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Archive for the ‘Social Media’ Category

A few years ago, psychologist Aric Sigman went out on a limb when he stated that the use of Facebook could lead to increased health problems. His theory was that the increased isolationism created by digital media could affect the immune system, possibly leading to heart disease, stroke and even cancer. What he didn’t take into account was the fact that many people are using Facebook as a cathartic outlet to help alleviate their own stress as sufferers or friends and family of sufferers.

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It should be no surprise for a healthcare marketer to hear that patient self-diagnosis is increasing at alarming rates. WebMD.com reported a 60% increase in traffic from 2008 to today with Q4 2010 results showing a staggering 86 million users per month. An international report published last year by British health insurer Bupa indicated that 46% of those who searched online for health information were doing it to help them make a self-diagnosis.

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This is the first in a two-part series rethinking what it takes to make a best-in-class website.

We get a lot of RFPs for website redesigns. All of them are well-intentioned. Some are granular in detail. Others are more “big picture.”  Some have a clear sense of what they want to achieve. Others haven’t a clue. Some are so procurement-driven they feel like a tax audit.  But they all say “website redesign.” And whenever I see or hear this phrase—website redesign—it conjures up the same image:

lipstick-on-pig
Five years ago, I got a note from a former client who had just moved into a new job. I printed it out and put it up on the wall, because it challenged the conventional wisdom of what it takes to truly be best-in-class.

image1

A website overhaul is expensive, time consuming, and requires an enormous commitment from a client and the partner they choose to help them lead it. So with all that’s at stake, why redesign when you can realign? It may sound academic, but there are several critical distinctions.

A redesigned site:

is driven by a creative brief

understands the target

aesthetics first, then content

focuses on form

starts with design mock-ups

pleases mgmt in the short term

A realigned site:

is driven by business objectives

unlocks the key consumer insight

content strategy before aesthetics

focuses on form and function

starts with an idea

accomplishes business and user objectives

More after the jump.

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This article that I wrote for the Business Insider is getting a lot of play so I thought I would post it here.  Many seem to agree with the position, however there are certainly some who disagree.  In the end, I am simply trying to challenge all brands to not lose site of the creative idea when working in social media.

Social Media

I’m as big an advocate as anyone when it comes to marketers using social media to engage their customers.  In fact, I’d challenge you to point to a major brand that hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon.
I can tell you that my own agency built social media strategies into nearly every communications plan we developed for our clients in 2010.  Yet, despite all of the momentum in the space, one thing has been gnawing at me—regardless of the platform, brands are all starting to look the same.

Read the full article on Business Insider: http://read.bi/ggNGiH

A friend tweeted today that he was going to start using Quora more…. if he could make the time.

Quora is the social Q&A engine where people write their own answers to questions and post questions of their own.  It’s like Wikipedia–in that it’s continually improving (in theory).

In our business, it’s important to make time to explore emerging things. I try and devote ~10% of my social media usage to trying something new.

But integrating something new into your regular work stream creates a problem. There simply isn’t time.

So here’s a simple solution: apply the law of conservation of social media.

The law of conservation of mass: a fundamental principle of classical physics that matter cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system.

The law of conservation of social media: a fundamental principle of time management that social media usage (for heavy users) cannot be increased without going insane or living in complete technological isolation.

More simply, if you’re adding something new–do something else a little less.

Then get out for a walk and leave your phone behind for once.

Over the weekend, Facebook changed the way your Likes are communicated to your social network. It used to be that if you Liked an item on a third-party site, it would appear on your Wall as a one-line update under Recent Activity. Now, your Like will publish a full story in your newsfeed:

roadkill

In essence, the Like button now mirrors functionality of the Share button (which Facebook is rumored to be phasing out completely.)

Time will tell how users respond – sure, you might Like the movie “Roadkill” – but do you want all of your friends to know this? Bottom line: be careful what you Like.

Digital is a giftRecently, in a meeting, a senior executive client of mine said something a little unexpected.

“Digital is a gift,” he said.

He went on to say that digital now allows marketers like him and the brands that he manages to break out beyond the same, standard tactics that have been employed year after year, and instead provides unprecedented opportunities to truly connect with consumers.

Digital is a gift. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard it phrased so succinctly, or so perfectly. But that is a great way to look at it.

Digital is a gift because of the potential it delivers to form closer ties with our consumers beyond what traditional marketing tactics, or at times even our products, can develop.

Digital is a gift because of the creative opportunities that it provides. There are so many new forms that our message can take today that never existed before. It opens the door to a wide and ever changing array of creative solutions to the challenges of promoting our brands.

