“The more passionate and argumentative I get the more followers and friends I make online.”

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Thoughts on Instagram being a Content Community

Instagram is one social networking site that rose straight to the top among other popular sites like Facebook and Twitter ever since it's launch in 2010. When it first came out it was exclusive for iPhone, ipad, and ipod touch users and it allowed its' users to upload photos and edit them to their liking through digital filters and enhancements. Today, anyone can create an instagram profile and users can also upload video content as well. Considering the fact that I am a visual person, it is safe to say that Instagram is definitely my favorite social site out of them all.
Throughout the past three years, Instagram has gone through some changes and enhancements (including being acquired by Facebook for $1 billion) in order to sustain it's popularity and continue to compete with other Social Networking Sites. It appears as though Instagram has transitioned from a social networking site to a content community. I believe that Instagram is more of a social networking site as opposed to being more of a content community site, but the uniqueness about Instagram is that it could go both ways. In "Community vs. Social Network", Michael Wu, Ph.D, Lithium's Principal Scientist of Analytic, says "the single most important feature that distinguishes a social network from a community is how people are held together on these sites. In a social network, people are held together by pre-established interpersonal relationships, such as kinship, friendship, classmates, colleagues, business partners, etc. The connections are built one at a time (i.e. you connect directly with another user). The primary reason that people join a social networking site is to maintain old relationships and establish new ones to expand their network". His analysis supports the reason why I believe Instagram is more of a social network as opposed to a content community site. For example, when you first got on instagram who did you follow or allow to follow you? I know for me personally, I added all of my friends and I follow all of my friends. Instagram was a quick way for me to see what was going on with my friends in real-time each day, every day. Most of my followers on instagram and I were connected by a "pre-established interpersonal relationship". I've also been able to establish new relationships with friends of my friends on Instagram.
Now, while I do believe Instagram is more of a social network as opposed to a content community site, that is not to say that I don't believe it can't be considered a content community site either but I believe it has less characteristics that would qualify it as a "content community" site.  Dr.Wu tells us "Communities are held together by common interest. It maybe a hobby, something the community members are passionate about, a common goal, a common project, or merely the preference for a similar lifestyle, geographical location, or profession. Clearly people join the community because they care about this common interest that glues the community members together. Some stay because they felt the urge to contribute to the cause; others come because they can benefit from being part of the community." As far as Instagram goes, the common interest is that we all like to take pictures. While, I know there are hashtags that can link Instagram users together, I wouldn't say the hashtags bring Instagram users together because of a particular preference for a similar lifestyle. In my opinion, the hashtags on Instagram are much like a Google Search Engine, and they provide users with photos based on key words. I don't think any of us are really contributing to some cause by being on Instagram...other than creating a database of memorable photos that highlight events in our life. However, I will say, I do see how people can benefit from being a part of the Instagram community and this is one of the characteristics of Instagram that I believe would qualify Instagram as a "content community" site. For example, I am inspired and motivated to continue and pursue my rigorous workout routine and maintain my clean eating habits by following influential fitness experts on Instagram like @Mankofit. We both share a passion for fitness and Instagram brings us together through this common interest. 
Now, with Instagram adding video and the ability to share and email photos and videos on the site to other people, I can definitely see where people are considering it to be a content community. Perhaps these enhanced features will lead to instagram having various groups focusing on areas of common interest within the specific content.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Email Marketing Campaigns are here to stay....

  Email Marketing is definitely NOT dead but there are some helpful tips and best practices that need to be taken into consideration if a company or business' email marketing campaign is to succeed. In today's day and age, email is the most dominant medium used to share information to others.
The Radicati Group reports over 100 billion email messages are generated each day. Considering these mind-blowing statistics, it is extremely safe to say email marketing is alive and present; email marketing doesn't seem to be going away nor does it seem to be in danger of being "deleted" from the Integrated Marketing Communication "inbox" anytime soon.If marketing communications professionals want to continue to drive and increase conversion rates, sales, and revenue through email marketing, they need to consider these informative and enlightening statistics when planning their email marketing strategy:

1. 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. (Convinceandconvert.com)
2. 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone. (Convinceandconvert.com)
3. Subject lines fewer than 10 characters long had an open rate of 58%. (Adestra July 2012 Report)
4. Personalized subject lines are 22.2% more likely to be opened. (Adestra July 2012 Report)
5. 64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line. (Chadwick Martin Bailey)
6. 7 in 10 people say they made use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email in the prior    week. (2012 Blue Kangaroo Study)
7. Monday emails had the highest revenue per email. (Experian 2012 Q4 Email Benchmark Report)
8. 27% of consumers were more likely to say their favorite companies should invest in more email. (ExactTarget)
9. Emails that include social sharing buttons have a 158% higher click-through rate. (GetResponse)
11. 82% of consumers open emails from companies. (Litmus)

A thorough understanding of these statistics will push marketing professionals closer to their loyal as well as prospective customers. Marketing professionals can also  ensure that email marketing is kept alive in this saturated media place through technological evolution. By this, I mean marketing professionals need to make sure their email marketing campaigns are up to bar with the latest technological platforms that are able to receive emails. Studies show that email is the primary reason why 79% of people are using smartphones. This statistic along with the fact that 69% of smartphone users and 71% of tablet owners indicate that direct emails from businesses influence their buying behavior reveal why it is extremely important and necessary for marketing professionals to have email marketing campaigns that are mobile/tablet friendly. The majority of us are almost always "on-the-go" so it is no surprise that we check our emails on our smartphones. Marketing professionals need to make sure that their emails have mobile friendly layouts that are easy to navigate and read as well, since this is the platform in which  the majority of their consumers will be receiving the email.

