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Sarah Matista’s post on Pagemodo recently assembled compelling data published independently by Searchmetrics and Moz regarding correlations between social media signals and search engine rankings. Both of these studies found two significant search ranking factors that could alter modern SEO practices: social media signals are showing the greatest correlations to higher search rankings, and Google +1′s are hands down the highest correlated signal of all social media signals.

While it is widely accepted in the SEO community that it is extremely important to have on-page and off-page links to major social media sites (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.), simply creating these pages and gaining lots of followers does not guarantee higher search engine rankings.  Having 1,000 fans will not directly make you rank higher, but having content that will attract 1,000 fans absolutely could allow you to rank highly.

Before you begin to shift your efforts to increasing the number of +1′s, comments, shares, and likes (as Sarah suggests), it is important to understand the core reason why social media signals correlate well with search rankings: content that does well in social, is the type of content that does well in search.

Simply put, the correlation of social media signals with high rankings does not mean causation for higher search rankings. The difference between correlation and causation is subtle, but it may be the most crucial concept to comprehend, especially as social media signals continue to show greater correlation with higher search engine rankings. The relationship of social media signals and ranking factors has been a hotly debated subject since social media signals started pointing towards higher rankings; however, Matt Cutts, head of the Google webspam team, has addressed the issue, clearly stating that Google does not use +1′s, or other signals such as Facebook likes, in its search ranking algorithm.

correlation vs causation in seo and social signals

The reason Google +1′s, Facebook likes, and other social media signals have shown such high correlation to higher search rankings is because the characteristics of something that succeeds in social media are the same ones that make something succeed in search.  Namely – people find the content valuable.

If a site becomes popular through social media, the site must have compelling content that could also be optimized to succeed in search. Compelling content includes creating material that is innovative, unique, and relevant so that people will be interested in it and share it with other people. By focusing your attention solely on increasing the number of +1′s and Facebook likes instead of focusing your attention on creating quality content, the material may not be as compelling or interesting to users even if you somehow get 1,000 people to like it.

Instead, continue to earn the +1′s and Facebook likes by creating quality content that people will want to read and follow. This is a more reliable guide for attaining search success than simply generating likes. Inflating your site’s status with fake +1′s and Facebook likes will not cause your site to rank higher in search engine rankings; conversely, focusing only on generating high like counts will likely cause your content quality to suffer and thus, search rankings to plummet.

Focus effort on creating valuable content that users will naturally want to use and promoting this content to the right people and you’ll have far more success in search than simply focusing on generating likes and +1′s.  Of course, be sure to optimize that content for search engine consumption as well … we know where you might be able to get some help with that.

Last Friday, three of us SiteLabbers attended Interactive Day San Diego 2013, a conference highlighting the latest trends and best practices in marketing. There were quite a few well-known presenters from agencies and companies on the cutting-edge, including Danny Gray from Google, Wade Forst from Razorfish, and my personal fave, Rand Fishkin from Moz.

After a full-day of sessions about topics ranging from search marketing to social media to mobile and content development, I could see some real trends emerge. Here are my insights into what’s now and what’s next according to the presentations and conversions I had at Interactive Day.

Insight #1 – The Consumer is overwhelmed

Presenters from the agency side talked about the overwhelmed consumer and how we have to come up with ways to attract them to our client’s content over a competitor’s. Those on the brand side of things emphasized the importance of producing good content meaning content that the customer actually told the brand they want, the brand listened and produced it.

My favorite presentations was by Rand Fishkin called “The Nudge is mightier than the sword: What’s in store for SEO, Social Media & Content Marketing”. In it, he talked about how the consumer is overwhelmed with choices and there are several ways that we as marketers can “nudge” them towards the optimal choice for us and them.

One of the “nudge principles” that Rand and Dan Zarella of Hubspot both talked about is the fact that “Fewer choices lead to more actions”. The example they both used was the gratuitous display of sharing widgets on many websites, with well-known social media blogs like Social Media Examiner and Mashable being among the worst offenders.

Source: Rand Fishkin, MOZ presentation (Download: bit.ly/mightynudge)

Rand found that instead of offering as many choices as an Greek diner menu, offering one choice, like the OK Cupid blog does with Facebook, results in the most action (more likes).

Source: Rand Fishkin, MOZ presentation (Download: bit.ly/mightynudge)

Similarly, Dan Zarella found that the more links a brand posts, the less attention each one will get (and therefore lead to less action – a click). He told us to “Stop crowding out our own content. Let it breathe”. To do this, Dan had suggestions such as spacing out tweets and posts throughout the day; also, don’t be afraid to post during the weekend when you have the most captive audience and the least amount of noise from other brands.

