'The "Real-time Marketer"

My blog on Social Media Today: Facebook’s Call to Action Buttons Are a Win-Win

Facebook turned a lot of heads last month with the announcement it was testing a “Buy” button on sponsored ads and Pages updates. Positioned as a way for brands to sell their wares while keeping customers inside Facebook’s social embrace, it’s pretty much a win-win for retailers and Facebook combined. Read my blog at Social Media Today!

How Social Media Changed the Hiring Process on Social Media Today

My 12th blog on Social Media Today has been shared over 1,000 times in the first 6 hours of being published!

How Social Media Changed the Hiring Process:http://bit.ly/1pJGPah

Social Media Is All About Teamwork

It’s Friday! ! I’ve learned this week more then ever that it’s all about the team when you talk Social Media. I’m so proud of our Real-time team, and I wake up everyday working hard for our clients and staying humbled to learn something new each day from my team.

My newest blog published today on Social Media Today is all about TEAMWORK!! http://bit.ly/1oj6vwd

Why Social Media Has Revolutionized Human Relations

Why Social Media Has Revolutionized Human Relations

There’s scarcely an adult on the planet who hasn’t heard of social media and a whopping 74 percent of people who go online use at least one social networking service. It’s easier than ever to stay connected to the people we care about but what else has social media done for us and what does it mean for your brand? Plenty!

It’s easy for people with common interests to find each other. Social media has widened the field for folks looking for others to participate in the same things they like to do. These days hikers, geocachers, knitters, book lovers, and hobbyists of all kinds use social networking services to easily organize meetups or other gatherings and broadcast the event far and wide for anyone who might be interested. That’s a boon for businesses who want to know what their customers are saying and, more important, what kinds of things they want.

People can connect with brands they love. Most users of social media follow at least one brand or store to keep track of news and announcements. Some even use it as a replacement for calling customer service with questions or concerns. That means companies need to make sure to claim their own space on social channels, but the benefits are well worth the time investment. Meeting customers where they are and being accessible when they’re looking for you gives you the edge over competitors that don’t bother to secure Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We’ve become much more visually-oriented. Social services like Instagram and Pinterest are white hot right now. Even Facebook and Twitter are filled with images, videos, infographics, and other visual content. People love to share pictures of what they’re doing, where they are, and even what they’re eating. The trend is great for brands because social media is a terrific way to highlight tonight’s chef’s special, a hot clothing line, or a new logo. Service-oriented brands who don’t have something tangible to photograph can get in on the action by sharing a clever meme or an infographic with filled with important data.

Sharing is caring. One of the best and most frequently used features of all social media tools is the share option. Whether you’re retweeting a funny joke or reposting an important news story for your Facebook followers to read, sharing content is one of the most popular things to do in social channels. It’s only natural to want to tell everyone you know when you find something funny, touching, moving, or newsworthy. Sharing is, after all, a fundamental part of being human and social media makes it easier than ever. Brands must work hard to create shareable content as part of their social marketing campaigns.

The impact social media has had on people and businesses is clear and it will be fascinating to see over time how it further changes our interactions with each other and the brands we love. It’s not an understatement to say it has both revolutionized the way we relate to each other and the way we do business.

Image: tetedelacourse

Five Secrets to Successful Social Media Promotions

Five Secrets to Successful Social Media Promotions

You’ve got your social media accounts lined up, broadcast some updates, and now you’re ready to put together a promotional campaign. Before you get started, take a minute to learn five secrets to social media promos that successful brands already know.

1. Keep the flagrant sales pitch to a minimum. You can’t completely hide the fact that you’re running a promotion — and there’s no reason to do so — however yelling into your timeline, “Buy this now! But wait, there’s more!” isn’t going to work in your favor. Instead, craft your message in a way that respects the readers time while gently calling attention to your campaign. Remember, your followers turn to social media for fun and relaxation, not a sales pitch.

