Archive for April, 2013

What Twitter’s Massive Advertising Deal Means for Businesses

Twitter has struck a huge advertising partnership that businesses large and small should pay attention to. Under the deal, Starcom MediaVest Group (SMG), a subsidiary of French advertising conglomerate Publicis, and Twitter will pool their resources on a number of analytics projects over the course of multiple years. Starcom represents major brands including Microsoft, Samsung, Walmart and Coca-Cola
Estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, the deal is Twitter’s largest ad partnership yet. But what does it mean for for brands beyond SMG’s star-studded portfolio?

Here are five details business owners should watch out for:

1. The deal is all about data.
Twitter’s interest in SMG isn’t just brand-deep. The considerable reach of SMG’s clients will serve as a test for what Twitter says it really wants to know — namely how consumers are engaging with content on its platform.

Twitter intends to mine a massive haul of analytics out of its new partnership. The trends that emerge from that wide swath of data — particularly the anatomy of a successful, engaging Twitter ad — will in turn be made widely available via public reports on best practices and engagement insights — relevant tips for any brand navigating Twitter’s fickle social waters.

Related: Facebook Expands Advertising Options With New ‘Partner Categories’

2. Fine-tuning the ‘when.’
Your company may know who to communicate with and what to say, but on the ever-ephemeral social network, that might not cut it. Twitter wants to leverage the data from this big deal to help all brands crack that other more delicate W — the when. The realtime social network has a vested interest in helping its advertisers serve up the most engaging content possible. That starts with being in the right place at the right time, Twitter says.

3. Twitter isn’t playing favorites.
The SMG deal is nonexclusive, so the rapport between the two companies won’t keep Twitter from striking up other partnerships. While the two may work on projects such as custom mobile surveys, Twitter’s promoted products suite will remain the same across its ad client base.

4. TV and Twitter: a perfect pair?
If it wasn’t already apparent, Twitter and television are an advertising match made in heaven. Twitter’s unprecedented collaboration with Nielsen and its recent acquisition of entertainment analytics group Bluefin Labs all point to the TV-Twitter combo as a lucrative frontier for advertisers. Twitter can now reap the benefits of its SMG data harvest using the analytics tools it’s cooked up with Nielsen and Bluefin to elevate brands at large.

5. Small businesses won’t be left out.
Twitter maintains that its core users are small businesses — and it won’t be ignoring them when it comes to advertising on the social network. The company expects the recent launch of keyword targeting — which gives advertisers the ability to reach users based on keywords in their tweets and tweets they’ve recently interacted with — to prove useful for small businesses in particular. Since they can utilize the same tools as the big fish in SMG’s lineup, large-scale insight around keyword targeting should have a potent trickle-down effect for the little guy, too.


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An Inside Look at Facebook Home

After spending a day with Facebook Home, I can report that its main function is actually pretty simple. It essentially turns your lock screen into a slideshow of updates from your News Feed.

The News Feed, you’ll recall, is that stream of updates that goes down the middle of the page when you open up a Facebook app or go to

So, is Facebook Home cool? Almost. Mostly. It’s really close.

After less than 24 hours with this phone, I can already tell that it would be nice to own a phone which allows you to press one button, and then swipe through live, high-quality status updates, photos, and news stories during any spare moment of the day.
But that’s not what Facebook Home does. The status updates, photos, and news stories Facebook Home shows you aren’t high-quality at all. That’s because they are status updates, photos, and news stories from your Facebook friends.

If you are anything like me, the group of people who are your Facebook Friends is a motley collection of family, family friends, old classmates, casual business acquaintances, and maybe a dozen or so actual, real-life “friends.” Who wants to see photos and news stories from those people? They aren’t very good photographers. Who wants to tap a button and see news stories from them, either? They don’t usually share my taste in news.

The problem with Facebook Home is your Facebook friends. They fill it up with useless (and sometimes embarrassing) junk.

Annoyingly, right now there’s no way for a user to tell Facebook that they’d like to see less of one kind of update in Home and more of another. The good news is, Facebook knows this is a problem. We’re told by Facebook that it plans to improve its update-selecting algorithms and give users manual filtering options in the future. Facebook is updating Home once a month right now, so we’ll probably see improvements in this area soon.

