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Using Social Media for Customer Service is Now Mandatory

customer service_Focal_PointDo You Use Social Media for Customer Service?

Utilizing social media for customer service is no longer optional, it’s mandatory.  While many digital marketers have heard stories about large companies who are using social media effectively as a customer support channel, there are a lot of small to medium size businesses who are missing the boat.  Many businesses still see handling customer requests and complaints via social media as a burden rather than the incredible opportunity it really is.  These businesses see it as an area that requires time and resources, instead of an area that can create die-hard brand advocates.  But as I look at the social media marketing landscape as a whole, I see not having an online customer service plan as an Achilles heel.

The reason why I say this confidently is that the two social media giants – Facebook and Twitter have continued to take big steps toward making customer service a priority.  First it was back in April when Twitter allowed direct messages to be sent to users that are not following you.  Then, most recently, Facebook added a feature allowing business pages to manage saved replies making it easier than ever to answer FAQ’s.  Both of these moves indicate to me that there’s more to come and plenty of opportunity for businesses to start taking advantage of these features right now.  Let’s take a closer look…

Direct Messages on Twitter

twitter-direct-message

If you remember, it used to be that in order to direct message someone on Twitter, they first had to be following you.  This created another layer of friction when dealing with customer service online.  Let’s say I had a complaint about a cold cup of coffee I received at a Starbucks.  I would be forced to post that complaint publicly on Twitter as a regular @ reply unless Starbucks was already following me on Twitter (highly unlikely).  Then, in order for them to respond to me via a direct message, I would have to be following their account.  Kind of messy, right?  Not only did it mean more complaints posted publicly, it meant additional steps just to get something resolved.  This often added frustration to these type of communications online.

Now Twitter has done away with these added steps.  On the downside, it means anyone can direct message you which could be a little strange, but on the plus side it means customer service on Twitter is easier and faster than ever.  And when you really stop to think about it, that’s the way it should be.  Customers expect to get response and get them fast using social media.  In fact, often times they’ll use social media when unable to get through to someone using other traditional types of communication such as a phone call or email.  Twitter has made it easier and faster than ever by rolling out this update to make it the preferred social network for customer service.  Why?  Because you are limited to just 140 characters, so you know it’s going to be fast!

Need help using Twitter for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

Replies on Facebook

facebook-saved-replies

Facebook is driving more attention than ever to its messages.  Each time a message is received by a brand page, there are additional notifications (beyond the standard number icon) showing how long the average response time is and how many messages have not been responded to.  Facebook is urging brands to respond to all messages as fast as possible.  In fact, if you average less than 5 minutes responding to 90% of your messages, a special green icon and notice can be adding to your Facebook page letting fans know you have extremely fast response times.

Further, Facebook recently made it possible to save replies; even creating pre-populated messages that can be used to answer FAQ’s.  There’s personalization that can be added to the messages such as a greeting which automatically pulls in the Facebook user’s first name and email signature style closings which can even use saved photos and emoticons.  This makes it easy to build up a library of answers which can be reused over and over again further speeding up response time.  I think there’s plenty more to come from Facebook yet in 2015 on the customer service front, but this was a great start.

Need help using Facebook for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

Strategic Planning

Moving forward, it’s clear there will be even more of an emphasis on using social media for customer service than ever before.  This gives businesses who “get it” a distinct advantage over those who show up late for the party, or don’t show up at all.  It’s going to be expected more and more that companies of all sizes are staffed and prepared to respond to requests via social media in a timely manner.  That’s just the bottom line.  And those who fail to do so, will risk gaining a poor reputation by getting blasted in online reviews and comments.   It must be a part of any social media marketing strategic plan moving forward.

Need help understanding how to use social media for customer service?  Please contact us today to talk.

Periscope Makes All Marketers Live Broadcasters…Now What?

Periscope

A hot topic lately in the digital marketing/social media space has been some major updates in the way of live mobile streaming.  First we had Meerkat, an app which allows you to stream live video from your phone to all of your Twitter followers at once.  And then along came Twitter owned Periscope, which many are predicting will make Meerkat quickly obsolete.  While they both essentially allow you to do the same thing, the fact that Periscope is Twitter owned has propelled its success and peaked the interest of marketers everywhere.  But when it comes to online marketing strategy, the big questions with new technology is always – what happens next and does it make sense to jump in?  I’m not sure I have definitive answers to either of those questions at the moment, but here are some things to consider.

