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How to Use Content Marketing to Grow Your Business

Posted by YM Social on October 26, 2015

y.marketing.colorContent marketing is the reigning king and has been for over a century.


Enter ‘The Furrow’. Unless you were born very early in the last century or even the century before that, you’ve probably never heard of it but it was one of the earliest pioneers of content marketing. First published by John Deere in 1895, it is widely considered to have begun the trend of large companies offering consumers helpful resources geared toward their product owners while piquing the interest of potential consumers in their industry to expand their market share. This, along with other marketing tactics by the company obviously worked because the John Deere company is ubiquitous and hugely successful in the farming, agriculture, and riding mower industries.  It all started being the helpful brand.


Now we fast forward 120 years and content marketing is everywhere, and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, all the moves that Facebook is making places an even larger emphasis on original content.  Last year Facebook changed its algorithm to focus on what it called “high quality” content. If marketers don’t adjust their tactics, they will lose relevence and their audience completely. So what’s a marketer to do? Follow the POES, it always knows!

In this case, POES stands for Paid, Owned, Earned, and Shared Media.

Paid Media – Display ads, banner ads, pay per click search ads, and sponsorships. Paid Media is effective for advertisers because there is a degree of control, scaling, and it can be implemented on demand. Marketers now have another option to grow their brand as the helpful and trustworthy brand that, if done properly, can add a tremendous boost to your marketing efforts.

A big player in this space is the ever-expanding world of Social Advertising that is now available on various social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest. If done correctly (not spammy, too sales driven, or too pushy) they can help all other marketing efforts simultaneously. Remember, you are advertising to people during their free time, when they are talking and connecting to their friends and family. Respect that, and use it to your advantage when crafting your content so they promote your brand through media sharing, (more on that later).


Owned Media – All media assets that your brand owns and controls. Websites, blogs, newsletters, and social media accounts fall into this category.  Major brands are now staffing entire content marketing and editorial teams to manage, steer, and promote their content creation streams online.  Much like ‘The Furrow’ that I introduced you to earlier in this blog, companies now count on this modern content marketing to facillitate brand discovery through social channels and online search. This content informs, engages, and fosters relationships between the brand and customer throughout their lifecycles, so the customer can count on these brands to be the trustworthy authorities in their field.


Earned Media –When your public & media relations earns brand coverage through various publications online and off. When businesses establish a positive brand presence, they create a buzz without having to advertise. They let the news media outlets, bloggers, and their satisfied customers share brand laurels on social media and beyond.  Brands have recently utilized the strength of their social audience by empowering them to share and publish content on behalf of the brand, thus inspiring even greater word of mouth. This can also be done by a tremendous customer service component in your business. We have an instant feedback loop now. A marketer and a company needs to listen closely to your audience. They are trying to help you improve your organization.   Someone complaining online is your opportunity to turn this aggressive complainer, into a company advocate. Earn their respect, and earn them as an amplifier for your brand. Should this case turn into a positive resolution, you can likely turn the client into a case study and use them for testimonials content marketing if they agree to participate in your study.


Shared Media – Where all of the aformentioned marketing efforts come together with the help of your audience. Remember that loud-mouthed disgruntled tweeter turned brand advocate? He will spread your brand’s good word if you use the relationship your brand has fostered with him properly. A company’s social media presence today should be built to make it simpler for fans to share with one another. This is an opportunity to spark conversations regarding your brand through the content you create, publish, share, and promote. In order to for all of these facets of content marketing to work synergistically, your content needs to speak to your audience in the way they want to be spoken to.   This is shared media.  When wanting to leverage shared media content, keep the end user in mind, as well as the actions you would like them to do with your content.  Whether it’s sharing, watching, or engaging through comments, make sure you are creating the right content in the right channels to optimize for shareability.


Remember, when your brand is providing consistent, informative, authoritative, and helpful information, your brand builds trust. The more your audience trusts you, the more they share your content. The more they share your content, the more positive sentiment around your brand is nurtured.  The more positive sentiment around your brand, the more successful your company is as a whole. Content marketing can contribute to the five attributes of successful search engine optimization: QUART: Quality, Uniqueness, Authority, Relevance, and Trust. Do this by utilizing all of the above media, and your brand and audience can work together synergistically to create a holistic marketing machine to drive your business for years to come.

Find your key market segment. Build you brand.  Build your reputation.

