August 27th GRSM Meeting

August 25, 2009

This month’s Grand Rapids Social Marketing event will be held at the Western Michigan University downtown location at 12pm on Aug. 27th. WMU is located at 200 Ionia Ave SW Grand Rapids, MI. (map)

We will be having a panel discussion, a variety of individuals will be up front, giving a small intro and then opening the floor up for a group wide question and answer period.  If the Q/A goes well we may just continue for the rest of the time, or, like usual, break into smaller groups and start a discussion of different methods and different platforms. This type of event is great for those that are just beginning with social media or those that are knee deep in the social marketing pool.

This event will be a little different than others, Outside food is not allowed, so please make arrangements to eat before you come or after.  Founder’s and Ritz Koney are both local places, along with many others. Come on out and invite a friend or co-worker that may have some interest. Spread the word and lets make this our largest event so far.

Again we will be live streaming the event for those that can not attend, the stream can be found in the Tools tab up above. Also see the sidebar to follow us on Twitter.

Thanks.


Establishing Brand Presence with Facebook [Jonathan Seely]

April 29, 2009

Establishing Brand Presence on Facebook

Facebook, initially created as a personal social network, has in recent incarnations become popular among marketing professionals for its potential for brand exposure.  With a growth rate of 600,000+ users per day the potential audience for brand exposure is staggering, to say the least.

Facebook has two primary outlets for creating a presence for your brand: “Groups” and “Public Profile” (formerly “Fan Pages”).

Facebook Groups

The first and oldest method, Groups, have almost existed from Facebook’s 2004 inception.  Groups work exactly as their name would imply.  They serve as a medium for a community of people to express a common interest.
Groups have received little change in functionality or appearance since their initial deployment.  Features are limited to a basic discussion thread for users, and a “wall” for users to write on.  While these features are important, they do not provide much value to users outside of the ability to communicate on a rudimentary, primitive level.

In addition to the limited (and limiting) features of Groups, the landing page a user is greeted with is relatively sparse and stagnant.  Activity within the group from administrators and other users is not accurately reflected, as discussion threads are somewhat hidden and users must scroll down to view wall postings.

What this amounts to is that users are not actively invited to engage with the group.  There is no call to action, and no invitation to share information—both of which are vital to the existence and growth of any online community.  Users must be invited to connect with your brand, and must be actively invited to participate.

Facebook Public Profiles (aka, Fan Pages)

The newest outlet for brand presence is Facebook’s Public Profiles.  Originally called Fan Pages, Public Profiles have evolved drastically and dramatically from their inception several years ago.  Originally, Fan Pages copied much of the functionality of Groups, with little differentiation or added value.  Since then, Public Profiles have undergone at least two major functionality changes,. The latest change giving Public Profiles most of the same features and appearance of a personal Facebook profile.

The key differentiation between Fan Pages and Groups can be summed up as dynamic vs. static content, which comes largely from the ease of information sharing.  Fan Pages immediately greet users with a call to action. Users land on the Fan Page wall, greeted with a text box, link-sharing features and a call to action that simply reads: “What’s on your mind?”  This actively encourages users to share links, thoughts and comments.

One of the other key features of Public Profiles is content and activity showing up in user news feeds.  This keeps the user actively engaged and encourages return visits to the Fan Page.  Groups do not have the ability to publish “status updates”, which limits communication from administrators to messaging, which is far less engaging.  Through status updates, administrators and fans can share links, videos, notes and just about any other online medium.

Public Profiles also allow for the integration of Facebook Applications, as with any other user profile.  This opens a realm of possibilities for user engagement, as there are applications for games, quizzes, photo sharing and tons of others.  At this time, there is still some kinks to be worked out as applications often do not fully work with Public Profiles, but given the potential I believe it will not be long before the issues are fixed and a whole host of applications become available for use with Public Profiles.

Administrators also have the ability to import RSS feeds from a blog, which is then published as a note, which in turn shows in user news feeds and once again engages users and actively reminds the user of both the brand and the blog.  Let’s face it: not everyone subscribes to blogs, so importing your blog through a Public Profile is a great way to notify users of new blog posts.  Users also then have the ability to copy and post the note to their profile through the “share” feature if they want to share it with their friends.

Profile administrators will also appreciate the “Insights” feature.  Insights works much like Google Analytics to track Public Profile traffic, but also provides valuable demographic information.  Administrators can view the male/female make up of their fans, as well as age ranges.  Administrators can also track video views, picture views and other media views.  This, in turn, provides excellent data on what most attracts and engages users thus allowing administrators to optimize content for maximum traction.

Public Profiles are Good, but not Great

As much potential as Public Profiles possess, they are not without their drawbacks.  Administrators and fans alike are still not notified of “comments” left on wall postings, requiring administrators to check pages frequently for new activity and comments.   The inclusion of Public Profiles in user news feeds is a major step in the right direction, and indication activity notifications may be forthcoming to user news feeds.

Groups are Dead

Given the direction Public Profiles have been heading through the past few updates, it is safe to say that Facebook Groups are dead.  The lack of updates in functionality leads me to believe that Groups will either no longer be supported or may be relegated to “maintenance mode”—a concept akin to life-support in the online world.

