May 3, 2012

(Mis)Truth in (Facebook) Advertising

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: — Meredith @ 4:11 pm

Did you know that you can only use a coupon for Facebook ads once? In the entire history of your account, if you’ve ever used a Facebook coupon you can NEVER use one EVER again. It’s in their fine print, where they hope you won’t notice it.

Recently this email showed up in our company inbox:

I had tried Facebook ads years ago and saw no measurable ROI. I’d also read that they’d been working on improving their ad model and that more recently advertisers were seeing better ROI. This invite made it seem like a good time to give Facebook ads another try. I clicked the “Get Started Now” link and here’s what the screen said:

 

I created a new ad and it ran for a few days. ROI? The ad cost about $1/fan. If 1% of my fans buy stuff at that rate I’m paying $100/conversion. Not so great. But here’s the kicker… a few days later my credit card was charged for the ad. When I contacted Facebook to ask why this was they trotted out their policy about only accepting 1 coupon per account EVER.

Here’s what they wrote:

If Facebook truly didn’t mean to cause “inconvenience and confusion” then why send out a coupon to a customer that can’t use it? Why show a message after the coupon is “applied” stating “Your $50 coupon will be added to your account after you create your ad”? Why not display an error on the screen when I attempt to enter the coupon code stating that the coupon isn’t valid?

I’m sharing this post so other page owners aren’t duped by this deliberately misleading user interface. I also hope Facebook will consider changing it’s coupon promotion policies or user interface to something more honest, so more users aren’t manipulated into buying ads they might not intend to purchase.


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March 14, 2012

How To/Tutorial: Giving Your Facebook Page a Timeline Makeover

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 4:01 am

I just finished updating Ex-Boyfriend’s Facebook page for the new “timelines” Facebook page format. If you haven’t updated your brand’s Facebook page for the new layout, don’t delay. Facebook will automatically change your Facebook page to a “timeline” style page March 30th. This layout change is a great opportunity to infuse your Facebook page with a new look that reflects your brand. To get your page ready for the switch, here’s what you’ll want to do:

1. Create/Apply Cover Image
The cover image appears at the top of a timelines style Facebook page. You’ll need to create an image that is 850 x 315 pixels. This image can be used to show off your products or the brand’s sense of style. Once you’ve created the image click the “change cover” link to add your new image. (We put a giant T-Rex on our cover image.)

2. Create/Apply Profile Image
The profile image is a slot that already existed on your Facebook page. Just be sure you have a 180 x 180 pixel image in that space. If you want to replace your profile image, click “edit profile picture” to get to the screen to upload a new image.

3. Create/Apply Application Icons
Application icons are the buttons visitors will use to visit the tabs on your Facebook page. Your application icons should be 111 x 74 pixels. To add icons click “edit page” and then click “apps” on the left menu. Click the “edit settings” link under the tab you wish to edit. Next to custom tab image click “change”. You’ll be taken to a screen where you can upload a custom image. Click “change” again and upload your 111 x 74 pixel icon.

Not sure how to make your new Facebook timelines style profile awesome? Here are some really cool ways people have tricked out their new Facebook timeline style pages.


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January 2, 2012

Get Your Customers to Brag About Your Products

Filed under: Ecommerce,Social Media — Tags: , , — Meredith @ 5:44 am

I was so inspired by Amazon.com’s confirmation page that I decided to do something similar on my own website. Below is what Amazon’s confirmation page looks like (click for a closer look):

Notice on the right side Amazon encourages their customer to tell their friends on Twitter and Facebook about their recent purchase? This is a great idea! How many times have you ordered something online and felt so excited about your purchase that you wanted to brag a little about your awesome find? I know I’ve been there. This little widget makes bragging about a purchase a little easier for Amazon’s customers.

Here’s how we implemented something like this on Ex-Boyfriend’s confirmation page (click to see close up):

When our customers click the share buttons, a Facebook or Twitter pop up appears that announces what they purchased. (In instances where our customer bought more than one item, we display a drop down so the customer can select the item to share.) Click the image above to see an action shot of how it works.

How to do it:
This is the tricky part, you’re going to need some technical know how to implement this. If you’re on a site like Etsy this won’t be possible. (Though I can’t imagine why Etsy has not yet implemented this feature on their confirmation screens.) If you’re on your own site, you’ll need to be able to access the code that controls your confirmation screen and determine where it spits out the list of items your customer just purchased. You can use those variables to set up prompts for Facebook and Twitter links.

