In an ongoing effort to reclaim their platform, Yelp has announced that through a new “sting” operation, they will determine which businesses are purchasing reviews. Yelp’s Consumer Alerts began in 2012, but Yelp has recently decided to take a harsher stance. This week, they have rolled out a fresh batch of these alerts and renewed them for some businesses. If you are a restaurant, small business or other establishment who has been targeted for one of these sting operations and found to have fake or purchased reviews posted on your Yelp page, you will get a warning slapped on your profile to make users aware that the information is not trustworthy.
Some businesses waiting for reviews to be verified are claiming that Yelp is holding the reviews in order to get the businesses to buy advertising. In contrast, Yelp states that as of February, they had almost 300 additional businesses who will be penalized for paying for reviews, whether with cash, discounts or other benefits.
Yelp’s controversies aside, Yelp has decided to slap a business they feel has phony or paid for reviews with a big, embarrassing Consumer Alert badge. While they buffer this with stating that they don’t remove the business’ listing, some might argue – with the sad state that Yelp (and most review sites for that matter) is in – it might be just as well to get banned from Yelp altogether, or just attempt to remove your listing yourself.
Have you had difficulties with Yelp or any other review service? Were you able to rectify the problem or is it still an issue? Tell us your story in the comments, we’d love to hear how you fixed a problem, or if you were able to get phony reviews removed, or even a success story.
If you are a crafter, knitter, crocheter, or anyone who knows or loves one, you are familiar with Red Heart Yarn. In the yarn business for over 75 years, Red Heart Yarn is part of the Coats and Clark family of brands. Coats and Clark began in the 1800s originating in Scotland, making thread and needles. The Clark family expanded to the US, opening a cotton mill in New Jersey and quickly adding others in the Eastern states, eventually becoming the #1 needlecraft company in the United States. I had the fantastic opportunity to talk with Coats and Clark’s Crafts Consumer Marketing Manager, North America: Carrie Leahew, about the company’s web marketing strategy.
What is your policy regarding customer service via social media?
If a consumer contacts us via private message or through wall post the social media community manager determines if this is something she can answer or if it needs to go to our customer service department. We strive to answer our consumers back within 24 hours of the original contact.
Do you have a person or team on staff to respond to social inquiries, or do you outsource?
Red Heart has a team of people who are responsible for social media and a customer service department that helps answers queries that the social media team cannot answer.
What percentage of your marketing budget goes to traditional marketing, and how much to web marketing, and social media in particular?
40% of the marketing budget is for digital marketing activities. This year we increased our social media budget to 10% of the overall marketing budget.
I’m sure you have seen marketing evolve, especially in the last 5 years. What do you think has changed the most?
The fact that we have social media as a marketing channel. Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest are all within the last 5 years, so it is a whole new fast paced world we are exploring.
What do you like about marketing via social media? Is there any aspect that you feel does not serve your company well?
I love getting immediate responses from consumers on the things we are posting. Engagement is the most important metric for us on social media, so the more people interact with us through social media the more we feel we are getting out of it. Social media has been an important marketing channel for our business being in the craft industry, and I can’t think of one negative thing about it for us. Our consumers love making things, sharing photos and experiences through social media and we love seeing what you are making.
I personally think that your industry lends itself incredibly well to social business, and social media in particular. What platforms (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc) do you feel have the greatest impact on your sales?
I think they all collectively have an impact, but in the last 12 months Facebook has had the most growth going from 100,000 fans in January to over 280,000 in December, and that is sure to have an impact on sales.
Does your company use social business platforms such as Salesforce or something similar internally to communicate rather than email?
We do have Microsoft Outlook 360 which has a tool called Lync that we use to communicate a lot with video chat, IM and screen sharing.
Do you establish the same social media policy and efforts across all of your brands? Why or why not?
Yes, we are working towards establishing the same core social media policies across all our brands. It is important to be consistent in the manner in which we interact with the consumer from a corporate brand perspective.
Red Heart Yarn provides thousands of free patterns, plenty of social media interaction and a lot of great ideas on the website and across their social media profiles. Their fans are prolific with their photo sharing and very vocal on Facebook and Pinterest. The Red Heart site is very interactive, and appears to be where the brand chooses to spend the majority of their web marketing budget.
