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Posts tagged “Facebook

Social Media Marketing, Nothing In Life is “Free”

Today everyone is conditioned to get communications in real-time.  Parents do not leave notes for their kids anymore, they just text them.  Want to know what your kids are up to, just take a peek at their Facebook page.  More Brands are using sites like Facebook and Twitter to connect with their target consumers than ever before.  Some brands even feed their third-party social media content to their commerce or corporate websites.  Some brands have even gone as far as having “social communities” built into their corporate sites.  What happens to those when something goes wrong?

Imagine if your customer service issues were posted for the world to see?  What happens when your Brand is involved with a global crisis?  You have already made the commitment to engage with your consumer, and even if you do not engage, your target consumer is using social media and likely talking about you.  When you begin to use Social Media tools you are hoping to increase your brand equity.

While not all businesses are Social Media savvy and some have even opted to not participate, the brand itself can have it’s brand equity and virtual footprint affected or altered forever with or without their involvement.  Today’s media outlets are less about spin and more immediate reporting of issues with the fact-finding coming afterwards.  So what should you do when your brand, product, or service comes under attack?  Putting your head in between your legs and hoping it will go away simply will not work.  You need a plan or a team in place managing your social media so they can handle these issues as they arise.  Your Brand, Executives, and Brand Equity is all at stake.

A great example of how social media can alter a brand is British Petroleum or more commonly known as BP.  Everyone knew of BP as a major petroleum company servicing our need for fuel.  That was up until the oil spill in the Gulf and the subsequent mishandling of the crisis.  Greenpeace was able to turn to the Internet and affect BP’s brand equity forever.  A simple search on Google images for “British Petroleum” returns a lot of imagery and none of which are the Company’s logo.  They are all negative images dedicated to BP’s oil spill.

These images are a permanent part of BP’s cyber footprint and no matter what they do this event will follow them.  A great comparable would be a Google search for Exxon Mobile.  You will not see the same negative results, but the two crises have similar issues and the main difference is the lack of social media platforms when the Exxon crisis took place.

While these are extreme examples, it clearly shows the power of social media and how not having a plan for crisis control is a recipe for disaster.  Nestle is another top brand that mishandled it’s social media and they did so on a platform in which they had no real control or value of engagement.  So their risk out weighed the reward.  As consumers toyed with the logo, the Nestle Moderator fought back, eventually forgetting he was representing a Brand and was soon insulting the very same customers his Brand wanted to attract through social media.  Again, a lack of planing or understanding leads to negative brand equity.

Remember that by joining in social interactions, you open yourself up to hearing the way others see your brand.  Unlike a forum on your website, you have a lot less moderation and protection.  You are giving up Brand Protection for real Brand Interaction. Since you are giving up some control of your brand for this direct engagement, you need to establish a plan for when things go wrong, and to be honest they almost always do.

Make sure you have a clear Social Strategy and make sure it is not about “making sales.”  Social Media is an extension of your web presence, but it is an organic extension that you can moderate yet can not control.  You need to have policies in place for Human Resource issues, Marketing Issues, Brand Integrity and Customer Service issues.  Make sure you (as we have discussed previously) know your target consumer and where they are.  Reach them and communicate with them the way they want to be communicated with (text, email, etc).  This identification can save you thousands in wasted ad spending and enhance your social engagements.

Have a plan for the positives and negatives.  Be prepared.  Know that brand haters are out there.  Tech savvy companies have “allegedly” hired paid posters that attack the competition on Social Media.  Be honest with your followers and understand that emotion can rarely be read through text, especially when text can be limited to 140 characters.  If you have established an engaging relationship with your desired consumers, they can help fight back during these attacks.  What Greenpeace accomplished with BP was done with 2,000 followers.  BP could have aligned itself with “green” social influencers once it embarked on it’s social media campaign.  This would have at least shown the perception that they had a goal of being environmentally focused.  In the event of a crisis hitting they would have had a track record with the same people Greenpeace used against BP.  Having no plan is largely what led to certain failure for BP and it’s online image.

Be responsive and not offensive.  You can not avoid some crises so do not try to change the tides, simply explain your position in the crisis and follow your plan.  Not every issue requires a response and sometimes due to legal issues you cannot respond.  Sometimes your response can fuel the fire.  These are all issues that need to be discussed in the planning stage and coordinated with your Social Media Team.  The Team should never interject their personal views into your Brands position.  They are not speaking as Social Media Manager Jeff Black, they are speaking as the Brand and what they say or do will affect your brand equity.  The best place to start is to hear, investigate, and elevate issues that begin on Social Media.

