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Salvaging What’s Left of Google+

Salvaging What’s Left of Google+

As Google+ prepares to transition into two quieter products, what can we expect of the remains of the network?

There was once a time where I urged anyone and everyone to use Google+. And I wasn’t alone. Despite the fact that the general response to the term ‘Google+’ was, “I don’t really know what it is or what to do with it,” marketers everywhere were asserting that it was a must for any degree of success with social media and search strategies.

Google-Plus-Photos-and-Streams

As Bob Dylan once sang (and still does, albeit a little less intelligibly), the times, they are a changin’.

Back in March, Bradley Horowitz, a Google veteran and product VP, confirmed to the world that, yes, Google+ would be transitioning from a full-blown social network (once touted as the ‘Facebook killer‘) into two separate, significantly quieter products: Photos and Streams.

What exactly are these two products?

Great question.

As someone who has had an iCloud account for years, I can say that I never really went any further in building it up past the factory settings on my iPhone. When I wanted to upgrade my phone, it worked out nicely that I had it, but have I taken the time since then to configure it any further? I have not. What I have done, however, is taken advantage of the storage and cloud capabilities offered by Google+.

One such example is the ability to auto backup any photos taken with your Gmail-connected device to Google+. It is there that my entire history in images is stored. And it is for that reason that Google is salvaging this aspect of the network. For all that Google+ got wrong, it got this right.

Google+ does an excellent job of arranging your photos by trip, date, location and tells wonderful stories when those images are uploaded. It’s a fun feature that is worth saving. And it has Facebook bested (by a significant amount).

Facebook tries to find ways to connect with its audience by sharing flashbacks and stories. More often than not, the images and videos Facebook creates for its users share painful or awkward memories, and those (of course) are the ones that are shared most with the world.

The quiet nature of the Google+ photo feature has lent itself to more success than market cohorts.

The second feature, Streams, is a little harder to understand (in terms of why they would want to save it). If there is one thing that people do not care to use on Google+, it is their feeds. Sure, people might scroll through every once in a while and +1 an article here or there, but ultimately, people will turn to Facebook or Twitter for feeds of digestible content before they go to Google+. So to save this feature seems a little odd.

That said, considering Photos and Streams will be separated and marketed as two distinct apps, we should wait and see what they do with Streams before passing judgment. One hopes that they move away from the native nature of Google+ as it exists now (showing only content that has been shared by my network) and expand it to show content that might be relevant from around the web and my secondary network.

What else can we expect to see saved?

In 2011, a year after Facebook introduced their ‘Like’ button (that only came into existence in 2010!) Google rolled out its response: the Google +1. Expect that to stick around.

The +1 is a valuable indicator as to what content matters to users. The fact that it links to a logged in user’s Gmail account, it tells Google a lot about what is relevant to the user, and what content adds value to the online community. The button helps refine and improve search result accuracy and is so widely used (worldwide) that it wouldn’t make much sense to remove it. Unless the powers that be have an alternative that is equally simple to use and valuable (both for the poster of a piece of content and for Google itself) we shouldn’t see that button go anywhere.

Google+ logins will undoubtedly change, but a Google login will still be very much alive. Again, the user data that a Google login offers both sides of the transaction is hugely valuable, and there is no way that people want to see that go. With Google+ no longer existing as we understand it today in the near future, it will surely change how the login works, but it’ll still be there in one form or another.

Google launching gmeet

Granted, Google Hangouts are not really Google+ specific, but they were certainly born out of the social layer that Google was trying to cultivate with the creation of this social network. Recently, it was announced that Google would be launching a new service called GMeet (pictured above), which would revolutionize the conference call by offering users a way to participate without a pesky dial in. That’s neat, and it is built on the Hangout model, so we definitely won’t lose that.

Conclusion

Google has succeeded and failed in the past; I turn your attention to Gmail and Flu Trends, respectively. But never has such a grandiose undertaking failed so publicly (which, I guess is the downside of having a social network fail). That said, there are clearly a lot of pieces within Google+ that work very well. They just don’t all work together.

As Google prepares to rollout Photos and Streams, the world will wait patiently to see if it can redeem itself after the fall of Google+ to the other giants of the social networking world.

10 Ways to Improve Your Landing Page Conversions

10 Ways to Improve Your Landing Page Conversions

There are a lot of reasons why your landing pages might not be converting, so here are ten things that might help.

