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At this point, you know that a good email or SMS campaign goes hand in hand with social media. Few one-two punches even come close to the kind of power this duo packs. However, are your only options really Facebook, Google+, and Twitter? While the “Big Three” might be the first that come to mind when you think of reaching out to fans on social media, the truth about your other options – and the stats backing up these claims – might surprise you. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how Instagram can compliment a strong SMS or Email marketing campaign, sending your brand influence through the roof.

The Power of Instagram

Before going any further, you’re probably wondering why anyone would dare to put Instagram in the same category as Facebook or the other leading networks. However, the truth is that Instagram is in a league of its own when it comes to making contact with customers. According to a recent report from marketing research firm Forrester, Instagram delivered 58 times more engagement for brands per follower than Facebook, and 120 times more engagement per follower than Twitter. To put it plainly, these two leading names aren’t even close when it comes to actually connecting and interacting with your audience.

For a little extra context, the report showcases a video posted by Red Bull, which received 2,600 likes on Facebook. Not bad, right? While that kind of engagement is nothing to scoff at, it definitely pales in comparison to the 36,000 likes the same video received on Instagram. In total, six of the seven platforms studied reported engagement rates below .1 percent, with Instagram easily outpaced the field, taking the lead at 4.21 percent.

Going Beyond Stats

While the stats are definitely eye-popping, the real power of this visually oriented social network is the ability to actually engage customers in a meaningful and interactive way. Instead of tired, generic posts that so many brands rely upon when posting to Facebook or Twitter, sharing on Instagram lets you express your brand image, story, and content in a more engaging and visually pleasing manner. This unique method of getting in contact with your customers is what truly makes connecting via Instagram so powerful. While generating high quality graphic content that relates to your latest round of email or SMS messages, or brand in general, might take a little extra work, the numbers don’t lie regarding how your audience responds to this kind of engagement.

Building an Instagram Strategy

So now that you’re up to speed with what you have to gain by incorporating Instagram into your social media game plan, it’s time to take a look at how to fit this network into your next campaign. To start, take advantage of the full service profile features to give your customers an idea of what your brand is all about. Much like Twitter and Facebook, incomplete profile information doesn’t come off as very professional, so make sure you give your audience all they need to know (and then some) to ensure they have the complete picture regarding your brand.

From here, engaging your customers with fun events and activities is a great way to drum up interest in your brand and even score some extra numbers and addresses for your contact lists. Offering contests that require user submissions, as well as featuring these members of your audience on a regular basis, can go a long way toward building a significant brand following on Instagram. Even doing something as simple as showing off a promo code you’d normally use for your email or SMS marketing initiatives every once in a while can give members of the network all the incentive they need to make stopping by your profile and checking out your latest uploads a part of their daily routine.

Looking to the Future

Of course, the biggest question surrounding a platform like Instagram is the concern that it is just a passing fad. While the likes of MySpace, Friendster, etc. all tell a cautionary tale about the viability of social networks, the fact that over 90 percent of Instagram’s 150 million (and growing) users are under the age of 35 bodes well for the long-term prospects of brand’s that plan on utilizing this platform in upcoming campaigns. Adding in that the mobile technology revolution is going nowhere anytime soon, it’s pretty safe to say that Instagram should definitely have at least a complimentary spot in your email and SMS initiatives for a long time to come.

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By now, you know that email marketing and social media are two peas in a pod when it comes to reaching out to your audience. Whether it’s one of the countless marketing blogs out there telling you how great these two are together or your own personal experience doing a little brand promotion work, it’s not exactly the best kept secret in the industry. However, what plenty of talking heads fail to cover is exactly how you can put this connection to good use and grow your email contact list without a lot of extra effort. Thankfully, all you need to do is take a few minutes and look over these must see tips to get the ball rolling on your next big email marketing push.

Use Facebook’s Built-in Apps to Make an Email Opt-in Form (and Don’t Forget to Promote It!)

One of the absolute best synergies between social media and email marketing comes from the biggest social platform in the world. As part of its extensive app library, Facebook gives your brand the opportunity to setup an email opt-in form right on your page. While this might not seem like much, think back to the last time you were browsing a page and had to click an external link to check out an article or sign-up for something; chances are you probably just kept scrolling down because you didn’t want to leave the Facebook page or app on your phone. Your customers have the same mindset, so make it easy on them with a sign-up sheet that keeps them on Facebook. Once you have it up and running, don’t forget to post about it so that it pops up in their newsfeeds.

