Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How to Create a Successful Visual Social Media Marketing Campaign: Case Study


The band Smashing Pumpkins decided to engage their fans through a visual social media marketing campaign.

How to Create a Successful Visual Social Media Marketing Campaign: Case Study
The campaign was designed to draw in fans by asking various questions about the songs the band was about to release. The fans were asked to design visual representations or texts interpreting various titles.
The social media campaign, titled “Imagine Oceania”, was part of a promotion for the band’s new album “Oceania”. The challenge was initially posted through the photography blog JPGMAG.com and selected artists would have their artwork turned into limited edition posters signed by the band’s lead Billy Corgan, as well as the rest of the Smashing Pumpkins.
Additional fan art was exhibited on the band’s varied social media outlets. These included StorifyPinterest, Twitter and Facebook.

The visual social media campaign was designed to crowd source marketing by asking fans to participate, engage and share on social networks and the band would also reward the artists (their fans) by sharing their work on the band’s Facebook page which provides an audience of nearly 2.5 million fans.

So how can you make this strategy work for you?

 #1. Target Tech Savvy Fans

The band targeted a digitally savvy audience. By posting the challenge on a photography blog, users who are already familiar with digital technology and art will be enticed into competing. Artists who are Smashing Pumpkins fans will want to participate for a chance to be recognized by the band they adore as well.

Below is the Smashing Pumpkins Fan’s images on Facebook for the Imagine Oceania Competition.

Smashing Pumpkins Facebook Page Imagine Oceania Social Media Competition
The key here is targeted marketing. Smashing Pumpkins knows a huge group of their audience are young, smart, and tech-savvy. So they built a communication channel specific for this group. Who are your customers? Can you create specific ways to engage them that takes advantage of their particular skills and likes?

#2. Offer Low Cost Prizes with High Returns

The prizes are valuable but not costly. Fans can have their art printed on demand and signed by the band. This will not cost very much for the band, but fans will appreciate the gesture. Additionally, the recognition received by some of the artists might eventually translate into actual work. There are positive incentives for fans to participate.

You may need to invest heavily in a prize, but don’t make your audience invest heavily. Keep it simple

  1. Have them sign up with an email address and some
  2. Provide basic demographic information.
  3. Ask for a survey response to be entered.

#3. Drive Engagement and Sharing

The campaign was designed to drive engagement and sharing. Fans are engaged by competing, and various blogs and sites across the net publicized the band’s challenge, for free! This is free advertising for the band. Advertising is also being generated by word of mouth. This is the best type of free advertising there is. No one can pay for this type of exposure.

Here is how they shared it on Twitter with a link to their Facebook page.

Smashing Pumpkin Social Media Competition on Twitter for Imagine Oceania

The point here is to make the event as exciting as possible. How can you differentiate your campaign from your competition? Can you involve customers in a way that makes them want to share what they’ve done with their contact base?

#4. Attract an Existing Fan Base

Smashing Pumpkins are making use of an existing fan base. Instead of just making an effort to engage new fans, the band is also renewing interest among its existing fan base. Some fans may not have been active. In fact, many fans may not have thought about the band for quite some time, but engaging an existing fan base can cause former fans to have a renewed interest. In turn, these fans will eventually recruit new fans who will join in the fun.

The power of this technique relies upon the trust built with current and previous customers. You don’t have to court and sell yourself to this group: they already know you. You get to skip the whole process of establishing a relationship.

In Review

In looking at the different social media platforms used, Smashing Pumpkins could have gained more social sharing traction by using Instagram for publishing the fan art and not just the photography blog which is a minor player online.

If you have a look at the bands Instagram account not one of the fans images for the “Imagine Oceania” competition was published on the mobile social platform. This was an opportunity missed as Instagram is a much bigger social media network of over 100 million users. This would have assisted in increasing the success of the campaign.

A good example of leveraging Instagram as a visual social media marketing tool is how General Electric used Instagram successfully to promote their brand.  

A visual social media campaign has the potential to jump start fan interaction exponentially; so learn from Smashing Pumpkins and get your customers excited and sharing images about your business!

