share their travel experiences via Expedia’s social media apps including videos, photos and content. For example, one video might be of a father and son at Disneyland Paris with the caption “The best trip ever” Another might be a narration of a trip to Phuket. “ Just got back from a trip to Phuket, Thailand and we’ve had the most wonderful experience ever. Everything was booked and paid for via Expedia including our car rental. Expedia is no doubt the best online travel company.”

The take-away: In addition to the content you create for your fans and followers on the social sites, you can also ask them for content including photos, videos and written content. You do not need a following like Expedia’s to be able to do that. Just ask for photos, videos or short stories relating a certain subject. This will promote your brand and simultaneously motivate people to pay attention to your company.

2. Hold Contests

When RadioShack, the undisputed authority in the wireless market, held a contest via social media to promote a new product, Verizon phones, the result was spectacular with Twitter users. Tweets were sent using the hashtag #itskindofabigdeal. The tweets were sent directly to one of several Verizon phones. These phones were placed on a table and set to vibrate. Whenever a tweet was received, the phone would vibrate and move. The person responsible for making the phone drop would then win the phone.

The take-away: To promote engagement with your brand on the social sites, you can try to make a game out of your product or service. This can be easily achieved by adding a competitive element to your request. This will promote engagement and perhaps benefit you two-fold if people start following you or liking you on the social sites because word-of-mouth is, you are offering an incentive. Whether your end goal is to attract new fans and followers or to promote engagement for your brand, contests always work great.

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