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Top 10 tech stories of 2014

ITWorld

Backlash! Disrupting the disruptors

Blowing up entrenched business models and picking up the profits that spill onto the floor is a time-honored tradition in tech, these days known by the cliche of the moment, “disruption.” This year everyone was trying to push back against those upstarts, whether by buying them like Facebook did, reorganizing to compete with them like HP and Microsoft have done, or just plain going out against them guns blazing, as it seemed that every city and taxi company did with Uber.

European courts fought the disruptive effect Google search has had on our very sense of the historical record. But meanwhile, legions of net neutrality supporters in the US spoke up to save the Internet’s core value of disruption against the oligopoly of a handful of communications carriers.

Here are our picks for the top stories of a very, well, disruptive year….

7 ways to use social media to attract holiday shoppers

CITEworld

Marketing and social media experts share their tips on how to use social media to get people talking about – and buying – your products this holiday season.

How can social media help businesses drive traffic to their ecommerce or bricks-and-mortar sites this holiday season? CIO.com posed that question to dozens of marketers and social media experts. Following are their top seven strategies for how to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and YouTube to engage customers and get them – and their friends – to check out (and hopefully buy) your holiday offerings.

1. Use a festive cover photo on your Facebook page (Twitter, too). “One of the best pieces of real estate to leverage [this holiday season] is your Facebook cover photo,” says Melissa Ward, managing partner, NewWard Development, which provides social media and Internet marketing and website design help. “Change your Facebook cover photo to [something that you are promoting this holiday season] and be sure to include a link to the URL in the description.”

When choosing a holiday cover image, “consider seasonal photos that will connect emotionally with your audience, highlighting both your brand and message,” says Jay Hawkinson, senior vice president, Emerging Products, SIM Partners, which provides digital marketing solutions. Just remember to “be subtle and discerning with holiday colors and themes, and avoid being garish.”
2. Create holiday-related boards on Pinterest. “Create gift idea boards on Pinterest with gifts from all around the Web and a few of your own products thrown into the mix,” say Michelle Friedman, director of Marketing, Medical Scrubs Collection. “Add Pin It buttons to product pages on your site and feature ‘most pinned items’ on your home page.” And “make sure that your Pinterest pins feature well photographed, [attractive] images” that will appeal to holiday shoppers.

3. Create a fun holiday YouTube video and include a hidden offer code. “Create a fun [holiday] video with a hidden offer code,” for, say, 10 or 20 percent off a purchase, or free shipping or a free gift, suggests Juan Velasquez, marketing specialist, DoItWiser, a provider of toner cartridges and green office supplies. Just be sure to “let people know there is a discount code hidden somewhere in the video to encourage active viewing and sharing” – and include a link to a dedicated landing page in the description.

4. Use holiday-related hashtags on Twitter and Instagram. On both Twitter and Instagram, “be sure to research and use appropriate holiday hashtags, e.g., #HoHoHo and #Christmas2014, with your posts,” says Michelle Garrett, owner, Garrett Public Relations. “Experiment to see what works best. And include a dedicated URL to track those who click through.”

Other popular holiday Twitter and Instagram hashtags include #holidayshopping, #christmasgifts, #stockingstuffer and #wishlist.

5. Blog or post about holiday-related topics of interest to your audience. “Write blog posts that tie into the holidays,” suggests Garrett.

For example, you could “provide advice on what to wear and/or bring to family parties or corporate events or [provide suggestions on] gift giving,” says Adam Forrest, senior director, Americas Marketing, Demandware, a scalable commerce platform for enterprise retail.

Continue reading… 

BuzzFeed says social rules and it is bigger than most TV networks

Gigaom

Although it is still relatively new as far as media entities go, BuzzFeed has become one of the leading new-media players, thanks in large part to its command of the social web, an ability to craft viral content and a large fan base among millennials. True to form, the company has created a visually-rich index of factsabout its size and reach — numbers which help explain how it was able to raise $50 million in a recent financing round.

As a caveat, it’s worth noting that the presentation is clearly designed to be a sales pitch for the company’s native advertising efforts, and so there are no links to or discussion of any of the data used to compile the charts. Most of the figures come courtesy of the site’s Google Analytics data, or from firms like Nielsen and comScore.

