Over the last decade consulting hundreds of businesses and communications professionals on digital and social media communications – “What are hashtags and how should I use them?” have been two of the most common questions people ask. It has also become clear that many businesses that think they understand hashtags are actually not using them to their full potential. For that reason I put together a short and sweet summary to help you understand hashtags and how to use them to get more customers while engaging your current audience.
Famous for inspiring a cult following and even an anti-Christmas controversy the #RedCupArt Campaign is an annual bellwether moment for Starbucks and social media marketers. While you likely don’t have their global reach, you can find a few gifts of wisdom in Starbucks’ campaign that will show returns for your marketing in 2017.
Be choosy with your hashtag
As you can see from the Instagram gallery above, #RedCups has a different meaning in binge drinking circles (and I don’t mean COFFEE) that could likely bring up some #NSFW posts in a random search. Starbucks has been deliberate in circulating #RedCupArt to maximize their ownership of the term, and minimize the potential for embarrassing content confusion.
Be Socialgenic and be welcome in the conversation
As with the word photogenic, things that are “genic” – cause or produce, or are well-suited to something. Therefore things that are Socialgenic produce or are well-suited to social sharing. You heard it here first, Socialgenic strategies are THE hack for businesses looking to turn their customers into their best marketers in a world where every guest is a broadcaster. Employ this tactic to create value through your social efforts and be relevant in fan’s social feeds rather than imposing your own content on them like an unwanted guest at the holidays.
Give the gift of an audience
By providing a canvas for creativity (red cups) and sharing the stage (their global social media accounts) Starbucks turns talented and ambitious fans into content creators. Importantly, since the iconic green circle logo is inextricably “baked in” to every user-generated red cup creation, each post is in fact a “user-generated ad” not just user generated content. Because the creator is the star and the brand is the stage, red cup art is shared to a fan’s peers with pride as an expression of their personality and will be welcomed with a much warmer heart than a brand initiated message.
Tip to go
Consider how you can make your product and promotion more Socialgenic. People are looking to express their personalities and take part of something bigger than themselves. How can you create a canvas for them and share your stage? If you can, you will be a welcome guest in their social conversations rather than unwanted visitor.
Looking for inspiration on how to make your brand or experience more Socialgenic? Drop me a line or ask for help in the comments below.
Contrary to what some might think, the human brain does not like making logical decisions. Over time we have developed cognitive shortcuts to save mental energy. People use these shortcuts for decision making more than they think and are usually unaware they are even using them. Decision science is the practice of understanding these shortcuts and structuring offers and processes to take advantage of them. The key take-away for me from Nancy Harhunt’s impressive session at SXSW 2015 was that consumers are not always rational and that decision science provides valuable insight into the choices people make.
5 Science based tactics for more persuasive marketing:
1. Offer “social proof”
The actions of others inform what decisions you are comfortable making. You’re more likely to buy something you see someone else buying as you take this as evidence that the value, quality or utility are good. Shopping malls create a social environment that surrounds you with social proof — scores of other people buying in general, and more specifically buying the same brands or products you are considering. Replicating this phenomenon with your online sign-up or e-commerce purchase processes can positively effect conversion rates. Provide plenty of social evidence by including customer testimonials or emphasizing the number of people that have already signed up or bought from you.
In a past post at FLIPP.ca I explained the opportunity of providing “social proof” through using curated crowd sourced product images on your e-commerce pages.
2. Loss aversion
Psychologists have proven that people are more motivated by the desire to avoid loss/pain than by the desire to achieve gain. Pain is twice as psychologically powerful as pleasure. The most effective marketing messages often emphasize the downside of life without a product or service, rather than emphasizing the benefits of life with them. Consider showing the other side of the coin in your campaigns. The miserable, empty, new jean free side of the coin 🙂
3. Emphasize the new and novel
For survival, humans have evolved to detect novelty and change. What is different about the immediate situation that could be a threat? Even though all the saber-toothed tigers are gone decision science shows we are still primed to dedicate attention to the novel.
Eye-tracking tests confirm that we’re automatically drawn to words that suggest a change like: “new,” “now,” “announcing,” “introducing,” “discover,” “finally,” and “soon.” You can significantly improve your click-through and open rates by using these words whenever reasonable.
4. Keep it simple
“Cognitive fluency” is the notion that people prefer things that are easy to understand and judge them to be more accurate. When you want people to feel comfortable making decisions, remove the cognitive clutter. Keep marketing messages and creative concepts single focused. Communicate one thing then give a clear and complimentary call to action.
