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On-Line Marketing

Does Facebook Live Make Sense for Your Business?

Should your business use Facebook Live?

That’s a good question.  And one that I am going to help you answer.

I have talked in the past about live video streaming services such as Periscope and Meerkat.  But what many of these channels don’t have that Facebook does is a large audience for your business.  Especially the small to medium sized businesses.

Why Facebook Live Is Important

If you have been doing any type of social media marketing over the past few years, odds are you have spent time and money growing your Facebook brand page.  Well, just this month Facebook started making its Live feature available to ALL brand pages (previously it was just celebrities and larger companies like Mashable) which means you now have a new way to reach your audience.  And it’s not just a new way, it’s a way that gets 3X the amount of engagement vs. regular posts.

Needless to say, Facebook Live isn’t something to ignoreBut is it something that makes sense for your Internet marketing strategy?

Should You Invest Resources In It?

If your business or brand hosts events, then the answer is yes.  If your company is in the business of news, then the answer is yes.  Or if you are the “spokesperson” for your brand or business, then the answer is yes.

Beyond that, I think it’s up for debate.  As with anything, just because the technology exists doesn’t mean you should use it.  Where I think Facebook Live can really be an asset is when it’s utilized as an extension of something you are already doing.

For example, let’s say you regularly answer FAQs from your clients/potential clients on social media and your website.  Well, Facebook Live can enable you to offer a more personalized, unique way to answer these questions.  Now you’re not just providing an answer in text, you’re doing it on video, LIVE, where the user can see your face and understand your expressions.

What I am getting at is the point that Facebook LIVE is a great way to HUMANIZE your business.  It’s not rehearsed.  It’s not over-produced.  It’s real people connecting with real people and as the saying goes, “people buy from people, not companies.”  So if adding the “human” element is something that makes sense with your brand/online marketing strategy, then I think it’s worth attempting.

WTHR Facebook Live

Facebook Live Example

Let’s take WTHR for example.  You see personalities like Angela Buchman and Chuck Lofton on the air, but do you feel like you really KNOW them?  You may know a scripted version of this weather team, but using Facebook Live WTHR can share what goes on behind the scenes.  How storm systems are REALLY analyzed, what the temperature is like in the studio, what news reporters have for “breakfast” when breakfast is a 2 AM.  To sum it up, you learn about the PEOPLE behind what you see on screen.  And more often than not, those are the ones viewers really feel connected to.

The image is a screen shot from one of WTHR’s Facebook Live broadcasts.  In 6 minutes, they had 1.5K viewers and over 100 comments.  By the end of the broadcast, it was more than 3K views and 3oo comments.  This was nearly 40% more than anything else they posted on their page for the week.  Sure, they are in the business of news and have the on-air talent, obviously, but if you have any type of audience on social media – the same engagement rules apply.

Here’s The Deal With Facebook Live For Business

Look, live video isn’t anything groundbreaking, or new.  And it’s definitely not something for every business.  Maybe less than half of the businesses out there.  But I do think Facebook Live deserves some attention.  Why?  Because it is Facebook.

Until now, other live streaming services just haven’t had the audience or ease of use that I think Facebook has.  I believe it’s already the core part of most people’s online marketing strategies and adding a new feature to that is way more useful than the thought of taking on another social network.

Needless to say, in order to make Facebook Live (or any type of video for that matter) work, you need to have the right people on camera.  If your CEO or President is incredibly boring in real life and doesn’t come off well in a video – then going live on Facebook might be a complete disaster.

On the other hand, if your CEO is charismatic and has a great story to tell or isn’t afraid to jump on camera to answer questions from customers in real-time, then Facebook Live could be an awesome tool to add to your online marketing strategy.  I’ll leave you with this…

The other big opportunity with Facebook Live is that hardly any businesses are doing it right now.  Sure, it’s new and newness will wear off.  But when it comes to social media marketing and online marketing in general – aren’t we all looking for a way to break through the noise?  Especially a way to do it that doesn’t cost us marketing dollars??   Well, right now, this IS the way.

Need Help?

Focal Point can help with your Internet marketing strategy.  We can help you determine if tools such as Facebook Live are right for you.  Contact us online today!

*Photo of The Rock from TechCrunch

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Budget-stretching creative marketing techniques for small businesses

How can I expand my business in a slow-growing economy, you ask?

