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What We Should Learn from Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica Fiasco

facebook, social media, marketing, marketing agencyIf you have accessed social media or any news source recently, you are likely just as dismayed as I am to hear about Facebook’s recent data breach.

If you’re not in the loop, here’s a rundown of what happened.

Even if you don’t avidly use social media for your business (which you may still want to consider), there is much to learn from this scandal. Here are my takeaways from a marketing perspective:

Continue Collecting Data

Whether you collect data from surveys, social media, loyalty programs, or any other form of data collection, don’t let Facebook’s data breach deter you. Data collection is essential in marketing. With it you can send customized offers and gain valuable product feedback for future improvements. Marketing without client data is marketing while blind.

Be Honest

When conducting a survey or asking clients to register for your loyalty program, it’s obvious to them what data you are collecting. What isn’t as obvious is what you will use the data for. I suggest including a disclaimer at the bottom of the survey or loyalty program confirmation email that states your intentions. Is there a chance that you may provide their information to a third party? If so, say so. It’s better to be honest now and get one less survey response than to be hit with a lawsuit later.

Review Your Privacy Policies

Now that you know some best management practices for client data collection, ensure that your existing privacy policies meet your clients’ expectations. If they don’t, now is definitely the time to update them with a fine-toothed comb.

Many of your clients likely won’t mind sharing personal details in order to receive some discount or other benefit from your business, but they are entrusting that data to you and only you unless you state otherwise. The trust between you and your clients is essential for your continued success; don’t squander it.

If you would like to discuss how data breaches might affect your business, call CreativeWorks Marketing today!

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Social Media is Not a Do-It-Yourself Project

Social media isn’t just about tweeting where you ate last night, posting vacation photos on Facebook  or finding a date on Tinder. It’s serious business for companies that are serious about attracting and  driving targeted customers to their website and converting leads into customers. In response to the  importance of social media in business, colleges and  universities now offer degree programs in social media – Seneca College (Certificate in Social Media), University of Florida (Masters Degree in Social Media) and Georgetown University (Certificate in Social Media Management) are just a few offering social media degrees. And there’s a rise in social media-oriented M.B.A. programs.

What can social media do for your company?

Every company can benefit from social media. Here are 10 great benefits that your company can derive from a well planned and well executed social media campaign.

  1. Generates leads in a very cost effective manner
  2. Helps establish your brand & increases brand awareness
  3. Builds brand loyalty
  4. Increases website traffic
  5. An excellent platform for engaging with your customers
  6. Helps you reach a targeted audience
  7. Expands your reach
  8. Helps build relationships
  9. Delivers higher conversion rates
  10. Decreases marketing costs

 

Who is using social media for business?

According to the Social Media Examiner, 96% of marketers are using social media.

Why isn’t social media working for my company?

Unfortunately, social media is not a do-it-yourself project. It’s a specialty that requires a particular expertise and skill set. Just as you’re the expert in running your business there are professionals whose expertise is social media.

They understand the science and art behind it and the subtle nuances that can make a big difference in results. Social media requires a strategy, the content that will deliver results, and the analytics to measure those results.

It’s not as simple as just writing a tweet, hoping for the best and expecting results. If you haven’t been seeing results from your social media efforts, I strongly urge you to contact a marketing agency or a consultant to manage social media for your company. With proper expertise in place your social media campaigns will deliver results.

 

Marketing Trend Predictions for 2015

2015 TrendsNearing the end of 2014, we sat down to make a few marketing trend predictions as to what brands should be on the lookout for in 2015. Here are our predictions:

Shareable Social Content

Be informed about what your audiences like and where they spend time. In 2015 brands will have to delve into customization and personalization for social channels, because the most shareable content (thus the most beneficial for your business!) is content with social value.

Original Content Marketing

Using content to market is an old strategy that has always been around. However, the topic of content marketing seemed to attract an abundance of attention in 2014, with regards to efficacy and about how hard it can be to produce quality content in large qualities. Marketers have been challenged to create more original content for more channels (websites, social, blog, newsletters and more) that is also valuable and educational.

