StumbleUpon

By Bo Morris and Jennifer Taylor

What is StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon is a social networking site where users literally “stumble upon” content that is tailored to their interests. Founder Garrett Camp said StumbleUpon’s focus is “helping people discover interesting web content,” and he has also referred to it as “channel surfing for the web.” Upon joining, users select categories that are of interest to them. They can also select channels from different brands whose content appeals to them. From there, StumbleUpon generates websites and blogs to appear in their feed. Users can click through the feed, visit sites, like and dislike content, share via other social media sites, and engage in conversation with other StumbleUpon users.

This is a very personalized social networking experience. It allows users to like, as well as dislike, pages in their feed to create an online experience where individuals can find what they need without having to filter through content they do not want or need.

Who should join StumbleUpon?

StumbleUpon is a great resource for those who use the Internet as their go-to source for information, which, nowadays, means practically everyone. Many people complain about having to dig through too much content online before they find what they are looking for. StumbleUpon eliminates that problem, and by doing so, offers businesses a great way to reach their target audience online.

What’s in it for business?

Businesses wanting to market to a particular demographic can purchase StumbleUpon ads to to drive traffic to their site through Paid Discovery. Through Paid Discovery, a business’s website is more likely to be “stumbled upon” by consumers. Prices start at $.05 per targeted visitor. For businesses that use Paid Discovery, they are also more likely to receive an increase in page visits for free. In fact, businesses using Paid Discovery received substantially more free visits than paid visits. 

Like other social media platforms, StumbleUpon can also serve as a great way for businesses to get feedback, as users rate sites with a thumbs up or a thumbs down, comment, and write reviews.

So why should businesses advertise on StumbleUpon?

“You can target by category, age, gender and location.  So for product launches, distributing audio/visual content or just getting feedback on your blog, StumbleUpon often works better than PPC approaches since targeting is precise and no click through is required.”

-Garrett Camp, founder of StumbleUpon

However, for businesses not interested in paying to promote content on StumbleUpon, the site can be used for free. If a business can market themselves within the popular tags and topics on StumbleUpon, then they can certainly succeed without the paid advertising feature. Tailoring content to SEO specifications is key to success in StumbleUpon, as is substantial, original content, along with graphics.

StumbleUpon Success Stories

In our study, we found that business that typically tend to do the best in StumbleUpon are consultants, bloggers, photographers, niche product businesses, and personal service businesses. For example, popular topics on StumbleUpon include food and photography. Food magazines and food bloggers tend to drive a lot of traffic to their sites from StumbleUpon since members will use it to find new recipes. Photographers are obviously a completely visual entity, so the more appealing they can make their photographs, the more likely they are to show up on the StumbleUpon feed.

Muhammed Saleem gives his four tips on how to keep StumbleUpon content “above the scroll.”

1. Put serious thought into your title.

2. Start with a striking visual cue.

3. Have substance above the scroll.

4. Make an engaging opening splash.

In terms of personal service niches, Mint.com is one site that has done particularly well with StumbleUpon.

 “Mint found that by targeting very specific audiences with specific relevant content, people rated their content favorably and they were in turn seeing more free/unpaid traffic. Nearly one third of their traffic from StumbleUpon was free/unpaid traffic to other pages on their website; pages that Mint had not promoted to StumbleUpon but were picked up as a result.”

StumbleUpon Mint.com case study

Sources:

StumbleUpon

Muhammed Saleem

Peg Corwin

The Wonders of MailChimp, Constant Contact, and AWeber (final)

What They Do

Each of these programs allow brands to easily create and run their own e-mail marketing campaigns.  Each site has its own unique flair (though not too unique), and includes templates and other helpful features to make e-mail marketing intuitive.

MailChimp

“Helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks,
integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It’s like your own
personal publishing platform.”

  • The first and most obvious advantage to MailChimp is that it is a free service.
  • MailChimp focuses on making the service simple and easy to use, making it a good choice for smaller brands or people with little experience with e-mail marketing.

