Category Archives: Insights

Our reviews, commentary and opinions about social media, marketing, PR and realtime business.

Realtime Marketing: How To Plan For The Moment

This is a guest post by Matthew Yeoman of the Social Media Marketing blog.
Photo credit: Gerd Altmann realtime marketing works, it’s because you have something much bigger than you doing your marketing for you. It’s simple: if many people are already interested in a particular event, and you create a realtime marketing campaign that is centered around that event, the public awareness associated with the event benefits your marketing efforts.

This concept plays off an idea presented by Stephen McIntyre, the Managing Director of Twitter Europe, at the Dublin Web Summit last year. His quote, borrowed from Rory Sutherland, was about social media marketing in general, but applies directly to realtime marketing: “Brands don’t have target markets, they have target moments.”

How Does the “Moment” Do Your Realtime Marketing For You?

People use social media to post something random about their lives – which you can’t plan for. But they also use social media to check up on key events, and to share content related to these events – this you can easily plan for. Those who take the time to plan for key moments will have text, video, images, and GIFs that speak to these moments. When the time is right, they are shared on social media and the moment does the marketing for them.

If you want to see success from your realtime marketing campaigns, with minimal effort, this is what you will want to do. Here’s a Gif that captures this concept in a silly way:

The example above was for a big marketing moment that you should still have fresh on your mind, the FIFA World Cup. It shaped up to be the largest sporting event on social media ever. A number of brands that created World Cup content for this key moment had the hype around the tournament doing their marketing for them as people were interested in the sporting spectacle already – these brands just had content ready for it. The Realtime Report has already covered a number of World Cup marketing examples; and here’s my personal favorite:

But what if your product or service doesn’t fit into a sporting event? Let’s look at examples of other ways you can let the moment do the marketing for your brand.

What moments can you plan ahead for?

Realtime campaigns and viral marketing are all about eliciting strong reactions from large events by using brief messages. Social media users are starved for the latest gossip, and new ways to share their interests with people. The content that you provide needs to speak to this. Here are some examples of how you can let an event do your marketing for you by tying in with a moment:

  • A museum can create an original ad campaign in preparation for the Game of Thrones season finale. Highlight the best of your historical collection and how it ties in with the violent drama.
  • If there’s a celebrity wedding taking place, an event management company could join the conversation on relevant hashtags on Twitter. A well prepared event management team will get a few photos ready ahead of time for the day of the wedding and tweet them out in congratulations. Those may be the easiest retweets you ever get.
  • Controversial trials are a great time for those in the law industry to work up an analysis of the legal precedent and send it out over social media channels. People want to be better informed about the issues, so this can also go a long way towards further establishing you as an authority in your field.
  • On a more local scale: a flower company could deliver some flowers to a local politician upon their most recent win and document what happened with a video. A music store can have an employee taking photos at local concerts. Putting these moments on Instagram, Twitter, and Vine with connected hashtags will get you local mentions and retweets.

Once you have tried one of these tactics, it is time to sit down and look at your analytics and see how well they performed. Most realtime marketing moments occur over and over again – celebrities will continue to get married, controversial trials will happen, exciting TV shows have a finale every year. Your analytics will show you what your audience is responding to, and you can be better prepared for the next time one of these moments comes around.

What is the danger of not preparing for viral marketing moments?

Many businesses that are new to social media use them as reactive, rather than proactive, marketing opportunities. They login once they see something going on, have their 140 character say, or post something inconsequential to their Facebook, and all too often they’re ignored. Think about your Twitter feed right now. It likely contains maybe the last hour’s worth of tweets unless you start scrolling down. With Twitter users only paying attention to the last hour of their tweets, do you have time to see a real time marketing moment, create content worth sharing, and get it in time? Likely not – the moment will pass you by and you’ll be just another ignored piece of content from what social media now considers “old news” – a time frame that could be as short as an hour!


About the Author:

Matthew YeomanMatthew Yeoman is the blogger/writer/creator over on the Social Media Marketing blog. You can find him there every Friday with the latest news on Twitter, SoundCloud, YouTube, Google, and Vimeo marketing developments, and find useful tips on how to use these social platforms.

Media Fragmentation: 3 Strategies For How Business Marketers Can Keep Up

This is a guest post written by Lisa Smith, Director of Media and Markets Research/Mindwave Research.

Maybe you remember when media research was just about capturing TV viewership and print readership? Even when we first began analyzing web site traffic we had a manageable set of properties to measure.

