If you are running a small business – say, a mechanic shop, diner, dentistry or hair salon, chances are people are talking about your business on Yelp. Over 30 million customers have written a review of a local business using Yelp and about 78 million folks check out those reviews every month. The site’s popularity is such that a search for a business by name could list it’s Yelp review even before the business’ own website.
Getting a positive (or negative) review on Yelp is not hard, but since a big chunk of Yelp’s 78 million monthly users are accessing reviews directly via their website or app, the challenge is getting your business at the top of Yelp’s search results. Here are five tips for improving your ranking on Yelp –
Thanks to Facebook, facial recognition technology is now a part of our everyday lives. Our subscription to being face-printed is almost seamless and without thought as we contribute to refining Facebook’s massive face-print database by uploading images to the social network and Instagram, then tagging the images with names of people we know. Marketers have not been left out of the fun. Businesses can now access face-print database systems procured by Facebook and some government agencies to target shoppers and offer them special deals when they walk into a store or are in close proximity.
According to the Wall Street Journal, GM is all set to slash their $10m Facebook advertisement budget to $0. Why? According to the company, Facebook is a good platform for engaging their clients, but not an effective network for marketing the company’s vehicles. That sounds just about right – since the network was created to facilitate person-to-person connection and engagement.
Selling ads is a relatively new Facebook product. Now that the company is public, I expect it to grow and improve rapidly in order to satisfy shareholders. While the network is a vast database cataloguing the personal lives and preferences of over 3 billion users, Facebook has failed to provide marketers with the level of access and diversity of product that would deliver shared success from advertising.
So how would you know if Facebook is not a good place to spend your advertising dollars? Here are three things to consider:
1. Long-term ads perform better than short-term placements
There are a lot of people on Facebook, but they are not there to click on ads. It takes a long time for users to view and then click on an ad. The longer your campaign run-time, the better the results will be.
If you run a non-profit organization, by this time of year you should be shoulder-deep in soliciting donations to keep your projects going – if not, there is still time!
Network for Good (a major hub for non-profit giving that distributes over $350 million in online donations to more than 45,000 different nonprofits organizations) recently shared some great information that I think should help non-profit organizations (small and large) understand what to expect from their donation campaigns this giving season.
The best news is that giving has gone mainstream – in 2001 the average online gift (through Network for Good’s platform) was $226 – today it’s $73. It’s not that people are giving less, but that more people are giving and mostly in smaller amounts than in 2001. For example, today 65% of Americans give online – compared to just 4% of Americans in 2001.
It’s a great time to raise funds for a worthy cause. Here are three articles to get you started on your donation campaigns:
Over 200 million folks use Twitter to keep up with brands, each other, snark, and a wide range of topics. Twitter is also great for promoting – and organizing events (as evidenced by TweetUps). Planning a conference, concert or a book signing? Adding Twitter to your marketing plan can help boost your guest list.
If you already have a presence on Twitter, here are three tips for using Twitter to get word out about your event (if you don’t have a Twitter presence, start here) –
1. Location, location, location – target your locals
Tweeting your event to the universe and hoping the right person will see it is not the way to go. Use hashtags to include your tweets in searches for your event’s city or venue. For example, if you are hosting an event at the 9:30 Club in Washington DC, your tweet could look something like this: “Who’s coming to the Thievery Corp show at the #930club? Tix still available. #WashingtonDC.”
2. Partnerships – friends influencing @friends
If your invited guests are using Twitter, partner with them to promote the event – the more popular they are, the better. Guests that have a strong following (speakers, musicians, authors etc.) can be great ambassadors for your event – get them to share details of the event via Twitter and their other networks. Got performers? Target their followers by mentioning them in your tweets – and don’t foget to use hastags.
3. Promo basics – what’s in your goodie bag?
It doesn’t matter what type of event you are tasked with promoting or where you’re promoting it; follow the basics! Give your prospects an incentive to attend your event – offer rewards for registering. Teasers are also great for building a buzz about your event. Tweet “behind the scenes” photos and video interviews so prospects can get a taste of what to expect.
