Tag Archives: interactive marketing

search marketing, online display ads, email marketing, online video, emerging media (social media, mobile marketing, in-game advertising)

How Can Quora Fit Into Your Social Media Marketing Toolbox?

Now that you know all about Quora and how it works, Weber Media Partners gives you three ways that it can help you and your business manage and build its online reputation.

1) Monitoring Your Brand

Quora is a unique way to monitor your brand’s online reputation. The site’s “Account Settings” provide a comprehensive list of options for e-mail notifications. You can choose to receive e-mail messages alerting you to new questions and answers, actions of specific users, and summaries of actions relating to a specific topic. Silicon Valley analyst Jeremiah Owyang recommends tracking brand and product mentions, for it is “likely if one customer is asking questions in Quora, it’s an indicator others are too.”  He further suggests escalating recurring questions or problems to the correct group within the company.

Weber Media Parents agrees, and we would be happy to work with you to develop a Quora monitoring program. We’ll help you identify FAQs, desired product or service changes, potential blog topics, or other industry trends. Contact us for more information.

2) Sharing Your Expertise

You and your colleagues know a lot about your industry – why not share this wealth of wisdom? Since corporate accounts are not possible, companies should instead encourage interested and knowledgeable parties to set up Quora accounts, identify themselves as employees, and comment on questions in their chosen area of expertise. Quora gives employees the opportunity to share valuable information with their contemporaries across the globe, and perhaps even become thought-leaders on a given topic.

These experts can be powerful spokespeople for the company, but they can also cause headaches if they are not given the proper guidelines from the beginning. A meeting among managers and the marketing team to establish ground rules – such as style guides, the discussion of new product details, or non-work-related submissions – is highly recommended before introducing Quora to the social media plan.

3) Responding to Your Customers’ Queries

Quora revolves around questions and answers, making it a powerful customer service channel. Mashable blogger Heather Whaling singles out Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom as one user who is performing this task particularly well on the site. Systrom, who created the popular iPhone photo app, provided in-depth answers to a number of questions about his company. Thanks to his clear authority and knowledge, his responses have shot to the top spot on the pages. By answering his customers’ questions thoroughly and openly, Systrom has both ensured that the correct information is distributed and garnered good will for himself and his company.

The Weber Media team is excited about this newest tool, and we hope you are, too! Share your thoughts on Quora here or via Facebook or Twitter. And please let us know if you have any questions about integrating Quora and social search into your social media marketing program.

Quora: The Social Search Engine

It’s 2011, and Quora has emerged as the latest social media tool that has marketers buzzing. The site, which was launched in January 2010 with Facebook’s former Chief Technology Officer serving as co-founder, has already attracted significant attention from the top social media blogs and from venture capitalists. Quora’s innovative “social search” is being touted as “future of blogging“ and “much, much bigger than Twitter.”

Yet what exactly is Quora, and how can it fit into your social media marketing strategy? Weber Media Partners will answer these questions in a two-part series. Today, we will introduce this increasingly popular new search site. On Friday, we’ll take you through the three ways Quora can help your business.

What is Quora?

Let’s start with the basics. Quora defines itself as “a continually improving collection of questions and answers created, edited, and organized by everyone who uses it.” Users can search the site for specific questions, browse questions by category, or post questions that have yet to be posed by a user. All users can also contribute to the answers, responding themselves or “voting up” their preferred response. Registration is free, and it is easy to connect your Quora account to your Facebook and Twitter profiles, and your blog.

Quora is a powerful tool, but it is not the most user-friendly one. The best way to learn is to practice. After creating your account, start following topics of interest to you. To do this, simply begin typing the topic into the search bar and select from the resulting list. Once you follow a topic, questions relating to the topic will appear in your activity stream (similar to your Twitter stream or Facebook news feed).

The next step after selecting your topics is to post answers or questions of your own. Click on the image at right to see an example of a Quora question and answer page. The answers appear on the page in descending order based on user votes (e.g. “up” votes make an answer rise up the page) and the author’s previous record (e.g. the higher their previous posts, the higher their answers appear).