But today, the pervasiveness of social media, the continued digitization of content, and the fragmentation of media platforms have given consumers and business decision makers a bewilderingly broad array of offline and online sources—creating significant challenges for marketers when it comes to measuring audiences and effectively targeting prospects throughout a decision-making process.

Welcome to the Era of Media Sprawl

  • Social media, blogs, and discussion boards mean that users generate as much online content as brands do.
  • Online searches deliver instant sources on virtually any topic you can imagine.
  • TV and print digitization makes news and entertainment available anywhere, anytime.

Your customers are now getting their information from an ever-growing number of sources. For example, research shows that B2B decision makers today use an average of 10 different sources when making purchase decisions about complex, enterprise-wide technology solutions.

More Access to Information = More Collaborative Decision Makers

This media fragmentation has also affected business buying behavior. Easier access to more information brings new decision-making functions into focus and adds layers to the buying process.

Our experience with research tracking media consumption and buying behaviors in the B2B tech markets shows significant shifts in who is involved:

20 years ago:

B2B tech buying largely done in IT departments with CIOs and IT managers unilaterally driving purchase decisions.
Past 20 years: Internet becomes prevalent means for tech brands to connect and engage directly with customers, from end users to IT decision makers.
Today:  B2B buying decision model is highly collaborative where corporate and management are active participants in needs determination and evaluation.

Shifting the B2B Media Research Model

The challenge for marketers: how to track real business prospects through all the various online and offline touch points. Looking to create an effective integrated media plan, with optimized exposure to the right audience at the right time? Here are three strategies that will get you there:

1. Find true B2B decision makers who are actively involved in the buying journey.

The ubiquitous access to information turns many employees into instant business influencers. They may make requests based on seeing a Facebook post, or alert others about interesting content by re-sharing information via a tweet, but they don’t necessarily direct specific buying decisions. Influencers can provide needed input at certain stages of a purchase cycle, but they are a difficult and inefficient target when nearly everyone is an influencer. The solution? Make sure you have identified your true decision-making customers who are actively involved in the purchase decision. And we emphasize “active” because there is a difference in content engagement with decision makers who are waiting for the next purchase cycle versus those who are currently in it.

2. Create product-specific content based on how decision makers consume information.

Unless you’re dealing with a very homogeneous B2B product or service portfolio, research shows that the type of solution you are selling absolutely matters in establishing your content strategy. Our tech-industry clients develop, manufacture, and sell hardware, software, and services that range from end-user devices and applications to enterprise network solutions and management tools. And who their customers are, as well as their content usage for purchase decisions, varies widely depending on the product or service in question.

Here’s one example from the Tap research comparing decision makers involved in buying mobile products to those involved in the buying process for unified communications devices. As you can see, the former are far more likely to turn to search engines or mobile apps for information, while the latter are looking at entirely different types and sources of content.

Media fragmentation in IT buying

 3. Drive specific content known to have greater weight at certain decision points.

We know that the B2B purchase process is a non-linear buying journey – much more than a progression of steps from “determining the need” to “approving the purchase”. As we think about the process as a journey, we see that simply analyzing content consumption in aggregate for a purchase decision is not enough to help marketers and media planners think about an integrated media strategy. That approach misses subtleties such as when a particular source is no longer useful, but the decision is still active. Advertisers need more flexibility in tailoring optimal content to deliver messages that drive critical decision points. As brands create more of their own content for demand gen efforts, recognizing how and when the content is used in the decision journey enables a better balance of the overall marketing and media strategy.

So What’s Next?

Will content and access methods continue to fragment further, creating additional challenges for media research? Or will we hit an over-exposure point that forces a consolidation of information, making it difficult to separate and measure one type of content versus another?

Either way, it’s critical for our measurement strategies and tracking studies to evolve in order to stay connected to business customers throughout these changing dynamics.

About the Author

Lisa Smith brings a fully integrated global market perspective to her understanding of these challenges through 20 years of experience working with B2B Media research. Her views come from 13 years in IT publishing at United Business Media/TechWeb/CMP Media, 6 years on the agency side at T3, working in strategy and planning roles, and 2 years on the research vendor side managing the Tap tech industry media study. More information regarding her work/experience and data to support this post can be found at

Will Pinterest Go Public?

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

Is there a Pinterest IPO in the cards?It’s no secret that Pinterest has been steadily gaining steam in the social sphere for the past year or so. Now the once-budding social “scrapbooking” site looks to be taking the next major step toward Internet superstardom.

