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The Fab 5 Social Media Makeovers

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We all know that social media outlets are about redesigning yourself. After all, who hasn’t met someone for the first time, after only knowing them through a social network? The first thought is usually, “you’re not what I was expecting!”

But what about when the social media sites themselves decide to embark upon a little image do-over? Their job is to keep giving users new and innovative ways to present themselves to others, and site redesigns are one way to do that. Here are five makeovers that have glammed up the social media sites we know and love.

1. Facebook

Facebook’s latest redesign is all about letting people know more about you, more quickly, and in a more creative way. Your “vital facts” are still at the top—but they’re playing second fiddle to five pictures of you, that help sum up your “you-ness.” Smart move, Facebook—you’ve realized how important pictures are to your users, and you responded accordingly.

2. Myspace

I’ll be honest, I’m still not a huge fan of this social network. Waiting five minutes to load someone’s profile, only to be accosted by a terrible song and several twinkling glitter GIFs was not my idea of a good time. The new interface has sleeker graphics and has helped bring the site into 2010, although it still seems noisy compared to other social networks.

3. Twitter

Twitter got a nice little update in September of this year. Embedded photos and videos from select sites are more easily viewed, and the tweet timelines look cleaner and easier to read. I love being able to scroll over a username to see a little “mini-profile,” rather than having to navigate to their page.

4. Etsy

It’s been four years since this site got a major update, but I’m still including it here. Why? The site’s redesign seemed to make it truly reflect the aesthetics of the makers who sell their goods there—it’s visually appealing, balanced without being overly-sleek, and photo-based to make the products the star of the show.

5. LinkedIn

This Facebook-for-business got a major redesign in 2008. The design moved content up the page, to make it more easily navigable, got rid of the left-hand navigation bar, and created a more comprehensive top navigation bar. While the redesign didn’t exactly make the site more fun, it did make getting around more efficient—and what else would you expect from a business social network?

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The Key to Increasing Your Email Campaign Conversions

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Studies have shown that there is one specific element of your email marketing campaign that if done right, can increase your conversions by 60%. And it is NOT the subject line, your email list, the graphics you use or the “From” address. Feeling a little lost? You aren’t alone! And this conversion-boosting element is often overlooked or ignored completely by most email marketers. So just what is this secret weapon?

It’s actually no secret at all. It’s your landing pages – those pages that greet your visitors once you’ve gotten them to click through your email campaign. And landing pages should absolutely be an integral part of your email marketing efforts.

Your landing page can make or break your email marketing initiatives. A good landing page will help email recipients continue through the sales process or funnel them onto the next step. Mediocre landing pages might perform at an acceptable level, giving you an inflated sense of success while you are losing out on quality opportunities to convert. And bad landing pages can be really bad – they can confuse or derail recipients to the point that they become annoyed, leave the site, or even rethink their association with your brand.

Creating great landing pages is a matter of focusing on your customers and their specific needs. Customers want to be assured that they’re at the right place, to understand the benefits of taking the next step and what to expect, to clearly see the action step you want them to take, and to feel confident that they’re making a good decision. Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can optimize landing pages to better meet your customers’ needs:

You’ve Come to the Right Place

Have you ever clicked through an email and then thought, “Huh? What just happened?” If so, you’ve just been the victim of landing page disconnect. This occurs when a landing page greatly differs from the email marketing that led you to it. This can happen as the result of a number of elements:

An offer that is not reiterated: Imagine that you’re driving your daughter to a classmate’s birthday party. You can type the address into your GPS, but doesn’t it make you feel more comfortable to see those ‘Happy Birthday’ balloons tied to mailbox? That’s because even if you’re pretty sure you know where you are, like most people you appreciate a little reassurance that you’ve arrived at the right location.

Landing pages work the same way. An email offer that touts a “Free white paper on email marketing tips” should lead to a landing page that reiterates that offer. Repeating your offer helps people instantly realize they’ve come to the right place.

Your landing page is definitely not the place to test out your company’s new logo or to roll out an entirely different color scheme. Consistency is key to building trust, and having continuity between the look and feel of your email and your corresponding landing page will make visitors feel more comfortable.

