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Introducing Native Social Video for Monetizing Your Social Channels

Introducing Native Social Video for Monetizing Your Social Channels

In today’s digital world, monetizing your audience takes more than focusing on the readers that hit your homepage. With more and more publisher traffic originating from social media sites like Facebook, there’s a clear need for fresh, innovative strategies. That’s why we’re excited to announce our Native Social Video offering, which allows our publisher partners to utilize social media traffic to build a new, video-based revenue stream.

During its first few months in beta, Native Social Video content generated over 100 million views, 500,000 shares, 400,000  likes, and more than $1M in gross sales — clear signs that there is high demand for snackable videos featuring engaging products.

By creating these videos at scale, we’ve successfully helped partners with large Facebook followings that historically struggled to directly monetize their rapidly growing social audiences. By utilizing our platform in addition to their own audience insights to drive on-site impressions and purchases via social video, Native Social Video’s launch partners have seen video commerce increase their total commerce-related revenue over 20%. Users have purchased over 30,000 products as direct result.

“Fresh monetization solutions are critical for the future of publishing, and digital publishers need to be open to utilizing e-commerce in completely new ways” said Ben Gafni, VP of Business Development. “Driving revenue through social commerce — in particular, the way we’re doing so through video — is poised to be a huge trend for publishers in 2017. By creating engaging product videos specifically for social, we’re helping publishers to monetize an increasingly mobile, and ad-averse, readership.”

We’re rapidly rolling out social video commerce across our network. To read more, see our official press release.

How to Hit a Bullseye with Your Marketing Strategy

How to Hit a Bullseye with Your Marketing Strategy

It’s a tough job getting marketing efforts rolling, and even tougher trying to scale them. While it’s great to build your brand through snappy messaging and eye-catching creative (and you do NEED those things), it’s not always what grows your revenue and bottom line.

At StackCommerce, each new publisher and new brand we work with is a fresh marketing challenge. Ultimately, we’ve learned that rapidly testing and deploying new marketing channels – and then wrapping them up into a cohesive story – is what will propel each of our partners to the top.

Many people compare marketing to throwing darts at a dartboard. In that spirit, here are 6 tricks for hitting the bullseye – i.e. building out and scaling your marketing efforts from scratch.

1. Throw a LOT of darts.

It’s never a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket, so don’t focus your strategy on one channel or one media outlet. Even when you have years of marketing experience, you can never truly know exactly what marketing channels will take off for a new brand. The best rule of thumb is to throw a lot of darts – launch many different channels constantly, and even try testing some channels that are less familiar to you.

How to do it wrong: Pour cash into Facebook Ads for months trying to find the right formula (because that’s where you’re told the money is).

How to do it right: While you’re trying Facebook Ads, also try other social media advertising platforms like Pinterest and Twitter. Run search and banner ads on AdWords. Lock-down your email program for email addresses you’re collecting along the way.

2. Throw them fast, in different colors, both right and left-handed.

Experimenting with various channels helps you focus your attention, and that’s when the real testing begins. Once you’re confident that a channel generates solid returns, dig into the details: can you segment your audience by age, gender, device? What copy/creative works best within each of those segments? These days, segmentation technology is nearly unlimited, so find that dart that stays on target with each throw.

How to do it wrong: Focus all your efforts on creating one killer campaign on Pinterest with an A-list influencer.

How to do it right: Run many smaller campaigns with C-list influencers across multiple social networks, using several mediums (video, listicle, etc.) to determine what works best. Then get the A-lister on the line!

3. Give your darts lead-tips.

Another classic marketing saying is “there is no silver bullet”. You may find an exact combination of channels that really takes off, and that’s great! Always double down on efforts with proven success. Just remember, these are lead bullets, not silver. No strategy is flawless, so continue to diversify for strategy in preparation for when that lead-tipped dart misses the board.

How to do it wrong: Latch onto a successful email channel, and invest 100% of your budget. What happens when conversion rates plummet?

How to do it right: Build out your email program and find out what’s making it tick. Is fresh email content increasing click-through? Is your subscription offer something customers don’t see anywhere else? Find out what’s working, and replicate that success in other channels, too.

4. Throw your darts in handfuls.

Create holistic marketing campaigns where channels crossover or feed into one another. You’ll amplify your results and returns.

How to do it wrong: Focus on isolated strategies for each marketing channel, since they all operate independently, right?

