Vesta Digital Blog

Archive for April 2010

Social Media MarketingMany companies and corporations are adapting to social media marketing to sell their products and/or services and engage their consumers. With this new way of marketing come new responsibilities. Businesses have to evaluate which corporate social media policies to adhere to and how to provide support and guidance to your employees. Social media is not just a buzz word, it is a very effective marketing tool. For businesses, it translates to vital new information and insight into the company value and how it is perceived in the social world. Once that information is received, companies are able to correctly address the issues at hand and reinforce their marketing strategy.

Amber Naslund offers some excellent tips and ideas on how to prepare your company for social media monitoring:

Decide On Focus Areas.

  • Are you listening just for your brand specifically?
  • What specific keywords and phrases are most important to you, and why?
  • What are your assumptions and expectations for what social media monitoring can help you learn or do?
  • Do you need to do competitive or industry analysis as well at this point?
  • What areas of the business can benefit most from understanding commentary and conversation on the social web?
  • Do you have particular initiatives or campaigns that you will track independently?

Articulate Your Goals & Measurements.

  • What are you hoping to accomplish with your social media monitoring program? Be specific, i.e. “we want to identify emerging customer service issues in social media and route them to our offline channels.”
  • By when?
  • What do you know now as a baseline or status quo in that area?
  • What constitutes success or forward progress toward your goal(s)?
  • What measurements can you track and measure to illustrate progress?
  • How do they relate to things you’re measuring in other business areas like customer service, marketing, product development?

Consider Resources

  • Who is going to be doing the social media monitoring?
  • What kind of training will they need? Tools?
  • Do you have front-line people dedicated to listening efforts, or are you working it into various job descriptions?
  • If you’re breaking it out into different roles, which topics/areas is each person responsible for monitoring?
  • How many hours can you dedicate to listening efforts per week? Per month?
  • What level of time and effort spent will indicate to you that you need more or fewer resources?

Map Information Flow

  • Who needs to know what you’re finding through your social media monitoring?
  • How will you document your listening and monitoring procedures and workflow?
  • How will you get the listening insights to the appropriate team members?
  • What are you expecting other team members to do with that information once they have it?
  • How will you allow them to provide feedback to refine your listening efforts?

Illustrate Results & Next Steps

  • What key information will you report? When should the first report happen after you start your listening program?
  • To whom?
  • How often?
  • Who will review the results and be responsible for drawing conclusions based on the analysis?
  • How will you dictate action steps based on the results?

Social Media MarketingAccording to a recent survey by Econsultancy and bigmouthmedia, 86% of companies report that they will spend more money on social media in 2010 than in previous years. The survey goes on to report clear benefits for the companies surveyed: increased brand awareness (73%), increased customer engagement (71%), better brand reputation (66%) and increased communication with key influencers (62%).

But it can be tough to gain an understanding of how it works and how to make the most of the medium. Marketing with social media is a powerful strategy, the process of which involves promoting your website or business through social media channels—such as Facebook and Twitter—to build stronger traffic, brand awareness and user-generated content.

Social media marketing is a low-cost marketing method that will easily give you large numbers of visitors, which a business will be able to retain provided there is solid and relevant information on your website.”

Companies that have implemented social media into their online marketing have been able to see immediate results. When used properly, social applications have engagement times that are 75 times greater than the time consumers spend interacting with traditional banner ads.

Five Tips for Social Media Marketing Pay Off:

1. Find the right network—There are so many networking sites available on the net like MySpace, Flickr, Plaxo, WordPress, Brightkite, just to name a few. Evaluate your business, industry and target audience to carefully choose which social networking (Facebook, YouTube or bookmarking—e.g., StumbleUpon, Delicious—sites will be the most beneficial for your business. When it comes to choosing the right social media platform for your business, research is the key. It’s crucial to find the right platform to achieve your marketing goals.

2. Content is king—Your web content should be updated daily when possible, relevant to your business or industry, and provide valuable information that people can read and, therefore, “share later on, which is what social media is all about,” she adds.

3. Have a blog—A blog can become the most powerful marketing weapon in your arsenal. Organize your posts into categories and allow visitors to browse by topic, group or interests. Google, MSN and Yahoo give more weight to well-linked blogs.

4. Build an online community—A strong online community encourages visitors to engage, interact, subscribe to RSS feeds and comment on your blog posts. Reinforce your message throughout your website.