Audience motivation is so important for increasing your chances that your content will be seen. As Dan said “the more value you feel you get by interacting with me, the more you’ll want to interact” — true for interactions online and off. Some ways that a brand can create value include scarcity (“I’m the first one to tweet this – cool!”), novelty (“I’ve never heard of such a thing – cool!”), and social proof (“My smart best friend likes this brand, so I do too”).  And sometimes, just by asking your audience to do you a solid by including a social call-to-action (“please retweet”) is motivation enough.

Insight #2 – Mobile. Is. It.

Anyone who mentioned mobile at Interactive Day, mentioned how it’s a must. It’s a non-negotiable. You have to consider mobile in any website, campaign, or initiative you take on.

During the morning keynote, John Durham of Catalyst S+F explained the importance of mobile very simply. It’s part of the user experience. The way we, as consumers, use your product or service through mobile is the way we use your product or service in your lives. John also called a mobile device a “life device”. He asked the audience “What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Look at your mobile phone”.

In a panel called “Sharing Economy”, Brandon Lachance of Carl’s Jr. was asked what he thought about platforms touting “mobile first”. His reply is that Carl’s Jr. won’t even consider a platform or option unless they put mobile first.

To demonstrate how we consumers put mobile first, Qualcomm’s Liya Sharif told the “Content in Context: Breaking Through The Noise In an Age of Digital Marketing” session audience about the “Born Mobile” campaign Qualcomm launched last year. In a rather disturbing, yet compelling YouTube video showing a “baby’s first text”, Liya showed how large-scale thematic campaigns using less highly produced videos like this one can be highly effective in breaking through the noise.

Insight #3 – You only need one digital marketing strategy.

Though each session followed a track, the marketing silos weren’t as clearly defined as they had been in previous years. Instead of the “social media”, “search”, “paid media” tracks of yesteryear, we went to sessions on “digital research”, “digital content” and “lead generation”.

Then Jonathan Renteria of Saatchi & Saatchi LA finally said it: “There are not many different marketing strategies (for SEO, social media), there is one digital marketing strategy.”

So, what are some ways we can build a comprehensive digital marketing strategy as brands with multiple agencies or as agencies with multiple brands? The speakers all had suggestions.

Brandon Lachance of Carl’s Jr. emphasized brand voice. He told us brand voice needs to be dialed in to make decisions and move quickly in social media. Also, a company like Carl’s Jr. has at least three different agencies – a PR agency, an agency of record, and a media buying agency. Brandon said all three agencies “play nicely” and work together to come up with campaign ideas, always going back to the brand voice and marketing goals to make decisions.

John Durham’s entire presentation was about media, not social media, paid media, or earned media, but media. He started his presentation by answering “What does media mean today?”: It’s all about the ME in MEdia. Media IS content that is going to reach ME, the consumer. And all media is digital at the core. John also said “screen size is the most important thing”. If you look at a typical 21-year old college student, they have an average of 6.9 gadgets – how are you going to reach them? Look to your digital marketing strategy.

The consumer must be at the heart of your digital marketing strategy, John says. The consumer experience is more important as ever. As marketers, we have a tendency to forget about that user experience, but it’s the only way you’re going to make a difference in reaching your goals.

To support your strategy and goals, it will also be important to look at the “new hire”. The jobs you’ll need to fill will be the designers, copywriters and technologists (read: content! content! content!) and analytics will be more crucial than ever.

Insight #4 – Media and journalism are converging

Don’t worry you unemployed journalists… you’re going to have a job in the very near future. Hint: Begin your search at Qualcomm.

All of the presenters emphasized the importance of good content, but there wasn’t an example of doing it on a greater scale than Qualcomm. Liya Sharif of Qualcomm began her presentation by telling us storytelling hasn’t changed since the beginning of time. People are still looking for conflict > drama > resolution. While many brands are losing grip on their own identities with all the feedback online, and attention spans are getting shorter and shorter (average 30 seconds), storytelling is a tried and true tactic for breaking through the noise. In fact, 78% of consumers trust brands who create their own content (tell stories), says Liya.

Qualcomm has recently undergone a major shift from exclusively marketing to a B2B audience to reaching out to consumers to care about “what’s inside” their phone too. To facilitate this challenging shift, the marketing department still is retooling to focus on brand journalism. The first outcome has been Qualcomm Spark, a digital magazine that attracts influential people like celebrities to tell the Qualcomm story through their words, pictures and videos.

