Super Social Bowl 2013

Following last year’s Super Bowl, I wrote about some of social media’s impact on the big game as well as the greatly hyped commercials.  I didn’t intend to write a similar post this year, but there were some interesting developments that provided inspiration.

As happened last year, many of the ads were leaked in advance of the game to build awareness and hype.  Did that strategy work?  Perhaps, but it’s often a double-edged sword.  Think of it in terms of getting presents for a holiday or your birthday.  You’re most excited when you first realize what the gift is.  If you happen to find out in advance, that is when the biggest impact is made.  As the chart below suggests, ads leaked in advance didn’t generate the biggest ratings.  Not that this is different than “viewer favorite” polls.

Super Bowl XLVII commercials, Ratings, Super Bowl Commercials 2013

25 Super Bowl XLVII commercials with the biggest TV audiences, according to Kantar Media

Doritos aired spots that were voted on in advance via Facebook.  Another one of the interesting commercials this year was from Coke – not because it was a creative masterpiece, but because it was a two-part commercial with the second spot dependent on audience voting and engagement throughout the evening.  If you’d like a glimpse into a “social media war room” I’d encourage you to read this article from Ad Age.

Beyonce’s halftime show was a spectacle with viewers split on how good (or poor) it was.  These armchair entertainment critics took to Facebook and Twitter to share their opinions, pro or con.  And just as viewers put their cell phones and tablets away to concentrate on the second half of the game, the now infamous power outage occurred.

As CBS scrambled to make sense of the blackout, many viewers returned to social media for their entertainment.  This is when social media surpassed television for the Super Bowl advertising I’ll remember the most.

Savvy brands seized the moment to create memorable social media posts about the blackout, including Oreo, Audi and Tide.  The one for Oreo received 15,830 re-tweets and 5,918 favorites.  That’s phenomenal free exposure that lasted well-beyond the 30-second spots selling for $3.8 Million.

If there were any ads you’d like to re-watch, or some that you missed entirely, you can view them in one spot here thanks to Ad Age.  Which ads were your favorite this year?

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Is Social Media Right For Your Business?

I recently consulted with a business regarding their various marketing needs.  One of the topics we discussed was social media.  After our initial consultation, they decided to hold-off on moving forward with social media for a few reasons/concerns.  I hear these a lot, so I thought I’d share them (and my opinion) with my readers.

“I’m not sure I’ll do it correctly.”  While it’s not super-complicated, there is a marketing science (and etiquette) to using social media correctly.  In a nutshell . . . you need to determine if your customers are using social media, what platforms they engage in and what their expectations are.  You need to determine goals and objectives for your social media and create a strategy/plan to meet those objectives.  You’ll also need to determine what metrics you’ll use to evaluate your strategy.

“I’m not sure it will pay off.”  If you’re expecting an immediate and significant boost in sales by suddenly engaging in social media, you will likely be disappointed.  Social media is more about relationship and community building, interacting with customers and a gradual build.  It’s about sharing and providing something of value.  It’s about the art of attraction.  It’s not a soapbox to promote your business with 90%+ of your posts.

“I’m not sure I’ll be able to generate content.”  Don’t let that stop you! Chances are, if you Google the product or service you sell, you’ll find millions of hits on that search.  Which is a good article?  Which is a trusted source?  Use your industry knowledge and experience to become an information filter for your audience.  That filtering of quality information provides value, builds trust and attracts others.  Over time, it positions you as someone with subject matter expertise.

Is social media right for your business?  It can be, if you use it correctly (or hire someone who does).

Twitter Players

If you’re on Twitter, chances are, something similar has happened to you. . .

You receive a notification that you have a new follower.  You view this person’s Twitter account and see that he/she has 4-5x as many followers as they are following.  In other words, 20,000 people follow this person’s Twitter account yet he/she is only following 4,000 people.  A few initial thoughts may pop into your head:

  1. Wow, this person must be really popular – look how many followers they have!
  2. Wow, this person must be really exclusive – he/she doesn’t follow too many people back!
  3. Wow, what am I tweeting about to catch such a popular and exclusive Twitter user’s eye?

