Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

We all know social media is an important tool for brand awareness and customer acquisition — but how exactly are you supposed to convert random Twitter and Facebook users into real-life customers? Well, that depends.

Different brands have different challenges when it comes to customer acquisition: “If you’re our customer, you’ve signed up for a year-long service, unlike the Starbucks of the world, where you can be a customer by coming in for a cup of coffee one day,” says Lisa D’Aromando, social media community manager at Equinox. Whether you’re a clothing shop, a restaurant or a subscription service, you must tailor your strategy so that it makes sense for your brand. That said, there are a few universal ways to help your company attract new faces on the social web.

“I’m a big believer in creating and sharing meaningful content,” says Danni Snyder, co-founder and creative director at jewelry brand Dannijo. “Over time, that is every brand’s best bet for creating and sustaining a following that will grow their business.”

But what does it all entail? Mashable spoke with some super-social brands about how they find new customersand lock in their existing ones they have as repeat buyers.

1. Get Your Search On

There are 340 million tweets sent per day — odds are that a few of them are referencing your brand, though you may not realize it. “Just because chatter on social media channels isn’t mentioning your brand by handle or hashtag doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” says McKee Floyd, director of brand development at Sweetgreen.

The key is to be proactive. For the company’s upcoming Sweetlife Festival, Floyd set up Twitter searches for “sweetlife” and “sweetlife festival” on TweetDeck, which pulls the tweets even if users didn’t include the hashtag. “As groups of friends have conversations back and forth on Twitter about whether or not they should buy tickets, we monitor and chime in with helpful info, answering logistical questions about the festival and hopefully swaying them towards choosing to attend.”

Geoff Alexander, managing partner at Chicago’s Wow Bao, says his team also uses TweetDeck to search for certain keywords — such as “wow bao,” “baomouth” and “hot Asian buns” — and they reply to any and all posts they find. Wow Bao initially got into social media because there wasn’t a budget for advertising, so the brand opted to spread the word by giving away buns. “@BaoMouth searches the Internet for ways to reward people — giving away bao, full meals or mobile money [for the food truck],” says Alexander.

But the search tactic works for more than just food concepts. Danni Snyder says she monitor mentions of Dannijo religiously and also searches Twitter for “jewelry.” Consuming social media buzz about jewelry — and not just Dannijo’s wares — helps the brand be “aware of what people are talking about, what they like and don’t like, etc.” says Snyder, which can help Dannijo cultivate a new audience with their next collection.

One tip for finding new customers is to see who’s engaging with your competitors — if someone just started following or tweeted at or checked in at another bakery in the neighborhood, you could tweet at the person to come check out your cupcakes. They customer will appreciate the shout-out and the fact that you handpicked them to be your customer. Get clever with searches that are relevant to your business and offerings to help you target potential customers — then reel them in by being charming and human, not salesy.

2. Use Images to Engage

A picture is worth a thousand words — photos drive twice as much engagement as text posts do on Facebook. So if you’re looking to attract some new fans, start snapping pics.

Snyder says Instagram is her favorite medium for connecting with fans. “You can subliminally market without annoying your customers because each post is capable of accomplishing a number of things,” she says. “In one post, we can showcase a new design available at Dannijo.com, thus driving traffic to our ecommerce site; show how we’d style the jewelry; mention a tastemaker friend like Questlove or ManRepeller and promote them while they’re wearing Dannijo; inspire discussion and engagement, gaining valuable customer feedback; and provide followers some visual inspiration and insight into your creative process.”

But the pics need not be product-focused. Dannijo posts photos of food and musicians that embody the Dannijo vibe, and its 9,745 followers like and comment on every one of them. Similarly, Rent the Runway posts pictures of various style trends. “On Facebook, we try to use as much imagery as possible — not just promotional imagery of our dresses, but images that relate to pop-culture,” says Jenny Fleiss, president and co-founder of Rent the Runway. For example, in anticipation of the upcoming Great Gatsby movie, the RTR blog posted about Gatsby-inspired fashion trends.

3. Host a Competition

Nothing gets customers going like some swag, so contests are a great way to boost your followers and engagement. But be strategic about what you’re offering, or else you could attract the wrong followers.

ModCloth hosts monthly photo contests that garner hundreds of entries and thousands of votes. “Our most recent contest, Thrifted Treasures, asked our fans to share their favorite vintage finds, and our community could vote up their favorites,” explains Natasha Khan, ModCloth’s social media manager. “The social actions surrounding that event brought in thousands of new fans, which we otherwise would not have gained.”

Khan says contests and offers have been the most high impact customer generation events for ModCloth. But if you’re planning on hosting a contest, Khan has a few suggestions. First, build in actions that allow the fan to share to their social networks, as this will increase virality. Second, stay true to your brand. Third, tweak the contest to fit the platform on which you’re running it — “On Facebook that means sharing photography, on Twitter it means wordplay hashtags, and for Polyvore it means styling outfits,” says Khan.

“Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to Facebook fan growth. If your company product is clothing and your prize is free iPads, then you will gain followers that might not belong to your core demographic. Make sure the reward is something your customer will value, such as a gift card or grab bag of your products,” says Khan.

4. Spice Up The Platforms

With so many platforms to manage, be sure to have a distinct M.O. on each channel — and cross-pollinate sparingly. If a customer sees the same information and pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest, she need only follow you on one of these platforms. Also, be wary of overpromotion. Nothing is more of a turnoff than a constant sales messaging — people easily can unfollow, and they will. Interestingly, many of Wow Bao’s posts have nothing to do with bao — @BaoMouth tweets during award shows and keeps a lively conversation going on a number of topics, winning people over with its spunky personality.

