Facebook’s Branded Content Feature

In the past few weeks, Facebook rolled out it’s Branded Content feature to the public (beyond verified pages, which have had it for quite a while), allowing brands to co-brand content, view the ad’s analytics, and use the ad on their own channels. While this seems like a small victory, since brands could always tag each other in posts, it’s actually pretty big for brand partnerships and influencer marketing.

Many industries, from beauty brands to beverage brands are utilizing the power of influencer marketing to get that extra boost from their influencers’ audiences. By adding that extra piece of co-branded content to the puzzle, co-branded content gives a sense of validity to the partnership, the way that blue check mark gives validity to someone users follow on their social channels. It also helps brands in making sure that the influencers that they’re paying for these partnerships are delivering, with more transparency into the performance of the posts. This rings true for brands partnering with other brands as well.

The Branded Content option on Facebook also helps facilitate easier partnerships between brands. It makes figuring out the logistics of who posts what and when easier, and what spend is going into the ad from each side as well. While the content itself doesn’t look much different, the performance insights behind branded content are more robust, which is important when working outside of your own channels. Having this data can help determine the value of the partnership and whether it’s worth continuing in the future. While there can be additional benefits to brand partnerships to what you can visibly see in the analytics, it’s a good piece of data to have access to. The Branded Content feature is simply added value to the success metrics you would be looking at anyways.

While Facebook’s Branded Content feature isn’t the most innovative feature Facebook has rolled out, considering it’s lack of new ad design features, it will be interesting to see both how brands continue to use it to their benefit and how Facebook will add on to it moving forward.


The Benefits of a Social Media ROI Dashboard

Depending on what size company you are, and what your budget is, you might have all sorts of tools and dashboards you’re using, especially if you’re tracking multi-media results. But if you’re a company that is focused on social efforts, and trying to answer the age-old question “What is my social ROI?” you absolutely need a social media analytics dashboard. A lot of companies struggle to track this, and leave social ROI to metrics that don’t strictly correlate such as improvements on social pages, which a lot of C-suite members may find hard to really see that value. But if you use a dashboard tying your various metrics together, you can actually track profit/revenue/ROI. The next question is, “What should this dashboard entail?”

A social media ROI dashboard that is successful should be able to pull in data from three places: Your social networks (using the Facebook API, Pinterest API, etc), Google Analytics, and from your on-site revenue. This could be anything from DFP ad revenue if you’re an online publisher to tracking through to a sale on site if you’re in e-commerce. If you’re involved in other media, or any sort of content discovery platform like Taboola or Outbrain, it should be customized to pull those in as well, but for now let’s talk about social. Whether you’re building your dashboard in-house, or using a third-party vendor, you need to set up a tracking system with each of your posts, that allows both the API and Google Analytics to recognize what this is so the data can match up in your dashboard. The easiest way to do this is to match your Campaign and Ad names in Facebook to your UTM code in Google Analytics. Or just have a smart engineer that can set up rules in way that the dashboard can match the two together. Then the dashboard will pull in any revenue on-site from that specific link with its UTM code, and you’ll have the data you need.

social-roiNow, while you can try and put a value on X amount of followers or Y amount of engagement on social, why not actually trace your spend on social back to the true on-site profit you’re then making from those social audiences? If you pull in the data from the Big 3, as we’ll call them, you’ll be able to concretely say that those three ads you ran, or even those three organic posts, garnered a specific amount of profit. By pulling in the Big 3, the dashboard will be able to tell you how much you spend on an ad or post (so it may be $0 if organic), but then also how much you made from on-site revenue.

The dashboard will also help you make smart decisions with your ads, since you’ll have more information than just CPC. You’ll be able to like at on-site eCPM, PV/S, ROI%, and more, so you’ll more accurately see what’s causing an increase or decline in your ad’s performance. Is it due to what’s happening on Facebook? Or has there been a shift in PV/S? If it’s PV/S is this happening site-wide? Or maybe eCPMs are going down on the site? Previously you might have made decisions purely based on CPC — if CPC went up $0.02, you might shut down that ad. But now you have a dashboard telling you that despite the CPC increase, you’re actually still making a profit, because PV/S and eCPMs are also going up. So you’d be able to see the actual profit, and the reason why your ad is still doing well despite an increase in CPC. Now you have concrete evidence for social success, and support from additional ROI metrics as well.

