Marketers are keeping a close eye on Twitter's "Promoted Tweet" and "Promoted Trend" ads and trying to figure out whether they're actually helping to boost a brand's performance. Companies such as Disney, Sony, Nike and Starbucks have bought slots, but so far there's little data by which to judge the promotions' true value. "I hope Twitter is doing research because I am definitely curious," said Ian Shafer, CEO of social-media agency Deep Focus. "I am sure right now there is a big early adapter discount going on with that program because no one knows [exactly] what it does."
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Reckitt Benckiser is launching a social game to promote brands such as Lysol, Clearasil and Woolite. The Facebook game asks players to step into the shoes of a Reckitt Benckiser marketing executive and asks them to solve problems to boost the brands' profile. "We want to raise awareness among a group of people about who Reckitt Benckiser is, our work, and to show that we're innovative," says Andraea Dawson-Shepherd, the company's public relations chief. "They know the brands, but not the company behind them."
Two location-based social services are taking radically different approaches to managing users' check-ins. Loopt has announced a passive service that provides updates without the need to take any action; SCVNGR, meanwhile, requires its users to physically bump their phones together to register a group check-in. "[I]t's more fun than it sounds," promises Jason Kincaid.
In coming weeks and months, many social-media marketers will be seeking to emulate the success of Wieden's Old Spice campaign. The key to doing so, writes John Bell, is not to copy the stunt directly, but rather to find ways to bring together creatives and social-media strategists early in the process, in order to combine genuine entertainment with a trust-boosting, buzz-worthy social-media campaign.
When the National Sleep Foundation wanted to boost literature sales without breaking the bank, digital director Suzette Gardner turned to social media to figure out what her customers really wanted. She advises casting a wide net, then building groups and starting conversations focused around the key issues you want to explore.
Marketers who look only at the financial return on their social-media campaigns are missing the bigger picture, writes Augie Ray. To generate a more balanced picture of your campaign's hits and misses, evaluate your marketing from four key perspectives: financial returns, risk-management benefits, increased brand buzz and generation of digital assets. "It is only by recognizing all of the benefits delivered by social media marketing that the complete value of these efforts can be understood," Ray writes.
When bosses start demanding a social-media action plan, it's tempting to log on to Facebook and start posting updates, writes Matt Owen. You'll be far more successful, though, if you take a few days to figure out your target audience and the brand profile you're hoping to present. "By carefully planning in advance, adding features and initiating ad campaigns at regular intervals, you'll keep customers returning and maintain steady long-term growth," Owen writes.
To succeed in the social-media universe, businesses and marketers need to find ways to make their online offerings resonant and relevant, writes Brian Solis. Companies become significant in the social-media space when they're able to harness these two factors, Solis argues. "Online significance is the earned stature we merit as measured by our actions and words. ... Significance is not measured by size and shape, but instead by affinity and through the collective influence of the actions and reactions that follow every interaction," he writes.
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Many marketers can draw a straight line between investments in social media marketing and financial results, but many more cannot. This doesn't mean social media marketing is ineffective; it just means that marketers have to recognize benefits beyond dollars and cents.
Andy Sernovitz, Editor at Large
Andy Sernovitz builds organizations that help people help each other. His company,
GasPedal, builds peer-to-peer communities for people leading meaningful change at the world’s biggest companies, including
SocialMedia.org Health. He wrote the best-selling book Word of Mouth Marketing that teaches you how to earn the respect and recommendation of your customers.