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.

One of the most important shifts in recent SEO history is the way that important metrics are captured and analyzed.

Traditionally, SEO focused on the movement of individual keywords in the search engine results pages to show the success of a campaign. Today, a strong SEO strategy incorporates social media and public relations as well as on- and off-site SEO tactics, so success indicators have evolved as well. This leaves many business owners and marketers wondering what a “successful” Internet marketing campaign looks like in 2014.

In an effort to help clear up any confusion around digital marketing success indicators, we hosted a webinar on April 15th called “SEO 2014: The Key Metrics Beyond Rankings.” We’ve uploaded it to Slideshare & YouTube, in case you missed it.

Watch it on YouTube here:

View it on Slideshare here:

If you have any questions about the webinar, or if you need help measuring the results of your online marketing efforts, contact WebiMax to learn more.

At the dawn of the Internet, the focus by advertisers was on broad, mass appeal advertising. Brands were consumed with generic level keywords and dominating positions around these terms was the sole focus of many companies – and make no mistake, it worked well for those fortunate enough to dominate the search landscape. Over time, things have changed….Web users are savvier, they don’t want generic answers, they want specific answers. This scenario has created a world of opportunity for advertisers who can now more firmly focus on a niche rather than just a broad based objective.

A focus that I feel adds value to brands is understanding what their identity is and truly defining their demographic. By working to segment your target audiences and understanding how they engage with your product offering or service, smart marketers are able to offer different channels for prospects to enter and engage. For example, if you run a company that provides repair services to cell phones, you need to find customers who need this service. You break down the needs around different demographics and create funnels for the consumers to enter. I always feel semantics play a large part in driving the right targeted traffic. In many cases, we recommend setting up several different websites with very specific niche focuses to entice customers to engage.

The Internet is a large, ever growing playing field. The more real estate you have on the Web, the more chance you have of being found. The ability to focus in on a niche and dominate the niche while expanding that same process across to your other demographics will provide you with a campaign strategy that outpaces your competition.

International Franchise ExpoIf a company is franchised, it’s safe to say that they’re doing something right. Franchising is a business practice that’s experiencing an impressive level of global growth in the current business world. Becoming a franchise is equated with success in large part because it takes a business plan that has proven to be successful to grow in such a way, and because such growth creates job opportunities and a place to put collaborative ideas to work, it’s easy to see why hundreds of thousands of small businesses aspire to join the movement.

E-commerce and online marketing is part of the reason franchising is becoming so popular on the global scale. Now more than ever, business owners have access to the tools, storefront platforms, and audiences they need to brand themselves and secure new clients.

Since helping businesses gain traction is what WebiMax is all about, the International Franchise Expo in NYC is an event we’re thrilled to attend. As the largest franchise expo in the United States, this event is an opportunity for attendees to network with over 400 of the country’s top franchises, learn how to grow their own franchises, find opportunities with others in their field, and gain insight about ways to catalyze their business’s growth. Whether you’re looking to get on board with an established franchise or seeking tips as a new franchise owner, this is an event you won’t want to miss.

No matter what industry you’re interested in, the International Franchise Expo is going to have an opportunity for you. The event is put together specifically to connect investors and those seeking opportunity with franchises that have opportunities to offer. It’s a unique and invaluable experience for franchisees to learn the ropes and find out about new and exciting industries. The event runs this Thursday through Saturday, the 20th to the 22nd, so drop by our booth if you’re going to stop in! We’ll be at booth number 373 for the entirety of the event. Hope to see you there!

2013 Paradigm Awards Last Friday, I attended the 2013 Paradigm Award ceremony at the Hyatt at the Bellevue’s Grand Ballroom in Philadelphia, PA and I was fortunate enough to witness this year’s honoree, Denise Morrison of Campbell’s Soup Company, accept the prestigious award.  Presented by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the yearly luncheon was organized to celebrate and recognize prominent professional women in the area and their contributions to local businesses.

As President & CEO of Campbell’s, Denise’s guidance has helped the company achieve success across the board, but what intrigued me the most about Denise’s acceptance speech was learning that one of Campbell’s biggest apparent challenges as a business is adapting their model to the digital age.

While Campbell’s is a brand name that has long been synonymous with soup, several competitors have emerged in the industry within recent years and have quickly gained ground, both offline and online.  This competition has given Campbell’s incentive to maximize their marketing efforts and reach a new audience on the Web while still striving to maintain their significant offline presence, as well.

Many of the Paradigm Award attendees understood Denise’s goal to build a stronger presence online, as these local business owners and managers have worked to enhance their marketing strategy in recent years.  With a stronger focus on their social media marketing and on-site user experience, Campbell’s has been able to tap into the lucrative Internet market and businesses (both locally and nationally) have followed suit.

The Internet has changed many businesses on a fundamental level and even large companies like Campbell’s are no exception.  As a truly forward-thinking and innovative CEO, Denise Morrison’s push to make Campbell’s a more Web-focused business has not only enhanced their brand recognition but helped to increase their revenue, as well.