-Easy email newsletters
-Measure results
-Step by step instructions
-Mobile
-Integration with WordPress

Constant Contact

Grow with email marketing, start your FREE email campaign
today.”

  • While it is very similar to MailChimp, the unique feature about Constant Contact is its focus on “social campaigns.”  These are designed specifically to increase engagement with the brand’s Facebook fans, as well as simply increase the number of fans.
  • Other features include:

-Event marketing
-Online survey
-Metric tracking

AWeber

“Create profitable customer relationships for your business! AWeber’s
email marketing tools like professional email sign up forms and auto responder
services make it easy for you to build your email list and stay in touch with
prospects.”

  • AWeber is the only paid service of the the three options.  It is a pretty significant difference too, at $19 per month.
  • One thing that sets AWeber apart is the interactive service it offers.  Live chatting is available 7 days a week, as well as 30 minute live webinars to help members make the most out of the service.
  • Other features include some of the basics

-Twitter, Facebook integration
-Performance tracking
-Email analytics

Read books, watch movies and TV: Get rewards.

GetGlue, Miso and Viggle are similar social media sites that allow for people to “check-in” as they watch a movie or television show, or even as they read a book.  As you check-in, users receive rewards, badges or points for their participation.  While reading or watching TV used to be more of an isolated experience, these platforms open the door for more social interaction, allowing consumers to feel as if they are a part of a community much bigger than their living rooms.

The Art of the Check-In as a Social Media Branding Tool


When we check-in with different shows, movies or books, we are “using them to personally define ourselves.  The check-in is just like all of social.  It’s about me and who I want other to see when they see me.”

Here’s the basic rundown of each platform.

GetGlue: it has been described as a sort of “Foursquare for entertainment.”  While people might be uncomfortable sharing their location on Foursquare, they’ll gladly tell the world what they’re doing and what they think of the media they are consuming.  But why share on GetGlue instead of Twitter or Facebook?  There is no 140-character limit, and the screen that opens after a check-in is a conversation that is easy to return to, even after the show is over.  GetGlue is currently the leading platform of this nature, but it still has a very old fashioned reward system where users win stickers.  While these can be shown as badges online, users can also request that the stickers they earn be mailed to them at home.

Viggle: an app available for iPhone and iPad, Viggle will actually pay you for watching TV.  Not only is its reward system different, its check-in system is also.  Viggle works similarly to the app “Shazam”: it uses the microphone in your device to detect what show or movie you are watching, and then shares that with your friends.  It is integrated with Facebook and Twitter, which is where it’s social nature comes in.

Telling your friends what you’re doing through these networks is a fringe benefit though; Viggle is where the rewards lie.  The app rewards points for each minute of content you watch.  You can eventually redeem your points for gift cards to places like Burger King, Best Buy, iTunes and Sephora, or even get movie tickets from Fandango.  The catch?  It takes about 60 hours of watchin to redeem your first award.  Still, Viggle calls it a “dream come true for ultimate television enthusiasts.

Miso: very similar in structure to GetGlue, Miso is actually the largest threat to the industry leader, but it is still solidly in second place.  One difference from Get Glue is that posting from Miso to Facebook or Twitter will actually earn you more points on the site.  This shows that the platform is trying more for integration.  Additionally, there is a paid feature called “Media Que.”  It costs $2.49, and will take all the shows and movies you look at and create a centralized list, so that you don’t forget to watch them later on.  Miso also has a relatively new platform called Side Show that allows fans or networks to create content that is synchronized with what is being shown on the air.  This content can include trivia, character information, quotable moments, polls and more.

An example of Side Show from HBO's Game of Thrones

Why choose to use these platforms?
Since users already have Facebook and Twitter as forums where they can talk about movies, books and television, why should they turn to these sites, especially since the rewards are so nominal?  Twitter and Facebook are overpopulated and overstimulating.  It can be hard to find a conversation on Facebook, and hard to maintain one with several people on Twitter, due to the character limit.  As some of these sites are strongly integrated with other platforms, they still give users a chance to tell their friends on other sites what they are doing.  However, on these platforms, you get to interact with people of common interests, instead of just your friends.  These applications allow you to engage with other users and share your opinion without being inundated with other newsfeed items or trends irrelevant to your conversation.

