Change is Good, Especially When It Comes to Social Media

Regular readers get used to the ways businesses and news media deliver content. They know what to expect. Where to look. And how they’ll find what they’re searching for. That’s all fine and good. But so is change, trying new ways to tell a story, new ways to format information.

Recently the Boston Globe, changed the format of my favorite section–the G section. I’ve seen this section go through several iterations during the time I’ve lived in Boston. The first few days I might feel like, “whoa, what happened here?” But within a short time I always come around to seeing the strengths of the changes and can barely remember what things were like previously.

Social media content has lots of options to consider and while it needn’t be as radical right off the bat as changing the format of an entire section, social content developers can try integrating images, audio, specific apps, etc.  In my new 26 Tips article on Social Media Examiner I offer ways to consider. Twenty-six ways to be precise.

Some times change gets a bad rap. But in these info-rich times, resistance to change may be far, far worse.

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio and the types of services I provide. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

26 tips


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Lessons Learned from Brands on Social Media

26 Ways Brands Succeed with Social Media Marketing was published today on Social Media Examiner.

As I was working on the concept of the piece, and with a gazillion number of brands on social media, I wondered where to begin.  I needed to narrow my approach and find a way to identify brands who were indeed, successful.

I reached out to Ryan Hatoum (@ryanhatoum), US PR Manager at Socialbakers, who graciously agreed to provide me with data (e.g. # of updates, # responses, # of new followers, etc.) about the 30 top brands on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  And since the information changes week-to-week, month-to-month, I narrowed the list of brands I’d look at over a two-week period, November 1 to November 15, 2014. The weeks proceeding the writing of the article.

I took a look at who was doing what and how an update succeeded in engaging fans. Needless to say, the process was extremely interesting and helped me identify 26 noteworthy efforts.

I think you’ll find that the approaches can be applied to businesses of all sizes and industries and my hope is that they will provide readers with takeaways for their own social media efforts.

Thanks again to Ryan Hatoum and everyone at Socialbakers for their assistance.

Wishing you and yours Happy Holidays!

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio and the types of services I provide. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

26 ways brands

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Social Media Work-Out

Today I have a new article, 26 Ways to Strengthen Your Social Media Marketing, published on Social Media Examiner.  Whether you’re new to social media or were an early adopter, the piece focuses on ways you can strengthen your overall presence and add more vitality.

If you found your way to my blog as a result of the SME article, welcome and thanks for stopping by!

While you’re here you may also want to check out my portfolio and the types of services I provide. Feel free to drop me a line in the comments below, or via the contact form.

dhemley sme article

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The Power of Infographics

BAInfographics2014There are infographics and then there are infographics; so rich with data, and visual interest that they quickly cross over an invisible line and become beautiful works of art. Infographic fans will surely delight in The Best American Infographics 2014 edited by Gareth Cook.

The book is divided into three sections, You, Us and the Material World. And, technically a forth section entitled Interactive, where you can see screenshots of ten infographics and then navigate to the URLs provided in the text e.g. Transit Map, NYC, Block by Block, Brooklyn’s Past and Present.

Why the growing interest in infographics? As Gareth Cook points out in the book’s foreword, “…something like half of the brain is involved in processing images. This fundamentally is why infographics have become such a force in our increasingly visual media.” Good infographics as Cook suggests bring flashes of clarity and leave us feeling ahhhh.

Nate Silver explains that by taking a visual approach to organizing information that we can tell stories that have advantages over purely verbal ones. Namely they offer approachability, transparency and efficiency.

Even the book’s cover is an infographic that reflects the range of one word responses and number of times the same word was used to complete the sentence, “Infographics have the power to ________.”

The words ranged from advise to woo with the two most frequent used words being enlighten and reveal. There were 42 terms that were classified as being negative with the three most frequently used, annoy, argue and lie.

While it might be nearly impossible to decide on your all-time favorite infographics in the book, for me I found that they tended to be the the ones whose topics and visual explanations most reflected areas of personal interest. And in one word, I’d have to agree they had the power to enlighten.

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Content That Delights, Teaches & Reminds

In a recent article on Facebook’s business blog, Mari Smith offers a suggestion that I’ve thought about a lot since reading.

As Mari suggests, regardless of the business you’re in you need to remember that people are on Facebook for personal reasons—“nobody wakes up in the morning, looks at their phone and says, ‘Gee, I wonder what some big brand is doing Screen Shot 2014-11-21 at 12.00.55 PMtoday on Facebook.’’’

As an exercise I’ve been trying to stop and notice when content truly delights me in some way, teaches me something I didn’t know, reminds me of something maybe I needed to be reminded of. That’s what I’m looking and hoping for.

That’s what brought me to social media in the first place. And keeps me here.

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The Information Age Wasn’t Born Yesterday

Paul Otlet

Paul Otlet

Loved learning about Paul Otlet in Alex Wright‘s excellent book, Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age.  Otlet was truly a visionary!