Each Social Site Deserves a Little Extra Attention

In a world where everything is automated and lumped together for convenience, it’s easy to be lazy and approach your social media engagement in broad and generic strokes. So many platforms give you the ability to post to all sites at once, so why not do this and save a little time? While this sounds good at first, the reality is that different people prefer different networks, so using the same method to promote your list across all of them isn’t your best bet.

Much like your email templates that have links and icons for each network you post on, instead of just one option, your promotional messages should also mix things up to entice different portions of your audience. While this does mean that you’ll need to test and tweak the different parts of your posts to see what Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. viewers like, the sign-ups you get in return will make you happy you didn’t take the easy way out and just click “post to all.”

Free Stuff Is a Great Motivator

If after all this you’re still having trouble with sagging contact list numbers, don’t be afraid to do start handing out some freebies. While you might not want to make this your go to plan, it doesn’t hurt to have some giveaway ideas in store for the times when you need to inject some new life into your audience’s enthusiasm. After all, nothing gets the online crowd buzzing more than a post offering goodies or discounts to those who take a minute to sign-up. If you really want to go deep on this strategy, adding in a small bonus for those who like or retweet your offer will have it popping up on potential new customer newsfeeds in no time.

Give Your Users a Chance to Sound off

With the rest of the tips on this list focusing on how you can make the sign-up experience enticing for customers, this one shifts the balance of power in the other direction a little bit. Customers love giving feedback, so why not give them a chance to speak their minds and let your brand know exactly what they like and dislike about your email campaigns. It doesn’t have to be an open Facebook post or Google+ community discussion, but linking back to feedback forms and customer support email accounts on your social media pages offers a direct line to the people you’re trying to connect in the first place.

Don’t Forget the Secondary Networks

The final tip that can really grow your email list doesn’t have anything to do with Facebook or Twitter. While these guys are definitely the top dogs when it comes to social media, that doesn’t mean they are the only players in the game. Working with Pinterest, LinkedIn, and the other up and coming platforms can help you tap into a user base that might not connect very often on the bigger networks. Additionally, getting creative and doing things like saving your email offers as pins on Pinterest can help push your brand image ahead of the competition. When it comes to email marketing and social media, isn’t that where you want to be with your audience?

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For the regular readers of this blog and pretty much any other site that covers email marketing, you probably see a ton of discussion regarding social media – and for good reason. While emails are still your best bet for generating leads and hammering out sales, there’s a ton of overlap between this marketing approach and getting friendly with your email list and other potential customers, especially on Facebook. With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of this synergy and how you can best retool your company’s Facebook account to supercharge your next email marketing campaign.

Everyone Loves Being Liked

The first entry on the list is pretty straightforward, but highly effective. By simply having a “like” button in the bottom of your email messages, you give your list members a fast and easy way to share your content and let it go viral. With so many social groups looking to show off great deals, it only makes sense that you give them the tools to do this with a simple click. From here, others who might never have known about your email list can jump on the bandwagon and get your daily or weekly offers in their inboxes going forward. In short, it’s a simple addition to your message that goes a long way with customers who love being social on the web.

Learning More about Those Already on Your List

Outside of having your email list show off your deals by liking and sharing your latest message, you can dig a little deeper with Facebook and learn more about your target audience. With so much information being made publicly available via this social network, your company can compare its mailing list with what these customers like and which social communities they’re a part of. Even just a few years ago, this type of insight into what your audience likes and wants was pretty much unheard of. However, with this information in hand, you can reshape and rework your email marketing operations to give them what they really want and boost conversions in a big way at the same time.

Timing’s Everything on Any Platform

It’s funny how some things, regardless of the platform, never change. When it comes to email marketing and posting on Facebook – or any other social network – timing is at the top of this list. If you’ve taken the steps to learn as much as possible about your target audience, then you should have a pretty solid idea of how and when they like their messages. If not, that’s OK too. By fiddling with when you schedule posts on Facebook and keeping track of which offerings blow up and which ones fizzle out, you’ll learn a lot about timing and your audience. From here, putting those test results to good use by optimizing your email messaging schedule is a nifty little trick that can help you sneak in a few extra conversions that might have otherwise have gone by the wayside because of bad timing.

