Battle Royale:Twitter Kills Facebook

February 15th, 2012

In online marketing, Facebook is the name of the game. The conversion rates are typically higher, making people less inclined to try other methods in their social media efforts. But online marketingis not a one-trick pony – you have to explore all of its vehicles to be completely successful. No certain network should ever be counted out.  In some of our own campaigns Twitter is continuously used to drive conversion as part of client online efforts – sometimes seeing similar ROIs as Facebook. Twitter can still compete with the social network giant, and quite possibly kill the competition.

In order to make Twitter effective for your campaign you need to assess the three tiers of Twitter users and see how they can access your brand. These tiers being:

  1. Magazines, celebrities, Oprah
  2. Heavy-hitting bloggers and opinion leaders
  3. Everyone else

For most cases you might as well stay away from the first tier as they are extremely hard to access and rarely participate unless they are contractually obligated. If you combine the next two tiers, however, you could actually tap into an influence that far outweighs the first tier in the long tail. Only a small percent of users will actually engage in your campaign while the rest sit back and watch. If you can get this small percent to be users from the second tier, you can get tap into their reach and create a great number of impressions.

This method can give a campaign a lot of clicks and for dirt cheap. Even without paid Twitter, using a little elbow grease, you can organically grow your campaigns and receive results. With Facebook, unless you have paid advertising in your budget, you will see very little growth organically. However, when you follow hundreds of related users on Twitter, usually about 80 percent will follow you back. After this point, you can appease them by engaging their messages and sharing their tweets, encouraging them to ultimately participate in yours.

In our work with personal development and coaching client, Freedom Personal Development, Twitter has proven to be extremely beneficial in gaining awareness of their programs and ideas. In fact, 40 percent of their clicks come from Twitter alone. What makes this especially gratifying is that they focus only 20 percent of their budget on Twitter.  Had we not originally pursued Twitter, we could have spent a greater amount other vehicles, creating a lower ROI.

Of course, with any method there are certain circumstances that need to be present for it to be carried out successfully.  For instance, Twitter campaigns will only work effectively on a national scale. If you geotarget your efforts, you will end up with very little engagement and a waste of money. A rule of thumb is to start with spending $500-$1,000 on paid Twitter, and if you see even a three percent conversion continue your efforts.

Twitter is not for the end user, merely to be used as a resource. In this age where Facebook rules, Twitter is usually left in the dust. But why should you disregard something that is far cheaper and still a helpful resource for you campaign. With Twitter you can grow your campaign organically and get clicks cheaper than you would by spending all of your money on Facebook. Facebook is the reigning champ of the online marketing game, but Twitter is that older underdog that can strike back and kill the competitor.

Google Finds a New Way to Pay to Play

December 16th, 2011

With the recent release of Google+ Pages, the creators at Google have finally found a way to make up for their past mistakes with Google Buzz, Google Places and organic search. This new feature allows people to stay connected to TV shows, universal brands and businesses. The way it works is you create a page profile, similar to the way you would on Facebook, only now with Google+ Pages you have a direct connection to searches. This increases the incentive for businesses to become active on Google+, by creating a page and interacting with its user base.

Google SEO and organic search have been destroyed by advertisers and indexing sites to take over the search engine by giving search priority to irrelevant businesses and spam artists. Instead of getting right to the search information, you have to sift through half a page of backlinked index sites. Google+ Pages is Google’s solution to this problem. These pages will have priority with Google’s Local Business listings (the area directly under the paid links).  Now the pages will be prominent in the search and give relevancy to all who interact. My assumption is that there will be some sort of tie-in with adwords. Not only will the businesses that have a page through Google+ get priority in searches, but I believe there will be an option for businesses to pay to get an extra prioritization in searches.

The people at Google are smart. Not because of the creation of this social networking site, but because they know how to make a buck. Google+ offers no new feature that is significantly different from any of the current social media websites. They led with their chin offering “Circles” as a way for people to start clean and recreate their social connections by categorizing them. This new pages feature isn’t going to revolutionize social media; it is essentially no different than Facebook pages in terms of functionality. It does, however, provide an opportunity for Google to get back to a more organic search while still being able to get their money.

