Social Media Campaigns: Keeping the Focus

January 7, 2013
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                             return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Happy New Year! As we return from our holiday down time and prepare to jump enthusiastically back into our marketing campaigns, we need to remember a basic social media concept. Whether we are handling our own or our clients’ businesses, we must recommit to the rule that our efforts be customer centered. What do our current/prospective clients need? How can we satisfy those needs? What can we share with them that will bring value to their businesses and/or their lives? These are the reasons for a social media business presence, after all.

Here are some good rules of thumb for keeping our social efforts client centric:

pitches surrounding miserable person1. Share value, not incessant sales pitches. Remember, social media is a pull-marketing technique. Our audience is seeking helpful instruction and good engagement. We need to provide high quality information in the posts we create and share from reputable peers in the field. While there is nothing wrong with an occasional direct pitch, our audience does not like to be overwhelmed by them.

2. Post lots of pictures and, where possible, videos. These shares garner the most views, so they are more effective at conveying important information. Multimedia postings also encourage the most engagement.

3. Be ourselves when posting. Don’t be afraid to allow clients to see and interact with the human side behind our brands. Doing so is viewed positively by a vast majority of our audience.

4. Be mindful of the fact that the best tolerated social media advertising we can effect is through soft selling. Instead of shoving our messages under their noses, we need to make our audience understand how our products/services will satisfy specific needs they have. Share testimonials from other satisfied customers. Conduct contests if our businesses lend themselves to that approach. Request input on certain decisions regarding packaging, features, and other details where possible. Post pictures of our products in action, or better yet, ask our readers to post their own. We need to set the stage for our audience to come to us via our methods of sharing, talking and helping them with their needs.

What are other techniques we should employ to keep the focus of our social media efforts where it belongs – on our customers? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

the customer is our star

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The Importance of Social Media Audits

September 17, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                            return to JayVee Media Link LLC

I recently shared a wonderful infographic by Mike Lewis on my social media sites.  The topic was “How to Perform a Social Audit.”  I would like to talk a little about the necessity of this vital task for launching our clients’ social media marketing campaigns as well as for maintaining positive momentum throughout them.

social media audit with magnifying glassIt is important to approach our social audits on multiple levels as we begin developing strategies for our clients’ internet marketing efforts.  Obviously, the first thing for which we need to look is the kind of presence they already have on the World Wide Web.  How well optimized are their websites, and how visible are they to the major search engines?  Do they have profiles set up on various social media platforms?  What is the quality of their web existences, and how effectively are the sites being used?  In his infographic, Mike Lewis presents great tips for these questions in clear, concise form.  Note that while he uses Twitter and Facebook as examples, the advice he offers can and must be applied to all social media platforms.  And I second his recommendation to assess our clients’ internet presences in accordance with the general rules for set up and appearance AS WELL AS against the profiles of their competitors.  It is essential to research what those competitors are doing that is or is not working, and to use that information to better our clients’ presences.

A tip I will add to Mike Lewis’ advice is to revisit and update our social audits at regular intervals after we set up and implement our clients’ media campaigns.  As part of our research into the effectiveness of our strategies, we should continue to monitor what their competitors are doing, and how successful they are in their efforts.  Doing so affords us greater vantage points from which to tweak our clients’ strategies.

What tips can you offer for conducting our social audits?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

Twitter: Terrible…or Terribly Misunderstood?

July 9, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Twitter new logo“Twitter?  Ugh!  I HATE Twitter!”  That is the reaction I often get when I recommend the platform as a business building tool in new clients’ social media marketing toolboxes.  In spite of its wild popularity among business owners who grasp the vast potential Twitter holds, those who are less well informed about social media marketing seriously misunderstand the channel…and underrate its value to their companies.