In the meantime, I’ve attempted to make Facebook Home more pleasant and interesting by going through my list of Facebook friends and removing people. I’m curating.

Ironically, this process has made me realize how much I would prefer Facebook Home if, instead of pulling content from Facebook, it pulled content from the people I follow on Twitter or Instagram.

On both those services, I don’t follow people because I know them or I met them one time or whatever. I follow them because they take photos of or tweet about interesting things.

I’m constantly curating those lists — adding and subtracting people based on the quality and usefulness of the content they share.

Facebook Home is a cool innovation for smartphones. Swipe-able news belongs in a smartphone’s lock screen.

But I hope Facebook’s innovation is one that Twitter and Instagram (a Facebook subsidiary) copy as soon as possible.


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What You Can Learn From the Boston Bombing Social-Media Circus

After explosive devices detonated near the finish line of the Boston Marathon on Monday, killing three and injuring 180 people, social media sites including Twitter erupted — but not always with trustworthy information. Several top news organizations came under fire for reporting information despite conflicting reports of what was unfolding. For business owners who often share or comment on breaking news over social media, it was easy to wind up sharing faulty information. And some brands ran afoul of consumer rage when their marketing efforts — many running on automated programs — were issued amid the chaos.

The confusion continued as the week went on. By Thursday, the FBI reprimanded users of sites like reddit for conducting their own digital manhunt for the Boston bombers. Similarly, local Boston police asked journalists on Friday to stop live-tweeting police actions and scanner traffic in order to preserve the safety of officers and the effectiveness of their manhunt.

Given the immediacy of how news is spread over social media, and the potential for sharing incorrect information, business owners should avoid sending scheduled marketing messages and commenting on moment-by-moment updates during sensitive breaking news events. For brands, a more effective use of social media could be to share links to positive and constructive services. In this case, examples might have included Google’s Person Finder tool or, a way for people to send their photos and videos from the marathon directly to the FBI. — PRDaily, ReadWrite, Daily Dot and Mashable

Twitter Music officially launches.
Twitter’s much-rumored music service helps users discover new music that was previously under their radar. “Most of Twitter Music feels like just another Spotify, or just another,” writes the Wall Street Journal’s Matthew Lynley, noting that heavy music listeners probably already have profiles on other music-discovery services, and may not want to duplicate them. On the other hand, Lynley says, the emerging artists section of Twitter “shows exactly how powerful Twitter’s data set can be at surfacing relevant music to even the most well-equipped music fanatics.” — The Wall Street Journal

Medium acquires long-form publishing platform MATTER.
Publishing startup Medium has joined forces with MATTER, an innovative platform for long-form journalism on science, technology and the future. Launched last October by Twitter and Blogger co-founder Evan Williams, Medium is an invite-only service that aims to be a new kind of home for thoughtful reading and writing. MATTER raised $140,000 on Kickstarter early last year to launch a site that promotes quality, in-depth journalism through subscriptions and individual article sales. “Experimenting with tweaks to the model and the way we distribute our content will be a vital way of making MATTER robust in the long term,” MATTER said in an announcement. — Mashable

Twitter creates a new position: data editor.
Twitter has hired Simon Rogers away from British newspaper The Guardian to be its first data editor. Rogers is a 15-year veteran of The Guardian and editor of its Datablog, which he created in 2009. “Twitter has become such an important element in the way we work as journalists,” Rogers said on his personal blog. “As data editor, I’ll be helping to explain how this phenomenon works.” — AllTwitter

Gotcha! Social media popularity doesn’t equal credibility.
Kevin Ashton, a manager at electronics firm Belkin and a former entrepreneur, created a persuasive online identity for an imaginary digital-culture guru named Santiago Swallow. The fake expert’s online presence included a website, a Wikipedia page and a seemingly verified Twitter account with 80,000 followers. Ashton’s explanation of how and why he did it makes for a fascinating read. He used the experiment as a springboard for outing self-proclaimed experts and bestselling authors whose online followings are mostly fake. — Quartz


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Creating Viral Tweets for Your Business

Everyone has forwarded a funny email or a link to a hilarious YouTube video to their friends. We also forward information we think is important or relevant. When content is forwarded numerous times, it’s considered viral content. So what makes content viral, and better yet, how do we create viral content? Wouldn’t you love to be able to create content that’s forwarded over and over again?
Creating viral content isn’t as hard as you think. Here are some ideas to help you create viral content.

