Lessons Learned from SXSW 2013

The South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive festival in Austin, TX has emerged as one of the leading annual conferences for digital and social media experts and enthusiasts. Thousands of attendees from across the United States and all over the world gathered over the weekend to attend hundreds of sessions that covered a wide range of topics. New trends emerged, new thought leaders hit the scene, new marketing techniques were revealed, and new best practices were established.

But like everything in life, all good things must come to an end. Here is what we will always remember about SXSW Interactive 2013.

 

1. Visions of an Innovative Future 

Amidst the chaos and all the huge parties, there were actually many meaningful conversations about what’s in store for the future. Google’s search guru Amit Singhal told us that the future of Google search is to become a ‘Star Trek’ computer that will anticipate what users search for.

“These are some of the best times in search,” Singhal said. “All the technology is coming together: speak recognition, knowledge graph, natural language understanding — there are new devices coming out, so when you marry all this, tomorrow is looking bright.”

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2. Real-Time Marketing

We were able to use real-time marketing to constantly monitor social media channels for trends about SXSW, and then quickly act on insights to get included in the conversation. This helped in the relevancy of marketing by allowing our brand to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message in the right location.

Between live-tweeting during sessions and events, and posting photos and updates to our Facebook page, we noticed a significant impact in new followers, retweets, faved tweets and new ‘likes’.

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3. Facebook Graph Search Isn’t Doing Much…Yet

Still in beta, the implications of Facebook Graph Search for marketers remain largely unknown because so few people are using it and no one really knows how people are going to react to it and how they might use it once it’s opened up for widespread use. About half of the people who attended the session about this topic actually use Graph Search, and less than one-third of those individuals found it to be useful.

Predictions from the panel suggest that Graph Search is a huge opportunity for marketers in the next six to 12 months, but that it still has a long way to go before there are any immediate benefits for the consumer.

 

4. Marketing Madness 

It’s no secret that SXSW is a haven for marketers and advertisers looking to make more people aware of their companies and products. But a tent and a sign don’t exactly cut it. Some companies went all out (or they certainly tried to) with some fairly crazy marketing stunts.

Hootsuite put together an owl bus and had it rolling through downtown Austin.

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And Central Desktops had a man dressed up as an angel wearing a tutu, who was rocking out during the Interactive Trade Show on Monday morning. These are just a couple of the bizarre stunts we saw during SXSW, but the list definitely went on.

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5. Humans Aren’t the Only Celebrities

Besides the fact that Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk was the biggest name among keynote speakers, there was also Shaquille O’Neal, Google search guru Amit Singhal and Guy Kawasaki to make the list even more impressive.

However, the biggest celebrity at SXSW 2013 wasn’t even part of the official interactive programming – it was in fact viral Internet star Grumpy Cat, who posed for photos in the Mashable House and drew lines of fans around the block.

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So why did people wait in line for up to three hours to see Grumpy Cat? Simple. It’s because everyone else was waiting in line. The “fear of missing out” is a persistent phenomenon, where every decision to attend something is usually a decision not to attend several other compelling options. Despite the fear, people gravitate toward what they think will be most memorable, and most social.

If I wasn’t deathly allergic to cats then maybe, just maybe I would have waited in line to pet this famous feline – ok, let’s be honest. I wouldn’t have regardless.

Four Things We Learned About Social Media From The Election

The 2012 Presidential Election is being dubbed “The First Digital Election” by Forbes. Here are a few things we learned from it:

1.  Social Media Influences Decisions

If there was ever any doubt before, there isn’t now. Social media is a major influence on the decision making process for most people. This year, President Obama added to a strong following from the last four years to accumulate 33 million “likes” on Facebook, while Mitt Romney was way behind with 12.2 million. This allowed Obama to use the platform to advertise more and spend less.  His strong presence on Facebook and Twitter made a huge impact on the election. KSL-TV, an NBC affiliate, estimates 58 percent of Americans obtain their political news via social networks, while 88 percent are registered voters. Obama’s strong presence on social media gave him a direct line to voters and his influence was clearly felt. His agressive social media strategy helped him to edge out Romney and win the election.

