[Note: Some links lead to pages containing profanity and are Not Safe For Work (NSFW).]
It might seem like outrageous comic website The Oatmeal, and online fund-raising for nonprofits have little in common. And they didn’t—until this week.
The result is a case study about for nonprofits on social media monitoring, message amplification and word-of-mouth-marketing. And what a colorful little case study it is!
It all started last year, when Matthew Inman, the comic artist behind The Oatmeal, wrote a blog post complaining about a website called FunnyJunk, that had been posting his original content without permission or attribution.
On Monday, The Oatmeal revealed that he'd received a cease-and-desist letter from a lawyer for FunnyJunk, indicating that he had defamed the website and used the blog post to boost his own search engine rankings. [Editorial comment: Huh? How exactly does that SEO strategy work?] The letter concluded by saying the Oatmeal would be sued unless he paid $20,000.
In typical irreverent fashion, The Oatmeal’s response was to instead start a campaign to raise an equivalent amount of money—and donate half to the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) and half to the American Cancer Society.
He created a fund-raising campaign on third-party site Indiegogo and alerted his 602,000 fans on Facebook and 275,747 followers on Twitter. The fund-raising page itself was shared by visitors through embedded social sharing links: 4,500 likes on Facebook and over 1,000 tweets on Twitter.
It raised the $20,000 in 64 minutes. Within 24 hours, the campaign had surpassed $100,000. At the time of this posting, donations are nearing $153,000.
It's an incredible show of support for Inman and his site and, of course, a nice windfall for the charities he chose to support. But what larger lessons can non-profits learn from the story? Here's what I think:
- Social media is about listening, not just talking. This campaign is raising funds for two non-profits—neither of which were involved in its creation or even notified before it was launched. But the NWF paid attention and by the next day had posted grateful responses on Facebook and Twitter.
- Your fans can amplify your message. Keep the story of your good work visible and fans will help you spread the word. Give them opportunities to share their participation with you with others. Stay top of mind and you may be the organization chosen to benefit from an independent fund-raising campaign.
- New audiences can be found anywhere. The Oatmeal’s campaign was funded by over 7,000 contributors. Many of them may already have heard of the NWF and the American Cancer Society but some may have not. Another recent example comes from popular comedian Louis C.K. Last year, he independently released a downloadable concert video for $5 and contributed a portion of the profits to 5 charities, including The Fistula Foundation, a less well-known cause to which he had a personal connection, granting them one of the widest audiences they’d had to date.
Once the campaign concludes, the Oatmeal will no doubt post more updates, giving these charities further opportunities to interact with his thousands of fans.
You never know where the spotlight on your nonprofit may come from, but you can be prepared to shine when it does.
CDG Interactive provides social media strategy and management; Contact Us today to find out how we can craft your social media plan. Our training site, PowerUp Social, teaches small to medium businesses how to harness social media for marketing and promotion.
All non-profit organizations using social media share at least one goal: using these platforms to both reach and amplify their audience.
Whether you’re looking to increase awareness of your mission, gather signatures for a petition or drive online revenue—donations, tickets, sponsorships, membership—the more people you reach, the better.
This goal becomes complicated when your audience largely overlaps with (or is possibly even the same as) other organizations that share your mission.
It’s especially complicated for arts organizations whose audience is usually geographically constrained as well. The pie being sliced is an even smaller one.
So how should arts organizations interact with one another in social media?
If you follow other arts and culture organizations, even share their messages, are you sending potential ticket-buyers away to a competitor, or does amplifying the arts community overall grow the base of customers for everyone?
Chad Bauman, director of marketing and membership for the Smithsonian Associates, and formerly of DC’s Arena Stage Theater, has addressed these questions in posts both on his own blog (here and here) and for DC Theatre Scene.
In them, he argues for a collaborative effort for DC’s theater arts community in both production efforts and in marketing.
As he points out, it is only to the benefit of theaters to work together to expand the pool of audiences. More theatergoers overall means not only more individual ticket sales but more potential season subscribers, a theater’s most valuable customer.
For our part, we’ll be asking other DC area arts and culture organizations how they tackle these issues of competition and collaboration in our next PowerUp Social Media Roundtable this Wednesday, June 6, at 8:30 a.m.
If you’d like to join us for this morning of networking and shared learning, Contact Us to sign up.
We’ll be following up later this week with a blog post to share what our attendees had to say about leveraging social media in the DC performing arts community.
Harness the power of social media to promote your business or organization. Get started today at PowerUp Social, our online learning center for social media marketing.