Inbound Marketing

Similar to content marketing, inbound marketing relies on earning people’s interest instead of buying it. Creating quality content will attract people to your company and/or product. By aligning your published content with your customers’ interests, you will naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert and close over time. Publish the right content in the right place at the right time, and your brand will become relevant and valuable to your customers.

It’s a Smartphone World

Simply put, more people are spending time on mobile. Millennials especially – their phones never leave their side (it’s rare). Information and images should be optimized for mobile viewing. It may even be a good idea to start with mobile and plan to scale up content for desktops and laptops!

Use Video to Cement Relationships

Yes, video production if done professionally is expensive and time-consuming, but it really is worth it. Good content is conversational and creates a “human” aspect to a brand. Not only will brands have to explore more creative ways to produce content, they will also have to understand how to be trustworthy and authentic. Their chosen content, matched with a human touch, will help build the trusting relationships that help consumers keep brands at the forefront of their minds.

Advanced Analytics

In 2015 we should expect to see companies adopting data-driven strategies that go beyond accessing “big data” to actually integrating that data into everyday marketing decisions, campaign strategy, and product development. Brands will dig deep to uncover those actionable insights they can leverage to generate growth, sales, and identify prospects.

Do our predictions make sense to your business? Which trends would you like to implement in 2015? What are your predictions for 2015? Share your predictions with us in the comment section.

Your Social Media – When is it a Waste of Time?

social_media_ROIWhether you’re a small or big business, being on social media is a good idea. The visibility and connectivity accessible through social media has convinced most business owners that it’s worth their while. But what isn’t so clear is how to measure what’s working and what’s not, and when to drop a platform that’s just waste of time and energy.

While its possible to track ROI and conversions, it can be tough to accurately measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign. You might find that some social media efforts that drive visitors to your content can be measured in other ways. For example, if your social strategy isn’t so content-heavy, and if you are promoting products or events, then your business would fit a more traditional measure for ROI and conversions. The only way to know if what you’re doing is enough is to have a gauge on your ROI.

In order to get there, you have to align your objectives to your measurement. For each network (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) you’ll need to have an objective before you can decide on how successful the network is. You’ll need to decide what measurement would be the most valuable to you. Maybe you’re a blogger and your goals are e-mail sign-ups and blog followers, or, maybe you are a retailer looking to increase sales and traffic to your website – either way you must consider your key metric. I can guarantee that if you have had no objectives for your social media, then you will be extremely disappointed with the results.

Capturing the data is the easy part – measuring interactions (likes, clicks, shares, followers) and analyzing traffic, reach, and leads, can help gauge what your business is getting out of its social media investment, but you’ll need to measure these outcomes against your objectives.

Like all marketing tools, each social media network provides some general trends and demographic information to help guide your decision as to which platform your unique business should focus on, but ultimately, you need to understand your brand and your audience before you can choose the right platform, set objectives and measure if it is successful.

If you leverage the right tools and tactics necessary to better understand your audience, then you are more likely to put out messaging and content that is most likely to increase loyalty, drive sales, and help you reach company goals.

Measuring social media ROI can be extremely frustrating and difficult. I’d love to know how you measure your social media ROI, and what metrics you measure. Share your comments and thoughts with me in the comment section!

Impressions vs. Leads: Where Does The Real Value Lie?

1As the owner of a strategic marketing agency, clients often ask me how many leads were generated from a campaign. My answer is often the same; what was the objective of the campaign? Was the campaign launched to generate leads or impressions?

But wait; can you have a lead without ever having made an impression?

If you are a smaller, unknown brand then generating leads can be challenging, but which comes first, the chicken (lead) or the egg (impression)? Although your marketing strategy should determine the objectives of a campaign, if you don’t have one, consider that there is a huge value in an impression.

In the spirit of “any PR is good PR”, impressions measure the number of times your ad was seen, which we consider to be brand building (a part of any solid marketing strategy). If someone sees your ad and, although they may not be your target market, they mention your ad to someone else they know who is in your desired target market, then voila, you have a lead! Now you must ask yourself how many viable leads resulted from that single impression.

