How to Make Infographics ‘Social’ With Live Data and Commenting

Social Infographics

Infographics became popular a few years ago as a new way to engaged users over social networks. They offered users interesting nuggets of information, and were easily shared. When one went viral it could create incredible awareness — companies became interested. But their ‘Flat’ document formats (like JPG or PDF) created limitations.

JPG, GIF, and PDF documents are not ‘responsive’ for multi-device display,
They usually don’t allow links back to their creators,
Information is often outdated so quickly it loses its value to users,

Social-smart has developed a ‘smarter’ solution that solves those limitations. The Occupy infographic above is the model for a ‘live, social infographic format’ that improves the value for company sponsors and users alike. The approach uses real-time data that doesn’t get stale, and commenting that promotes sharing AND makes the infographic a live experience for users. Social-smart is working on a version for tablet publishing.

Posted in Awareness, Brand experiences, Participatory, social, Social impact, Social Media Marketing, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 1 Comment

How Financial Services Companies Use Content and Social Media for Lead Generation

Financial services companies are starting to use content and social media for integrated inbound marketing campaigns. Producing content that’s useful to the target audience is key to generating leads. Relevant content is magnetic – it produces registrations and raises website traffic.

Like all consumers today, investors are searching for information online before they buy. With a simple search they can find blogs, videos, books, and live research data. Financial services companies who want to generate new leads and increase sales need to offer the content and answers that investors are looking for. High-quality content is part of the “service experience” that customers expect.

One successful lead generating strategy is a content-based conversion funnel like the one above. The financial services company offers prospects premium content through targeted display ads, search ads, and social media. The technique delivers qualified prospects by running demographically targeted online ads with call-to-action headlines like: “4 Ways to Avoid Running Out Of Money During Retirement,” and “Should You Be Buying Stocks Right Now?” Users can click-thru to a simple landing page to register for premium research reports. The company also offers links to the content on its website, and Education Center Pages. Links to research reports or video content should also be promoted with social media marketing on YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and with comments on investment-themed blogs.

A ‘Freemium’ model is always an effective way to drive inbound marketing. Prospects can get “basic” content on the company’s web site and on the social networks for free [it is optimized to appear in both natural search and social media search results]. Or they can get “premium” content by registering on a landing page [promoted with online ads and with links on the company website and social media].

This approach is a good way for a company to build trust. The prospects have a choice for how, and when they get the information they want. They can decide to experience the content on their own time — with a download, on the website, by subscribing to the company newsletter, or by requesting a phone call for faster service.

Do you use social media to market financial services? What kind of content are investors looking for?
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Social-smart offers professional consulting and production services for social media marketing and corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs. We specialize in creative strategies that integrate social media, location-marketing, and live events into the marketing mix. Adding new touchpoints makes brands and causes more relevant and accessible.

Posted in Internet Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Marketing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

How to Use Facebook for a Live Brand Experience

Creative brand experiences are an engaging way to connect with today’s social and mobile consumers.

Creative experiences and content that’s entertaining, relevant, informative or useful is “magnetic.” It creates conversations and inspires sharing. Magnetic content can attract “Likes” that encourages others to Like and share as well. This is ‘earned media’.

Today’s marketers want to blend owned-media (content), paid-media (ads), and earned-media (brand fans) to grow an opt-in network for delivering messages in the future – for free.

Social-smart produces social media strategies for multi-channel integrated marketing. Now, it’s pioneering a unique new brand experience called Live Facebook Performances that use your Facebook News Feed to tell stories in real time. It’s an experience that is part book, part TV show, and part live-theatre.

Using Facebook for storytelling is a huge advance in how the Facebook platform is used. Instead of just using it to make announcements, live performances combine interactive Facebook features into FUN immersive experiences.

Here is a short video that explains the Live Facebook Performances strategy:

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Social-smart Produces the First Live Dramatic Series on Facebook

Last night was the last episode of our pilot release of The Scrimms, the first live dramatic series of its kind produced on Facebook®. The Scrimms production was a success as it establishes a new form of live interactive social-networked entertainment.

In total The Scrimms included 4 hours of live performance, 70 animated videos, 33 Facebook Pages, and 4 Twitter accounts. It was watched live around the world.

Here is a little bit about the project:

The 8-episode thriller uses Facebook social networking features and creative programming for an experience that is part book, part TV show, and part live-theatre.

The Scrimms is the provocative story of a Facebook family torn apart by greed, obsession, and loss of privacy. The series makes the audience complicit in the uncensored voyeurism of The Scrimms’ twisted lives. From the family’s own Facebook posts to police wiretaps and video surveillance, the plot reveals a secretive business deal to corner the Rare Earth Metals market.

