Tag Archives: social media tools

Facebook Brand Pages: Making Brands Human

Today, a big change came to Facebook brand pages, and will require your attention to fully harness the new opportunities for your page.  Brand pages are a highly visible part of your interaction with customers, and Facebook has made changes that will help you improve your ability to interact.

Cover Photo
First and foremost, you will need to bring your attention to the cover photo on your page, which will replace the current 5 thumbnails. This image is a great opportunity to draw in users from the moment they arrive.

Timelines
Like personal profile pages, brand pages will now have timelines. You can add milestones to showcase the company history and even pin important posts at the top for up to 7 days so important news doesn’t get buried.

About Section
The about section has moved, along with other landing page tabs and will blur the lines between ads, company content and likes. They will now be on the right. You will be able to order these tabs as well, and hide the likes tab if your like numbers are low.

New Content and Organization
Added to the mix is Facebook Offers, which allow brands to distribute coupons to fans directly on their timeline, more visible apps to graphics vs text links, and a highlights feed, which can be customized and moderated.

Direct Fan Communication
Fans will now be able to contact a brand directly vs post on their wall, which requires more monitoring time, but could keep some negative content off your page.

Admin Panel and Insights
Finally, the admin panel has been reconfigured to have everything in one place. The stats will be real-time, and non-admins will actually have access to the data about a particular page through the Likes box.

We strongly recommend you begin making updates to your page before Facebook moves to the new design on March 30, and as always, let us know how we can be of assistance.

Links to articles about the new Facebook Brand pages you may enjoy:

10 changes to Facebook you need to know
Facebook Timeline Branded Pages Are Here
Facebook Timeline for Brands: The Complete Guide
Facebook Brand Pages: 4 ways to humanize your brand

 

Financial Industry Is Slow To Get Social, Restrained by Regulation

Series 1 on Social Media in Highly Regulated Industrieslocked keyboard

Some in the financial industry think it simpler to abandon social media, but for most, they are stuck in a difficult juxtaposition as they are expected to grow their book of business, but then told they cannot use all the tools available to do so. My Edwards Jones money manager is forbidden to use Facebook for business, and the company won’t allow her to have access to the site from her office.  Merrill Lynch just recently began allowing their employees to use LinkedIn, but under strict guidelines.

With social media in full swing these days, what is it that keeps the highly regulated industries from swimming with the rest?  The difference might be in the government regulations rather than in the social medium.  Banks are regulated by the OCC, investment firms are regulated by the SEC and other industries like legal and real estate are heavily regulated at the State level.   The biggest challenge is that companies would need to monitor online activity for all of their employees and make sure no laws are broken, or invest in social media training as a matter of prevention. This costs money, but does the cost outweigh the benefit? Facebook and Linkedin have already been shown to be rich oil fields of prospects and clients, so how can these companies maneuver safely and confidently within those realms?

For several years, I worked with a large family owned real estate company headquartered in Connecticut, where we immersed more than 2000 agents in social media training. This occupation is about relationships, yet agents were fearful of the platform, mainly because they could not grasp how to use it. I heard more than once, “I don’t want people to know my phone number, my address” To which I replied “isn’t it the same as posting a sign with your face and phone number in front of your customers’ houses?”

On a similar level, companies are fearful of employee missteps online where everything published can be tracked.  Every highly regulated industry has guidelines for conduct, but now these guidelines must be extended to social media channels.  Training on acceptable use of social media, and monitoring, must be implemented to ensure those guidelines are followed.

Social media has already knocked on the door of each and every company and will not go away. Time will tell who manages to work within strict regulations to take advantage of the growth opportunities of social media, and who gets left behind.

Thanks to contributing writer Lori Vintilescu.

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.

Using Foursquare to Reward Customers

With 1 million users and counting, Foursquare is touted as the next hot social media tool.  But is there a business application?  Should marketers care, or is it just another passing fad?

Foursquare is a location-based social networking service for the web and mobile devices, as well as a game.

The mobile app, calculates your location, and provides you with a list of restaurants and stores in the area.  You find your restaurant in the list, select it, and touch “Check-In Here.”  If you are hoping to locate people, you can include a brief “shout-out” message – “mini college reunion with Rachel and Pam!” -  which quickly spreads to your friends on Foursquare, and also Facebook and Twitter.

