Insights

  • LinkedIn Gets a Facelift

    by Elyse Altiere | Feb 17, 2017

    LinkedIn recently got a fresh new look. The social networking site says it’s the largest redesign since its inception. The company hopes users will find the new design more intuitive and easier to use. LinkedIn claims users were apparently “overwhelmed” by the old design.

    Here on the Trellist Insights Blog, we wanted to share what we’ve seen so far as it relates to the changes on both individual LinkedIn Profiles and LinkedIn Company Pages.

    Individual LinkedIn Profiles

    When it comes to individual LinkedIn Profiles, we’ve noticed an overall simplistic design to engage more members. Searching for people, jobs, companies, etc. is more streamlined. The toolbar puts greater emphasis on actions users can take. Messaging has been revamped and is a lot like Facebook Messenger and now includes a pop-up window.

    Banner images are displayed even more prominently and have changed in size. Insights are also displayed more prominently related to who has viewed your content. There’s more emphasis on enhancing your profile, including tips on how to make the most out of your profile. 

    LinkedIn Company Pages

    There are some fairly significant design changes for Company Pages. First, LinkedIn updates appear more prominently on the page. If you’re a page admin, LinkedIn showcases a quick look at analytics. Page visitors have the ability to select “Updates,” ”Overview” and “Jobs” via tabs.

    LinkedInFacelift_screenshot

    Page admins still have the option to display a background image to highlight their company/brand, however it’s smaller in size and appearance from the previous version. There’s also an option to update an image under the “Overview” tab that highlights the company’s “About us” section. Last, but not least, when sharing an update, targeting is more obvious in the dropdown menu. 

    LinkedInFacelift_TrellistLIScreenshot

    We’ll be tracking our personal profiles and the Company Pages we manage to see how these design changes will impact overall engagement. If you have anything to add, we’d love to hear from you.

    To learn more about our approach to managing social media, be sure to contact us at socialbusiness@trellist.com.

  • 8 Tips for Better Real-Time Social Media Photos

    by Elyse Altiere | Nov 23, 2016

    Visual content shared on social media is a powerful asset, especially at conferences and events. Images help boost a brand’s visibility in general, but did you know that social media posts with images receive 94% more views than those without them?

    Sharing images on social helps to drive additional booth traffic at big events, while also highlighting a product or service.

    smblog_112916

    The good news is you don’t need to be an expert photographer to do it well. But it’s imperative for brands to take professional looking photos when attending events. Here’s a handy list of tips and tricks for capturing and sharing photos at conferences, trade shows and other events:

    1. Lights, camera, action! Lighting is key. You don’t want someone to look washed out or even worse, the person is unrecognizable because it’s so dark. Ensure the room is well-lit or use a flash if necessary.
    2. Show us a sign. Don’t cut the words off signage. There’s nothing worse than chopping letters off a product/banner you’re trying to showcase.
    3. Eyes open folks. Ensure everyone’s eyes are open in your pictures. Always double check this before posting.
    4. Tuck ‘em in. Are shirts tucked in? Are ties on straight? These little things matter! Make sure your representatives on site understand this one.
    5. Make your images tasteful. It’s best to keep alcoholic beverages out of social media photos. Leave the happy hour pics at happy hour.
    6. Keep their eyes on the prize. Giving away an item? Showcase a photo of the giveaway on social media to drive traffic to the booth.
    7. Spell check yourself. Including a person’s name with a photo? Make sure the spelling is correct and his or her current title is accurate.
    8. Keep it legal. Last, but definitely not least, ensure any legal considerations are checked before sharing photos on social media. Be sure to follow any social media policies.

    Every picture tells a story. So share yours and watch it improve engagement on your social channels.

  • The Gmail Effect: Making the Case for Social Media Promotion

    by Neil Dougherty | Oct 19, 2016
    gmail_effect

    Worldwide, there are over 1 billion people using Gmail – Google’s well-known and well-liked free email service. In terms of Email Client market share, Gmail trails only Apple's iPhone, garnering 16% of overall usage across webmail, desktop and mobile email clients combined. 

    As if email marketers don't have it hard enough keeping up with segmentation and automation, now they're faced with over 1 billion people using a Gmail that filters out brand-generated emails into a tab called "Promotions". It's the equivalent of a display ad running on a web page that only gets 10 visits a day – or a political candidate whose position is at the very bottom of the ballot. Unless your email lands in the "Primary" tab, it's effectively reached a dead end.

    This type of Inbox filtering is not new – it’s been a part of Gmail for quite some time. But it's a default setting that a large majority of users won't take the time to customize or change. So it leads me to wonder if marketers are picking up on this "Gmail effect" in the Inbox. 

    GmailInbox

    Gmail is taking it a step further now, allowing users to "Gmailify" their email addresses from other providers like Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail/Outlook.com. This gives them the option to experience emails classically served by competitor clients with all of the Inbox features of Gmail. Thus, the Gmail footprint grows larger. And more Inboxes are sliced and diced based on Gmail's filtering. 

