Browsing articles in "Corporate Blogging"

Can Businesses Learn from Lady Gaga’s Branding

Mar 12, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Brand Recognition, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Social Media  //  1 Comment

Gaga’s business model starts with an incongruous product.

Listen to Gaga’s Poker Face and you might imagine it’s Britney Spears  in a track suit. But watch the video and you’ll see a work of conceptual porn. Gaga, a 23-year-old blonde with bulletproof bangs and 3-inch lashes, slinks across stages in gleaming metal bustiers, smoked latex underwear and thigh-high stiletto boots. Performing Paparazzi at the Video Music Awards, she ended the set dangling above the stage in gauzy white La Perla lingerie, horrifying her audience as fake blood gushed from her bosom.

All this debauchery is purposeful fodder for social media and the mainstream press. "She’s a perv, but Lady Gaga understands viral marketing better than anyone on the pop scene today," says magazine industry veteran Simon Dumenco. By showing up wearing a bird’s nest or a model of the solar system on her head, every Gaga appearance becomes an item (11,500 mainstream media stories cite her this year). "She is directing every frame of her music and her life, imagining how clips will appear on YouTube and what people will tweet after she appears on the VMAs," says Dumenco.

She’s meticulous about imagery, especially the sets of her live shows. Preparing for a gig in Los Angeles, she discovered that a stage had been painted a radiant shade of white. "This isn’t the freakin’ ice capades!" she yelled at the crew. It was repainted.

On Gaga’s Twitter page, 1.6 million people track her outlandishness. They learn of Gaga’s problems with hairspray and get updates on her father’s recent heart surgery. Having that many followers can be perilous. Last month Gaga posted a link to one of her own videos on fashion icon Alexander McQueen’s Web site. After a single tweet by Gaga, her rabid fans streamed in and crashed the site’s servers.

Gaga leverages buzz by sharing the limelight with other, mightier entertainment brands than her own. "There’s an art to fame," Gaga once told Vancouver television. Performing with members of the Bolshoi ballet, she wore a hat designed by Frank Gehry that resembled a mini Bilbao and played a piano painted by Damien Hirst. This year she collaborated with Beyonce and Michael Bolton. In October she showed up onSaturday Night Live with Madonna, where the two of them, dressed in matching dominatrix gear, tussled in a mock catfight (and near kiss).

One surprise: Gaga’s outré sexuality hasn’t fazed corporate marketers. Branding guru Steve Stoute, who paired Jay-Z with Hewlett-Packard, is working on a handful of tie-ins for Gaga. This month he inked a deal for her with Mac cosmetics. Next will be Gaga-branded electronic sunglasses, he says, similar to the ones that often cover half her face in concert.

“ Telephone ” is choc-full-o Lady Gaga shock value, and at more than nine minutes in length, could probably classify as a short film. Dating site PlentyOfFish somehow managed to get prominent placement (fast forward to 4:27 if you’d rather skip the rest of it).

Early indications are that “Telephone” will be every bit as popular as recent Gaga hits, with the song, its participants, and even a string from its URL already dominating trending topics on Twitter ahead of its offical premier on E!. It also briefly took Vevo – YouTube and the record labels new music video website — offline.

So what can businesses learn from Gaga’s understanding of the social media sphere?

By now I am sure you are saying why would I ever want to learn something from a person that pushes the limits of pervocity, it is not what she does, it is why she does it, and what she is motivating by doing it. Businesses need to look at their products or services and truly looking into how you can motivate you customers with it.

Branding isn’t just for big companies any more. With the internet and search, it’s become easier and cheaper to for companies to brand their names in front of their target audience. It’s true that good branding efforts will always cost you some time, energy and even a little bit of money, but it’s not out of reach of small businesses with little extra cash on hand for what is traditionally considered a non-sales generating marketing strategy.

The benefits of branding yourself, your business, your products, or services…

A solid branding strategy is important for any business and should be a part of its online marketing efforts. So let’s talk first about some of the benefits of branding yourself. If you’re like most small businesses you’re more concerned about selling products or services than you are in establishing a name for yourself. Why go through the effort? Simply put, branding helps sales.

Let’s look at this in the smallest of cases. Say you create name recognition for your company with a single person. That’s right, one person knows your company and you’ve convinced them to trust you and the products or services you sell. Big deal, right? Well, it is.

This one person will choose to buy from you rather than your competitor. Your ability to brand your name, and make it synonymous with your quality, has just earned you a sale. But one sale? Big deal!