The biggest complaint about Twitter that I hear from new clients stems from their notions that everyone on the platform does nothing but tweet nonsensical minutiae about their personal lives.  The second biggest grievance I hear is that the channel spreads users’ messages too widely to ever be useful to them.  Objections like these are quickly put to rest when my clients learn a few facts about Twitter:

Targeted Searches

It is easy to build a following that is very specific to one’s niche by using Twitter’s search tool.  There are other related sites, like Twellow, that also offer this service.  But the one built into the platform is very easy to use, and returns the best results I have seen.  Just type in some relevant keywords and click the search button.  While not necessary for this activity, it is helpful to precede the words with the hashtag symbol (#).  Follow any accounts that look like good potential matches; Twitter etiquette dictates that the vast majority will follow back.  Of course, be sure to message a note of thanks to those people who do, which helps set the stage for engagement.  But don’t try selling right off the bat.  On Twitter, as on every other social media platform, the name of the game is relationship building.  Pitches must come later.

Twitter search example

Sharing Information

As we build and engage our targeted Twitter followers, we become immersed in a constant stream of the freshest industry information available, posting almost as it is breaking.  Think of it as the most valuable instant messaging system we can join.  We can contribute our expertise as well as benefit from that of our peers at the uppermost levels of our niches.  The best way to grow our following further is to demonstrate our knowledge, and to be willing to help by freely sharing it.  The best way to service our clients is to operate with the most cutting edge information we can find.  Twitter is one of the best resources for both sides of this business equation.

Hitting proper targets for our expertise

We can target our messages to those who will potentially benefit the most, and hence stand the best chance of becoming clients, by using one of the same tools that helped us locate relevant followers in the first place.  Hashtags are invaluable for this process.  They also categorize our messages by subject or niche, making them easy to find.  As with all great tools, however, be sure to use them wisely – and avoid overuse.

Twitter hashtag and driving traffic examples

Driving traffic

By posting links in our tweets, we can use Twitter to drive traffic to our websites, our blog pages, and to our other social media platforms.  In fact, Twitter has the potential to drive more traffic than almost any other channel.

Brand identification

Twitter allows much latitude for businesses to advertise their branding.  Almost everything from a profile’s background image to the colors of its text can be configured to match a company’s branding.  This is very significant, as uniform appearance across a website and all social media channels strengthens a company’s identification and instills confidence in its customers.

Twitter branding example JayVee Media Link

Whether new to social media marketing or not, every business owner needs to understand the importance of using a Twitter account.  For any of the above mentioned necessary activities, the platform is an invaluable tool.

Do you get pushback when you speak of Twitter to your clients?  How do you handle a negative reaction toward this important social media tool?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Facebook Ads: Thumbs Up or Down?

June 25, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                     return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Facebook ads – to buy them or not?  Considering how many posts are circulating on both sides of this issue, the choice is not an easy one to make.  My views aren’t set in stone just yet, but I’d like to share them with you.

Facebook ads logo

I like Facebook for marketing, and I frequently recommend it to my clients.  I especially like the business friendly features the platform added to its pages.  But, while I understand its desire and need to generate revenue, my belief is that the push for more advertising goes against the social media site’s core concept.  Facebook has always been a place for social connecting, not hard selling.  I recommend the platform for engaging with a brand’s current and potential fans; as an avenue to breed familiarity, build trust, and service those fans.  With the new, no cost features Facebook has given its business pages it is relatively easy to highlight new products, services, special deals, etc.  For my philosophical purposes, that is good enough.

Of course, I will not refuse a client who wishes to advertise on the Facebook platform.  And lately, there has been push back against the reports that as a marketing venue Facebook isn’t successful enough to be considered truly viable for businesses.  But most of those countering reports stem from one marketing analytic organization, which lists Facebook as one of its main clients.  It would be nice to see analytical interpretations done by other associations as well.

The research I have done so far has indicated a proclivity toward unhappiness over Facebook’s push toward monetization via its ads.  Some merchants feel the rule changes shift the playing field so that creativity and traditionally successful strategies can be undercut by competitors who are willing to pay for more exposure.  Personal profile users are not happy about being bombarded with ads all over Facebook.  And some of the platform’s newer marketing systems target users via methods that are more intrusive on privacy than ever before.  For example, facebook sponsored stories ad examples merely liking a business page can be reason enough for a user to turn up in a “sponsored story.”  Also, the platform is using cookies placed on profile users’ computers to track their off-Facebook activities in order to tailor ads for them, as opposed to just relying on the preferences they list on their profiles.  This is similar to the methods Google uses for its advertising.  Facebook claims that its users have the ability to opt out of this level of intrusion.  But how many users on average know how to change their settings to do that?  For the general public who wants to connect, socialize and engage with friends, this is a bit too much privacy to sacrifice.