You must remember that you should be engaging and speaking with your consumer on a personal level.  You need to treat every follower like a customer.  Never insult your followers.  If you are going to censor posts on your site you need 24/7 monitoring and the deleting needs to be handled quickly and according to your plan.  If you do not have anything nice to say do not say anything at all.  Last but not least, you cannot please everyone in real life, and when people have a certain anonymity they tend to be harder to please.  Some comments are okay to ignore if you know they are not factual.  It could be a competitor drawing you into a heated conversation.  If you are angry, have another individual not in the “fight” read your response, or just do not respond at all.  You must stay positive and instill the positivity into your timeline.  You set the tone and if you are angry or bitter your followers will see it and react .  As they say on the Internet ‘don’t feed the “trolls”’.  It is also important to remember that when you are given suggestions, thank the person giving you the suggestion.  Even if the suggestion is not helpful, this is a meaningful engagement and your potential consumer walks away thinking that this Brand listens to it’s consumers.

Finally, remember that having a Facebook Page does not make you social.  As a matter of fact, take a look at MySpace for what Facebook could look like in the future.  Engage with your target consumers on your own social platform.  Use Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter etc to find the consumer but try to bring them to your own platform.  So when you engage you get contact information and the ability to interact without the third-party influence of these other social platforms.

Jason M. Genet


Social Media for Events

As a Dad I can’t remember how many birthday party invitations my kids received or handed out over the years but I know it was a lot.  Some of them were written by the parents and others in that famous kid penmanship that even makes pharmacist’s take a double look.My wife is a big Save the Date kind of gal and yet it seems that the days of paper invites and RSVP’s are becoming relics of the past.  The web and specifically Web 2.0 has change the way people plan events and get the word out.

Social Media is making it easier then ever before to plan, promote, and reach the masses or just your family and friends.  Social Media allows individuals to communicate information rapidly and adjust this for any unforeseen issues.  You do not need stamps, envelopes or smoke signals to get the word out anymore.

Social Media also allows you to engage and involve those who can not make the event and also allow them to still share and participate.  You can share photos and videos of the event as it is happening and share stories online after the event.

Social media can make the planning process smoother by leveraging digital word-of-mouth. Here are some tips for best results.

Establish Your Event-Related Channels

The months and weeks before your event is a critical promotional period. Use every social media channel at your disposal to get the word out about your event.  If it is a private event make a group and keep it exclusive or if it open to the public encourage them to share the event.

You can encourage people to share information on the event in return for small rewards. For example: “Share this event with 20 friends for 10% off your admission.”

If you have your own social community or use third party applications the process is very similar.  One thing you should know about adding events to your own site is the SEO reward that comes with events.  Search Engine Crawlers love relevant and timely information and events are almost always indexed higher then blogs.  If you have your own social community or website we recommend using this this as the hub for the event.  If you do not, consider Facebook and Twitter as your next best solution.

Start by creating an event page on Facebook and an event hashtag on Twitter, then create an event blog where you’ll post updates about it (new speakers, registration discounts, etc.). Make sure your Twitter hashtag is specific to your event or organization, without being too long.

Once you have your channels established you have to begin to feed them.  Populate them with content.  Make sure your event content is relevant to the event.  One common mistake is if you have a Mixed Martial Arts event populating the channel with MMA specific content is a road for failure.  The content is not original, is not relevant to your event, and will detract from it.  If it’s a social event, post video or music clips, create a pre-event contest, or connect event-goers through interaction and games.

For a social or community event the content should be engaging, fun, and shareable in order to drive word-of-mouth interest. If the event is more corporate in nature, offer fans and followers sneak peeks at topics to be discussed, or special pre-conference articles and presentations.  Keep the content about your event and what you are promoting.

Provide Incentives for Viral Marketing

Participation is key to your success.  The social community sites we build come with a built in “Event” tool.  This allows you to RSVP, share, promote and comment.  Make sure you are being responsive and relevant with your postings.  We can then push the event to any number of Social aggregators like Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon and many more.

