Treadmills, Travel Time, and the Value of Analytics: Justifying the cost of social media success

Posted by Clayton Smith on May 22, 2012

Confession time: I pay good money on a monthly gym membership just so I can go and run on a treadmill a few times a week. It drives my wife crazy. Why spend $40 a month, she argues, when I can save money by running outside for free? It’s a reasonable question. After all, I’m sure we could find some great uses for an extra $480 a year, and if all I’m doing at the gym is running, I’m not experiencing any additional workout benefits than I would by running on the sidewalk every day. So yes, it’s a good question. Luckily, I have a good answer.

I’m buying the analytics.

Running on my own, outside, is great, and it’s actually the way I prefer to run. Fresh air, occasional sunshine, near-death experiences involving inattentive drivers; it all makes running outdoors a lot more exciting than jogging in place, staring at a wall. But when I run outside, I’m running blindly, analytically speaking. I can’t pinpoint how far I’ve run, how many calories I’ve burned, how steep my incline is, how fast I’m going, or how high my heart rate is. I don’t have access to any of these metrics when I run on my own, and to me, these analytics are a vital part of my workout routine. Tracking them allows me to see how my workouts are improving and how successful my runs are from a personal health point of view. The numbers help me stay motivated, and they constantly give me new goals to reach. For me, $40 a month is a small price to pay for those stats.

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Topics: analytics, Business, business, campaign, dashboard, facebook, google+, google plus, gremlin, gremln, linkedin, Marketing, media, network, ROI, small business, social, social media, statistics, stats, strategy, twitter

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

Branded: The Importance of Being Self-Aware

Posted by Clayton Smith on February 8, 2012

Every year, companies sink huge amounts of money into their marketing campaigns in an effort to solidify brand awareness and recognition in the minds of the average consumer. From logos and colors to spokespeople and taglines, marketers dedicate a lot of resources toward the end goal of getting customers to favorably connect brand to business.

Brand awareness – we know it, we love it, and our customers need to have it. We have very concrete ideas about what our brand should be, and we want to make sure our customers do too.

But how often do we promote our own brand self-awareness? As marketers, it can be pretty easy to focus so much on how we want our customers to view us that we forget to take stock of how they actually do. McDonald’s recently provided us with a great example of why it’s important to understand not only the brand you want people to see, but also the brand you actually have.

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Topics: brand, Business, business, campaign, education, facebook, gremlin, gremln, hashtag, marketings, ROI, social media, strategy, twitter

5 Social Media Analytics You Can't Live Without

Posted by Clayton Smith on January 15, 2012

When it comes to social media marketing, analytics are king. Knowing the details about who’s interacting with which messages (and to what extent) is priceless when it comes to building marketing strategies. But let’s face it; it’s easy to get lost in a sea of charts and tables and graphs that delve deep into details about the demographics behind followers, fans, likes, unlikes, tweets, retweets, mentions, clicks, views, shares, check-ins, posts, comments, impressions…the list goes on and on. It’s all great information, but it can get overwhelming, especially for smaller companies that just don't have the time.

Sometimes you just need to quickly grab the most important snippets of social information. When you’re short on time, there are a handful of key analytics you can use to get a clear, bird’s-eye view of how you’re doing in the social space. Here are five essentials:

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Topics: analytics, brev.is, Business, business, education, facebook, gremlin, gremln, link shorten, linkedin, Marketing, measurement, metrics, ROI, sentiment.al, sentiment analysis, social media, twitter

5 Resolutions for a Successfully Social 2012

Posted by Clayton Smith on December 27, 2011

As the New Year begins to peek over the horizon, so too does the infamous New Year’s Resolution. We often design these annual edicts to help make ourselves better people. Just ask the U.S. Government; they’ve compiled some of the country's most popular recurring resolutions, which include the decision to save money, stop smoking, and lose weight.

You’ll notice that “be a better social media marketer” didn’t make the list. Even so, I think there are a lot of committed marketers out there hoping to make 2012 the most successfully social year ever. For those of you determined to make the most of your social media strategies in the coming year, here are a few resolutions to live by:

1. Be Open
Social media represents a pretty significant shift from the traditional marketing dynamic. It brings us from a one-way, hard-sell communication to a back-and-forth, community-building dialogue. In addition to changing the way we view marketing, social media itself can change pretty quickly. In 2012, resolve to be open to change. Try new networks, experiment with different strategies, and learn as much as you can about what’s new in the social media world and how you can use it to your advantage.

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Topics: 2012, Business, business, facebook, gremlin, gremln, linkedin, Marketing, network, new year's, resolution, ROI, social media, strategy, twitter

Staying Social at the Holidays -- 4 ways Gremln can help keep your marketing message strong over the holiday break

Posted by Clayton Smith on December 20, 2011

We're nearing the end of December, which means that many offices are about to hit Ghost Town status for a week or two. Between holiday time off and the last-minute usage of leftover vacation days that won't carry over into the next year, the time between Christmas and New Year's is a time of relaxation for many people.

