In the past few years, social has gone from being a consumer phenomenon to an enterprise opportunity. But many companies are struggling with how to implement strategies and realize ROI from their social investments.The new IBM Center for Applied Insights study, “Charting the social universe: Social ambitions drive business impact,” found that as many as 74% of social decision makers recognized that a social business uses social technology to foster collaboration among customers, employees and partners, but only 20% felt their companies were truly social.So how do companies navigate the social journey? The study found that companies adopt social capabilities through five primary social ambitions, or entry points -- distinct clusters of social capabilities aimed at realizing specific business goals.1. Drive internal and external collaborationCollaboration is the social starting point for many organizations, using capabilities such as enterprise social networks and collaborative applications to increase employee productivity and social media marketing to increase customer loyalty and advocacy. These capabilities are most often deployed via cloud for scalability and also via mobile apps for accessibility2. Build, educate and protect the workforceTo optimize workforce talent, this second ambition taps into capabilities such as recruiting, training, policy and security intelligence. The study found that 82% of companies surveyed already use social networks to recruit talent, making social a key part of recruiting strategy. And companies are also using social technology to train and keep the workforce informed3. Understand and engage customersWhile many organizations are starting to leverage capabilities such as customer analytics, social analytics and social CRM, most are not yet using that data to influence key engagement decisions. 70% of those surveyed who have deployed social analytics aren’t using them yet to influence decisions making this an ambition with untapped potential.4. Mine community expertiseBy leveraging capabilities such as onboarding, expert locaters and crowdsourcing apps, organizations are mining community expertise to increase employee productivity and optimize the workforce. 43% of companies rely on employee evangelists to kick-start social adoption, also relying on mobile-enabled social apps for enablement.5. Improve business processesThis is the most advanced social ambition, where organizations seek to embed social capabilities in their business processes, from accounting to supply chain management. 43% of companies surveyed set enterprise systems to default to embedded social capabilities. The most complex of the five, this social ambition requires a lot more strategic planning as well as buy-in from stakeholders across the organization.The study also revealed several key lessons that all companies should consider on their social journey, including pursuing an enterprise-wide strategy, continuous implementation, stakeholder engagement and tracking ROI.Find me on Twitter @cperanandam and share your thoughts about charting the social universe #IBMSocialStudy
Over the past few years, Facebook has literally taken over. Reportedly spending over $22 billion in acquisitions, the social media titan has expanded its presence through companies like Instagram, WhatsApp, and Parse. Now, with its extensive arsenal, the company has taken to teaming up and tackling a bigger business venture involving startups.With the company's new program FbStart, app developers can work with Facebook and its partners to turn their ideas into something that can be easily downloaded and desired by all. Oh, and did we forget to mention it's completely free?  Free "Goodies" Could Take Your Startup to the Next LevelFbStart was originally open only to developers who attended the annual f8 conference. It is now open to any developer with an app that has been live for more than 30 days on the Apple or Google Play app store. With applications pouring in from over 60 countries, Facebook has already accepted over 500 developers, and more than half are coming from outside the U.S.Once accepted, Facebook and its partners put the lucky company in one of two main tracks: the "Bootstrap Track" for startups that are newer and less established on the market (an $8,000 package of tools and services) or the "Accelerate Track" which is for more established and start-ups that are already growing (a $40,000 package with preferential status). Also, both will receive free Facebook Ad credit totaling five hundred dollars. How Social Networking Can Help You Create the Next Candy CrushWhile most of the apps are not worth much now, they could be potential "gold mines" for future advertising.  Facebook's Vijay Shankar wrote about the FbStart program in a blog post saying, "Facebook will offer events, programs, and best practices for participating developers, with the expectation of year-round opportunities to engage with the Facebook team. By providing mobile app developers with the essential services you need to get your business up and running or to take it to the next step of growth, we're hoping to help expand the overall app ecosystem."Building a $70 Billion Dollar Industry Even BiggerThe start-up program intends to help developers "build, grow, and monetize their apps using Facebook," along with the help of its partners who will help "with product testing, recruiting, customer care, video conferencing, document management and more." Tapping into this estimated $77 billion dollar market could mean big bucks for not only Facebook, but companies like Apple, Google, and Amazon; all of which have also been trying to increase their presence in the mobile world.According to a recent study conducted by Ad Age and RBC Capital Markets, about 84% of respondents reported using Facebook as their dominant social-media marketing channel. Most people have realized that desktop websites just won't cut it anymore, and that using mobile sites to help with marketing is crucial to reach customers. Starting your own site and making sure to have it optimized for mobile devices is a detail that many businesses are beginning to realize is of the utmost importance.Apply Today, Start Growing TomorrowHave more than one app you want to kick-start into high gear? Submit them both. Is your app not integrated with Facebook yet? They don't discriminate. While spots are filling up at an impressive rate, there is still some room left in Facebook's new venture. The first batch of developers expects to "graduate" as early as April 30, 2015. Apply today and watch your app grow.Here's a complete list of current FbStart partners:Adobe – Creative ServicesParse – Cloud ServicesAppurify – Mobile App TestingAsana – Project ManagementBlue Jeans – Cloud-based video collaboration serviceDesk.com – Customer support appHootsuite – Social media monitoringMailChimp – Email marketingProto.io – Mobile app prototypingQuip – Mobile Productivity suiteSurveyMonkey – Online survey platformTransifex – LocalizationUserTesting – Usability testingWorkable – RecruitmentAppmethod – Cross-platform app building Braintree – Mobile payment platformGet Satisfaction – Online customer connectionYou can visit developers.facebook.com for more information and applications. 