This is just one example of why city dwellers are tapping into this new service.  In addition to this friend-finding aspect, Foursquare is also a game.  Users compete citywide to earn the most points each week.  Each check-in earns that user one point.  Extra points are earned through “badges,” awarded to the user after certain events (25 different places checked-in, out four nights in a row, etc.)

As the number of users has grown, the rewards have become more tangible.  A user becomes the “mayor” of a location if he or she has checked-in there more than any other user.  Businesses in turn are rewarding their mayors with real-world benefits.  Local bars and restaurants are offering free or discounted food and drink, and chains like Starbucks and Whole Foods have launched coupon programs for Foursquare mayors.

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Brian Solis’s ‘Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web—Review


In Brian Solis’s new book, Engage! The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web, he uses the metaphor of “new media university” to take the reader through the basics and onto a more advanced education. As he says, “We are forever students of new media.”
See what’s in the book.

In 2010, there’s an overabundance of social media tools at our disposal. However, Brian Solis cautions us to keep what’s important in the forefront, namely, content.

He writes about the need for producing compelling content as a way to gain and earn friends/followers. He reminds us that everyone in a company plays a critical role in communicating the brand; and to be effective in social media, a company needs to engage as a team. Consumers want a meaningful way to connect, and businesses must be ready to listen.

Brian Solis offers the Conversation Prism, a visual representation of social networks, and the Social Marketing Compass which he created with Jesse Thomas. These are invaluable resources and will serve as guides as you embark on developing a social media plan, as well as in your efforts to garner the support and participation of the organization.

The author does much more than simply introduce us to social media tools. Engage! is truly an education. If you take the time to do your homework, trying out the suggested resources, your efforts will pay off. There’s something for everyone in this book regardless of where you are on the new media learning curve.

I found myself captivated by several things in particular: social media dashboards, aggregation and syndication, geo location and mobile networking, social objects and social media optimization.  Engage! is a book you will be able to pick up on any given day and find what you’re looking for as a way to keep on track with your social media goals and objectives.

At Impressions through Media, we’ll be talking with Brian Solis about the book and then posting part two with our Q &A.  If you have any questions you’d like to add to the list, suggest them here. We’ll include your name and link back to you.

This is the first of two posts on Engage! by Brian Solis.

In the book

  • Integrated marketing tools organized by categories and instruments
  • Content communities, social bookmarking and livecasting
  • Multimedia, Forums/Groups and url shorteners
  • Social media dashboards
  • Aggregation and conversational threading in activity feeds, lifestreams, microblogs and microcommunities
  • Geo location and mobile networking, widgets and applications, video broadcast networks
  • Social objects (as the connection of abstract objects that trigger and host related dialogues and activities), Social media optimization
  • Syndicating social objects and aggregation networks
  • Establishing an online presence, shaping the brand persona
  • Real-time web and tapping into the statusphere
  • From Web 1.0 to 2.0 and ultimately to web squared
  • Online reputation
  • Talking with meaningful exchanges
  • Policies and guidelines
  • Rules of engagement
  • The Conversation Prism
  • Listening and searching the social web
  • Differing levels of participation
  • Creating a social media plan, using a social marketing compass
  • Social Media as a team effort
  • Social relationship management
  • Earning friends and followers/buying friends and followers
  • Return on participation, experience and influence

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* DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL CONNECTION Special thanks to John Wiley & Sons for providing a review copy of Engage! for this blog post. Wiley books are available at your local bookstore or by calling 1-800-225-5945.

Crowdsourcing: An unavoidable evil or a process with quality results?

Last night I attended All About Crowdsourcing, a program sponsored by the AdClub at The Market in Boston’s Financial District. It not only helped me understand how some companies are developing ideas, but also raised many questions about how it may impact  creatives.

The speakers, Edward Boches, chief creative officer at Mullen, and John Winsor, VP/ ED of Strategy and Innovation at Crispin, Porter + Bogusky, first defined the concept: Asking the crowd for the best idea.

Wikipedia, the encyclopedia built on the crowdsourcing concept defines it this way: Crowdsourcing is a distributed problem-solving and production model. Problems are broadcast to an unknown group of solvers in the form of an open call for solutions. Users–also known as the crowd–typically form into online communities, and the crowd submits solutions. The crowd also sorts through the solutions, finding the best ones. These best solutions are then owned by the entity that broadcast the problem in the first place–the crowdsourcer–and the winning individuals in the crowd are sometimes rewarded. In some cases, this labor is well compensated, either monetarily, with prizes, or with recognition. In other cases, the only rewards may be kudos or intellectual satisfaction. Crowdsourcing may produce solutions from amateurs or volunteers working in their spare time, or from experts or small businesses which were unknown to the initiating organization.