Brand journalism is a new (or maybe revived) media approach industry-wide, with AMEX and Red Bull, and now Qualcomm leading the way. Everything Qualcomm does related to Spark is content-driven. Spark ad placements on influential tech sites include snippets of content that update in real-time as the content is updated on Spark. The site is lightly branded to allow for authentic, interesting or helpful content to take center stage. Video is emphasized.

Most helpful were Liya’s tips for selling brand journalism to the top. She says start with small KPIs. Also show the top brass how other people benefited from sharing your content. And my favorite, she says “Don’t be afraid of polarizing your audience. If everyone likes you, something is wrong.”

David Moye of the Huffington Post gives a tip for writing polarizing content: “Pitch to the heart and lower parts, not to the brain”. Also, remember to write press releases (and I’d say blog posts, articles, anything you’re going to be sharing) like you’re talking to your friends over beers, not to your parents over dinner. This is what gets people going.

I love going to these marketing conferences because it gives me a chance to see what’s going on outside of my little shared office in our boutique agency in La Jolla. From what I heard at this year’s Interactive Day San Diego, what’s going on is good. There was so much more emphasis on the consumer than I had ever heard before. Also, everybody is simplifying – from marketing plans to messaging.

I can dig that. Can you? Let us know in the comments if you’re seeing some of the same trends from your cubicle.

SiteLab has Minion Madness!

July 3rd, 2013
by Sarah

SiteLab Interactive proudly presents the return of the Despicable Me 2 Minions, in all their Chiquita Banana loving form. MinionsLoveBananas has launched and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have the SiteLab offices Minion-ized.

This is how it all started:

 

Makes sense, right? That’s what we thought too.

SiteLab has joined with our ba-na-na-na client Chiquita Bananas and Universal Pictures to bring back the fun loving Minions with games, sweepstakes, recipes and greetings. Here’s the neat things you can do:

Minion Match-Up. Minion-ize yourself! Minion-ize a friend! Minion-ize your boss! This is my boss, Minion-ized:

Now she has to do MY bidding! I’ll start with getting her to build me a moat around my office.

Send a Greeting:

Win prizes on your favorite social networks:

Play the Minion Sticker Showdown:

Taste & Share the Minion’s Favorite Ba-na-na-na Recipes:

Win a Hawaiian Vacation!

These, http://www.chiquita.com/DM2/ and much, much more have been designed and developed by the SiteLab Interactive team. Our team of Minion-mad designers, developers, and managers have worked hard, with much enthusiasm (much like Minions?). We hope you enjoy playing with the Minions of Despicable Me 2, in theaters now!

Some managers dread the recruiting experience; understandably, as it takes a lot of time to weed through dozens of resumes, schedule interviews, and send the dreaded “thanks, but no thanks” email.

Luckily, I’m not one of those managers. Apparently, I enjoy the whole experience a little too much as I found that scheduling 15 30-minute phone interviews over the course of 3 days was even a little overwhelming for me.

But, admittedly, I didn’t mind being holed up in one of the conference rooms for those three days talking to each and every one of those candidates! Just as I think every employee should “always be looking”, every manager should be doing the same.

How to land a social media job

This recruiting experience was a good way to learn how resumes are changing to stand out to a busy manager, most likely with a very short attention span. For me, the process reinforced the importance of trusting my instincts in who to schedule an interview with based on their resume. A quick review of a candidate’s latest job experience, along with a check for some of the dos and don’ts I’ve included below can help you decide on who to call in 2-5 minutes.

Checklist – Does the Social Media Marketing Coordinator candidate’s resume include…

  • Social media links – LinkedIn (essential), Twitter (yes please), Instagram, Tumblr or any other social media profile you use professionally and/or creatively (bonus). I assume Facebook is personal and don’t expect you to share.
  • Mention of Social Media Tools – SproutSocial, Hootsuite, Radian6, Google Analytics
  • Mention of Social Networks – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
  • Content Development Experience
  • Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing/Communications/Advertising, etc.
  • Agency Experience
  • Reporting/Analytics Experience
  • Keywords: “content”, “social”, “client”, “marketing”
  • At least 2 years experience in a social media-centric role (i.e. not a recent grad)
  • Decent social media presence at their current employer

Not bad right? Job seekers, it shouldn’t be that hard to nail the checklist (you’d be surprised). Hiring managers, I’ll make your jobs even easier and share with you my “Social Media Marketing Coordinator Resume Checklist” template.

And candidates, before you start feeling too good about your resume, check to make sure you don’t have any of these don’ts.