That’s right; a hotly-anticipated IPO seems to be just around the corner. Pinterest appears to be following in the footsteps of giants such as Facebook and Twitter, rapidly raising cash in the process (and a $200 million raising round with a $5 billion valuation is nothing to scoff at).

Yet is such a valuation a fair one? Are we putting too much pressure on Pinterest? As we know with Facebook and Twitter, big IPOs come with big expectations. Those expectations don’t always pan out, now do they?

Although we’re naturally inclined to judge as spectators to this vast, social landscape, it may not be fair to compare Pinterest’s IPO to that of Facebook or Twitter quite yet. Yes, Pinterest’s recent success signals a new social giant throwing their hat into the ring when it comes to competing with the “big guns;” however, their IPO and its potential success should not be taken lightly.

Consider Pinterest’s truly unique audience and scope that truly sets it apart from its newfound competitors:

  • Pinterest itself is a social network based around the concept of “product” (albeit perhaps not intentionally)
  • Pinterest’s predominately female user-base opens up new possibilities in terms of marketability and loyalty
  • Pinterest’s potential for ads and revenue is less intrusive and more inviting due to the scope of the site itself

It’s hard to deny Pinterest’s potential in terms of the site’s audience and scope. The fact that Pinterest has worked so hard to find its own identity within the social network may be what sets the site itself and its IPO apart from the crowd.

No Interruptions

While ads are constantly seen as interruptions in the social sphere, Pinterest itself is based around the concept of products and inspirations. Often referred to as a “scrapbooking site,” Pinterest users are constantly looking for new ideas and products to support those ideas. Home décor, recipes, fashion, you name it. These ideas may not always look like dollars and cents to advertisers; however, the concept of being able to instantaneously purchase on the page is most certainly alluring.

What’s really important, though, is that ads (if done correctly) are not disruptive to Pinterest’s user experience. While Mark Zuckerberg was hesitant to ever put ads on Facebook, Pinterest lends itself to seemingly endless ad possibilities. Combined with its pristine search functionality, the site is definitely going in the right direction when it comes to knowing and targeting their users. However, Pinterest must be mindful of how ad-heavy they go as they risk losing the “social” aspect of the web, ultimately becoming a straight-up commerce site.

The Power of the Female Buyer

Pinterest has often been singled out for its female-dominated user base. Consider the buying patterns female shoppers and the fact that, when compared to men, women are

  • more likely to buy products online,
  • more likely to shop and search for deals online,
  • and more likely to share their shopping experience via the social network.

Not only has Pinterest locked onto an active, buying user base; they’ve also built a network of evangelists to continue to advertise the site and its products. It’s a win-win situation for the site as it looks to grow in the wake of its possible IPO.

Apples and Oranges

Comparing social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.) is often like comparing apples and oranges. For example, Facebook’s size and scope is completely different than that of Twitter. They both target a similar broad base of users, but they expect completely different behaviors and patterns from such users in terms of marketing.

Pinterest takes a completely different approach. Whereas Facebook and Twitter are about the “what’s happening,” Pinterest is about ideas and products. Pinterest is a hotbed for commerce and sits somewhere closer to Tumblr on the social spectrum due to its image-heavy sharing nature.

In short, naysayers are ready to judge Pinterest’s IPO based on the shortcomings of Facebook and Twitter; but is that really a fair comparison?

The Bottom Line

As Pinterest appears to be on the verge of going public, it’s easy to make predictions one way or the other. It’s no doubt that future is bright for Pinterest, regardless of how the IPO goes. It’s a rare thing to find such a massive, accessible site that’s carved out such a specific, marketable niche. Time will tell how much this social gem manages to shine.

About the Author

Megan TotkaMegan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

The Friday Hangout With Tonia Ries: The Evolution Of Realtime Marketing

I had a chance to participate in today’s Friday Hangout, a weekly program hosted by Janet Fouts, Adam Helweh, and Steve Farnsworth, to talk Realtime Marketing: what it means, what the benefits are, and where it’s going.

Some highlights:

  • Realtime marketing starts with listening: what are the conversations your customers are already having–and how can your brand add value?
  • The benefits of realtime marketing are all about increasing customer engagement and improving your customers’ experience with your brand.
  • All marketing platforms play a role in realtime marketing, not just social media. How can you customize your customer’s experience throughout the digital touchpoints with your brand?
  • Trends to watch for: the triggers and inputs that allow you to create a personalized, engaging customer experience will continue to multiply. And the listening tools will continue to improve and deliver greater scale when it comes to identifying conversations in which your brand can engage.

There’s lots more–check out the conversation in the recording below, and let us know what you think!