2. Always respond to followers and fans. It’s easy to get caught up in keeping all the plates spinning during a busy promotional campaign, but don’t neglect your fans and followers when they try to engage you on a social channel. Customers who have questions about a current promo will naturally ask them on the site where it’s running, so be sure to answer. Ever seen a Facebook fan page’s call to action with 15 unanswered questions in the comments? Don’t be that company.

3. Get as excited as your customers. You’re using a promo to generate buzz and excitement for your brand so make sure you’re as enthusiastic as they are. Respond in kind to followers who take the time to tell you how excited they are about your contest or how much they’re looking forward to the event you’re promoting. Nobody wants to feel ignored when they’re fired up and want to share their joy.

4. Limit the need to reshare content as an entry requirement. It’s tempting to ask your followers to retweet or share your content as a requirement for entering your contest or giveaway but think twice before you insist. Some customers feel like they’re being asked to spam their friends and, as a result, will opt out of your promos. Others may comply, potentially irritating their followers who now have a negative association with your brand. It’s best to err on the side of caution with reshare requirements because some people really hate promos.

5. Continue to engage your fans when the promotion ends. If you only update your social channels during sales campaigns, customers may begin to feel you’re only after what’s in their wallets, not their hearts. When a promo ends, keep talking to fans and followers and make sure you’re timeline is filled with content that’s not trying to overtly sell something. Look at it this way. How often do you click on a brand’s timeline to see what they have to say before making the decision to connect with them on social media? Now, how often do you click that follow button if their entire timeline is one-sided sales pitches? We rest our case.

Some marketing gurus tell you to avoid running promotions on social media channels altogether but you needn’t take such a hard line approach. Plenty of businesses run very successful promos. The key is in learning to balance your messages without alienating your followers.

Image: Amnesty International UK

Why Outsourcing Social Media Is a Winning Strategy
Why Outsourcing Social Media Is a Winning Strategy

On average, business owners waste about 4 billion hours each year dealing with tasks that could easily be delegated to vendors or other employees, yet they work twice as much as their employees. Business strategists recommend delegating as many non-critical tasks as possible to work smarter, not harder.

Outsourcing social media is a winning strategy for maximizing the most of your time without sacrificing the quality of your customer engagement campaigns.

Good for budgets

There’s scarcely a business owner on the planet who isn’t watching the bottom line all the time. Tight budgets mean every penny must be pinched and every dollar squeezed, especially for startups operating on a shoestring.

Unfortunately, in-house media teams are often besieged with runaway costs and overages that eat away at their piece of the budgetary pie. Whether it’s unplanned overtime to cover for a marketing department member whose out sick or the unexpected cost of buying analytics tools to track your progress across social channels, it’s easy to end up in the red before you’ve posted your final Facebook update for the week.

When you outsource your social media, there are no surprise expenses, no last-minute software purchases, and no scrambling to cover gaps in coverage. You know what  your costs are upfront and can plan accordingly, knowing your social accounts are in good hands.

Surround yourself with experts

You know that old adage, business owners don’t need to know everything if they surround themselves with people who are experts in their own field? Bringing in an outside social media team fits this concept perfectly.

Unless you’re running a social media firm, your expertise probably lie in other areas. Just as you’d hire an electrician to wire the fire alarms in your office, so should you hire professionals to handle this unique aspect of your marketing strategy.

Businesses that hand off important social media tasks to a new intern or recent hire are brands that don’t fare as well in social marketing. You don’t need to know everything about the nuts and bolts of social media management as long as you hire a team that does.

Hang in there

Social marketing takes momentum and time to build. It’s easy to get discouraged when you don’t see immediate results, especially when you feel like your time could be better spent working on other ways to grow your business.

Dave Kerpen, founder and CEO of Likeable Media, told Inc.’s Jeff Hayden, “Too many small businesses that try social media marketing either don’t do it right or don’t do it long enough, or both, and then give up, thinking it doesn’t work. You can absolutely use social media to drive and track new leads and sales, increased frequency of purchase from current customers, both very hard business metrics, but don’t expect this to happen overnight, or over three weeks. Expect to see (and by all means track!) results within six to nine months.”