Follow the steps above (that are appropriate for your event) and watch your conversion rate climb. Happy promoting!
First adopters can choose to set up a business profile in one of five categories; “Local Business or Place” (e.g. Hotels, restaurants, places, stores, or services), “Product or Brand” (e.g. Apparel, cars, electronics, financial services), “Company, Institution or Organization” (e.g. Companies, organizations, institutions, non-profits), “Arts, Entertainment or Sports” (e.g. Movies, TV, music, books, sports, shows) and “Other” (e.g. pages that don’t fit any of the above categories).
Facebook may be the worlds largest social network, but the platform still needs great ideas to stay competitive . So where are they finding those ideas? Just about everywhere, including Twitter – their semi-competitor.
This week Facebook launched “Ticker”, their real-time activity stream that mirrors Twitter’s user experience. Ticker is located on the right-hand side of Facebook users profiles and displays friends activity in Twitter’s ticker style. When users hover over their friends’ activity, they are presented with the opportunity to view the full story or join a friend’s conversation as it happens.
The company launched this feature to give users a more complete picture of what their friends are doing in real-time. The Ticker includes live stories—things like status updates, friendships, photos, videos, links, likes and comments.
Hopefully this is not a feature users find annoying because you can’t close Ticker. Users can hide the ticker, make it smaller or control the length of the feature – but they can’t close it. They can also hide some stories that appear in the ticker which will be visible when viewing their own profiles, business pages or a friend’s profile.
Is this a great Facebook update for businesses?
This is great if you have a page on the network for promoting your business because every time your supporters interact with your page or apps, their friends will know and hopefully follow suit. Facebook Page Likes, App Share, App usage, and Sponsored Stories are all eligible to appear in Ticker for others to see. For example, if you developed a game app for Facebook to generate interest in your business or ideas, Apps can publish stories to announce that your subscribers are using or playing with your app (Ex: “Joe is playing Farmville”).
There are two valuable takeaways from all of this –
1. You’ve gotta keep innovating to stay relevant and competitive even if you are an industry leader.
2. It’s always okay to copy a good idea — the big guys do it all the time.
If you are sending “e-blasts” to your customers or supporters – please, stop doing it now. This outdated style of email marketing has the same results as fax broadcasts of press releases; your message is ending up in your recipient’s trash.
While email marketing is still an effective way to communicate with an audience, the one-way communication style of the “e-blast” is over. Messaging your subscribers today means doing more than sending emails with commands like “buy, buy”, “click, click”, or, “register now!” If you want to communicate with your subscribers effectively, think “engagement”.
Engaging your subscribers means looping them into a two- or multi-way communication versus subjecting them to one-way communication. The fact is, social media have raised the overall expectations of e-communications to this level. The prevalence of social networks and their popularity in comparison to Websites suggests that subscribers are more drawn to engagement and the communication arena where they are able to give feedback and participate.
Here are examples of steps you can take to make these three popular email marketing asks more appealing:
1. Donate.You’ve stated your worthy cause and have asked for a generous donation. Make it engaging by inviting your subscriber to join a community of volunteers, attend a Meetup in their area or present an opportunity for your would-be donors to get up close and personal with a beneficiary or your organization’s leadership. Even if most of your subscribers don’t take up the invitation to engage, the fact that you present this opportunity will help to legitimize your fund-raising effort.
2. Register.You’ve stated the what, where, when and have asked your recipient to “REGISTER NOW!” Make it engaging by inviting your subscribers to also meet other registrants in your organization’s social network on Facebook or elsewhere. Email solicitation for event registration typically have the recipient asking “is this worth my time and money?”, “will I know anyone there?” or “who’s going?”. Creating a social network around your event is a great way to create buzz and a community that will engage your subscribers – and hopefully motive them to register.
3. Buy.You’ve included a nice big picture of your product with an attractive sale price – and a big “Buy Now!” button. Make it engaging by including the opportunity to share or “Like” the product on Facebook and other networks and allow subscribers to share their thoughts, enthusiasm or questions about your product in their network of friends and family. This simple step could help promote your product further than you imagined.
