Category Archives: Community

Choosing the right online channels to get the best reach EIleen brown digital marketing amastra

Choosing online channels to get the best reach

Getting the right channel for marketing is an important key part of your overall digital marketing plan. Consumers see massive amounts of information each day across every device they use. in your digital marketing activities, you will need to consider which channel will be best for your campaign.

Think about using more than one channel too and remember that it is important for a brand to have a consistent message. If a campaign is going to be delivered across a variety of channels, it is important that the message resonates across a variety of offline and online channels. Customers view the brand as a whole entity – whether they are in the shop, viewing the online store, or interacting with the brand on social media channels. Consistency across all different channels – online and offline – is vital to multi-channel success. A holistic view needs to be taken of all of your outbound and inbound channels.

You will need to consider these four points when choosing your channel:

  • Who is going to see your digital marketing communications? You will want to connect with people that will either buy the product or respond to your communications the way you want them to
  • Which channel receives information? Carry out research to see which social platforms  your intended audience currently use to receive information and tailor your message to suit. Short or simple messages might be most effective across social media, long or complex communications may need a different channel to be the most effective.
  • Calculate the cost of communicating this message across each channel. Channels such as TV will be expensive, and some publishers will charge considerably more than others. Social channels can be populated at little or no cost, depending whether you pay for promoted posts or use the free channels.
  • Define what response is required from this communication. Do you want to engage, or surface influencers, or assess customer satisfaction for the product. Make sure all comments are responded to in accordance with your defined framework.

Advertising covers much more than social media advertising.  If you think about apps that are delivered to Android, or Windows desktops, these apps can contain ads for your brand. In addition to traditional emails or SMS broadcasts, you could communicate through tablet apps or web sites, wearables, in-store kiosks, QR codes and RFID tags.  Also consider partner or affiliate marketing – or use influencers to extend your coverage.

Create a list of suitable channels in your digital marketing playbook and compare the performance of each one. Make sure that each channel has a set of services that map to your overall plan. The channel might need to have tools for customer relationship management, order management, product management, and issue management. If these are standardised, then  you can easily adopt any new marketing channel that comes online.

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Why social network Tsu had to close its doors Eileen Brown Amastra

Why social network Tsu had to close its doors

Once in a while, something comes along that disrupts the way we work.  Tsu, the social network that launched to help charities and pay its users, closed its doors in August 2016. And who were to blame? The very users that flocked to Tsu in their thousands contributed to its demise.

Tsu launched in October 2014 with little fanfare. Seeded to the tune of $7 million, it promised to share its ad revenue with its content creators.

It kept 10 percent of its revenue and distributed the other 90 percent. That went to the content creators and people that shared its posts on and off the network. It used the ‘rule of thirds’ to distribute its revenue across its content creator network.

Tsu quickly grew, signing one million users in just five weeks after its launch (Facebook took 10 months to reach one million users).

New users had to sign up using another user’s short code. This added the new user to the existing user’s ‘family’, showing who was influential across the platform.

Registered charities on Tsu could benefit from generous benefactors. Users could use peer payments to transfer their earnings to a registered charity – validated by the platform.

It opened up its platform so that posts could be seen by people who did not have an account on the platform. The aim was to increase royalty payments for creators of viral content.

The platform also introduced groups for community engagement. it wanted to compete with the 850 million users in Facebook who used groups and communities.

Soon stories started to circulate about people ‘cashing out’ their first cheque. Tsu paid users once their earnings passed $100. Within two months the platform had reached two million users. But with these numbers, cracks started to appear.

Money…the motivator

Some users, desperate to earn more revenue, tried to ‘game’ the system. A few users banded together to share all posts of their buddies, and like every new post. The team at Tsu, headed by Sebastian Sobczak, could see this happening. After all, they had all the data, IP addresses, and use patterns to monitor the users who were trying to cheat the system. Offenders were banned from the platform, or given a warning.

Engaging in “prohibited activity” would result in the user not getting paid. This could be by generating spam,  or generating invalid impressions, clicks on ads manually or by using an automated program.

Soliciting for clicks or impressions generated by payment of money, false representation, or requesting users to click on ads were banned. Ads served to end users whose browsers had JavaScript disabled also would result in non-payment.

In September 2015 Facebook blocked Tsu from posting items to its platform stating that the platform was posting spammy content. Two months later, citing that ‘issues with concurrent sharing’ had been resolved, Facebook restored 10 million posts from Tsu and permitted direct posts again.