Your landing pages are designed to drive conversions. But with so much noise, and what can sometimes feel like guesswork (though it doesn’t have to be), our landing page conversions might not be as strong as we had hoped.

Improve Landing Page Conversions

These are a few best practices to keep in mind next time you decide to create a landing page in the hopes of driving new conversions from a campaign.

1. Match Your Page Title

If I, a consumer, have clicked on your content from an ad, email, social post or some other source that read one thing, and I arrived at your landing page only to find that the title does not match the original content, I’ll likely a) go back, thinking I arrived at the wrong place or b) exit because I feel duped. Keep a consistent message from content to landing page in order to maintain consistency throughout the consumer’s journey.

2. Clear Call-to-Action

If you have paragraph after paragraph of text and wait until the very end of the page to prompt me to take action, nine times out of ten, I’m going to leave. The average online attention span is eight seconds. If you don’t have a clear call-to-action above the fold prompting visitors to take action immediately, they likely won’t.

3. Direct Users to Your CTA

Using something as simple as an arrow, a photo or even turning your images slightly to face your call-to-action call lead to significantly improved conversion rates. Our eyes naturally follow directions that guide them. Do yourself a favor and help your prospects along the way.

4. Single Message

Landing pages have significantly higher conversion rates when there is a single, clear and uninterrupted message without any distractions. As noted above, people have short attention spans. If you push too many messages (i.e. more than one) at the same time, they will likely become overwhelmed and move onto something simpler.

5. Contextualize Your Offer

Showing is better than telling. Think about the classic door-to-door sales person. Your Fuller Brush Man wouldn’t simply tell you how great his products were, he would show you a mess and clean it up! On your landing page, you should try and do the same thing. Showcase an example, or a video that highlights why the product is a must-have and the offer can’t be beat!

Fuller Brush Man Conversions

6. Conformity

Along the same lines as the single message approach, every bit of content on your landing page should be aligned with the purpose of the page itself. If your goal is to get people to download your eBook, everything on the page should not only push people to download the eBook, but focus on its benefits. At no point should the attention that a consumer is giving you be broken. Don’t share links to other pages, and don’t promote other offers. Your landing pages should be singular in nature.

7. Test Variations

Keep all elements constant, but change the color of your call-to-action from blue to red. Did it make a difference? Now change the phrasing of your page title. Did that help? It is no secret that A/B testing is a valuable practice, yet not marketers take advantage of it in all aspects of their campaigns. Maybe they’ll run A/B tests on email campaigns, or social ads, but too often landing pages are not tested. Try using a service like Optimizely to make things even easier and to automate some of the process.

8. Give a Guarantee

The majority of consumers are naturally risk-averse. Therefore, when they see that something is guaranteed – satisfaction, as a soft guarantee, or, as Kaplan does, improved test scores, for a hard guarantee – they will be more comfortable making a purchase or subscribing to a service. There is simply something comforting about seeing that a brand is confident in its product.

9. Segment by Source

If you are running search ads, social ads and email campaigns, they should have their own landing pages. Each of these variations should have its own set of A/B tests as these audiences will not be made up of the same people, and neither one of these audiences are likely to have the same tastes.

10. Show Accessibility

People are naturally skeptical when it comes to web offers. Showing that you have a real email address, an actual phone number and can be found in an office somewhere in the world will boost the confidence of your visitors. Again, people like to know that there is an actual human being on the other end of the computer that will be there is they need them.

Try some of these tactics and see if you can’t boost your landing page conversions next time you run a campaign!

4 Ingredients to Succeeding in Social Business

4 Ingredients to Succeeding in Social Business

It takes a lot for a social business to succeed, and these four ingredients are definitely requirements.

In any social business plan, there are going to be a lot of bits and pieces that make up the final product. Some elements will be grand and all-encompassing, some will be important, but might seem like afterthoughts. One thing that we can say for certain, however, is that there are some elements that are absolute must-haves if you want your social business to succeed.

Social business strategy ingredients that are crucial to success!

Like certain ingredients of a cake (old-fashioned cakes, with sugar, flour and eggs; not one of those gluten-free, paleo cakes) these four ingredients are going to be a part of any well-crafted social business strategy.

Social Client Persona Identification

I’ve written pretty extensively about the social client persona both on my personal blog and on the t2 blog. In fact, I’ve even made some videos that answer the questions about what exactly the social client persona is. Here’s one of them:

If you plan on seeing any sort of success with your social business strategy, then you’re going to need to clearly identify exactly who it is you plan to target with your message. Trying to attract these broadly defined archetypes is a recipe for disaster. It’s important that you define your target audience on the most granular of levels. After all, name another medium on which it is possible to get as personal and hypertargeted as with social. You can’t.