One post, tweet, and customer interaction at a time.



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Day 1 Recap: F8 Developer Conference 2015

Posted by YM Social on March 27, 2015

This week, developers met in San Francisco for Facebook’s annual F8 Developer Conference. Here’s what to keep an eye out for 2015!


Facebook’s unveiling spherical video in its News Feed. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that this experience will eventually encompass live broadcasts as well. This move follows YouTube’s 360-degrees videos and Meerkat, the livestreaming app, as these capabilities seem to be the latest trends in videos.

So what does this mean for marketers?  Brands will now have the ability to show a 360-degree point of view on products, events, and tours to make video consumption that much more engaging on social platforms. Multimedia continues to provide the biggest return on engagement, and brands should look forward to including these types of interactions in their marketing campaigns.


Facebook is expanding on their Messenger Platform, which will allow its users to create and post content with third-party tools to help enrich communication on the platform. Users of Messenger will now be able to make content such as GIFs and effects-laden videos to instantly share with friends. “By creating more vivid ways to share, Messenger could differentiate itself from… competing messaging apps” says Tech Crunch.  Also in the works is that Facebook is collaborating with selected partners for business chats, where users can speak directly with brands as well as modify, track or return orders, all within Messenger. Users can also set up confirmation and shipping notices through the platform, where businesses will be able to push notifications through Messenger.

Why is this important? This means that businesses that offer customer support will have the opportunity to provide a more streamline method of addressing user issues and can provide insights into what consumers are buying and what brands they are engaging with to better target ads, further building one-to-one interactions with consumers, which helps build loyalty and advocacy for brands that do this the right way.


Facebook is launching a new real-time Comment Plugin, which will sync live conversations between websites and Facebook pages.  Some of you may remember the older commenting social plugin, but this revamp will let visitors see user comments both on brand sites and on links shared through the platform, a missing feature in previous versions.

Why is this important?  With social communications being a two way street, brands will have the ability to showcase their customer service chops, with a more transparent view of synced comments, making conversations with brands even easier. However, brands and marketers may have to extend their communication guidelines in order to support the potential influx of communications coming their way. The benefit is still huge, as this will help marketers monitor conversations and replies that show up on both platforms, helping to streamline communication processes, as well as  help increase engagement on their channels.

A potential shift in content direction, Facebook now allows users to embed their Facebook videos onto other sites. This seems a little behind, as YouTube and Twitter allowed the embedding of their content a few years back, but this addition helps solidify that video continues to be a big deal.

Why is this important? Arguably, this could be a move from Facebook to continue making strides in creating a “content hub” for users, so they never want to leave the social network.  Boosting their focus on native videos (and their new video ad serving capability), Facebook may be angling their native videos on its platform to compete with YouTube (the second most popular search engine behind Google itself—which also happens to own YouTube), so that FB users can curate their own videos on the social network, may also begin to build a searchable inventory for users to browse videos from, similar to YouTube. This ultimately may lead to more advertising options for video beyond YouTube or other competitors.


Speaking of ads, Facebook is expanding LiveRail to help publishers optimize an assortment of mobile ads within the platform and improves its targeting capabilities. (Read as, Mobile is where the internet is going—so make sure it’s a part of your marketing campaigns!) Some new capabilities help refine targeting, which will include: prioritizing buyers, blocking specific ad categories, real-time reports, and suggestions for optimal inventory pricing.

Why it’s important? Better targeting = better returns on your ad spend.


Lastly, Facebook launches Analytics for apps. It’s a tool to help marketers who want better target campaigns based on accumulated data. The tool will give users a web dashboard to see how apps are performing in engagement and conversion rates.

Remember, this is just Day 1 of #F82015! We’ll see what Day 2 brings…


Images via TechCrunch: http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/25/everything-you-need-to-know-from-todays-facebook-f8-announcements/


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ymarketing’s Top 10 iPad Apps

Posted by admin on September 20, 2012

With all the hype around the iPhone 5 release, we didn’t want the iPad to be left out of the spotlight. As marketers, we’ve come to find that the iPad has been a handy tool in helping our team be efficient and well connected with what’s going on in the internet world.


So we wanted to know, what are the ymarketing staff’s 10 applications for the iPad?
Based on our survery, we built a list of the Top 10 “must have” iPad apps featured below.