In March 2016 Tsu upgraded its platform, focusing on communities, channels and topics. its aim was to increase payments to its users. Some users complained that it was harder to engage with their friends and smaller networks as the platform focused on the larger topic areas.

Tsu goes dark

In August 2016, a notice appeared on the Tsu web site:

“You are probably wondering about the new layout but in fact we have taken tsu dark.

Although we have still have numerous active communities on the site, our mission of changing the social landscape for the benefit of the content creator has passed. I started this concept eight years ago and when we launched in late 2014 we brought the conversation of content ownership and monetization to the content rights holders into the mainstream. All told there were approximately 5.2 million of us who have used our platform. Through you, tsu’s emergence into the mainstream spurred discussions on virtually every major media outlet touching on the tsu concept, royalties of music streaming services and to the business models of established platforms. I wish we could have done more for the content creators and the wonderful charities that lent their names to our platform. In all, we built water wells, gifted wishes and gave back en masse.

Although I would have hoped we could have done more, I am proud of our team and the wonderful, diverse community of friends we have cultivated along the way. I am proud to have been a part of something that millions of people helped create from North America to the Asian subcontinent.”

The investors had puled the plug on more cash injections and the platform had to close. Users with over $100 in their accounts were paid in full. Many with less than this amount did not receive any cash.

Tsu’s decline and fall

According to the current message on the Tsu.co website the platform was successful. Over 2 million mobile downloads across 1,085 cities. 5.2 million Tsu accounts, 533 million page views, over 681,000 IOS downloads and 1.3 million Android downloads.

But some of the users never really ‘got’ the platform. Images were taken without respect for copyright, directly from Google images and other image sites. Some users routinely ‘liked’ every post, pasting the same comments across each post, hoping for a cash pay-out.

Some users ran heavy recruitment initiatives, spamming their friends in an attempt to bring them to the platform and make cash for themselves as ‘parents’ of the new members. But when the new contributors discovered that cash did not immediately appear in their accounts, went elsewhere

The sheer number of members hoping to make money, then turning away when this did not happen, coupled with lack of ad revenue, contributed to its decline.

A way forward?

I am sad about Tsu’s closure. When I joined, I wanted to see how the platform worked. My first $100 was donated to the Charity Water charity, and I used other revenue to buy goods from small businesses across Tsu. I liked the peer to peer payments and the ability to give cash to good causes and never considered the money as ‘my money’.

Perhaps that is the answer. A platform that operates in the same way as Facebook, generating community and social connection, but with a difference. Any cash generated could go to benefit registered good causes.

Committed users might be less inclined to try to beat the system, and earn cash for themselves. Instead, the platform could work together for the common good.

Too good to be true?  With the raft of other platforms promising to pay users for their contributions, Tsu was certainly onto something. It is a shame that human nature meant that some users wanted it all for themselves.

US State Department spent $630,000 getting you to Like its Pages

The US State Department has spent around $630,000 on two marketing campaigns to increase fans of its four English Facebook pages.

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It increased Facebook fans from about 100,000 to over 2 million for each of its English language pages. The campaigns also helped to increase interest in its foreign language pages which ranged from 68,000 to over 450,000 likes.

That works out at around 12.06 cents per ‘Like’.

The Department justified its advertising spend pointing to the ‘difficulty of finding a page on Facebook with a general search and the need to use ads to increase visibility’.

The four English language Facebook pages had over 2.5 million fans by March 2013, however interaction was low. Only two per cent engaged with each page on Facebook.

Posts had fewer than 100 comments or shares and most of the interaction was in the form of likes on a page.

The report noted that the bureau uses Facebook to advertise in 25 countries with the largest number of young users and the highest engagement rate.

The International Information Programs (IIP) justified its continued spending and blamed Facebook for it needing to do this. When fans do not interact with a page, then over time, posts from the page no longer appear in the users news feed – unless the page buys sponsored story ads to ensure that the post appears on the users feeds.

The Department said that the change ‘sharply reduced the value of having large numbers of marginally interested fans and
means that IIP must continually spend money on sponsored story ads or else its “reach” statistics will plummet.’

It commented that a posting on cyber censorship in March 2013 reached 234,000 Facebook users on its first day whereas only around 20,000 would have seen the post without it advertising. Its post on Women and the web was shown in 360,000 Facebook feeds instead of 27,000.