Well, yeah, it is. Because that one person may tell one other person. The trust you earned by one has just multiplied into two. You just got another sale. Another big deal? OK, by now you’re getting it. Branding is a big deal.

Let’s look at this from anther angle. What is the effect of branding on an unknown audience? The most effective branding is not in the number of people you reach, but in the number of times you’re able to reach any single person with your brand.

This is where Lady Gaga understands how to manage her customers in the social media sphere, she keeps them guessing for what comes next. She handles and motivates people to want to do something

Let’s say you want to buy the pair of headphones she uses (Yes, I want a pair!) Assume that want one but you don’t know who sells them or where to go to get one. Where do you turn? Your favorite search engine of course.

Do a search for Lady Gaga Headphones and you see a list of results all ranging around Monster Beats by Dre..

As my easy button would say, “that was easy.” Perhaps a bit too easy, who knows everyone might catch on.

The branding strategies employed by business will be similar to what we saw here. But you don’t have to be a pervotic rockstar or go after highly competitive keyword phrases to get similar branding power. All you need is research, an understanding  of your customers, and a branding strategy.

If you need help 4D Impressions is here, “Bringing Fresh Ideas for Your Growing Business”

10 Tips on Live Blogging & Content Marketing at SXSWi

Mar 12, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

So here I sit in the DFW airport hanging out with David Berkowitz waiting for my connection to Austin. What better way to spend that 45 min than to write a helpful blog post? A big part of my “mission” for SXSXi is to create content after all.

I have several other goals like networking (reconnecting and especially new contacts), competitive research, recruiting and potential client prospecting. But content marketing is our bread and butter. It can be an effective tactic for you too, especially if you can learn to be highly efficient at liveblogging conferences.

Here are a few tips that will not only give you a tested and proven guideline but should improve your efficiency and quality of output.

  • Create a schedule. Whether you’re blogging on your own or with a team, pick which sessions and related topics you plan on covering before the event. SXSWi has almost too many concurrent sessions and with such a large event, not planning will lead to getting to sessions late. That means a crappy seat in back and likely not anywhere near an outlet.It’s very easy to get distracted while at the conference and with live blogging, there’s no time to waste. If you know which sessions you’ll be covering, it can help to create draft blog posts ahead of time and include as much information in the draft as you can. This will make it easier to finish off the post as close to the session time as possible.
  • Plan ahead. When planning out which sessions, interviews or events you’ll cover, put together a grid showing session names, times and who should be covering (if you’re part of a blogging team). Coordinate sessions coverage avoids duplication and ensures the topical mix of content you plan on covering is properly represented.
  • Write the posts offline in an application like notepad. Then transfer the post to the blog. Many session rooms have poor if any internet connection at all. Make posts in an offline document and transfer them over to your blog software when you’re ready to publish.
  • Take photos. Photos of the panel or an individual speaker are great and can add a lot to what otherwise would be a text heavy post. Photos of the PowerPoint slides can be particularly useful if the presented goes fast or doesn’t follow a logical order. You can reference them later when finishing the blog post after the session ends. With photos, we’ve set up a TopRank Blog account at Flickr just for conferences. There, we create a “set” for each conference event and are sure to link to those collections of photos from within the blog posts.
  • Promotion tips for conference photos on Flickr: Be sure to add titles and descriptions to each photo. Include an anchor text link from the description back to the blog post it’s used with. With your Flickr account, be sure to network with other Flickr members that would be interested in conference photos. When we set up an account just for SES San Jose, we exported our 400+ network contacts from LinkedIn and used the feature in Flickr that allows you to invite 100 people at a time to our Flickr network. The more relevant people in your Flickr network, the more people that “see” what photos you’re posting. Images taken through out the day and eve should be uploaded, titled, tagged and commented/linked before the next morning.
  • Take videos. Just about ever digital camera can take web quality video. We added 4gb memory cards over an hour of video for each camera can be taken. Interviews with attendees, speakers and exhibitors are particularly popular. You must keep in mind that with large companies, employees can rarely do a video interview without approval from their Legal and/or PR departments, so you need to schedule those ahead of time. You also need to be aware of the video taping policy of the conference. Most events do not want you to take videos of the sessions themselves.
  • Add some flavor to your videos. You don’t necessarily need a pro level of post-video production to get good promotion value out of conference videos. You should however, be sure to use software like Windows Movie Maker (free) to add text to the video indicating the topic and your blog URL. Also, set up a channel on YouTube as a way to organize and promote your posts along with accounts at other video sharing sites.
  • Sit close to the panel AND the screen. Also, if there is just one large screen in the room, sit between that and the panel. That way you can get clear photos of both the panel and PPT slides. If you have one of the most common digital cameras, don’t bother with a flash if you’re not close to your subject.
  • Network with other bloggers. When in the sessions or in the press room (if your blogging on a press pass) be sure to connect with other bloggers. You have something in common – the formidable task of taking a mix of presentations, some great and some psychotically unorganized, and turning them into a story that makes sense to a savvy search marketing audience – all in real time. Connecting with other bloggers both offline and online can facilitate information sharing as well as links.
  • Promote your posts. Once your posts go live, then be sure to make an effort to promote the posts to your network and to interested social communities. For example, promote screen shots of your videos to Flickr with a link to the video post. Let interview subjects and other bloggers know when you’ve posted. Leverage your social community networks (StumbleUpon, del.icio.us, Facebook and niche/vertical specific sites) to draw attention to particularly “promotable” content.
  • Tag your posts and media. For some conferences, the organizer will advise the attendees to use a specific tag to make it easy for readers to find posts specific to that event. For example, the recent MediaPost event in Park City Utah used an image tag of: sisutah07. Generic tags are also useful. Use these tags not only with your blog posts and Technorati, but also with photos, video and social bookmark/news submissions.
  • Establish a few basic blogging guidelines or simple processes. Here are a few that we start with:
    • Create drafts of posts BEFORE the conference with notes.
    • After sessions posts are saved in draft form.
    • All posts must have images, ideally of the session panel.
    • All posts are associated with relevant categories and tags.
    • Alternate title tags with keywords are written.
    • Post titles start with a consistent naming convention along with a short description.
    • Once posts are edited, editor makes them live.
    • Better quality posts are vetted for promotion within blogger networks.
    • Round up posts are published at the end of each day or at the end of the conference.

