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Archive for social media

favorite things . StickyGram

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Are you an Instagram-er? I am too! The wildly popular photo sharing service is a super-fun way to show off images on the go and share daily experiences in a visual way — something I can always get behind. I recently came across another cool service that allows you to turn your Instagram photos into magnets, and I decided to give it a try!

StickyGram is an online service that interfaces directly with Instagram and allows you to get a set of nine 2 x 2″ magnets from your favorite photos. The process is really easy. You simply login at StickyGram.com with your Instagram account information, choose your photos and order. I’m thinking choosing some photos of my kiddos would be a pretty fun gift for a grandmother on Mother’s Day!

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Pinterest Tab for Facebook Pages

Do you have a profile on Pinterest you’d like to share with your Facebook audience? I think there’s a lot of marketing power in moving your audience across multiple media to experience more of your online presence. Creating awareness of various social marketing profiles is a first step! Last week, a Facebook “fan” of one of the client pages I manage contacted me about how to enable a Pinterest tab like the one she’s seen on the client page — similar to the one shown on my own page here…

I was happy to point her to the awesome free resource, and I thought I’d share it here as well. The Pinterest tab is a free and easy-to-install application from WooBox.com. They offer a variety of applications to enhance your Facebook page, some available as paid subscriptions and some free for a certain number of pages. The Pinterest application creates a tab to link your Pinterest profile to Facebook and imports your boards and pins into a Facebook-friendly format, while still keeping the Pinterest feel. You can see how my Pinterest profile displays on the Small Pond Graphics Facebook page below. What I love about it is that you can view individual boards and pin, like or send via email right through the interface. It also sends visitors back to your Pinterest page when they click either the Pinterest logo or the individual pins. Pretty cool. All WooBox.com apps also have a built-in analytics section to show at least limited stats on your tab traffic, so it’s easy to see if you’re getting added visibility.

The set-up of the Woo Box Pinterest Tab is super easy. You can click the “Install” button at WooBox.com, and once you allow permission through Facebook, you’ll see a settings screen like the one below. Simply input your Pinterest username and configure the various customizable features. Presto! Pinterest on your Facebook page!

With the popularity of Pinterest growing so rapidly, and more and more businesses creating profiles on the image-sharing platform, integrating Pinterest with your Facebook page can be a great opportunity for cross-marketing and reinforcement of your brand. The WooBox.com app is a great tool to make it happen, and it’s hard not to love free! Let me know how it turns out on YOUR Facebook page.

 

Adding Twitter to Your Business Facebook Page

If you’ve talked to me at all about my approach to marketing strategy and online media in particular, you know that I’m a big fan of finding ways to move your audience across your digital geography from one online medium or social space to another. I think this offers multiple ways to engage with other businesses or customers and to communicate more of your unique story. With the new Timeline format for Facebook pages, the story of your brand in that particular social space is even richer with more opportunities to share larger graphics and photos and better ways to organize your own information. One thing I like about the Timeline format for pages is the newer “tab” location — the four boxes just under the right side of the cover photo. The “photos” box is a constant, but the other boxes can be prioritized based on what you feel is most important to your brand.

With the goal of exposing Facebook connections to your other online media spaces, including a Twitter feed as one of the top apps is a great approach. I’ve tried several Facebook apps for adding a Twitter feed, including the Involver app, Tweets to Pages. It works great and is an easy, free installation. However, I have to admit, that the one I like best is the Twitter app from Tradable Bits. It’s just as easy. It’s free for up to 5 apps installed per page, and I just like the interface a little better.

You can see from the screen shot of Tradable Bits Twitter on my Facebook page that the app works well within the Timeline page format. The thing I like about Tradable Bits over the other apps I’ve tried is that it includes your Twitter profile pic and bio at the top of your feed along with the “follow” button. I just like the continuity of having the bio present. I like the polish that it gives the tab’s view. The other plus for this app for me is that it also includes the tweets in your feed that come from Twitter’s easy re-tweet function. Some of the other Twitter apps I’ve tried didn’t do that. I tend to use the RT function a lot with links I find useful or interesting on Twitter, and showing those tweets in the feed demonstrates an interest in sharing information and engagement — something I actually look for in other tweeters.

The installation of Tradable Bits Twitter couldn’t be easier. When you click through their website and give Facebook authorization, you reach a screen similar to this one where you can simply type your Twitter handle and click a button to the right to publish to your Facebook page.

I’m always drawn to the details when I’m looking for marketing tools, and Tradable Bits Twitter app for Facebook pages has those small things that I think that can be very valuable in strengthening your online presence.