Alongside those best practices and tips, it is also necessary for emails to be relevant and personalized/customized to the reader (when possible), consistent with brand identity,  address who the company is and why they matter, explain what the companies' offers are and why those offers are valuable to the consumer, provide a call to action, incorporate compelling images, and contain social buttons so that their message can be magnified to a wider audience. The Implementation of social sharing buttons and links in emails is a FREE way for marketing professionals to reach a completely different avenue of potential customers without having to put forth any effort. Social sharing buttons also make it easier to pass the "message" along to other potentials who may be interested in what that company or business has to offer.
At the end of the day you want to be able to push the contents of that email out to as many people as possible. By incorporating social sharing buttons, one is destined to accomplishing that objective.
With most of us relying heavily on emails to provide us with the most up-to-date information and news, it is definitely necessary for businesses and companies to keep email marketing as part of their Integrated Marketing Campaigns.

As I mentioned earlier, in todays day and age we are always on the go and because of this many of us would be hard for marketers to effectively reach if it weren't for our smartphones. For that reason alone, I believe it necessary for marketing professionals to continue to use email marketing campaigns. As long as they ensure those emails are mobile compatible and friendly, I believe they are making a good choice by continuing to use emails to reach out to their audience. At the end of the day, studies only predict that the number of emails an individual receives will only continue to rise and checking our email is as much of a part of many of our daily routines as is breathing air.

Blogging Tips

I love this info-graphic! It definitely gives some very informative tips about blogging. I love the quote at the end of the info-graphic. With so much information and news to stay on top of in order to be a successful blogger, sometimes blogging becomes overwhelming, however I remind myself that when you are doing something you love and enjoy: Do Not Ever Give Up.

Friday, September 6, 2013

36 Rules of Social Media Infographic

Facebook & Google Duke it Out!

"LET'S GET READY TO RUMBLE!! Good evening and welcome to tonight's boxing match which promises to be a classic in every sense of the word. In the left corner, weighing in with a reported annual income that topped $50 Billion,and an unmatched1.17 billion unique monthly searches is the world's most powerful search engine whose domain was registered on September 15, 1997 …GOOGLE.......... And in the right corner weighing in with an annual income of $5.1 Billion dollars, 164 million unique monthly visitors is the world's largest social network who rose to unprecedented levels of fame after launching in 2004 by a Harvard undergraduate student ……. FACEBOOK!! And tonight's prize? ETERNAL SOCIAL, ADVERTISING, &  ONLINE DOMINANCE! 
I want a good clean fight between you two. Nothing below the domain, good luck to you both."

Who ultimately wins with the KO? How many key performance indicators and metrics do we have  to analyze in order to determine the winner? Well, with me as the referee, the match is actually a draw. There is no denying that both Google & Facebook have been extremely influential and dominant in their respective sectors as well as in changing the way businesses and individuals interact and reach out to each other as a whole. However, when it comes to actually picking one and saying it is better than the other, I find it extremely hard to do so.
We can analyze monetary figures regarding their revenue and ad sales and compare them all day just like we can analyze which ones' respective social platforms receive more visitors and bring together more people on a monthly basis, but do those things truly measure or shall I say give Google more power over Facebook or Facebook the upper hand over Google? NO....I personally don't think so.
In my opinion, when analyzing who is bigger on a social scale as well as who is more effective when it comes to advertising, I think the key performance indicator is how each platform personalizes and customizes their content for their respective visitors. And when it all boils down to it...they both have a platform or a feature or a social site/platform they acquired/bought that does that. 
I've learned from working in Customer Service, people are open to product/service suggestions, respond in a warm positive way, and are more willing to actually buy a product/service that is being advertised to them when the medium/method/interaction/platform/channel that is used to reach out to them is  done in a customized/personal manner. People love to be acknowledged and people appreciate it and are more receptive when things that are being recommended to them are based off of their personal preferences, opinion, needs, likes, and wants. When working with my customers, I have more success when I implement customized probing questions for the consumer as opposed to broad, general questions. We all want to feel special and like we matter, right? After all, it is better to know that our company is actually paying attention to our individual interests instead of just classifying us into a certain group with other individuals based off of  certain demographics that we share.
Facebook reaches out to its' users and generates content and makes recommendations to them based off of the personal data that makes up their profiles, their friends, the online interactions they have with their friends, and their real-time location. 
When an individual searches for things on Google, Google then uses the keywords in the search to target the individuals with ads. If a person is looking up videos on Google owned Youtube, Google will use the types of videos that an individual searches for and watches to make other recommendations and suggestions on similar video content they think he or she may enjoy or benefit from as well.
In my opinion, it's not about the money/revenue or the numbers regarding which site has the most unique visitors or users on their sites....it's about which one is more efficient and effective in making every interaction regardless of how large or small more personable and customized based on the individual preferences of each and every particular consumer.