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  • feedwordpress 20:15:22 on 2015/10/05 Permalink
    Tags: Asia, Australia, Business Social Media, , , , , , TPP, Trade, Trans-Pacific Partnership   

    Despite Republican Support, We’re Leaning Away from TPP 

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    When a deal as secretive and important as the Trans-Pacific Partnership comes around, everyone wants to chime in on its merits and shortcomings. At this stage, opinions based on speculation and principle are invalid. We don’t know what we don’t know.

    Normally, clear lines are drawn to make it easier to pick a side based upon party affiliation, but with the Democratic President and the Republican Congress as the primary supporters, the waters are much murkier than normal. Throw in that the harshest opposition is coming from the far right and far left and suddenly we’re in a political quagmire.

    Let’s break down what we know about the deal for the sake of speculation. It’s going to happen anyway. Why not throw in another invalid opinion just to keep with the trends.

    1. Bernie Sanders Hates It Because of Unions: There is an ever-so-slight chance that provisions within the deal will actually strengthen unions, but the degree of strengthening will shift support and opposition proportionately. If the advantages to unions outweigh the risks of free trade, then the left may jump on board but the right may abandon. If the advantages are minimal, the right may accept it while the left denounces it.
    2. Ted Cruz Hates it Because of Lies and Weakness: Senator Cruz supported fast track and the TPP because it was supposed to enhance our positioning against China. Then, he reversed his support because it opens doors to immigration (by a couple of small loopholes, but doors nonetheless) but more importantly because it was put together through backroom deals and with limited exposure to the public. This almost always adds the smell of rats to any exchange and Senator Cruz can’t stand the smell of a rat.
    3. The Middle Loves it Because it’s Progress: Free trade is a dirty word on the edges but it’s a rallying cry for advancement in the moderate left and right circles. This is where special interest groups will chime in and sway their politicians in their direction, particularly the pharmaceutical industry. If it reduces profit potentials too much by adopting more of an Australian perspective for drug companies than an American view, we could see support erode very quickly in the middle. Otherwise, they’re the target audience for President Obama’s upcoming batch of sales pitches on the deal.
    4. President Obama Loves it Because it Looks Good on His Legacy: The President has affected social change and has a few domestic economic wins. His foreign relations record is abysmal and his foreign finance record is almost as bad. This will kill two birds with one stone by giving him a legacy item for future Wikipedia edits.
    5. Most Americans Hate it Because Some Americans Hate It: The general population is opposed to the deal because of two reasons. First, there are those who are opposed to the scandalous secrecy that has shrouded the deal and made it seem like a play by the New World Order. These opponents have been outspoken and have therefore brought other Americans to dislike it. The campaigns against TPP have been as ferocious as campaigns against SOPA/PIPA, another deal that most Americans didn’t understand but hated because of the hatred from the outspoken.

    Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP

    The safe stance on this one is to oppose and that’s what the President fears the most. The onus is on his administration to convince Congress that it needs to get through. To do this, he’ll have to work on both the front and back ends. On the front end, he’ll need to sell it to the American people, something that would have been much easier a couple of years ago but that may be more difficult today. On the back end, he’ll have to make deals with Democrats in Congress in the form of campaign re-election support promises. Again, this was a more powerful tool in the past since nobody knows what his legacy will look like by 2018.

    Our view, which is as uneducated as all others until the details are fully released, is that our need to keep jobs stateside supersedes our need to keep China in check. If their economy was thriving, we might feel differently, but in the short term the deal empowers the wrong people while not doing much to prop up American trade interests. Of course, we reserve the right of reversal once details are released.

  • feedwordpress 09:00:13 on 2015/07/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , Business Social Media, Guest Blogging   

    Nice Guys Finish Last, But Not Guest Bloggers. 

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    How many of you hear over and over again “Do you have a blog” about your company? Before I go any further, because this can get deep, do you know what blogging is? I don’t want to leave you in the dark with this subject. Blogging is an interactive form of publishing your content on the web. It has become a dominant way of self-publish the past several years.