Even though the list contains mostly apps for social networking and entertainment, we learned that some of our staff find the following iPads applications useful for work: SEO Web Tools, PlainText, Starbucks (yes this is a work related app!), and NYTimes.


See how you compare with our employees by checking out the complete list below and let us know which apps you would have included with a comment below!






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Facebook Email Changes

Posted by admin on June 26, 2012

Recently, Facebook has replaced the email address that is shown on your profile to the Facebook email address they have provided for you.

Here are some easy steps to change it back:

1. Go to your profile

2. Click on About

3. Click Edit on Contact Info

4. Your email information will look like this:

 FB Change 1

5. On the Facebook provided email address you can press “Hidden from Timeline”

6. Any email addresses that you would like to keep public, you can select “Shown on Timeline”

7. For security purposes, if you would only like your friends to be able to see your email address, then click the silhouettes of the heads and choose “Friends”:
 FB Changes 2

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5 Facebook Facts for Marketing Brand Pages

Posted by admin on May 23, 2012

In Facebook’s recent report, Best Practices for your Page and Media Strategy, they outlined some key rules to follow in order to get the most engagement your posts.  We read through it and found some useful information; alongside the not-so-subtle “advertise more on Facebook” undertones. The guide is broken down into 5 main points. To save you time, we’ve summarized these “5 Facebook Facts for Marketing Brand Pages” below. 

1.  Get the basics down

Keep the posts under 250 characters so that it is easier for the fan to read. Consistency is key.  Release similar content on the same day of each week.  It’s comforting for fans to know that when visit the brand page, there will be something familiar. Ex: posting a tip every Thursday, uploading a new video every Monday morning, or during a promotion announcing the winner every day at the same time (this can also help drive more people back to the page daily).

Also, it’s important to find the times of the day that get the best engagement rates. Facebook included a graph when different age demographics are most active on the internet. One thing we noticed was the dramatic dip of people Age 18-24 in the early AM (after a long night?); contrasted with most of the other age groups who seem to “wake up to Facebook” around this same time. You can also see that while weekends tend to shift activity about an hour later, use per age group is fairly consistent 7 days a week.FB Chart Weekday resized 600FB Chart Weekend resized 600


2.  Be specific and relevant

Talk as if the fans already know your brand.  Besides a promotion, fans usually ‘like’ a page because they are a genuine fan.  Including a current event or mentioning a holiday can increase engagement rates on a post by 90%. Know what your fans are interested in.  Try sharing articles that they would care about (it’s not about you!).  Sharing articles and posts, and “tagging” other brand pages, are also a good way to reach a larger audience and increase engagement.

3.  Make a visual impact

Photos, photos, photos. Attaching a picture in a post usually generate 100-180% more engagement than a non-visual post.  Images with bright colors or a clear close up focus do better.  Produce visual content that can be recognized as instantly as the brand.

4.  Craft compelling content

Find the voice for the page and always stick to that persona. Be the expert of your field. People come to the Facebook page because it is one of the easiest ways for a customer to directly contact a brand.  Keep in mind that fans are 2x more likely to be loyal to the brand in real life, so reward them.

And lastly, sweepstakes and promotions. They build a larger fan base, increase a page’s reach by participants sharing that they have entered. Promos can also drive users to the brand page every day for winner announcement and new entries.

5.  Get your audience involved

Strive for fan feedback through engagement.  This includes likes, comments, shares, polls and fill-in-the-blanks, which generate 90% more engagement than the average text post.  The posts should include a call to action.  Tell your fans what you would like to do with a particular post.  Also, include your fans on your page by sharing ideas or questions from them.

What Do You Think?

Did you read Facebook’s report? What did you learn? What else have you found that works well for Facebook engagement? We’d love to hear from you; please comment and share your thoughts.


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Exclusive: Google & Microsoft CEOs Speak Out on Facebook IPO Frenzy

Posted by admin on May 18, 2012

facebook-ipo-microsoft-googleHidden beneath the pure shock and awe of Facebook’s record-setting IPO are some fantastic storylines…stuff Hollywood couldn’t even imagine. Sure Mark Zuckerberg is now the 24th wealthiest individual in the world and yes, by raising $16-18 billion dollars in Facebook’s $100 billion IPO this ranks among the highest offerings in U.S. History, alongside GM and Visa.