Periscope Has Big Potential
Social media, along with the continuing worldwide adoption of smartphones, has essentially given all of us the ability to broadcast news in real time.  It’s no longer uncommon for the traditional morning or nightly news on TV to simply be repeating stories we’ve already seen and heard throughout the day via social media.  Now, with the introduction of Periscope and Meerkat the news game has definitely changed again.

To be able to broadcast live video of events even before or at the same time as traditional media means huge potential to capture an audience…especially if that broadcaster is able to cover that same event better.   Think about it for a minute. Well known sites like TechCrunch that traditionally live blog Apple events via photos, and text will now be fighting with others for the best position for a live broadcast of the event.  While it means more competition, it also means way more potential to interact with viewers live and add some on-air personality to the event.

News Is Important To Every Marketer
Being in the know about news and the first to break big stories isn’t just important for big sites like TechCrunch.  It’s important to the every day marketer as well.  Let’s say you work for an auto dealership and part of your job is attending trade shows where new product announcements are made.  With Periscope, you can essentially become a news reporter broadcasting live to your followers from the event as the announcements are being made.  Now you’re the go-to source, not the other big names/traditional outlets out there.

How Else Is It Being Used?


The biggest advantage Periscope and other live video streaming apps bring to the table for marketers is the ability to get feedback in real time and interact with an audience instantly.  As I was looking through some Periscope feeds, I saw Ellen DeGeneres live streaming on Periscope as she was filming her show.  Using her phone, she was able to go into the audience and interact LIVE while also being recorded.  She was also able to read feedback she was getting in the chat and respond to viewers.

Ready to talk online marketing strategy?  Contact me here!

Who Owns The Content?
A huge question has to do with the ownership of the content being broadcasted…specifically in sporting events.  Here’s what was found in this Huffington Post article

“Copyright protection subsists, in accordance with this title, in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. — Richard A. Denmon ”

As the author of the Huntington Post article, Kevin Siskar, indicates this would suggest that capturing video from your own viewpoint during a sporting event via your iPhone would mean that you own the content.  Fair enough…

But what happens when someone attempts to live stream via Periscope the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight in May when it’s a pay per view ticket going for $90?  Then do the lines get a little blurry?

Mayweather- Pacquia Poster

Also, what happens the first time someone attempts to Periscope a movie live from the theater?  I’m sure that’s already happening as I write this, but what are the consequences these people will face once the need to police it becomes real?

Will The Quality Be Good Enough?

Another huge question/concern when it comes to streaming video is always: will the quality be good enough?  Yes, the app is very new, but there are a lot of things left to be desired when it comes to the quality of some of the video I have seen.  Granted Internet connection and device will always play into this, but the service must prove that it’s reliable if mainstream adoption is going to happen.

What Should You Do Next?

If you are in the online marketing world, you should be keeping an eye on Periscope and Meerkat.  But should you jump in and start using if for yourself?  I’d say unless you have already built a sizeable audience elsewhere and just want to connect on a new level, the answer is no.  Focus on growing your audience other places first before you ask them to adopt someone so new.  Now, if you’ve already got 41 million followers on Twitter like Ellen, then by all means go ahead.  But either way, keep an eye on this trend and keep notes.  The continued live broadcasting breakthroughs aren’t just a fad.

Ready to talk online marketing strategy?  Contact me here!

3 Quick Ways To Simplify Online Marketing Strategy

Simplify Your Online Marketing Strategy Now

So often as online marketers, we get caught up in the excitement of the “next big thing.”  We set our sights on hitting the online marketing home run or viral campaign.  It’s times like these when we need to simplify our overall online marketing strategy and get back to the basics of what works.  It’s the daily work that paves the way for the big successes.  And it’s getting back to the basics that will help when you’re struggling.

Below are some tips and reminders of basic online marketing and social media strategies that will always work no matter what the latest technology or next big idea might be.

Ask Why & Subtract
Let’s get right to it.  I know you may have read the intro and thought, “oh great, more things to do.”  Well, actually in this first point I am going to ask you to do less.  Stop for a moment to think about all of the different marketing activities you do on a daily basis.  Now, ask yourself why.  Go through each activity one by one and ask yourself why you’re doing it?  Does it tie back to a common purpose, help you accomplish a goal or help move business forward?  If you are unsure on the answer to these questions for any task, stop doing it.  You see, life is a lot like marketing – when things just aren’t adding up that often means it’s time to subtract.

