How to go viral
It's an open question whether anyone can do much to help make their content go viral. Most observers are skeptical, to say the least. About the best you can do is to learn the techniques and understand the places that work when things do go viral. It's certainly fun to try, and if you're already producing good content to share, this infographic brings together what you need to know to get it into the places it needs to be on the web.
Facebook's new cover photos for Pages
Facebook Business (Fan) Pages joined personal profiles in getting the new Timeline features on March 30. Most people seem to enjoy the new features, and they're having little trouble adapting themselves and their content to the new format. From a visual branding point of view, one of the best features of the makeover is the new cover photos standard. A Page now allows an image sized up to 851 x 315 pixels to be used as its cover photo. That's a lot of space to work with. To get you started thinking about how to use all that room to its creative potential, here are 20 good examples of cover photos from some well-known brands.
Newsjacking: Take advantage of the news of the day
David Meerman Scott's terrific 2011 book Newsjacking: How to Inject Your Ideas into a Breaking News Story and Generate Tons of Media Coverage (Kindle only) proposed that real-time marketers can and should take advantage of up-to-the-minute news stories that connect with their brands. There can be no better example than how Etch-A-Sketch jumped in with a fun and creative campaign after a senior aide to Mitt Romney compared his boss to the well-known toy. Etch-A-Sketch's stock jumped the next day, and the company plans to keep the ball rolling into the fall as the presidential campaign season unfolds. They've even been approached by Toys R Us to create a "blue" version of the venerable toy to complement the classic red one.
Should you still hope their fingers do the walking?
For many local businesses, the Yellow Pages were the only marketing they did for a long time. Their marketing plans consisted of signing up for another year and deciding how big a listing to buy. The Internet changed all that, and Yellow Pages business has declined dramatically since about 2000. But the question of whether or not a business should use the Yellow Pages today turns out to be complicated. Yellow Pages companies have deep experience in their local markets, which newer, Internet-oriented local search companies cannot easily match. And the Yellow Pages companies have learned some new tricks and formed partnerships with Internet companies. Some demographics still turn to the Yellow Pages. Older consumers are an obvious example, so if your business markets to them you had better be in the book. Tourist destinations may find Yellow Pages listings a good value too, as hotels continue to put the venerable books in their rooms for travelers to use to find local goods and services. Usage of Yellow Pages is still more common in small towns than it is in urban centers, so businesses in smaller communities may still find them useful.
"No pictures, please." (Really?)
Mitch Joel, globally recognized digital media expert, was taking pictures of the price tag and dimensions of a piece of furniture he was thinking of buying when the store's security guard asked him to stop. He used his camera because "... I didn't have a pen on me and, between us friends, why bother writing it down when I can snap a picture of it? (much in the same way that I take a picture of where my car is parked instead of writing down the section)...." So why does a business make a customer feel like they're doing something wrong? They're afraid of price comparisons, mostly, and in some cases where they have unique products, they're afraid that someone will knock off their design. But consider what they give up. Someone like Joel, who has many thousands of fans and followers, might be telling the world what an awesome experience he just had and what great products the business has (instead of his "no photos allowed" story). And lots of customers are making a convenient visual note of something they intend to buy. Joel concludes: let them take the pictures, lots and lots of them, and hope that other people see them, too.
Right and wrong ways to do consumer research
Burger King recently lost its spot as the number-two fast-food restaurant to Wendy's. So they did some consumer research to find out what their customers wanted, and discovered that what people really wanted was the menu at number-one McDonald's. Burger King was asking the wrong questions. They believed that the fast food market was static and well understood, and that their problem was not being competitive on features. Instead, they needed to focus on people instead, and to explore the big picture of what they want out of their lives (not just their meals at fast-food restaurants). When companies do that kind of consumer research, they get valuable hints about what new products they should be developing instead of trying to go head to head with their competitors. The introduction of the Lexus line of cars is a good example: the company focused on people, not on cars, and learned that what people wanted to buy (and that they were having trouble finding) was quiet. One of the most successful new car brand launches in history was the result of taking this approach to consumer marketing.
Pinterest still going strong
Here's the latest roundup of Pinterest stats: strong growth, desirable demographics, lots of engagement, and more referral traffic than LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube combined. Most Pinterest users spend more time pinning than they do on Facebook.
Facebook searches for ways to improve its search
If you've ever tried searching for anything on Facebook, you know that Facebook search has not been very useful. Now Facebook has set up an internal team to research how to improve the search experience for their membership of more than 800 million users. The advantages of better search would be large, including a better experience for their users and significant opportunities to collect even more and better targeted information about them for Facebook. Good news for marketers using the Facebook platform.
Daniel Lieberman is the founder of Daniel Lieberman Digital ("I speak Geek - You don't need to."), based in Shelburne Falls, Mass. He helps companies, organizations, and individuals learn to use the Internet to communicate, market, and brand themselves using the most up-to-date tools and techniques. Contact him at 413-489-1818 or firstname.lastname@example.org.