Plan Your Content

This goes both for a content strategy and content calendar. What exactly is the different between content strategy and content marketing, you ask? I explain that in the video below:

You know exactly what types of users make up your target audience (on each network) so you can tailor your content to exactly those tastes and preferences. Create messaging that you know will be well-received by those you are trying to target, then create an editorial calendar to go along with it.

Knowing when and where you plan on sharing content will help tremendously when it comes to scheduling campaigns and running ads so as not to bombard your fans and followers with an abundance of repetitive content. Even if your fans love you, everybody needs some space from brands from time to time.

Create Your Social Voice

Are you going to be authoritative and informative, or casual and whimsical? Will your brand have an edge, or will it always opt for the safest response? Essentially, your social voice is the equivalent of traditional brand guidelines – but on social media.

It should be made very clear to everyone that represents your brand exactly how you would like to be perceived. This will also be dictated by the audience you are trying to target (the Social Client Persona). It all works together!

When you know whom you are trying to reach, create the social personality that will be most approachable for them. In some cases, you will simply want to be a resource for questions and information. In others, you’ll want to be a friendly brand with which your audience members can have an actual conversation. Knowing the intricacies of both the networks and your audience will be key in building out that voice.

Establish Measurement Criteria

Though marketers and the C-suite are, collectively, moving away from traditional ROI models when it comes to social media, you still need to know what you plan to measure for in order to determine whether or not your program is a success.

If you haven’t set preliminary benchmarks (even if arbitrary) and key performance indicators, how will ever know if the most recent period for which you are measuring has been a success? Measurement criteria are going to be essential to any successful social business strategy, and they need to exist from day one.

This is not to say that your KPIs and benchmarks won’t change. In fact, they almost certainly have to. Adaptation is a major component of any strategy, but you need to start somewhere so that the optimization process is made easier as the program begins to unfold.

Conclusion

A lot is going to be incorporated into your social business strategy. And the more sincerely you approach the process of transitioning into a social enterprise, the more comprehensive your strategy will be. (Essentially, it is going to be a business plan.) These four ingredients provide a foundation, but they alone do not make the strategy complete.

If you plan on becoming a social business, take the process seriously and devote the necessary time to doing it right. If you’d like to know more about the components that should be included in a social business strategy, download my award-winning eBook here.

How to Win Friends and Influence People (On Social Media)

How to Win Friends and Influence People (On Social Media)

Almost 80 years after its first run, the tenets from Dale Carnegie hold true. (With a few notable differences.)

From the greatest businesspeople in the world (Warren Buffett still has his certificate from Carnegie’s course) to the not-so-impressive (Charles Manson reportedly used these techniques to influence his followers) people have found value in Carnegie’s lessons in How to Win Friends and Influence People. Today, on social media, a lot of this still applies. But some adaptation is needed for the modern era of communication.

How to Handle Your Fans and Followers

In order to properly handle members of your community, it is important that you not criticize, condemn or complain about them. You should also regularly show your appreciation for those members. That is especially true on social media.

Letting your fans and followers know that you appreciate their involvement in your community goes a very long way. One brand in particular that does this well is Cadbury. Here is one of the gestures they made to show their appreciation:

Making People ‘Like’ You

Now, the term ‘Like’ means something somewhat different on a social network like Facebook than what Carnegie had in mind, but the concept still holds up.

Of the six core traits that will lead to people liking you, there are a few that are particularly important on social media. First, developing a genuine interest in your fans and listening to what they have to say will improve the personal connection they have to your brand. What’s more, sending personalized messages using users’ names will be an important component of your communications strategy on social as well.

The idea of making people feel important when you talk to them is paramount when it comes to improving the customer experience. I don’t want to feel like ‘just another customer’ when I reach out to a brand. Even if that might be the case, I, the customer, should feel like the only person that matters when engaged with a brand online.

Winning People with the Way You Think (Your Brand’s Message)

“The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.” Truer words have seldom been spoken.

As a brand, the moment your start to argue with a customer on social media, you’re wrong. It doesn’t matter how right you are, you’re wrong. It is important to know when you’ve been beaten, and when to walk away. Getting into a debate is not worth the harm it will almost certainly cause.

