Conquering Compliance: Gremln presents new tools for meeting social media standards of regulatory authorities

Posted by Clayton Smith on May 2, 2012

Social media has taken the world by storm over the last several years, but when it comes to corporate usage, there are some industries that have been a little reluctant to embrace networks like Facebook and Twitter. Chief among them are the financial services providers. The reluctance of investment brokers, lenders, insurance companies, and credit unions to tackle social media head-on is due largely to the need for industry compliance. Regulatory agencies like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) hold brokers responsible for following strict communications regulations and hand out severe penalties for non-compliance, so it’s not hard to see why many of these companies have deemed social media more trouble than they’re worth.

But with the growing importance of social networks, financial services institutions can’t afford to avoid Facebook and Twitter and still hope to thrive in an ever more digital marketplace. So the question is, how can companies like Gremln help brokers navigate the compliance minefield of social networks?

First, let’s examine what exactly is it about social networking that poses a potential threat to financial services.

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Topics: agnecy, Business, business, compliance, education, facebook, FDA, financial services, FINRA, gremlin, gremln, Gremln News, healthcare, HIPPA, lender, Marketing, media, pharmaceutical, regulation, regulatory, ROI, SEC, social media, Social Media for Small Business, strategy, twitter

Merge Confusion: What to do when traditional promotion and digital marketing don't mix

Posted by Clayton Smith on April 24, 2012

A few weeks ago, I was ordering coffee from a local cafe when the barista’s company t-shirt caught my eye.  Or, to be more specific, the right sleeve of the barista’s company t-shirt caught my eye. Because there was a QR code printed on it.

Hmm.

As someone who works in social media, it’s always exciting to see small businesses trying out new digital marketing tactics. The fact that this coffee shop has so fully embraced the QR code that the managers spent money to have them printed on company t-shirts is proof that there are small business owners everywhere are not just recognizing, but taking advantage of the vast opportunities presented by digital media. The desire to innovate is there. The problem is, it’s sometimes difficult to translate that desire into an effective promotion. It’s easy for us to get so excited about the fact that we’re using new technology that we don’t take the time to evaluate how we’re using it.

The t-shirt QR code is a great example.

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Topics: billboard, Business, business, campaign, code, dashboard, education, facebook, gremlin, gremln, instagram, Marketing, media, qr, ROI, Shazam, social, strategy, tactic, twitter

Picture Perfect -- The importance of images in social media marketing

Posted by Clayton Smith on April 17, 2012

If Facebook’s $1 billion purchase of Instagram proves anything, it’s that photo sharing is big social media business. (It also proves that Facebook has a whole lot of cash. But that’s another topic altogether.) The importance of images in social media marketing has been pretty widely touted lately, even before Facebook’s big acquisition announcement. And for good reason.

Exhibit A: One estimate from the Harvard Business School study says that about 70% of all Facebook activities revolve around photos, whether people are uploading, viewing, liking, or commenting on them. For a social network with 800 million users, 70% of the activity is nothing to sneeze at.

Exhibit B: Pinterest, a wholly image-based social network, was the fastest independent site in history to snag 10 million unique page visitors. This picture-pinning program is already the third most popular social network in the U.S., and it’s only two years old.

But pictures aren’t just important for individual social media users. They’re also vital for successful social media marketing.

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Topics: Business, business, education, facebook, gremlin, gremln, image, instagram, Marketing, media, photo, picture, ROI, social, strategy, twitter

#CustomerService - The power of social media in customer relationship management

Posted by Clayton Smith on April 9, 2012

When it comes to managing a business, there are few phrases more daunting than “customer complaint.” Unhappy customers have been known to send entire customer support teams into cold sweats, and for good reason. A company’s customers are its lifeblood. Making them happy should be at the top of the “To Do” list, which is why a good customer support program is imperative. An easy and organized communications system is vital for connecting with and satisfying unhappy customers. The only problem is, customer relationship management software can be a little expensive, and some of them present a learning curve for your customers, which can act as a barrier to efficient (and positive) communications.

If only there were a fast, efficient, and inexpensive customer support solution available to everyone, one that millions of customers were already using and wouldn’t need additional training on in order to connect seamlessly with the company’s issue resolvers...

Oh. Wait. That program does exist. It’s called Twitter.

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Topics: Business, business, crm, customer, education, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, media, ROI, service, social, support, twitter

There is Value in Fun: An observation from SXSW

Posted by Clayton Smith on March 16, 2012

There’s a lot to love about South by Southwest, the 10-day music, film, and interactive conference and festival held every year in Austin, TX. The live music, the keynote speakers, the panel discussions, the post-conference parties, and the sheer energy generated by thousands of social networkers converging to celebrate new app launches and long-established social successes alike; it’s all pretty overwhelming, and it can be difficult for any one aspect to really stand out.

SXSW is generally lauded as the conference for launching exciting new social products. After all, it’s where Foursquare debuted in 2009, and though it wasn’t exactly the network’s official launch, Twitter really started gaining attention at SXSW 2007. New apps and services are unveiled in Austin every year, and marketers spend big bucks to make sure their booths and launch parties stand out from all the rest. But the conference can also be a good reminder that marketing promotion doesn’t always have to be expensive or flashy to add value to your product. Sometimes, all you need is a little fun.

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Topics: Business, business, dashboard, education, facebook, fun, google+, google plus, gremlin, gremln, linkedin, Marketing, media, network, ROI, skype, social, south by southwest, strategy, sxsw, twitter

Piquing Your Pinterest -- How to use the hottest new social network to market your business

Posted by Clayton Smith on March 7, 2012

The concept behind Pinterest is pretty simple; see something you like online, tack it to a virtual bulletin board for all your friends to see. The site design is clean, direct, and easy to use. By all accounts, Pinterest is the simplest social network since Twitter. But for such a simple social site (try saying that five times fast!), Pinterest has generated an incredible amount of buzz in an extremely short amount of time.