Why are these useful for marketing?
TiVo, Netflix and Hulu are changing the way that people watch TV and movies.  It is becoming increasingly rare that you watch a show when it actually comes on, meaning that shows have to find another way to market themselves.  Today we could fast forward through hundreds of commercials about new TV shows or movies and completely miss their release.  This is one reason why these sites are important from a business and marketing perspective.  One user said, about Get Glue, “It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at a TV schedule grid- they’re far too big these days.  GetGlue’s sticker page is more effective at informing me about what’s on television.” Since this is the case, it is important for shows to be present on these sites, and for producers to invest in creating good badges.  On Viggle, this also shows that it is great advertisement for the companies providing gift cards.  These platforms work as content discovery sites just as much as social networks, so it is important for your product to be visible if you are trying to market something.

Another benefit for producers and marketers is that these applications allow for them to have direct insight into the customers thoughts and opinions of their products.  They can select a movie or book and track customer behavior through the product’s page on the site.  In today’s culture, over-stimulation and too many options for entertainment far surpass the time a consumer will devote to them.  With consumer insight easily accessible through social media applications like GetGlue, Miso and Viggle, marketers can better target and reach their audiences, because they can now know exactly what and who they are looking for.

Gather around the Campfire: Three social media tools for the modern business

Virtual handshake

In today’s busy world you can’t always meet face-to-face. Here are three social media tools that are allowing businesses to collaborate across the board in a virtual setting.

Yammer: This enterprising social network features a similar usability to Facebook and Twitter but with applications that were designed with business in mind.

Campfire: Instant messaging designed and optimized for groups to collaborate in real-time anytime, anywhere, anyplace.

Convofy: A private social network that allows businesses to share knowledge and content and communicate effectively.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s do some investigating.

The Yammer log-in pageLaunched in September 2008, Yammer functions a lot like Facebook. Employees can create a user profile, fill out their information, upload a profile picture, and search for coworkers. However, because it is an enterprising social network, Yammer users search for people based off expertise and influence.

Users can create groups and online workspaces where they can share announcements to keep coworkers updated and search for topics and popular content. Yammer allows people to create pages and display and edit goals, documents, notes and other files, with any changes made in real-time. There are also  options to switch between internal and external networks seamlessly or to integrate other web applications like SharePoint, Salesforce, Spigit, etc.

For employees on the go, this social network allows users to connect via mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads, Windows phones, Android phones and tablets, and BlackBerry phones. Users scan a QR code and begin using Yammer instantly. With mobile access, employees can navigate messages, share photos, send private messages, and switch between internal and external networks.

A QR code

An arrow            A cell phone using Yammer

Another helpful feature is the ability for administrators to monitor their business’s Yammer network with IT tools. They can set custom password and usage policies that are in-line with preexisting company policies. Adminstrators can also monitor keywords through Yammer and set firewall locations as well. These tools and more allow businesses to administer safely and effectively.

The Campfire logoCampfire is part of the web applications company, 37signals.

Campfire is similar to instant messaging, but designed and optimized exclusively for groups. Businesses can share text, files, images, and code in real-time, making the need for physical meetings obsolete. You can purchase different amounts of memory to store transcripts that might otherwise not be recorded. How clever!

A Campfire screen cap

This web-based group chat tool lets administrators set up password-protected chat rooms in just a few seconds. Inviting a client, colleague, or vendor to chat, collaborate, and make decisions will help make better use of time and prevent disorganized e-mails or time-wasting physical meetings.

There are different pricing plans to fit the size and the technological demands of any business. The plans involve things like differing levels of file storage and an amount of conference call minutes.

Campfire is perfect for businesses that are spread out in different geographic locations. They make it simple to upload files and images in real-time, in the chat window for the other chat participants to see and share thoughts and opinions on.

Campfire streamlines group communication, making it simple to discuss and share new ideas with business partners, clients, and ultimately help groups make decisions more efficiently. Especially since it is available for your iPhone!