I am so glad Carrie Leahew was able to share a bit of their social strategy with TKG. It is fantastic to see a brand that is well over 200 years old able to adapt and grow with the way marketing has changed, especially with such rapid change in the last 20 years. Not all brands of the same age and scope have been so adaptable. The web, with it’s ever changing uses, trends and potential will continue to be a great way for Red Heart to market their brand, especially when they are so willing to go with the current trends. I look for the rest of their brands, especially Coats and Clark, to follow close behind.
Capitalizing on quick-witted humor and well-timed tweets, real-time marketing has become the newest digital marketing darling.
And the Super Bowl seemed to be the perfect target for some brands to try working out the kinks. Along the way, it provided abundant fodder for real-time marketing flubs and success stories.
Everyone remembers Oreo’s big social win last year during the Super Bowl, when the cookie company aptly tweeted “You can still dunk in the dark” during the game’s unexpected power outage. Talk about quick wit and perfect timing. Oreo instantly became one of the most buzz-worthy moments of the ad game.
No one expected a brand to react outside of their usual marketing silos last year, making the effort stand out and make an immediate impact on the Oreo brand.
So this year, it was game on. You had to know it was coming.
Now smarter to the new realities of content marketing, everyone wanted in on creating a moment like that for their brand. Marketers everywhere tried to hone in on a way to inject their brand into the Super Bowl audience in whatever way they could. And this time they came prepared.
While watching my Twitter feed, it seemed pretty clear to me that several brands tried pretty hard to stock up on material that that could be pulled out in a variety of situations to appear timely. A safety to start the game was the perfect time for Nestle’s Butterfinger to chime in and say “Every game should start with two” with a pic of two of their new peanut butter cups. Seemingly well played, but it certainly didn’t net a lot of reaction from their 25,000 followers ‑ only 21 retweets and 13 favorites. Perhaps it was overkill from the dozen or so other posts to the same extent in a short amount of time.
It seemed much of the social action this year happened between brands. Tide was quick to clean up on this tactic, tweeting out to dozens of brands in retort to their messy Super Bowl ads.
JCPenney drew some buzz with their tweets that appeared to have been written by an intern that put back one too many beers. Noted, Coors Light tweeted to JCPenney: “We know football goes great with Coors Light, but please tweet responsibly.” It was later revealed that JCP’s tweets were set to promote Team USA mittens (#tweetingwithmittens). Funny or too staged? The seemingly drunk posts received around 20,000 retweets, while the mittens explanation garnered less than 4,000.
So where’s the sweet spot? When is real-time marketing effective for your business and when does it start to work against you?
It all comes down to authenticity. The key is to stay true to your brand and your mission and have a plan for your long-term social success. A one-time witty tweet means nothing if your brand isn’t going to continue to engage with your audience in a meaningful way.
Content – in any form – always needs to be relevant, dynamic and engaging. When you see an opportunity that works for your brand, don’t be afraid to jump on it quickly – but don’t force it. Your brand, and your followers, will thank you for it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and your favorite Super Bowl tweets. Share in the comments!
Pinterest, the much loved social platform of crafters, cooks, artists, travelers, gardeners, hobbiests, fashionistas, browsers and brands, will be adding a new feature just announced this week. The feature will be rolled out in coming weeks and – an Interest page. Pinterest will begin showing you a page based on the pins you have exhibited interest in on the site in previous visits.
Your Interests Page, which right now is just a preview of what is coming, will basically just be a snap shot of the types of pins you have shown the most interest in during your most recent visits to Pinterest.
For example, I haven’t really used Pinterest much since planning my daughter’s 1st birthday party. As you can see, the page is full of new pin categories, more specific than the broad categories you are used to seeing. Mine shows cupcakes, party favors and lots of pink. I think this new tool could be a time saver…if you are looking to save time when browsing through Pinterest, the ultimate time suck of social media. It shows you specific pin categories related to the ones you have recently pinned or searched, or loved. As you use the tool more and more, it will become more specific to you. For example from the Pinterest blog:
Before today, all the billions of Pins on Pinterest were organized into just a handful of broad categories. So if you were browsing for ideas for your yard, you had to go somewhere like “Gardening” and sift through all the Pins. If you’ve collected lots of Pins that show climbing plants and wall ferns, your interests page might recommend vertical gardens for you to check out.