The site already has well over 10 million users, and in fact, according to marketing company Lemon.ly, they were the fastest independent site in history to hit 10 million unique page visitors. They got there faster than Facebook, faster than Twitter, even faster than Google+. Clearly, there’s something to love about Pinterest.

If you haven’t used Pinterest yet, it’s definitely worth checking out. You can request an invite, or, if you want access a little more quickly, just find a friend who has an account, and she can send you an invite instantly. Once you’re in, the process is simple; create boards; pin things to boards; repeat. You can find things to pin on pretty much any website, or, if you want, you can search through the items already pinned by other users, then just repin the picture onto your page. Do you like the Muppets? A quick search on Pinterest will bring up thousands (and then some) images of Muppets for you to browse through, enjoy, like, and repin.

It’s a great network for quickly and easily sharing images with your friends, and it’s also useful if you want to keep an online collection of ideas and inspiration. Thinking of redecorating your living room? Start a board called “New Living Room” and pin every piece of furniture, every paint scheme, and every set of drapes you find that you think you might like. Getting ready for some spring landscaping? Create a board called “Landscape Ideas” and pin all your favorite landscape shots from around the Web.

The possibilities are virtually endless.

But how can Pinterest help you market your business?

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Topics: Business, business, campaign, dashboard, education, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, media, pinterest, ROI, social, Social Media News, strategy, twitter

Click-Happy: How many clicks does it take to make your social media strategy a success?

Posted by Clayton Smith on February 28, 2012

One of the best and simplest ways to get an idea of your social media ROI is by tracking the number of people who click the links you post to your social networks. Tools like Brev.is make it easy to track your social media links and determine
precisely how many people have clicked
through to your main content.

This number of click-throughs not only tells you how many people thought your link was worth clicking, but it also helps you discover the best time(s) of day to publish posts, what sort of teasers are best for your links, and what sort of content really interests your fans and followers. Heck, with Gremln’s Target Pages tool, you can even track link clicks from your tweet all the way to the actual sale. ROI measurement doesn’t get much better than that.

But the number of clicks can only take you so far. At some point, you’re going to need to sit down and answer the question, “How many clicks is enough?” How many times does your adoring public need to click on a link before you can call your tweet a success?

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Topics: analytics, brev.is, Business, business, click, education, gremlin, gremln, link, Marketing, media, ROI, social, strategy, success

Go, Team! Setting up your department for social media team management

Posted by Clayton Smith on February 23, 2012

Social media is growing up. What began as an amusing method of occasional interaction is now a mass media and marketing communications force to be reckoned with. Today’s social networks boast users from all demographics, and the net is ever widening.

Social media play huge roles in today’s marketing plan, spurred on not only by the widespread appeal of networks like Facebook and Twitter, but also by the relative inexpensiveness of using them as marketing tools. The number of employment positions dedicated solely to social media marketing and content production is surging. A company’s Twitter feed used to be an intern project. Now, in many cases, social media marketing is a team effort.

While this is an exciting shift in the marketing dynamic, it also presents its own unique set of challenges. When you’ve got a few cooks in the social media kitchen, it’s easy to step on each other’s toes, and team management becomes incredibly important. As the leader of a social media team, it becomes all too easy for other members to post content that you feel is inappropriate, inaccurate, or in some other way not in lock-step with your brand. There can be some confusion as to who should respond (or who has already responded) to which Twitter question or Facebook issue, and we’ve all heard the horror stories of company employees accidentally posting their personal tweets to their business accounts. So how do you run a tight social ship?

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Topics: Business, business, dashboard, facebook, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, media, moderate, network, plan, ROI, social, strategy, team management, twitter

Traditional or Digital Advertising: Where Should You Put Your Marketing Dollars?

Posted by Clayton Smith on November 10, 2011

According to a recent report from Forrester, “By 2016, advertisers will spend $77 billion on interactive marketing – as much as they do on television today.” That means in just five short years interactive marketing—including “search marketing, display advertising, email marketing, mobile marketing, and social media”—will be as big of an industry as television marketing is today. This represents a massive shift in marketing mentality from one-way marketing message promotion to interactive marketing communication.

It’s no secret that digital media are becoming serious players in the marketing game. The ubiquitous nature of Internet-connected devices, including computers, smartphones, televisions, e-readers, and more, has made digital marketing communications a lucrative business. But when we step back from our computers and set down our smartphones, we’re still confronted on all sides by traditional medium marketing campaigns. Television, print, and radio advertisements are still the dominant players in the advertising industry. But how much longer will that be the case? Digital media is gaining an incredible amount of traction in the marketing world.

And why not? Making the move to interactive marketing makes a lot of sense for a lot of reasons. Here are a few that stand out:

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Topics: Business, business, cost, digital, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, media, ROI, strategy, traditional media

Background Check – Making the most of your company’s Twitter background

Posted by Clayton Smith on August 17, 2011

When’s the last time you checked out another business’s Twitter page? I don’t mean when’s the last time you saw one of their tweets. I mean, when’s the last time you clicked through to view that company’s full Twitter profile and saw its Twitter background design? I’m betting it’s been a while. For most of us, any Twitter profile other than our own is out of sight and definitely out of mind.

But sooner or later, we all find ourselves exploring someone else’s Twitter profile. It usually happens when we’re searching around for new tweeters to follow. Sometimes it happens because we want to scroll back through all the person’s recent tweets. Every once in a while it happens because we’re just bored out of our gourds and have nothing better to do than surf through random Twitter usernames. (You thought you were the only one who did that, didn’t you?)

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Topics: Business, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, media, ROI, social, social media, twitter

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