But the real narrative is the story behind the story, known intimately only by a select few. Many of us are familiar with the juicy relationship storylines between former Facebook CFO Eduardo Saverin, Zuckerberg, and Sean Parker from the depiction in “The Social Network” movie. It’s what made the movie compelling. Well, are you ready for the sequel?

Watching Conan O’Brien’s appearance on The David Letterman show the night before the Facebook IPO, we were fascinated by the “inside” jokes shared between the two Jay Leno rivals. The adverserial relationship and disdain for Leno was DEEP! So we found ourselves wondering, what did Sergey Brin and Larry Page think of this entire Facebook IPO craze? What about other Internet titans of tech CEOs like Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and Apple’s Tim Cook.

So…our ymarketing reporters tracked down these men for an in-depth interview. Read on to hear what they told our intrepid reporters:

Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft:


YM: Microsoft’s $240 million investment in Facebook in Oct ’07 is now worth as much as $1.4 billion; can you comment that incredibly profitable investment?

SB: “Ahhhhhhhhh!”

YM: Okayyy. At the time you made that investment more than four years ago, Facebook’s worldwide users were 50 million and U.S Visitors 30.6 million/month; but today those numbers have ballooned to 900 million users and 159 million visitors. What do you think that growth means to competitors like Google?

SB: “Ahhhhhhhhh!”


Larry Page & Sergey Brin, Google Founders:

google-facebook-ipoYM: Back in 2007 when Microsoft invested $240 million in Facebook for a 1.6% stake many thought it was an over-valued gamble. But it’s widely known that Facebook chose to take Microsoft’s money over Google’s. Looking back, how disappointed are you that Google didn’t win that investment bid in FB?

LP: “Are you asking me if we’d like to have another $1+ billion? Heck yeah! But we’ve made 61 acquisitions or investments since that time and we are sure one of them is bound to do better than Facebook. We think Like.com ($100 mil deal) and Slide.com ($228 mil deal) should be household names any day now.

YM: Like.com, oh we get it now. This sets the stage perfectly for a fun lawsuit between the two companies. At any rate, Sergey, when you realized that with this IPO Mark Zuckerberg’s $19+ billion net worth made him the 24th wealthiest person in the world–displacing yourself and Larry–what was your reaction?

SB: “So what, it’s just a few hundred million. When Google+ passes Facebook we’ll see who has the last laugh.”


Jeff Bezos, CEO Amazon:

amazon-bezos-facebookYM: A great deal has been made about Mark Zuckerberg’s $19+ billion net worth and how it made him the 24th wealthiest person in the world, displacing Sergey Brin and Larry Page from Google. But Zuckerberg also passed you on that list, didn’t he? Did he not, sir?

JB: “Well what did Sergey and Larry say to you about it?” 

YM: They weren’t happy. We could tell by their expressions. But they did say Google+, Like.com and/or Slide.com would take off any day now.

JB: “What? They own Like.com? LOL! That’s gotta be a fun lawsuit between them.”

YM: Yeah, right! That’s what we said. But Mr. Bezos, can we call you Jeff? Jeff, back to the question: How does it feel to be looking up to Zuckerberg on that Billionaires Mount Olympus?

JB: “Let’s play a word association game. What do you think of when I say, ‘cloud’?”

YM: Ok, we see where you are going Jeff. Amazon’s investment in the cloud is like investing in digital real estate. You now own the best waterfront server-space property in the world. Someday, all these companies are going to have to pay you to do business. Right?

JB: “Well yeah, but no. When I say ‘cloud’ I think of the sky, of the infinite unknown, of my BlueOrigin space exploration project. You see, what we’re doing is … “

YM: Uh, sorry Jeff, gotta run…bye.


Tim Cook, CEO Apple:

facebook-apple-cookYM: What does the Facebook IPO mean to Apple and its business?

TC: “We think it’s great. The more people that use Facebook, the more they’ll want our iPhones and iPads. Our stock should rise with theirs.”

YM: Looking into the future, are you worried about Facebook’s power?

TC: “Facebook, MySpace, Pinterest, Digg…these properties will come and go but all of them need a user platform. We believe ours is second to none. The future? We all know it’s in mobile smart phones. And it’s not like Facebook has a fPhone!” 

YM: Actually, the prevailing opinion is that Facebook will launch a mobile phone this year with HTC. Perhaps, this IPO was actually designed mostly to fund that launch?