Don’ts – A Social Media Marketing Coordinator candidate’s resume went into my virtual trash if I saw any of these don’ts…

  • DON’T make me hunt around the Internet for your social media profiles – only you know if you’re @JaneSmithMcGee or @CutiePieMcGee on Twitter. You don’t want me to mistake one for the other.
  • DON’T use clip art on your resume – unless you don’t want me to mistake you as social media savvy.
  • DON’T forget to replace “your company” with the company’s name you’re applying for in your cover email/letter
  • DON’T make me have to convert your resume into an Adobe PDF or Microsoft Word document because you assumed I had Apple Pages on my PC.
  • DON’T push Adobe InDesign to its limits by trying to fit your whole resume on 1 page. If I have to look right-left-right-left-down-up to find your last job title, you’ve lost me.
  • DON’T send me a picture of you (especially one from the night out at the club) to “put a face to a resume” – your appearance doesn’t matter and it’s sad that you think it does
  • DON’T misuse the names of social media channels, e.g. it’s “Facebook”, not “FaceBook”
  • DON’T include your Twitter handle on your resume if your last tweet posted months ago mentions a topic that would make Tosh.0 blush (true story)
  • DON’T say you’re a “master” social media “expert”, when you don’t have a blog or even a Twitter account (that I can find anyway).
  • DON’T have typos/misspellings – run a spell check, email has it too ya know?
  • DON’T fail to include a brief cover letter or email. If you don’t, I won’t read it.
  • DON’T send a link to your social media profile that is incomplete and/or has 0 followers.
  • DON’T put in your objective on your social media profiles that you’re aspiring to be a Crocodile Wrangler or a Rodeo Clown [anything that’s not social media related]. Otherwise, don’t apply for a social media job.
  • DON’T just include a super vague list of experience and milestones that you obviously copied from a template… you know the ones I’m talking about: “Highly organized, deadline oriented with strong attention to detail”… “Effective communicator with exceptional interpersonal skills”… “Collaboration in the fast-paced management of cross-functional teams”

Here is my list of “Bonus Dos” to try when applying for a social media position:

  • DO attach a sample of a recent analytics report, a writing sample, competitive analysis you did for school or professionally, and/or links to client or employer Twitter and Facebook profiles you had an affect on
  • DO tell me what you like about social media or what you aspire to be someday in your cover letter
  • DO pay attention to design layout. Colors don’t really matter, but easy scannability as a result of attention to line spacing and margins makes a huge difference.
  • DO mention something you noticed or read on our website, such as a case study or blog post, in your cover letter
  • DO give an example(s) of how you made a difference in your last job with metrics e.g. revenue generated, followers gained, leads generated, costs saved

If you found this list helpful (or even if you didn’t), please let me know in the comments.

And, SiteLab is always looking for the “cream of the crop” to join one of our talented teams. You can see our latest job postings in the Careers section or send your resume to jobs@sitelab.com if you think you have what it takes!

From left to right: Social Media Specialist - Kari Embree, Marketing Project Manager & Content Writer - Sarah Johnson, Social Media Marketing Manager - Jenn Barber. The highly motivated, self-starting, multi-tasking social media team.

Last week, I joined fellow SiteLabbers and thousands of other fresh produce marketing executives at United Fresh 2013 Fresh Horizons in San Diego, California. Together, we spent a couple of days learning what’s new in fresh produce, checking out the latest marketing trends, meeting super talented chefs and even found time to soak up some Southern California sunshine. In case you missed it, we’ve got you covered. Our team has assembled our very own CliffsNotes version below. P.S. You also missed some great parties! (Here are some photos from our adventures in conferencing!)

The very best way to start any convention is to give attendees plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle; and the Board of Directors and Executive Committees at United Fresh did a great job of doing just that this year! Our two favorite opening events were the New Member Reception, hosted high atop the San Diego Convention Center, and the Opening Party Aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. It was so fun to see our clients and industry friends socially, and prepare for two busy days of produce marketing. Photos from these and all events can be found at: http://www.unitedfresh.org/United2013

Next, Walter Robb, Whole Foods Co-CEO, was the first of two keynote speakers. Walter Robb talked about two big trends that continue to drive consumption in produce this year: juicing and local organic. Understanding what consumers of produce want is key to crafting your online marketing strategy. “Today’s consumers are seeking a renaissance type of cooking experience.” “Today’s consumer wants a recipe with a QR code, that leads to information about where fresh produce is grown, and then clearly lists ingredients needed for purchase.” Scan the fruit, meet the grower, and find the recipe!