    Assuming you have vast knowledge about blogging and you’re responsible for writing your company’s blog. Managing a blog is a great responsibility for any person. Not to over dramatize, but aside from social media, that blog is may be the most “human” voice your company has.

    Here’s a scenario: someone in your professional network asks you to be a guest blogger. First of all, what is guest blogging? It’s a method done by writing posts that will be published on another blog to increase traffic. Right now, guest blogging is one of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority figure within your market. It builds relationships with experts within your field and bloggers outside of your industry.

    Getting asked to guest blog is a wonderful privilege. When someone asks you, they are confident that your words and your voice will diversify their blog and expand its audience. Keep in mind that there are risks involved. It’s an invitation to speak to someone else’s network and audience. Whatever style your audience feels comfortable about your content, it may not translate well to an “alien” audience. Remember that your goal is to add value and think how it can benefit the readers. Always keep the information relevant to the agreed upon topic and write about what you know.

    You can inquire to popular bloggers about guest posting on their blogs. It may seem invasive because it’s unsolicited. So, it’s like sending an inquiry for submission to a book publisher. You’re going to get either a “yes” or “no” and if you get rejected, don’t take it hard. It may not be the right time for you to contribute on one blog, but it may be the perfect time for another. Either way, if someone requests you for their blog, that’s a true complement.

    What blows my mind is how so many people are against it…WHY? You get guaranteed exposure to new readers checking out the “new kid” in town aka YOU. It’s like being on stage at open-mic night, trying new material and creating a whole new crop of fans from thin air! How is that a bad thing? Let’s focus on the benefits of guest blogging:

    • it helps develop your authority
    • it builds your portfolio and credibility
    • it increases your online influence
    • it increases your brand awareness
    • you’re writing anyway, it won’t take a lot of time

    Short story: if someone asks you to guest blog, DO IT.

  • feedwordpress 06:09:34 on 2015/06/25 Permalink
    Tags: , , Business Social Media, , Evergreen, , Republished Social Content   

    Just Because We Don’t Republish Social Content Doesn’t Mean It’s Wrong 

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    As a policy, we’ve always chosen to the “once and nevermore” philosophy with our social media posts for clients. We handcraft each post and that post will appear one time and on one dealership’s Facebook page. Once it’s used, it’s done forever.

    A dealer asked me today if that’s a best practice or something that we do for the sake of proper service. The answer is that it’s both. It’s a best practice to use unique content nearly every single time (with an occasional exception described below) and to make sure that any content is only used for one dealership page. However, that doesn’t mean that the rule can’t be bent a little, especially for car dealers who are doing it themselves.

    Let’s quickly discuss both reasons that we made the rule and you’ll understand why it’s a rule that you’re allowed to break.

    Unique is Best, but…

    In an ideal world, a company will be able to generate so much content that everything posted on Facebook is never reposted again. In the real world, we understand two things for dealers who are managing their own social media:

    1. Content isn’t always readily available, so sometimes you have to recycle content that was posted in the past just to keep the pages and profiles going.
    2. Evergreen content seen by one batch of people last month may be relevant and interesting to a new batch of people who are seeing you post this month.

    We have made it a general practice to keep the content unique because that’s best for our clients, but there’s no harm in occasionally republishing exceptional content at the dealership level. The risks involved are minimal; every post will reach more new people than repeat viewers of that post as long as the gap in between posting is pretty wide. The two minor negatives are that republished content gets a lower reach potential through Facebook, even with ads, and you might have the occasional person in your market who sees the content for the second time and doesn’t appreciate it.

    The exceptions that I mentioned above are videos and extremely important content. In both cases, the base content can remain the same but you should still mix it up with the description and attached image whenever possible. These two types of posts are worth the risk since videos have the highest potential of getting strong reach and important content is, well, important.

    With Twitter, this rule is tossed out at least a little bit because the percentage of followers reached with each post is much lower. The recent changes to Twitter might have an affect on this; we’re testing to see. For now, evergreen content can go on Twitter relatively often. We try to limit it to no more than once a month for any individual piece, but again there’s nothing wrong with mixing it up with different wording or hashtags.