Facebook and Twitter: Out With the Old, In With the New

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

Facebook and Twitter for SMBsAt the turn of the decade, Facebook and Twitter were the two giants in social media. For all intents and purposes, they still are.

Yet back in 2010 (a simpler time for both sites, pre-IPO’s), both sites were generally untapped when it came to ad revenue and mass appeal for small businesses. As both sites continued to grow and shift their scope, all of that quickly changed.

The challenges each site faced were essentially different; Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook were out to show that his “social network” was more than just an experiment; meanwhile, Twitter was looking to prove that it could be a platform more meaningful than trending topics and celebrity gossip.

As both social giants look to roll out new ad platforms in the coming months, now is as good a time as any to reflect on what they’ve done to meet the needs of today’s businesses. Both sites have faced criticism from SMBs in the past; however, both for completely different reasons.

The Trouble with Twitter

The viability of Twitter as a money-making resource for SMBs has been up for debate for the past couple of years. While there’s little doubt that small businesses should have some sort of Twitter presence due to the ease of access, simplicity, and potential quick engagement with customers (both potential and existing), there’s no denying that ROI has always been a question mark for small business owners. Nobody’s contesting the fact that Twitter can be wildly entertaining; however, in a business landscape where dollars are tight and we don’t have much to spare in terms of resources, how much time and money can we really expect from the Twittersphere?

Facebook’s Follies

Likewise, Facebook awkwardly handled SMBs during the initial introduction of business-specific pages. In fact, their introduction coming so late in the game (circa-2010) represents a rather persistent problem that small business owners have faced with Facebook; that is, how they handle businesses.

We have to take into consideration, however, that Mark Zuckerberg never intended Facebook to represent some sort of immaculate business model. Prior to Facebook’s IPO, Zuckerberg sent a letter to investors in 2012 in which he said the following:

“Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission — to make the world more open and connected. We think it’s important that everyone who invests in Facebook understands what this mission means to us.”

Zuckerberg was infamously hesitant when it came to advertising, dating back to Facebook’s earliest days when the young founder was still coding in his college dorm. Regardless, Zuckerberg quickly came around when Facebook’s public performance wasn’t meeting expectations. He needed the support of business, and fast.

Now we have two social giants looking to better serve the business community and their needs. A win-win situation, right? Looking at what each of them are planning to roll out in the coming weeks and months, we can assume so.

What’s New?

Facebook recently announced the roll-out of a new right-hand column ad spot in addition to their recently revised business pages. While Facebook’s company pages have been a work-in-progress for quite some time, the right-hand ad represents Zuckerberg’s attempt to step it up and breathe new life into a design that’s been accused of becoming stale. Furthermore, the larger size of these new ads could cause marketers to dish out more dough for such a coveted spot. With the new design boasting three times the former click-through rate, we’ll see if Facebook can back up the numbers.

Meanwhile, Twitter has some other tricks up their sleeve. The company plans to roll out roughly fifteen new ad products over the course of the next six months. This signals that Twitter is still trying to figure out how to get it right when it comes to commerce, but it also shows that they mean business. As Twitter has struggled post-IPO and is still looking to turn a profit, they certainly aren’t afraid to experiment and hopefully hit the target.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to SMBs, both Facebook and Twitter have a bit of spotty history. Regardless, the two social giants stand tall and small businesses are constantly looking for ways to get on their shoulders. Only time will tell what these new ad-rollouts mean in terms of dollars and cents; however, they most definitely illustrate the untapped potential when it comes to social media and small businesses.

Image via Flickr

About the Author

Megan TotkaMegan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

What “Big” Social Media Means for Small Businesses

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

twitter drawingIt’s been one week since Ellen Degeneres’ groundbreaking selfie and the Twitterverse is still buzzing.

And why not? Shattering the record for most retweets is nothing to scoff at. By using the Oscars as her platform and pure star power as a catalyst for buzz, the now-infamous photo boasts over three million retweets and, in addition to breaking a few records, the snapshot literally “broke” Twitter for a good while during the Oscars.

Social media and viral content working on such a large scale is always a marvel to behold; however, it does create a bit of a conundrum for small businesses.

That is, how can we possibly create our own buzz when it seems like there’s not enough to go around? Even our best attempts to keep up with trends and hop on the bandwagon feel hollow as every other marketer on the block seems to be doing the exact same thing. As social media marketing remains an enigma for many SMBs, large-scale success seems so far away. With so many marketers reaching for the same brass ring, how do we make our own mark?