How to do it right: Create a centralized landing page with a giveaway or special offer and feature products below. Don’t forget to offer rewards or bonus entries for sharing on social. Collect emails, create a triggered email series, and drive traffic using digital ads.

5. Make it native.

This is where we come in. Simply selling a product by listing features is great, but younger audiences are becoming numb to the typical advertisement and commerce email. Embed your products into interesting content on your site, or better yet, on an influential publisher or personality’s site or social account. By telling a brand story through your marketing, you’re going to make a lasting impression on your customers that increases brand recall and conversion rates.

How to do it wrong: Send emails about products. Post on social media about products. Run ads featuring products.

How to do it right: Get your products featured in native editorial posts and videos. Let othes rave about your products!

6. Make it rain.

How to do it wrong: Dump a bunch of cash into soulless ads on Facebook, insisting that it’s going to work eventually.

How to do it right: Diversify, rapidly test, and innovate. Tell a story across all your channels, and repeat.

Social Commerce: 3 Essential Ingredients for Selling on Social Media

Social Commerce: 3 Essential Ingredients for Selling on Social Media

Social media is everywhere. It may have started as a way to connect people, but it’s evolved into so much more. It’s quickly become an undeniable cornerstone of commerce. You don’t think so? Think again.

Celebrities are selling Facebook posts on a per click basis, viral videos usually feature some sort of product placement, and let’s not even get started on the web arbitrage model. But how can you effectively incorporate commerce into your social media strategy without turning off your followers?

The first step to working commerce into social media is creating great content. It’s been said before and it’ll be said again, content is king. Remember the days when a simple post linking to a deal page garnered tons of clicks? The glory days. Unfortunately for social media managers, consumers now recognize ads disguised as content from a mile away.

Audiences know ads and they don’t want them. So step one – stop trying to sell so hard. Sell smarter, better, and always alongside entertainment or editorial value. Consumers want stories – they want narratives, they want “the why” not the “what” – and they most definitely don’t want clickbait.

Products sell on social channels when the content has three things: speed, value, and nuance. Let’s break it down:

  • Speed – Get the information out fast. No one wants to read for more than 10 secs or watch a video for more than 30 – so keep it short and sweet.
  • Value – What is the product and how will it add value to the reader’s life? Really speak to your readers as friends and make sure they are truly getting something out of each post. This authenticity will not be missed, and will build trust in your audience.
  • Nuance – Pick products that are: unique, interesting, funny or discounted. What’s the angle? Your readers don’t want to be just another victim of retargeting, they want to discover something worth discovering.

If you can add these three elements to what you’re sharing on social media, your audience will listen. Create content with these elements – and lots of it. Not every piece of content you create is going to resonate, but the more quality content you create, the better.

One easy way to create content fast is live streaming. With Facebook integrating live videos, it’s easier than ever to create instant content. You’ll also benefit from real-time commenting as a medium for conversing with your audience. Live video is humanizing. It gives your brand a face (or faces) and creates a conversation in real time. Consumers feel less like they’re being sold to, and more like they’re speaking to a friend.

Incorporating commerce into social media is by no means easy – the space is constantly changing and extremely unpredictable. The key is to keep trying new ideas; staying stagnant is never the answer. You might fail a lot, but just remember to fail fast and keep trying.

 

Why Social Media Can’t Save You (But Your Brand Needs It)

Why Social Media Can’t Save You (But Your Brand Needs It)

Data rules the day. Facebook and Google are thriving, because they study the habits and preferences of their users and play directly to them with advertisements. Do you follow the transaction trail your customer leaves, with direct email offers within their buying ecosystem? Data analysis and specialized customer service are absolutely everything in a world where commercial access is now ubiquitous in the developed world.

How thick of a security buffer are your Facebook followers or YouTube views? Slippery statistics in an ever-shifting algorithm aren’t success guarantees of any kind, regardless of the numbers. Your core functionality must be vivacious; in E-Commerce, social media alone will not serve a buoy in the high seas of change amid technological progress. The numbers can be (and often are) faked, and every few years we switch platforms and start counting all over again.

It is your fans, your readership, your customers who own your business. If they lose interest, if you stop producing in accordance with their needs you wither on the vine of missed opportunity and poor planning. Knowing your target audience and reaching them with an inspiring, engaging dialogue is vital to your success. Consistency is absolutely essential in delivering a comprehensive world in which your customer can find an engaging and comfortable place to explore – and keep exploring.