The series was developed by Social-smart LLC, of Boston. Inspired by the Wall Street Journal’s “What They Know” series that exposes the rampant abuse of the public’s privacy online, The Scrimms dramatizes how our digital lifestyles are eroding our privacy — and pokes fun at how our own careless, dysfunctional “sharing” is causing much of the problem. According to Social-smart’s President Mark Rowntree, “The bigger question is “Whose data is it?” We all like to think our information is our own, but today’s billion-dollar online businesses depend on it being THEIRS.”

Social-smart gave The Scrimms an experimental media experience that combines a cast of 21 virtual misfits in a live Facebook feed of text, photography, video, and animation. Working with a low budget, the producers used amateur talent, and a home-made style popularized online to produce a funny, charming production. “The production is powered by a mash-up of many of today’s free open- source applications in the “online cloud!,” says Social-smart producer and manager Lindsay Nelson.

Some of the positive press we received was from Austin Gardner-Smith of BostonInnovation who wrote, “The Scrimms Turns Your Facebook Feed Into An Interactive TV Experience.” “The end result is a unit of content (or would you call it an experience) that uses your Facebook feed to create a rich, multimedia-enhanced narrative where the characters are interacting with each other through status updates and wall posts while also sharing finished animations, videos, and photos. It’s a very cool, very trippy experience that opens up all kinds of possibilities for using the Facebook platform in creative, immersive ways.”

The Scrimms premiered on Facebook Tuesday, March 8th – 15th, 2011 at 9:00pm (EST).

To watch, users needed to use the Facebook “Like” feature on “The Scrimms” Facebook Tab to like the Cast; then set their Facebook News Feed to “Most Recent.” The series is intended for “mature audiences” and uses Facebook’s age restriction feature to only allow access to an 18+ audience.

We’re planning on re-releasing The Scrimms again for the US and Europe in the future. Stay tuned to our Facebook page where we will announce the upcoming schedule.

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Tapping into social and location value with creative brand experiences

Month at the Museum, Chicago Museum of Science & IndustryHot on the heals of our last blog post are two articles which highlight the importance of creating unique brand experiences. Whether you are a nonprofit that wants to raise volunteerism and fundraising; a company needing a brand makeover; or an enterprise looking to create awareness and participation in a corporate social responsibility program — how customers and the public can engage with your brand is changing.
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The first article from Adage, How to Get the Social-Media Generation Behind Your Cause, is based on a study by ad agency TBWA/Chiat/Day, which looked at the motivations of young adults getting involved in causes. Several insights were highlighted which have profound impact for brand marketers — one of which was active participation.
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Among the reasons young adults gave for taking up social causes are feeling like they can do something to help; knowing their involvement will make a difference; actively seeking out involvement; receiving information that prompts them to act; and the fact that getting involved feels fun and social.
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It is no longer enough just to donate a few dollars and forget about it. Increasingly, people of all ages want to know what effect their contribution has and want to get actively involved in helping their particular cause. Forward looking nonprofits, social enterprises and even corporations that are looking to promote their good deeds via their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, have great potential in tapping into this new energy and desire to participate.
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In his blog post – ‘Offering unique experiences generate attention for nonprofits‘ – David Meerman Scott provided an ideal example of an organization finding new ways to tap into that potential. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is running a unique promotion experience whereby people can apply to be what, in effect, is writer-in-residence for a ‘Month at the Museum‘. The person chosen from all the applicants will literally live at the museum for a month, experiencing and reporting on everything they see, do and learn during their time there. I bet there will be a lot of applicants as well, and not just for the nice array of prizes they get for doing so either!
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This is a great example of an organization using a creative participation experience and involvement to promote their brand. As their tag line suggests, it is about ‘being the experiment’, not just ‘viewing’ the experiment. This is a great example of a location-based marketing experience that’s participatory — for ONE. Social-smart develops experiences for thousands to participate in — to multiply the social and location value from the brand experience.
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Over the course of the coming months Social-smart will be launching a few exciting new location-based participatory art experiences that raise awareness and drive participation for an issue — they demonstrate how Social-smart’s creative experiences engage and build brand communities by integrating social media, location-marketing, and live events into the experience, too.
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It’s a marketing mix of traditional broadcast publicity and PR with new online touchpoints (desktop, tablet and smartphone) that make the brand experience more relevant and accessible. The attention-economy also requires new risk-taking to increase awareness and participation. Social-smart’s strategy uses daring creative arts and provocative live experiences to inspire viral sharing and generate word-of-mouth publicity.
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Considering the economy, for most companies, it is more about how they can earn media than buying media. Our social media marketing campaigns and corporate social responsibility programs can be a very effective way to generate earned media. Let Social-smart show you how. Check out our new website and, if we can be of help, give us a call.
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Posted in Awareness, Brand experiences, Location marketing, Participatory, Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Social-good experiences, Social-smart Services | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Wow”! New Website – New Emphasis on Social Good, CSR & Interactive Performance Art