This can be tricky for marketing departments, especially in small businesses, because the same surge of vacation time that's allowing marketers to stay home over the holidays is also giving millions of potential customers the chance to spend some quality time browsing around on social media. Many companies have strict policies about social networking, so their employees are likely to experience a little digital release from home over the end-of-year break. With so many potential customers surfing the Web, it's a prime time for marketers to shine. Here are a few ways you can keep your campaigns and promotions running, even if there's no one in the office:

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Topics: Business, business, christmas, education, facebook, gremlin, gremln, holiday, linkedin, Marketing, ROI, small business, social media, tips, twitter

A Gift for Marketers -- The link between social media and holiday spending

Posted by Clayton Smith on December 15, 2011

I came across this infographic today (from Mr. Youth, via Mashable), which illustrates the link between holiday purchases and social media. The graphic suggests there is indeed a strong correlation between social media communication and product purchases, offering evidence from two sides of the social media coin; the social side, where you interact with family and friends, and the marketing side, where you interact with businesses and brands.

According to Mashable, Mr. Youth "polled about 4,500 adults and found that social media is a key driver of holiday gift purchases this year." Here are a few of the statistical highlights:

93% of social media users made or received purchase recommendations on Facebook.
It's a reliable piece of industry knowledge that word-of-mouth is a marketer's best tool when it comes to generating sales. Social media is, at its core, word-of-mouth amplified; instead of one-to-one personal communication, social platforms allow for one-to-many communication. Facebook is by far the largest social network out there, and if it's worth saying, then it's probably worth saying on Facebook. The importance of digital word-of-mouth just can't be overstated, so neither can the importance of social media brand representation.

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Topics: Business, crm, facebook, gremlin, gremln, holiday, Marketing, ROI, sales, social media, strategy

Which Network Works? Finding the social media network that's best for your business

Posted by Clayton Smith on December 6, 2011

According to research company Experian, approximately 91% of online American adults log on to a social network every single month. That percentage represents about 129 million Americans. That’s 129 million potential consumers your company has the ability to reach on at least a monthly basis.

Goodness. That’s a lot of people.

And that’s just in America, and just people aged 18 and over. If you’re a company with the ability to ship your product all over the world, that number rockets upward. And if your product is targeted toward teenagers as well as adults, bump that number up even higher. Frankly, it’s getting to the point where very few companies can afford to ignore the social media revolution.

You may or may not be surprised to learn that there are thousands upon thousands of social networks out there. Sure, we’re all pretty familiar with Facebook and Twitter. But how many of you are on hi5? Or Disaspora*? How about Heello? No? Then what about Bebo? Maybe Orkut?

The number of networks is growing at an almost daily rate, which is in direct opposition to the growth of resources in many companies’ marketing departments. While social networking options are seemingly infinite, marketers have extremely finite resources at their disposal. We can’t be on every social network all the time, so instead we have to strategically select which channels to use for our digital marketing messages. But which social networks are right for your company?

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Topics: Business, business, discount, facebook, Foursquare, google+, google plus, gremlin, gremln, linkedin, Marketing, myspace, recommendation, ROI, social media, twitter

Why Isn't Every Day Cyber Monday?

Posted by Clayton Smith on November 28, 2011

Ah, Cyber Monday. The Black Friday of the less motivated. We've arrived once again at what is typically the biggest online shopping day of the year. Retailers are touting great deals all over the Web, banking on the ubiquitous nature of the Internet to bring in some much-needed revenue during this persistent recession. According to the L.A. Times, today's sales could total a record breaking $1.2 billion. That's a lot of digital dollars. Given the fact that so many people (myself included) seem so willing to spend money online when the price is right, and given the continued growth of Internet culture, I can't help but wonder...why isn't every day Cyber Monday?

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Topics: Business, business, cyber monday, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, retail, ROI, social media

The Path to Glory: How to channel your social media fans through to your website

Posted by Clayton Smith on November 21, 2011

Why do you work so hard to increase your social media following? Have you ever really thought about it? I mean, really, really thought about it? When it comes down to brass tacks, what’s the actual benefit of having half a million Facebook fans? Sure, it means more potential eyes on your marketing message, but what’s the point of that? Your social media strategies aren’t living up to their full potential if your fans are just watching your social media accounts and aren’t making purchases.

Many companies don’t have the capability to sell their products directly through Facebook like Delta Airlines does, and even for those that do, there’s a drawback: Offering product sales through third-party sites necessarily results in a loss of control. While social media networks are wonderful as marketing channels, you still need to move your fans to your website to really close the deal, whether you sell your product online or not.

Your website is perhaps your greatest marketing tool. In the digital universe, your website is the sun, and your social media networks are the orbiting planets. Some people have predicted the imminent demise of the website because of social networks like Facebook and Twitter, but I’m not buying it, at least not yet. Not only is a website a space where many companies make their sales (or, in the case of services, a space where would-be customers can find direct communications channels and submit requests for proposals), but it is completely under control of the company that owns it. Having a Facebook page is important, but it’s also limiting. Facebook offers a pretty rigid structure from which it’s difficult to deviate. If you have the money to burn, you can hire a firm to create a Facebook tab for you that sort of resembles a real website, but no matter what you do to spruce up your page, it’s still going to take second billing to the Facebook brand.

That's why your social media isn’t working to its full potential if it’s not driving traffic to your website. Here are a few ways to help your fans and followers make that digital journey.

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Topics: Business, business, education, facebook, Foursquare, gremlin, gremln, Marketing, ROI, social media, Social Media for Small Business, twitter

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