Tools for Sane Social Media

During this first year of Small Pond Graphics, I’ve really seen a lot of exposure and new business opportunities sparked through my profiles on both Twitter and Facebook. I’ve been experimenting over the last few months with different ways of sharing client projects, original content, inspiration and ideas there and integrating the content here on Plop! as well. There’s no question social media takes time, and as with any marketing effort, for it to effective it takes some planning and thought as well.  Today I thought I would share a couple of tools I use to help me with the logistics. Time spent on social media can get away from you if you’re not careful, and it can quickly turn non-productive. I use these tools for scheduling and managing the content I want to share–and for keeping my time on social media sane. Maybe they’ll help you as well.

1. Twaitter.com — Twaitter is a marketing tool for Twitter that allows you to draft, schedule and send tweets. You don’t need a separate account, you just log in with your Twitter username and password. Simple enough. There are many twitter tools that facilitate the process of scheduling and sending tweets. The reason I like Twaitter is because I can schedule recurring tweets on a very specific time frame. While I don’t recommend bombarding your Twitter followers with repeated messages, I do think it’s valuable to send regular tweets with general information about your business. I use Twaitter to send a weekly tweet listing my services with a link to the Pond website and weekly tweets inviting followers to join my facebook page (with a link).

2. Postling.com — Postling is a great comprehensive service for posting to multiple social media channels or blogs at one time. It also allows you to manage multiple brands if you have more than one business on your social media plate, and it allows you to schedule in advance. I frequently use it to schedule the Daily PONDspiration posts I add to the Small Pond Facebook page each day. I like it because you can select to post to both your personal FB profile and any pages you administer and Twitter. It automatically shortens the links for my posts and I like it because it allows me to choose an image from the linked page to include, much like if I was posting it directly into Facebook. That’s important to me because my posts are design oriented. I usually spend some time over each weekend scheduling the upcoming week’s daily FB posts all at once. Makes my life easier!

Note: Postling also tracks comments and interactions with your social media posts. Nice.

3. Amplify.com — Amplify offers a very similar service to Postling with a few added features I love. Like Postling, it allows you to choose multiple profiles and media outlets to post a single message. But, Amplify offers an easy browser toolbar button that lets you “amplify” a link right from your browser. I use it to share links or information on Twitter or Facebook on the fly without a lot of additional browser windows or logins.  If I want more control over what is shared, I also sometimes use it  to schedule Daily PONDspiration posts. The toolbar button offers the option to “clip” a page. I can select an image and various paragraphs of text straight from a web page. [It’s very helpful for those webpages whose images won’t automatically import into Facebook.] Another great feature of Amplify is that it lets you compose your Twitter and Facebook wording separately since you can utilize more characters on Facebook.

Note: Amplify sets up your amplified posts as a micro-blog of sorts that you can promote if you desire. When posting, you can link to this micro-blog or to the original web page you are sharing.

4. Network Blogs — I wanted to throw in a tool I use for Plop! as well. Network Blogs is a Facebook application that lets you link your blog content to your Facebook page and/or profile. You can essentially set up a mini page for your blog and manage how it is “syndicated” to your FB profile or any pages you administer. The application creates a “blog” tab showing all your posts, and it can automatically post links for new blog posts to your wall. I also activated the feature that lets you post to Twitter automatically as well.

Of course, some of the services these tools offer overlap. I’ve established sort of a mish-mash protocol for how I prefer to manage my social media marketing. These free services may offer you the opportunity to do the same!

Top 10 Marketing Moves for 2011 (part 2)

I still can’t believe we’re already ten days into 2011. Can you? Sometimes I think it’s easy to let January slip by us as we settle back into normal routines after holiday fun and traveling. It’s easy to do with the marketing efforts as well. I don’t want to do that! I want to begin right now taking 2011 by storm. Last week I shared the first half of my top 10 recommended Marketing Moves for 2011. Some of those recommendations, like an effective logo and a solid website, took business promotional efforts back to the basics. Some moves, like a “yes” mentality and a well-told story, were more toward the mindset variety in re-evaluating how we see the experience of our customers and how we communicate our story. For the second half of my list, I’ve included a few “essentials” that have made a big difference in my own marketing efforts as well as some that my clients are using.

6. Facebook Page — Yeah, I know. Why do I need a Facebook Page? I get that question a lot from both clients and colleagues. I also field a lot of questions about whether Facebook can be an effective marketing tool for a variety of businesses beyond the restaurant or retail sector. My answer is yes. And, I’ve included it as an “essential” because of how important it’s been in my own efforts to get the word out about a new company in the service industry called Small Pond Graphics. My business FB page has been invaluable in raising awareness among my existing network of colleagues and friends about my new business venture as well as in opening up opportunities for new business. And I don’t sell any specific products or make any widgets. My largest target audience is business-to-business, and FB has still given me solid marketing leads. That’s because every clientele whether direct consumers or business-to-business is made up of people. People want to work with people they know and people they feel they can make a direct connection with. Facebook provides that opportunity without the constraints of location.