 2.  Social Media is an Integral Part of the Conversation

Using social media to comment on current events has become so natural to consumers that they can’t imagine it any other way. While TV used to be the frontrunner in news consumption and conversation, more consumers are now focused on social media as their preliminary source of news because of its real-time and viral capabilities. Lee Rainie, director of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, says “social media is deeply embedded in the rhythms of people’s lives.” Consumers now form opinions as events are happening, instead of watching them on TV later or reading about them the next day.

Social media is not only here to stay, it’s here to take the lead.

3.  Facebook is alive and well

Record numbers of users flocked to Facebook to check for updates on the election and post their opinions on the developments as they occurred.  Facebook reports, “The 2012 election received the highest score on the Facebook Talk Meter that we’ve measured this year among U.S. users, weighing in at a 9.27 on a 10-point scale that measures Facebook buzz around a specific event and related terms.” In 2008, the number was 8.95.

This election showed that people will still run to Facebook, use it as a platform, share their opinions and stay connected.

4. The New Peer Pressure

On Tuesday night, you saw multiple Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagram photos from most of your friends. So it’s not surprising that there were 71.7 million election-related Facebook mentions in posts and comments in the U.S. on election day alone. On Twitter, there were 31 million tweets relating to the election, with over 325,000 a minute!

While the direct impact on votes is unclear, there’s no questioning that opinions are being shared more consistently and easily than ever before. The general public talks about more than just politics on social media. When they have an opinion about your business, you can be sure you’ll hear it from them – and so will their friends.

 

Summary:

What we’ve learned about social media from this election is that consumers are willing and ready to share big news with their friends. The question now is, how will you get them excited about your business?

The election provided a lot of insight for the use of social media on a major scale and it’s crucial for business owners to take these facts and implement them into smaller social campaigns.

How did you use social media during the 2012 election?

Seeing is Believing: How YouTube Benefits Your Medical Practice

The Situation

After successfully launching a social media campaign for Dallas-Fort Worth bariatric and cosmetic plastic surgeon, Dr. Clayton Frenzel, dr2marketing decided to enhance his current marketing campaign by incorporating more videos into his social media channels.

We produced four spots that featured four former patients of Dr. Frenzel’s – three bariatric patients and one cosmetic plastic surgery patient. Video testimonials are a key addition to advertising for any practice because it allows individuals to connect with others in a personal and direct way, and also serves as a digital form of word-of-mouth-marketing. I interviewed each patient separately and had them tell me about what their life was like prior to surgery, what their experience with Dr. Frenzel was like, and how their life has changed since their procedure.

The Results

In the end, we produced four honest, insightful video testimonials from actual patients who were eager to share their story with others.

We then took the videos and uploaded them to YouTube to boost Dr. Frenzel’s SEO efforts. Every video we posted to his YouTube channel was tagged and indexed to increase the odds of his name appearing in organic Google searches for keywords associated with his practice and industry.

So, if you haven’t already scrolled down to the testimonials below, be sure to do it now and let us know what you think!

Bariatric Surgery Testimonials

Cosmetic Surgery Testimonial

The 5 Crimes of Tweeting

More and more companies are seeing the value of Twitter for business purposes and jumping on board the social media platform. Those doing it well are seeing real results, but many businesses – both new and experienced tweeters – are guilty of crucial errors that serve to damage their brand more than promote it. By tweeting recklessly, their strategies are often ineffective and can even be annoying, and while there aren’t any legal ramifications for committing  these crimes…there should be.

Maximize your brand’s success by avoiding these five crimes on Twitter.  

Crime #1: Undertweeting

The point of social media is to be social, if you’re not going to be social then why bother? Twitter is a great source for real-time news updates, so frequent and consistent updates are crucial as long as they’re not overbearing. Logging in every now and then to randomly tweet or retweet is a wasted effort on your part and is worthless to your followers (if they haven’t unfollowed at that point). In other words, if you’re not going to join the party, then please leave.

The Perpetrator: Amazon swung and missed during the holiday season and only tweeted six times between December 13 and January 25. Ouch.

The Resolution: Get that tweet count up. Post engaging and relevant content throughout the day and respond back to your mentions. This will give your followers a chance to interact, learn, and engage with your brand. Include Twitter in your company’s social media plan, or delete it. 

