Facebook Engagement Tips

April 4th, 2011

What are the best ways to engage your Facebook community? We agree with Lauren Friedman at Context Optional. Recently she broke it all down into six (6) easy tips that will escalate your brand presence and give your clients a reason to interact.

  1. Stream Applications – give fans a chance to interact with your brand on their terms. Utilize polls or incentives to provide a quick, easy channel for community engagement.
  2. Fan Recognition – take participation to the next level and acknowledge fans who take an interest in your brand. Taking the time to recognize or respond to comments shows that their opinion matters, keeps the conversation going & encourages others jump on the bandwagon.
  3. Promotion – Entice fans to get in on the action by using creative content to “get the click.” This is your chance to draw attention to your brand, incentivize fans and ultimately drive them to your promotional offer in a way that’s fun and non-invasive. Cornell’s Jewelers has done just that with posts featuring their Diamond Dash event –a scavenger hunt in which the winner receives a $13k Tacori diamond ring – who wouldn’t want a chance at that?
  4. Personal Touch – Humanize your presence; break the barrier between brand and fans. Relationships are fostered by an informal connection that makes people want to engage on your page. Expose them to internal happenings, photos and scenarios that promote a favorable user experience. We use our Tipping Point Media fan page to showcase our “Mojo Moments”, featuring the employee with the most votes for their efforts and contributions that week.
  5. Open-ended Questions – Step out of your comfort zone, make fans feel as though they can relate and give them a chance to tell you what they want.  Include them in the decision process and make them feel as though they have influence through active engagement. The Healthy Hero campaign has put a creative twist into the open-ended question strategy with their Family Fun Fridays. Whoever has the most “likes” for their answer to that day’s question receives a free 5-2-1-0 grab bag.
  6. Integration – Crossover between platforms like Facebook and Twitter is a way to broaden your reach. Where possible, and appropriate given the differences in audience, maintain a consistent voice and content on both platforms. This lets fans access your brand on either platform, allowing them a choice of how to follow you while facilitating greater engagement.

Key objective: Engagement. If you want to know what makes consumers tick, ask them. If you want to draw their attention to your brand, entice them. And if you want to take interaction to the next level, develop and nurture a relationship that provides you both with something valuable – engage them.

Michelle Ashby
CEO

QR Codes the Latest Shiny Object for Marketers

March 23rd, 2011

Here in the US we’re seeing QR (Quick Response) codes popping up in more places every day. Already extremely popular in Japan and Korea, the two-dimensional bar code is finally starting to become widely recognized by American consumers. In order to take advantage of all the QR code has to offer (that’s only semi-sarcastic) all you need is a smart phone and QR reading software.

Marketers are beginning to embrace the use of QR codes for a number of reasons. I think the most attractive feature is that they’re immediately measureable. Place it on a billboard or in a print ad, two mediums that have notoriously been difficult to attach meaningful metrics to, and now you can see how many people are pro-actively responding. This can allow for benchmarking responses and trialing different messages and calls to action.

Another obvious reason for the recent surge is the large increase in smart phone ownership. According to comScore, the three-month average of cell phone owners who had a smart phone in Q4 of 2010 was 27% (over 60MM Americans), a 10% increase just from Q3 2010.

Beyond the tracking capabilities and growing user base, the functionality and capabilities of QR codes are attractive to marketers. The simplest (and unfortunately most widely adopted) use is to link people to a web or WAP page. Other uses include distribution of coupons; connecting users to video content; downloading an app, contact, or ringtone; entering a sweepstakes; and launching social media platforms.

Beware of the cool factor. As soon as there’s something new and shiny, marketers are excited to be early adopters. However, if you decide to utilize this technology without considering the user experience, you may sour your audience on scanning your codes. A QR code is like a scratch-off card — people have to apply some effort to engage, so the payoff better be worth it. Content emanating from a QR code needs to be useful or an easy redemption of an exclusive reward. Linking people to a general page on your website might not be the payoff your potential customer was hoping for.

QR codes are the soup du jour; I hear it brought up in marketing meetings on a weekly basis. Personally, I think they’re ugly. I feel for the creative director who now has to find a way to shoehorn in a QR code to their perfectly laid out print advertisement. Soon, these bar codes will be replaced with image recognition software, already available on smart phones. Wouldn’t it be better if consumers could download your app just by pointing their phone at your company’s logo or the product name? This reality is not far away.

Karl Heberger
Digital Media Supervisor

Are URL Shorteners Hurting Your SEO Efforts?

March 16th, 2011

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) specialists have long recognized the value of having external sites link to your web pages.  With the boon of social media, we’ve finally found a way to easily generate more inbound links, but are the links we’re using really helping us?

