All posts in buzz marketing

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Original Photography Boosts Online Interactivity


The other day a few of our photographer friends started passing around a New York Times blog written by Nick Bilton from 2010 that happened to land in our newsfeed. Entitled, “Study Shows People Ignore Generic Photos Online,” the piece dissects eye-tracking research offered up by consultant and author Jakob Nielsen that says (as the headline proclaims) generic, sometimes called stock, photography is worthless to those who want users to interact with their site. This is especially true when it comes to selling products online.

The team here at Buzz Mouth certainly agrees with these findings, as we advocate for original photography as much as possible. And while Nielsen’s research puts the hard numbers behind this school of though, here are a few tips to keep in mind when investing in high-quality images for your brand:

Show, don’t tell. We’re not exactly going on a limb here when we say that we live in a visual society and the internet is becoming a photo- and image-heavy medium more and more. Your website is your business card for any potential customers, and with so many sites, products and businesses out there, and an easy way to stand out from the pack is to have great photos. Just don’t overdo it; a handful of great shots with your product in action will go much further than 100 generic ones of on item on a white background.

Capture the product in use. If you’re a yogurt shop, so people eating yogurt or adding toppings. If you’re a high-end furniture company, decorate a room around your pieces and shoot that. If you’re a car repair shop, show your mechanics working on a car and interacting with customers. Be genuine with the imagery you put out there and portray an accurate customer experience. (And if your yogurt doesn’t look delicious or you think your car repair shop is too dirty to put on your site – well, then that should tell you something.)

Do it right. Yes, anyone can purchase a high-resolution camera nowadays and start clicking away. However, finding the right professional photographer and having them apply their skills can be a huge boon to your brand – they might even revitalize your look or attract a whole new kind of customer. Beyond having a trained eye, many photographers today are experts in post-production software like Photoshop, a program that can often swallow hours of time if you’re a laymen.

Yes, stock imagery is an easy, convenient way to get some kind photography on your site. But, as Nielsen’s research shows, it won’t provide any benefit to you or your brand. Original photography will, and the potential benefits far outweigh the cost investment.

And, honestly, wouldn’t you rather be focused on making your yogurt (or car repair or furniture) the best in the business than spending hours trying to shoot and edit a few photos?

Read the New York Times blog here.

 

 


Why Your Business Should Care About the New Facebook

Facebook king Mark Zuckerberg made worldwide headlines yesterday when he announced major changes at the social network’s annual F8 developer conference. And while most users will be concerned about the Timeline feature that was introduced, businesses of all sizes are watching two other features: adding verbs and nouns to social graphs, and users no longer have to “Like” a page before commenting on it.

These new features far expand the possibilities of a brand being mentioned by Facebook users beyond just the “Like” button. They also break down the apprehension most individuals have with being associated with a brand or a company. Furthermore, the features obviously blow the doors open for higher brand awareness and provide a greater chance of viral growth — but the pitfalls are also abundant. Negative experiences can now be articulated outside of status updates, through ways that can be detrimental to a business. Again, this was always possible, but Facebook now makes it easier and offers more creative ways to do so.

With Zuckerberg announcing that 500 million people a day interact in some way on Facebook now, it cannot not be understated that running a strong, legitimate, day-to-day business is more important than ever. Can you bury bad reviews and mentions through various methods? To an extent, yes, but if someone’s friends say that they had a bad experience with your product or service, it’s a difficult barrier to overcome because it can be shared so quickly and visually. So what can you do? Your defense beyond a great product and untouchable ethics is creating your own content through blogs, videos, photos and other media while also monitoring your brand’s page more closely than you do now. Just remember that you want current customers to be able to interact with your brand online, because it will increase the likelihood that their friends and other new customers will discover your business. (This hits on the idea that Facebook believes users will continue to share more aspects of their lives and will be ever more open moving forward. That’s why they’re integrating services such as Spotify and Netflix, making it easier to discover TV shows, music, movies, restaurants, news stories and countless other aspects of things we and our friends consume.)

It’s clear that these new features and integrations are a play by Facebook to not only dominant the internet, but be the internet for as many people as possible. Your brand and business cannot afford to be passive — you have to engage, you have to create. That’s the new Facebook.

 

 

The Importance of Video

Need to drive more traffic or engage users once they arrive at your site? Try video. According to a study done by ComScore, 83.5 percent of all internet users watch at least one web video in a month.