    All this said, email marketing will surely live on. It's hard to predict its true life expectancy, especially in a time when so many people claim they don't like email and are overburdened by it. For Gen-Xrs, it's a habit that will die especially hard. But for marketers in both the B2C and B2B spaces, it's another reason to expand their channel horizons and start testing more targeted social media content and promotions. 

    In fact, that email list will come in handy on social media, as networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow ad targeting using custom or tailored audiences – a process that matches email lists to active users and generates brand impressions (normally in the form of a promoted post or sponsored tweet) in the user's timeline. 

    The latest statistics from Facebook tell us that users average more than 50 minutes per day in their suite of apps (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram). That's plenty of time to serve up a relevant post based on history and interests – whether you're an insurance company, a cloud technology vendor or a corner deli. And while there are ways for users to alter advertising settings in their social media feeds and block ads, few actually do it. Most users have come to expect branded, promoted content in their social feed – which leads to engagement if the content is hyper-relevant to their likes and passions. 

    Whether your brand is looking to drive awareness around a new product, increase traffic back to your owned web presence, or influence the buying decision, micro-targeted impressions on social media can give you a similar bang for your buck to an email campaign. Add to it the visual-first nature of social media, and you're in a prime position to make an even better first (or just-in-time) impression.

    Email's loss is positioned to be social media's gain.

  • 7 Pros and Cons of Instagram Stories for Brands

    by Elyse Altiere | Sep 22, 2016

    Last month, Instagram – the popular mobile app for photo aficionados worldwide – launched Instagram Stories. The feature is the app’s response to the Snapchat craze. Stories will encourage users to share photos, videos and text that disappear after just 24 hours.

    Some brands have fully embraced Instagram Stories, while others are still getting the hang of this new feature.

    The team at Trellist cobbled together this handy infographic of pros and cons for social media managers who are thinking about elevating their Instagram strategy to include the Stories feature.

    Check it out below and feel free to share it with your network:

    Trellist_Infographic-Breaking_Down_Instagrams_Stories_Feature

    Keep up with the latest in Social Business and Social Media strategy and trends from Trellist at www.trellist.com/social-business

  • A Quick Guide to Snapchat and Periscope

    by John Miller | Aug 17, 2015

    New social media platforms are appearing everywhere, making it difficult for businesses to identify where they should spend their time and resources. One important consideration in making the assessment is understanding which forms of social media have, and are likely to maintain, a broad reach.

    Two newer mobile social media platforms have emerged that appear to have sizeable user bases and some staying power: Snapchat and Periscope.

    Snapchat allows anyone – or any business – to post photos and videos to their followers. The trick is that what is posted will disappear 24 hours later. Periscope enables the livestreaming of video so that it can be shared with other users in real time. Let’s consider the potential of both of these offerings in more depth:

    Snapchat

    Snapchat, launched in 2011, and originally named Picaboo, enables users to take photos and videos and share them with followers. Users can enhance their photos and videos with emojis, various types of filters, and a drawing function. After 24 hours, the content disappears.

    About 150 million people use Snapchat every day. It is especially popular among millennials. Perhaps Snapchat’s best-loved feature is “Stories,” which allows users to string together images and videos throughout the day, creating a public slideshow. The feature is popular enough that Instagram recently rolled out a very similar version of the same video capabilities.

    Businesses on Snapchat

    Disney, Taco Bell and Acura are a few of the notable companies using Snapchat. Just about all the major North American professional sports teams also have Snapchat accounts. Individual athletes successfully use personal Snapchat accounts to give fans behind-the-scenes updates on their lives. Prominent business leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk, Mark Suster, and Justin Kan have also used Snapchat to grow their personal brands.

    Periscope

    Periscope, a video livestream mobile app, describes its mission as allowing one “to discover the world through someone else’s eyes.” Owned by Twitter, Periscope launched in 2015 and quickly accumulated more than 10 million users.

    When a user logs in, he or she can find live broadcast streams from people he or she knows, or search for others based on subjects of interest. There is also a chat function that allows users to post comments and interact with other users in real time. Once the live streamer stops his or her live broadcast, the replay is available for 24 hours. Periscope posts can be accessed via Twitter.

    Businesses on Periscope

    Doritos, Nestle and Red Bull are among the major brands using Periscope to bolster their brand messaging, most typically by running contests and promoting events in which they’re involved. GE has used Periscope to provide a “peek behind the curtain” at some of its facilities, helping to demystify and humanize the company.

    Any business might leverage Periscope and Snapchat to livestream conferences or presentations, or to create stories that heighten engagement with its audience. There are many more potential applications as well.

    If you’re interest in learning more about Periscope, Snapchat, or other innovations in social media that might be employed to support your business, let us know. We are ready to help.

  • 10 Ways Social Listening Can Help Your Business

    by Neil Dougherty | May 13, 2015

    how social listening can help your business
    Neil's post was originally published by Social Media Today...

    Buzz. Buzz. Buzz. When it comes to social listening technology, there's plenty of it. And there's no shortage of tools available to get the job done, from free options like Google Alerts and Social Mention, to more robust platforms that organize conversations into smart dashboards or streams (like Sprinklr - a Trellist partner and leader among social listening platforms).