A popular concern for marketers considering a more engaging e-communication strategy is negative feedback. But the best approach to managing negative sentiment is to create the space for it and be a part of the conversation. So say goodbye one-way communication via e-blasts, and hello to engagement and higher conversion rates!
How Facebook used the rules of customer engagement to get users to embrace technology once regarded as creepy.
If you upload a series of photos to your Facebook profile, you’ll notice that some of them are pre-tagged with your friends’ names. This is because Facebook now uses face recognition technology and software to help reduce the time users spend tagging their uploaded pictures.
So how was Facebook able to deploy this technology once regarded as “creepy” with minimal outcry? They followed two cardinal rules of customer engagement –
1. Meet your customers’ needs: provide relevant enhancements.
When Facebook redesigned their users’ profile layout earlier this year, the photo gallery that now forms a banner at the top of user profiles made it easier to for users browse their friend’s photos – and encouraged users to upload their own. Face recognition technology became relevant to Facebook users because it simplified the image tagging process for users uploading lots of photos. As users accept or reject Facebook’s recommendations of pre-tagged images, they also help to refine the accuracy of the technology.
2. Honesty: allow customers to choose to engage your product enhancements.
Tricking your customers into using products and services they might otherwise decline is not cool. So Facebook allowed users to opt in – or out of being pre-tagged in their friend’s photos via the company’s face recognition technology*. If you are introducing an enhanced service that might compromise your customers’ privacy or raise damaging concerns, always allow customers to decline or embrace your services and honor their wishes.
Visit us next time to learn how face recognition technology can help boost the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
*Opt out of image pre-tagging via face recognition on Facebook by going to account –> privacy settings –> scroll down to “Things others share” –> Suggest photos of me to friends –> click [Edit Settings] –> Disable.
One company that’s falling down on the job of using negative sentiments to improve its service is Capital Bikeshare in Washington DC. Subscribers to Capital Bikeshare’s service have access to 1,100 bicycles at 110 stations throughout the city. They pay an annual fee and can check out a bike for 30 minutes at a time – usually for short trips and errands around the city. If they keep the bike for longer, they pay a nominal fee.
Realtime #fail share
Bikeshare is a great idea – in fact, I’m a subscriber. But the service is plagued with negative sentiments from dissatisfied subscribers broadcasting their frustrations via twitter and other mobile applications. A survey of a few real-time search engines yielded the following negative sentiments:
Short supply of bikes at popular docking stations
Subscribers lucky enough to get a bike for their morning commutes can’t find a docking station when they arrive at their destinations in the busy business district
Subscribers unable to find a dock must pay to wait for one to open up (and bear the inconvenience of being late for appointments etc.)
Realtime #fail saves
It appears Capital Bikeshare has a social media strategy focused on promotion; the company uses Facebook and twitter to tout the service daily, and in April they joined LivingSocial to offer a generous discount on subscription which netted over 8,000 subscribers for their 1,100 bikeshare service. But a social media strategy that ignores real-time negative sentiments could ruin their brand.
Here are three ways Capital Bikeshare (CB) can use real-time technology to improve their business.
1. Real-time technology for customer service. Acknowledge and reply to customer complaints via twitter. Many tweets at the company complaining about empty docks and other issues go unanswered. Tweeting solutions and info about alternative docking stations is something the company should commit to especially in the mornings when subscribers use the service to get to work.
3. Real-time info billboards – a partnership in the making? It’s difficult for riders to stop to check their mobile phones for information on available docs while riding. Will some innovative entrepreneur partner with CB to provide info billboards (or bike widgets) that re-directs bikers to empty docs before they spend 20 minutes biking around chasing empty docks?
Thanks to technology, businesses and organizations function in a real-time information environment. Feedback on your brand’s reach, influence and performance is broadcast across the globe 24-hours a day in an endless news cycle fueled by social media. Remaining competitive means using real-time technology to do more than promote your wares, cause or services. Negative sentiments should be a guide to service improvement for Capital Bikeshare and others.