This is utter genius if you pin for your brand, within specific parameters, because now Pinterest is doing all the work of finding new pins for you. Just check out the Interest page to see what is new for you!
Have you checked out Pinterest Interests? What did you think? Will you use it, or do like doing all the discovering on your own (i.e. – the hard way)?
Well, it certainly was this week. Jelly garnered twice as many users in its first three days than Twitter had in its entire first year. Of course, Twitter was early on the social media scene, and really took a little while to gain more than early adopters. That being said, Jelly has been met with a good bit of enthusiasm. Twitter and Facebook both did their share of spreading the word on Jelly, which accounts for the enormous response it got right from the start. According to Jelly:
“Even though Jelly has only been ‘out in the wild’ for one week, people are helping with their own specific knowledge, experience, and opinions. Some folks are just kicking the tires, others are jumping right in with real intent.”
Name recognition for co-founder Biz Stone, who also co-founded Twitter, probably had a lot to do with the early rise in user accounts, though he warns that the number of accounts being added would steadily decrease as the novelty of a new platform wears off:
However, an amazing spike like this also means that our numbers will drop dramatically. Jelly will fall off the top free apps charts, reporters will stop writing about us, and we’ll begin the long, slow, organic growth climb that every startup faces. We’ve just arrived at the starting line of our long haul.
Stone also mentioned earlier in the week that Jelly would be getting some new features in the near future, including a search function and reach across a greater number of networks.
TechCrunch reported that in the first week, Jellly was asked over 100,000 questions, but that only about 25,000 of those were answered. Have you used Jelly yet? Were you able to get your question answered?
If Google+ pages are part of your web marketing strategy, you may have experienced a great deal of frustration with duplicate listings. The most common reason for duplicate listings is when a person within a company creates a page then leaves. A new person then comes in and creates another one because they were unaware that one was created before.
These duplicate listings can easily create a bad user experience with potential customers that are researching your company online. We have tried multiple methods for removing these duplicate listings and have settled on one that we believe is the best. This step by step tutorial will walk you through the process of merging/removing duplicate listings on Google+.
Step 1: Go to maps.google.com
At the top of the page you will see a search box. In this search box enter your phone number. The phone number is usually the piece of information that is the consistent across all of the duplicates. As a site note, If your business has a lot of duplicate listings there will be multiple pages. These steps will have to be repeated for each page. (See Image Below)
After you have entered the email address you will see all of the business listings that are listed under that phone number in the left hand column.
Step 2: Scroll to the bottom of the page and click “Report a Problem” (See Image Below)
Step 3: Select the business listing that you would like to keep or the one that is the most accurate. (See Image Below)
Step 4: Select the problem that you are reporting (See Image Below). At this point there might be some confusion. In the last step you selected the business that is correct or that you want to keep. The way this process is setup it appears as if you are reporting a problem with that listing. That is not correct. The next step allows you to select all of the listings that are duplicates. (See Image Below)
Step 5: Select the listings that are duplicates. You will want to keep the listing that you want to keep, selected as well. (See Image Below)
As mentioned above, if you have a lot of duplicate business listings you will more than likely have multiple pages of duplicates. Repeat Steps 1-5 for each page.
After you have submitted the problem to Google, it might take some time for the listings to be merged/removed. I recommend repeating this process weekly until the listings have been merged/removed.
As always, if you have questions about this process leave me a comment below. If you’re interested in talking to someone about your web marketing needs, contact us.
It’s an all new year, with new social media platforms, trends and best practices emerging all the time. According to just about every reputable social media monitor, multi-channel marketing is where your attention needs to be if you are in the retail biz. It’s been true for years, but 2014 promises to be THE YEAR for social media marketing. Here are a few things to look for:
Socialfresh reports that Content is King…yeah, I know you’ve heard that before. But the thing they suggest you be on top of is segmentation – making sure your copy fits the segment of the population you are trying to reach. That means switching up your copy depending on where you are posting. Posting to Pinterest? Great. Post knowing that you are mainly speaking to women, in fact, 1/3 of the women in the US use Pinterest.