TC: “WTF!? They’ve gotta a phone now! What’s next, Facebook-Skype chats that are far better than our Face Time? [YM reporter raises eyebrow, pausing] Wait a minute…dang! Well, we still have Siri, right? [YM reporter takes long pause] Oh no, you don’t think Microsoft is going to help them with voice command technology do you? Ah, come on!” 

YM: So you know we’ve been talking to the other Internet tech titan CEOs about Mark Zuckerberg’s $19+ billion net worth and how it made him the 24th wealthiest person in the world, above them. How did it feel for you?  

TC: “How much are all those guys worth? Did you say nearly $20 billion? Are you kidding me? Our stock is up nearly $200 since I took over and these billionaire’s companies have a fraction of our revenue. This interview is over.” [Picking up phone, TC: “Margie, get my agent on the phone, now!] 


This blog quite obviously uses the names of public figures for purposes of satire. The content of this post should in no way be construed as factual. It is a work of fiction.

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How to Improve Your Consumer Products Facebook Advertising Results

Posted by admin on December 20, 2011

Facebook advertisingAn August 2011 report from The Pivot Conference showed more than 85 percent of companies surveyed are now using social advertising or are planning to add it within the next year and of those surveyed, over 90 percent advertise on Facebook. Add to that the fact that Facebook now outranks Google as the site with the most overall users and hits per day and it’s little wonder that nearly two thirds of CEOs say they are satisfied with the results of their social media advertising.

However, not all is rosy with Facebook advertising.

Webtrends reported recently that Facebook’s 2010 click-through rates were actually down from 2009. 

Nonetheless, eMarketer estimates that Facebook advertising will reach $2.19 billion this year in the U.S. alone.  Many industry watchers believe Facebook’s value is rising, despite historically unimpressive numbers.  

Fast and Easy Ad Creation on Facebook

Using Facebook’s ad platform means you don’t have to be a designer.  However, content is crucial because space/characters are very limited, so you need a compelling call to action. Depending on your business objectives, from the ad you can link to your Facebook Business Page or an external landing page.

As with other major online advertising, you bid on Facebook ad placements, choosing cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM).  Once you assign a bid rate, campaign time-frame and maximum spend per day or per campaign, you’re good to go.  

Facebook’s Advertising Performance reports on impressions, clicks, CTRs, amount spent and so on.  Responder Demographics show details about who’s viewing or interacting with our ad, and daily graphs are available.  And to monitor results to an outside website, you can use Google Analytics.

While it’s fairly easy to create an ad, making them effective is not quite so easy.

4 Ways to Improve Your Results on Facebook

1. Understand your audience

Industry expert Perry Marshall likens Google AdWords to the Yellow Pages and Facebook advertising to the neighborhood coffee shop.  The reason for being on Facebook is entirely social, and this underscores the need to understand your audience and your goals.  Perry offers a quiz to help estimate the value of Facebook advertising.

2. Take advantage of Facebook segmentation and create custom advertisements

Facebook’s tremendous opportunities for micro-targeting offer almost endless demographic and psychographic filters.  Once you determine the audience you want to reach, filter them through ZIP codes, job titles, employer, interests, “likes,” etc.

Because your audience is on Facebook for social reasons, ad quality and design matter.  Make your ads striking.  Include an image, skip typical ad jargon and get friendly (it’s Facebook). Rotate more than one ad to avoid “ad blindness.” Check out Marketing Sherpa’s detailed advice for creating and targeting your ad.  

3. Make your ad “Likeable”

Make your ad “Likeable” in both senses of the word.  You want viewers to like your ad enough to click on it, but you want them to literally like it, too, to get broader exposure to their friends and via a News Feed mention.  

Linking to a destination within Facebook lets people “Like” the page, specific activity, etc. from the ad, connecting them with your page or activity.  This increases your CPC benefits.

4. Test, Test, Test

Testing produces success.  With good testing your can learn infinite valuable information about your audience and finely target ads based on what’s working best.  Test to find the strongest headlines and other messaging, images, time of day to run the ad, geographic locations and other target details, etc.  Test multiple ad variations, changing just one thing at a time.  

Be sure to set goals and objectives for your advertising, so you have something concrete to measure against.  Once you’ve developed an ad that converts well, you should consider switching to cost-per-impression rather than CPC. It could save you money.

Facebook may be by far the largest, but Facebook advertising still has some distance to go before it’s on a par with the other “big boys.”  But there is plenty you can do right now to make Facebook advertising work for you. 

