Friday, April 22, 2016

Social Media Requests: How Much is Too Much?

I did a search, clicked a link, and that website I just visited wants to know who I am. And when it asked, I ran. Or least, close the tab and moved on.

Though their intent is most likely not for nefarious purposes, many websites want to know as much about their visitors as possible. They want to target content to me and marketing pitches. But there's a right and wrong way to go about this. Or better, effective and non effective methods.

A common way now is to place a pop up ad to cover the content requesting your name and email before you can read their content. Think that will work? Only if you're trying to chase away visitors. Imagine going into your local market that offers free samples. "Sorry. Before you can have a taste of that ice cream, I'll need to see some ID?" 

The hidden content method simply won't work because there are just too many alternatives out there for information. Do a search for topic, product or service and you'll get thousands of answers. Answers without information requests.

Canned SPAM laws and email marketing services demand that you prove that each subscriber requests and confirms that you can send them email. So then how do you get people to sign up for your newsletter?

Short answer: you don't. Newsletters are dead. No one has time to read them online. If you insist on creating them, snail mail them and you'll probably get better results.

Long answer: replace your newsletter with value, or exclusive content. So that email better have something they can't get any place else. Coupons, private sales, exclusive offers, work well. What if what you're "selling" is content? I've never liked the "sign in to read full article" as I bail on these too. Instead, give me the full article and make me sign up for an exclusive video on the topic.

As for paid content, look no further than the dating websites who have perfected the process. The unsuccessful ones require every last detail before they'll let you browse. The smart ones let you browse and send messages, but you'll have to pay to see who replied.

Requesting social media information all comes down to timing and reciprocation. Know when to ask, how to ask, and limit what you ask for.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Social Media and Politics: Soap Box or Silence?

It's that time of year again when your Facebook feed and Twitter roll gets inundated with post after post condemning candidates in one political party or praising those in another.

I've posted the occasional political cartoon and meme: Hillary tweeting dark thoughts in her dark glasses; The Donald being The Donald. Many would argue it was with the intent to influence or persuade. I maintain it's because it made me chuckle, but political commentary on social media has become no laughing matter.

Outrageous comments expressing our views to anyone who listen.are what social media is for, right? Our candidates do it so why shouldn't we? It sure is tempting to share that observation you heard on the drive into work, that statistic you read online, that funny meme that lambastes that candidate you've never trusted, so why hold back? It's your page to rule. Delete those posts and opinions that you find outrageous and promote the ones that champion your cause. Tell your friend from grade school about what FOX News said, what NPR debunked. Argue, make your case, unfriend and delete those who disagree.

No. Just no.

As US citizens, we are encouraged to publicly express our opinions - freely and openly. Endorsements and contributions let you know where some major corporations stand.  And often many of those personal and corporate opinions are ugly, frightful, even dangerous. But it's part of the process.

The problem is that the lines between interactions among friends and family, and political discourse, have been wrongly intertwined through social media. Before the Internet, we voted privately in a booth then went back to our daily lives. We supported candidates at rallies, then returned to school and work.

Soap Box or Silence: for me neither works when it comes to social media. The world hasn't gone crazy. It's gone digital making it easier to see the lunacy but also the humanity. Which ultimately, is a change towards the positive. But regardless of which side you're on, everyone could use a healthy dose of civility and sensibility regardless of political leanings.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Top 3 Social Media Business Trends in 2016 You Need to Know About

Ready for one last social media prognostication for 2016? (Yes I know it's mid-January 2016, but that's just how I roll. *sunglasses drop in slowly over eyes*)

Good, because there are social media trends that are starting and 2016 will see many changes in the landscape. And the sooner you see them, the sooner you'll be ahead of everyone else.  And topicality is what social media is all about, right?
  1. Social Media is now just media.  This should not be a big revelation because to be honest, it has always been just another form of communications  it's just that the terms public relations, marketing, and advertising were already taken. When you launch a new product, or in this case, a new medium, you need to simply explain what it is, how it differs with similar products, and list its benefits. At risk of sounding like a famous premature declaration let me just say: Mission Accomplished.

    The change has been gradual but more and more media outlets are avoiding the term signifying social media is part of the collective consciousness. The terms "Like Us on" or "Follow us on" have been replaced by the relevant social media badge. Auto companies just program it into their software whether you Tweet or not. Social media is no longer an option, and resistance seems futile.

  2. Business & Facebook part ways. If your business had a relationship status on Facebook it would most likely read: "It's Complicated". Not me though. I love Facebook, have written a few columns defending it, and lately with my lack of Tweets and Instagram posts we've been pretty monogamous. But for many businesses, it's not Facebook, it's them.

    When social media first came around I think one of the most common sentences I heard by company execs was "I don't know what Facebook is, but we need one." So people scrambled to create company pages so they would be indexed on Google. New add-in apps were popping up like tabs for coupons and surveys and polls and -- oh wait. Facebook killed all those. Yes because it was cannibalizing on its plans for Facebook Ads.

    Today, there are several companies doing quite well generating revenues on Facebook. But I suspect most are not, because the once must destination has lost its allure for buyers. Plus many products and services are just not suited for the social networking site. As more and more people use ad blockers, the less of a tool it becomes. In short, if people want to find you, they want your website, not your Facebook web page.

    What your company page on Facebook is good for is posting videos and articles that can go viral. But that requires thought and planning, which brings us to...

  3. Social Media management will move in-house.  As a person who offers outsourced social media as one of his services, file this one under "Cuts Off Nose to Spite Face" but it is what it is. This third trend is a natural outcome based on the first two.
    Social Media management is frankly too important to outsource anymore. Let's be honest, when social media just meant "Say something the millennials will like on Facebook and Twitter," you didn't need to outsource it.

    But as more and more companies learned (or better, feared) the power of social media they outsourced it. Hmm. I'm already starting to feel reminiscent with the lack of my nose. OK I suppose you don't need to bring your social media in-house, but make sure you outsource it to those who specialize in it.

Since social media is just media, it needs to come under the marketing umbrella. It requires setting and adhering to strategies, plans and integrated campaigns that are monitored, adjusted, and leveraged like any other.  Do this and you'll be ahead of the game. Stay tuned for more!

Follow Frank Bocchino, a digital marketer who helps brands use strategic digital marketing tactics to exceed their business, and marketing communications goals using the latest tools for marketing automation, SEO, and social media.

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