That’s a big opportunity to introduce (or re-introduce) your business or campaign to a target audience who can each be converted into a sale. We’ve broken down a few tips to utilize video correctly to increase your social media optimization:

1. Video is well received on the web, from YouTube to Facebook to blogs. However, understand that 50,400 hours of new video are uploaded every day to YouTube, so standing out among that crowd is next to impossible. Couple your YouTube upload with as many video hosting sites on the internet that you can, which will only drive more traffic and SEO.
2. Video should be interactive — it should deliver the ability to hear, see and connect with your audience.
3. Video encourages sharing because people are likely to pass along a memorable video on their personal social media accounts. So, make it easy to share!
4. It’s a great way to show personality. Be more than a faceless company or brand. Consumers are savvy today, and traditional advertising techniques aren’t as effective as they once were.
5. Be entertaining and creative to tell your desired story or message. One person speaking into the camera for 10 minutes is not the answer.
6. Be quick and to the point — meaning, keep your video under 2 minutes. If you expect someone to watch anything longer than that, you’ve set yourself up for failure.
7. Invest in quality. This is very important because creating a poorly made video with sound and lighting issues can actually do more harm to your brand than not doing a video at all. Make sure you’re ready to make the right financial investment in quality production.

Katie Couric on the Importance of Social Media

Here is a video series Brian Solis created that features individuals that explore and define the future of business, culture, and media called (R)evolution.

Katie Couric, a star in the world of traditional journalism, is featured and she discusses how social media is “nothing less than transformative to who she is professionally and personally.”

Watch the entire series here

Why You Should Invest in Social Media

Among the many reasons to expand your social media network and utilize social media as an online marketing strategy, research is now showing that more and more companies plan to increase their budgets in this arena. According to research from Marketing Sherpa, 49 percent of businesses are investing in social media right now, but — and this is the part generating interest throughout the business world — 62 percent of businesses plan to increase these budgets in the future.

From 2009-2010, Marketing Sherpa also says 56 percent of businesses reported at least a minor shift in budgets from print to social media. There are a variety of factors for this shift, including easier to track (if not greater) ROI, the decline of newsstand sales for publications and a decrease in traditional marketing budgets. Companies have clearly taken notice of the potential increase in leads, revenue and overall brand awareness that social media can provide if managed correctly. They also understand that in order to be successful, a passive strategy of simply creating a Facebook page and a Twitter account with occasional updates is not enough.

Finally, if these facts regarding the movement towards fully embracing social media and digital strategies aren’t convincing enough we’ll end with this statistic: According to a study performed by SiteKreator, small businesses who update their website more than five times per month have 300 percent more website traffic than those who do not.

What are you doing with social media? What’s your digital strategy? What kind of content are you producing? If you don’t have an answer for these three questions, your business will be left behind.

Start finding your answers by contacting Buzz Mouth today, and read more here.

The Power of Freemium

Want to accumulate a lot of users for your product as quickly as possible? Well, give it away for free.

Seriously, just hand it to anyone who might even be remotely interested. It’s worked recently for companies such as Spotify, Evernote, and LinkedIn, all of whom boast more than a million users. The key, of course, lies in eventually converting as many of these free users into paying customers as possible. Businesses who successfully walk this fine line then boast the best of both worlds – millions of users and growing profits.

The Devoted

As we mentioned earlier, the largest benefit to utilizing this business model is the accumulation of as many users as possible. This can create enormous value and heightened brand awareness, just like it did for professional social network LinkedIn. Originally a small site where people could upload their work histories, it has since grown to more than 100 million registered users and an IPO that at one point raised the value of the company to $9 billion. After gaining a large base of users and going public, LinkedIn began to roll its premium features, which are only available to paying customers. And those paying customers are often large companies and recruiters who utilize this network to find talent to fill open positions. In fact, more than 55 percent of Fourtune 100 companies have a LinkedIn Recruiter account.

What can a small business learn from this? Well, it’s the lesson that will always, undoubtedly, ring true: with Freemium, large numbers will join but only a few users will be paying customers. That’s not a bad thing, though. According to numerous statistics, those paying customers will be incredibly devoted, which will provide a strong and growing revenue base.

Tech blog TUAW.com reported that a study by mobile analytics firm Flurry showed that “the average customer on iOS and Android phones spend $14 on any given transaction.” The study goes on to say that 13 percent users spend more than $20, meaning they are the premium customer base for these games – ultimately accounting for “half of all freemium revenue.”