No matter the platform or approach if you are a corporation or public event that is trying to attract eyeballs and attention to your event offer fans and followers special discounts or content. Incentivize people to register for the event, offer them early-bird discounts, invites to pre-event parties, or other rewards.

Make Registration Social

In the social communities we built Event sharing, inviting and RSVP’ing is all built in.  If you do not have a site that has this built in you can use a social registration service like EventBrite, which not only makes registration easier and more streamlined, but allows attendees to share their event activity with their friends. Other popular social event invitation platforms include Plancast and Twtvite. Most of these services are highly integrated with social networking platforms and can be configured with user caps and privacy options.

Use Location-Based Services and Check-in Rewards

Geo-location sites let you set up a page with rewards including badges, coupons, specials, or gifts. These location based services are easily integrated with other social networks such as Facebook, FourSquare and Twitter, so check ins will be shared with larger networks. When attendees come to your event, you can reward them for checking in at different stations, panels, or activities. Rewards such as free tee shirts, a gift card, or other small incentives can be redeemed after the show.

This helps you and those around you find you.  They may not be interested in attending the trade show you are at but if they know you are their and interacting they might just stop or check in.  This gives you a great chance to convert non-event attendees to visitors.

Bring your Event to Life With Social Media

This is one of those areas that is often missed.  Why are you at the event?  The answer should be it is for a good person, cause or business.  Any of those are worth promoting.  We live in a digital world and there is no reason to limit the event to the attendees.  One of the best ways to have more people at your next event is to have them talking about your event.

Why not capture your event as it unfolds and share it on your social community and push it out to sites like Twitter and Facebook.  If you do not have your own community contact us and in the mean time start using Twitter and Facebook for these feeds.

You can also encourage your attendees to share the events happenings as they unfold.  It is important that you encourage them to use your hashtag.  You can bet they will be Tweeting if it is a failure so encourage them to share it if they are enjoying themselves.  make sure you have someone from the host side on their Social Media Channels Tweeting and reading tweets.  Respond to problems.

Example: We were in Vegas for a fan meet and greet.  My client had to make a flight so eventually we have to cut the line off so we could get to everyone that was in line.  One of the clients fans was upset and in tears about missing out on meeting the client.  They Tweeted and because we were monitoring the channel  I was able to see we had an upset fan and sent someone to find them.  We were able to connect the fan and client and issue resolved.  I am not saying we would have lost that fan but I am saying we were able to make a meaningful engagement because we were monitoring the event.

Use a photographer and let your attendees know they can get the pictures from your social community or your social channels.  This will encourage them to come to your site and view the picture.  It will also increase the likelyhood of them sharing your event and the photos.

An active Twitter stream during your event not only engages participants in real time but also allows people who could not attend to get a feel for the sessions and topics being discussed. Some event organizers set up a huge screen behind speakers to display hashtagged tweets in real time. But again, this can backfire if the tweets become negative or go off-topic. All that interaction can derail speakers as they try to respond in real-time to all the “interference.”

This is why it is critical to have your team monitor the channels and interact or even lead the charge on interaction.  The @UFC channel on Twitter does a great job of engaging the fans and promoting the events beforehand, during and post event.

Include Non-Attendees

The goal of every event is to have happy attendees and hopefully be able to do the event over and over again.  The best way to “grow” the event is to include those not in attendance.  This is where your future growth will come from.  Plus there is absolutely no reason to share the event as it happens.  As mentioned above the majority of your attendees will be connected to one or more Social Media Platforms during your event.  You can and should try to own and direct this interaction.

There are some great tools that will allow you to livestream during the event using Facebook or UStream so fans can follow along online. Facebook enables you to store this stream so that people can watch it after the event proper. You can also create a YouTube channel for the event to post videos before, during, and after. Encourage non-attendees to ask questions through Twitter or Facebook during the event and answer them live.

The communities we build are fully integrated with all of these platforms and can support or host a livestream.

Extend the Shelf Life of Your Event, Even When it is Over

Your event doesn’t have to end the day it’s over. Social media can keep the momentum going for many weeks and months afterwards. On your blog, post a “wrap up” of all the key highlights. You can add links to presentations, key learnings, and other downloadable documents. Of course, you’ll want to post photos on the blog and on Facebook, and continue tweeting about the event even after it’s over. You can post thoughts, ideas, or links to longer articles that might be of interest to those who attended.

