Archive for the ‘Promotions’ Category

Using Twitter for Marketing and PR: Do the Pros Practice What They Preach?

By Kent Huffman, Chief Marketing Officer at BearCom Wireless and Co-Publisher of Social Media Marketing Magazine

It seems that everyone claims to be a Twitter expert these days. Of course, most are not. But several of the real Twitter pros I know—including those who have written books about using Twitter as an effective marketing and public relations instrument—have figured out how to best leverage the 140-character microblogging tool to promote themselves, their books, their firms, and their clients. And some of them actually follow their own advice!

How Smart Marketing Book Authors Use Twitter

The Tao of TwitterFor example, Mark Schaefer of Schaefer Marketing Solutions is the author of the book The Tao of Twitter: Changing Your Life and Business 140 Characters at a Time. He and his firm provide affordable outsourced marketing support to address both short-term sales opportunities and long-term strategic renewal.

Mark uses Twitter to help deliver on that promise for a number of his blue-chip clients, including Nestle, AARP, Anheuser-Busch, Coldwell Banker, Scripps Networks, Keystone Foods, and the U.K. government. He also very effectively promotes himself and his book on Twitter as part of his own marketing, branding, and relationship-development strategy.

“I’ve literally built my business from networking on Twitter and connections from my blog,” Mark said. “That’s what most people miss. Twitter can be a powerful business networking platform. It’s so much more than ‘what you had for breakfast!’ ”

Hollis Thomases is the CEO of Web Ad.vantage. She is also the author of Twitter Marketing: An Hour a Day, a book that offers marketers, advertisers, brand managers, PR professionals, and business owners an in-depth guide to designing, implementing, and measuring the impact of using a complete Twitter strategy.

Hollis uses Twitter to generate qualified website traffic that gets converted into actions, leads, and sales for her clients, most of which are challenger brands or large non-profit organizations.

Much like Mark, Hollis’ strategy includes using Twitter as an effective promotional tool for her book and firm. She also leverages Twitter to expand her speaking engagement schedule, which features topics such as “Social Media 101,” “Twitter Automation,” and “Social Media Etiquette.”

And finally, Laura Fitton, co-author of Twitter for Dummies and founder/CEO of oneforty, has been an active Twitter user for some time. She has amassed approximately 80,000 followers and engages with them daily.

Laura’s firm helps people get started with Twitter, organize the chaos of their daily social media routines, and connect their social media efforts to their core business to drive ROI.

“The single most important thing is to make yourself useful, which you can do by curating great content, answering questions, shining a spotlight on others, and trying to turn everything inside-out to make it more about your readers,” noted Laura. “I tell people to ‘Listen. Learn. Care. Serve.’ (in that order), and then keep cycling through that process.”

Twitter’s Impact on How Journalists Search for SMEs

In an environment where fewer and fewer journalists are covering more and more stories than ever before, media members are increasingly taking a “don’t call us, we’ll call you” approach to finding sources and stories to cover. Rather than waiting around to be pitched by traditional PR reps, many media members are looking for their own sources—not only Google and HARO, but Twitter as well—to search for and connect with subject matter experts (SMEs). Book authors and other experts who have built digital platforms that showcase their credentials and provide valuable information on their topics have widened their nets to catch such queries on Twitter.

Beth Gwazdosky is the Vice President of Digital Marketing at Shelton Interactive, an Austin-based firm that works with its author clients to create social media and interactive marketing/PR strategies and platforms that generate attention—online and off. “We help our authors understand how best to use Twitter and other social media channels to stand out in this new environment,” said Beth. “Creating strategies to organically pull media hits, speaking opportunities, and client relationships has proven to be much more efficient than trying to pitch our way onto the air.”

So if you’re interested in promoting yourself, your book, your organization, or your clients, why not use Twitter to your advantage? But don’t jump in without a well-thought-out strategy. Pay attention to the real Twitter pros who are actually practicing what they preach, and then emulate their approach.

Turning Facebook “Likes” into More than Just Clicks

By Kelly Loubet, Social Media Consultant

Everyone knows that clicking the “like” button on a company’s Facebook page shows that company is increasing its fan base. But what happens after the click? For me, it’s often just that. A click. I’m sure I’m not alone. So how do brands turn a simple click into loyal relationship with consumers?

