Celebrate a Holiday – It’s Good for Business

Everyone loves a holiday – especially smart marketers. There is no better time to promote a product, service or cause than when your target audience is in a celebratory mood. The reason some top brands spend millions promoting holiday festivities is clear – it’s great for sales and brand awareness.

If you don’t have a seasonal campaign calendar, it’s worth it to start thinking about putting one together. A seasonal campaign calendar will help you anticipate upcoming holidays so you can turn them into sales and marketing opportunities for your business.

Running a successful seasonal campaign involves more than sending a ‘Happy Valentine’s Day’ type email. You’ll have to come up with cleaver ways to engage your audience, pair your brand with the festivities, and present an opportunity to convert your audience to customers.

Here are three smart steps you can take towards seasonal campaigning –

1. Get a list of holidays that work for your product, service or cause. Start with the holidays your client’s are most likely to celebrate; if you don’t know what they are – ask them. Demographic information could also offer some clues. Holidays that align with your brand are also great places to start – for example, if you are running an Irish pub, St. Patrick’s Day could be a winner!

2. Engage your audience. How do you communicate with your target market? Get your modus operandi into holiday mode. Your e-newsletter, Website, social network presence should be dressed up for the party!

3. Convert your audience to customers. Create a buzz with giveaways, events, coupons – whatever will get your target audience in the door to sample your wares and have a great time.

If you came up with some great ideas you’d like to share – let us know!

What Sucks About Facebook’s Page Design Updates

If you are using a Facebook page to promote your business or organization,  you already know that come March 2011 your Facebook page will have an ‘updated’ layout. Some of the updates are great for page administrators – but from a marketing perspective, some of the updates are a headache. Here are three potential hitches and what you can do about them –

1. Hello photos, goodbye tabs. Info that was once accessible via tabs at the top of your page has moved to the left column – as ‘links’. Photos have taken over the space that was once dedicated to tabs. This might have been a great update for profiles since people enjoy looking at their friend’s photos – but are people as interested in photos from the businesses and organizations they choose to ‘Like’? This update is not going to bode well for businesses that use customized tabs for promotions.
What to do: Set your preferred customized FBML tab as your landing page.

2. Where is my ‘Like’ prompt? Most customized tabs have an arrow or some kind of prompting text reminding visitors to ‘like’ the Facebook page. You may need to update the alignment of these prompts as your Facebook page now has a breadcrumb navigation that pushes the ‘Like’ button to a new position.
What to do: Embed a ‘Like’ button on the customized FBML tab.

3.  They traded my wall size for…? Your wall got narrower – and the ad space to the right got wider. Businesses and organizations are not going to be happy about losing 50 pixels of messaging space to ads from competing brands. Marketers on the other hand will be happy about having more space to promote their wares.
What to do: Run ads to promote your business and organization – social media advertising is always worth it.

What’s Great About Facebook Page Upgrades

Facebook Pages New UpgradesFacebook profiles aren’t the only products getting a makeover. Starting March 2011 all Facebook pages will start looking like personal profiles. If you have a page for our business or organization, you can start enjoying the new layout right away – that’s right, you don’t have to wait till March to test out the new features.

Here are three great improvements to Facebook pages
1. Who am I, profile or page? You can now choose to use Facebook as under a business persona – or as yourself. For example, when managing your page, you can either post updates and comments under your name or your Page’s name. The new “use Facebook as your page” setting will also allow you to promote your page on other pages through comments, get notifications when fans interact with your page or posts, and see activity from “liked” pages in your newsfeed.

2. Show and tell. You can now show off pictures affiliated with your business or organization. Similar to profiles, if you tag pictures with your business name, they will appear in a photo banner on the business’ page. This is a great way to showcase your brand, products, services or community.

3. Popular vs. latest posts. Users will have two wall filters. You’ll be able to feature the most popular posts on your Facebook page versus the latest posts.

Here’s to making your business (or organization) look great on Facebook!

Yahoo! Embraces the Power of Facebook and Google

Yahoo! Google and FacebookAfter much testing Yahoo! made a bold move last week to allow all users to log into their Yahoo! accounts with their Facebook or Google IDs. According to company executives, this is a move to consolidate usernames and passwords and make it easier for new users to manage their Yahoo! account.

Businesses and organizations can learn three things from Yahoo!’s move –
1. If you cant beat ’em, join ’em. Google has long outpaced Yahoo! in the search business, and with over 500 million users, Facebook is the go-to place on the Web. Making space for the competition will boost Yahoo!’s relevance.

2. Shared login or OpenID authentication is a great idea. If your business or organization require members to log in to access content, this feature is a great way to share content and user activity in a wider network — and if your members are sharing something good, you may even recruit new members.

3. Embracing the competition can keep you in the game. Yahoo! may have lost it’s search engine crown to Google but it still has a popular and successful email product. Associating Yahoo!’s brand with Google and Facebook is also a good way to make users feel they can have all products with just one log-in — yeah for interoperability!

Do you need a mobile phone for facebook?

Do I need a mobile phone to be on facebook?

2011 is a big year for mobile marketing and facebook is gearing up to take advantage of this trend by forcing users to add mobile phone numbers to their profiles.

facebook users are now being asked to enter their mobile phone numbers and enable SMS texting from the social network in order to verify their identities for simple tasks such as logging in or setting up a vanity URL. If you’d rather not enter your mobile phone number in the network’s database, you are simply told to try again “at a later time”.

