Is Snapchat a true marketing opportunity?While social media has dominated discussions related to marketing, the question that often arises is how to effectively leverage social media for a strong return on investment. The ability to see value has been harnessed and realized through Facebook, Twitter, and to some degree LinkedIn and Instagram, but the platform that has Internet marketing experts currently buzzing is Snapchat.

Sure, it’s gained a large amount of popularity amongst the high school to college age demographic and it’s famous for turning down a huge payoff to continue to push forward as “the next big thing,” but how can it really be used as a tool for marketing?

Since it is still gaining steam, it’s only really prevalent amongst the younger generation. Savvy marketers like McDonald’s and Taco Bell have begun to promote Snapchat videos which they migrate from their other social media channels. This sort of marketing is effective because it furthers their brand, and marketing powerhouses like McDonald’s can afford to have LeBron James in their ads…which your average business has no chance of accomplishing. These ads are low-cost to promote and the only real cost is likely to pay LeBron whatever sort of unreal payday he receives for being in the ads. But this still leads to the same question, can your everyday business benefit from Snapchat marketing?

It’s not a simple answer, but I would say that Snapchat can be an effective marketing tool for businesses that are targeting a younger clientele. These businesses can promote specific products, offer discounts, and utilize the Snapchat “Stories” feature to entice their audience to engage their brand.

For marketers that cater to an “older” demographic, Snapchat isn’t going to provide them with the sort of value they need to make their marketing efforts worthwhile. Over time, this may change as there was once a time when Facebook was viewed only as a platform “younger people” used…and we all saw how quickly that opinion changed.

Matt Haran - Facebook and HashtagsMost of you have probably heard that Facebook recently unveiled the capability for users to enjoy clickable hashtags on their platform, just like Twitter and Instagram. This is a huge step for Facebook, allowing them to better organize public conversation.

The History

Hashtags are words or even phrases that are tagged with the number or pound symbol (#). They are used heavily on Twitter as well as other social media sites as a form of metadata tag.  The first ever hashtag used on Twitter was from Chris Messina in 2007, “How do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?” The #barcamp hashtag was intended to bundle conversation about the Global Technology Unconference gatherings called Barcamp that Messina helped found. Since then, these hashtags have been selling like #hotcakes…so to speak.

The Haters

The use of hashtagged terms has grown so much in popularity over the years. And, like most things that gain a lot of exposure – the Kardashians, Tan Mom, etc. – there has been some backlash. The use of hashtags on Facebook has even enraged some Facebook users to create a page dedicated to the hatred of hashtags. The page is called, “This is not Twitter. Hashtags don’t work here.” I find this somewhat comical and don’t really see what the fuss is all about, but it seems like the creator of the page is very serious. Users feel as if Facebook is stealing ideas from Twitter, but they are just staying up-to-date with the trends of social media.

How it Works

The way it works is basically just like Twitter, but Facebook can be more private than Twitter. You can either search for, or click on, a hashtag; and when you do so, it brings up a screen with all the recent posts containing that hashtag. However, all of these posts are public posts. If you are not friends with a specific person, their profile posts are only able to be seen by friends.

From a marketing standpoint, it is wiser to allow all Facebook users access to your hashtagged posts. This is a great business and marketing tool, especially when one is trying to gain visibility in a specific market. Your business can also gain the reputation of providing fresh and engaging content when your Facebook page is joining different conversations about a trending topic.

What’s Next in Line

  • Trending Hashtags – Twitter and other social outlets have feeds of trending hashtags but Facebook currently does not.
  • Hashtag Advertising – Advertisers do not have the option to buy Hashtags at the moment, but that is a strong possibility in the near future.
    • The Great GatsbyFilm director Baz Lurhmann is nobody’s fool. When he took the classic text “The Great Gatsby” and adopted it to the screen, he knew that there was no great film version of this beloved book. It had been attempted in the past but never done very well, so when Lurhmann took “The Great Gatsby” and brought 1922 into 2013, he used every avenue available to him – including social media marketing. Here are some ways that 2013’s “The Great Gatsby” film used social media marketing to drive home the experience.

      Facebook

      Cover Photo
      The cover photo on “The Great Gatsby” Facebook page sets the tone for the film. The classy, wide shot shows all the principal players and really drives home the style that Lurhmann was going for.

      The Great Gatsby - Facebook Cover Photo
      Custom Tabs
      “The Great Gatsby” has custom tabs to help drive fans to the movie theaters. This is nothing all that original, but the fact that fans of the film could simply click to “like” or “buy tickets now” made the transition from computer screen to movie screen seamless.