Often times, when a customer is upset, they simply want to be acknowledged and heard. Social media can be that platform. Simply letting a customer voice their displeasure and responding in a respectful way can be a major factor in turning them into a brand advocate, rather than a detractor.

Turning a complaint into a constructive conversation about how your products or services can be improved is beneficial for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that your business can improve its operations as a result.

Conclusion

If you haven’t read through Carnegie’s book, and you or your brand spend time talking to people (which you almost certainly do) it is worth a read. While there is some content that is dated, there is clearly a lot of information that can help you better communicate with your community on social media (and other forms of communication).

Why Clickbait Was on Its Way Out Anyways

Why Clickbait Was on Its Way Out Anyways

Facebook has announced some new rules (and penalties) surrounding ‘clickbait’. Although it might have been a little late.

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook announced that they would begin penalizing users (mostly Upworthy) for sharing clickbait posts. It’s a nice idea and certainly adds to the user experience on Facebook, but it seems a little like the network is late to the party and they’re solving a ‘problem’ we’ve already moved past.

What Exactly is Clickbait?

Have you ever been using Facebook and seen an article pop up in your news feed that looks a little something like this:

Clickbait example from Upworthy

Or this:

Facebook Clickbait Example

You almost certainly have. Our news feeds have been flooded with posts from pages like Upworthy, The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed and plenty more that are enticing users to click based on the structure of their post (it looks like an image, but it’s not!) and their rhetoric. You would swear that clicking on the link would change your life forever, but when you land on the page, you see that it is kind of a waste of your time. (That’s not always the case, but more often than not, it is.)

Well, Facebook put their foot down and said, “Enough!”

Facebook’s New Rule

After a survey conducted by Facebook indicated that 80% of users wanted fewer clickbait-type headlines, the company decided to step in. They announced that they would begin suppressing content that contained the qualities of a clickbait link.

Facebook plans on growing. In order to do that, people need to be happy with the platform. When there is a nearly unanimous negative sentiment around a particular issue, it is your job as a company to take action to eliminate it. This is what Facebook took note of, and what they are trying to eradicate.

The only issue is that they might be a little too late to the party.

We’re Over It

Though Facebook’s announcement and these improvements are done with the best of intentions, the reality is that Facebook is late to the game. A lot of us have already moved past the issues we have had with clickbait. I, personally, indicate with the small arrow above posts that I do not wish to view a particular piece of content. After a few of these, it more or less does away with content from these kinds of pages.

Based on some conversations I’ve had, I’m not alone in doing this. A lot of people have simply started ignoring posts from certain pages, un-liking them on the network, and simply doing what Facebook is going to do on their own.

The benefits here is that now these pages will be forced to comply. While most of us (those that this new change would have had the greatest impact on) will not notice much of a difference, those that have been baited by these pages can take solace in the fact that they won’t have to deal with those kinds of posts anymore. That said, it shouldn’t be long before we see an alternative to clickbait that is equally unnerving.

6 Rapid-Fire Lessons I Learned in Dallas

6 Rapid-Fire Lessons I Learned in Dallas

Last week I was speaking at the Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas – this is what I learned.

For those of you who are my biggest fans, you’ll know that I often speak at the various Social Media Strategies Summits held by GSMI. Last week, I was presenting a session in Dallas about the importance and flexibility of Google Analytics, and how businesses can start using the platform for more than simply tracking website visits.

Corey Padveen talking Google Analytics at Social Media Strategies Summit in Dallas

While attending other sessions, I learned quite a bit. Enough so that I wanted to share a few of those lessons in rapid succession with this blog post. These are the fastest moving social business trends I noticed in Dallas.

All About Eve Analytics

The attention span of marketers is pretty short; every few months we’re most interested in something new when it comes to social media. Now, it seems like social is synonymous with data. More so than every before, speakers (myself included) focused heavily on the importance of data and analytics. For a long time, it was only early adopters that really loved the value of data. Now it seems like marketers from brands both big and small want to know what their insights are telling them and how they can be used to accomplish business goals.

Selective Engagement

When I was speaking in Chicago, I mentioned that when it comes time to engage – particularly in a time of crisis – brands needs to start being selective with the comments they’re going to respond to, and that selection should be based on an evaluation of the potential damage a comment can do to a brand. A few of my audience members were surprised by that. In Dallas, some major brands (that I will not name here) mentioned points along those same lines. We’re starting to realize that for as social as we should be, decision related to social media need to be approached in the same way as decisions related to every day business.