If you’ve been on Twitter long enough, chances are you no longer have those thoughts but view your latest follower with a somewhat more suspicious and skeptical eye.  Chances are, someone with such a large follower:following ratio is only adding you to pad his/her numbers.  Chances are, someone like that will unfollow you within a few days or weeks.

How do I know?  I check my account regularly using a free app called SocialBro.  I run the app a few times each week and it lets me know who my recent unfollows are.  When I view their profile summary in the app, I can see how recently they added me and visa-versa.  I’d estimate that 95% of the time, my unfollows are people I never followed-back for various reasons.  The other 5% are from “Twitter Players” – those who clearly view Twitter as a numbers game and put quantity ahead of quality.  Apparently, they never read my post on why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.  When this happens, I immediately unfollow “the Player.”

If you’re not familiar with SocialBro, I’d encourage you to check it out.  As a “research guy” I find a lot of their analytics, trending and filtering interesting. How about you?  Do you watch your Twitter account that closely?  What apps do you use to monitor your account?

What’s For Dessert This Thanksgiving?

As the American Thanksgiving holiday quickly approaches, there’s word that an increasing number of retailers will open that day for holiday shoppers this year.  Thanksgiving used to be immune from the craziness of holiday shopping.  Not any more and consumers are to blame.

Not too long ago, retailers were closed on Thanksgiving Day.  Many would open early the following morning (known as Black Friday) with special deals.  Over the years, that early opening would start even earlier as retailers wanted to get a jump on their competition.  You didn’t have to be Nostradamus to see the writing on the wall that one day, a few retailers would cross the midnight threshold.

The trend started last year, as some retailers tested the waters of opening on Thanksgiving Day instead.  For the most part, and to my personal displeasure, that test was a success.  As a result, the door has opened a little further and more retailers are planning to open on Thanksgiving Day; some with offers that are exclusive to Thursday.  Other retailers won’t open their brick and mortar locations, but will have special online details in place.

Guess what?  More consumers will embrace the sales this year and next year the door will open yet a little more.  Slowly but surely, the sales-happy consumers in this country will send a message to retailers that it’s okay to open on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving might just be my favorite holiday of the year.  I love what it stands for and I love the family traditions that revolve around it.  I have no plans to reward retailers who choose to open on the holiday, even if they try to entice me with a 70-inch LED television for next to nothing.

How about you?  Will you be enjoying apple or pumpkin pie for dessert, or running to your local mall (or computer) to shop instead?

Five Reasons Why Job Seekers Must Blog

Looking for work is a full-time job but with a horrible “paycheck.”  I know first-hand, as I’ve previously spent an extended period of time looking for work.  I’ve often been asked, “if you knew then what you know now, what would you do differently?”

To this day, my answer is always . . . . blog.  When I was unemployed, I had dozens of people suggest to me that I should blog.  At the time, I had my excuses crafted:  I don’t have time, I don’t know what to write, it will detract from more important job search tasks, people won’t find value in what I have to say, etc., etc.

Since I’ve successfully navigated those waters, I can say from personal experience, these are five reasons that job seekers must blog:

  1. Improve Visibility & SEO.  You need to be active and visible if you want to be found.  While Google will find your LinkedIn profile, it simply isn’t enough.  SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization (improving the natural or “organic” way your site is found via search engines like Google or Bing).  Add to your digital footprint and improve your SEO by creating and maintaining a blog.  Google ♥ blogs because it’s fresh content.
  2. Exemplify Subject Matter Expertise.  What if your resume or LinkedIn profile isn’t read?  What if it’s read, but your expertise doesn’t come across?  Having a blog allows you to demonstrate your subject matter expertise with each post.  Repetition demonstrates your experience and knowledge.
  3. Demonstrate Personality.  By writing a blog, your personality comes through.  Readers get a sense of your style, your passion, your humor.  It takes what’s typically a very 2-D digital footprint and transforms it into 3-D.
  4. Personal Branding & Differentiation.  Most LinkedIn profiles look alike, aside from a few differentiators.  Since you can only customize your LinkedIn profile to a very limited extent, writing a blog allows you to creatively market yourself.  Open jobs often receive hundreds of applicants.  How can you stand out from the competition?  Try blogging!
  5. Proactively Share SCAR/STAR Stories.  A common interviewing strategy is to share a SCAR (“Situation/Challenge/Action/Result”) or STAR (“Situation/Tactic/Action/Result”) Story with the interviewer to demonstrate your experience, problem solving ability and value to the organization.  That’s great, but you need to get the interview in order to tell that story, right?  Not if you have a blog!  SCAR/STAR Stories can be great fodder for blog posts.