One of the core principles behind BuzzFeed is that social sharing is more important than search, so it’s no surprise that the main driver of traffic (which is estimated to be about 150 million unique visitors per month) is social — in fact, the company says that its social traffic is five times larger than its search traffic.

 BuzzFeed says social rules and it is bigger than most TV networks

Although social has grown to become one of the leading sources of traffic to most web content, the advertising industry still hasn’t quite caught up to this development, as shown by a BuzzFeed graph courtesy of eMarketer and Shareaholic — which says that social accounts for 30 percent of referral traffic but only 14 percent of advertising budgets.

 BuzzFeed says social rules and it is bigger than most TV networks

The other major shift in content consumption is mobile, and according to BuzzFeed the two are interconnected, in the sense that a majority of the site’s social traffic comes from mobile, and its share rates on mobile are twice as high as they are from its desktop users.

Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

We Are Social

A very smart ebook was produced by the team at We Are Social (a social agency) to talk about how brands need to become social businesses. This ebook is a fantastic read for all. Below is a quick summary from their site, as well as a link to download the full ebook. Our clients are going through this revolution to become social businesses… what more can we do to help?  / Colin Browning, Director, Social Media Marketing Services at IDG

Social Brands: The Future of Marketing
Social brands aren’t just brands with a social media presence; they’re brands that put social thinking at the heart of all their marketing.

They’re brands that are social, not just brands that do social.

They’re brands that always strive to be worth talking about.

But how can marketers actually build a brand worth talking about?

Building a Social Brand
This is the topic we explore in “Social Brands: The Future of Marketing“, our in-depth eBook that explains how to put social thinking at the heart of yourbrand.

You can download the complete book by clicking here, but here’s a quick overview to get you started:

1. Social equity drives brand equity
The brands that drive the most favourable conversations are the brands that can command the greatest and most enduring price premiums.

01 Everything should drive conversation 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

2. Communities have more value than platforms
Marketers need to use new technologies to add new kinds of value; not just to interrupt people in new ways with new kinds of advertising.

3. All marketing must add value
When it comes to people’s attention, interest and engagement, your brand isn’t competing with your competitors – it’s competing with everything that really matters to people. Marketing that doesn’t add value will simply be ignored.

4. Go mobile or stand still
Mobile devices are already vital to half the world’s population. Very soon, if you’re not bringing your strategy to life on a mobile, it’ll never come to life at all.

02 Todays media reality 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

5. The rise of the comms leitmotif
Now that marketers are no longer constrained by the crippling costs of broadcast media, we don’t need to distill all our communications down into lowest common denominator messaging. We can tell more complex – and more engaging – brand stories that evolve over time and across channels.

6. From selective hearing to active listening
Social media monitoring isn’t just about post-campaign reporting; the real value lies in listening to the organic conversations of the people that matter to you, and using these insights to develop richer, more tailored strategies.

06 Social listening can add value everywhere 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

7. Experiences are the new products
Product differentiation is no longer enough to ensure lasting success; brands need to deliver a more holistic set of emotional and functional benefits that engage people’s hearts as well as their heads.

8. Civic-minded brands are best placed to succeed
Society increasingly expects brands to give back at least as much as they take. As a result, marketers’ concept of CSR needs to evolve away from one of mere guilt relief. We need to see CSR as an opportunity, and use resources to build and nurture communities where people will welcome brands’ presence and participation.

07 Rethinking the concept of brand value 500x374 Social Brands: The Future of Marketing

How Brands Can Convert Facebook Users Into Customers

CITEworld

Marketing is sometimes considered a niche form of storytelling, but its stories mean nothing if they don’t make brands resonate with potential customers and ultimately lead to sales. Many modern marketers view the people who connect with their brands on social media as potential leads that could become customers.

Converting users to customers on social media platforms such as Facebook isn’t always a straightforward process. The journey is often riddled with challenges and unmet opportunities. Using social media to achieve brand lift, loyalty and engagement is typically easier to do but harder to quantify and justify as a business investment.

“No one trusts a brand or brand stories anymore,” according to Cameron Friedlander, marketing technology strategy lead at Kimberly-Clark, a consumer packaged goods conglomerate. “As a brand speaking directly to consumers all you can do is give them facts either about the category, the brand, product or company.”