We get that question a lot here at FocalPoint. Because despite news that employment numbers are up and the economy is percolating, we’re not feeling any kind of surge here in the Midwest.

So, what can you do to increase your marketing share?

The short answer is: get creative! But of course, any marketing solution we recommend begins with us doing a lot of listening to what you do, how you do it differently, and what you are trying to achieve.

That said, here are some interesting ideas we may consider for small and medium sized businesses on a budget:

  • Believe it or not, on-line advertising may be your best bet. Depending on your business niche, Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin may be good places to invest for little money.  We can help you figure out which type of on-line advertising creates the best pop for you by doing test ads. Test ads are run for a short time (for very little money) to see how well an ad will play out before we make a bigger buy. (Yes, we really can do that!)
  • You most assuredly cannot match larger competitors dollar-for-dollar but, you absolutely can use unusual or unexpected media approaches to woo business your way.
  • If your budget is tight, chances are you need to be more targeted with your advertising. Rather than a broad brush approach, we hunker down and do some real due diligence and discover how your potential customers actually make buying decisions. Only then do we select a medium that targets your customers in a way they want to be approached.

Here’s a glass half full way to think about marketing on a budget: Because your business is smaller, you have the ability to react quickly to current conditions and (together with us) create ads and promotions that use trends, changing circumstances, opportunities, and headlines to your advantage.

Let the creative sparks fly!

5 Key Marketing Ingredients That Led To ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Success

Photo from ALSA.org home page

Photo from ALSA.org home page

The ALS #IceBucketChallenge is a huge success.  A success in raising not only awareness, but some serious money to fight a very serious disease.  Sure, there are some people who just don’t get it and are quick to criticize the way some have completed their “challenge.”  But the one thing no one can deny is the effectiveness of this campaign.

So, what makes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge so effective?  I think it all comes down to these 5 key ingredients…

1. Engage & Empower Your Audience

Without a doubt, the most important thing the ALS Association did was engage and empower their audience.  Not only did they give people a chance to make a difference, they gave them a way to quickly and easily reach others to do the same through a “challenge.”  Combine this with the importance of the cause and other ingredients below then it becomes easy to understand why this campaign is such a success.

Think About This:
How can you give your customers the power to spread the message for you?  Maybe it’s a referral program.  Maybe it’s an online contest.  Whatever it is, your customers need to be armed with the knowledge and ability to act as brand advocates.  Make it easy to love your business and easy to tell others about it.

2. Predictable, Yet Suspenseful

People love things that are predictable.  It’s one of the core reasons that television shows like Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy have withstood the test of time.  They follow the same formula episode after episode and it’s incredibly effective.  People know what to expect and there’s something to be said for that.  At the same time, there’s the suspense of wondering who will, how much money it will be and how the game will play out on any given night.  Suspense is a equally as effective as predictability and the reason people keep coming back for more.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge combines predictability with the feeling of suspense.  When you scroll through your newsfeed and see 10 different friends doing the challenge you already know few things.  You know they’re probably going to accept the challenge, you know they’re likely going to dump a bucket of ice water on their head and you know they’ll probably challenge others to do the same.  For the most part, the videos follow the same formula over and over…

Yet there’s still a great deal of suspense.  You want to see if the person will actually dump the bucket on their head, wonder how big it will be, and might even be curious who they’ll challenge next.  These are the reasons why if you’ve spent any time on social media over the last few weeks you’ve probably watched several of the ALS #icebucketchallenge videos.  Even though people know what is going to happen in the video, they still want to see how it all ends.

Think About This:
What can you add to your business’s online marketing plan that is predictable, yet keeps people coming back for more?  One great example of this is Moz’s (formerly SEO Moz) Whiteboard Friday.  Every Friday, you can expect to watch a video to see Rand Fishkin or another member of the Moz team explaining business search engine optimization strategies using a whiteboard and markers to illustrate key points.  Just as much as the key ingredients are the same week after week, the content changes just enough to keep people coming back for more.

I challenge you to think about a concept or series similar to Whiteboard Friday that allows your audience to quickly get a feel for your company and the services provided.

3. Key Point: There’s No Substitute for Good Old Fashioned Fun

The ice bucket challenge is raising a great deal of awareness for a very worthy cause and a lot of it just comes back to good old-fashioned fun.  There’s just something fun about dumping ice and water on your head.  There’s something fun about challenging others to see if they will do the same.   This is a big part of the reason so many kids and families are getting involved.  It’s a fun experience to share together that ultimately supports a very worthy cause.  At the end of the day, everyone wants to have fun and it’s even better when you feel great doing it.

