#ChicagoSnow and Market Over-Sharing

Today there was as much social media activity about the snow in Chicago as there were snowflakes falling from the sky over The Loop. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's perfectly cool for people to take to the social networks and express themselves, because presumably by now the people who we consider our online friends have become accustomed to how we communicate and act online. We all know plenty of "over-sharers" who benignly share whatever pops inside their heads. No editing, and no holding back.

Many posts are pointless, some are entertaining and informative, a few are outright hilarious, and occasionally one or two will give you a new perspective on life. But all of them are personal. "If you don't like my posts, then de-friend me" has become a motto of online individualism.

If you are a marketer you can't dare people to stop following you. Consider the marketing value of your social media posts as if they were interruptive forms of advertising. Quality vs. quantity in the age of earned media is a delicate balance because you don't want to be noticed for being the marketer that over-shares all the time.

You need to have an online presence because that's where peoples' attentions are found, but how much content can you reasonably share online to be effective without being guilty of Market Over-Sharing? How many tweets can you post on behalf of your brand before you are tuned out? How much of a presence do you need to have in order to be noticed? And what's the point of having a huge audience of followers and fans and people who are willing to click the like button if you don't give them anything of value?

Engagement is important, but it can be more effective to engage your audience with something tangible they will respond to like a special offer or a free trial or an exclusive opportunity on an advance purchase of a hotly anticipated item. Even a game or an app that dramatizes the value proposition of your marketing message is a more effective way of engaging your audience than Market Over-Sharing to the audience you are working so hard to cultivate and keep.

For marketers, sharing is selling. Your audience is always just one click away from either going to your website, checking out your competition, or ignoring you altogether. If you over-share without offering value, your audience will drift and blow away like Chicago Snow.

Twittercasting: Why Searchers are More Valuable Than Followers

“How many Twitter followers do you have?” is one of the most over-hyped metrics in social media marketing. What good is a large audience if they don’t act? If you are trying to attract an audience ready to actually do something, then you need to treat Twitter more like a search engine and a broadcast medium simultaneously.

There are 400 million active global monthly tweeters, and they perform hundreds of millions of Twitter searches every day. Twitter has a search engine that searches live, constant, global conversations, instead of static indexed web pages.

Twitter is a multilateral communications and broadcast medium that can actually be searched. And Twitter offers marketers something that no other search engine has: the hashtag.

By prefixing a keyword in your tweet with a hash symbol (#), you get a #hashtag.

The # takes your tweet beyond your followers and enters your #keyword into Twitter's general timeline, where it can be found in a Twitter search. It can be in front of #one word, #ormanywordsstrungtogether. The more popular hash-tagged keywords get vaulted into the list of trending topics, which can be geo targeted as well. This is very much like organic SEO.

It’s great to have a large Twitter following, but it’s better to find people on Twitter who are actively searching for something that your product or service can offer. So use Twitter as a broadcast medium with a purpose—target your message to people who are actively looking for you “in the moment”. This is a pull-marketing approach to generating response in real time.

Followers are great because they might share your message with their networks and initiate a viral marketing effect, but they are a passive audience who might be looking for what you have to offer.

Searchers are actively looking for you, and they are more likely to respond if you Twittercast the right keywords with the right hashtags at the right time.

PURLs of Wisdom: Using Personalized URLs as a Data Source

At The Weinstein Organization, we’ve been integrating personalized URLs (PURLs) in our direct response campaigns for several years. PURLS are personalized web site addresses that are often integrated with direct mail or email campaigns, leading the recipient to a personalized landing page.

PURLs are an excellent way to engage your audience because of the allure of personalization. When a prospect sees their name on a web page that appears to be created just for them, it triggers a sense of belonging and delivers personalized communications that encourages them to interact more with the marketer.

But why stop there? As a data collection method, PURLs stand poised to become the next frontier in acquiring consumer information that can potentially rival any other source. PURLs can tell you things about your customers and prospects based on the behavior they exhibit deep inside the sales funnel in real time.

For example, a PURL can track response timing to the delivery of an email. A prospect who receives an email and clicks the link to their PURL is actually telling you something about the quality of your creative and offer. You can measure the amount of time from email delivery to open to response, via arrival to the personalized web page.

Once a responder goes to their PURL you can capture information regarding their communication preferences (video, mobile, social, etc.), collect feedback on the current offer and use this information to provide a subsequent offer that is targeted to an audience of one.

Response to a PURL can also help to generate verified, real-time leads to your sales team. A responder to a PURL is raising their hand and saying that your marketing efforts are making progress with them. They are showing interest even if they do not complete the exact conversion you seek.

There are an infinite number of ways you can learn about your customers and prospects by integrating PURLs with your marketing campaigns. Of course use them as the response vehicle, but they are an excellent way to engage your audience with personalization and learn more about them while they are in a responsive frame of mind.

Is Your Push Strategy Making You Pull Your Hair Out?

You spend plenty of time and energy segmenting your lists, crafting the right message, designing the look, and executing on time and on budget. You ship, you mail, you Tweet, you share, and then...*crickets*.

Well, what did you expect? A sale? An opt-in? A new customer? A higher Klout score? Ask yourself this the next time your results underwhelm:

Did you pull your audience in, or just you just push more marketing at them?

The Push Strategy has its merits in brand awareness as long as your push is strong and consistent. And if you have a big enough budget you can literally push your marketing all around the world. The current trend in marketing is asking people to "join the conversation", but that is a very passive approach. You need a huge push to reach enough people in your target audience to find a tiny fraction of people who are willing to "dialogue" about your product or service.

Talk is cheap. New customers and sales are the brass ring.

If you want to do more than get a few people talking about you, you need to incentivize them to respond. You need to draw the audience closer to you, to your landing page, or to your store. You need to be direct about it. You need a Pull Strategy to engage your audience, nurture their attention, and encourage them to take a specific action.

No fisherman has ever succeeded by throwing all their bait into the water, then sat back and waited for the fish to jump into their boat.

Facebook Email and Integrated Direct Marketing

While the big buzz this week was over Google's purchase of Skype, millions of people around the world were quietly obtaining their Facebook email accounts. It's the latest round of power plays between these two internet giants, each one trying to become the dominant platform in social networking, communications and marketing dollars.

Google, with it's combination of email, search, YouTube and now Skype, seems to have everything a marketer could want in one integrated platform. Facebook is the dominant global social network, combining email, video, search, e-commerce and a highly mobile audience (approximately 50% of Facebookers use their mobile FB app more than the web version). Targeting your audience on Facebook is a marketer's dream.

But here's the critical difference between Google and Facebook: Google is a utility, Facebook is a destination.

People use Google when they need to search or use their gmail account. Now they will use Google to Skype. Google is something people use when they need to do something specific. Facebook is different. Facebook is something people use every day regardless of their intent. There's a ubiquitous quality to Facebook in that it is a part of peoples' daily lives whether they want to admit it or not. 600,000,000 people around the world spend 40 minutes each day on Facebook. They might be just reading posts from their network, playing Farmville or Scrabble, watching videos, buying from retailers and now sending email inside and outside the Facebook universe. Regardless of the action they take, people go to Facebook and spend time there everyday.

Marketers need to see Facebook for what it is: a network with a highly engaged, identifiable and diverse global audience, a two-way communications device, and a daily destination. It is web based and mobile. And now with the arrival of @facebook.com email addresses, it is poised to become an all-in-one communications portal. Marketers should be licking their chops with anticipation.

If email marketing is part of your mix, then Facebook Email marketing will offer a truly integrated way to reach and grow your audience. If email marketing is something you are considering for your business, there's never been a better time to start.