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Reciprocity between users is a core principle of social media, users are constantly trading social capital in the form of likes, follows, retweets etc. thereby spreading content they see as valuable to them. But for brands, capitalizing on this earned social capital and converting it to sales is a delicate process that is constantly evolving.

Users are generally willing to consume branded content containing a tasteful amount of sales messaging. However overdoing it in this regard is seen as a violation of trust that can quickly result in an unfollow and swift end to the brand-user relationship.

Brands essentially must fulfill their unspoken quota of supplying valuable or entertaining content (ideally both) to their audience and in exchange are granted permission to promote their agenda, which most often will be sales. This is content marketing 101.

In the digital popularity contests that are most social platforms, brands are often regarded as the ugly ducklings, with users more hesitant to follow and engage with their content in comparison to other profiles. There is a constant underlying scepticism that generally permeates the brand to user social media relationship and it goes something like this “Okay (Brand X) you seem cool I guess, with your engaging value driven content and acceptable level of sales promotion, I will follow you. But I still suspect one day you will turn on me and send me spiralling down your dreaded sales funnel!”.

There are obviously exceptions to this rule, many high profile brands with loyal followings will attract and retain core audiences to a point, but reaching that less invested user and cultivating a sales relationship with them from scratch can be a complicated and often tedious long term proposition. For low profile brands and start-ups especially, this is an incredibly daunting scenario.

Producing high quality, remarkable digital content is frequently at the mercy of time and budget constraints. For the aforementioned small brands these challenges can be extremely difficult to overcome and result in a poor social media presence that does not add value to user timelines or the bottom line of the brand. Lack of creativity is the most common culprit here, without the resources to create compelling content, brands too often resort to a steady stream of boring sales pitches with no incentive for user engagement or discussion.

For brands struggling to consistently produce high quality production heavy content, things like contests & giveaways can serve as cost effective vehicles for audience growth and provide value to followers but transparency with these is key. Winners need to be prominently showcased to ensure users know their spent social capital is not a waste.

Brands most often stumble in the sales process when they fail to understand and respect the rules of promotion in the digital space. Users carry all the power in this relationship and delivering them consistent value in return for their attention is essential.

Your social sales strategy must at all times respect this paradigm and repeatedly demonstrate an awareness of it. It is then and only then that users will begin trust the brand in question and consider giving consent to enter its sales funnel through email sign-up or other form. Sounds like a lot of work doesn’t it? Well sorry to say, this was the easy part.

Completing the process with a sales conversion is a whole new challenge, which in almost all cases demands the delicate transition of guiding the user gently to your website or external e-commerce solution through a well designed user experience, but that is a topic for another day.

Be sure to check out Ashu Avasthi of LinkedIn at this year’s Digital Media Summit as he gets in depth with how social media has fundamentally changed the selling process and gives useful tips and best practices that will help convert your social media audience into paying customers!

Chris Giles is a freelance digital marketing strategist and Digital Media Coordinator at Niagara Parks. Follow him on Twitter @chrisgiles87

 

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 6 April 2016 11:01

How many articles have you read about understanding the millennial generation? There is no shortage of information about who we are, but there is a great deal to be said about how that affects your marketing strategy. Forget that we represent roughly 50% of all bloggers, or that we now represent the majority of the workforce. Millennials now represent $200 billion in annual buying power and that number is only increasing.

You don’t need to understand us so you can give your office millennial a fist-bump in the hall way, you need to understand us because we make up more and more of your bottom line. Here are the top three things you need to remember when selling to the millennial generation:

#1 Your grand-daddy’s ads don’t work on us.

Only 1% of millennials said that a compelling ad would make them trust a brand more (and we know how important trust is to millennials). Part of that is volume – we’re exposed to well over 2,000 ads a day and we know now from Buzzfeed articles (and other equally credible sources we get our news from) that most of them are trying to show us an ideal state. So, we put up a wall. It comes in the form of a PVR to skip ads on television, or browser plugins to avoid ads on YouTube. We know the ways you’re used to advertising to us, and we’re taking measures to get around it. If you’re skeptical: ask a millennial how many t.v. shows they watch? Then ask them how many of those are actually on a live television set. Point being: try something new if you want to break-through.

#2 We’re not slacking, but we are lagging.

61% of millennials admit they can’t afford a house. The fact is, the economy has left many of us in our parents’ homes, with debt and underemployment rampant. What does this mean? All of the major milestones that our parents achieved in their 20s such as marriage and having kids, are happening later in life to us. So when you’re putting up the ad about empowering the 25 year old whose career has taken off, know that resonates with far fewer of us than it would have with you.

#3 We trust reviews, but not all of them.