Digital is a gift because it allows people to seek out our brands whenever and wherever they are.

Digital is a gift in the way it allows people to become vocal advocates of our brands, sharing their experiences with friends and strangers alike. It provides an easy path from purchaser to influencer – who themselves can spread word of your brand to dozens, hundrends or even thousands.

Digital is a gift because it keeps us honest. It has shifted to power from the advertiser to the consumer, and the consumer isn’t afraid to call us out very directly and very publically when we let them down – and they have the tools to do it. So it helps keep us focused on better advertising, better marketing, better service, and better business practices overall.

And digital is a gift because it gives us as the opportunity as professionals to continue to learn, explore, experiment and improve our craft. It can be daunting, and sometimes exhausting, but the ever-changing shape of digital requires that we remain perpetual students of ways people use technology and the tools and methods at our disposal to reach them. And we should feel fortunate for that, because, to paraphrase my client, we don’t want to spend the rest of our careers doing the same old thing campaign after campaign, do we?

Referral Traffic - Social Media vs. GoogleRecently it’s been reported that, for a number of popular web sites, social media now drives more traffic than Google.

Presumably, if that’s true for the sites listed in the report, brands like Comedy Central, Etsy, NFL.com and Netflix, then it’s probably true for a lot of other web sites. And beyond links to specific URLs, it could be a sign that traffic other pages featuring products, not just specific web sites, could be shifting from Google and other search engines toward social media.

That’s interesting and all, but what does it mean? And why does it matter, really? Here are a few thoughts:

1. Social media referrals demonstrate the power of influencers.

The power of influencers in driving traffic

With the rise of the web and search engines, consumers have been given the unprecedented ability to seek out what they want, when they want it. But search is a solitary pursuit – no one else but the search engine is involved. And marketers using search as a traffic driving tool are really only reaching people one at a time. But in social media, referrals are often more, well, social. They are part of conversations, often among large groups of people. So for each person that offers a link to your brand as part of a conversation, or status update, or “Like”, dozens, hundreds or thousands of people can see it. That person becomes a potential influencer who can spread the word about your brand pretty quickly and effectively.

2. Links from social media often comes with endorsement.

Endorsement in Social Media

Whether stated explicitly or suggested, links in social media often come with some form of endorsement. Perhaps it’s one friend suggesting a product to another. Or someone expressing enthusiasm for a brand in a status update. Or someone else sharing a link to digital content on Facebook or Twitter, along with comments like “This video rocks”, “I love these” or “I want one”. It could even be expert or peer-to-peer advice on a discussion forum or within a blog. An objective viewpoint recommending your content or your product has a far more personal touch, and potentially more influence, than a list of search results.

3. Social media traffic is driven by personal knowledge.

Search engines really know very little about you, other than the keywords of your search and perhaps your location. But in an online social setting, interests, situation and even personality, are factors in the referral process. Whether is it a friend sharing a link, or as part of a conversation, or even as a Facebook ad served up based on keywords in a user’s profile, the link has more personal relevance because it takes into account the interests and personalities of the sharer or the viewer. Particularly in online conversations, referrals are more relevant because live people, not search algorithms, have incorporated them into the context of their conversations. A real person has offered the information, so the level of trust in the link increases.

So what should marketers do about this?

It’s clear that social media is growing as an increasingly powerful tool to drive traffic to many brands. For marketers, an obvious first step is to be present in the social web. If you aren’t there, then there isn’t a lot you can do to help drive traffic.

But beyond that, marketers need to really begin to concentrate on Social Media Optimization, or SMO. Much the same way that brands have been focusing on SEO – search engine optimization – over the past decade or so, SMO needs to become a mainstay of a brand’s marketing mix. Now. Otherwise, traffic from social sites is left entirely up to chance.

Coca-Cola Push Play Status Update

Whether or not your brand is ready to participate fully in the conversations of the social web, it’s hard to ignore social media as a traffic driver. And as a traffic driver, it’s time for brands to begin taking it as seriously as search. Who knows? For your brand, it could be even more important than Google. Imagine that.

As Chief Digital Officer for a leading creative agency who professes a strong technology bent I’m often faced with a dilemma.  My job demands that I immerse myself into emerging media and technology.  But how deep should I dive into new technology in my PERSONAL life?  If I adopted every new toy that came along I wouldn’t have time for new innovation — let alone finding time for my wife and kids.  Curiosity drives me to try just about every new thing that comes along (remember Plinky and now more recently RockMelt).  And in most cases, I’ll quickly assess the viability as a marketing tool and then move onto the next thing.

