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When driving North on I-65 I came across two billboards each a mile apart. The first was for a local mom and pop diner. On it was a picture of food and a call to action – the restaurant’s phone number. From what I could tell it wasn’t the type of joint you would need to call ahead for a reservation, so why was the phone number featured so prominently?

The second billboard was for Burger King. It also had an image of food but in big bold letters it read: Turn right at the next exit. Followed by an arrow. Burger King nailed it. Granted they probably had a support of a large agency,  but they clearly understood how the medium (a billboard in this case) worked. 

Whether it’s a poorly placed QR code or a text heavy Facebook post, people often fail to think about how the medium is being used by their customer. Here are two key questions to ask yourself when developing a campaign:

1. What is the information your customer needs to know?

2. What is the best way to deliver that information on the particular medium you are using?

If you are using mobile use wide ranging methods to reach your customer –  less QR codes and Apps and more use of mobile web and SMS.  Mobile search is often searching “in the moment” or “on the go.” What types of information would your customers need to know as they are heading out to shop, eat, etc?

If you are using social  be conscious of which platform you are using. Twitter behaves differently than Facebook which behaves differently than Pinterest. Make sure you are in the right space to reach your customers. On social media what social currency can you give your followers so they’ll help spread the word? Maybe it’s a coupon, maybe a recipe or perhaps a bit of trivia. Think about information that is interesting and useful for your fan base while still helping you achieve your business goals. 

No matter what the medium, it’s important to understand how people are using it and to identify the critical information they need so you can make a sale. Sometimes it’s as simple as a big yellow arrow pointing toward your next Whopper. 

 

Facebook is constantly reinventing itself, and you can’t blame them. To stay stagnant is a death wish in an industry that changes so rapidly. That said, some of the changes benefit users and some brands. The most recent newsfeed change is one that I believe tips the scale for the user, giving them more control over what they see on Facebook.

A user will soon be able to toggle between different newsfeed streams – Photos, Friends, Most Recent, Music and Following (brand/media pages). Great customization for the user, not so great for brand pages who currently get a coveted spot between posts from friends and families. I predict that the Following newsfeed will probably be the most underused feed, because at the end of the day no matter how clever a post, it’s still from a business versus a friend.

Should brands shut down their pages quite yet? No. Brands can still actively engage with users but they must find ways to get into as many newsfeeds as possible. If they rely just on the “Follows” newsfeed they’re likely to see their engagement levels drop pretty dramatically.

Here are recommendations for staying in the “feed”:

– Include images in your posts. With the popularity of Instagram and Pinterest, it’s becoming more apparent that visual does well on social. As a brand if you post an image with your post, you can then secure a space in the Photos newsfeed.
– Post regularly. If you want to appear in the most recent news feed, you need to post. Simple enough.
– Create engaging content. Get people to engage with your content and it will appear in the Friends newsfeed.
– Consider advertising. It’s not been clearly defined yet, but from early talks it sounds as if ads will get your airtime in all newsfeeds, including the Friends newsfeed which will most likely be the most popular.

I have to admit…I was a bit hesitant about sponsored stories ads on Facebook. Wouldn’t you want a compelling line of copy (even if it is only a few characters long) and your picture of choice in your ad? That way you could ensure you’d win people over as customers and fans. But alas, much like everything else in social you have to shove your ego aside and give people what they want…which isn’t your copy writing genius.

Having hosted ad campaigns for a variety of businesses large and small, I can tell you what works best over and over again. It’s the sponsored story.

There’s something about the personal recommendation that is far more legit than any ad copy you or I could write.  And I’ve seen it not just perform better once or twice. It’s every time, most of the time performing 10X better than a standard Facebook display ad. (I usually always run them side by side, just to be certain).

It’s essentially word of mouth marketing, but you don’t have to wait for someone to tell their friends because sponsored stories do it for you.  For example, when you like Nike’s page it goes into the newsfeed once. It’s up to Nike then to pour a few dollars into a sponsored story ad campaign to make that “Like” work as hard as possible. Now that “Like” is being shown to all of your friends multiple times a day in the form of a sponsored story ad. Good news for Nike, especially if you’re an influencer among your circle of friends.

If you want the biggest bang for your buck on Facebook ads, go sponsored stories and save your copy writing skills for another day. It took me awhile to become a believer, but I got there eventually. You should too.

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It seems people have been waiting for Facebook to fail for a while now. Not sure where the anger comes from, but since the social network giant has continued to grow and gain traction, the naysayers have had to remain fairly quiet…until now.

Let’s face it, the IPO hasn’t gone smoothly. Finally, some negative news! General Motors doesn’t want to advertise with them anymore? Hooray, pile it on! eMarkerter has a survey saying Facebook ads don’t influence purchase? Bring it. The LA Times said teens would rather Tweet? Perfect. Teens are the barometer of what’s cool after all.

