Now available on demand, Double the ROI of your B2B PR Efforts: Stuff Your Agency Either Doesn’t Know, or Forgot to Tell You
It’s hard to believe that the Panel Picker for the 2013 SXSW Interactive Festival is already open–weren’t we just there like, yesterday?
Apparently things move fast in the world of SXSW. Like last year, we submitted a handful of panel/session ideas, and would appreciate a quick vote and share of them. Here they are:
Thanks in advance for your votes!
Happy official release day to our CEO, Bill Leake, for his book Complete B2B Online Marketing! If you’re looking for a practical, well-written guide to B2B online marketing that ISN’T dry, this is your book.
Bill, Lauren and Maura did an awesome job–this really is a must-have for all B2B marketers (and I’m not just saying that because Bill is my boss ).
Want to win a free copy? Check out our official book landing page. The winner will be drawn this Friday.
Want to win a free copy of Complete B2B Online Marketing, co-written by our very own Bill Leake? Hop on over to our Complete B2B Online Marketing page and enter to win today!
I often tell people that if there’s one subject I love more than marketing, it’s politics. Considering we’re in an election year, the past few months have been nothing short of entertaining.
In 2004, the Howard Dean campaign really used social media for the first time, embracing the power of the internet and websites such as meetup.com. In 2008, the power of social media was really unleashed, and there’s no denying that the Obama campaign simply nailed social media four years ago. They used it to energize their young voting bloc, to spread the word and create that grassroots wildfire that led to his election. It was smart, it was innovative, and the McCain campaign couldn’t ever seem to get the hang of this whole Twitter thing.
Switch to 2012, and my oh my how things have changed. In 2008, social media success was clearly divided between Democrats and Republicans, with Democrats out performing Republicans. For whatever reason, Democratic candidates just got it. My guess is that younger voters tend to skew Democrat, and at the time the majority of social media users were still skewing younger (i.e. under age 25). It’s amazing how much has changed in four short years, and how the tables have seemingly turned.
Like I said, I love politics, and I’m fairly vocal on where I stand politically. I also follow a lot of candidates, congressmen, pundits and analysts on all of my social media networks, and I have to say that this election cycle, conservatives are nailing this Twitter thing. Seriously. I’ve lost count of the number of hashtags people such as Michelle Malkin, Dana Loesch, the Twitchy team and others have created and gotten to trend not just for minutes, but for hours at a time. As I’ve watched these hashtags trend (and even participated a few times), I’ve also tried to figure out what it is that makes them trend. Let’s face it, politics is nothing more than personal marketing, and even though politics is supposedly one of those “forbidden” subjects, I think marketers could all learn a little something from watching what trends and what doesn’t this political season.
So far as I’ve seen, the things that trend and keep trending for more than 30 minutes seem to be those that are funny, witty, extremely current and relevant. One of the first times I noticed this was right after the Romney campaign referenced an excerpt from Obama’s “Dreams of My Father,” in which President Obama admits that while visiting his father he ate dog meat. The Interwebs took this story and ran with it (as they should have–it’s a great opportunity for snarky jokes to abound, no matter which side of the fence you’re on), and along came a very tongue in cheek hashtag–#obamadogrecipes–that ended up inspiring several memes. While the Obama campaign was a bit up in arms about it, even MSNBC’s Joe Scarbrough had a good laugh over the whole deal. And even though this happened back in April, the hashtag is still being used.
When the Obama campaign released The Life of Julia, #julia quickly became a trending hashtag. If I recall correctly, it was started by Democrats as a way to promote Obama’s latest campaign piece, but then Republicans quickly took over because they were pretty insulted by the whole thing, not to mention the fact that just days before Twitter had been all abuzz over the “composite” girlfriend Obama talked about in his biography. Parody accounts were created, blogs were written, and several conservative websites created alternative lives for Julia. Again, the responses were mostly funny, but some were serious. The key, though, was that people got to talking.