As a savvy marketer, you’re always on the lookout for new ways to connect with your audience and grow your bottom line, so why not YouTube?What’s not to love about fan engagement and authenticity with native video marketing campaigns? It seems like the perfect solution.Unfortunately, however, it’s not as simple as slapping a video on YouTube and praying for popularity. YouTube users’ diversity matches any marketing demographics’, and they’re even more discerning about what they’ll watch. Each subset has unique characteristics and desires that you need to tap into to build an audience for your product.Take Honda, for example. The car manufacturer created a stir this summer when it heavily slashed its TV spending in favor of a music-oriented YouTube channel called “Honda Stage.” Executives were highly optimistic about the venture — which was supposed to serve as the linchpin of a wider branded entertainment web effort — but the campaign didn’t deliver, garnering less than 50,000 views within 24 hours of its release.YouTube isn’t so much about the content as it is about the personalities and distribution. Indeed, it almost doesn’t matter what video you upload — it will do infinitely better if you upload it to a channel with a lot of subscribers.Honda went wrong by trying to elbow its way through the mass of YouTube creators, rather than hitching a ride with someone at the front of that crowd.In other words, if you want to be successful on YouTube, don’t pick up a camera. Reap the Benefits of a Content PartnershipIf you’ve paid attention to the shifting digital marketing environment, you already know that YouTube is worth your time. The platform’s revenue grew 51 percent in 2013 and accounts for more than 6 billion hours of viewership per month.What you might not know is how effective content partnerships can be in helping you make a human connection with those numbers. YouTube partnerships help you:Produce authentic and enthusiastic branded content. At the end of the day, content creators control the YouTube platform and the media that’s uploaded on it.Viewers trust that YouTube influencers won’t sign deals with brands that aren’t accurate representations of their values. This creates a powerful level of authenticity and trust between the stars and their audience, which is extended to your brand.Further your reach into desirable demographics. Taco Bell wasted no time in partnering with YouTube star FreddieW on a Fiery DLT commercial that gained more than 1 million views. The ad aired across ESPN, CBS, MTV, and more, and it showcased the tangential benefits of working with a YouTube star: access to a stellar social media network.By partnering with one YouTube influencer, a brand like Taco Bell rides the wave of popularity into his large social media footprint. It also expands its reach into the star’s desirable 18- to 35-year-old demographic, which makes up 30 percent of YouTube video views every month.Increase engagement with native content. Kmart has also embraced YouTube video marketing, creating its own YouTube show “First Day,” featuring popular Internet star Molly McAleer. The show, now in its second season, features outfits and costumes exclusively from Kmart. It costs a fraction of major network shows or network TV airtime and focuses on the most promising numbers out there: native ad space.Over the past 15 years, display ad engagement has fallen from 9 percent to barely 2 percent. Compared to the 25 percent likelihood that a consumer will look at a native ad, it’s clear which strategy provides the biggest advantage.Partner With the Right YouTube TalentThere’s always a caveat, isn’t there?Don’t expect to see these benefits unless you take the time to identify and nurture a relationship with the right YouTube talent for your brand. Use these four tips to ensure that you connect with a partner who will deliver authentic content that aligns with your marketing goals:1. Start the Planning Process With YouTube in MindIt’s the brands that reach out first that connect with the best and brightest rising stars. Plan your marketing process with YouTube in mind from the beginning.2. Align Your Brand With the Right Content VerticalsContent verticals run YouTube, and audiences are driven to these verticals based on level of interest. To stay relevant, understand what type of content your audience is interested in, and identify the right YouTube star for that topic.3. Make the Message ClearThe most effective campaigns are organized around a clear marketing message. The more focused your message is, the more likely your content creator can relay it effectively to the audience.4. Don’t Control — CollaborateYouTubers devote a lot of time and energy to planning their videos to maximize engagement and audience retention. Rather than risk destroying that creative element, view work with YouTubers as collaboration — not outright ownership of the content and creative idea. By fostering a dynamic relationship with a content creator, you won’t limit yourself to one-time partnerships or limited campaigns.In any industry, the challenge presented by online marketing is turning prospective customers into enthusiastic brand fans on a tight budget. That’s where the benefits of strategic YouTube content partnerships and native video marketing come into play. Get more engagement on a smarter budget by embracing YouTube content partnerships — and the reach that comes with them.
