Where is Social Media Heading?

Trends in social media are difficult to pin point. But there are some overarching directions that have survived and are still going strong this season. Some of these trends are mentioned below.

Focus on images

The meteoric rise of Pinterest is testimony to the fact that images are in. Pinterest is a content sharing service and a social network that allows users to make extensive use of images. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that after Pinterest’s latest round of funding netted the company $100 million, the company was valued at $1.5 billion. The popularity of Pinterest is a pretty good reason why other companies should place a premium on visual content. Facebook has already shifted to timeline. Humans process a lot of information visually and will respond to imagery in a positive way. Since people like images, social media websites have capitalized on it.

Going mobile

Nearly half of Facebook users log into their accounts using their mobile phones. Mobile internet users are going to overtake desktop internet users by 2015. And social media on mobile is still in its infancy. But mobile phone companies are coming up with better audio, video, location selection and third party application integration.

Social media websites embracing open platforms

When it comes to adding new users, Facebook has seen continued success while Google is moving at a snail’s pace. One reason is Facebook allows third party application providers to contribute to users experience. The result – consumers stay longer on such sites and engage more.

Crowdsourcing

Wired.com’s Jeff Howe defines crowdsourcing as outsourcing the creation of content to groups of people rather than tackling such tasks in-house. Sites such as Wikipedia, Tumblr and Pinterest are leading the pack here. People tend to trust their friends and relatives more than corporations who they perceive won’t give them bipartisan information. So everything from starting a new company to learning how to bake a cake can be accomplished through crowdsourcing.

Online Video

With the advent of faster internet connections such as 3G (and now 4G) and the proliferation of smart phones, video content is only going to become more popular. Some years ago, production of video was deemed to be expensive, but not anymore. Smart phones with share capabilities and HD technology have changed the rules of the game. Now we have budding entertainers, citizen journalists and YouTube campaigns.

The privacy vs. personalization debate

Social media sites and online retailers are mining information about us constantly. They are logging data such as our likes, dislikes and even the interests of people with whom we interact. The issue here is the breach of privacy that social media sites are being accused of. Government regulators have increased their scrutiny and users have become more sensitive. On the other hand, some social networking sites have gone public and their shareholders are demanding results. The pressure to collect information is only going to grow.

LinkedIn Marketing for Startups

LinkedIn has evolved to become one of the most powerful tools when it comes to building industry connections. It is also slowly emerging to become a powerful marketing tool as well. As with any other medium, the key aspect to remember when you are marketing a product on LinkedIn is to be helpful to others. Once you have established yourself, there is no limit to what you can achieve using LinkedIn for your business.

Thought leadership

The best way to promote yourself in LinkedIn is through thought leadership. Demonstrate your expert knowledge through tips and other stories pertaining to your field. LinkedIn will then deliver this content to those who need your expertise. If they like what they see you can expect them to connect with you. Other than this, it is also a good idea to answer any question on your field of expertise. This will also encourage other professionals to connect with you. You can then use these connections to expand your reach and also find prospective customers.

Find customers

The best way to find prospective clients on LinkedIn is by looking for complementary businesses. These are businesses that rely upon each other to survive. LinkedIn is a great way to find businesses that could make use of your services in a broader sense. Try to target these businesses through LinkedIn Inmail as they would find more value in your services. Another method would be to look for vendors who make use of your products. Connecting with such vendors may also lead you to a prospective client.

Social Media Marketing Trends for 2013

Moving into 2013, a lot of changes have taken place. While the world didn’t come to an end as predicted by the Mayans, the mad rush has simply escalated to new levels. Pinterest has become a powerful new social media tool, Google+ has continued to grow at an exponential rate, LinkedIn has a new makeover of its interface and Facebook has acquired Instagram. So then the question that arises at this point of time is what can be expected as we move through 2013 and ensure that our marketing strategies stay ahead of the competition

Content gets a Center Stage

Content has been making waves in the online world for quite some time now. Leading online marketers have already embraced the importance of content in marketing. Now it is the turn of social media. Over this year, we could see content becoming the cornerstone of all marketing efforts on social media. Leading social networks such as Google+ have already begun using the number of +1s for ranking the content. A similar change is also likely to take place on Facebook.

Short is Sweet

The world today is moving at a breakneck speed and nobody has enough time to go through long essays on social networks. Twitter began the trend with its 140 character tweets. This is also what you should be focusing on when trying to put across your marketing message. The challenge for marketers this year would be to keep their marketing messages short and crisp while not losing the element of attractiveness.