      The Great Gatsby - Facebook Tabs
      Shareable Content
      The volume and quality of material available on “The Great Gatsby” Facebook page makes for great shareable content. There are photos, quotes, videos, behind the scenes information on the making of the movie, and so much more, which allows  fans to really see what this film is all about. Content like this went viral on the movie’s Facebook page, which created even more buzz for the film.

      Video
      There was no shortage of video clips posted online to promote “The Great Gatsby”. Filmmakers need to realize that as soon as they put their films out into the world, they will be available for viewing online, so the key is to provide impactful clips to catch the interest of the online audience before others do. The producers of this movie certainly understood that, and the fact that they offered so much in terms of video clips on all platforms kept fans engaged and wanting to see more on the movie screen.


      Twitter

      The Great Gatsby - TwitterIn the Twitter universe, “The Great Gatsby’s” social media presence also scored big. The use of hashtags for fans to connect and share pictures (#GatsbyPics) made the social media marketing experience interactive, inclusive, and effortless. The marketing team continues to engage with those who mention the film on Twitter, which increases the fans’ enthusiasm for the film. Here is an example of fans on Twitter showing off their Gatsby-inspired outfits before attending the film and sharing it using the hashtag #GatsbyPics. This was later retweeted by “The Great Gatsby” Twitter account.

       


      Tumblr

      The Great Gatsby - TumblrAnother really smart social media move was the Tumblr Fan Art Challenge.  Fans were asked to create an original piece of art from the “The Great Gatsby” film for a chance to win a trip to New York City for the film’s premier. This increased fan engagement, and, like so many of the other social media platforms, led to the fans doing the promoting for the film!  Something else to keep in mind is that “The Great Gatsby” took advantage of its other social platforms to promote the Tumblr contest. Below are some of the entries from the Tumblr Art Challenge displayed on Pinterest.

      Instagram

      People love seeing celebrities in their natural habitat, and “The Great Gatsby” definitely didn’t have a shortage of celebrities for fans to get excited about. There was major online interest in the flurry of Instagram photos showing actors and actresses from the film strutting their stuff on the red carpet.

      Every Aspect of the Film’s Social Media Promotion was Great

      From Facebook to Twitter to Tumblr to Instagram, “The Great Gatsby” took its social media marketing presence to the next level. By engaging the audience, allowing exclusive peeks behind the curtain, and giving like-minded movie goers a way to connect via social media, this film has certainly cast a new mold for future films to follow. Viewers of big blockbusters can expect plenty of chances to connect on social media going forward.

      What did you think of “The Great Gatsby’s” social media marketing presence?

      SEO 101 - WebiMax.com

      In the early days of the Internet, text was the predominant medium through which information was shared with the masses.  In a time before broadband connections, HD videos and even Facebook, the Web was more about functionality than style.  While these technical limitations made for a lackluster user experience, they did create a solid blueprint for today’s Internet.

      When the Web was ruled by text and rudimentary HTML code, pages had to be coded very efficiently in order to load quickly and images and videos were simply out of the question.  Although text still plays a crucial role in the modern Internet, technological advancements have placed multimedia and rich content front-and-center.

      NCS Mosaic vs. Google Chrome - WebiMax.com
      A Tale of Two Browsers: From Mosaic to Chrome – The Evolution of Digital Content

      A Changing of the Guard
      As YouTube, Pinterest and other popular sites geared toward images and videos continue to grow, the focus has begun to shift away from text as the primary form of content on the Internet.  Today, virtually every website utilizes extensive imagery or video content to engage audiences.  Social networks are certainly no exception.

      In fact, social media posts or tweets containing images or videos are more likely to be shared or “liked” than those exclusively comprised of text.  The bottom line is – rich content is the key to a more effective Social Media marketing strategy.

      How to Engage Your Audience with Photos & Videos
      Though I specifically cited YouTube and Pinterest as “media-focused” networks, other social profiles can equally benefit from rich content.  Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn have all recently added enhanced video and photo integration capabilities for user and business profiles.  This functionality allows users to more easily display rich and engaging content.

      However, it is always important to consider your audience.  When creating new rich content, first ask yourself if your consumers would find it helpful or intriguing.  Originality, creativity and even humor are all elements of successful content.  Keep it relevant, fun and informative.  Developing infographics, instructional videos, customer testimonials and new or upcoming product photos are all engaging ways to reach your social following.

      Every successful Social Media Optimization and Marketing campaign begins with delivering quality content to your followers.  By offering up unique, captivating videos and images as part of your content strategy, you’re well on your way to Social Media success!