Two Examples of Crowdsourcing

1) BBH Labs wanted a new logo. They used Crowdspring crowdsourcing application to set up the project. 1700 entrants sent in designs. they choose one from 30 finalists and paid the designer $1,500. The remaining 1,699 people got a thank you.

2) A Japanese band named Sour wanted help creating a video for one of their songs. They ask people to submit videos and used all of the submissions for one video.

When we held our own small crowdsourcing project amongst our team a few years ago, we asked designers, writers and marketers to help us name our newsletter. In the end our final result incorporated ideas from everyone. So, rather than giving only one “winner” a gift card, we gave each contributor a gift card for their efforts. This works on a small scale, but becomes cost prohibitive for large crowds. Especially since many of these projects are endeavored to save money.

While I love the idea of global problem solving, it does raise questions for designers who often waive their rights to the work, even if it doesn’t get chosen. Of course, no one forced to submit their work, but some firms are worried that the process will displace design firms.

The audience had many questions, which made for a lively evening.

  • Are we now going to have to compete for everything?
  • Are we becoming a commodity?
  • Do we owe the crowd something for their contribution?

Ed listed a long list of crowdsourcing websites that provide a place to get ideas, video, and design. I have listed five below.

I found the tips and ideas of the speakers and participants to give me some great guidelines for a running a crowdsourcing project.

Best Practices

  • Ask the right question of the right crowd using the right technology
  • Make sure you have clear rules and agreements to address IP issues
  • The project must have a director to make sure it goes the way the client wants.
  • Use a professional crowdsourcing application of you can, or at least look at their models to learn how to do it right.

Finally, there are come large organizations and projects that have built their business on this model.

Sitting next to me was Stephanie Zellman, owner of Uturn Design. I asked her if she felt threatened by these companies. Were they going to make her obsolete as a strategic designer?  Her response: “No, it doesn’t worry me. There are enough clients out there who value the relationship and quality that we offer. ”

I, like Stephanie, don’t believe creativity can be commoditized. I’m banking on it.

3 Tips for Preparing for an Off the Grid Summer Vacation

off_the_grid_iconIf you’ve spent this year getting on board with social media, you may be wondering how to prepare for vacation. Let’s say you’ve embraced the whole enchilada (twitter, blog, facebook, linkedin, google alerts, etc.) then there’s a lot of activity going across your monitor every day. So the question may be, how do you walk away and take an “off the grid” vacation?

Keep a List of Passwords & Usernames
Along with multiple social media/networking accounts comes a list of login pages, usernames and passwords. So to keep your mind at ease, bookmark the pages and keep a list in a shared file where others can access the passwords and usernames, if they plan to post during your absence.

Publish Posts for Future Dates
If you’ve been tweeting on a regular basis, you don’t have to stop cold turkey. Write and prepare any number of tweets you’d like, and set up a page on tweetlater, where you can post messages for future dates. You can do the same for your blog posts, and voilà, it’ll look like you’re working morning, noon and night.

Change Setting Google Alerts Settings
Monitoring a number of topics across the web isn’t only time consuming, it can fill-up your email pretty quickly.  Google alerts provides the option of three different settings —as it happens, once a day, or once a week. It’s easy to change the setting so you don’t come back to an overflowing inbox.

How are you preparing for your off the grid vacation?

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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3 Reasons Why Social Media Improves Communication

Social Media is serving many purposes these days for individuals and organizations alike.  John Blossom, author of Content Nation: Surviving and Thriving as Social Media Changes Our Work, Our Lives, and Our Future, explains three key reasons why social media tools offer improvements in organizational communication.

Blossom writes, effective social media tools enable:

  1. People to choose who they want to be in their circle of communication;
  2. Make it easier to connect and organize communications from internal and external sources;
  3. Make it easier to collaborate internally and externally to build and update valuable knowledge more effectively.

If your organization is using social media, how do you think it’s improving communication? Which tools are you using e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Blog, RSS Feeds?

If your organization hasn’t embraced the idea of social media yet, how do you think it could help?