Social media, the ever-elusive but never exclusive opportunity, allows brands to establish a direct channel to engage and interact with their key audiences (e.g., customers, partners and employees). Yet, according to CEO.com’s 2014 Social CEO Report, nearly two-thirds of Fortune 500 CEOs have no identifiable presence on the major social networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram). The opportunities here are endless, yet only a small group of top CEOs truly leverage these networks to their full potentials.

CEOs looking to take that plunge into social media, or ramp up their efforts, need to determine the best approach. Your activity on social media can generate a bigger impact than anything else in your marketing arsenal when properly managed and leveraged. To get started, here are the top three things you need to consider:

  1. Take stock. First, figure out where you are in the social media landscape. What social assets do you have?
  2. (read more…)

You’re an entrepreneur, you’ve got great ideas, and business is booming. So why not be recognized as a thought leader in your industry? After all, your competition is doing it. With blogs and social sharing platforms at everyone’s fingertips, establishing a strong presence in the sea of voices is almost as important as your product or service. The big question is, how do you get your voice heard, and how do you know what to say and who to say it to?

Here are four tips on excelling in the school of thought leadership.

Articulate what makes you special

Spend some time deciphering exactly what makes your business stand out from the crowd. How are you innovative? How is your company playing the game differently? Nothing says leader more than spearheading a shift in industry thinking. It’s not as intimidating as it might sound — we don’t all have to be Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh transforming the call center into a model of corporate culture. (read more…)

Google any of the following phrases: real estate, home loan, insurance, handyman, donation, hosting, lawyer, credit. Imagine you offer one of these services.

Recognized names often dominate search results. Service consolidators, companies with many physical locations and firms with magnificent ad budgets can leave smaller brands wondering whether competition is even feasible.

A business owner might take this on as search engine optimization, and go looking for an SEO geek to fight his battles. Yet, facing the giants with the slingshot of SEO could be a mistake. You beef up your website and lob over endless bags of cash, but the impact is absorbed in the endless algorithmic folds of the merciless beast. Search is shrugging off all attempts at bribery or force, and the big guys just stay bigger.

So, let them. Since search has tightened up, small brands actually have a great shot at it. To reach for the new tools, though, requires letting go of your rocks. (read more…)

Mobile marketers from around the world will gather in New York next week at MMA Forum to discuss the latest in multi-channel engagement and connections with consumers that go beyond the point of sale. They’ll also hear from leaders in the field about real-world tools and campaigns that have effectively used mobile to reach target audiences and elevate brands. We caught up with two of the speakers at this year’s event to get a sneak peek of what they plan to share.

Mitchell Reichgut is CEO of advertising platform Jun Group. He has worked in the advertising industry for two decades on both the creative and agency sides and will be speaking on how marketers can find an audience for mobile video content.

Kathy Sheehan is executive vice president and general manager of GfK Consumer Trends, a forecasting and market research company. Her presentation at MMA Forum New York will focus on reaching millennials. (read more…)

If you haven’t noticed by now, consumers are making a huge social shift from Instagram to Snapchat. The migration over to the popular self-destructing photo and video social network is happening right before our eyes. Snapchat is a multifunctional app: People use it to communicate one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-all. They share moments, not just pretty pictures, through stills and videos with added captions, doodles, and filters to make them even more fun and personal. The social shift is official when a majority of consumers start to make an announcement on all their other social media networks to join them on a newer or more popular social network.

When this shift starts, it is when I start to recommend small businesses prepare a marketing strategy for that network. The first movers will dominate and connect with their consumers faster than their competitors. Social savvy small businesses know that taking advantage of social media to market their products and services can be very cost-effective to drive sales and consumer engagement. (read more…)