How to rock social media in just 30 minutes a day
5Apr13

Social media has become an invaluable marketing and communications asset for many organisations over the last few years but it also represents yet another task for marketers and business owners to cram into their already busy schedule. And there are now quite a few social networks that can’t be ignored, so it can been seen as quite a burden.

The most common question I receive when recommending a social media plan to clients is “but how much time must I dedicate to it?” The good news is that, with a bit of planning, organisation and automation, you don’t need to become a slave to social networks. In fact, you can manage 6 popular social networks in just half an hour a day.

The team at Pardot have assembled this great guide to demonstrate how you can rock social media in just 30 minutes a day. It covers, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram and also has some excellent automation tips.

Follow this plan, fine-tune it for your business and social networks and then be consistent and you will have gone a long way to really optimising the benefits of social media.

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The state of social advertising [Infographic]
13Mar13

Social media has become ubiquitous and naturally the world’s advertisers and marketers are following the trend and allocating an increasingly larger share of their budgets to the leading social networks.

If the future of advertising is to start participating in the stream that people want to use and around 80% of active internet users are visiting social networks and blogs, then its only natural that the marketing dollars will follow. In fact, in the USA over 75% of brands have already incorporated social advertising into their integrated marketing budget.

So what does the social advertising landscape look like? The team at Uberflip have compiled this infographic to illustrate the increasing adoption of social ads among marketers, the amount of dollars allocated on these channels, and the effectiveness of these paid social media campaigns.

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Massive shift in advertising spending continues as social networks stake their claim
4Mar13

It is hardly breaking news to hear that there has been a massive shift in advertising spending in the last decade. Many traditional media outlets, especially directories, newspapers and magazines were affected early by the rise of online. Others, such as free-to-air TV, subscription TV and radio have seen more gradual erosion of their bases, but erosion nonetheless.

The problem for most traditional media is that the shift is far from over. In fact, its still only early days and the social networks are just getting warmed up in the advertising market.

The following chart is compiled by Borrell Associates and displays the ongoing migration to online advertising in the USA at the expense of many traditional media. There are some sizable falls in ad spend for some media here…and that’s just from last year to this year.

The initial growth of online advertising was in the areas of display (basically replicating magazine and press advertising) and the early online classifieds.

The launch of Google’s Adwords service saw search engines become major players in the advertising market. And they were different, a lot different. Suddenly advertising could be more contextual, more relevant, more cost-effective and much more measurable. And they were self-serve. Anyone could suddenly build and launch their own online advertising campaign in minutes. As a result, Google now owns 44% of the global online adverting market.

But now the social networks are ready to stake their claims.

Last year Facebook had 3.1% of the global online advertising market, despite never having been in a hurry to build their advertising business. Now they’re starting to take it seriously. Anyone who has used the Facebook Ads Manager tool will know it is very easy and intuitive compared to Google Adwords. Facebook’s Promoted Posts feature is even easier and can deliver great micro campaigns in the click of a button. Their new Graph Search feature is a clear signal that Facebook is about to step up even more in the advertising market.

Then there is Linkedin, quietly bubbling along with another easy-to-use advertising product aimed squarely at the employment market. Last year advertising on Linkedin accounted for 25% of their revenue, and that’s before they opened their API to marketers at the end of 2012. That will grow substantially in the next few years.

Now Twitter is muscling in on the action. The new Twitter Advertising API is a way for companies to automate more of their ad spending. The initial list of advertising partners isn’t very long, but is expected to grow quickly. The API, combined with Twitter’s self-serve ad platform, will allow advertisers to promote tweets based on what is trending and where the activity is.

In effect Twitter is heading in a very similar direction to Facebook. Google+ is presumably not far behind.

For social networks, in which the content generated by users is almost indistinguishable from the advertising offering tools that let advertisers automate their spending based on hard data will be far more lucrative than another generic banner ad.

The rapid rise of mobile usage is also another reason the social networks will grab even greater slices of the advertising pie. Their “integrated” advertising solutions are well suited to mobile display, whereas the display advertising of other media are not.

The shift away from traditional to online advertising will only continue to grow in the next few years as the social networks refine their offerings and mobile becomes our main screen.

The future of advertising
27Feb13

The future of advertising is to stop trying to advertise to people, and instead start participating in the stream that people want to use. People will follow your brands if you contribute to whatever it is the people are up to.

This is a modified version of a statement Stowe Boyd made recently in a post. He was talking about the future of advertising on mobile but I feel it applies everywhere now.

In fact it nails it.

Stop advertising. Start participating and contributing.

The end.

 

Online reputation monitoring: The ultimate guide [infographic]
20Feb13

One of the biggest fears we hear daily from organisations expanding their online presence is how do they protect their online reputation? Its a valid question.

Here are some great tips from the team at Trackur in the form of a very nice infographic. To summarise:

  • Identify your reputations – monitor names brand names, company names, product names and variations.
  • Quantify your audience – who has a stake in your online reputation?
  • Understand your goals – how are you going to measure the whether your reputation is improving?
  • Specify your needs – what tools do you require and what sources do you need to monitor?
  • How will you monitor? – what processes are in place to be alerted and respond to issues?
  • Who will monitor the conversations? – who are you entrusting with managing and responding to online reputation issues?

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Rewards, bribes and bikes for a very worthy cause
7Feb13

Want to feel good about helping some kids who really need it? Like to get some very cool rewards for doing so? Can I bribe you and help your business at the same time? Read on….

In 2010 a client of mine discovered that I was a keen cyclist and asked me if I’d join their team for the Tour de Kids, a grueling charity ride to raise funds for Starlight Children’s Foundation. That year they rode from Melbourne to Sydney and I joined in the last few days with the Colliers International team from Canberra to Sydney. That just whetted my appetite.

In 2011 I signed up for the full ride; 1200km in 7 days from Adelaide to Melbourne riding with the Virgin Money team. It was tough. We had one day where we did a 20km climb through the Otway Ranges then backed it up with a 10km climb. That really hurt but it was one of the best days of my life. (Here’s a video report of that day). By the time we arrived in Melbourne 40 of us had raised over $550,000 for Starlight.

In March 2013 I am getting back in the saddle again for what appears to be an even tougher ride around Tasmania. The last few days go from the rugged west coast, across Cradle Mountain and back to Hobart. The stage that says “Cradle Mountain” and “199km” looks terrifying. I can’t wait!

Admittedly this is a personal challenge for me that is truly rewarding, but I will also be training extremely hard and trying to raise as much money as I can along the way to for the Starlight Children’s Foundation to help kids much less fortunate than us.

That’s where you, the rewards and the bribes come in.

Firstly, you can simply donate any amount you are comfortable with via my Fundraising Page. Every dollar counts and I’m truly appreciative of your support.

But here are the inducements, the bribes, the rewards I have dreamed up if you’re willing to go above and beyond:

  • A copy of The 4-Hour Body signed by the author Tim Ferriss himself will go to the first person to donate $130 (and nominate the reward). I used the diet and training advice in this book to get in shape for Adelaide to Melbourne and am doing so again for Tasmania.
  • Donate $150 (and nominate the reward) and I will feature your chosen listing on InsiderJobs Freelance for 12 months. Value $240 Note: we are launching an Australia-wide version of InsiderJobs in February so you might want to promote the listing to a national audience.
  • Donate $500 (and nominate reward) and I will personally search engine optimise your website for 5 search terms using NLYZR and my in-house SEO team. (worth over $2500)
  • Donate $1000 (and nominate reward) and I will do a 2 hour “Adapt or die” presentation to your team or your clients in Newcastle or Sydney (elsewhere if you cover travel expenses). I have done similar presentations to major Australian companies around this topic and it gets a great response. Feel free to contact me to learn more.

PLEASE NOTE: Deadline for all of these offers is Wednesday 13 March, 2013

Honestly, any support you can give is very welcome. The above inducements are there to help me reach my fundraising goals quickly. The more we raise the more families we can assist during very trying times.

Here is more information on the Tour de Kids.

Starlight Children’s Foundation

Starlight Children’s Foundation (Starlight) is proud to be the major beneficiary of Tour de Kids.

Starlight’s mission it to improve the resilience and wellbeing of seriously ill children and their families by delivering programs that restore the joy and happiness that serious illness takes away.

Living with illness or injury can cause enormous strain in the lives of children and their families. The pain, loneliness and isolation that sick children feel dominates their lives, and they often miss out on normal experiences that healthy children take for granted.

Physical recovery is only part of the solution. Starlight delivers innovative programs designed to make children happy and lift their spirits when they need it most.

Starlight’s programs include Captain Starlight, Starlight Express Rooms, Starlight Fun Centres, Starlight Escapes, Wishgranting, plus Livewire and Club Ado for teenagers.

For more information on Starlight, visit www.starlight.org.au or contact Starlight on 1300 727 827.;

SEO: How search engine optimisation has changed for the better
4Feb13

Search engine optimisation is a big part of my business. Its an area we can help clients improve quickly for long lasting results. Unfortunately its also a practice that is rampant with cowboys and snake oil salesmen, most of whom are still employing outdated SEO techniques that either don’t work or could even punish their clients.

In the last 18 months Google has has rolled out a series of updates to its search engine that have changed search engine optimisation for the better. Google increasingly rewards genuine high quality content and punishes cynical gaming of search. I’m happy to say that all my clients have benefited.

This excellent infographic from Fuzz One explains how search engine optimsation has changed in the last few years and how you can ensure your are generating Google-friendly content. Of course, my team and I would also be happy to guide your organisation towards better web marketing results if you’d like some assistance.

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Social media for customer service [Infographic]
21Jan13

Social media is ubiquitous now and for many organisations it has become an essential and effective marketing tool. But social media can also be highly effective as a customer service tool, something that relatively few organisations realise or utilise.

I have found from interactions with larger organisations that if you can fix an issue that a customer is having via social media you’ll find it’s one of the best marketing channels you’ve ever worked in. Leave them hanging, and you’ll find out the opposite is true.

This Infographic from ClickSoftware highlights compelling stats, for example, customers who engage with companies via social media spend 20%-40% more with those companies. So, how do you use social media when interacting with corporate brands or with your own customers?

Dollar Shave Club: a case study in retail industry interruption (and a very funny video)
14Jan13

My theme this year is “adapt or die”. Last week I explained 5 ways businesses must adapt in 2013 to survive and thrive. I am convinced that organisations must either commit to making significant changes to the way they do business or keep doing what they’ve been doing and try survive while their market share is steadily eroded by smarter, faster, more nimble competitors.

I’d now like to introduce you to one of those smarter, faster, more nimble competitors….Dollar Shave Club.

Here’s a start-up that launched in mid- 2011 and then relaunched in March 2012 and is already making a big splash in the exciting world of…..men’s razor blades. You know, that purchase you have to make at the grocery store once a month. Its been dominated for a century by Gillette and Schick. No other challenger comes close. Until now.

This video (which had had over 8 million views) is their main marketing tool and hilariously and effectively explains why you should stop buying blades at the grocery store and start buying from Dollar Shave Club. It’s pure genius. In 90 seconds they have skewered the industry leaders, entertained us and invited us to be part of their”club”.

A close look at their website is like a blueprint for online retail success:

  • the aforementioned video tells you everything you need to know…and its laugh-out-loud funny.
  • a prominent call-to-action “A great shave for a few bucks a month – DO IT”
  • a testimonial (which is fairly tongue-in-cheek)
  • a simple range of 3 packages to choose from
  • a simple and fun rewards program for sharing the Dollar Shave Club story, “Free blades for life”
  • a quick and easy payment gateway you’ll only ever need to visit once
  • Facebook sign-up option for membership
  • social media sharing

The whole site contains the same irreverent, “they’re just razor blades guys” style humour. Its fun, its compelling and it works a treat. I signed up within minutes and was actually excited when my blades arrived.

But the real genius is in the very simple proposition and business model.

The blades are made in South Korea and can be found under different brands in Pharmacies across the USA. They’re pretty good, not much more than that.

But Dollar Shave Club turns a traditional $15-20 grocery store expense into an easy $7 / per month subscription. They don’t just get the sale, they get your repeat business and a nice big database of customers.

Their product line is ridiculously small. Just 3 types of razor blades. By focusing in this way they maximise buying power and minimise overheads.

The Dollar Shave Club business model doesn’t rely on advanced computer algorithms and other amazing tech innovation like many startups we follow. It’s simply a business where the founder Michael Dubin looked at an industry and said he wanted to help men have fun with shopping online, because, “Women have all the fun [shopping online] with fashion, shoes, and accessories.”

By making shopping for blades easy, fun and more affordable they have seen explosive growth and have attracted an impressive $10.8 million in VC funding. For razor blades??!!

An old industry suddenly interrupted by a simple but new way  (subscription) of selling an existing product, executed extremely well. Hell, any of us could do that…couldn’t we?

 

5 ways your business MUST adapt in 2013 to survive and thrive
7Jan13

If you don’t adapt now, you’ll die.

Alarmist? I don’t think so. Scary? I hope so.

2013 is the year businesses need to draw a line in the sand. Either commit to making significant changes to the way you do business or keep doing what you have been doing and try survive while your market share is steadily eroded by smarter, faster, more nimble competitors.

The pace of change over the last decade or so has been blinding. It has caught many (most) industries off-guard with some only realising what happened once it was too late. Combine that with a troubled global economy that shows no real signs of improving any time soon and you have the perfect climate for massive disruption.

In Australia we are far from immune. Many Australian industries have been extremely slow to adapt as several studies have highlighted in recent times. As the warming glow of a record mining boom subsides the cracks in our economy will begin to show and uncompetitive, old-fashioned organisations will be the first to fall through.

Don’t think you will be affected? Think again. No industry is immune to the current pace of change. Your current competitors may not even be the ones to worry about. Right now dozens of startups are thinking of ways to revolutionise your industry and nibble away at your market.

Consider the these monumental changes that have taken place in the last decade or so. Then realise that its only the beginning. The magnitude of upcoming change will be even more stunning.

In 2013 you need to adapt or you’ll die. You need to rethink your offerings, your market, your size, your agility and your overheads.

Here are the 5 minimum steps you must address this year (if you haven’t already):

1. You MUST get a strong online presence.

Your crappy old website (if you even have one) with a list of products or services is no longer enough. You need to be found online easily by potential customers. You need to deliver the information they need as efficiently as possible. You need to offer solutions. If this isn’t on your to-do list in 2013 then you might as well give up now.

2. You MUST have a mobile website.

The mobile web is massive now and growing rapidly every year. Mobile devices now account for 13 percent of worldwide Internet traffic, up from 4 percent in 2010. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, at the very least, you have big problems and are already losing business. Ideally, you should have a mobile version of your site, which will have different requirements depending upon the nature of your business. The internet is going mobile, why aren’t you?

3. You MUST start looking for new revenue or marketing channels online.

Do you have a niche product or service that could potentially be exported anywhere? The future of your business could be in building a national or global market for just one of your products or services via an efficient online strategy rather than sticking to your current generalist approach in your current market. The barriers to entry are so low these days that you’d be crazy not to start testing and experimenting with sideline business opportunities which could potentially grow to become the main show. I did this with my own business a few years ago when we launched NLYZR.com as an online SEO tool, attracting a new international market as well as countless new Australian business opportunities.

4. You MUST start outsourcing.

Lean and mean is the new business mantra. Asset-heavy, full-time workforces are being replaced by asset-light freelanced workforces. By only hiring talent where and when you need it your organisation doesn’t just save on payroll, it saves on floorspace and all the employment “on-costs”. Even if your company hasn’t realised this yet the young, up and coming workforce has. Thanks to the Internet and increase in online social activity, endless new opportunities for young educated people are opening up. They realize that the traditional 9-to-5 is no longer their only career option.

Futurist Mark Pesce says, “That much connectivity in the economy creates this enormous capability for fluidity, and so jobs are going to start to become gigs and those are going to start to become tasks, and eventually we’re all just going to be doing a little bit here and a little bit there and it may not be until we get up in the morning and check the smartphone that we’re going to be knowing what we’re going to be doing that day.”

Outsourcing is more than Indian call centres for banks and telcos. There are a vast and growing number of functions you can currently outsource via sites such as Freelancer.com, oDesk, FlatPlanet and our own more locally-focussed option InsiderJobs. What functions can your company start outsourcing?

5. You MUST start cloud computing.

“The cloud” is a bit of a hackneyed and overused term these days but you can’t deny the efficiencies and cost-savings available by enabling a range of cloud-based applications. The options are endless, from large scale data storage and hosting through to smaller applications. Here are just some you should be considering:

  • Yammer for a secure, private social network for your company
  • Vend for point of sale software
  • Shoeboxed scans and organises your receipts, invoices and documents securely online
  • Deputy for timesheets and payroll

Honestly, the cloud options are endless. Integrating a range of these into your organisation will save time and money.

In 2013 you can attract new customers, grow new markets, lower your overheads and become more efficient….or you can keep doing what you have been doing and hope for the best. This combination of moving your marketing and sales online, outsourcing as many functions as possible and integrating more efficient cloud-based solutions are the basic steps to take to survive and hopefully thrive in this rapidly evolving economy.