Twitter is a little easier and they have a nice easy developer tutorial here. Facebook is a little more difficult. You’ll need to create an app that uses the streamPublish function (a Facebook developer function that allows to your application to publish to the user’s wall). If your site is in PHP and you know a little PHP, this shortcut is a pretty nice time saver. If you’re not tech savvy enough to make sense of the Faceconn toolset and want to implement a feature like this on your site, a freelance PHP developer should be able to put this together for you pretty easily. You can look for a PHP freelancer on Vendor Wiz or a freelancer search site like elance.com.


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March 22, 2011

Getting Social Media Love On The Go

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 9:52 am

As the weather gets warmer, a lot of you in Smaller Box land will be doing some outdoor vending. One thing that’s problematic about the real world is that people can’t simply click to take actions. Things are certainly moving in that direction with sophisticated wireless devices, but even those involve a little typing. To make it easy to get passersby onto your social networks, consider using SMS.

Both Facebook and Twitter allow their users to like and follow pages with a simple text message (provided their users have their mobile numbers registered with Facebook/Twitter). You can encourage them to text their way to your pages with a simple sign.

For Facebook
Ask people to text “like [page name]” to 32665
For Smaller Box the text message would be “like smallerbox”
This page will even make you a handy sign you can print and post at your booth.

For Twitter
Ask people to text “follow [twitter name]” to 40404
For Smaller Box the text message would be “follow smallerbox”

Make some signs for your upcoming event booths so people can easily connect with you online, even if they’re just passing by at a crowded show.


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March 10, 2011

FREE GOODIES! (Two Reasons You’re Going to Love Me Today!)


I have two really awesome FREE goodies for you today!

1. I just launched a totally free conversion calculator you’re gonna want to check it. It calculates the likely results of your ad campaigns! Check it out and tell all your friends.

2. I just put together a list of 49 resources I love. I am including websites, vendors, services, online apps, the works! These are resources that are either FREE or the best priced I’ve found. I’m giving you my list for (almost) FREE. All I’m asking for in return is that you spread the Smaller Box word. Click the “share to get button” below and a free copy of my resource list is yours! (If you’d rather not trade a tweet for this download, you can purchase the download for $9.99. To do that click the “Pay $9.99 to Get” button.)

    OR    




Crazy! Why are you doing this?
I’d like to say it’s just cuz I’m nice (which I totally am), but in addition to that…

I’m testing out the idea of social media as currency. When I hear a marketing guru say “social media is currency” my eyes glaze over because it’s one of those statements that sounds like nonsense if you don’t have examples and evidence to back it up. So I’m here saying it: “Social Media is currency.” You’re paying for access to my resources with word of mouth. You get cool resources, I get your word of mouth, which translates into opportunities for me to sell products and services. (Plus link juice for my SEO, whee!)

I think it’ll work nicely, but it’s up to you to prove me right or wrong. I’ll let you all know how it goes. If you like what I’ve done here and are going “but how would I apply this to my product-based biz?”, well you’ll need to get my resources guide. I’ve included a tip on where to get ideas about that too.


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November 2, 2010

3 Clever Things You Can Do With a Facebook “Reveal” Tab

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 8:16 am

In a round up last month I posted a link that explained how to create a Facebook reveal tab. If you glossed over that tutorial, today I’m going to try to get you to take another look. It’s a really neat feature that you can use to help grow your Facebook following and reward customers who like you on Facebook. Here are a few neat things you can use a reveal tab for:

1. Coupon Codes
I use my reveal tab to offer coupons to Facebook fans only. You can see it in action here (like the page to see the image change to show the coupon code). My website has coupon codes published on the product pages (see the tab on the lower right) and I tell visitors they should check out the Facebook fan page to see more offers. This helps drive people to follow my brand on Facebook and makes coupon codes accessible between newsletter mailings.

2. Exclusive Content/Previews
If you don’t offer coupon codes, you might use your reveal tab to share exclusive content instead. You can use this tab to offer a free ebook download or let fans see an exclusive sneak preview of a line of products you’re about to release. Exclusive content is a great way to draw in fans and even keep them coming back to your Facebook page.

3. Pre-Sales/Exclusive Pricing
Another special offer to extend to Facebook followers is pre-sales and exclusive pricing. If you’re about to release a new product or collection, selling it on pre-sale (before it’s for sale to the public) at a special price to fans is a terrific way to build buzz. You can even use this pre-sale income to finance the production of a larger batch of your product.


