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Archive for the ‘social media tools’ Category

Truck Manufacturers and Social Media: The Good and Not So Good

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Last year at the Mid America Trucking Show, a keynote speaker dismissed social media as a marketing tool. One year later, all of the major truck manufacturers have jumped on board with social media, with varying levels of success.

 

Freightliner and International are successfully using Facebook and Twitter to engage with their audiences. Freightliner spotlights a truck and its driver on a weekly basis and shares relevant information about its brand including news stories, features, contests and polls that provide incentives for participation. Freightliner’s Facebook page features information and contests related to NASCAR (Freightliner is the official hauler of NASCAR), a great strategy for expanding Freightliner’s audience beyond the trucking world.

 

International frequently shares relevant photographs of company-related events and of its trucks around the world on Facebook. During the 2012 Mid-America Show in Louisville, International made its company historian available for questions via social media.

 

International began tweeting about Mid-America long before the show began and was active on Twitter throughout the three-day event. International often provides rewards for Twitter engagement and is good about keeping its Tweets interesting, Tweeting about holidays and other topical news.

 

Several truck manufacturers are successfully using YouTube. Freightliner, Kenworth, Mack and International all have done a good job of posting videos of new trucks and their features. Freightliner and Mack have featured truck owners and their stories. Freightliner has shared its history and videos of classic Freightliner trucks. International frequently shares driving tips with its owners, and it provided great coverage of MATS, from show set-up to a recap of events. International and Volvo used YouTube to discuss the causes in which the companies are involved.

 

Some truck manufacturers certainly have room for improvement in their social media marketing.  Mack and Peterbilt do not have Facebook pages or have long deserted them. Kenworth is on Facebook but not consistently.

 

Here are some insights into areas that truck manufacturers could improve on in social media:

 

  • None of the truck brands are using the Milestone feature on the new Facebook Timeline format. Posting Milestones would be a great way for these companies to share their brand heritage, especially considering that many truck manufacturers have long and interesting histories.

 

  • Every brand would benefit from engaging consumers and the press on Twitter. As I mentioned before, International provides a great example of how a company can use Twitter to converse with users rather than simply promote itself, and its variety of content makes its tweets more effective. Kenworth, Mack, and Volvo Trucks could benefit from posting more content on Twitter and making the content more varied.

 

  • Google Plus is an up and coming social network with over 100 million users. We recommend that truck manufacturers claim their pages and start using this site for promotion and networking.

 

  • Regularly posting high quality videos on YouTube that cover a diverse range of topics can help increase brand awareness and give fans more to talk about. Kenworth and Western Star could benefit from more diverse content and a higher frequency of video uploads. Because it does not have a YouTube channel, Peterbilt is missing a great opportunity to promote its brand.

 

 

 

I look forward to seeing how truck manufacturers develop their social media strategies in the future as the industry becomes more connected through social networks. Social media is a great opportunity for truck manufacturers to continue to build their brand image and connect more directly with customers and fans. Because the truck industry has a high level of brand loyalty and interest, truck manufacturers can greatly benefit from effectively using social media.

 

Trucking Industry is Getting Social

Friday, April 15th, 2011

I walked the floor at the recent Mid America Trucking Show to get an idea of how quickly the trucking industry is adopting social media and the latest digital technologies.

I found that some companies are very engaged, others are in the process of becoming more involved, and others are sticking their head in the sand – believing that they will lose “control” if they put themselves out there in social media.   Guys, you are already “out there.”  Web 2.0 technologies have significantly shifted the power from institutions to the people.  Get with the program!

Anecdotally speaking, I saw a lot more social media activity than at last year’s show.  The show’s Twitter hashtag was very active, companies were using social media to drive booth traffic, and it was clear that social media is playing a greater role in marketing strategies for many.

 

I liked what I saw from Michelin.  They are actively listening to their customers on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc., and according to Michelin Marketing Communications Manager Bianca Hogan, the company has established procedures for engaging with advocates and responding to detractors (when a response is appropriate).

