26 Nov

Crowdfunding and social media

Social mediaThrough Cotswolds Broadband I have been looking at crowdfunding as a means of raising a significant proportion of the initial capital required to operate a new rural broadband investment fund. When you are talking about generating upwards of £5 million overall, it’s important to get it right, otherwise the business could struggle. So we are looking at how social media can contribute in reaching a wider audience of potential investors.

This is an opportunity for investors to benefit from not only a slice of the equity, but from generous tax relief in the form of the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), as well as future benefits on the successful performance of the business, so it’s all about reaching out to those who already understand the proposition. But are they on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms? I doubt it very much.

However it’s the way these types of investment opportunities work that is the key to ensuring that the greatest number of touch points are exploited, not just a blanket coverage. The approach is like the difference between a blunderbuss and a sniper’s rifle: investors with significant tax obligations work through intermediaries; Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) so it’s that group that we are targeting, and social media has a significant part to play.

LinkedIn is the obvious touchpoint for this group, with a quick scan producing a number of UK-centric groups that are well populated and used by IFAs, the main ones showing over 4,000 members. Reaching out to this target audience can be achieved in a number of ways:

  • by joining the relevant groups and getting involved in discussions, but that’s very time-consuming, risks being seen as a spammer, and wary moderators will see straight through it
  • by posting in the ‘Promotions’ tab of relevant groups, but unfortunately very few people actually visit this tab, which was setup to provide moderators with a means of removing the constant stream of personal promotion that used to appear in discussions
  • by using well targeted LinkedIn ads

I’m not an advocate of social media advertising per se (personally I am not one who clicks on ads in my social media channels), but it certainly has its place, particularly with very focused campaigns, and even more so when a short window of opportunity presents itself. In this case the fund is open for less than three months, so it provides a useful means of quickly reaching a target audience with a CPM campaign to increase awareness and reinforce the opportunity.

Other social media channels have their place, in this instance sponsored stories in Facebook are an effective means of targeting friends of those who already like a page or post. If the campaign has a local aspect or can be targeted at users’ Facebook interests, its effectiveness can be maximised.

The crowdfunding platform itself should provide ample opportunity for users to share content out to their network, so where these shares and comments appear they can be maximised.

So far, these touch points are generating low clickthrough rates, but in a CPM advertising campaign such as this, we are maybe more interested in reach than actions!

Find out more about social media marketing or get in touch to discuss these topics in more depth.

23 Aug

New Instagram Features Make it a Must-Have For Brands

As a mobile-only social media platform, the Instagram experience has always been fun but has had an ineloquent marketing voice. That is until Facebook bought the service earlier this year for $1Bn and now they have added greater integration across the two platforms, meaning marketers can really start to use Instagram effectively.  The new Photo Map and easier posting to Facebook are big improvements, allowing better tagging and brand recognition.

A number of brands have been swift to adopt the benefits Instagram can bring, but it’s early days for most. Those with an eye on the future of mobile oriented marketing will be well advised to start their campaign early and build awareness and activity. To find out more about how Instagram could benefit your brand, please get in touch.

17 Apr

Facebook Pages and Profiles – What are the Differences?

Facebook pages and profilesLike every other social media consultant I get asked this one the whole time, so what are the differences and should you care?

Let’s answer that with a question: What exactly is your brand using Facebook for?

Generally the answer would be to market that brand’s products or services, for which the most desirable function is reach – trying to get in front of the maximum number of potential customers.  And therein lies the first problem with using profiles – they are meant for individuals and are therefore not crawled and indexed by search engine spiders. That in itself should be enough reason not to try and violate Facebook’s Statement Of Rights and Responsibilities, but perhaps you need more convincing:

Multiple page admins. Pages can have more than one admin as individuals use their own profile to login to Facebook and then administer the brand’s page once they have been granted access. It might seem a bit obvious but unless we are discussing a sole proprietorship (in which case Facebook has a solution for that too), more than one person is likely to be responsible for the brand’s output onto social media. It also means that page admins can remove ex employees or others who may have been given access to the page, at a future date.

Interaction with Page Likes. It has been frequently pointed out to me that a page cannot directly interact with individuals. Well that’s not entirely true because once a direct messge has been sent by a user to the page, admins can respond directly to them. However it is true that a page cannot initiate that interaction and that’s the point: this is a marketing medium and spamming individuals with marketing information is the fastest way to getting someone to unfriend you, or worse, hiding posts in their news feed.