    Of course, the technology is only as good as the social listening strategy that informs it. Without an approach that sets out to achieve business goals - and ultimately create a better customer experience around your brand - businesses often strike out at being productive social listeners.

    To help you start thinking about the next steps in your social strategy, we've crafted a simple Top 10 list of compelling reasons to use social listening. 

    1. Gain competitive intelligence

    The smartest brands are using social listening for competitive intelligence. With the right guiding strategy and measured inputs, social listening can provide a dashboard view of content revealing your competitors' tactics, activity, customer engagement, and overall sentiment. 

    2. Improve existing marketing efforts

    Let's face it, people share just about anything on social media these days. Including what they do or don't like about marketing and advertising practices. Select social listening tools like Sprinklr allow you to understand these preferences and tag them back to CRM to give the customer more of what they want and less of what they don't. 

    3. Fix problems or flaws

    There are countless stories of the power and virality of social sharing pointing out a critical shortcoming in a product or service offering. Apple's #bendgate late last year, during its iPhone 6 release, comes to mind. Better to know and respond early, then to find out too late and suffer.

    4. Improve customer service

    While most social customer service resolutions are handled by monitoring owned accounts, you can also listen and learn about what customers want or what they're frustrated by outside of your company's social channels, then offer the element of surprise and delight with a solution that eliminates the issue. Think of it as an alternative acquisition strategy. 

    5. Find new customers

    Generating new leads and turning them into lifelong customers is critical for every business. By adding a layer of social media-driven intelligence based on keywords and queries important to your business, you'll be able to track the right conversations and introduce your product in a casual, meaningful and timely way.

    6. Pinpoint influencers and empower advocates

    It's important to know who likes you, even if they're not @ mentioning you. Social listening lets you follow the share path - so you can connect with influencers and advocates as an additional outlet to help you achieve short- and long-term goals. 

    7. Recruit better talent

    With a heavy focus on using social listening for marketing, business may fail to notice its power for recruiting. They shouldn't. Monitoring conversations, blogs and other communities can be a gold mine for talent acquisition teams.

    8. Design and innovate

    Using social listening for research and development is possible and scalable. For some businesses, it can help streamline the need for expensive studies and focus groups. We see a tremendous future for R&D using social data points mined from listening. 

    9. Improve your content marketing game

    Social listening queries lead to conversations, which often come with content attached to them. If you're serious about providing the best content possible to your audiences, social listening can be a reliable informant and strong addition to your content curation strategy.

    10. Anticipate opportunities

    If a competitor falls short, you need to know about it. Listening programs position you to swoop in and save the day. Or in some situations, put more heat on your rivals.

    Like the famous line from the 80s earworm “The Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics states, “you can listen as well as you hear." Businesses will quickly find that listening (not just hearing) is as critical as talking in social. With the right strategy and tools, social listening can enable these 10 things and a whole lot more. 

    To learn more about our approach to social listening and our suite of social business services, contact me at ndougherty@trellist.com or message Trellist on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. 

  • 3 Keys to Surviving the Age of Social Disruption

    by Chris Wallace | Jul 28, 2014
    surviving the age of social disruption

    Without question, social technologies rank among the most disruptive trends in business and culture in the 21st Century. So disruptive, in fact, it could prove to be an “extinction event” for businesses too inflexible or slow to evolve.

    Consumers (whether B2C or B2B) have built expectations for brands on social that mirror the way that they interact with their friends and counterparts. These expectations cause consumers to be drawn to, and ultimately choose, brands that actively engage with them socially.

    Socially mature companies make the investment to understand the complexities of their consumers and use that information to improve their products, services and brand interactions.

    This requires brands to be present and active in channels their customers prefer. It requires real time, on-demand listening and engagement, and making that information shareable and actionable without porting around spreadsheets. It means all internal touch points participate in social on some level - from customer service to marketing to investor relations. 

    Essentially, brands are forced to move from DOING social to BEING social, and this movement is happening right now.

    According to Dion Hinchcliffe of the Dachis Group, the number of global companies that have truly and fully mastered social integration across their operations numbers in the low hundreds[1]. The importance of doing so is apparent however. He explains we are, “witnessing a steady and inexorable rise in social business adoption over the last five years.” 

    This means that now is the perfect time to begin planning your social road map and seize on a fast-mover advantage in your marketplace.

    What separates socially leading companies from lagging ones? How are these leaders approaching the challenges and reaping the benefits from opportunities presented by the era of social disruption?

    It helps to look at where industry norms will be in 5 years to create a roadmap to becoming fundamentally social by re-configuring 3 key factors: People, Processes and Technology.

    To help our clients understand these 3 key factors and address these challenges, Trellist launched a dedicated Social Business Division to provide consulting, design and development for clients looking to integrate social across teams, divisions, locations and business functions.

    We've also partnered with Sprinklr - the single "most powerful technology" in the social space (Forrester's Wave Reports). The result: an alliance that spans every need of every forward-thinking, large- to medium-sized organization seeking to implement social on a global, integrated level.

     

    3 Keys to Surviving Social Disruption.


    Don’t be the disrupted. Be the disruptor. If you are a champion for social in your organization, and are interested in taking the right steps toward becoming social at scale, Trellist is ready to help you meet the challenge head on. Engage with us; we're listening.