So, Are We Just Chasing Trends? 

Hashtags. Trending topics. Newsjacking.

Oftentimes, our social efforts may seem futile as we’re constantly chasing. We’re glancing at trending topics on Twitter every once in a while, attempting to latch onto to what’s hot and avoiding what’s not. Unfortunately, such efforts often feel like putting a round peg in a square hole. The latest Miley Cyrus meltdown or Superbowl stunt may not exactly be the best fit for our businesses and brands, nor may such stories mesh with our marketing.

We may run into similar problems as we attempt to newsjack, that is, latch on to current events and apply on our own spin to stories in the news. It doesn’t help that it seems like every other business around us, competitor or otherwise, is trying to tackle the very same trends for their fifteen minutes of “fame.” And why not? That’s what we’ve been taught to do, hasn’t it?

The short answer is yes, we’re often on the chase. The more important question remains; is it worth it?

Why Size Does (and Doesn’t) Matter

Let’s first consider that social media “success” is not black and white. Regardless of your industry or strategy, “success” is relative. A campaign that Company A considers a slam dunk could be a stinker for Company B. While some of us are looking for leads and sales, others are looking for reactions and engagements. And although we often acknowledge that social success isn’t always about dollars, we can almost all agree that time is money. Therefore, it’s crucial that we make the most of our time and understand what we’re doing when we’re sailing the social channels.

The key to social is setting goals and starting small.

No, small businesses cannot compete with the Oscars. We cannot compete with the biggest celebrities and their hordes of followers (often in the millions). It’s a battle that we cannot and shouldn’t truly worry about winning.

What we can do, however, is appeal to our audiences and build from the ground up. Small business social media often benefits from a grassroots approach. That is, we must learn to appeal to our niches and branch out from there. While most SMBs can’t compete with their big box competitors in terms of scale, they have a distinct advantage when it comes to being the little guy. SMBs have the time and heart to reach out to their followers and address their concerns. Likewise, they can be personable and make connections that PR departments and company accounts simply cannot. Instead of focusing on what don’t have, focus on the benefits of being small.

Plus, You Can’t Fight The Organic 

Perhaps Ellen planned her selfie beforehand. Maybe she didn’t.

Regardless, it was a seemingly organic moment and she took the opportunity to make it work in a big way. In short, you can’t fight what’s organic, nor can you capture and bottle the magic behind such moments. Small businesses, however, can seize their moments and opportunities when it comes to social media. If a big client or potential customer is engaging you, it’s your responsibility to follow up.

Ellen saw that she had the grandest stage to make something happen. Maybe your stage doesn’t seem so grand; however, there’s no reason why you can’t apply the same mentality to your own marketing.

The Bottom Line

Small business social media is and continues to be the elephant in the room for many marketers. With limited budgets and resources, we often see our efforts as futile and marvel as what the “big guns” manage to spawn through the social channels. Regardless, small businesses should instead focus on their own definition of “success” and set their goals accordingly.

Just because you don’t have millions of followers or retweets doesn’t mean you’re doing something wrong. Small businesses must start small and grow from the ground up. It’s what we do with our opportunities that define our companies, not the size of the opportunities themselves.

Image via Flickr

Megan TotkaAbout the Author

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Flying Viral: What Businesses Can Learn from the Flappy Bird Saga

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

What Can Businesses Learn From Flappy Bird

Image via Flickr

We know that viral sensations come and go. We understand how fickle the modern user can be when it comes to what’s hot and what’s not.

Yet we’ll always be fascinated with how such sensations get started and how they manage to fizzle out.

Imagine one of the most downloaded apps in recent memory, rising to success almost overnight. Then imagine that the app’s creator pulls the plug at the peak of its success. No fuss, no gimmicks, no questions asked. Gone.

Such is the story of Flappy Bird, a seemingly simple mobile game created in a matter of days and released last May. The game (not to be confused with Angry Birds) itself involves the player tapping a touch screen and avoiding scrolling obstacles, controlling a bird-like creature that looks like something out of the Super Mario Universe.

Simple enough, right? The app soared to the top of the mobile charts with millions of downloads and became an overnight success during January, yet has since been discontinued by its creator, Dong Nyguen, a Vietnamese developer, who simply “couldn’t take it anymore.” Despite making an estimated $50,000 a day in ad revenue, Nyguen disagreed with the game’s sudden popularity and addictive nature. Nyguen claims that there was no promotion for the app; meanwhile his decision to shut the whole operation down seems like anything but a gimmick.

