Social Media: Magnetize Your Customers

Question: What is so powerful that it’s toppled regimes thousands of years old, forced teenagers to suicide, funded Planned Parenthood, and yes, even got Betty White a hosting gig on SNL?
Answer: Social media.

Today’s technology pace is moving at exorbitant speeds. In this rapidly evolving, interweaving web of channels, where do we see social fitting in? The answer is everywhere.

Nowadays, social is more than posting a link or hitting the “like” button. Magnetic content is transforming the way we view social marketing. It’s a trend moving away from static advertising, to magnetic advertising—what is going to draw people in.

What is magnetic content? It’s been called the “hottest trend in social media” and “this season’s ‘socially’-acceptable little black dress.” In short, it is content that drives people to your page. Magnetic content marks an evolution from the interruptive advertising model to a more engaging approach that integrates many forms of media (video, mobile, location based). Ads are so yesterday, content is the future.

This seemingly muddled mess of social everything creates the perfect storm of opportunity for online and mobile marketers.

Here are a few tips to see if your content is “magnetic”:
1. Is the content unique and useful?
2. Is the content fun and engaging?
3. Is the content well-executed and taking full advantage of the channel?

Here are the five best practices for magnetizing customers through social media:
1. Don’t think social media. It is social marketing in the broadest sense.
2. Leverage the secret ingredient: Trust. Show both good reviews and bad reviews.
3. It’s like dating. Listening comes first.
4. Add value, do not talk just to hear yourself type.
5. Be authentic, transparent and humble. This makes you credible.

If you don’t believe us, take it from the guy that revolutionized the Internet as we know it. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimates that the amount of content shared on networks will double in 2012, and again in 2013.

So where do you stand? Is your content currently magnetic, or is it pushing people away rather than drawing them in?

Marketers Guide to a Brand Audit

Audits are often associated with accounting to evaluate financials. The same concept can be applied to brands to evaluate brand awareness, messages, perception and overall brand equity. By performing a brand audit we can identify opportunities to strengthen the brand, and create initiatives to rebuild the brand.  Writer of The Branding Blog, Martin Jelsema suggests you perform a brand audit when:

  • Contemplating a decision to enter a new market or product category in which you have not as yet established a position
  • Assessing the pros and cons of extending a brand into a new product category or developing a new brand for that category
  • Determining whether to sub-brand or utilize a corporate brand – and to assess the balance between the two
  • Brand market share is slipping or is not meeting realistic expectations because of competitive activity
  • Considering the establishment of a new product category in which your brand will be the first participant.
  • You are not certain of your brand’s position, strength or effectiveness in relation to competitive offerings
  • It’s time to establish a cohesive branding plan, and implement it through the creation of relevant branding elements: name, positioning statement, logo, packaging, graphic standards, associations, events, etc.

A brand audit needs to be objective to truly identify problem areas.  GuideStar suggests hiring a consultant to focus on the following types of brand audit activities (from Brand Strategy Insider):

  • Research:  Does the brand have a clear understanding of current customer need states, attitudes, values, etc alongside the market and competitive landscape?
  • Positioning: Does the brand positioning leverage target consumer research to strategically differentiate the brand (along with benefits and personality) within the market?
  • Identity:  Is the brand’s visual and verbal identity (name, logo, icon, tag line, type style, colors, symbols, messages) consistently applied based on the positioning?
  • Advertising:  Does advertising creatively convey the brand benefits and break through the clutter to effectively reach the target audience?
  • Internal marketing team: Is the marketing team well-rounded with a curret toolset inclusive of skills in leadership, creativity, marketing, and innovation?
  • Strategy: Is the marketing team partnering with executive leadership to create long-term brand vision and impact-focused marketing initiatives?

The output of the brand audit should identify clear action items and help direct your focus to building a short and long-term strategic plan of action. Main areas of focus should be determined by weaknesses identified in the brand audit (i.e. if you needed to completely overhaul the advertising to better refelct your strong positioning). As a marketing leader, the brand audit is an opportunity to re-strategize, re-position, and creatively adjust the brand identityto maximize marketing and brand effectiveness for tomorrow.