5. Commit to it—“Signing up with social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and Blogger is not enough, says Sapojnikova. “Company profiles should be complete, with website links and other corporate information provided and updated on a regular basis. Questions and inquiries posted should be addressed immediately. When you establish authority with your audience, it should be maintained.”

Whether you’re selling products and services or just publishing content for ad revenue, social media marketing is a potent method that has the potential to make your site profitable with time, she says. Businesses that create viral content and do effective website promotion through social media channels can reap the following benefits and rewards:

Increased traffic—There are two types of traffic: primary and secondary. Primary traffic is the large amount of visitors who come directly from social media websites. Secondary traffic is referral traffic from websites that link to your posts and send you visitors, after they come across your content through the social sites.

High-quality links—Achieving popularity on social bookmarking websites, such as Digg, Mashable or Reddit, will get you a large number of links, and therefore more traffic. Blogs written with solid and relevant information are often picked up by editorial links, most of which cannot be easily bought.

Back linking—“Links translate to better search engine rankings. When a website receives a large number of natural, permanent links from trusted domains, it develops authority,” states Sapojnikova. “Search engines trust it. If you optimize your ‘link bait’ (a technique used to attract links from high quality and ranking sites to your site) and website structure properly, you can easily start ranking for competitive keywords, which, in turn, will bring in search engine visitors. When maintained, your search traffic will undoubtedly increase.”

Social media is not just a buzz word, it is a very effective marketing tool. Do your research on companies (like Coca Cola and Hyundai) that have successfully used social media to achieve tremendous success. Evaluate and compare all the social media platforms available on the web to see which platform will support your business strategy and help your business achieve online goals more effectively.

WalmartSocial media ROI (return-of-investment) is the big hot button these days. Nothing is more important for businesses. Nothing is bigger. So it makes a lot of sense to talk about how Walmart – the biggest retailer of them all – is handling it. That is what Forrester Research did in an excellent article by Augie Ray:

Social Media ROI

It’s interesting to hear the wide range of attitudes toward social media ROI. Some companies measure quite a bit about their social media activities but do not evaluate ROI in its most literal definition: The financial return generated by a specific monetary investment. Others go through a great deal of effort to measure ROI, creating complex models to calculate an approximation of financial return.

Some in the direct marketing space are beginning to value their social media efforts much as they do their PPC (pay-per-click) campaigns – assessing the cost of participation compared to the clicks, conversions and sales generated from trackable links seeded into tweets and Facebook posts. This sort of measurement is essential and inevitable for companies that sell direct to consumers, but it’s important companies not become overly narrow and begin to assess social media as just another click-generating channel.

First of all, that attitude will tend to lead to behaviors that might generate short-term value but harm the brand in the long run. Constantly posting offers into your Facebook stream will certainly create clicks and sales, but it will also turn off consumers who expect organizations to use social media for something more than just a new advertising medium. Moreover, taking customers who have enough affinity to join your Facebook fan page and then conditioning them not to act unless an offer is presented seems to diminish rather than enhance brand value.

Evaluating Data

The final challenge with evaluating social media purely based on directly attributable sales is that doing so fails to consider the broader benefits of social media. While not a social media example, Wal-Mart’s recent experience with SKU (stock-keeping unit) reduction makes the case.

The retailer embarked on an effort to reduce SKUs by removing items with lower sales from store shelves. It seems a simple enough business decision, doesn’t it? But Wal-Mart has come to appreciate they made a mistake. By focusing only on the sales generated by the product and not the impact that product has upon shopper visits, Wal-Mart missed the forest for the trees.

What Wal-Mart found was that they had discontinued items that don’t sell but get you a trip. Consumers noted their favorite products were missing and began to turn elsewhere, which resulted in fewer trips to Wal-Mart and lost sales of other items that would have gone into the shoppers’ carts. Wal-Mart had the ability to measure the sales of Glad bags, but they could not know the impact Glad bags had on the sales of other unrelated products until consumers started going elsewhere for Glad bags. Now, Wal-Mart is reintroducing 300 or so products back into stores.

Measuring Social Media

Social media is like Glad Bags. You can measure it directly and narrowly, but doing so ignores other important benefits to the brand. You could remove social media from your marketing mix shelf and see how that works for you, but you’ll only end up damaging relationships, harming sales and urgently seeking to restock it into your marketing efforts.

The key is to measure everything and not just one business benefit, no matter how important that benefit. If you are lucky enough to be able to measure direct sales, by all means do so, just don’t turn good luck into bad by ignoring sentiment, purchase intent, awareness and all the traditional measures upon which marketers have always relied. Please visit the link to read Augie Ray’s full article.