Which brings me to my next point…

Social Is Becoming Business-As-Usual

When I talked about what I learned in Kuwait, I noted that one of the most interesting things I heard – and something that resonates to this day – is that social media, a communications tool, tends to have its own department as opposed to permeating multiple departments (as email did). Finally, brands are showing that this is the case. Social is becoming a more important part of everyday business, and it is slowly becoming a common practice as opposed to a unique instance of its use.

Data is Everyone’s Biggest Hurdle

Analytics might be the thing on everyone’s mind, but understanding and leveraging data is still many marketers’ biggest obstacle. It is generally understood that these data are virtually invaluable. In almost every session in Dallas, speakers noted how they used data in order to create effective and hugely successful strategies. But as I spoke to various attendees, it occurred to me that for every marketer (or marketing department) that has figured out how to leverage these data, there are dozens that have yet to pinpoint how their insights can be used to build an effective campaign or strategy.

Keeping Up with the Times is a Close Second

Data might be the biggest hurdle, but keeping up with the changing social landscape is a very close second. I have found that education is amongst the most important keys to success with it comes to social media. The field literally changes shape every day with updates, acquisitions, deployments and much more. Keeping up with those changes is a full time job. If you’re expected to know anything and everything about social while at the same time managing a marketing department both on and offline, you’ll find that it is next to impossible. Things change so quickly in this realm that even full-timers have a hard time keeping up in some cases.

Dallas Heat and Humidity Can Help Explain Relativity

Albert Einstein is famously quoted as explaining his theory of relativity in the following way: “Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. That’s relativity.” I think that does a fine job of outlining what the theory means, but I think a better example is mine: “Walk six minutes to your conference in Dallas heat, it feels like six hours. Spend six hours delirious and standing next to an air conditioner while waiting to go back outside, it feels like six minutes.”

Conclusion

As always, there was a ton to learn in Dallas from some hugely impressive speakers and some very interesting attendees with just as much to offer. September is going to be a busy month for me, so if you’re in any of these cities, let me know!

Some New Social Business Trends Learned in Amsterdam

Some New Social Business Trends Learned in Amsterdam

Last week, in Amsterdam, I learned a lot more than just how incredibly scenic the historic city is.

Social business trends are constantly changing, and new things pop up virtually every day. When I was speaking at a conference in Amsterdam last week, I took note of a few new social business trends that seem to be emerging.

Social Business Trends - Corey Padveen Speaking in Amsterdam

Let me preface this by saying that while traveling, I have learned a lot about how each market differs considerably in their use of social media and social applications. While there are some overarching trends – like the fast expansion to mobile – there are niche trends that seem to overtake one market or another before going global (if they ever do). In Amsterdam, I was surrounded by some of the best and brightest minds in the world of digital and social business marketing from around Europe and the world, and this is what I took away from these sessions.

Niche Apps are the Future

One major social business trend that was mentioned on multiple occasions was the fact that the day of the broad, multidirectional social network (e.g. Facebook, Google+) is done. That is not to say that these networks will not continue to thrive (or, in some cases, just survive) but the general trend is towards apps that serve a niche. The Snapchats, Tinders and Instagrams of the world are what people are looking forward to, and that’s a pretty exciting thing for developers.

People have quickly realized that with Facebook’s critical mass reached, there really isn’t any room for another network like it. People have a place to talk to their friends, share pictures, articles and posts and waste time. Why would they need another version of it?

North America and Europe have Facebook, China has networks like Pengyou and Renren, Russia has Vkontakte, and there really isn’t any place for more. What there is room for is small apps that serve a very specific purpose. The beauty of these apps is that they can easily fit into other networks arsenals, and there is never a shortage of ideas. Just visit ItsThisForThat for proof!

A Greater Move Towards Understanding Analytics

Don’t get me wrong: this still has not happened to the degree it needs to in order for marketers to stop grinding their teeth. But there is hope. People are starting to become much more aware of the importance of analytics and beginning to take an interest in understanding what their social analytics mean (and how to build off of them).

The key to succeeding with analytics is setting goals. After all, if you don’t know what you’re measuring for, how can you possibly know if you’re doing a good job? Brands are starting to realize that, which makes the design and execution of social business strategies that much easier for people like me.