Having a Little Fun

Of course, the synergy between email marketing and Facebook that your fans will like the most is letting them have a little fun. At first glance, you might be wondering how this is even possible. However, simply opening up a browser window with your own Facebook page and looking at your newsfeed will answer this pretty quickly. If you’re page is like most of the rest of ours, you’ll notice that everyone’s filling out quizzes and surveys for pretty much anything. From TV shows to the latest Internet trends, surveys asking “which character are you most like” and a variety of other topics are a major part of the Facebook social experience these days – and there’s no reason your brand shouldn’t get in on the fun.

By having links to your own Facebook surveys, quizzes, and even contests in your emails, you’ll not only engage your audience a little more by letting them have some fun filling these out, but you’ll also learn a lot about what makes them tick. When it comes to maximizing sales and exposure on any part of the web, this kind of insight and interaction should be a top priority for any brand that’s serious about getting the most out of social media and email marketing.

Give Your Viewers a Reason to Share

The final entry on the list is more of a mantra than a specific tip. While all the other synergies we’ve covered have been pretty specific, the biggest thing to remember, regardless of what you decide to do with your company’s Facebook page and email marketing campaign, is to give your audience a reason to share your content. No matter what direction you go, keep this ideal at the forefront of your strategy and you’ll be sure to hit a home run with the social butterflies that make up your audience the next time you roll out a new campaign.

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It’s your brand’s worst nightmare: you drop a hefty chunk of your marketing budget onto a great SMS campaign, only to watch the bottom fall out as some new craze hits your target audience. If you’ve been keeping up with the news lately, you just might have this sinking feeling in your stomach after finding out that Facebook purchased WhatsApp – a peer-to-peer chat app that is massively popular. However, let’s hold off on a complete meltdown and look over some of the facts surrounding the deal, and what it means for connecting with your audience via text, before we start reading the last rites for SMS marketing.

The Skinny on Facebook’s Monster Purchase

The best place to start is with a good look at what went down. Facebook recently broke the news that it was purchasing WhatsApp for a whopping $19 billion. That little tidbit in and of itself is enough to make waves in any industry. However, with reactions ranging from “jaw-dropping” to breaking down the value of each WhatsApp employee ($345.5 million a pop, in case you were wondering), the story has spread like wildfire and taken on a life of its own. While getting caught up in this craze is definitely exciting, pumping the brakes a little bit and thinking things out will help you see that this deal is definitely big news in the mobile and social media sectors, but SMS marketing is still king in many ways.

What Does This Mean for SMS Marketing?

Because Facebook monetizes pretty much everything it touches, the concern surrounding this deal was that the social media giant would go over the top of the SMS marketing industry and leverage ad space on the app. However, the linked article from Venture Beat we just shared does a great job breaking down exactly why that kind of thinking is closer to mass hysteria than it is to common sense.

First, and perhaps the biggest reason why WhatsApp gaining traction with Facebook doesn’t mean much to you, is the fact that this app makes its money from yearly subscriptions. The entire platform is based on a mantra which includes “no ads,” so customers couldn’t even sneak a peek at your offers while chatting with friends even if you wanted them to. After digesting this, the next little snippet from the article explains that WhatsApp isn’t even a big deal in the states. Ask yourself a quick question – before this story caught fire, did you even know what WhatsApp was? Don’t worry, neither did most people.

What is important for SMS marketing as a whole is that Facebook has reaffirmed that having your brand be a part of messaging is a smart play in the long haul. As a population, we can’t get enough texting – to the point that some people don’t even bother making phone calls at all anymore. While your company might not spend $19 billion to stay in touch with consumers like Facebook did, using messaging to build brand awareness puts you in some pretty good company.

What Facebook Hopes to Gain

As far as Facebook itself is concerned, the marketing industry is still a little unsure of what to make of the whole deal. Across the pond, some experts believe that WhatsApp’s popularity is here to stay, but question if Facebook is really going to get its money’s worth out of this blockbuster deal. While there’s no doubt that WhatsApp has a big time following, is there really more room for growth? Some of the best minds in the business aren’t so sure.