It takes a long time to see results because business owners are pulled in many directions and only have a limited time to devote to making it work. Outsourcing teams have the expertise and ability to groom your social media accounts for solid growth in less time.

Image: {bright fizz}

7th Blog on Social Media Today

Very humbled today…. my 7th blog was published on Social Media Today, and made it to the home page!  

http://bit.ly/1nVffGZ

Getting Started on Social Media in 2014
Getting Started on Social Media in 2014

Studies show that up to 90 percent of small businesses are on social media. That’s not surprising given the popularity and easy access of social channels like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Are part of that remaining 10 percent, ready to make the leap into social media but not sure where to start? The first step is figuring out where your customers are, then how to get yourself heard. Which social sites give you the most bang for your buck? Let’s break it down.

Your best bet is to first secure a Twitter account and use it to build followers and engage your customers. It’s a snap to add your Twitter handle to marketing materials and pepper it across your website so people know where to find you. Once you get a good groove going, addinghashtags to some of your tweets helps you interact with subsets of customers or call attention to special marketing campaigns.

Visual content and eye-catching images are very popular right now so social channels like PinterestInstagram, and Vine are seeing a huge surge in popularity.  Next to Twitter, these are the most important sites to be on.

Don’t feel compelled to use all three visual content-based sites, just select one that most closely matches your brand’s marketing needs. Pinterest is great for engaging your customers around the larger concepts of your brand, like sharing recipes for a kitchen supply store or pet care tips for pet-centric business. Instagram is ideal for featuring your brand’s inventory while Vine is perfect for clever marketing to millennials.

Facebook has historically been an important social channel for businesses but concerns about ethicsprivacy, and frustrating algorithm changes are steering many businesses away from the site in favor of other social channels. Location-specific businesses like restaurants and retail shops tend to fare much better on Facebook than online-only brands.

That’s not to say you should completely ignore Facebook. By all means, secure a company page and populate it liberally with pictures, company info, and pointers to your website and other social channels. Be sure to update the page with new content every week or so, more if you start to see traction.

Once you’ve established brand on a handful of social media channels, feel free to experiment and see what kinds of content your followers respond to best. There’s no one true way that works for every brand, every customer, every time so don’t be afraid of some trial and error. Once you have a good feel for what kind of content your customers want, it’s time to branch out to the next tier of social media websites.

Lots of companies use Slideshare to post slide decks they’ve put together for conferences, or turn to Vimeo for housing training or how-to videos. For B2B engagement, LinkedIn is the perfect choice and, of course, YouTube is the gold standard for featuring consumer-oriented videos you hope will go viral.

Admittedly, social media can be time-consuming. Forty-three percent of small business owners spend six or more hours per week on social media but a full one-third want to invest less time managing their social channels. If you’re pressed for time and want to hand off the social media baton for an agency to manage, give RealTime Outsource a call. We’ll take care of all your social media needs so you can get back to doing what you love — managing your business!

Image: Rosaura Ochoa

Blend Social Media With Your Digital out-of-home Advertising For Maximum Impact

There’s no doubt social media has completely changed the marketing landscape in the last few years. Advertising on social networks like Facebook and Twitter is as much a part of most marketing strategies as print ads were a mere decade ago. 

These days companies can reach customers right on their phones and portable devices wherever they happen to be. Now that there’s no need to wait for your target market settle on the couch and open a newspaper, what’s next for the social marketing scene? out-of-home advertising and digital media, of course!

From QR codes on sales signage to digital billboards, consumers are ready and willing to engage with interactive digital campaigns, particularly if there are incentives like coupons or discounts waiting to be collected. Businesses like In-Connect are are seeing a lot of traction in this evolving marketing concept.

There are over 100 different out-of-home advertising formats so let’s take at look at ways to make some of them work for you.

A large part of this type of marketing relies heavily on visuals that grab the consumer’s attention and encourage interaction or a call to action. Digital billboards are the most obvious use of this medium. On an LCD screen, you can tell a story, share a hashtag, and reinforce your branding all in one eye-catching package your customers won’t soon forget.