The biggest takeaway for better liveblogging is to plan ahead and follow through with promoting your content once it’s live. What liveblogging tips have you found to be effective? Any tips or tricks on being more efficient?

5 Social Media Tips for Ecommerce Marketing

Mar 12, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media, Twitter  //  No Comments

If you run an ecommerce business, chances are your customers – regardless of their age, gender or economic status – are active on social networks and social media sharing sites.

Just consider the statistics from social media monitoring site Pingdom:

  • Males and females almost equally use social sites (47% vs. 53%)
  • 61% of Facebook users are middle aged or older, with the average age being 37
  • 18- to 24-year-olds don’t dominate any particular social networking site; they’re spread out all over

The bottom line: If you aren’t discovering which in social networking channels your customers spend time and include them in your ecommerce marketing mix, you’re probably  missing out on building relationships, community and increasing new customer acquisition through online word of mouth.

Leverage these five social media marketing tips for ecommerce to either get started with more social digital marketing or take your current social strategy to the next level:

1. Go Where Your Customers Are

Very few things in life promise endless options – digital and social media marketing being one exception. From Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn to YouTube, there’s no limit to the number of social networking channels available for your business to leverage. Key to successful social media marketing for ecommerce is choosing the right channels to reach customers.

Find out where your customers are congregating by:

  • Asking them. Sounds overly simplistic, but sending a formal survey to customers or more informally polling them on your website can provide a wealth of knowledge.
  • Monitoring social sites. Use a free tool like Social Mention or Trackur. For something far more robust use tools like Radian6 to discover how and where customers are talking about your brand, your competitors or target keywords.
  • Leveraging the stats. Some sites like Facebook are transparent when it comes to user statistics. Or leverage research conducted by third-party firms like eMarketer.
  • Revivew backlinks, job postings, news announcements and keyword rankings of competitors on a regular basis to get a glimpse into their online marketing health.

2. Monitor What Your Competitors Are Doing

Whether your ecommerce business is new to social media marketing, or just need to take your efforts up a notch, competitive intelligence can be very useful. Spend some time by conducting a competitive audit of your top five competitors on the social web. Include:

  • The social sites in which they are active
  • The type of content they publish on the social web
  • The number of followers/fans/views they have on each site
  • How they promote specific products, programs or events via social media

For even more inspiration and insight into what works well on the social web, look to ecommerce sites in other industries or even successful B2B social media examples.

3. Promote Exclusive Offers Through Social Media

In order for your ecommerce business to gain a following on whatever social channel you choose, entice customers with something they can’t get anywhere else.

For example, promote a contest via social media. Last fall, TopRank® Online Marketing leveraged this tactic for one of its ecommerce clients. TopRank used the client’s blog and Facebook fan page to promote a Halloween contest to name the best costume. This initiative not only drove additional traffic to the client’s website, but also helped increase the number of Facebook fans.