Add a call to action.
Every Tweet should be done for a specific reason and should include a call to action. Every time you Tweet, you want your followers to ReTweet it so it spreads throughout the Twitterverse. This enables your message to reach more people than just your followers. When someone ReTweets your Tweet, it’s seen by your followers and the followers of the person who ReTweeted it. Every time your message is ReTweeted, it expands into another network of Twitter users, accelerating faster and faster each time.

You know the old saying, “Ask and you shall receive”? Ask people to ReTweet your Tweet, and they will most of the time. When you have a message you really want people to ReTweet, just add, “Please RT” or “Please ReTweet” to your Tweet. This works amazingly well if you don’t overuse it.

Some other words you can use in your Tweet that will encourage ReTweeting are:

Check this out . . .
You should really follow . . .
Please vote
What do you think of . . . or Where is the best place to . . .
I need some help . . .
You need to experiment to see when you’ll get the best response from your followers. From my experience, a business-related Tweet receives the most traction on weekdays during working hours, which makes perfect sense. When you get a ReTweet, track it in a spreadsheet and note the day, time, and content of your Tweet. This will let you see patterns and determine the best time to Tweet to your followers.

You can also use SocialBro to determine the best time to Tweet. In the Tools section of SocialBro, choose “Best Time to Tweet,” and the program will assess your followers’ behavior and tell you what time they’re likely to be online and Tweeting.

According to Dan Zarrella of HubSpot, Tweets with links in them are ReTweeted almost 70 percent of the time.

Social proof.
When you see a great movie, what do you do? I bet you tell your friends about it. Then your friends go see it and tell their friends about it. Word spreads faster and faster as each friend tells their network of friends. The momentum turns into frenzy, and suddenly the movie turns into a blockbuster.

This is called “social proof,” also known as “social influence.” We tend to think if something is OK for one person, then it’s OK for us because we assume they have more knowledge about the subject.

Because of the social proof phenomenon, the likelihood of a Tweet being ReTweeted increases dramatically each time it’s ReTweeted. The momentum builds with each ReTweet, and suddenly you have a blockbuster Tweet.

Add value.
You build your reputation on social media by providing value to your network. The adage “The more you give the more you receive” holds true in social media. Follow some big names on Twitter like @CarrieWilkerson, @ChrisBrogan and @BrianSolis, and see how they add value to their networks. They give way more than they receive. You never see them dominating a conversation on Twitter or speaking negatively about a person. They are constantly providing great resources and product reviews to their followers. Notice how many ReTweets they receive after they Tweet a good resource or their opinion on a topic. Their Tweets are always ReTweeted hundreds of times by others.

Take note of what the successful Twitter users Tweet about that gets ReTweeted. Follow their lead and use the same Twitter style they do. Here are some ideas about what you can Tweet about that will receive a lot of ReTweets:

How-to information and instructional content
Breaking news
Tech warnings such as viruses, Facebook scams, or product updates
Contests and discount coupons for products or services you enjoy
It’s not hard to create viral Tweets when you think from the perspective of giving instead of receiving. Provide valuable information and support to your followers, and your Tweets will be ReTweeted with regularity.


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10 Questions to Ask Before Determining Your Target Market

The better you understand your customer, the faster your business will grow. But new ventures often struggle to define their target market and set their sights too broadly.

“We often overestimate the market size, and in many cases there may not be one at all,” says Robert Hisrich, director of the Walker Center for Global Entrepreneurship at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Ariz.

Here are 10 questions that can help you determine whether you have a target market and what it is:

Who would pay for my product or service?
First, try to understand the problem that your product or service can solve, says Greg Habstritt, founder of, an Alberta, Canada-based advice website for small-business owners. Then, use that information to help determine who would be willing to pay for a solution. “Not only do [your potential customers] need to have the problem, but they need to be aware they have the problem,” Habstritt says. He recommends using Google’s keyword tool to see how many people are searching for words related to your business idea.