  • The Corporate Meeting of the Future is Here

    by Bob | Jul 02, 2013

    The Corporate Meeting of the Future is Here

    Imagine attending a corporate meeting or conference, and all you need for managing check-in and registration is your mobile phone or tablet. Consider the power of never having to squint again to view an overstuffed presentation slide from your seat in the back of the room, because you can follow along to more compelling, real-time presentation content on your own device. Or imagine yourself as the presenter – with the ability to get instant feedback from an audience half a world away.

    All of the above – and much more – are real possibilities, right now. And central to the innovation shift is the integration of social media into the experience. It’s continually amazing how simple conversations mixed with unique technologies continue to influence so many facets of our personal and professional lives.

    So, if your next corporate meeting or large-scale event is on the horizon, here are some key ideas worth considering.

    Open the hall doors early

    Well, not literally. Just consider that it’s never too early to start setting the tone for a big event. That’s why you’ll want to take to the social airwaves right away. You can manage promotional communications and provide access to preliminary meeting content via corporate Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, LinkedIn pages, and video properties like YouTube and Vimeo. Prior to the meeting, these channels are low-cost, high-touch options to build excitement around a theme, position overall objectives, set expectations for the audience, and get influencers involved in the early conversations.

    Deliver content & encourage feedback in the moment

    During the meeting, attendees can interact with speakers in real time via smartphone polling systems, review live presentation materials on their tablets, and interact with other attendees via blog sites and pre-built surveys. The strategic use of social media sites and mobile devices enables attendees to collaborate on an ongoing basis and helps meeting organizers adapt to cogent feedback. The combination of social and mobile maximizes the impact of the event, while simultaneously empowering the attendees to arrive at the desired outcomes.

    Tactically, consider using a social hashtag for the meeting or event. An example of a hashtag is #BigMeeting2013. Be sure to make it ubiquitous by putting the hashtag on name badges, slides, handouts, displays throughout the space, and any marketing materials associated with the event. This way, you’ll keep attendees engaged and conversational throughout the meeting – and you’ll get the feedback you need to act.

    It’s critical to encourage input early and repeat that message often. Make it known that audience feedback can influence content throughout the event by updating presentations based on social media comments. Promote blogging and best practice sharing from the stage during presentations. You could also set up a reward system for the best contributions, offering items like gift cards, hotel vouchers, or show tickets.

    Don’t forget the after-party

    It’s equally important to maintain a conversation with your attendees after the event, when everyone is back in their respective territories. Post-event polling, best practice examples that demonstrate key meeting objectives, case studies showing how key learnings led to or closed a sale – these are just a few examples of the things you can do.

    Also, consider re-purposing some of the video assets of key presenters and integrating those pieces into follow-up training. Video is always a great way to revisit the highlights of the event and its most engaging speakers. It’s also the ideal content to have at the ready when you want to start building awareness for the next event.

    And, of course, keep encouraging attendees to share insights, quotes, pictures, and more from the event across your social properties and their social media channels. Track these posts to further illustrate event ROI and to continue collaborative learning beyond the event.

    Innovation in the realm of technology and connectivity, coupled with compelling content, is revitalizing corporate meetings and events. It’s a wonderful reality. Best of all, Trellist is uniquely positioned to help our clients make the most of these advancements. We have the right balance of technical expertise and social media strategy muscle to help you achieve more from your meetings. If you’d like to talk more about this topic, follow us on Twitter @trellist, or connect with us via info@trellist.com.

  • Social Media: Changing the Rules for ROI

    by Chris Wallace | Feb 26, 2013

    “When a new medium borrows from an existing one, some of what it borrows makes sense, but much of the borrowing is thoughtless, “ritual”, and often constrains the new medium. Over time, the new medium develops its own conventions, throwing off existing conventions that don’t make sense.”

    – John Allsopp, founder of the Web Standards Project

    Back in 2000, Allsopp (@johnallsopp) noted a tension between the web as we know it, and the web as it would be.  The web at that time was heavily influenced by print, as designers and builders had little other frame of reference. Those attempting to measure the value of the internet were using Nielsen-like ratings held over from TV. It’s all they knew.

    Many marketers and business people find themselves in a similar conundrum when evaluating social media performance. Social media challenges long held traditions about ROI from online media. Advertisers, publishers, agencies, investors and even social networks themselves desperately want to measure social media using the “tried and true” methods and metrics for ROI. The problem is that many traditional measurements miss out on the true value of social media and, worse, can lead to the false impression that social media is not a valuable marketing channel.

    Evaluating social media based on metrics designed to measure, for instance, search advertising can be problematic. Users on a search results page are in “target acquisition mode”—they are looking for the most direct route between where they are and what they want. If your ad represents a good chance that their heart’s desire is a click away, they are all over it. They click or tap on the ad and this action is easily measureable, its value is quickly quantifiable.

    The social consumer does not play by the same rules. Social media blurs the lines between how people interact with friends and how they interact with brands. This changes the rules for selling and requires adapting both your methods of customer interaction and how you measure success.

