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Embracing the Elephant in the Room: A Look at the Size of the Webinar Industry

By | Social | No Comments

I’m often asked questions about the size of the webinar industry – it’s undoubtedly the elephant in the B2B conference. How many webinars are hosted every year? How many professionals watch webinars and how many do they watch per month? To date, I have not come across definitive statistics, or really anything close to them. In fact, the more research I do, the more I am convinced that it is not even possible to accurately size the market. And interestingly, that is why I am so confident the market is huge. Let me explain.

First, there is no standard definition for the pseudo-word, ‘webinar.’ What you call a webinar, others might call a webcast, online seminar, web series, web conference, or online meeting. This fact in of itself makes it futile to attempt to piece together the webinar’s slice of the content marketing pie, as it’s impossible to discern between internal meetings and thought leadership presentations when reviewing industry data.

Second, most webinar software companies don’t release their data. For the few that do, it is unclear what percent of the market they have and thus nearly impossible to extrapolate a number for the entire industry size without dangerous assumptions.

So how can I confidently assert that the webinar phenomenon is huge and growing? Because I don’t think it takes rocket science.  Take a look at any established business in a B2B industry and see if they are hosting webinars (hint: they are). Then check out a small organization in a niche industry, and you’ll notice the majority of them are also hosting webinars somewhat consistently.  If both large and small players in the B2B space are hosting webinars, then odds are everyone in between is as well (for the most part anyway). More precisely more than 60% of B2B organizations are currently hosting webinars according to the Content Marketing Institute. I understand that my research isn’t scientific and won’t satisfy those who aren’t happy until there’s a Bureau of Labor report on the industry.  But that report hasn’t been possible for the aforementioned reasons (i.e. market fragmentation). So instead, let me chalk up a few more numbers to satisfy the scientific method community.

I recently came across some data provided by two webinar software providers, ON24 and ClickMeeting, that not only show that the webinar market is huge but also just how futile an exercise it is to try to size it.

Based upon pricing, known customers, and limited market data, I presume ClickMeeting caters to SMBs and has a small-to-medium slice of the webinar software market. Their report said that the average webinar hosted using ClickMeeting has 28 participants. I think it’s fair to assume that small companies have fewer webinar attendants than multi-national organizations, so for simplicity’s sake, let’s just use ClickMeeting’s data as the lower end of the spectrum.

For comparison, take a look at some numbers that ON24 released about their users. They claim that the average webinar hosted via their service has 433 registrations with approximately 180 attendants. That is about six and a half times the attendance that ClickMeeting reports!  What could account for this disparity?

To begin, ON24 does not provide a pricing plan on their website at all. A potential customer needs to speak to a sales representative in order to put together a unique enterprise plan. A quick glance at their current customers, which include IBM, Deloitte, Oracle, and SAP, leads me to believe – among other obvious reasons – that ON24 caters to the blue chip customer.

According to its reports ON24 services over 20,000 webinars yearly. These are some solid numbers, but keep in mind they are just one of many players in the webinar industry and their market segment is highly specific.

If you still don’t think it’s ridiculous to try to size this market given the absurd disparity and limitations in data and definitions then let’s carry on embracing this taunting elephant.

We’re going to do some napkin math to create some “what if scenarios.”

Webinar Software Companies

While we don’t necessarily know how many total players there are in the space, or what share of the market any of them have, we do know that there are a lot of them!

See TopTenReviews, the Hublished blog, bestwebinar.com, and Online Meeting Tools Review for some partial lists.

I’m going to be incredibly generous, and assume 5% of webinars are hosted using ON24.  I would bet a ton of money it’s less than 2.5%, but just to prove my point let’s work with 5%.  So:

20,000 webinars = 5% of market

400,000 webinars = entire market

Conversion rates

ON24 claims its users convert 42% of registrants of an upcoming webinar into participants.  ClickMeeting reported about an equal conversion rate.

I find those numbers a bit high, but let’s roll with them for the time being.  So:

Average conversion rate = 42%

Average registrations

Let’s work backward to find that ClickMeeting customers have, on average, about 67 registrants to their webinars (28 is 42% of 67).  Remember that ON24 users generate on average about 433 registrants for each webinar.

Carrying on with the assumption that ClickMeeting is on the lowest end of the spectrum and ON24 is on the high end of the spectrum, we can calculate their average.  So:

Average number of registrants to a webinar: 250 professionals

Industry size

If you are still following me here, then hang on, because I am about to blow your mind! Using all of our assumptions (and feel free to toggle them, because you’re going to get ridiculous numbers no matter what), there are approximately 100,000,000 webinar registrations annually (400,000 webinars X 250 registrants).

Are you still with me? I sure hope so, because I am just heating up. Let’s keep rolling with these assumptions for just another moment. If there are 100,000,000 webinar registrations every year (all numbers are in 2012), that means webinars are receiving 42,000,000 live viewers and 58,000,000 registrants who then miss the live versions.

As long as my assumptions are in the ballpark (which they have to be, unless the software providers are grossly misrepresenting data, or ON24 has an unexpectedly high percentage of the market share), then a few things are true:

 

    1. We know the elephant in the room is hefty.  The webinar industry is huge no matter how you toggle the numbers.

 

    1. It’s ridiculous to rely on these numbers as anything more than indicative.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the webinar industry is a lot more or a lot less than the numbers I concocted above.  I’m comfortable just knowing the industry is huge without having to know how huge.