Who has already bought from me?
To refine both your target marketing and your pricing strategy, see who has already bought your product or service, says Amos Adler, president of Memotext, a medication compliance app maker in Bethesda, Md. You can gain valuable insights by releasing the product in a test phase and letting potential consumers speak with their wallets.

Am I overestimating my reach?
It’s easy to assume that most people will need your service or product. But rather than make assumptions, reach out to groups of potential customers to get a more realistic picture of your audience and narrow your marketing efforts. You can conduct surveys, do man-on-the-street type interviews in stores, or organize small focus groups. “We get so passionate about the idea and how good it is that we overestimate the market size,” Hisrich says.

What does my network think?
As you try to understand your target market, it may be challenging — and expensive — to seek feedback from potential consumers through surveys, focus groups and other means. But you can tap into your social networks to get free feedback. Many people in your extended network will likely be willing to take the time to give you opinions and advice, says Bryan Darr, founder of Mosaik Solutions, a data analytics company in Memphis, Tenn.

Am I making assumptions based on my personal knowledge and experience?
Your own personal experience and knowledge can make you believe that you understand your target market even before you conduct any research, Habstritt says. For example, if you’re a fitness buff and want to start a business related to personal health, you may assume you know your customer. “Don’t assume that you can think like your target market,” Habstritt says. “You have to ask them and talk to them to really understand them.”

What’s my revenue model?
Figuring out how you’ll reap revenue can help you find your target market, Hisrich says. Social ventures can be particularly tricky, he says, because without a specific plan for getting revenue it’s easy to overestimate the size of the customer base. But if you’re revenue model is simply selling a product online, it can be easier to figure out a target customer.

How will I sell my product or service?
Your retailing strategy can help determine your target market, Hisrich says. Will you have a store, a website or both? Will you be marketing only in your home country or globally? For example, an online-only business may have a younger customer than one with stores. A brick-and-mortar business may narrow your target market to people in the neighborhood.

How did my competitors get started?
Evaluating the competition’s marketing strategy can help you define your own target customer, says Darr. But of course, don’t simply copy the marketing approach of your biggest competitors once you define your target consumers. “You must have a way of differentiating what you are doing from what the other guys offer,” he says.

How will I find my customers?
As you start defining your target customers, try to determine whether you can efficiently market to them. You’ll need to do some market research and study your target audience’s demographic, geographic and purchasing patterns. If you’re selling from a storefront, you need to know how many people in your target market live nearby. If you’re selling from a website, you need to learn about your prospective customers’ online behavior. Understanding how to locate your customers early on can help you establish a game plan once you start building a marketing strategy, Hisrich says.

Is there room to expand my target market?
Be prepared to redefine your target market or to expand it over time, Darr says. For example, figuring out whether you’re targeting a domestic consumer or customers throughout the world can be a good start. As the power of mobile mapping has grown in the last decade, he’s seen the number of target markets grow at his own firm. In the beginning, Mosaik dealt mostly with wireless operators, but now he also counts cable providers and broadcasters as clients, Darr says.


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YouTube Marketing: What to Consider Before Getting Started

YouTube has become a hot site for businesses looking to promote their products and services. But not every business gets acceptable results from their YouTube marketing videos.

Success on YouTube depends on what you want to accomplish with your online videos. So, before you press the record button your video camera, answer some key questions about your YouTube video strategy.

1. Should your business even be on YouTube?
Not every type of business is a good fit for YouTube. Put simply, if you can’t show your product or service in action, don’t put it on YouTube.

For example, if you sell or manufacture power tools, it can be easy to show how a power drill works in a short video. But if you offer college-tutoring services, you don’t have much to demonstrate on camera, so YouTube might not make sense.

Even if you can demonstrate what you do in videos, you still need to set a clear goal for what you hope to accomplish. Your goal will help you determine what type of video to produce.

2. Do you want to attract new customers or support existing ones?
For many companies, YouTube is an ideal medium for attracting new customers. You pull them in by showing them your product and how it works, and then direct them to your website for more information or to close the sale. Since you can’t link directly from a video, you’ll need to superimpose your URL onscreen and include the URL in the video’s text description.