Page Insights. Possibly the most powerful aspect of Facebook Pages is the analytics data that Facebook collects on behalf of brands and then shares with them. The power of this data is remarkable and over time builds a profile of users, their habits and the viral reach of content, along with lots of other essential marketing intelligence. This alone should be enough to ensure that a brand uses a Facebook Page rather than a profile.

Facebook Ads and Sponsored Stories. Given the reach of Facebook (845 million users as at December 2011) and its pin-sharp demographic, location and interest targeting, brands can reach the exact niche they serve with ads to support a business page or sponsor stories being shared by their brand advocates.

This is very much a non-exhaustive list of the many differences between Facebook Pages and Facebook Personal Profiles written from the perspective of brands. If you would like to know more about Facebook for marketing then please get in touch.

16 Mar

Lessons learned from Kony 2012

The recent viral documentary campaign to raise awareness for the charity Invisible Children about the activities of Joseph Kony and the Lords’s Resistance Army was universally received as a brilliant piece of film-making and a significant propaganda statement (if you haven’t seen it you should make yourself a cup of coffee and then click the play button below – it’s 30 mins long). There is much that can be learned from this sort of activity and used as a case study of viral capability.

First some facts (at the time of writing):

  1. Nearly 80 million hits on YouTube
  2. Over 1.3m likes and 643k comments on YouTube (comments now disabled)
  3. 17.1 million hits on Vimeo
  4. 21.2k likes and 1.2k comments on Vimeo

Many NGOs and charities have criticised the film as being too simplistic in its argument for the capture and bringing to justice of Joseph Kony. That’s as maybe but it is nothing to do with the success of the piece, since it was all about awareness and fundraising. In both respects it has been massively successful, as the statistics above bear out. However it’s the audience profile that is of interest since this is a political campaign and yet the predominance of viewers are between 13-24, the majority being girls aged between 13-17.

So what causes them to watch the film? The power of social media. Simply put, the film is emotive to youngsters as the content portrays those of a similar age in a regime of fear and oppression, and that’s what causes them to spread the word.  And that’s Jason Russell’s genius – using his son as the central character in the drama and thereby drawing on an audience of active social media players to act as advocates for the cause.

Like all good communication it all comes down to great content – create appropriate and appealing content for the target audience and let social media do the rest – genius!

 

02 Mar

Facebook Timeline for Brands

Facebook Timeline for Brands

Facebook Timeline can be used creatively by brands

Since Facebook for brands was launched this week (in preview prior to switching them live on March 30th), I have been trialling the service for a number of clients. Here are my observations so far:

  • Firstly it is a huge aesthetic enhancement to brands’ most potentially engaging social media platform.
  • Existing content created at 520 pixels width, such as tabs and apps will continue to display in the new Timeline format. However some work is likely to be required, to change content to fill the new 810 pixel wide space.
  • You can no longer use default landing tabs for non-fans in Timeline, which is a shame.  You can use the new design to your advantage though, but it would appear to me that conversion rates are going to drop significantly as a result of this change.
  • You can use Timeline’s preview on your Pages right now, but I am not generally making Timeline a permanent feature until the end of March, just so that any bugs are ironed out before taking them live.
  • Add milestones to humanise a brand and tell a story over time.
  • Apps appear under the cover photo, so ensure that these are the ones you want to promote to users.
  • Pin interesting content to the top of the Timeline to keep it visible, but rotate this on a weekly basis.
  • The new private messaging feature allows a much better and more personal brand experience, but it needs to be used with temperance, otherwise it is as bad as spam.
04 Jan

Latest Effective Social Media seminar

Effective Social Media seminar

Click to book your place on an Effective Social Media seminar

If you aren’t already actively engaging with more than 800 million Social Media users then you should attend my next two-hour ‘Effective Social Media’ seminar and learn how you can leverage LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networks for your business, organisation or charity.

The seminar aims to give attendees a solid foundation in the world of Social Media, using interactive sessions and discussion on the social networks that organisations should be using in their marketing mix. You will come away with an understanding of how to plan and manage your digital network communication.