Brands looking to create a presence would be wise to create a Public Profile as it provides far more user engagement and more potential for viral growth with every upgrade to functionality and features.  With a potential audience of over 300,000,000 users, and growing exponentially daily, brands would be wise to establish a presence, given the low barrier of entry and high potential for return.


GRSM Event 3/26 12PM

March 20, 2009

Are you interested in Social Marketing? Trying to introduce your marketing department to Twitter and Facebook? Trying to find a way to get new eyes on your company’s website? The Grand Rapids Social Marketing Lunch is a good place to learn from those in the area who are answering these questions. Our next event will be held on Thursday, March 26th at 12pm in the “Garden Room” at the Grand Rapids Art Museum. It is open to all those who are interested in Social Marketing, so bring a friend.

At this month’s event we will be in the lower level of the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The room is easily accessible from the Louis St. Unfortunately the GRAM does not allow outside food in the museum, however they will be providing us with the ability to pre-order lunch from their cafe. If you chose to pre-order, your meal will be available for pickup when you arrive that’s also when you pay.  We encourage you to either pre-order from the cafe using the instructions below, order when you get there but expect a wait, or eat your lunch before you arrive.

Our topic for the event will be announced in the next few days. Thank you for attending and we hope to grow this group and make it better each month.

Lunch Instructions:
Please email/call with your order, please provide what time you would like to pick up the food and your name. Please email your selection to markw@tiggs.biz or call at 831-2922 prior to the event. The menu is below.

GRAM Lunch Menu (pdf)



GRSML Lunch: Engaging Your Clients & Customers

March 3, 2009

One of the most lauded aspects of social media is its potential for fostering customer interaction.  Social media provides marketers with multiple avenues to engage their clients and customers, as well as monitor reputation and brand.  Currently, there are two primary tools for customer engagement: Facebook Fan Pages and Twitter.  Each provides a unique way of interacting with the general public. Both can provide leverage, but it is important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of both of these popular social media applications.

Twitter

As anyone who watches CNN or any major news broadcast can tell you, Twitter is all the rage these days.  Twitter, in a nutshell, works similarly to Facebook status updates—with one key difference.  Users have the ability to reply to ‘updates’.  This makes Twitter a great way to provide dialogue between a brand and its customer base, but it does not come without its potential problems.

Advantages

+ Two-way messaging: allows for conversation and interaction

+ Ability to search for specific words or phrases: useful in brand/reputation monitoring, market research

+ Can be used to build a brand or persona for a business: puts a human voice and personality behind a brand

Disadvantages

– Opens up avenue for public criticism: be prepared to respond and know how to respond effectively

– Can be time-consuming: frequently updated accounts are more likely to attract followers and spark conversation

– Identity crisis: do we create a corporate Twitter account or a personal account?  Do you speak as yourself or as a corporation?

Facebook Fan Pages

Another popular method for businesses to engage their customer base is Facebook’s “Fan Page” feature.  Like Twitter, it is a free service that allows businesses to create what is essentially a corporate Facebook profile.  It works similarly to your own Facebook profile, but with a few key differences.  And once again, just like Twitter, there are advantages and disadvantages to Fan Pages.

Advantages

+ Multi-media: ability to feed a blog through the page, send “updates” to fans, add photos, create events, etc.

+ Potential to go “viral”: as users become fans, the action will show up in their friend’s feeds hopefully attracting more fans

+ Large audience: Facebook is growing by 700,000 users a day

Disadvantages

– Does not promote dialogue: generally more one-way and informational than conversational

– Time consuming: publishing notes is involved and requires manual HTML formatting

– Fans are not automatically notified of new content: little incentive for return visits

Ultimately, Twitter is the winner for promoting true conversation and interaction.  Don’t get me wrong: Facebook Fan Pages do have incredible potential, but need some tweaks and updates to fully realize the potential that exists. Its clear both forms of social media have their place in the business world.   Both services provide a way for your customers to interact with your business and feel as though they have a voice and someone who is listening on the other end, which ultimately encapsulates what social media is all about.


Marketing with the Masses

February 17, 2009

Social Marketing is an area with a large scope. With our meetup we are planning on starting with an introduction, not only to the services out there to use but also introducing each other. Our plan for the event is to be open, sharing, with a focus on being both teachers and students. We encourage all to come with their knowledge and experience, ready to share and participate in helping the group grow in knowledge.

The format will probably consist of a major topic that will be presented and discussed, with further conversation revolving around individuals experience and tips. We hope to have one or two presenters each meeting that will start the conversation. Followed by a time for group learning and exploration of the ideas presented. We want the needs and curiosity of the group to help guide the future topics, along with new developments in the industry to help trigger the path.

We are working on a date on time for the first meetup, we are also looking for a location to have the event so if you have and suggestions please let us know. We also would like to build a list of the Social media sites and services that we should be covering, each industry and area of marketing uses different services, by being aware of what you are using it will help us structure each following event to get the most out of our time.

If you have specific questions or ideas for the topics to be discussed please feel free to send them our way either by messaging us on twitter or sending an email to grandsocial [a] gmail .com


Grand Rapids Social Marketing Lunch.

February 16, 2009

To stay up to date with new announcements and information follow us on Twitter.