Another great way to keep your event from fading fast from people’s memories is to create ways for attendees and other interested parties to continue socializing, discussing, or debating topics covered there. Do whatever you can to keep the conversation alive.

I am sure a lot of you have been to fundraisers where they have the step and repeat and a house photographer that gives you a card for redemption of the photo later on in the evening.  Give that person your Social Channels address’s and let them know where they can find the videos, pictures and share stories from the event.

Post event contest are great too.  you can do contest like share your favorite story and the best commented or most shared content gets a prize.  Just be creative and let the attendees know that you are capturing the memories and where they can find them.

Use Social Media Metrics to Measure Success

Consider using online surveys to ask attendees for feedback on panels, venue, speakers, topics, and other facets of the event. Facebook polls are fun, easy ways to get quick responses and feedback from attendees.

Be prepared for honesty. If someone has a negative comment to share, make sure to address their comment or concern and store the information to improve next year’s event. Lastly, pull total social media stats from sites like Search.Twitter.com and Social Mention, or set up Google Alerts ahead of time. If the results are positive, don’t be shy about publicizing some of these metrics to highlight the reach and impact your event had.

This is another area where your hashtag or using third party social platforms like UbberTwitter or Hootsuite give you easy tools to track tweets and mentions.  Many of them are offering Social Media Analytics too.

HASHTAG

This is not a game that your hippie parents played while attending Woodstock.  This is an easy way to make your event come up on searches.  It is essentially Twitters answer to tags like you see on Flickr.  A hashtag can be any word or combination of words.  As an example #UFC would help my tweet show under searches for “UFC”.

Be Real and in Real-Time

Social media is your ability to be the source.  Your target audience is likely using social media right now.  You just have to engage with them and be real.  We have addressed this in some of our other blogs.

Make sure that you are posting in the real-time.  If you are hosting or attending an event make sure you post your opinions and experiences.  As you see things happen comment and share.  This will increase interest int he event and in you.

Jason Genet
http://www.ingrainedmedia.com


Social Experts or Snake Oil Salesmen?

We’ve received quite a few emails about our Facebook blogs, so we wanted to expand upon some of those thoughts. Please feel free to comment or send us an email about your thoughts.

The fact is Facebook is a 500 pound “Gorilla” and most people know of it or have an account. So essentially, it becomes the easiest target for companies and brands to focus on. The job of “social media manager” is one of the fastest growing new job postings. University of Southern California is even offering courses and degrees focused on this new phenomenon. Agencies all over are working overtime to create new divisions focusing on social media. Pretty much every brand has a social media “expert” to assist them in this new world of social media.

The “affiliate marketing” experts are now touting their social selling skills and as this new market emerges, the so called experts seem to be more like job seeking opportunists rather then social media experts.

This group of newly employed “experts” continue to spout off about engagement on third party social platforms like Facebook as if they are Mark Zuckerberg’s first cousins. They are the same ‘experts’ that lead brands to the social graveyard called Myspace.com. They claim that these engagements are meaningful and encourage these brands to spend their hard earned money to help promote a third party application. Billions of dollars are being spent to gain a “like” and resulting in tons of free exposure for the brands like Facebook. Where is the ROI? They are merely telling brands what the brands already know (that Facebook is popular) and that social media marketing is an emerging but necessary market.

As we have discussed in our previous blogs, people (the brands target consumer) use social networking and specifically sites like Facebook to connect with friends. There was a time when you could not even join without a connection within the network. Now that it has grown, the brands and their experts see Facebook as the holy grail of social media marketing.

Facebook is essentially web 2.0’s version of email You do not need to send emails through email clients. You can share, connect or find your friends, colleagues and family. It is an easy way to stay connected and communicate with the people you want to connect with. No email address changes or loosing the phone number. Just type in their name and Facebook will give you numerous ways to connect. Most consumers do not seek to have these kinds of relationships with brands. They are interested in brands providing them content, information, contests and so on, but a meaningful friendship is not what they are after. If you are a brand and not an athlete or celebrity, the actual engagement ration on Facebook for brands is close to zero percent.

People aren’t involved with most brands’ fan pages, even though on a daily basis a large percentage of them are involved in connecting with the brand. The problem is the “real” engagements and the feedback provided is normally one directional. This is not engagement, but more like a new form of email spam. When the engagement is real Facebook provides no real way to engage the users back. Ultimately, what little success you will find can backfire. The consumer will feel ignored.

