6 Keys to Success of YouTube Stars

Last May, I surprisingly found that YouTube, a world based on searching, sharing, and a bit of serendipity, has just been turning five years old. Since this online video-sharing site has a significant impact on the social networking and online entertainment, it makes me feel like its existence has been through decades. However, what I want to mention here today is the "people", who definitely contribute a lot to the success of YouTube, not the site itself.

If you keep following my blog, the recent article is right about shining stars on YouTube, who may believe this site is a miracle for them to fame and richness. YouTube did change someone’s lives, from being the online celebrities to landing roles on TV shows as well as becoming “household” names. However, these people weren’t accidentally successful. They do work hard and are passion about what they do. This is the number one secret to their online video success. What else’s?

1. Targeted
As you may realise not many famous YouTubers try to target mass audience. With the demographic of YouTube being predominantly 18-34 years old, most famous Youtube stars are among this age and their video are mostly targeting this group. It seems more difficult to find a favourite channel on YouTube when you are over 40. Then the common pattern easily found here is targetting the right audience with the right content. 

2. Interesting Content
Most of moneymakers on YouTube produce video blogs, comedy skits and parodies, inserting their humour and creativity on daily activities or interesting topics. It seems that the fastest way to impress the audience is making them laugh and feel entertaining.

3. Personality
Most YouTube stars try to embed their personality, character and personal view in their videos. Sometime you cannot bear the fact that how that sucking video got million views. It simply did, as it is simple, even nonsense but might be real and entertaining to the targetted audience, who may find themselves somewhere in there.

4. Edit well
Editting is important to make a video neat and interesting. Most of YouTube stars spend hours for editting. It requires software knowledge, content planning, filming and editting skills, creativity and definitely, hardworking.

5. Promote everywhere
An interesting video will somehow attract the audience attention. But the best way to increase the viewership in a fast pace is to promote your video elsewhere online. Nowadays, thanks to the booming of social media, people can find you not only on YouTube but also Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, Digg, blogs, discussion forum, search engines, and so on. All of the YouTube stars now have their “fan” pages and profiles on other networks. It helps to spread their videos to audience in multiple rates.

6. Keep loyal viewers
Hot video-sharers do have their loyal “fans”, who are keep following their channels and spreading their videos to the others. In one or another way, most of YouTube celebs try to engage more audience but at the same time, keep interacting with their current fans. They respond to their loyal viewers, keep them updating with their schedule and sometimes also organise “offline”activities. 

It is undeniable that YouTube stars have developed their online content and impact audience by their very own way but somehow, they are sharing commons on their way to success. Once again, I want to emphasize “passion”, the greatest key, which I believe do exist in all of these online celebs. Let's wish them well and keep the fire burning in their hearts!

Foursquare, Places, Gowalla… Geo-marketing: Are you there yet?

For years, we’ve been hearing the business and real estate mantra: ”Location, location, location”.

For marketers this is truer today than it has ever been, but not for the reasons you might think. Geo-marketing through platforms like Foursquare and Facebook Places is the next trend in super-targeting for marketers.

By identifying where customers and/or prospects are during the day, marketers can get a better idea of consumer interests and patterns that will give them a competitive advantage in the battle to increase customer loyalty.

I have recently been studying geo-marketing more and more as Goodwill of Greater Washington considers whether it would enhance our present marketing strategy.  DC Goodwill is already developing another Goodwill first: an iPhone web app designed to allow donors to locate the nearest Goodwill retail store, donation center or donation bin through geo-coding, while also allowing the user to more easily communicate with us via our blogs and social media sites. The more value we can provide to our shoppers and the more convenient we can make the donation process, the more likely we are to build customer and donor loyalty.  Geo-marketing might allow us to take this a step further.

Imagine the loyalty programs that can be created if we begin incentivizing donors for giving their used goods to Goodwill (and checking in when they do so) versus another charitable agency; or provide them with incentives for every 10 visits to our retail stores. How about cross promotional opportunities with partners to incentivize visits to each partner’s locations?

Certainly these types of promotional and customer loyalty programs are available now through more traditional means, but geo-marketing significantly reduces the cost of execution and management, while also allowing us to track the geographic and shopping habits of our customers.