It all starts with engagement. If a brand can engage its audience, it’s on the right track. Being able to excite the fan base and get them to act is key in building a Facebook community. But in order to get them to act, there must be an exciting call to action. Contests, polls, and general questions encourage a sense of community. They’ve already acknowledged that they like the brand, now’s their chance to share their opinion.

In addition to a call to action, in order to engage the audience, a brand must also put out worthwhile content. Blog posts that both inform and entertain readers are a must. So many brands today are just putting out fluff pieces. Sure, these pieces of content keep their Facebook pages fresh, but audiences want something more. They want something they can relate to. A well-written post can be shared again and again across Facebook by loyal community members. Give them something worth sharing.

Finally, loyal community members want to be rewarded. Companies that find a way to give back to their fans have much more activity on their pages than brands who don’t engage. A simple “thank you” to fans when a certain milestone has been reached can go a long way: “Thank you to all our readers who helped us reach 10,000 fans. We couldn’t have done it without you and your input.” A message like this will prompt those who have been around from the beginning to comment and be proud of the community they helped to build.

Beyond words of thanks, giveaways are another nice way to show your community you’re happy to have them around. Brands might also consider a charity drive. Giving back always builds a sense of gratitude in people. Nothing builds community more than giving.

These are just some simple ideas that could be easily implemented with a dedicated team. Without a team willing to put the time in to keep the conversations going, it’s not going to work. Facebook is about people. It’s about relationships. No relationship grows without some cultivation.

If your brand is looking to step up your Facebook efforts, be sure you have the proper team in place. Soon enough, your Facebook community will be going beyond the “like.”

Bridging the Digital Gap with SnapTags

By Jeffrey Hayzlett, author of Running the Gauntlet: Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits

If you are a marketer, I can almost guarantee that one of your goals for 2012 is to figure out your mobile strategy. You’re not alone. Everyone is talking mobile, but very few have figured out how to integrate a mobile strategy into an existing marketing plan. I found an answer to this dilemma, and it’s called “SnapTags.”

SnapTags are similar to QR codes but way sexier, offering more options for the user and a wider reach (SnapTags have capabilities on 88% of mobile phones, compared to 13% with QR codes). I’m encouraging marketers to integrate SnapTags into all their existing marketing campaigns. It’s a low-cost solution that bridges the gap between your physical marketing campaigns and your mobile and digital marketing goals.

In my case, I’m using SnapTags in my new book, Running the Gauntlet: Essential Business Lessons to Lead, Drive Change, and Grow Profits. Readers can “snap” a SnapTag at the beginning of each of the 37 chapters to view the video that accompanies each section of the book. This creates a more personal connection with my readers, as they get to see and hear me introduce each chapter on their mobile phones! Plus—and this is the best part—the reader is provided with links to my Facebook and Twitter pages each time they “snap.” I’m bridging the gap between the physical book and the digital relationship I’m building with my readers through social media.

The advantage of this strategy is that your brand can create more than a simple piece of print media. SnapTags enhance simple print media to:

  • Forge a digital connection across social networks
  • Drive new customers through your digital sales funnel
  • Create a point of purchase through virtually any placement

Some of the largest brands in the world are already using SnapTags, like Bud Light and Coca-Cola. Most recently, SnapTags were deployed in the September issue of Glamour magazine, being featured on the cover and across both editorial and advertising pages. This campaign netted Glamour more than 100,000 consumer activations and more than 500,000 consumer interactions (includes scanning the codes with an app, texting a picture message, taking subsequent actions such as agreeing to “like” an advertiser or article, signing up for the deal or sweepstakes being offered, or sharing the offer with friends).

Mark my words—in 2012, mobile integration will play a critical role in your overall marketing plan. The key to bridging the gap between your traditional and digital marketing campaigns is the mobile device. SnapTags Founder and CEO, Nicole Skogg says, “In 2012, you will see shopping SnapTags create a new way for consumers to buy whenever and wherever they encounter a brand message. Anticipate seeing SnapTags in some transformative brand marketing campaigns.”

I’ve already integrated SnapTags into my big marketing campaign for 2012. Have you?

Freedom from Friends?

By Diane Hessan, President & CEO of Communispace and co-author of Customer-Centered Growth: Five Proven Strategies for Building Competitive Advantage

Would you post a Facebook status update containing your thoughts about innovative ideas for a brand? Most of us would not. But would you join a Facebook fan page to get a sneak preview of new offers from the brands you love? I bet you would.