    Business Decision for Proper Service

    The other reason we’ve chosen to take the nevermore-approach is because the exact opposite is the norm in the automotive industry. The vast majority of companies who are posting on behalf of dealers use content libraries, bulk posting tools, and regurgitated stories in order to fill their client’s pages and profiles with content. We’ve seen disastrous results when a company posts the same picture of the same car with the same description to every dealer of the same brand on their client list. It’s amateur and looks terrible when people see duplicated content like that sent out through automation.

    I know what you’re thinking. Even some of the OEMs are doing this, so it can’t be that bad, right? I won’t go into details, but I know a very prominent OEM social media person who left their job over this practice. They’ve had someone convince them that it’s okay, that it’s better than nothing, that people are unlikely to follow more than one dealership… the list of excuses are many but the reality is the same. It’s a bad practice.

    It would be easier and more cost-effective to do it the bulk way that so many companies have adopted. I suppose we’re just silly rebels who believe that dealers deserve better.

  • feedwordpress 04:53:50 on 2015/05/24 Permalink
    Tags: , Business Social Media, , , , targeting   

    Is Selling Allowed on Social Media? 

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    There has always been a thin line between marketing and spamming, between being social and social selling. That line has been getting broader in the last couple of years for a few reasons, most notably because businesses and marketing companies are simply getting better at using social media the right way.

    Selling and marketing are allowed on social media. In fact, businesses that try to hard to “be social” without applying appropriate business-relevant messages to the mix are missing the boat. Sure, it’s good for branding, but action does not stem from branding. More importantly, it’s very easy to promote branding while still getting the bang for the buck that proper social selling, lead generation, and calls-to-action bring to the table.

    The key is targeting. This has been the most powerful aspect of social media for a long time. Now that Facebook and other social sites have so much information about us, we can apply that information to put the right message in front of the right people at the right time. That’s the way to use social media properly.

    The reason for it is relevance. When a message can resonate because its targeting is righteous, you can find tremendous results. In our industry, the car business, we see this applied so beautifully that it’s a wonder why more dealers don’t utilize it. Through targeting, we can find high-potential car buyers interested in specific makes or types of vehicles and put a message in front of them that matches their needs. The social media user likes it because they get to see something that matches their current needs.

    Don’t get me wrong. I have no illusions that people love to see ads on social media. However, when the ads hit home and bring the appropriate message that matches their current needs, the ads become much more powerful for them. In fact, the average consumer will view such ads as serendipity rather than intrusion. They don’t know (or are willing to accept) that Facebook and other social media sites know so much about us that the targeting is often spot on. They sometimes consider it a wild and fortunate coincidence that they see an ad for a Honda Accord while they’re in the market for a Honda Accord.

    Blanket messages and inappropriate targeting are the things that drive consumers crazy. In fact, they should drive businesses crazy as well because bad marketing makes it harder for good marketers to get the word out.

    Use the targeting. It’s the most powerful and effective portion of a proper social media strategy.

  • feedwordpress 09:14:31 on 2015/05/20 Permalink
    Tags: , Business Social Media,   

    How to Use Social Media to Humanize Your Brand 

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    You have designed a killer website and created profiles and pages on countless social media sites. Now it’s time to build a following, and one of the best ways to accomplish this is by humanizing your brand. This refers to the process of allowing customers to understand more than just the basic details of the products and services offered by a business, inviting them to participate in a cultured community of the people behind the brand. Here are some effective suggestions for cultivating and nurturing an online community:

    • Create a plan. Effective brand humanization incorporates a blend of social community, company values, and workplace culture to nurture customer loyalty. While not a difficult concept to understand, it is a challenging task to implement. Careful planning is imperative; consider the current company culture. What are its strengths and flaws? How might it need to change? What must happen to influence change? Do whatever it takes to solidify a healthy company culture.
    • Open up to others. When the company culture is thriving, it is acceptable to make it visible to others and invite them to participate. Social media platforms are the ideal tools for accomplishing this objective. Customers can be encouraged to participate in discussions via comment sections and urged to address concerns within them. Employees may be highlighted regularly. Internet users can also be educated about how the company is run, including photos and videos of behind-the-scenes work.
    • Set appropriate boundaries. Ideally, social media friends and followers will evolve into brand ambassadors, educating others and (to some extent) representing the brand. To maintain focus, however, boundaries are essential. For instance, certain behaviors or topics, such as political discussions or the use of prejudicial terms, may need to be prohibited in company forums.
    • Consult or hire for brand humanization. The process of humanization requires unique skills, which some people master better and more efficiently than others. Employees should be able to exhibit some level of warmth, humor, and emotional empathy. They should also communicate openly, respectfully, and assertively. Individuals with these talents and characteristics will better facilitate the inclusion of customers, friends, and followers into the company culture.
    • Treat consumers as friends. Although the overall goal of business is to achieve conversions, consumers are more likely to become customers if they are first treated as friends. Relationships must be built and interactions should be experienced. Focusing on the feelings and perceptions of consumers adds further depth to conversations. One way to do this, for example, is to provide more than a simple, one-time response to tweets. When possible, follow up later to find out if issues have been resolved, products are being used, and services are being enjoyed.
    • Incorporate storytelling. A brand story is a combination of its company’s mission, history, goals, and audience. It is based on the people, ideas, places, and all other components that comprise the business. These stories can be told in various ways, but should always be consistent. Storytelling can occur in fairytale form, in the images of comic books, by video, or infographics.
    • Promote other content.Self-promotion is an obvious component of marketing, but it is not fully representative of humanizing a brand. Community engagement is about people, and they will notice when efforts aren’t genuine and are founded solely on underlying agendas. Instead, community is about being neighborly and helping others. Accomplish this effort by sharing others’ content.
    • Offer education. Part of the human condition is empathizing with and helping one another. Brands can participate in this phenomenon by sharing expertise and thought leadership. Users will appreciate tutorials, informative articles, advice, demonstrations, and lectures pertinent to a given industry. Education may take the form of white papers, webinars, infographics, videos, tips and tricks via social media and push notifications, and offline gatherings.

    Brand humanization begins on the brand’s website, where security and speed are crucial for defining your brand, along with social media functionality and usability for both parties. WordPress has emerged as the leading CMS in these areas, which is why it’s highly recommended for any brand looking to humanize, particularly due to its easy blog functionality and social media plugins, coupled with its rich suite of security features.

    To illustrate the rising trend in the popularity of WordPress for proper branding, web hosting providers are now offering WordPress-specific hosting services to maximize server speed and optimize usability within the WordPress framework. This integration is another reason WordPress offers the toolset and features to optimize brand humanization efforts.

    Humanizing your brand has many benefits, and social media engagement is the path to building that humanization. Has your brand developed a social media strategy yet?

  • feedwordpress 07:34:31 on 2015/05/20 Permalink
    Tags: Business Social Media, , , real time, , , , , ,   

    Google Now Showing Tweets 

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    This has been a long time coming. We knew it was on the horizon and now it’s finally here. Tweets are now appearing in Google search result again after being missing for a few years. When it was announced in February, we went to work integrating Twitter back into the search spectrum of content marketing strategies. Now that it’s here, the initial testing has been pretty strong.

    “When tapping on a tweet in Google search, you’ll be taken directly to Twitter where you can view the Tweet and discover additional content,” Jana Messerschmidt, vice president of global business development & platform at Twitter said in a blog post. “By deeply integrating Twitter’s real-time content into Google search, we hope you find it easier than ever to explore your interests across both Twitter and Google.”

    This will give the real-time power of Twitter that Google craves. The news section has been the best way to get real-time information for a while, but even then it’s not truly real-time and requires major publications to be the source of the news. With Twitter, Google will be able to follow trends and highlight sites that aren’t on the mainstream popularity lists. With the rise of citizen journalism and specialty blogs, this will be especially useful when events unfold and regular people find their way to report them before the media.

    From a marketing perspective, the jury is still out. We will have to see how standard searches react to Tweets that are pertinent, but again the initial testing has been very compelling. Will marketers start spamming Twitter at the same rate they did a couple of years ago or will the safeguards that Twitter has put into place supersede and eliminate “Tweeting for rankings” that used to fill Twitter when Google was first tied into their firehose. Time will tell.