Occasionally, as is the case with LinkedIn, blogging and Twitter, I’ll wholeheartedly adopt new technology for my work, as well as my personal life.  And when I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy about something (MySpace), I’ll shut it down.  But Facebook is different.   Giving up on a platform that has changed the online marketing world forever?

And so I’ve wrestled with this question all year: How can I give up on Facebook, and still claim that I’m on the cutting edge?    When my job is to council clients on the merits of using platforms like this for their brands?

In the end, I’ve decided that as a Facebook user for years I have a deep appreciation for the platform and the power that it has as a communications tool — for people as well as brands.  But as our agency embarks on a renewed commitment to innovation, I need time.  I need time to explore what’s new.  I need time to discover what the next Facebook will be.  I owe it to our clients.  I owe it to the agency.  And I owe it to myself.  So I’m saying goodbye to some things that just aren’t feeling right for me personally - including Facebook.

PS - If you take the time to check, I’ll still have my account.  Just in case.

The more time a visitor spends on your site, the more likely she is to buy. Carts experience the highest drop-off in the first two or three pages visitors see. Once they’re into the process, drop-off rates decline precipitously. To improve conversion rate, focus on providing relevant and persuasive content based on understanding visitor intent. Persuade on every page. Link pages together, in a step-by step-fashion, to guide visitors through the buying process. Hold their hands, and anticipate their every move. Make them feel comfortable and in control.

Here’s a list of eCommerce best practices we’ve curated from some recent reading:

1. Reduce the number of steps in the process. Combine the logical steps first (shipping and billing address information as an example). But don’t make brevity a goal in it of itself. Once the user completes the first page, they are invested in the process. Long forms at the front end result in higher abandonment rates. But once the user completes they first page, they are more likely to finish the job.

2. Manage the user’s expectations. Always let the user know where they are. Add visual process indicators to the checkout procedure. In addition, use headlines and breadcrumb navigation to show shoppers where they are. Page elements like large text headings and subheadings can help customers establish which page they are on and what the topic of the page is. Breadcrumb navigation helps customers establish how deep they are within the site structure and what is available to view before and after. Breadcrumbs and page headings have SEO benefits as well. If the process takes longer than 5 minutes, consider telling the user that as a courtesy.

3. Give them someone to call. Keep contact information prominent and include it on each page. Place a customer service phone number in a clearly visible location with the text “Prefer to order by phone?” to help decrease cart abandonment. Sites that provide this assurance perform better than those that don’t.

4. Let users easily modify contents. Keep the contents of the cart accessible and easy to find, so they can be changed along the way. Don’t just provide a link back to the cart. Visually show the cart–and its contents–at every step during the path to purchase.

5. Don’t require registration to checkout. This is difficult for some stores to implement because of the architecture their cart is built upon. However, if you have the ability to offer what is often called a “guest checkout” feature, you should do so.

6. Make the experience social. Incorporate user reviews through a tool like BazaarVoice. Products are 10% more likely to be purchased when accompanied by a user review. Port those reviews to your Facebook page and to retailer sites. Use Facebook Connect to make the process even more social. In addition, remember users when they come back. When someone returns—even as a guest—their cart should be waiting for them.  And don’t forget to remind users of abandoned carts via email or through your CRM program.

7. Make error messages clear. Red is the most common color for error messages. Target is a one color brand and still uses red in its error messages. Blue text with an alert icon could work just as well. Look at a couple different options and test them.

8. Clearly display your security and trust seals. Customer privacy concerns are paramount. Provide this assurance.

9. Only cross sell relevant products. Cross sell before the checkout process and after items have been added to the cart. Grouping products, showing related items and cross selling is important for customers and helps lower shopping cart abandonment rates.

10. Test, measure and refine. To a certain extent, every experience is unique. Test different combinations. Study user behavior. See which ones produce the best results. And make small changes based on what you learn.

Resources (these guys deserve all the credit)
• http://www.clickz.com/2245891
• http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/03/23/designing-for-the-user-experience-in-ecommerce/
• http://www.grokdotcom.com/2008/02/26/amazon-shopping-cart/
• http://www.getelastic.com/measuring-cross-sell-success/
• http://www.ecommnewz.com/2009/07/22/decrease-cart-abandonment-with-a-sturctured-checkout-process/
• http://www.searchmarketingstandard.com/tackling-the-shopping-cart-abandonment-rate
• http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/05/28/12-tips-for-designing-an-excellent-checkout-process/
• http://econsultancy.com/blog/1828-ten-ways-to-improve-online-checkouts
• http://www.elated.com/articles/10-ways-to-improve-your-store-checkout/