- How does your organization use social media to grow your customer base?
- Does your industry foster collaboration or competition?
Social media can seem like a hungry beast, one that demands more care and feeding with each passing day.
First you had to figure out how to add time in your daily marketing schedule to devote to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
But just when you felt like you’d gotten the hang of hashtags and retweeting and growing your fan base, along comes the next shiny thing in social media, like Pinterest or Tumblr or Google+, and you hadn’t even figured out your LinkedIn strategy yet.
What’s a small organization to do?
That’s where the idea of social media discernment comes in. Discernment simply means evaluating the options and making specific choices. Just as in other marketing programs, not all channels or platforms are equally appropriate for your organization. It’s OK to pick and choose.
- Know your goals. We say this every time we talk about social media strategy. Why are you using social media? What is the expected outcome? Each platform has different strengths and weaknesses; match the platform to the goal. (Need help differentiating? Use the Social Media Site Comparison tool at PowerUp Social).
- Know your audience. A second crucial factor to use when determining which social media platforms are best for you is to know what audience you’re trying to reach. Pinterest, for example, heavily skews female. LinkedIn’s audience is predominantly college educated. Choose the platform your audience uses.
- Look at your numbers. Past performance can also predict future success. If you need to make room in your schedule for a new platform, review your site analytics and evaluate the performance of the existing ones. If Twitter drives traffic but those visitors don’t convert, cut back 1 day a week and try Google+ on that day instead (or whichever new platform you’ve identified using steps 1 and 2 above).
Speaking of site analytics, you’ll want to keep a regular eye on them. Platform value can change over time. Are the existing accounts still performing? To what degree are the new ones succeeding or failing?
Based on the data, you can change the mix of your daily social media efforts.
Keep in mind, too, that you don’t have to spend the same amount of time everywhere. Again, based on performance data, you can weight some activities more heavily than others. (For a sample schedule of a social media “diet,” see the PowerUp Social Media Pyramid.)
- How do you decide which platforms to use and how much time to spend on them?
- How do you measure the success of your efforts?
Visit PowerUp Social to learn more about each social media platform and how to build them into your organization’s marketing plan. While you're there, sign up for the free 8-week course on social media marketing and strategy.
We’ve all seen it happen. You create a fantastic video for a marketing campaign and hope it goes viral. You set up an online donation page on your non-profit’s website and hope visitors will give money. You write a fascinating, helpful blog post and hope readers will comment on it, or share to their social networks.
But the video isn’t shared. The donations don’t come in. The blog post goes un-commented.
(We’ll assume that visitor traffic isn’t the problem; that’s a whole different solution!)
To understand what is happening (or not, as the case may be), you need to understand how your viewers and visitors and readers think.
Here are 3 things you need to understand about how people think if you want them to take action.
Continue reading "Persuasion Starts with Psychology: 3 Techniques to Convince People to Take Action" »
If you’ve been on Facebook recently, you know that the design and layout for individual profiles changed dramatically to what Facebook calls Timeline: wall posts, photos and other data is displayed to visitors in a reverse chronological order.
With the rollout to profiles complete, Facebook is now doing the same for business Pages. And it’s not optional.
You can implement your business Timeline anytime from now going forward. However, if you don’t do anything your Page layout will get updated automatically on March 30. That means you have about 2 weeks to take control of your Page’s Timeline layout and update before Facebook does it for you. Here are 3 big things you need to know before March 30:
- No more landing tabs. If your Facebook Page employed a custom landing tab for visitors, that option will no longer exist. In fact, there are no tabs on Timeline at all. So what do you do? There is an “About” section of text that is permanently displayed at the top of the page; you could put a link to a custom landing page for Facebook fans there. Keep in mind that it will take them out of Facebook.
- Thumbnails are replaced by a cover photo. Instead of 5 small photo thumbnails at the top of the page, there is now a large 960x530 pixel “cover photo.” That’s a pretty big image, so choose wisely or, better yet, have your designer create a custom image for this space.
- You can add dates to your Timeline. Activity that has already taken place on your Page while it’s been in existence will automatically appear on your Timeline in its proper chronological order. But you can now add events from any time in the past, even before Facebook itself was born. Think about dates that are meaningful to your business—when it was founded, major milestones, product releases—and add them. Also, "Insights," Facebook’s metrics for Pages, will also change. Instead of being a link on the right of the page, it will be housed in an expandable panel at the top of your Timeline view.
The clock is ticking, so take some time to plan out your business’ timeline, and build in enough time to get supporting material—screenshots, photos, external links, etc.—all lined up before it launches. And of course, be sure to get buy-in and approval from your company’s leadership before the timeline goes live.(We're in the process of doing that at CDG right now—look for our timeline soon!)
Want to know more about Timeline for Facebook Business Pages? Here’s some additional reading:
Need help updating your business’s Facebook Page for the new Timeline layout, or with your larger social media strategy? Contact Us today.
You may have noticed from the recent blitz of advertising that JCPenney has begun a far-reaching transformation of its business, from its logo to the way it prices its products.
Why change now? Why change at all? As its new CEO, Ron Johnson—the mastermind behind the successful launch of the Apple stores—pointed out at the Jan. 25 launch event, there was no choice if the company wanted to evolve and exist in the 21st century.
Profit was good but sales were stagnant and competition was increasing from online and niche retailers. And the brand had come to represent your mother’s department store—or worse, your grandmother’s.
JCPenney had to change what the company and its brand meant to its audience of current and potential customers.
Changing a logo wasn’t enough. The company had to change the way it does business.
For JCPenney, that means its Fair and Square policy: three basic levels of pricing and returns accepted for any reason (a la Nordstrom).
Said Johnson in the press release accompanying the launch event, “Every initiative we pursue will be guided by our core value to treat customers as we would like to be treated - fair and square.”
Little did JCPenney know that it would be called on to put this into very public practice within days when its newly announced partnership with Ellen DeGeneres was attacked as being against “traditional values” by a group calling itself One Million Moms.
JCPenney consciously aligned itself with DeGeneres knowing it would help them reach her millions of viewers and followers on social media.
And Ellen isn’t just popular; lots of celebrities are popular. She and her show have gained such a large following by representing a new mainstream, one that appeals equally to grandmas and teens, red states and blue. JCPenney’s audience is—or they want it to be—Ellen’s audience.
When JCPenney immediately reaffirmed the choice of DeGeneres as a brand partner after the One Million Moms story broke, the company gained not just her potential audience but a now-outraged community of supporters who began leaving comments on Facebook, Ellen’s site and elsewhere proclaiming that they were going out of their way to shop at JCPenney in response to the criticism.
By treating Ellen “fair and square,” JCPenney was given the opportunity to live up to its new brand promise and thereby connect to its audience not just as consumers, but as part of a community.
What this means for you
- A brand is more than a logo. It represents who your company and organization is and what it stands for. Go beyond the identity markings and think about your core values. Are you living them? Does your audience think you are?
- Audiences are people. Don’t just treat your members or customers as one-time transactors. If they feel connected to who you are and what you stand for, they’ll come back.
- You are part of your community. Your organization or business doesn’t stand alone. How are you connected to your community? How can you do so in a way that is in harmony with your brand’s values?
What you should do next
- Revisit your mission statement. Is it accurate? Do all stakeholders agree? Is it aligned with the way you’re doing business?
- Examine your brand. Does it make sense for who you are? What do your customers say? Have you asked them?
- Prepare in advance. If you make significant changes, be prepared for the potential reactions from customers and the public; plan your response messages in advance. Be willing to own the changes you’ve made, especially if they’re sufficiently different, new or uncomfortable.
- Live up to your brand’s new promise. Make sure your company’s choices and actions align with what you say your brand means now, from customer policies to the face you present to the world, whether it’s a logo, a spokesperson or both.
- Get help. At CDG Interactive, we work with companies large and small, for profit and non-profit, to define their brands, create new identities, and develop a strategy for successfully implementing their brand and business. Contact us to get started with your brand.
With a phenomenal growth rate in the last 6 months to 3.3 million users and counting—and a mostly female user base—the young photo-based social network Pinterest has suddenly grabbed a lot of attention.
As a result, brands and businesses are wondering how (and whether) they can use Pinterest for marketing. Some initial case studies are showing the way.
But first: what the heck is Pinterest, anyway?
How Pinterest Works
An online version of a pinboard or wall corkboard, Pinterest allows users to organize photos into collections called boards, each of which can be categorized by type of image.
Photos are added to Pinterest either by uploading them or “pinning” them from a website using a browser bookmarklet (snippet of code).
As on all social networks, users on Pinterest can follow other users. The main page of Pinterest presents a feed of all of the images that have been pinned by users you follow, which you can then “like” or easily repin to one of your own boards. (This activity may feel familiar to users of Tumblr which has a similar ease-of-use for resharing content.)
Individual “pins” can also be commented on. When they’ve been pinned from an originating source, there’s a link from the image back to that website.
How to Use Pinterest to Market Your Business
There are a variety of specific ways to use Pinterest, from holding contests to conducting market research and creating boards of photos from a property for sale. (See the articles in the Further Reading section, below, to read some great case studies.)
No matter what specific use is best for your business, a few principles apply when marketing via Pinterest.
- Don’t just promote yourself. This is a best practice for all social media, but it pays to remember it here. Pinterest provides a unique opportunity to build an image around your brand or business, so look for complementary pins that connote the same ideas as your business. Bergdorf Goodman’s pins both product images to trend boards and book covers to a board called “The Books on Our Shelves.”
- Showcase your image content. Seems obvious right? But it’s not just about beautiful photography you took or of your products. NBC’s Today Show, for example, pins photos of travel destinations it has featured on the show.
- Be strategic with your boards. Group pins in ways that appeal to your audience(s). Reaching moms? Have boards for kids’ items, parenting advice, mommy quotes or any other subject matter relevant to them, and to you.
- Engage with users. Keep in mind that people on Pinterest may already be pinning images from your business. When you find them, comment on them, repin them to your own boards, and follow the users.
- Show your process. Use Pinterest to brainstorm ideas with internal teams, letting followers (and potential customers) in on the process. They’ll be more invested in the final product you create at the end.
Further Reading About Pinterest
These articles provide a wealth of specific uses, individual use cases, and companies to follow on Pinterest once you join.
- Are you on Pinterest yet?
- How are you using it, and why?
Wondering if Pinterest is right for your business? CDG Interactive helps companies like yours choose the best social media channels to support their marketing strategies. Contact us today to get started.
At the end of our post last month on “5 Things To Know About Google+ Pages for Business,” we wrote “participating in Google+ [is] almost a necessity for search engine optimization. Ignore it at your peril.”
Just weeks later, you can scratch “almost” from that sentence. Google+ matters for SEO, period.
Why Google+ Matters for SEO
Earlier this month on Social Media Examiner, author Kristi Hines presented a convincing case for the impact a robust Google+ presence has on search results for her name and business: her rankings in the search results were not only affected by having a Google+ profile, but were actually different for people who were following that profile on Google+.
In other words, you rank more highly in Google when your logged-in Google+ followers search for keywords related to your business.
Then on Jan. 10 Google announced an actual integration of information from your Google+ social graph into its search results which it calls “Search, plus Your World.” (“Search, plus”—get it?)
Now you’ll get what it calls Personal Results integrated into your search results when you’re signed in to Google, including information that was shared only with you—via Google+ of course.
As Mashable explained the next day in the aptly titled “Google Merges Search and Google+ Into Social Media Juggernaut,” “Google+ circles, photos, posts and more will be integrated into search in ways other social platforms can only dream about.” (And by "other social platforms," they mostly mean Twitter and Facebook.)
Oh, and Google+ profiles are now part of the search query box when you’re signed in. Type in someone’s name and matches through your Circles on Google+ will pop up first.
Update July 26, 2012: Early reports indicate that Google search engine results are now factoring in and displaying the most actively discussed posts on Google+. This places additional weight on links that aren't just added to Google+ but are interacted with by followers on that platform.
What You Can Do About It
Hines’ Social Media Examiner article has good, step-by-step instructions on how to leverage Google+ to your advantage, both for your own profile and your business’s page. We recommend reading through them carefully.
The bottom line is this: If your business is not on Google+, now is the time to start. Even if you only have a few minutes a day to spend, give it some attention.
The “Search, plus” integration is only going to get stronger.
Need help sorting through the brave new world of Google+? Let CDG help you navigate the waters. Get your life line today.
How to Transition From One Creative Agency to Another
Looking for the right creative agency can feel like looking for the right mate. You need mutual respect, shared goals, and above all, chemistry. And like romantic relationships, your relationship with a creative agency can run its course.
We have several clients who have come to us fresh from a breakup with another creative agency. We’re always happy to welcome new clients who are “on the rebound,” but we can also offer tips on how to make your break up as painless as possible for all parties.
Tips for Leaving Your Creative Agency & Starting with a New One
- Talk to your agency. This is the first and most important step! Let your agency know what your plans are. Your account team can then help you plan for the transition, from website hosting to social media account ownership—and all of the other little details you might miss if you try to do it on your own.
- Plan for your website transition in advance. If part of the transition includes moving your website from one hosting company to another, or even just moving the DNS for your domain name, plan ahead. There are a number of implications for such moves, from search engine optimization (SEO) to analytics accounts tracking to transferring files, like PDFs, that are hosted with your site. The tech teams at the old and new agency may even need to have a conversation to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
- Bring your files. Especially if you want the new agency to work with your existing creative—and especially if it’s in Flash—you’ll want to provide the original source files, such as Photoshop, Illustrator or Flash. The more your new creative agency has to re-create, the more expensive it is for you.
- Allow for some wrap-up time. Even after you’re fully ramped up with your new agency, there will be some loose ends that pop up. Allow for at least 30 days of final maintenance time with your old agency in case they need to hunt down a last file or answer questions.
If you follow these tips, you’ll make it much easier for us to hit the ground running with your account and start turning out great work on your behalf.
And if—GASP!—it’s us you want to leave, well then follow these tips too. We’re professionals, and we know that not all client relationships last forever. Just be up front with us and we’ll help you transition to your next relationship.
- What steps do you use when you start a new agency relationship (or end an existing one)?
CDG works with new clients every day. Contact Us to get started on fresh new work for you!
[Photo credit: Alex E. Proimos]
I first passed the Google Analytics Individual Qualification test in 2009; since the certification is only good for 18 months, that means I was up for requalification this year.
I took the test—and passed it—again this November. (Yay!)
Here’s what I’ve learned after 2 years and 2 different test-taking experiences.
As before, the test is priced at $50 and your Individual Qualification is valid for 18 months. But now, you must score 80% or higher (rather than 75%) to pass.
Also as before, you’ll have a total of 90 elapsed minutes to complete the test’s 70 multiple-choice questions, and you can pause and come back within a time period of 120 hours (5 days).
As you go through the questions, you can right click to strike through any answers that are obviously incorrect. If this functionality was available before, I don’t remember it; I definitely found it helpful for some of the trickier questions.
If you’re uncertain if any of your responses, mark those questions for completion later. This puts them into a list that you can review before submitting, or at any time during the test.
If you don’t pass the test, you can re-take it again—but you have to wait 14 days and pay another $50.
The best way to prepare remains by reviewing the extensive series of Conversion University videos. This time, I took some notes as I viewed them so I’d have them available for reference as I took the test.
Example Test Questions Content
Once again, the set of questions you’re presented with will vary from person to person. So knowing the exact list of questions one person was asked will not tell you what questions to expect on your own test.
Having said that, here are some examples of the question content from the test I took:
- Why you wouldn’t see CPC data in your reports, and how to configure a profile to see only CPC data.
- How and why to use virtual pageviews, and the use of _trackPageView().
- Attributes tracked when manually tagging an AdWords campaign.
- A word problem on filtering that described the way a site constructed the URLs for its product pages and then asked which set of filters would produce the desired result.
- Using Urchin and Google Analytics together.
- How to track custom search engines.
- What a high bounce rate on a landing page associated with a keyword suggests.
- Goals: how many you can have, how they’re tracked.
- Best practices for creating profiles vs. accounts for multiple clients.
- Tracking the number of transactions vs. tracking the number of goal completions on an e-commerce site.
- Understanding $Index.
- How Google Analytics tracks visitors and the difference between first-party and third-party cookies.
- Filter order and whether it’s important.
Looking at this list, you can see that the test content covers the major areas of functionality and concepts for Google Analytics.
So imagine you are creating the IQ test for someone else. What questions would you ask? You can get pretty close to the real thing by watching the Conversion University videos, looking at the subject matter groups they are arranged by, and then making a list of the main topic items for your questions.
What to Watch Out For
Google is in the middle of transitioning Analytics from the old interface to the new, entirely redesigned version. As of this writing, account owners can choose which version to view, but the new version will become the only option in January 2012.
The test question material didn’t rely on the version of the interface you’re using in order to determine the right answers to the questions.
However, the Conversion University videos are still using screen images from the old version.
If you think you’d find this confusing, you may want to wait to review for the test until Google has updated the videos to reflect the new Analytics UI.
(And we’re still waiting for an official graphic badge that Individually Qualified analysts can use to promote their now-certified Analytics expertise.)
- Have you taken the Google Analytics Individual Qualification test recently?
- What did you find most challenging?
- What would you change about the test?
Find out what your website’s data is really telling you about your site performance. Our team of Google Analytics Individually Qualified experts can help. Contact us today.