There is also talk that Facebook may eventually begin charging for the special features it now offers to business pages for free.  This may happen especially if the platform’s ads don’t generate the revenue for which it is hoping.  One recent study actually concluded that more positive response is coming from the free features than from the paid ads.  That said, it stands to reason that Facebook might want to push everyone into a scenario where every type of special promotion will cost.  I can’t say so definitively, but I believe a move like this will turn more people away from marketing on Facebook – especially when we consider how many new social media platforms are cropping up almost daily. It’s only a matter of time before one (probably more) of them rivals the number of users that Facebook currently has.

examples of Facebook ads

While I understand its motivation, I feel that Facebook is trying to make itself into something it wasn’t meant to be.  Its current structure plays an important role for its social clients as well as its business pages.  Change can be a good thing, but sometimes completely reinventing oneself can have undesirable outcomes.  In its quest to procure greater profit margins, I wonder if Facebook may be going too far in a direction its users do not wish to go.

How do you feel about all the new methods for paid ads that Facebook is pushing?  Do you approve of this new direction the platform is taking?  Will it help or hurt, in your opinion?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

See also:

Facebook to Debut Real-Time Bidding on Advertising Prices,” by Douglas MacMillan & Jonathan Erlichman, Bloomberg

ComScore: Stop Bashing Facebook Ads,” by Jennifer Booton, Fox Business

Facebook Consultant Argues That Website’s Ads Work,” by Sarah McBride, Reuters

Here’s ComScore’s Massive Report on Facebook Ad Effectiveness,” by Laura Stampler, Business Insider

Google Plus vs Pinterest

May 28, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                   return to JayVee Media Link LLC

Let’s move our focus away from social media heavy hitter platforms like Twitter and Facebook for today, and instead draw our attention to the two most promising rising stars in the field:  Google Plus and Pinterest.  Both appear to be in fierce competition for the spotlight; which will be the victor?  The answer:  BOTH!  While on paper Pinterest seems to have the edge, which one wins depends on a number of variables.  Let’s take a closer look:

Google Plus in this corner…

fighter with Google Plus tattoo

With 20 million users within the first three weeks of its launch and the expectation that that number will reach 400 million by the end of this year, Google Plus is shaping up to be a major social media influencer.  It is continuously adding and improving business friendly features, such as live streaming Google Hangouts, which can be used as free webinars, and new photo editing and mobile photo sharing services. And remember that Google indexes its social media platform for higher search rankings.  Sites that incorporate it get up to 3.5 times more traffic than those that don’t.  40% of marketers consider Google Plus a prominent component in their social media strategy tool boxes.

…and Pinterest in THIS corner

On the other side of the equation, Pinterest boasted 10.5 million users as of February, 2012.  Since January, the number of users has increased by 145%.  80% of pins are repinned, demonstrating the potential for business to go viral with thefighter with Pinterest tattoo platform’s help.  Its lead conversion rate is 15%.  Pinterest is now the third most popular social media platform (behind Twitter and Facebook), as it refers more traffic for some websites than Google Plus, Linked In and Twitter.  Recent studies have also demonstrated Pinterest’s value in generating much sought after quality back links, and hence creating “buzz” and higher visibility.

The Main Event

The preference of Google Plus over Pinterest or vice versa ultimately comes down to issues like the field of business and the type of people in that business’ targeted marketing campaign.  Let’s look at some specifics.  Approximately 63% of Google Plus users are male; the dominant occupations on the platform are college students and software developers. So think technical. With its system of displaying pictures, as well as the aforementioned addition of mobile photo sharing and picture editing services, Google Plus is also capturing the niche for professional photographers and photography enthusiasts. 

Conversely, up to now almost 80% of Pinterest users have been female.  But that is a demographic that is shifting toward more gender equality, as an increase in male membership is being noted.  The platform appears to be excellent for businesses that are trending – especially when those businesses can promote themselves with strong visual images.  Some examples of companies that are doing very well with Pinterest in their marketing tool boxes are Better Homes and Gardens, Martha Stewart, Whole Foods and the Travel Channel.

