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What the Fox Say: A Lesson in Viral?

Social Sonar - Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Daft Punk, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke may all have had a jump start on trying to stake a claim on this year’s song of the summer, but just as fall arrives at our doorstep, a dark horse (or is it fox?) is leaping into the race to trump their efforts and rewrite music history.

The video and song in question are from a Norweigan group called Ylvis, and just like Old McDonald, these musicians have a keen interest in the sounds of various fauna. But unlike Old McDonald, whose scope of zoological sound sampling was bound to the barnyard, Ylvis goes one step forward to pose the eternal question, “What the Fox Say?”

Okay, maybe we’re being a little bit facetious here. The song hasn’t exactly rocketed up the Billboard charts, but it has absolutely dominated blogs and social media over the past week. As of this posting, it’s managed to rack up over 15 million views on YouTube. That, ladies and gentlemen, is an indisputable viral sensation.

If a Norweigan band can harness the power of the internet to raise its profile in such a powerful and immediate way, can you do the same? Here’s what we can learn about viral videos from “What the Fox Say.”

The Sincerity Factor

Treading the line between sincerity and irony is tricky, but it pays off. One way to get viewers hooked is to play with their expectations. If you caught yourself asking, “Are they for real?” while watching the Ylvis video, join the club. That mystery is a key ingredient that leads viewers to want to discover more. Did you catch the Worst Twerk Fail Ever video? Turns out it was just a gag from notorious serial prankster Jimmy Kimmel. Of course, there is a big difference between being tongue-and-cheek and being a flat-out liar. The trick is to know your audience and what kind of humor they’re primed for. 

Embrace the Absurd

Designer Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Absurdity and anti—absurdity are the two poles of creative energy.” We’re not sure what the heck that means, but exploring the absurd is definitely a way to reach people immersed in internet culture. If anyone disagrees, kindly refer those detractors to any of the Harlem Shake videos The internet is a strange place, filled with weird, wild stuff. Embrace it! Just check out two of the most influential pages on the web, Reddit and Buzzfeed, and see what you stumble across. Think of it as a daily digest of the web’s most viral idiosyncrasies.

Viral Fame is Touch and Go, but Still Important

Viral fame can come your way and then-- quick as a fox-- vanish into thin air. While it’s the holy grail of awesomeness (to borrow a little internet slang) for many marketers, it only represents a small part of what you can do through social media to reach out to fans. Still, harnessing even a little power from “the secret of the fox” can help you break out of the monotony of your usual content. Don’t be afraid to get a little whacky and meet your web followers on their level by speaking their lingo. That includes both the language you use and the visual media you create and share.

What’s your favorite viral video? Think about the things that make you come back to it over and over. Did you feel compelled to share it right away? Put yourself in the shoes of the customers on the other end of your social media strategy and you’re sure to gain a new perspective. Who knows, you might even score next year’s song of the summer. Better start planning now!

Thinking About Inbound Marketing? Start with Social Media

Social Sonar - Friday, August 30, 2013

A few years ago, “inbound marketing” may have seemed like an industry buzzword that was just another flash-in-the-pan fad, but in 2013, it’s proven to be an effective method of growing your business in an exciting and sustainable way. More than that, inbound marketing is a way to involve your customers by turning them into fans and, further down the road, evangelizers of your brand.

What exactly is so different about the inbound marketing approach? Unlike traditional methods of reaching out to customers, inbound marketing incorporates approaches that take advantage of customers’ interest and ability to find you. In other words, potential followers are interested in finding you, learning more about you and--if they love your brand-- helping other customers spread the good word about you!

If you guessed that the Internet and social media have played a key role in making inbound marketing successful, you’re absolutely right. In fact, it's hard to think how inbound marketing could thrive without the connectivity that the Internet provides.

The way in which customers are able to interact with brands through social networks is unprecedented and has shifted the rules of the game in a significant way. But without great content to capture attention, you might be missing out on one of the biggest ways to grow your brand.

Your social media strategy is the cornerstone of a sound inbound marketing approach. In some cases, it’s the first point of engagement that your customers have with your brand. In many cases, it’s the most meaningful form of interaction because it requires action and involvement from both ends. Social media opens a two-way street of communication where you can build lasting relationships, an ongoing rapport and sustained interest in the experience your brand provides.