Bringing things back a little closer to familiar territory is Forbes magazine’s interesting take on the value debate. Basically, author Thomas Goodwin isn’t even sure if WhatsApp was Facebook’s first choice. After failing to hammer out a deal with Snapchat, which is definitely a bigger deal in the U.S. than WhatsApp, some industry insiders view this purchase as a bit of a consolation prize. While we’ll never really know the truth – until some disgruntled ex-employee leaks the juicy details about the boardroom debates that most definitely preceded this deal – it is pretty interesting to soak up some of the speculation and wonder just how much of an impact Facebook is really expecting from this whole thing.

Thinking Long-term

If you just want to trim this whole discussion down into a single sentence, this one should do the trick: SMS marketing isn’t going anywhere, and Facebook spending the big bucks on a messaging service just reaffirms the fact that contacting people, like your target audience, this way is definitely a strong channel for building your brand. Now that you’ve had a moment to breathe and understand what’s really going on with WhatsApp, think long-term with where you want your mobile marketing campaign to go and keep your eyes on that target – it’s the best strategy you’ve got in a world where everyone’s ready to overreact at the latest breaking news.

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If you run a nonprofit organization, you probably have two primary tasks that influence every decision you make. The first is sticking to a budget that is, at the best of times, pretty tight. The second is building exposure to gain donations and volunteers. So how can you increase visibility while staying on a limited budget? The answer lies in a complete online marketing campaign. When pulled off properly, this kind of operation can keep your bottom line in the green and build a strong following through email promotions, social media and a wide variety of other tools.

Appeal to the Masses

There’s one truth you can’t turn away from in the modern world: we love social media. It seems like everyone has a Twitter or Facebook account, so your nonprofit organization definitely should as well. However, simply having an account that shares information from your email marketing campaign isn’t enough. To avoid losing followers due to inactivity or driving subscribers away with spam, you’ll need to toe the fine line between frequent and non-existent updates. As a rule, one or two posts per day will keep your message on the screen and in the minds of your viewers.

Our second rule for social media is to stay relevant. Earn the respect and attention of your viewers by making posts they can relate to. People who like or follow your page are already interested in the cause you support, so play off of that and relate the goals of your nonprofit to their everyday lives. Share updates about upcoming or recent events and talk about how your viewers can get involved. Organic conversations with your followers can go a long way toward establishing your nonprofit as a credible and reputable source for discussion on the hot topics surrounding your field.

If you plan to use Twitter or Facebook, knowing how to properly use hashtags can make a huge difference in who your message reaches. Hashtags are there to get the attention of people who may not have even realized your nonprofit exists. Unique hashtags that are relevant to your cause, such as #nonproft, #feedthehungry or #protectwildlife, can draw in viewers who resonate with your message and are the most likely to become supporters after they get to know you through your posts.

Get in the Game

Try reaching out to other nonprofits. These organizations can help build your following and open up the option to share resources, like cross-platform blogging opportunities. While sites like Facebook and Twitter are great for reaching out to individuals, sites with a more professional atmosphere, like LinkedIn and NetSquared, can help you build the contacts you need to expand your email and online marketing operations.

Unlike other industries where similar organizations might pose a threat to your bottom line, nonprofits can and should rely upon one another to help advance a common goal or mission. Sharing resources to reach new audiences should be a top priority when interacting with other organizations.

Stay Connected

This is where email marketing fits into the bigger picture of enhancing online visibility for nonprofit organizations. As part of an email plan, newsletters and promotional material that go out on a regular basis are a great way to keep in touch with your supporters and remind them why they support your cause in the first place. Of course, typing out emails one by one is a great way to waste your day, so don’t shy away from professional help. Using a company like ours, you can easily manage your contacts and email lists, create personalized mass messages, send newsletters and make sure your emails arrive in the targeted inboxes.

All of this relies on building a strong email database. Make sure you have a newsletter sign-up sheet readily available in your physical locations as well as an email subscription option on your website so that you can hit the ground running and expand your reach.

Stay Current

Remember, you need a reason to bring your readers back to your website in order to secure support and donations. Having great content in the form of blogging can add even more value to your email, social media and other online marketing techniques. You can use a blog to share stories of how your organization has helped the community in the past or how you intend to do so in the future. Additionally, hitting on all the relevant issues related to your nonprofit can help turn your website into an authority on the subject, leading to better rankings on Google and other search engines.