Of course, a big reason why you use various social media channels is to promote your product, so there are some things to keep in mind for the messaging when you are pushing your goods.

“Prove the value of being a Facebook fan. If you can find the same content and offers on other channels, there is no incentive to also follow the brand on Facebook,” Khan says. “Exclusive Facebook-only offers and original content reinforces our investment in the channel.” The same goes for every other social platform.

For Equinox, Facebook is for broadcasting of events and initiatives, like Cycle For Survival, Twitter is more conversation and geared toward responding to questions about membership, fitness routines and healthy eating, and Foursquare is the platform on which to find offers for Equinox’s spa and shop, which are open to the public. “Every Monday in March, we posted a different Foursquare check-in special for The Shop at all of our locations,” says D’Aromando. “Since you don’t have to necessarily be a member to go to The Shop or The Spa, these specials are accessible to everyone,” and can lure in potential customers into becoming Equinox members.

The company’s Q blog is another digital project where you’ll find awe-inspiring videos and original lifestyle content — a great way to add value for potential customers. “Q was launched to extend our brand and increase this word-of-mouth among our target audience. It gives people — members and nonmembers — topics and material from our Equinox experts to share with others,” says D’Aromando. “In lieu of promos, we create a different sort of currency: highly produced, branded content on Q with exclusives for our social media communities.”

5. Make It Personal

No one like a mass message — consumers like to feel as if they’re the only ones being spoken to. You should know your customers and speak to them in personal ways to establish touchpoints that build relationships and create loyalty.

“I like to make it very personable — if someone tweets a question I make sure to answer immediately,” says Steven Rojas, social media director at GrandLife Hotels. “Often I go as far as Googling that person to make sure I know as much as I can about them before reaching out. I want to humanize the brand so people don’t feel like they are speaking to a computer but to an actual person who cares about what they are saying. My obsession for all things digital never sleeps, so I make sure everyone gets what they need, when they need it.”

Live chats are another effective way to offer intimate interaction and engagement with fans. “It’s about having a conversation with your community, so we often do live chats with our stylists on Facebook to answer any styling questions customers may have,” says Fleiss. “These posts tend to elicit the most ‘Likes’ and comments.”

While you’re browsing sites for comments to respond to, don’t ignore negative feedback — addressing the complaint is an opportunity to convert an unhappy customer into an impressed brand ambassador.

“We’re very appreciative when someone takes the time to let us know about a bad experience or an issue because then we can help fix it,” says Jenny Danzi, a Mountain Dew brand manager. “Reply to every complaint to turn those consumers into advocates — even if you can not offer an instant fix, people appreciate getting a human response,” she adds. And don’t forget that even the littlest gesture can make a big difference. “Sometimes for us it can be as simple as letting consumers know where they can find our products,” says Danzi.

Wow Bao takes it to the next level, proactively finding ways to create touchpoints with consumers. “We comment on any and all posts mentioning people’s birthdays and pop culture,” says Alexander. “We even schedule posts for people’s birthdays, when people post something like, ‘My birthday is in 12 days’” — a very personalized tactic that can go a long way

6. Let Your Customers Shine

Nothing makes a customer feel better than being acknowledged — or better yet, honored — by their favorite brand. Is there a way to offer kudos to your loyal fans? If so, make it happen.

Because women love to talk about what they’re wearing — and often wear RTR to social events such as weddings and cocktail parties — Rent the Runway strives to move these conversations online. “We have weekly style award contests on our blog and Facebook Page, and a section of our site called RTR Moments where women can share photos of themselves in RTR dresses,” says Fleiss.

For Mountain Dew, whose fan base is extremely young and active on social media, the “Diet Mountain Dew Supernova Spotter” is a great way to celebrate the return of the fan-chosen flavor in addition to highlighting the passion of the fans. “Dew drinkers can upload their photo of Diet Supernova, and on Friday we’ll open the entries up to public voting. Fifteen winners will each get a Diet Dew hoodie, and everyone who enters can easily share their Diet Supernova passion with friends,” Danzi says.

For Equinox, whose social media fan base is largely comprised of members, the goal isn’t as much to incentivize people to join (they already have), but to make them feel special for being members. “We have a Facebook app where members can refer friends directly, and if the friend joins, the member gets a referral bonus,” says D’Aromando. “We also just launched a program on Twitter where we’re rewarding our advocates by offering them private group fitness classes for them and their friends. This gives us a way to say ‘thanks’ to those who always post about us, and it gives them something to talk about with their friends — online and off.”

Brands, how does your company acquire new customers on social media? Consumers, what makes you want to become a customer? Let us know in the comments.

Credit card company American Express seemed to come out of nowhere in the past year, offering one social media program after another.

FacebookTwitterFoursquareYouTubeLinkedInGoogle+— it’s got them all covered, and even better, it stands for what its consumers want across all of the social platforms it’s on.

While American Express has seemed to pump a lot of life into its social strategy as of late, it has actually been on the scene since 2009, helping cardholders solve problems one tweet and wall post at a time.

We spoke with Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, for the backstory on AmEx’s social media strategy, mission and goals. Read on for what she had to say.

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

A Customer Service Foundation

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs. Berland says that @AmericanExpress and the officialAmerican Express Facebook Page came soon after.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our Cardmembers and merchants are,” says Berland. “To engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight.”

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback. “We spent a great deal of time listening to the community. The community interests and feedback defined our strategy,” says Berland.