Social media maven Chris Brogan endorses Campfire as an essential part of any business’s social media tool kit in his eBook Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online.

The Convofy logoConvofy is a downloadable private social network for businesses. “It helps your team share knowledge and content with each other and communicate effectively and in real-time over that content.” Convofy is all about sharing and having open discussions within your company that promotes engagement. But you need not worry, all of these exchanges happen in the privacy and security of your company’s own network.

So how is Convofy different from any other social network out there? Here are just three quick benefits of using this specific social network:

  • Microblogging & Status Updates – Employees are able to see team’s updates          in real-time and never miss out on what other employees are sharing. Team are able to comment on the posts and see all conversations in real-time.
  •  Unlimited Storage for Files & Images – Upload and share images or documents with coworkers without worrying about storage limits!
  •  Suggestions & Motivational Analytics – “The presence indicator size reveals,   how active your coworkers are; the more they contribute, the bigger the indicator next to their name will be. Each posts suggests who will be the most useful to talk to – the most relevant people to the post and to you. Your contacts and groups are also ordered based on their relevance to you.”

To see what others are saying about Convofy head on over to convofy.com and check out Realtime Reactions. This page displays peoples thoughts and opinions on Convofy via their Twitter feeds.

If you would like to learn more about any of the social media tools covered in this post, or if you are interested in using them for your business, please pay a visit to their websites and check them out at:

Post by Erin McGuire and Molly Iles

Twitter + LinkedIn=Quora

What is Quora?

Quora logo

Image source: http://www.vanksen.com/files/2011/01/quora.png” alt=”Quora logo” /

Quora is a social forum that allows users to ask and answer questions from any topic that can vary from food, fashion to branding. Users can search for different topics to follow and can “vote up” or “vote down” the answers to each question, creating a list of the most popular answers. It uses activity from Twitter and Facebook to suggest questions. When done well, Quora can be a great way to engage in customer service without spending a dime.

Quora is a combination of Facebook (news feed, profiles), Twitter (followers) and LinkedIn (sharing experience/expertise) that is user-regulated.

Ways to increase your brand:

1. Follow topics in your industry:

  • Become an active participant in topics throughout the industry to raise profile
  • Important to follow competitor companies; good way to learn about target customers
  • Quora popularity hinges on expertise, quantity and quality of answers given; must keep the flow of questions and answers alive, all interconnected
  • Must be as interactive as possible; question-and-answer nature of Quora demands it
  • Being helpful is key to success; helping others in the industry is important
  • Create a new board to share content; upload outside links, share topics, group questions, etc.

Quora questions

Image source: http://www.careerrocketeer.com/wp-content/uploads/Quora-Personal-Branding.png

2. Search for potential leads:

  • Pay attention to top questions and top followers
  • Quora allows users to see who specifically is following what question; makes it easy to get leads to reach out personally and tailor the questions/answers to the individual by suggesting questions to follow
  • Since topics can be brand-based, companies can search for their product name to see what people are asking about and respond accordingly; if “Why did M&Ms discontinue Crispy M&Ms?” is popular, that company might want to respond accordingly

 3. Prove that you really have the most insight:

    • Demonstrating credibility is key- high profile is necessary to stay ahead of the game and is the difference in attracting hundreds of potential customers
    • Ask questions yourself- the timelier and more specific to the industry, the better
    • Follow and interact with other experts in the industry- good way to establish credibility
    • Avoid spamming the feed; don’t over-reach and look invasive
    • Only answer questions that you have extensive knowledge of; answering too many questions before doing research can damage credibility

Stats
Image source: http://qph.cf.quoracdn.net/main-qimg-a26c53e7b95d388bd8efa18f8e1f1a2f

2009-2011 Quora users

  • Quora uses a credits system to gain prominence for yourself and your questions/answers. One uses credits to ask questions, promote their content or ask someone else to answer a question. Users gain credits by getting content approved or voted up, and each question. 500 credits are given from the start and regularly refresh themselves.
  • There’s even a marketing page on the Quora site that offers advice to potential marketers. Highlights include: answering your own questions first, tagging as many topics relevant to yours as possible, and finding/answering similar questions to yours

Prezi Presentation– link to the presentation on how to use Quora as a marketing and professional branding tool.