IntelBuilder 2.2 YouTube VideoVesta Digital LLC announces IntelBuilder 2.2 version update that integrates all aspects of online marketing tools and brings them into one powerful web based application framework.

IntelBuilder Social Media Website Platform is the first platform that offers web content management system (CMS), social media marketing, and sales lead tracking with strong reporting and measuring tools. In addition, this website platform comes with built-in search engine optimization (SEO) and business modules that help generate traffic and retain customers on your website.

Social Media Platform Key Features

IntelBuilder is a content management system and social media platform for publishing and distributing content on the web. It is designed for easy control and maintenance and allows you to effortlessly add content pages, edit existing content and remove outdated material from your website.

With IntelBuilder users are able to automatically distribute and aggregate web content throughout the Internet – on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, WordPress, Blogger, RSS Feeds, Digg, Delicious – and other social networking and bookmarking websites – with the touch of a button. The visibility and exposure of your content increases over 200%.

IntelBuilder 2.2 offers rich reporting tools such as measuring and monitoring of online conversations taking place on the website. A blog module that comes with this platform is built into your website and unlike WordPress, is a branded part of the website. Content and Blog administrators are notified of every new conversation taking place on a blog post and therefore are able to automatically engage with that user, auto-follow and send them custom “thank you” message. This active participation creates more meaningful conversations and builds a “true” audience with users who have taken interest or liking to in the company’s product or service.

“IntelBuilder 2.2 Social Media Website Platform gives you capabilities that no other social media platform has. These new enhancements further enrich a very extensive software program and create a more engaging social media experience for their customers,” says Artem Gassan, CEO of Vesta Digital.

7 SinsThere are many ways for a business to use social media correctly, and only a few ways to do it wrong. So why do so many businesses keep falling into the same traps? The answer is easy: human nature. As we all know, humans are constantly beset by all kinds of temptations. That’s what makes us human. Here, then, is a list of the Seven Deadly Sins of Social Media that David Griner from Social Path put together:

1. Lust

Loving your customers is great, but take it easy. In the early days of social media – around 2006 – a business would sign up on MySpace and start “friending” everyone with a pulse. These days, lusting after fans like that will get you labeled as desperate – or even as a spammer. So take it slow and get to know the people who connect with your brand. In return, they might end up as customers for life.

2. Gluttony

Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Once a business decides to take a seat at the social media table, they often dig in with gusto. The downside: They want to be everywhere at once, spreading themselves across every social media network instead of being strategic and focused. You don’t need accounts on all of the social media sites – just the right ones.

3. Greed

It’s hard to shake hands when you are reaching for someone’s wallet. We all want to make money through social media, and if you have a good business, it will happen. But if all you do is spout off sales messages on your Twitter feed or Facebook page, no one is going to stick around. Be yourself. Be helpful. Be a good listener. Then the money will come to you.

4. Sloth

Always avoid the temptation to “set it and forget it.” Starting a blog or creating a presence on a social network is easy. Keeping it alive takes hard work, adaptability and commitment. You would never open a store and then close it two weeks later because of a low turnout. Go for the long term and plan accordingly.

5. Wrath

There are a lot of people out there itching for a punch in the nose, but you’re not the one to give it to them. Once you are active online, you are bound to get a few critics. Some offer valuable feedback. Some shout obscenities. Focus on the ones who deserve a response. And no matter what, never lash out. Many businesses get into a social media shouting match and guess what? In social media, the business never wins.

6. Envy

Don’t be dissuaded by other people who are doing it better than you. Someone will always have more followers, more blog comments, and more write-ups in Mashable. Focus on who you are and what your business has to offer – and not on what the other guy is doing. And when you have to steal an idea (hey, these things happen), find a way to make it better so no one will even recognize the original.

7. Pride

Stay humble, rock star. Successful social media marketing is easier than you think. If you plan ahead, pace yourself and listen more than you talk, you will strike a chord with existing customers and potential fans alike. It will open new opportunities and build your brand in ways you never imagined. But don’t let it go to your head. There is always more work to do.

Thanks David for the information. Here is his excellent website.