The most important thing any brand can do to cultivate and eventually convert Facebook users into customers is provide useful facts, insights and ideas, he says. “Doing this requires brands to think differently about content and consumer engagement.”

Consumer Trust Doesn’t Come Easy

Consumers trust and listen to individuals with whom they have personal relationships more than brands, Friedlander says. “Consumers value each other’s opinions, not brands or companies.”

Brands need to build content ecosystems that inspire users to engage with each other and share insights and ideas on behalf of the brands, “to help nudge them towards a brand when it comes to purchase time,” Friedlander says. “Recommendations from people you know are what count when it comes to conversion.”

Ecommerce platform Shopify, which powers more than 120,000 online retailers including Amnesty International, General Electric and Tesla Motors, says Facebook is fueling the vast majority of its orders that come from social media. More specifically, Facebook drives 63 percent of all social media visits to Shopify stores and accounts, for an average of 85 percent of all orders derived from social media, according to Shopify data based on 37 million social media visits that led to 529,000 orders.

Facebook also delivers the highest conversion rate for all social media ecommerce traffic, at 1.85 percent, according to the Shopify data. Conversion rates for Google+, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn were all below 1 percent during the same period.

The average value of sales generated via Facebook for Shopify’s stores was $55, which is below the average value of Pinterest, Instagram and Polyvore sales. Facebook dominates social orders in markets including photography, sports and recreation, pet supplies, jewelry and apparel, but it faces tough competition from other networks in the collectibles, digital products, services and consumer electronics markets.

Continue reading… 

12 Shocking Social Media Horror Stories

CITEworld

Horrible Social Media Misfires

Just in time for Halloween, here are 12 scary, shocking, horrifying and just plainhorrible social media misfires from the past year. We’re talking big brands — DiGiorno Pizza, J. P. Morgan, US Airways — making even bigger mistakes or, for one reason or another, catching beatings on social media sites.

To build our house of social media horrors, we asked the digital marketing community for input. We asked about the social media faux pas they remember most vividly, and the lessons we can learn from the blunders. We also found a few examples in blogs and articles.

4AutoInsuranceQuote.com’s Paul Walker Tweets

On Nov. 30, 2013, actor Paul Walker, of “Fast & Furious” fame, died in a horrific car crash. The next day, 4AutoInsuranceQuote.com repeatedly tweeted that it hoped Walker had car insurance.

The company even tweeted directly to Walker’s Twitter handle (@RealPaulWalker): “Yo Paul did u have auto insurance for that crash? Hope so.” The company also tweeted the car insurance question to mainstream news outlets such as Time, “which of course further fueled the public outrage and social media backlash,” says David Erickson, vice president of online marketing, Karwoski & Courage. “This is an example of horrible judgment, and the only way to prevent something like this is to ensure the people running your social media accounts are decent human beings.”

U.S. Airways’ Pornographic Tweet

“The pornographic U.S. Airways tweet from April 2014 will go down in infamy and haunt the dreams of social media professionals for years to come,” says Dee Anna McPherson, vice president of marketing, Hootsuite.

A link to a salacious picture posted on the airline’s Twitter account quickly went viral. CNN and other media outlets reported on it. “U.S. Airways stood by the employee responsible for the explicit blunder, citing it as an honest mistake,” says McPherson. “It was a brave choice, considering the gaffe dominated Internet conversation for about a week, and the brand led trending Twitter conversations for days. While it may certainly have been a simple mistake, it underscores the need for care and process when posting to social.”

View the full slideshow

The Value Of Video For Social Advertising

MediaPost

The value of video in digital marketing is growing as video consumption continues to rise across channels and connected devices. In the first half of 2014, the Interactive Advertising Bureau reported digital video ad spending increased by 24% compared to the first half of 2013.

While TV is not dead — consumers still watch on average 4.5 hours of TV per day — users are spending significant amounts of more time viewing video content on other devices like desktop, smartphone and tablet. Mobile now accounts for 22% of overall digital video consumption, expected to rise in 2015 with ad spending in social expected to exceed $26 billion dollars globally.

Enter Social Media: A Channel Capable of Widespread Impact

As marketers, we need to stop thinking in silos and start media planning with complete storytelling in mind. Using video content and social channels together to tell a cohesive, engaging narrative that leverages the mind-set of the user, based on the screen and platform they are viewing, should be the norm.