The success of Flappy Bird almost seems like satire; however, perhaps it’s simply an experiment in today’s mobile users and the viral nature of the web. Despite its creator sentencing the app to death, it seems like the saga of Flappy Bird is only gaining more steam (possibly bogus reports of phones available with the game have appeared on eBay for exuberant prices).

So what gives? What can businesses, marketers and the average user learn from Flappy Bird?

Viral Success Cannot Be Replicated

Attempting to justify the success of something like Flappy Bird is a riddle in and of itself. The game and its premise have existed in some way, shape, or form for years. Flappy Bird could have just as easily been any other sort of throwaway game in the app store, ignored and discarded in lieu of something of with a bigger budget and more promotion.  The game itself doesn’t represent anything new in terms of innovation or gameplay, facts that have even been acknowledged by the game’s creator.

So how did Flappy Bird spread like wildfire and take over the mobile sphere in a matter of moments? And why?

Viral success is something that is never easily explained, and thus such trends cannot be replicated or imitated. They are truly organic and usually spawn from our share-heavy culture. Sure, imitators of Flappy Bird have already popped up in en masse, but will they have wings? In short, the success of such an app is a truly a one-in-a-million sort of chance.

What can marketers take away from Flappy Bird’s success? Considering that the game was created on the fly, garnered massive popularity on a whim and had little to no promotion, well, it doesn’t seem like much. In fact, it seems like antithesis of what marketers are taught to create. Thus the enigma.

We Share, We Care

“Who cares about a stupid game?”

Enough people to drive the “stupid game” to become one of the biggest cult hits in recent memory.

Due to its place in the mobile space, Flappy Bird was prone to sharing on the social channels. From Twitter to YouTube and Tumblr to Facebook, many users found it difficult to escape the game’s grasp. From meme pictures to “rage” videos, the app put itself at the forefront of some of the most rabid users online (namely the younger crowd). And let’s not forget…

The Frustration Factor

Remember that users love to hate. The frustration factor of a game like Flappy Bird, now infamous for its level of difficulty, gave users a common ground to brag, complain, and draw interest to the app. In addition, the same frustration factor further pushed the buttons of competitive players, boasting their scores on Twitter and Facebook, thus creating a community and conversation of competition. In short, Flappy Bird was a perfect storm for viral success. Where it goes from here we can only speculate.

The Bottom Line 

While the success of Flappy Bird is something that can’t truly be imitated, the success of the app is something fascinating. The viral web will often elude today’s small business owners looking to make their own mark on a volatile mobile landscape. We’ve seen in the past year how something as small and simple as Vine has managed to make its mark through similar principles, all through taking something simple and encouraging users it pass it around.

Although the everyday SMB may not be delving in apps or the mobile marketplace, we should always take steps to make sure users are sharing our content and that it keeps them talking. In the case of Flappy Bird, the name of the game was frustration. For your SMB, it may come down to something bold or controversial in your marketing or message.

Just remember that the sky’s the limit for the modern SMB; especially after the Flappy Bird saga, just about anything seems possible.

Megan TotkaAbout the Author

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Doing Just Vine: How Vine Changed the Social Landscape

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

Vine's growth and what it means for SMBsApproaching the one-year anniversary of its launch, Vine has proven to be the little app that could.

The seemingly-revolutionary microvideo platform has managed to make a splash in the social sphere and show that it means business. The numbers don’t lie when it comes to Vine’s success, especially when we consider:

It doesn’t stop there, as Vine only continues to grow in size and scope:

After one mere year, Vine has done plenty to change the face of social as we know it. In addition to shaking up the social landscape, Vine managed to teach marketers and businesses alike what it means to make a mark on such a volatile market.

What can we as business owners take away from Vine as it approaches its first birthday?

Taught Us Something New…

Who would have thought that six second videos could create so much buzz?

Vine’s potential as a fun app for friends was predictable; however, its marketing and viral power was a pleasant surprise. With big brands like Trident, Dunkin Donuts and Mountain Dew using the app for their television advertisements in prime time, it’s clear that such a small app has the potential for big business. As the reach of Vine continues to spread beyond its already massive user base, we can only assume that more and more big brands will latch on.

…and Affirmed What We Already Knew

The social media sphere has been buzzing about mobile and video for years on end. Vine represented the perfect storm of both, putting huge marketing power in the hands of just about anyone with a smartphone. At the same token, Vine’s appeal is no coincidence. As today’s users have shorter attention spans and want to get their content as quickly as possible, Vine delivers such content in sweet, simple six-second packages.