The trade show floor provided an inside look at the latest fresh produce products and best new marketing strategies. SiteLab’s top exhibitor picks include: Melissa’s Produce, Sunkist Growers and NatureRipe Farms. Here’s why: first, we loved the way Bill Schneider, Director of Marketing at Melissa’s Produce talked to local school children about fresh produce directly from the trade show floor. Next, we were impressed with Sunkist Growers’ booth. It was well organized and showcased great new products for kids, like ‘Lil Snappers kid size fruit‘. When it came to showcasing new ways to use product, the folks at Naturipe Farms exceeded our expectations by demonstrating lots of recipes that could easily be duplicated by the at-home chef or busy family.

Moving right along, “Your Passport To Celebrate” was SiteLab’s very own celebration of 16 successful years in online marketing. To memorialize this monumental occasion, we hosted a very special wine tasting aboard the Leight Star Yacht, which we docked in San Diego Harbor right behind the Convention Center. Each and every level of the Leight Star featured specially selected wine and food pairings. Later that evening America’s 1st Master Sommelier Eddie Osterland, presented tips from his new book “Power Entertaining” and entertained guests with great ideas on how to use food and wine to close business deals. For me, this was the highlight of the show. Why? Because it was during the party, when I looked into the crowd of familiar industry faces, that I realized how vital our services are. The major brands we serve depend on us to meet goals and serve customers. The entire industry of growers, shippers, processors, packagers, wholesalers and vendors, like SiteLab, all benefit indirectly from our hard work when consumption increases. Check out our party photos on Facebook!

And finally, we wrapped up the show with an all day post-show Produce Marketing & Merchandising Conference. All the speakers were great, but we especially enjoyed “The Impact of Social Technologies on Food Culture” by June Jo Lee, Vice President of Strategic Insights. It was fascinating to learn more about all the ways consumers think about, talk about, and experience food online. I loved it so much, that I’ve decided to devote my next blog to this topic. Stand by for more …

We at SiteLab would love to share our marketing expertise, produce and otherwise, with you. Contact sales@sitelab.com for more information.

Who’s Who on the SiteLab Marketing Team

February 19th, 2013
by Sarah

The staff at SiteLab have always been all about sharing ideas, learning new tricks from each other and collaboration. The key ingredient to our success is our communication.

Around a year ago, we began to meet officially in an open forum setting, to share our projects and the things we’ve learned from them. This evolved into weekly meetings, and the forming of a team. Then we formed our basic core drive, the heart of this extended marketing team: act as a trusted extension of our clients’ online marketing departments, producing results that directly and positively impact on our clients’ business objectives.

On our website, we state what we’ve gleaned from the expression ‘you are what you eat’: We are what we market. You won’t find a more dedicated bunch than the SiteLabbers — we truly adopt our clients’ industries and products as our passions.

You’ll see us wearing banana hats, sharing new citrus varieties in the kitchen, proclaiming our love for avocados to anyone who will listen, or riding the bikes of our client, Electra, in the parking lot. You’ll find us making the recipes from our foodservice clients (it’s hard to stare at delicious food all day long and not be inspired … and hungry). We can say without doubt that we truly are what we market.

So without further ado, we’d like you to meet the minds behind this ever-evolving, collaborative effort and their roles on this team.

Mike Zemans – Chief Experience Officer

Next stop: Christmas Tree Trimming Championship

Consults on SEM and user experience. Most often, the last word on any project that goes out the door. Google (or “G” as he calls it) is his best friend. Always wins the annual pumpkin carving contest.

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Matt Parisi – Online Marketing Account Manager

In a rare moment of not being physically harmed

Account Manager for Sunkist, Oasis of Hope. A source of abundant SEM knowledge; a PPC expert who manages all SiteLab PPC campaigns. Matt gets things done and works well with absolutely anyone. 5 year veteran. Consistently injured due to extracurricular sports, where he brings the same drive to succeed.

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Katy McClelland – Client Services Director

If you ever need help escaping from motorcyclists in 1930

Commonly answers to the name “Boss Lady”. Sanity for all account managers, and perhaps all SiteLabbers. Also the voice of reason and the voice for all SiteLab clients, always performing the balancing act between what’s best for clients, their customers and the agency. She’s an encyclopedia of client history. Owns chickens, rides in a motorcycle side car like a superhero side kick.

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Jenn Barber – Senior Marketing Manager, Social Media

Liebt auch spätzle

Passionate about social media. Background in business (supply chain management), started in digital marketing as producer, then account manager; dabbled in web design, programming and copywriting. Nuts about social media and started the “department” 4 years ago. Pins on Pinterest like she’s on fire, is a Flint Coney Island Hot Dog enthusiast.