Do you think inbound marketing is the next logical step for your small business or organization? Start with a healthy social media presence. Strategize to create and curate the most attractive content possible, keep fans coming back for more and be consistent with your engagement. Think of your presence on social networks as calling card that will lead to many new encounters, meaningful connections and ultimately a community of people invested in your brand.>

Tweet Chats: Take a Two-Pronged Approach

Social Sonar - Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Part of Twitter’s beauty is the way it forces users to be concise. Many interactions on Twitter consist of “one-offs,” retweets, short replies and, on occasion, longer back-and-forth exchanges that can last a few days. While this enables quickfire connections and dynamic newsfeeds, the brevity of this kind of communication can also leave you wanting more. That’s where Tweet Chats come in.

Tweet Chats lets you structure your Twitter activity around one specific topic for as long as you want. Whether you are looking to host one or just participate, the logistics are simple. Just set a time and create a hashtag that helps followers label their contributions to the conversation. Everyone who’s taking part can track new contributions by following the hashtag. Sound interesting? Take a two-pronged approach to make the best of Tweet Chats:

Reach out to Customers

If you have an active Twitter community that follows your business, you can host a Tweet Chat to connect with customers. If you’re on the cusp of a big announcement, treat it is a mini-press conference. You can facilitate the chat by asking customers questions or turn the tables and let them drive the conversation. When curious newcomers join your Tweet Chat, you have the chance to engage them and turn them into brand devotees.

Network with other Professionals

Looking to connect with other industry influencers? Look for Tweet Chats they may be hosting. Other people in your field might already be meeting to discuss new trends that could impact you. There’s even the possibility for strategizing to form important partnerships along the way.

What’s your area of expertise? Is there a pressing issue in your industry that you’re curious about? What are your customers' most frequent questions? Use this directory of regular chats and start Tweet Chatting your way to some answers!



Social Media and the Art of the Tease

Social Sonar - Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What motivates customers to follow you on social media? For some, the promise of having firsthand knowledge about new projects and products is too good to resist. Followers love having a direct line to you so that they can be the first to know about big changes that your brand is rolling out. Creating teases and previews on your social media platforms can be a great way to create a feeling of exclusivity and special access for your customers.

Be Mysterious....

Don’t give it all away at once. Instead, create a social media campaign where you slowly roll out small updates that culminate in a big reveal. You can build anticipation this way and encourage your followers to engage with each other to guess what it could be.

...But Don’t Play Hard to Get!

Mystery is great, but you don’t want to prolong it unnecessarily. You could end up turning the attention and interest of your audience into frustration. The hype game can be tricky this way. Make sure you have something really special to reveal at the end so that your followers don’t feel spurned.


Use a Variety of Media

You can crop photos to reveal only a portion of what you’re about to premiere, use small snippets of video or write cryptic clues. Vary your message to make the mystery that much more titillating. As you start getting attention, you can be coy with your responses to comments, letting customers know they just might be on the right track.

Is there a downside to teasing new developments? There absolutely can be. If you don’t follow through with your plans, you may find yourself surrounded by once-eager, now-empty-handed followers who are ready to move on from you. Do your best to preview plans that are already in motion and that you are sure will be completed. As phases of new project are completed, share staggered updates through social media. That way you won’t become a victim of your own hype.  

What big projects are on the horizon for you? A venue change? A brand new product? Maybe an entire re-branding? Whatever it is, use social media to give your next unveiling the attention it deserves.

Through the GrapeVine: Three Lessons from the Death of a Social App

Social Sonar - Monday, June 24, 2013

Last week saw the launch of Instagram Video, an expansion of the popular photo sharing app that lets users tell stories with up to 15 seconds of video instead of just static images.  The response was huge. In just 24 hours, users posted more than 5 million videos. As expected, Twitter’s own video application Vine has suffered as a result of Instagram Video’s popularity, so much so that #RIPVine became a trending hashtag on Twitter. Although it’s not clear if Vine will make a successful comeback, its blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the social media sun does illustrate some interesting ideas.

Easy Come Easy Go

Today’s hottest social media platform could easily be tomorrow’s social media graveyard. Things move quickly online and it’s important to keep up. Having a dedicated user that is up to speed when it comes to online trends is essential. You don’t want to be the only person still trying to make Friendster happen after everyone has moved on!

Video is Big on Mobile

Both Vine and Instagram Video show that users are craving video on mobile, even if it comes in short snippets. Listen to your customers. What can you share about yourself through video that you haven’t shared before? Even in 15 second intervals, the storytelling possibilities are endless. The best tool for becoming an amazing video producer may already be in your hands! You don’t need fancy equipment or trained professionals to get started, so be your own videographer starting today.

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Users Rule

The ebb and flow of popular online platforms is now squarely in the hands of users. Users decide when an application has run its course. When it comes to social media applications, people may be fickle at times, prompting fast changes, but they also have their eye on the next thing that will maximize their participation and take the next innovative step technologically.