 

    1. There exists a massive opportunity to serve this market to improve upon the webinar lifecycle, especially with respect to the registration process. Remember, 58% of registrants miss the live version of the webinar.  I think we can improve on that number, and certainly enhance the delivery of recorded webinars to registrants.

 

There you go.  Thoughts?

By Ben Borodach, Co-Founder of Hublished

Crowdsourcing: A Social Business Solution

By | Social | No Comments

 

“No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

–    Bill Joy, Cofounder, Sun Microsystems

The word Crowdsourcing was coined by Jeff Howe in 2006, a portmanteau of the words ‘crowd’ and ‘outsourcing.’ It is used to describe the phenomenon using group intelligence to solve problems and complete projects.  A darling of Web 2.0, more and more companies have jumped on the crowdsourcing bandwagon over the past few years, even federal government agencies with the Federal Communications Commission crowdsourcing ideas on how to improve America’s broadband infrastructure (Tellus Venture Associates).

The benefits of crowdsourcing are immense – not only does the crowdsourcing model has the potential to significantly reduce expenditure in the long term by not having to maintain permanent staff ‘on the bench,’ it also allows companies to engage staff on a per-project basis, thus benefiting from having the people with the exact skills and expertise to fit each particular project.

However, it can be a double-edged sword. The skills and expertise that are so easy (relatively) to capture by assembling a temporary, specialized workforce are also easily lost, and cooperation is often short term.  ‘Crowdsourced’ projects also need to be managed carefully – when working with unknown entities, it is vital that they are managed properly to ensure the most positive outcome is reached.

There is also a lack of stability.  When job security is still a large concern in today’s economy, and even the most indispensable employee is worried, we are naturally led to ask:  is there such as thing as stability anymore? Employees are fast becoming a liability for some corporations. As well as take-home salary, there are taxes, training, insurance costs, and so on, and companies are being forced to consider entirely new ways of working in order to survive, including open source and crowdsourcing models.

 

Practical Applications and Examples

Crowdsourcing has many benefits in the business world, and not just for companies lacking in resources.  It can be used for collective intelligence, voting, creation, and funding (Business Insider).  There are a number of examples where large brands and small Startups are using ‘crowdsourced’ models to feature new products, solicit opinions on new features and improvements, and form groups of affinity, or professional social networks.

 

    • The CMO Club, a social professional network of leading top marketers worldwide, is an example of a well-integrated model for collective intelligence, with ideas, research content, and online and off-line conversation leading to the improvement of the quality of the marketing discipline. “I was really tired of low-quality marketing conferences and ‘vendor-centric’ presentations and decided that leading marketing executives could do better”, stated Pete Krainik, Founder of The CMO Club. “The crowdsourcing of ideas and conversations, leading to action and improvement is what we are all about.”

 

    • Many companies have used voting over the years to determine their next branding direction – whether it’s having consumers vote on a flavor of Mountain Dew or the next Doritos Super Bowl commercial.  By involving the masses and tapping into a “group think” consumer mentality, companies build brand engagement, loyalty, and a stronger knowledge of what the consumer actually wants.

 

    • Kickstartera crowdsourcing platform, has shown an extremely high success rate through the creation and funding aspects of crowdsourcing.  It helps projects mainly within the arts industry (music, gaming, film, etc.) grow, with “more than 3.8 million people” that have pledged “over $568 million, funding more than 39,000 creative projects” since their launch in 2009.  Kickstarter funded 10% of the films at Sundance in 2012, and projects all over the world. Since then they have been showing big success because of their crowdsourcing option.

 

    • The “Mommy Bloggers” trend has exploded over the past few years as an ideal product promotion platform.  These moms blog about their life experiences, usually with other moms as their target audience.  They review products, plays, restaurants….basically anything that applies to their everyday life.  There are niche mom blogs covering everything from travel and social networking for parents to baby basics and dealing with teenagers. Because of the multitude of mom bloggers, brands can crowdsource from a large community and use this resource to blast product promotions, press, etc. and reach a large audience.

 

    • Our marketing expertise group, Social2B, is an example of the crowdsourcing model on an international scale – with associates and experts based around the world, including the US, UK, as well as Russia and Eastern Europe, we leverage a bank of multilingual, multicultural experts to call upon when needed.  This new way of doing business allows even the smallest of companies to harness the power of a large group of specialized talent.

 

    • Another example of a site using crowdsourcing is LinkedIn, which provides fertile ground for thought leadership, member exchange, aggregation of expertise and ideas, and distribution of content, thus ‘crowdsourcing’ content and user feedback.

 

Crowdsourcing and Communication

Large corporations have always used occasional freelancers; crowdsourcing is merely an extension of this. If properly coordinated and planned with legal and human resources, the crowdsourced environment is a tremendous vehicle for communication  – a way to massively increase knowledge, and by extension, the ability innovate and increase production. Yochai Benkler, of Yale University, in his book The Wealth of Networks, sums it up extremely well:  “The world is becoming too fast, too complex and too networked for any company to have all the answers inside.”