  • feedwordpress 01:16:49 on 2015/05/02 Permalink
    Tags: Business Social Media, , , , , , , , , , ,   

    The Difference Between Theoretical Social Media and Practical Social Media 

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    This is the type of blog post that will get me into trouble with the wrong people. That’s absolutely fine by me. The people I want to reach are the people who need help for their business, not the people who make a business out of preaching social media.

    There are two types of social media “gurus” out there today. One is like the law professor – more knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the law and its applications than most judges. In both the legal and social media marketing professions, the smartest usually end up teaching rather than doing. The other type is like the courtroom attorney. They aren’t immersed every day in legal papers or reading memos from the various courts. They aren’t sitting at coffee shops debate Roe v. Wade. They’re in their offices preparing arguments or in the courtroom making arguments.

    I’ve been asked why I don’t write a book on social media. Blogging over 2000 words per day means I could bust out a book in a month or two. There are two reasons that I don’t. First, social media changes too rapidly. By the time someone finishes reading my book, parts of it will be obsolete. The second reason is because I’m better in the courtroom. Trying to teach people about social media has never been my thing. I like making social media marketing happen rather than theorizing about social media.

    There’s nothing wrong with the law professor types. They make great money speaking at conferences, selling books, or driving traffic to their websites for ad revenues. It’s almost appealing, but there’s something about theory that I simply don’t like. To test a theory means you have to be doing it, not talking about it.

    The reason I’m writing this is to point out one major flaw that I see businesses and marketers make. Many of you spend so much time reading, watching videos, or following your favorite guru that you miss the opportunities to really learn out in the field. The best strategies that we employ for our clients didn’t come from a blog post by a guru. They came from watching what other businesses and marketers are doing and improving on their concepts.

    The best place to learn how to succeed on social media is by spending time on social media. Look at your competitors. Look at other industries. Look at what corporations are doing. Look at what tiny startups are doing. Ask yourself how it played for you when you saw this Facebook post or that Tweet. Did it work? Could it have worked better done another way? Could it work better for you?

  • feedwordpress 12:56:17 on 2015/03/31 Permalink
    Tags: , Business Social Media, , Personalization, Reputation Management, , , , , ,   

    Better Social Media Marketing comes from Personalized Social Media Strategy 

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    If you think it’s the software, you’re mistaken. Social media marketing is unlike many other types of digital marketing because it is much less reliant on specialized software and more empowered by creativity and personalized strategy. I understand why agencies rely on software, but it’s not something that we would ever recommend.

    In our industry, the car business, we believe in learning what we can about a dealership and customizing their social media to fit their market, personality, brands, selling style, and community involvement. One does not simply pull out a generic set of deliverables and start checking off the boxes. True automotive social media strategy requires diving in and building a strategy around the dealership.

    Perhaps the most important factor in designing a strategy is to keep it fluid to adapt to changes in the local market. A perfect example popped up late last week. A dealership had been doing very well with their campaigns but saw a challenge from other brands popping up. They were selling a popular brand but the data was showing that less popular brands nationally were selling more cars in their area than they were.

    Social media has many purposes. Sometimes, it’s all about driving targeted traffic to the dealer’s website. That’s the core of what we do, but there are times when the need arises to pull a play out of the old social media playbook – excitement and buzz. While we believe that buzz is something that’s a side effect of a strong social media campaign rather than a focus, we knew that in this particular situation, we had to focus a bit on making people aware that they should consider this particular brand.

    Under normal situations, we find that “sizzle” happens in the standard course of building campaigns, but their situation required that we turn up the heat. We adjusted a couple of their campaigns and redirected some budget to get the word out that this particular brand was hot and needed to be at the top of mind.

    Personalization requires that you toss out preconceived ideas. That’s not to say that you don’t follow best practices, but they don’t always fit into a particular situation. For example, it’s a best practice to get the word out about reviews. Most review sites get very little traffic. They’re great for letting people know that it’s good to do business with you through the star-ratings present in Google, but most of the people who read through these review sites skip passed the 5-star reviews and search for the bad ones. They’re looking for dirt. Social media is ideal for getting the actual words of positive reviews out in front of people.