AmEx has come a long way — with nearly 2.4 million Facebook fans and more than 348,000 followers on Twitter for the American Express U.S. pages alone. Its presences have also expanded internationally, and the brand now supports efforts on LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and Google+, as well.

Couponless Deals Galore

American Express is the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.

With AmEx Sync, cardholders can enjoy exclusive merchant deals by syncing their cards with their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. No coupon is necessary, just the linkage and a qualifying purchase.

AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011. In July, it added Facebook in on the fun, launching its “Link, Like, Love” app — after linking an AmEx card, a user can then access deals based on brands that he or she “likes” on Facebook.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

Now with a full suite of couponless deals to offer up to consumers, American Express is flexing its social media muscles in all the right ways.

Rallying Small Businesses

AmEx’s social media strategy accommodates the needs of both consumers and merchants. While much of what we see is tailored for the customer experience, AmEx goes out of its way to reach merchants as well.

With its national Small Business Saturday initiative, AmEx uses traditional and digital channels to promoting the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to shop at their favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Berland says the program has been a success for the company. “In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users ‘liked’ the Small Business Saturday Page –- more than doubling the 1.2 million Likes in 2010. Nearly195,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.”

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

A Corporate Culture Transformation

Social media has a way of changing corporations — shaking them up, making them cautious or loosening their buttons. Every company is different — some embrace it, some battle it. AmEx is doing all it can to run with the opportunities that social media presents, and it’s going big.

“The digital transformation occurring at American Express cuts across many business units, and it has to because of the breadth and depth of our business,” Berland explains. “From customer service to merchant services to our entertainment and travel business units, to corporate affairs, as well as our newly formed digital partnerships and development team, social media is a company-wide initiative.”

“We are continuously evolving and, as a 162-year-old company, have done that over the course of our history,” says Berland. “That evolution will continue as the digital space matures, and social media platforms are the digital manifestations of community and membership –- which are at the core of American Express.”

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Credit card company American Express seemed to come out of nowhere in the past year, offering one social media program after another.

FacebookTwitterFoursquare, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+— it’s got them all covered, and even better, it stands for what its consumers want across all of the social platforms it’s on.

While American Express has seemed to pump a lot of life into its social strategy as of late, it has actually been on the scene since 2009, helping cardholders solve problems one tweet and wall post at a time.

We spoke with Leslie Berland, SVP of digital partnerships and development at American Express, for the backstory on AmEx’s social media strategy, mission and goals. Read on for what she had to say.

A Customer Service Foundation

American Express joined the social media scene in 2009 with presences on Twitter and Facebook, aimed at providing customer service for cardholders.

American Express first made its appearance on Twitter with the @AskAmex handle, focused on servicing Cardmember and merchant questions and needs. Berland says that @AmericanExpress and the official American Express Facebook Page came soon after.

“Our mission is to be everywhere our Cardmembers and merchants are,” says Berland. “To engage with them, service them, deliver unique value that’s shareable and create seamless digital experiences that surprise and delight.”

Since the beginning, American Express has built its social strategy on service, and it continues to improve its implementation by taking in user feedback. “We spent a great deal of time listening to the community. The community interests and feedback defined our strategy,” says Berland.

AmEx has come a long way — with nearly 2.4 million Facebook fans and more than 348,000 followers on Twitter for the American Express U.S. pages alone. Its presences have also expanded internationally, and the brand now supports efforts on LinkedIn, Foursquare, YouTube and Google+, as well.

Couponless Deals Galore

American Express is the master of the couponless deal in the social media space.

With AmEx Sync, cardholders can enjoy exclusive merchant deals by syncing their cards with their Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. No coupon is necessary, just the linkage and a qualifying purchase.

AmEx first launched Sync with Foursquare in June 2011. In July, it added Facebook in on the fun, launching its “Link, Like, Love” app — after linking an AmEx card, a user can then access deals based on brands that he or she “likes” on Facebook.

At SXSW 2012, AmEx stole the show, launching Sync for Twitter and offering up Jay-Z tickets for SXSWers that completed the sync. Partnering with the likes of Whole Foods, McDonald’s and Best Buy, AmEx announced that after linking an AmEx card to their Twitter accounts, cardholders can tweet strategic hashtags to load deals onto their cards. With the hashtag #AmexWholeFoods, for example, a cardholder receives a $20 statement credit when he or she purchases $75 or more at Whole Foods using his or her synced card.

Now with a full suite of couponless deals to offer up to consumers, American Express is flexing its social media muscles in all the right ways.

Rallying Small Businesses

AmEx’s social media strategy accommodates the needs of both consumers and merchants. While much of what we see is tailored for the customer experience, AmEx goes out of its way to reach merchants as well.

With its national Small Business Saturday initiative, AmEx uses traditional and digital channels to promoting the Shop Small Movement, which encourages consumers to shop at their favorite local businesses on Small Business Saturday, the Saturday in between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Berland says the program has been a success for the company. “In 2011, more than 2.7 million Facebook users ‘liked’ the Small Business Saturday Page –- more than doubling the 1.2 million Likes in 2010. Nearly 195,000 tweets were sent in support of Small Business Saturday in November, many leveraging the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #SmallBizSat.”

In February of this year, Twitter partnered with AmEx to open up its self-serve advertising platform to AmEx cardholders. AmEx even offered up $100 in free advertising to the first 10,000 businesses to sign up.

And we can’t forget the Facebook makeover from last year — AmEx teamed up with Facebook to give five small businesses a Facebook makeover and $20,000 to grow their businesses, as part of its Small Business Saturday program.