 

Crime #2: Overtweeting

If social media is socialthen follow social norms. We all have a friend that talks too much without ever saying anything of value. The point of tweeting is to deliver useful and engaging content to your consumers. Tweeting too much, or tweeting off-topic, will annoy your loyal followers.

The Perpetrator: HBO has a great brand and their content has a strong following, but having great content doesn’t grant you immunity from overtweeting. On June 10th they tweeted a whopping 48 times and that’s just way too much. We like you, HBO, but we don’t like you that much.

The Resolution: Find a balance and remember that it’s quality not quantity that matters most. Tweet enough to engage your followers, but don’t overburden them. Twitter can be a great way to connect with them to create a relationship that is more personal and interactive.

Crime #3: Ignoring Followers

You’re too busy promoting yourself in tweets that you fail to take the time to respond to the people who’ve reached out to you. No one likes to be ignored, especially when they’re upset.

Understanding how Twitter can transform customer relations for the better can be substantial for reducing costs and improving brand image. Good customer service is not just about quality of  your product or service, but also about listening to the needs of your customers and being accessible to them. Twitter is a lightning-fast platform that can help sift through and solve problems quickly, so be sure to take advantage. 

The Perpetrator: Time Warner Cable constantly tweets about themselves, but never takes the time to respond to complaints or inquiries from their customers. There are countless posts from their customers that have been left without a response, just like this one:

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The Resolution: Answer them. By using Twitter effectively, you can engage your customers, solve their problems, and build goodwill for your brand.

Crime #4: Overpromoting Yourself

Ever notice tweets in your feed from people you don’t follow? Those are promoted tweets. Some big brands have huge budgets and they want everyone to know they’re on Twitter, so they constantly ‘promote’ their own tweets. They show up in everyone’s newsfeed, all the time, and it’s annoying. Remember the kid in the neighborhood that always invited himself over? Don’t be that kid. 

The Perpetrator: Recently, Pepsi launched a “Live For Now” campaign. In order to promote it, they have been sponsoring tweets that encourage you to drink Pepsi and live for now and now we all have to read their tweets. Somehow, they believe that drinking Pepsi will allow you to make the most of your life. Flawed logic aside, it’s annoying to have tweets from someone you don’t even follow show up constantly. Pepsi, please stop, #NOW.
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The Resolution: It’s okay to sponsor your some of your tweets, but save them for when big events are coming up or for an occasional reminder that you’re active on Twitter. Do you have a huge summer sale coming up? Or a movie coming out? Sponsored tweets can be a great way to engage a new audience or target a specific time of year in which you are most relevant.

Crime #5: Hashtag Overload

Quite often, you’ll see tweets that are littered with hashtags. This defeats the purpose of hashtags and makes these tweets feel like spam. Instead of using a technique that makes you easier to find, you allowed yourself to blend in with the crowd.

The Perpetrator: Ohio State was really excited for their trip to the Final Four and in their excitement they hashtagged every topic in their tweet. A post that could have been useful and exciting now looks cluttered and feels like spam. 

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The Resolution: A hashtag is meant to label a tweet so that it’s easily searchable. They facilitate and encourage conversations and should be used to highlight current events or topics so that others can join the conversation that’s taking place across Twitter. Use one or two hashtags at the end of tweets so that people can join in, but don’t go crazy.

The moral of this story…

…is to stay away from what’s mentioned above so you won’t end up like this:

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Which of these crimes do you find to be the most annoying? Leave us a comment and let us know!

Pin me, I’m board – (Some) Predictions for 2012

(Part three of a three-part series)

Pinterest is a visual social network that allows users to pin favorite ideas, pictures, recipes, etc. to boards. These boards are for personal reference or for sharing with other "Pinners."

Ah, the grand finale for my New Year Extravaganza (I am lighting the fuse now).

I hope that at the end of this year, we can fall back to this posting and say I was right. But then again, I’ve made quite a bit of predictions in my life that have fallen short.