interactive social media for social good
It has been a while since we last posted here but I hope by the end of this latest update you will think that it has been worth the wait. We are proud to announce the launch of the new Social-smart.com website and introduce a range of new services that we can offer to clients. Over the past few months Mark, especially, has been busy honing a more specific course for Social-smart to take over the next few years. One of the things that has been most important to Social-smart’s team is the way in which social good and corporate social responsibility has been brought to the fore by the rising tide of social media and the sense of accountability that it has fostered in all areas of life. It is, after all, the age of digital democracy.

In a recent article in Mashable entitled “Why Social Media is Vital to Corporate Social Responsibility” , Melissa Rowley highlighted the crux of what is happening in terms this new sense of accountability and the corporations’ necessary response to it. Rightly, she identifies that

“A cultural and corporate shift is taking place in the world. The result of things like the current economic climate and recognition of global climate change, society is starting to push past awareness and into action. As this transition takes hold, companies are evolving from their reactive states, and moving toward more pro-active approaches. Social media has begun to play a key role in how companies shape their corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies and present themselves as good corporate citizens.”

“Because the end goal for corporations has risen above simply selling a product or service, the standard for CSR is being redefined and is evolving as a driver of innovation.”

There is nothing like a story of a corporation doing something positive and good for the community for getting attention on the social networks. A Pennsylvannia University study even showed that people prefer to share good news rather than bad news – http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/09/science/09tier.html

Social media channels open to corporations and citizens are diversifying in both method and sophistication. Mobile marketing, location-based marketing, and social gaming have added to the ways in which information is received and shared. As social media has brought new methods of communicating ideas to targeted groups of people, especially the rise of the viral video, new and innovative ways are sought to get people’s attention. Live performance and guerilla marketing techniques have added to the mix, T-Mobile’s Liverpool Street Station dance routine being but one great example – one with 21.3 million views!

In a very interesting and timely article by Jon Goldman for Mashable – Why Social Experience is the Future of Online Content – he made the argument that no matter how good the content, it is the user’s shared social experience with that content that is key to growing and maintaining the loyalty of your audience.

“The balance of power within digital media is shifting again, this time to the experience that envelops the content. In the same way that musicians are now making money again by going on tour and entertaining their fans at real events, online content that is packaged as a social experience will be more in line with consumer web use trends than mass-market online content portals.”

That is very much what we are doing. Social-smart brings many disparate forms of communications together in a way that will maximize the social experience of the content of our client’s socially good programs. Using a blend of physical, online and mobile touch points we aim to integrate a company’s social media and location-marketing with daring creative arts and provocative live experiences that inspire participation, word of mouth publicity and viral sharing. Earned media, instead of buying media, whether it’s for Business to Consumer (B2C)  or a Business to Business (B2B), in the end is all about building communities – communities of people who care about what you are doing and want to advocate, participate or donate. In order to do that, you have to create events that have what we call ‘provocative creative “wow” experiences’ [http://www.social-smart.com/index.php/social_good], events that capture the senses and make the cause more relevant and proactive. If anything, this has been the single biggest addition to Social-smart’s services and we have been working with some great groups of artists and entertainers in and around Boston over the past few months.

Expect more examples to be posted on this blog in the coming months. With offices in Boston and Santa Fe we aim to service clients from East Coast to West coast. In the meantime feel free to browse our new website – let us know what you think – and feel free to share with any friends and networks that may be interested in a “wow” experience!

Posted in Social Media Marketing, Social-smart Services, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Social Media Impacts Corporate Social Responsibility