To see JB Chicago’s Google+ Page visit: http://ow.ly/820TO

A Cause to be Thankful for: #foodthanks

November 18th, 2011

A lot of the time during the holidays we take for granted all of the things we are truly thankful for. So it is great that there are campaigns such as #foodthanks that can bring everything into perspective. AGchat’s twitter campaign asks those who participate to tweet about what they are thankful for while directing attention to the farming and food communities.

Working with several food clients, JB Chicago has had to rely heavily on these communities to interact and promote certain clients and campaigns. These are hardworking members of society that can really get behind a movement to affect it in a positive way and for that we are extremely thankful. SO along with your family, friends and good health, the staff at JB Chicago asks you to also take some time to think of the people in these communities who help to provide the food on your plate all year long.

Be sure to tweet using the #foodthanks hashtag to share what you are truly thankful for and bring attention to a community that is truly giving.

For more information visit http://foodthanks.com/

This. Right here. Is my. Cousin.

July 25th, 2011

It’s no secret that everyone in my family just oozes awesome. I don’t know if it’s because I exude wonderfulness to the people around me, or if it’s because I surround myself with amazing people (can’t it be a little of both?), but either way, my family is talented. This includes my cousin, Randy Crawford.

When we were little kids, Randy was always my go-to guy for listening to the band 3rd Bass and cruising around for chicks. He was, and still is, a talented rapper and musical talent, a fact proven when, later on in his life, he wrote songs for hit rap artist Toby Mac. He’s been underneath the radar and has been working his ass off, but, being the good guy that he is, he put his musical dreams on hold to help out his dad in the tiling business and raise a family for the last 20 years. But good karma, I believe, always comes back to those who deserve it, and now, he’s finally getting a chance to peruse his dreams.

Randy recently created a music video called “Friend Zone.” Performed by his band Webster County, the video and song tells of the trials and tribulations of a young man stuck in the dreaded “friend zone” by a pretty blonde (who happens to be his wife in real life). Basically, it tells the story of every nice boy who has heard the sentence “I love you like a brother” more times than he can count. Filled with romance, peril, sweet effects, cool costumes and a catchy beat, this music video, to say the least, rocks.

Check out his video on YouTube. It’s very bubblegum-fun with a retro-twist, a la DJ Jazzy Jazz and Fresh Prince and their single “Parent’s Just Don’t Understand.” If I do say so myself, it, like my cousin Randy, is pretty awesome.

Getting blasted into the friends zone has never been so cool.

I’m Steve, and I use Google+

July 20th, 2011

The social media tool on everyone’s lips these days is Google+ (Google Plus). Basically, it’s an expanded, more relevant Twitter, or, as I also heard it described, “Facebook’s older brother.” Whatever you want to call it, you can’t deny that it’s definitely gotten a lot of people’s attention: Google+ already has 10 million users, according to the Chicago Tribune article “Google Plus adding value to life or guilt?” And this doesn’t even include the number of people who want to join, but have to wait for invites from their already-invited friends.

One of the great things about Google+ is that it gives you the ability to allow you to put your friends in different “circles,” categorizing the people you know in neat, easy compartments. Google+ initially give you generic categories, such as “friends” and “families,” but also let you create and build up circles personally catered to your needs.  What’s nice is that you can decide whether you want to see everyone’s updates, or just updates from a specific circle, and vice versa when it comes to posting your own updates. This concept of the “circle” is brilliant, and is more in-your-face as Facebook’s “groups” and friend categorization. It’s the first thing you see when you add a new person, making Google+ more persona-based, and putting the focus on people and actual social interaction, as opposed to just the user themselves.

One other cool thing about Google+ (that I have yet to try) is the concept of a “hangout.” Users can get together with members in their friend groups and video conference with as many people as they want. This is a feature that Skype users have been lusting after, and, if used correctly, may add to Google+’s growing reputation. Google+ also gives you the option to instantly upload photos from your phone to a private album (and you can customize who you want to share them with later). Huddle, another unique feature, is a way to group-chat via text from your phone.