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This dashboard can also help with those other areas of performance, because if your eCPMs are down, you can talk to the sales/advertising team to find out why, and if your PV/S are down, it may be a content issue (and of course it can worth the other way as well). So this can help with cross-team communication and productivity by having these different efforts working together. By having all of this information in one place, you can not only increase your social productivity, but your social profitability as well. And who doesn’t want that?

4 LinkedIn Tips for the Lazy User

Man yawning in the office

LinkedIn seems pretty self-explanatory, right? You pretty much add your resume, connect with a few people, and maybe at some point it’ll be useful for a job search. But what happens if you just let it sit there and do the work for you? The answer is… nothing. So you may get a few views here or there, but it won’t really work to your advantage. So without paying for that premium profile, what can you do to get seen? Even if you don’t want to put in a ton of effort, there are a few things you can do to make your LinkedIn profile work for you:

  1. The more you’re active on it, the more people will view your profile. This doesn’t even need to mean you have to post all the time (although that certainly helps). Your activity could include a tweak to your profile, adding other connections, or even just looking at other people’s profiles! If they’re like most curious people, when you show up as one of the people who has viewed their profile, they’ll want to see who exactly you are. You never know what that might result in. If you want to be a bit more ambitious, try these 5 IFTTT recipes as well.
  2. The more you connect with people, the more it seems to come back your way. DO NOT spam people, but look for people in your industry that could be strong connections down the line. While 500+ connections looks pretty good on a profile, you want to go with quality over quantity. Be strategic with your connections, and find people who are influencers in your industry, or are even at your level, in order to gain additional insights into industry trends. Most people will accept an invitation if you work in similar areas, even if you don’t know them. Leverage these connections to learn more about the industry, and even about job opportunities down the line. Still a little nervous about reaching out to people you don’t know? You can import email contacts, connect with people at your company (which, depending on its size can be A LOT of people), and even connect with friends! You never know who their connections are.
  3. SEO, SEO, SEO! I would hope you know to include keywords in your profile, and make that profile fairly scannable, but if you’re the lazy user that’s reading this, then perhaps not. Potential employers and recruiters use keyword searches to find their employee, so make sure your profile matches the terms (and potentially job titles) you want to be searched for. You don’t have to include paragraphs upon paragraphs of past work experience, just make sure the right kind of experience is listed.
  4. Including work samples (or “media“) on your profile also help someone who’s simply scanning see what you’ve accomplished. Especially if it’s something you’ve published, someone can click right through to see your work. Especially if you don’t have a separate portfolio or blog (which is also a good idea), this is a great way to highlight your greatest hits.

Try these 4 steps to get started. That shouldn’t be too much for you 😉

Is Social Media Big Brother?

Social media transparency. facebook-big-brother-is-watchingA phrase we’re seeing pop up more and more as it seems that it is in fact less and less visible in our social world. Facebook’s smartphone app can listen in on your calls, most social networks have the ability to track your location (luckily usually only with an opt-in), and now Facebook will now use your browsing history to target ads. Let’s not even get started on how the government uses social media to monitor potential threats (although this one may actually be a good thing depending on who you ask). In this day and age of easy-access information via the Internet, and now even more-so through social media, do social networks have the potential to land us in a Big Brother society? Because if “Big Brother is watching you” is the mantra of that terrifying Orwellian society, aren’t we in a way already there?

The social world leaves us always connected, always on, but it also leaves us very visible and easily monitored. The question is, should this bother us? Don’t we know what we’re getting ourselves into when we tweet our every whim and desire? Don’t we know that the most minute details can leave us vulnerable to someone preying on that information. We should, but most people don’t. Users feel entitled to be able to partake in any activities online, without the consequences. This often leads to cyber-bullying as social networks ironically not only put us on the map, but if navigated carefully, we can be on the map while remaining anonymous as well. People are so caught up in this paradoxical world of anonymity and exposure, caught in the middle of this confusion over how to approach social networks, privacy, and transparency.