Two recent studies from our research team help to shed light on this. In the first, we found that in the eyes of consumers, public venues are primarily for hearing from brands—and having their loyalty rewarded—whereas private communities are more conducive to advising them. In the second study, we found that participation rates in public social marketing sites still tend to follow the “90-9-1 Rule:” 1% of people create content, 9% respond to it, and 90% view the content without contributing. In contrast, participation rates (people creating content) in our private communities averaged 64% each month.

What accounts for that discrepancy? In the first study, entitled “Like” Me, we found that people mostly join social marketing sites and Facebook fan pages in order to get product information and promotions. Brands are “liked” in order to learn about sales/discounts, new products, and interestingly, local events. These tangible, “pushed” offerings are more important to them on fan pages than having their voices heard.

And it isn’t just our own research surfacing these trends. Our data complement findings from a December 2010 study by SSI which determined that the relatively small population of Facebook users who are willing to participate in surveys is skewed towards 13-17 year-olds, and it also noted that those willing to participate in surveys are not interested in participating in public discussions, thereby limiting the range of consumer input available to marketers and market researchers. Also, recent studies by Razorfish and ExactTarget found that consumers do not view Facebook and Twitter as proper places for having conversations and building relationships with brands. That conclusion was echoed in a study released by iVillage which found that women, in particular, are “more inclined to have serious discussions on focused community sites than on venues like Facebook.”

In contrast, consumers prefer private communities for giving their feedback and opinions on new products and brands. 92% of members in our study of 246 private communities and more than 86,000 members said they feel their opinion matters in private online communities, as compared to only 66% of members who said they feel their opinion is being heard in the other brand-sponsored websites. In private communities, they feel the brand is actually listening, and this makes them feel more invested in the community sponsor.

But it’s not just about feeling heard. What makes private or highly targeted public communities such gold mines lies in what people are willing to share. Five times more people are comfortable sharing pictures of the inside of their medicine cabinets in a private community than in any of the social marketing sites they visit. Four times more are comfortable sharing the details of their holiday shopping budget. And so on.

And why? Precisely because unlike a social network, in a small, private, password-protected, recruited (vs. self-forming) community, their friends and colleagues aren’t there. Private communities provide a sanctuary from the daily, real-world relationships that can inhibit sharing as much as support it. (See the second study, The 64% Rule.)

So as you refine your own social media strategy, step back and evaluate your objectives. Don’t abandon your fan page—it’s a powerful channel to consolidate your brand fans and win an even larger share of their wallets. But recognize that if you want to learn what makes your customers tick and want to engage them in a constructive, ongoing dialogue, you may be better served by providing them a safe haven, away from the prying eyes of their thousands of “friends.”

Social SERPs: Social Media’s Growing Influence on Search Engine Results Pages

By Dana Todd, Vice President of Performance Innovation at Performics

In “ancient” times (circa 1999-2009), traditional search engines were a one-stop shop for people to search, find, consider, and purchase things online. Then social media emerged. Facebook—with the help of Twitter, Foursquare, and others—enabled people to search, find, consider, and purchase things online with a little help from their friends. Now people spend more time on Facebook than on Google. According to comScore, Facebook drove ten percent of all Internet pageviews in 2010.

Google and Bing are keenly aware of this new reality. To keep their users, they’ve recently adapted by layering social on search. And to stay relevant, they must continue to make search engine results pages (SERPs) more social. Google and Bing have started by incorporating various social aspects into their SERPs—from reviews in Google Place pages to tweets in real-time search to embedded user-generated YouTube videos. Google’s new +1 button enables searchers to “+1” (or “like”) search results, so that other searchers, like their friends, can see that a result was helpful. Similarly, Microsoft has partnered with Facebook to incorporate Facebook “likes” into Bing SERPs.

The effort to socialize search has resulted in SERPs that are controlled by 1) the brand owners and 2) the consumers—more appropriately called the “participants”—and by extension, their networks. In ancient times, brand owners exercised the most control over their brand’s SERP goodwill. Today, brand owners still control the SERP’s paid search ads (“paid content”) and can employ SEO tactics to boost digital asset visibility (“owned content”). But the participant has the most control over the SERP’s “earned content”—opinions, reviews, recommendations, social chatter, and videos.

There’s no doubt that the social SERP complicates search engine marketing (SEM); it requires brands to take a grassroots approach to reputation management—one that starts on the social networks. And brands must accept that their SERP goodwill is built with their customers’ participation and collaboration. When a person searches for a brand, they now see results potentially influenced by friends’ opinions, links, and experiences. Search engine marketing thus becomes word-of-mouth marketing.