Google’s original algorithm, Page-Rank (named after Larry Page and is not necessarily a reference to where the page is listed), is based on the common practice of citations within the academic community. When academicians publish articles, they often cite other articles as a means of providing confirmation of their findings and/or positions. The more often an article is cited, the more credibility the source gains. This practice is the basic foundation of how Google ranks pages in their search results. 

For years SEO practitioners have developed link building strategies for their clients. Link building is an arduous practice. In the early days, we’d send emails to webmaster contacts asking them to link to our site. We tried making it easy by providing logos or graphics and simple links, we’d offer to add them to our site, build link pages, etc. But in the end, these link strategies were typically fruitless.  For most, it’s hard enough to get content on your own site, imagine trying to take the time to find others to link to.

But now we’re in the age of social media. Social media finally provided a perfect platform for people to link to your content, share thoughts and opinions, and make others aware of what you had to say. Mind you, writing link worthy content isn’t quite as easy as it sounds, but at least you had a platform that easily supported the opportunity to generate inbound links.

Then along came the URL shorteners: TinyURL, Bit.Ly, etc. For those of you who aren’t aware, URL shorteners allow you to take a link like this: http://www.tippingpointmedia.com/OurServices/WeGetMedia/ and change it into:  http://bit.ly/i45e2f…56 characters just became 20. For the writer, it makes it so much easier to point to a page and fit it into your 140 character tweet. Sounds great at first glance, but one of the things you’ll notice quickly is that the domain name you’re pointing to is no longer in the address, so your citation becomes a step away from your content.  In simplistic terms, bit.ly becomes the referred page, not your site. Now before I get a lot of comments about how incorrect this statement is, let me qualify that most of the URL shorteners do a very good job of making sure they are set up properly to give credit to the final destination host and page. But even so, which of these URL’s makes a better link that your readers will understand and recognize the source of the information?

So the key takeaway here is that social linking is a huge opportunity to improve your site’s SEO ranking and needs to be part of your social strategy. Where possible, I encourage web developers to create simple URL’s and page naming for their own domain to encourage use of the full URL, and finally, when linking to your own content, wherever possible use the full page address. In the end you’ll provide a better experience for the user as well as improve your search rank.

Peter Platt
President

Social Media from an Intern Perspective

February 9th, 2011

What is it that consumers are looking to gain through brand interaction – is it solving problems, entertainment, a sense of belonging, or all of the above? That’s what I am hoping to find out while interning at Tipping Point Media. As a recent graduate from Mercyhurst College with a degree in Business Marketing and Advertising, I am ready to jump in and excited to share my thoughts on social media and insights gained from internship experiences.

While interning as marketing assistant at the University of Rochester Medical Center, I was fortunate enough to join the team during the development and launch of a new brand campaign. I participated in TV spot production, development of collateral materials for cardio, cancer and vascular medicine, market research and market plan development for the Wilmot Cancer Center.

Given all that the rebranding entailed, one might ask, “what about social media?” As social marketing was just beginning to gain momentum, this avenue was of high interest to me. The strategic value in understanding the power and reach of social media is a crucial tool that, if utilized correctly, can facilitate greater exposure, leverage consumer engagement, and build a company’s brand.  I am now joining the Tipping Point Media team where social media is in full swing.

Social media helps us in understanding the way consumers think, what interests them, and what drives them to engage with your brand. Some key things to keep in mind:

-Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, fans and followers would rather relate to your business than be its target

-Include them in the decision process, encourage sharing of information and remind them that their opinions matter

-Eliminate brand vs. fan relationship, reveal the company’s human face and you may just obtain the engagement you’re seeking

-Ask yourself: Are your consumers relying on engagement for problem solutions, entertainment, community involvement or maybe something else?

As I look to social media to build the Tipping Point Media brand and fine-tune strategies for our customers, I hope to share some thoughts, tips and tricks that encourage you to look further into your customer interaction strategies and social media tactics.

Stephanie Caluori  
Social Media Intern

The Time Warner/Sinclair Fight

January 11th, 2011

Currently Time Warner cable and Sinclair Broadcasting are battling over the cost of carrier fees or the price paid by the cable provider to carry Sinclair owned stations on their network. Cable subscribers in markets across the United States could be left without programming if the two don’t reach an agreement. Both parties reached an agreement that avoids interrupting service but the threat of losing local channels looms for many.

Let me give some context. Time Warner cable owns a giant pipe that goes into many homes across the country. To make money, they need content to run through these pipes. Sinclair broadcasting owns many different TV stations that broadcast this desired content over the air. They also sell it to cable and satellite broadcasters.

Both Time Warner and Sinclair use the large audience they find on cable to sell advertising around this content. Everyone makes money and consumers get to watch the programming they want without having to adjust an antenna every time it snows.