Don’t get me wrong, while I view this burgeoning trend favorably, it does have its challenges. First of all, one doesn’t actually need to be in the location at the time they are checking in. They only need to be nearby. Second this is one way communication, so I wouldn't eliminate other forms of social media and/or market research in favor of geo-marketing exclusively.

Much like the web, this too will require some experimentation before a solid and measurable strategy evolves. However, it is still another means of engaging consumers and converting them into loyal customers and advocates, which in and of itself provides a tangible benefit to any business on the leading edge.

Top 10 YouTube Money-Makers with Their Hit Videos

According to a recent analytic study from TubeMogul based on the viewership data from July 2009 to July 2010, there are 10 independent Youtube stars, who is not part of a media company or brand, make over $100,000 in the past year. The revenue is estimated only from from banner ads served near content, which is splitted 50-50 in revenue for Youtube and its partners. So this is the most basic calculation for income of a YouTube Star, regardless other earnings from brand endorsement or other types of commercial business. Then it would be a much higher number in fact. By the way, here is a review of the top ten listed and their most popular videos in terms of viewership.

1. Shane Dawson ($315,000 – 431 million views)
This 22-year-old Californian comic actor has three YouTube channels. The first one is the most popular, consisting his comedy skits and music video parodies. The second channel is a video blog (vlog) and a separate series called "Ask Shane”. The third one includes only videos taken from his iPhone. Targeting teenagers and young people, Shane provides sketch comedy in a teanage sort of way, acts different roles frequently in his own “highschool drama” and delivers a message or question, which is usually quite meaningful, at the end. By the way, I like watching him in different hair styles.

2. The Annoying Orange ($288,000 – 349 mil views)
The Annoying Orange, which often publishs short videos under 2 minutes, starring a talking orange, is a comedy web series that takes place in a kitchen and is about talking fruit. It is funny and honest. Dane Boedigheimer is the mastermind behind the series and is also the voice of Orange.

3. Philip DeFranco ($181,000 – 248 mil views)
Philip Defranco, who began uploading clips while at university, provides parody and satirical content on his show, containing vlogs about various topics

4. Ryan Higa ($151,000 – 206 mil views)
Ryan Higa, the Hawaiian-born Japanese-American, makes comedy skits and is a video blogger. Ryan’s highlights are the “How to be Ganster” and “How to be Ninja” comedy videos. Similar to other YouTube moneymakers in the list, his channel is again another sketch comedy YouTube channel.

5. Fred ($146,000 – 200 mil views)
Lucas Cruikshank plays a character called "a lonely six year old named Fred" who uses his mom's video camera and posts videos on a YouTube channel. The character is so popular that there will be a Nickelodeon movie based on the Fred character. The channel seems to be targeted as a Children’s online TV channel

6. Shay Carl ($140,000 – 192 mil views)
Shay is a 21 year-old Idaho radio DJ and comic posting his comedies on YouTube channel titled “Kalebnation” 

7. Mediocre Films ($116,000 – 159mil views)
Greg Benson created Mediocre Films initially for a sketchy comedy TV series called "Skip TV." The show lasted for one season, and now Benson makes low budget comedy videos for the web, published once a week 

8. Smosh ($113,000 – 154 mil views)
Smosh is the comedy duo of Ian Hecox and Anthony Padilla with their first shot to viral fame called "Pokemon Theme Music Video", which became YouTube's most viewed video in Spring 2006 and unfortunately was removed later due to copyright reasons.

9. The Young Turks – ($112,000 – 153 mil views)
It is a political talk show founded and hosted by Cenk Uygur that also airs on Sirius Satellite Radio. The show focus on politics with some news, pop culture and entertainment. Their vast viewership has proven that the Internet can be a viable broadcast platform

10. Natalie Tran– $101,000
Natalie Tran, 24-year-old Vietnamese-Australian hot girl with adorable Australian accent, is the most subscribed to YouTube user in Australia. She uses her YouTube titled “Community Channel”, consisting vlogs and occasional comedy skits, like most others on this list, to discuss some of the day to day issues with Gen Y women but done with a clever dose of subtle humor and satire.

An article on the reasons behind their success is coming soon. In the mean time, leave your opinion on reasons for success that you think may apply for these viral stars...

Facebook is empowered by “Places” – "Who. What. When. And now Where."