And, if you’d like a bonus reason, creating and maintaining a blog gives you the added skill sets of writing, content management, web development, marketing/promotions, publishing and social media!

Is blogging time consuming?  Yes, but make the time – it’s worth it!  Will people find value in what you have to say?  Yes, you’ll be surprised!  If your goal is to be found, be viewed as an industry expert, show some personality and differentiate yourself from the competition, then you must blog!

Networking When You Least Expect It

“Always be prepared” is the famous motto of the Boy Scouts, but it also applies to networking.  You’ll be able to seize an opportunity no matter when or where it presents itself, if you’re prepared.

I recently co-hosted a birthday party for my youngest child at a local indoor play center.  My wife was asked to wear a name tag for security purposes so one of us would be immediately recognizable to staff and parents.  While watching the kids enjoy the various inflatables, a parent from another birthday party recognized our last name and asked her if she was related to me.  When my wife confirmed it, this person shared that she’s seen my posts and activity in many locations, especially on LinkedIn.

She then brought her over to introduce her to me and we were able to chat for a few minutes while our kids were engrossed in a climbing maze.  It turns out we had many common connections in our networks.  She’s the president of a recruiting company in Rochester, NY and I continue to run social media for The August Group which facilitates networking opportunities for those looking for work.  It was a great professional connection to make when I was least expecting it!  We both had business cards with us and each of us listened (above the joyful screams of playing children) to how we could help the other.

Most people can prepare in advance of a scheduled networking event by bringing business cards, rehearsing an elevator speech and/or identifying key attendees he/she would like to meet.  But are you prepared for that chance encounter that can happen anytime, anywhere?  If not, it could be a golden opportunity that slips through your fingers.

Looking back on your professional networking, what were the most unusual circumstances surrounding a connection you made when you were least expecting it?

6 Ways To A More Contact-Friendly LinkedIn Profile (Part 2)

In the first part to this post, I covered three areas you can and should update to make it easier for people to contact you on LinkedIn.  If you haven’t read that post yet, I encourage you to do so now, as it contains an important overview on where to check/change your various profile settings and preferences.

The first three are in the prior post, so let’s jump right into areas four, five and six of your profile that you can change to make it easier for others to contact you on LinkedIn:

4)  Do you have groups displayed?  You don’t need to display all groups that you belong to, but you should display a few core groups.  Select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Helpful Links:  Edit Your Profile.”  Scroll down to the groups section on your profile.  Next to each of the groups you belong to should be a link for “change visibility.”  If you click on that link, it will bring you to the “your settings” page for that group.  The first setting is visibility (the red highlighted box in the screen capture below).  Select or deselect accordingly.

5)  Do you allow group members to contact you?  If groups are moderated well, spam shouldn’t be an issue.  If it is, notify the group manager or leave the group.  If you’re open to being contacted for the opportunities you’ve specified, this is the easiest way to facilitate that.  Follow the steps outlined in the previous point and review the settings in the green highlighted box of the screen capture above.

6)  You can always add contact information to your summary.  Select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Helpful Links:  Edit Your Profile.”  Scroll down to the Summary Section of your profile and click the edit link.  You can add contact information as part of your summary should you so choose.  The advantage is someone will still have your contact information even if they don’t share group membership with you.  However, depending on your personal preference, that could be a disadvantage.  Adding contact information here is somewhat controversial among LinkedIn “experts.”

What sections of your LinkedIn profile have you improved as a result of this post or Part 1?  What other areas of your profile have you utilized to make it easier for others to contact you?