Start Subtracting

Create A Content Plan
Content marketing is a big deal.  By now most digital marketers understand that they need to be producing content as part of an overall online marketing strategy to generate traffic from Google organic search, social media and more.  Yet, many still do not have a plan.

Several big name digital marketers will swear by a content calendar.  I am not going to tell you that you have to do that, because I don’t think it works for everyone.  What I am going to tell you is that you do need to have some sort of plan.  Something that eliminates the guesswork.  Something that makes it easy to answer the question – what are we going to write about today?

Here’s a blog post I wrote about how to create a simple content marketing plan.  It’s based upon the concept of creating themes for each day of the week and writing about those themes/topics on that designated day.  It’s that easy, yet it can be so effective.  Why?  Because it eliminates all of the guesswork and provides a direction in which to move.  And sometimes we just need that direction.

Recycle Your Best Stuff
You’ve created the perfect blog post.  The content is compelling.  The image is stunning.  The call to action is easy to follow.  It’s sure to be a smash hit!  Excited to tell the world all about it you go about your social media marketing by posting a link to it on Facebook, sending out a Tweet and posting the image on Pinterest with a link.  This post is even so good, you send out a new email to your loyal subscribers.  Then you wait…nothing.  A few hours go by and now you have 1 like on Facebook, 2 retweets on Twitter and 2 click thrus on Pinteres and Mailchimp shows a few people are opening the email.  But then the rest of the day goes on and the numbers are still the same.  And a week later, still the same.  While something is better than nothing, this is far from the results you wanted to see.  Frustrated you chalk up the loss and move on.

Unfortunately, this is a scenario I see play out in social media marketing and online marketing in general time after time. It truly is sad, because it’s selling yourself short.  You’ve spent time developing that content.  A designer was even hired to make sure just the right image was created.  This blog post was a big time investment.  Now you just need to understand that as much effort as you put into creating the content, you need to put even MORE effort into promoting it. 

Recycle Content

The simple fact is that people are busy.  A very small percentage of your audience saw that Facebook post and even fewer noticed the Tweet.  It’s also entirely possible that your next big client was out of the office when you sent the email and in an effort to cleanup her inbox just went through deleting emails as fast as possible.  Timing can be everything and sometimes it’s not the right time.  So change the time and try again.  Alter the subject lines or teaser text.  But whatever you do, RECYCLE the best content over again.

Ready to Talk Online Marketing Strategy?
Let’s set up a time to get together soon.  I’d love to help you simplify your online marketing plan, so contact me today!

1 Big Thing Videos Are Missing & How YouTube Cards Will Help

Why Are So Many Video Productions Missing This 1 BIG Thing?

I have been on a bit of a video marketing kick lately.  Being a full service digital marketing agency that provides video production in Indianapolis and surrounding areas, it seems only natural with all of the emphasis on video in social lately that I’d have some thoughts to share.  Yet, with all of the advancements in technology and new ways to reach people through video, it always seems there’s one BIG thing that comes up missing time and time again.

So, what is the one thing – a call to action (CTA).  Better yet, an effective call to action.  So often the ball gets dropped when it comes to this highly important piece of the video.  Ok, I’m a website visitor and I just watched your video…now what do you want me to do?  This question must be answered and it must be really clear.  I’ve seen so many YouTube and website videos that just end with a company logo, some credits, or even worse…they just end!  It doesn’t matter how many people watch a video, if they have no idea what to do next the whole point is lost.

There are some amazing videos out there that just leave something to be desired when it comes to the call to action.  Even videos that nail the 5 key factors for an effective video production I discussed here, but miss the mark with a when it comes to a CTA.  So why does this happen?  I think the simple answer is that it just gets overlooked.  In the process of planning every other element of the video production, the last thought (if a thought at all) is the CTA.  Often times the video production company just get engrained in what they’re doing, getting the right shots, adding the right music, etc. and they leave the CTA up to the client.  This needs to change if your video marketing efforts are going to be effective.

Create a video with an effective call to actionContact us here!

YouTube-Logo

Introducing YouTube Cards

Yes, all of this video production call to action talk was leading up to something.  Something that I think is a big deal for anyone involved in video marketing.  YouTube recently introduced its YouTube Cards feature in the video editor and this could be a game changer.

Why are YouTube Cards a Big Deal?
YouTube cards are a big deal because they are easy to setup, look way better than annotations and will perform better on mobile.  This will make it easier for marketers and video production companies to create clickable graphics that appear at just the right time to drive visitors, leads and sales from YouTube videos.