Few days ago, when manually updating apps on my Iphone, I found Facebook got a new feature called “Places”. So now, after buying FriendFeed, lauching a new real-time search engine, which declared a battle to Google in social search, Facebook has now expanded its power into location-based services (LBS). It is time to welcome a “Where” on Facebook, after the recent “When”. People who know search and LBS believe that there’s gold in real-time and social data, as well as geolocation and behavioral data. Then it seems Facebook is racing in a very fast pace to these latest trends and technologies, in order to consolidate its leading position in the world’s social network and technology map.

From now on, people can easily share their locations, tag friends who are with them at the location through “Places” from their mobile devices. At first, Facebook Places will be integrated with popular LBS poviders such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Booyah and Yelp by pushing the check-ins from these LBS providers’ apps to Facebook Places. Some providers are planning to launch location-based social games, which built on Facebook Places and based on interacting with people and sharing real-time posts at real-world locations; allowing users to socialize, meet new friends and track popularity. 

As Facebook has a large base of members of nearly half a billion, it is definitely a high proportion of their users will, intentionally or not, use the location sharing through “Places”. Although Facebook has just jumped on this location-based market, "Places" is now a threat to other LBS providers as it is taking the advantage thanks to Facebook current user base. It is predicted that “Places” won’t take long to become the mainstream.

In my opinion, the secret super power of "Places" didn’t lie in the concept or technique but in the local business location-based advertising market. Because as well as trying to attract users, Facebook is also trying to attract local businesses to build Facebook Place pages, and associate their Facebook presence with a location. It helps the Facebook advertising engine working more effectively by targeting audience using profile data, searching information and now, users’ geolocation. It opens opportunities on developing Facebook social games and apps using the location-based feature, but it also presents challenges in terms of privacy protection and requires Facebook to be careful in updating more rules to its current privacy setting.

All in all, it is seen that the social media giant has done many things to strengthen its power, expand its reach and certainly, to make more money. While waiting for the “Places” full functioning version coming to other market after testing in the US, this topic on location game is broadly opening for your personal opinion and discussion.

Why Effective Marketing Both Integrates & Segments

I love Helen Leggatt's writing.  She always provides me with excellent ideas for this blog.

In the August 23rd issue of the Biz Report she writes about how older internet users are not as receptive to online advertising.

According to a study by Connect Insight, which Helen quotes in her article, "younger [internet] users were more likely to engage with online ads than their elders. For instance, almost a quarter (24%) of 16-34 year olds found online ads impactful while half of over-55 year old Internet users made a point of avoiding online destinations where ads were intrusive."

This study supports the argument that the best media strategy is an integrated media strategy.  One that takes into account the diversity of a business' target audiences and identifies the best forms of media to reach and impact them. 

While the 50+ audience is the fastest growing demographic for online usage, they are also the slowest to adopt new technologies; which explains why they are growing so fast.  Younger audiences have been active online for years.  Most Gen Xers, Gen Yers and Millenials have grown up with digital advertising and have generally identified it as an acceptable marketing source, provided the ads have value.  "Value" is the critical factor here because online users can choose to bypass most digital ads.  Older online users most likely tend to view all advertising as intrusive because it always has been to them.  Terrestrial broadcasting such as radio and TV doesn't traditionally allow users to "opt out".  Therefore, the opportunity to bypass it without taking into consideration any value it may have is probably a pretty natural inclination.  However, in time, this too will gradually change as younger audiences age and older audiences adopt (or begin using Tivo).

I've always been a believer in integrated marketing while segmenting my audiences.  It just seems logical to use multiple channels to communicate with desired consumers, in order to avoid "throwing all my eggs into one basket".  However, I try to be smart and strategic about what channels and how much of each to use.

The message we use to promote Goodwill's retail stores is always consistent:  "value, value, value".  Our tagline continues to be "Good merchandise - great prices".  However, how we position our stores and communicate the value to each audience differs.

We tend to use traditional media to reach older and/or less affluent shoppers who more frequently utilize free media.  We position our stores as a great place to stretch a dollar for good quality merchandise, placing more emphasis on the savings.