There is no word from facebook to clarify what “a later time” might mean, but this is proving an inconvenience for businesses that don’t use mobile phones or people would rather not add their mobile phone number to the network.

facebook requests mobile phone number for vanity url
facebook: no mobile phone number? try again at a later time

But let’s be clear, a mobile phone is not a requirement for being on facebook and doing business in the world’s #1 social network – but it’s fast becoming a necessity.

Facebook Vanity URLs – Get your name in there!

Good vain - facebook vanity URLs
Good vain - facebook vanity URLs

There is a big difference between the URLs below – even though they take you to the same place on facebook.

  1. http://facebook.com/marooninteractive
  2. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Maroon-Interactive/167733809553

The first URL is called a ‘vanity’ URL, because it gives you the opportunity to say something unique about your facebook profile and help to promote your brand in the network if you are managing a page for your business.

Vanity URL’s are great, they are –

  • Easy to remember.
  • Work better on printed materials than the long-form facebook URLs (see second example above).
  • Makes it easy to direct someone to your page or profile.

But there’s a catch – think very carefully before you set one up because you will not be able to edit or transfer your new username/URL once you set it! That said – it’s fairly easy to set up a vanity URL:

How to set up a facebook vanity URL

  1. Have a list of 3 possible unique usernames/URLs you’d like to use
  2. Go to (or click) the following link – http://facebook.com/username, and follow the steps.
  3. Check to see if any of your unique usernames/URLs are available and if they are – voila! You are ready to be just as vain as the rest of us.

Now go claim your brand name before it’s too late!

New Year’s Resolutions For Small Businesses

Get a smart phone, socialize your Website and form partnerships in 20111. Get a smart phone. This great tip appeared on the New York Times‘ list of “10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Technology“. Your clients are no longer using phones for conversation only, they are using them to find products and services, get directions,  keep track of appointments and goals. Mobile marketing is the next frontier for engaging your clients. In order to understand how your customers are using mobile phones, you need to become a user.

2. Socialize your Website. If referrals are important to your business, you’ll need to make it easy for your current clients to tell their friends about your great products and services. Subscribe to services (such as ‘Add This‘ and ‘Share This’) that allow visitors and clients to share your content with friends in their social networks. After all, your clients (and potential clients) are visiting your Website, but they are spending most of their time in social networks.

3. Form partnerships to promote your business. Although new media marketing delivers clear, track-able results, it can be costly and time consuming for small businesses. Partnering with a business that is not a competitor is one way to over come the cost and time. For example, if you are running a bakery, partner with the shop next door to retweet messages, Facebook statuses and share a marketing budget. Soon you’ll find that you are building and sharing a community of supporters for half the effort.

Top 10 Interactive Marketing Articles for 2010

2010 was a great year for us – we thoroughly enjoyed sharing the many interactive marketing ideas we published on this Website and elsewhere. Many of our articles were based on questions that came from projects and friends, and we certainly hope you keep them coming. Here’s a rundown of our top social media and interactive marketing articles for 2010 (based on visits and pageviews).

  1. Social Networks: Free R&D for Small Business
  2. Email vs. Social Media – Should you follow Ben and Jerry’s?
  3. How Much Time Should Visitors Spend on Your Website?
  4. Three Steps to Better Open Rates
  5. When your Company Name is Your Top Keyword
  6. Best Billboard? Yahoo! Mail Homepage
  7. Is mobile phone jailbreaking good for business?
  8. Yahoo! tosses HotJobs to Monster – Search Fail?
  9. How to become a “trending topic” on Twitter
  10. Facebook closing Gift Shop – but not for entrepreneurs

We hope you’ll keep coming back for more – follow us on Twitter @suzettegardner, @smmarketingtips, join us on Facebook or get fresh updates via email, the good (almost) ole fashioned way.

What’s next? More great interactive marketing tips and insights – plus an in-depth look at advertising today. Stay tuned!

Google – Teaching Parents Tech (for Product Awareness)

Google Teach Parents Tech Google has joined Yahoo! in converting its email login page into a billboard – but what Yahoo! is using as premium ad space, Google is using to promote its products through a new project called “Teach Parents Tech”. The project is a Web-based video resource that allows users to select any number of simple “how to” tech support videos and send the videos to mom, dad or just about anyone. It takes about a minute to watch any of the videos and they cover a range of topics including, how to find information, upgrade your browser or manage electronic media files.

So, how can businesses and nonprofits benefit from this great idea? Continue reading “Google – Teaching Parents Tech (for Product Awareness)”

The Truth about Twitter, Trending Topics and Your Business

Are Twitter trends fixed?
Twitter Trends - fixed?

The wikileaks fiasco has revealed an ugly truth about social media marketing via Twitter – their top trends may not be ‘the top trends‘ after all.  Marketers assumed that top tweets and trending topics were based on actual Twitter user activity, but according to Twitter – this is not true. When users raised questions about the omission of tweets about wikileaks in Twitter’s list of trending topics and top tweets, the company was forced to admit that “Twitter favors novelty over popularity…” and that the company is  in full control of what topics make their lists. Continue reading “The Truth about Twitter, Trending Topics and Your Business”