The good news is, word of mouth can be influenced at its source—the social networks:

  1. The first challenge is building and organizing a meaningful number of participants (i.e., building the fan base). Twitter Promoted Accounts and Facebook Engagement Ads provide a creative platform to gain fans/followers through guaranteed reach. For instance, Redbox gained 269,000 Facebook fans in ten days using Facebook Engagement Ads (counting direct ad impacts only; nearly twice that number joined during the period measured, above normal baseline, which appears to have been influenced from seeing their friends join). Redbox incentivized people with ad copy that offered a free video rental to anyone who “liked” its brand.
  2. Once a fan base is established, the second challenge is mobilizing those fans/followers to talk positively about the brand—ideally in venues or channels that are indexed by search engines. This can be accomplished through incentives, promotions, polls, questions, or by creating highly sharable content. For instance, Baskin Robbins mobilized its 18,000+ Twitter followers on April 27th through its 31-cent scoop night promotion, which included a charity campaign partner. On April 27th, so many people were tweeting about the promotion that a Google search for “Baskin Robbins” showed a first-page link to 300+ real-time results.
  3. Third, keep it up. Sometimes the most difficult part of marketing is consistency and long-term commitment. Given that digital marketers consistently complain of being overworked and under resourced, it’s no wonder there are so many “ghosts of social media campaigns past” floating around out there. The companies that are succeeding the most in harnessing the powers of social media are distributing the workload between various departments (e.g., customer service, HR, PR, and marketing) and regularly inserting highly creative campaigns to keep the momentum going.

Of course, there’s the other side of the coin—the negative social media conversations that can make their way to the SERPs. Once again, these conversations can be influenced at their source. Savvy brands today employ social listening tools to uncover what people are saying and quickly address customer issues/gripes before a negative conversation spirals out of control. In many cases, these “fixes” become part of the social SERPs and can help offset any negativity. This becomes important in presenting balanced information for consumers and search engines. (Recently, there’s evidence that Google is using sentiment analysis that may weigh against a site or asset based on negative reviews).

As search becomes more social—and social drives more search—influencing participants to engage in positive social media conversations around brands is fast becoming the most important tactic to fund. Social media itself links customer experiences seamlessly from device to device, and it is thus of significant value as consumers move through the screens of their lives and express their intent through more search tools than just Google and Bing. Winners in social media can more easily be winners in mobile search and barcode/QR code search, Internet television, news search, and beyond.

The Practical Marketing Applications of Facebook (Part 2 of 4)

By Sam Mallikarjunan, Chief Executive Officer of Mallikarjunan Media Group

Part 1

“Like” Me!

The most well-known is the Facebook “like” button. Whereas Facebook used to give users the option to become “fans” of something—be it a brand or company or person—they can now “like” something with a single click. The “like” button is easy to install on any website. If used properly, it allows the owner of the page to publish updates into the news feeds of all the users that “like” that page. This is incredibly valuable, as it makes it easy to turn a single visitor into a returning one without having to capture an e-mail address. Whereas e-mail marketing has long been the predominant information-capture focus of most websites, gathering “likes” is quickly gaining in importance. The Facebook “like” button should be on every page of your website, and you should use the people that like it to create sticky traffic by publishing relevant updates into their news feeds.

You can incentivize people to “like” your posts and pages using different methods. First and foremost, organic “likes” will be the most valuable. People who genuinely appreciate your content are more likely to be great customers, brand loyal, and engaged on your page, as well as share the content with others. However, you can stimulate activity with incentivized contests and games. A favorite strategy of mine is to make a post (either on the brand’s Facebook page itself or on a blog) and say, “‘Like’ this post for a chance to win (insert something somewhat valuable here).” For example, if you’re writing an article about a cool inbound marketing service, you might offer a free consultation, a free month’s service, or even just a free T-shirt to a random winner from those who “like” the post or publish an update back into their news feeds to come back and win the prize.

Facebook also has an incredibly useful comments module which will allow people to leave comments on your website while logged into Facebook. Since there’s a small probability that some of your visitors may not have Facebook accounts, I’d strongly recommend that you create a back-up comment module, similar to the one on the CigarRobbie.com blog. This useful widget allows your users to carry the conversation about your page or brand back to their networks of Facebook friends, since by default, it will post back to their profiles. Essentially, comments now have the power to share your content far beyond just your own visitors and into each of their social networks. This module also includes a “like” button with the same features and flexibility.