    Social consumers have different sets of expectations and exhibit different behaviors on social channels than they do when they are elsewhere on the web. Social consumers want to learn about your brand and expect you to learn about them. They expect a conversation. They gravitate to social channels to hang out, to catch up, to share, to waste time, to celebrate, to rant. This is not a shopping mindset, and as such they are exceptionally resistant to overt sales pitches while in social channels.

    Thus, measuring direct sales from social media alone, while seemingly expedient, can be a false ROI indicator. A broader, more inclusive approach to social media measurement will uncover dimensions of ROI that may have previously been ignored. Here are a few additional ways to measure social media ROI that may add dimension to your current calculations:

    1) Social Traffic versus Display Traffic

    • How much would this traffic level cost if you generated it via paid display advertising?
      This can help you optimize hard spends (ads) versus soft spends (content and customer interaction)

    2) Visitor Quality

    • How do your social visitors perform against key performance indicators (KPIs) compared to their non-social ones?
    • How much do your social visitors spend versus non-social counterparts?
    • What other actions do your social visitors perform (beyond purchase)?
      This dimension lets you begin to get a handle on the lifetime value of a social consumer.

    3) Revenue via Social Conversions

    • How many purchase decisions are influenced at some point by social media?
    • Does social media assist in conversions along the way?
      A visit from a social referral may result in a conversion immediately (Last Interaction Social Conversions) or it may influence a conversion that occurs later on (Assisted Social Conversions).Comparing the two is essential to understanding the role that social plays in business outcomes.

    4) Channel Quality

    • Which social channels result in highest performing customers/conversions?
    • How do social consumers prefer to engage with you?
    • Do visitors from one social channel perform better than another?
      This metric helps optimize which social media channels you pay most attention to.

    5) Content Quality

    • What types of content do your social consumers respond to?
    • Do your social customers value your content enough to share it?
      By tagging your social media posts by “function” (i.e. direct sales, informative, conversational, customer service, brand building) you can identify those types of content that optimally drive results against your KPIs.

    The methods mentioned above acknowledge that social media is breeding a consumer culture of peer-oriented relationships. They recognize that social interactions are non-linear while most measurement tools attempt to draw linear relationships. Ultimately, they may help you realize previously unforeseen value from your social media endeavors.

    If you’d like to learn more about Social Media marketing and strategy, follow us on twitter @trellist or connect with us via info@trellist.com.

  • 2013 Social Media Resolutions

    by Neil Dougherty | Jan 21, 2013
    2012 social resolutions

    We’re believers in the power of sharing. We love telling the world a little more about our business each day and listening to what others have to offer. And we’re passionate about helping our clients make the most of every new blog, wall post, tweet, or pin. As the social media landscape evolves minute by minute, businesses and brands must continue to optimize. Stick to these social media resolutions for 2013 and start seeing improved ROI from your social media investment.

    Get Your Story Straight

    Take the time to remember (or find) your brand voice. Know the story that makes your brand special and how that story gets told. Develop a content strategy that reinforces and expands that story. Stick to content that tells little bits of that broader narrative—one piece at a time. Let that content remind people why you’re different and valuable every time you speak up.

    Pick & Choose Your Channels

    Being everywhere at once can dilute quality opportunities to connect with and build your social customer base. Even if your competition jumps head first into, let’s say Pinterest, you don’t have to. Especially if you’ve done your homework and know that your customers aren’t going to be pinning any time soon. By resisting fads and Johnny-come-lately services, you’ll stay focused on reaching your most attentive audiences. You’ll want to keep an eye on the latest developments in social media services and communities, but resist the urge to commit until you know you’re working with a proven impression maker.

    Publish Better (Not More) Content

    Many consumer and B2B brands talk simply to be heard. If you fix elevators or sell antiques, a Facebook wall post asking people how they’re ringing in the New Year does you little good. Instead, work on publishing more refined content in 2013. And make it more appealing, through the power of a new medium like online video. You can create a YouTube channel and use it to connect subscribers to an assortment of branded content, including case studies, product demos, thought leadership features, and customer service FAQs. You can even share features on office culture and corporate philosophy, creating a subtle but effective recruiting device. And it’s free to set up.

    Encourage Two-Way Conversations

    Are your social media efforts legitimate two-way conversations? If we’re being honest, very few organizations have accomplished this two-way goal. Resolve to get there this year. Allow followers to share your content easily with others across their network. Avoid mundane posts and publish thought-provoking content instead. Give your audience the power to weigh in on important decisions. Develop in-person events and other rewarding offline opportunities. Delight your community with a surprise now and again. Finally, remember to monitor your channels for interactions. The quicker you respond to questions and concerns, the more street cred you’ll build among the masses.

    Measure Differently

    Measuring only quantitative results can mean missing much of the unique value that social media offers. As you’ll find out in my colleague Chris W.’s upcoming blog about ROI in Social Media: Likes, Follows, and Retweets alone are all only surface-scratching ROI indicators. Dig deeper into what people are saying about your brand, products and services across your social media channels and use the new knowledge to retool your social strategy and content calendar as needed.