A regularly updated blog you can promote in your email campaigns and social media shows your followers that your organization is active and trying to make a difference. When it comes to raising funds and taking in donations, having this on your side can serve as the centerpiece for a very powerful campaign.

Online marketing, in the form of social networking, email promotions, blogging and all the other little pieces that make up the big picture, requires a lot of effort from your organization. However, if you truly want to spread the word about the cause and stay on budget, give the complete online marketing campaign approach a try and see just how well it works for your nonprofit moving forward.

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It’s 2014, and the Internet has never been more alive with people connecting across the globe on countless platforms. While this might not be awe-inspiring to some, if you’re a business looking to connect with customers, this is the golden age of interactive marketing and building virtual connections. Standing astride many campaigns and projections are connecting with customers via social media and email marketing initiatives. On the surface, these two practices might not seem to have much room for overlap. However, with a deeper look from both sides of the process, you might be surprised at just how much synergy exists between social media and email marketing, leading you to revamp how you interact with your customers entirely.

The Goal of Marketing via Emails

To start, email marketing approaches the process of connecting with consumers in a more traditional manner. By building a database of potentially interested individuals, you can ship out newsletters, offers and informational emails that help redirect customers back to your website and through the doors of your physical storefront. In some cases, having exclusive promotions or other perks listed in an email-only format, helps promote your mailing and the importance of signing up. Once you’ve got your email list up and running, these messages require optimization that is akin to the refinement that happens from a content marketing standpoint. By having high quality emails that include snappy text and sharp visuals, you can maximize your chances of wowing a viewer and getting a click back to your site and join a growing trend of email marketing effectiveness that has reached unprecedented levels in recent months.

Reaching Out via Social Media

Similarly, social media is all about showing off your brand in the right way, even if the platform is fundamentally different. With this approach, you can share the same messages and promotions via Twitter, Facebook and Google+ that you would with an email marketing initiative. The difference is that your content usually focuses on building a conversation and expanding your organization’s virtual reach via visibility. To put it simply, the more people talk about your content on any of these sites, the more other people take notice and give your products attention. From this perspective, the goal of getting viewers in your web store remains the same, but the path they take to get there is slightly different.

Is There a Connection?

Considering that joining virtually any social media website requires a working email address, you can safely assume that your target audience overlaps in at least some fashion on both of those platforms. However, the question of whether or not you can draw connections between the two styles of marketing still needs to be answered. When combined properly, there is room for a strong connection between social media and your email marketing campaign. For instance, building in retweet, like and favorite options on your emails gives viewers a chance to freely share with others who may not be on your mailing list. Basically, every time someone clicks one of these little buttons, you get access to a new list of potential customers that would otherwise have never had a chance to learn about your promotional content. For anyone who wants to get the most out of their email marketing budget, it’s hard to say no to free exposure via a social media referral.

Is One Better Than the Other?

While you can clearly start to connect the dots and build a connection between the two styles, you might be wondering why smart marketers don’t just go with the method that has a better return on investment or other performance metric. While this is pretty strong thinking, the reality is that there is no clear winner when you start to draw comparisons. On one hand, eMarketer released a study showing that 2014 was the year for social media. In direct contrast is a report from the equally credible Forbes that asserts the supremacy of email marketing over social media. With experts toeing both sides of the battle lines, there is no best choice.

Maximizing Your Return with a Smart Marketing Campaign

Instead of picking only one strategy and cutting yourself out of potential opportunities to increase visibility and sales, a great marketing campaign builds off both the social aspect of reaching out to customers and the power of an optimized email initiative to get the best of both worlds. By having social media accounts that spread the same content and messages as your emails, you can reach out to the subscribers who might not relate to a promotional email or would otherwise let it go unnoticed in a cluttered inbox. Additionally, having the share features listed above in your emails gives you extra reach that, when used effectively, will have any professional marketer jumping with joy over the free exposure to friends and family of those on your mailing list. Now that you are up to speed on the bond between email marketing and social media you can rest assured that you have all of the knowledge you need to make a smart choice when you get ready to fire up your next online advertising campaign. By harnessing the reach of social media and the effectiveness of optimized emails, you’ll never be left wondering if you could have done more to enhance your brand awareness in the digital marketplace. Puzzle_Pieces

 

Now that you’ve read the first blog detailing the faux pas of Facebook in regards to how the company mishandled private consumer messages, it is a great time to look at how you can avoid similar mistakes when initiating an email or mobile marketing campaign of your own. The importance of brushing up on compliance concerns as you start to reach out to consumers goes without saying – especially if you don’t have the massive legal backing that companies like Facebook enjoy when dealing with lawsuits and other damaging occurrences.