Countries like China air on the Big Brother side for sure with heavy censorship of some of the major websites and social networks, while Europe is actually trying to make amends for over-access to information by allowing people to submit a form to have sensitive information removed from Google. But where do we draw the line with this? How much information should be safe from the world (for example where criminals are concerned)? Should people have to accept there are consequences for capturing stupid behavior on social media? Is there a time limit where people should no longer have to be haunted by their social past? These are all questions that arise as individual social network activity continues to move into a more monitored sphere. Companies can sell information collected from social data. Programs  can predict your next move based on your social footprint. Should we fear that we’ll end up in some dystopian universe like Minority Report? Advertisers can already predict our next move, so who’s to say it won’t move beyond that? How much are they really telling us about where they’re getting their information and what they’re doing with it? Where’s the line? What do you think are some social network’s policies that cross it?

OMMA Social

When OMMA Social (part of #IWNY) started off discussing the infamous “Dunk in the Dark” real-time marketing success, the first thought that came to mind was, “This is going to be a long day.” Talk about a case study that has been beaten to death. While this particular example did come up a few times, I was in luck that there were in fact fresh insights and lively discussions taking place throughout the day. There was a lot of great stuff that happened, so here are just some of the highlights from the bigger panels:

Connection Conundrum: Is FFacebook-Reachacebook Reach Worth Paying For? Touched upon the topic that’s been on many a social media marketer’s mind since Facebook changed its algorithm and organic reach has declined. Some interesting points and questions that came up:

  • Facebook may no longer be targeted towards the mass audience, but more so the micro audience. So it’s actually giving you what you need, even if it isn’t what you want. It’s also keeping users from being spammed. Facebook is trying to anticipate what users want to see, and minimizing organic reach helps filter that out. Focus on hyper-targeting the right people to maximize your spend. Smart targeting is the smart solution for a limited Facebook budget.
  • If you take a quality piece of content that already does well organically and amplify that, then you’re likely to get more bang for your buck.
  • Be effective on the newsfeed, with mobile that’s all there is, and Facebook is increasingly moving in that direction.
  • With Facebook, expect the unexpected. They like to keep marketers on their toes. That being said, a strong team will be able to overcome curveballs thrown their way. Talent over tools.
  • And remember kiddos, Facebook is a business too. You may not like it, but they need a profitable business model as well.

Social ROI: If “Likes” and Followers Don’t Matter, What Does? Didn’t stray too far from this typical question, but some interesting points to keep in mind were:

  • Social ROI depends on what your brand’s goals are: driving traffic vs. community growth vs. sales, etc.
  • Does reach matter if no one’s clicking. It was astutely pointed out that the Reach metric on Facebook is actually Potential Reach. Only the social channels themselves know who actually viewed your content. Therefore, are we holding reach in too high esteem?
  • You can’t rely on click data alone. The metrics need to be able to provide a 360 perspective.
  • The social media industry is maturing enough to say, “OK we have engagement, what then?”
  • We have to go from vanity metrics to active metrics to ROI.
  • It should never be a pure numbers game. Sentiment around the brand can help drive offline ROI. Social needs to be one piece of the whole.
  • Many brands feel the need to be everywhere on social instead of focusing on where their audience is.
  • Building communities is hard. Buying campaigns is easy.

nativeadvertisingIs the Future of Social One Big Native Ad (and Vice Versa)? Contemplated the future of advertising amidst the integrated user experience:

  • “Social media is like the Wild Wild West.”
  • You may not like it, but native advertising is the lesser of two evils when compared with display advertising.
  • Owned. Earned. Paid. Social media’s version of “Blurred Lines.”
  • “The legal department is where good ideas go to die.” Just got a kick out of that, as we joke about that at About.com. The comeback was “Dated measurement is where good ideas go to die.” Zing.
  • Inject your brand into social discourse, but do it tastefully.
  • As much as it’s annoying to keep coming back to the same case study, Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” tweet did get 15k RT, and paired with the well-placed accompanying ads, it’s still being talked about for a reason. It was the breakthrough for this kind of marketing.
  • It’s the brands that already have an always-on strategy that are best set up for real-time marketing, BUT is it sustainable? You get big hits with real-time but evergreen content is important for social media strategy as well.