6 Ways To A More Contact-Friendly LinkedIn Profile (Part 1)

I’m actively recruiting LinkedIn members for a LinkedIn Group I created and manage.  It’s been an interesting endeavor, as some people have made it easy to be contacted and others have made it so challenging that I question their motives for having a LinkedIn profile.

Why do you have a LinkedIn profile?  Whatever your reason, do you hope to be contacted if someone finds your profile?  Do you make it easy for others to contact you, or have you created a challenge that will frustrate some and possibly risk missing a golden opportunity?

I’ve identified six areas of your profile that can be used to make it easier to be contacted by others.  To provide the necessary detail on where these areas are located and how you can change them, I’ll split this post into two parts.  Part 2 will be posted next week.

Before I explain the six areas to review, you need to be familiar with where you can change your account settings on LinkedIn.  There’s often more than one way to find the settings you need to check/change, but we’ll focus on this one method.  It’s in the pull-down menu next to your name in the upper right corner of your LinkedIn home page (see the red highlighted box in the screen capture below):

After selecting Settings in the drop-down menu, you’ll want to investigate each of the tabs in the red highlighted box (in the screen capture below) as the options appearing in the green highlighted box will change accordingly:

1.  Have you selected the types of messages you’re willing to receive?  You’ll find this by selecting Email Preferences (red highlighted box in the screen capture above), then select the first choice under the column for email.  It will give you a window that looks like this:

In the above screenshot, you’ll notice there are three areas that you can (and should) complete:  messages, opportunities, and advice.  Give some thought as to why you’re on LinkedIn and the opportunities you’re interested in being contacted for.  I recommend that you complete all three areas.  Under the advice section, you can put contact information if you so choose.

2)  Do you have websites listed?  Select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Helpful Links:  Edit Your Profile.”  Scroll down and make sure you include at least one website listed, especially if it will help someone find you (assuming you’re on LinkedIn to be found).  You can include up to three websites, so take advantage!

3)  Are you on Twitter?  If so, and as long as it’s appropriate to include on your professional LinkedIn profile, be sure to add your Twitter account and display it on your profile.  Once again, select settings in the drop-down menu next to your name in the upper right part of your home page.  Then go to Profile.  To the right you’ll see “Settings:  Manage Your Twitter Settings.”

In the second part to this post, I’ll cover groups and your profile summary.  Until then, how did you do on the first three areas?  Do you currently utilize them to make your profile more contact friendly?

Authenticity in Social Media

I intentionally try to avoid traditionally controversial subjects in my blog such as politics and religion to name a few.  I have other things I’d rather write about and want to keep my blog on more of a professional level than personal level.  I’d also rather not add fuel to the fire of a rumor.  So, it’s with some hesitation that I write this post.

I read an article on The Hill about Mitt Romney’s Twitter account that I thought was rather interesting.  Presidential candidates seemingly have everything scrutinized with a magnifying glass these days.  Someone noticed that Romney’s account, which had been averaging 3,000-4,000 new followers daily had suddenly picked up almost 100,000 followers in a two-day period.  And, this increase occurred without any significant change in his engagement with followers.  Immediately the speculation was that his campaign was buying Twitter followers.

This certainly is not very newsworthy, especially since it’s speculation at this point.  But fact or fiction, it is a great example of the importance that authenticity plays in social media.  In a previous post that still generates weekly views, I offered 3 reasons why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.

The number one reason I listed in that post is that when fans/followers can be bought, your authenticity comes into question.  Whether it’s a politician or a consumer brand, most people won’t tolerate a fake.  Engagement cannot happen with fans/followers who do not have a true interest, let alone may not exist in the first place.

Don’t just take my word for it.  A recent research study from About.com demonstrated that activity (i.e., engagement) on a Facebook page was a better indicator of trust than the number of “likes” a page had.  In fact, 84% said that being trustworthy is a requirement before interacting with a page or info source.

Again, fact or fiction, here’s a current reminder why quality is more important than quantity when it comes to social media.  What are your thoughts when it comes to authenticity in social media?