The Quora team is quick to note that it has protections in place to prevent users from “gaming” the system, and thus negating the accuracy and value of its content. In addition to monitoring its users’ submissions, Quora requires you to use your full name to register. While it encourages users to share titles and employers as a way of verifying the source of the knowledge provided, the site does not permit the establishment of business or brand accounts. Quora has been actively removing accounts that violate this policy, including the blog Mashable‘s account. There are currently no plans to add this feature to Quora.

To learn how this new tool can help your business as part of your social media marketing plan, check back with us on Friday for the second half of our Quora series. And as always, share your thoughts here or via Facebook or Twitter.

Best Back To School Campaigns, Part III: Bookstore Alternatives

Part III of our Best of Back to School marketing campaigns of 2010 dives into the changing world of college textbooks.  In recent years, numerous companies have sprung up offering alternatives to the notoriously expensive college bookstore.  This year, I was particularly impressive by two such companies – Coursesmart and Chegg.

Through its sleek, easy-to-use website, Coursesmart offers an ever-growing selection of “e-textbooks” – electronic versions of the traditional print texts that can be read on desktops, laptops, iPads and even iPhones.  Coursesmart’s e-textbooks give the reader the ability to highlight sections, take notes in the margins, print selected pages and cut and paste selections.  Now there is no need to carry around tons of heavy books – you can keep them all on our laptop, read for easy access with just one click.

I was particularly impressed by Coursesmart’s synergy with Apple products.  Being able to access textbooks from an iPhone is the ultimate in transportable texts.  Furthermore, the iPad opens the door to more interactive and impactful textbooks.  (See image above for an example of a Coursesmart text viewed on a iPad.)  The Wall Street Journal discussed the iPad and Coursesmart’s innovative e-texts in a recent article, stating that the new device makes book publishers “eager to exploit its color, video, and touch-screen capabilities.”  I, for one, would love to test drive this exciting new technology.

Of course, this new technology comes with a big price tag.  Coursesmart’s e-textbooks, while less expensive than print versions, can still run in the $100 range.  And then there’s the iPad, priced at $499 – a very pricey item to pile on top of an already expensive back to school season.  Another textbook innovator, Chegg, combines new and old technology to offer a more affordable alternative.

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Best Back To School Campaigns, Part II: Target’s Social Checklist

On Wednesday, I kicked off my series on the best Back to School marketing campaigns of 2010.  I sought out campaigns that are innovative, fun and helpful, both to the shopper and the community at large.  In Part II of the series, I will highlight Target’s innovative and extremely useful “Roomates” Facebook app.

Target is a popular destination for college students stocking up on dorm necessities.  To help ensure these coeds get everything they need, Target has developed an interactive checklist accessible via Facebook.  The checklist has three options (“buy,” “have” and “pass”), and includes links to purchase specific products on Target.com.

The best part about this campaign, however, is the roommates option.  This part of the app allows students to share their list with their roommate(s), helping ensure that one suite will not wind up with four vacuums and only one lamp.  The app also features messaging, calendars, and even a bill splitter – definitely something I wish I had in college.

Once the checklist is complete, students can select the print option and bring the list along on their shopping trip.  The checklist is even available on Target.com in a more traditional PDF format.  All in all, this campaign is a helpful tool for college students, as well as an ingenious way to show off the megastore’s seemingly innumerable product offerings.

Stop by our blog on Monday for the conclusion of this series, in which I discuss two innovative and cost-effective alternatives to the traditional college bookstore.

Best Back To School Campaigns, Part I: Staples Makes a Difference

Two weeks ago, a milestone was reached: I received my first school-related e-mail message.  It opened with a jolly greeting from my professor, and moved quickly to talk of future assignments and course requirements.  That’s when it hit me – I need to get ready for back to school!