While we use some traditional media to reach younger, more fashion conscious audiences, we place a greater emphasis on digital media to communicate our brand value to this crowd.  Our use of social media has had a tremendous impact on perceptions of Goodwill stores, helping to make them a more socially acceptable place to find inexpensive vintage and contemporary fashions with an environmentally conscious slant - reuse and recycling.

Therefore, while I'm not surprised by the findings from the Connect Insight study, I'm pleased that they tend to support a long held belief.

It always comes down to this:  Understand your target audiences; their demographic, psychographic and geographic tendencies.  If you understand your customer, it will be easier to develop a message that resonates with them while identifying the best ways to communicate that message.  It makes no sense to sell skin cream to a 12 year old or Cap'n Crunch cereal to a 60 year old.

LinkedIn Aims to Bolster Relevancy and Recommendations for Growth

As the Internet users have seen the exponential growth of the content on the social Web continue for a long period, in order to prevent the uneccessary data overloads, it has become increasingly important to take in place smart tools that help users to filter the things that are most relevant and useful to them. In that spirit, the white-collar social-networking LinkedIn, which has 75 million members and seven-year history, has recently announced its acquisition with mSpoke, a small SAAS (software-as-a-service) start-up that offers recommendation technology.

Who is mSpoke?

If you have no idea about the acquired company, here is a brief introduction. MSpoke is a small online recommendation software start-up, which maintains a cloud-based recommendation engine to make content more relevant through recommendation technology. MSpoke’s machine learning technology is designed to make recommendations based on consumer’s implicit and explicit feedback. From that it builds a so-called adaptive personalization engine with three core products:
  • mPower creates widgets and personalised e-mails to let web publishers filter content according to the preferences of users, which is great for direct e-mail marketing. 

  • mTrend API allows companies to monitor competitors and emerging trends. 

  • mSense tool analyses content and creates and annotates metadata within systems. 

What does LinkedIn get from the acquisition?

LinkedIn will take advantage of mSpoke's recommendation technology to integrate and add functions to its rapidly expanding network. The company expects the recommendation technology will deliver relevant content, advertising and products to its social network users to keep its users more engaged on the site, and to increase its presence on mobile devices. Then it also offer opportunities for online advertisers to target the right audience and create relevant copywriting.

The generated data from mSense, the most valuable component for LinkedIn, could be exploited to provide users recommendations about other relevant people in the LinkedIn networks based upon trends, usage or networking patterns.

The combination of recent added social features and recomendation technology will provide professionals on LinkedIn personalized news, highlighted updates, and what executives in similar careers are reading and doing on the network. For your information, LinkedIn has recently become more social by adding social features, for instance, revamping its “Groups” feature with “Likes,” Follows and Discussions options. LinkedIn has also been building more Facebook- and Twitter-like features on the homepage and link sharing options to generate more traffic and data to the site. All of these developments will generate a lot of valuable data. When they are combined with mSense, all will make LinkedIn a more useful and interactive site to users.

From all the observations, in a sense, it is seen that the world is moving very fast, social businesses are even moving faster, and every player aims to be the fastest forward-mover in order to maintain its reputation and engage more audience.

Why do we thank businesses for taking our money more than they thank us for spending it with them?

This morning I stopped at McDonald's as I usually do each weekday to pick up a cup of coffee on my way to work (there are no Starbucks nearby, can you believe it?!).  As I handed my money to the cashier, I noticed that she didn't thank me, but when she gave me my change, I thanked her.  It suddenly dawned on me that this had become a routine scenario.  Not just at McDonald's, but at, well, almost everywhere I shop!

Cashiers rarely show gratitude when a purchase is made.  Most of the time, it appears as if they feel I am putting them out by making a purchase because it means they actually have to do something to earn their paycheck.  I suspect many of you have had similar experiences.  I show more appreciation when spending my money with a company, than the company I spend it with shows to me! 

While I must admit that cashiers not even acknowledging my purchase does bother me a bit, I've become accustomed to it.  Though I can't place all the blame solely on their shoulders.  A big part of the problem rests with the companies they work for, that should be training them on basic customer service skills. 

I'm pretty easy to please.  The only thing I expect when I walk into a store is a "hello" and a "thank you".  I'm fairly confidant that anyone capable of communicating with another human being can handle that; yet it seems so rare. 

