Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm just a small business, how can social media increase sales?"

Can small business increase sales from social media? How? What is the process? If you follow the premise that any business will increase sales if they increase traffic to their store then I would argue the answer is a resounding YES.

The following is a process that a small business needs to follow in order to ensure they build traffic to their stores:

1 – Build a community

As the world of social media now expands to MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr etc businesses need to set up a community across all sites. You’re not going to necessarily catch a fish if you only fish at St Kilda pier but if you make sure you go to Sandringham pier one week end and then go out on a boat another week end you’re increasing your chances of success. So step one, make sure you have a presence across all sites and incentivize members to join by promoting it on your website and offline.

2 – Keep users engaged

Through these communities promote content to keep your users engaged. Make sure this content is consistent with your brand image. Ie If you sell coffee there is no point in putting a funny video up about Barack Obama. Unless he is spilling coffee all over Michelle perhaps?

3 – Create offers to get users in store

Right so your consumers know who you are. Tick. They get a funny video about your brand frequently. Check. So they like you. Bloody fantastic. But now you just have to create an offer that will drive traffic. This is the most important step and this just comes down to simple ideas... "The third person to come in on Monday and say “I love your coffee” gets it for free. Or even is it’s a simple awareness campaign,” come in today for 15% off shorts and T-shirts.” As long as the offer is worthy of getting your community in store the strategy will work.

4 – Keep the conversation going

Don’t forget about your customers once they leave. Evaluation is key as you have to know how you can do things better to create more sales in the future. Hey, if you tweet about us and tell us how your coffee was or how the sales people treated you in store you can get further discounts when you’re in store next. Brand advocates are the people who will keep spreading the important word so make sure they are out there and happy!

Happy socializing!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Viral success = ...breasts?

So what makes a good viral? One that has entertainment value, what that isn't longer than about a minute, one where the product that is being advertisertised is clear to the person watching?

Ahhhhh. Well I guess this one ticks all boxes!


Sunday, June 21, 2009

Are you a 'follower', 'a friend' ..or neither?

Why do we have friends or followers in the online world? If someone called me my friend and I didn’t even know what they looked like I’d be very worried and if someone started following me and I didn’t know what they looked like I’d be even more concerned! But in today’s online world this is perfectly normal..

I am quite ashamed to admit that I have over 600 friends on Facebook, 100 friends on MySpace and over 100 followers on Twitter. And out of all these contacts I’d say I probably only see or speak to about 2% on a monthly basis... yet in today's world this is not abnormal and for today's generation quite standard. But how does today's marketer take advantage of this?

For marketers and businesses social media friends and followers has created an entirely new chapter in their history. The availability of these ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ means that brands today can reach out to more people, more efficiently and in more cost effectively way. In addition, these friends also form a free audience sample which can be used for a very cheap research project!

A genuine goldmine yes they are but marketing through social media has to follow some very important guidelines:

1 - Don't be too aggressive

Marketers need to remember that these networks are very personal for many users and as a result campaigns cannot shadow their consumers’ every move. Marketers need to give them space and let consumers find them. Build an offer and if it’s good enough, “they will come.” One can do a lot of damage to their brand if they are too aggressive. As they say it can take a many years to build a reputation, and one minute to ruin it.

2 - Give so that they may grow

People naturally need a reason to give up their time. As a result marketers need to provide an incentive for returning friendship. "Come check out our sale", "mention today's key word and get a further 10% off" or "sign up for our newsletter and get a free sample of our product." The day a brand's community starts giving something back to their friends and followers is the same day the same friends and followers create a greater affinity with your brand and hopefully when you will start seeing increases in your sales.

3 - Use your social media for feedback about your brand / product

A an open forum where cosumers can give you feedback about product. Don't you have to pay big $$$ for that? Not in this day and age! Social media tools give brands the opportunity to ask questions and get answers that only research companies have been able to retrieve for you in the past. So why not use social media just for that reason? One will need to tie it in with a promotion eg 20% off for all those tell us their most favourite and least favourite flavour. But in the social world everyone love giving an opinion so all you have to do is ask!

If anyone else has any tips for best using a friendship base let me know!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The lifespan of a social network

Friendster is gone, MySpace is (gulp) going and Bebo was never really anything in this country. But are the past and current demise of these social networks a trend that will continue? Do social networks have a lifespan? Can a social network expire? Or is the market now maturing in such a way that social networks now know what their users want and as a result are now paving the way for a long and sustainable relationship?

Below is a trend (Nielsen Net Ratings June 2009) of the growth and decline of some of Australia’s biggest social networks within the last 13 months. Both MySpace and Bebo have seen consistent declines since May 2008 (Note Friendster, considered one of the original social networks does not even post a high enough unique monthly audience to a register a reading on Nielsen Netratings) whilst Facebook, Twitter and even a marginally, LinkedIn, have all continued to grow. But why is this?

In my opinion Facebook understands their market better than MySpace and Bebo ever did, LinkedIn in the same way and Twitter is at this stage still an unknown. The reason for Facebook’s success is because they know who it’s users really are. And who is that? Well it’s people who are really just interested in social networking, that’s it, there is nothing complicated about it. As such, their interface and functionality is simple enough for the internet novice to use with ease. That’s why it works and that’s why it has no expiry date. LinkedIn in the same way knows who it’s users are. They are businessmen and women. And again, as a result, their product caters for them and they don’t claim to be in competition with anyone because quite simply no-one really does it better. And then there is twitter. The baby of the bunch. The baby whose mother says it can be anything it wants to be. I think what will happen with Twitter is very similar to what has happened with LinkedIn. It will become its own market and cater for a very specific market of tech inclined users who want to share the love about interesting URLs they have found and a few people who want to share what coffee they are drinking. Not to mention those who want to market their businesses (Thanks to Martyn - How could I forget!)Once the media hype dies down it will settle in growth but never reach the heights of Facebook or MySpace. Why? Because updating your status is just one of the functions of MySpace and Facebook. Why go to another network that offers just one of the elements that you are currently enjoying on another?

With the industry only being in existence for 4 years it is probably too early to say with certainty whether social networks have an expiry date or not. But now that many networks are catering for a specific market and they know exactly what their market wants, the early networks may just be squeezed out.

Monday, June 8, 2009

The future of blogging

Today is my first day at Nuffnang (http://www.nuffnang.com.au/) - The world's only marketing blogging agency.

For the last two years the only potential channel of marketing and advertising has been within social networks such as MySpace, Facebook and now Twitter. But the network of Nuffnang blogs now means marketers have the ability to integrate into the blogs of some of Australia's biggest bloggers. It really is a new frontier.

Last night I sat down to watch a pirated DVD version of 'State of Play,' the recently released film wth Ben Affleck and Russell Crowe and it got me thinking. Besides hearing the chuckles and claps of the audience throughout, what else interested me was the attention brought to blogging throughout the film. In the film there was a subtle theme of the shift in readership from old media such as newspapers to new media such such as blogs. What excited me was the fact that blogging has now reached a level of global interest where is being included in big Hollywood blockbusters! With attention such as this (and much much more still to come), surely blogging can now be considered an effective way for brands to advertise?

It's no H1N1 but the uptake of blogging in this country has been massive and the future is bright. With over 1,000,000 national blog views every month blogging is no longer just causing ripples in the US, UK and Asian markets. And what is the future of blogging? Well it can only be up. Especially with generation Y in love with talking about themselves and giving their opinions, companies like Nuffnang are going to thrive.

Social media is now slowly becoming the industry it promises to be...