Revitalized Twitter

For quite some time, Facebook has been the proverbial king of the social mountain for most casual users and businesses alike. Facebook already had Instagram in its arsenal when it came to visual media; but what did Twitter have? Before Vine, not a whole lot.

While Twitter wasn’t in fear of dropping off the face of the earth altogether, there were many questions being raised last year (particularly among small business owners) concerning the viability of Twitter as a marketing tool. Twitter’s acquisition of Vine brought the blue bird back into the spotlight, and while many questions still remain for SMBs, there’s no doubt that Twitter’s still flying high.

There’s Always Room for Competition

While Instagram had worked to establish itself as the go-to for images on social, Vine seized the day when they tapped a market previously dominated by YouTube. Instagram responded quickly with its own fifteen-second videos to combat Vine’s hold on the market. The competition between Vine and Instagram shows just how fierce the Internet marketing sphere really is, while also reminding us that a bit of competition can be good for everyone.

It Pays to Think Outside the Box

The concept of Vine is incredibly simple, yet forces marketers to think outside the box. As Vine levels the playing field for marketers, microvideo has caused us to think differently about video marketing. While video used to be the elephant in the room for many business owners, SMBs have already taken advantage of microvideo and what it has to offer.

The Bottom Line

In a relatively short amount of time, Vine has both revolutionized and reaffirmed the way we think about social marketing. Who knows where this little app will go, following its first rollercoaster of a year.  Regardless, we’ll be eager to find out.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Megan TotkaMegan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Snapchat and the $3 Billion Question

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

What does Snapchat have up its sleeve?

Image via Shutterstock

In the wide world of social media, Snapchat remains somewhat of an enigma. The seemingly simple picture-sharing app is making headlines and has raised a number of questions amongst businesses and marketers alike, including but not limited to:

  • How viable is Snapchat as a marketing tool for businesses?
  • What is the size and reach of Snapchat’s userbase?
  • How does Snapchat plan to make money in the long-run?

Let’s not forget the billion dollar question. Well, make that three billion. Yes, Snapchat’s 23 year-old CEO has turned down a three billion dollar offer from Facebook to purchase the app.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Offers come and go rather rapidly in the world of apps and social. We remember when Facebook purchased Instagram for about one billion dollars. Conversely, we also remember when Twitter acquired Vine for a relatively low sum (in a deal believed to be around one million dollars). Was Snapchat’s decision a bold but justified one? With droves of critics clamoring about Snapchat’s refusal to take the money and run, one can’t help but wonder if the company has a few tricks up its sleeve.

But are those tricks worth three billion dollars?

The answer to such a question perhaps lies somewhere within the three aforementioned questions; what can Snapchat do for businesses, what’s the deal with their users and how do they plan to generate some cash?

What Does Snapchat Mean for Businesses?

On the surface, not much.

The premise of Snapchat is relatively simple. Users “snap” a picture on their smartphone and send it to a select group of followers. The picture is revealed to the user for ten seconds before *poof* and it’s gone forever. Users have the option to save the picture before it’s gone, but doing so will inform the sender that the picture has been saved. That’s it.

The applications of such a service for the average small business seem few and far between. While SMBs have found success with microvideo platforms such as Vine and Instagram, Snapchat doesn’t seem to do much that social media or email marketing can’t do or can’t already do better in terms of deals, offers and the like. It’s hard to see marketing potential for a seemingly niche service, but perhaps the potential for marketability boils down to Snapchat’s userbase?

Who and How Many?

Snapchat has been rather hush-hush about just how many users take advantage of their service; however, we do know two things. Firstly, Snapchat’s userbase is relatively young, with an estimated thirteen percent of teens between 13 and 18 using the app. Secondly, these youngsters are pretty passionate about the app itself, with some users snapping up to fifty pictures per day or more. According to CEO Evan Spiegel, users are sending 400 million snaps per day on the service.  It’s been projected that Snapchat has somewhere in the ballpark of 10 million users.

Younger users are normally more rabid users, for better or for worse. As such users are also fickle and tend to jump from app to app and social network to social network (remember MySpace’s fall from grace?), it seems as if it would have made sense for Snapchat to strike while the iron’s hot. Conversely, look what a base of the same sort of users has done for sites such as Tumblr and Pinterest.

Where’s the Money?