33% of millennials rely on blogs before making a purchase. And you’ve probably heard this contrasted against the fewer than 3% who refer to TV news, magazines and books. But that doesn’t mean we trust all reviews because they’re online. We’re well-aware you can pay for positive reviews on your products, and many of you do. This is why we hold endorsements that come from our personal networks in high regard.

That’s why Facebook pages show which friends have ‘liked’ before the overall number, and why Twitter accounts show users who you follow that also follow a third party. Prioritize testimonials and authentic reviews if you want to break through and create that 1:1 effect with millennials.

Want to learn more about marketing to millennials? CEO and bestselling author, Shama Hyder will be discussing strategies and approaches you need to reach the millennial market including how we think and what we expect from companies. Register here.

Read more from Adam Rodricks via his blog: http://adamrodricks.com/

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 6 April 2016 10:46
MichaelWekerlePortraitTORONTO, ON – (October 6) – Digital Media Summit is pleased to announce Michael Wekerle as our 2016 opening keynote on Thursday May 5 at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel. Michael is a rock star in the world of Canadian finance, known for his shrewd value spotting in the fields of tech, biotech and media. As the founder and Chairman of the merchant bank Difference Capital Financial Inc., he oversees a fund that includes such successful growth companies as Hootsuite, Vision Critical, BuildDirect and Blue Ant Media. He also holds significant real estate assets, including an impressive portfolio of high-tech commercial properties in Waterloo, Ontario, as well as the historic Toronto entertainment venue the El Mocambo. And he is a partner in the Canadian franchise of Wahlburgers -Paul, Donnie and Mark Wahlberg’s Boston-based burger chain.
dragonsDenLogoMichael lives in Toronto and is a doting father to six children. He donates millions of dollars to a wide variety of philanthropic interests, including UHN, CAMH, SickKids and Holland Bloorview, as well as the youth outreach organization Seeds of Hope and the acclaimed Baroque opera company Opera Atelier. Michael is currently featured on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, highlighting his entrepreneurial spirit.
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Last Updated on Tuesday, 5 April 2016 10:17

Amazon’s living room devices, the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick, can now run web applications. The company announced this morning that it’s allowing web developers to publish their HTML5-powered applications without having to do native app development. Instead, developers only have to enter in the name of their app and its URL in Amazon’s Web App Tester software, or they can supply a .zip file to package their app then preview how it looks as a Fire TV application.

The support for web apps is an extension to Amazon’s earlier efforts at expanding its app lineup by going after developers who don’t yet offer – or don’t plan to offer – an Android application.

Read the full story: TechCrunch

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 11:51

Facebook‘s Trending news section, which appears on the righthand side of each user’s news feed, is getting a refresh that will make it easier to find information and see different perspectives of the day’s most popular stories, including a Twitter-like live feed with user mentions.

The section is also coming to mobile devices for the first time, starting on Wednesday.

Read the full story: Mashable

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Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 10:22

It’s a good day for Elevate, which was just named Apple‘s favorite app of 2014.

The app, which helps you improve memory and focus, was Apple’s top pick of the year. The runner-up was Instagram’s Hyperlapse, which speeds up shaky videos and turns them into time lapses in just two taps.

Read the full story: Mashable

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Last Updated on Monday, 8 December 2014 11:55

Once the clock strikes midnight on Nov. 28, we can officially wrap the turkey in tin foil and break out the Christmas music without judgment.

In this holiday playlist, there’s a little mix of Bing Crosby, ‘N Sync and Sufjan Stevens to remind us that Christmas music isn’t only songs from the 1950s.

Read the full story: Mashable

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Last Updated on Friday, 28 November 2014 10:36

The Internet is about to get a little more crowded.

According to new data from market research firm eMarketer, the web will reach 2.89 billion users in 2015, or what equates to 42.4% of the world’s population. This would mark a 6.2% jump from this year and reach about two in five people on a global scale.

The company projects even more growth in the upcoming four years; about 3.6 billion people (or half the world’s population) will be online at least once a month by 2018.

Read the full story: Mashable

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Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 11:51

Generation X became Generation Y. Millennials are growing up. And now marketers are shifting focus to “Gen Z” — the next major consumer group, comprised of teenagers who are younger than 19 today. This generation has grown up with full access to the Internet and technology. They’re digital natives, and it’s even tougher for brands to woo this group and win their loyalty, love and income.

Read the full story: Mashable

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Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 10:20

As 2014 comes to a close, it’s time to reminisce about the brands that wooed us with clever advertising this year. Countless businesses desperately tried to make their videos go viral.

We saw the most-shared ad of all time this year, which was Shakira’s “La La La” World Cup promotion. The spot, sponsored by Activia, has racked up 5,819,822 social media shares, according to Unruly, and more than 405 million views since its launch in May.

Read the full story: Mashable

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Last Updated on Thursday, 20 November 2014 10:18