It was music to my ears when Ryan Fisher, account manager with Michelin agency Jackson Marketing Group, described how they conducted research at another trucking show to find out which social media platforms are most used by drivers and owner operators.  We see the opposite all too often; companies wanting to jump into Facebook, Twitter or something else before really analyzing how, where and why their target audiences are using social media.  For the record, they found Facebook to be the main platform with Twitter and YouTube also very popular.  Facebook and YouTube are a great way for these road warriors to stay in touch, personally and professionally, while Twitter is good for sharing the latest news on road delays, weather conditions, etc.

Joan O’Clair, corporate communications and social media manager for TravelCenters of America and Petro Stopping Centers, explained that the company has launched a popular iPhone app. to help customers check fuel prices, utilize the company’s emergency road service and much more.  Phase II of the app. is on its way with restaurant specials and more.

Magnus Koeck, vice president of marketing and brand development for Volvo Trucks North America, said Volvo Trucks has been involved in social media for some time in Europe.  Koeck said he has challenged his team to learn more about New Media because it is obvious that Volvo Trucks’ customers are spending more and more time online.  He said they will soon be adding a digital media specialist to the marketing staff.

It was also great to see the traditional media integrating social media into their offerings.  We had a great conversation with Deborah and Evin Lockridge about how they are using Twitter and other New Media tools at Heavy Duty Trucking magazine.

Then there was the speaker who warned the audience not to get involved in Facebook for security reasons.  Yes, you have to be aware of security issues and have a social media policy in place.  But advising not to get involved is akin to a transportation company in the early part of the 20th Century sticking with mules and wagons because you could lose control of a motorized vehicle’s steering wheel.

 

 

 

YouTube is not just acrobatic kittens and dancing babies

Thursday, October 7th, 2010
YouTube is not just for Dancing Babies and Cute Kittens
We talk to a lot of business people who don’t use YouTube because they think it is all about shocking scenes and cute videos with dancing babies and acrobatic kittens.  While it’s true that truly entertaining videos have the best chance to go viral, YouTube can still be a tremendous (and free) resource for any business.  
According to CitySearch.com, a customer is twice as likely to visit your store if you have a video of your store on your website.  Seeing your store and employees on a video, or a customer testimonial, builds customer confidence and increases the chances that the customer will come see you.
Click here to see a video customer testimonial for Alliance Tire Americas (a client of ours).  Nicely done, and it did not require an expensive camera or production crew.  An effective YouTube video can be shot on a $75 Flip camera.  YouTube audiences are not expecting a slick piece; in fact, this is often a negative.  Make it genuine, but also make it short (30 seconds to 2 minutes).  And get to the point; attention spans are not what they used to be.
So how could tire dealers, for example, effectively use YouTube?
– Show your showroom and interview a few employees.
– Interview satisfied customers for testimonials.
– Shoot educational videos on how to winterize your car, getting ready for summer, etc.
Check out the Sullivan Tire YouTube channel.  Great job!
Using YouTube is easy, but there are some techniques and best practices that can help you use it effectively. Shoot me a comment and I will send you our YouTube white paper which takes you from A to Z.

I Have a Bad Reputation!

Wednesday, September 8th, 2010

As published in Digital Nashville  Join Today!

“Christine Taylor Nude”…. yes, I Googled myself. Unfortunately I have the same name as Marcia Brady of “The Brady Bunch Movie” fame. Apparently a very nice person, but there must be some scandalous photos floating around out there. That is one reason I try to use my middle initial or middle name in most online profiles.

Depending on how popular and well known your brand is, there may be few or many people talking about it. If you’re looking to start a blog, position yourself as an expert or start networking actively in your desired topic area, then make listening an important research routine. As your brand equity increases, more conversations will be held around your brand name. You’ll spend more time listening and possibly responding to blog posts, tweets, etc. Eventually, you may even need to hire someone to monitor online conversations about you or your company on a daily basis.