What are the Types of YouTube Cards?

  1. Merchandise (like Google Play and iTunes)
  2. Fundraising (think Kickstarter)
  3. Videos
  4. Playlists
  5. Associated Website link back to your company website
  6. Fan Funding

YouTube-Cards-Image

How To Set Up YouTube Cards

  1. Go to YouTube Video Manager, and click on the “Edit” button. Or click on the down arrow next to the button.
  2. Click on “Cards” in the top navigation bar, then click on “Add Card.”
  3. Use the video timeline to get to the point in the video where you’d like to add a card. This is where the teaser/title text will cue in the upper right corner of the video for five seconds, then revert to just an “i” icon in the same position.  (Note – you cannot change the amount of time the card displays)
  4. Click a blue button on the right called “Add Card” and it opens up a creation window.
  5. Select the card type you want to add.
  6. The card can be customized with your own image, text and URL.
  7. More cards can be created within the same video if you’d like to do so.
  8. Click “Create Card.”

2 Quick Tips for Using YouTube Cards

Keep the Text Short & Sweet
Remember, many people will be watching this video on a phone and space is limited in the YouTube card.  Be sure to preview it multiple times to see how your text displays.  Rely on the video itself to do the explaining and the YouTube Card text to be action oriented and to the point.

Timing is Everything
Unlike annotations, you cannot display YouTube cards throughout the entire video and each card you place in the video production will display for 5 seconds.  While you can place multiple cards in the video, they need to be spaced out.  Think about the points in the video where it makes sense for there to be a call to action rather than hammering the viewers over and over.

Ready to discuss how YouTube Cards fit in your video marketing strategy?  Contact me here!

Is Google’s Mobile-Friendly Ranking Update Penalizing Your Website?

Google’s Mobilegeddon Is Upon Us

Tuesday, April 21st (just about 48 hours ago) was a big day in the online marketing world.  It marked the official beginning of Google’s “Mobilegeddon.”  In layman’s terms, this means the date in which Google has vowed to start favoring mobile friendly websites in its search engine rankings (over those sites which are not designed with mobile in mind).  This is could potentially be a big deal and I am about to explain why…

But, before we go any further, if you’re not sure if your website passes Google’s mobile friendly design test, take a moment to go here to check it out.

Background – Google’s Mobile Update
For months and months the search engine giant warned all digital marketers, website designers and business alike that compatibility for mobile devices was a must.  Then, in February, Google issued the official announcement that starting April 21st, those sites which are designed with the  mobile user in mind will be given priority in ranking over those which are not.  This was enough to send the SEO and web design world into a bit of a frenzy to meet this “deadline.”

While it’s still unsure exactly what type of impact this new Google algorithm update will have on search results (it could take up to a week for Google’s index to be completely updated), many have predicted that because of the way it was announced, it could have as big of a a long-term impact as the Penguin and Panda updates.  For those not familiar with these updates, they had arguably the biggest impact in Google search rankings that marketers and web designers have seen in a quite some time, forever changing the way in which websites are ranked.

Need some help figuring all of this out?  Reach out to me here!

My Take On Mobilegeddon
While many people are no doubt complaining and will continue to complain when their site’s ranking takes a hit with this update, it’s really for the better when it comes to long term business growth.  This mobile-friendly update really is about doing what’s right for your customers.  And at the end of the day, what’s right for them is what’s right for your business.

If this announcement from Google is what it takes for those who haven’t jumped on creating a mobile or responsive website design to finally go for it, then I am all in favor.  Regardless of how extensive the impact and changes end up being, the point here is that many who would have put these updates off for years to come will finally jump on board.  This is actually great news for all digital marketers and I will tell you why…

Your Customers Want A Mobile Experience
It has been reported in comScore research from the summer that smartphones and tablets combined accounted for 60 percent of total digital media time in May 2014, up 10 percent from the previous year.  Let me say that again – 60%!!!  This new Google update is simply being done to compliment that growing trend by favoring sites with large text, easily clickable links, and optimized sizes that fit the smaller screen of a smartphone.  If you haven’t moved to a responsive design or mobile friendly version of your website, it’s your customers that are really getting penalized with a poor usability experience on their smartphones and tablets.

Responsive Web DesignMobile Friendly Website Design or Else…
Regardless of the type of business you’re in, your current customers and potential customers want a great mobile experience when it comes to website design and it’s up to you to give it to them…or else.  The “or else” simply means that you lose out to your competitors that are delivering that easy to navigate, mobile-friendly website.  The ones that will now be ranking above you in Google search…and no one wants that.