I feel like the only thing Google+ needs now is to take action and open up its doors to everyone, and allow businesses to create their own pages. They’re in the trial period right now, so the seeming exclusivity is understandable, but as soon as Google can, they should start to grab as many people and companies right away. Since Google+ is the talk of the town, it would be wise for them to move and engage everyone in profiling and huddling and +1ing (a feature similar to the “like” button on Facebook that allows you to show what you like all over Google), now, while they’re still intrigued and (for some) fed up with Facebook. The good news is that Google seems to recognize that. According to Patch article “Tech Trends: Google Plus Forges Ahead, ” Google+ is making businesses one of their top priorities, and “site developers are tweaking the platform for the business community.”

With all the popularity it’s gaining, it’s easy to forget that Google+ is actually a Google beta app, which means it’s still in the developing stages and that there will most likely be some glitches from time to time. However, that’s no reason to diminish its value. Here at JB Chicago, we are excited to see where this new social platform will fit into businesses’ marketing strategies and personal users’ lives. The geniuses at the Google Lab should be proud.

Clearly, we're all really. Really excited.Find

Find me on Google+: gplus.to/stevegaither. Also, check out TechRepublic’s article on the “Four ways Google+ will end up in your workplace.”

Less “restricting,” more opportunities

July 13th, 2011

On May 11, we noticed that Facebook put out a statement citing changes they made in their Promotions Guidelines—the rules for governing the way business pages run their contests for users. Like anything that has more than four bullet points and contains the word “guidelines” in the title, it’s easy to pretend like it doesn’t exist.  However, in the past few weeks, pages have been shut down due to their resistance to follow the changes, so it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the terms of service.

First of all, think of the Guidelines not so much as “completely revamped,” but “more defined.” A lot of the terms of service spelled out in the recent Promotions Guidelines were also in the “old” version as well. For example, the fact that you can’t “use Facebook features or functionality as a promotion’s registration or entry mechanism” (“liking” a page, for instance) is something that was established already. This clause is there because, well, a: there’s a chance that they don’t want to “win a lifetime supply of coffee” (or something equally wonderful), and b: Facebook wants to cut down on the amount of “‘spam tactics’” businesses could use to “promote their pages,” according to Advit Sahdev in his article “Understanding Facebook’s Promotions Guidelines.” The contest is about the business itself, not the fact that the business has a page, and Facebook wants to cut down on the spam so users don’t get annoyed. Another part of the guidelines state that businesses can’t notify winners of a contest through any Facebook means, like posts or messaging, which, again, was already an establish rule. It’s only done to protect winners from essentially getting harassed. As an extreme example that properly illustrates this point: writing on Katherine’s wall “Congratulations on winning a brand new airplane,” may look harmless, but what happens when people start to bombard Katherine with requests to be flown around everywhere? Maybe this is news Katherine would like to keep private.

The way it worked before is that a user would like your page, then to enter in the contest, would be taken to  your contest page where they would be prompted by Facebook connect. This would get their permission to give away email information, and would take them to the contest site. It worked, though it was a bit of a hassle. Now, thanks to the creation of iFrames, you can run your whole website into FB, i.e., you can stick your whole contest page into a box.

Click to enlarge this handy-dandy, simplifying chart.

Because this makes things easier, Facebook wanted to make sure that businesses follow all the guidelines, especially the ones about how a like does not equal an entry, or how businesses can’t inform users that they won via Facebook. So nothing has “changed,” per say; they’re just cracking down and making businesses take a harder look at the fine print, which is a fair deal, considering they’ve given us iFrames and made putting sites on Facebook pages, making contest sign-ups and sharing a heck of a lot easier than it used to be.

See the Facebook Promotions Guidelines.

SEO practices and SERP rankings

March 23rd, 2011

After David Segal’s article “The Dirty Little Secrets of Search” appeared in the New York Times last month, the mechanics behind search engine optimization have become part of a national conversation. This is a timely opportunity to talk about SEO practices.