People tend to forgive the celebrities for the lack of response. The celebrities tend to be forgiven based on the sheer number of fans they have commenting. It would be humanly impossible to engage with 50 Cent’s 12,000,000 Facebook fans. He offers his hard core fans his own unique social network that has over 540,000 active members (www.thisis50.com). To me, this group is far more valuable to 50 and his endorsed brands. He can directly communicate back and forth with his fans. The engagements are real. He can monetize thisis50.com and owns it rather then being a passive participant on Facebook.

There are too many people and groups on Facebook and making lasting and meaningful engagements is next to impossible. Facebook and sites like it offer the users of the site a tremendous platform to stay connected and communicate. It just does not mean that all of its users will “like” you or even be your target consumer. Social media is like having clovers in your lawn. They look cool and you hope to find a four leaf clover but they are not necessarily good for your lawn.

I always try to get our clients to visualize social media as a virtual social gathering. If you had a gathering with 12,000,000 people, it would be chaos. Even 500,000 could be chaotic so brands have to remember that they are going to be at the center of the conversation. So building your network needs to be balanced with feeding your network content and meaningful engagements.
Brands should, however, focus on Facebook advertising. The cost to advertise on Facebook is very affordable and very effective. Since Facebook revolves around socializing, those conversations create the ability to target conversations and interest. Facebook users tend to list their likes and dislikes and Facebook advertising can effectively help you find your target consumer. Targeting is the smartest ad expenditure brands can make. Niche advertising networks like MMAAdnet.com are one solution; contextual based targeting is another. Each are very effective and remove a lot of the mystery involved when advertising on or off line.

Brands SHOULD have a page or at least a group or two established on sites like Facebook. They should use these platforms to help find and potentially extract this consumer from being a passive friend to a truly engaged consumer. At the very least, Facebook and third party social media platforms offer “free advertising” for brands.

Build a realistic plan, assign realistic goals and go. If you are using it correctly, social media will tell you where to go and what to do. You have to listen to the consumer. If your expert has advised you to focus solely on Facebook and suggests hiring staff to manage the comments and tell you what you should be sharing, you might need a new expert. There is no magic to social media marketing. It is about engagements and providing feedback in a timely manner.

You can have your own thisis50.com style site with an iPhone app for under $5000. You and your team can manage this and all of your social platforms through your cellphones and desk top. I guarantee you it is not Weird Science or even Sixteen Candles. It is just communication with the very person you are willing to spend tons of money to understand what they like and want. Save your money and time and just ask them.

Jason Genet

IngrainedMedia.com


Social Media Engagements

Facebook Party

You likely read our blog about Facebook members not “Liking” brands. I doubt many, if any of you, went out and deleted your Facebook accounts so here is a blog on how you can increase your potential engagements as a brand who utilizes Facebook.

The information in this blog was extracted from Buddy Media’s 14-day study of 200 of its very own clients pages. The studies show that more and more Brands are seeking Facebook users as potential target markets. Let’s be frank advertisers are inherently lazy and consumers are becoming more an more elusive. Many blame the over saturation of ads on Myspace.com for the demise of this Social Giant. Yet advertisers will simply follow the herd.

Your goal as a Brand should be to extract your target consumer from these Social Media giants. If you can’t or won’t extract, in the very least, engage. No one likes the guy at a party that just stands around and watches everyone and yet no one at the party knows the guy. Awkward or creepy is how you would describe that person. Yet brands tend to do the same thing on Facebook.

One of the biggest mistakes brands make is they look at these platforms as where the consumers are, instead of looking for their consumer. They are content with hoping or praying that the consumer somehow finds them or they can hire an influencer to push potential consumers to you. This is worse than being the creepy guy standing around not saying anything. Now the party is at your house and you are still awkwardly silent.

Social Media is about being social. Facebook is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week. What does that mean? That means that Little Jimmy does not have to wait until his friend Tommy gets back from Grandma’s to show him the new bike he got for Christmas. Yep Facebook is even open on Christmas day. It never closes.

Yet the MARCOM’s or Social Media Managers tend to work 9-5. Which means even if we are trying to engage our consumer we might not be doing so at the right times.