7. A (Flexible) Plan — One of the biggest mistakes I see customers make in their promotional efforts is embarking on a marketing program without a clear plan. A clear plan requires setting goals that are specific and attainable, choosing marketing venues that match goals with the appropriate target audience, and executing the logistics effectively. If that plan isn’t in place, then you have no basis for determining whether marketing opportunities have the juice to make an impact on your bottom line. But, having a plan doesn’t mean being rigid. If you maintain a level of flexibility in your plans, you can keep a portion of your efforts (translation: your time and your budget) open for creative ideas or options that come along unexpectedly.

8. Multi-media Approach — Because your target audience absorbs information from many “channels” it’s important to consider relaying your marketing message in multiple channels as well. Yes, limiting your marketing venues to one place–a single brochure, just a website, or one print media outlet–can offer some exposure. But, repeating your message with a multi-media approach has exponential value in making a marketing impact. As you are making your marketing plan, consider overlapping messages through several channels like email campaigns, website features, social media as well as print media and face-to-face encounters.

9. Customer Database — Consumers today have an expectation that businesses and organizations are ready to make it personal when communicating their messages. Plus, potential clients have so many message flung their way that only the ones that are most immediate and most personal tend to rise above the fray. The starting point of meeting the new realities of customer interaction is developing a customer database. Gathering and categorizing information about your individual customers allows you to communicate with them consistently and in a meaningful way. It’s as simple as that. Start gathering email addresses, physical addresses and even information like birthdays and purchasing preferences today.

10. Partnerships — This particular marketing move has proven to be a very successful and inspiring effort for Small Pond Graphics over the last six months. That’s why I encourage it as an essential marketing move. It’s easy to think of your business as a lone wolf. But, those days are over. Conducting business focused on protecting yourself and your own control of the customer experience is outdated in today’s marketing climate. Partnering with other businesses you admire and respect can open up great opportunities for growth. Well-placed partnerships and collaboration allow you to expand your service offerings AND your customer base. Plus, I’ve found that working with smart people makes me smarter . Working with other creative people makes me more creative. It’s a win-win.

As my thinking on some of these 10 essential Marketing Moves grows, I plan to share a few more specific posts on their effectiveness as well as some stories from my own experience about their importance. Meanwhile, choose one and get started with making 2011 great for your marketing efforts!

Responsible Facebook Marketing: Page or Profile? (part 2)

A few weeks ago I shared some thoughts on responsible Facebook marketing for businesses in part 1 of this article. My comments centered on the important impression it makes for businesses to market within the Facebook Terms of Service when using this ever-growing social networking website. Since the Facebook Terms of Service disallow users from conducting more than one “profile”, I recommend that users set up their business Facebook presence in the “page” format. While I appealed to our need for responsible (and TOS-abiding) marketing as a way of setting examples of how to conduct business in this new digital age, I also promised some more concrete reasons in a future post.

Hello, part 2. Business ethics aside, using the Page format rather the Facebook Profile option just makes good marketing sense. And, here are 5 reasons why…

1. Pages look like businesses. There are quite a few business or organization options that are available when setting up a Page format in Facebook. Creators can choose ptions like restaurant, retail, professional organization, and many other specific business types. Facebook allows Pages to be designated as a local business; a brand, product or organization; or an artist, band or public figure. Each option has built-in display items for information that is relevant to the specific type of entity. Options like hours of operation, service listings, mission statements and products are just a few of the items you can include in the information displayed on your page. On the other hand, Profiles look like people. So, your business information looks amateurish at best. Businesses don’t have birthdays, favorite quotes and movies, or many of the other items displayed in the standard Profile. In trying to apply normal business information to this more personal format, your message becomes clunky, or even confusing.

2. Pages offer business-friendly application options. These applications can enhance your Facebook marketing efforts, but many aren’t available for use on Profiles. You can add custom tabs to your Page with specific company information, integrate FB with your other social media outlets and channels, import blog feeds, post slide or powerpoint presentations, and much more by adding applications to your Page.

3. Pages give fans instant gratification. In the Profile format, users request a “friendship”, but must wait for confirmation. Even if it’s only a few minutes or hours, you’ve lost that potential customer or contact’s interest in your business. When a user “likes” a Facebook Page, they immediately gain access to all the Page has to offer, and your posts begin showing up in their stream. Yes, they can immediately begin interacting with your page with wall posts or comments based on your page settings, which can be risky. But, that opportunity fosters an open relationship of engagement with a potential client — the hallmark of doing business in a social environment.