Digital kiosks are popping in public venues like airports and retail shops because they help customers help themselves. Shoppers can order deli trays at the market or check inventory on paint supplies at the DIY store without standing in line or waiting for a sales clerk. Airports and sports venue kiosks offer instant information like maps and ticket information to help get passengers and fans get to where they want to go. The combination of helpful information paired with subtle branding make digital kiosks a popular choice for many industries.

For non-interactive choices, some customers prefer car wraps or public transportation signage. Large venue placement and huge billboards are high-level options but the medium can be just as easily adapted to bus shelters, newsracks, and taxicabs.

Many out-of-home advertising formats will only be seen for a minute or two during as consumers commute through town, run through the airport to catch a flight, or hail a cab. Maximize those moments by including a memorable Twitter hashtag or Facebook logo alongside your branding information so customers know where to find you. Static displays that will be viewed or used for a few minutes are a great candidate for QR codes so consumers can collect your information instantly on their phone. 

The beautiful thing about out-of-home media is that it can be adapted to a wide variety of situations and environments. If you’re looking for the next big thing in social marketing, don’t overlook out-of-home advertising as the next wave to catch!

Image: Grand Visual

My advice this week…..

Always keep your priorities at the top of your list! Too often it easier to help others for me then to work on my dreams. I’ve found that in the last 5 years I’ve been focusing on my goals, dreams and ambitions and it’s been amazing to watch the things I’ve dreamed about come true! I truly believe that you’re dreams are number ONE!!

Are Your Social Media Landing Pages Ready for Prime Time?

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For businesses these days, maintaining a Twitter and Facebook account is as important as having a telephone number. In many cases, more so. Customer engagement on social media is at an all time high and shows no signs of slowing down. Consumers have come to expect their customer experience to extend to their favorite social channels and if you’re not there to meet them, your competitors will be happy to step up to the plate.

Excellent content is vital to a strong social presence so don’t overlook Twitter and Facebook landing pages in the rush to post your next viral update. If your social media accounts are your customers’ hospitable gathering spot, those landing pages are your welcome mat. Here are some great ways to polish them up:

  • Know your image sizes. Both Facebook and Twitter have specific guidelines for each image area on your account’s homepage so be sure to review them and adjust your pictures accordingly. Don’t try to squeeze something down to fit a tiny box or enlarge a picture beyond recognition so it’s just “good enough.” Use a free image editor to get just the right look and size. We like Skitch for Mac and Picasa for Windows, or you can check out PicMonkey for an online option.
  • Clear the clutter. It’s tempting to include as much information as you can about everything your company has to offer, but this is definitely a case where less is more. Include only the images and static content that supports your company’s mission statement and goals. Save lower priority messages for other parts of your marketing campaigns.
  • Be cool. Or warm. You want your content to shine, not get lost in a busy background or a jumble of color. Pick a color scheme that doesn’t overwhelm customers but that’s also in keeping with your overall message. Warmer colors are perfect for the down-home look that’s ideal for a dog groomer, while a security firm may want to go with cooler colors that play up the seriousness of its services.
  • Include a call to action. More than likely your visitors came to your landing page looking for product or contact information. Of course you’ll include those important things on your page, but don’t forget to tell customers what to do with the info once they have it. A clear call to action belongs on every landing page, every time. In fact, it’s often a good idea to use that as a starting point when creating your page and then build everything else around it.

Social media bio and homepages can be tricky to get right, but it’s very important that your welcome mat gets people through your front door so they stick around to become lifelong customers. Don’t feel you need to tackle the project yourself and don’t be afraid to call in a professional to help you put your best foot forward.

Image courtesy: zoutedrop

- See more at: http://realtimeoutsource.com/blog/95-are-your-social-media-landing-pages-ready-for-prime-time.html#sthash.p2SquWoD.dpuf

Memorial Day ( 5-26-2014)

Lets all take time to remember the men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving our nation. We will never forget, we will honor you, we will love one another, and we will work hard to preserve our freedoms. God bless our amazing United States of America!!!