You’re Here for the Right Reasons

Reassuring visitors that they’ve arrived at the proper location is the first step in preventing them from bouncing off of the page and moving them towards conversion. But once you’ve passed the first hurdle, your challenge becomes convincing people to take the next step. To accomplish this, you should ensure that the landing page features between 3-5 concise benefits-focused statements that spell out exactly what the visitor can expect as a result of their action.
For example, the benefits for your downloadable white paper on email marketing tips could be something like:

Improve campaign ROI

Increase your deliverability and conversions

Decrease your number of spam complaints

Note that each benefit is brief yet action-oriented, speaking directly to the target audience, and not overly “salesy” either.

You’ve Come to Complete a Task

Some email marketers look at landing pages as just another page of the website, one that should have all of the bells, whistles and navigation that are available on every other page. But smart email marketers realize that the function of a landing page is actually quite different than other pages that are intended to be accessed outside of a specific campaign.

Landing pages are in place to help a visitor accomplish a particular task, such as purchasing your product or signing up for your webinar. Help your visitors stay on task by streamlining your landing pages. Avoid adding any unnecessary links, and consider minimizing the page’s navigation structure to create fewer distractions. If additional information needs to be given before people can be expected to make a decision, you should consider doing so in a pop-up window that allows the landing page to remain in the background.

With landing pages, less is often more. The less distractions and alternate site paths you provide, the more conversions you can anticipate.

You’re Safe Doing Business with Us

Another way to encourage email campaign conversions is to show visitors that they have made a wise and safe decision to do business with you. This doesn’t mean that you should add images of perky customer service representatives or using “Your Business is Safe with Us” as a headline. Remember, you earn a customers’ trust, you don’t just tell them about why they should give it to you.

There are more effective ways of conveying your business’ trustworthiness than resorting to these tired clichés or cheesy graphics. Here are a few that work particularly well:

Third-party testimonials. Landing pages are a great place to showcase brief quotes from happy customers talking about the benefits and return on investment gained from purchasing your product or service. Keep them brief so they don’t take up a too much space on the screen.

Media mentions. If your business or product has been featured in a local, regional or national news broadcast or publication, or received a feature story in an important industry blog, you may want to consider providing quotes from the news stories or using that media outlet’s logo with an ‘As Seen in’ header.

Awards. Similar to media mentions, awards can help establish your business’ credibility. Award logos or quotes should also be brief; you should add additional information or links about the accolade elsewhere on your site in case the visitor decides to investigate later, so they won’t feel duped.

Applicable Policies. Customers are concerned about privacy and your company policies, and will want to know what you’re going to do with their personal info, what will happen if they need to request a refund, and what you’re going to do with the credit card number they just entered. Depending on the nature of your business, a quick link to your privacy policy, return policy, satisfaction guarantee or terms of service – preferably in a pop-up window that returns the visitor back to the landing page once their question is answered – can offer the sense of security customers need to take the next step.

The Secret is Simple: Stay Customer Focused

The secret to improving your landing pages and increasing conversions is quite simple: Just pay attention to your customers’ needs and ensure that your landing pages address them all. Reiterate your email offers to show customers that they’re exactly where they need to be. Showcase your offer’s benefits and design a clear pathway between the customer and the goal. Finally, give your customers the information they need to feel confident about their decision to do business with you. With effort and perseverance, optimization of your landing pages will likely improve your email campaign conversions … and your bottom line.

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Some Top Brands Using Facebook Pages and Why They're Successful

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So, your business has a Facebook page. Or you’re thinking about one. But have you ever wondered what successful Facebook page owners are doing right? Well, look no further.

This post examines some of the top Facebook pages from brands you’ll surely recognize. But regardless how large – or small – your business is, hopefully you’ll discover some great ideas that will help you take your Facebook experience to the next level for your fans.

Each of these pages has incorporated unique features that have attracted hundreds of thousands (or even millions!) of fans, as well as the notice of major media publications. That’s no small feat, considering how many new pages are popping up daily on Facebook!

It’s important to remember, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel with your Facebook presence. Instead, why not check out what others are doing, and tweak these strategies to make them your own?

#1: Red Bull

The Red Bull team is very much in tune with their target audience. This is evidenced by their unique content and the custom apps used throughout their page.