FeedBurner: Will Google Shut it Down?



Over the past year or so, Google has been giving us signs that its FeedBurner RSS service is heading into oblivion. Some observations:

    • There is no official Google+ FeedBurner account.
    • In July of this year, Google failed to renew the FeedBurner domain in Japan – feedburner.jp. A listing with Domain Tools indicates the domain is now owned by Satoshi Mito and is now inactive.
    • On July 26th a post on the FeedBurner Blog, known as “AdSense for Feeds” indicated the blog was shutting down because as Google said, “we’re just not generating enough content here to warrant your time, so we won’t be posting here any longer.”
    • On July 26th Google shut down the FeedBurner Twitter account with this message:
    • On October 20th Google shut down the FeedBurner API causing developers who still rely on RSS technology to worry.
    • Google also appears to have stopped offering customer support for FeedBurner. The “Contact Us” email link in FeedBurner no longer works and when I contacted Google I was told “Google doesn’t offer technical or other support for FeedBurner any longer.”
In the event you’ve forgotten how the RSS service works here’s a brief description. Once you connect your RSS feed with FeedBurner, Google caches the feed on its servers and delivers it to those who have subscribed to it. Subscribing to your feed is made easy because an HTML page replaces the XML file in your browser. Owners of the feed may also choose to embed ads in their feeds in order to monetize it. Most importantly, to many, FeedBurner provides a number of statistics such as the number of subscribers and the number of views to your blog posts, for example.
Some argue RSS is “Old School” but developers and podcasters still heavily rely on the service. In September, Dan Benjamin who runs a prominent podcast network, announced he was abandoning ship and moving to another RSS provider.
Many publishers rely on FeedBurner to publish their RSS feeds. It seems to be time to reconsider this as Google appears to be sending clear signs it could pull the plug on FeedBurner any day now. Hopefully Google will give us ample notice before it does pull the plug so we can look into some of the alternatives. Maybe we’ll look at some of those alternatives in a future post.

How to Serve a Balanced Social Content Diet on Facebook and Google+


Balanced Diet
Businesses and organizations have made strides in the last year to improve their overall understanding and strategy in social media. Many who once played in the social media realm using traditional internet marketing techniques such as posting only self-serving links have changed gears and focused on higher-visibility content such as images. Unfortunately, many are still lacking the understanding of how the networks work and how to post properly. It’s like eating. Social media in general likes balance. Facebook and Google+ in particular are most effective when the right balance is created.

They like a balanced diet of content. Both are very similar in the way their algorithms work. Google uses a formula similar to Facebook’s EdgeRank to determine where content appears on the feed. While the strategies surrounding content on each is different, it is better (for now) to post mirrored content on the two networks simultaneously. The main reason for this is human nature; since Facebook has so much more engagement than Google+ right now, splitting the strategies might lead to shortcuts and eventually Google+ will not get the same level of attention. By posting to each together, it simplifies the process and reduces the chance of getting “Google+ fatigue”.

By feeding the networks with the appropriate levels of each type of content, your overall social media strategy can improve. Here’s how:

Understanding the Four Content Food Groups

Just like the food groups comprising a good diet, social media content types have different strengths and weaknesses.


  • Links are like vegetables. Many people don’t like their veggies and wouldn’t eat them if they didn’t have to. They’re healthy, just as links are healthy for your marketing efforts, but they aren’t as desirable as other food types. On Facebook, links are given the lowest “weight” when it comes to EdgeRank. People like them less. The news feed displays them lower (if at all) when your fans surf the stream. Still, they are a necessary component of a strong social media strategy just as they are an important part of a balanced diet.
  • Videos are the starches, the potatoes and grains. They can be very desirable at times but are often merely a side dish to balance out the rest of the food. Videos are treated by Facebook much the way that direct links are, just a bit higher on the news feed.
  • Text posts are the meat of the meal. Many people (other than vegetarians and vegans, of course) love meat. Likewise, both users and EdgeRank put text posts high on the scale. A well-received message posted in the form of text can go almost as viral as the final social media food group…
  • Pictures are the sweets, the dessert that many crave. Just like sweets, pictures are craved by social media users as well as the news feed. They are by far the most popular, but just like with desserts, a diet that consists of only sweet pictures will not be a productive page. There simply aren’t many strong marketing messages that can be conveyed with images alone. Still, they have their place.
  • Now that we know what the food groups look like, let’s examine how to apply them to your social media strategy.

