How Marketers Can Capitalize on Live Events

event-marketing
Previously seen as simply a one-way advertising opportunity, mobile’s ability to facilitate a conversation with customers has transformed live events into a key component of cross-channel marketing efforts.

This allows for customers to become part of the event – whether in person or watching it online. However, just like any program, a campaign built around a live event requires preparation that identifies goals and key messages to ensure it’s a measurable success.

The multitude of screens proves to be an opportunity for brands to use mobile to create a direct connection with customers that is personal, engaging and measurable.

Here are three ways brands can capitalize on live events and make it a year of interactivity.

1. Make your audience part of the event

Customers are constantly using their phone at live events, and often, it’s for social sharing.

This constant connection to mobile phones provides brands with the opportunity to leverage audience members as brand advocates and take the conversation from not only at the event but out to social communities.

Having fans upload and share a photo to win prizes is a simple way to spread the word and share their experiences via their social channels.

The Sprint NASCAR Series has done a nice job of extending the passion for racing beyond those in attendance at the track. By using venue screens to invite fans to tweet a question or upload a photo that would be posted to Facebook, they’re engaging the attendees at the event, and reaching the fans’ extended social community, potentially drawing in more viewers.

2. Capture opt-ins for ongoing communications

You have a captive audience at live events which makes it an optimal time to acquire permission-based mobile and email opt-ins for future communications.

These opt-ins can be used to drive traffic in stores, encourage app downloads, provide exclusive product info and more. The opportunities are endless, and live events are the ideal place to start this rich engagement, especially if sponsorships are already in your marketing mix.

For example, to generate interest in and increase viewership of the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards show, text-to-win programs have been created for the past three years through televised mobile calls-to-action.

By offering prizes, such as a guitar autographed by Brad Paisley, the CMA team saw 56% of fans opt in for continued mobile communication.

3. Turn live events into commerce

Mobile opt-ins like the fans captured by the CMA represent a powerful opportunity for marketers to drive engagement and increase revenue. Subsequent campaigns can be designed to drive purchases through exclusive offers and/or coupons.

The Portland Trail Blazers were looking for a way to bring mobile engagement inside their arena and around the team. To do so, they created contests that combined mobile and social integrations to provide fans with discounts and in-venue promotions on tickets and merchandise.

The results were impressive: as the discounts and promotions sent to fans contributed to the highest grossing sales night of the year.

Brands spend large amounts of money in event sponsorships. Adding mobile to a live event strategy won’t make a big dent on a brand’s budget, but it will make that sponsorship more impactful both at the event and long after.

As marketers, we talk about how consumers always have their phones with them and the impact of mobile as it relates to the on-the-go customer.

Live events are the perfect place to turn that marketing talk into marketing strategy.

Get the most out of your event marketing. Call 877.447.0134 today.

Small to Medium Businesses Up Social Media Budgets and Time Invested

Social Media for SMBs
Over four in five SMBs have integrated social media into traditional marketing activities

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) have continued to see success with social media, and they’re now upping budgets and time invested in the channel. In an April 2014 study by Social Media Marketing University, the majority (54.4%) of US SMB marketers said they had increased their social media marketing spending this year. Just 7.7% of respondents had decreased investments in social, and 37.9% said social budgets had stayed the same.

Social media was not just seeing more marketing dollars: An overwhelming majority of SMB marketers had also increased the time they were investing in social efforts. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said they had upped time spent with social media vs. the prior year, compared with 14.0% who said it had stayed the same. Just 8.1% had decreased the time they were investing in social marketing.

As usage grows, social media marketing is establishing itself as part of the overall marketing mix. Data released in May 2014 by Social Media Examiner suggested that the percentage of SMB marketers worldwide who had integrated social media with their traditional marketing activities had increased year over year.

Though the portion of respondents who “agreed” that they had blended social and traditional marketing dropped slightly between 2013 and 2014, so did the number of those who hadn’t done so. In fact, the only response that saw an increase was SMB marketers worldwide who “strongly agreed” that they had merged social with their traditional marketing activities. Overall, 81% of respondents had integrated social into traditional efforts.

Take your social marketing to the next level. Call Lori at 877.447.0134.

How to Get Better Facebook Results [Adobe Report]

adobe-social-engage

Adobe’s report details some interesting information about organic marketing on the dominant social network – Facebook.