The biggest mistake that marketers make is to assume that there’s a “one size fits all” solution for your social media strategy and each platform can be used the same.
Facebook is your community of brand advocates where you are posting relevant updates whereas
Twitter is where you’re having meaningful 1-on-1 dialogue
Vine and Instagram humanize your brand through colorful photo and live video
Pinterest connects your brand as everyday solutions
Foursquare rewards your most loyal customers
Your content needs to be fresh, appropriate and engaging, and ready for mobile. Facebook’s engagement level is going way down. The other social media platforms, such as Pinterest and Instagram, and other visual social platforms are going up. Make sure you know how to engage your audience on each platform. Business2Business Community points out:
Visual social content is now a serious contender in social media marketing due to the convergence of a few factors.
The rapid market penetration of smart phones and tablets
The widespread availability of high speed wireless networks
The decreased cost of data that makes high definition uploads cost effective
The emergence of focused visual media social networks such as Pinterest, Vine and Instagram
Which leads us to mobile. Social Mobile is a must. Your customers expect it. I know I get seriously annoyed when I can’t find a good way to view a business, get reviews, find out if the owner happens to be on a two week Caribbean cruise instead of dishing up my favorite pasta, on my phone. You have to do it. Accept and respect the social mobile.
Traditional media is being ignored more and more by the big brands and artists. An example from Business2Business Communications:
The first inkling of this was seen when Beyonce launched a new album in December last year. She ignored the traditional mass media release of a radio campaign, multiple TV appearances and retail and consumer brand promotions. Instead she announced it on Instagram to her 8 million followers with the word “Surprise” and proceeded to launch the 14 songs and accompanying 17 videos on iTunes.
The unofficial numbers are said to be 365,000 album downloads on the first day and 1.2 million tweets in 12 hours. Beyonce has her own distribution network and its called “social media”. The power of her fans and crowd sourced marketing is now apparent to all. An interesting question here is “does she need traditional mass media?”
And finally, look for Google+ to finally make a little headway, maybe move a little content this year. Google+ actually has about 540 million users, which makes it second only to Facebook. I know how that sounds, because who really uses Google+? Lots of people have signed up, clearly, but early on most of them were either curious, doing it for business purposes or something along those lines. Now that it is finally gaining some speed, Google+ will be one to watch as 2014 progresses.
What social media platforms are you watching for 2014? We know a lot of our clients are excited about the different visual platforms…they are a better fit for a lot of different businesses. I know a lot of small businesses and home based businesses, as well as the manufacturers who supply those folks are very excited about Instagram, Pinterest, Vine…we’d love to hear what you are using to reach out to your audience and what platforms work the best to get leads and sales.
Facebook has launched it’s Year in Review. To see yours, simply click the link on the left side of your Profile Page. For businesses, it might be an interesting way to look back at the different ways social has impacted your business over the last year, how your customers are responding to your social business strategies and perhaps allow you to plan a bit for the coming year, based on how successful your strategy was, or at least what Facebook assumes were the most important moments in your social year.
Twitter has also launched it’s own version of the Year In Review. Just by the very nature of Twitter, this year in review is much more indepth. You can see the year in a variety of topics, and then of course, there is the Golden Tweet Award. It was awarded to a tweet send out by Lea Michele after the death of Cory Monteith sent on July 29th. With over 396,547 Retweets 393,883 Favorites:
Thank you all for helping me through this time with your enormous love & support. Cory will forever be in my heart. pic.twitter.com/XVlZnh9vOc
The end of year wrap ups have begun, folks! Happy New Year!
Making Nice in the Midwest’s Mandi is our first full time blogger. I think the perspective of a blogger is an interesting one, as so many have tried to go this route with little to no success, while others have seen enormous success. Most bloggers write for the sake of writing, and while that is a great and lovely ideal, some have been offered opportunities to write for other blogs, brands and so on. The business of blogging is still a fairly big one, with many brands reaching out to popular bloggers to have them review products, share new offerings. I’m sure you’ve heard of some of the more popular “mom” bloggers, The Pioneer Woman, Dooce, Single Dad Laughing. These folks have been able to make a career of blogging itself, and in many cases have been offered other opportunities because of the popularity of their blogs. Mandi of Making Nice in the Midwest was willing to sit down and give me some tips on how she got started.