Are you an early adopter of Instagram Video? What’s the most creative use you’ve seen for it so far? Share your comments below.

Why Did Nintendo Pass on a Press Conference at E3?

Social Sonar - Friday, June 21, 2013

Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Some aspects of marketing may seem like they’re too tried-and-true to give up, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be subject to some skillful reinvention. Just look at Nintendo’s recent decision to eschew a traditional press conference at E3 (arguably the biggest industry event for videogames in the world) in favor of sharing news with fans through social media. Nintendo’s decision to abstain from putting together a big presentation may have been considered suicide in the past, but that’s not necessarily true in an age where so many of the interactions between customers and the companies they love are happening online.

Instead of relying on one keynote address to summarize upcoming releases, Nintendo decided to use social media channels like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to roll out information directly to fans. It’s a shrewd move that pulls the focus away from creating a one-off event that’s built to impress reporters on the showroom floor and moves the conversation online. It also lets them add depth to their presentations by featuring video interviews with game developers that otherwise may not have been able to share stage time.

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The approach means that users don’t need a plane ticket, special badge or press credentials to be first seat for news. It’s a case study in how to be open, transparent and engaged with lots of followers at once, without having to rely on traditional media outlets to relay information. It also collapses the wall between the conversations that are happening at the event and the ones that are happening online. In the past, users were used to commenting on impressions from journalists reporting from the floor. Now, they don’t have to wait for a slow trickle of information to react to--they can experience it in real time. Here is Regie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo America, explaining more about Nintendo’s unconventional choice.

What do you think about Nintendo’s decision? One thing's for sure, their use of social media instead of a press conference certainly got tongues wagging and became a story in and of itself!

Social Media Is for Lovers

Alison Kawa - Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Last Wednesday my husband and I celebrated our 3rd anniversary at Michael Mina. Neither of us had been to the restaurant before, and we are wary of establishments with a "celebrity chef", but we went based on friends' recommendations. During our meal, the staff was attentive and the food fantastic, but what really made our experience unique was how they handled their social media.

About halfway through the meal, our wedding song "You Make It Easy" by Air came over the speakers. It's not a common song, so I made a remark about the coincidence to our server. Little did I realize my comment was setting in motion one of the most endearing series of events I've ever experienced at a restaurant.

Michael Mina CardMy husband got up to use the restroom and, while he was away, I tweeted, "Having anniversary dinner @MichaelMinaSF and they just randomly played our wedding song You Make It Easy by Air! Time to dance." Shortly after my tweet, we received a handwritten card from the manager wishing us a happy anniversary.

They brought us a slice of cake and a couple glasses of dessert wine, apologizing that, had they known it was our anniversary, they would have started us off with complimentary champagne. At the end of our meal, they brought us a copy of that night's tasting menu with "Happy Anniversary" written on it. By the time we got back to the car, I found they had followed me on Twitter and messaged me "@AlisonKawa thanks for spending your special day with us!!"

We were blown away by their responsiveness. These extra efforts required some care, but they didn't cost the restaurant a lot in time or money. In exchange, they got exposure to all my friends and gave me a brand experience I continue to talk about weeks afterward. If all businesses understood the power of these simple acts of personalization, they could create memorable customer experiences that do more to spread the word about their business than any marketing campaign.

Consider me a Michael Mina brand advocate!

Dig Yourself Out From the Social Media Rabbit Hole

Social Sonar - Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Do you ever get online and immediately feel like you’re hit with a giant wall of noise? Driving your social media strategy forward in an efficient way can be hard when there are so many distractions. How do you make the best of the time you’ve allotted to work on content you plan to publish? Here are three tips to make sure you stay on course instead of disappearing down the internet rabbit hole.

Create a Resource Bank

The internet is a wide, expansive world filled with lots of avenues to explore. That can be a good and bad thing. Trying to find something that catches your eye and feels worthy of sharing can be a long and fruitless task if you don’t know where to look. Don’t surf out to sea without a clear target. Instead, create a resource bank. Collect URLs of websites that you know offer the kind of great content you’re looking for. When you sit down to schedule your next batch of posts, you’ll have a head start.

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Use Google News Alerts

What key terms or words generally come up when you talk about your business? Creating aGoogle Alert (or several of them) is the best way to stay on top of what’s going on in your industry, all without having to leave the comfort of your own e-mail inbox. Do you find yourself drawn to news from the same source over and over? You may have found a new link for your resource bank! If you feel overwhelmed with alerts, try refining your search terms. If you’re too general, you might be casting your net too wide and saturating yourself with information.

Business or Pleasure?