Market research continually shows that the number one reason businesses lose customers is because they are are dissatisfied with the attitude of indifference shown towards them by an employee.  So why don't companies spend more time properly training their associates on customer service?

I've blogged about this before, but it seems to be a beast that constantly rears its ugly head. 

Some companies are so focused on pushing out more product that they forget that the customer experience is a part of the sales process.  By pulling customers in with a quality product and good experience, a company creates greater demand.  Therefore, good companies place greater emphasis on the CRM side of the demand chain.  Companies with bad customer service often place too much emphasis on the manufacturer/distributer end of the demand chain in an effort to drive profits, forgetting about the end user:  the consumer.
In today's economy, with 10% unemployment and businesses closing daily, you'd think that it wouldn't take a great deal of emphasis to get associates to understand that if they want to keep their jobs, they had better treat customers with a little more attention and respect.  Yet, they don't, and many of the companies they work for don't seem to care. 

Arlines repeatedly and publicly complain about the costs of running their operations, (even as gas prices fall) then constantly jack up prices and charge for everything (possibly even to speak to a live person if Spirit Airlines has its way), while reducing amenities; and then wonder why customers get so angry.  They treat consumers like cattle. 

I have little sympathy for Jet Blue flight attendant, Steven Slater, who was treated like a savior for turning his back on his co-workers and his responsibilities like a spoiled little child.  As it turns out, the story he gave the media was mostly fabricated, and he had actually been treating passengers quite rudely before he finally decided to take his ball and go home.

Hey entrepreneurs - pssst...I've got a hot tip for you.   You can make a fortune if you create an airline that is focused on the customer.  And I don't mean singing songs over the microphone while you're passing out peanuts and charging me for a 3 oz soda.  I mean, treating customers with respect and dignity, while making them feel valued and important.  I know, I know, its a radical concept, but I really believe it may work. 

Take the time to value your customers and your customers will value you.  It will reduce the cost of doing business because you won't have to spend nearly as much on customer acquisition.  It's a simple formula.

Singapore’s Social Media Landscape

Singspore is one of the most advanced digital markets in Asia Pacific and Singporeans are so much interested in exploring new gadgets and staying abreast of the latest technologies. The country is a perfect location for local and overseas digital marketers to develop their digital marketing strategies, for both local and nearby markets. The combination of high broadband penetration, heavy online engagement and the overall tech savvy of Internet users in Singapore make it an ideal market for the adoption of valuable existing and emerging digital technologies, including search, social media and online video. The growing opportunities in digital market, especially in social media, are clearly shown in recent findings about new media consumption of comapies and citizens on this island

Business Consumption

Last fall, the government invited proposals to shape new media landscape by encouraging established industry players to collaborate, and tap the burgeoning sectors of online publishing and virtual worlds. Companies in Singapore are also gearing up fo the future of media in a rapidly-transforming media landscape to exploit the opportunities in initiatives that seed the development and delivery of next-generation consumer applications, services and experiences. In order to move into markets faster than the competition, companies are embracing new technologies for innovation and growth, rather than to reap cost savings, to help people do their job more positive, efficient and productive.

According to a recent finding by Avanade, it was found that Singapore companies are in high demand of digital marketing solutions, especially in social media, illustrated by:
  • Singapore businesses turned to social networks over three times more than their global counterparts as a source of general business news and information.

  • One in five Singapore companies already have in place a fully implemented strategy for integrating social media technologies in the workplace, almost three times higher than the world average proportion

  • More than half of organisations, which haven’t had a social media strategy, expressed an interest to explore its use to enhance business outcomes.

  • Three in five Singapore firm see embracing social networking as a crucial factor in attracting top talent.

Individual Consumption

According to ComScore, a leader in measuring the digital world, more than 2.5 million people in Singapore age 15 and older accessed the Internet from home and work locations. Online communication, entertainment, and social networking are topping the list of how users were most likely to spend their time. Sinapore netizens spends more than half of their online time for Social and Entertainment Sites, in which: 
  • 24 percent online time for instant messaging, capturing the largest 

  • 14 percent for entertainment sites (e.g.: Youtube, MediaCorp)

  • 8 percent for social networking

  • 6 percent for Web-based email

According to Alexa.com, Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Facebook and YouTube are the most visited sites in Singpore. Search engines are still in top listings. However, social networking sites, aside from YouTube and Facebook, also made an impressive appearance in the ranking with Blogger, Twitter, Wordpress listed in the top ten. Online video is an integral part of consumers with more than 80 percenr of Singapore’s Internet population viewed video online, displaying the strongest online video engagement among young people. 