Mandi has several ventures that she pursues along with blogging; she has an Etsy shop where she sells vintage clothing and bags, and she writes for Disney’s Babble Blog.
1. What social media platforms are you currently using to promote your business?(Etsy, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
I’m a full-time blogger for my own blog, Making Nice in the Midwest, and also Disney’s Babble blog. Of course, I’m always trying to get better numbers on my own blog, though developing loyalty and an involved readership is more important to me on my personal blog than numbers are. For Babble, I receive bonuses if my numbers are in the top three for style contributor’s for the month, so I’m obviously a bit more interested in boosting my numbers for them- which means I like to push my Babble posts hard on social media.
I have used Twitter for a few years and developed a modest following (over 2K) followers who are mostly there because they follow my blog. I always tweet about a new post after publishing it- usually that day. Instagram is a bit trickier, because they don’t allow hyperlinking. So occasionally if I have an interesting Babble post, I’ll share the link to my contributor page with a photo of my project, but I don’t know how successful that is. It seems like Instagram is more successful for photographer’s or for traffic to my personal blog that’s linked from my Instagram account.
Pinterest is a huge source of traffic for DIY style posts, as is a website called Craft Gawker. But the thing with Pinterest is that it doesn’t do much good to pin something if you don’t have a following there. To grow and maintain a following on Pinterest, you have to first of all clue in your followers that you’re there (from whatever source you’re sure to find them- I post a link to it from my blog), and then you have to share content on Pinterest that they’re interested in. And probably not just content pimping your own stuff. This means that you’ve got to be on Pinterest sharing things besides your own content somewhat frequently- it’s never a good idea to just get on there and spam people with things they’re not interested in- that’s a surefire way to lose followers. So maintaining an interesting Pinterest board that gets repins and new followers takes a lot of time. It’s really only something that works if you are already interested in spending time on Pinterest anyway.
I haven’t seen a ton of traffic from Facebook, but I utilize it anyway because some people only have enough time to quickly check their Facebook feed, and if I pop up on there during that small window of time, there’s a chance I’ll get some traffic from sharing links there. I also try to use Facebook for my personal blog to interact with readers and share bonus material that doesn’t make it to my blog, like links to products I enjoy, personal photos, or questions for readers.
2. A. Do you feel that these platforms have increased your business’ scope?
Twitter has been the best thing for me as far as increasing my readership, because it’s helped me to develop relationships with other bloggers who are more likely to share my content on their own blog, or else promote me on purpose or inadvertently by tweeting to me or retweeting my Tweets.
B. Do you feel as though you are getting more opportunities due to using social media to promote your blog?
I definitely wouldn’t have cultivated the blogger relationships that I have had if not for Twitter. It’s really easy to get into Twitter conversations in the evening- it’s sort of like a public forum where you can connect with like minded people and chat, even though you live hundreds of miles away. Relationships happen there- and I never would’ve expected that when I signed up a few years ago. This building of blogger relationships has made people loyal friends who refer people to me just as a blog they should follow, or even to work with me in other professional arenas, such as using me as a photographer, hiring me for design work, or asking me to guest blog or blog professionally for their website. This is actually how I got a nice paid gig writing for Disney’s Babble.
C. How long did it take to start getting leads or developing relationships from each social platform?
It took at least a year of being active and developing relationships on social media before I started getting partnership opportunities and paid gigs from people who I had connected with on there. Social media connections don’t happen overnight, and it’s not something that you can just do sporadically. It has to be a continual thing where you are constantly connecting with people and putting quality stuff out there. Mind you- QUALITY stuff.
3. If you are using more than Facebook, which platform do you feel has the greatest reach for your blog/business?
Pinterest has been a great source of hits on my blog, but it’s not great for developing a new readership or involvement from readers. People who come from Pinterest are usually looking for one thing, and once they found it they normally don’t come back. Instagram and Twitter is better for building a loyal following. People feel they know you after a Twitter conversation, and when they follow you, they will click through every time you share that you’re released a new blog post. Instagram is great because it develops a relationship in a way that’s a bit more voyreuristic. It’s like looking in on someone’s life, and they become more curious about it, and therefore more likely to click through to a blog post if you share about it there.
