The Marketing Benefits of the Visual Revolution

October 30, 2012 by Peg McDermott Leave a Comment

It's no secret: social media is very much heading in a visual direction. The meteoric rise of Pinterest is one indicator, and Facebook's purchase of Instagram is another. In addition, more and more consumers are browsing the web in a visual way, on tablets and other mobile devices.


What this means for you as a marketer is that you can take advantage of the new visual revolution by getting in at whatever level you can. Even today's mobile phones have decent cameras, and you can get interesting and creative photo apps for little or no cost. So even if you don't have the big budget to hire a professional photographer, you can still participate.


In fact, keeping your photos casual and spontaneous can actually help you when it comes to social media. Sure, if you're taking photos of your products for your website, you may want to put in a little more effort or hire someone professional to do the job. On your Facebook page or Pinterest boards, however, your audience wants to see more of your human side. Phone snaps of your office, your staff, and what goes on behind the scenes are great ways to connect with your customers.


There may be some additional social benefits to keeping your photography simple. When photos are too glossy or obviously professionally produced, often the authenticity of these photos is brought into question. When you're taking photos with your phone and uploading them to social media in almost-real-time, it gives off an air of genuineness, even if the photos aren't of the highest technical standard. More important is the feeling that you're sharing something with your audience that helps them get to know who you are and what your business is about.


Never underestimate the potential for starting a conversation and getting people interested with a photograph. A 200-word description of your new product or service may be replaced and indeed improved upon with a simple teaser photo that shows what the product looks like, or how the service looks in action. Massage therapy is a great example of this - when you read about different massages, they pretty much all sound the same, but when you see a photo of someone getting a luxurious massage treatment, you immediately want one. This can apply to just about any product or service, though, so use your imagination to make what you offer look as enticing as possible.


How much are photos factoring into your current social media marketing strategy?

Tagged With: marketing strategy, mobile marketing

Google+: More than Just a Social Network

October 23, 2012 by Peg McDermott Leave a Comment

There's a lot of debate about whether Google+ is viable as a social network in the long run, and whether businesses are wasting their time trying to develop a Google+ presence as part of their overall marketing strategy. While it's certainly true that Google+ does not currently have the active user base that Facebook has, for example, this is not really an equal comparison considering the differences between these two networks.

For one thing, Google+ is still young as far as social networks go. Most social media platforms start out unknown and gradually build a user base, so by the time the general public knows about them, they've been around for quite a long time. Google, of course, had the resources to promote Google+ and make it a household name before it even opened its virtual doors. So it's important to remember that Google+ is still younger than Facebook was when it first started gaining on MySpace, and over time it will likely catch on more.

Also, Facebook's focus is different. With Facebook, the original intention was to create a personal network, and although businesses have become more a part of Facebook's networking, the emphasis is still on the social aspects, both with business and personal pages. Google+ business pages can also function as social tools, but their main purpose at the moment is to create a nerve center for your company's online presence. This includes features that facilitate internal communications, like Google Drive and Hangouts, as well as tight integration with Gmail and Google searches. So even if you're not using your G+ page for social networking, there is still a tremendous amount of worth there.

Google now automatically gives users a Google+ account when they sign up for a Gmail account, but of course that doesn't mean that all Gmail users will be using G+ on a regular basis. Still, pretty much everyone uses Google as a search engine, and with content on your G+ business page affecting your page ranking, that alone should convince you that there's a good reason to develop your presence there. The trajectory of Google+ as a social network for individuals, of course, remains to be seen, but as a business if you're not using G+ to attract customers, you may find your competitors who do use G+ inching ahead of you. Given the importance of Google to the internet in general, it's probably a smart idea to use any and all free marketing tools they give out to businesses.

What is the primary way you use your business' Google+ account? Do you use it as a personal social network, as well, or simply as a marketing tool?

Tagged With: Google+

Keeping Pinterest in Mind for the Holidays

October 16, 2012 by Peg McDermott Leave a Comment

If ever there were a good time to start getting more involved with Pinterest-based marketing, the run-up to the holidays is it. Whether you are already a Pinterest power-user or are just getting started with the concept of visual social marketing, there are always ways you can boost your efforts at this time of year.


It's not just about December holidays, either - Everything from Halloween and Thanksgiving right up through New Year is important in the land of Pinterest. There are thousands of pinboards out there overflowing with great ideas for every holiday imaginable, and the fact that so many of these holidays are concentrated at the end of the year means there are many opportunities for you to make the most of this time


Keep in mind that Pinterest marketing is not just for concrete product-based businesses. It's not necessarily about trying to sell things directly. Whether you are offering a product or a service, what you are ultimately giving your customers is a way to get them closer to the lifestyle they want. Helping them envision that lifestyle is where Pinterest comes in - it's a great idea to have pinboards focused around images of people living the kind of life your audience can have if they become your customers.