Tools are No Longer Idolized

At least, they are not idolized by the group of marketers and business people by whom I was surrounded. On every webinar I have attended or hosted, one of the first questions ever asked is, “What tools do you use?” Perhaps the greatest answer I ever heard to a question like that was from Gary Vaynerchuk, who essentially told the individual that it didn’t matter what tools he used because tools are worthless without a strategy. He was right then and he’s right now.

I’m thankful that people are starting to realize that. Throughout the summit, I did not hear a single question pertaining to the use of tools. People are finally starting to understand that it is all about the approach and structure of a program, and less about the magical non-existent tool that completes all of the work for you.

Of course, there are still people out there who care only about the “best tools” and less about the actual content, but during this session in Amsterdam, they weren’t present, and it was pretty refreshing.

Everything Looks Like It’s Out of a Painting

From the dark alleys to the most crowded streets, you’d swear you were walking through a Monet or Degas everywhere you go. It’s a place completely stuck in time, and in the most amazing way. My only recommendation is that the next summit be held on one of those tour boats that traverses the canals – though I think they’ll need a smaller screen.

Corey Padveen Street of Amsterdam

Conclusion

There is a lot happening in the world of social business and it’s happening quite fast. Again, these social business trends might be unique to some markets, but based on what we have seen in this field, we can expect them to have the global impact I mentioned above. So keep your eyes open and expect to see these trends take shape in the market.

A Major Announcement from t2

A Major Announcement from t2

Social selling and social business at t2.

Last week t2 was featured in a press release with some big news about a new partnership.

If you haven’t seen the press release, read it here.

Last week, we announced a new partnership with NexLevel Sales, a social selling consultancy headed by one of Forbes’ top 25 social selling experts in the world. It’s an exciting new venture – and for more reasons than one.

First, what exactly is social selling?

Social selling is an exciting new realm of building relationships through social media in order to facilitate transactions. It is also the process of using social signals in order to identify opportunities, threats and pinpoint exactly where prospects are in the sales funnel. Essentially, social selling is the process of leveraging social media in order to qualify leads, decrease conversion time and eliminate waste from the sales process. In other words, a great tool.

Social selling and social media marketing.

Today, 98% of sales professionals believe the relationship is the cornerstone of closing a deal (Source), and 52% of brands believe social media is the best means of building relationships with prospective clients. (Source) So, the laws of transitivity would suggest that social media is one of the best ways to aid in closing a deal. (Assuming, of course, you have a good product and the prospect is in the market for it.)

Social media – from your blog to Google+ – are valuable platforms that can be leveraged to increase sales. And today, they tie in closely with the marketing process.

How are sales and marketing tied together?

There has always been some linkage between the sales and marketing processes, but at the same time, a disconnect has existed that has made the process somewhat tedious and, at time, combative. Which department holds what responsibilities? Who takes credit for conversion? Where does marketing end and sales begin? These are questions for an old market – one where social was not a factor.

Today, the lines between sales and marketing have become increasingly blurred. Last week, I hosted a webinar with Sales Gravy discussing the power of social selling. During the Q&A period, I was asked about the difference between social media marketing and social selling. I thought it was a hugely important question, because it is a difference that is still being defined. Essentially, the two departments are slowly merging, and the process is becoming increasingly more fluid.

Outbound marketing is dying – we can all agree to that. With inbound marketing, everyone needs to be a marketer, and everyone needs to be a salesperson.

Incorporating Sellarketing into t2

Julio Viskovich, the founder of NexLevel sales and the key theorist behind the concept of Sellarketing introduced the concept a little while ago. What is it? It is essentially the idea of breaking down barriers between sales and marketing. How can the two departments become one, cohesive unit functioning in unison towards a common goal?

Every salesperson needs to be a marketer – both a personal and brand marketer – and every marketer needs to be a salesperson. Using social, these two worlds collide in a unique and powerful way, and that is the idea we plan on introducing with this new partnership.

A brand’s sales and marketing departments can no longer be standalone entities. They need to work as one in order to grow their market share, and this is the first enterprise solution that builds on that concept.

We’re very excited about this new venture and we’re looking forward to flooding the market with this exciting, new idea.

To find out more about the partnership or to discuss how we might be able to assist your business, please contact us.

Why Businesses Are Wasting Their Time Fighting the Share Economy

Why Businesses Are Wasting Their Time Fighting the Share Economy

The share economy is here to stay.

The share economy is here to stay, and businesses should stop wasting their time trying to fight it.