Think About This:
What can you do to make your brand fun?  Is working with your company an enjoyable experience?   Maybe you can identify parts of your business process that may be perceived as “boring” by employees or customers.  Take a few moments to think about how you could make those areas fun.  It could make all the difference.

4. Clear Call To Action

Donate to ALS.  That is the call-to-action.   For the most part, the “rules” seem to be understood that if you accept the challenge you donation $10 to ALS and if you decline you donate $100 to ALS. Now, yes, there has been a lot of debate about whether or not you have to donate if you accept the challenge of dumping ice water on your hand, but most people still understand that a donation is what actually makes a difference.

Think About This:
Let’s bring this one back to your website.  If someone comes to your website, is it clear what you want them to do?  Sign up for an email campaign, fill out a quote request, download a free guide?  Maybe these are your top 3 objectives.  But, what if you picked just one and built your entire site around that one objective?  Let’s say you want to grow your list of subscribers.  As one marketer found out,  a homepage website redesign could mean a 300% increase in sign-ups.  With results like that, I’d say it’s worth giving it a try for at least a month.

5. Harness The Power of Video Marketing

Would a similar challenge that required writing a few sentences about why you donated to ALS and challenging others to do the same be as effective as making a video?  Maybe, but it’s not likely.  There are 2 reasons why video was the perfect medium for the #icebucketchallenge – videos are easy to make (ok, ok so you may have to find a bucket and some ice and get a little messy) and they’re easy to watch.

In a previous blog, I talked about the importance of using images and videos as part of your social marketing strategy.  Using video as part of this ALS cause marketing campaign was absolutely the right call.  The videos automatically play on Facebook, they’re easy to edit on Instagram, they’re a bigger part of Google Plus with its YouTube integration and they’re even getting more plays via Twitter.  While not every video is award-winning or even well planned, in many cases they’re still far more effective than words when it comes to getting people to take action.  And when it comes to making donations to ALS, people are taking action like never before.  As reported on 8/22/14, over $41 million has been donated to ALS in less than 1 month.

From the NY Times on 8/22/14:

“Donations to the A.L.S. Association, a Washington-based nonprofit that funds global research to find treatments and a cure for the disease, have surged since the challenge started trending in late July. The group said Thursday morning that it had received $41.8 million in donations from July 29 until Aug. 21.

More than 739,000 new donors have given money to the association. That’s more than double the $19.4 million in total contributions the association received during the year that ended Jan. 31, 2013, according to a filing with the Internal Revenue Service.”

Update: As of August 25th, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has raised over $79 million dollars!

Think About This:
Does your company have an online video marketing strategy?  Have you considered how much easier it might be to show your product work rather than try to explain it?  A marketing report near the end of 2013 showed that 1 in 2 consumers say YouTube videos have influenced a purchase decision.  Among other things that influence purchase decisions are blogs and social media sites.   So imagine if you combine it all by making video a core part of your social media marketing strategy.  It just makes sense.

I Challenge You…

I challenge you to think about what has made the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge such a social media marketing success.  I challenge you to consider how you can apply elements of that success to your online marketing strategy.  But most importantly, I challenge you to take a few minutes to learn more about ALS and make a donation if you haven’t already.

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3 Articles To Make You Question Facebook’s Branding Strategy

 

Question: What one or two words come to mind when you think about Facebook as a brand?  Just think about that for a moment.

Sure, we all know that Facebook is a giant.  We know that people spend more time on Facebook than any other site.  We know that it’s a necessary part of any social media marketing strategy and a great way to reach our potential customers.  But is Facebook getting away from what it does best – connecting people?

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve read 3 articles that make me wonder about Facebook’s branding strategy.  As a marketing professional, I’d be curious to know what Facebook’s branding strategy looks like big picture and if it’s in line with the way users perceive the site.  These 3 articles will explain what I mean by that…

1. Facebook Did What?  Really?

Did you know Facebook recently did a psychological experiment on over 600,000 of its users without them knowing?  Odds are you didn’t know unless you read this article about it.  Sure, Facebook has done some things in the past to raise some red flags, but from a marketing viewpoint this one really makes people lose trust in the brand.  So what did they do?  Well with one group of people they displayed a much higher than normal amount of negative updates in their news feed.  As you might guess, the other group of people got a larger than normal amount of only positive updates.  In essence, they played with people’s emotions without them knowing it was going on.