The Internet filtering in Singapore is found to be minimal in comparison with nearby countries like Vietnam or China. However, Singapore netizens are generally critical in nature. Netizens might welcome business marketing or communication efforts via social media, especially for early adopters. The increase of celebrity bloggers and specialised bloggers offer opportunities for business to use celebs as representatives or to focus on niche target audience.

From all the findings, it is found that a large percentage of Singapore online users are heavy consumers of social media, even those above 30 or older are trying to catch up with young people on social platforms. Therefore, social media is surely a recommended investing area in companies' marketing strategy in order to enhance online performance and reach more audience effectively. If you are not engaging in this area now, you may lose the advantage to your competitors soon.

From all the considered aspects, it is undeniable that the digital market in general, and social media in particular, is growing at a rapid pace in Singapore and Singapore companies can leverage the opportunity in this emerging sub-sector to be part of the value chain. The digital “pie” is currently so delicous and everyone want to get the share, thus, the competition between not only companies but digital solution providers becomes harder than ever. It requires organizations to have a smarter strategy, focusing more on the “depth” and the “inside” of the online/digital media nature itself to fit the organization’s objective than only chasing to the glamorous “outside” or simply  following common pratices.

(Sources: ComScore, Avanade, Alexa, MDA)

Why your employees should be able to recite your company's mission statement and why you should care!

I recently received an email from a colleague in Atlanta who was sitting in on a presentation by a well respected leader within the Goodwill movement.  My colleague told me that the speaker, who is unrecognizable to most Goodwill employees (see "Undercover Boss), commented that he had recently stopped in at a Goodwill of Greater Washington Donation Center and asked one of the donation attendants if they knew what Goodwill's mission was.  The "undercover boss" said the attendant "nailed it"!  He then went into the retail store to shop and asked the same question of one of the cashiers.  He said the cashier also "nailed it"!

Given that communicating the nature of Goodwill's mission internally had been a problem for many years, reading this email made me feel like our team had just hit a home run!

I'm quite confidant that anyone who posed a similar question to a Goodwill of Greater Washington employee would have the same experience because our organization has made internal mission awareness a priority.  All of our employees are brand ambassadors, so it is important that they understand how the work that they do impacts our community, since they are "on the front lines".  It gives them a pride of ownership, and helps them realize that they play a big part in Goodwill's success.  This simple email from a colleague made my day because it reinforced that our collective efforts are working!

Goodwill's employees understand our mission because we communicate it in everything that we do. We have an excellent orientation and training process where prospective employees are taught our mission and its importance.  We developed new core values that are constantly communicated and reinforced through all levels of the organization (Respect, Integrity, Service, Excellence).  This includes understanding and respecting the Goodwill mission.  We regularly congratulate employee efforts that are a positive reflection of the Goodwill mission and values; and we gather (ALL 500 OF US) once a year to celebrate the Goodwill mission, while also recognizing employees who most positively represent what Goodwill stands for.

What is the return on this investment you ask?  Improved retail sales, improved customer experience, improved mission services, improved employee morale, improved organizational reputation, improved brand awareness, improved brand equity, improved funding and donations, improved bottom line.  We've witnessed the impact, which was immediate and culture changing.

Can your employees restate your corporate mission?  If so, do they take pride in your mission? 

Don't overlook the importance of communicating with your employees and making them feel a part of your organization.  Businesses are constantly looking for ways to impact customers and prospects.  But how much effort are you making to engage your internal customers (your employees), who should be your company's best advocates?  Do they know what your company stands for?  If not, what do you think they are telling people when asked about your business?

Have you read the Disney mission statement?  "To make people happy".  Pretty easy to remember and just as easy for employees at all levels to deliver on if they know it and believe it.

I didn't realize that audience targeting was such a new strategy for marketers. Did you?

According to an August 2nd article on bizreport.com by Kristina Knight, large numbers of marketers have begun targeting audiences online using what I've always thought to be pretty traditional methods - demographic, geographic and lifestyle segmentation.