Social Media and Crowdsourcing are also becoming synonymous. Many ideas, case studies, and even human resources are gathered and distributed using Social Media – from Facebook polls to Twitter contests, Social Media is the perfect platform for crowdsourcing to take place.  While crowdsourcing is often used to collect data, it can also be used to accomplish actual work that needs to be done.  Twitter is taking advantage of its immense influence by running a crowdsourcing program to translate Twitter into several languages, having users do this work themselves (Prescient Digital Media).  Wikipedia is another quintessential example of crowdsourcing, as the users are the ones to post their research, albeit not always accurate, so one must keep in mind that the data may not always be correct when crowdsourcing.  Choose which projects to use crowdsourcing for wisely, as some may lend themselves more readily to this method without as much margin for error (i.e. voting campaigns).  Ultimately, as long as a project is being monitored and managed correctly, there can be many benefits to crowdsourcing, with a growing community for your company, and the advantage of a distributed workload.

The Endless Possibilities for Content Marketing

By | Content | No Comments

 

“Content is of great importance, but we must not underestimate the value of style.” – Maya Angelou

As content marketing is becoming the go-to strategy for reaching target audiences online, platforms are springing up across the Internet to take advantage of this booming marketing trend.  From CRM systems to content publishing and automation tools, there’s a platform for everything.  Content marketing is the power tool for B2B and B2C brands, with over 90% of customers finding custom content useful (Business 2 Community).  As consumers expect more content production from brands across the Internet, there is high demand for content publishing and socializing across media from photos to infographics to videos to whitepapers and webinars.  As this demand grows, so does the demand for hubs for all of this content.  Enter sites like Quora, Betterificand the up-and-coming Hublished, all avenues for content publishing, socializing, industry expertise, sharing, and more.

 

Got a Question? Quora Has Answers (And So Should You)

 

 

Quorais becoming an essential tool to social media marketing strategies.  Brands can use this tool to leverage posts and knowledge tied to their industry within the Quora Q & A infrastructure in order to act as an expert voice on specific topics.  Post and answer questions; become part of the conversation.  Quora is a platform that allows you to branch out and engage so share new ideas and use the platform for content curation as well.  Quora is also gaining traction in Google’s SEO landscape, becoming a valuable tool for SEOstrategy.  Access key words to optimize your SEO results and get involved with related discussions in order to gain visibility.   Monitor what your competitors are doing as well by seeing how they are using similar keywords and topics to promote their brand, and use this to stay on top of industry trends and ahead of the competition.  Quora is an excellent platform for taking the temperature of the marketplace, and allowing for networking and lead generation and nurturing.  Quora connects users with information they want to be learning about, so make sure you’re in the information feed by getting involved.  Provide that first-hand knowledge that consumers are looking for.

 

 

Betterific: Making the World a Better Place One Suggestion at a Time

 

 

We joke about Betterificbeing a site basically for the purpose of complaining about things people don’t like, but it’s actually a productive platform making suggestions for change and seeing how the public responds.  Betterific describes itself as a “digital suggestion box” where people can throw any idea out there, and if it actually is a good one it moves up in visibility and generates more engagement, a following, and ultimately loyalty to the idea (and therefore your brand if you use it correctly).  It is a unique content platform that allows for the subtlest of marketing, where you can pose suggestions that ultimately benefit your brand.  This must be done with the utmost skill, as it presents itself as more of a community-based platform where “corporate” messaging doesn’t really have a place, but if you send individuals representing your brand on this platform to share ideas and ultimately content, you may have some success.  “Join a movementof smart, creative, passionate people that have a vision to make things better,” while also promoting your marketing agenda.

 

Hublished: Your Hub To Pub(lish Content)

 

 

Hublishedis making a name for itself in a different kind of content marketing than many of the traditional platforms.  Although still a work in progress, Hublished is on track to be the ultimate destination for organizing, chronicling, sharing, and socializing eBooks, White Papers, and Webinars all in one place.  The platform removes the hassle of organizing landing pages for these items by implementing a user friendly form that creates a landing page within the website for readers/viewers to access the content.  Content topics are then linked to those trending on Twitter, to show relevant material and give you opportunity to increase the visibility of your content across the Web.  What’s especially satisfying to a user using this platform is that the content can always remain alive through Hublished.  Once your Webinar is over, it can still be seen on Hublished once you upload it.  Once an eBook is removed from your site, it can still be read on Hublished if you so choose.  Especially with SEO being a top priority for content marketers, the more relevant and interest content you are able to keep out there, the better, and Hublished helps that come to fruition.  This platform does so many things for content curation, socialization, and storing, and is only continuing to add on capabilities.  They’re a company worth watching out for.

 

Content with your Content

 

 

If you have content to share, these are just a few of the many platforms out there that can help you with your content marketing.  You shouldn’t just be content with your content as it is, sitting on your site, or only being Tweeted and posted on Facebook.  There are so many more new and creative outlets for ways to share information that you should be exploring as many of them as possible.  Get your content out there! Share and discover!