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Sarah Johnson – Marketing Project Manager & Developer

Also has a wicked swagger

Sarah’s title doesn’t do her justice. Something of a ‘Jane of all Trades’ at SiteLab, switching from development, writing and design, sometimes all in the same day. She’s a savvy writer who writes the social media, website, press content and more for Sunkist, Eddie Osterland, Master Sommelier and Oasis of Hope. Is crazy for citrus, and ridiculously good looking.

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Kari Embree – Marketing Coordinator – Social Media

What happens when you give people a sunny window office and too much water

Jenn Barber’s new right-hand woman. If you want to get social, talk to Kari. She’s all about social media platforms, tools, and tips and tricks AND she’ll recommend a great place to eat and drink when’s she done geeking out with you. Quick witted as a fox, excellent dresser.

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Erin Adler – Marketing Account Manager

Is also a bucket enthusiast

Erin has her finger on the pulse of email and mobile marketing. She manages Hass Avocados, Central Garden & Pet, and all sign-up forms and emails that leave our servers. She’s an anti-spam wizard who insists on (and gets) perfection. She’s a music lover and also a lapadar…lapedaris…she is an artist who cuts stone, gems and minerals into neat designs. She’s not just a member of the San Diego Lapidary Society, she’s the club president.

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Each person you’ve met here today performs a very important function in the team. We’re growing and evolving every day, but this groups forms a very strong foundation and launch pad to a future filled with exciting, cutting-edge projects. Find out what they can do for YOU and your projects — contact us today.

An Inside Peek at Our Weekly Team Meeting

Remember the 1950’s when it was cool to eat potatoes? You know…when every household in America served meat and potatoes with every single meal? Potandon Produce is on a mission to bring this long-forgotten trend back to life with its new line of potatoes that are super-convenient for modern families with busy lives to prepare.

Pontandon Produce -Poodle Skirts and Potatoes

Here’s the best news of all, they plan to use Social Media Marketing to get the job done. Gotta give props to Barbara Keckler, Marketing Supervisor for brilliantly integrating what was happening offline at the show online with Facebook and Twitter. She successfully raised awareness of their newest products, increased fan acquisition on Potandon’s social networks and even tapped into specially designated hashtags (#), which encouraged PMA attendees to visit Potandon’s booth.

Here’s how she did it. Barbara started with a super-fun 1950’s style diner concept that was cool enough to appeal to Generations Xer’s and New Millineals, but nostalgic enough to appeal to older generations like Baby Boomers. The trade show booth was decked-out like burger joint straight out of the 1950’s, complete with their mascot, a Jolly Green Giant, the back seat of a 57 Chevy that doubled as a sofa, a juke box playing 1950’s music, and formica-topped tables. The girls working the booth wore poodle skirts, saddle shoes, and (my favorite part) BRIGHT RED LIPSTICK! They guys wore back t-shirts, white letterman sweaters and slicked back their hair.

While attendees checked out new products, they could also could also have a seat on the 57 Chevy-sofa and have their photo taken with child acting star, Donny Most who played Ralph Mouth on Happy Days. A few hours later, attendees could retrieve their photo by grabbing it on Potandon’s Facebook Fan Page or email one of the sales reps to request a copy. Brilliant way to increase fan acquisition!

Lori B and Donny Most PMA FreshSummit SiteLab

Throughout the show, Potandon tweeted the times when Donny Most was at the booth and available for photo ops using the specially designated (#) Hash Tags for the event. Suddenly, everyone at the show who was following the Hash Tags were alerted that of the opportunity to have their photo taken with Donny.

And there you have it—Day 2 Ends with very sore feet and lots of great marketing ideas.

“Not everyone who needs your service, but everyone who aligns with your values”. That’s what Craig Stern, Co-Founder of SOLO Eyewear, says about who to target when developing your company’s cause marketing campaign.

That’s just one of the insights my co-presenter at iMarketer’s “Social Media For Good & Profit with Solo Eyewear & Sunkist” shared last night on how he built his business, using Kickstarter for crowd source funding and social media to create buzz and sales. If you haven’t heard of SOLO Eyewear, it’s a truly inspiring brand co-founded by Craig and fellow San Diego State University MBA students Jenny Amaraneni and Dana Holliday. They sell eco-friendly, hybrid bamboo sunglasses where each pair purchased help funds a pair of reading glasses and a cataract surgery for someone in need.

Craig Stern, Co-Founder of SOLO Eyewear

Craig and I presented case studies on two very different brands – a San Diego eyewear company that used the funds they raised to bring their product to marketing, leaving them with a zero dollar budget for marketing vs. a billion-dollar-a-year company that is the largest marketing cooperative in the world’s fruit & vegetable industry – however, the same themes arose over and over again.