Many staff in the bureau have criticized the advertising campaigns as buying fans who have no interest in the topic and have not engaged further.

It has been recommended that the bureau directs its advertising to ‘specific public diplomacy goals’ and adopt a social media strategy that ‘clarifies the primary goals and public diplomacy priorities of its social media sites.’

Does it matter if the bureau is ‘Liked’?  With over 150 social media accounts that are uncoordinated and overlap, does the bureau need to focus on its core messaging and not its sponsored posts and like generation?

And is the US taxpayer prepared to spend over 12 cents for each ‘Like’ that the bureau receives in these economically straightened times?

Image Credit: Enoc.vt

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Cash mobs go beyond the ‘Like’ to make a difference to local businesses

It is all very well liking pages on Facebook, sharing images and links about something you care about, but how many times does your action have a positive effect?

Charity nominations and just giving pages sometimes get overlooked. The post or email gets read and left in your inbox for another free moment. Once we have liked the page, we move on to the next article.

Struggling shops get our sympathy. Huge multinationals moving into our local area get our ire and anger at the destruction of the local economy.  We retweet things on Twitter and share articles on Facebook. But what do you actually do about it?

Cash mobs actually go beyond the passive idea of the Facebook Like. Cash mobs use actual hard cash, spent in a local shop.

So how does it work?

It is all done through the local community grouping together and using their combined networks to spread the word about the local shop that needs support. It is a little bit like crowdfunding only this generates real cash for bricks and mortar businesses in the local community.

The community gets together and decides to spend £10 ($20) or less in a local shop on a designated day. The local shop gets business that would have otherwise gone to a multinational chain of shops and the local community is energised.

Photo: Cash mob tomorrow! Hope to see you all out at Cederberg Tea House and Four Winds.News of the designated shop gets posted on social media. The information is broadcast amongst the community in the local parish magazine, village flyer and local social media. On the specific day, members of the community visit the store and buy something.

Cash mob, Bremerton in Washington state, US has a Facebook page and advertises when and where the next cash mob will be. Cash mob at Queen Anne Heart advertises its cash mob target in chalk on the pavement.

Chagrin Hardware in Ohio had so many customers when it was mobbed in 2012, the credit card machine had to be reset. The community flocked to Petosa’s Family Grocer in Edmonds, Washington after flood damage.

It is a simple concept. Shop local, buy from local shops to keep the local economy alive. And the initiative has support from large multinational companies too.

Throughout July, American Express is encouraging everyone to support local shops. It is running an initiative for July in encouraging you to ‘shop small’. Register your Amex card, and spend £10 or more at a local shop. Amex will give you £5 credit per location for up to ten different shops cafes and restaurants. That’s £50 in credits just for shopping locally.

So why don’t you register, organise a Cash Mob in your area and help local businesses survive. After all, the independent shops, cafes and bars are the reason that you love living where you are.

So put some of your money into local businesses, and keep your local community alive.

Image Credit: Queen Anne Heart / Facebook

Eileen is a social media strategist and consultant at Amastra, a columnist at ZDNet and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact Eileen to find out how she can elevate your brand and help your business become more social.

Flip your clothes using social marketplace Threadflip

I like the concept of Threadflip.  It is a social marketplace where you can sell your old clothes and accessories, and browse for fashion that suits your style.

Threadflip is:

‘is an exclusive and unique social marketplace designed to let you refresh your closet in a few easy steps. Sell the items you no longer wear, or share your own designs. Use your credit to shop the closets of your favorite designers, collectors, bloggers and friends or just cash out! Here’s a glimpse of what other fashionistas are flipping on Threadflip’

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As a start up, Threadflip relies on investors, and has just secured a $1.3 million round of investment. It competes with other social shopping sites such as Poshmark, and eBay.

It is currently available to buyers and sellers in the US only, but has plans to increase its reach worldwide.

Users can sign in with Facebook, upload images of items that they would like to sell.  If the item is sold, the seller then ships the goods to buyers.Threadflip takes 15 per cent from the sale of each item.  if you have not time to do the selling yourself, Threadflip offers a white glove service.  They take care of the sale for you, and send you the cash from the sale.