Of course at the end of the day, marketing must measure engagement in hard metrics (like clicks, and conversion rates), but it is equally important to remember quality is more important than quantity and the path to that lead is often not as direct as you might think!

The engagement cycle takes many forms, starting with an impression that may result in a lead. In your online campaigns, which do you feel came first – the chicken or the egg? Share your thoughts in our comment section below.

Social Media Strategy Before Social Media Tools

10-Steps-To-A-Successful-Social-Media-StrategyIt seems easy, right? Just choose which social networks you want to appear on and then post away! Wrong. Unfortunately, many businesses have taken the approach of tools before strategy and the results are, not surprisingly, poor. A posting schedule lacks focus, approach, and direction, which are the crucial first steps in driving your business’ success.

Social media is just another tool in the marketing tool box, much like your website, advertising, special promotions, and campaigns, so you need to look at creating a social media strategy BEFORE you decide on which network to use (Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). Tools need to be considered last, not first. Why? Because tools change. They always do. There was a time when Netscape seemed invincible. Yahoo, too. And how can we forget about MySpace. If you fall in love with tools, you’ll constantly be changing directions, with no real plan to guide your way.

The strategy will further outline how you brand yourself in social media networks. For businesses with an established brand, this may not be a problem, but you will need to investigate how your offline branding strategy translates into social media marketing.

Unless you have the internal skills and expertise, I’d strongly recommend you engage the services of a strategic marketer to help you create your strategy.

In addition to kicking off the strategy with a clear definition of what makes your business unique, you’ll want to make sure your strategy includes consideration of what your relationship is with your audience, how they use social media, how you’ll deal with unfavourable comments, what resources will monitor the conversations and what metrics you are going to use to determine your success.

What do you think? What are your special tips for making social media engagement effective at driving your business’s success?  I look forward to your comments below.

Why the C-Suite Needs to Understand Social Media

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This quarter’s C-Suite Survey measured the advance of social media among Canadian businesses. The survey interviewed 129 executives between June 4 and June 24, 2014.

The survey is absolutely worth the read, but here are the highlights and my opinion upon reflecting on these results.

Key Takeaways:

  1. There has been an increase in engagement from half of Canada’s top companies who are now tweeting.
  2. Executives are more likely to be on Twitter and LinkedIn, than Facebook. That may be a comment on personalities: Facebook is about community, whereas Twitter is more of a megaphone.
  3. Relatively few see social media as a transformational force. Only a minority of companies has shifted resources from traditional, paid media or communications. Those that have done so have reassigned only 20 per cent of their media budgets.
  4. Nearly half of executives said they do not know how online media can help them, and almost half of those engaged in social media doubt that it helps their company’s bottom line.
  5. Executives agreed that social media opens up companies to reputational concerns. They are more likely to be put off by the downside of social media than they are to embrace the opportunities.

Take a look through the entire C-Suite Survey as it also highlights how beneficial social media are and the main value of using social media vs. traditional forms of communication.

My Advice:

It’s true that social media does not perfectly align with all business models, but it was surprising to me that the survey found so many companies and smaller firms avoiding using this inexpensive media. As a marketing advisor with almost 20 years in the business, I know corporate reputation is just too important to ignore and social media can play a pivotal role in building supporters, quick reaction and interaction as well as branding and offers a huge opportunity to take part in online conversations. Social media does produce results, but like any tactic, it needs to begin with a strategy. If, for example, you want to increase brand, then a social media strategy needs to be created with this objective in mind. The strategy will indicate frequency, and use of which networks, measurement, types of campaigns, etc.

I don’t want C-level executives to be disenchanted and discouraged by the power of social media. It can have an impact on your bottom line, but to see impact will take time, commitment, and a solid strategy.   You may want to enlist the help of a marketing advisor or agency. Plan your social media no differently than you would any other media spend and give it time to grow and see the ROI.

NOTE: The quarterly C-Suite Survey was conducted for Report on Business News Network by Gandalf Group, and sponsored by KPMG.

What do you think about the survey? Do you think it reflects the sentiment at your company? Please let me know what you think in the comments below.