By Jessica Spar

Social Referrals: The Value of Digital Friendship

By | Social | No Comments

Last weekhere at Social2B, we discussed the functionality of social media marketing especially the idea of social referrals. We gave the example of a list of 10,000 consumers that could potentially be contacted through e-mail or social media with discounts to be offered. While direct e-mail was limited to the 10,000 consumers, and the potential for a few to forward the discount e-mail to their friends, the social media campaign was combined with a sharing element where if the consumer posted the product on their social media page or liked/followed the company’s social media presence, they would be rewarded with the discount. Now, what we argued is that with the average user having 130 friends on Facebookthe potential sharing element would multiply the total reach to 1.3 million (and that’s just for one platform)! And while actually converting all 1.3 million users may seem far fetch, it’s interesting to think that even if only 1% of the initial 10,000 shared the link for the business, the end result would be a Facebook reach of 13,000 users…still more than double the outreach of the e-mail campaign!

 

Even if you’re not a fan of math, playing around with these numbers just shows how appealing social referrals can be from a digital marketing standpoint. The appeal grows especially when considering that 92% of consumers trust earned media(word-of-mouth recommendations from friends and family) above all other forms of advertising. The may mean that the campaigns of social referral might be one of the most effective forms of digital marketing out there! But with all this excitement surrounding the analytic potential social referrals offers, businesses must be asking: how do we properly develop a successful social referral campaign? Do you just post a few statuses on Facebook? Do you integrate the whole process with e-mail marketing to direct your referrals at targeted consumers? Do you contact influencers to persuade them to share your brand? There are many ways to go about executing a winning social referral campaign and today we’ll delve deep into the various methods.

Back to Basics

 

 

As a quick definition for anyone who is not aware of what social referral programs are, they are end-to-end marketing programs that allow brands to reach out to company advocates and turn them into social advocates to their cause. Like the domino effect, the expected result is for each advocate to spread their message virally and convert fellow peers into sales through social media. This sharing process would hopefully result in a large web of consumer-to-consumer marketing that would not only boost lead generation and sales conversion but also increase search engine ranking and consumer loyalty. Knowing this, it’s easy to see what so many brands would be interested in developing a marketing campaign that literally pays for itself in so many different facets of the digital world.

Take for example Dropbox, the digital file-sharing brand. In just five years, Dropbox has gone from zero to 100 million usersthrough the usage of their viral referral campaign among other marketing tools. What Dropbox did is that they encouraged users to share the service via social media or e-mail, and if they did they received extra space for free on their own account for every new person who signed up from one of their invites. Simple right? Maybe, but from the start Dropbox was always a great service that was very much valued by many users especially in the digital age. Those users who valued Dropbox became sort of brand evangelists who spread the word about the company through Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, and more. In the first 30-day period after the viral referral launch, Dropbox initiated a total of 2.8 million invitationssent out through brand advocates!

 

Now while your company may never achieve the marketing-god like status of Dropbox’s viral referral campaign, it can still foster a large number of both leads and sales from a campaign even a fraction of the size. And here’s how:

 

The Social Referral Play-by-Play

 

Target Valued Advocates:A huge part of what made the Dropbox viral campaign so successful is that they targeted customers they knew were satisfied with their brand and would be more than happy to share it with their friends in return for a free product. In a similar fashion businesses need to target clients or consumers they know are pleased with the company’s ability to produce. While in the retail world it may be difficult to get so specific with customers, with small-to-medium sized businesses the referral process should be relatively easy. Most companies have a testimonial page where they list quotes from other clients solidifying their ability. If a client feels comfortable enough to be listed in the testimonial section, they should have no problem accepting free services for making that testimonial public on social media. Also, analyzing your past sales should allow your business to have some conception of who your top clients are. If those top clients keep coming back to your business, reward them with a discounted or free service in return for a shared social media post. This will thus get the ball rolling on your referral program and also build a better relationship with said clientele.

 

Craft an Appealing Deal that’s Cost Effective:As basic economics tells us, people make decisions based upon a sort of work vs. happiness scale. Naturally humans attempt to maximize pleasure through any work they do, and therefore you must make it so your potential social advocates see the benefit of spreading your brand from the get-go. While I’m not saying you should give away free products or offer over-the-top discounts, I am saying that unless you’re offering some worthwhile, this social advocacy could be a waste of time. I would say a discount somewhere in the ballpark of 15-30% would suffice to get people interested. However when crafting your discount it should all be relative to what your products typically cost. At first Dropbox started out using Google Adwords as a way to reach customers but soon found it wasn’t cost-effective and so they dropped it. In a similar fashion, as a business you must make sure that your marketing campaign is overall profitable (I know, I know it’s business 101 but you never know with people today!)

 

Carefully Select your Social Media Platform of Choice:At the start of this blog, we used an example in which we showcased the potential outreach of Facebook with the average user having 130 friends. While the outreach might be impressive, you must look deeper into the analytic performance of each networking beast. As we’ve seen over and over again, the best social media marketing channel for B2B marketingis LinkedIn, hands down. So a B2B company offering consumers discounts for shares on Facebook may not have the best results. Twitter looks to be the strongest channelfor driving leads so your best bet of attracting upper management of businesses could be through a simply tweet. Overall, your choice of social media platform should depend on who your consumer is, what your product is, and the metrics behind each platform.

 

Lather, Rinse, Repeat:While the execution of the former three steps is clearly a vital part of your social referral program, a good system doesn’t stop after the round. With so many users available through social media, it is unlikely you will hit 100% on your first referral round. New clients also bring new potential audiences so in reality you so should be doing multiple referral programs every so often.