    If you’d like to learn more about Social Media marketing and strategy for the new year and beyond, follow us on twitter @trellist or connect with us via info@trellist.com.

  • Ask and You Shall Receive: A Crowdsourcing Follow Up

    by Neil Dougherty | Oct 24, 2012

    istock_000018181103xsmall
    A few weeks back, I touched on the notion of proactive crowdsourcing as a way for organizations to engage their customers, advocates and followers on a new level. Crowdsourcing during a wave of large-scale success can add legitimacy and energy to the initiative.

    Assuming times are good and you’ve committed to crowdsourcing, now you need to decide on exactly what to ask your crowd for. While there’s no one-size-fits-all crowdsourcing challenge, there are a number of established approaches that could work for you. Here are two options to consider:

    Start your crowdsourcing challenge with a simple list of product concepts or ideas farmed out to a group of loyal customers for feedback.

    Let them cull the list down to the best, most marketable products or services. All it takes is a little bit of code to create an online community, then the willingness to listen. You can even gamify the challenge to motivate your participants (more about that here). The difference between the diverse crowd’s conclusions and those of a more homogenous group may be the thing you need to boost sales and build stronger brand loyalty.

    Extend creative ownership via an online open innovation portal.

    Make it a place where both your loyalists and those curious about your brand can offer up ideas and develop them with a community of likeminded contributors. Then share their compelling ideas across your social media channels. Procter & Gamble’s Connect + Develop community has achieved success through this type of model. The community asks for innovative product submissions, while also matching entrepreneurs and ideators against an existing need.

    Regardless of the crowdsourcing ask you land on, you’ll soon find that the crowd’s diversity is the basis of its success.

    Different backgrounds, experiences and knowledge sets yield more exploration and less crowd conformity. Author James Surowiecki touches on this in his best-selling book “The Wisdom of Crowds”. He notes, “The simple fact that a group is diverse makes it better at problem solving.” Encourage your crowd to challenge your internal assumptions.

    A few caveats before committing to crowdsourcing.

    First, make sure you have ample human resources to support a crowdsourcing initiative. Once you launch a crowdsourced action, your community needs to be monitored. Give a participant any reason to believe you’re not listening, and your community will turn into a ghost town. While the natural inclination is to hire young guns to manage crowdsourcing efforts, consider using tenured employees as moderators or analysts too—it’s the ideal “know your customer” refresher course.

    Avoid coming across as overly-polished, or even worse, cheesy. Stick to your brand voice and use straight talk where you can. Treat your crowd the same way you would treat a valued colleague.

    Finally, don’t ask your crowd for too much, too soon. If crowdsourcing is new to your organization, it’s perfectly acceptable to take baby steps. At the same time, it encourages your participants to focus on a single-minded goal.

    We’re just scratching the surface of crowdsourcing. If you’d like to talk more about crowdsourcing strategies and other innovation approaches, connect with us via info@trellist.com.

  • The Yin and Yang of Content Marketing: Which One Are You Missing?

    by Renee Cohen | Sep 28, 2012

    “Content marketing” has been part of the savvy marketer’s vocabulary for years.  It’s touted as the savior for any marketing plan – increase website traffic, improve conversion rates, become a market leader!  Yet, many who embark on the journey to launch their content marketing strategies fail to achieve these goals: Web traffic is flat (or, horrifyingly, lower); leads and sales aren’t converting; and market share is lost to the new kid on the block.

    Is it simply that content marketing is the snake oil solution to all that ails a languishing brand?  Not so…after all, someone’s getting those results promised on the label.  No, the more likely scenario is that many marketers are missing one of two secret ingredients:  either the Thought Leader or the Do Leader.

    A few months ago, I came across this excellent infographic (below), which defined the role of the “do leader” in contrast to the more well-known “thought leader.”  It was crafted by MindJet, a collaborative work management software company. I was struck with the thought that successful content marketing must also rely on these same two contrasting roles – seemingly at odds personalities, but each one side of the same coin.

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    Thought Leadership

    The thought leader is typically seen as the rock star.  This guru drives the creative process that is integral to any content marketing program…specifically, creating content.  And not just any content, but interesting content.

    The content you create has to be compelling to your future and existing customers.  It must be provoking, provide validation for them to share upstream, and foster kinship with your brand.  For some brands, this may seem like an easy task – particularly for B2C or trendy products. But when you sell something as dry as ERP software, or you’re educating consumers about retirement financing, the task requires considerable skill and dedication.

    Many companies fail to dedicate resources to their content marketing program.  “You mean I’m paying someone to sit around just to think about my industry, write about it and present on it?” a CMO might say.  Yes, that is precisely what I’m suggesting.  Or better yet, identify multiple thought leaders within your organization and allow them the time to generate and advance their ideas.  If you want to truly reap the benefits of your content marketing program, thought leadership must become a way of life in your organization.

    Do Leadership

    The “do” leaders are often overlooked.  These are the people in the background, creating opportunities for the thought leader to shine.

    The old philosophical conundrum comes to mind: “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?”  Your thought leaders can espouse the most cutting-edge corporate positioning and philosophies – but if no one hears, reads or sees what they have to say, it’s like silence in the forest.