In the 1920s, H. Armstrong Roberts founded one of the first stock photography agencies. This started a trend whereby companies of the sort would build stockpiles of images and sell their rights to individuals looking to use them. By the late 1980s and early 1990s, Getty and Corbis ruled the marketplace, and essentially had the luxury of setting their own prices – one that comes with any (dare I say it) monopolistic or oligopolistic market structures.

But in 2000, something happened.

With the advent and excitement of the fast-moving information superhighway we fondly refer to as the Internet, online services started popping up offering photos at a fraction of the cost of these major brands. Slowly but surely, as competition opened and there was no overcoming it, prices shifted downward with the seemingly endless supply made available online, and the marketplace became incredibly saturated. Now we’re at a point where Getty offers completely free images and asks only that they be placed on a website with a backlink to the site.

Oh, how times have changed.

Communications platforms are much more than selling tools – they are an integral part of economic shifts. So why do some major brands feel as though they should be fighting the share economy when history (and economic theory) dictates that sooner or later, they will have to adopt it?

The Rational Consumer’s Decision Process

Let’s say I, the rational consumer, am going a vacation to (name sunny destination here). I’m excited, but budget constraints have left me searching for a great deal. I’m not particularly picky when it comes to the lavish lifestyle; I simply need a place to eat, sleep and apply copious layers of sunscreen. A cost analysis by Pricenomics comparing hotels in major US cities to renting an entire apartment or a room on AirBnB found that when renting an apartment, travellers could save an average of 21.2%, and when renting a room (roughly the same amenities you might expect to find in a hotel room) travellers saved a whopping 49.5%.

Now I, the rational consumer, know a good deal when I see one. So I will take it. And if I can’t take it on AirBnB – say, for example, the site is banned in my place of residence – I’ll find another site.

When I was in Chicago recently, I used UberX for the first time. We have Uber in Canada, but UberX has yet to make its way to the Great White North and I had heard plenty about it, so I thought I would give it a try. When I took a regular taxi from O’Hare International to my hotel in Downtown Chicago, the fare came to roughly $57. From what I heard, that’s pretty standard. When I took UberX at the height of rush hour back to the airport, my fare came to $30. Now unless you don’t discriminate at all when it comes to prices, why would you not consistently take the option that is 47% less expensive?

Considering the hour-long drive, I also had a chance to chat with the driver of the car. He told me that he was a real estate broker who decided to download the UberX app because it was an easy way to make some extra money on the way home from work. Now, behavioural economics dictates that I would be uncomfortable asking a stranger for a ride to the airport, or even accepting a free ride from a stranger making the offer. But the beauty of a product like UberX is that the process is mutually beneficial, and everyone walks away having benefitted from the transaction.

Demand Trumps Tradition

How many New Yorkers do you know that absolutely love going to Times Square for New Year’s Eve? Yeah – I don’t know too many either. But the revenue potential for an apartment-dweller at that time of year in (or near) that location is phenomenal. Imagine making your month’s rent (or close to it) in exchange for a four day vacation?

Increasing demand in the share economy.

Now, put yourself in the renters position. The average cost (any day of the year) for a hotel in New York City is $245. (Source) The average cost for an entire apartment in New York City with AirBnB? $180. (Source) With savings over 26.5% (on average) you would be hard pressed not to go with the latter option. (Of course, this is assuming a price discriminating consumer.)

Conclusion

As demand remains consistently high, there will always be a market for the share economy. Where there is a market, there are entrepreneurs trying to capitalize on the potential. As long as information is free flowing, people will find a way to exploit these opportunities. And rest assured, for as many businesses as there are looking to stop the share economy, there are just as many looking to retire off of it.

The one thing that stands in the way of the share economy really taking flight as a mainstream commercial marketplace is taxation. So long as the government can find a way to regulate and effectively tax the earnings coming from activities within the share economy, it will thrive. There may be some barriers to getting that done quickly, particularly with the processes and red tape involved. But that has never stopped these kinds of markets from flourishing and eventually being regulated in the past. Maybe the best example of that in recent memory is Colorado.

4 Things I Learned at the Kuwait Social Media Summit

4 Things I Learned at the Kuwait Social Media Summit

Corey Padveen Speaker Kuwait

At any conference or summit, you’re hoping to leave having gained something valuable.

Last week, I had the great honor of speaking at the Kuwait Social Media Summit at the JW Marriott in Kuwait City. The experience, on a personal level, was a memorable one, to say the least. It is always a treat to experience a new culture and explore a new country. It was somewhat of a twofer that the experience on a professional level was equally rewarding.