I predicted Alex Rodriguez, the third baseman for the New York Yankees would never win the World Series, I predicted the Dallas Mavericks to lose to the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round of the 2011 playoffs, I predicted the Texas Rangers to win the 2011 World Series and I predicted my girlfriend would say “Yes” when I asked her to marry me over the holidays.

Now sure, I was wrong three of four times (am engaged now), but when it comes to predictions, getting one right can give someone a big head.

But predictions are never guarantees, they are just fun to read and think about. I could predict I am going to win $1 million, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. However, you probably thought for just a second on what you would do with $1 million, so my prediction got you thinking.

And that’s what I hope to accomplish with my ACTUAL predictions in the online spectrum — to get you thinking or to try something new.

So, when it comes to my sports predictions, the opposite always seems to happen. So maybe I should predict the Dallas Cowboys will never win a Super Bowl under Jerry Jones ever again.

As far the following predictions, well, you can tell me at the end of the year whether I was right or wrong.

  • Google+/Pinterest become social staples: Ahh, yes, I brought Google+ full Circle (pun intended). To me, because of its user-friendly layout, it’s combination of Facebook and Twitter formats, Google+ will become a major social player. And so will Pinterest, another “hot” social network at the end of 2011 (adding nearly 3 million users since August). Pinterest is a visual social network that allows users to target and pin their favorite photos/ideas featuring recipes, fashion, puppies, jewelry, etc. OK, so this sounds like more of a woman-friendly social medium, but so what? I bet lots of brands would like a better way to market to women, and here’s a way. My girlfriend, ahem, excuse me, my fiancé (got to get used to saying this) is addicted to Pinterest like I am addicted to fantasy sports. So far, she’s told her two friends, and they’ve told their two friends, and they’ve told their friends, and so on and so on…
  • Mobile surfing/app usage rides even bigger wave: A couple of weeks ago it was reported that 40 percent of Facebook users logged on through their mobile device — that’s more than 300 million people using their phone or tablet to access their profile. Apple and Google’s app downloads were at 10 billion mark each at the end of 2011. Also of note, Apple’s Mac App store, in one year since its opening, reached 100 million downloads. These figures show that users are more and more flocking to apps. The Internet is not in Kansas anymore folks, the app tornado is causing many to follow the yellow brick road of online success.
  • Social Media Marketing REALLY takes off…and won’t land anytime soon: With a continuously growing client base for us in 2011, we foresee an even bigger demand for building one’s social voice in 2012. With more than one billion users combined on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+ alone, the social flock keeps growing. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn allow for “brand” pages, and Google+ just added this feature as well, but has some improvements (in my opinion) to make before its feature comes close to that of Facebook. These pages have allowed for brands to gain visibility online, which could be huge for success down the line.

Care to make any predictions for 2012? And no, you can’t predict the world WON’T end on December 21, 2012!

Dear Social Media: Change These 2 Things Quickly in 2012

(This is part two of a three-part series)

Hello there, how about that ride in (to 2012)?

I’m back for part two of my New Year Extravaganza (I am probably buttering up this statement just a tad). This portion focuses on what I would like to see happen in 2012.

In 2011, we’ve saw many new beginnings in the U.S. such as Google+, Spotify, Siri, to name a few. While none of these ideas would have even crossed my mind in a 2010 form of a “New Year’s Resolution” post, I hope that what I want to see this year happens (one of these wishes is very trivial, but could have great impact for everyone, but you can guess which one it is).

It’s not a long list, but if I had too many resolutions for the new year, my expectations might be let down more than I’d like.

  • Let me edit my turrible grammer: The first thing I noticed about Google+ when I joined was if I made an error, I could immediately edit, or even two hours later, without having to delete the post and re-post it, or using an asterisk, followed by my correction. If Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn (to name a few social venues that do not allow for this completely) make one change, this would be it. It’s a simple request, at least in my eyes. Hey, Google+ did it, why can’t you?
  • Social media – Friend not a fad: With more than 800 million users on Facebook, 200-million-plus on Twitter, 100-million-plus on LinkedIn, 60-plus million on Google+, etc., social media does not appear to be going away any time soon. Sure, MySpace dwindled, and many networks have phased in and out, but others moved in and replaced them. I’ve been a Facebook user since 2005 (back in the good ol’ days when only college students could register), and back then, I might have thought it was a fad that would last a couple of years, but not now. That skeptic voice has long since faded away, and so should yours. Another reason social media should move to friend status is more and more businesses, companies, organizations and brands are flocking to social media to spread the word about their goods and services (remember those terms from your high school economics class?) Good thing dr2marketing specializes in social media marketing isn’t it?

