Message | Heart | Gratitude

Photo by iStockphoto.com

I believe strongly in the power of a message told with heart and gratitude.

Tell a story (message) with real, genuine, sincere passion (heart) and humility (gratitude) – and everyone involved, staff, customers and/or you will be more likely to respond. Done well and your audience will become engaged (physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially) in the project.

Like a table, it requires, at a minimum, all three legs to stand. If we omit one, the project won’t stand. It won’t resonate, and it won’t have the value it could – to you or your customer.

Advertisements

Facebook’s New, Entirely Social Ads Will Recreate Marketing (Repost)

BY E.B. BOYDThu Feb 23, 2012

Leaked documents show Facebook making a radical departure from traditional online display advertising into a world where ads are conversations and brands automatically tell you which of your friends are already on their side.

Facebook appears ready to launch a new set of premium ad units, and, based on a review of documents which purport to describe them, the social network would seem to be doubling down on two core principles that mark fundamental departures from traditional advertising.

First, Facebook is making the new ads social by default, meaning they will automatically show users when their friends have already Liked the advertiser. And the new formats will draw their content exclusively from posts to brands’ Facebook Pages, rather from advertising copy written independently.

Combined, these features make two statements about where Facebook believes the future of online advertising lies–at least in its particular universe. It is saying that ads based on content, rather than messaging, have a better chance of hitting home, and that ads involving tacit endorsements from the people you know have a better chance of capturing your attention.

“When people hear about you from friends, they listen,” the Facebook materials say. “We’ll expand your ad with stories from friends who have already connected.” (“Stories” is Facebook’s shorthand for a wide varitey of interactions on the site. In the case of ads, it seems to refer to the fact that the ads will display which of a viewer’s friends have Liked the brand.)

Facebook has not commented publicly on the new ads (presumably they will discuss them at a marketing launch event in New York next week). But the materials describing the new units were posted to Scribd earlier this week. The news was first reported on GigaOm. The documents are below.

In the documents, Facebook says it is scrapping most of the display ad units it has offered until now, replacing them with the new formats. The previous ad units incorporated some of the social and interactive elements, but the new ones are implementing those features in a more comprehensive way.

Each of the new units will include Like buttons and places for viewers to comment on the ads. When viewers click the Like button or enter a comment, those activities will be posted to the user’s  friends’ News Feeds. They will also be posted to the brand’s Page.

Similarly, each ad will include pictures of friends who have already Liked the brand. The Facebook documents say this will happen automatically, instead of as an add-on.

While Facebook had already been moving in these directions with its previous ad units, the decision to draw ad content from Page posts is the most significant new feature–and a potentially radical departure from conventional notions of advertising.

The ads don’t simply repurpose content from brands’ Pages. By giving users the ability to respond to the content inside the ad, just as if they had seen the content on the brand Page itself, and then by posting those responses to the user’s friends’ News Feeds, as well as on the brand’s Page itself, the ads are acting less like traditional broadcast advertisements and more like viral mechanisms to expand and perpetuate the conversation off into the far corners of the social network, effectively giving the brand visibility in places it might not otherwise have reached and in a much more organic way than if it had simply plastered the site with a bunch of banner ads.

“Everything starts with great content from the Page,” says one of the Facebook documents. “Paid, owned, and earned work seamlessly together.”

Facebook believes that this ultimately will pay greater dividends for brands than conventional advertising. According to tests the company said it performed internally, the new ads produce 40 percent more engagement (usually meaning they get more Likes, comments, and clicks) and are 80 percent more likely to be remembered.

The company documents also claim the ads produce “signficant increases” in purchase intent, and it claims that viewers of an ad are four times more likely to purchase when they “see friends interact with a brand.”

If the ads truly do deliver the results Facebook claims, that could mean the social network is slowly but surely finding the marketing holy grail of “word of mouth”–at scale. And if that’s the case, it could have profound implications for the advertising industry as a whole.