The Balanced Diet

EdgeRank is a complex algorithm that would require a blog post or two in order to convey the basics. The short version is this: EdgeRank determines how high your content appears on the news feeds of your fans. Not all content is created equal. Not all fans are created equal (or rather, different fans’ news feeds will display your content differently). If you play the EdgeRank “game” by mixing up your content, you can develop the appropriate strategy for your business. 

The first thing to understand is thatyour strategy is different from everyone the strategy of other pages. Your goals are different, as are your assets. This is only a guide to help you develop your own strategy. Anyone who has the right “formula” for everyone doesn’t really understand how it all works. 

With the understanding that Facebook and its users love pictures and text, you can start to improve your EdgeRank by getting interaction from your fans using them. Videos are not required; they are not liked by the algorithm as much as images or text and are usually not as effective from a marketing perspective as links. That’s not true for some, but most get more bang for their buck from links. Links, the veggies, are least loved and most useful, so they have their place in the diet as well.

Your strategy should be one that builds up “EdgeRank love” through images and text. Once enough of this love is accumulated, you slide in your links or videos. One common schedule is to post 2-4 images or text for every link or video you posts. If your page is very popular and your content is highly-valued, you can increase the frequency of the links, but keep in mind that even the active and engaging pages have to use links sparingly (if at all).

One trap that pages often fall into is the addiction to likes, comments, and shares. Some would argue that posting only images is the best way to go because even though they aren’t necessarily getting specific messages across, they’re able to keep the brand at the top of the news feeds and therefore get more overall exposure. This is true to some extent, but just as a diet of chocolates and candies tastes good and keeps everyone happy in the short term, long term it can be unhealthy. Too many images makes it to where the links themselves get very little visibility. In essence, they are overpowered by the sweet sugary image mess of your Facebook page.


5 Visual Social Media Tips for Small Businesses


5 Visual Social Media Tips for Small Businesses

(David Lee King) Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr ... even Foursquare, Twitter, and Google Plus. Guess what all these social media sites have in common? They’re all highly visual sites. Each of these social media sites highlights visual content in some way.
Visual-based social media, like photographs, graphic images, and videos, is becoming a highly useful tool for small businesses to use. Visual media is actually pretty easy to create, too. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, and you don’t have to use fancy equipment to get your visual point across to customers.
Here are five tips to help you get started making great visual-based social media:
1) Show off your stuff:
If you are a small business selling a product, this part is easy. Simply take some photos of your products, and post them in the social networks that most of your customers use (most likely, that’s Facebook and Twitter).
Don’t think of these images as some sort of extended product catalog. Instead, share images of new products that you’re excited about. Post the photo, and write a paragraph about the product, too. Share WHY you’re excited about it. Sharing that enthusiasm helps get your loyal customers excited too - especially if they can SEE the thing you are excited about.
Not a product-selling business? That’s ok - images work here, too. For example, if you work for a non-profit homeless shelter, take some photographs of your “product” - the homeless shelter.
2) Show off your Staff
This one’s scary to some, but so helpful. Take some pictures of your staff, and post those photos to your social networks. Most likely, somewhere in your business plan is the idea of creating ongoing relationships with repeat customers, right? One way to do that is to help your customers connect with your business. No one likes to “friend” a coffeeshop ... but people DO like to “friend” Jenny, who’s really nice and makes that amazing soy milk latte for them every Tuesday.
See the idea here? Show your customers the friendly faces behind your business. That helps customers connect with your staff, and therefore, your business. One caveat here - no posed “suit and tie” photos! Also, no “t-shirt and beer” photos either (well, unless you own a sports bar).
3) Get Close
Here’s an important tip. You don’t need to use fancy-schmansy cameras - your iPhone will work fine. But please DO get up close to the person or product you are photographing! Make sure to fill the frame with the image. In many cases, images uploaded to social media sites will be viewed in a small, thumbnail-sized box first. So the subject of your photograph needs to be clearly visible, even at a small size.
So fill the frame, and don’t be afraid to get up close.
4) Great Lighting is Key
Get the best lighting you possibly can! You don’t have to buy expensive studio lighting systems to achieve better lighting (though it certainly doesn’t hurt). Just make sure to use whatever lighting you have to your advantage.
To get better “natural” lighting, try these simple tips: turn on the overhead lights before you take a photo, even if the room you’re in seems brightly lit. Make sure the light is behind you when you take a photo. If you are outside, make sure you (and your camera) have your back to the sun. This way, your subject will be well-lit. If you are inside, put your back to a brightly-lit window. Move a floor lamp closer to the subject.
5) Make your Photos Helpful to Customers
In general, use these visual sharing opportunities to be helpful to your customers and clientele. “Being helpful” might mean any number of things. It could mean sharing a photograph of a new sales rep. If your building has had a recent addition, make sure to to share that with customers. Some companies share photos of how their product works, or how to fix a problem.
Another way to think about being helpful is this - just the act of sharing photographs of products, services, and staff is helpful. You are visually showing your customers the who and what of your organization. When those customers come visit your business, they will already know who to ask for, and what they’re looking for, because you have already shared that information with them. You have made their task (i.e., buying something from your business) that much easier.
So dust off that iPhone lens, get your camera out of the bag on the shelf, and start sharing visually with your customers. Follow these simple tips, and you can start helping your customers and client succeed. And you can start tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