E-CheatingEveryone is online these days but not everyone is online for the right reasons. There is a new marriage wrecker today – it’s called “e-cheating.” Although e-cheating started with students buying their homework on the Internet (there is even an e-cheat website, it has now become the word-of-the-day when someone in a relationship is cheating on the Internet. It has grown bigger with social media networks like Facebook and it is causing the breakup of many marriages. How can you tell if your spouse is having an online affair? Sometimes a marriage is in trouble even before e-cheating begins but here are five good clues:

1. Obsessive or Compulsive Behavior

Your spouse or partner spends too much time on the Internet. It has become an addiction. Computers are excellent tools for paying bills, buying products and staying in touch with family and friends. We can not live without our modern technological tools. But look at the way kids behave with their text messaging. They will go without dinner just to keep up with their friends. Does your spouse act this way around his or her laptop? If so, find out why the need is so great before it’s too late.

2. Defensive Behavior

Your spouse or partner acts defensive when he or she is asked to stop. “When are you coming to bed?” “Can’t you do that later?” “Why are you taking so long?” Have you ever asked these kind of questions? What kind of answers do you get? Does they sound like lies? “I have to finish my business proposal.” “I need to pay another bill.” An evasive or defensive pattern of behavior is another good warning sign. You need to find out why.

3. Secretive Behavior

Your partner abruptly shuts off the computer or closes a window when you get too close. He or she clears away all internet history after chat sessions or installs software to automatically get rid of evidence. This is abnormal behavior and it is an obvious warning sign. Your spouse may be e-cheating. Maybe your spouse is looking at pornography and that is the reason for panic. Pornography is another issue altogether and it has been discussed in many good articles.

4. Double Life

Does your spouse need his or her “personal space” on the computer? Is he or she leading a double life? Are passwords, instant messages, friend lists and emails being concealed from you? Is there a reluctance to a share password? Why all the secrecy and lack of trust? These are good questions and they need to be answered. The act of hiding information is deceptive by nature and could be another indication that your spouse or partner is e-cheating.

5. Night Owl Syndrome

Your spouse or partner uses the computer after you have gone to bed. When you wake up in the middle of the night is your spouse by your side or is he or she in front of the computer? If this becomes a pattern, you need to be concerned. While work demands a degree of commitment, working late into the night, night-after-night, is a sure sign that your partner or spouse is e-cheating.

These are a few of the signs of “e-cheating.” We wrote about some of the ways you can prevent this problem and save your marriage or relationship in an earlier article:

RestaurantsThere are many good reasons why restaurants, taverns and bars should be using social media marketing. It is a great way to interact with new customers and keep up with existing ones. It drives traffic to your website. It is much less expensive than traditional advertising mediums like television, radio and print.

Stacey Kane, Director of Marketing for California Tortilla, says: “For smaller restaurant chains like us, social media is an easy and inexpensive way to reach our customers. It is a way to reach people instantaneously. There is no big backup on producing artwork or a radio spot. You have the idea and you can send it out.”

Here is a recipe for social media success:

Build Your Community

Building a good community is like preparing a good meal. You start with the right ingredients. Open a Facebook account – the world’s largest site for social media marketing. Facebook has become a digital calling card for many restaurants. It allows you to network and stay in touch with your current customers and make new ones.
Twitter is the other good social media site for restaurants. It asks the question, “What are you doing?” Write short one-liners announcing new services, specials and menu features. Start conversations. Be an authentic voice of your restaurant. Try to blend humor with your message. Don’t over do it. Go with a natural flow and you will fit right in.

Pay Attention to What People Are Saying

Now that you have a community, listen to what your fans and friends say. What is their favorite food? What was their favorite restaurant experience? Who is their favorite waiter or waitress? When you participate with your fans on social media platforms, you make them feel wanted and you make them feel at home.

Pay Attention to Your Competition

Keep an eye on what your competition is doing. Where are they listed? Who are their fans on Facebook? What kind of promotions do they offer? If your competitor has a website, check inbound links for their business directories and then add yourself to the same directories. Make sure your restaurant is on Google Maps, too. You can do this by signing up at Google’s Local Business Center.

Promotions and Contests

Nothing beats a promotion or contest. Create promotions regularly and then give them an event name. When you tie-in Facebook Events for your promotions, they are automatically promoted on your Facebook Page. Post lunch or dinner specials for your restaurant. Promote monthly wine tastings if you own a wine shop. If you own a bar, create a Facebook event each week for happy hour. California Tortilla has an exciting contest called “Secret Password Day” – a password is released on a specific day and people use the password for free food and items:
Discounts are a great way to endear yourself with your social community. When you give them special coupons, you are not only telling them you are a good restaurant, but you are a good person, too.

Building a community around your restaurant by leveraging these social media tools takes time and dedication. If you are able to participate and add value for the members of your community, you will succeed in social media marketing and fill up your tables as well. Bon appetit!