A lot of people spend a ton of time on Facebook with many of them being affected either consciously or subconsciously by what they see on the social network.  How do you think these people felt after finding out they might have been part of this experiment?  Where does this fit in with Facebook’s marketing plan?

One viewpoint is that Facebook is a free site and yes, these people did agree to the terms by signing up and using Facebook that allows things like this to legally happen.  But, there’s still something to be said about how people perceive Facebook as a brand because of things like this.  If Facebook eventually becomes a smaller piece of a good social media marketing strategy, will things like this make people finally decide enough is enough?

Need to take a closer look at your branding strategy?  Contact Focal Point today!

2. Is Facebook Getting Away from Its Original Brand?

Paid Social media marketing is highly effective and I’ve seen Facebook greatly improve its ads over the past couple of years.  But does introducing so many advertisements alienate the person who just wants to use Facebook to stay in touch with family?  Does the need to make money as a publicly traded company prove to be a frustrating user experience in the long run?

Facebook used to be about connecting people to people.  Now it’s much more about connecting brands to current and potential customers. To a certain extent, the “human” aspect might be disappearing.  I recently read this article about a guy who liked every single post he saw on Facebook for 48 hours (Note: Apparently “liking” everything resulted  in a few choice words, but it’s still worth the read).  Soon his entire newsfeed became all about advertising and business.  The human element had almost disappeared, completely.  That’s pretty wild when you really stop to think out it.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not saying that it’s necessarily a bad thing for businesses to target customers by using highly effective data that’s shared via Facebook.  What I am saying is that a lot of Facebook users who aren’t on the site for business don’t want that and feel they’ve been a victim of the old bait and switch.

3. Facebook Messenger App Update.  No Big Deal, Right?

The Facebook Messenger feature has changed over the last couple of years quite a bit.  In fact, I’ve seen some customers prefer using this over email.  Very similar to how Twitter can be, sometimes it’s easier to get in touch via social media vs. fighting the never ending email battle (you all know what I’m talking about).  Recently however, I saw several marketing professionals resist upgrading to the new Facebook Messenger app until they were absolutely forced to do so.

A lot has been written about this and there are still several myths out there about what exactly this means to users.  The thing I found interesting is that the reason most people resisted is that they felt forced to do this update and they were concerned about their privacy being violated.  It seems people initially avoid change for a long as possible when it comes to Facebook and, in general, don’t really have trust in the brand that their info will be safe.  From a recent Huffington Post article:

“A quick look at these permissions (Facebook Messenger) reveals it can indeed access your entire address book, send SMS messages, record photos or videos using your camera, know your location at all times, access the Internet when it wants, and a slew of other pretty creeptastic things.”

After looking into it further, people are mostly getting stirred up about these 5 Facebook myths and in most cases Facebook Messenger is less invasive than the native Facebook app itself.

Facebook Messenger

What Does Facebook’s Branding Strategy Have To Do With Your Business?
These are 3 simple reminders that the importance of having a clear branding strategy in place at your business cannot be overlooked. I wanted to share these examples with you to suggest that it’s possible for even the largest of brands to lose touch with their users/customers over time.  Remember, the reality of your business branding strategy isn’t how you want to be perceived, but how your business is actually perceived by your audience.

At the end of the day, Facebook is still a vital part of an effective social media marketing strategy.  That being said, it’s examples like these that may one day cause this giant to fall.  So, let me ask you again after reading this – what one or two words come to mind when you think of Facebook as a brand?  Share in the comments below!

Need Help With Your Branding Strategy?
Let’s make sure your brand message is clear.  Read more about how our team can help you develop a clear brand identity.

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2 Must-Haves for Every 2016 Online Marketing Plan

It’s never too early to write a blog post predicting the keys to a successful online marketing plan for the following year.   After all, the hope is that readers like you will get the message and start taking action now.  Well, I’m here to fill you in on the 2 online marketing plan must-haves that are going to make or break your success in 2016.

 

Before we get started, let me just say that these are two trends that many online marketers saw coming but were still overwhelmed by how fast they happened.  Let me also say that your online marketing plan and marketing strategy needs to include these things because they are not going away.  They will only continue to become more apparent.