Conclusion

Looking at social referral marketing campaigns as a whole, there really aren’t many drawbacks. If you’re successful, you’ve built a network of marketing connections where your consumers are literally doing your work for you. If you fail, you’ve still strengthened connections with top clientele that might end up increasing the loyalty to your brand. Through and through, social referrals hold the potential to help aid your company’s marketing efforts tenfold!

By Connor Lawrence

 

Build it and They Will Come: Construct an Engaged Social Network for your Business

By | Social | No Comments

The word networking can, for many, conjure up images of awkward conversations at conferences, forced laughs and the collecting of business cards. It shouldn’t. In today’s world social networks have made it easier than ever before for you to build an engaged network for your business. Creating and expanding your online network is an incredibly important function as we continue to increase the amount of our waking hours online (In the US the average American spends 23 hours of their weekonline).

Through effecting networking you and/or your business can become the known and recommended expert in your field. Get your networking right and others will do the marketing for you, the social referralis a powerful tool. So how can you create an engaged following around your business on social media?

Follow The Leaders

Check out the competition. If your competitors seem to have a much greater social media following then find out why. Take a look at who competitors interact with and interact with them too; if you can get responses from larger organizations this will also push more users your way. The important thing is to make sure that you are getting involved in appropriate social media conversations. Throw out your net and collect more followers/friends by sharing information that interests you and has a relevance to your business this will attract like-minded people. It is crucial to remember you are the voice of your brand so keep it classy

Create Your Own Content

If you are constantly retweeting other people’s content you’re not providing something that users cannot find for themselves. Make sure you keep your network up to date with developments surrounding your business. Consider writing a blog suitable to your business in order to give you some content to publish that is your own and that will encourage followers to visit your site.

Share any content with other people in your field and invite comment. Likewise make sure that you are commentating and engaging with other professionals. It’s important to build and be part of an online community.

Social Toolbox

Social media analytics will allow your business to track its social media activities and to glean some insight into the success of your marketing strategies form the results. Analytics can effectively “improve your social media engagement, make marketing decisions and tie social media to your bottom line

For small business starting out and dipping their toe into social networking, advanced social analytic tools may not something they are ready for. There are easy to use features on any social platform that you can use to increase engagement such as using hastags when tweeting on Twitter to get involved in a trending topic or the endorsement function on LinkedIn which will allow you to endorse other professionals you have worked with in the past or be endorsed yourself.

Right Place, Right Time,

“ If context is king, context is god” . You could have great content but if you are putting it in the wrong place it won’t make the impact you desired. Context relates to the way you adapt content specifically for the target audience. Are your customers the type of people who use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Tumblr? Sometimes what you post on Facebook may not be suitable for another network like LinkedIn. Are your audience likely to understand insider jargon or will you have to keep posts in laymans terms?

There are context rules that are important not to break. Avoid in-your-face sales pitches. Nobody likes a hard sell and it is a sure fire way to make people disengage with your business. Try to find a suitable tone and style for your brand that your think your audience is expecting.

Building an engaging network for your business can be done immediately, you only require internet access. If social media is utilized skilfully your network of social media connections can yield results far greater than any other marketing activity.

By Sam Shedden

Infographics: Capturing Online Attention

By | Media | No Comments

Are you one of the 65% of the world’s population that are “visual learners” Often it can feel  like there is too much information on the web and too little time to take it all in. That’s where the infographiccomes in.

In this digital age we have short attention spans (stay with me people! There will be some links to some shiny pictures coming up).  According to the Social Timesour attention span is down from 12 minutes to 5 minutes which still to be me seems quite long. We have to have short attention spans; after all we have information and marketing messages assaulting our senses all through our waking hours (guesstimates range from 5,000 to 20,000 messages a day). Our brain would be overwhelmed if we tried to absorb everything that is trying to grab our attention. We make an evaluation of a website and how interesting its content is within seconds of the page loading.

Infographics suck you in; they are a great way of communicating lots of information in a creative and visually stimulating way. Infographics can make dull web pages immediately captivating and are a fantastic way to present content in a colorful digestible format.  They can be used to illustrate anything from political points to explaining what exactly was going on in the movie Inception.

Visual information can be absorbed significantly faster than verbal or written communication. Our brain can attach meanings to pictures far faster than it can read and process written words. “Every single day we create with 2.5 billion gigabytesof data from sensors, mobile devices, online transactions, and social networks”. That’s a heck of a lot of data swirling around online.

Infographics aren’t just pretty things to look at (although that is an undeniable appeal) they are an excellent way to keep your audience engaged and focused on your page and your content. The purpose of the infographic is usually to assist in the marketing of your content and to push traffic towards your site.

Once you’ve created your infographic masterpiece don’t stop there. If you already have a big audience, well done, if not please remember you are going to have to promote your content. Great content does not promote itself! You need to ensure you are engaging in promotional activities to get your message heard. Here are some tips to get the most from your infographics.

 

Share, Share, Share.

With so many Social media platforms available it is now easier than ever to get attractive visually appealing content out there. Get sharing on Facebook, tweeting on Twitter and pinning on Pinterest to pull in more traffic to your site. Your infographic is the bait to lure people to your site.

 

Capture the Current Trends

Pick up on what’s trending at the moment and design an infographic around something topical. Make sure that it holds some relevance towards your own content though. Always ask yourself who your desired audience is when designing an infographic. Try to connect it to a recent event or to a subject that is affecting your target audience right now.

