Count Down to Your Big Event

You’ve got your social media tools in place. Facebook and Twitter? Check. Video sharing? Check. Website doing some heavy lifting? Check check.

Something big is about to begin, something great is coming. Good job putting all those interactive communication tools in place…

And while there’s some time left before you have to sell all those tickets / fill all those seats / promote the venue to your target audiences / get people talking / recruit and convert … there’s not a lot of time left.  And then you start to feel it: p r e s s u r e.

Just when the time to kick the marketing campaign into high gear is RIGHT NOW, you discover that producing the Big Event itself is taking up everyone’s time and energy.  There doesn’t appear to be sufficient people, time or bandwidth left over to get the word out…

If this sounds familiar, despair not. The fresh energy, pinpoint focus and social business savvy you need to market, connect and grow are close at hand. We call it parachute marketing and it’s exactly what’s required when the time to make a big splash is growing short.

Entrust your social media marketing to an expert skilled at pulling everything together. And then get back to running the show.

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Become “Astonishingly Innovative” with Social Media

Listening to podcasts from idea brokers in my field is one of the ways I keep up on current thinking in the world of digital marketing. I listen on a headset via my ancient Blackberry Storm when I’m walking the dogs, working in the kitchen, or doing laundry. I pause to take notes and later I’ll go online to check out the resources mentioned.

This week I had the pleasure of hearing Mitch Joel’s interview with the irrepressible Avinash Kaushik on the Canadian Twist Image podcast “Six Pixels of Separation.” Avinash is Google’s Digital Marketing Evangelist. He’s the author of Web Analytics 2.0 and his blog Occam’s Razor has a ton of good information on it. He’s also a passionate photographer. (Check out his collection of flower close-ups.)

If you’ve got 53 minutes to invest in challenging your understanding of what social media is capable of, take a listen to Episode #286 (air date January 1, 2012). I actually played it through twice and found myself nodding in vehement agreement on many of the points made…such as:

  • too many companies are simply replicating TV and magazines on the Web by copy/pasting content without bothering to explore the medium’s deep creative potential.
  • brands are fatally short-sighted in the ways they’re using social media tools…employing Twitter, for example, solely to shout at people about the latest deal, or to repeat-display links to customer service.
  • to fulfill social media’s promise of engagement and relationship, brand marketers need to focus on providing utility, relevance and value. The quest for “Likes” and “Plus Ones” as an end in itself is a waste of effort. (Avinash flat out calls it “stupid.”)
  • It’s what you DO for the people who engage with you that what matters. Utility Marketing focuses on giving people something they can actually use. It shifts from shouting to giving incredible value. Prospects align with your brand because of the wonderful experience you provide for them.

If you’re wondering what “astonishingly innovative” looks like, Avinash shares his personal experience with Skull Candy and JetBlue. Then he cites Red Bull’s Facebook page as an example of a brand that’s pulling off Utility Marketing. It’s cool that 25 million people “like” Red Bull’s page…but the fact that 474,530 people are engaging with the brand and talking about it on the page…now that’s super cool. The company’s achievement is directly related to the number of (useful) attractions it offers people seeking to be entertained (i..e. all FB users…).

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

There is one part of the podcast that I take issue with and that’s Mitch and Avinash’s position that outsourcing marketing is less than ideal. Perhaps, if you turn the reins over to a big agency where you have to fight for attention…But in my experience collaborating with a small, skilled and passionate team reaps enormous benefits.

Guerrilla digital marketers ARE capable of loving your brand and understanding your essence. You don’t have to come from inside the company to possess those important and necessary traits. In fact, one of our greatest strengths is the innovative strategies and thinking we bring to the table precisely because we’re outsiders who don’t suffer from “can’t see the forest for the trees.”

I endorse what Mitch and Avinash say early on in the show: “The person you involve has to get it.” That’s the most important thing.


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Looks Count ~ Taking Control of Picture Size

You don’t need Photoshop, a photo editor, or access to a graphic designer to control the size of the images you upload to Facebook. (I’ll use Facebook for these examples because it has become the largest photo sharing service on the web.)

Have you ever uploaded a photo to Facebook only to find it automatically resized so it looks terrible? FB does this when the uploaded image is too large. With free online resizing tools you can decide how to make your image smaller (and how it will look) before you upload it.

What about getting your Facebook page profile picture to be the right size? FB insists on images that are no more 180 pixels wide and no more than 3 times the width in height. (So, 540px high is ok if the width is 180px.) How do you resize your photo to fit these parameters?

And how do you take your photo or logo and create a small square avatar for your Twitter profile, or an online discussion forum?

Shrink Pictures is a one-stop shop for digital image resizing. Original images can be up to 6mg in size and are resized as jpgs regardless of whether they start as png, gif, or jpg files. It’s all done in five easy steps (below) and there’s a video to walk you through them.

Resizing doesn’t only make your image dimensions smaller. It also makes the image a smaller file. To check the file size, right click on the image, go to Properties and look for size.

(If you are working with .tiff or .pdf files, does a nice job.)

And if you want to double check your pixel size after running it through Shrink Pictures’ tools, download the free Pixel Ruler.  It floats over your screen and can measure in pixels the width and height of anything.

Plus, it’s a rather dazzling blue…


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Twitter ~ Does Someone You Follow Follow You?

Twitter makes it possible for you to message directly and privately to someone that you follow so long as that person is following you back. This is really useful because it allows you to build a relationship with a stranger around common interests.

Here’s an example.