21 Social Media Marketing Tips (Infographic)


Today, businesses define social media marketing in many different ways. Some businesses see it as an extension of offline and online advertising. Others use social media as a way to interact with current customers. But no matter how your business uses social media, there is one thing you should remember: social media is a place to be social.

If your business has a presence on social media, but is not actively communicating with consumers, you could be missing out on reaching potential customers and boosting customer loyalty with those who already follow you on social media. This infographic illustrates 21 social media marketing tips your business should remember in order to get the most out of your social media efforts, and give the most to your fans and followers.



In addition, to illustrate the importance of social media as a marketing tool, a new survey reveals that 47% of U.S. social media users contact businesses on social media for customer service related issues. And, 30% of social media users favor social media over a phone call to resolve these issues.



Social Media: A Reality Check


It’s the new channel, the new trend and everyone and every brand that doesn’t want to be left behind is jumping right on. Needless to say the hype is gaining momentum and believe it or not, has still not peaked. Like everything that is new, exciting and quickly evolving, there are many misconceptions and myths about the Social Media channel. Here are just 5 myths that I would like to dispel. Forgive my tone (I tend to get passionate!).
Social Media Experts: What does it take to be Social Media savvy? Is it a matter of having a Twitter account and tweeting or just pushing out content? I interviewed many candidates that say that they are experts only to find out they know how to post on Facebook and Twitter but have no knowledge of insights and measurement tools. Knowing Facebook and Twitter, oh and let’s not forget LinkedIn,  doesn’t make you an expert. Social media is so much more than those three platforms (!). It’s relating to trends, it’s content creation (blogging) and it’s understanding SEO! It’s integrating landing pages, it’s about engagement and mobile and hey… it’s also understanding website analytics (can you say Google Analytics?)! but mostly it’s about how to maximize return on you’re content.
Social Media is Inexpensive: You can achieve success in less than 15 minutes a day? Really? I’m a firm believer on you “get back” what you put in. So if you only spend 15 minutes a day on your Social Media initiatives, you’ll only get that back in return… or less. Social Media takes time and effort. It’s about social engagement. That means you have to be in tuned to your market’s interests and take advantage of opportunities that daily trends provide. You need to make sure that you contribute value to your audience and your community. To be part of your audience’s inner circle, you must invest the time. So ask yourself: “How much is your time really worth?”
Anyone Can Do It:  This is really part B to the first myth listed above about Social Media Experts. It irks me that people really believe anyone can do it. If you are going to embrace the Social Media Channel, one thing you should assess is how to maximize return on you’re initiative (content). Just like speaking English doesn’t make you a writer and knowing design and Photoshop software doesn’t make you a graphic designer; knowing how to tweet or post to Facebook, doesn’t make you a marketing professional.
Social Media is a Fad: News flash: Social Media is here to stay. It’s a good vehicle to engage your audience and be present during the customer decision making journey. As a business and as a brand, you really need to get your head around that or get left behind. It’s a strong awareness building tool, and if you want to be considered when customers are ready to buy… then you need to be present. Social Media is part of the marketing channels and is here to stay! As such, there needs to be an intended result, a building of strategy and a consistent, constant approach.
Social Media is All You Need: Right now, Social Media is top of mind, constantly on topic, on trend. Does anyone remember when web sites first made their debut into the business world, and hence,  the marketing world. How about online digital advertising? None of these were fads and none of these have disappeared. They have their place in any solid marketing and advertising campaignI believe that Social Media too, will take it’s rightful place in the Marketing Channel Mix – keyword being mix, melody, part of a recipe, etc…
Social Media does not take the place of Marketing. The way I see it, Marketing has always been evolving. It has always had to develop and grow. I know this is a leap, but Marketing had to evolve when television first arrived. Social Media is the new Marketing Evolution.