Avoid the Obvious

The first place to start this discussion is right where it left off in the previous blog post regarding Facebook’s violations of consumer privacy. The easiest lesson to learn, and the best way to stay in compliance with the CAN-SPAM Act, the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and other regulatory governance, is to avoid illicitly obtaining consumer information, as well as working with agencies that partake in such practices when it comes to setting up an email marketing campaign. If you need more reasons to say no to this type of conduct when engaging in marketing of any type, just know that Facebook isn’t the only organization that has gone a step, or more like a mile, over the line. In 2013, Google also found itself on the wrong side of privacy laws and regulations, leading to backlash and penalties as well.

Ask for Permission

According to the Mobile Marketer, a key part of the SMS or email interaction is to ask for permission. By having a written agreement on record, you can ensure that you avoid penalization under the CAN-SPAM Act, the TCPA, and CASL laws in Canada. In fact, failing to incorporate this step into the marketing process can net fines of up to $1,500 from the government. While $1,500 might not like seem like much of a cost for the ability to spam countless consumers with your message, keep in mind that the little detail that this penalty is per message. That paints the price in an entirely different light.

Give the Consumer a Little Notice Before You Start

Taking it a step further to help expound upon the rules and regulations is this post from Experian. As the title would suggest, what you don’t know when it comes to compliance can definitely hurt you. With that in mind, the next primary regulation centers on offering the consumer a little notice about what the email program entails. This means a clearly defined explanation that entering into such a program comes with messages sent directly to the user via a short-code application. Often, explaining this detail when asking for permission from the user is an effective way to mark off both concerns from your compliance checklist.

On and Off Toggles Are Also Important

Additionally, the other key point from the Experian discussion covers what kind of choices you must give to those who enter into your program. Essentially, having a way for members to opt-in and out of the messaging service must stand as a central part of your operation. For email services specifically, having an unsubscribe link in the footer is a great example of a required opt-out tool. Users must also have access to these toggles at any point in the process, regardless of how you are connecting with them. Otherwise, you can expect penalties and fines from falling out of compliance with the various regulations in the email and SMS marketing world.

Understanding the Legality of a Message

For compliance issues that transcend this type of marketing strategy, like the accusations that stand before Facebook, Performance Marketing Insider suggests simply learning about the legality of messages in general. According to this post, which centers on an interview with Internet legal experts Michael Becker and Richard Newman, there are two key points to take away from this concept. First, text messages share the same legal standing as a phone call, so the same rules apply to both. The second part builds on this and explains that consumers have a personal bubble. Invading this space can occur via unwanted emails, messages and messaging, either by call or text, which occurs far too frequently.

Know the Penalties

All of this information is a lot to process, even for those who are familiar with digital marketing of many forms. To keep everything straight, don’t be afraid to go straight to the source. By reviewing the CAN-SPAM Act, CASL laws, and TCPA rules whenever you have a question, you can ensure the compliance of your marketing plan and avoid the issues other companies, like Google and Facebook, dealt with in the past.

Staying in compliance, especially in the face of the lessons learned from the lawsuit standing against Facebook, is more important now than ever before. To ensure you stick to the rules as you reach out to consumers, remember a couple key regulations that apply to an email campaign. Asking for permission, having the ability to opt-in or out, and giving consumers fair notice over what to expect all start the process. From here, understanding the legality of a message of any kind, as well as knowing the penalties from the source, keeps your campaign safeguarded from serious repercussions.