A Corporate Culture Transformation

Social media has a way of changing corporations — shaking them up, making them cautious or loosening their buttons. Every company is different — some embrace it, some battle it. AmEx is doing all it can to run with the opportunities that social media presents, and it’s going big.

“The digital transformation occurring at American Express cuts across many business units, and it has to because of the breadth and depth of our business,” Berland explains. “From customer service to merchant services to our entertainment and travel business units, to corporate affairs, as well as our newly formed digital partnerships and development team, social media is a company-wide initiative.”

“We are continuously evolving and, as a 162-year-old company, have done that over the course of our history,” says Berland. “That evolution will continue as the digital space matures, and social media platforms are the digital manifestations of community and membership –- which are at the core of American Express.”

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“How do we drive Social Interaction?” This is question that motivates Ian Mackie, Senior Client Manager of Point It. You need to pick out relevant information about what you offer and share that with your audience. That relevance is what helps you to analyze who your demographic is and how to best customize your marketing.

Ian mentioned a Point It client that had spent $5,000 per week marketing their site while using Google Analytics – but they never analyzed the collected data! He warns that in order for analysis to be useful you must spend time actually analyzing the data you collect! Implementing Google Analytics to your website is rather simple, but you should commit to the time and effort each week to analyzing your results and adjusting your marketing plan as it evolves.

Market researchers are targeting mobile users in a new and different ways, aiming to not regurgitate the same ads over and over again to their audiences and find ways to make mobile applications user-friendly.

Ian Mackie, Point It Inc. ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

Julian Michaels of Kreate Professionasl Network moderated this panel discussion about Social-Local-Mobile (So-Lo-Mo), which is a current hot topic in the realm of the mobility of technological interaction. His aim, via Kreate Networking events, is to give business owners access to great resources, ideas, and the opportunity to build relationships in the Seattle and Eastside professional communities.

Julian Michael, Founder of Kreate ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

“We labeled it ‘mobile’ because it’s new and it’s natural context,” said Bryan Zug, founder of Bootstrapper Studios & Co-Producer of IGNITE Seattle. Smartphones make it easier to view full content websites, but it would be wise to build your online presence to be “mobile-ready.” Many people are on-the-go and want to utilize their time and their mobile devices for information and content.

There are a few applications that can help convert your website to be mobile-ready and may be worth looking into. Some companies are shifting their entire business models to serve clients using mobile apps like the ones for tablets and smartphones. Consider looking locally, to a company like Point It to help with your full mobile integration.

Bryan Zug, Founder of Bootstrapper Studios & IGNITE ~ © Fire Eyes Photography 2012

My company is Fire Eyes Photography and as a photographer I work with the visual aspects of my field on a daily basis. Images are paramount in showcasing the services I offer to my clients. Having the ability to utilize photographs to draw in my audience essential, especially with the intent of easy mobile share-ability. My WordPress.com blog automatically converts for easy mobile device viewing. You may already know this if you are reading this post on your device! The formatting is simple and easy-to-read and  the text and photographs show correctly whether viewing your device in a vertical or horizontal manner. Make it easy for your audience to do business with you and they’ll thank you for it!

© Fire Eyes Photography

Ian also spoke about clients’ expectations of social media and mobile application and said that Point It clients want to know what their Return on Investment (ROI) is. Since that is hard to pinpoint, Ian’s advice is that it’s important for your business name to be out there, utilizing social media immediately so that you can begin to build your brand. Build your followers through relevant content and draw your audience in via Twitter, Facebook,Pinterest, LinkedIn, etc.

Make sure you’re asking your colleagues and professional associates about how they reach their clients and look for new ideas that may be worth implementing for your own business and branding. Not every avenue is a surefire hit, but as our panelists pointed out, they can be very low risk and therefore worth trying.

~Written by Trishann Couvillion, Founder of Fire Eyes Photography

(on Twitter @fire eyes)

About Trishann Couvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & headshots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Steve Ballmer (CEO and President of Microsoft), Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

With over 8 million members, StumbleUpon is a web 2.0 community site that discovers great websites and matches them to your interests. Its features allow users to rate Web pages, photos, and videos that are personalized to you using social-networking. StumbleUpon is a great place to discover new interesting articles, useful apps and funny videos. Aside from that, StumbleUpon has the potential to get new visitor traffic and generate some new fans. Many website owners and bloggers encourage the sharing of their articles to StumbleUpon in hopes of driving traffic to their sites. StumbleUpon can be a very powerful tool; when used correctly, some stumblers have garnered up to several thousand hits on a single post, in a single day.

If your looking to maximize results from StumbleUpon with minimal effort check out the tips and video below that cover how to use StumbleUpon effectively.

8  Great StumbleUpon Tips To Maximize Your Web Result

1. Add A Real Photo - Add a photo to reveal that you’re a real person. This is a straightforward task and one of the simplest things to do. Prove you’re a real person and people will more likely follow you. On the top right bar click ‘Settings’ and on the page that loads, click the ‘Profile Picture’ tab. 

2. Write A Catching Intro - The intro which is the spot next to your photo is another important addition. A new visitor who lands on your page will see this next to your photo which will help with credibility and proves you have a blog. Make sure to include links and apply HTML. For instance you can use the tag to separate all links from the actual bio. That way you make them more visible and you add a neat look to the whole intro. Keep in mind that using keywords as your anchor text won’t work, so just go with your blog name.