Empire Avenue: How Much Are You Worth?

What is it?

Empire Avenue is a social stock market simulation game that allows individuals and businesses to buy and sell shares of other site users. You can increase your own value by connecting your other social media platforms to your Empire Avenue profile and staying active on these platforms. Your share price goes up and down based on your social interaction.

You also earn value through investing in other people on the site. As their score goes up, you earn more “eaves” or the virtual currency used on this site. The more eaves you earn, the more people you can invest in.

The key is to invest in people who are going to continue to be active on social media, therefore continuing to raise their score.

What can you link to you Empire Avenue profile?

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Facebook Fan Pages
  • LinkedIn
  • Flickr
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Google+
  • Blogs

Pages that you link will show up as icons on your profile page. They will each have a number attached to them that tracks your activity on that site throughout the week.

How can it generate traffic to a website?

Each user can connect their other various social networking sites to their Empire Avenue page. These social networking sites show up as icons on your page and clicking them can open the content.

For example, if you click on someone’s Twitter icon, a stream of their tweets drop down so you can view them. You could also choose to travel to their Twitter account.

Businesses can take advantage of this because you can click on their Facebook icon and be taken straight to their Facebook page where you can view the content and even ‘like’ the page if you’re interested.

You can also set up Missions where you offer to pay a certain amount of money to a person who completes you Mission, such as following you on Twitter, viewing your website or liking your Facebook page.

Here’s what you can do with Missions:

  • Drive traffic to your websites
  • Reward engagement in a fun, game-powered environment
  • Build loyalty among your existing fans
  • Increase your audience by attracting new followers, fans and subscribers to your various social media outlets

How to create a Mission:

  1. Choose a link you want people to visit. It could be your website, Twitter page, Facebook page, a YouTube video – anything.
  2. Set a reward that people will get when they click. You’ll use the virtual currency you’re already earning on Empire Avenue
  3. Watch the hits roll in! Every user who visits your link will get the reward, and they’ll love you for it.

“I offered to pay out 500 eaves to anyone who clicked ‘like’ on the URL I provided… I immediately had over 100 new ‘likes’ within one hour all by asking and offering up money I had made on this silly game.”

-Bill Pescosolido (source)

Empire Avenue provides an engaging and new way to track your social involvement. We are very interested to see where it goes in the future!

Ali Thurwachter and Drew Laing

Foursquare

by Courtney Rogers & Angela Duke

–       Foursquare is a “free app for your phone that makes the world easier to use.” It is a location-based social network that doubles as a game. It recommends nearby places that you and your friends like to use.

–       Used millions of times a day by individuals, venue owners, and brands.

  • Mainly for:
    • Finding new restaurants
    • Meeting up with friends
    • Visiting a favorite boutique
    • Chronicling and sharing adventures 

–       Mayorship

  • You become the “mayor” of a location by having the most check-ins within the past 60 days.
  • This encourages users to check-in and makes a game out of foursquare.

–       Case Study for a Business

  • History Channel
    • Uses Foursquare to encourage exploration and discovery of historical venues.
      • The History channel leaves tips at historical landmarks and sites.
    • Page picked up over 20,000 new followers within the first month.
    • Has remained one of the most popular on Foursquare.

–       Case Study for Fast food

  • McDonalds
    • One-Day Check-In campaign
    • Randomly selected 100 people who checked  and gave them $5 – $10 gift cards.
    • Saw major increase in foot traffic day of campaign.
    • Week after campaigns, checkins remained high.
    • 600,000 new fans and followers
    • 99% positive feedback.
  • Starbucks
    • Starbucks is one of the top brands using Foursquare.
    • In 2010, Starbucks rewarded customers who checked into 5 Starbucks locations with the “Barista” badge.
    • Starbucks is trying to go beyond coupons and discounts and offer things like invitations to special events, photo sharing, and participating in online reputation scores.
–    Jimmy Choo
    • Jimmy Choo had a treasure hunt promotional campaign on Foursquare in which customers who found the new Jimmy Choo trainers around London would check in. Winners had to find the shoes before they left the location and approach the representative to tell them that they are a Foursquare follower. The customer will then win a pair of the shoes.