Alternately, offer an exclusive item to social media followers or fans, such as free shipping or a weekly coupon. You can also offer “breaking news” that does not appear anywhere else, like pre-product release announcements or an inside look at your company’s inter-workings.

4. Don’t Just Push Products and Promotions

The primary goal of your ecommerce site may be to sell products, but your social media marketing strategy should encompass a wider range of tactics that simply promoting offerings. With too much product pushing and not enough engagement, you’re unlikely to experience optimal success.

Incorporate some of these ideas into your ecommerce social media marketing strategy:

  • Share messages or news stories from external sources
  • Create a blog on your website and feed blog content to your social accounts
  • Ask questions, participate in discussions or poll your customers via social media
  • Post pictures from company events or videos from your CEO’s speaking engagements

1-800-Flowers maximizes the use of social media for its marketing efforts.

5. Sell Products Through Social Networks

Many ecommerce sites leverage social channels to make it even simpler for customers to purchase their products. 1-800-Flowers has taken this idea to the max (see image above). It was the first ecommerce site to launch a Facebook store, allowing customers to browse and purchase its products directly through Facebook.

1-800-Flowers may be an extreme case, but ecommerce sites large and small can still indirectly sell products through their social profiles. For example, highlight new products or best-sellers and provide a link to the order page on your website. It may not be quite as simple as purchasing directly from the social profile, but it can be just as effective.

The five ideas are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to ecommerce social media marketing. What social media tactics have you found to be successful?

BIGLIST Social SEO Blogs Update 031110

Mar 11, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Blog, Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing  //  No Comments

BIGLIST SEO Blogs

Welcome to the post-Winter/pre-Spring version of the BIGLIST review of SEO blogs.  Snow is starting to melt and you can actually walk around outside (in Minnesota) without your eyelashes freezing together. We have a nice group for you to review so fire up your RSS reader and subscribe.

LyndiT blog gets our attention for great design and user experience in this BIGLIST update. Lyndi Thompson is a Social Media and Online Marketing Specialist and like me, is addicted to peanut M&Ms.  Besides writing about a mix of social media, SEO, web design and online marketing topics, you might be interested to know Lyndi lives on a mini farm, owns several animals including a donkey and supports some great causes in the Northwest.

  • Frank Thinking About Internet Marketing – Frank Reed blogs on several sites including Marketing Pilgrim and Biznology. Here, he shares is talented writing skills to tell stories about SMB internet marketing topics. This isn’t a how to blog, it’s a broader topic and things to think about blog as the name implies about Search, Mobile, Social and Local.
  • State of Search – What’s going on in the search and social media marketing space?  This new blog from Dutch internet marketer, Bas van den Beld of Search Cowboys fame, and friends promises to be a source for what’s happening in the world of search and social.  It also compliments a weekly radio show on WebmasterRadio.fm of the same name.
  • ezlocal blog – If you’re in search of great advice on local search marketing, this might be your lucky day. You can expect detailed how to posts including those about Google Maps and Local Business Center and local marketing topics. ezlocal itself is a local business search resource and directory.
  • Digital Marketing Zen – David Wells is a digital marketing strategist for an agency in Charlotte, SC and publishes a blog that documents his observations via posts, podcasts and a curated collection of videos on topics that include everything from Augmented Reality to SEO and Social Media to Web Analytics.
  • Single Grain Blog – This agency blog is written by Sujan Patel and Ross Hudgens on SEO, PPC, Design, Link Building and some social media.
  • Website WorkshopBuzzhound Learning Lab is a St. Louis, MO based agency with a newer blog that has started writing posts again about SEO and topics that support the SEO training courses offered.  Hopefully they continue.
  • Aussie Internet Marketing Blog – Sean Rasmussen writes “down under” about practical tips on a variety of online marketing topics including SEO, blogging, social media and general web 2.0.

Did your SEO or SEM blog make the cut? Share the good news with your readers using the badge and link below or choose one from the badges page.

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11 Free Tools for Social Media Optimization

Mar 10, 2010   //   by Erik Olson   //   Corporate Blogging, Industry News, Mashable News, Online Marketing, Social Media  //  No Comments

Plenty of bloggers are talking about the inevitable intersection of social media marketing and search engine optimization. Keyword optimized social content and channels of promotion provide abundant signals to search engines for improved visibility on standard, social and real-time search.

The changing nature of social media marketing and optimization create the need for tools whether for research, marketing and promotion or analytics. Here are 11 social media and SEO tools you might find useful:

What low cost or free tools have you found to be effective for social media optimization tasks?

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