3. Take Advantage Of The Share Feature -The share feature is a good way to get more likes on your content which gives your content higher priority. “Sharing” can be done in two ways - via the StumbleUpon toolbar, by clicking “Share” and choosing the stumblers you want to share your content with or through the “Your favorites” page. After having someone followed on StumbleUpon a check-box “accept shares to my toolbar” below the “Follow” button appears. Sharing works reciprocally only. Even if you have checked the box, you won’t be able to see the other person’s shares unless he also accepts your shares and vice versa.

4. Get People To Follow You -Getting more followers on StumbleUpon isn’t as easy. Quality content is the single most important reason why people follow you. Problem is that in order to click the “Follow” button, people first need to find you. That can hardly happen simply by making a few stumbles. First place to focus your efforts is your blog and more specifically the “About” page. Believe it or not, the “About” page is one of the most visited places in a blog, so you’ll get plenty of visibility. My second approach is TwitterEvery now and then I’m posting a tweet along the lines of “Are you a StumbleUpon user? Check out my favorites!” Following others and getting them to follow back is another powerful technique. Unlike Twitter, StumbleUpon isn’t really about building relationships and engaging with others, so I don’t see a problem with the strategy.

5. Link to Other Bloggers Who Use StumbleUpon - If anyone links back to you, stumble that post. And be gracious when other people Stumble your pages and content. Say thank you! Positive and genuine interactions, partnerships and content are what give StumbleUpon and other social networking tools power.

6. Track Your StumbleUpon Favorites - It’s important when Stumbling your own website content to track and test which pages get the most attention. Then you know how to create specific content to StumbleUpon users.

7. Don’t Add Stumble Upon Buttons To Your Site - Social sharing buttons and widgets are great: they help your visitors to submit your stories fast to the social and bookmarking sites of their choice. But did you know that onsite SU buttons could be detrimental? StumbleUpon wants you to use the toolbar rather than using special widgets that “stumble” automatically. Simply use the toolbar on a regular basis, clicking I-like-it at any page other members would like to stumble upon. 

8. Keep a Good Follow / Followers Ratio - There is a limit of how many people you can followUnlike Twitter, that limit is fixed, currently at 500 followers. So in order to apply the ‘follow-back’ strategy, you will need to know who to stop following. I first unfollow the least active users. Everyone who hasn’t stumbled (again don’t confuse ‘stumbled’ with hasn’t been online) since more than five days is being unfollowed. After I’ve done that, I go through every page and open all profiles to find stumblers with similarity meter, showing less than 20%. They get unfollowed as well. Then I start unfollowing, folks who aren’t following back.

I hope that the above tips help you to make your Stumbleupon experience a better one and further contribute to the community.

Let us know about your experience of using stumbleupon in the comments.

Thank you for reading this blog.  If you have any questions or suggestions contact me.

Moderator: Mitch Germann (@MCG5) Vice President @EdelmanDigital, Seattle

Daniel Hour (@DHourUW) Manager of New Media & Recruiting Services @UWAthletics

Jeff Richards (@JeffRichardsSea) Director of Marketing @Seahawks and @soundersfc

Gregg Greene (@RealGregg) Director of Marketing @Mariners

Carrie Krueger (@carriekrueger) Director of Communication @seattlestorm

“Twitter is kind of like being at a party – the first and most important thing is to listen.” Gregg Greene, Director of Marketing with the Mariners, knows that in order to reach your customers and fans, you need to be aware of how they use social media to interact with your business. Your brand has a unique opportunity in the social media age to reach out directly to consumers through various digital media sources. Taking the approach of listening and then responding will not only meet your audience’s needs but will engage them in a way that can build loyalty and word-of-mouth growth. Be cautious of who your brand ambassadors are. When making posts or responding on social media, be fully aware that “Once it’s out there, even if you delete it later, it doesn’t fully go away,” advised Gregg.

A “Twitter fit” Carrie Krueger advises, should be handled right away and with a personal touch. If a fan is at your event and has a bad experience, it’s quite likely they will quickly be vocal about it on Twitter right in that moment. If you have a brand ambassador monitoring your feed and interacting with attendees, you can actually reach that fan and offer a solution immediately. “It’s important to be responsible and proactive, it helps keep people engaged,” said Carrie. Also, the proactive approach will impress your existing customers and you’re more likely to create brand evangelists because of your quick and thoughtful solutions.

As these sports marketing pros use social media to reach out to their audience, they are keenly aware of the impact they may or may not be having through their online interactions. When Mitch Germann, Vice President at Edelman Digital asked about the shift in marketing from traditional media to digital media, Gregg Green said, “Yes, we are shifting from traditional to digital media. The Mariners were the first team in the nation to have a website, the first team to broadcast online, and the very first team to sell game tickets online.”

The Mariners organization was quite innovative when compared to its peers in being willing to utilize digital media in its infancy. Gregg shared a great story about the first person to purchase the very first online ticket for a Mariners game. After the transaction was complete, Ticketmaster called the purchaser to ask what had made the individual want to buy their ticket online. The purchaser’s response? “I don’t like talking to people on the phone and I don’t like talking to you!” … and he hung up!

Digital media is providing many solutions for customers on many levels! Another fun idea the Mariners now offer during games is their @MarinersDJ Twitter handle that allows fans to send song requests to be played at breaks during home games. It’s free, easy to use, and encourages the fans to stay engaged! Striving for great concepts that you can utilize within your brand is key to standing out and staying relevant.