Having spoken at and attended a number of these events, I can say that I am always curious about the quality of events with which I’m unfamiliar. Every so often, you arrive at a summit or a conference that is in complete disarray, and leave having gained nothing. Other times (luckily for me, more often than not) the process is fluid, the attendees and speakers qualified and professional, and the event as a whole provides a huge deal of value. The latter was what I left with after the Kuwait Social Media Summit.

Over the course of the summit, a few things really resonated with me. It’s always useful to note your greatest takeaways from any event, conference, webinar or even a conversation. These four points were the greatest takeaways I left with after my week in Kuwait.

The World is Still a Big Place

We often talk about how it is such a small world and shrinking every day. On a lot of levels, that is true. Take my experience in Kuwait, for example; I was able to communicate, on my phone via Skype, SMS and WhatsApp, with everyone I needed to speak with in Europe, the East Coast and West Coast despite being halfway around the world and several hours ahead of each of our offices’ timezones. That’s a prime example of the ‘small world’ we so often refer to.

But while in Kuwait, I really began to understand that the world is still a very large place in terms of adaptation, implementation and, of course, processes. The approach to and concept of social is vastly different in the Middle East, particularly when it comes to business applications. Of course, I could write an entire article simply on the opportunities that exist when it comes to social business in the Middle East, but suffice it to say that the research I did in order to prepare and the incredibly interesting conversations I had while at the summit opened my eyes to some things of which I was not familiar before.

‘Social Media Expert’ is a Strange Title

A lot of us have probably read articles talking about the weird (and sometimes absurd) titles people have when it comes to social media. There are ‘gurus’, ‘strategists’, ‘experts’, ‘directors’, ‘evangelists’ and everything in between. During a panel discussion with a number of government social media directors, one comment was made that really resonated with me.

A communications expert noted the fact that ‘social media’ is the only field (if you really want to call it a field) in which there are designated experts within an organization. Now when you think about that, it’s a very odd concept. Social media is a tool, it’s a portal, it’s a communications platform – why do we need designated experts for it? There is no ‘Email Communications Guru’ or ‘Print Media Evangelist’ – these are all communications platforms that are integrated into marketing, PR, IT, advertising and communications departments in general. People have become so focused on social media as a concept and not as a couple of words with a fairly general meaning; social media are any media in which communication between two or more parties is possible in some way or another. When will people recognize that and stop treating social networks as godsends?

Business Was Not Built to Change

In the opening keynote of the last day of the summit, Ihsan Anabtawi of Microsoft Gulf landed on a slide that simply read this line: businesses were not built to change. I’ve written quite extensively about the concept of Social Media Marketing Myopia. Essentially, it is the notion that businesses that see themselves as immune to the need to change and adapt to consumer behavior (i.e. transition into social businesses) are doomed to fail. The line on this slide, I felt, really added to that argument in a new way.

The statement is entirely true: historically, no one has built their core business model with the intent of changing it (especially several times in a short timeframe). Considering the fact that social, mobile and even digital to an extent are still such new media, it should not come as a surprise that so many businesses do not feel as though they should involve themselves with it. What’s more, core business models that have worked in the past are not things that business owners are looking forward to changing. No matter evidence is presented, no one wants to change something that is working (for now).What’s more, convincing businesses to be proactive when, historically, they have been reactive, makes the process even more difficult. We, as marketers, early adopters and advertisers, need to put ourselves in the shoes of these business owners before simply asking them to change.That’s not what they are meant to do.

Om Ali is One of the Best Desserts in the World

Om Ali Egyptian Bread Pudding

 

Photo Credit: The Taste Space

Legend tells the story of Om Ali, the first wife of Sultan Ezz El Din Aybek of Egypt. When the Sultan died, an heir had to be chosen for his throne. Now, women could not rule, but they could be guardians of their eldest sons until they were old enough to rule. Om Ali felt as though her son, the first of the Sultan’s children, was worthy of the throne. She therefore orchestrated a plot to kill the Sultan’s second wife and bribed her handmaids to do it. After a successful assassination, Om Ali brought her accomplices this dessert.

Now whether or not the gruesome tale is fact, there is no question that the dessert is delicious. It is an Egyptian bread pudding with a puff pastry base, milk and an assortment of nuts that, when mixed together and baked, is absolutely heavenly. I highly recommend finding an authentic source and trying some for yourself.

Looking forward to next year’s Kuwait Social Media Summit!