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Social media giant Facebook finds itself in some hot water with privacy rights groups and activists after reports emerged detailing a potentially major breach of user privacy and practices. While your organization’s messaging operations and marketing initiatives might not operate on the same scale as Facebook, you can be sure that there are plenty of lessons you can learn from how the social network got itself into this predicament. To start, take a moment to review the particulars of the lawsuit and what exactly Facebook did with user messages to draw the ire of plaintiffs Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley.

Allegations of Snooping and Privacy Intrusions

According to an article on the subject from PC World, Facebook faces allegations of sifting through private messages exchanged between users to search out links and other information related to consumer habits and trends. The benefits of such a move are clear to anyone who understands how difficult it is to target and connect with customers via message marketing, or any sort of marketing in general.

By having this window of insight into the lives of the masses, Matthew Campbell and Michael Hurley, the plaintiffs in the lawsuit who claim to speak on behalf of the millions of Facebook faithful, propose that the leading social network then turned your information, as well as the information of the countless others, into a valuable commodity. Such a resource would then help optimize on-site ads and other marketing initiatives for advertising partners in a highly unethical, but potentially effective, manner.

A Fundamental Mistake

Unfortunately for Facebook, if these claims turn out to be true, the company faces some serious backlash from users and privacy rights organizations alike. While every marketing firm or agency wants to have a pulse on its targeted audience, stepping over the boundary and invading personal space is a prime offense that many see as unforgivable. Such a move not only violates the agreement of a company to respect the rights of its users, it also tramples over information privacy laws in the United States and other countries around the world.

The Facebook Rebuttal

While the evidence presented doesn’t paint a pretty picture, Facebook isn’t backing down from the fight. In an effort to defend itself, Facebook representatives released a statement, covered in a report from the Brock Press, that the allegations against the social network have no merit and that the company plans to defend itself vigorously. While this legal response is simply par for the course, it at least shows that Facebook has some sort of plan to push back against the privacy invasion claims. Should legal proceedings come underway, you can bet that the substantial legal team surrounding the interests of the company will need to unveil considerable evidence to the contrary to dismantle such damning claims.

Additionally, the article quotes Internet security expert Graham Cluley, who defends Facebook on this particular issue. Essentially, Mr. Cluley claims that having Facebook scan private messages helps protect the millions of users from spam, illicit links, and destructive malware. However, this doesn’t address the real problem of Facebook taking this content and potentially selling off the information gleaned from these messages to the highest bidder.

Prior Legal Issues and Controversies

Of course, a great legal defense doesn’t cover up the fact that Facebook has been in this position before. Reading an article from the Huffington Post highlights this point in great detail. Over the course of the past several years, the social network has had to defend itself constantly regarding legal concerns. 2011 saw Facebook lose a suit covering the issue of taking and using user information without explicit permission from members of the social network. Additionally, the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, settled a case for $65 million that centered on the claim that he stole the idea for this network from his Harvard classmates.

Looking to the Future

While such a move could create major backlash and a potential deterioration of the user base for most organizations, the Brock Press report on the subject closes with a very real statement regarding Facebook’s continued viability. After weathering similar storms and continuing to grow, Facebook just may be one of the few companies that can withstand this issue should it be found guilty of this type of invasion of privacy. However, the potential monetary damages, as well as the damage done to the brand image of the company, should be strong enough to dissuade other organizations from engaging in similarly illicit activities.

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At first glance, starting a blog seems like a pretty easy process that doesn’t take much thought. Just sign-up on a free site, write up a few quick blurbs, and watch as your page pulls in loads of traffic, right? While this might sound great, it is unfortunately far from the truth. The reality of the situation is that if you want to see your blog flourish and grow, you’re going to need to put in some serious effort and approach the process with the right mindset. With these tips to help guide you along the way, you can start your journey toward a healthy and prosperous blog right away.

Nail Down a Theme

Professional writers Joshua Fields Milburn & Ryan Nicodemus at The Minimalists offer up some great information on starting a blog for your marketing operations. Before settling on anything else, having a strong theme for your content and visuals is the most important part of the process. Without this kind of direction, expecting a positive reaction is essentially just wishful thinking. Whether you want to be a thought leader in your industry, or simply offer insight into how your products and services handle the daily issues faced by your consumers, having a unified theme goes a long way in the world of blogging.