Your business relies on knowing who your fans are and how to reach them, but the same applies in the inverse. Don’t overload them – instead, play the notes they want to hear. How is your email strategy geared toward specific readers/buyers? A scattershot one-size-fits-all method will not yield the results that focal targeting can. Are you regularly updating a blog, to keep readers up to date on happenings around the office and culture periphery as related to your company?

If not, today is the day to begin.

Most of your fans are not vocal, but if you can inspire the few who are, they will not just click or tweet or explore your e-mails with an open minds – they’ll be satellite hubs of awareness in their support for your efforts. Stand for something. Bring the public into your world and give the effort a greater meaning. You’ll be surprised by the engagement, goodwill and meaningful brand recognition a partner charity cause can inspire. In the coming weeks, StackCommerce will outline the framework of our partnership with Creative Commons, a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to build upon legally and to share.

B2B Podcasting Tips: Why Its Important, How To Get Started

B2B Podcasting Tips: Why Its Important, How To Get Started

Have you started a podcast yet? If not, you’re potentially missing out on a direct connection to customers and prospective clients, as the number of monthly podcast listeners has tripled in five years to 75 million. Podcasting has yet to reach its zenith, with new shows and topics cropping up by the day as brands and publishers realize the value of a direct voice of authority and authenticity in a world of hype-driven advertising.

Millions in the daily commute grind spent their gridlock time listening to podcasts. Not everyone has time to read your blog or keep up with your social posts – an audio format for your ideas and offers is essential in the time-is-money world. So how do you keep your brand engagement active, particularly in an E-Commerce world where physical retail isn’t an option? Download-ready podcasts allows brands to develop a true-voice persona while advertising inexpensively. Eventually, several episodes with valuable content will make great strides in defining your company’s profile in the minds of an unlimited audience.

So what are you waiting for? If the endless options and avenues to getting your own podcast started are paralyzing, you’re not alone. I’ve compiled a good range of info to help you get started, from help with technical resources to the all-important question of why.

Plan Your Podcast

podcastsThere are an incredible number of B2B podcasts out there, and Marketing Dive has compiled seven of the best for your quick reference. Business-podcast rookies can find clear-cut paths to success through the expert advice of B2B podcasters and brands who are already finding a foothold in the field.  I’ll add one to that list: Tim Ferriss’ podcast, the #1 business podcast on all of iTunes. In addition to interviews with a kaleidoscopic range of top-level CEOs, celebrities and industry heads, Ferriss also offers vital meta-learning tactics in his 4-Hour Chef audiobook, which is totally free on StackSocial.

Gear

Your recording will require some basic hardware and software essentials. As for software, a wide range of options can do the trick. Many podcasts are done on free iPhone apps, while others are recorded directly to GarageBand. Have a look at 45 top podcasters’ recommendations on the necessary gear to kick off a successful series.

On the hardware side, a Macbook Pro is ideal, though an external hard drive is recommended in such a case to handle the heavy data use. PCs are, of course, just fine – as long as you have an audio input.

Microphones: Don’t cut corners, but don’t break the bank. While you have a wide variety to explore, Blue Microphones’ Snowball iCE is ideal, a plug-and-play USB mic with swivel tripod stand. Another popular mic, the Samsung Meteor will run you $49.99 on Amazon.

Headphones: Everyone has their favorite, and as long as they do what they’re supposed to, you don’t have to stress this one. Good quality headphones of your own choosing are all you need. Built-in microphone not recommended.

Choose Your Audience

Trying to appeal to everyone is the easiest way to fail. The kaleidoscope of interests & passions out there is exceeded only by the amount of opinions and polarities involved. Find your niche, do your research and stay informed. What can you offer to the conversation that hasn’t been said before? How can you inspire your listeners? Think about what you can offer in a way that nobody else is.

Establish Consistent Structure

How long and how frequent will each episode be? Establishing regularity is key for building an audience. Will the show be segmented? Do you have a sponsorship plan? Will you feature guests?

Strong Content is Key

No matter how intelligent and charismatic your host may be, off-the-cuff podcasting is risky business. What ideas do you have to offer that’s worth the direct attention of strangers? Establish an outline structure, key points of discussion, and guide conversations with guests to remain on-topic. Bouncing from topic to topic with rambling digressions is unappealing at best. Bullet points for reference will help guide the discussion down a clear path.

Personality

You aren’t going to be Tim Ferriss, Joe Rogan or Tony Robbins, so don’t try to sound that way. Speak with authentic character, express enthusiastic humility in your words and be as informative and engaging as you can.

