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May 10, 2011

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How to Use the Facebook Page Photo Strip as a Marketing Tool

April 27, 2011

Do you display photos on your Facebook business page wall?  If not, you’re missing out on a golden opportunity to create a unique marketing message with those 5 images.

Every time you upload a photo to your page, it will display at the top of your wall. You then have the option of keeping it there, or hiding it from view. Every time someone visits your wall, the images will be displayed in a different order – so don’t count on them to stay fixed like they do on a Facebook personal profile.

Just because the images change their order, doesn’t mean you can’t be creative with the message you display. Here is one example from Oreo:

You can clearly see their product, and Oreo even includes a call to action with the Facebook “like” image.

Here are a few simple steps and rules to follow so you can create your own branded photo strip:

1. Image Choice: Come up with 5 images that will display well in random order.

2. Image Size: Images that work best are horizontal and scaled to 97 x 68 pixels. You’ll need to create an image that size, or make sure it scales and crops well to that size.

 3. Create Photo Album: Create an album for your images so they can be kept separate from other content.

4. Upload Images: Upload 5 images to your album, and they will automatically display in the photo strip as the most recent uploads. You can choose whether to publish the images or not for fans to comment.

5. Image Upkeep: Remember to hide any new images you add to your wall or other photo albums in order to keep your core 5 photo strip images in view.

You can choose to include a text message in the images you display too. You can use one word per image, as long as you don’t mind if the words get mixed up. Or include a call to action on an image, and in the description, add a link to your website so your fans have somewhere to go.

How to Drive People Away from Your Facebook Page

April 19, 2011

Facebook can be a great branding tool for your business, but you can drive people awayfrom your page if you engage in some of these behaviors:

1. You’re the only one posting. If you don’t let others post on your page, what’s the point? This is a “social” networking tool. Let your fans into the party! Encourage their participation.

2. Posts are once a week or less. The key to developing relationships on Facebook is consistency. If you post only once or week, or even less frequently than that, your target audience will forget about you, since your posts aren’t showing up in their news feeds.

3. Comments are ignored. When someone takes the time to comment on your page, the least you can do is acknowledge it. If you never reply to questions, comments or concerns, there’s no reason for your fans to stick around.

4. Post the same specials over and over again. While a little repetition can be a good thing, posting the same special offer five times a day, five days in a row will turn off even your most devoted fans. Aim for a mix of content – blog articles, photos, events and special discounts.

5. You provide a great variety of content, including discounts, contests, how-to articles, etc. Yes, that’s correct. Even when you do everything “right” on Facebook, you are going to lose some fans. ExactTarget.com did a study called “The Social Break-up”and found that 38% of consumers “unliked” a Facebook page because they got bored, and 26% “unliked” because they were only interested in a one-time offer. Even more confusing: 24% “unliked” a page because the company didn’t offer enough deals, while another 24% “unliked” because the posts were too promotional.

What lesson can we learn here? Consumer expectations are divided, so it’s wise to strike a balance that satisfies both groups, while not coming on too strong either way.

Online Retail Therapy Comes to Steinmart.com

April 18, 2011

Finally Stein Mart wised up and launched a new website with online ordering. It’s hard to believe in the year 2011 until very recently Stein Mart didn’t offer online ordering! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to their website hoping to be able to find something online because I didn’t have time to get to the store. Each time I’ve left disappointed and ended up ordering online from somewhere else.

The challenge of online ordering for discount stores like Stein Mart, TJ Max and Marshalls generally has to do with the variation of merchandise from store to store. When the type and quantity of merchandise varies from store to store it is hard to centralize sales. I get that. But I’ve been convinced there had to be a way around it. I guess someone figured it out!

I received an email about the launch of the new website (yes email marketing still works) and as a reward for entering the 21st century in website design I was more than happy to order a new red blouse!

What does your Website need to move forward? Here are a few things to consider:

1. Content Management System (CMS) – A good website must be up-to-date. You can’t do that when every change has to be made by the web company that hosts the site. Unless they are incredibly responsive (which is rare) there is always a delay from the time you call or email and the change is made. In today’s 24-7 cable news, text message, online ordering world everything happens so FAST! Your web updates should be no exception. Further, the most effective websites are personalized with photos, videos and copy that reflect what is currently happening in the organization (not photos from a holiday party six months ago). A web company can’t add that kind of content for you. They don’t know what happens on a daily basis like you do. You’ll save a lot of time and money if you invest in a CMS administrative system to make your changes. Depending on the complexity of the CMS it may not cost that much more. Ask the question next time you build a new website and investigate your options thoroughly. Meredith Communications has several CMS options from very simple text editing to a full database system customized for specific industries.

