March 2013 Note: This post quickly became a "Most Popular ScentTrail" with 1100 views and great comments. It holds up well with many of these trends happening bigger and faster than a year ago. Marty
Social Media Marketing SecretsSat down, started writing Five Secret Social Media Marketing Trends and hit two thousand words before lunch (lol). My friends are laughing because they know my tendency for long posts. Instead of posting a single too long post each trend is now its own post.
5 Secret Trends #1: Profiteers and Not-For-ProfiteersThings were easier. Lines where clear, bold, understood and rarely pushed, blurred or obscured. Put a quarter in the machine and out came some not overly inspiring marketing. Who needed inspiration? It was easy to float few boats with a thimble of rain.
Then a hard social media marketing rain fell, and fell and fell.
Now thanks to Moore’s Law, Google and Facebook there are millions of boats all heading in different directions creating a huge boat scrum. Some boats float aimlessly with resigned apathy. “Our time is gone,” their mournful whistle blows. Others frantically search for a slip they will never find. Some have almost convincing false confidence. One thing is sure, as Oscar winning Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman famously quipped, “Nobody knows anything.”
Goldman’s quote was about the entertainment business. These days who knows where business, art, entertainment, profit, not-for-profit or anything begins or ends. One trend is LOUD and clear. Social Networks are messing with for profit companies' heads. “What we have to talk to them now,” you can almost hear from the WeDon’tUnderstand, Inc’s conference room. L. L. Bean, Google, Zappos, Apple and other great customer service companies know what to do with cool new social network tools - CONNECT.
Who can’t learn cool Internet marketing ideas from Apple, Google and Zappos?
If your company is playing in the social network marketing minors start small and steal from some GREAT but less intimidating not-for-profits. Not-for-profits, ironically, are perfectly positioned for Web 2.0’s desire for connection and story.
Story and connection is bread and butter for most not-for-profits. Missing the search engine marketing boat has been and will continue to be expensive for many 501(c)3’s, but story telling and connection are strengths. Companies should steal the following from their favorite not-for-profit:
- Video Storytelling
- Connection - the art of having others tell your story
- Story Telling through site architecture
- Story Telling with pictures
- Story Telling with powerful (and keyword dense) emotionally “live” testimonials
- Clear Calls To Action
5 Secret Trends #2: Video Storytelling
Captain John Sikes Salvation August 28th Army Video
I love this Salvation Army video. It is noisy, unpolished and unscripted. I love it. The video creates a feeling of inclusion. Viewers are being let in on something happening now. As you strain to hear you want to join, to become part of Captain John's mission.
I've worked for some of the best marketing companies on the planet (M&M/Mars, P&G and Monsanto / NutraSweet) and those companies would have a hard time making this video. I would have to tie most of the Brand Managers I've ever worked with to a chair to launch this "imperfect" but very real video.
After tying them to a chair I would explain this video is immediate and real. Immediate and real are online currency. Most marketers want to DO THINGS, SELL THINGS and PITCH THINGS (me included). Sometimes the best pitch, as Captain John demonstrates, is no pitch all.
Include me and I want to contribute. Polishing this video is risky. Will a polished version feel as immediate and real? Will I feel as included? When excluded I don't feel a need to contribute. Our quid pro quo meters read the other way. Exclusion = we watched your ad now you owe us. Altruism is lost to the push.
Storytelling With Site Architecture: Salvation Army Homepage
Salvation Army's web designers are gifted. You may notice similarities to Apple's large hero site design (heroes are the largest image on a web page). Salvation Army isn't quite as design gifted as Apple, but they tell stories with site architecture.
Note the great story telling hero with clear calls to action (read more and donate now) to the right. Area to the right of a large image is very "hot" meaning many eyes will go there so, like the Salvation Army, put important and clear calls to action there and in other "hot zones".
5 Secret Trends #3: User Generated ContentEvery company reading this post should STEAL THIS page:
RobinHood.org Be Robin Hood Page
RobinHood.org doesn't climb Everest alone. They make it easy to enlist an army of Sherpas. Suggesting supporters include their embed code as part of their email signatures is social media marketing genius. What does this embed action accomplish?
It magically moves RobinHood.org's communication into a million emails and costs nothing other than the request and setting up the page. Spam you might be thinking, but these are emails from your friends. RobinHood anticipates the objection creating artistic, creative communication around poverty factoids. Robin Hood creates ads that don't look like ads.
Why doesn't P&G or Pepsi have a similar page?
I can hear a Brand Manager worried about the liabilities of this kind of branded communication in someone else's email. Patiently I would tie the worried brand manager to a chair again and explain how WE control the code and the ability to change the creative.
"We would be spamming," I can hear the next objection. If we blasted specials, coupons or promotional stuff my anonymous brand manager tied to his or her chair would be correct. The smart move would is to riff cause marketing such as Tide Loads of Hope (P&G) or Refresh Everything (Pepsi).
Driving traffic to a landing page for cause marketing means P&G or Pepsi wouldn't be spamming promotional messages in friends of friends emails. The astronomical and low cost search (SEO) benefits of so much properly coded traffic coming from so many locations is huge. Co-opting people's email signatures with special creative in support of cause marketing is one of the most creative Internet marketing ideas I've seen in a long time!
Great job RobinHood.org. Every one reading this post in a position of authority on any site should STEAL THIS.
5 Secret Trends #4: Tell Stories with PicturesLiveStrong does a great job of telling stories with pictures. The homepage image (the first one in their rotation) doesn't use the space or its hero (Lance) great, but it isn't bad. A couple of things to keep in mind about images. Your viewers will follow sight lines of people in your pictures. Visitors eyes go where people in your pictures are looking (** note: this post was written before Lance was in so much trouble).