Add a Facebook “like” button to every page on your site, and decide what relevant content you want to share with those who click it.

Easy Logins

There is a great deal of value in having users be able to login and register at your site. It can create unique user accounts for them or create a unique experience. The need to identify one user from another is as fundamental to any other site as it is to Facebook itself. Many sites, such as Formspring.me, now allow you to register for their sites with a single click rather than the formerly arduous process of registering at a site by entering your name, age, state, zip, e-mail, gender… you get the idea.

Remember that Internet marketing is much like electricity. Users will take the path of least resistance, but the more resistance (i.e., steps) in the process, the more people that you’ll lose—whether it be user registrations or value conversions. By making it incredibly simple to register an account on your site by using Facebook’s one-click login, you’ve instantly created a system that’s easy to use with low resistance. Also, by integrating it with Facebook where users can revoke access and permissions, you’ve made people feel more comfortable than they may have been giving you their personal or contact information to begin with.

Keep in mind that not everyone has Facebook, so you should offer other registration options on your site as well.

Decide if there is any reason to have a visitor register with your site. If so, make Facebook a one-click option.

Part 3

Are We There Yet? Tuning Up Your Metrics

By Marian Burk Wood, Author of The Marketing Plan Handbook

Before you roll out a new social media marketing program, be ready to answer one key question about results: are we there yet? Here’s a roadmap for tuning up your metrics so you’ll know where you’re headed and how to track progress along the way.

Look Ahead, Look Behind

Just as your GPS needs a street address to plot a route, you need three types of specific objectives to serve as destinations for your social media activities:

  1. Marketing objectives for brand building and relationship building (such as targets for brand awareness or customer acquisition). Ford’s campaign for the new Fiesta—initially a social media event reinforced by traditional media—set (and achieved) objectives for brand impressions and awareness as well as pre-launch information requests. In the follow-up to P&G’s super-viral Old Spice Guy campaign, one marketing objective was to attract a million Facebook fans to the brand’s social media “sacred club,” part of the push to increase brand awareness and change consumer attitudes.
  2. Financial objectives for money-related results (such as sales and profitability—by channel, by customer, etc.). QVC can set sales objectives for sales driven from its Facebook page (which has 300,000-plus “likes”) and its Twitter presence (more than 30,000 followers), track repeat business, and calculate profit by product and channel.
  3. Societal objectives that give your social media marketing a larger purpose (such as raising money for a worthy cause). P&G’s Dawn relied on the brand’s Facebook and Twitter interactions to get customers involved in achieving its target of donating $500,000 to wildlife conservation organizations.

And to steer clear of potholes, don’t forget to check the rearview mirror—learn from how and why existing programs hit bumpy roads in the past.

Prepare to Shift into High Gear

With objectives in place, your next step is to set up standards and a timetable for checking these metrics:

  • Compass points. Are you going in the right direction? For marketing objectives related to brand awareness or preference, metrics such as the number of Facebook “likes” and the number of positive blog comments can give you a sense of whether you’re gaining ground, standing still, or going south. QVC, for instance, regularly monitors the number and sentiment of comments on each blog post, promotional tweet, and Facebook post. Bounce rates, referral rates, and engagement duration are other compass points; think of indicators that make sense for your objectives and business.
  • Mile markers. You should be able to estimate how far along you need to be at various points in the journey so you can make interim adjustments as needed. For example, are you attracting and converting enough visitors every day/week/month to reach your long-term targets? Check these metrics early and often to avoid nasty last-minute surprises. QVC drills down into its sales statistics—sometimes minute by minute—to determine whether each product or promotion is on the right track and make mid-course corrections as necessary.
  • Speed. How quickly are you moving toward your destination? Look at viral rates for your communications to analyze how quickly you’re gaining new friends, subscribers, or customers (depending on your objectives), and investigate unusual lags or patterns in response to social media initiatives. If something is working especially well, use it to accelerate your results.

Now you’re all set to hit the road and put the pedal to the metal!

Twitterviews: A New Medium for an Interview

By John Foley, Jr., Chief Marketing Officer at Grow Socially

What is a Twitterview? It is where people have a live interview on Twitter.