There are many, many other examples, but the word count for this thing is already close to 600. The thing, though, that I’ve been thinking about the past few months is that marketers have a lot to learn from politics, or at least how political commentary goes viral. Some of us would give our left foot for a piece of content to go viral, and yet most of us never figure out what the formula is. Mostly, it seems a lot like luck combined with simply having GOOD content that engages Internet users. When looking at the viral nature of hashtags–especially in politics–it seems to me the ones that pick up the most steam and a life of their own are the ones that are funny. Yes, that humor leans more to the snarky side, but I think that’s part of what makes memes so popular in the first place. Some of them are just plain goofy, but a lot of them are just chock full of smart-assed wit (or maybe that’s just the memes I tend to look at?). Still, though, there’s a commonality between hashtags that trend and go viral, and that common thread seems to be humor and intelligence. Yes, while I was writing this a few days ago, #PennState was trending due to the Freeh Report being released that morning, but also trending? #WhatJoeBidenWillSayToNAACP. Both trended for quite some time that day, because both touch on different emotions. The Penn State scandal is despicable, which is something everyone can agree on and has had people talking for months. The Joe Biden one? Well, it’s safe to say that Biden just leaves himself wide open for jokes to be hurled his way. I mean, this is the man who once said, regarding Barack Obama, “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.” The jokes kind of write themselves, amirite?
So what do you think causes a hashtag to trend and go viral? And what can marketers learn from politics this election season in order to help our own campaigns go viral?
Our Pinterest boards have been a little quiet lately, but we still managed to scrounge up a few favorite pins from the past few weeks.
Sometimes we Apogeeans do some pretty cool things, like ziplining through a rain forest, blowing up bowling pins at a gun range, speaking at SXSW and even writing a book. Okay, so maybe the thought of writing a book doesn’t seem as awesome as blowing stuff up or being suspended above a rain forest floor, but writing a book is a pretty amazing accomplishment (seriously–as a writer I often hear, “I’ve always wanted to write a book…” from people who will never even start a manuscript much less finish one). So join us in celebrating our CEO Bill Leake’s accomplishment.
Complete B2B Online Marketing
From the Back Cover:
Master Today’s B2B Online Marketing
This practical guide is for B2B marketers who want to leverage today’s search engine marketing and social media technologies to attract, nurture, convert, and generate leads. It’s the perfect B2B online crash course—you’ll quickly learn how to engage in social media and attract visitors to your site, apply social media listening and monitoring tools, and maximize the impact of banner ads and landing pages. By book’s end, you’ll better understand important strategic and branding issues, the best ways to track results, the secrets of sound SEO, and more. Packed with instructive case studies and hands-on tutorials, this is the ultimate how-to on successful B2B online marketing.
- Identify your product value and establish an online brand
- Drive quality leads to your site with paid search, display, and social ads
- Nurture those leads with good content—emails, webinars, and more
- Create websites and landing pages that make visitors want to stick around
- Apply the very latest search engine optimization techniques
- Chat up visitors and engage your customers with social media
- Allocate your resources for success outcomes
- Track and measure your efforts with top listening and monitoring tools
- Generate reports that are targeted—and actually helpful
- Integrate your marketing with CRM and complex sales cycles
“If you were looking for yet another boring B2B marketing book, keep looking. If you were looking for an absorbing, practical guide to sexy B2B marketing, then you’ve found it! From targeting to relevant messaging to nurturing to acquisition, let the authors show you how to truly rock it.”—Avinash Kaushik, Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google and author of Web Analytics 2.0
“Business-to-business online marketing is hard. Luckily, these experts are veteran B2B online marketers and excellent communicators—you want them on your side!”—Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners, author of Landing Page Optimization, Chair of Conversion Conference
“If you run a B2B company or are involved in marketing, this book is a must-read. Those that learn these tactics and concepts have significant market share to gain, and those that do not will feel the consequences.”—Aaron Kahlow, CEO of Online Marketing Institute
Available in stores Tuesday, June 10, 2012
Every now and then, cool stuff happens. Like yesterday afternoon, when we came across this infographic that lists our CEO, Bill Leake, as one of the top 25 most influential PPC experts. Pretty cool to be included on that list.
Here’s the infographic, courtesy of PPCHero. Who would you have included on the list?
The word on everyone’s lips lately is “Pinterest.” Women love it, men are hesitant to use it, and most marketers are confused by it. The concept is easy enough. At its core it’s a social bookmarking site: a digital bulletin board where users can pin their favorite internet findings. But unlike Twitter, Facebook, or Digg, Pinterest is driven by visual imagery. Just visit Pinterest and your eyes will feast upon scores of aesthetically pleasing images: designer shoes, luxurious beach destinations, creative craft ideas, and a puppy or two. And while the aforementioned seems to indicate that Pinterest is a largely female driven site, word is spreading and gents are beginning to take interest. If your business is a male-focused brand, check out The Bro’s Guide to Pinterest by Ryan Sammy. It has some great ideas on how male brands can still build a brand presence on Pinterest.