 

Simplicity

The whole point of an infographic is to make a visual representation of information that is easy to understand and absorb. They are designed to stand alone they should not require a text paragraph to explain what is going on.

 

Presentation

Do not spend your time putting a carefully crafted infographic together with fascinating information only to lose views and traffic due to an unattractive layout. Make sure you use bright colors and bold designs to make your infographic eye catching and if you’re really struggling for ideas find some inspirationas there is plenty available.

 

Get creative and get started. Many websites offer free tools and templates to get you started. If you need additional help with your marketing speak to the experts. Social media marketers have a whole range of strategies to help you get heard.

By Sam Shedden

Creating a Buzz: How to Use Social Media to Generate a Buzz

By | Media | No Comments

It is no exaggeration to say that if you’re not social, it’s like you’re not even there. Social media has become critical in creating a buzz around new products/businesses and marketing in general.

Creating a buzz around a new product or service is an integral part of any online marketing campaign. The aim of buzz marketing is to get people talking about your brand by raising awareness of your business in exciting and engaging ways. If you can get enough of the right people onboard then they will act as brand advocates and influence others to check out or purchase your product. It’s estimated that a staggering 80% of our purchasing decisionsare based on recommendations!

There are a number of techniques the savvy online marketer can deploy to create that all important buzz that will have customers and prospects swarming round their product.

“What’s In it For Me?”

Online shoppers are a shrewd bunch. As soon as we open our web browser there is a seemingly unlimited amount of information available to us and oodles of companies trying to grab our attention towards their products. With all that choice attention spans are mercilessly short and you’re going to have to provide an incentive for some people to promote your brand. Social media competitions are a great way to do this and prove to be popular. One third of all global consumers surveyed in a recent pollentered a brand or product sponsored contest in the last month. Chips maker Lay’s designed a great campaign around the creation of a new flavour. Their “Do us a flavour” app had over 740,000 users trying to design the new flavour.

Avoid “The 100th person to retweet this wins…” it’s a dull approach to competitions and bit of a Twitter no-no. Be creative.

Blogs

OK I realize it is a bit self-indulgent for the author of a blog to recommend blogs. But if you don’t believe me about the value of the blog then look at the big boys: 34% of the Fortune 500companies have a public facing blog and the number using blogs has increased year upon year.

Blogs are simple to start up and you will be surprised and how many people will read them and the buzz they can generate. Playstation.Blogis an excellent example of a corporate blog where game developers invite feedback from fans as they construct games. The developers get some great insight and the fans feel part of the creative process.

Interaction Creates Attraction

As cheesy as that sub-heading may be, (I love a rhyme) interaction with users is arguably one of the most important parts of generating buzz and attracting more interest in your brand. Invite comment on your posts, ask for feedback on your product, join groups, upload videos of the product in action and engage with your followers whether that be on Twitter, Facebook or any other social platform.

Once meaningful conversation gets going and more people become involved that is when a real buzz will start to centre on your product.

Influence the Influencers

This is a becoming a big trend particularly on Twitter. If you can get someone influential- an industry expert, journalist or if you’re really lucky Justin Bieber- to endorse your product this will help greatly in building that buzz around your event/product. These influencers often have thousands of followers and can greatly increase awareness of your product.

Don’t forget about Joe Bloggs your brand advocate though, they are just as important as the influencers.

When creating a buzz through social media around anything be it an event, new product launch, or a business launch it’s vital to remember you are building an online community centered on your product/business. It’s that community which will propagate your marketing efforts and ultimately the social media community who will create the buzz for you, summarized neatly with 4 C’s: “Customers, Conversations, Community, and Commitment.”

By Sam Shedden

Social Scalability: Media, Metrics, and Measurement

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When it comes to social media marketing, the questions commonly asked are “How can you scale your social media?” or “Is social media even scalable?”  The answer to the latter is “Absolutely.”  Social media scalability can become a rather intuitive process if you have the right tools in place.   It all comes down to the metrics and how you measure your social media efforts.  Social media measurements allow you to deals with what actually happened, (conversions, clicks, etc.) versus traditional media measurement which generally only measures potential reach.   These metrics are constantly being refined as more integrated analytics platforms are being developed.

 

What Should You Be Looking For?

The way you measure or scale your social media will also depend on your industry.  KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) vary for each enterprise, as every one has different ROI drivers.  As your business goals change, these may as well, but it’s important to have a core strategy as a starting point that you can then modify later on as your business development expands.  When implementing a scalability strategy the key factors for measuring your success, especially with content marketing are:

 

  • Reach:How many views is your content getting?

 

  • Relevance:Who is your target audience and is your content reaching them?

 

  • Influence and Engagement Who is sharing your content? Are they valuable members of the community or conversation? Is your content starting a conversation or adding to one? Are people interacting with it?

 

  • Sentiment and Promotion:Is the response to your content positive? Are people sharing your content and promoting it?

 

These KPI’s are measured through a more qualitative method, but if you want more concrete numbers-based analytics you can also implement quantitative, comparative, and competitive measurement strategies to analyze the success of each of the above indicators:

 

  • Reach:To measure your exposure you should be looking at website traffic (unique vistors and page views) and conversion rates.