1. Multi-Device Consistency and Compatibility

Is your brand represented well on every device?  Businesses who aren’t thinking about this question are getting blindsided everyday when they realize that 30% 40% of their website traffic is coming from smartphones.  And another 8% – 10% from tablets .  All at once they realize that beautiful website design isn’t exactly user friendly for the majority of their potential customers.

We live in a multi-device world.  We watch TV with our iPhone in hand.  We regularly switch from PC to tablet throughout the day.  If a potential customer views your site from their desktop at work, gets distracted and comes back later that night from a smartphone – will the experience be consistent?  It’s no longer a choice.  Responsive website design is here to stay and the customer experience MUST be consistent or sales and leads will be lost.  End of story.

Statistics from a Marketingland.com report:
“Mobile web traffic has grown 50 percent over the past year and now represents more than 25 percent of all internet visits according to a study by Wpromote. The company looked at traffic to 35 of its client sites, including e-tailers, B2B industries and consumer services.

Consumer services was the category with the highest percentage of mobile traffic at 33 percent. B2B sites had the lowest percentage of mobile traffic at 16 percent.

Source: Wpromote

With a much larger sample of sites, StatCounter shows a higher aggregate percentage of mobile traffic in the US market:

  • Desktop: 68.8 percent
  • Smartphone/mobile: 21.4 percent
  • Tablet: 8.7 percent

Recently I was told by mattress retailer Sleep Train that roughly 40 percent of its traffic now comes from mobile devices. This is also true for sites that offer real-world or “local” information (e.g., Yelp, YP). These sites are seeing traffic north of 40 percent from smartphones and tablets.”

Who is doing responsive website design well?
Take a look at WeAreIU.com.  It’s a website all about helping Indiana University upcoming freshmen prepare for the college experience. The majority of the content is written by students, for students.  The mobile version of the site features a condensed menu with the “Must Reads” front and center using large text that makes it easily clickable.  The content is the start on this website and they make the best stuff easy to find.

WeAreIU

Make Your Website Look Great on Smartphones

Ready to talk about a responsive website design for your business?  Get in touch with Focal Point here to chat.

2. Visual Approach to Social Media Marketing

I don’t need to cover the importance of social media marketing.  By now, you’ve heard it a million times and you get it.  But what I can tell you is that social media marketing skills are going to become like Microsoft Office skills – every new hire is going to need to have them.  It’s just that important.  The other thing that I can tell you is that having a visual marketing strategy for your business is going to be the most critical thing to your success on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

These social media sites continue to make changes that put more and more emphasis on images and videos.  This isn’t going to change anytime soon.  Facebook continues to increase the size of images in its news feed.  Twitter recently made changes to the way its images are displayed, added filters, etc.  Google Plus allows its users to show off their photography skills like never before.  Instagram continues to grow in popularity along with Pinterest.  Is your company adapting to these changes?  Are you using video and images to tell your story?

Stats about Visual Content Marketing:
Hubspot put out an article about the effectiveness of using images and videos in content marketing entitled 19 Reasons You Should Include Visual Content in Your Marketing [Data] back in 2012 (hint hint – you should be doing these things by now) and the trends mentioned have only become more true today.  Here are a few of my favorite points:

15) Viewers spend 100% more time on pages with videos on them. (Source: MarketingSherpa16) Mobile video viewing increased 35% from 2010 to 2011. (Source:Nielsen)

17) 25 million smartphone users stream 4 hours of mobile video per month. 75% of smartphone users watch videos on their phones, 26% of whom use video at least once a day. (Sources: Ooyala and Ipsos)

18) Mobile video subscription is expected to hit $16 billion in revenue by 2014, with over 500 million subscribers. (Source: Ooyala)

19) Viewers are 85% more likely to purchase a product after watching a product video. (Source: Internet Retailer)


Who is using visual social media marketing well?
Remember Dollar Shave Club?  They’re the ones who had to wildly popular video that went viral back in 2012 (go here for a reminder).  Well, they’re still at it and doing a great job with their social media marketing strategy.  Take a look at the example below.  Simple.  Funny.  Best yet, it gets interaction and drives sales.  This one FB post had 276 likes, 44 comments and 25 shares.  Not bad for a post about razor blades!

Dollar Shave Club

Ready to talk about your visual content marketing?

Focal Point can help you share your story through the use of stunning photography and video that can be incorporated into your social media marketing strategy.  Contact us today to talk about your visual online marketing strategy!

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