Even if you’re not a wedding planner or home decorator, you can (and should) still utilize Pinterest’s growing user base. According to Hubspot.com, Pinterest has more than 10 million unique visitors, making it a great tool in your marketing arsenal. Many marketers are finding that Pinterest is driving more traffic to their site than most social sites, and consequentially converting more users into buyers.
It drives traffic, it converts, and (ask any Pinterest user and they will tell you) it’s addictive. It’s a fresh new way to organize and share your favorite things. I’m a user as of January 2012, and already I find it a great way to organize my favorite recipes and cool infographics.
Promote Your Brand through Pinterest
Alright, so we know it’s the hip new kid on the block, but, as marketers, how should we approach it? Here are just a few ways you can use Pinterest to build your followers and attract more customers.
1. Create Multiple Pin Boards
Your first step is to create pin boards where you can share your content. Give your pin boards unique and interesting titles that will grab users’ attention. Bergdorf Goodman created a board titled “I have a weakness for…” where they pin pictures of shoes, places, sweets and even celebrities, making it a diverse and appealing hub for sharing ideas. Use this approach to build your presence and extend your audience reach. Don’t simply crowd your boards with your own products. This will not only look like spam, it will deter Pinterest users from following you. Instead, use these pin boards as an opportunity to show users your brand’s personality. What kind of books do you like? Where have you travelled, or would like to travel? Middle Sister Wines does an excellent job of diversifying their boards to bring in more users. Not only do they have pin boards for both their white and red wine selections, but they have boards where they can share their favorite quotes, art, and recipes.
2. Post Fresh, Attractive Content
It’s important to note the word “attractive.” As opposed to Twitter or Digg, Pinterest is visually driven. When pinning a piece of content to a board, the image associated with that content is the lead. For example, if you decide to pin an article about the “Health Benefits of Peanut Butter” on your board, the article’s image will become the link to that article. Whereas Digg uses the article’s title to draw in users, Pinterest uses the image to reel them in. So if you hope to draw Pinterest users to your peanut butter article, you better have a delicious mouth watering photo of peanut butter to attract them. The key takeaway here is this: it isn’t enough to have interesting content. You must have an intriguing description coupled with a captivating image. If you don’t have a professional photographer or graphic designer, now is the time to invest in one.
3. Engage with Customers
Just like any social site, Pinterest can be a great way to engage with your customers and potential customers. Repinning is the key here. If you repin a user’s image, that user is more likely to visit your boards and see what you have to offer that they themselves can repin. Go beyond that by commenting on various pins that your brand is related to. Just like Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest has the potential to become a great venue for customer interaction. Have a new product that could use customer feedback? Pin it and prompt your followers to leave their opinions.
Don’t forget to track it!
As online marketers, it’s not enough to set up Pinterest boards and expect them to work. Track how much traffic Pinterest is directing to your site by setting up an advanced segment in your Google Analytics. You might be surprised to learn just how much Pinterest influences your conversions!
Usually, I post pins from boards we’re following from our Apogee Results Pinterest account. In the past couple of weeks, though, I’ve personally started following a board that has made me pay attention, because quite frankly it’s an awesome use of social media.
First, some background.
I’ve been a fan of matchbox twenty (take note of how they’re using social media on their website) since 1996 when “push” was first released (back when they were known as matchbox20 *g*). Considering I cut my musical teeth on musicians such as Tom Petty, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Bryan Adams, Foreigner and Bon Jovi with some Skynyrd and Nugent thrown in for good measure, it’s really no surprise that I fell in love with those five guys (they’re now down to four). Sixteen years later, they’re still my favorite band and “push” is still my favorite song. I follow them on Twitter and Facebook (Rob Thomas, too, FWIW), and back in college was a frequent poster on their fan club message boards. It’s safe to say I am totally a matchbox twenty fan girl. So again, it was no surprise that when they announced they had a Pinterest account I immediately started following them.
From a fan’s standpoint, I love the fact that they’re interacting and releasing a new album later this year. From a marketer’s standpoint, however, I am absolutely loving what they’re doing via social media, especially on Pinterest.
