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The Growing Power and Popularity of Video Usage for Social Branding

As I mentioned in my post last week that we could expect to see heavier usage of online video in the upcoming presidential race, sure enough Mitt Romney announced today via Youtube his intentions to run in the 2012 presidential race. The video from today, posted one week after President Obama also announced his intentions to run, highlights a growing trend in the use of social media, and more specifically video, in politics.

Why is this happening? It’s becoming evident that video is one of the most effective ways to reach your desired audience among tech-savvy demographic groups. Afraid that your small business social marketing and media efforts are lagging behind the trend? Not to worry. The good news is that getting started with creating and hosting videos for the purpose of adding a new element to your existing blog or social efforts is extremely easy.

There’s no need to feel the pressure to be on par with full-time video blogs right off the bat. Many standard blogs do quite well with video blog entries thrown in intermittently to mix things up. If this is something that you are interested in, the best way to get started is to set some goals and start a routine. Just as an example, if you are currently producing written blog entries twice a week, you may want to attempt to create a video entry once every two weeks to start. Depending on the kind of progress you make and whether or not you are happy with the results, you may obviously want to scale this up or down to match what you feel is a good fit for your blog and the messages or value that it provides. However, keep in mind that, with most social media efforts, it will take some time to see results and see an actual positive impact as a result – stick with it!

Another incentive to test the waters with video blogging is the fact that there are currently many affordable yet quality cameras capable of recording in HD out on the market. A currently popular brand are the Flip cameras. These little guys are capable and very affordable with a range of about $129-$229.

There are also several great free or low-cost hosting options out there on which to store and share your videos. Some always great options that come to mind are Vimeo, Google Video and, of course, Youtube.

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Rumored Twitter Branded Profile Pages: A Good Fit for Your Small Business?

Marketing Magazine recently announced that, according to anonymous sources, Twitter plans to release branded profile pages with functionality similar to those found on Facebook. The new profiles would offer brands promotional opportunities and capabilities not currently found on Twitter, which still limits brands to the basic user-lever profile information showing information on followers, connections and similar individuals/companies to follow.

The current profile and information for @nytimesbusiness on Twitter

Additional functionality is great, but would such a profile be a good fit for your small business? A couple of points to consider:
  • Twitter is considered to be very personal. The fact that Twitter has largely restricted brands to tweets in terms of the ways that they communicate with their followers has kept it a very personal platform – even more so that Facebook, in my opinion. This new functionality, if implemented, may shift the efforts of small businesses with their limited resources to managing their profiles rather than sending out actual tweets – what your Twitter followers have come to expect in following your brand.
  • Considering that Facebook is such a personal platform, it makes sense that many users currently choose to brand their company from their own perspective. For example, the Twitter account @copyblogger is clearly run by Brian Clark. The fact that the account is named @copyblogger but is under Brian’s personal account is his way of saying “this is me and this my brand”, which is a great way to utilize the platform in a personal, likable and approachable manner that promotes socialization. The @nytimesbusiness account, on the other hand, is an example of branding without as much of a personal element. The writers of the various tweets produced by the account are unknown and you will likely not find any retweets, tweets giving thanks or personal banter coming from accounts such as this, which are likely the accounts that the new profiles would cater to more.
Whether or not this rumor holds any water is something for which we will have to wait and see. Twitter is a different animal than Facebook. As such, any branded profiles lending to additional functionality and marketing options would need to strive to maintain the sense of personality that twitter accounts currently have. As a small business owner and entrepreneur, keep in mind that people highly value the personal element and the opportunity to communicate that Twitter currently provides. Should you invest time in maintaining a detailed branded profile down the road, the key is to ensure that any such efforts do not detract from your ability to maintain that relationship and keep producing those tweets.

Google’s New +1 Button Looks to Add a New Social Layer to Search Results

Google announced last week plans to implement their new “+1 button” functionality in the coming months (also available now at http://www.google.com/experimental). The +1 button adds a social aspects to Google search results and Google Profiles by allowing you to see the recommendations of your Google Profile contacts in search results and on their profiles.

The catch is that you need to have a Google Profile to use the functionality and your recommendations are only visible to other contacts in Google.

It works like this – You will start seeing the “+1” button pop up alongside Google search results and on various websites and articles that have had the feature added to them. As you and your friends click the +1 button to signal the content as something you like or recommend, these recommendations then display as a mark of approval to others within a Google Profile network.

Google eventually plans to offer the ability for publishers to add the +1 button to their websites, very much like Facebook’s “like” button. Depending on its popularity, this could be a great feature to add to your blog postings and business website articles for the purpose of gaining a visible approvals from your followers and customers which are then visible to their friends, eventually serving to possibly increase traffic and boost your level of authority within your industry or area of focus. Webmasters can get the button from Google Webmaster Central.

The button will also display among your individual Google contacts, serving as a new way by which to recommend friends and business contacts.

For a great summary of the goals and impact of this new feature, see Everything You Need To Know About Google’s +1.

Drew Hawkins makes some great points in a recent Social Media Today post regarding some of the current shortcomings of the feature that may need to be eventually overcome for it to see large-scale use, such as the fact that Google profiles are not heavily used as a means to socialize when compared to other options such as Facebook. Regardless of the hurdles, this is a step in the right direction in terms of making the web more “social”.

How Politicians Use Social Media to Their Advantage and Why You Should do the Same

Whether or not you agree with his politics, you can’t deny that Obama and his PR team know how to reach voters. His campaign’s utilization of social media in the last presidential race undoubtedly played a major role in helping him reach potential voters and his eventual rise to the top among the other candidates.