The article states, "According to the AudienceScience report 80% of marketers are now using behavioral targeting techniques, 76% target by geographic location and 75% use demographic information to target. Most marketers believe behavioral and demographic targeting are their best options, but what is most interesting is that publishers are now seemingly in agreement with advertisers. More than 70% of publishers surveyed for the report said they were using some form of audience targeting to better engage consumers, to sell ad inventory at higher rates and to deliver better campaign performance."

I'm actually quite surprised that this appears to be news.  Any marketer who isn't already properly segmenting and targeting their audiences, probably shouldn't be in the marketing field.  Most good marketers and product development teams have been doing this for years.  Granted, online marketing is still a relatively young channel and new systems of identifying and segmenting audiences are being developed every day; but I would have been surprised if the percentage of marketers using methods to target audiences online were any lower than 75%-80%.  I would love to know who the 20%-25% of marketers are who are not yet doing this, so that I can give their supervisors the names of some good marketers I know who are looking for work.

The article goes on to state, "One thing both advertisers and publishers agreed upon? That there needs to be more transparency and measurability within targeting moving forward."  On this I wholeheartedly agree.

We recently ran some ads on Facebook for a new retail store opening.  They were very well targeted based on a comprehensive segmentation strategy.  The metrics we viewed indicated a very high number of impressions, and a strong click through rate.  However, the metrics neither indicated that those who actually viewed the ads matched the profile we had created, nor provided any verification on the accuracy of the figures.  Traffic has been excellent, and empirical data indicates that the ads, at least in part, reached the right audience, but one can't rely solely on observed data to calculate ROI. 

However, I will continue using digital marketing techniques, as I have become a true believer in their capabilities, even if measurement and transparency still need a little work.  After all, digital media measurement is still far better than traditional media measurement.

Tips for Building Your Online Personal Brand: SEO on Social Networks

Nowadays, online reputation management has become a very important aspect of winning projects, getting more clients or being recruited. To investigate one person, the first common place people will mostly pass by is Google. Then it would be useful if you can control as many of the top listings about yourself as possible. These listings should be ideally the professional profile, company pages, media mentions or similarities. To do that, a good SEO strategy will definitely help to optimize your “brand” in a positive way and to help ensure the ranking as highly as possible in search engines

By starting the SEO strategy from identifying your strengths and capitalizing on them, people can get their online personal brand highlighted by utilizing every media available to spread the word about the “brand”. Nowadays, small businesses and individuals can expand its horizons drastically and effectively by taking advantage of social social media networking websites, which are mostly free of charge, such as YouTube, Twitter, Blogger, Flikr, My Space and Facebook. Here is an illustration on which and how popular social networking sites can contribute to your personal branding strategy:

Keeping that in mind, it is agreed that social networking sites, are valuable resources and tools for online brand building at an extremely low cost. Nevertheless, the issue is how to take advantage of their power to benefit your brand. Here are the tips:

  • Blogging and Guest Blogging

A blog is an excellent way to generate positive personal content that will turn up in searches. A professional and trusted blog can strengthen your company, attract customers, build reputation within an industry and, through your profile page, show who you are. If hundreds or even thousands of people are subscribing to read your content and expert opinions, then this is clearly something you want searchers to find when they come looking for you online.

However, having your personal blog may not be enough, even if you update the content regularly and keep it fresh. Posting additional articles on similar and related websites can be even more beneficial. You can reach a wider audience and enhance your online reputation.
  • Twitter

Based on similar concepts to blogging, Twitter is also a great way to improve your SEO. By following relevant users and providing valuable tweets, your trusted profile page will be highly regarded in the search engines. If potential clients are looking for more information about you, then a Twitter profile containing expert advice and related conversations is going to help strengthen your reputation in the eyes of the searcher.
  • Linkedin

It has become popular and effective to build your personal brand on business social media networking sites such as Linkedin and Plaxo, where people can show a professional profile containing career history, skills and networks of employers, colleages and industry professionals. From being largely used to reconnect with past co-workers and trusted colleagues in the past, LinkedIn now has extended its capabilities to serve as a brand building platform for professionals looking to network, engage, and communicate with like-minded peers. Visible public profile, editable URLs and ‘inbound links’ (links to Linkedin profile from other websites) can help to optimize your profile and improve the SEO easily.
  • Online Presentations

