The Timeline: The Facebook Timeline

Whether you love it or hate it, the Facebook timeline is here, and it is soon coming for brands. I manage the Facebook pages for a few clients as well as the page of my employer, Roop & Co, and  as I logged in this week I received a notice that brand pages would be changing on March 30, 2012. While I think this is an exciting change, I’m actually one of those weird people that likes change, it does scare me a bit. What will we include on the timeline? How do we determine corporate milestones? What will be our main picture?

While I have reached out to both my clients and co-workers for ideas, I am still searching for what is best for a brand in the new look of Facebook. We will need to be creative, informative and compelling. In fact, it is as if we are re-inventing the entire Facebook strategy. The page is changing, so maybe this is a great way to start re-thinking what we are doing right when it comes to Facebook and what are the areas in which we need to improve.

As I have been thinking about the new Facebook strategy, I found this article from Mashable extremely helpful. This article provides tips and guidelines one can use when looking at the new Facebook timeline for a brand. Maybe it isn’t such a dauting task? And, still looking for some inspiration? Here are some creative brand pages currently on the site.

Lost in the Shuffle? Traditional Customer Service in a Social Media World

Over and over again, when someone talks about social media, most likely he or she is going to mention the fact that it allows consumers to become more engaged with a brand – it builds a connection. Yet, while social media allows for consumers to interact directly with a brand, and quickly in most cases, what does it mean for traditional customer service?

I admit; I cannot remember the last time I called an 800 number of a brand to voice a complaint. Instead, I take to social media. For example, this past week, I received a phishing email from Lucky Brand indicating that I had placed an order with them, which was not the case. I tried calling the company’s 800 number, but it was busy. So, instead I took to both Twitter and Facebook to try to figure things out. Unfortunately, the company did not respond to my Twitter post, but I found others who had been impacted. But the company did respond via Facebook. Also, it was on Facebook where I found that others experienced the issue. The brand did not respond until later in the afternoon. It amazed me that I was able to get a response via a social media site and not by picking up the phone. So does this mean that traditional customer service is a thing of the past?

The answer is yes and no. Yes, more and more people are going to social media sites for immediate responses to customer service. And, yes, brands interact with consumers, but there is still a place for traditional customer service in today’s “social” world.

Sometimes you just need to speak to a person to sort through issues. In addition, there have been times where I have been asked to call the 800 number via a Twitter post so more details could be given about that particular issue. A brand can really delve into a problem over the phone. Social media may not be the correct medium for that. My suggested approach: look to social media if you need a quick answer to a minor problem. Also, go there if you aren’t getting answers over the phone. But, if you are having a major issue, call the company. Conversation is the best way to communicate. Plus, there are times when things get lost in translation in a post.

This recent article from Mashable discusses the place of tradtional customer service in today’s social world. Also, it is critical to follow the 10 Commandments of Customer Service regardless of the medium. Is there anything missing?

The Power of Real-Time Social Media

Today tragegy struck Northeast Ohio – a teenager opened fire in a cafteria before school started killing one and wounding four others. And while the entire city of Cleveland and the country mourn and ask questions, I am amazed at the role social media played in educating the public about this tragic occurence.

This morning when I first heard the news, I immediately went to Facebook and Twitter to see what what posted. By 9 a.m. Chardon, Ohio was one of the top-trending topics in the world on Twitter. A small town 30 miles east of Cleveland was making national news both on and off line. Yet, not only were news stations posting updates, but students were also posting to Twitter telling about what was unfolding inside.

This article compiled tweets from students who were in the high school when the chaos errupted. It shows their fear; saddness; compassion and overall hope that everything is going to be ok. Too many times I think we look at Twitter as a way to share information, but we forget about the power social media holds in truly impacting an individual.

I’ll admit, as I read those tweets my heart breaks. I couldn’t imagine what those teenagers were going through at that time. How could they be possibly processing all of that information? Yet, they took comfort in something that was familiar to them – social media. They were sharing their experience as they do on a daily basis -this time it was just something so much bigger than any of us could ever comprehend.

Today’s tragedy and seeing it unfold in social media made me think about how social media has changed our world. In August of 2011, people tweeted about the accident that was unfolding at a Sugarland concert at the Indiana State Fair. And as with today’s tragegy in Chardon, people were using social media as a way to communicate – asking what happened, if everyone was ok and what was being done.

Everything that happened today is a reminder. A reminder that social media is human. There are people behind pages and handles, and that the true power of social media lies within that. These are the individuals telling the stories and having these experiences.  Social media gives people a voice, and it is a voice that can be heard by many.

Tonight, my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families of this horrific event in Chardon.

The ages-old question: What makes a good blog?

Yes, I have a blog, but it doesn’t mean that it is any good. While I may find that my musings and perspective on emerging media is the greatest thing since sliced bread, others may not. While I may find my writing style entertaining and informative, others may not. So this leads me to one question: what makes a good blog?

Many have discussed this topic, but I thought it was one to revisit since it is subjective. The following are components that I feel make a good blog.

  1. A Compelling Headline. Yes, you need to capture a reader’s interest. And if you are simply writing headlines that don’t allow the reader to want to read more, then you have failed. Be creative and have fun.
  2. Conversational. This isn’t formal writing. It’s blogging. People want to hear the voice of the blogger and not a brand. They want to see personality come through. Need some help in becoming more conversational? Check out these tips.
  3. Timely. We live in a need-to-know-now world. No longer do we wait until the evening news to get the day’s headlines. Instead, we go online. The same needs to be true of a blog. Talk about topics that are top-of-mind and current. While some topics are timeless (like this one), others have a shelf life. Make sure your blog post isn’t developed past its expiration date.
  4. Strong writing. Yes, a blog isn’t formal, but it still should possess correct grammar and supported points. With so many blogs out there, writing can truly make it stand out. In fact, great writing can make a boring topic intriguing. 
  5. Humor. Yes, be funny and invoke some personality in the writing. A blog doesn’t need to be a stand-up comedy routine, but it should be entertaining and have hints of humor.
  6. Engaging. Ask your readers questions. Have a discussion and do not just talk at them. If you are going to do this, then develop a white paper or a news article. A blog is not the tactic for this type of communication.
  7. Passion. Be passionate about the topic. If you are blogging about it, it must be something near and dear to your heart. If not, then you may want to reconsider blogging about that topic and turn your attention to another area of focus. Let the passion come through in your writing.