We’d love to hear from others out there who have had increasing success with Facebook advertising.  What worked best for you? 

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Monday Morning Social Media Quarterback – Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard Snapshot

Posted by admin on February 7, 2011

All the pundits are voicing their opinions about the winners and losers of this year’s Super Bowl ads. These monday morning media quarterbacks have already assigned touchdowns to some and negative yards to others. That’s all well and good, but for us their score should not be based on subjective opinions.

With all of the potential measurements that are out there, as a digital marketing agency we think it’s time Super Bowl ads were judged on the online playing field. That’s why we’re in the middle of crunching the numbers for ymarketing’s Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard report which will measure the impact of Super Bowl ads on social media, brand awareness and Internet traffic.

And what better time than this Super Bowl, which scored the best overnight metered TV ratings (47.9 household rating/71 share) since the 1987 Super Bowl.

While our report won’t be ready for a few more days, for you couch potatoes out there here are some tasty snacks of data that you can munch on.

Social Media Activity – Facebook likes and Ad Meter Ratings

Is there a relation between a focus group and social media activity?  Here is snapshot we took Monday around noon Pacific time of the top 5 commercials that received the highest Ad Meter scores* and the corresponding Facebook ‘likes.’ 

Top 5 Rate Commercials for Super Bowl 2011



Story Line / Title of Ad

*Ad Meter Scores

Facebook Likes

1 Bud Light Dog Sitting Party 8.35 840
2 Doritos

Pug Goes for Chips

8.35 2,000
3 Volkswagen Young Darth Vader  7.95 2,000
4 Doritos Housitter Brings Back Grandpa from Ashes                   7.68 1,000
5 PepsiMax Love Hurts Can to the Head 7.56 1,000

Super Bowl 2011 Social Media and Ad Meter Ratings ymarketing

* Here is how Ad Meter works – USA Today carefully selected 282 adult volunteers in Bakersfield, CA, and McLean, VA. and electronically charted their second-by-second reactions to ads during the Super Bowl. Volunteers used handheld meters to register how much they liked each ad and  a computer continuously averaged the scores. 

So what does this snapshot tell us? Not that much except that the focus group’s higher scores generally had more Facebook likes (The numbers are still changing, so to see the most current, go to the USA Today site).

To get a better idea, you need to look at a lot of numbers. Let’s look at some numbers for one brand.

BRAND: Chevrolet

 FREQUENCY- YouTube Video Views

Chevy had 12 Super Bowl Ads with the higest viewed video receiving of over 350,000 views for the Chevy Cruze. Here are the results in a snapshot.




1 Misunderstanding Cruze 354,483  
2 Miss Evelyn Camaro 291,095  
3 Al’s Chevy Dealearship Camaro 252,409  
4 Facebook Status Cruze 290,483  
5 Tommy Silverado 195,892  
6 Discovery Volt 175,918  
7 Glee See the USA 54,233  
8 Chevy Runs Deep 58,225  
9 Socket Fuel – Volt 45,539  
10 Remote Control Cruze 26,859  
11 Glee Behind the Scenes 26,466  
12 Clean Energy Volt 12,921



Right below are real-time conversations taking place on the Chevy brand online right now.

Chevy post super bowl 2011 internet activity
Here is a snapshot of the overall internet activity for Chevy over the last week. The spike in activity was on Feb 6th Super Bowl Sunday.

chevy internet 1 6Feb
A snapshot of the hour by hour activity on Chevy today Monday February 7th.

chevy internet activity post super bowl sunday 2011

These views and numbers show clearly that there was increased buzz about the Chevy Cruz, demonstrating initially that the ads had a positive impact on their potential buyers.

This is the kind of information that we will be looking at when we write out Super Bowl Social Brand Scoreboard report.

We’ll see how much a call to action (like those from the GoDaddy TV ads) caused an increase in web traffic and social media chatter. 

What were your favorite Super Bowl 2011 commercials? What was it about them that was appealing to you?  To see them all take a look at them on YouTube’s adblitz Channel

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Facebook Sponsored Stories – Good or Bad for Digital Marketing?

Posted by admin on February 1, 2011

Recently, Facebook introduced its Sponsored Story Ads.

As with all things Facebook does, there are those in digital marketing who love their new offerings and those who are critical. We’ll let you know what we think at the end of this post.