The Right Model?

The question any entrepreneur must ask before using the freemium model is: Would this help our business? And, often, the answer is no. Look at all the business we’ve mentioned so far – LinkedIn, Spotify and Evernote – what do they have in common? They accumulate data. In fact, a lot of data that only grows in value over time for users, advertisers, recruiters and a host of other industries.

If your business is a single product with no up-sell potential, say brake pads or Adobe InDesign, giving them away for everyone for an unlimited amount of time makes no sense whatsoever. Those products have one revenue stream and do not collect data, so they devalue over time until a new version is released. The key to an effective premium lies in making a product more valuable over time. If that’s not the case for your venture, then another business model should be explored.

For those who have the business infrastructure and the fortitude to give freemium a shot, the benefits we have laid out here can be tremendous. Just keep in mind that it’s not for everyone, and nothing in life truly comes free.

[image credit: www.arsenalamerica.com]

Intentional Social Strategy Part 3

If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already learned the benefits of having an intentional social strategy for sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Spotify. In this last edition of our mini-blog series, we’ll take a look at how taking control of your brand’s activities on LinkedIn and WordPress will enable you to frame the conversation among your colleagues and industry while also driving traffic back to your site or campaign.

LinkedIn
Network
As signaled by their recent IPO (in which their value skyrocketed to somewhere around $8 billion), LinkedIn has firmly established itself as the top professional job site on the internet. With more than 115.8 million users and 870,000 groups, the networking possibilities are immense for any brand. That large number of groups shows that companies and individuals can also drive sales leads as well create brand awareness by being active through an intentional social strategy. Beyond just posting jobs, think about posting content (videos, blogs and articles that deal with the workplace, for example) that drives the conversation back to your brand.
www.linkedin.com

WordPress
Blog
This is where it starts for any brand. While all of the other sites we’ve covered are very important to marketing and sales success these days, they each have limitations and require users to conform to their rules. Your own blog, however, has no such limitations. By utilizing WordPress to manage your site, brands are able to post articles, videos, photos and other types of content in a very simple, user-friendly format that can be the number one driver of SEO results. Make sure to tie in tools such as Google Analytics and other plugins in order to accumulate as much information about how users are finding your site. Keywords, links, page views, average length of stay, and how often users return – that’s all vital data that will help you to focus your efforts on the content and features that work, thus increasing ROI.
www.wordpress.com

This breakdown of social media tools has hopefully given a bit of insight into the possibilities that exist all over the internet to increase sales and generate brand awareness. The whole idea, of course, behind this piece is to show that creating just one profile or one blog won’t do the trick. Think about how vast the internet has become (according to royal.pingdom.com, there were 255 million websites as of December 2010), and, given those numbers, it would be crazy to believe that just creating one site and hoping people will find it would suffice. But it happens all the time. Don’t let your company fall into that trap. Reach out to qualified experts like those here at Buzz Mouth to help you craft your intentional social strategy today.

(photo credit: onlinemarketingpartner.org)

Intentional Social Strategy Part 2

In the first part of three-part blog, we broke down how some of the biggest social media sites on the internet offer almost limitless opportunities to grow revenue and brand awareness if an intentional social strategy is conceived and executed. In this part, we look at how photo and video sites such as Flickr, Instagram and YouTube can also be a significant driver of traffic for any brand that engages them correctly.

Flickr
Pictures
Trust us, Flickr is more than just a place to dump photos from your Hawaiian vacation. It’s also a free photo-hosting service that will allow brands to share a constantly rotating stream of pics that can be anything from the premiere shots of a new product to pictures of an event to just a fun way to profile the interesting people who walk into your store.

But how does this drive traffic to a brand’s site? Well, there are countless blogs, media sites and social media folks who scour Flickr looking for great shots to pass along to their readers, networks, circles, etc., and will link back to the source material. That, of course, means creativity is key to seeing the greatest benefit possible from this service. Avoid out-of-focus pictures, ditch the poorly lit subjects, and never be afraid to ask for help.
www.flickr.com

Instagram
Street
Any conversation that involves Flickr nowadays also must include Instagram, the social network for photo sharing that’s been popularized thanks to its use on iPhones. (And we’re not kidding about popularized, they have 4 million users!) In addition to offering users a variety of filters that can turn almost any pic into a high-quality shot, they can also follow other accounts and comment on the photos they love or hate.