The administration has continued their heavy use of social media over the years. The Barack Obama fanpage on Facebook is consistently ranked among the top 10 most popular at any given time. Continuing this social media trend, Obama announced yesterday the kickoff to a re-election campaign followed by an announcement of plans to host a live town hall meeting on the White House Facebook fanpage today.

Following suit, former Minnesota govorner and possible 2012 canditate Tim Pawlenty released a video of his own in response on the same day.

Is this a hint of what we can come to expect in the coming election? I believe so. As the efficiency of social media for getting your message out there becomes more evident, more individuals are going to hop on board and implement similar strategies into their marketing efforts. As this continues, we are likely to see such usage of social media as standard practice and for those who are late to adopt to the technology and strategy to struggle to remain competitive.

We are seeing similar behavior in the small business world. Although the adoption of social media for the purposes of branding and marketing is increasing rapidly, a large number of small business still choose not to utilize these tools to build and maintain relationships with their customers. The earlier you choose to take advantage of such immensely powerful tools, the better for your brand, your customer relationships and your bottom line.

 

What a Vevo-Myspace Joint Venture Could Mean for Music and Social Media

It’s been reported that music video website Vevo is currently in talks with News Corp. over the possible exchange of the once-on-top social networking giant Myspace for a stake in a new venture.

Myspace has been gravitating towards a niche audience of musicians, band folks and music lovers; emphasizing music and other media over the last few years as it continues to lose it’s core user base by the millions. As result, such a move would certainly make sense.

This trend in the music crowd remaining loyal to MySpace has to do with the features long provided by Myspace that Facebook notably lacks, such as a native music player that allows individual users to set the mood on their profile with their favorite song and bands and musicians to provide entire playlists for perusal. Although the bulk of social media users looking for nothing more than an efficient way to connect to others have moved over to Facebook, Myspace still remains one of the best sites for following and reading news about your favorite band.

Despite a redesign and inclusion of new media and entertainment features in 2010, the site continues to shrink in its current state. In January it was confirmed that News Corp. intended to offload the site after also laying off 47% of its staff – ouch.

A merger with Vevo would seal Myspace’s vision as a music and entertainment-centric social networking site and could be just what just what they need to get kicked back into gear.

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New Survey Highlights Small Biz Marketing Trends

A new Small Business Trends article brought to my attention the interesting results of a recent small biz online marketing survey by research and consulting firm Borrell Associates.

Key Take-aways:

  • Small businesses account for 95% of all online local advertising
  • The average small business spends just under 20% of their total advertising dollars on online advertising
  • 29% of small businesses plan to increase online spending in 2011
  • 86% of small businesses had their own website in 2010
  • The percentage of small businesses expected to have a website will climb to 91% in 2011
  • Two thirds of those with a website also maintain a presence in social media
  • Of those who do not currently have their own site, more than a third do maintain a social media presence
  • Those who plan to increase marketing efforts will increase online spending by 29% while only increasing  their traditional and print budgets by 4.5%

The results of this survey highlight the fact that the majority of small businesses are indeed aware of the effectiveness of online marketing. However, as Lisa Barone mentions in the article, the statistic stating that 91% of small businesses will have their own website sounds a bit inflated and overly optimistic. This statistic leads me to believe that the audience who responded to the survey may not have been a large enough sample or fully representative of all small businesses.

It’s noteworthy that a third of small businesses who do not have a website do have a presence in social media, most likely using tools such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. These would likely be the businesses with an ultra-low marketing budget looking to capitalize on the various free and low-cost tools available for marketing your business socially.

The last point perhaps highlights the trend best. Although the average small business spends just 20% of their budget on online advertising, the average owner is choosing to devote a higher percentage of the budget to online spending versus traditional media in times of growth. And the fact 80% of the budget is still devoted to traditional marketing media does not necessarily mean that 80% of the marketing effort is currently being done traditionally overall. Keep in mind that there are numerous free methods for marketing you business online and so your dollars have the potential to go much further when devoted to online marketing versus traditional marketing techniques.

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Being True to Yourself and Your Customers: Don’t Pretend to be Something You’re Not

We were fortunate enough to have Milena Regos, the Marketing Directer at Diamond Peak Ski Resort here at Lake Tahoe, speak to our MBA class on social media tonight. Milena really has a great grasp on the concept of marketing in general and the importance of utilizing social media in your personal and professional branding and marketing strategy.

She shared some of the areas that Diamond Peak focuses on with their marketing strategy, such as catering strongly to beginners and children with lesson specials and a new skier-friendly atmosphere. If you visit their website or follow them on Twitter, Facebook or at their blog, you wont find a ski resort that pretends to be anything it’s not. Diamond Peak knows it’s not the biggest mountain in Tahoe or that with the most challenging terrain. As such, you don’t see images of big mountain skiers and snowboarders launching themselves off of rocky ledges and cornices. Instead you find imagery of customers taking advantage of the offerings that the resort excels at – breathtaking views of the lake and kids having a great time learning to ski – not to mention videos of the resort’s mascot,  Diamond Pete. In fact, their slogan reads, “Your Tahoe place for kids”.

Diamond Peak does quite well catering to their niche audience of skiers and boarders who appreciate a mountain with more of a personal feel and a child and beginner-friendly atmosphere – without the long lines and crowds often found at some of the larger area mountain resorts. They also maintain an impressive social media presence. Running a Google search for “learn ski tahoe” shows them as the first resort displayed in the results despite being one of the smaller resorts in the Tahoe area.

Lessons to be learned:

  • Know your strengths as a business
  • Place yourself in the position to be found by the audience who finds value in these strengths
  • Portray yourself as a leader and authority in these areas
  • Cater to that audience to build loyalty

Awesome views of Lake Tahoe dont hurt, either!

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