Digital marketing can hardly be discussed without the issue of SEO techniques coming to the forefront. To increase the search engine rankings, there are five basic principles used in building websites: domain name, title tag, secondary tag naming conventions, content and tags, and creating external links. It is the last principle that most people are referring to when discussing controversial SEO practices. When a company’s only metric is to move a site up in rankings, there becomes a single minded mission to influence Google’s cryptic algorithms with insubstantial networking and internet manipulation. In this business, clients often wish to improve their online reputation by maneuver particularly unfavorable results below the fold or off the first page of the search engine results. There are many traditional SEO companies that will promise to deliver by any means necessary.

Companies who promise the ability to outsmart and outmaneuver Google’s SERP, or the web page listings that result from a search engine query, through Black Hat or White Hat SEO techniques, paid links, and backlinking creates sham networks by linking the site to any directory, blog or page, regardless of its relevance to the service or product. This focuses on create a high quality of insubstantial links to boost a website’s profile that create the illusion of relevance. It’s the digital marketing equivalent of spam.

Google is aware of these strategies and makes it their business to unearth websites that do this, meaning that a company can spend thousands of dollars of its SEO budget just to call attention to themselves by Google for the wrong reasons, which is the case in the New York Times article mentioned above. It is one thing to create the best possible conditions for your website to ascend to the most visible positions in the search engine results, and quite another to get flagged by the search engine by employing schemes that could ultimately result in being demoted in search ranking- or even removed from the index of searchable results entirely.My advice is to build a solid website with the SEO principle of forward linking- driving real traffic and connecting with the website, generating real, measurable conversions. Do not try to manipulate Google, but know that the “Google juice”- the value that Google assigns to your page- follows the practice of doing things the right way when it comes to search engine practices. The algorithms that Google uses to rank pages is famously enigmatic- there may even be a part of the search engine rankings that might actually notice negative feedback or complaints about a business, and deliberately keep those pages in the loop. A lot of complaint sites get good rankings- there is a chance that Google might actually want them to be where they are.

A more legitimate approach to SEO is through social media is rooted in two tactical approaches: elbow grease and paid advertising. It is more important to build social network followings, establish relationships within these, and develop those relationships into measurable conversions. The conversion data can be used to find out what has been successful in converting- numbers can vary throughout different times of the day, week and month, with trackable patterns. This accounts for the traffic that flows to the site through the different social media- and for the client, can track everything down to a measurable ROI.

Developing real, substantial connections to significant pages is the foundation to adhering to Google’s vision in creating value in a website. Driving traffic to and from sites with quality content is the only real way to raise one’s Google profile- it is this network of quality links that becomes a website’s true internet value.

Social Media and the Holidays: A Good Cause for Doing Good

December 22nd, 2010

As social media continues to gain a real part of our lives, this highly interactive platform also provides an excellent marketing tool to businesses small and large. There is a valuable opportunity in social media that a lot of people are still missing out on, and that is charity.

We’re all about marrying charity and social media here. As a board member of multiple Chicago non-profits, and more recently, the New Millennium Orchestra, JB Chicago has found all kinds of ways to give back and get involved in the community. After all, business is about bringing people together, so we figure why not make it better and bring people together for the greater good.

Our pursuits of good will also extend to our clients, and they can to yours too. Whether giving legs to an idea or spreading awareness through social media, we’re all about building relationships between good- causes and the good companies that support them. The Halloween applications and social media communication developed for Tetra Pak was a huge success. Motivated by fun and good feelings, every click in Facebook or Twitter, and every e-mail sent, landed a donation straight to World Wildlife Fund. Catalyst’s charity work with designers from across the globe land on their Area 3 blog, Twitter feeds and eventually around the world again.

Building these types of relationships provide great marketing directives, leading your business down the path you want. By giving people the incentive to share, you’re name goes right along with it. Any time of year, giving is genuinely a good thing that people want to be a part of. Providing the vehicle to help others through social media gives back and gives everyone a voice.

Share your charity and internet good doing experiences in the comments below. And remember, businesses of all shapes and sizes benefit from tying up with the right causes. So whether you’re new to philanthropy or want to make sure you find the right cause for you and your business values, here are a few great places to get acquainted with:

New Millennium Orchestra

Looking Glass Theater

Network of Strength

Gateway Green

Network For Good

Your Cause

Causes

Change

JB Chicago has been shadowed!