“Twenty-five years before the first microchip, forty years before the first personal computer, and fifty years before the very first Web browser, Paul Otlet had envisioned something very much like today’s Internet.

Even more startling, Otlet also imagined that individuals would be able to upload files to central servers and communicate via wireless networks, anticipated the development of speech recognition tools, and described technology for transmitting sense perceptions like taste and smell. He foresaw the possibilities of social networks, of letting users ‘participate, applaud, give ovations, sing in the chorus.’ … He saw the possibilities of constructing a social space around individual pieces of media, and allowing a network of contributors to create links from one to another, much the way hyperlinks work on today’s Web.”

Also, great article by Alex Wright in The Atlantic

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Five Ways to Effectively Test Your Product Concept on a Lean Budget

Image Source: Dreamstine

Have you been thinking about an idea for a new product? Have you tested it to see how it will be received in the marketplace?

In this article I’ll help demystify concept testing and show you how even on the leanest of budgets, you can rest assured that you know what you need to know to take your concept to the next stage.

#1: Familiarize Yourself with Concept Testing

Kotler and Armstrong suggest that concept testing is one of eight major stages in product development that follows the idea generation and screening phases. And involves “drafting the product idea in verbal or pictorial form, further explaining the nature of the concept, with initial ideas of impediments, materials and technologies. New product concepts are tested with a group of target consumers to find out if the concepts have strong consumer appeal. “

Concept testing may be one of the most important steps you’ll take a long the way and to do it effectively you should have some specific goals in mind.

#2: Create Obtainable Concept Testing Goals
Whether your business is large or small, the goals of concept testing are the same–to conduct the test among the widest segment of the appropriate population. Fortunately these days social networks provide an easy and cost-effective solution for targeting and segmenting potential audiences.

Jakub Hrabovsky recommends looking at demographics that focus on:

  • Characteristics of the customer; age, gender, income bracket, education, job, and cultural background, lifestyle, such as social class, lifestyle, personality, opinions, and attitudes.
  • Specific customer behaviors e.g. online shoppers, shopping center customers, brand preference and prior purchases.
  • Geographical location such as continent, country, state, province, city or rural that the customer group resides.

#3: Take the Necessary Steps to Prepare for a Concept Test
An integral part of the preparation stage is being able to identify characteristics of your ideal customers and solutions they might be looking for.
Karl Stark and Bill Stewart offer a list of insightful questions that will be helpful to consider before moving forward:

  • Who are the ideal customers?
  • Does the product already exist?
  • What is the customer doing currently?
  • What is the all-in cost of the current solution?
  • What asset or capability are you bringing that is unique?
  • How will competitors react to a successful launch?
  • What is the business model?
  • How can you test and learn before building the entire structure?

If you’re ready, carve out some time and write down your responses to these questions and you’ll be well on your way to taking the next step, designing a survey.

#4: Consider 10 Factors for Survey Design

The design phase is very important. After all, once you have gained your participants’ attention you’ll want to make sure that you’ve thought through a number of factors so that people will stick-in and complete the survey.
(Sources: Qualtrics, Lightspeed Research)

  • Describe the concept in a clear and understandable way and include product benefits.
  • Familiarize yourself with the variety of question types and determine the best formats to use e.g. multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, open ended, rank order, and questions in matrix tables.
  • Identify distribution channels for ways to best engage participants: email website, blog or QR codes; mobile compatible surveys; social network integrated—Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In.
  • Estimate how much time it will take for participants to complete the survey. The number of questions may vary from one survey to the next.
  • Keep online questionnaire length under 20 minutes.
  • Evaluate each questionnaire to eliminate “nice to know” questions (i.e. questions that don’t directly relate to the objectives and success criteria).
  • Keep the number of questions asked prior to concept exposure to a minimum.
  • Think about questions from the respondent’s point of view – if you were a respondent would you want to answer? For example: Use technology to make questionnaires more respondent friendly (e.g. to skip questions that don’t apply).
  • Watch out for repetitious questions. You may think you are asking different questions (e.g. product is healthy and product is good for you), but respondents often don’t see it that way.
  • Consider using split questionnaire designs to break a long questionnaire into manageable tasks. The second questionnaire is fielded to those returning the first questionnaire. This makes the task a little less daunting for respondents while still gathering all the information from the same respondents.

#5: Design Your Concept Test Without Reinventing the Wheel

It’s always good to know that there are some ready-to-use online resources. We came across several templates that will help to get you started with concept testing without having to reinvent the wheel.

Here are four that will help you get started in no time:

Brief Product Concept Test from Question Pro
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Product and Concept Testing Survey from Survey Onics
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Concept Evaluation and Pricing from QuestionPro
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Sample Concept Test Survey from Qualtrics

The importance and thoroughness of concept testing cannot be emphasized enough. Your ideas deserve the best shot in the marketplace; take the necessary time and steps to make your business a success.

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