Be Timely

The study found that daily Facebook engagement has three peaks: early morning (7 a.m. EST), after work (5 p.m. EST) and late at night (11 p.m. EST). Therefore, posting all of your updates during the workday means you’re missing key opportunities to engage fans at non-work hours. However, not all brands’ engagement peaks at these three times — Playboy’s engagement peaks in the wee hours of the morning, for example — so you must work on a case-by-case basis.

We have tools that allow our Brands to communicate on and off the clock. They are readily available to anyone who can use Google to search. The common mistake brands are making is hiring a Social Media employee and utilizing that person during the work day. The hours of work need to be split between finding time to engage with the consumer and research what the best engagements are. In essence find time to listen to the conversation before you jump in. The only thing more awkward then the silent guy at the party is the the guy that keeps jumping into conversations off point.

Think about how you would like to be engaged and when. Mon-Wed are usually stress days and Thursday through Saturday tend to be fun focused. Thursday actually being the most meaningful day to engage potential consumers. This is very similar to old PR strategy. We have advised many on the importance of using key days of the week to stage news. As an example bad news is best released on a Friday so the weekend gives them time to calm down or forget. Brands often forget Sunday’s, this could be a huge mistake. Sunday is a great day for engaging. Friday’s not so good.

The problem with PR is the same that you will Social Media. Brands tend to be lazy and they will start “stacking” news around these dates and ignore the less responsive days. This is a tragic error. You should increase your frequency of engagements on the good days but also engage on the down days. Not just 9-5 engagements either. Social Media is not about being a robot and the minute you think you have your consumer figured out, they are on the move again.

There are various ways to enhance the timing of your engagements. Be timely, on topic and pay attention to your targets behaviors not just your allotted time to create the engagement. Brands should consider how timely they are being.

Be Concise

The text box is not a glass and does not to be filled to the rim. Tweetlonger or anything that allows you to extend past 140 characters is a blog not an engagement. Do not become Chatty Cathy and hopes that someone will listen. Social Media engagement is as much about what you did not say. Keep the post under 80 characters if possible.

The study showed tweets under 80 characters garnered 27% more engagement than posts that were more than 80 characters.

What about the URL tools that shorten the URL? Surely they will allow for more right? Nope! In fact the URL tools like ow.ly and tinyurl actually have the opposite effect. Studies show that people are three times more likely to click your link if they know what they are clicking on. http://www.yourbrand.com is going to get more clicks then the URL extension created by tinyurl. Brands would be better served to create their own branded URL shortening tools. Or get creative and use less characters and more URL.

Words ranked in order of their effectiveness at converting Likes and comments


Ask to be Engaged

Just ask. Yes it is as simple as asking. Again let me reference the party setting. So you are at a party and you see someone that you are attracted too. Do you think if you spoke with the person, found out about them (make sure you really do like them) and strike up a conversation they might like you back?

Brands fail to engage and yet they expect a consumer to Like them because they found them on Facebook? Fact is you need to engage and learn about the person you are hoping to get to like you. Don’t just hope your good looks will Carry you through the relationship.

Miracle Whip has one of the best campaigns I have seen that does just this. They are asking consumers to tell them if they like Miracle Whip or do not. Another effective tool is to let the target consumer know why they should like you. “Like us if….” is way more effective then asking for a “Like”

“Like” is and should be viewed as the lowest form of engagement you can have. This simple engagement is viral and highly effective when done right. Remember, “liking” only takes one click and then the “liked” item is syndicated on a user’s own page, so don’t be afraid to ask for the thumbs up.

The same goes for comments — outright saying “post,” “comment” or “tell us” motivates fans to engage. If you’re seeking answers, put a simple “where” or “when” or “would” question at the end of the post. The study showed

you’ll get 15% more engagement than if the question is buried in the middle. Shy away from “why” questions, as they seem invasive and ask much more of a user than a “what” question.

Social Media and the engagement is not some new creation or way of thinking. We just have technology and solutions that bring the masses together, we can reach more people over longer periods of time. We just need to know when and how to engage.

Jason Genet

IngrainedMedia.com


Brands Struggle With Social Networks

Like Me, Like Me, Like Me!!!!

Pretty much every ad these days has some sort of Twitter or Facebook tie in. This week on the Howard Stern Show you could hear the crew discussing who is “Verified” and who is not, who had how many followers etc. My own company started dedicating space on our Athletes banners and websites to Twitter and Facebook..