Promote Your New Brand Voice

itunes podcastThe recording may be finished, but your work is far from complete. Promote your podcast in consistent installments via social media, newsletters, RSS feeds and more. Link to previous posts whenever contextually appropriate, and keep the conversation going so your prospective client, partner or customer is consistently drawn to you.

A few great examples can be found on Entrepreneur’s list of 11 Clever Ways to Promote Your Podcast, including submitting it to iTunes, implementing video and more.

Happy ‘Casting!

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Amazon Prime Day: 3 E-Commerce Lessons Learned

Amazon Prime Day: 3 E-Commerce Lessons Learned

This year, July 15 saw the birth of a brand-new holiday: Amazon Prime Day. The day-long discount event on America’s biggest online retailer was organized as a celebration of the company’s 20th birthday, an unprecedented milestone in the E-Commerce world. Open only to Amazon Prime members, the company offered free trials of its premium-tier service as it promised a bigger, better sale than Black Friday. The sale was rolled out in a run of flash sales throughout the day, with new “Lightning Deals” going live each hour. And while the event was an unprecedented success, the snark-laden backlash on social media nearly eclipsed the value of the offers themselves.

Sales in the United States rocketed up 93% for Amazon (AMZN, Tech30), according to online retail tracker ChannelAdvisor, while European sales grew by 53%. Customers were buying at a rate of 398 items per second, and the sales broke all Black Friday records – driving “hundreds of thousands” more customers to sign up for Prime membership — more than any other single day in the program’s history — says Amazon.

The online retailer announced Thursday that the Prime Day sales holiday, which was originally conceived as a celebration of the company’s 20th anniversary, is here to stay. In a statement, Amazon Prime vice president Greg Greeley confirmed the news:

“Customers worldwide ordered an astonishing 398 items per second and saved millions on Prime Day deals. Worldwide order growth increased 266% over the same day last year and 18% more than Black Friday 2014 – all in an event exclusively available to Prime members. Going into this, we weren’t sure whether Prime Day would be a one-time thing or if it would become an annual event. After yesterday’s results, we’ll definitely be doing this again.”

However, Amazon would do well to heed the criticism ahead of next year’s event. Prime Day 2015  was dubbed “the yard sale of the internet” by legions, due to the junkish offerings that comprised a great many of the deals: a 24” shoe horn, cat calming collars, popsicle molds, granny panties and more. And while Amazon’s homepage was completely redesigned for the sale, the “Lightning Deals” of any value sold out within minutes or even seconds of going up.

Across social media on the 15th, people blasted the retailer for strange offers, or cutting sales so short they were near impossible to buy. Buzzfeed, throbbing to the pulse of social media, listed a hilarious run of 25 Of The Best Responses To Amazon Prime Day.

Then there was the Twitter favorite, a 55 gallon barrel of lube which outlined the absurdity of a great many offerings:

lube

Amazon’s formidable brand identity enables it to withstand the criticisms of a clunky experience for many, absorbing the negative responses with little brand detriment. Questionable items and backlash aside, Prime Day caused Amazon’s stock to rise nearly two and a half percent during the event, and inspired a wave of imitators: Wal-Mart, Target, Macy’s and Best Buy all had big – and largely successful – sales of their own.

This formula does not scale down to small businesses, unfortunately. As E-Commerce companies expand their efforts to engage potential customers and successfully innovate new methodologies, careful attention must be paid to brand cultivation and word-of-mouth. It’s not likely that a small brand can withstand a series of condemning social hashtags such as #PrimeDayFail, #unhappyPrimeDay, #AmazonFail, #gobacktosleep and more. Therefore, steps are necessary to safeguard an E-Commerce brand from excessive event backlash:

1. Careful Cultivation

Choose your deals wisely, and provide true value in your offerings. Amazon offered a great many excellent deals on Prime Day, but for every big-screen TV on major discount, a plethora of items were on offer that would fit more appropriately in the “free” bin after a garage sale.

2. Poll Your Readers

Through email, social media and beyond, ask your customers what they want to see in an event or special promotion aimed at increasing their involvement. Direct engagement with your audience can and will surprise you. Learn who they are and what they want, and provide it for them at an appealing discount.

3. Lead The Media

Establish your own hashtags, and build a head of positive steam on social media well ahead of the promotional event. Stay consistent and engaged through all steps of the user experience, and respond to issues, complaints and concerns in real time to manage potential downturns in impression.

Amazon Prime Day 2016 is only 363 days away. Are you ready to make your own big-offer mark?