Decision Time

Both platforms obviously have excellent value and wonderful potential.  In the end, the “victor” between Google Plus and Pinterest for me in business will be determined by the specific needs and niche of each of my clients.  Who knows?  Both may even be in order!  For me personally, it’s really hard to say!   But I think I would lean more toward Google Plus.  How about YOU?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below!

two fighters facing off with G+ and P tattoos

For Marketing: An Exciting New Tool

May 21, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                         return to JayVee Media Link LLC

I’d like to change things up a bit this week by sharing news of a new marketing tool about which I recently read.  It’s from a startup company, and I believe its potential is enormous!

Gumroad logoGumroad was developed by Sahil Lavingia, a 19 year old former Pinterest employee.  It appears to be an answer to the dauntingly complex task of listing goods that merchants wish to market online.  Simply put, it allows us to sell directly through our social media channels.  All we need to do is upload the information about our merchandise, and share the link that Gumroad generates for us on our social media platforms.  For a 25 cent transaction fee and 5% of the sale price, it handles the hosting, payment and delivery for us.  Yes, really!  Gumroad can have us marketing our wares literally in the amount of time it takes us to upload our information to its site and share the resulting generated link!

I am very excited about the potential Gumroad holds for my social media clients, and I’m sure you will be, too.  For the ease of its functionality alone it is destined to be very big!

What are your thoughts about Gumroad?  Will you be able to make use of it?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Gumroad banner

For further information, see New Start-Up Aimed at Selling Goods Socially, written by Lindsay Stanford and shared by Social Media Today’s Maggie Fox.

Be a Social Media Overnight Sensation! — Or Not

April 23, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                    return to JayVee Media Link LLC

internet quick cashEvery time I receive a message telling me to “read on” or click a link to learn the well guarded secrets of being an instant success in the field of social media marketing, I lose a little more patience.  It shouldn’t surprise you to know that I get a steady diet of those, every single day.   Don’t you?

I love this field.  That’s important, because you need to love what you do in order to put in the hours and carry out the responsibilities that are required to do the job well.  After several years of handling social media campaigns as favors for friends, I had no delusions regarding what it would take to launch my services as an official business.  Yet even though my eyes were open going in, I STILL wasn’t totally prepared for the time commitment and the overwhelming workload.  Especially since I was pretty much doing it all as a solo act; when you launch a business without a lot of “seed” capital, there isn’t much available to pay for help.

Frequently during vast undertakings such as this one, overwhelmed new business owners become susceptible to falling victim to hawkers of all kinds of magical formulas for instant success.  Day after day they are deluged with promises that if they will just purchase this program or that plan they will be making big bucks within a few weeks.  And best of all, they will be earning those huge payouts with as little as an hour or two of work a day.  Sounds irresistible, right?

man holding out packets of money

My friends, please remember that old saying: “If it sounds too good to be true, it IS.”  Don’t waste your money on those get rich quickly while doing barely any work “systems.”  Remember that many of those schemes are completely transparent to potential clients, and will in fact send them running in the opposite direction.  Do be prepared to put in long, LONG hours of work that is demanding AND taxing.  Thankfully, there are plenty of highly reputable mentors out there from whom you can learn without being misled by fantasies.  In short, have fun, but understand that the satisfaction you will feel needs to come from a very high level of dedication to the field in general and to your clients specifically.

One of my mentors, Lilach Bullock, posted a blog about this very topic last week. In 3 myths other Internet Marketers don’t tell the truth about, she made the case so eloquently that I am eager to share her sage wisdom with you.  Heed Lilach’s words well and you will understand what it takes – and how long it takes — to be truly successful in the social media field.

What is your experience with becoming/being a social media manager?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!
free money mouse trap

On Facebook and Instagram

April 16, 2012
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                                      return to JayVee Media Link

 Last week’s acquisition of Instagram by Facebook for a cool one billion dollar price tag gave new meaning to the term launching to the stratosphere.  Not too shabby a fetch price for a barely year old app with only a moderate degree of success.   What on earth would precipitate a sale of such magnitude??