So there is no wonder why Twitter and Facebook are some of the fastest growing Social Networks. Brands are spending hundreds of millions of dollars on promoting their Brand on Facebook and Twitter. Some campaigns are fully dedicated to increasing Facebook “Likes” and engaging with their target consumer.

That really is the beauty of Social Media. Long gone are the days of waiting on data and feedback from focus groups or retailers. You can engage with your consumer and be on a direct one-to-one relationship. This will revolutionize the way products come to market and how brands develop their strategy.

There are a couple things that Brands need to consider. These are not your typical Social Media pitfalls or even typical Social Media thinking. The facts are pretty hard to argue and the solutions are actually fairly inexpensive and the average business owner or executive can run these tools.

The first thing to remember is history has a history of repeating itself. When was the ast time you logged into your Myspace account. Myspace is on it’s proverbial death bed and if it was not for the Music and Entertainment industry it would likely already be dead. What we can learn from Myspace,com is that even Social Media giants can tumble. Social Media has to universe connected and when they move they move in herds.

So what becomes of your Facebook investment when the herd moves? You really not have collected any critical contact data and you cannot be sure that you will be able re-connect with them when you move to the new platform. So will the money spent be totally wasted?

The bigger concern is that Twitter and Facebook are so big that no matter what percentage of the total users you engage with there is a greater number of consumers that your alienating. What I mean by that is studies show that the young consumer and future consumers are turned off my brands in Facebook or Twitter.

According to a new report from Forrester Research;

“just 6 percent of 12-17-year-olds who use the Web desire to be friends with a brand on Facebook, despite the fact that half of this demographic uses the site.”

Among Web-connected 18-24-year-olds, that figure doubles—meaning that 12 percent of that demo feels okay with befriending brands—though the vast majority of young adults are not, per Forrester.

Even scarier for brands: Young people don’t want brands’ friendship, and they think brands should go away.

“Many brands are looking to social media as a strong digital channel to communicate with these consumers, since it’s where 12- to 17-year-olds are spending so much time,” wrote Jacqueline Anderson, Forrester’s Consumer Insights Analyst, who authored the report. “But research shows that it is important to consider more than just consumers’ propensity to use a specific channel. Almost half of 12- to 17-year-olds don’t think brands should have a presence using social tools at all.”

To arrive at these conclusions, Forrester surveyed 4,681 Americans aged 12-17 on the Web in September of last year.

So what should brands do? We have several solutions that we offer our clients. They solve allow of the problems listed above and at the same time tie into these very important Social Communities. We cover over twelve Social Networks and Share services and at the same time we engage directly with the small percent of consumers that want to be involved.

You can also use Social Media as a tool for extracting information. Not necessarily by blind engagements on Twitter or Facebook but by listening. Don’t push your message listen and ask questions. Show the consumer via your products and ad messages that you hear them.

With over 74% of 12-17 year-olds using social networks you can be certain that social networking will continue to be one of the biggest platforms used by your target consumer.

Jason Genet
President
Ingrained Media

http://www.ingrainedmedia.com


Fight for the Troops but Who is Fighting for the Athletes?

After watching the Facebook portion of the UFC’s Fight for the Troops II and specifically the Cody McKenzie vs Yves Edwards fight I was reminded how tough things have become for athletes seeking sponsorships. The big brands are securing the events and the small brands are merely focusing on the TV exposure. The brands remain focused on Ambush Marketing. Athletes like Cody come from Fight Teams that understand the importance of being a marketable fighter. Yet his team failed to take advantage of the fact that millions of potential eyeballs would be watching what would become the fight of the night. The fight could have ended up being a double whammy for sponsors had they sponsored Cody.

I will paste a previous article I wrote about the need for true sponsorships for athletes and the fact that the Athletes must participate in the activation and support the brands efforts. Now more than ever are brands expecting more and able to measure and quantify the results.

To sponsor something is to support it. In our sport (MMA) we are talking about athletes, events, and possibly gyms. Since the down turn of the economy you have seen more and more of the main MMA sponsors disappear or change their sponsorship terms.

What is happening today is brands are calling themselves sponsors to Ambush a particular event. We are hearing more and more that sponsor dollars are tied to TV exposure and if a fighter is not on a televised card there is no money available for him or her. Yet the fighters have no control over televising the fight or not. They control the training, the preparation and of course the execution of the fight,

It takes the average top level cycling team about 8-14 million dollars to have riders qualified enough to place at the top of the biggest races in the World. These sponsors invest in equipment, training, physical wellness, and coaches to help there athletes reach the top. Yet only one rider can win the Yellow Jersey. There is no guarantee that the team they assemble will win, challenge or even make it to the top. It is a risk and the reward could be your Team Winning the Tour De France.