Ephemeral and Anonymous Social Networks: Nightmare for Brands or Undiscovered Opportunity? Besides having an awesome name, this panel discussed apps like Secret, Whisper, and Snapchat, and what these mean for marketing:

  • It seems people use privacy based social platforms to pretty much stay away from everything brands try to use social for. However, while your brand may have no place trying to reach consumers there, you can still listen to try and capture sentiment around your brand or relevant topics, and what your audience’s needs and desires are.
  • These “privacy” based platforms still capture customer data. You’re never REALLY anonymous on social. Anonymous networks provide the illusion of privacy.
  • When users are anonymous are the insights deeper because they’re more willing to share, or are they more ruthless because people don’t have to stand behind what they say? Authenticity is really just a perception (and perhaps relevance is too). When YouTube forced real-name usage for comments via Google+ the quality of comments went up, resulting in lower spam and less trolls.
  • Is it so bad it content disappears and doesn’t live on? Brands are terrified of Snapchat because successes won’t be able to be recorded and bragged about later. Can you blame us for wanting our legacy to live on though?

So there you have it – some insights, questions, and arguable points from #MPOMMA. Check out the hashtag to see the tweets that accompanied the conversations. And we’re out!

SoLoMo…Still Sexy?

solomoSocial, Local, Mobile…SoLoMo, a social media trend that seemed to be popping up all over the place in 2013, but is it still going strong? The answer appears to be, yes. Some social media trends come and go, but SoLoMo, at least for now, is here to stay, and is only getting sexier for marketers. From small to big business, everyone has been jumping on the mobile marketing bandwagon, and those who have failed to make the leap are missing out. Mobile is not only predicted to overtake desktop Internet usage this year, but 4 out of 5 consumers use their smartphones to shop as well! That’s a huge market to be missing out on if you’re not on board. Now most marketers are rolling their eyes, as this is probably information you already know give or take a specific statistic. So the question is, how can SoLoMo specifically take your mobile marketing to the next level?

What makes the concept of SoLoMo so sexy to marketers is the fact that you can grab people basically through every means of marketing. You have them wherever they are, but also near where YOU are. You can grab their attention through their everyday lives both on their device and in their actual path of migration through promotions that bring them to you physically, albeit initially capturing their attention digitally. pullingstringsThey want to be able to have you at the touch of their fingertips, and in doing so you can then pull their strings from the tips of yours through SoLoMo. Add in the “So” element of social media, and you’re golden. You’ve captured them through their means of entertainment, communication, daily routine, and social life. You’ve permeated pretty much every aspect of their world. Well done you saucy marketer you.

Now of course that is just the most basic level of it. To actually make this work you must integrate seamlessly between these different channels. Do you first catch their eye with a native mobile ad? Or do you start with a social media promotion that leads them to a mobile optimized page? Where does the local part fit in? Do you have a QR code on the mobile page that users can then go scan at X location for a discount or exclusive offer? The strategy behind SoLoMo is where the challenge lies. Assume your consumers are lazy – how can you get that last person to move from their phone and into your shop? Or to pick your brand out from the masses? How do you make your SoLoMo marketing actually appeal to the consumer?