Image by Eugene Z from Stock.Xchng

Facebook vs. Email: Friends or Foe?

Show of hands…who has heard the myth/tale/fiction that Facebook is going to kill email?

If you have, I am sorry to say, you have been lied to.

For starters, you need an email to even log on to Facebook. Fundamentally, Facebook and email go hand-in-hand. These two seemingly similar platforms can really make a great team if executed properly. And both are needed in your social media arsenal. According to Exact Target 2011, 58% of adults in the U.S. check email first thing in the morning. There is nothing that is going to kill email anytime soon.

Another myth is that you must have a Facebook page to get more customers on Facebook. Even 44% of corporate social marketers look at Facebook as a way to get new customers, according to Wildfire 2012. In reality, this is completely inaccurate. We like what we like. You like companies on Facebook that you already have an established relationship or experience with. 84% of fans of company Facebook pages are current or former customers, according to DDB 2011.

In short, Facebook is a ratification of a relationship, not a creation. Facebook helps your customers remember you, and email does the exact same thing.

How are email and Facebook similar?

  • An email subscribe/unsubscribe = a Facebook like/unlike/hide
  • The percentage of email opens = Facebook reach numbers
  • The number of Email click throughs = Facebook engaged users
  • The number of email forwards = the number of Facebook shares

Tips to leverage email and Facebook’s strengths:
1. Use Facebook to source email content. Ask people their opinion, what they want to hear from your company, what they’re interested in.
2. Use Facebook fan posts as email content. Don’t tell your customers how great you are. Let other customers share their opinions.
3. Use Facebook to provide your fans with exclusivity. Give your Facebook fans a 24-hour heads-up on special email deals. This will not only make them feel special, but also grab the low-hanging fruit by obtaining any email addresses of Facebook fans you do not already have listed.

Another great tip, is to always be testing. Each time you update a Facebook post or send an email, analyze the number of opens/likes/shares. See when the most effective time for posting/sending emails is. You want to optimize your marketing.

Currently, only 18% of corporate email marketers include social icons in their emails. Your emails, website and social media platforms should always drive traffic among themselves.

And always remember that with Facebook, the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. What this means in relation to your company is that if you are not updating your Facebook page with interesting content, your post will fall to the bottom. The easiest thing about Facebook fans is that these are people that already like you and want to interact with you. Don’t lose the opportunity to speak to them.

Search Marketing Tips to Improve Results

According to a study conducted by Econsultancy, spending in the North American Search Engine Marketing sector is projected to grow from $16.6 billion to $19.3 billion in 2011, a $2.7 billion increase. At Sparxoo, we have written about search marketing before: Optimizing Content Using Keywords, Branding in a Keyword-Driven World, and How to Find Keywords Using Google Adwords. To succeed in SEO, marketers must continually adjust site content to improve organic search results while also delivering a high quality user experience. Below we share additional tips to help you achieve your search marketing goals.

1. Start with title tags
Use “title tags” to indicate to both the user and search engine the title of your website. The contents of the title tag will usually appear on the first line and in bold if they match the search query. Create a title that is both descriptive and unique to help Google identify your site. In addition, write a concise, yet telling (and interesting) description meta tag. The meta tag is displayed under the page title to clearly communicate the page’s content matter. The search engine will pull fragments from this description to display in the user’s query. Be sure that to use unique title tags and meta tags on independent pages across the site to improve search results for both the user and search engine.

2. Valuable site content
While this may seem obvious, truly rich site content will increase search results organically. Captivating content will be posted in blogs, linked into social sites, and shared amongst others through emails, forums, etc. Quality content is commonly the basis behind the organic buzz, and thus site reputation, created by both users and search engines. Beyond quality, sites must stress the importance of unique and fresh content to gain a consistent and growing visitor base. While you must certainly be mindful to include keywords throughout your site’s content, writing for the user, not the search engine, is essential.