4. Have you been featured in any traditional media? (newspaper, radio, etc.)
I’ve been published in several magazines. Most of these opportunities came from people contacting me because they had found my blog through other blog’s linking to mine or because they had been following it for years.
5. Have you been featured on another blog? If so, do you have a link to that post?
I’ve been featured on many blogs through the years. It sort of goes with the territory of being a blogger! You can see everywhere I’ve been feature at my blog’s press info page here: http://makingniceinthemidwest.com/press/
6. Why do you think social media is a good fit for your business?
My brand is built around my persona (the one that’s mostly true, but I leave out the boring and ugly stuff), so it’s important for me to curate that persona online, really be picky about what I put out there, and make connections with other people who are like me and can offer a symbiotic relationship.
7. How much time do you spend in a week promoting your blog/business on various social media platforms?
It varies. If life is slow, I’m more likely to pop onto my iPod (I don’t have a smart phone) and see what’s happening on Twitter or share photos on Instagram. But I try not to be on mobile devices when I’m hanging out with family or friends, so this is mostly when I’m waiting at the doctor’s office, waiting in line at the store, or just have some downtime at home. I also have been known to lose a lot of time on Pinterest, so I have to be careful about making sure to sign off and live life!
8. Or, are you purely an organic user – you allow social media to do the ‘talking” for you (as it should be to a certain extent) – do you just allow others to post and comment on your work, or do you actively promote?
I actively promote on social media, but I try not to do it too aggressively, especially on Twitter, because what I’m really trying to do is build relationships and an interactive following. I always respond to people when they tweet at me, and it often turns into a nice little unexpected conversation.
9. How many aspects of your business do you host on social media sites? Do you sell on Facebook? Do you use Etsy? Do you use Facebook purely for promotion or do you list products, etc?
I never list products on social media, but I do use affiliate partnerships to make income from my blog, and I will share those affiliate links from time to time on Pinterest and Facebook. It’s very important to maintain credibility that I don’t do this too often, that when I do it’s interspersed with lots of great original content, and that the product links I share are things I truly love and that align with my aesthetic.
I really appreciated Mandi’s slightly different perspective when it comes to social media. Many of the business owners I have interviewed look at social media as a way to blatantly promote, and that is good with the right audience. Mandi, much like Jordan of Wright and Rede, Mandi feels that she should only post to social media items that are very true to her online identity…keeping it authentic so that her followers don’t lose that sense of genuine communication with her.
Some folks think that blogs are a thing of the past, and that the newer versions of social media are now king. While I agree that social media such as Facebook and Twitter are top dog, I think blogs still have a place. Among our TKG ranks we have several people who maintain blogs outside of TKGenius. I think the avenue blogs have provided to allow your voice to be heard on a more complete and thorough plane will not soon dissolve. I personally read more blogs than I do just about anything else online.
What are you reading? Do you have a blog that you love and have shared with friends or family? We’d love to see a link in the comments!
Pope Francis beat a number of rather infamous folks for the title of “Person of the Year” including:
Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria
Barack Obama, President of the US
Edward Snowden, NSA leaker
Edith Windsor, gay-rights activist
Hassan Rouhani, President of Iran
Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon
Ted Cruz, Texas senator
Kathleen Sebelius, US Secretary of Health and Human Services
I look at this list and have to wonder about a few of these folks – there are a few head scratchers there…making the “honor” a rather dubious one, however, many are thrilled that “The People’s Pope” has been named Person of the Year.
Netflix Charms and Creeps Us Out In One Ad
You’ve probably seen the new Netflix Christmas ad…the one with the creepy tree topper? Funny enough for the Superbowl, but I guess the timing is off a bit. It’s this week’s viral post on Facebook and everywhere else. I love her scary “Roz” from Monster’s Inc. voice.. priceless as the innocent tree topper.
Check it out… share it with your friends…unless they have already shared it with you!