This is why I like images that stare straight at the viewer. Eye lines in images such as the boy above aren't an issue. Pictures like the boy are looking at YOU the visitor. If people in your pictures look off camera make sure you plant something important where their sight line stops. Keep the "hot zone" immediately below and to the right of images in mind when designing too. Use those areas wisely. This is what I don't like about the current LiveStrong's homepage starting image. There are too many people with confusing sight lines and no clear hot zone.
5 Secret Trends #5: Tell Stories with TestimonialsJames Noble is a lawyer not a nonprofit, but I love his testimonial:
"I am a convicted felon with an extensive criminal history. I had just been arrested for a felony that could have potentially landed me 6 years in prison. I had already been through a Public Defender and another paid counsel. I was beginning to feel hopeless and was exhausting tons of money because no one would listen to me.
Mr. Nobles listened, he really listened to me and he didn't presume my guilt. He followed through on my ideas and thoughts and I ended up with no prison time and a little probation. He communicated with me every step of the way and never made me feel indifferent. I will continue to use him for any situations and refer him to everyone." — ASMThat is a magical testimonial. It tells a story with a clear hero - James Noble. James Noble understands an important Internet marketing idea. Tell your story and no one cares, have others tell your story and everyone may care.
Not-For-Profits Need Ecommerce SkillsBeing a great story teller without an audience is like putting on a play in an empty theater. You remember your lines and can go through the paces, but without an audience why bother? Unlike their ecommerce cousins, most not-for-profits missed the new rules of search engine marketing 7 SEO.
First rule is Google is KING, second rule when in doubt refer to rule #1.
Even the most powerful online not-for-profits have a small passel of pages in Google compared to ecommerce giants such as Amazon (over 800,000,000) or Walmart (well over a million). If you are a not-for-profit with great story telling and connection skills in need of a larger audience steal some of these ideas from pirate profiteers:
- Learn User Generated Content curation from Amazon, Etsy.com or Facebook. If you want to start small add reviews or comments (see review note about why reviews are so important).
- Learn great email marketing tips from Bronto in Durham.
- Create and host cool competitions for social good with back end software from Convio Software.
- Learn content marketing and mashup skills from Amazon (platforms beat web sites), Etsy.com, TechCrunch, Mashable, Huffington Post and the New York Times. Note how important comments are becoming.
- Learn how to manage the paradox of too much choice with simple, clean user interface design such as Google. Use Occam's Razor liberally and remember you can always cut more.
Internet and Social Media Marketing Not A SaladDespite seeming to suggest stealing food from many plates Internet marketing isn’t a salad. You can’t take a crouton from here, a carrot from there and dressing from over at the other table. Borrow from too many plates and you just make a mess. Find one mentor, some ecommerce or content marketing site that fits your brand like a glove and then steal everything.
I mean STEAL IT. First iterations never really count, so steal them blind. Your second, third and fifth iteration will spin words, designs and approaches back your way. You, your site and your cause will benefit from being a thief for a little bit. Don't forget Google's memory is forever. If you have pages in Google ADD TO THEM never take things AWAY from Google.
Special Note: Importance of Reviews for Not-for-profitsReviews seem product focused so most not-for-profits don’t think reviews have a place in their content marketing. They are wrong. Reviews have many benefits including:
• Know what customers think - better being on your site
• Facebook's LIKE button
Reviews bring feedback to your site instead of pushing it out to the growing number of review mashup sites such as Yelp.com. If bad things are being said better to have them on your site, but, as Bazaar Voice taught me, most reviews are positive. Positive reviews help shape marketing with real world feedback. It is easier to respond to flames (negative comments) when you know about them. The fact someone shared anger or upset with you is a sign of earned trust, a backhanded compliment but a compliment none-the-less.
What, you might be wondering, can the Salvation Army or other not-for-profits review? Anything and everything as Facebook’s ubiquitous LIKE button proves. Maybe I haven’t sold you on adding Power Reviews or Bazaar Voice to your site, but putting Facebook’s LIKE icon all over your site is a must. Facebook likes helps SEM and, as if that wasn’t enough, the LIKE button is quickly becoming a trust stamp. Plaster the thumb as many places as you can and consider adding reviews from Power Reviews or Bazaar Voice.
Five Secret Social Media Marketing Trends SummaryProfiteers want not-for-profit’s story telling and connection skills because they fear being skinned alive on Facebook or Twitter without them. They are right to want them.
Companies need to tell emotionally resonate stories, stories that grab us by our skeptical but always willing to give hearts and minds. Story telling and connection aren’t core competencies for many companies save a lucky and hard working few. Not-for-profiteers are singing around a smoldering campfire worried a cold, hard rain is about to fall when a big SEM storm has already blown through.
Not-for-profits need to get tough, learn to rebound inside the paint and throw an occasional elbow reminding everyone they are in the game. Most not-for-profits have been in this new to many companies social game LONGER and do it BETTER. Now not-for-profits need to steal SEM skills from their profiteering cousins.
NeoGoGo For Not-For-ProfitsI'm working with a dedicated team of friends and volunteers creating a company called NeoGoGo developing new FREE tools to help 501(c)3 not-for-profits make up for lost search engine marketing time. If you would like to be alerted when NeoGoGo's tools become available (probably early 2012), please email MartinSellingZoe(at)aol.
I will add you to our "alert" list. Friends and I are creating these tools for our Cure Cancer Store and are plan to give them to any not-for-profit who would need help with SEM. NeoGoGo's tools and important causes is how shopping saves the world.
March 2013 Update: NeoGoGo morphed into CureCancerStarter.org.
I continued this piece on Technorati: 5 Secret Social Marketing Trends
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