3 Habits For Managing Your Social Media Footprint

3 Habits For Managing Your Social Media Footprint

"It's incredibly easy these days to get your thoughts out from your brain to the screens of people everywhere, and it's critical you take the time to pause when you feel emotions stirring. It's not just big brands and celebrities who make these missteps. More than ever you are judged by your public persona. Make sure it represents who you are completely, not just in the heat of the moment." —Matthew Arevalo, social media marketer who's worked with T-Mobile, Electronic Arts and AT&T on the importance of using social media efficiently. 
Use self-control. Get off the grid. Curate. These three habits will help you manage your social-media footprint and make you more effective, whether you use the medium for work or pleasure. Here's a functional, easy guide to do just that. 

Self-Control

Icons and avatars give the illusion of anonymity on the Internet because people there aren't shouting to the masses. And they can be free of true identification. Feeling at least somewhat removed from a post makes some more open with opinions, even detestable opinions. The need to self-control, or the lack of it, falls into two types of violators. One has the above habit, using the veil of secrecy to post what they would normally not. The other, is the type that cannot stop themselves from using the Web to surf, procrastinate, and do anything and everything besides what they probably should: Working.
If you fall into this category, and lack appropriate self-control, there's a good app for you, and it's free. Wisely, it's called Self Control. 
The Self Control app limits your use of email and social media, locking you out of designated sites for pre-determined periods, while still giving you broader online access. If you can't stop trolling Facebook to see if your latest update got liked. And if you suffer from both afflictions, ranting anonymously and surfing in dangerous water, this could put you on a much needed time-out.

Go Off The Grid Occasionally

Let's say you're careful about what you post. Very careful. You know about the risks of over-sharing. You're the consummate professional. But, your'e alwaysready to respond. Always available. That can be exhausting, and exhaustion often leads to irritation, which usually ends with embarrassment. 
What to do?
Get off the grid. Fellow RW writer Brian Proffitt recently wrote that knowledge workers should change their always-on mentality and stop answering email after business hours. Why: It improves your mood. Effective workers enjoy what they do. Once overworked, by your boss or your own over-accessibility, your spark and motivation drop severely.
So, take some time off, stow your mobile and get away from it all. My colleague Jon Mitchell did just that for four days. And while his digital detox is probably different from what you'll experience, you can feel the same thing he did: Recharged and re-inspired. Make this a habit and watch your productivity rejuvenate. 