  1. Authenticity
  2. Passion

First, to be successful in social media, but especially for a cause marketing campaign, authenticity is paramount. There is not a marketing budget in the world that can touch the power of pure authenticity. It was clear from Craig’s presentation that SOLO “gets” this.

Authenticity is acting in a manner that truly demonstrates your gifts, abilities and talents/skills; not counterfeit or copied; conforming to fact and therefore worthy of trust, reliance, or belief. In both case studies, the featured brands showed their trustworthiness, the cornerstone of cause marketing.

In the case of SOLO, the idea for the company came from 1 statistic – 80% of the world’s blindness is preventable. To demonstrate the belief that their product can actually help shift this powerful statistic, they stood on street corners throughout downtown San Diego (along with friends who volunteered to  help and the SOLO Panda) to educate people.

Sunkist Growers’ Take a Stand campaign, encouraging kids ages 7-12 to raise money for charity “one glass of old fashioned lemonade at a time”, demonstrated authenticity by developing supporting materials to make it easy for kids to actually donate. Instead of just selling lemonade stands in retail stores, Sunkist included QR codes on each box with a link embedded to take them back to the site to see lemonade recipes, lemonade stand decorations and signage, and best of all, information for young entrepreneurs on picking a charity and running a successful business.

One attendee asked how a small business owner, someone who doesn’t have the time or the money to hire a big agency can produce a successful cause marketing campaign. My answer was “passion”.

To have a successful cause marketing campaign, you have to get people excited about the cause before you start asking for money. For SOLO, they did this through the video in downtown San Diego. The blindfolds, the signs, and of course, the SOLO Panda sparked passers-by’s curiosity. It made them want to be a part of the cause.

For Sunkist Growers, they tapped into consumers’ nostalgia for simpler times when lemonade stands could be found in every neighborhood in America on a hot summer day. Most importantly, they gave consumers the tools to raise money and the guidance for choosing a charity, but then they put the choice of which charity to donate to in the hands of the consumers. “We the people” got to pick based on our own passions.

The most important thing I took away from last night’s iMarketers meeting was from Craig’s presentation on who to focus most of your marketing budget on. He grouped people into 4 categories:

A – Those who know, have purchased, and love your brand

B – Those who know, have purchased, but rank it on par with any other brand

C – Those who know your brand, but haven’t purchased

D – Those who are unaware of your brand, products, and services

Segmenting Cause Slide

Most of your budget should go to Group A, with the least amount  to Group D. The reason is the benefit you, the brand, receive from Group A is exponentially higher than Group B (and B higher than C, etc.). Group A L-O-V-E-S your brand so they’re not only most likely to be loyal, but they’re your evangelists to get the word out to Group B, C, and D.

I was truly inspired by the meeting, the topic, and the case studies. To inspire you to create your own cause marketing campaign, I’m sharing an exercise from Craig’s 3-words Thank You Video:

Complete this sentence: Without your business, there would be less ___________, ___________, and ___________ in the world.

For the full case study for Sunkist Growers’ Take a Stand Fundraising Campaign along with tips for developing your own cause marketing campaign, download the presentation, Social Media for Good & Profit: A Cause Marketing Case Study on Slideshare.

The slightly slower pace of Day 3 of the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit conference provided me an opportunity to visit one-on-one with a few of the best Marketing Directors in the produce industry. Since SiteLab has hit a number of Pinterest home runs in recent months, I felt compelled to ask Marketing Directors if their current social media plans include Pinterest. If not, I asked if they planned to include Pinterest in their 2013 online marketing plan. Would you believe that EVERY SINGLE PERSON I asked told me they planned to launch a Pinterest campaign in 2013? It’s true!

Here’s why, what works and what’s next for the produce industry and Pinterest.

Why is Pinterest a great tool for produce brands?
First of all, Pinterest is ridiculously simple to use, is the “Holy Mecca” for busy moms and serious foodies who buy large amounts of food for their families or events. Plus, it’s one of the best social networks for driving website traffic giving marketers an increased opportunity to convert more visitors into leads and sales.

What Works?
Before I spill the beans and tell you what works on Pinterest, let me start by telling you what doesn’t work – expecting early monetization.

This platform, like other social platforms, has a long-term benefit for your brand, and does ultimately drive consumption over time. Invest in building the audience now, and monetize later.