First, for those who don’t know what a Sponsored Story ad is, here is an explanation.

Sponsored Story FacebookFacebook says that Sponsored Stories are word-of-mouth recommendations about brands that come from your News Feed. Examples of the types of stories that can be surfaced in Sponsored Stories include: Page Likes, Page posts, app interactions and Place check-ins. For example, if your friends like a Page, in addition to seeing that story in your News Feed, you may see the same story on the right-hand column on Facebook.

Facebook Sponsored StoryThese Sponsored Stories will appear on the right hand column of your friends’ pages, the same location as other Facebook ads.

So what’s the big hoo-ha about this?

ZDNeT says that Sponsored Stories is turning its users into spammers. “With this new program, now it’s not just your profile info tab being poached to give advertisers context for their Facebook adverts, it’s also your activity that is now being regurgitated INTO an actual ad, with your personal name associated with it for all to see.”

On Mashable, David Berkowitz mentions the video that Facebook created for this program.

In the video Facebook justifies its actions by saying “Anything that one of your friends is seeing as a Sponsored Story which features some of your content is actually something they would have already seen in their News Feed.” Berkowitz finds this galling. He says that a Sponsored Story is a “brand paying to promote something I said or did, outside of the moment and context in which I did it.”

The biggest issue that many have is that there are no opt-out options. If you “like” a company, you have in essence agreed to let that company promote your ‘endorsement’ or ‘recommendation’. And not just to anyone, but to your friends.

More Than a Recommendation

Sponsored Story Endorsement FacebookTo us, Sponsored Stories is not just a word-of-mouth recommendation. This is Facebook’s version of three marketing tactics rolled into one – A testimonial, a recommendation and an endorsement.

In the past, best practices for using testimonials, recommendations or endorsements called for asking permission first. Anyone who has tried to get testimonials knows that people appreciate the “permission” aspect, and most self respecting companies would never think to use someone’s name without getting their permission first.

We don’t know if Facebook has thought this through, but what happens when a celebrity ‘likes’ something and it gets promoted. Usually a celebrity receives monetary compensation for an endorsement. Will the celebrity force the company to pay for this Sponsored Story endorsement?

Short Term Gain at the Expense of Long Term Growth

While this program may at first glance benefit companies that want to use it, we wonder what the long term impact will be, especially on companies’ social media marketing efforts to increase their fans on their Facebook pages.

For example, I may ‘like’ many different companies, but I don’t necessarily want to actively promote that. With Sponsored Stories my actions are not only being followed through my normal feed, but now are being promoted without my knowledge. If I know this, will I be more hesitant to become a fan or try an app? All of this will cause more anxiety behind deciding whether to ‘like’ something or not, and it could eventually slow down the growth of fans on a company’s Facebook page.

There is also concern among many about privacy issues. Facebook says “only people who are eligible to see your News Feed story are eligible to see it as a Sponsored Story.” For example:

1. Jane’s privacy settings allow her friends to see News Feed stories about Pages she likes.

2. Jane likes the Starbucks Page.

3. Jane’s friend John can see a story about Jane liking the Starbucks Page in News Feed.

4. Because of this, John may see the same story on the right hand side of pages on Facebook.

In other words, whatever privacy controls you have, that will continue to be respected. Except now, your actions will be promoted more by a company without your permission. 

Here We Go Again – Opt-in vs. Opt-out

Another way to look at this is by remembering the opt-in vs. opt-out debate of email marketing. At this point, email best practices call for a company to offer an opt-in button rather than making someone opt-out.  

Only Facebook has taken the opt-in/opt-out on step further. There is no opt-out;  and this is why there are claims that Facebook is sponsoring its own form of spam.

As stated by eConsultancy, Facebook is no stranger to lawsuits. Project Beacon which combined social actions from your friends – such as a purchase of a product or review of a restaurant – with an advertiser’s message, was hit by a class action lawsuit.

We feel as Berkowitz and CDNet do that there needs to be at least an opt-out option, not just for the benefit of Facebook users, but for the companies that want to use Sponsored Stories. If the whole idea of Sponsored Stories is to show an alliance between a company and your friends, promoting an implied endorsement or recommendation, then the last thing a company wants is to have that backfire.

So what do you think? Would you try a Sponsored Story ad? Do you think it will help or hurt your fan page growth?

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