Azure Collier

my take on social media marketing and its impact on how we work, live and consume

Why reviews matter

Gold Star AwardI am a crazy cat lady. Three felines live at our house, and – like most pet owners – I sometimes go nuts on the pet products. I have a loyalty card for and receive emails from one of the big chain pet stores. I’ve been looking for one of those pet water fountains, so I was psyched when I got an email with a link to a sale.

I ended up not purchasing anything though. Why? The reviews for all of the water fountains were so bad that I bailed. Everyone who purchased one ended up returning it because they leak, make noise and/or break.

Turns out I’m one of the 32% of Americans that trusts total strangers when making purchasing decisions, according to Forrester. There’s often speculation about reviews. Are they true or fake? Are people being paid by the company to write favorable reviews?

A 2012 DemandForce infographic shows that review writers have good intentions. When asked why they post reviews, the top 3 reasons were about being helpful:

  • To help other consumers make good decisions – 90%
  • To share experiences on consumer reviews – 86%
  • Because people rely on consumer reviews and posting reviews is a way of giving back – 79%

Although I have run into the occasional questionable review – one store that I will not name promoted a review for one of their products from a Worchester, MA customer (Caught ya! It’s Worcester, you fakers!), I like to think that many of these reviews are true, because that’s what I feel I encounter in real life. I’m a huge shopper, and want to hear my friends’ experiences – good and bad – when they purchase something, whether that’s a car, a book, or a sweater. I’m also happy to share my experiences – especially the good ones.

The DemandForce infographic shows I’m not alone in this – 70% of consumers look at up to 10 reviews before making a decision, and – when it comes to local businesses – 67% of consumers read the reviews.

I am willing to take time to read reviews before I purchase something, especially if it’s for something I have little to no experience with, like when I purchase anything for my nieces who live out of state. I don’t have kids, so when I want to buy them clothing, I head to one of the best sites I’ve seen for reviews – Old Navy. I trust the moms who write the reviews there (there are TONS, which is amazing because clothing is seasonal and the products change pretty frequently), and they seem to be in consensus about the products. Either something’s cute and it fits right, or it’s not-so-great.

I definitely trust the people who write reviews who are by people like me. Whenever I start looking for a new pair of winter boots or a coat, I skip over anything written by anyone outside of New England. If you don’t have to dodge ice and slush for 6 months out of the year, I am not going to care why you like those boots. Give me a hardy New Englander and a description of how a pair of cute-but-functional boots helped them climb snow piles in a parking lot.

While some parts of the Internet are anonymous-and-mean-spirited-gone-wild or overshare city, reviews are kind of a warm and fuzzy haven. They’re a common ground, a community, and a place where you can find people who want to help their fellow man save a few bucks.

What are your opinions of reviews? Like ‘em? Hate ‘em? Worthwhile or not worth your time? Let me know in the comments!

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We’re getting away from Marketing 101

This is a guest post by my friend, photographer and social media marketer Dana Dillehunt. If you have a minute (or two), please check out her photography website, read her blog, Like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter!

Dana is tired of brands and businesses abusing social media marketing. She’s got 4 tips on how you can redeem yourself:

Blonde Woman with MegaphoneIf McDonald’s was showing clips of ‘80s movies instead of advertising their food on TV, we’d all surely enjoy the commercials. But we’d have no idea that they were created by McDonald’s, and they wouldn’t exactly inspire a surge of Big Mac purchases.

So why are brands abusing the largest marketing opportunity available?

Somewhere along the blue-brick road, companies lost their way. They decided it was more important to have 1 million likes than 1,000 sales directly inspired by content. They wanted ALL THE FOLLOWERS, regardless of the actual audience composition.

So they stood over their social media minions (with whips! and fire!), evilly cackling away at LOLCATZ and ehrmagerds, completely neglecting their actual message. And no one bought anything from them, ever, and they went bankrupt and the media minions rose up and bought the company and renamed it something awesome and made all the bosses work as janitors.

Don’t let this happen to your business! Here are four no-fail ways to make sure nobody ever thinks of you (or your company) as a giant douche.

1. Stop asking your followers to LIKE, or SHARE, or COMMENT. They can read (they’re on Facebook, after all). Allow your content to inspire them, to drive them to do any (or all) of those actions. Even the least savvy of followers might be dissuaded from acting, just because you told them to. (We all have a little rebellious streak).