4. Pages include a helpful set of analytics about page use. Unlike Profiles, Facebook provides data on who is interacting with your Page and how. Brief statistics are part of your account notifications and more detailed information is available to any Page administrator. These stats can help you gain a better understanding of which Facebook marketing approaches are gaining the best response from fans.

5. Pages allow for multiple administrators. While the Terms of Service disallow passing around your password information for FB Profiles, the Page format allows the creator to designate multiple administrators who can edit settings, make posts and add features to the Page. This feature is particularly helpful for organizations who may need multiple staff to be able to promote their projects on Facebook. It also helps ease the burden of maintaining a consistent message in this social outlet.

To make this a well-rounded post, there are also a couple of drawbacks I see in the current Facebook Page format. I’ve noticed quite a few requests in the FB discussion boards for development changes surrounding these two issues, and it’s possible solutions will be developed and implemented into the Page structure.

1. Pages do not currently provide notification of fan wall posts or comments. If an administrator has “liked” or commented on a post already, he will receive notification of any subsequent interaction with the post. However, there is not a vehicle for alerting administrators of new posts or comments.

2. Pages are not specifically tied to the Facebook advertising opportunities. Only profiles are enabled with administrative privileges for the FB pay-per-click ad options. Any ads related to a Page must be administered by a specific profile user. The option to place ads or change them isn’t possible for multiple Page administrators. In addition, a user can only have one credit card listing on file for advertising. So, multiple pages administered by the same user can not have separate credit card payment options designated.

Responsible Facebook Marketing: Page or Profile? (part 1)

I’ve been thinking alot about Facebook recently. Not only have I been launching the Small Pond Graphics Facebook page, but I’ve had several clients seeking my input on how to create or maximize their own pages. With over 400 million active Facebook users worldwide, and the statistics growing for the impact engaging with companies online makes in how consumers respond to products and services, Facebook is indeed becoming a more and more valuable marketing commodity. Just the other day, I saw Google’s statistics on the most visited websites on the internet during the month of May, 2010. Facebook topped the list with over 540 million unique visitors during the month and a mind-boggling 630 billion page views.

One of the pieces of information I shared on the Pond FB page this week was a link to a new application for Facebook profiles that has been released. It was produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and offers a “panic button” of sorts for 13- to 18-year-old Facebook users. The application adds a profile tab that allows the teen to quickly report suspicious users. In the press release about the application, James Gamble of the Centre commented that online predators are often dissuaded by visible deterrents. The hope is that this application might serve to protect young Facebook users from falling victim to the inevitable unscrupulous and sometimes dangerous online realities.

With the news of this new application that attempts to protect young online users from the internet’s worst tendencies, I’ve also been starting work on an online media contract for a local private school. It has me thinking. We have been trained in recent years to consider corporate responsibility and the ways businesses can or should involve themselves in social issues. How does that concern for ethical and responsible business practices extend to online marketing? Given the fact that we have no control over who reads our contributions to the online buzz — their age, their nationality, their proximity, their gender — how do we orchestrate a responsible online presence?

There are undoubtedly many answers and viewpoints to those questions. A full discourse would certainly produce a much longer word count for this post than I would ever recommend for a blogging client. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject, but for now, I’ll limit MY answer to just one recommendation regarding Facebook.

Follow the rules.

Facebook is a free service. It isn’t a democracy. It isn’t an “economy.” It doesn’t have juris prudence. It’s an idea that has come to remarkable fruition. And, marketing a business or organization on Facebook is a gift. My number one recommendation to businesses seeking to reach out to customers on Facebook is “don’t look a gift-horse in the mouth.” Say thank you, and follow the rules. By doing so, companies promote an ethical and responsible approach to doing business online. They demonstrate that “Terms of Service” agreements aren’t just a checkbox after a password is set. They are guidelines that are important to follow as we take advantage of our internet privileges. I appreciate organizations that set an example in the way they approach online media for the scores of young users we know are watching.

And, I notice when they don’t.

One of the primary ways I’m disappointed by businesses marketing on Facebook is when I see them presenting themselves in the “PROFILE” format. The site offers businesses a free way to promote themselves using the network through their “PAGE” format. The Facebook Terms of Service prohibit an individual from holding two different Facebook accounts. So, if you have a personal profile AND a business profile, you are in violation of those terms. In my opinion, businesses and organizations who violate this policy send a subtle, but immediate message that they don’t mind stepping outside the rules when conducting their business. In this age when the global focus is more and more on corporate responsibility for both large and small companies, that’s just not a good marketing strategy.

Not convinced by my “set a good example” theory? Stay tuned for Part 2 and a few solid marketing reasons why giving your business a Facebook “PAGE” presence is a better option.

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