–       Foursquare Badges

–       Integration of SinglePlatform into Foursquare

  • FourSquare integrated SinglePlatform into Foursquare desktop and Foursquare mobile website.
    • This brings over 250,000 menus and price-filtering options to users who look at restaurant venues on Foursquare.
    • This moves “Foursquare above locale-based review sites including Yelp, Urbanspoon and Google-acquired Zagat.”
Higher Education
  • Harvard awards special badges for students who check in to a certain number of locations. The university wants for the campus to engage with each other across the platform. They hope that students will create more connections with one another by doing so.

“Deep down Foursquare is a deceptively addicting game of collecting badges and mayorships. Because of this, it makes the game just so darn fun!  We love Twitter because it’s so simple and it’s easy to type 140 characters about something.  Well Foursquare is a whole lot easier than that; you simply click a few buttons and it tells your friends exactly where you are”

Introduction of Sponsored Stories

For this second project, DuBose and I researched Facebook’s newest, interactive way for companies and pages to gain exposure and connect friends at the same time:
Sponsored Stories 

Let’s take a look at what Facebook is saying:

Facebook implemented “Sponsored Stories” early in 2011. Simply put, “Sponsored Stories” works like “word of mouth”. If a Facebook user likes your page as a company, uses your app, or checks in at one of your locations, then that story will appear on the news feed. Unfortunately, there is so much content that the information will often be overlooked. “Sponsored Stories” tries to increase visibility of these particular stories by placing them on the right-hand side of your screen. Facebook also has seven different types of Sponsored Stories for companies to choose from, and allows a new aspect to Facebook mobile called “check-in stories”. Sponsored Stories also allows companies to consistently edit their target audience and criteria, however only the friends of the individual who has liked your company page can see the story on the newsfeed. This creates a level of trustworthiness between the company and the potential client because the Facebook user trusts the friend of liked the company.

What type of Facebook interactions can be turned into Sponsored Stories?

  • likes
  • check-ins
  • actions within custom applications
  • page posts

What are social media experts saying?

Facebook Turns Friend Activity Into New Ad Format by Ben Parr
Basically, Facebook has taken activity that already goes on with Facebook profiles and news feeds and is not using it to bring in revenue.  According to Jim Squires – Facebook Product Marketing Lead – Sponsored Stories are “a way for marketers to sponsor activities that happen throughout the News Feed.”  Businesses can now pay to have x percent of the specified activities show up in the right-hand section of the Facebook News Feed.

“Sponsored Stories has a lot of similarities to Twitter Promoted Tweets. Both are trying to use content from within their networks and turn them into advertising dollars. There is one key difference between Sponsored Stories and Promoted Tweets, though: The user defines the advertised content in Facebook’s format, not the advertiser.”
– Ben Parr, Mashable.com

Facebook Sponsored Stories Are 46% More Effective Than Standard Facebook Ads by John Paul Titlow
According to ReadWrite Biz, Facebook’s Sponsored Stories had a click-through rate that’s 46% higher than the standard Facebook advertisement. In addition, TGB Digital reported that over ten days there were two billion advertisement impressions.

What’s the difference between Sponsored Stories and Ads?

How much do Sponsored Stories cost?

Companies/businesses can set a daily budget that Sponsored Stories are not to exceed.  They then choose how they want their Sponsored Stories to be viewed, and this depends on three things:

  • Pay for Impressions (CPM)
  • Pay for clicks (CPC)
  • Action-optimized CPM

In Summary…

Facebook Sponsored Stories have proven to be almost 50% more effective than Facebook Ads.  They have taken everyday interactions among users – likes, check-ins, custom application usage, and page posts – and turned them into a way to promote companies and businesses.  Although some people fear that these stories will become too intrusive of News Feeds, the stories have been successful thus far.