If you have already started social networking you should be using a coordinated Social Media strategy. If not, come and learn how to do so.

The next event is scheduled for 27th January 2012. If you are interested in attending, please contact me or book a place here.

04 Oct

‘Effective Social Media’ Seminar

Effective Social Media seminar

Click to book your place on an Effective Social Media seminar

If you aren’t already actively engaging with more than 800 million Social Media users then you should attend my next two-hour ‘Effective Social Media’ seminar and learn how you can leverage LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networks for your business, organisation or charity.

The seminar aims to give attendees a solid foundation in the world of Social Media, using interactive sessions and discussion on the social networks that organisations should be using in their marketing mix. You will come away with an understanding of how to plan and manage your digital network communication.

If you have already started social networking you should be using a coordinated Social Media strategy. If not, come and learn how to do so.

The next event is scheduled for 4th November 2011. If you are interested in attending, please contact me or book a place here.

23 Sep

Should you try the new Facebook Timeline?

How Facebook Timeline will look when it goes live

How Facebook Timeline will look when it goes live

You may have heard in the press and elsewhere about all the latest features that Facebook is rolling out. Some were intended to compete head to head with Google+, which went public earlier this week, and some are still to arrive. If you want to see the latest feature called Facebook Timeline, you will have to wait until September 29th, unless you want to jump to the head of the queue and try it now!

Facebook Timeline will give you the ability to see all of your activity in a continuous

If you just can’t wait, follow this link http://ickl.co/rd3ogS and after a few tortuous steps within the bowels of Facebook’s Developer underworld, you will emerge triumphant into the light to see your shiny new Facebook Timeline interface.

Is it worth the hype? Well, you do get to see your activity in a timeline down the page, you can customise the header image with one of your existing or a new picture, you see all the latest posts down the right side of the page as they happen – you do get to see everything in one place, which may or may not be a benefit to some. Personally I see this as Facebook desperately trying to hold its head high as Google+ tries to steal a march.  Maybe it’s time for change? Only time will tell.

21 Sep

Will you dance with Google+ ?

Google Plus

Now anyone can join in Google+

As has been reported widely today, The Google+ Project as it has been known up until now, is open for all to join, following a period of more than two months of ‘closed’ testing by up to 25 million users. When you go to your Google homepage you will see the blue arrow and link to +You, where you need to go and set up a Google Profile (if you don’t already have one) so that you can get access to Google+

But why should you?

There are a number of compelling features that make Google+ a prime contender for the crown of King of the Social Networks. This has rightfully belonged to Facebook since its widespread adoption in 2005 – after all there are now more than 750 million Facebook accounts in circulation (not all are active of course). However Google+ goes for a slightly different approach by offering functionality such as ‘Hangouts’ for multi-way video chat and ‘Circles’ of friends. They aren’t ground-breaking in themselves, but when you consider this in conjunction with Google’s reach through its search product, Google+ will be visible to almost everyone on the web from today, and that provides potential traction, even for existing Facebook users who may wish to see what it has to offer once their friends are also doing so and adding them.

You may want to stick around on Facebook too for the moment though – today Facebook has rolled out even more updates, with some directly responding to Google+ Circles and others intended to let you show only the information you want to see.

How do you get started?

Go to http://plus.google.com and sign into your Google Account – this doesn’t need to be a GMail account – you can have a Google profile associated with just about any email address. Once you’re in, you will want to start following people and adding friends to your ‘circles’. It’s all pretty intuitive, but one trick you will want to try is getting your Facebook contacts across to Google – well help is at hand:

  1. Sign Up for Google+ and click on ‘View all’ at the top right
  2. Click ‘Find People’ which will show the options to add friends from your Yahoo! contacts and from your Windows Live Hotmail contacts
  3. Open your Yahoo! e-mail or Windows Live Hotmail and you can import your Facebook contacts
  4. Go to ‘Contacts’, ‘Manage’, and click on the ‘Export’ option
  5. Go back to your Google+ profile ‘Find Friends’ tab and click on either the Yahoo! or Windows Live Hotmail icon
  6. Sign in to your Yahoo! or Windows Live account and permit Google+ to connect the account with your Google+ profile.
  7. Once authorised, all of your Facebook friends will be added to your Google+ account so that you can add them to your Circles
Sweet!