2. Video – I have the privilege to review anywhere from 15 – 20 Google Analytics reports a month. After 10 years of reviewing these reports I can authoritatively tell you what works and what doesn’t on a website. I base my website design and development recommendations on the analytics data. One thing I consistently see is that web visitors LOVE videos. If the video is done right, not to stuffy, fun with a sense of humor but still informative, then it will be one of the top content items viewed.

3. Social Networking & Blog Integration – The time for skepticism about social networking and blogging is OVER. And I fully admit early on I was a skeptic. (Hi, my name is Meredith and I’m a recovering social media skeptic!) One of my clients, a small business owner, emailed me yesterday exclaiming from the rooftop “Blogging WORKS!” She just closed a $6,000 piece of new business because the client regularly reads her blog and therefore became convinced she was the best company for the job. Nice! Your website and your social networking tools like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn need to be integrated into your site. Visitors to your site need to know how to find you on those sites and they should be able to see from your website your latest posts. In addition, your blog needs to be integrated into your website (all the more reason to have a CMS that supports a blog). Integration creates synergy and synergy creates sales.

Is your website stuck in the ’80s with big hair and parachute pants? What do you need to do to move forward online and attract more customers? What are your favorite retail websites and what do they offer to make you a fan?

We want to hear from you!

Can Twitter Save LIVE TV?

April 15, 2011

My new guilty pleasure is tweeting during TV shows. 

I am a mom of a three-year old who has to be in bed early so I’m not exactly out partying every night. Tweeting while watching TV shows is fun and I feel connected with the rest of the world. I have several “friends” (most of whom I’ve never met in person) who have similar TV watching habits and we tweet back and forth with our pithy (never mean) comments chatting away as if we are sitting on the sofa next to each other. (When in fact I’m in my sweats from Target with no make-up on!) If you want to join the party you can find me on Twitter @creatingwow.

You may hate reality TV shows and you may hate Twitter. I get it. But stick with me here because as usual I’m looking for business applications and my thought process may spawn an even better idea for your business model.

I’ve found it’s no fun to tweet while watching the DVR recording of a TV show because no one is watching at the same time. As a result, for the first time in a long time I am looking forward to and watching LIVE TV. It’s hard sitting through the commercials but it is a perfect time to catch up on the latest tweets and send out a couple of comments about the last segment.

This made me think…

Can Twitter save LIVE TV?

Before I really got into Twitter I NEVER watched LIVE TV. Ever. Which means I rarely saw or heard a commercial.

What if “Must See TV” turned into “Must See & Tweet TV?” Genius!

If TV exec’s and brand marketers could figure out how to tie TV and Twitter together must see LIVE TV might just make a come back. That would be huge for the advertising industry.

Certainly web enabled TV’s will help bring Twitter streams to the forefront as they become the standard TV in most households. Whether you like him or not, Charlie Sheen figured out how to combine media interviews, YouTube videos and Twitter into a massive following setting a Guinness Book of World Record for “Fastest Time to Reach 1 Million Followers.” Mashable, March 3, 2011

There may be a direct application here for business owners, sales people and marketers on how to implement a TV and Twitter combo to get people talking and purchasing your product or service.

But what I’m really thinking is that this phenomenon is really an example of how new technology makes old technology new again. It’s a lot like what QR codes* have done for print ads and signs. QR codes are a version of a bar code with an embedded link to a webpage. When you take a picture of the QR code with your smartphone it launches your smartphone web browser and loads the embedded website link. Voila! Offline, traditional marketing is suddenly new again.

Look for new digital marketing ideas like Twitter and QR Codes and find ways to update your traditional marketing. Just because a marketing tactic is “traditional” doesn’t make it ineffective, but it may need a digital makeover to enhance the effectiveness.

What’s your TV/Twitter magic formula? Tweet me your ideas!

*For basic information on QR Codes – click here


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