The problem is, both the pipe and the content provider believe their position is more important than the other. Sinclair believes Time Warner should pay for the privilege of sending their content through the pipe while Time Warner believes Sinclair should be happy to gain a larger audience and more advertising. Both are warning that without an agreement on how much should be paid, the content will be lost from the pipe.

(It’s a little more complicated than that as other parties, including the networks themselves, FOX, ABC, NBC, CBS etc., and the federal government, are involved, but that is it in a nutshell.)

Now back to the consumer, remember me? I just want to watch Sunday football and American Idol in peace. Instead, Sinclair has spent the last month or more interrupting my favorite games with annoying text crawls that corrupt the HD signal and make it difficult to watch the game. Their message, “Help us! Evil Time Warner doesn’t want to give into our demands. CALL THEM FOR US! Pretty please?” Their interruptions make me want to call Time Warner and demand they don’t give in. Time Warner is also running ads declaring they are basically being held hostage, making me want to call Sinclair and tell them not to give in either.

Increasingly I have some options to get away from the bickering, including satellite, Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV and other online streaming sources. If I could get the few content sources I care about that demand immediacy, like cable news and sports, sent direct to my TV and in HD with little hassle, I would race to drop both Time Warner and Sinclair from my life.

Their temporary accord means I will no doubt continue to be inundated with annoying messages and threats all because I want to pay for a service both make an enormous profit from…a service I could actually get for free with an antenna and some patience.

I have faith that this will be resolved. I also have faith the issue will only return in the near future. The clock is ticking on what little patience I have and the alternatives look more enticing. In the end, a quick resolution that doesn’t annoy consumers won’t just benefit me, it will keep both parties in business and the competition from snatching me up. Otherwise I will begin looking for true alternatives and tell everyone I know how to join me.

Jeff Commaroto
Executive Assistant

Top 10 Reasons to use an Adserver for your next online campaign.

December 29th, 2010

There are a lot of benefits to adding this feature to your online display campaigns. Bookmark this blog to keep this information top of mind when asked if you’d like to use this service.

  1. No Relying On Vendors for Statistics – Payment based on actual delivery, not vendor-reported delivery.
  2. Real-Time Statistics – Access to statistics throughout campaign allows for revisions & ensures performance.
  3. Publisher & Tactic Comparison – Measurement of how a banner campaign is performing across multiple publishers & verticals in real time.
  4. Creative Comparison – Multiple creative pieces can be used and compared for efficiency and audience engagement. If a certain piece of creative is not performing well, it can easily be modified.
  5. Multiple Landing Pages – Provides the ability to use and compare different landing pages for the same creative piece and landing pages can be swapped out at anytime.
  6. Rich Media – Capability of interfacing & serving rich media.
  7. View through Traffic – When a user is exposed to a banner ad, a cookie is dropped on their web browser. If they end up on the advertiser’s website, the banner ad receives credit for the website visit.
  8. Conversion Tracking – The same tracking that allows View through Traffic allows you to track specific user actions that relate to a campaign (i.e. downloads/purchases).
  9. Multiple Campaign Comparisons – Build performance benchmarks across multiple campaigns.
  10. Reporting Flexibility – Ability to analyze a campaign on any interval (i.e. daily, weekly, monthly, geographically).

In general, most companies who have invested in an ad serving platform will provide you with reports and suggestions on how to improve future campaigns and maximize data benefits.

What is an Adserver?

A software platform that tracks the placement and distribution of banner ads.

Advertiser Adserver Process

 

Flow Chart of Adserver Process

 

Carolyn Sheflin

Digital Media Planner/Buyer

Black Friday & the ‘Christmas Creep’

December 23rd, 2010

Woman Christmas ShoppingDid you notice it was beginning to look a lot like Christmas, a lot earlier? You aren’t alone. For many, Christmas used to start on Black Friday, which according to Wikipedia, has been a retail-shopping phenomenon since the mid 1960’s here on the East Coast.  It is the unofficial shopping holiday that falls on the day after Thanksgiving.  Retail stores open their doors before the sun comes up to eager shoppers already lined up around the block to score some killer deals. 

To entice turkey-fed and sleep-deprived shoppers to come to their stores, retailers have naturally boosted advertising efforts in the weeks leading up to Black Friday.  This has triggered a new term, “Christmas Creep.”  This refers to how, as each year passes, retailers are advertising and starting the holiday shopping season earlier and earlier.  A November 9th Consumer Reports article,  sites a survey conducted by the National Retail Federation which states that “80% of online retailers expected to roll out holiday promos by the first week of November, with free shipping at the top of incentives.”