    The do leader must effectively map out communications plans, keeping teams honest on timelines, meeting deadlines and budgets.  The do leader will identify outlets for content – blogs, videos, webinars, events, emails, social networks, editorials, infographics, reports and more.  While the do leader may not typically be in the spotlight, this role is critical to setting milestones, creating plans for execution, and measuring and refining success.

    If your content marketing program isn’t giving you the results you’d hoped, look at which of these two roles may be lacking.  Is your content actually compelling?  Do you have a plan for distribution of those captivating thoughts?  It’s time to regroup and ensure you’re working the program from both angles.

    If you’d like to talk about your content marketing efforts and how Trellist can help, feel free to drop us a line, info@trellist.com and follow us on Twitter @trellist to get daily insights.

  • Crowdsource when Times are Good

    by Neil Dougherty | Sep 11, 2012

    Let’s talk crowdsourcing for a minute. In very generic terms, crowdsourcing describes work or funding that’s gathered from a network of connected online participants. Think Wikipedia or Kickstarter.

    When applied specifically to marketing, crowdsourcing can evolve in any number of ways. It has the power to turn traditional product development and marketing concept development methods on their heads. Crowdsourcing lets consumers and aspiring ideators assume the role of the R&D expert. It even empowers brand fans to develop a product’s identity and marketing message. Crowdsourcing is a dynamic tactic for tapping into the strength of the masses.
    While generally used for consumer goods and rolled out to younger demographics, crowdsourcing is being leveraged by more emerging businesses and enterprises to tackle marketplace challenges. Organizations riding the wave of crowdsourcing are seeing shortened product and strategy development cycles, while spending less on traditional R&D and marketing resources.

    As case studies are analyzed and best practices continue to develop, Trellist has discovered a common misconception—that crowdsourced ideas are a last resort, culled only when there’s a problem the insiders can’t solve. Because we believe in the vast potential of crowdsourcing, we think it’s best used in the best of times.

    Rather than falling into the trap of reactive crowdsourcing, consider crowdsourced ideas as key elements of your overall communications and marketing strategy. Unleash crowdsourcing challenges when you’re experiencing unprecedented sales or growth. Let crowdsourcing follow your brand or product’s aggressive growth arc and soon you’ll see a bump in your social clout. After all, crowdsourcing participants are social influencers with large networks. The more ownership they’re extended in a crowdsourced action, the more likely they’ll be to rapidly spread the good word about what you’re up to.

    For a practical example of proactive crowdsourcing, take a look at Starbucks. They’ve created a crowdsourced community appropriately named My Starbucks Idea. To date, Starbucks has collected 85,184 product ideas and 30,776 experience ideas. Over 500 have been put into action. My Starbucks Idea is a caffeine-fueled think tank where like-minded members submit their thoughts, gain points for participating and use their status to influence others. By involving the crowd, the Starbucks brand grows even stronger and is positioned for long-term success.

    My Starbucks Idea is just one of many examples of enterprise crowdsourcing at work. Major players like General Electric, Amazon, EBay, Xerox and Panasonic are all experiencing success through crowdsourcing.

    Before jumping into the crowdsourcing pool, remember that consumers are savvier than ever these days. They’re aware and they’re seriously connected. They know the difference between the spirit of collaboration and the scent of desperation. Whether you’re trying to increase general brand engagement or fine tune a product or service offering, involve the crowd early, often and under sunny skies for ideal participation and results.

    In the end, knowing when to launch a crowdsourced action is only part of the success equation. Knowing what to ask your crowd for is just as important. I’ll discuss that in my next blog post.

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    In the meantime, if you’d like to talk about crowdsourcing and other creative ways to amplify your brand awareness and build connected customer loyalty, shoot a note our way, info@trellist.com

  • Gamification & The Brussels Sprouts Dynamic

    by Chris Wallace | Nov 22, 2011

    Did you hate brussels sprouts as a kid? I sure did. How did my parent’s get me to eat them? That’s right, we played Here Comes the Airplane.

    It’s a time tested solution to an age old problem: Make it fun and people are more likely to participate.

    Now, let’s fast forward to the age of social media and pervasive mobile connectivity. If you haven’t already, you’ll soon hear digital marketing enthusiasts using the term Gamification to describe this phenomena.

    Gamification (a term borrowed from behavioral economics) is the practice of utilizing gameplay mechanics in non-game scenarios to change behaviors or incentivize users perform otherwise mundane tasks.

    While there is some merit to the adage that “there is nothing new under the sun”, social and mobile technologies have certainly given this concept fresh legs and new possibilities for engaging customers to participate with your brand. Whether your goal is to get customers to use their loyalty cards more often, to visit your bricks and mortar locations, or simply to participate in your survey, applying the principles of gamification to your marketing programs may be a great way to generate lift.

    So what are some simple ways to make a marketing program more game-like?

