Category Archives: Social Media

Five Must Consider Marketing Strategies for 2011

Whether your organization is “flying high” or “getting by,” it is unquestionably in your best interest to always evaluate minimum-investment, maximum-return marketing strategies as key components of your marketing plan. Following are Sweeney’s Top 5 “Must Consider” strategies for 2011 – strategies we believe cannot be overlooked and whose value should not be underestimated:

Publicity & Media Relations. Though a standard in the world of public relations, publicity and media relations have never held more potential for organizations seeking to increase awareness through traditional and online media outlets. Publicity and media relations 2.0 allow you to secure print, broadcast and online media coverage to reach target audiences with both company and product information in a cost-efficient manner. In the process you are also creating valuable content that can be used to enhance your web site and enhance your search ranking.

Online Advertising. As an addition or alternative to traditional print and broadcast advertising, online advertising (both display and PPC) can help you will build awareness while also driving traffic to your web site – traffic that you can monitor and evaluate. You can control costs, messaging and placement in both a test and campaign environment.

E-mail Marketing. The regular distribution of email to existing or rented databases is an effective, fast and efficient strategy for staying in front of and engaging target audiences (customers, prospects, distributors, retailers, etc.). E-mail marketing allows you to monitor, measure, evaluate and respond to recipient actions almost immediately.

Social Media Marketing. The use of social networks, online communities, blogs, wikis or any other online collaborative media – allows you to produce and share content, generate and participate in conversations and establish a trusted presence among target audiences. As with the other strategies, you can manage your involvement and costs while achieving desired results.

Creative. The difference between a good and great campaign is often determined by the creative. The ad that gets responses, the brochure that gets read, the business card that elicits calls, the e-mail that gets opened and clicked… they all have one thing in common – an impactful creative design and compelling creative message. This is one corner you don’t want to cut.

Need help implementing these marketing and public relations strategies or others?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

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10 Ways to Increase Online Video Views

We recently shot short educational videos on a hot topic in our industry. How can we utilize these videos online?

By Jennifer Manocchio

Online video is a great marketing tool and has many benefits from search engine optimization to brand building and increasing sales. However, “if you build it they will come” isn’t necessarily true for online video. You need to drive traffic to the video in order to achieve results.

Assuming your video has good, relevant content, following are 10 ways to increase traffic to your video online.

• Post the video on video sharing sites and your website. Ensure the video is optimized so it has the potential to start appearing in search results. Inc. magazine has a good article about optimizing video. You can find it here: http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/05/search-engine-optimization-for-video.html
• If you can determine a news angle for your video, develop a news release about the video or a news release where the video can support the content (e.g. product instructions, product performance tips) and distribute the release and video through news distribution channels like Business Wire or PR Newswire. If the video is non-promotional, send the news release with the video link to your media list and encourage media to use the video.
• Post the video on your blog. If you have multiple videos, post one video per week.
• Post the video on your Facebook page. If you have multiple videos, post one video per week.
• Post a link on Twitter to your Facbook page, blog, website or YouTube Channel promoting the video. Again, post one per week if you have multiple videos.
• Incorporate the video into current or new email marketing campaigns (promotional emails, e-newsletters, etc.).
• Share the video with your sales force and all employees.
• Share the video with bloggers.
• If the video content correlates with speaking engagements, use it to promote speaking opportunities. If you receive the attendee list for a trade show or conference, you can email a link of a video to increase attendance at the presentation.
• If the video content correlates with sales or educational presentations, include the video in the presentations and provide a website address where the audience can find more relevant videos.

Have video and want to promote it or would like to start using video as a marketing strategy? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

What Content Should I Post on Twitter?

I just started a Twitter account for our company.  How often should I post and what should the content include?

___________________________________________________________By Jennifer Manocchio

Let’s start by discussing what not to talk about.  Avoid tweets on how you were stuck in a traffic jam on the way to work, what you ate for lunch, and how you cannot wait for the weekend.  Sorry to be so blunt, but no one cares.

Of course, there is always an exception to the rule.  If you have a product or service that helps you remain calm while sitting in a traffic jam (e.g. books on tape, or meditation), then by all means tie that in.  Also, if your Twitter account is a fictitious spokesperson like Tony the Tiger or the Aflac duck, then it can be appropriate to include fun facts or exciting things that the icon is doing.

As far as how often you should post, we recommend between 3-10 posts per day.  While that might seem overwhelming at first, you can use software that will allow you to write posts in advance and automatically update Twitter for you.

