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…)

There’s no doubt that marketers understand the importance of daily social media engagement, but few utilize Twitter Chats as a way to engage with individuals on a large but still personal level. Not familiar with Twitter Chats? They are a way for people of similar interests from all over the world to participate in a real-time conversation on the social channel. Businesses have started using them to connect with individuals in a more personalized and engaging way regarding topics relevant to their brand audience.

If you’re planning to host your own Twitter Chat, you’ll need to:

Understand the format. The conversation is led by a host (or a panel of hosts), uses a question-and-answer format, requires a specific hashtag and generally lasts about an hour.

Determine your goal. Twitter Chats are great for brand awareness, creating buzz, learning more about your audience and developing relationships with your customers. They can also increase website traffic and possibly lead to conversions. (read more…)

“Convincing a large organization to change what it’s been doing very successfully for decades can be a bit of a struggle,” says Brandon Rhoten, Wendy’s Director of Digital and Social Media in his presentation at our SocialMedia.org Brands-Only Summit.

He explains that with a heavy focus on TV commercials for over 50 years, Wendy’s was very comfortable with traditional advertising — and getting the company on board with social media took three things:

  • Headlines: Use external press — both the good and the bad. Brad says he shares the cringe-worthy stuff to show why Wendy’s should be a part of the conversation and the good coverage (like winning a Silver Cannes Lion, a Shorty award and Facebook Silver) to show where it’s working.
  • A simple plan: Empower a person to build and take responsibility for the channel. Make simple rules for a clear voice and tone. Don’t start with your business objectives — start with your customers’ habits.
  • (read more…)