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:

selfie

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.”

raise the bar ss

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:

bravo ss 2

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.

Throughout this year’s Presidential campaign, Twitter played an instrumental role.  Both candidates expertly utilized the network and kept voters engaged by addressing major issues and promoting their public appearances.  As our own social media expert, Mike Stricker pointed out in a comment on one of my previous posts; Barack Obama was even responsible for generating the most re-tweets in history for a political message on Twitter.

Following the election, Twitter released an interesting new application, the Political Engagement Map, which demonstrates the impact of the candidates’ most influential tweets.

Twitter's Political Engagement Map

The tool breaks down the tweets by state, engagement level and even keywords.  Not only is it intriguing to see which tweets drove the best results for Romney and Obama, but it’s also interesting to learn more about the demographics which had the most online social influence on the campaign itself.

Furthermore, a re-working of the Political Engagement Map application could prove to be very useful to social media marketers in order to learn more about their own engagement levels and demographics.  Although Twitter hasn’t announced any plans to develop the application beyond its current form, it is good to see the network delivering new offerings to its users and I hope to see more tools like this from Twitter in the future.

To check out the Political Engagement Map for yourself, visit https://election.twitter.com/map/.

What do you think about Twitter’s Political Engagement Map?  Leave a comment or reach out to me via email or Twitter!

Earlier today, I read an article posted on Reuters.com discussing the impact of Twitter on this year’s historic Presidential election.  One quote within the article that particularly stood out was:

“Through the course of a long and bitter presidential campaign, Twitter often served as the new first rough draft of history.”

It’s a great point and a hard one to disagree with.  In fact, last night truly displayed the power of Twitter as one of the most significant public media outlets, both on and offline.  A record-breaking 31 million tweets related to the election spread throughout the Web last night, with 23 million of those appearing between 6pm EST and midnight.  Just after 11pm, Twitter users generated an incredible 327,000 tweets per minute leading up to the announcement of Obama’s victory.  According to Twitter’s spokeswoman, Rachael Horwitz, the election was “the most tweeted about event in U.S. political history.”

Although President Obama and Mitt Romney aggressively utilized Twitter during their respective campaigns, last night’s unprecedented social engagement levels truly brought the network to the forefront of mainstream news and media.

Twitter, as well as Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and other prominent social networks, provide a level of both visibility and credibility to individuals and organizations that have proven difficult to achieve through other platforms.  With both candidates extensively using social networks to help gain votes and raise greater awareness to their campaigns, the popularity of these networks has soared and only continues to grow and prove their value as promotional tools.

Last night, history was undoubtedly made as the incumbent President was re-elected.  Before I was even able to get to the nearest TV or radio to find out who would be residing in the White House for the next four years, the following tweet appeared on my Twitter feed:

Today, as Obama begins to prepare for four more years in office, myself and thousands of other social media users will remember the tweet that announced his victory to the world and the instrumental role social media played throughout this historic campaign.

Although this year’s election has been the most expensive in US history to date (with a total price tag of over $2 billion), the most significant platform utilized by both Romney and Obama to enhance their visibility throughout the campaign may, surprisingly, be the most cost effective, as well.  Social media first proved its worth in the political arena during President Obama’s groundbreaking 2008 campaign.  The usage of YouTube and Facebook to connect with a vast, diverse audience had undeniably helped Obama pull ahead in the polls and capture coveted demographics in crucial swing states such as Ohio.

By creating a new form of “digital grassroots” campaign, Obama was able to successfully reach voters who spent more time on Facebook and YouTube than watching C-SPAN or reading political publications.  Additionally, the least expensive element of Obama’s campaign proved to be the social media component, as the President’s social following was largely organic and the campaign’s online ad spend was far less than its print and television counterparts.  The first ever “Social Election” was a complete success and had paved the way for future campaigns.

Fast Forward to 2012…
As the incumbent, Obama now maintains a sizeable lead in terms of social following.  As mentioned by both Todd Bailey and Mike Stricker in our “Social Media & Election 2012” Web series, Obama’s following has been substantially greater than Mitt Romney’s on networks such as Facebook and Twitter since the outset.  However, Romney’s campaign has placed a strong emphasis on social media and this has made the race to the White House much more competitive.

While the size and scope of this campaign has been greater than any before it, the role of social media marketing has played an instrumental role in the overall reach of the campaign.  Going forward, candidates will almost certainly need to make social media a major part of their campaign efforts in order to raise awareness and establish themselves amongst the ever-expanding Internet audience.

SEO is almost constantly evolving, growing and becoming more complex, but regardless of how search engine optimization techniques change; content will always be an important component of online marketing initiatives.

While a majority of my posts emphasize the benefits of rich content and multimedia within Internet marketing campaigns, the role of blogs, articles and other on-site text is as crucial as ever before.  In fact, creating more effective and “SEO-friendly” content is a primary objective of many campaigns.

Since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates made their now-infamous debuts, words like “quality” and “relevance” have become prevalent in the SEO community, but creating strong, relevant content is only the first step.  Search engines actually encourage the promotion and distribution of such content and have even developed useful tools to help authors achieve greater visibility within the SERPs.  The following strategies are amongst the most effective in the industry for authors and marketers looking to enhance the reach and visibility of their content:

Utilizing Authorship
When properly utilized, Google Authorship can be an excellent resource for content creators and can help to increase overall visibility and social engagement within Google+.

Chris Countey - Google Authorship

Notice how a Google search of the term “Chris Countey” returns results from sites on which our own SEO guru is featured as an author?  Additionally, when Chris is mentioned by other contributors with authorship enabled, those results appear prominently on the SERP, as well.  Authorship offers distinct advantages to content creators and definitely provides value within SEO campaigns.

Social Media Promotion
Outside of G+, networks such as Facebook and Twitter provide prime promotional real estate.  Sharing, tweeting and liking have played a part in social media marketing and optimization campaigns for quite some time now, but using these platforms to promote blog posts, articles and other content has also helped many SEOs achieve greater success and higher visibility.

PR & Media Outreach
There are opportunities for content creators that go beyond guest blogging and social promotion.  PR efforts such as press releases, media outreach and interviews provide major platforms for content creators to enhance their audience on a local, national and even global scale.  Some Internet marketing firms are already offering PR services and more are likely to jump on the bandwagon in the months ahead due to its proven success.

Speaking of PR, I’ll be presenting at next week’s Agile SEO Meetup and further elaborating on the role of public relations and media outreach within online marketing campaigns.  Click the link to check it out live next Monday (the 12th) at 7pm EST or tune in online via Webex.

As always, I’d like to hear your thoughts on content marketing and optimization and all things SEO.  Reach out to me directly at brymshaw@webimax.com or find me on Twitter: @brwebimax.