The six new units are based on the type of content a brand would post to their Page. The Facebook documents label them as Status (a text comment), Photo, Video, Question (which replaces the old “Poll” ad format and which allows viewers to answer the question right in the ad), Event (ad viewers will similarly be able to sign up for the event right in the ad itself), and Link (which points viewers to content outside of Facebook).

The Facebook documents say that brands will continue to be able to target their ads as they do today, choosing to place their ads in front of any of Facebook’s 845 million users who fit demographic and interest criteria selected by the advertiser.

E.B. Boyd is FastCompany.com’s Silicon Valley reporter. Twitter | Google+ | Email

Read the original article here.

How to Customize Your Social Updates for Facebook and Twitter (Repost)

I found this interesting and insightful.
twitter and facebook status best practices

Like every aspect of inbound marketing, social media is constantly evolving. Once upon a time, when marketing on Twitter and Facebook was in its infancy, auto-uploading the same posts to both platforms was considered acceptable and efficient. For the savvy inbound marketer, those days are over. While efficiency is important, it should never be at the expense of quality content and relevant social media posts. Twitter and Facebook speak a different language — what your audience looks for on one is not the same as what they look for on the other.

It’s important to recognize the differences in how to post to Twitter and Facebook if you want active followers and increased reach (and who doesn’t, right?). You can still promote the same blog posts, offers, and product information, but you need to say it differently for each platform. Here’s how to approach crafting updates differently on Facebook versus Twitter.

1) Length

Twitter: 140 Characters or Less

Less is more on Twitter. To leave enough room for links and increase the opportunity for retweets, the character limit is often even lower than 140 characters. In fact, tweets between 120 and 130 characters have the highest click-through rates. Being able to convey a message in fewer words is a special skill that the modern-day marketer should master. Ellipses indicating that the Twitter post was auto-uploaded looks automated and impersonal.

Facebook: Fewer Than 4 or 5 Lines

While Facebook’s status update limit won’t stop you from posting a novel, a marketing best practice is to make Facebook posts short and sweet. A client study conducted by Buddy Media found that Facebook posts under 80 characters received 27% more engagement. While you may think a link requires more context than 80 characters, people unfortunately won’t take the time to read more than three or four lines of text. Complete sentences are appreciated and expected on Facebook, but the reader shouldn’t have to click ‘View More’ to read the entire post.

If you need more than a few lines of messaging to get a point across, bring people to a webpage where they can read more — and be exposed to your calls-to-action while they’re at it.

2) Photos

Twitter: Be Selective

Viewing photos on Twitter takes more time and effort because the user must click a link to see it. Make that click worth it to your audience. Twitter photos should be exciting, relevant, and self-explanatory — remember, you’ve got a character limit. For example, a photo of your restaurant’s delicious pizza is likely to make people hungry and showcases the product in a positive (and delicious) way. On the other hand, tweeting a picture of rain on the window, unless you’re a weather service, is not worth your audience’s time.

Facebook: The More Photos, the Better

Photo upload and viewership on Facebook is easy and natural. Users can preview photos in newsfeeds before clicking, or browse an entire album if they’re really interested. Of course, there are some things that companies should never post on Facebook, but marketers need not be as selective with their photo usage as they are on Twitter. Just make sure photos you upload are high quality and interesting, and include a caption to help contextualize what is being viewed.

3) Personal Engagement

Twitter: Ask and Respond

Engaging and responding is extremely important on Twitter. Scroll down your company’s Twitter page — the ratio of personal responses (@mentions) to organic tweets should be about 50:50. In fact, tweets containing RT, via, and @ symbols had higher CTRs than tweets without, according to a recent analysis by Dan Zarrella.

And remember that when your tweet starts with an @ handle, only followers who follow both you and the the person you’re tweeting at can see the tweet. This means that if you’re replying to, say, a complaint, you can respond without bombarding your followers’ newsfeeds.