Curation 2.0

The final habit you should employ could be one of the most important of all. Make sense of all the white noise out there. All the voices. How do we filter it all? Turn to curation, a growing, but misunderstood, concept that can save you tremendous amounts of time directing you to what you need to know. 
I like a service called spundge, which helps me filter search results so they are more effective, saving me a ton of time. When you're searching for specific, nuanced topics, this site gives you results in an easy-to-digest format that spares me from Google readers and extraneous searches. Now I spend that time on what I should be doing: Working. 
This habit I can't stress enough, and it's only getting more refined. The next step in curation is personalization.
Personalization is what Facebook mastered from the get-go. Suddenly, each person's online experience was truly personalized. A company called Gravity is moving this concept further. It uses adaptive artificial-intelligence techniques to make news sites, like TechCrunch and CNN Money's iPad app, more individually relevant. Gravity monitors your habits to give you more of what you've looked at before.
And with semantic-analysis abilities, Gravity monitors news and posts for trending topics. If enough people talk or post about an item, that content appears on your home page. 
"Think of it like a reverse search," explained Jim Benedetto, Gravity's chief technology officer. 
He compared his company's service to pioneering adaptive-music player Pandora, which categorizes content fairly granularly and listeners rate songs to influence future content.

Reasons Why Social Media Helps to Improve Your Search Engine Performance


Social networking and media is not a new phenomenon; it has been systematically changing the way we interact for years, giving us more methods of communication between individuals we know and those with like-minded interests. It comes as no surprise, then, that social media can play a key role in expanding a website’s recognition and help permeate social circles where it will be received well. If you have been considering the usage of social media in or for your website but wonder what benefits you will receive, continue reading to find out how this tactic can help increase your visibility.

Search Engines Like Social
Major search engines have been forced to re-adapt their search algorithms to factor in the spread of social content. While not all social networking portals are read by search engines equally, your website most likely will still benefit from such usage as it can help propagate your content in those social circles. By adding ‘Like’ buttons, the ability to re-tweet comments and posts, as well as adding a general social option panel, you can be sure that visitors will be able to share said content without difficulty (Tip: Use Pingler’s Digg Links Checker Tool to see how many links you have on Digg).
More Updates Via Indexing
As mentioned prior, search engine algorithms have been redone to accommodate social media. With this change, search engine spiders will now seek out both static and social content for updates. Having an array of social media options on your website will make sure that search engine spiders and bots regularly frequent your website, giving you the ability to achieve faster indexing after posting a new page or blog. This also impacts the rate at which your content is displayed on search engine result pages (SERPs). This change in social media interaction with search engines makes it vital that you maintain a solid social presence.
Increased Author Ranking
Google has rolled out a feature that allows bloggers and webmasters to associate a website or any blog posts with their Google+ account. Most likely, you already have a Google account and use it for a number of things; why would you not use it for distributing social media? With a verified Google+ profile and strong writing skills, you can gain an automatic bump for all social media content you create and push it to the top of SERPs with this popular social media outlet. This tactic will only work, however, with the Google search system.
Track Social Data Quickly
Using a suite of software such as Google Analytics, you can keep tabs on all social media statistics from one centralized location. While many have paid for services such as these in the past, the revolutionary idea of providing social media data for all is another area that Google has excelled in over the past year or so. You can easily see integrated statistics regarding social media advertising and marketing campaigns alongside all the other vital data you need to know about your site. Being able to use and combine this information into a long-term plan has never been easier!