As a grad student, I’ve done the Back to School ritual more times then I’d care to count.  So, to liven up the hunt this year, I’ve added an additional item to my usual list of notebooks, highlighters and (of course) new shoes – find my favorite Back to School marketing campaigns.  I sought out campaigns that are innovative, fun and helpful, both to the shopper and the community at large.  A lucky few made it to the top of the class, and I will detail those campaigns in a series of three posts.  Today, I will profile Staples’ philanthropy.

Students and parents browsing the aisles (or web site pages) of this office superstore for back to school necessities can do more than just buy – they can give back, too.  For the third year in a row, Staples has partnered with teen-centric non-profit DoSomething.org to collect school supplies for children in need.  Donation bins have been set up in Staples retail locations across the country, and school supplies of all kinds will be collected now through September 18th.

This year, Staples used Facebook and a celeb-filled online game to help students get involved.  Teen can vote to join their favorite celebrity’s “pack,” and in the process donate $1 to the cause.  Donations are also accepted via text message.

All in all, I loved Staples’ idea and its execution.  These simple donations are a great way to teach everyone from preschoolers to high schoolers the importance of generosity and kindness towards those who are less fortunate.  Furthermore, through their Do Something 101 microsite, they provide helpful tips that help students run their own school supply drives – the lesson being that teens can really “do something” big to help their communities.

Judging by the 28,000 Facebook fans and thousands of votes on the contest page, this event is a proving to be a success.  Even Staples’ archrival Dunder Mifflin is getting in on the action!  With that endorsement secured, I now know where I’ll be purchasing my paper…

I hope you have enjoyed this first installment of my survey of the best of Back to School.  Be sure to visit our blog soon to see who else made the list!

A Little Knowledge Goes a Long Way

knowledgeThe other day I had an opportunity to speak about social media with a team at a Boston-based non-profit organization. In their profession, social media has been slow to be adopted. Some niche areas are like that; they always have been and likely always will. In this organization they were able to recognize that social media could be beneficial to their line of work.

We were together for two hours. Fortunately, I had given them an assessment form in advance to obtain information about their familiarity with social media e.g. Who has pages on facebook, linkedin. Do they send email newsletters? Are they familiar with RSS feeds? Do they read blogs? Know how to set-up up google alerts?

It was not starting from complete scratch, but I did find beginning with a definition of social media to be useful to get us all on the same page; and answering the overarching question which I believe was on most people’s minds in the room, “Why should we care about social media?”

When asked about why social media matters, I typically give my standard answer, “Because it’s here to stay.” Just like the turnabout we witnessed in the ’90s during Web 1.0, when to be a credible business you had to have a web presence whether you liked it or not, we came to expect to find organizational websites, email addresses, online contact forms, faq’s, and search capability. We’ve come to expect immediate response, and notice when we don’t receive it. When someone doesn’t have an online presence (even today), we notice it—big time!

Your guess is as good as mine as to whether facebook, linkedin, twitter, blogs and the tools we’ve been using in 2009, will be the ones that will have the most longevity, or whether a whole new host of solutions will take their places in the coming year. I think it’s fair to assume that we’ll be talking about a variation of the web 2.0 language in the not so distant future, but some of these tools will be with us for a long time as we move into the 2010′s.

As Marketing Sherpa reported, “The most significant barrier to organization’s adoption of social media, (namely 46% of the respondents) identify the reason as ‘lack of knowledgeable staff.’”

Bottom line, if we want staff to become knowledgeable then organizations need to make the resources available to them so they can acquire the tools they’ll need to work in social media.

Within twenty-four hours of my social media talk, I received an email with a link to a work-in-progress with photos and videos that the team had put together. The group had also outlined categories for blog posts, who they’d like to ask to be guest bloggers, resources to add to a delicious account, what they had hoped to monitor on google alerts. Needless to say, I am bowled over and excited for them. (BTW, If you’re reading, kudos to you!)

I’m also excited to report that we don’t have to accept “lack of knowledgeable staff” to be among the reasons why organizations don’t adopt social media. Think about the possibilities when we provide more in-depth training. Knowledge goes a long way!

