DoubleTree tries to leverage photos and social media

Check out this interview with DoubleTree Hotels global head John Greenleaf about how DoubleTree is using contests and sharing around photos and videos uploaded by their customers, tied to specific locations.

Gear up your marketing efforts for 2013

As you think about your business marketing strategy for the coming year, it’s important to consider all of the various strategies and tactics, from TV advertising to print to social media.

There’s been a lot of talk about social media, and many brands are using Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites effectively. Frankly, if you’re in consumer products, consumer services or entertainment, you really need a presence there as part of your branding efforts and also for your PR strategy.

Yet beware of the consultants out there who over-promise what can be achieved here. These so-called experts look for big fees to get companies to make big investments here. Sometimes these investments are warranted, other times they are not. Now we’re seeing some of the backlash as described in this Yahoo! article. The argument here may be a bit extreme, as they assert that most social media marketing is a waste of time. That’s ridiculous when you consider the branding aspects that aren’t even addressed in the article. But it offers good information about the over-promised benefits. Be careful on how you spend money here.

Of course there remains more traditional methods like business cards, brochures and other print materials. You can of course shop around online at places like 48 hour print so it’s not like it was 15 years ago when you needed to use local providers. Now that you can compare prices online printing is much cheaper. Also, there are still many potential customers and partners who react to nicely printed brochures, so keep that in mind for your business as well. Not every business can be entirely virtual.

Assuming the fiscal cliff gets resolved soon, there are plenty of indications that the economy is ready to take off. Consumer confidence is up, so take advantage of the opportunity and work on some serious marketing efforts for next year.

Rise of influence marketing

Remember Conan O’Brien’s tour, and how he launched it with one Tweet? Think about how much commerce is initiated now through the recommendation of friends through social media. These are examples of Influence Marketing.

I recently had the opportunity to exchange a few emails with Azeem Azhar, the CEO of a startup called PeerIndex that is focused on “Influence Marketing”. Founded in 2009, the company provides a service that helps consumers benefit from their passions, interests and influence particularly with respect to the services they get from companies and for brands and agencies to better identify effective and interested word-of-mouth advocates, something they call “Influencers”. It’s a service similar to the other big player in the place, Klout, with a unique spin.

According to Azhar “Influence marketing is going to be huge – and will become an essential part of the marketing mix over the coming years. In essence, influence marketing recognises that buyers trust other buyers, their friends and experts they know. “

A recent McKinsey report shed light on the trend indicating that word-of-mouth recommendations may be the primary reason for purchases in 20-50% of buying decisions. Further adding to the buzz, Forrester stated that 80% of all B2C and B2B purchases there is some form of word-of-mouth recommendation at play during the purchase cycle. If venture funding is any indication of the success, Klout, with its more than $40 million, leads the pack of companies looking to capitalize on this fast growing trend. Yet Klout isn’t alone in this fast moving sector. Several other start-up companies are quickly adding their own unique approaches.

We’ll see of this particular startup does anything, but the idea of influence marketing through social media is something that every company needs to consider.

Improve your Facebook fan page

Have you noticed that practically every major brand now has a Facebook page? Have you started a Facebook fan page for your own business?

If so, that’s great. Now you just need to make sure you’re using it effectively. If not, what are you waiting for?

As for tips, here’s a great article listing 10 tips to help you improve your Facebook fan page. The second and third items are particularly important, as you can create a sticky post with the “Pin to Top” feature and also highlight certain posts with the Star feature.

If you use these tools you’ll greatly improve your page. That said, the most important thing you can do is create consistently useful and entertaining posts that engage your audience and customers. if you have no idea how to do this, you should engage a consultant to help you with your social media branding. Firms like EXPbranding and PJs and Coffee and help you develop a strategy and implement on a daily basis.

5 Ways that Social Media Changed Marketing Strategies Forever

Social media has forever changed the way that many businesses conduct marketing campaigns. In fact, it has changed how many companies perceive marketing in general. How? There are a number of ways but below are the top 5 ways that social media marketing has affected strategies that businesses choose to promote their products and services.

1. Social media has definitely affected the way that companies deal with their target audience. Because of social media, you can better understand what your audience wants and learn about these wants in real-time. Facebook and Twitter give you instant access to people in the here and now. You can find out what they want and give it to them all in just a few moments time.
2. You also have a direct link to your audience now. You can effectively cut out the middle man and deal with your customers on a more personal level. This allows for more straightforward conversations and enables your audience to be more honest with you about their needs.
3. Because you have the ability for real-time conversation, you also have the ability to measure your company’s progress much better. You can control your conversations and react instantly, giving your customers a more positive overall experience with your business.
4. It goes without saying that social media enables you to enjoy different strategies with regards to advertising. It also enables you to engage your customers and allow them to be part of the conversation. You are no longer speaking to them – you are now speaking with them. Community engagement is crucial when it comes to overall business success.
5. You can now influence your customers as an expert in your field. Through blogs and other social media interaction, you can provide your customers with information that they need. You have changed from a business owner to an influencer and expert which will tell your customers that you are serious about your business and know how to help them to solve their issues.

This article was written by Custard Media, the UK’s leading social media marketing agency.

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