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September 21, 2010

Using Social Media to Build Relationships With Your Target Markets

Filed under: Social Media — Meredith @ 6:54 am

As small business owners, we sometimes get in the habit of using our social media accounts just to broadcast news about our brands. While social media can be useful for keeping interested parties in the loop, keeping the conversation entirely one-sided means you’re missing out on other ways to interact with your target markets. So who should you be talking to on social media and how should you engage them:

1. Customers
People who might or have purchased your products are an important audience and you don’t want them to feel like all you do is sell to them. You can use social media to let customers see what goes on behind the scenes, share content both you and your customers might find interesting, engage customers in shaping your product line. Here are a few examples of how you might do some of this:

  • A clothing designer shares an inspiration board from a recent product design on her blog. She then posts a note on Twitter and Facebook letting customers know about this new entry and invites them to give feedback. She also shares her inspiration board on Flickr, so Flickr users can provide feedback there.
  • A jewelry designer, who focuses on bridal jewelry, blogs about an article discussing the merits of big and small weddings from an online wedding magazine, and then asks her customers which they plan to have and why.
  • A skincare company is working on coming up with new fall fragrances, the company owner asks fans on Twitter to tell her what scents remind them of fall.

All of these actions invite the customers to get to know the creators behind the brands and even let the customers take part in shaping the brands.

2. Peers
Although peers are not a primary audience for your social media efforts, there can be some advantages to networking with peers via social media. You might want to engage fellow artisans or small business owners to engage in some cross-promotion or collaborations.  Here are some examples of how this could be done:

  • An illustrator who knows a t-shirt maker via a message board, contacts the t-shirt maker via private message to ask if the printer would like to print some of her drawings on her t-shirts.
  • A handbag designer follows and is followed by artisans that design jewelry and shoes on Twitter. She sends a message using the @ symbol to these fellow business owners to ask them if they’d like to share the cost of an ad in a magazine.
  • An invitation designer who sells wedding invitations asks a wedding photographer, a florist and a jewelry designer to take part in a blogging meme about winter wedding ideas. As each company posts their articles, they link to each others’ websites.

3. Media, Sales Reps, Etc.
Another audience to consider in social media are professionals who might in some way help your business. This could be press, well-connected sales reps, a buyer for a retail chain you’d like to get a wholesale account from. Social media is a great way to get on their radar. Some examples of how this might work:

  • A catnip toy designer Googles the names of some writers who work for Cat Fancy. She sees that a few of them have Twitter accounts and follows them and sends a hello saying “I liked your article in Cat Fancy. I look forward to reading about your upcoming articles.” Now they’re aware of her and will hopefully follow her back. Even if they do not, she can use Twitter to see if they mention what articles they have coming up so she can pitch them her products.
  • A home decor maker meets a sales rep at a trade show. She decides to look her up on Linked In after the show and chat with her about possibly representing her line.

Today’s post is part of a series of posts on social media. For the next week and a half, fellow bloggers will be sharing secrets to using social media for small business success. You can follow along and get more details on the series here. Participating bloggers include: Blacksburg Belle, The Artists’ House, Big Thinking for Small Businesses, heartmade, Miss Malaprop, Madeline Bea, Imaginative Bloom, and Jessica Swift.


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April 22, 2010

Facebook’s New “Like” Button – A Real Sophie’s Choice for Brands

Filed under: Social Media — Tags: , — Meredith @ 11:24 am

Facebook has made things a little tricky for marketers this week with the introduction of the new Like button. First of all, this button is neat. You can stick it on any page of your site and visitors just have to click to express fondness for your site. They don’t even get taken off your website, it automatically sends information to their Facebook profile. Very awesome.

Here’s where the challenge comes in: Like can do one of two things. You can either have visitors like your website (which causes your URL to be posted to their wall on Facebook) OR you can have visitors like your brand (which causes them to become a fan of your page). Which is better? I don’t know. Below is a comparison of the options.


Like = Fanning Like = Sharing Your Website
Pros:

  • Allows you to re-market to people you know like your brand. Your fan page’s posts go to their wall, they can get your updates.
  • Works great if your fans use the “most recent” feed. They get instant updates on new products, promotions, etc. Keeps your brand on their mind.

Cons

  • Less powerful if fans use “top news” feed.
  • Viral nature is less powerful. Your new fan’s friends see they became a fan of a brand but if they click the link they go to the fan page, not your website.
  • Updates don’t go to the inbox and have a low open rate. I’ve found that I have to tell my fans I sent an update and tell them how to access it. So fan Updates are challenging to draw ROI from.
Pros:

  • May spread your URL to people who’d like your brand (assuming your site visitors’ and their friends have similar taste)
  • Links your page directly from people’s walls so their friends click and arrive on your website. More site traffic, yay!