While the critics don’t see the value in what Snapchat has to offer, the app does have some intriguing options when it comes to cashing out. Apparently Snapchat has already been experimenting with photo and video advertisements between every 20th or 30th “snap.” This allows advertisers some prime real estate in front of an impressionable, young demographic. Concepts such as virtual shops where users conduct microtransactions for emoticons and other novelties to send to their friends have also popped up in the discussion. Such ideas certainly seem to spur the potential to make marketing efforts pay off by using Snapchat for business.

But $3 billion? No matter who you are, that’s a lot of dough.

The Bottom Line

The verdict’s still out on Snapchat as a viable tool for small businesses and marketers. And as for the $3 billion dollar question? Perhaps we’ll just have to wait and see. Regardless, one can’t help but feel that Snapchat’s window of opportunity is closing due to the nature of today’s fickle users.

But let’s not forgot how many critics thought Mark Zuckerberg was a madman for turning down those multi-million dollar offers for Facebook.

And we all know how that turned out.

Megan TotkaAbout the Author

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

Is the Modern Webpage Dead?

This is a guest post by Megan Totka, Chief Editor for

Modern WebpageLet’s talk about webpages.

No, this isn’t an indictment against the modern website. Although often overshadowed by the massive size of today’s ever-expanding social network, we know that the modern website is alive and well. This is especially true for small businesses, whose sites represent their central hub and heartbeat online. Today’s sites are anything but dead (despite what certain social media “experts” might claim) and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Is the Webpage DOA?

But what about the webpage?

The term almost seems prehistoric now, doesn’t it? Coined during the dinosaur days of the web, the term “webpage” heralds back to a much simpler era. Specifically, a time when the Internet was thought of in terms of a book, ripe with information as we slowly flip from page to page.

Fast forward to the modern web where information and content are hurling past us at a rate we can’t even begin to comprehend. Generally speaking, the Internet is no longer viewed as something we can simply “bookmark” and come back to later. Memes, viral videos and “Internet sensations” come and go faster than we can forget them. Simply put, the “pages” concept often gets lost in a sea of social media.

With our shortened attention spans and frantic sharing, is anyone really thinking about singular “pages” anymore?

Most likely, no; however, the conversation doesn’t stop there.

The Bounce. The Buzz. The Book.

Consider Google’s recently announced Hummingbird update. As Google is constantly evolving its search algorithm to weed out the black hats and bad seeds, they’ve time and time again stressed the need for killer content. One way for Google to tell whether or not a piece of content is up to snuff is to examine how long we spend on a piece of content. For this reason, the metric of bounce rate becomes very relevant to businesses and marketers looking to keep their visitors on the page (and hopefully buying). The problem, of course, is our aforementioned attention spans and tendency to bounce around. This makes the goal of creating a successful site a lofty one.

Yet creating such a site is anything but a lost cause. In fact, it’s practically a necessity in the cutthroat nature of today’s web. Consider further:

  • A lower bounce rate represents better SEO, content and conversions. While obsessing over the metric in and of itself doesn’t do much good, understanding what keeps our users around is paramount.
  • The world may seemingly be abuzz over Facebook and Twitter; however, consider that your site houses all of your juicy, sharable content. Without that content, those networks lose a lot of their power and viability for SMBs.
  • Let’s go back in the day and think of the Internet as a “book.” Your articles, blogs and content represent pages and illustrations within that book. The more content you have, the “deeper” your site is (and that’s great for SEO).

While the concept of the “webpage” may seem outdated and elementary, it applies beautifully in today’s SEO landscape.

So Now What?

We all want to look good in the eyes of Google, don’t we? It’s to our benefit to embrace their principles when it comes to what makes a “good” site. Whether or not you inherently agree with their practices, it’s hard to argue that we shouldn’t deliver what our users are looking for versus a keyword-stuffed mess. If you’re delivering the fresh, topical content that meets the needs of your audience, Google will reward you accordingly. The Hummingbird update only reinforces what we’ve learned in the past from Panda and Penguin.

That is, content is king.

Next, think of your site as a book and ask yourself:

  • How deep is your site?
  • Is it worth reading?
  • What sort of story is your site telling?

While such questions may seem a bit existential and beyond the scope of search engines, they matter to your visitors and essentially determine your site’s worth. The juicy center of your site (its content) then returns to the “pages” concept.

Think of it like this: The more pages you have, the more content you have. The more content you have, the more SEO opportunities you have. The more SEO opportunities you have, the more people will find you and stick around.

In short, it all comes full circle.

The Bottom Line

Thanks to Google, the principles of giving your site depth and quality content are here to stay. While the term “webpage” may never leave your lips again, the concept itself is alive and well.

Image via Shutterstock

About the Author

Megan TotkaMegan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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