Tracking topics on the Web can be a painful process due to the amount of noise and difficulty of filtering it. To help you out, I’ve selected several free tracking tools that go beyond Google.

  • Leapfish http://www.leapfish.com/ Search all the major sites at once. Search real-time social sites. See web, video and image results – blogs, news and video results, plus shopping prices, etc.
  • IceRocket: http://www.icerocket.com/ IceRocket does “Blogs · Web · Twitter · MySpace · News · Images · Big Buzz … API.”
  • Social Mention http://socialmention.com/ Social Mention is a social media search engine that searches user-generated content such as blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos, and microblogging services.
  • Ego Surf http://www.egosurf.org/ Enter your name (or a keyword) and your web site url, and egoSurf will search Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Technorati and del.icio.us for mentions of your site. Select “more options” to run your search on more engines than just Google.
  • MonitorThis http://monitorthis.77elements.com/ With MonitorThis, you can search in 26 different search engine feeds at the same time including blogs, microblogs and more.
  • Same Point http://www.samepoint.com/ It categorizes “Social Mentions, Discussion Points, Bookmarks, Wikis, Network’s B2B Networks, Groups, Life Casting, MicroBlogs, Reviews, Podcasts, Documents, Video, Images, News and Web.” There are tabs that let you drill down to results for each category.
  • WhosTalkin http://www.whostalkin.com/ WhosTalking is a social media search tool that allows users to search for conversations on multiple social media sites surrounding the topics that they care about most.
  • Addictomatic http://addictomatic.com/ Addictomatic searches a wide range of live sites including blogs, micro-blogs, news and video. Search results are displayed in your own custom page. While you can’t get an RSS feed of your search, you can bookmark it.
  • Keotag http://www.keotag.com/ Search engine that allows you to search various social media sites (delicious, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) by tags.
  • BackType http://www.backtype.com/ is a tool for monitoring blog comments. Whenever you write a comment with a link to your Web site, Backtype attributes it to you.
  • Yacktrack http://www.yacktrack.com/ lets you search for comments on your content from various sources, For instance, if you comment on a blog, you can locate other people who are commenting on that same blog post and rejoin the conversation.
  • Scour http://scour.com/ Scour is a next generation search engine with Google/Yahoo/MSN results and user comments all on one page. Users get rewarded for using it by collecting points with every search, comment and vote.
  • OneRiot http://www.oneriot.com/ OneRiot is a social search engine that indexes web pages based on their current popularity with its users, thus focusing on newest and most popular results for a search query rather than a comprehensive overview of the archived web.
  • Pipes http://pipes.yahoo.com/pipes/ Pipes is a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web.
  • Omgili http://omgili.com/ The Omgili forum search engine lets you find communities, message boards, and discussion threads about any topic.

This list is by no means complete. I am always looking for tools to make your jobs and mine easier. What listening tools do you use?

Foursquare – Super-Charging Word-of-Mouth Through Social Media

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Christine and I went to one of our favorite restaurant/pubs in Green Hills recently.  She checked in to Foursquare, told about 200 of her local friends about the great hamburgers there and got tips from them on other menu items to try.  How cool is that? For the restaurant!

The restaurant was benefiting from one of today’s hottest and most promising social media platforms and didn’t even know it.  What if they were smart enough to actually incentivize Foursquare users to check in?  How cool (and profitable) would that be?

The idea behind location-awareness social media like Foursquare is that people will use the GPS capabilities in today’s smart phones (iPhone, Android, etc.) to check in, tweet, review . . . let their friends know where they are.  Foursquare, currently available worldwide, is self-described as – “50% friend-finder, 30% social city guide, 20% nightlife game.”  Sound silly? Maybe, but Christine is “mayor” of a convenience store in Bucksnort, TN, and is in hot competition with another Foursquare user.  Every time we go by Bucksnort on I-40, she checks in and I buy an ice cream bar.  Not good for my waistline but great for the convenience store!