 

Permission Marketing – The Future of Online Advertising

Privacy is the most prominent challenge that advertisers have been posed with in recent times. The behavior targeting model of online advertising as it is today has come under great criticism for violating user privacy. As a result a large number of online publishers have been removing third party applications that are involved in data scraping. Even authoritative social media websites such as Facebook has been actively involved in curbing data scraping initiatives that are unauthorized. While many have been heralding the end of online advertising as we know it, others have been pointing towards a new trend where marketers and the consumers work together to derive benefits from better content, data and advertising.

Concept of permission marketing

While permission marketing may be new in the world of online advertising, the concept has existed since 1999 and was introduced by Seth Goldin. Permission marketing ensures that the targeted consumers pay close attention to your marketing messages as you pitch your messages only to certain audiences’ that are interested in your products. Permission marketing helps the marketers as well as the consumers in getting what they want. Today consumers are more comfortable using social media platforms and smartphone applications. Also a vast majority of these consumers are highly willing to provide personal information to brands and businesses in exchange for the value that they can derive from those brands.

Benefits of permission marketing

One of the most popular modes of permission marketing that exists today is perhaps the social sign on. A social sign on is nothing but a consumer signing into a service or an online publisher using any of their social media accounts. In this process, the consumer agrees to share their social information with the publisher and as a result the publisher gets access to the consumer’s personal data. This data can then be used to provide content as per the user’s social preferences providing a high quality user experience to the consumer. The publisher also uses the same data to present relevant ads to the consumer and gains revenue

The Evolution of Permission Marketing

Permission marketing is the latest buzz word in the online advertising industry. With the recent uproar about illegitimate data scraping and other issues, online marketers are now turning towards a new and innovative method of marketing known as permission marketing. Permission marketing is based upon the concept that originated over a decade ago as observations made by Seth Godin and others were introduced, as a necessary path to take with respect to the future of effective online marketing.

Internet and marketing

While this conventional medium had been continuously interrupting audiences with an unending array of advertisements promoting sponsors, the advent of PM heralded a welcome change to the consumers. Online advertising has always continued to remain as a mixed bag of solutions, however there have been a few exceptions such as Google adwords that deliver the marketing message at the right instant without hampering user experience. Interesting enough the internet has continued to exist as the only medium where marketers have not been able to pitch their products against the will of the consumer.

The most you can do when it comes to online marketing is to leave a message to the users. You cannot enforce your marketing message on anyone. Permission marketing sprouted out of this observation. Here instead of trying to win the attention of the consumer, the marketer looks for consumers that are genuinely interested in their products by asking permission from the prospect in order to deliver their marketing message. This is being achieved through several new tools such as social sign on, email, mobile applications, and social media applications.  This paradigm shift in marketing is characterized as ‘Pull’ marketing as opposed to ‘Push’ marketing, which is the traditional method we all recognize.  Creating a true interest in your product or service and engaging your prospects to want you to market to them, creates a whole new way of more effectively communicating with your market.

B2B Strategies for LinkedIn Marketing

LinkedIn Marketing has quickly gained center-stage as large numbers of businesses are realizing the value and potential that LinkedIn has to offer them. With a number of corporate and industry leaders, LinkedIn is gaining prominence as one of the world’s largest social networks. In such a scenario, hesitation to cash in on the opportunity can cost your business valuable leverage when it comes to online marketing.

Brand awareness through LinkedIn

One of the most popular ways LinkedIn is being used is to generate brand awareness. In order to do this, first you need to establish your presence through a company page. You can then use this as a promoting machine where you can market, re-market, target and re-target your brand identity to people across the globe. You can also engage your audience and make sure that they keep returning to your content. When this happens, you will see that the customers will begin to associate your brand with your niche. This is possible because LinkedIn provides highly relevant content to an audience that is interested in your brand.

Advertising

Another popular marketing technique used mostly by B2B businesses is advertising on LinkedIn. Although the market for advertising on LinkedIn is still in its evolutionary stage, a large number of B2B businesses are leveraging it for job titles, and other marketing initiatives. Advertising on LinkedIn has been proven to be highly effective as it allows you to narrow your targets based on where your potential prospects are likely to spend most of their time on LinkedIn.

Is RSS Still Significant?

With Google announcing the demise of Google Reader recently, a lot of talk is being generated about the move to shut it down. While several enthusiasts express emotions ranging from sadness to outrage over Google’s move. Others think that RSS never had a significant role to play online, and that it was about time Google shut it down. However, RSS is still continues to prevail despite all the turmoil surrounding the Google Reader. Some discussion over RSS as a standard continues.

Can Twitter replace RSS?

A vast majority of people are of the opinion that the micro-blogging platform ‘Twitter’ can act as an effective replacement to RSS. This is far from being true in my opinion, simply because Twitter is a web service, and it is not an open standard. RSS, when compared to Twitter, could be like a webpage where anybody could create and host their own personalized feed allowing anybody to read it. This is not possible in twitter as you do not have any control over your feed, and the service does not allow you to host your own custom feeds. In short, Twitter is a closed standard and as a result, it is an unlikely replacement for Google Reader.