WebiMax congratulates Denise Morrison on receiving the Paradigm Award and we look forward to next year’s ceremony!

For more on the Paradigm Awards, visit the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce website at www.greaterphilachamber.com/paradigm.  Want to know when WebiMax will be attending a conference or networking event near you?  Follow us on Twitter: @WebiMax to find out!

I love Andy Cohen.

For anyone who isn’t a reality TV junkie like me, he’s the Executive Vice President of Development and Talent at the Bravo network. He also hosts the Real Housewives reunion shows and Bravo’s late night show Watch What Happens Live.

Basically, he’s who I can thank for bringing level-ten drama and hilarity into my living room every night.

I could go on and on about the reasons why he’s so great, but I’ll spare you the countdown of my favorite WWHL moments and focus only on what’s relevant here: Andy Cohen has an exceptional ability to use social media to connect with his audience, build his brand, and generate buzz for the network.

As the Social Media Manager at WebiMax, I have a deep appreciation for the way he integrates his fans into all of his television episodes. Here’s a list of 5 social media tips that any brand or marketer can learn from Andy Cohen.

5. Be Approachable

Part of what makes Andy so successful on his late night TV show and in the social media world is that he’s as relatable in the WWHL Clubhouse as he is in his Facebook posts and tweets. He even takes Instagram “selfies” from his dressing room and shares them on Twitter:

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When it comes to social media marketing, brands should make an effort to be personable. It’s this approachability that encourages the user engagement that is so important to a successful campaign. Humanize your business – put faces to the names of your execs; let their personalities shine.

4. Reward Your Fans

Andy Cohen is always rewarding his fans: he sends signed copies of his book to those who call into his show and he even invites super-fans to be guest bartenders in the Clubhouse through a video contest called “Raise the Bar.”

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Turning enthusiastic fans into brand advocates who tweet and blog about your products or services is a smart way to get more value from social media marketing efforts. Rewarding these engaged customers for their loyalty will help you create a powerful marketing force that will generate sales for you. First, find out what these fans want the most and find a way to indulge those cravings.

3. Be Consistent

Every episode of WWHL has a formula: every night there’s a secret drinking game word; Andy announces his “mazel” and “jackhole” of the day; he has “game time!” with his guests; viewers call in with their questions for Andy or whoever is in the Clubhouse that night; and Andy takes a poll in which viewers vote on an answer to a question that usually has to do with the most recent drama on any of Bravo’s reality shows and announces the results at the end of the episode:

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As an avid viewer, not only do I look forward to each one of these components of his show, but now I expect them. Consistency is a basic marketing concept that should be applied to your social media posts in order to create a sense of reliability that people respond to. The first 100 times I saw one of these polls on WWHL I didn’t bother to vote, but now I find myself wanting to chime in every once in a while – a perfect example of how consistent messages and methods boost engagement.

The key is to also be persistent. Just because you don’t get a ton of user engagement right away doesn’t mean people aren’t seeing your messages or relating to them. Being consistent and persistent with your content and strategies is an effective way to get the most out of your social media marketing.

2. Engage, Engage, Engage

In addition to the WWHL poll questions, Andy Cohen is constantly soliciting questions from his fans for his guests via Facebook and Twitter. Then he chooses the best questions to ask during his live show which makes the viewing experience interactive:

andy cohen fb ss

He built his persona by interacting with fans on Twitter and commenting on his show’s online forums, so Andy Cohen is a pro when it comes to engaging with fans. Integrating these tactics into WWHL and his Real Housewives reunion shows by reading viewer questions accomplishes two things: it allows viewers to participate in the shows they love, and it rewards those who take the time to enter their questions.

Social media marketers take note – fostering action and engagement by talking with your audience instead of AT them is most effective. Interacting with fans and followers by asking what they think, feel, and need encourages them to treat your brand like a true friend and ultimately encourages behaviors that help promote the brand.

1. Listen to Your Audience

A few months ago, Andy Cohen invited Jill Zarin, a former Real Housewives of New York cast member, to the Clubhouse for a special episode of WWHL to discuss how the decision was made by Bravo to fire her from the show. Andy explained,

We were looking to shake the show up. The viewers were the ones that, to us, dictated that they wanted something to change. That last reunion, I think you would agree, was incredibly toxic for everyone involved and when it was over the viewers and then the producers and then Bravo said ‘What can we do to change it?’

Notice how Andy listed the viewers first in the series of people who contributed to the decision to fire Jill and some of her cast mates. Because Andy Cohen is so engaged with the Bravo audience, he is in tune with what they want. And, he’s prepared to give it to them, as he proved when he awkwardly dismissed Jill from her role on the show.

Listening to your audience and giving them what they want is the most important part of social media marketing. Hearing what your customers have to say about your brand is only one part of the process; putting those opinions into action is the step that takes engagement and user feedback to the next level.

How do you achieve social media marketing success? Is there anything you think I’ve left off this list? Do you love Andy Cohen as much as I do? Share your thoughts by leaving me a comment.