Marketing – this one word can either make or break your business. The sooner you realize this, the better. Because other business owners are struggling with their marketing efforts, I’d like to share with you 10 marketing tips that are proven and tested to work. How do I know that these tips work? Simple. I used them myself!If you’re looking marketing strategies that you can use for your business, then you can use my tips as your starting point. However, before you even start using any of them, I’d like to emphasize how there is no one-size-fits-all marketing strategy for all types of businesses (as you can probably imagine). That said, I urge you to customize my tips based on the important elements that revolve around your business (I.e. your target market, your product, demographics, etc…).Let’s get this started.1.) Think inside-out. Establish your website first.The truth is, people tend to be very judgemental. If they visit your site and see that it is poorly designed, chances are good that they’ll find you less credible and not worth their business. You and I probably feel the same way too. If you aren’t sure about how you’ll feel, then let me ask you – would you do business with a merchant with this kind of website?I didn’t think so.  So before you think about telling others about your website, you have to make sure that it’s already completed or perhaps established to a certain extent. Telling others about your website when it still looks crappy can gravely damage your brand.2.) Start guest postingGuest posting is so simple to do there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it. Even if you haven’t done it yet, you probably have a good idea of how it works.1.) Look for high quality and niche related sites.2.) Contact the webmaster and ask if you can contribute to their site.3.) Wait for their reply.4.) Send them a well written article according to their guidelines if they say, “sure, send the article over”.5.) They’ll then post your article with your link in it.It’s that simple. That’s the gist of the process. Others make it sound like guest posting is rocket science when in fact it isn’t. So you might be wondering, what kind of benefits will you get from guest posting? I’m glad you asked.1.) It helps you establish your credibility as an expert in your niche – this breeds trust.2.) It can help bring tons of traffic to your website. This of course increases your chances of converting these viewers to paying customers.3.) It helps your website rank on search results which is one of the best ways (if not the best) to bring in thousands or even millions of traffic to your site.4.) You can do it for free. Though other sites might require you to pay.If you want a comprehensive guide on how to guest post, then check out my article about “The A to Z Guide to Guest Posting That Will Help You Grow Your Blog”. With the comprehensive guide that I wrote, you can start guest posting immediately after you’ve completed reading the guide.3.) Don’t use all the social media platforms you can get your hands on.Make no mistake, social media marketing isn’t free. While creating an account is free, keeping your account active and networking costs a lot of time and resources. And if you’re spending your resources on social media platforms where your target audience isn’t prevalent, then your marketing efforts would have been little to no avail. Instead of getting your business profile plastered on all the social media platforms you can get your hands-on, you’ll get better results (while spending less) if you just focus your resources on platforms where your target audience usually hangout. Using 2 – 3 social media platforms (depending on your budget) is a good number to start with.4.) Do not compromise your web content’s quality.Thinking that you have to produce fresh content daily is a common misconception that business owners fall for. Publishing 2 – 3 posts weekly is a good enough number. You can even produce 1 post per week if you’re publishing something that’s so comprehensive and thorough. If you publish a long post that’s packed with game changing tips, your readers will love you more than the sites who publish low quality to mediocre posts daily. The key here is to give your readers what they want. We all know that in most cases, people read because they have a problem that they want solved. It’s your job to determine what that problem is and to solve that problem by publishing something that answers it.The more problems you solve, the more credibility you build as a business. This of course can easily turn your site visitors from simply readers to buyers. Think pull marketing. Creating quality  content is one of its core elements so you should never compromise its quality in any way shape or form.5.) Create a Linkedin account. Start connecting and prospecting.If you aren’t in the know, Linkedin is the social media platform where  professionals and business owners hangout. You won’t see anyone there posting selfies or talking about how awesome their biceps are since the users are more focused on business and career. This is a great place for you to market, connect and establish yourself as an authority by giving expert advice to others. This is especially true since Linkedin just recently released a feature where you can now publish long posts.With this feature, you can start sharing in-depth advice to your target market and position yourself as an expert in the field. You can easily get referrals