Pick the Right Platform

Once you have your theme and general direction for content on target, picking the right platform is the next step, according to online magazine Rookie. As the article notes, several options can serve as a suitable foundation for your blog. Blogger and WordPress.com are popular selections for those who are unfamiliar with web scripts like HTML. If you have a little more expertise, the WordPress.org alternative offers more customization for those who can handle the higher technological burden.

Incorporate Social Media

In many ways, blogging is a very social experience. So social, in fact, that this activity shares some serious synergy with Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks. Robert Ambrogi, a blogging and legal expert, suggests on his page that new bloggers embrace the social aspect of the process to help foster the growth of their viewership. This means creating social network accounts that support your blog page, replying to comments, reaching out through email and even visiting other related blogs to help promote discussion on these sites. Becoming an active contributor in these arenas can help push traffic back to your blog and build a sustainable audience of browsers.

Take Note of What Your Audience Wants

Part of sustaining this aforementioned audience means taking note of what these viewers want out of your blog, according to the experts at Buffer. As you post more and more content, consider the feedback in the comments section, as well as the on-site activity the viewers. If certain posts or subjects naturally generate more excitement, pushing your blog in that direction may be the right strategy. Failing to do this, and losing sight of the point of your blog, can disenfranchise your readers and lead to a blog that never lives up to its potential.

As you can see, starting up a blog does require some serious work and preparation. Nailing down a great theme and concept, as well as picking the right publishing platform, gets the process rolling. From here, reaching out to your audience via social media, while also taking into consideration the feedback from these readers, can help you grow your viewership at a healthy pace. With these tips in hand, you’ll be on your way to a prosperous and popular blog in no time.

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There’s no doubt you have a personality all your own. Chances are there’s nobody else out there quite like you, and if you started to act differently, the people who know you best would be sure to notice. Some would be concerned, others could be put off, the rest just confused. The same goes for your company. Does your newest campaign strategy stay true to your company’s voice?

You may be confused at first, but every company has a character, and according to marketing expert Noah Fleming character should be well-established and as consistent as possible. Overall, your company’s voice should be true to your company’s values, appealing to your audience and, while not static, as stable as you can make it.

Find Your Perfect Pitch

Depending on the industry and audience, your company voice may be as casual as an eighth-grade pajama party, as formal as a presidential dinner party or somewhere in between. Figuring out just where you should stand requires understanding your business and who you’re catering that business to. Stiff corporate environments make maintaining a playful, fun tone difficult, while small mom-and-pop businesses may have a hard time keeping up the formality from season to season. A good way to find your company voice, if you’re waffling, is to think about the voice of your target audience, and refine it a little bit. Make sure your image matches your tone, and create content that makes your clientele feel at home.

Always Assume the Cameras Are Rolling

Above all else, your company’s character should be consistent. Every person who has a hand in content creation, social media management or any level of public relations should be intimately aware of what it stands for, what it’s about and how that message gets across. Just as it only takes a couple of instances of finding the main character of your favorite book series acting dramatically different from how you remember before you put the book down for good, a couple of out-of-character Facebook posts and email campaigns will leave your customers feeling uncomfortable, maybe even jilted.

When you represent your company, always assume your clients are watching. That joke might seem hilarious enough to slip into this week’s ad, but if it doesn’t mesh with your company’s character, then make the sacrifice and leave it on the cutting room floor.

General Rules

When it comes to maintaining a consistent voice, there are a few things to always keep in mind.

  • Be authentic. Make sure your content is honest, clear and not needlessly puffed up.
  • Be conversational. Treat every campaign as an open dialogue; make your customers feel like you’re talking to them, not at them.
  • Be consistent. This has already been said, but it bears repeating. If you’re in the process of reinventing your company image, be sure to update the voice with it, but be prepared for a little pushback.

Be prepared for that update. This isn’t throwing consistency to the wind, no matter how it sounds. Following customer response, however, can help you figure out how casual is too casual and where formal becomes stiff. Let your company voice evolve over time with your customers, don’t change it overnight.

Nobody knows your company’s voice better than you, but the key here is making sure that voice is one that resonates with your audience. Keep your company in-character, absolutely, but let time takes its course, and don’t be afraid of a little character development. As long as you stay true to the core of your company’s values and your customers’ needs, then maintaining a clear voice should be as easy as, or easier than, building a new year’s campaign strategy around it.

Bullhorn

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