These are my requirements for a great blog. Am I missing anything on this list?

Mobile Advertising: Is It The New Trend?

One of the few constants with emerging media is the fact that with each given year there will be a new trend. And according to some, 2012 will be the year of mobile advertising.

In a recent article from Mashable, one of the reasons 2012 is being deemed the year of mobile advertising is the fact mobile is coming of age. And, it truly is. Think about when mobile first came into play. They were text messages. Today, they are videos that are interactive. Consumers want to engage with the brand. But technology isn’t the only thing that is changing the focus of consumers. Consumers are looking for more and more ways to go mobile.

Today, we cannot live without our phones. How many times do you feel lost without it? Now, think about how many times you have used an app to make a reservation, check in for a flight and then watch a movie. Probably too many to count on one hand. Consumers are crazy for mobile, and in our constantly on-the-go society mobile advertising is a great way for marketers to reach consumers.

Yet, will there be resistance to mobile by consumers? It seems like this is just another way for marketers to reach us. And, yes, from a marketing perspective I love this idea, but as a consumer, do I need to be connected to advertising 24/7 as well?

In a study conducted by Park Associates they found that nearly 40% of those interviewed were not receptive to receiving advertisements via their mobile phone. Granted, the study was conducted three years ago, but it does show that people are going to be resistant to this change. Just because more and more people are having smartphones, does not necessarily mean they are receptive to advertisements. The bright spot: in the same survey those in the younger generation were open to online advertisements.

With such a large investment being made in mobile, do you think marketers’ efforts are futile since people are still resistance, or is this a great way to reach a younger audience?

Super Sunday: Twitter and its Social Media Strength

By now, we have all recovered from Super Bowl Sunday festivities, and we have gone about our normal daily routines. Well, unless you are still sulking in the Patriots loss and celebrating the Giants victory.

According to NBC News, this Super Bowl was the most watched event in American history, but the Super Bowl didn’t only set records on the airwaves, it also set them on Twitter. In fact, according to an article in the Washington Post, there were 12,233 tweets per second at the end of the game. This demonstrates one thing: the power of social media, and in particular, Twitter.

I knew this week’s blog post would have to center on the Super Bowl, but I wasn’t quite sure as to how. Would I focus on Madonna’s halftime performance, or would I focus on the fact that Peyton Manning was never shown during the telecast? Or could I talk about how Gieselle Bunchen’s comments about New England’s receivers went viral? The options were endless, but when I saw the statistic on how many tweets were sent, I knew I had my topic.

While many have questioned the power of Twitter (how can you fully express yourself in 140 characters?), the microblogging site is experiencing tremendous growth with more and more people flocking to it. One of the reasons to explain the site’s growth is word of mouth. Simply put, people are talking about the site and wanting to see what it has to offer. A study conducted by MIT found that early adopters of Twitter were young techies in cities such as Boston and San Francisco. When these individuals started to talk about the site, buzz grew and more and more people found the power that is Twitter.

One of the most powerful components of Twitter is that it allows individuals to engage with both individuals and brands. Twitter places a wide variety of information on a vast amount of topics at your fingertips. In fact, according to Twitter’s Adam Bain, 80% of Twitter users click on a link to find out more information. The other 20% either retweet or tweet. These statistics provide strong insight into what Twitter brings to the table for companies and individuals. Twitter affords people the opportunity to share information – articles, surveys, videos, pictures and more.

Twitter celebrated Super Sunday with a super strong showing, and this momentum should carry it through the kickoff to next football season and beyond. But, what do you think? Is Twitter going to maintain its strong position? Or, is it even the strongest social medium out there?

Content is King

You have a brand website. You have a blog. You have social media networks. You have banner ads. And, yes the list of tools and resources you utilize on a daily basis to extend your brand’s awareness and educate consumers goes on and on and on. But, how do you make sure that you have fresh and interesting content to keep consumers coming back for more? 

Content is key to the success of your emerging media efforts. Even back in 1996, Bill Gates commented that content would be king of the internet kingdom and drive its overall success. But as Gates points out, the word “content” takes on an even broader meaning now that marketing has shifted to an online presence.  No longer is content simply just newsletter stories. It is videos, podcasts, tweets and Facebook posts. It is the lifeblood of the brand, and it must be interesting enough for people to share with others, and it must encourage people to interact with the brand. If it does not accomplish these two objectives, then you may have to rethink your content…and overall emerging media strategy.

Ask questions. Be creative. Provide thought leadership on trends. Check out this recent article from USA Today for more tips. And while it may be geared toward small business owners, it provides valuable ideas that any brand can use – regardless of size.

Yet, how do you plan for great content? Yes, sometimes inspiration just comes to you, but let’s face it, even the greatest marketer hits creative roadblocks. I tend to either brainstorm or walk away from the task and work on a completely different project. Yes, I know these are two very different approaches, but each has proven beneficial to me. Maybe those suggestions will help you, maybe they will not. This list also provides some great ideas to get those creative content juices flowing. Are there any creative content approaches that are missing?