Real-time versus time-shift

There is another major issue when it comes to replacing Google Reader with Twitter. While on the outside, both may seem to perform the same functions, they are quite different in reality. Twitter feeds are usually real-time as opposed to the time-shifted nature of RSS. It’s quite difficult  to follow every single tweet all day. Also, it is hard to access an old tweet using twitter. RSS on the other hand, can provide organized information for easy access, at any given point of time. So, replacing Google Reader with Twitter can be difficult. It is better to look for an open standard as a replacement for RSS, since it is the backbone of sharing information on the web.

Generating Leads Using LinkedIn

Social media is a significant part of our lives today. While Facebook and Twitter serve as excellent platforms to network with friends and share thoughts, LinkedIn is something that is completely different. It is a social platform where business gets carried out. People generally consider LinkedIn as a platform to look for prospective job opportunities. While this is true to a great extent, LinkedIn is not just about job searches. It is also an excellent platform to express your thoughts, leadership and expertise in your chosen field while also promoting your business to help in gaining leads.

While everything else in the platform is generally straight forward, the only area you may have to better understand is how your business can gain valuable leads through LinkedIn?

Research

One of the most important things you need to do when it comes to gaining leads though LinkedIn is researching to find prospective buyers. One idea is to use Google analytics or any other tool to find out who is visiting your website. By analyzing this data, you may be able to identify some prospective buyers. Once you have shortlisted the buyers, you can then approach the top executives through an InMail or even a call directly.

LinkedIn groups

A LinkedIn group is one of the best places to demonstrate your leadership thoughts and ideas and also to connect with the right people in different organizations. However joining a LinkedIn group is not enough, in order to make the most out of groups; you need to join only those groups with plenty of activity rather than large number of members. Also, make sure that you respond to the posts with valuable content instead of a pitch. Your goal in the group is to engage as many users as possible and convert them to followers and leads.

Manipulating Customer Behavior for Successful Marketing

When it comes to marketing within the world of e-commerce, customer behavior plays a crucial role. Fresh clean product page design, and clear crisp images, affect the way customers perceive your brand. Coherent and intuitive category flows in the navigation also influence how customers behave. So customer behavior really plays a huge role in the success or failure of any consumer-based business, especially e-commerce.

Triggers for customer behavior

Businesses concentrate a great deal on the price of their products. If price is a critical differentiator then the ability to present competitive comparisons is a great way to trigger your prospect to buy.  In fact, consumers prefer to compare prices instantly and if they are at the buying phase of their research, they very often purchase at that point. Providing this option also helps them to make better decisions,  leading to have more trust in your brand. So the ability to compare prices can act as a trigger for customers, who are motivated to make a purchase.

Email campaigns

While many have been quick in suggesting the demise of email marketing, these suggestions are far from being true. While they might not serve as the only interactive marketing tool, they can make sure that your brand is on your customer’s mind. Customer behavior always requires a trigger. Customers usually have a need for a product, but they may not know the best source to procure it. It is your job to remind them (post satisfied survey) that they had a satisfied shopping experience at your store. So it is healthy to drop in a email blast once in a while about specials, discounts, and offers provided at your store or for your brand.  ‘Out of sight out of mind’ Right?

Adding a Personality to Your Customer Engagement Efforts

Successfully marketing a brand in large part, is about the ‘experience’ you provide to your customers. On a similar note, customer engagement is all about what stories your brand is tied to. The more interesting the story, the greater the engagement and the higher the chance of your customers being loyal to your company. Customer engagement is not just dictated by the success or size of the brand, it also depends on how you present it in front of your customers. Here are a couple of things that will help increase your customer engagement.

Customers are valuable assets, make them feel it

Business cannot successfully survive for a prolonged period of time without the feedback of customers. The real question however is whether your customers know of their importance to the brand? Customers usually attach an emotional value to any product they buy. Your products on the other hand do not emote the same, so it is up to you to demonstrate that your customers are just as special to your brand, as is your brand  to them. An occasional email, or a greeting on their anniversary or birthday, can make sure that your customers feel special. As a reward for your efforts, there is a good chance that your customer would recommend your brand to others and retention will be all that much more ensured.

Surprise your customers

A healthy surprise once in a while can in itself act as an effective marketing tool, and an excellent means to boost customer engagement. This can come in handy if you are launching a new product. Conduct a simple survey and find out what features the customers generally attribute your brand with, and in your next product enhance those features. It might sound a bit like reinventing the wheel but it need not be that way. Simple but unexpected surprises such as an enhanced, additional feature or a change in design can generate a lot of interest among your customers.