October 11th, 2010

As a college senior anticipating the May graduation date, I’m excited to see what type of life exists outside the realm of perpetual student-dom.  I’ve loved everything about my college experience but I’m anxiously awaiting the day where I no longer have to swipe my student ID to pay for my morning coffee.  This fall I’m interning as an account executive at Imagewest, Western Kentucky University’s student-run advertising and PR agency.   Over the course of the semester, all of the interns are encouraged to job shadow at a marketing agency.   This brings me to where I’m sitting now, the JB Chicago office, typing my very own blog entry for their website.

As someone who hopes to break into the marketing industry, I’m eager to pick the brains of the professionals who’ve made it.  I’ve only been at JB Chicago for a couple hours and I’ve already heard and seen things that reinforce my passion for this industry.   It’s comforting to know the skills I’m learning at WKU and Imagewest are relevant and applicable to the real world.  At school I’m enrolled in a social media marketing course, the very first of its kind at WKU.  Throughout the semester we’ll be working with a client, creating an online social presence for them via Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and more.  I’ve heard that other universities throughout the country are also jumping on the social media bandwagon.  Smart thinking.

Several months ago I never would have thought I’d be singing the praises of microblogging platforms like Twitter.  I struggled to see the difference between tweeting and updating my status on Facebook.  After managing the Twitter account for Imagewest, my entire perspective changed.  I saw that interesting, thought-provoking content was being tweeted by the most popular marketing individuals and agencies.  I now see Twitter as a tool to network and establish relationships with industry professionals instead of merely a way to stalk celebrities like Ashton Kutcher.  (The guy has almost 6 million followers but don’t worry, I’m not one of them.)

My morning at JB Chicago has been incredibly rewarding, and it’s only 11:21!  I’ve enjoyed discovering that the people who work here share my passions and interests, in both social media and interactive marketing.  I’m only in the city for a few more days but this trip has given me the confidence that I’m on the right track.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about graduating in eight months.  Come August, I’ll be married and living in Chicago.  Fingers crossed, I’ll soon after be spending my Monday though Friday at a kick-butt agency, tweeting and blogging until my heart’s content.

Megan Edwards

Western Kentucky University Senior
Account Executive | Imagewest
http://www.wku.edu/imagewest/

RePLACE your Fan Pages?

August 27th, 2010

A few months ago I brought up the Facebook vs. Foursquare debate. And true to their word, Facebook has quickly gotten to work on launching its own geolocation app called Places. Basically if you’ve been on the Internet at all over the past six months, you’ve seen your fair share of virtual friends’ locations popping up all over your social networking homepages. But even though Facebook wasn’t the first to come up with the stalker-friendly wonder that is geolocation, it is re-inventing the ways it can be used.

Introducing Facebook Places, a mobile-browsing friendly application that allows users to check-in at business locations, tag people they’re with and leave comments on friends’ updates. Not exactly ground-breaking news when it comes to location sharing apps, but Places may prove to be quite the force to be reackoned with…

It was only a matter of time before Facebook cashed in on the geolocation craze. There’s no way an empire like Facebook was going to pass on the marketing opportunities that comes with allowing users to check in at businesses. But of course, there is a catch. With the launch of Places comes the speculation that Facebook fan pages may soon be a thing of the past, chewed up and swallowed in Places’ wake. Apparently fan pages are already slowly being phased out, with talk that eventually a company’s fan page will be deleted once they’ve established a Places page. This leaves small businesses with fan pages little choice but to jump on the bandwagon before they’re left in the dust, wondering why their page is no longer feeling the love.

This may sound like Facebook just unleashed an angry bully, but there are some definite positives. The integration of Places could mean a lot of growth for small businesses, offering new takes on promotional opportunities and curbing unecessary marketing noise. Think about how easy it would be to tie in a call to action with customers’ check-in activity. Offering coupons and special discounts to friends who check-in at your location ensures that they’ll physically step foot on your turf. Talk about qualifying your real estate. Not to mention the validation this would bring, especially where fan page status updates were unable to.

As with most new launches, the story has only just begun to unravel. Stay tuned for more changes and news to come, this is bound to be a hot topic.