Well-known brands such as Burberry and Starbucks have seen great success in attracting followers (see 10 brands who have embraced Instagram, http://tnw.co/k5pFMr), but the community is still very much in its infant stages and opportunities are ripe to drive traffic to any of your desired outlets through the use of imagery.
www.instagr.am

YouTube
Video
Video can be a tricky seductress. It is the most successful way to have a brand or a campaign go viral, and incorporating a few videos on a brand’s site can increase its traffic significantly. Be warned, however, video can also become an albatross due to the time, money and effort that can go into creating one.

After that video is made, the first place to post it should be YouTube, one of the most popular sites on the internet. Brands are able to drive a significant amount of traffic and awareness through the strategic use of tags, as well as offering another cross-platform tool to post this content on any desired site. Another tip: Keep your videos around 2 minutes! Viewers will rarely sit through any that are longer and certainly won’t share them with their networks if they clock in at 10 minutes.
www.youtube.com

Part 3: LinkedIn and WordPress

(photo credit: beautifulpixels.com)

Building an Intentional Social Strategy Part 1

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Spotify, YouTube – building a brand or communicating a message may be easier today than ever before, but this online world requires more than just creating a few profiles to see results in the bottom line. It’s obvious that every business owner or anyone else concerned with their virtual reputation should be keeping any eye on how they come across on these sites, however there are many who lack an “intentional social strategy.”

To translate that term (as if there weren’t enough already in this online world), intentional social strategy means knowing what you’re putting out there, when you’re putting it out there, and where you’re putting it out there. Understanding these three elements and, just as importantly, having your employees understand them, is key to driving revenue and awareness for your brand while simultaneously avoiding the mistakes that befall too many (ahem, Kenneth Cole).

In our three-part blog, we’ve broken down a variety of social media platforms and their different potential outcomes for a brand who engages through them. Today, we look at some of the big dogs of social media and a few newcomers, too:

Facebook
Social
The big kahuna of all social networks, for many people Facebook is the internet. As such, any intentional social strategy must include a Facebook component that drives traffic to any site of your choosing, a growing Like number, exclusive offerings for fans and other benefit content (meaning a person who likes your page gets something in return through product or information). Brands must be active on their Facebook accounts, so much so that not even having one is better than having a neglected one.
www.facebook.com

Google+
Circles
The latest big buzz project from the online giant, Google+ looks to offer a more organized social network for users. The biggest catalyst towards this is “Circles,” which are groups of friends a user creates to partition shared information – the idea being some things you would say in front of your friends but not your parents, and vice versa.

While businesses have yet to truly jump on the Google+ bandwagon, the commercial uses for Circles are immense. Niche, targeted deals can be shared, exclusive levels could be created for loyal customers, and multiple campaigns can be run simultaneously to different groups, just to name a few ideas possible through this platform. A better organized social site, with targeted sharing of information is a trend that will soon become standard across all of social media and as such will require brands to understand how to traverse those worlds to see ROI.
plus.google.com

Spotify
Music
The latest entrant into the world of online music streaming, Spotify is a Swedish-based service that made a splash after launching in the U.S. this year by requiring new users to be “invited” to join. One of the reasons this site has accumulated more than 1.5 million users in less than a year can be attributed to their social media integration – specifically, allowing users to send tracks and playlists via Facebook and Twitter.

This kind of cross-platform utilization allows brands (whether that’s a person or business) to engage friends and fans through a new avenue: music. Whether it’s a local coffee shop sharing that day’s playlist to entice customers to drop in to a CEO revealing his theme song of the week, Spotify offers brands an unique opportunity to go beyond the traditional business-customer relationship.
www.spotify.com

Twitter
Micro
It’s helped organize revolutions and ruined the reputations of athletes, politicians and other prominent individuals, but Twitter also just happens to have radically changed the way businesses and customers communicate. The benefits of actively Tweeting include capturing real-time data on what followers respond to (deals, humor, videos, etc.), immediate communication in times of crisis, showcasing your brand’s knowledge of pop culture and other fast-moving trends, as well as taking the opportunity to steer the conversation to your liking.
www.twitter.com

It may seem like a daunting challenge, but don’t be afraid to reach out to experts to navigate these sometimes murky waters. Contact Buzz Mouth today to help you develop an intentional social strategy that works and drives results.

Part 2: Instagram, Flickr and YouTube

(photo credit: webdesignledger.com)

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