Facebook and Instagram logoThe impression I get from listening to the musings of various social media heavyweights is that there is a twofold reason for Facebook’s megabucks purchase of Instagram.  The first is the quickening evolution of social media to the mobile platform.  These days any social media site is at a severe disadvantage if it can’t be operated smoothly from a mobile device.  While up to now Facebook has been the top contender among photo sharing sites, that feature hasn’t performed well for it on mobile platforms.  For this reason, the union between Facebook and Instagram is a match made in heaven for Mark Zuckerberg.

A probable second reason for this acquisition is that Zuckerberg may well have looked into his rear view mirror to see Pinterest steadily gaining on Facebook.  Pinterest, of course, is the platform that is based on compilations of all important visual content; the one which in seemingly no time at all has leapt into third place among the most popular social media platforms.  And it’s the medium that just happened to be feverishly working toward delivering a mobile app to make it usable on the go.  Pinterest is still working out the bugs, while Instagram was built for mobile.  The picture is becoming clearer by the minute, if you will excuse the pun.

Many current users of Instagram are understandably upset by the Facebook acquisition.  They are suspicious of Facebook’s intentions, as well as its possible ulterior motives considering the purchase may have allowed Facebook access to their photos and personal account information.  A number of them are jumping ship from Instagram.  But it is possible that the fallout may not be all bad.  Facebook promises to leave Instagram as a separate entity.  And think of the advancements Instagram can effect with a billion dollar infusion.  Ultimately, time will tell whether the acquisition was good for the two platforms, as well as for the people who use them.

What is your opinion about this megabucks acquisition?  Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Facebook and Instagram logo with Mark Zuckerberg's face in camera lens 

Facebook vs Your Website

April 9, 2012
by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                              return to JayVee Media Link LLC

On the heels of all the new features afforded business pages by Facebook’s new Timeline layout, I am frequently asked, “Should I just forego my website altogether and conduct all my business through Facebook?” My answer is an immediate, resounding NO!

Before I go any further, I want to affirm that it is not my intention to attack the platform.  As far as business pages go, I think the Timeline format brings lots of good possibilities for marketing our goods and services.  But there are several reasons why my answer is both instantaneous and negative.  Ultimately, each one of them comes back to the issue of control.

Facebook Timeline picture

My first reason is exemplified by the very rollout of the new platform.  It seems that Facebook is ALWAYS changing things around, adding new features that we need to learn to incorporate, dropping features we have relied on heavily, and altering the appearance/layout.  While some occasional, more minor changes are healthy, consistency is the key for prospective/current clients.  More radical change is unsettling for us as page owners; think how our clients must feel!  Alas, we can’t control what Facebook chooses to do with its platform.

Facebook changes notification road sign

My second rationale for advising against dropping one’s website in favor of a Facebook page involves both control and ownership.  The Facebook honchos set the rules and regulations for users of their platform.  In the past there has been some wiggle room regarding these terms of service.  But as Facebook comes closer to its public offering, the powers that be have doubled down.  This is an issue that goes beyond our not being free to present our companies and market our goods/services the way we would like to do.  Worse, even the most minor perceived violation of terms of service can and has resulted in unannounced profile shut downs.  And as anyone who has ever made an effort can attest, there is no means to contact, let alone appeal your case to, the platform administrators.  Think of the catastrophe that would result if you lost all your business information, fans, notifications, blog posts, etc.  What a completely devastating nightmare!  Now think of that happening to a merchant who gave up his/her website and relied strictly on Facebook for business.  With our own websites, we are the masters of our information.  And, we are free to set up and market as we choose.