and endorsements from other users who can ultimately help you get more customers. Here’s a Linkedin marketing guide that I wrote that you REALLY need to take a look at – Warning: These Out-of-the-Box Linkedin Marketing Tips Are EXTREMELY Actionable and Effective6.) Allow others to republish your postHold on. I know what you’re about to say. You’re about to tell me how this can get your site penalized, right? While you may be correct, you’re also mistaken if you think that’s all there is to it. There’s a proper way of doing this so it won’t damage your site. Think about sites like Search Engine Journal. What if someone contacts you from that site asking permission to repost your content since they liked what you’ve written. Do you just say no? Can you imagine how much of an opportunity you’d have missed if you did that?Search Engine Journal has over 5 million visitors monthly. If they repost your article with your link in it, this usually leads to thousands of traffic headed to your site. So what exactly do you do? Fortunately for you, if SEJ is the one who contacted you, they already know how to properly repost a content. But if there are other sites who are asking to repost your content, you need to consider these.1.) You need to tell them to use a rel canonical tag that would tell the search engines to credit the original source of the content which is your site.* Note – Simply adding a link in the content saying that you are the source isn’t enough. Something like this can still hurt your site. Just ask them to add a rel canonical tag and you should be good to go.2.) Check their site’s quality just to make sure that it isn’t spammy. If it is, then I suggest you don’t allow reposting.3.) If their site is of good quality then there’s no reason for you to say no.Here’s a post a Quicksprout.com that talks about the dangers of other sites reposting your content and what to do about it.7.) Comment marketingIf anyone tells you that this strategy doesn’t work, I’ll tell you right now that they either haven’t tried it, or they DID try it but didn’t do it the right way. Before you do comment marketing, you need to consider these points.1.) Make sure that the post/content you are commenting on is relevant to your target audience.2.) You need to make sure that the website you’re commenting on has a decent amount of monthly visitors. Checking for social shares is also a good strategy.A good way to determine the site’s estimated monthly visitor is to use similarweb.com.3.) Make sure that your content provides value to the readers. You’ll never achieve anything if you just add a one liner comment on the post.4.) Make the readers want to contact you after reading your comment. An effective way to do this is to give a solid advice and add something intriguing at the end of your comment.Maybe something like this…“While there are a couple more strategies that we implemented that helped grow our website’s traffic by 3 folds, what I shared above can do you wonders. Contact me if you need more help.”5.) What I also like to do is add a signature on my comment. This is the signature I use.“Jimmy R.Freelance Writerhttp://guildofbloggers.com”This makes it a lot easier for them to contact me. And if they are looking for someone to help them with their writing projects, seeing how I’m a Freelance Writer will help remind them of that need. This then increases my chances of being contacted and offered more projects.8.) Join groups and forums where your target audience hangout. In short – network.The strategies I implement on this tip is quite similar to how I do my comment marketing. The websites I frequent on are Linkedin, OpenForum and Inbound.org. I tried joining the groups in Facebook but it just isn’t working for me. You need to show genuine concern for others if you want to succeed in networking. Without it, they won’t see you as anything more than just another person desperately spamming their links. Instead of downright pitching your services, I urge you to ask about their needs first and talk about how you can help them. Offering your help first makes them want to know more about you. It opens bridges and is a good way for you to establish relationships with others.9.) By using a powerful sales copy, transition your social tribe’s mindset from being a reader to a buyer.If you’re wondering whether or not marketing on social media platforms is worth the time and resources, you need to consider these points…1.) There are roughly 1.4 billion Facebook users worldwide.2.) The amount of time people use in Facebook is roughly about 700 billion minutes monthly.3.) There is an average of roughly 190 million Tweets made DAILY.These numbers tell us one thing – people hang out on social media sites and they love being there! And if your customers are on there, wouldn’t it make sense for you to be on social media sites as well?If you’re new to social media marketing, you need to remember that the main challenge is usually to shift the mindset of your viewers from simply browsing and consuming content, to making them want to buy. Using a landing page coupled with a strong sales copy is the perfect solution for that. It’s important to note that a strong sales copy’s purpose is to get your readers to buy and not to entertain them. Other business owners tend to think that provided the copy reads well and does not have any grammar mistakes, it’ll do well as a sales copy. They can never be farther from the truth. More than not