 

  • Relevance:Analyze if your reach is converting into sales, subscriptions, registrations, etc. – i.e. is your increased visibility bringing about an actionable ROI?

 

  • Influence and Engagement:What are the number of click-thru’s you’re getting from shared links.  How many repeat visits? What is the time spent on these visits?  Are people commenting on your posts? Are they retweeting or @replying?  Is there a change in awareness towards your brand? What implications show that a use will be more likely to purchase?

 

  • Sentiment and Promotion:Determine the percentage of response rate to your content that is positive vs. negative.   What is the likelihood that people will promote or share your brand? In addition, how are you ranking in relation to your competitors? If you cross-track their activity, channel usage and engagement, keyword traffic, and demographic reach in relation to your own you can analyze your ranking in the marketplace and the sentiment towards your brand in relation to the competition.

 

So What Does This All Mean?

So you know generally what KPI’s to be looking out for, but the question then is how do you actually measure these?  There are many tools available to help you such as Google Analytics and other monitoring tools, CRM systems to help maintain contacts, eCommerce tools, social media performance tools to assist in ROI analysis, and more.  By integrating all of these elements you can develop a strategy that follows the following steps:

 

  •  Strategy/Assessment:Figure out how you will align your social media strategy with your business goals and objectives when deciding which tactics are best for your brand.

 

  • Brand and Content: Once you have established the voice of your brand create, curate, and distribute content that promotes this image.

 

  • Establish Enterprise Metrics: Using the suggest KPI’s, decide which tools are best for monitoring your success.

 

  • Monitor and Manage: Keep track of trends in your analytics and use these to inform your progress and what works (or does not).  Tailor your strategy as needed to maximize results.

 

Next Steps: Social Value Chain

To ensure that your social scalability is truly up to size ensure that your “social value chain” is in tact.  This means that every department in your company holds value in your social scalability, so your social media needs to be integrated cross-departmentally, internally and externally.  Every business process you have has a social media impact, and you need to take that into account.  Especially for marketing, customer service, and HR purposes, your social media usage is essential for scaling the success of these departments, aiding in audience engagement, branding and PR, sales support, lead generation, reputation management, customer information, talent acquisition, research, and more.

 

Your social media marketing strategy needs to align with the goals within each of these departments in order to maximize your ROI.   Define your social media campaign parameters before diving in by solving for the KPI and projections, taking into account room for risk, Enterprise cost, and growth, and figure out how much of your budget you need to allocate for your social strategy.

 

Questions to Keep In Mind

  • Is my organization and my executive management team ready for Social Media Marketing and Branding?

 

  • Does everyone treat Social Media as a strategic effort or as an offshoot of marketing or PR/Communications?

 

 

  • Where in the organization will Social Media reside?

 

 

  • Will I be able to allocate sufficient budget to Social Media efforts in our company?

 

 

  • How will Social Media discipline be aligned with HR, Technology, Customer Service, Sales, etc.?

 

 

  • What tools and technologies will I need to implement SM campaigns?

 

 

  • Will ‘social’ also include ‘mobile’?

 

 

  • How will we integrated SM marketing campaigns with existing, more ‘traditional’ marketing efforts?

 

 

  • How much organizational training will we need to implement in integrating ‘social’ within our Enterprise?

 

 

  • Are we going to use ‘social’ for advertising and PR/Communications? What about ‘disaster recovery’ and ‘reputation management’?

 

 

 

Once you are able to answer these questions you will be all set to scale your social media marketing strategy to size!

For more detailed information, please click here.

Content Marketing: From the Written Page to the Visual Stage

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If a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words, Then Is a Video Worth a Million?~ Greg Jarboe

Content marketing has become a central strategy for marketers as traditional marketing expands to encompass social media and the many platforms it entails From blogging to social networks to website landing pages themselves, content marketing is essential for SEO rankings, and therefore a brand’s visibility across the Web.  As content marketing evolves, so do the many forms this industry essential takes. Content marketing, which started with the written word, has also transformed itself into the world of static and moving images.

Taking concepts that have long existed in traditional marketing, content marketing is moving increasingly into the visual space. From that traditional ad that captures the audience’s attention through visual appeal, the concept of the infographic has emerged, and from the idea of commercials comes to video marketing via many channels such as YouTube, and the newer Vine and Instagram video.  As we have progressed in the digital age, this transition from the written page to the visual stage has allowed for new and creative forms of brand expression, allowing for content curation across multiple platforms.

Almost any piece of written content can be made into an infographic, followed by a video (if you link to each of these you can see how Social2B, a digital marketing agency, did this successfully with their content on mobile strategy).

 

Especially as the “instant gratification” generation continues to grow, the need to capture the audience’s attention in new and innovative ways is constantly at the forefront of content marketing strategies.  From real-time marketing capitalizing on the NOW moment to the decrease of video lengths to 6 seconds via Vine in which you have to get your whole message in that span of time, it’s become more and more essential to capture an audience in the most efficient and captivating way possible.  When it comes to social media, the key objective is to produce quality content that will reach the largest audience possible in order to achieve the highest ROI and highest SEO rankings, so companies are constantly battling it out to find the best way to achieve this.

Here are some stats supporting the move towards video content marketing:

  • More than 1 billion unique users visit YouTube each month, spending more than 4 billion hours watching videos (YouTube).