Nowadays, it is easier than ever for people to find hot holiday deals.  Just a quick Google search of ‘Black Friday’ reveals a plethora of tailored websites for Black Friday shoppers, such as:  http://www.bfads.net/, http://www.blackfriday.info/, http://www.black-friday.net/, www.blackfriday.com, www.theblackfriday.com, etc.  The list is endless! 

After a while, people get used to being bombarded with TV commercials, radio ads, print ads, newspaper inserts, digital banners, pop-up banners, billboards, flyers, etc. that have become a staple of the holiday season.  It has become more of a challenge for retailers to stand out from the crowd, making sure their ads get noticed.  It is easy to get lost in the sea of sale ads.

The “Christmas Creep” trend can also be spotted in grocery stores and shopping malls as we see Christmas trees going up and Christmas lights being hung before the Halloween candy is even off the shelves.  When will the madness end?  Before we know it, Santa’s Workshop is going to become a permanent year-round fixture in shopping malls across the US.

Amanda Hicks
Media Planner/Buyer

Do YOU Have a Better Fruitcake Idea?

December 13th, 2010

The good people of Manitou Springs, Colorado know just what to do with a fruitcake. Check out the video below.

Can you think of something better to do with one? Share your thoughts!

Corporate Giving as Marketing Strategy

November 23rd, 2010

Breast Cancer AwarenessHelmet decals, shoes, chin straps, hats, uniforms, sweat bands… with all of the pink running around the football field this season it was hard to tell the teams apart! There’s no doubting the NFL’s commitment to October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Not only did the NFL utilize their on-field presence to raise a general awareness, it also worked to raise funds; all of the merchandise sported on the field was autographed and auctioned off to benefit the American Cancer Society. Furthermore, the NFL Shop donates a portion of the proceeds from their pink products to the cause.

But the football field isn’t the only thing tinted pink this month; the pink campaigns seem applicable in nearly every B2C industry looking to expose its corporate philanthropy. Microsoft’s pink laptop accessories, Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives, Estée Lauder’s Pink Ribbon Collection, Ford’s Warriors in Pink; the pink ribbon stamp reminds consumers exactly which company’s are fulfilling their social responsibilities.

However, it’s up for debate whether or not these corporations are truly concerned with such social issues, or if their philanthropic actions are merely a means of boosting a company’s image. It is difficult to determine who benefits more from corporate giving: the company or the charity? In 2007, the “Chronicle of Philanthropy” posted an article which stated that:

“For every dollar a retail company, bank, or popular-goods manufacturer adds to its charitable-giving budget, it can expect sales to grow by an average of $6, according to a study by three university researchers who attempted to quantify the economic benefit of corporate giving.”

With that being said, Ford Motor Company generated approximately 1 billion media impressions – raising breast cancer awareness, while simultaneously raising awareness of Ford Motors Corporate responsibility. In turn, Ford has contributed over 105 million dollars to the cause. It seems logical to assume the company will reap some benefits, whether it is costumer and employee loyalty, employee involvement, or publicity. All in all, corporate giving may be an important factor to consider in a company’s business plan. In my opinion, any giving is good giving; so regardless of the motive, it’s a win-win!

Chelsy Vick
Media Assistant

Friday Favorite: Map Your Twitter Followers

November 5th, 2010

One of my favorite things about the Twitter and Facebook platforms is the interesting and informative data they leave open to discovery through their API’s. Earlier in the week our CEO Michelle Ashby tweeted a cool finding from Facebook, a chart of when throughout the year, users breakup with their partners. The most often time is two weeks before Christmas. An odd fact, yes, but for marketers, data like this can be of great value when planning campaigns or thinking about the state of mind a large number of consumers may be in.

There are dozens of cool tools to find information about the people connecting with social media. Some of the more interesting use Google Maps to provide insight. Previously I mentioned one, Trendsmap, where users can see what topics are trending around the world by location.

Another useful tool in the same general category is MapMyFollowers. The site uses your Twitter account and Google Maps to see where the people following you reside. It plots the results on a map with pinpoints and you can click on each pin to see who the user is.

MapMyFollowers shows where your twitter followers are geographically

There are two limitations. First the site will only show you the location of 1,000 followers at a time. You can see them all, but you have to click on a drop-down menu to select from each group of 1,000 users. Second not every user provides accurate information about their location. While many do, not every person in your feed will be represented.

MapMyFollowers also includes a second very useful feature. It looks over the profile descriptions of followers and pulls out the most common keywords they use. This gives you a very interesting window into the interests of the people who are following you. Again the same limitation applies, the site lumps followers into groups of 1,000 at a time.

MapMyFollowers shows location data for Twitter followers
This information can be used to discover reach for a Twitter account and to discover what is important to that audience. It also opens a great deal of opportunities for targeted messages directly to individuals in a given location.

h/t to ReadWriteWeb where I originally found MapMyFollowers.