You can also set up a specal "at the office" pinboard showing what goes on at your workplace during the holidays - shots of your office Halloween party or your Thanksgiving decorations give a human feel to your business, and people will feel they can connect with you on a personal level. This sort of connection goes a long way when it comes to building customer loyalty, and it helps your customers get to know a little more about who you are.


Of course, if you do have a product or service that is perfect as a holiday gift, there's nothing to stop you from creating a pinboard with your holiday specials highlighted. Don't forget to be social, though - repin and comment on complementary content from others, and offer your help and expertise to those asking questions in your field. Again, this helps your audience make a personal connection with you, and helps you build your social media reputation.


Do you have some special Pinterest boards set up for the holidays yet? How will you be using Pinterest to get the most out of your marketing efforts in the final months of the year?

Tagged With: marketing strategy, Pinterest

Have You Mapped Out Your Holiday Marketing Plan?

October 09, 2012 by Peg McDermott Leave a Comment

Believe it or not, 2012 is rapidly winding down, and the holidays will be here before we know it. The festive season is the perfect time to run special promotions and to start preparing for the new year, and if you're hoping to make the most of it, you'll want to have a plan in place before things really get hectic.

Almost half of American consumers begin their holiday shopping in November, so it's certainly not too early to start thinking about what promotions you want to run, and how you want to try to attract more customers to your business at this time of heightened buying. Social media can be a key player here - talking up your holiday promotions on Facebook or Twitter can be really helpful and can help your customers find what they want at the best prices.


It's also important to remember that the weekend beginning with Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving) is the busiest shopping weekend of the entire year, so if you're only going to run one special campaign or promotion, that would be the perfect time to do it. You need to make sure, however, that people know about what you're going to be doing - sending out an email about your promotion or doing some extra advertising in advance can raise awareness amongst your audience.


If you're struggling for good holiday promotion ideas, think about some of the deals that you most like to see when you're doing your own holiday shopping. Many places create special gift packages that can be purchased for loved ones at a discounted price, or offer free shipping if you buy before a certain date. If your business involves physical products, you may even throw in free giftwrapping for customers who spend over a certain amount.


More and more customers are shopping online and visiting mobile retail sites, and this will only increase year after year, so you'll want to keep that in mind when constructing your marketing plan for the holiday season this year. The extra customers you attract over the holiday season will give you a real boost for the beginning of 2013, and if you play your cards right, you can start the new year with a much bigger audience than you had in 2012, which is always good.


Have you formed your marketing plan for the holiday season yet? What sorts of promotions are you planning to run?

Tagged With: marketing strategy

4 Twitter Mistakes to Avoid

October 02, 2012 by Peg McDermott Leave a Comment

The fast-paced, conversational nature of Twitter means that it's easy to tweet without thinking too much about what you're saying. This can spell disaster if you're using Twitter primarily as a marketing tool and you end up doing or saying something that sabotages all your efforts. Even though it's fun to use Twitter as a giant chat room where you can just relax and say anything you want, it's important to remember your primary reason for engaging in social media: to create a place where you can interact with your audience and give them a positive impression of your business. Here are four things you probably want to avoid if you don't want to ruin your online reputation.


1. Angry or insulting tweets. The internet is a combative place, and sometimes people will attack you with little or no provocation. It's important to keep a level head, no matter how much the negativity gets to you - blowing up and engaging in a furious name-calling match will only make you look unprofessional and out of control. If you can't simply ignore the haters, at least take a step back and give yourself time to calm down before you respond.


2. Tweeting from the wrong account. If you think you're logged in on your personal account, double-check before you send out any tweets. If you're actually logged in on your business account, instead of telling your friends about the terrible hangover you have after a night of tequila slammer, you'll be telling your colleagues, customers, potential customers, and worst of all, your competition. It's embarrassing, and worst of all, it can't be taken back.


3. Tweeting instead of direct messaging. This is akin to accidentally sending a sensitive email to everyone in your address book instead of just the person it was intended for. In addition, as Rep. Anthony Weiner found out last year, posting the wrong thing publicly can actually bring your career to a screeching halt. If you're sending something inappropriate, ask yourself if you really need to send it at all, and if you absolutely must, make sure it's private.


4. Not checking the links on a retweet. This is kind of a dirty trick for people to pull, but sometimes they'll post a tweet with a link that has nothing to do with the text. You don't want to retweet something that seems relevant for your audience, and then find out hours later that the link actually took your customers to a porn site. Check the link first!


Have you ever said or done something on Twitter that you wish you hadn't? How did you handle the aftermath to minimize damage?

Tagged With: Social Policy, twitter

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