Here are a couple case studies showing how both SMBs and more recognizable brands can capitalize on this marketing tactic:

  • Coffee Klatch, a small local coffee shop in
    Southern California with four locations, ran a FourSquare (the platform king of location-based marketing) promotion, where consumers checked-in to receive special offers, supported by in-shop screens highlighting the offer. The promotion drove friendly competition, an in increase word-of-mouth (which as we know in social is a top referrer), and visible online recommendations.
  • Pose, a fashion app that has exploded over the last couple of years, uses SoLoMo to both promote other brands and the app itself. Pose encourages users to upload and share their fashion pics (social/mobile), Instagram style, but then seamlessly weaves in promoted posts in-stream as well, as in the case with its July 2013 ad campaign with Juicy Couture Fragrances. While still missing the local part, Mashable points out that “geolocation presents another option for companies that want to target consumers that live in certain urban markets or near its stores.” And therein lies the “Lo” and the potential to do big things with a local touch.

Brands are more and more frequently hopping on the SoLoMo idea with geo-locational promotions that you can download through apps such as Scoutmob, Groupon Now, and more, of course often with the social element attached. Facebook ConnectWith the popularity of SoLoMo only continuing on the rise as our world continues to digitalize and mobilize, we can expect to see brands continuing to shift towards this mode of marketing, while more and more platforms and apps compete to be the resource used for these campaigns. The opportunities are endless for reaching consumers when you have both the mobile and physical (brick-and-mortar) realms to work with. So the real question is, what trend will come along to trump SoLoMo?

The Newsjack Hack

As real-time marketing has continued to explode ever since Oreo took over the 2013 SuperBowl during the blackout, newsjacking has been right by its side as a social media marketing tactic that capitalizes on relevant news: i.e. what is happening NOW. “Why should I care?” is becoming less of a question as marketers are finding ways to relate their marketing to what people DO care about. newsjackWhile newsjacking doesn’t have to be quite in real-time, the more relevant, the more effective it is. After all, you want to “ride the popularity wave” of a story before it crashes. What is essential however is that it has to appear seamless and fit in with the story naturally.

One way you can implement this marketing tactic is by linking your marketing to a trending topic. Twitter is a great social network for using this tactic, since it always has a stream of trending hashtags and there are many tools you can use to find which hashtags are trending within your demographic. Right now #OlympicPickupLines is trending, for example, and if you have a product that you can tie in (perhaps something that you can tie to Olympic sports, flirting, dating, sex, or something creative that has nothing to do with either the Olympics or pickup lines and you’re just brilliantly witty), you can expand your post visibility without having to resort to any sort of promoted posts or other paid Twitter advertising.

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While Twitter provides probably the easiest platform for newsjacking, brands have been able to implement it in their email marketing, blogs, actual ads, and other social networks. From well-known brands such as Spirit Airlines to charities such as Save the Children, many have been able to use newsjacking to their content marketing advantage, taking their marketing to the next level.

Newsjacking can also be used for B2B marketing as well, especially when asserting your expertise in a particular space. Social media professionals use this tactic often, inserting their voice into webinars, tweetups, etc. since the nature of the profession often ensures that those with similar interests will be involved in those conversations. This week I have been unable to attend #SMWNYC events live due to a busy work week, but through following specific hashtags and luckily catching some livestream events, I have been able to inject myself into conversations and act as a fairly active voice, despite not being present. As long as your posts pertain to the topic of discussion, and you respond only after active listening, you can become an organic presence in the conversation.

While newsjacking is a fairly easy way to tie your message to a topic with more traffic, it takes careful skill, setup, and precautions must be made:

  • Depending on your brand, you may want to check with your legal department before jumping on a trending hashtag’s bandwagon on Twitter, as it may “belong” to another brand/company, and they may ask you to take your posts down.
  • Be wary of tying into controversial or devastating
    news unless you have a very well-thought out plan to do so (perhaps as a publicity stunt). While it may make sense, for example, as an insurance company to tie your posts to reports of the temperamental winter storms that have been striking this winter, and illustrating how you can help, you are opening your brand up for potential backlash and outrage at exploiting the devastating effects the storms have caused.

Newsjacking is a great way to convert your target demographic’s interests into increased traffic for your brand, and is also an excellent tactic for potentially reaching new demographics that you wouldn’t otherwise reach. By tagging onto something people are already looking to because they find it interesting, you can then make them interested in what you have to share as well.