Facebook: Engage and Redirect

In a recent neurological study, Facebook scored 20% higher in attention span and 6% higher in emotional engagement than television ads. This helps inform many of our inclinations — that relevant content posted on Facebook has a good chance of impacting and sticking with readers.

So what do you do with that? Well, Facebook is a great platform for opinions. Ask open ended questions and let readers voice their opinions on your page, not all of which you need to respond to. Yes, opening yourself up to others’ opinions can feel threatening, but if someone has a complaint on Facebook, you can address it publicly and then conduct the remainder of the conversation privately. This is a crucial step, because Facebook is more permanent than Twitter; observers can easily track an entire conversation for a longer window of time.

4) Frequency

Twitter: Frequently

Twitter moves fast. Putting an exact number on the amount of tweets your company should be posting is difficult. Strive to maintain activity, but never at the expense of relevance; only tweet if you have something to say. In fact, tweeting more than once per hour can actually decrease your link click-through rate by over 200%.

Exciting blog posts, news, event updates, and offers are great things to tweet about throughout the day. Pre-scheduling both Facebook posts and tweets is an efficient way to keep up with the platforms, but the posts should be different across mediums and you should slot in room for real-time posting, as well.

Facebook: 3-5 Times Per Day

Facebook has a longer shelf life than Twitter, but user newsfeeds move fast. Facebook’s Edgerank algorithm ranks news feed posts based on weight, affinity, and recency. This means that Facebook takes into account the amount of interaction your followers have with your company — how many people interact with you, and how often they do so — and how recent your update was posted. That means with Edgerank, your post is more likely to get buried under other updates, so it’s important to post often (though less than on Twitter) to remain top-of-mind.

5) Language

Twitter: Concise and Retweetable

The type of content you post on Facebook and Twitter company pages can be the same. Blog posts, product info, event promotions, and photos are great content for either platform. The language, however, should differ. With Twitter, it’s not crucial to speak in complete sentences as long as the message is clear. Sometimes shorthands and symbols are necessary to meet the character count, but marketers often fall into the trap of using them so often that the message is convoluted. Use shorthands only when necessary.

As with photos on Twitter, give people a reason to click on your content and retweet it to their followers. Tweets should be colloquial, but professional enough that users will be comfortable retweeting to their networks. This is how you grow reach and engage your company’s followers.

Facebook: Engaging and Aesthetic

People love to talk on Facebook, and using engaging language and photos are great ways to get them talking about your company. Pose questions that accompany your links in your Facebook statuses — there’s more opportunity for people to comment and share your link on Facebook than on Twitter, because there’s a larger available character count and it’s easier to see the conversation history. Plus, a 2011 Facebook study found that links have a 20% higher referral rate when personal commentary is provided. Similarly, links with a corresponding photo received 65% more likes than those without. Again, this data argues against auto-uploading because it calls for more personal engagement from your Facebook page.

As social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter mature, their rules of engagement become more niche. In order for marketers to effectively grow reach and generate leads through social media, they must understand these rules. The better we can understand the nuances of a platform, the better we can tailor content and language to fit that audience.

How does your approach differ when crafting updates for Facebook and Twitter?

Read the original post.

5 Steps to Thinking Outside of the Box (Repost)

How do people think outside of the proverbial box? They know how to view things more expansively. Here’s how.

By Matthew Swyers |  @TrademarkCo   | Feb 3, 2012

Shutterstock

A few years back our litigation team was faced with a seemingly insurmountable task: how to defend our client’s trademark rights against a Fortune 500 company with a massive litigation budget. They had the facts on their side. Moreover, they had money.  Worst of all, they had a gaggle of lawyers that just made the case down right unpleasant. In spite of this, as luck would have it, they were missing one very crucial thing that they had never learned in law school. Something big firm life had failed to teach them. Quite simply, they were limited in their thinking to that which was rather than that which could be.