Who Will Feel It The Most?
I read today that the two types of businesses that will be affected the most from this update are the small ones and the large ones.  Those businesses that were small enough to not previously have the money or know-how on building mobile friendly websites and those businesses that were large enough that creating a mobile design was just too big of an undertaking.

What Next?

If you currently have a responsive website design or one that’s otherwise mobile-friendly and passes Google’s test, then you shouldn’t have much to worry about in term’s of search rankings.  In fact, you may notice some improvement in position over some of your competitors that are arriving late to the mobile-friendly party.

If Google’s mobile-friendly (Mobilegeddon) update has completely blindsided you or your business and you start to notice a drop in traffic/rankings, the best thing you can do is to attempt to temporarily replace that traffic while moving forward with a responsive website design.  This could mean setting up a Google AdWords campaign or ramping up your social media marketing efforts.

It’s also worth noting that this update impacts websites on a page by page basis.  This means that if one page of your website happens to not be mobile friendly while the rest of the pages are, only that one page could see any negative impact.  It also means that if you find yourself behind the 8 ball and have a few critical pages on your site that receive a great deal of traffic, you could start by updating those first.

Need Help?
Still not sure if your site passes Google’s mobile-friendly test?  Ready to talk online marketing strategy?  Contact me today!

5 Key Factors That Make or Break Your Video Production

 

1. Audio
This list is not any particular order, however, I feel like audio does need to be at the top for a reason.    A video with bad audio is unbearable.  That’s really the bottom line.  I don’t care if you are using an iPhone to shoot video or hiring a video production company like Focal Point, great audio MUST be a top priority.  There’s nothing that will make someone abandon watching a video faster than poor audio.  Do whatever you need to do to get this right.  The investment is worth it and anyone with a video production background will tell you the same.

2. Lighting
Every type of video production will involve some sort of lighting.  You can make a video without sound, without camera movements, but you can’t make one without light.  This means getting the lighting right is critical.  When it comes to products, correct lighting techniques are extremely important to capture the features.  When it comes to shapes and textures, proper lighting can be used to create just the right mood for the video production.  Knowing how to correctly light a scene takes practice and certain skill set.  If not done properly, bad lighting can mean more time in the video editing room and more cost to the client.

3. Storytelling
In order for your video marketing efforts to be effective, a story must be told.  Instead of thinking about how the “sell” is going to happen, start with a plan for the story that needs to be told.  Often times, the most memorable video marketing pieces barely mention or show the product.  Certainly if you want your video to be one people will share, the story must be compelling and well thought out.  Outline the story first and if you get that right, the rest will fall into place naturally.

4. Pacing
Video pacing and rhythm can have an incredible impact on the audience.  The pace of a video typically falls on the shoulders of the editor.  The same shots can come together a different way and give the video an entirely different feel.  Consider questions like – should the video production have a quick pace to evoke a sense of excitement and action?  Or does it make more sense for a more relaxed, slower piece with longer shots?  Answer these questions and make sure the video editor or video production company knows exactly the feel you’re looking for.

5. Shot Composition
Understanding the right type of shot for the right situation is a very important aspect of any video production.  Should a close up or medium shot be used?  How should the person or product be framed?  If you’ve spent any time around video, you might have heard of the rule of thirds.  This is a method for creating shots and one that takes times to understand and perfect.  Knowing all of the shots that must be captured and getting it all right the first time is huge.  No one likes to do a retake, especially the clients. 

When It All Comes Together

When everything comes together, the result is a very powerful video production that captures the audience, tells a story and compels some time of action.  Once piece that I am particular proud of that the Focal Point team produced is this video for Shiel Sexton telling the story of the construction process for the Palladium in Carmel, Indiana.  Now that we’ve covered the 5 key ingredients, notice the audio, lighting, storytelling, pacing and shot composition used to make things come together.  This is an absolutely beautiful building and I hope you’ll agree that we captured that beauty along with a compelling story in this video.

Palladium from Focal Point on Vimeo.

Contact Us for Video Production in Indianapolis

On of Focal Point’s core services is video production.  We’ve been able to work with some great clients in the Indianapolis area and beyond.  Take a look at some of our videos on Vimeo here to get a feel for the quality of work we’re able to achieve.  Let us know if we can help you plan and product your next video production by contacting us here.