In the wake of reduced organic reach for Facebook pages, marketers are adjusting their tactics and in many cases spending more on advertising, which was made clear in Facebook’s first quarter earnings report also released this week that showed a thriving advertising business ($2.27 billion in advertising revenue, 82% higher than the first quarter of 2013).

Despite the advertising push, marketers haven’t given up on Facebook as a organic marketing tool and the Adobe report — based on aggregated and anonymous consumer data pulled from customers using the Adobe Social, Adobe Media Optimizer and Adobe Analytics products — gives indications about what is working.

Thinking Visually

For one thing, image posts remain the overwhelming choice, with 63% of brand posts featuring an uploaded photo. That’s down 2% Year-over-Year. The share of link posts — which Facebook signaled would be favored by the algorithm changes — increased 77% to 16% of the total, video posts went from 8% to 12% of the total and text posts dropped from 18% to 9%.

Photo posts were most effective at sparking engagement, but video is making inroads. The average image post in the first quarter received a 4.4% engagement rate (based on likes, shares and comments), compared to 3% for video. Engagement on video posts is growing fast, increasing 25% YoY and 58% QoQ. The engagement rate for link and text posts fell to 1.4% and 0.6%, respectively.

Facebook has been pushing video, implementing autoplay for News Feed videos on both mobile and desktop in December, which likely explains the huge gains in video plays — 785% YoY, 134% QoQ — Adobe found. And the increasing video engagement rate is a strong indication that most Facebook users aren’t tuning them out.

Click to enlarge

Targeting Fridays

Adobe also found that brands were getting the most impressions and engagement on posts on Fridays. The 15.7% impression percentage for Friday beat runner-up Thursday (14.5%) by more than a percentage point. Further, more consumers commented (17%), liked (16%) and shared (16%) on posts made on Friday. And nearly, 25% of all video plays occur on Friday.-MarketingLand

Download the full report here (PDF).

Are your Facebook initiatives delivering results? To learn more call 877.447.0134.

Why The Reach of Your Organic Posts on Facebook’s News Feed Has Diminished

Facebook News Feed Changes

Organic reach was already declining before the change to Facebook’s News Feed algorithm.

Facebook’s December 2013 announcement of a change to its News Feed algorithm has caused uproar among many, from brands and marketers to celebrities and bloggers, as it aims to drastically reduce the reach of organic posts to between 1% and 2%. However, research released in April 2014 by EdgeRank Checker—which measures the average impact of EdgeRank (the original name of Facebook’s News Feed algorithm)—noted that organic reach was already declining before this change, due to a surge in the number of posts users began to see after adding more friends and “liking” more brands on the social network.

According to EdgeRank Checker, the median organic reach of Facebook posts among Facebook pages worldwide fell from 16.0% in February 2012 to 6.5% in March 2014. While the largest drop in reach between the periods studied was seen between November 2013 and December 2013, the smallest occurred between December 2013 and March 2014—after the announcement.Despite these ongoing declines, August 2013 polling by ExactTarget found that US Facebook marketers viewed organic growth—regular posts to entertain or inform followers—as one of the most effective tactics, cited by 67% of respondents; 58% had reported using the tactic. Facebook’s News Feed changes may affect how often marketers use organic posts, but their level of effectiveness in the future remains to be seen.

Increase your social media leads. Call 877.447.0134 to learn more.

How The Inc. 500 is Using Social Media

Social Media
Virtually all – 95% – of the 2013 Inc. 500 companies are using at least one major social media tool, according to the latest study from the Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. LinkedIn remains the most commonly used platform, by 88% (up from 81%), but there appears to have been a resurgence in the use of Facebook, now used by 84%, up from 67% a year earlier. The study finds some intriguing opinions on the part of execs responding to an accompanying survey.

Inc. 500 Use of Social Media

Of the 118 executives who responded to the survey – who represented 21 of the 22 industries on the list – some 61% felt that there was definitely or probably potential for sales growth for their business directly through Twitter. That outpaced comparable results for Facebook (55%) and Pinterest (31%). But while the headline takeaway from that result is that the Inc. 500 sees the most growth potential for Twitter, the data also needs to be viewed in light of recent survey results suggesting that US brands are primarily using Twitter for brand awareness rather than for sales. Given that, it’s probably not too surprising that executives feel that there’s room for sales growth on the platform.