Say my client is a bookstore with 1,500 or so followers. In a couple of weeks this bookstore will be hosting an afternoon Poetry Slam — a competition in which poets recite original work. My job is to tweet to the bookstore’s followers — and as many new people as I can — to alert them to the upcoming event.

It just so happens that one of the people the bookstore follows on Twitter is the Poet Laureate of the city in which the event is to occur. This Poet Laureate has 3,500 followers of his own. If only I could prevail upon him to tweet them about the Poetry Slam…

I can but only IF the Poet is following the bookstore on Twitter. If both parties are following each other, they can message one another privately. But how to find out? It’s too time consuming to scroll through his 3,500 followers looking for the bookstore. Better to use the nifty tool DoesFollow.

On DoesFollow I can enter the Poet Laureate and the bookstore’s Twitter IDs and click Check to find out if they’re following each other. If the Poet does NOT follow the bookstore, I’m out of luck. But if they both do follow each other, I can message the Poet privately to see if he’d be willing to tweet his followers about the Poetry Slam. In my message I’ll include the URL of the event’s landing page so that he can provide his followers with a way to get more info.

If the Poet Laureate sends that tweet, including my URL, news of the bookstore’s event has potentially reached thousands of people it might not have otherwise.

Thanks, DoesFollow!

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That Was Fast. Facebook Ad Experiment Concludes (for now)

According to Facebook’s statistics, my five-day ad campaign — for which I budgeted a whopping $25 — achieved the following results for Pinpoint Parachute Marketing:

  • It displayed to 19,817 individuals an average of 3.3 times
  • It was clicked on a total of 9 times for a click through rate of .014% (You get the CTR by dividing the number of times the ad was clicked on by the number of times the ad was shown.)

A .014% CTR is pretty bad. Nine clicks in 5 days is really low. And I can add to this lackluster report that so far none of the nine people who clicked through to my site has contacted me for work. But there was some good news. I only spent $15.79. And I learned something important.

I received the most traffic to my site on the one day I made my only tweak to my campaign strategy.

The one important strategy tweak I made was to narrow my target audience from the ridiculously broad entire US to one city: Nashville. I chose Nashville after discovering it was #3 on a list of the “10 Growth Cities Small Business Owners Should Know About.“  (Small businesses are one of Pinpoint Parachute Marketing’s target audiences so advertising in a place attractive to them makes sense.)

I figured everyone in the article’s #1 boom town, Austin, was likely still discombobulated by the terrible recent fires in Texas, and that city #2, Raleigh NC,  probably has a surfeit of technology companies that do what I do. So, Nashville it was, and electing to have my ad displayed only to people living there changed the target demographic as follows:

This ad targets 6,360 users:

  • who live in the United States
  • who live in Nashville, TN
  • between the ages of 35 and 64 inclusive
  • who graduated from college
  • who speak English (US)
  • who are in the category Small Business Owners

The day I made that change, my site received 38 views, easily 7 times better than on any other day the ad ran. So, now I’m left wondering what the results could have been had I continued tweaking this focus, moving to other cities on the Top 10 list, and perhaps changing my ad copy to include the city name so that people in, say, San Antonio (#4) would be more inclined to think my service has something to do with them.

Unfortunately, after the single improvement I made, I fell prey to one of the most common online advertising mistakes: setting up a campaign, funding it, and forgetting about it. And I even know better! Luckily, I had a tiny budget of $25 invested so my inattention didn’t do much harm. But it didn’t do me any good, either.

Because that’s the thing about online advertising, whether pay-per-click, pay-per-impression, or some other model…Reaping the benefits to be had requires paying close attention to an ad’s metrics and course adjusting accordingly. And you can’t do that if you only check your performance once a week.


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Facebook Ad Experiment

I’ve created and managed Google Adword campaigns for clients on a number of occasions, but two things prompted me to give Facebook Ads a try:

  1. there are soon going to be a billion people using Facebook
  2. people on Facebook are in a more receptive “make a connection” mindset than people using a search engine.

At least that’s my gut.

When I search on Google I’m on my way to someplace else. Google’s just the pass through and I may or may not slow down to notice the targeted ads it displays. But when I’m attending to my Facebook News Feed, I linger. I’m in the company of family and friends with no place I’d rather be.  I’m hanging out, and those ads with images on the right side of my page tend to catch my eye.

So, this week I’m running a Facebook Ad for Pinpoint Parachute Marketing. Budget: $25. Duration: 5 days. Let’s see if my ad produces any results whatsoever on such a small investment.

I selected the following criteria for when it should be displayed. I’m starting broad knowing that I can narrow my focus. Facebook tells me:

This ad targets 1,327,960 users:

  • who live in the United States
  • between the ages of 35 and 64 inclusive
  • who graduated from college
  • who speak English (US)
  • who are in the category Small Business Owners

The hyperlinked ad looks like this:




I chose to pay for clickthroughs instead of impressions because I’m more interested in engaging people on my site than building brand awareness.  I’m starting with a bid limit of $2 a clickthrough.

Update on results to come…

(About Facebook Ads)

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Common Craft’s (Charming) Videos: What Social Media Tools Are Intended to Do

Common Craft is a small instructional video company owned by Lee and Sachi LeFever in Seattle. They use stop-action animation — an approach that  involves scissors, paper, and a whiteboard — to get across the most important concepts. In just a few minutes, too…

Even if you know about the topic, you can learn a lot about clear communication by watching these “explanation videos.” Simple is deep…

Social Media, In Plain English

Social Media and the Work Place

An Intro to Social Networking Websites

Why Twitter Has Become So Popular

QR Codes

Online Photo Sharing

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