From the business perspective, think CRM (customer relationship management). Many small businesses have little or no way to track customer behavior. A coffee shop may have a patron that comes in daily for years, but they have no way to track anything. They can capture emails.  They can supply loyalty cards.  Foursquare goes far beyond all of this. The loyal coffee shop patron can be tracked through Foursquare and even incentivized to get a free cup of coffee for every tenth check-in. This is so much better than a loyalty card because it super-charges positive word-of-mouth through social media and provides valuable data on customer behavior.

Like all good social media platforms Foursquare understood the need to integrate with platforms that others already use. Foursquare users have the option to tweet or add a Facebook status update every time they check in. What this means is that a Facebook user with a few hundred friends might expose your business by way of a Foursquare check-in to thousands of Facebook walls.

There are other services that have tackled this basic function, such as Loopt, Brightkite, Gowalla and My Town, but Foursquare turned this activity into a social competition; a distinction that has led to its current role as a leader in this evolving space.

So how much does this all cost?  Nothing right now.  You can visit the Foursquare business page to register your business. The company is still developing its business model – focusing on the infrastructure, expanding the user base (one million as of today) and developing a database of locations.  While it is free for now, charging businesses to become members and providing them customized programs will most likely be the primary revenue stream for Foursquare in the future.

Tasti D-lite has been using Foursquare for some time now. Patrons are encouraged to register their loyalty card (the Tasti TreatCard) online with Foursquare (and Facebook and Twitter) to earn extra points.

Taco Mamacita, a Nashville eatery,has been using it for about six weeks.  If you check in and prove that you are the mayor of Taco Mamacita, you get a free guacamole.  This is amazing stuff!  For the cost of a few pounds of guacamole, Taco Mamacita has people competing to be mayor and telling hundreds or even thousands of other local people about the restaurant’s great menu items.

Should your business join Foursquare? The answer depends on your type of business and demographics of your customer.  Taco Mamacita fits the profile perfectly.  They are located in a trendy neighborhood  (lots of geeks around) and they pride themselves on their authentic Tex-Mex fare and margaritas (plenty to talk about).

Local consumer-oriented businesses that depend on foot traffic will get the most out of Foursquare, especially if your customers are gadget-friendly, smart phone owners. There are a lot of retailers that fit this category – coffee shops, restaurants, bookstores, pubs, nightclubs, apparel stores, spas, hair salons, art galleries, etc.  Don’t be deterred, however, if you are operating a rather “boring” business.  Owner of a dry cleaner store?  Offer an incentive (like dry cleaning coupons) and Foursquare just might work for you.

What is a Twitter #Hashtag?

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Hashtags are a community-driven convention for Twitter for adding additional context to your tweets. They’re like tags or categories, only added inline to your post. You create a hashtag simply by prefixing a word with a hash symbol: #hashtag.  Hashtags are essentially a simple way to catalog and connect tweets about a specific topic. They make it easier for users to find additional tweets on a particular subject, while filtering out the incidental tweets that may just coincidentally contain the same keyword. Hashtags are also often used by conference and event organizers as a method of keeping all tweets about the event in a single stream, and they’ve even been used to coordinate updates during emergencies

You can create a hashtag simply by appending the hash symbol to a word, like this: #hashtag. #socialmedia,#conferences

How to Utilize Existing Hashtags:

There are a wide variety of already established hashtags — and new ones being created daily — that you can join. Some examples are #musicmonday,#tastytuesday, #followfriday.

How to Find a Hashtag:

Some great site to search hashtags being used are:

What the Trend?: This useful little service makes it really easy to learn about trending hashtags. When something starts trending, What the Trend? will provide a quick blurb on what’s going on.

Twubs: Twubs  uses a wiki system to help disseminate information on a hashtag. It aggregates tweets and imports pictures to help illuminate the topics being discussed.

Hashtags.org: While not the best at helping you understand the meaning behind a tag, Hashtags.org is good at showing you its use over time and recent tweets, which oftentimes is enough to figure out the meaning behind the tag.