Social Media: It's About More Than the Numbers

horse riding into the sunsetWhen I hear people espousing how many Facebook friends they have, or how many people are following them on Twitter, sometimes I feel like the Lone Blogger calling, “Hi-yo, Silver, away!” as my laptop and I gallop towards the setting sun. I don’t know about you, but it makes me feel a little uneasy; like I’m back in High School, in the cafeteria before homeroom. (Sorry, that’s an other issue, one for a different audience.)

I admit, I check our blog analytics regularly, as well as the activity on our other social media sites. I’m a firm believer in monitoring, and having the knowledge about who you’re reaching, with what content, and how they’ve found your company. (Besides it’s very cool information!)

In their new book, The Online Communities Handbook: Building your Business and Brand on the Web, authors Anna Buss and Nancy Strauss write,

“…you can have ten thousand followers on Twitter, you can have five thousand friends on Facebook, you can have one million connections on LinkedIn through six degrees of separation—but often times that doesn’t translate into cold, hard cash.”

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What's Up with Advertising?

search advertisingThe March/April issue of Technology Review has an interesting article entitled “But Who’s Counting?” by Jason Pontin, which describes how the “general inability to agree on [online] audience numbers is stunting the growth of display advertising.”

The research firm, eMarketer, predicts that this year, advertisers will spend $25.7 billion of dollars for online advertising. The problem, Pontin writes, is that “the correlation between the size of Web audiences and their value to advertisers is not direct. Online advertising is complicated because it’s based upon ad impressions, the number of times a specific ad is served to a particular part of a website.” Pontin further suggests that the consequence of audience measurement problems is effecting the transfer of advertising from older media to new.

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Social Media: A Strategic Approach to Authenticity

Celine Rogue has an interesting piece, “It’s Not About the Tools, It’s About the Strategy,” on the New York Times website.

Rogue writes that with so many choices of social media tools available many people are spending too much time obsessing about which ones to use, instead of developing strategies and plans.

Rogue offers five areas to keep in mind when focusing on
Social Media Strategy
1. Define your goals
2. Find your audience
3. Keep it simple
4. Stay authentic
5. Know when to stop

Her message about staying authentic is a good one for anyone who writes for online media, regardless of whether it’s a 140 character message or 500-1000 word post.

So what do we mean by authentic?
The Oxford English Dictionary describes it this way:
“Of authority, authoritative; entitled to obedience or respect.”

Yes, by all means we want our messages to have authority and be respected. But how can you be sure that’s what you’re doing if you don’t have an editor looking over your shoulder?

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Blog Six-Words, Social Media, Cool!

If someone told me this week I had to write a blog post about social media using only six words–I would have thought it might be hard but not impossible. That’s because I’ve had this six-word concept floating around my head the past few days.It started this week when I was google-alerted about a blog post by Heather Dunphy, how the online magazine SMITH teamed with Twitter in 2006, for a six-word memoir contest. Apparently, the response was huge, and led to the book Not Quite What I Was Planning now available from Harper Perennial.

The same day I received the May issue of Writer’s Magazine in the mail, and took note when I found their article “A catchy little form for the concise” about the book Not Quite What I Was Planning. “…six-word memoirs from “famous and obscure” contributors…Recognizable names include Aimee Mann, Joyce Carol Oates…some take a humorous approach, while others are more reflective.”

And of course, wouldn’t you know it, there’s a very cool video, Six-Word Memoirs, the book on YouTube. [embedded below]

In my opinion, Smith has demonstrated an example of what an excellent, well executed, viral marketing mix looks like– company website, blog post, YouTube video, magazine articles, press releases, and coverage on NPR’s Blog of the Nation. Not to mention the creativity of the six-word memoir initiative itself. Kudos!

I went to their website and discovered SMITH and TreeHugger have a new challenge asking visitors to define their “green life” in just six words. This was mine, “I didn’t know. Paper or plastic?” That’s exactly what I thought way back when when supermarkets and stores first started to ask customers the question!

The book’s editors are already soliciting submissions for their next book of six-word memoirs. You can share yours on their website. And please, if you would, tell us what you wrote– we’re really interested!