Facebook Ads logo

My third reason again addresses ownership in the sense of how our messages are controlled by the frequent changes in Facebook’s algorithms.  The most recent modifications heavily incentivize the use of the platform’s paid ads.  Where it used to be that simply having our pages “liked” was enough to allow our business posts to be seen in the news feeds of those people who clicked our “like” buttons, there is no guarantee of that happening anymore.  Because of the algorithm alterations, as well as the increased volume of “liked” pages, the best way to guarantee that our messages show up in those news feeds now is to purchase Facebook ads that point to the information on our pages.   As Adam Justice wrote in his blog post The Truth About Facebook Advertising, “Facebook themselves don’t want brands to get immeasurable value from fan pages. If you could reach all interested users with a status update, there is really no reason to buy Facebook ads other than to generate new likes…the trend is to make brand pages less effective to elicit further advertisement…”  Hence again, Facebook has ultimate say over how our messages are distributed, and how far their reach will extend.

In light of the explanations I offer here, it is always my suggestion to keep our websites.  Facebook business pages are very valuable tools in our social media marketing toolboxes.  They are an integral part of our social media campaigns.  That is the way they should be viewed and utilized.

What are your feelings regarding keeping our websites vs. giving them up and relying on our Facebook business pages to take their place?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section below!

Tweet Spinner: The Great Compromise?

February 24, 2012

by Jeanine Vecchiarelli                                                     return to JayVee Media Link

When it comes to social media interacting, I have never liked automation.  Mindlessly adding large numbers of followers/fans who don’t intend to and never will engage causes a loss of credibility and defeats the purpose of social networking.  My aim is quality over quantity.  I don’t mind growing my clients’ and my own networks more slowly, taking the time to look for those people who are the best potential fit for our profiles and personally reaching out to them.

While I wish to strictly adhere to this system, I am increasingly finding myself stuck in a tough spot.  My strategy has always entailed manually going through hundreds of potential followers/fans, first finding and then vetting them.  As my clients’ and my networks have grown, however, time has become a serious issue.  Crucial as these duties are, posting quality information and engaging sometimes need to take a back seat while I spend hours seeking out new connections to make.  After all, growing networks is also essential.  There just aren’t enough hours in a day to accomplish all of these duties.

Enter Tweet Spinner

Tweet Spinner trademark

I first heard of Tweet Spinner from my friend and mentor, Bundlepost’s Robert Caruso.  Named for its primary duty, posting Twitter messages using alternating phraseology to avoid the appearance of spamming, Robert convinced me to take a look at all of Tweet Spinner’s capabilities, and to consider how some of its services can help to streamline my expansion activities.  I did….and I was greatly impressed.

*** Handling all the most essential duties for my clients and myself leaves me little time to clean out Twitter direct message inboxes.  Tweet Spinner includes a feature that automatically archives the contents of these inboxes on a schedule that the user dictates.  That’s a feature with which I can certainly live!

*** As for auto following, this is where I see the best compromise.  Tweet Spinner contains a number of specifically configurable filters to deal with this activity.  These filters allow very precise user generated stipulations regarding what profiles would be optimal for following.  They analyze probable follow back and engagement numbers, based on past behavior patterns.  Best of all, the application delivers its findings to the user for final say.  So ultimately, the user still gets to make the final call regarding whom to follow.  Tweet Spinner just cuts out the onerously time consuming process of manually rooting around for those potential connections.  Additionally, these very sophisticated filters easily spot and ignore spam accounts.  That is another huge time saver.

*** While Tweet Spinner also features the most flexibly customizable auto direct message attribute I have seen, I have yet to cross the line and start using that one. With a steadily growing network of compatible, engaged connections courtesy of the application, though, I may have to consider it.  Otherwise I run the risk of spending the time its search aspect saves me manually reaching out to every single new follow.  I like to personally greet and thank each of them.  Yet the time I save is vital to publicly engaging with ALL followers.  The idea still doesn’t appeal to me; however, I will admit I have seen some auto messages via Tweet Spinner that were well worded and laid out in such a manner as to not appear automatically generated.  I am still wrestling with this feature.

An Acceptable Compromise?

For all who are happily finding it hard to keep up with rapidly expanding Twitter connections, Tweet Spinner is definitely worth considering.  Even if you don’t wish to take advantage of ALL the features it offers, there are plenty of attributes that are extremely helpful.  And at $22 a month for up to 5 accounts, it certainly is a bargain for all it does!

Would you use Tweet Spinner? If not, how do you manage the growth of your Twitter account as well as those of your clients?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section  below!

Tweet Spinner logo