These guys (or whoever’s doing their marketing, I know Paul and Rob are very involved in the band’s social media interactions) know their audience. Anyone who’s ever been to one of their live shows would agree with me when I say that their fan base is at least 70% female. Yes, there are men who like them, but the overwhelming majority of their fans are female. Considering most of their fans seem to be around my age (late 20s to late 30s), Pinterest was a brilliant move on their part, since that’s where a lot of us 30-something year old women are.
So how are they using Pinterest? Their boards are clearly defined and have very definite purposes, from promotion of their latest single to fan interaction. For example:
1. She’s So Mean. Scheduled to be their first single off the new album, “She’s So Mean” will be released later this month. Their She’s So Mean board is an awesome example of fan interaction via Pinterest. Basically, people will pin photos with the hashtag #shessomean, provide a caption or reason for tagging it as such, and the band will repin it to their She’s So Mean board. One of the biggest problems marketers face on Pinterest is a lack of fan interaction. Yes, it’s great when fans repin your pins, but interaction beyond that has been hard to come by for a lot of marketers.
2. “Found Twenty” Fan Photos. This is a board that’s crossed over from Twitter and Facebook, which I love. The basic premise is that fans in the past have tweeted or posted to Facebook photos with things that feature the number 20, like interstate signs and such. Again, the band uses a hashtag–#foundtwenty–in order to increase and encourage fan participation. And again, I love that it’s one more way for fans to interact via Pinterest (and other social media outlets–it’s a great example of consistency across social media channels, which is also super important to marketers).
3. Official Music Videos. Incorporating video into your Pinterest account? Yes, please! They also posted some videos I didn’t know existed, which was pretty cool. Posting videos has also encouraged fans to comment on the pins, which is just one more form of fan interaction, plus every video goes back to their YouTube channel, giving them some extra link juice. Every video except for one has 30+ repins, with “If You’re Gone” leading the pack at 77. Not bad for a video that was pinned two weeks ago.
4. Lyrical Photos. matchbox twenty has always been a band that’s embraced its fans (at least, that’s how it’s always seemed to me). And goodness knows, fans can be a little, well, fanatical. Some are creative. Some are a bit, well, “emo” for lack of a better term. Right after I graduated from college, I went through this phase of creating LiveJournal user icons in Photoshop that were usually comprised of a faerie and super sad and depressing song lyrics (lots of “push,” along with “She Will Be Loved” by Maroon5, if I recall correctly). At 23 I was about as emo as they came. Basically, this board embraces the emo in their fans, not to mention the creativity and simple love of the band’s lyrics (which are admittedly awesome). I love that the band is giving a hat tip to their fans, and showcasing the fan rather than the band.
5. Live. This board is basically live shots from their various tours, aka “time to drool over Rob Thomas.” Fans appreciate that, too. From a marketing standpoint, the photos do a great job of capturing the essence of a matchbox twenty live show–energetic with a focus on the music rather than crazy pyrotechnics.
6. Matchbox Art. Again, the guys are allowing their fans’ creativity to shine through. The best form of marketing is word of mouth, we all know that. Showing fan love and appreciation is one of the best forms of word of mouth marketing out there for a band, IMO.
7. Webisodes. This is the band’s newest board, but the one I’m guessing fans will probably gravitate towards the most over the next few months, as this is where the band is posting sneak peeks at their new album and going behind the scenes and into the studio. I know I watched it as soon as it was posted.
This is the first band I’ve followed on Pinterest, and is the first band I know of that’s actively on Pinterest (I know some musicians have their own personal boards, but not one that’s dedicated specifically to marketing themselves and interacting with fans). Like I said before, matchbox twenty obviously knows their audience. The teenage girls and women in their early 20s who fell in love with them in the late 90s are now grown ups, and most likely are married with kids. Those are the women on Pinterest–the women looking for new recipes, summer activities and tips on braiding their daughters’ hair. Or they’re like me, and use it to post snarky memes and things to do with used wine bottles. The point is, though, their fan base has grown up, and so has the band. I’m so happy as a fan and a marketer to see that they’re going where their fans are, encouraging fan interaction and using Pinterest in a pretty cool way. As a marketer, I’ve definitely taken note. As a fan? Yeah, I’m totally squeeing with fan girl joy.