A simple strategy for getting started is to start with a dozen or so boards. This helps brands get past “Pinners Block.” Start by creating 5 boards about things your users love, 5 boards about things they have a hard time finding, and 2 boards about your brand.

Moving forward, make sure you follow these guidelines for success.

  • With the fans you have on other platforms, drive them to your boards with content (i.e. specific pins) not a request to generally “join you on Pinterest.”
  • Make sure a content marketing plan drives the creation of pin boards and subsequent pinning.
  • Remember, recipes drive consumption. Pinning a Banana Bread recipe on National Banana Bread Day, or the very best Guacamole recipe on Game day is sure to be campaign winners.
  • Have content live on your boards that people want to see.
  • Mix owned content with other content that interests your audience.
  • Leverage an one-to-one exchange of pins.
  • Optimize your Pins for Search Engine Optimization, including the image file title.
  • No need to be an “over pinner”; even the largest brands only pin a couple times a day. If you inundate your followers with an too much content too fast they’ll get annoyed with you filling up their feed.
  • And finally—Get your board cover photos right!!

What’s Next?
Once your 2013 Pinterest campaign has taken flight, be sure to watch the data. Which pins are performing the best in terms of engagement and driving website traffic? Do you have highly influential followers? How are your competitors doing? Don’t forget to include targeted outreach to people based on their current usage status of Pinterest. These folks are the greatest online influencers of your brand.

If in doubt, call in the Experts.
Remember, establishing a Pinterest account takes only a few minutes. Building a following that can eventually be monetized takes much longer! Crafting a strategy that leverages all the good things Pinterest has to offer, and provides opportunity for monetization, just might be best realized by engaging the help of an online marketing agency like SiteLab Interactive.

When you’re ready to dive in and start pinning, call me first. I’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Email us at sales@sitelab.com.

SiteLab at Fresh Summit 2012

Oso Sweet Onions

Chiquita Banana Bread

Day 2 of my PMA journey started with a run. As if 800,000 square feet of booth-to-booth  walking isn’t enough exercise, PMA Foundation hosted a 5K run before the Exhibition Floor opened to attendees on Saturday morning.

Lori Runs a 5K!

The 3.1 mile rolling course started and finished at the Anaheim Convention Center. Early risers stood outside the main entrance of the convention center to cheer runners on as they passed. The event raised over $115,000 and supported PMA Foundation’s mission to attract, develop and retain talent for the produce industry.

After a quick rest and a shower, I walked from one end of the exhibition floor to the other; sampling new products and taking in the impressive trade show booths. I
was also able to partake in a ton of on-the-fly collaboration with the best marketing minds in produce.

Here is the first of an ongoing series of top marketing strategies being used by the produce industry to reach consumers, distributors and retailers.

A Mommy Blogger outreach is a cost effective way to launch new products.

Odwalla is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Coca-Cola Company. When the time came for Jennifer Brevick, Senior Director of Shopper Marketing to introduce Lemon Ginger, Coco-Walla and Orange Cranberry Original bars to consumers, she organized a mom blogger outreach to facilitate the product launch.  Here’s what made it work; mommy bloggers are a great conduit to Odwalla’s target market, have huge social networks and yield powerful influence with moms and kiddos alike. The upfront marketing costs and resources required to administer the campaign were both minimal. Plus, the campaign concept was über simple.

Odwalla - Fresh Summit Day 2

First, find the most powerful mom bloggers in the country, then host an event and give them an opportunity to sample the product.  Voila! Let the tweets, status updates, product reviews, blog post, photos and keyword-rich content begin! (Okay, it’s not THAT easy… it does require carefully planned strategy and coordination as does any successful social media outreach program).

Product sales almost always increase after a mom blogger campaign. Plus, there’s an added bonus – blog posts, tweets, status updates generated by the campaign provides the type of relevant content that Search Engines LOVE! The additional links back to the site almost always provide an organic lift in search engine optimization.

So what’s the downside? There is a very real risk in turning a group of bloggers loose on your brand new product. Not all reviews are good, and some bloggers are overly critical and biased. In Odwalla’s case, the outcome was favorable, but that’s not always the case.

Like Odwalla’s experience with Blogger outreach, SiteLab (and our clients) has had very positive experiences with the blogger outreach programs we have organized. The most important takeaways we can share from our experience with blogger outreach is to not only measure a blogger’s influence. Don’t forget the power of customer loyalty; include bloggers who are already talking about your brand. And most importantly, treat them like humans. Don’t send out a mass email to hundreds of bloggers. Choose a dozen or so bloggers you think you can (or have) made a real connection with.

And there you have it—Day 2 Ends with very sore feet and lots of great marketing ideas.

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