Workshops, seminars, and conferences are a great way to impress potential business partners and clients. Uploading your presentations on sites, such as SlideShare and Scribd will allow viewers to download and review your speeches and supporting documents. It will also give them a chance to share it with others, which is a great way to continue optimizing you and your company’s name. Using a headline of “Presentation name by Author name” helps to increase your SEO effectiveness.
  • Online Videos

Although not much different from seminar speech uploads, video uploads can highlight a variety of life presentations and increase your online exposure, especially if you use targeted headlines, specific keywords and title tags. If someone is searching for more information about you and can find an online video presentation on familiar websites such as Youtube or Vimeo, this could go a long way towards enhancing your reputation to the searcher.
  • Social Networking

Social networking is one of the fastest and easiest ways to generate a lot of personal content, in both the good and bad ways, depending on how you control and monitor them. As social networking sites tend to be ranked high on search engines; thus, professional and consistent profiles on Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc will definitely help to spread out your online brand performance effectively. The more exposure you have, the quicker your personal brand will become a major hit on all key search engine ranking pages and lift your profit margin to new heights.

In order to success in your personal branding strategy, it requires a consistent brand image on various online platforms with a professional and trusted web presence. On-site SEO and social activities are keys to promote your personal brand to wider public. However, more importantly, defining your target audience and goal clearly from the beginning will direct your online branding strategy more relevant and effective. Last but not lease, you should remember that the ultimate purpose of online activities is to support your true life, thus, make your online information real and trustworthy so that your personal true life, when needed, can totally back up your online brand.

True Social Media ROI Doesn't Have to be Measured Monetarily

I have spoken about social media to numerous groups of business professionals over the past several years, and inevitably the issue of social media measurement comes up. 

The question itself is a very fair one.  It's wise for anyone who launches a new marketing campaign to determine how they are going to measure its effectiveness.  Where I often get into more challenging discussions about ROI is when I state that I don't think social media needs to be, nor necessarily should be, measured monetarily.

Let me ask you a question.   Do you categorize the quality of your personal relationships by who gives you the most things or do you categorize the quality of your relationships based on whose company you enjoy the most.  I imagine you use the latter as a "system of relationship measurement".  And guess what?  Your friends probably evaluate their relationships with you the same way.  Each of you value your relationships with one another because you both enjoy what the other has to offer.  You probably have fun together, share common interests, etc.  And if one of you asked the other for a favor, you'd be more likely to respond positively to that request based on the strength of your relationship with the person making the ask.

Social media is no different.  There doesn't have to be an immediately quantifiable monetary reward to determine if your social media strategies are paying dividends.  Not that your social media strategies shouldn't ultimately be leading to increased sales...of course they should!  But the stronger your relationship with your constituents, the much more likely they will be to purchase your product or service.  A strong relationship equates to a greater potential for brand loyalty and customer conversion or retention.

Remember the catch phrase from the movie Field of Dreams:  "If you build it, he will come"?  That's how you should think about your social media efforts.  If you build a relationship with your customers and prospects, they will come.  But you have to focus on building the relationship, not selling the product.  That means giving them something of value, not just promoting your products and services.  IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU!

Communicate with them.  Build an online community of people who show an interest in a topic related to your products and services and reward them for doing so.  That reward can be offered in many ways.  Maybe its an exclusive discount, maybe its free stuff, but more likely it's going to be strong and compelling content that they find interesting, entertaining or informative.  By doing so, they will begin to view you and/or your company as a trusted resource, thus deepening your relationship with them and making them more likely to become an advocate for you.  How far down the customer lifecycle is advocacy?  It's the third step in the RETENTION lifecycle, which is the ideal customer.  Now assuming that basic marketing principles hold true, an advocate is not only going to purchase more from you, but he/she is also going to tell their friends to purchase more from you. 

Therefore, before you launch your next social media campaign, don't ask yourself how it can increase sales.  Ask yourself what you can offer your stakeholders that they will find compelling enough to keep them coming back for more.  The primary system of short term and mid term social media measurement should be social media retention rates, not sales.

If you focus on building relationships, the sales will come. If you focus on sales, you'll be selling to an empty room.