5. Commitment consistency
A common mental short cut is to keep doing what you are/have been doing. Once you’ve said yes to something once, even a small request, you are more likely to continue to act in a way that is consistent with that commitment. This phenomenon is the basis for the foot in the door sales technique where an initial simple ask like signing up for a newsletter or accepting a free trial can get a prospect moving down the path to becoming a customer. Try it.
This is one of five posts which were also published at FLIPP.ca on the some of the top insights I gleaned from SXSW 2015. More to come tomorrow. Read the rest at here.
Follow me on Twitter @trevorjurgens to be notified when new posts come out.
Once upon a time before Instagram feeds and Pinterest boards your website was likely the beginning and end of your online marketing. But these days you may focus more on your Facebook timeline than your landing page. What if you could put all the social activity you’ve worked so hard to stimulate to good use, improving the effectiveness and profitability of your website?
As social media publishing matures, and the tools evolve along with it, smart marketers are integrating social content into their web experience to engage visitors and drive sales. Way more (and better) than a feed of the latest tweets, social content is being included in-line as part of the overall content mix. User generated images, tweets and videos are being automatically pulled from Instagram, Twitter and other networks to be displayed on home, community and product pages. Traditional assets like product shots are being replaced by their user generated cousins.
What’s in it for you?
Social/User generated content ticks many of the boxes for what makes web content effective in general, with the added benefit of being created by your most passionate brand evangelists. User generated content can be a great addition to your website because it’s:
Sticky and Novel: We’ve all had our inner voyeur pull us down a social media rabbit hole. Social content keeps people looking longer. And the promise of something new with each visit gets people coming back more frequently.
Timely and Adaptive: Social content captures your products in the season, style or meme of the minute. Rainy days bring pictures of rubber boots and sandals fill the feed when it’s sunny.
Compelling for Selling: What is more convincing, a stock product shot or an authentic pic of your product in action? Social content means social proof. According to HubSpot, more than 8 in 10 Gen Yers say social content from people they don’t know influences the way they buy and indicates brand quality.
Social content can even be “productized” for “social selling”, linking directly to e-commerce pages. Leading retailers like Urban Outfitters are using Curalate to create and manage shoppable community driven catalogues around #UOONYOU. Imagine making your most passionate customers your best sales people.
Abundant and Economical: Producing quality content takes time and resources. A steady stream of new free content is out there to compliment your in-house efforts, you just have to funnel and manage it. Promote a hashtag as part of your overall brand strategy, set up your filters and watch the content flow in.
Cooperative and Inclusive: Your marketing team can’t be everywhere at once but your customers, ambassadors and staff can. Empower them with a hashtag and let the people living with your product every day have a starring role in your brand story, wherever they are. You’d be surprised, Steve in accounting makes great Vine videos.
Things to Consider
When done properly integrating social content on your site can deliver big benefits. Consider the following to make sure it clicks and gets people clicking.
Presentation: First thing, is your overall site experience set to impress? Next, is your social content integration on point? Simply “plugging in” your social content can distract rather than delight. A widget with tiny Instagram thumbnails can do more harm than good. Invest in web development that accentuates the social content in a way that feels like it belongs. Rockefeller Center has used #topoftherock content in a way that leaves an impression that’s more about their brand than Instagrams’.
Moderation: Don’t let the unfettered firehouse of social content loose on your webpage. The results can range from embarrassing to disastrous. Use a system that lets you quickly and reliably handpick the best bits and filter the rest.
Speed: Make sure the task of curating and sharing content does not become another “to do” that never becomes a “done”. Help yourself succeed. Don’t try to publish manually, use tools that let you moderate and publish fast. I’ve personally found TradableBits’ “Stream” to be a great tool for the job. Publishing can’t be instantaneous, find the pace that’s reasonable for you and your community.
Location: Can you use social content beyond online? Live events and retail locations are the perfect place to showcase your brand and fans via curated social content. Why not make your community part of the atmosphere and animate your spaces with their photos? TEDx Portland used Postano and guest generated content to colour the auditorium for their 2014 conference.
How are you using social content on your website? Well, poorly, not at all? Is it distracting or compelling? Are you capitalizing on all the social activity around your brand? Why not? We’d love to hear your comments. Tweet me @trevorjurgens.