What are your New Year’s Resolutions in 2012? I hope you at least ate your black-eyed peas!

Sayonara 2011, Aloha 2012!

(This is part one of a three-part series)

I’d say within the last month, I’ve seen a throng of 2012 predictions and “best-ofs” for social media, technology and even the world. (There’s even a top-10 list for the “Best Top Ten Lists of 2011”).

It’s expected to see many of these prediction, and “best-of” articles, at the end of the year.

Now I am going to do the same, and yes I am a little late to the party as it is not 2011 anymore, but in my experience, the party doesn’t get good until later anyway.

So here you go: I offer you my New Year’s Extravaganza — my thoughts that will roll out in three posts: My 2011 “best-ofs,” 2012 resolutions and then ending with my 2012 predictions. Subject matter of these posts include social media, radio, technology, the end of the world and a potential threat against social media, and even our freedom of speech.

But let’s not dive into that part just yet, instead, let’s focus on what I liked about 2011.

 Some 2011“Best-ofs”

  • Google+ — I’m still skeptical of this social network (up to 62 million users as of December 2011 and traffic was up 55 percent from November to December), but I am still learning, as many of you probably are. And as time has advanced since I registered, I am moving from a skeptic square to a Circle (pun intended). Its hangouts feature allows for multi-user interaction through video, and it later added space for brand pages, which adds even more social discussion for brands to expand their name. Now Google+ needs to add customizable pages for brands, and maybe most importantly, just keep Farmville out of my “feed trough” (i.e. news feed). P.S. Click to Circle us.
  • Social Democracy — While this isn’t exactly a “best-of” of my own because news outlets like Mashable have coined 2011 as the “Year of Social Democracy,” I just want to say I completely agree. With news events such as the “Occupy” movements, Netflix separating its streaming and DVD rental fees, and Verizon charging $2 for online bill pay, the online world became a place to speak one’s mind, with voracity in 2011, and social media was a major player. Netflix’s popularity has dwindled immensely since it announced its change, much thanks to social media outcry. In turn, its stocks have been in decline ever since. As for Verizon, they denounced making their change after an online petition (and some social media backlash) made it known that many customers were unhappy with being charged the extra fee. These are just a few of MANY examples of the social voice becoming more and more influential, and that voice seems to get louder and louder every year. And after 2011, it’s starting to become deafening.
  • Facebook Timelines — Timelines began creeping in toward the end of 2011, and while in its infancy (as of this post, the change hasn’t been made for everyone worldwide yet), I actually am a big fan (maybe one of the few?). I see the potential this could provide at a professional level, amongst other ideas, as per written in one of my previous blog posts.
  • Video has yet to kill the Radio star: Arbitron reported that radio added 1.4 million weekly listeners compared to December of 2010. This suggests that radio continues to thrive despite any naysaying about it becoming a dying breed. Now with Clear Channel’s move to reduce many of its stations into “cookie cutters,” there could be a setback for this trend, but we will have to wait til the end of 2012 to see if the number of listeners declines.
  • Spotify your mind: Spotify, a digital music service, launched in Europe in 2008, and after huge success, it was subsequently released in the U.S. in July of 2011. Spotify provides users access to millions of songs for free, however, the free version limits your choices. But a small monthly payment, including a premium amount, users gain access to Spotify’s entire music library. But most importantly, users gain access to albums before they are released publicly and get chances at winning tickets to live shows and big name competitions. Later on in 2011, Spotify integrated its services socially with Facebook. Users can now share songs with Facebook friends using playlists/suggestions. This move for Spotify and Facebook was huge in the social landscape as far as music is concerned. I, for one, enjoy it immensely, and I don’t even pay for the monthly service.

What do you feel were some highlights in 2011?

Stay tuned for parts two and three!