Tagalus: Tagalus is a simple dictionary for hashtags. It’s very easy to find information on thousands of hashtags as defined by other users. You can also define a hashtag by tweeting tagalus.

How to Start your own Hashtag

The first step in creating a hashtag is deciding on the tag word itself. You should pick something memorable, easy to spell, and perhaps more importantly, as short as possible. Remember that Twitter gives everyone just 140 characters per tweet, so no one wants half of it to be taken up by an unwieldy hashtag. Once you’ve figured out the tag itself, the next step is simple: start using it and promoting it. Make sure your tweets using the hashtag are worthwhile and add something of value to the conversation.

More resources for hahstag information:

HOW TO: Get the Most Out of Twitter #Hashtags

The Twitter Hash Tag: What Is It and How Do You Use It?

Ultimate Guide to Twitter Hashtags | Search Engine Journal

4 Sites to Get You Started in Social Media

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

There are so many great resources to help you get started with social media it can be very overwhelming. Below are a few places that I like. What are your favorites?

I’m Dumber Than I Thought.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I have always believed that the essence of a good leader was to recognize what you don’t know and hire people who are smarter than you.  I still believe that is mostly true.  However, I learned  this past year that  my lack of detailed knowledge hurt me and my ability to give clear and precise directions to my vendors.

My New Year’s Resolution is to change that.

Tamara Weinberg just gave us (for her birthday) a great list of the Best Internet Marketing Posts of 2009 and I am methodically re-posting each article on the JTMarCom Facebook FanPage. As I do that I am reading all the postings.

One posting from Louis Gray is:

40 Key Elements to Getting Started In Social Media

Tip number 5 is where I am starting.

1. Familiarize yourself with the basics of web-mastering. If you have not already done so, learn how to use FTP.

2. Learn the basics of HTML, and  the basics of  DNS how to configure it for your domain names. (How to Guide)

3. Learn how to configure a POP email account, and how to take a screen shot and edit and resize images.

The less you have to rely on someone for these basic tasks, the better off you will be and you might even save some out of pocket expenses.

I know you may know most of this but as I go through these list I always learn that I am not as smart as I think I am.

What do you want to learn or re-learn this year?

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4 Tools to get started in Social Media

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

There are so many great resources to help you get started with social media it can be very overwhelming. Below are a few places that I like. What are your favorites?

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Generate A PDF eBook of You or Your Clients Tweets as a Holiday Gift!

Wednesday, December 9th, 2009

Give the gift of knowledge.

I don’t know about you but I try and provide helpful information to my Twitter followers. (@chrisgtaylor) Information that I find useful in my business and information that will help other people navigate the new media landscape. I am growing to like the term “new media” rather than “social media” because the more I learn the more “new” stuff there is to learn.

I also feel the “new ” label fits because we are seeing a dramatic shift in the way people do business. All the folks out there who call themselves gurus, experts, mavens are full of %$%&! There are just some people more ahead of the curve than others.

One such person is Young Yang from China. A Chinese man who is dreaming to be a professional full-time blogger. On Twitter @freenuts. I recently saw a tweet that peaked my interest and I went to his blog Free Nuts. What a wealth of information! What a nice guy. He also took the time to answer some questions I had.

He introduced me to Tweetbook . Tweetbook , is a FREE web app that lets you generate  a PDF eBook of all your tweets or favorites and share it to Twitter easily.

I am in the process of creating such a book for all of our clients.

You sign in with Twitter OAuth, to create your book. It can be down loaded or shared on ScribeD.

You can decide whether the PDF eBook will include the replies or not, you can generate a PDF eBook of your favorites, and you can download an XML file of the tweets or the favorites .

Besides downloading, you can share your PDF eBook to Twitter, so that your friends can see it on Tweetbook. The only problem….Tweetbook is so popular that it often reaches its maximum limit of users it can service at this time: so be patient.

Merry Christmas! We can now all be published authors. :)

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