“Your branding through social media should be measured through a dollars and cents analytic,” advised Jeff Richards. “However you do that, it’s important.” Find out what your audience is and is not responding to and revise tactics accordingly. If certain posts aren’t getting much attention or very many “likes” — try a different strategy. Jeff is working on an idea to begin having the Seahawks and Sounders players make announcements through digital media and have them involved in breaking news to their fans. He believes that this select touch will help their organizations reach their audience on a personal level and will engage them as well.

Daniel Hour believes that the University of Washington’s website is different from many other collegiate websites in the nation. The focus is to use recruiting content as the base makeup of UW’s online presence. They want to reach out to the best student athletes in the nation and believe that by merging content to reach fans, as well as those athletes, they are able to effectively serve the UW’s sports programs.

As a large organization, Daniel also believes that when engaging with fans through social media, it’s important to maintain the voice of the “brand” and not the brand ambassadors personally. This has helped them stay focused on proper content and abide by the written policy UW has regarding the use of social media for its organization.

In all, these pros feel it’s important to add some “color” to tweets, have fun engaging your fans and followers, and pay attention to your content. Brand loyalty can grow tenfold using great and engaging content strategy and social media can bring a personal touch to your business or organization. Whether you are a sole entrepreneur, a medium- or large-sized company, or a giant organization — utilizing social media platforms to engage with your customers can have a brand-building impact that will have lasting results.

As a small business owner, I am finding that incorporating my personality into my social media outreach greatly benefits me in the same way that large organizations benefit from adding a personal touch to their brand interaction with fans and followers. In this game of life, though we interact via computers to a large extent, people are still human and crave personable interaction. I have found Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites to be a conversational “at bat” I hit out into the virtual park and bring into home plate with an eventual in-person exchange.

It was a pleasure listening to these local sports marketing authorities talk about their social media game plan. I am happy to be not only a fan, but also a social media player.

Special thanks to Jill Hashimoto, Safeco Director of Private Event Sales & Marketing and the the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce for hosting this sports marketing social media event!

~written by Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography ~ Corporate & Special Event Photographer, Nationwide. http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

About trcouvillion

Best corporate event photographer and business & head shots photographer in Seattle. Many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography. Well-known individuals such as Steve Ballmer (CEO and President of Microsoft), Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by Ms. Couvillion. Check out her corporate website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com

The social-powered Web browsing service StumbleUpon now claims to drive more than half of all social media referral traffic in the U.S., according to new data from StatCounter.

Is it true? Is it possible this lesser-known service, which helps users discover Web pages based on their interests and other people’s recommendations, has dethroned Facebook and Twitter?

All we really know from the data is that StumbleUpon drives most of the social media traffic to the 3 million websites that use StatCounter for their Web analytics.

StatCounter is a free service that some website owners install to track relatively simple data about the number of visits. Most news organizations and large websites use more detailed analytics services like Google Analytics or Omniture.

We don’t know who exactly the 3 million sites using StatCounter are (there’s no overview on the site), but we can assume they don’t include a representative sample of mainstream content publishers. And because StatCounter’s data is not weighted to represent news sites or the Internet as a whole, we can’t draw any conclusions.

In the specific case of a news website publishing timely or breaking stories, I expect Twitter and Facebook are the dominant referrers. But there is still a role for StumbleUpon in your social media strategy.

What does it mean?

StumbleUpon has grown to 15 million users and its site traffic is rising. Whether or not it beats Facebook, it can generate significant referrals, so news websites ought to pay attention to it.

While Twitter and Facebook excel at spreading the breaking or local news of the day, StumbleUpon is for the long tail. The type of content that succeeds on StumbleUpon meets a few criteria: the subject is useful, interesting or bizarre; addresses a niche topic; and has enduring value.

To understand why, you have to know how the service works.

  • Impressive. StumbleUpon is a serendipity engine that tries to recommend amusing and delightful pages based on the number of similar users (people who share a particular interest) who “like” a page over time. A page needs to be especially useful, interesting or bizarre to get someone to stop and like it, rather than stumbling on to the next thing.
  • Niche. StumbleUpon users begin by defining their personal interests, and now they can browse within one interest at a time. So the service is a home for things that appeal greatly to narrowly defined audiences rather than general-interest audiences.
  • Enduring. This is not a real-time news network like Twitter. Pages in StumbleUpon gain likes and momentum over time. So think of explainers, guides or revealing features as good candidates from a news site. A site homepage itself often gets traction for the general purpose of discovering the site, whereas you don’t see many Facebook likes or tweets of home pages.

To cement that a little, here are some of the Poynter.org pages that have received the most StumbleUpon referrals this year. The home page of Poynter.org comes in first, and near the top are several how-tos (useful and enduring) on:

How to optimize for StumbleUpon

Not that we need another cottage industry like SEO for StumbleUpon (SUO?), but you can take some basic steps to capitalize on the service.

First, add the StumbleUpon badge to your home page and article pages. Much like the Facebook and Twitter buttons that surely are there now, this badge enables a user to add or recommend your page to StumbleUpon. You also can add a widget to your site that shows your best-rated StumbleUpon content.

Second, be prepared to capitalize on the new visitors that stumble your way. The nature of StumbleUpon is to send browsers to sites that are new to them.

When they land on your site and realize they like it, you should have obvious widgets or links somewhere encouraging them to follow you on other networks or to sign up for email or RSS content delivery.

Linking to related posts on your site also can help extend a StumbleUpon visit through a few pages instead of directly bouncing to the next recommendation. That’s generally good practice for all Web visitors.