Looking beyond conventional defense methods, we deconstructed every element of the case until we discovered a plan to turn the tables. In trademark law priority of use is everything. Whoever is the first to use a specific trademark typically wins an infringement case, especially where the trademarks as well as the goods and services of the parties involved are very similar if not identical. At any rate, the other side had priority of use. The trademarks were very similar. The services were almost identical. We might as well just throw in the towel, right? Wrong!

In thinking beyond the realm of traditional defenses, we wondered what if we could find someone else who had priority of use associated with their own trademark that preceded that of the opposing party? What if we could find this mythical entity and purchase their rights to their trademark, thus acquiring their earlier priority rights as compared to those of our opponent? Could it work?

Well, not only could it, it did. After a brief search we found a small company in a Midwestern state that miraculously had been using the same trademark as our opponent for more than 50 years. They were considering closing their business already when we arrived and bought them out for a fraction of what it would have cost to defend the case in court. After acquiring their trademark rights including the priority of use date prior to that of our opponent’s first use date, that gaggle of lawyers quickly moved from shooting at fish in a barrel to being the fish in the barrel. The case settled within days.

How did we do it? How can you? Sometimes when you are losing in a game you have to stop playing by the rules, switch it up, and change the game itself.

People often speak about thinking outside the box, but how do you really do it? What does it mean to be limited to inside the box as opposed to being outside? The key is to define the box in any given situation and then to seek alternative, often unconventional solutions that would be considered beyond the norm.

When you are faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle, train yourself to not merely  focus on the specific issue at hand but also think more expansively about all of the reasons and the paths that led to the issue. Consider every possibility and hypothetical alteration of that reality along the path, never being dismissive of anything. When you do this, alternative solutions will often materialize giving you options you did not see when narrowly focusing on a specific issue.

Here are a few tips that we have learned along the way that have aided us in getting outside the box:

1.  Identify the issue.

2.  Determine whether a regular or typical solution to the problem exists.

3.  If one does, you’re done. If no, map out everything that went into creating the issue. In this aspect, be expansive. Include everything possible.

4.  Once you start mapping out the issue more completely, start looking for ways to  address the situation in one of the more outlying areas that was not considered  previously.

5.  Never dismiss a possible solution on the basis, “It simply cannot be done.” Consider everything. Go through every possibility until you know for a fact it can or cannot be done.

This is exactly the way we won the case referenced above. If we thought inside the box our thinking would have been:

1.  Can we defend on the grounds the trademarks are not similar? No.

2.  Can we defend on the grounds the trademarks are used on different goods and/or services? No.

3.  Do we have priority of use? No.

In thinking outside the box we began looking at how did the opponent acquire their trademark rights they are now asserting against us? Could we acquire trademark rights that are superior to theirs? We could if there was another company out there using the same trademark as our opponent before they did that would be willing to sell it to our client for a reasonable price. Well, let’s see if we can find one. And we did.

Teach yourself to look at problems more expansively. Never be dismissive of a potential solution before you have thoroughly thought it through. Think outside the proverbial box.

Matthew Swyers

Matthew Swyers is the founder of The Trademark Company, a web-based law firm specializing in protecting the trademark rights of small to medium-sized businesses. The company is recognized as one of the top trademark firms in the world. The company is also ranked No. 138 on the 2011 Inc. 500 list.

Read the original article.

Super Commercial Sunday

Fast Company set up an interesting page to create interaction and responses to the commercials that are shown during the big game today.

SUPER BOWL XLVI—THE SPOTS, BEHIND THE WORK, AND MORE

I’d love to hear your comments. Come back and let us know your favorite commercial and why. Yeah, and go ahead and let us know how you’re rooting for. As a devote Cowboys fan, I just can’t find it in me to root for the Giants (but I think their going to win) – so I guess I’m pulling for the Patriots.

Enjoy the game!

And as a little extra, I’ll give you this nugget from (one of my favorite) comedians, Tim Hawkins: