Digital Marketing Advice

The Truth Behind Why Your Online Marketing Isn’t Working

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Ever felt frustrated because you weren’t seeing the results on social media that you thought you deserved?

Maybe you were doing it all wrong…

Read more about the mistakes some businesses make when it comes to connecting with customers on social media.

Recipe for Virality

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Everyone wants create something that goes viral. It’s the new American Dream. While Internet users strive for millions of clicks and instant fame, it doesn’t always turn out that way. But when it does, it may come as a surprise as to how certain videos go viral and others do not.

For instance, who would have guessed that a young boy would become an Internet sensation just by acting crazy after getting hit in the head with a basketball? The boy, now dubbed “Crack Kid” by the the World Wide Web, has inspired many spin-off Vines after his was posted a week ago. (To see what in the world we’re talking about, check this out.)

Making viral videos is sort of like baking cookies. You need quality ingredients, a repeatable recipe and a tad bit of skill, all of which should eventually result in the best darn cookies you’ve ever tasted.

Want to get started on your own viral video? Here’s our recipe for success:

1. Mix together a sprinkle of Short and a dash of Simple.

Long, complex videos typically do not go viral. Why? The modern human being has an attention span shorter than 8 seconds, and scientists say this average is decreasing every year. If  you don’t grab someone’s attention quickly with a simple idea, you can bet your video will never see viral status. Platforms like Vine, Instagram and Snapchat are great for viral content because of their fast-paced nature.

2. Add in one part Randomness and one part Timeliness.

It’s a fact: some videos go viral due to perfect timing. (Anyone remember the massive explosion of “Let it Go” parodies and lip-syncs after the movie Frozen was released?) If you create a video based on something that is currently popular or trending, you have higher chances of getting your own work seen by millions of people searching for that specific term or topic.

Additionally, randomness could be the key to your viral success. Think of the last viral video you saw. Was it scripted? Was the outcome an expected event? Probably not. Random antics usually fare the best when trying for viral status.

3. Fold in a heaping tablespoon of Emotion

Playing on people’s emotions is what ultimately gets them to share content with others. Typically, the content is either cute, shocking, comedic or useful. These variations stimulate the urge to pass on whatever it the content may be (article, video, photo) to friends and family. Is your content share-worthy? If not, take another look at it before releasing it.

4. Bake on high in a Social oven 

Make sure to upload your content on a platform with wide audiences that allows easy sharing. Sites like Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Instagram and other social networks are perfect, since they automatically include a share button or an option to send an email with a link to the content.  Also, sites like Upworthy, BuzzFeed, Digg and Reddit thrive on viral content, so contributing your video to these sites may be a smart move on your part.

 

Have you had success in the viral video department? Have any extra tips to add? Leave your thoughts in the comments. 

5 High-Paying Digital Marketing Jobs for Entry-Level Graduates

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Congratulations. You’ve just earned your diploma.

Right now, you’re probably still digging yourself out from the mountain graduation cards and using your free time watching Netflix. Chances are, you haven’t spent more than a few minutes pondering your next move in the game of life. And that’s okay. For now. Soon, you’ll be faced with the ultimate question: Where do I go from here?

You’ll  hear a lot of nay-sayers out there during your job search. Many will point to a wavering unemployment rate, an unsteady business climate and a recent article from USA Today that says new graduates may have a hard time landing a job in their field. That pessimism is expected to continue over time.

But it’s not all bad news As a matter of fact, marketing jobs are expected to grow 14% within the next decade.  Public relations will grow faster than average by 24%.  If you’ve just earned your degree in communications or marketing, the future is exceptionally bright (we’re talking supernova bright), especially in the world of social media and digital marketing.

Whether you want an Internet-oriented marketing job or haven’t thought about it yet, here are 5 jobs that may jump start your career in a way you never thought possible:

1. Social Media Strategist

Social media-savvy, educated workers are in high demand.  Businesses have started to realize the importance of branding on social networks as well as the need for someone who understands the platforms. Enter the Social Media Strategist.  Many wouldn’t think it’s possible getting paid all day to surf through social networks, but it is indeed a real and profitable career. That’s part of the reason why major universities are now adding social media-focused programs.  With the average Social Media Strategist making $61,000 a year, it’s one marketing grads should look into.

2. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Specialist

Businesses in every industry are desperately seeking answers on their digital performance.  They want to know how their social pages are performing, how they can improve their rank on Google and what to do next. Who’s the ideal candidate for this growing need? Someone who is analytical and loves numbers.  Someone who can understand insights and trends, who’s able to inform the company of better practices to reach their customers.  SEO Specialists also focus on search rankings and keywords and other optimization techniques that makes a company’s web presence front and center. The average salary for an SEO Specialist: $69,000.

3. Blogger or Social Media Copywriter

What used to be considered a hobby is now a legitimate, full-time career. From freelance positions to job openings at major corporations, bloggers and copywriters are in demand. As more marketers focus on content marketing, more businesses are making room in the budget for bloggers. Bloggers are on the lower end when it comes to salary, but the average is still a cushy $43,000.

4. Public Relations Specialist

It’s been called the “Number 1 Hot Career” (Yahoo Education), “Best Creative Job” (U.S. News), and “A Skyrocketing Career” (CulpWrit.com) by critics, but you don’t have to go to a premier to be a part of this blockbuster. Public Relations Specialists are needed everywhere and with this position predicted to be at an all-time high by 2020, it’s definitely something to get behind. The national average for PR Specialists is approximately $46,000.

5. Graphic Design/Online Advertising

While the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 7% slower than average growth rate for graphic designers, the position is still widely needed in the digital marketing field. Companies are looking for skilled workers to design logos, websites, content for social media sites, and banner ads. Graphic design may be dwindling, but digital advertising and promotional design is certainly picking up.  The average payout for designers is around $44,150.

Being a Part of the Impossible

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Social media can be a cruel world. In recent times, it has contributed to issues with cyber bullying, self-image and suicide, especially in younger generations. With all the negativity, it’s hard to see social media as a platform of motivation and excellence.

Until now.

In late 2013, a new social networking site was born. Called Impossible, the site encourages “a culture of giving and receiving.”  The site’s twenty-six-year-old creator, model and actress Lily Cole decided to make a social networking site based around the idea of a gift economy. Unlike other networks, Cole says any profits Impossible generates will be reinvested 100% to help build a more collaborative economy, drive social cohesion and empower individuals.

The object is simple: once signed up for an account (you can easily sign in using Facebook), users can post short statuses wishing for something non-monetary, using hash tags to show up easier in search results. They can also grant wishes and thank those who have granted their own. Statuses are also classified by location, so you can do something extra special for those living nearest you.

Will Impossible be the next break-out social network? Perhaps. Will it change the world? Most definitely.

While it seems like a great personal social network, many businesses are wondering how they can get on board.

Here’s how: an Impossible user might post something like this: “I wish someone would teach me French.” Say you work for a language learning software company or you offer private tutoring lessons. As a business, you could reach out to this user and offer him or her a free demo of your software or a free tutoring session through Skype. There’s a world of possibilities in which you can positively impact your company’s target audience. You’ll certainly feel good about be a part of a pay-it-forward community.

Check out the world of the Impossible here.

Are you a part of the Impossible social network? If so, what are your user experiences so far? Leave comments below.

The Mars Greenhouse Approach to Content Marketing

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Courtesy: NASA/Space.com

In 2021, NASA says there will be greenhouses on Mars.

It’s part of a newly announced experiment that examines how plants grow on the barren red planet. NASA states the probe will lift off  in mid-2020 and if all goes well, the mobile greenhouse will arrive at its destination in early 2021. The plants will be completely contained in a rover, eliminating the chance for Earth life to contaminate Martian soil.  NASA says the greenhouse is just the first step in creating a “long-term, sustainable base” on Mars and its success depends on the future of human colonization on the planet.

Whether you realize it or not, the Mars Plant Experiment has a lot to do with your blog and social media content. Since we’re suckers for space parallels, we like to think our content is a type of “Mars Greenhouse Experiment” of its own. Think about it: we’re planting our content seeds (blogs, social posts, etc), watching them grow via analytics and seeing if it works for the type of environment (blog, social media sites, etc) we raise it in. Ultimately, we’re looking to cultivate our content so that it thrives in a sustainable way.

Here are 5 ways to amp up your content strategy based on the Mars Greenhouse Experiment:

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To Manage Social Media or Not to Manage…

 

Image Courtesy IdeaSedge.com

Image Courtesy IdeaSedge.com

That is the question.

There’s a raging debate in the world of business right now and it has to do with social media. No, it doesn’t involve getting reprimanded for using Facebook during office hours and it has nothing to do with accidentally tweeting scandalous content under the company account (though, this seems to be quite the issue lately– US Airways, anyone?). This debate has to do with whether or not to implement social media management within company boundaries or hire an outside company to do it for them.

While many business leaders believe updating social media is as simple as posting and responding to comments, the truth is that it is not enough to generate the level of success they expect.

It comes down to two major factors: money and skill. If a business has the resources to hire a talented, full-time social media specialist in-house, that’s great! But randomly assigning the task of social management to another employee when they have plenty of other tasks to get done is not the way to go.

Why? Here are five reasons it pays to have a social media company manage your platforms for you:

1. You can focus on running your business

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Image Courtesy MichiganWorksKalamazoo.org

Social media management is not a “wham-bam” job. Just like your career, it takes skill, continuing education and a thorough understanding of digital marketing and social behaviors to effectively carry out a social strategy. Why burden your employees with the task when you can easily hire a specialist to do the work for you? With the time you save, you can focus on what matters most: running your company.

2. Social media strategy is more than just posting to Facebook

Image Courtesy: Technet.com

Image Courtesy: Technet.com

One of the greatest misconceptions about social media is that all it takes is just a few minutes every day. Wrong! There is so much more that goes into successful social media implementation. A winning strategy includes:

* Analyzing and understanding analytics, target audience demographics and web traffic behaviors
* Serving as a fast-acting customer service agent
* Using digital advertising to boost visibility with Facebook ads, LinkedIn Sponsored Posts, Google AdWords, etc
* Engaging current customers with content they can relate to
* Using creative storytelling about your brand through social posts and blogs

3. You don’t have to worry about legal issues

Image Courtesy Bandl.typepad.com

Image Courtesy Bandl.typepad.com

Let’s face it: there are so many ways you could get in legal trouble through social media and digital marketing and the last thing you want is a lawsuit on your company’s hands. For instance, is that photo or video you’re sharing someone’s copyrighted property? Did you just post confidential information protected under HIPAA that should’ve been left off your company’s page? Are you disclosing any paid endorsements? Did you double-check that your email newsletter follows the CAN-SPAM Act? If you’re unsure about any of these and other online legal issues, it may be better relying on a trusted social media management company that keeps up with the ever-changing digital media laws.

4. Your customers get swift customer service

Image Courtesy Loyaltylab.com

Image Courtesy Loyaltylab.com

Whether you realize it or not, social media has become one of the primary ways users go about the customer service process. Let’s look at a few statistics:

* 71% of of 16-24 year olds go online when they have a problem with a product (2012 Sitel Study);
* 67% of 23,000 consumers in a J.D. Power and Associates study had used a company’s social media site for servicing; and
* 87% of consumers in the J.D. Power and Associates study said their online social interaction with the company positively impacted the likelihood that they’ll purchase from the brand, and that the responsiveness of the service representatives were a key of that satisfaction.
While consumers utilize many of a company’s social sites in this instance, the number one platform for customer service is Twitter. Are you using your Twitter account to answer the influx of questions and concerns from your customers? This is another time-consuming portion of social media and it helps having someone always there to help out.

5. Always on top of trends

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The world of social media is always changing. Research into trends, predictions, and insight from industry leaders is the only way to stay on top of the social media landscape. If you don’t have 2 to 4 hours in a workday to dedicate to research and staying up-to-date with issues, you may want to consider hiring an outside social media specialist to help.

Are you thinking about hiring a company to help you out with your social networks? Let us help.

Kaleb Nation’s Secrets for Viral Success | Exclusive Interview

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Courtesy: KalebNation.com

At only 25 years old, internet entrepreneur, TV personality and author Kaleb Nation has discovered the secret to virality.

Like Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and a number of other young online entreprenuers before him, Nation has found monetary success in the digital world. The college dropout has successfully branded himself as a creative internet guru, resulting in millions of views on YouTube and generating an income based solely on the Internet. Eventually, that success caught the attention of major companies like Taco Bell and Ford. After all, if he could do it, how could they?

His inspiring story is all part of a new project called Million Hits Secret, a training program through which he shares his online business model with businesses, brand managers and marketers all over the world.

tCloud Solutions’ Social Media Specialist Katie Parr had the pleasure of interviewing Nation about the newly-released project and how it seeks to transform the way people conduct business online, particularly through social media.

Katie Parr: What inspired you to embark on the Million Hits Secret project?

Kaleb Nation: Six years ago, when I was finishing my first novel, I started making YouTube videos for fun and shared them with my blog readers. Suddenly, my videos started to get a LOT of views — I now have over 50 million on one channel and 12 million on another, not even counting the 10 million hits to my websites! It turned into my second career: I’d write fantasy and sci-fi books for half of the time and produce funny YouTube videos for the rest.

It didn’t take long for companies to approach me, asking how I did it. I had no idea that so many successful business owners simply don’t understand how to use social media to generate sales. I worked as a consultant for many years, then was contact by a company that wanted to turn my experience into a training system. Fast forward a year of planning, 5 months of filming, 50,000 words of content… and Million Hits Secret was born.

KP: Describe this training system and why it’s important for businesses and entrepreneurs to take advantage of it.

KN: Million Hits Secret is six years of online experience condensed into a step-by-step program for people who want to make money online and boost their business with social media.

To put it into plain English, I took everything I learned from launching successful websites and viral videos, picked out everything that worked and generated a profit, and wrote out the exact steps in a way that even someone who’s never used social media can understand. Then I filmed it all!

I hate wasting time. Entrepreneurs are very busy and don’t want to spend six years figuring it all out like I did. So I created Million Hits Secret to show what actually works in the real world.

KP: Who will get the most out of this training system?

KN: Entrepreneurs and business owners will definitely use it most. It’s like a crash course on how to turn social media into a machine for business. Authors and people who want to be successful YouTubers will definitely benefit from it too—I actually show how I went from being too terrified to appear on camera to making YouTube my full time job!

I wouldn’t be surprised if other people use it just to generate some extra side income without appearing on camera at all. That’s actually how I got started; I didn’t plan on it becoming my career! So while I focus mostly on the social media aspect, it’s really all pointing to one solid outcome: how can regular people use the Internet to make money and eventually quit their 9-5 job?

KP: What’s one thing aspiring internet entrepreneurs don’t realize before launching their business online?

The fastest way to make money with social media is to stop thinking about making money with social media. I know that sounds counterintuitive but it’s very important. If you start a Twitter account just to rake in tons of cash, it won’t work because you’re missing the social in social media. The people you are selling to are real people, not numbers in a follower count.

I can say without a moment of hesitation that my success is thanks to the people I’ve connected with online. They’ve made me successful. But just look at my Twitter account: how many tweets do you see where I’m actually pushing any of my products? It’s all about giving before you can receive.

KP: What would you say to small businesses that won’t open a social media page or are on the fence about creating one?

KN: How are you still in business?…or in a nicer way… if Taco Bell, American Airlines, Apple, Dell, and J.K. Rowling can join social media, maybe you should, too.

KP: What are some of your predictions for the future of social networking?

KN: I think Vine is the next big thing, if it isn’t already. Media is constantly being digested in smaller and smaller formats. We hopped from movies to TV, from TV to YouTube, and now from YouTube to Vine. Every platform will continue to thrive but I believe Vine (or at least a similar spinoff that might not be invented yet) is the next media empire.

KP: How can someone go about learning from the Million Hits Secret system?

KN: It’s super easy! Just go to MillionHitsSecret.com and join the team. I take care of the rest.

For more on Kaleb Nation’s success in social media, log on to KalebNation.comMillionHitsSecret.comand Twitter, @KalebNation.

How “Blood Moon” Lunar Eclipses Relate to Your Web Presence

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Courtesy: NASA; Space.com

Get ready, astronauts: you won’t want to miss tonight’s space show.

In the early morning hours of April 15, residents of North and South America will get a fantastic view of the first total lunar eclipse in a tetrad (which is basically a fancy word for a sequence of four lunar eclipses without a partial eclipse in between). However, tonight’s eclipse will be a little different, resulting in a visual rarity called a “Blood Moon”. That phenomenon pictured above is named for the way the sun’s rays shine through the Earth’s atmosphere and cast a reddish hue on the moon, making for quite a spectacular event.

Ready for another space metaphor relating to digital marketing? Of course you are.

Let’s liken your brand’s web presence to the moon. Certainly, you know what the moon is, but what is meant by web presence? When you search your name or company’s name, what comes up in the search results? Is it good or bad? What is your website like? Is it enticing enough to draw in traffic or is it scaring potential customers away?  What social networks do you use? Are you using them often? Are you using them well?

After you discern the answers to these questions, we can take the comparison between the moon and your web presence to the next level.

Here are two scenarios that can result during the eclipse of your figurative moon:

  1. Your web presence is ultimately eclipsed (obscured) by the shadow of your competitors.
    or
  2. Your web presence stands out among the competition in visual wonder, resulting in a blood moon eclipse.

Which eclipsed moon is the most like your web presence? Take a closer look at the way your online platforms are performing and make notes on things you can do better. If your content is dull, fix it. If you’re not engaging your fans as often or as well as you should, come up with a strategic way to connect and relate with them.

After all, you want your presence in the digital universe to have a lasting, profound effect on web users, right?

This digital universe needs more blood moons. Is your business’ web presence one of them?

Why You Should be Investing in Digital Advertising in 2014

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Where are your marketing dollars going this year? If you are anything like the other thousands of businesses in America, you’ll probably shift away from the more traditional forms of advertising in 2014 and pool your money into digital.

According to the Wall Street Journal, companies across the United States are expected to spend $50.1 billion on digital ads in 2014. While that figure still comes second to television spending at $68.5 billion, it’s growing at a much faster rate than any other form of advertising.

Let’s say your company is used to traditional ad spending: mail flyers, billboards, newspaper ads, radio blurbs, etc. For years, all your marketing department has done is focus on these methods without furthering the company’s presence in the digital realm.  While traditional ways of advertising are still effective, not investing in digital advertising could actually be having an adverse affect on your company’s bottom line.

Here’s our reasons why you should focus on digital advertising (with particular emphasis in social media advertising) in 2014:

Digital advertising reaches the same amount of people, if not more than traditional advertising

Welcome to the Internet, where the world truly is your audience. Your goal in marketing is to make sure people see your advertisements. Every time someone sees your ad, it’s counted as an impression.  Traditional forms of marketing have limited impressions, depending on their target audience. For instance, hosting a billboard in a medium-sized metropolitan area (like Sioux Falls, SD) reaches weekly impressions of around 55,000. If you take out a  1 column x 4 inches ad in the Los Angeles Times, you can expect a fraction of the 1.7 million readership will run across your message while flipping through the paper.

While this sounds like you’re getting a good deal, consider how many impressions you can get with online media. On Facebook, depending on the specifications you set for your ad, you can reach way more people, up to 180 million, to be exact. Remember that print ad for the Los Angeles Times? If you target a Facebook sponsored post and sidebar advertisement to appear to only those living in LA , you have a potential reach of 6.2 million people over the span of your ad campaign. That’s 4.5 million more than the LA times.

Digital ads ultimately save you money

Who doesn’t like saving money?  Every company keeps a hawk’s eye and a tight fist on their budget, so isn’t it time to update your marketing plan in order to help the folks out in accounting?  Think about it this way: would you throw down almost $25,000 for a billboard that’s only displayed for four weeks in a mid-sized market? Or take out a $13,000 4-day national ad in the Wall Street Journal or $6,275 for an advertisement in the Chicago Tribune? Or what about $1,500 for a 30-second television spot during local segments? Is it worth it? Maybe, but not necessarily.

Here’s a tCloud Solutions example: Just recently, we took out a Facebook ad to boost clicks to our website for 30 days. In that month, our ad received over 200,000 impressions and only spent $125. Remember how many people saw your ad via billboard per week in a medium-sized market? 55,000, on average, meaning 220,000 per month. That puts our digital ad right up there with that billboard ad, which is pretty incredible considering we spent $24,875 less than those billboard customers.

Your audience is online

 If you’re still not convinced that digital is the way to go in 2014, think of your target audience. Who are the recipients of your marketing messages? Chances are, your audience is on social media. Even if they’re not, they’re still using email and seeing your digital ads in Google search results.  And, once you connect with your customers online, your reach expands to their inner circles, causing a pleasant chain reaction of new customers and a boost in profits.

The bottom line: While having a strong digital presence is absolutely necessary for your marketing strategy, we’re not saying to completely forgo traditional methods. Just use them sparingly while making up for the rest online. Understand that traditional methods do have value, but digital advertising can match that.

If you’re not sure how to get started with digital marketing, let us know. We can help come up with a social media strategy that works for your company.

The Best (and Worst) Times to Update Your Social Networks

Hello digital astronauts,

Check out this helpful infographic we found on Fannit.com. Go ahead, print this out for your office or cubicle to serve as a guideline for the best times to update your social media for increased audience engagement.

Courtesy Fannit.com

Courtesy Fannit.com