Avoid the temptation to check your personal channels while you’re working on social media for your business. This can be tough, but it’s a good way to make sure you don’t get drawn into answering e-mails or following up on Facebook messages from old acquaintances looking to reconnect. Staying away from your friends’ Twitter feed or timeline also removes the temptation of clicking on links that lead you down the path to distraction. We’re all one cute kitten video away from wasting a lot of precious company time, so enforce a moratorium on baby armadillos, hedgehogs and handholding otters as much as you can. Worried about missing out on viral content? Don’t worry, if it’s truly viral, you are bound to run into it somewhere else, especially on big pages like Reddit or Buzzfeed.

How do you stay on task when you’re working on social media? Do you take on responsibilities yourself, or do you pass them on to a dedicated user? Whichever way you approach it, remember that finding good content and publishing it on time means organizing resources, dedicating attention and blocking out distractions.

Towards A More Talented Tweeter

Social Sonar - Wednesday, June 05, 2013

If you’ve taken a belated plunge into Twitter but still find yourself adrift in a digital sea with no rutter to lead the way, it may be time to refine your tweeting skills. Having a presence on a social media platform is only half the battle. Knowing what to do once you get there is what really separates you from your competition.

#Use Hashtags

If you’re not using hashtags, you’re missing out on some of the biggest conversations on the web. Some of those conversations may even be about you! Hashtags are a way for users to connect with each other and easily search for content on Twitter. Use this handy symbol to reach out to users who might be looking for you.

Searching for hashtags is just as important as using them when you tweet. Look for hashtags related to important industry terms and you can add your voice to an ongoing conversation. A trending hashtag gives you a peek into Twitter’s hive mind and lets you know where the most important conversations are. It might even inspire topics for other platforms like blogging. 

Retweet After Me

You can think of a retweet as a digital high-five. It lets someone know their post was interesting enough to be republished. Your followers will appreciate being featured on your feed, and when you retweet users, they’re more likely to do the same for you. That gives you more exposure and introduces you to a host of new potential followers.

Retweeting retweets can get a little tricky. It’s best to avoid this practice to make sure you don’t fall into an infinite loops of tweets.

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Be Direct

We’re not talking about the fact that with 140 characters pithiness is a priority, although that’s certainly the case. We’re referring to direct messaging, a feature on Twitter that not enough users take advantage of. A direct message feels more personal than a public tweet, so use it when one-on-one contact is preferable. Have a customer dealing with a sensitive and private issue? That's a perfect time to use a direct message.  Knowing the difference between a public tweet and a private message is important, so make sure you familiarize yourself with direct messaging.

Just like any other medium, tweeting comes with its own built-in advantages and limitations. The more creative you are in dealing with the parameters of Twitter, the more users will appreciate your unique style and flair. Using all the tools at your disposal makes you savvier, helps you stay relevant and puts you on course to building a stronger, more confident presence online.

The Benefits of a Dedicated User

Social Sonar - Thursday, April 25, 2013

Does part of your social media plan include having a dedicated user-- someone whose job description includes planning and carrying out your strategy? In a small business setting it's typical, and often times essential, for staff members to wear many different hats. That sometimes means that jobs are shared or passed around as staff members become available to take them on. That approach can be great in some scenarios, but it doesn't mean everyone should have a hand in social media, or that the task should fall to whoever is available in the moment. There are benefits to centralizing your strategy in the hands of one or two people. It allows you to:

Be More Consistent

For a unified tone and approach, it's best to limit the amount of people publishing through your social media outlets. With different writing styles and varying response times to questions from customers, followers may find you unreliable or start seeing individual posts as too disconnected. For cohesion in messaging, which makes for stronger branding, a dedicated user works best.

Consolidate

Are you spread out over various social media platforms? Instead of having different users monitoring different sites, it's better for a dedicated user to have an eye on each of them. On the most practical level, it's easier to keep track of logins and accounts this way. It also allows for the task of tracking data to be centralized in one place, with one person checking in on various platforms and collecting relevant information periodically.

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Make Better Use of Time

Dedicated users translate into dedicated time. Spreading out your social media efforts amongst different staff members can mean that the time and energy spent on your strategy gets diffused. A dedicated user can use blocks of time to tackle answering questions, updating pages and scheduling new content. A piecemeal approach ultimately leaves you one step behind instead of one step ahead.

Does that mean that brainstorming about how to approach your plan should only be limited to the people who execute it? Not at all! It's great to have input from several members of your team during the initial planning phases. This allows you to tap into the creative potential of your team, gather great ideas and develop a plan that's a true representation of your organization. But as you execute specific parts of your strategy, funnel responsibilities towards one or two users who can hold it all together. It's the best way to present a confident overarching narrative that will strengthen your identity and keep your followers engaged.