having any grammar mistakes and the write-up reading well, there are usually a couple of sales psychology/techniques used within a well written sales copy. These techniques can be as minute as using a “-” over a “.” or even aligning your copy’s text or not. Some of these points can be quite subtle yet it affects the overall impact of your copy’s ability to convert.The article 12-Step Foolproof Sales Letter Template by David Frey (Founder of Marketingprofs.com) is by far the best resource I’ve seen when it comes to creating a powerful sales copy.10.) Repurpose your content to increase it’s mileage.Because producing quality content can be expensive, you need to get as much mileage out of your published contents. There are a couple of ways to go about doing this. You can turn your written content into videos, Infographics and slideshow presentations (among many others). You can then publish them on different platforms to increase your business’ visibility on the web.What next?While reading and learning is important, it will all be useless in the end if you don’t apply what you’ve learned. That said, don’t just read and have those “aha!” moments without actually acting on the things that you’ve read which you found valuable to growing your business.Let’s hear it from you.Whether you have questions, ideas, or tips about marketing that you’d like to share, don’t hesitate to do so in the comments section below. I look forward to reading your comments.Photo attribution: Featured image courtesy of jiggoja at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
These days community building seems to have a major focus on Social Media. How to attract followers in their thousands, how to be available 24 hours a day to engage with your audience and how to listen socially, are all topics you’re likely to come across. Search any popular search engine for the term “Online Community” and you’ll get an idea of what I’m talking about.While Social Media does have its place when building your community, there are other areas you need to focus on in order to connect on a deeper, more meaningful level. Today I’ll show you where your attention needs to be drawn to and why it’s crucial to your on-going success.Social Media and Owned CommunitiesBefore I dig deeper into the benefits an online community can have for your business, it’s important to define what’s meant by the term “Online Community”.In this instance I’m not talking about a Facebook Group or a list of engaged users on Twitter. In this day and age, it’s simply not enough for you to post the odd Tweet here and there or a couple of updates on your Facebook Page.To really be successful, you need to have a more comprehensive approach to social business. This will involve using your company website as a central hub for communication, having dedicated forums where you can communicate directly with your customers and a functional internal communication system to ensure your staff are all on the same page.Essentially you’re taking your Social Media efforts to the next level. You’re upping your game to something with far more potential.Online Communities and SEOThere are many benefits to building online communities. One of those being the SEO benefits it can have for your organisation’s website.Google algorithm updates such as panda and penguin removed many of the old ways of ‘doing SEO.’ They represent the lengths to which Google will go to try to weed out poor or low-quality content.Everyone who wants their websites to rank well within search engines and are looking for an approach that will overcome the inevitable issues which arise every time they change something. They want a way of doing SEO that goes beyond just chasing algorithms – something which building online communities does.Building an online community can be a better approach than its digital marketing alternatives, because it’s authentic, genuine and provides valuable information.Online Communities and Relationship BuildingCommunity building brings you what no other SEO or web marketing effort will - relationships with real people. Word-of-mouth is and continues to be the most trusted form of advertising available to businesses and in order to thrive today businesses must earn attention and build an audience, a.k.a. a community.By doing so you are opening up to industry influencers, colleagues, people who will read and share your content (which also raises the profile of your brand), current and potential customers and more. By attracting those customers at a lower cost you are beating your competition, finding new niches and verticals for your business, and, above all, building a much better business.Not only this but by building an online community, you actively create a network of online supporters and friends via the targeted distribution of valuable content - it’s the most sustainable approach to marketing on the web.Overall it’s time to stop thinking about online communities as just another social network to update. Forget about Social Media for a second and think about some of the best conversations you’ve had in the past, conversations that go over the 140 character limit.Those are the conversations you need to be having both within your organisation and with the customers you serve. Conversations that build awareness, influence and value. Your website should be at the heart of those conversations, creating connections that will nurture trust with your customers that will last for years to come.