Currently, Twitter is being used by 74% of the Inc. 500, according to the Center’s research, up from 67% a year earlier. Google+ usage was measured for the first time and came in at 58% adoption. That was a higher rate than company blogs (52%) and YouTube (50%), though the latter saw a big increase from 30% a year earlier.

Instagram was also measured for the first time, and was found to be used by 18% of the companies. The mobile platform recently announced that it had passed 200 million US users.

While overall adoption of social tools has increased among the Inc. 500, the companies don’t appear to have become more strategic about the use of these tools:

  • About 1 in 5 respondents have no plan in place for their social media efforts;
  • Only about 1 in 3 have a written social media policy that guides online communications within the organization; and
  • Just 59% monitor their brands, products or company name in the social media space, down from 63% last year and 70% in 2010.

Just 39% of respondents claimed to have a strategy in place should an online crisis (negative attack online) occur. That’s down from 54% a couple of years earlier. While such online crises may not be limited to social media, a recent survey similarly found that few brands have strategies in place to deal with complaints made on social.

Meanwhile, given that the Inc. 500 is a list of the fastest-growing companies, it’s interesting to assess their perspectives regarding online promotional strategies. Given a small selection of options, and asked which they felt provides the most potential for increasing sales, the responses broke down as follows:

  • Online advertising (43%);
  • Business directory listing (22%);
  • Social media platforms (16%); and
  • Daily deal sites (2%).

The remaining 17%? They felt that none of those would be best, but rather that their biggest growth potential would come from more traditional personal selling methods (such as 1-to-1 sales, direct contact with clients, relationship marketing and networking).

Other Findings:

  • Some 92% of respondents said they have a mobile-optimized site. 1 in 4 have a downloadable app, and 1 in 5 use text message marketing.
  • 3 in 4 respondents use exclusively original or reposted content on their social media outlets, with the remainder adding purchased content to their mix.
  • Somewhat predictably, those respondents who were blogging counted thought leadership as their main goal, while those posting to Facebook and Twitter primarily sought engagement and interaction.

About the Data: The Center describes its approach to determining social adoption by the Inc. 500 as follows:

“First, every company named to the 2013 Inc. 500 list was examined in order to determine which social media tools they were using. Each homepage was reviewed in addition to the entire site (since some did not link to their accounts from the homepage). Search engines were also utilized to find an online presence if none was obvious after reviewing the website.”

How are you using social media? To learn more call Lori at 877.447.0134.

How Brands Use Twitter [survey]

How Brands Use TwitterUS brands are most likely to be using Twitter as a marketing tool in order to increase brand awareness, according to the full results of a survey from Social Media Marketing University (SMMU), the initial results of which were released a little more than a week ago. A majority of the 1,112 brands surveyed also use Twitter to drive traffic (58%), engage existing customers (55%) and find new leads and customers (51.9%), but few are looking to drive sales (24.4%).

How Brands Use Twitter
Those results mostly align with recent research from Ad Age, which found that brands advertising on Twitter were chiefly doing so to increase brand awareness rather than to generate leads or sales.

While the Ad Age study measured the objectives of paid advertising on Twitter – rather than marketing – the two studies’ results indicate that the platform is mainly being used for branding efforts. That’s in contrast to a recent study from Econsultancy and Adobe, which found that among global digital marketers, social media ad buys had evolved beyond branding goals to lead generation objectives.

According to the SMMU study, just 9% of respondents have used Twitter’s paid services, although another 44% are planning to explore them in the future. Some 17% are apparently unaware that Twitter even offers paid services. Those are lower figures than seen in the Ad Age survey, in which 46.5% of brands marketing on Twitter were also advertising on the platform.

Among the various features brands are using to market on Twitter, hashtags (88.7%) are the most popular, followed by images (64.3%). Only 2.4% claimed to use Vine. Brands might want to explore greater use of images: recent data from Twitter finds that tweets including photos get substantially higher retweet rates than those without.

Other Findings:

  • Other ways in which brands are using Twitter include: to create engagement during events (62.4%); to build relationships with influencers (62.4%); and to monitor mentions of their brand (58.4%).
  • Slightly more than 1 in 10 respondents claimed to have had a Twitter presence for more than 5 years, although the majority have been using Twitter for less than 3 years.

About the Data: The survey was conducted March 1-12 among 1,112 US respondents using Twitter as a marketing tool.

Is your social marketing delivering results? Call Lori at 877.447.0134 to learn more.