Once content creators begin to develop video based on channel and device, engagement and video completion rates skyrocket. Adding videos to landing pages can increase conversions by nearly 90 percent—especially across the ever-increasing landscape of social platforms, where video has become a strategic way to break through the daily clutter of 58 million tweets, 4.75 billion pieces of Facebook content, and 60 million Instagram posts.

Few advertising channels outside of social allow a brand to maximize distribution of short- and long-form content and get users to watch nearly an entire video clip. Video is a tool to help change perception and sentiment among a brand’s target audience, while leveraging established advocates to relay influential opinions to their peers across multiple channels.

Given the usage of social platforms, high engagement with content and the ability to target audiences on a one-to-one level, it’s surprising that video and social are so commonly planned separately. As marketers, isn’t it our job to find the right user and deliver the right message to them at the right time? If so, why are we not planning video strategies on Facebook and Twitter in conjunction with our broader video buys? It is time to tear down the channel walls and start building smarter media plans inclusive of social user behavior and each platform’s unique capabilities.

Video-based social media offerings are becoming more advanced and marketers should continue to adjust their strategy accordingly. Recent research from SocialBakers found that more marketers are opting for Facebook video over YouTube, and Twitter’s native Video Card outperforms YouTube links — emphasizing the huge opportunity for brands to develop engaging content that resonates with each social network’s unique audience and format.

Continue reading… 

Research: How to Drive Engagement Through Social Media 2014

IDG Connect 0811 Research: How to Drive Engagement Through Social Media 2014

In January 2006 Twitter didn’t exist, blogging was mocked, and Facebook was for students. Over the following five years social media took off, but still many people questioned the importance of social networks in the B2B space. Now in 2014, its usefulness has been proven over and over again and it continues to gain momentum. In fact, as content marketing gradually grows in importance, social media is playing an even more significant role.

Summary

New research conducted in November 2013 by IDG Connect shows that 86% of B2B Information Technology (IT) buyers are currently using
social media networks in their purchase decision process. Social media is not only important for companies, but it is now a necessary investment and crucial element of any go-to-market strategies. And findings suggest this is only set to increase over the next couple of years.

  • 86% of IT buyers are using social media networks and content in their purchase decision process
  • Social media is used most often in the general education stage of the buying cycle
  • 89% of IT buyers prefer educational content to promotional content in their favored social media channels
  • 62% of IT buyers are most interested in seeing e-seminars (virtual events) from social channels
  • Product/Service reviews are the content types that IT buyers prefer to see links from via social channels
  • In two years, social, peer-generated content will have greater weight versus editorial and vendor content in making IT investment decisions

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Screen Shot 2014 01 13 at 4.39.11 PM Research: How to Drive Engagement Through Social Media 2014

Facebook will be mostly video in 5 years, Zuckerberg says

IDG News Service

If you think your Facebook feed has a lot of video now, just wait.

“In five years, most of [Facebook] will be video,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday during the company’s first community town hall, in which he took questions from the public on a range of topics.

He was responding to a question about whether the growing number of photos uploaded to Facebook is putting a drag on its infrastructure. But Facebook’s data centers have it covered, he said. The real challenge is improving the infrastructure to allow for more rich media like video in people’s feeds.

Zuckerberg took questions from a group of users who were invited to its headquarters in Menlo Park, California, and people also submitted questions online.

One of the most popular online question was why Facebook forced users to download its Messenger app for mobile.

The 30-year-old acknowledged not everyone was thrilled with the change.

“Asking everyone in our community to install another app is a big ask,” he said. But Facebook thought it could provide a better, faster messaging product if it split it off from its own app.

“We really believe this is a better experience,” Zuckerberg said.

One user in the audience asked him if Facebook is losing its charm or becoming boring.

The question of Facebook losing its “cool” gets raised from time to time, Zuckerberg said, but “my goal was never to make Facebook cool,” he said. Instead, he wants it to be a helpful service that just works.

Another asked why he always seems wear the same t-shirts and hoodies. Zuckerberg said he wants to spend as much time as possible on things that matter, like how to build products, even if it means thinking less about what he wears.

“Steve Jobs had the same approach,” he said.

View the original article and related links…