So how does it work? The first step to making your Twitterview a successful promotional tool is to create its hashtag. A hashtag is simply the pound symbol (#), followed by the name of the Twitterview. The name cannot have any spaces or punctuation in it. An example of a Twitterview name with its hashtag would be “#FoleyOnSocialMedia.” You would use “#FoleyOnSocialMedia” in order to search for it on Twitter as well. Once the hashtag is created, the best way to promote your Twitterview to your audience is by announcing it in all of your social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Web site, etc.).

While the interview is happening, you must always include the designated hashtag for that specific interview in each tweet. This way, every tweet that is exchanged during the Twitterview will show up when your audience searches its hashtag.

I recently participated in a Twitterview with the topic of “QR Codes and Video Tags in Tourism.” By taking part in this hour-long discussion, I was able to interact with tourism marketers from all over the country, including Texas, Florida, Pennsylvania, California, and Montana. These were just the people who were actively participating in the discussion; however, I was probably promoting myself to many others who were just following along.

Throughout the Twitterview, we all discussed where QR codes can appear, where the codes can direct a person to, and why they would be useful and beneficial for the user. I was able to promote myself, QR codes, and QReateandTrack, a QR code service that one of my businesses provides. Using the Twitterview, I was able to promote myself in a variety of ways. The first way was by introducing myself with: “Hi, I’m @JohnFoleyJr from @interlinkONE. #TourismChat.” Here, I attached my Twitter handle, “@JohnFoleyJr,” my business’ Twitter handle, “@interlinkONE,” and the Twitterview hashtag, “#TourismChat.” In that one little tweet, I shared links to my personal Twitter profile and interlinkONE’s Twitter profile.

Further into the discussion, someone asked where he could learn more information about QR codes. I responded to this inquiry by including the person’s Twitter handle in the tweet followed with: “If interested, whitepaper here: #QRCodes ‘Using QR Codes to Reach the Busy, Mobile Consumer:’ http://ilnk.me/5058. #TourismChat.“ Here, I not only acknowledged a participant’s request for more information, but I also shared the link with everyone who was following the Twitterview.

Meanwhile, a representative from interlinkONE joined the Twitterview as well by using QReateandTrack’s Twitter handle, “@QReateandTrack.” While using this, she was able to answer questions and promote QReateandTrack on behalf of interlinkONE. Some of the ways she was able to give great tips, answer questions, and share links were by tweeting:

  • “@QReateandTrack: QReateAndTrack.com. There you can create the QR code and also track it. You can see where and when it was scanned. #TourismChat”
  • “@QReateandTrack: You could go about finding more info by setting up a landing page and asking people for more info. That would work. #TourismChat”
  • “@QReateandTrack: We created this poster: http://ilnk.me/5065. Each time it is scanned, the QR code changes its response. Try it out! #TourismChat”

Remember, Twitter only allows your tweets to contain a maximum of 140 characters, so that is why the tweets have to be very blunt and straightforward.

When the Twitterview was close to conclusion, I gave a few final suggestions and tips by tweeting:

  • “@JohnFoleyJr: Tracking needs to go beyond a scan to a page. Metrics are important. #TourismChat”
  • “@JohnFoleyJr: Don’t think big brother! Think reaching the mobile audience. #TourismChat”

Lastly, I thanked all of the attendees for joining the Twitterview and gave one last promotion of myself and the representatives from interlinkONE: “@JohnFoleyJr: Thanks! Any questions, ask me PLEASE! Or follow @QReateandTrack or @JasonPinto. #TourismChat.”

Twitterviews can be extremely useful when you are trying to market to a new group of people or industry. By participating in these online discussions, you are able to make a lot of connections in a short amount of time, and you can learn a lot as well. Take the time to do some searches on your favorite hashtags, and if you want to conduct your own Twitterview, ask some of your favorite tweeters to join in. Good luck!

How to Really Get “Liked” on Facebook

By Dr. Angela Hausman, Associate Professor at Howard University

“Likes” have replaced “fans” on business Facebook pages. Having more likes is a good thing, and Starbucks is the leading company, with more than 16 million likes. Starbucks is followed closely by Coca Cola, with more than 15 million likes. You can see the rest of the top 25 companies on the TNW Web site. As the average Facebook user has 80 friends, Starbucks’ message reaches more than 1.26 billion people!