      Want to learn how to get even more from your Social Media marketing campaign?  Ask our Experts or share your thoughts in the comments below!

      Last night, I started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead (and subsequently developed a strong feeling of jealousy that our Marketing Coordinator, Danelsy Medrano, saw her present at last month’s Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce event). I’m not sure what captivated me more: Sandberg’s journey to becoming COO of Facebook (a dream job, as far as I’m concerned), or the fact that I can relate to her experiences and dilemmas as a woman and a leader. Regardless, I couldn’t put my Kindle down and I’m paying for it today (sorry, SMO team, for the yawning).

      Her memoir/manifesto/however-you-want-to-categorize-it (or not categorize it) helps give women the tools they need to succeed in the workplace by encouraging them to “sit at the table,” raise their hands, and let their voices be loud enough to achieve their goals – to lean in, rather than lean back. Naturally, as I read, I found myself applying the lessons from the book to my own career goals. Then I realized Sandberg’s advice can be applied to the social media marketing campaigns that we manage every day.

      Here are three ways business owners can stop missing opportunities by leaning in when it comes to social media marketing efforts.

      Manager Monday - Lean In

      Do Not Sit on the Side!

      “Seek Challenges”
      Social media networks and strategies are constantly evolving. In fact, simply keeping up with the latest marketing tactics in an ever-changing industry can seem like a challenge itself. Sitting on the side and missing opportunities to build a community around your brand and ultimately convert fans into customers based on the fact that it’s too challenging is not an option.

      Sandberg would recommend pursuing a social media marketing plan because it’s a challenge (and not just because she’s Facebook’s COO). Whether you decide to do your own in-house social media marketing, or you hire an agency, just make sure you “sit at the table” rather than on the side.

      “Take Risks”
      As WebiMax’s Director of Social Media, I’ve noticed that there’s one thing that all of our most successful social media campaigns have in common: the client’s willingness to take risks. A “one size fits all” social media strategy doesn’t exist, so I’ve found that coming up with customized solutions based on each client’s unique marketing needs is the most effective way to increase their online visibility. If you want to maximize the ROI of your social media marketing efforts, you must be willing to take risks that, at times, push you outside of your comfort level.

      “Pursue Goals with Gusto”
      The first step in creating a successful social media campaign is to clearly define the objectives you want to achieve. But, Sandberg would say, it’s not enough to define these goals then quietly “lean back” and hope for the best. Instead, business owners need to take on more leadership. Pursuing business goals with gusto by becoming thought leaders not just Following them, starting relevant and engaging conversations not just participating in them, and generating the content that your audience craves are ways you can lean in to your social media campaign.

      If you hire an agency to help you achieve your goals, it’s important to bring as much enthusiasm to the campaign as if you were performing it yourself. The more passionate you are about the products/services/information that you have to offer, the more successful your social media efforts will be.

      Are you seeking challenges when it comes to your marketing efforts? Are you taking risks and pursuing your goals with gusto? Don’t let opportunity pass you by; lean in to online marketing to make your business dreams a reality.

      Danelsy Medrano & Facebook's Sheryl SandbergWhen you think of Facebook, the most prominent name associated with the brand is undoubtedly Founder & CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.  While his story and rise to success have been publicized in novels and films; Facebook’s COO has only recently come into the spotlight.  Although Sheryl Sandberg has been a key player in Facebook’s growth since 2008, she has largely been “behind-the-scenes” of the social network.  However, she recently made a significant career move outside of Facebook which is likely to help make her a household name, as well.

      This year, Sheryl published her first book entitled, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Leadin which she discusses the roles of women in business leadership.  As one of the most successful businesswomen in the world, Sheryl discusses the importance of women in business and offers insightful and empowering advice to professionals.  Earlier this week, Sheryl was featured at an event hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce which I attended on behalf of WebiMax.  During the presentation, she introduced her story to many business owners and executives in the region.

      During the event, Sheryl spoke about Facebook and her role in the company.  As Chief Operations Officer, she has had a hand in many of the innovations pioneered by network over the past several years, including Open Graph search and the Timeline feature, among others.  Under her guidance, Facebook has become not only the world’s largest social network, but one of the most prevalent advertising and marketing outlets in the world which only continues to grow.

      Professional Insights & The Future of Facebook
      From a personal perspective, this event was very rewarding.  Sheryl’s journey to the top of the corporate world was certainly arduous and her story is inspirational.

      Surprisingly, I learned that the story of her growth as a professional parallels the growth of Facebook in many ways.  From somewhat humble beginnings to international recognition, both Sheryl Sandberg and Facebook have experienced success which is certain to continue in the years ahead.