    This best practice works for many, but not all. Some are having reputation challenges and the last thing you want to do is to highlight your reputation if it’s bad. Just because something is a best practice doesn’t mean it’s best for everyone.

    Social media is a wonderful way to drive traffic and interact with the community. The way to maximize it is to rely on real solutions and strategies rather than software and bulk posting.

  • feedwordpress 11:15:50 on 2015/02/10 Permalink
    Tags: Business Social Media, , , , , ,   

    Social Media: All About ROI 

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    When it comes to business sensibility, we are often required to determine whether or not the juice is worth the squeeze concerning our expenses. If the hot new advertising campaign we’ve kicked off isn’t getting us any further attention, at what point do we pull the plug and consider it a loss? Is the new $200 coffee maker we purchased for the break room encouraging morale or wasting people’s time? Are our social media expenditures simply costing us money or are we actually seeing results?

    With any transaction of goods or services, ROI is most certainly expected. As a consumer driven society, we want to be sure we’re getting our money’s worth, especially in terms of successful business dealings. The worst threat to our sanity as human beings is to think we’re being taken across. So, when determining a sensible social media contract for outsourcing, can ROI be considered an attainable goal?

    This is a highly contested question in the world of social media, as concern swells around how important a presence can be. Allow me to answer that question quickly and without excessive words; very important. Social media is a way of adding a human element to your branding, and people like human. They like to see the faces of the businesses they frequent, they enjoy your fun fact or quirky anecdotes, and they like to know there’s a human on the other side of the website when they need help with something.

    There are many goals to focus on when it comes to social media. Improving your brand awareness, increasing website traffic, and ramping up your exposure are all fantastic examples of attainable goals. These goals are easily measurable with analytics and can therefore prove whether or not the effort of your social media company is working. ROI, however is trickier.

    The reason most social media company’s don’t list ROI as a client goal is this; it’s not easily measured from behind the desk. Whether or not your Facebook page is driving people to purchase from you, thus increasing your business, is knowledge that can only be attained by asking your customers what drove them to your location. This means relying on customers for honest answers and feedback.

    If social media outreach tactics allow you to gain new customers, then the ROI question is easily answered. During a targeted outreach campaign, if direct contact yields a new client or customer, then your social media efforts are indeed netting a positive in the new business column. At this point, ROI is a sure thing.

    Unfortunately, too often, these results go unmeasured and the questions go unasked, making ROI such a dicey dilemma for social media professionals. ROI remains one of the great unknown questions when acquiring a new client. There is no simple answer to the question as to whether or not social media can increase your bottom line or even match what you’re spending.

    In terms of whether or not social media is worth the money you’re spending for the services you retain, the short answer is yes. If the firm you’ve hired has their eye on the ball and is willing to be diligent and steadfast in portraying your business on social media platforms, the package is well worth the money. In contrast, if the company you’ve hired is bogged down with personnel changes and personal issues, then this question becomes, ultimately, more challenging. In any event, the risk is often worth the reward.

    For some social media professionals, ROI is an attainable goal, as it should be. In a customer service profession like social media management, commitment to the customer should be the number one concern. If the customer is willing to listen to advice and stick to a plan, ROI is absolutely something a social media professional should be able to provide. However, to ensure the maximum return on your investment, a long term plan is probably the best chance at success.

    Social media isn’t a sprint, it is a marathon. So, if you’re expecting an immediate return within weeks of starting up a fan page, social media may not be a successful endeavor. The goals a customer sets for their social media must be realistic, and it is the responsibility of the social media manager to assist in the setting of these goals.

    In making the decision to outsource social media, discuss the importance of ROI with your management professional. During this discussion, the manager should be able to let you know exactly how realistic your goals are. If your ROI is not something they are willing to consider, move on. ROI is entirely realistic, but it won’t be immediate. Before signing social media contracts, ensure that your goals and the social media company’s goals align; this is the number one concern for a cohesive relationship and will often guarantee a better result.

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