How to Avoid the Top Three Facebook Faux Pas

Getting likes involves more than building a Facebook business page and waiting for people to find it. And if you use your business page as just another outlet for your press releases, as many businesses on Facebook do, you’re not likely to generate much interest or get many likes. Similarly, using your Facebook fan page to echo your tweets is a bad idea. Certainly, putting some good tweets on Facebook is fine, but don’t link them so all your tweets are automatically sent to your Facebook page. Buying Facebook fans or engaging in Facebook exchanges (where businesses agree to like each other) are similarly bad ideas, as they deliver fans who are not truly engaged with the brand.

Getting Likes

The key to getting Facebook likes is to give people a reason for liking your brand. Here are some great examples of ways to drive Facebook likes:

  • Support a cause. Pedigree recently launched a campaign to encourage dog owners to like its brand. For every Facebook user who did so, Pedigree donated a bowl of dog food to an adoption center. To date, more than a million bowls of food have been donated—which means Pedigree has added a million new likes. As part of the strategy, Pedigree also encourages sharing the program across about a dozen other social media platforms.
  • Give exclusive content. People want to feel special and love having access to information and products before anyone else. Having this access encourages them to like your brand and increases the likelihood they’ll pass along your information to their friends. Movie producers, book authors, and musical performers use this extensively. For instance, Taylor Swift often gives fans advance access to her music tracks or music videos before they reach the public. And companies are starting to use this tool. For example, Procter & Gamble offered advance access to Pantene for its fans before the product was sold in stores.
  • Host a contest. The Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau hosts a contest on its Facebook page. People who like the page are entered into the contest and have a chance to win two tickets for a hot air balloon ride during the famous Balloon Festival. And Dunkin’ Donuts is using its contest not only to build its fan base, but to attract other fans. Contestants upload a video showing how much Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee means to them. Winners get a trip to Costa Rica or a year’s supply of the coffee delivered to their homes. The contest encourages Facebook users to like Dunkin’ Donuts, and the contestants encourage their friends to like the brand to be able to vote for their videos and win the contest.

Simply said, likes on Facebook encourage meaningful engagement with your brand. Just make sure you understand how to generate them appropriately.

How JetBlue Uses Social Media to the Fullest (and You Can, Too)

By John Foley, Jr., Chief Executive/Marketing Officer at Grow Socially

JetBlue gets social media. Completely. While many companies make good use of social media in promoting their brands, JetBlue takes the ball and literally flies with it. Here are three ways they shine:

Brand Personality

Anyone who has boarded a JetBlue flight knows the company’s feel-good take on transportation. The captain and flight assistants crack jokes and one liners, the flights are filled with “get it while it lasts” free snacks, and the corporate identity revolves around bright colors and lighthearted phrases like “happy jetting.”

When JetBlue ventured onto the social media scene, it maintained its playful personality. Next to delay reports and updates on products and services, you’ll find humorous tidbits of information, often completely unrelated to business. The company recently announced an airport book signing with a tweet typical of its signature sense of humor.

The takeaway? whatever your corporate personality—be it sassy or sweet—let it show in your tweets and updates. Give your followers something to smile about! Bring a human touch to your product, and people will respond.

Instant Gratification

Want to know when JetBlue’s new Boston-to-Sarasota service starts? Drop @JetBlue a tweet to ask!

JetBlue understands that sitting on the phone or sifting through its Web site takes time. For that reason, the company has made a Twitter-based customer service rep available 24×7 to respond to quick questions, address concerns, or even just say thank you for a compliment. While the complex stuff can’t always be ironed out in 140 characters, quick questions and answers are easily handled. Even better, every question answered via tweet effectively saves a phone call, which makes JetBlue’s overall customer service more efficient.

The takeaway? Use social media to make things run smoothly for you. If your company is rolling out a new product, let everyone know quickly and easily. If you’re currently filling backorders on a hot new product, keep customers in the loop—and off the phones.

Dangling the Carrot

Not everything on the JetBlue tweetstream is supply and demand. JetBlue rewards its followers with access to contests, special deals, and insider information.

Recently, the company hosted a citywide “scavenger hunt”-style promotion in Boston. One stop on the tour asked players to bring a photo of 10 standard office supplies to Copley Square for a chance to win a free ticket. Incentives such as free bonus miles and contests for tickets and trips gave followers the sense of actively participating in JetBlue’s ongoing conversation. It was a great way to generate positive chatter for the company.

The takeaway? Give your followers something to talk about, and occasionally, give them something for their loyalty. Word of mouth is the best advertising you can get, and on the Web, word travels fast.