For something more specifically targeted to StumbleUpon, you could build a special widget that greets StumbleUpon visitors, introduces your site in a sentence or two, shows other popular SU pages on your site and invites the user to follow you or subscribe.

In the long run, it’s really not useful to measure StumbleUpon against Facebook or Twitter. They exist in two entirely different classes — one is a timeless, passive, serendipity engine, the other is timely, active, two broadcasting networks. Both are important in their own ways, and deserve their own strategies.

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Having started all willy-nilly with Pinterest like Joe-Joe the idiot circus boy, I put absolutely no thought into what I was doing while kicking the tires. Now that PT is hotter than Canadian Maple syrup at a swingers party I can tell you what I did wrong.

First off, like most of us I really didn’t know what it was. Therefore I was just so eager to get my hands on it and stake a claim. A few things fell out of that experience. I started a bunch of lists that were important to me such as “Zombies, DesigNation, Survivalistic” and near naked women at “Shabam.” That being said my account is more about me personally and not about me ‘the brand.’

First question to ask – “Are you supporting a brand (corporate or personal) or is this a personal Pinterest account?”

The point here is all I’ve really done with my current account is give people a reason to think I’m a porn freak-based doomsday prepper that has a insatiable interest in art, automotive and design. While that’s not wrong per se, it’s not necessarily a glowing presentation of the personal creative/social thought leadership that I’m trying to establish.

Well If you’re not launching a brand, I say let’s lose the dogs of war and find the weirdest shit you can. Pin it and your noisy co-workers will create new things to gossip about around the water-cooler – ”then last night he pinned 17 different kind of Chinese throwing stars with anime characters on them! I know right!?!” The other edge to this sword however is that it’s more about the real “you” in the real world. If you don’t want people thinking you dress up and play Phyllis Diller on the weekends, probably best not to pin up a roadmap to that effect.

Next question to ask – “How do I categorize and thereby subjugate by brand?”

It’s like constructing an information architecture for a website and the “pins” end up the relational sub-pages within the “boards” you create. If you where to launch a clothing line or related outreach you might do something like:

  • Men’s Tops
  • Men’s Pants
  • Men’s Accessories
  • Men’s Shoes

…rinse and repeat with gender and age-group variance.

The caveat being that your pin either be yours OR have an affiliate or referral agreement with the product line to show it, as there’s been some “gray” areas regarding copyright and terms as is pertains to Pinterest. ADDITIONALLY! It’s also important to note that Pinterest may make money using your links in a referral capacity with companies such as Skim Links and others. They literally piggy back your link posted on the site to see if it goes to a retail site with an affiliate program. Upon finding referral coding it adds an affiliate code that ensures Pinterest will make some cash from sales that derive from that link. While not illegal (yet) it has brought them under some scrutiny.

Other things I didn’t do that you should:

  • USE #HASHTAGS AND REFERRING (truncated) LINKS IN YOUR PINS!
  • Include links back to your website and landing pages in your pins to drive traffic back to your website.
  • Create a “Follow Me On Pinterest” button for my site and social channels. You can also now add Pinterest to your Facebook account.
  • Use it like a focus group and crowdsource with it.
  • Create boards that you can use as competitive reference or trends within your industries.
  • Pinterest, as of yet, has not created a business “Page” model and therefore it might be said that there will be a redux in the process given that this is the case. I can’t imagine they won’t, as most LARGE social channel models have adopted this as standard practice.
  • Actively cross-fertilize your ‘pinning’ with your other social channels to boost traffic (important to note however it will NOT increase your SEO as has been prosthelytized until you turn your search engine “visability” on in your settings.)
  • If I get to do it again I think I will sort media too. I’d create specify boards for video vs. photos.
  • Also look for really “different” visuals. No one will click through on a default logo, but a beret wearing ferret riding a monkey that has a beret and AR15 rifle just might get you “repinned.”
  • Engage other pinners + make nice = more followers.

I should have looked at who’s doing it right before doing it at all:

As always, I’m making this stuff up as I grow up. Let me know your thoughts. All my best.

Michael Roberts

The latest social media site to join the ranks of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter is Pinterest. Haven’t heard of it? You will. With over 10 million users, it is quickly rivaling Google+ and YouTube for traffic.

For those of you who don’t know about Pinterest, it is a visual site that allows you to post or PIN pictures to your wall, or a wall of your choosing. It might seem more like a B2C site and it has been historically a strong site for people selling jewelry, crafts, or major retailers highlighting new products.

But lately, it has gotten some traction as a traffic generator for business marketers too. Here are a couple of considerations for including Pinterest in your social media marketing efforts.

  1. Pinterest is a visual medium, so think about the visuals you already have in your content library. These could be cool pics, images from the covers of your white papers or ebooks, visuals from your blog posts with links back to those posts, even pictures from behind the scenes at your company. All these could capture traffic from Pinterest and drive visitors back to your site.
  2. Expand your definition of visuals and you can include data and charts too. Graphs, charts, even illustrations communicate complex thoughts in a single picture. This type of content is perfect for Pinterest.
  3. Take photos of happy customers and PIN them as well. This gives everyone a warm and fuzzy feeling about your firm and helps potential prospects feel more familiar with your company and therefore more comfortable reaching out to you.
  4. Use dedicated landing pages associated with your pins so that you can track traffic from Pinterest and measure the effectiveness of your efforts.
  5. Comment on other people’s pins. This will give you some additional exposure and when people see your comments they might eventually find your site, your blog and your content.
  6. Promote your Pinterest content through other, more popular, social sites. Create a Tweet or a Facebook post that links to your Pinterest page. Pinterest is hot, so these extended networks might be interested in seeing what someone else is doing on a newer social site.