I recently wrote about what I saw as the 5 fundamentals of social media and, following a couple of interesting posts this week I am wondering if I should add a sixth – that of Corporate Social Responsibility. In an article for Advertising Age, Allen Adamson, following conversations with Mark Pritchard from Proctor & Gamble, and others, and citing the examples of brands such as Subway and Timberland, has come to the conclusion that “If Doing Good Isn’t Part of Your DNA, Consumers Won’t Buy It” Consumers, he argues,
“are increasingly making purchase decisions based on how good a brand is relative to its impact on society, because they see it as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the world, even if only in small ways. And the transparency of digital technology makes it easy for them to see which brands are doing the best job at being socially responsible.
http://adage.com/cmostrategy/article?article_id=139194 – If consumers don’t get the intrinsic link between brand benefit and social purpose, they won’t buy it, literally or figuratively.”
In Britain, David Connor at justmeans.com highlights the importance of the role of social media in creating awareness of social and environmental issues, and highlights the close relationship between the rise of information availability and the rise in Corporate social Responsibility -
“You cannot underestimate the impact of social media on this level of awareness, and thus education. As Clay Shirky articulately presents on his TED Talks summary of historical revolutions in media, “we are all now both consumers and producers of information” he says.” [highlight all & and]
It is certainly clear from the recent example of the reaction to Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey, comments in the Wall Street Journal [http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204251404574342170072865070.html] that socially conscious and aware consumers can have had a dramatic effect on consumer’s opinion of the brand, as the recent research study by YouGov and appearing in Mashable.com, shows. As the Mashable post says, “Should YouGov’s research be as accurate as it claims to be, then Whole Foods definitely needs to be concerned about this social media backlash that’s negatively impacting consumer opinion.”
As Whole Foods Boycott Grows on Facebook, Brand Perception Drops
On a more positive note, clothing and sports gear retailer, Patagonia’s long time mission to “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” has helped the company differentiate itself from is competitors and create a strong connection between its brand and its cause.
Social media, Kasey Kersnowski, Patagonia.com and The Cleanest Line’s managing editor tells The Viral Gardens’ Mack Collier, has “helped us get to know our customers better and empowered them to play a bigger part in Patagonia’s success. The fact that the comments are now public has given our customers a more potent voice… [and] the Cleanest Line (Patagonia’s blog) also helps us embrace a more transparent business model.
Transparency is an important quality to embrace if you plan on engaging in conversation with customers –  lest your level of responsibility is tested in the public forum! There is already a site called GoodGuide, highlighted in another Advertising Age post, that “puts brands ethical claims to the test and scrutinizes 75,000 products to expose those who overhype”. You have been warned!
If, indeed, genuine Corporate Social Responsibility is to become a necessary part of the new business’paradigm’ then, as a big proponent of Fair Trade, I myself most heartedly applaud and hope that as social media marketers we can play a small part in helping companies to tell their stories and inspire their own customers.
I recently wrote about what I saw as the 5 fundamentals of social media and, following a couple of interesting posts this week I am wondering if I should add a sixth – that of Corporate Social Responsibility. In an article for Advertising Age, Allen Adamson, following conversations with Mark Pritchard from Proctor & Gamble, and others, and citing the examples of brands such as Subway and Timberland, has come to the conclusion that “If Doing Good Isn’t Part of Your DNA, Consumers Won’t Buy It“.   Consumers, he argues,
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“are increasingly making purchase decisions based on how good a brand is relative to its impact on society, because they see it as an opportunity to have a positive impact on the world, even if only in small ways. And the transparency of digital technology makes it easy for them to see which brands are doing the best job at being socially responsible. If consumers don’t get the intrinsic link between brand benefit and social purpose, they won’t buy it, literally or figuratively.”

In Britain, David Connor at justmeans.com highlights the importance of the role of social media in creating awareness of social and environmental issues, and highlights the close relationship between the rise of information availability and the rise in Corporate social Responsibility -
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“You cannot underestimate the impact of social media on this level of awareness, and thus education. As Clay Shirky articulately presents on his TED Talks summary of historical revolutions in media, “we are all now both consumers and producers of information” he says.”

It is certainly clear from the recent example of the reaction to Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey’s, comments in the Wall Street Journal that, whatever the merits of the argument, socially conscious and aware consumers can have a dramatic effect on consumer’s opinion of the brand, as the recent research study by YouGov and appearing in Mashable.com, shows. As the Mashable post [As Whole Foods Boycott Grows on Facebook, Brand Perception Drops] says,
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“Should YouGov’s research be as accurate as it claims to be, then Whole Foods definitely needs to be concerned about this social media backlash that’s negatively impacting consumer opinion.”

However, ‘doing good’ seems to have very positive impact on consumer opinion. One example that came up today is clothing and sports gear retailer, Patagonia. Their long time mission to “use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis” has helped the company differentiate itself from is competitors and create a strong connection between its brand and its cause.
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“helped us get to know our customers better and empowered them to play a bigger part in Patagonia’s success. The fact that the comments are now public has given our customers a more potent voice… [and] the Cleanest Line (Patagonia’s blog) also helps us embrace a more transparent business model.”

Transparency is an important quality to embrace if you plan on engaging in conversation with customers –  lest your level of responsibility is tested in the public forum! There is already a site called GoodGuide, highlighted in another Advertising Age post, that “puts brands ethical claims to the test and scrutinizes 75,000 products to expose those who overhype“. You have been warned!
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If, indeed, genuine Corporate Social Responsibility is to become a necessary part of the new business ‘paradigm’ then I for one, as a big proponent of Fair Trade, most heartedly applaud and hope that, as social media marketers, we can play a small part in helping companies to tell their stories and inspire their own customers in such a positive manner.
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