Prior to deciding what content you will be posting, be sure to set your goals for Twitter (e.g. increasing traffic, driving web site traffic, driving blog traffic, increasing sales, etc.) and your expectations.  This will help you determine what to post and if the strategy has been successful.

Then, keeping in mind the goals you want to achieve, start Tweeting!  If you are unsure what types of content to use at first, below are some tips on what you can post to get started and continue to maintain an active presence on Twitter.

  • General tips/factoids about the industry you service.  Be sure these tips will appeal to your target audience and aren’t too self-serving.
  • Quality industry articles that your target audience will see as being helpful or interesting at their job or in their daily lives.
  • News coverage about your company, product or service.  Be careful not to overdue the news coverage.  For example, if you distributed a news release and received good pickup, select the best story for your Twitter account.
  • If you have a blog, include a link to your blog posts on a regular basis.
  • Announcements about company speaking engagements and trade shows you are attending/exhibiting.
  • If you develop online videos, link to those videos.
  • Monitor Twitter conversations that mention your product, brand or expertise and respond publicly to any questions or retweet (RT) customer kudos.

Do We Need A Facebook and/or Twitter Account?

We are evaluating adding social media to our marketing mix, specifically Facebook and Twitter accounts. Is this a good marketing strategy?

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By Jennifer Manocchio

Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites can be an excellent addition to your marketing strategy, but it all depends on what goals you are trying to achieve.  You don’t want to invest in social media marketing because it is the latest trend and “everyone else is doing it”.

Just like any other marketing strategy, social media requires a time and money investment.  It is a long-term strategy and requires a certain level of commitment from internal staff.  Sure the sites don’t cost a dime to create an account, but you will need to support social media in order to increase followers, increase engagement, and continue to manage these sites.

The first step to effectively evaluating social media is to answer the following questions:

1.  What are your goals for getting involved in social media (engage your target audience, create leads, generate sales, provide customer service support, etc.)?

2.  What do you expect to gain from the social media involvement (enhance reputation, increase sales, reduce phone calls to call center, etc.)?

3.  What level of commitment (time and money) are you willing to make to achieve a successful social media effort?

4.  Is social media the most efficient and effective strategy to achieve your goals?  Can other strategies (e.g., advertising, direct marketing, publicity, etc.) be equally or more effective?

Also, I highly recommend reading a great article published in Advertising Age – Ten Things Social Media Can’t Do — to set accurate expectations on what social media can and cannot do.

If after answering the questions above you feel social media will be a good addition to your marketing mix, then use your answers to start developing a social media strategy.

Identify what sites you will utilize, what the focus of the content will be (product reviews, customer service inquires/answers, special promotions, educational content, etc.), who will be the face of your company, frequency of updates, time commitment, how results will be measured and how often.

Too many companies view social media (blogs, videos, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) as a quick and easy solution to create sales, but in truth, it is no less time consuming and costly as more traditional strategies.  However, if done properly, social media will generate results and help support your overall marketing strategy.

Need a social media strategy and support with implementation?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

What to Expect When Launching an Online Product Sampling Campaign

We are launching an online product sampling campaign and are wondering how many product requests we should expect?

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By Jennifer Manocchio

Online product sampling campaigns can be very successful in building company and product awareness, increasing product trial and driving sales. However, the success of the campaign and what to anticipate as far as product distribution really depends on a number of factors.

First, what type of product are you offering?  Does it have a broad reach?

Second, how do you intend to launch the online product sampling campaign?  Online advertising, email, blogs, Facebook, Twitter or a combination?

Third, what is the duration of the campaign?  Weeks, months, etc.?

Finally, are there any geographic boundaries on the shipment of the free product samples?

Since consumers tend to respond well to free product samples, see recent blog post “Product Sampling Proven to Drive Sales”, the campaign can easily go viral and word can quickly spread like wildfire online.

For example, we recently launched a blogger review and product sampling campaign for a leather and carpet cleaner. Twenty-seven leading bloggers, including mommy bloggers, pet and equine bloggers tested the products, wrote positive reviews on their blogs and encouraged readers to sign-up for a free product sample.  The offer for free product samples spread rapidly online.  We achieved more than 300 blog, Twitter and Facebook posts about the sampling campaign that drove tens of thousands of consumers rushing to the web site.

If you are concerned about receiving too many product requests, simply put a cap on how many full and/or trial size products you are willing to distribute.   For example, “the first 500 consumers to sign-up will receive a full-size sample, and the next 1,000 will receive a sample size product.”  This will also help ensure a quick response to your offer.