NASCAR Teams usually take on a few exclusive brand sponsors that again agree to pay for tires, testing, best pit crew money can buy, engine and aerodynamic science to go faster and win some races. Being in the top 10 is often a goal because the owners and sponsors know that is who the crowd gets behind and that that where the TV Cameras are going to be. These Teams can cost sponsors upwards of 2-5 million per race and no guarantees of TV time, exposure etc.

I can give example after example but this is combat sports and that means most everything is pay for play. Fighters, trainers, training partners live in a Pay for Play world. If they can reach the biggest stage they can then trade placement on their shorts for money. If they get hurt while training for the “bigger stage” they make nothing. If their opponent gets injured and a fight can’t be rescheduled they make no money. If they end up on the un-televised portion of the biggest stage they make less or no money.

There is no support system for building better fighters. Imagine if NASCAR still used 1970 Monte Carlos and never evolved to the speed rockets they have today. What if Coke told its top racer we will give you 8 million if you win and nothing if you don’t make it on TV.

That is what is going on in MMA. You can’t call yourself a sponsor or a supporter of the sport if you are buying patches on fighters that are televised. To be a true sponsor you have to support the fighters through training, through winning and loosing. It is an investment in the fighter’s future and your brands future. If you are just paying when he or she has a televised fight then are you not just stealing exposure from the promoter? The fighter does not own that television time paying them for it and not the sacrifices made by him, his trainers and training partners is a disservice to the sport.

If you’re a sponsor rep and your trading televised spots for money, are you really doing your client any favors? What happens when all organizations charge a sponsor tax? What about when the sponsors refuse to pay because the promotion decided to bump the fight from televised to dark?

Many fighters show up to fight for the money, the show money and the sponsor money. Then they have to collect AFTER they perform. No credit for the training, no credit for the training injuries and the sacrifices in the gym that helped the fighter reach this spot.

Sponsors are not the problem they are operating in a world created by others. Brand X wants to be affiliated with this fighter because this fighter will be on TV. As Managers, Agents, fighters etc we need to look for ways to give the sponsor more then a patch next to their competitor. We need to develop marketing solutions that include activating the brand into the sport and marketing platforms that allow the sponsor to have exposure points when the fighter is not on SOMEONE’s TV show. The fights and ambush branding should be secondary to the overall campaign.

Developing marketing platforms that involve the fighters and brands. Help the brands reach the fans of the sport and stop relying on the UFC or some other organization to build your fighters name and thus allow you to do more sponsoring dollars.

We have been bringing in over $250,000 a year in sponsorship money as a result we have increased sales for companies and opportunities for fighters. We don’t treat the fighter like a commodity that creates opportunity for us. We work for the fighter and the brand. We help them determine goals and build a program that helps them reach those goals. Marketing in this new economy is about delivering results. If you get a brand on the UFC other agents will call that brand, but have you reached or touched the consumer? Converting sales and reaching a measurable return on investment is what brands want. If sponsor reps really believed that merely putting your logo on the ass of a fighter will spur sales wouldn’t they be putting their companies logo and not Tapouts.

As a fighter invest in yourself and your coaches. Build a brand for you. Only fighters and trainers know how hard they work to get to the fight, I think MMA fighters train harder then any other athlete in the world. The Ultimate Fighter tells you that lots of people are interested in seeing no name fighters train and live the fighter lifestyle on that road to greatness. Don’t wait until some promoter or MMA news site say’s you are great, make yourself great and brand yourself like you are the next Fedror. Act as if.

As a sponsor, get involved with your fighters. Make them a part of your brand. Look at Moto for a great example of how to harness the athletes and fans into a billion dollar industry. You wont see riders wearing Yamaha Jerseys riding a Suzuki. You see brands trying to connect with the consumer they want by supporting and developing the future leaders of the sport. Fighters have no control as to when they will be on TV but if you help build the best fighter in the World you will be on every media outlet you could ever had dreamed for,

Support the Sport and those that make it great. The only guaranteed TV time is to buy a commercial or sponsor the event itself.


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