Facebook may not be around forever, but here’s the thing. I’ve long ditched my address book, I’m horrible at remembering people’s birthdays, and I actually enjoy keeping up with the lives of people I would otherwise never stay in touch with. (I’m talking about the randoms from high school, the ex co-workers and estranged family members). Facebook still holds all my social connections. I know that if at any moment I had to reach out to someone I could and they’d eventually get the message.

Remember, you don’t have to check Facebook every day to use Facebook. Just like you wouldn’t study your address book every day. It keeps your social network in tact for when and if you need to access it. That said, a lot of people still do check it every day out of habit.

You don’t have to love Facebook, you don’t have to even like it. But you do have to admit it is useful for staying in touch with a large amount of people at one time. Until there is another network that provides a similar service, in a better way, I don’t see Facebook going away tomorrow. Even if they’ve received a bit of bad PR.

 

Pinterest recently moved into the Number 3 spot for social networks, which means a newbie like Pinterest is actually doing better than a giant like Google+. Aside from the fact that it is one of the fastest growing websites to ever hit the interwebs, why should you care?

1. The studies are still rolling in, but Pinterest does an amazing job at driving traffic back to web sites. The whole point of Pinterest is to bookmark web sites, but bookmark them in a much more visually interesting way. Whereas Facebook tends to work inside its own eco-system and Twitter tends to link to more news sites and blogs, Pinterest is there to capture more of the lifestyle links. We aren’t necessarily learning about the latest volcanic explosion as it happens, but we are able to see a really enticing recipe or cute new spring dress.

2. The visual world is becoming more important. We’ve seen that Facebook posts with images tend to perform better than text-only posts, but on Pinterest if you don’t have a good visual, you really don’t have much. Remember if you want people to be driven to your site, you have to host interesting visuals on your site. If you’re a clothing store who is constantly updating new images and styles online you are set. For the rest of us, that’s something to think about.

3. The big dogs are already jumping on board. Quite often you’ll see these new networks that never go anywhere, but Pinterest was smart enough to leverage what is already working to gain a mass quantity of users quickly. (In order to create an account you are prompted to use your Twitter or Facebook log-in which then allows you to see which of your friends/followers are also on Pinterest). You’ll also see that some companies, like Lowe’s, have begun using the “P” logo on the bottom of their ads. It’s fresh, it’s new and it’s very relevant to women in their 20s and 30s.

4. Facebook and Twitter have been very popular for a very long time, at least “long” in terms of the tech world. When you see a network explode in the way that Pinterest has, it is something to take notice. Inevitably, things are going to shift. I’m not saying Facebook is going away tomorrow by any means, but I do think Pinterest has made a big enough splash for you to think about the ways your business could leverage it.Image

Pinterest recently moved into the Number 3 spot for social networks, which means a newbie like Pinterest is actually doing better than a giant like Google+. Aside from the fact that it is one of the fastest growing websites to ever hit the interwebs, why should you care?

1. The studies are still rolling in, but Pinterest does an amazing job at driving traffic back to web sites. The whole point of Pinterest is to bookmark web sites, but bookmark them in a much more visually interesting way. Whereas Facebook tends to work inside its own eco-system and Twitter tends to link to more news sites and blogs, Pinterest is there to capture more of the lifestyle links. We aren’t necessarily learning about the latest volcanic explosion as it happens, but we are able to see a really enticing recipe or cute new spring dress.

2. The visual world is becoming more important. We’ve seen that Facebook posts with images tend to perform better than text-only posts, but on Pinterest if you don’t have a good visual, you really don’t have much. Remember if you want people to be driven to your site, you have to host interesting visuals on your site. If you’re a clothing store who is constantly updating new images and styles online you are set. For the rest of us, that’s something to think about.

3. The big dogs are already jumping on board. Quite often you’ll see these new networks that never go anywhere, but Pinterest was smart enough to leverage what is already working to gain a mass quantity of users quickly. (In order to create an account you are prompted to use your Twitter or Facebook log-in which then allows you to see which of your friends/followers are also on Pinterest). You’ll also see that some companies, like Lowe’s, have begun using the “P” logo on the bottom of their ads. It’s fresh, it’s new and it’s very relevant to women in their 20s and 30s.

4. Facebook and Twitter have been very popular for a very long time, at least “long” in terms of the tech world. When you see a network explode in the way that Pinterest has, it is something to take notice. Inevitably, things are going to shift. I’m not saying Facebook is going away tomorrow by any means, but I do think Pinterest has made a big enough splash for you to think about the ways your business could leverage it.Image

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