An important aspect to building a brand identity is controlling the brand. Large companies have entire documents defining the logo, colors, verbiage, etc. of their brand. However, it is often the little things that get overlooked. In social media there is a multitude of ways to disseminate and support your brand; this is about one small way that could have a big impact.
Anyone who has posted a link on Facebook has seen the thumbnail that shows up associated with the link and site blurb. You may notice that it will often give you options to pick the thumbnail you want. You may have even noticed that oftentimes the company’s logo or any relevant picture is not in the list. Where do the blurbs and thumbnails come from, and can you control what thumbnail is associated with your site?
The most basic thing that Facebook does is simply read your page. You should already have a “description” meta tag for SEO, and that is used as the blurb. Any images embedded on the page (through img tags – not included in CSS as backgrounds, etc.) will go into the thumbnail list. You may try to trick Facebook by including a picture but obscuring it, etc., but there is a much easier and reliable way to do this.
The answer is through Facebook meta tags, made available in the Open Graph protocol. With those meta tags, not only can you specify a picture for a thumbnail, but you can specify real-world location information, your site name, description (that blurb), and more.
Looks like the online promotions space is thriving. More and more special offers sites are being created. Google even went and developed their Google Offers product after they failed to buy Groupon for $6 Billion – that’s right $6 Billion. So there must be some value in these promotional tools right? Otherwise businesses would stop using them and Living Social sure has a large advertising budget for themselves.
Let’s look at Groupon. So if you have a $50 product/service, that you sell for $25 – (it has to be a 50% discount so it is a “good deal” to get approved) and then you get 60% of the $25 and Groupon keeps 40% of the $25. You are really selling a $50 product for $15 because of the discount and the Groupon percentage – but they are opening relationships for you – and for the most part giving you an opportunity for customer relationship. So is a $35 acquisition cost on a $50 product/service worth it? Only you can answer that, but you should run the numbers. Based on that, I can tell you, it is going to perform close to what it would cost you with advertising dollars spent at that level (but you can optimize for performance over time with advertising).
You will have some instantaneous Branding and recognition, not to mention customer traffic over the 6 months the Groupon/Living Social is valid. You will always have some existing clientele who will always buy this so it doesn’t reach only new people – unless you are just opening your doors in the market. This is unbeatable for the new business.
However, I have yet to see a second offer from the same business so you only get to use this once – so pick your timing – if you are not a new business try to use it to boost a slower period and make sure you can handle the demand during the 6 months without losing your shirt.
There is also the FREE money aspect of this. Like any rebate that is offered, you get a % that don’t use it. So if we use the first example again, you got $15 off each sale and that 25-30% don’t end up using it, that is FREE money for you to keep, which doesn’t hurt and softens the blow – but then you don’t get that all important “new” customer relationship either so it is kind of a double edge sword.
Here is a great case study. We had a client use Groupon in December 2010 – a single location Hot Yoga Studio as part of launching their business and they sold almost 700 at $39 a pop. That is incredible for a small business that is just getting going. Now, it gave them some cash in the door and created some relationships. They considered it a huge success.
My take, if you are opening a new business or want to launch a new product or want some quick cash – put an unbelievable offer out there through one of these and you should get some traction. Also learn from one before you try to do another – Set up some tracking on your website that sees what these people do that come to your website via this campaign and track their habits.
Be prepared to use it as a loss leader to get access to new customers and get “legs” underneath your new product or location. Also make sure your ongoing marketing turns those new relationships into repeat customers so you can make some money back and it creates success for the long term. That might take a second promo for them for another visit – but you don’t have to give Groupon their 40% this time.
Let us know if you have had success with one of these services – please give location and product/service sold and if it has been successful in generating repeat business.
The term Social Media is not really accurate any more. Why? Because we have moved well beyond “social” into doing business. You want information to get into the marketplace, just turn to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Flickr, Digg, Delicious, etc – and you can get it out to the masses more quickly than ever. Another reason, all of the a four mentioned have more value that being social if you use them right.
Also, one does not really have any control over what can be said/posted about them or your company or organization. It is really “public” media. Word can spread at warp speed to the public, especially if people deem it to be interesting. Several companies, public figures, and celebrities have “social media” site about them that they don’t have anything to do with – but all go into controlling public opinion of them. Some have to spend significant time to control their brand out there. The bigger your “Brand”, the more time you have to spend in this space to control your Brand.
I could also see the term “community media” being a potential moniker as well. All of these tools we mentioned above really go into creating a “community” of people who are interested in similar topics, products, information – and they feed off each other. That is an effective strategy to utilize all of these mediums. Add value to your clients and prospects, filter information for them, be a resource and partner to them as much as a supplier or vendor.
Creating an effective social media strategy is all about the execution of it and understanding how each piece plugs into the overall picture. You should hire someone to guide your strategy, but the information and content really has to come from someone internal while the expert will tweak that content for maximum effectiveness through “public” media channels. That guide for most companies that would mean outsourcing as would not be near a full time position – the right partner should have some understanding of your business and industry in order to be most helpful.
There are several sites out there that people use for sharing information and more social media aspects that you should consider registering your name. Even if you don’t plan to use Facebook or Twitter, we would advise you at least lock up your name so someone else cannot steal it – which is known as “squatting”. Besides, just because you don’t plan to use either of them does not mean there isn’t the next hottest one around the corner that you should lock up.
This happened with domain names in the mid 90′s as websites were coming into popularity. Several Fortune 500 companies ended up in court trying to get their trademarked names back. There has not been any precedence set for Social Media and if and how companies can get control of their Brand once it has been registered by someone else who is not them. As reference, here is an article from Adage that shows you some of the big Brands that don’t own their Twitter identity.
You can see if anyone has squatted you out and potentially avoid that by visiting UserNameCheck.com. There are 68 different sites that someone could “squat” you on. Some of them you have never heard of, several are familiar and you can find all the different sites people could squat your identity on. You never know what might be the next big fad or emerge so it is best to lock them up and as new “fads” come out, register those as well, even if you don’t ever use them – you can at least know you are protecting your Brand when it comes to Internet & Web Marketing and Social Media.