 

  • 92 percent of mobile video viewers share videos with others. (Invodo)

 

  • 52 percent of consumers say that watching product videos makes them more confident in online purchase decisions. (Invodo)

 

  • Only about 24 percent of national brands are using online video to market to consumers which means there is still a lot of opportunities to become a leader in this marketplace (Kantar Media)!

 

***These and more stats can be found via DigiDay.

 

Video storytelling is becoming the advertiser’s dream with everything from YouTube videos to the shorter Vine and Instagram Video destinations which all act as a persuasive brand medium.  While commercials have always been a way to reach people, as the consumer audience is increasingly moving towards mobile and online and away from traditional television viewing, these outlets allow these target audience members to be reached in a more personally engaging way.

By optimizing your content for the most platforms and mediums possible, you are increasing your chances of an appeal to audiences through variety and pure volume.  Dynamic content grows audiences, which is why visuals are an important element of content marketing. Even when incorporating blogs into your strategy accompanying them with images, and ultimately infographics that help summarize the blog’s material, can help keep a reader’s attention.  Strong text content connects audiences to brands through a more conversational outlet, while the visuals help keep their attention once you’ve reeled them in. Ensure that you don’t miss out on this next wave of marketing, and cover your bases with written, static images, and animated visual content.

By Jess Spar

How Gamification Done Right Drives ROI

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For better or worse, nearly everyone enjoys a little friendly competition. A study by JWT Intelligence found that 63% of surveyed adults agreed that making everyday activities more like a game would make them more fun and rewarding. With this in mind, how can businesses capitalize on their customers’ love for game-like experiences?

Implementing an effective gamificationstrategy that ultimately drives the most ROI for your business isn’t always as simple as it sounds on paper. For instance, many gamification platforms are standalone applications, separate from the rest of the elements of its corresponding site or app.

Pitting your gamification platform against the other interaction points on your web properties defeats the entire aim altogether, which is to encourage valuable on-site behavior and drive loyalty.

Gamification Isn’t a Single Player Game

After examining thousands of gamification implementations, we’ve found that the most effective user experiences are tightly interwoven across different points of social engagement. In other words, gamification makes the biggest impact when it’s integrated with social tools such as social login and plugins like comments, ratings and reviews, sharing, and more.

Why is it so essential that gamification relates directly to the social elements of your site? In a nutshell, gamification drives engagement with your site’s different points of interaction. It offers incentives for consumers to sign into and actively participate in your online communities by leaving comments, sharing content and site activities, writing product reviews, and more.

Gamification as a Driver

As the infographic above shows, gamification drives other site actions that facilitate user engagement and brand awareness. Therefore, businesses seeking the most ROI for their gamification efforts need to invest in a solution that incorporates loyalty-building game elements with social plugins that act as catalysts for nurturing consumer engagement.

YouTube’s Traffic Comes From Mobile (what does this mean for you?)

By | Media | No Comments

With the proliferation of mobile devices in recent years, it should come as no surprise that many top websites are reporting users are accessing their sites from mobile devices at a rate which is increasing exponentially. This is evidenced through statistics recently released by Google showing how often YouTube is accessed via mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. During its Q3 earnings callthis year, Google announced that YouTube received 40% of its traffic through mobile devices. If this trend continues, as it appears it will, it is obvious that the majority of YouTube videos will be watched and uploaded through mobile devices in the years to come.

The main reason for the increase in mobile visitors to websites like YouTube is that these devices have become much more powerful in the last few years. Not only have their hardware capabilities increased dramatically, but mobile networks have picked up the pace as well. 4G LTE networks, like that of Verizon Internet for example, are even faster than the home broadband connections that many web surfers are still using today. It takes a speedy connection to be able to stream a YouTube video over the airwaves and, quite suddenly, mobile data devices appear to be up to the task.

 

Another reasonthat users are accessing YouTube through their phones or tablets more often is because almost each and every one now comes with a video camera. In only a few seconds, a user can shoot a video on their device, open the YouTube app, and upload their video. With such an easy process for uploading videos, it seems as if YouTube and mobile devices go hand-in-hand.

 

So, what does this mean for companieswho are using YouTube to help grow their brand? Most people have experienced the frustrating situation of a smartphone or tablet that is taking too long to load a webpage. This can not only happen when the mobile device has bad reception, but also when the page it is trying to load is not optimized for the mobile web. Such issues should be taken into account when creating a YouTube marketing campaign or advertisement.

 

YouTube videos that are shorter in duration and more to the point will not only load quicker, but capture the viewer’s attention much quicker as well. Most people use their mobile devices when they are on the go, which means they do not have the time to watch a 10-minute video no matter how engaging it might be. They simply want to be entertained or enlightened during the few seconds or minutes they have to spare.

 

In the future, YouTube and mobile devices will only become more integrated than they already are. Google is the parent company of both Androidand YouTube. Therefore, they could theoretically blend these two products into one as much as they desire and other companies like Apple would be forced to keep up with the pace.

 

It appears that technology as a whole is all about mobility now. The distinction between home computers and tablets is shrinking. This is something every company and its marketing team must keep in mind if they intend to create cutting-edge advertising campaigns. With that said, by optimizing YouTube videos for mobile devices and viewers who have a very short attention span, those videos will be able to better send the intended message and have a much greater impact on the target audience when they do.