Red Bull delivers what they know their audience will respond to best. For example, they’ve created a series of online games for their fans, very aptly called the “Procrastination Station.” The games are geared toward sports and extreme, high-impact competitions.

Red Bull also created a web TV program that’s featured prominently on their Facebook page. There are many different segments, many which spotlight the lives of sponsored athletes. Not only does this web TV show align the brand with celebrity athletes, but it also incorporates video into the page, which gives the audience another way to interact with Red Bull.

Another smart feature of Red Bull’s page is their welcome tab. When a non-fan lands on their page, they see the image shown below. They creatively encourage fans to “Like” their page with this attention-grabbing image. Also, they only put one thing on their welcome tab, making it very clear what action step they want to happen. If you have too much information on your welcome tab, your fans will get confused and are not likely to take ANY action. So less is definitely more. Stick with just one call to action.

Facebook Tip: One area you should consider spending a bit of money on is the creative design of your page. When design is done right, it can really make a great first impression with non-fans. Also, when you design your Facebook page, pay close attention to your call to action, specifically the all-important “Like” button. What can you do to grab the attention of your new visitor and encourage them to click on your “Like” button quickly? The creative design on Red Bull’s welcome tab does just that!

#2: Uno Chicago Grill

Uno Chicago Grill has taken full advantage of the Facebook app FBML to highlight their menu options in an extremely appealing way. They have many tabs dedicated to specific areas of their menu and use imagery to entice their fans. In addition, on their welcome tab they link to the most important areas of their website, including locations and online ordering options. When non-fans come to their page for the first time, they get an instant snapshot of Uno’s offerings.

In addition, Uno has incorporated a Fan of the Week contest on their Facebook page. Fans get their photo posted directly on the profile image of the restaurant’s wall.

This is great exposure and a lot of fun for the fans that participate and get selected.

To take it one step further, Uno does something unique with their Fan of the Week contest—they ask fans to post photos of themselves while at an Uno restaurant, thereby encouraging fans to come in and dine.

This is a great strategy to bring online fans into their brick-and-mortar establishments!

Facebook Tip: If you have a brick-and-mortar establishment as well, think of creative promotions to entice your fans to visit in person. Contests and special offers are all great ways to invite new fans to come in and check things out!

#3: Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has taken a spot near the top of many “best-of” Facebook page lists due to their unique promotions and fun, innovative and interactive features.

During June-August, their promotion focused on the Summer Snapshot contest, where they encouraged fans to take a photo with the summer Coca-Cola cans. Not only did this get their fans involved with their page, but of course the contest also integrated photos of their products with fans into the page.

Photos are viewed more than any other type of content on Facebook. They go viral quickly because when a fan posts a photo, that photo is then sent out to the news feeds of all of their friends. Many thousands of potential new fans ultimately see these photos.

Here’s an example of a photo posted by a fan for the Coca-Cola contest. Notice how others can vote on each photo? This allows *everyone to get in on the fun!

Facebook Tip: When creating a Facebook contest, keep it simple! The less information your fans need do to enter, the better. Make it easy, fun and make sure to incorporate a sharing component so your contest can spread virally.

#4: Oreo

Another brand which does a fantastic job of creating unique experiences for their fans is Oreo. They know that their cookies have been part of many people’s lives since childhood, and they utilize this angle to create a sense of nostalgia with fans. And it’s working, since they have over 8 million fans to date!

A recent campaign was their “Back to School Memories” initiative, where they asked their fans to share their memories and photos directly on their Facebook page. Once again, remember how important photos are. And by offering unique experiences like Oreo has done with their back to school campaign, brands create a connection to the fans, who become loyal followers and keep coming back for more.

Facebook Tip: You’ll usually get the best response when you ask fans to share something about themselves. Ask them their opinions, thoughts and feedback and you’ll be pleasantly surprised how quickly they start talking!

Other great Facebook pages include Jones Soda, the Travel Channel, the promotions for Toy Story 3 and the Twilight series of films, Burt’s Bees and Uno Chicago Grill. Check them out, and get ideas that you can use in your own Facebook promotion!

And remember, if you don’t have the staff or other resources to manage your own Facebook campaigns, you can bring in experts like Hat Trick Associates to help you and your brands create social media campaigns that connect with, and engage with, your fans.

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