    Let’s look at that program to incentivize loyalty card usage:

    • Make the incentives simple and attainable: Use your loyalty card 4 times this month and get 20% off your next order
    • Let participants track their progress and encourage them to keep playing: Mobile App with a progress bar with SMS reminders
    • Give it legs via social media: Let users share their progress to social media friends and followers, make it easy for those friends to get involved as well.
    • Make rewards easy to redeem: Send your 20% Discount coupon via SMS to their mobile device

    While this is a simplified scenario, there are endless gamification techniques that could be applicable to this case including:

    • Location based check-ins: Check in (via foursquare or other location based service) at any of our bricks and mortar location and receive points, badges, discounts or other benefit.
    • Badges for achievement: Rewarding brand interaction with small tokens of appreciation is a strong motivator considering the game-like engagement channel. i.e. Reward users for using the loyalty card 4x, 8x, 12x in a month.
    • Virtual currency: Points programs that can be “spent” as rewards. This could be on real world or virtual merchandise depending on your brand and your goals. Providing clear point totals and easy redemption of those points is key. Farmville dollars is a great example.
    • Head-to-head challenges: Allow users to engage their friends by issuing challenges or other competitions, i.e. Who can check into the most locations in a month?
    • Leaderboards: Who has the most points? Where do I rank? People play games to win, capitalize on this.

    Employing some of these concepts may just help you bring that plane in for a landing.
    Interested in chatting about how social media, mobile, or gamification might help you reach your business and marketing goals?

    Feel free to drop us a line.

  • Building Brands through the Social gGraph

    by Edgar Uy | Oct 28, 2011

    The adage that a company does not define their brand but customers do is still an immutable truth. Brands can try to dictate what they stand for, but ultimately they are judged by the sum total of the customer experience. Brands that engage in a dialogue by listening, learning and participating are more likely to create a positive impact. Therefore, it is important that brands actively participate in dialogs throughout their social graph, leveraging the strength in their core message, feedback mechanisms, curating and distributing content, and visual expression as it applies across channels.

    A social media strategy cannot exist without a content strategy. Brands must develop content that reflect the brand promise and give people a reason to stay engaged. Make it easy for your brand advocates to share your content through their social graph. Content shared through word-of-mouth is far more powerful at driving brand preferences and intent than paid advertising alone.

    So how do you develop a content strategy? Here are a few important elements to consider:

    • Know what your audience wants to talk about, be sure the topic is relevant, and understand how it fits into their daily lives. Be willing to engage in those conversations by using your own brand voice, in a personable language that your audience is using and characteristic of how your brand expresses itself.
    • Know your audience and where they want to have these conversations. People follow you because they like you, and because your brand offers them something—so be sure to deliver. Remember that influential users (loosely defined as users whose actions result in additional site visitors) may generate up to 40% of total site traffic, even though they typically account for less than 5% of total site users. It’s important that marketers identify, recognize and reward those that are influential in converting others.
    • Knowing where your audience hangs out is equally important. This can depend on their age and gender, as well as your offerings. There are plenty of statistics that break down social media sites by demographics, such as the Nielsen Social Media Report: Q3 2011.
    • Measure the results and impact of your conversations. This can be tracking how many comments and likes received on Facebook, volume of Twitter followers, number of retweets and mentions along with social media referral traffic to your website.

    Have the patience to build your community and engender trust, and the flexibility to evolve content over time. If you’re fun, honest and relevant, they will share with their friends and others, which is what social media is all about.

    Lastly, managing Social Media is more art than science; however, creating a structured framework aligned with data driven principles will help brands improve effectiveness and investment return over time.

  • Customer Experience: The Other Side of Loyalty

    by Edgar Uy | Apr 18, 2011
     

    In a 2010 study, Jupiter Research cited that 75 percent of American consumers belong to at least one loyalty program. These programs can promote brand consideration since consumers are always looking for ways to be rewarded for loyalty. Whether it’s through immediate savings, cash back or rewards incentive for future purchases, companies realize the benefit of incentivizing their customer base. However, there is an additional approach to consider that creates an added sense of loyalty in customers augmenting existing programs.

    Businesses today, specifically those that rely on a strong brand appeal, are encountering a new breed of customers who are savvy, engaged, and, most importantly, connected. Social Networks have transformed the way these customers shop and communicate, and provide a platform to easily share their opinions with family, friends, colleagues and others. Today’s consumers are even more demanding, and much more critical of brands with grand promises that fail to deliver.  As a result, they are empowered to be selective given that they have the power to choose easily and rely on a tribe of likeminded consumers to make their purchase decisions.

    Beyond using the two basic types of loyalty programs, such as the rewards-based approach and/or promoting specialized offers to a select group, focus on forging a stronger connection with your customers at every touch-point thereby turning them into evangelists and advocates for your brand. Reward their loyalty with better customer experiences, whether it’s through product or service inquiry, purchase ease, recommendations, timely promotions or convenience.  

    Listening to your customers and identifying needs that are not being met, or obstacles in their experiences that have a negative impact to your brand and reputation, provides the opportunity to act on them. Just be sure to address the underlying problem through a self-nurturing feedback loop. The insight you gain may lead to fundamental changes in your value proposition, enhanced product/service opportunities or even your entire business model.

    Just remember that loyalty is a by-product of the customer experience and not a result of specific programs. Trellist follows this guiding principle when developing loyalty strategies for our clients. 

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