2. Don’t exploit memes because people “like” them. We don’t need any more stock Victorian imagery over pastel backgrounds with snarky text. Ain’t nobody got time for that. Does the meme somehow communicate your brand’s message? And on the rarest, (read: RAREST) of occasions, can it be modified or stretched slightly to align with your brand?

3. Don’t capitalize on national tragedies to leverage engagement. This is the douchiest move of all. We all groaned as brand after brand posted stock images of candles or flowers and aligned themselves as keeping “the victims of Sandy Brook Elementary in our hearts.” Just don’t do it. It’s tasteless. It’s OK to NOT acknowledge awful things. In fact, a nice way to acknowledge without being a total douche would be to NOT post. By not posting your typical upbeat, on-brand (albeit trite, in the face of tragedy) message, you are paying respect without exploiting. And we all know that it’s better to do a good thing without telling everyone that you’ve done it. Trust me. People will notice.

and of course, the most important lesson:

4. DON’T POST ANYTHING THAT DOES NOT DIRECTLY RELATE BACK TO YOUR COMPANY OR MESSAGE. Just re-read that a few times.

We’re all capable of producing fresh, inspiring and fabulous content, and have no need to resort to these awful (and surprisingly still prevalent) tactics.

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3 tools to analyze the impact of your personal Facebook profile

I live in the world of social media marketing geeks, where we spend all day talking about how small businesses can effectively use their Facebook business page to market themselves.

There’s a lot of tools out there to measure ROI of your marketing efforts. Facebook has Insights for business pages, and there’s a lot of free and paid tools that exist as well.

But what kind of impact are you making with your personal Facebook profile? Who is engaging with the content you’re posting for your personal networks? What types of posts do your friends engage with?

Before we go any further: I am NOT talking about using a personal profile as your business page. If your business’s Facebook account has friends – not Likes – you are not using the right account. Stop reading this right now and convert your business’ personal profile to an official Facebook business page. Trust me. You’ll thank me.

Here’s what I found to give you some insight on your personal Facebook profile:

Wolfram Alpha Word Cloud

Apparently I say the word awesome a lot in my posts!

1. WolframAlpha’s Facebook Report

This first tool – free from computational knowledge engine WolframAlpha – is the most comprehensive of the 3. Click through to the Facebook Report, connect it with your personal profile, and you’ll receive a ton of information:

  • Recent posting history – posted links, vs. statuses vs. photos
  • The most frequent times and days of the week that you post
  • The total likes and comments, average likes and comments, and average length of your most recent posts
  • What words you use most frequently – and a word cloud!
  • Your most liked post and most commented posts
  • Your top commenters and sharers
  • Your most liked and commented photos
  • Friends’ demographic information
  • Most common names among friends
  • Friends with the most mutual friends
  • A graphic that shows different combination of “friend clusters” based on mutual interests/demographic information
One of my most popular Facebook posts. Apparently my friends want more stuff like this.

One of my most popular recent Facebook posts. Looks like my friends want more stuff like this.

2. Klout

If you haven’t signed up for Klout, you’re probably not a marketing geek. Klout provides each of its users with a score that shows how influential they are on social media.

In Klout’s words:

Klout measures your influence based on your ability to drive action on social networks.

The Klout Score is a single number that represents the aggregation of multiple pieces of data about your social media activity. We compute the Klout Score by applying our score model to these signals.

Marketers like to roll their eyes at the impact of a Klout score, but it’s also a bragging right. I think it’s fun, and I have a little bit of trash talk going on about the scores with a handful of people.

Klout monitors your personal Facebook activity, plus 11 additional social networks. It gives you a look at the most popular content you’re sharing on your personal Facebook profile – the posts with the most likes and comments, and who you engaged with.

3. My Social Strand

This last tool – from the National Marrow Donor Program – creates a cool infographic about your Facebook activity and networks (and suggests possible donation matches) that you can post to your Facebook page.

Connect it to your profile, fill out some basic info (city and state), answer a few questions (Zombies or Aliens?), and My Social Strand will create something like this:

A personal infographic! Woo hoo!

A personal infographic! Woo hoo!

You’ll get some interesting facts about yourself vs. your friends, which friends are most engaged with you, and your average activity level on Facebook.

I hope you try out these tools too! Let me know if you’ve found any more tools like this in the comments.

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Timelape video for Community Builders/United Way

Check out this video I worked on for the Community Builders of the United Way of North Central Massachusetts. It’s a timelapse of their Martin Luther King Jr. Service Day from last month. I’m very happy with how this turned out!

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