Check out our Pinterest page to see how we are using it to drive leads. Feel free to follow us and see our latest Pins! If you need help creating an ROI for your social media programs, we can help

Thank you,

Michael Roberts

On Tuesday, I shared the first installment of my article recounting Social Media Day  — an event sponsored by the teams at GTX Marketing and Fresh Consulting. I was honored to share the piece not only with my readers, but also folks like Mike Whitmore and Kathy Ireland. I was thrilled to see Part One circulating on Twitter and shared via friends on Facebook. Once again, the themes put forth at Social Media Day were brought home to my front door. If you share it, they will come.

When we re-convened after lunch, Jenny Kuglin (@jenkuglin) content manager and social media maven for Fisher Interactive, shared a story about news anchor, Kathi Goertzen. Kathi’s story highlighted the human connection people associate with a brand. In this case,KOMO News and Fisher Communications. Kathi had been off-air for some time in recent years as she battled (and continues to fight) a brain tumor. Kathi was hesitant to return to a place in front of the camera due to disfigurement from her disease. Jenny knew that people were curious about Kathi so the communications team at Fisher helped Kathi launch a Facebook page, which as of this article, has over 71,600 fans. She can also be found on YouTube, Twitter (@InspireHopeCure), and via her website. Nothing tangible is being exchanged, but Kathi has a story to share and people want to hear it. Content is king.

Though, in the words of Rod Brooks (@NW_Mktg_Guy) “Content is gold. Kings die; gold lives forever.” The theme of the afternoon was story and Jenny, Rod, and Paul Anderson(@ProLango) did a wonderful job of introducing the sociable side of social interaction. Yes, we were all on social media because we run businesses or work for companies where marketing and social presence matter. But few of us participate in social media with the intent to NOT make friends, as many of us enjoy when our interactions move off-screen to the in-person realm.

Rod stated, he is 90% personality, 10% business when it comes to social media. His advice, “Bring yourself to work.” Be genuine. Travel. Engage with the world. Be quirky and interesting. Rod talked about the wild success of the Northwest Profiles series of commercials and cards based on stereotypical Northwest personality types. Pemco realized that people didn’t necessarily want to talk about insurance, but you know what? “People want to talk about the neighbors,” said Rod. That became the key to Pemco’s marketing success and social amiability.

Jen, this time Jen Houston (@JHouston89) of Waggener Edstrom’s dynamic communications team, stepped on stage and delivered another talk relevant to the theme of story. “Content is the currency of influence,” said Jen. People still desire eye contact and human connection. Among her many morsels of social media advice, “Be a content guerrilla.” Pics, travel, drawings on napkins — capture your life and essence of who you are — this is your brand and your story. Know who your audience is and track where those people are. Monitor your brand and be engaging. “Nuance is necessary to engage.” Choose the channel that  best allows you to tell your nuanced story and bring value to your audience.

Jeff Dance (@Jeffdance) of Fresh Consulting delivered a talk about creativity and storytelling. Logging ideas is good for our brain. Drawing images is also good for our brain. Basically, we should strive to engage in a dance that complements both hemispheres of our brain. (Think  of the “Liger” from the famous movie, Napolean Dynamite.) People are craving meaning and simplification — and people remember stories. Where can we tell our stories, beyond the social media platforms discussed up to this point? In the About Us page on our websites. On WordPress analytics, the About Us page was the #1 most-visited page besides the homepage. Customers want to know who you are and what you bring to the proverbial table. Jeff closed with the sage advice, “Be educational, be useful, be entertaining … or be ignored.”

Heidi Miller (@heidimiller) was the final guest speaker and imparted valuable wisdom about the social media exchange. “Be yourself, share a picture of yourself, and don’t be a jerk,” she advised. Heidi reiterated what Rod had said — there’s no need to be all business. Share your integrated self, ask questions and engage in conversation with others. Don’t delete comments — EVER! As mentioned by Mike and other panelists — you must monitor your brand your social presence constantly. If an issue should arise via your social media network, one to two hours for a response is ideal, but more than twenty-four hours is too long. Heidi illustrated examples of TSA and Domino’s Pizza properly responding to customer feedback via a very public platform. There are polite ways to engage with even the most angry customer and your image depends on your response and handling of a situation.

Social Media Day was a blast to attend and and honor to photograph. I gained so much valuable information that my assistant and I have been working overtime trying to implement all the tidbits, buttons, and tags that we learned that sunny afternoon last weekend. Technology is changing the world we live in and I welcome the opportunity to keep up and engage. Thank you for reading and “walking with me” as Kathy Ireland stated at the event. If content is gold, I am feeling pretty golden right now and I can’t wait to share more stories, photos, and backs of napkins from my upcoming travels and photo shoots. If you’re new to Twitter, remember to follow the people mentioned in this piece (via the links provided or “@” symbol after their name). Of course, you can find me onFacebookYouTubeTwitter, and Pinterest.

Catch you on the social side.

~Trishann Couvillion (@fire_eyes) Fire Eyes Photography

About trcouvillion

Best Corporate Event Photographer and Business & Headshots Photographer in Seattle. Event Photography for many top Seattle and Silicon Valley companies work with Trishann Couvillion of Fire Eyes Photography and well known individuals such as Steve Ballmer; CEO and President of Microsoft, Dennis Miller, Christopher Gardner, Michael Lewis and many others have been photographed by her. Check out her Corporate Website @ http://www.fireeyesphotography.com