You also can use YouTube to provide additional information and support to existing customers. For example, if you sell children’s outdoor playsets, you might produce a video showing how to assemble them. A how-to video can be much more effective than printed instructions, and can cut down the volume of post-sale customer support calls.

3. Do you want to inform or educate with your video?
The most successful YouTube videos tend to accomplish one of three things: inform, educate or entertain. While entertaining videos are the most likely to go viral, they’re also the most difficult to pull off. That’s why most businesses focus on either informing or educating with their videos.

An informative video can provide details about a specific product, your company or industry, or simply topics of interest to potential customers. For example, if you’re an attorney, you might produce a series of videos that discuss important legal issues. If you run a bed and breakfast, you might offer video tours of your facilities.

An educational video shows customers how to do something, typically in step-by-step fashion. For example, if you sell computer-networking equipment, you might produce a video that shows customers how to set up a home network — using your equipment, of course. If you sell musical instruments, it’s a no-brainer to offer a series of music instruction videos.

Some businesses naturally gravitate to either an informative or educational approach, while others can go either way. For example, if you run a restaurant, you could produce informative videos that show your top dishes in attractive settings, or you could produce educational videos that show customers how to cook their own versions of some of your favorite recipes.

Whether you take the informative or educational video approach depends a lot on your company’s image and your own personal style. But whichever approach you take, remember that YouTube is a soft sell medium, meaning viewers tend to reject direct commercial messages. Offer potential customers something useful, however, and you’ll help to build your brand over the long term.


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5 Secrets to Winning More Sales

Sales is king in the new economy. Your success will be determined by your ability to generate revenue and sell, not just your products and services, but also yourself.

Here are five signs you’re well positioned to succeed at the art of selling:

1. Remember you’re in the people business.
Lots of salespeople get caught up in what they are selling and forget that they’re in the people business. Your customer wants to be treated personally. I was recently at a dental office that had clearly forgotten they were not in the business of teeth, but of making patients happy and comfortable.

Getting attention and maintaining your customers’ interest is a huge problem today. But walk into any big-box outlet, restaurant or professional office and you might not even be acknowledged. Before I visit or work with any client, I remind myself, “This is a unique individual who deserves distinct treatment.”

2. Focus on the results, not the effort.
The sales game is not one of organizing, planning or meetings — it’s about getting results. Sales people often spend time kidding themselves about doing busy work and don’t get in front of customers who can buy their products.

Your success in selling is about getting results and that means getting your products into the hands of more customers. A great salesperson knows how to get the customer’s attention and present their product or service in a way that causes the customer to buy. Don’t confuse results with efforts. You don’t try to get an appointment — you either get it or you don’t.

3. Do the uncomfortable thing.
The best sales people I have ever known are willing to throw themselves into harms way. So convinced of their offer, they are willing to get in front of the tough customers, ask the hard questions and go for the close. Doing the uncomfortable thing is where the top performers live.

I always call my toughest clients first and keep calling on them long after everyone else has given up. Once a month, I make a list of our company’s most difficult customers and create an attack plan on how to get those accounts. The first month we incorporated this strategy, I landed one of the biggest deals of my career. You can’t bring the big deals home without getting into the deep waters where the big fish swim.

4. Wow the customer.
Great sales people look for ways to inspire a customer’s emotional involvement and create the urgency to take ownership. When you wow a customer you make a difference and cause them to want to hold onto that experience. You can take any product — even a boring one — and make it a wow presentation.

I once showed a client the glass doors on a home by demonstrating how they would be hurricane proof, slapping on both sides to evidence their construction quality. This immediately got the customer’s full attention and set apart the product and me from the competition. Average doesn’t pay in sales. Wow them with your presentation, your dress, your belief in the product and the service you offer.

5. Ask for the sale.
This may seem very simple, but most salespeople never ask for the sale. This is hard to believe, but it’s true. We recently did a mystery shop on over 500 businesses and at more than 70 percent of them, the salespeople never asked us to do business. Regardless of your product, price or how professional you are, if you don’t ask, you will only sell to those who are going to buy regardless.

I keep a tally of every time I ask a customer to do business with me. This keeps me focused and increases my sales.


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