3. Proper anchor text
Anchor text is the text displayed as the result of a link and clicked on by the user. Every link contains anchor text, yet not every link contains descriptive anchor text. To inform the user and search engine about what they are about to click on, create anchor text that explains the content accurately. The more descriptive, concise, and formatted the anchor text, the easier the navigation will be for both the user and search engine.

4. Searchable images
Every image on your site has an individual filename and an “alt” attribute that can be optimized to improve search results. If the image cannot be displayed for some reason, the “alt” attribute is the text that is specified as an alternative for the image. “Alt” text can provide guidance to a confused user by stating a description for the image that was intended to appear. To further facilitate guidance to the user, create a directory (and Image Sitemap) to store all of your site’s images. This consolidation will simplify the course to your images, as well as provide an aid to the search engine through the sitemap.

5. Deep linking
Creating links into and between the most pages on your site as possible is the basis behind deep linking. In order to be found on the first page of search results for related searched words or phrases, your site must be highly ranked and reliable, meaning that the search engines find that other highly ranked, reliable sites have links to your page. In doing so, your site should have links form other sites, Facebook, your internal blog, etc. directed to as many interior pages on your site as possible. There should also be links on your homepage to move visitors to and between as many interior pages as possible. Generally, the more multifaceted and mixed the deep linking, the higher search engines will rank your site.

6. Promotion through quality content
Self promotion through link sharing is an effective method of gaining quick detection by people sharing common interests, but must be used sparingly. Blog posts and newsletters promoting changes, additions, and new features to your site will help to increase traffic and viewership. Promoting on social media sites and throughout your sites’ associated community will match interested groups to relevant information and quality links.

7. Easy navigation through breadcrumbs
A user-friendly site is one that is easily navigated. To simplify navigation for both the user and search engine, start with your “root” page (homepage) and base a row of internal links that stem from the homepage. The directory structure outlines the way a typical user would pilot through your site. Referred to as a “breadcrumb” and displayed at the top or bottom of the page, this row of internal links will facilitate fluid user navigation on your site.

8. Site maps and webmaster tools
Preparing two sitemaps is crucial to display the structure of your site to both the user and search engine. An HTML site map (in lower-case) is typically displayed to help a visitor who is having issues finding certain pages on your site. An XML Sitemap file (in upper-case) helps search engines display correct URL’s for the various pages on your site, as well as outlining all of the pages on your website. In optimizing both site maps and the rest of your page, utilize webmaster tools provided by the majority of search engines. Webmaster tools will better control how search engines interact with your website, thus getting useful information to the source and performing better in search results.

9. The dreaded 404 page
Without the use of a breadcrumbs page or sitemap, a user may get lost in translation and land on the dreaded, “page not found” 404 page. A 404 page can come from a user typing in the wrong URL or following a broken link that does not exist on your site. To avoid potentially losing this visitor, create a custom 404 page that matches the design of your website and has a link to your site’s homepage. Creating a guide back to your page with your site’s design will greatly enhance the user’s experience; it is possible to have a constructive 404 page.

10. Go mobile
In comparison to normal desktop sites, content from mobile sites is formatted and managed quite differently. It is important to configure your mobile site appropriately to be indexed and crawled by search engines accurately. Creating a Mobile Sitemap and ensuring user-agent access will verify that the search engine indexes your mobile site. In addition, make certain that your mobile URLs are recognized by the search engine through testing from various mobile devices. Once testing is complete, verify that a mobile site display for a desktop user is redirected to the standard version of the site and vice versa.

While independently these modifications may seem insignificant, the combination of the above best practices will influence your site’s overall search engine marketing effectiveness and reach. For further reading on search marketing, we suggest these search marketing articles: Improve Your Google Quality Score, Optimize Text Ads for Search, and Boost your CTR. Sparxoo Agency is a specialist in search marketing. Please contact us if we can be of assistance in your search marketing campaign.