Launching a product sampling campaign and need help developing the strategy, implementing and measuring the campaign?  Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

Publicity vs. Social Media

We are launching several new products this year and budgets remain tight (less than $10,000/product launch); will we get more bang for the buck with publicity or social media?

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By Jim Sweeney

Allow me to assert that the old adage – you get what you pay for – applies equally to publicity and social media. Regardless of what you may have heard about publicity being free and social media being even more free, it is all a lie perpetuated by people with small brains.

If your goal is to establish awareness of the new products and build brand – both corporate and product – then publicity is the more likely investment.  If strategized and implemented properly, publicity will net media coverage (print, radio, TV, online) that reaches your target audiences, creates awareness, educates and generates interest.  It may also drive audiences to your web site or Facebook page or even to the store, but good luck tracking that activity and connecting those dots.

If your goal is to generate interest or “buzz” and drive traffic to a microsite, website or online store, then social media is the more likely investment.  If strategized and implemented properly, social media marketing will reach target audiences through tweets, blogs, forums, video sharing sites or podcasts that will drive audiences directly to a desired location to review and (hopefully) purchase product. It may also create awareness for your corporate and product brand, but good luck tracking this activity.

And by the way, we haven’t even talked about trade show marketing, advertising, direct marketing, special events, guerilla marketing, etc. There is a time and place for everything (ideally integrated as part of a multichannel campaign).  The key in making your choice about the ideal strategy is understanding your goals in the context of each product launch.

Launching a new product and need a marketing and public relations plan?  Contact me at jim at sweeneypr.com or call me at 440.333.0001 ext. 101.

5 Tips for Getting Started on Twitter

I’m thinking about starting a corporate Twitter account.  What steps do I need to consider before creating an account?

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By Jennifer Manocchio

Twitter can be a great tool to engage customers and prospects with your brand.  However, a lot of corporate Twitter accounts have crashed and burned mostly because the focus was too self-promotional.

The key to Twitter (or any social media site) is ENGAGEMENT. In order to effectively engage your customers and prospects, it takes some thought and strategic planning.  To help you get started in the right direction, consider these five questions prior to starting a Twitter account.

1.  What are your goals? Be sure to document what you hope to achieve by starting a Twitter account.  Do you want to increase brand awareness, increase engagement with current customers, increase web site traffic, increase sales?  This will help you determine what the content focus should be and provide a way to measure the success of this marketing tool.

2.  Who will be Tweeting? Determine who the “face” of Twitter will be.  For example, Zappos features CEO Tony Hsieh and Aflac features the Aflac Duck. The Aflac Duck works because he has a following and it is fun to see what the duck is up to (his latest post: “The best part of working in a nineteen story building? Paper airplanes that, with the proper counterweight, can near Mach 1”).  Tony Hsieh’s Twitter page is successful because people want some insight into how and why he is so successful.  He currently boasts 1.6 million followers!

Consider who at your company people would want to follow on Twitter.  Does someone within the company already have credibility established or have good name recognition within your industry?  Is there a fictional character associated with your brand that people care about and would engage with (i.e the Geico Gecko)?

3.  What is the content focus? A Twitter account will be successful if the content is something your followers or prospective followers want or if the content creates an opportunity for engagement, or two-way conversation.  It could be coupons or new promotions specific to Twitter followers, customer service support, direct tweets to answer product use questions, retweets (RT) that highlight viewpoints of a loyal customer or tips on how to make their lives easier.  However, avoid too many news releases and company blog links.  Too much self-promotion will only steer people away from your Twitter account.

Jet Blue is a great example of a successful Twitter account. It currently has 1.6 million followers because they have established a page (http://twitter.com/JETBLUE) focused on answering customer’s questions.  In fact, I only saw one promotional post in the last week!

4.  How much time will you commit? Sure social media can be an inexpensive way to reach customers and prospects on the surface (the account is free); however, consider how many hours a day or week you want to devote to Twitter.  If you decide to use Twitter as a customer service function, you will likely need full-time staff.

It is important to establish a time investment to help ensure your Twitter account is updated regularly, but also that it is not consuming too much of your time.

5.  How will you measure success? As with every marketing and public relations strategy, you want to establish metrics for measuring the success of Twitter.  Certainly the number of followers is one easy way to measure the success; however, consider measuring how many people went to your web site from Twitter, how many people downloaded a coupon or participated in a special promotion, how many people are tweeting about your brand and the context (positive, negative, neutral) of the posts.

Need help establishing your Twitter account or want to increase your followers and level of engagement? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.