You can state your fashion preferences and shoe size to ensure that all of the images you see are of items that you would like to buy.  You don’t need to search for the items, the items find you.The feed, which looks a lot like the Pinterest feed, shows who has liked the items, and comments for each item, and you have the opportunity to follow people who love, comment or purchase goods. ught,

One of the great advantages of social marketplaces is that buyers can share information about items that they intend to purchase, or have already bought.  The concept is like a collaborative swap meet, you sell and buy from people with same style as you.  Its a good idea – especially for female netizens who like to shop and share online.

Hopefully international commerce will be opened soon – I have my eyes on several items already Smile

 

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

20 Pinterest features–good and bad…

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Pinterest.  You might be wondering what all the fuss about.  I’ve put together a few points about Pinterest, how you can use it for marketing and personal use…

Growth:

  • It is a visually driven social network with 12 million users.  Not bad for a community that started in 2012
  • Users create pinboards with web images.  You can put a button onto your browser and click to pin images that interest you
  • Pinboards are organised into categories.  You can name your category anything you like
  • over 90% are female – 10% male – Marketers need to be aware of this.  Fortunately, females often like the same things that males do
  • Ages range in the main from 25 – 54 – in the main.  This will change as awareness of the site grows

Uses:

  • Collect images that are useful to you and pin them to the site.  You can pin them in the default pin boards or create your own each time you pin
  • Repin articles and images that you find.  If you see something interesting then you can pin it to your own board
  • Build collections of pinned objects such as buildings, animals, technology etc.  Comment on other pins to interact with who has originally shared the image
  • Build a following – just like any other social network – and grow your own following too
  • Broadcast your pins to your followers
  • Great for viral marketing – if used correctly

Brand promotion

  • Images often are marketing materials for brands.  if used wisely, brands can draw traffic to their web site
  • It drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined
  • 26.4% of referral traffic comes from Facebook – having a good presence there can be advantageous
  • Brands use it to post products and projects
  • Don’t over do it and spam – you will lose followers and traffic

Challenges:

  • Copyright issues.  Pinterest puts the burden of copyright on you… Here are a couple of snippets from the site:
  • Certain areas of the Site and Application (and your access to or use of certain Services or Site Content) may have different terms and conditions posted or may require you to agree with and accept additional terms and conditions.
  • You may not Post, upload, publish, submit, provide access to or transmit any Content that: (i) infringes, misappropriates or violates a third party’s patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret, moral rights or other intellectual property rights, or rights of publicity or privacy;
  • “YOU ACKNOWLEDGE AND AGREE THAT, TO THE MAXIMUM EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THE ENTIRE RISK ARISING OUT OF YOUR ACCESS TO AND USE OF THE SITE, APPLICATION, SERVICES AND SITE CONTENT REMAINS WITH YOU.”

So be careful of the pins you are sharing – they might be copyright – and you might get yourself into hot water…

 

It will be interesting to see how Pinterest fares moving forward. Can it get over the legal and copyright issues?  Do we actually care what images we are sharing – or stealing.  Is copyright a big enough issue to prevent you having Pin boards?  Or are you not worried about your images being used across the web by others?

 

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.

 

Data from the MGAdvertising infographic and images and information from Pinterest itself

Domino’s uses crowdsourcing to find innovation and ideas

Domino’s has empowered its user community to steer the direction of the brand by launching its new crowdsourcing app, ‘Think Oven’ on Facebook

Think Oven has 2 parts,’Projects’ and ‘Idea box’

The Project area encourages comments and suggestions around a current project – at the moment its around the Domino’s uniforms.  The Idea box is a place for suggestions – that might turn into future projects.

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The idea mirrors the My Starbucks Idea project that has been running for some time now.  Although we celebrate community collaboration like this, Crowdsourced ideas are not new.

Back in the ‘olden days’ the company suggestions box had the potential to turn up some innovation. Now everything is done online. With voting, comments and suggestions enabled in the Domino’s app the brand can get a really good idea about what its fans really want.

Using the army of Facebook fans to garner ideas is a good move for Domino’s.  We are used to interacting on Facebook, we are much more likely to interact with the brand in this way.

Hopefully Domino’s will implement some of the better ideas and report on its success.. Perhaps more brands will take up the initiative and work towards getting better customer service levels, new products and a re-energised business…

Meanwhile, Domino’s… I have an idea… Smile

Eileen is a social business strategist, ZDNet columnist and author of Working The Crowd: Social Media Marketing for Business. Contact her to find out how she can help your business extend its reach.