Monday, October 29, 2012

With Social Media, Honesty Is Always the Best Policy


While brand managers and brand marketers don't necessarily need to dress like Abraham Lincoln - although the stovepipe hat may come back in fashion at some point - they would be wise to adhere to one of his most famous sayings: "Honesty is the best policy." (NOTE: I realize this saying has been attributed to Benjamin Franklin but I grew up believing it was Honest Abe so please don't spoil it for me.)
The context I bring this up comes in the form of online reviews and the writing thereof and the honesty, or lack thereof, within.
Online reviews, in case you didn't know, carry with them a lot of weight, influential weight I might add.
According to the Small Business Search Marketing Survey by American Express OPEN, U.S. small businesses can still count on word-of-mouth as a top way for shoppers to find them. Close behind, however, is the Internet. Local consumers now heavily rely on search engine power when shopping locally.
Earlier this year, Milo, an online product locator, put together a very telling infographic re: the power of online reviews.
  • While word of mouth remains the most popular form of review (82%), over two-thirds (66%) of consumers look to the Internet for research and reviews
  • 85% of consumers used the Internet at least once in the past year to find a local businesss
  • Over three-quarters (76%) of consumers say they either occasionally or regularly use online reviews to determine which business/brand to use
  • Over half (58%) of consumers trust a business that has a positive review
I Get By With A Little Yelp From My Friends
With more than 30 million (and growing) online reviews, Yelp is one of the more popular review sites. So one would imagine any business or brand would love to have positive reviews of their company on Yelp.
Ah but it's not that easy grasshopper. Alas there are some unscrupulous people in the world who try to circumvent the rules and create fictitious positive reviews with the intent of impressing the masses.
So Yelp did its best Redford & Newman impression and ran a sting to try and catch the alleged perpetrators.
From a recent New York Times article:
"A pest control company offered $5 to anyone who would post a review that the business itself had written. The moving company was willing to pay $50 but wanted original copy. An appliance repair shop provided a start: “I really appreciate that the service tech was on time, the problem was solved, everything was cleaned up and he was very professional. Please add 50 or more words,” the shop suggested. It would pay $30.
The highest payment was offered by a jewelry store in San Diego, which said it was forced to solicit reviews after others got away with doing it. “We have noticed that some of our larger, corporate run competitors have been unfairly trying to get reviews written for them on Yelp, which puts us at a disadvantage,” wrote Bert Levi of Levi Family Jewelers. He said he would pay $200 for a review of a new custom-designed ring."
Here is the actual letter the Levi Family Jewelers dispatched to wannabe reviewers:
As a result of being ensnared in the sting, the following warning now appears on the Levi Family Jewelers review page and will remain for the next three months:
You'll notice the word "here" in blue in the last sentence, that is a link to the aforementioned letter Bert Levi sent out to prospective reviewers. In other words, Yelp is not playing around kids. They are dead serious and they will shame any and all brands in a public square (aka the Internet) as a punishment for trying to "game the system" as Eric Singley, Yelp's vice president for consumer products and mobile puts it.
Singley also said that the group of businesses being outed now “is just a sample” of businesses that are soliciting reviews. In other words, this is the proverbial tip of a huge iceberg.

18 Growing B2B Content Marketing Trends to Share


b2b-trends-up-and-right
Every year the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs collaborate on a content marketing survey of B2B marketers. This year’s results are based on responses from 1,416 North American B2B marketers from all industries and all size companies. And just like last year, the adoption of content marketing and the sharing of it using social media continues to grow. We have selected some key data points from the survey and listed them for you below, complete with buttons to share on Twitter and LinkedIn. The complete study is embedded at the end of this post.


1. 91% of B2B Marketers use content marketing  

2. 87% of B2B Marketers use social media to distribute their content  

3. 77% of B2B Marketers use blogs as part of their content marketing  

4. 55% of B2B Marketers believe ebooks are an effective marketing tactic  

5. 83% of B2B Marketers use LinkedIn to distribute their content  

6. 80% of B2B Marketers use Twitter to distribute their content  

7. 80% of B2B Marketers use Facebook to distribute their content  

8. 39% of B2B Marketers use Google+ to distribute their content  

9. 23% of B2B Marketers use Slideshare to distribute their content  

10. 79% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for brand awareness  

11. 71% of B2B Marketers use content marketing for lead generation  

12. 54% of B2B Marketers plan to increase spending on content marketing  

13. 33% of B2B Marketing budgets are dedicated to content marketing  

14. 44% of B2B Marketers outsource their content marketing  

15. 59% of B2B Marketers tailor content to the profile of the decision maker  

16. 64% of B2B Marketers are challenged to produce enough content  

17. 52% of B2B Marketers are challenged to produce content that engages  

18. Only 36% of B2B Marketers believe their content marketing is effective  

via