Cons:

  • May spread your URL to people you don’t like your brand as much as the original poster. So more site traffic from people who may not care for your brand, boo!
  • You can’t re-market to the person who recommended your page since they didn’t become a brand fan. They may forget about you.

So how will you be using the “like” button, to generate fans or generate website clicks?


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March 25, 2010

You’re Doing It Wrong: 4 Ways You’re Not Marketing to YOUR Customers

Filed under: Blogging,PR,Promotions,Social Media — Tags: , , , , — Meredith @ 10:26 am

One of the biggest mistakes I see smaller businesses making online is that they often don’t understand who their target market is. As a result they don’t actually market to them. Developing a successful small business means having a very clear understanding of who your target audience is. You might be saying “duh” right now but consider these questions:

Does your media list mostly contain indie blogs?

Do your Facebook statuses say “Just found a new source for fabrics on ebay.” and “Trying to figure out how to use Quickbooks for small business”?

Do you blog mainly about going to trade shows and how to put in a perfect dart?

If you’re guilty of these faux pas, you probably aren’t marketing to your target audience and you may not even understand who your target audience is. Don’t get me wrong, it’s okay to pitch indie blogs. There’s nothing wrong with giving customers a little behind the scenes peak at your day to day life. The problem is that’s all some small businesses do. Unless you sell supplies, most of your potential customers probably aren’t small business owners or artisans. They’re people who admire unique products, but can’t necessarily produce them on their own, and aren’t even terribly interested in how you do your magic. They just enjoy the end result.

So here are four places you can change your ways immediately and start marketing to potential customers instead of, well, yourself.

1. Blog
Blog about things that are interesting to your customers. If you sell dog leashes, blog about cute dog videos from Youtube. If you sell cosmetics, blog about how to achieve the perfect smokey eye.

2. Social Media
Stop spending all day on Etsy’s self-promotion forums. Stop tweeting about new Ebay seller policies, troubles with your merchant account and CPSIA all day. Start Tweeting and Facebooking about stuff your customers will find interesting, amusing or informative. If you want to socialize with fellow artisans or small business owners create TWO social media accounts, one for customers and one for peers.

3. Advertising
This is a biggie. There is a giant world of advertising to be had out there. There are niche publications for nearly everything. So stop spending all your ad dollars on publications mainly read by other artisans and business owners (again, unless you sell supplies or services for business owners or something). It’s okay to do a little marketing to that audience, but make sure the bulk of your ad dollars are being spent on publications that reach potential customers and not just your peers.

Check out sites like Blogads, explore Google Adwords and Adbrite. Think about who your target customers are and what publications they read and what websites they visit. Speaking of which…

4. Media List
Make sure your media list contains press relevant to your brand. A press list for a jewelry company should be different than a press list for a company that mainly designs housewares. Make sure you’re thinking about niche audiences that might like your products. A company that makes jewelry out of circuit boards should be pitching to geek publications. A company that makes pendants featuring different dog breeds should be pitching to pet publications.


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January 13, 2010

Touchpoints: 3 Places To Ask for Customer Engagement

Filed under: Branding,Ecommerce,Social Media — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 1:01 am

We communicate with our customers and site visitors even more than we realize. Each of those communications is a place to invite customers to engage with us. Oftentimes we miss those opportunities, simply because the thought hasn’t occurred to us. Here are three opportunities you may not be taking to ask customers for more engagement:

1. Welcome to Our List
When a customer joins your newsletter you probably send them an email welcoming them. What does this email contain other than a standard welcome message? If you’re like most businesses, little else. Modify that welcome message to invite your customer to your Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube or other social media accounts. If you have a special contest or event coming up you want them to take part in, make mention of that. Don’t overload the message with too many calls to action, but be sure take advantage of this missive to give customers an additional way to connect.

2. Thank You Page & Thank You Email
When a customer makes a purchase, they’re making a very clear statement about their interest in your brand. Use your thank you page and thank you email to ask the customer to become a Facebook fan, share a coupon for your website with a friend, or visit your blog.

3. Newsletter
Most companies use their newsletter to announce sales, share coupons or promote new products. The focus tends to be on getting a customer to make a purchase. While this is a reasonable goal, you should also make greater engagement with your audience a goal. Invite your customers to share pictures of themselves using your product, ask customers to follow you on Twitter, or ask them to write a review of your product online.

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