Grab a Few “Thousand” New Fans on Facebook

How a Facebook Sweepstakes Can Help Small Businesses Hit the Engagement Jackpot

In today’s Blog, we’re showcasing a successful case study that can provide immediate impact and growth in your social network. We all recognize the need to build truth in product, local support and promise of a quality beer in our marketplace. Loyalty is the new King in an emerging craft market.  Craft breweries don’t (and shouldn’t) rely on big broadcast budgets or billboards all over town – they build fans through word of mouth – the original (and most influential) advertising medium.  Today, word of mouth marketing is taking small businesses, retailers and certainly the craft brew and brew pub market to a whole new level.  Below illustrates a well-executed concept by the other “brew” retailer – coffee. These tactics and strategies have provided a loyalty boost and good balance of entertaining content and business-building engagement for their business.


When it comes to generating results from online marketing, small businesses are always looking for a better way to cash in. But while tools like social media and email marketing have provided a winning ticket for some—plenty of small businesses still face setbacks when it comes to growing their audience or generating engagement online. This is especially true on Facebook. With more competition for attention and less real estate in fans’ News Feeds, small businesses have had to think outside the box when figuring out how to keep their social communities active and engaged.

Thinking outside the box

Erin Hoffman, at Door Country Coffee and Tea Co., knows firsthand how valuable “thinking outside the box” can be—especially when it comes to growing her audience on Facebook. In June, Erin came up with an idea to run an exclusive contest for Door County Coffee Facebook fans. Looking to attract new fans and grow her audience, Erin created a Facebook sweepstakes where fans could enter to win a free gift basket by entering their email address. It was a prize she knew her customers would love and hoped it would generate the type of attention she was looking for.

Hitting the Jackpot: 1,200 new fans and 1,800 email subscribers

The initial response to the sweepstakes was a good one. In just a few weeks, Door County Coffee saw more than 350 people enter to win, adding 77 new fans, and 368 new email contacts. But that was just the start. Having gotten such great feedback from her campaign, Erin decided to run another—this time, offering a free month of coffee to the lucky winner. “Our second contest was even more successful than the first,” Erin recalls. “In less than three weeks we added 600 new fans, many of these people were completely new to our business.” Over the course of five months, Erin ran a total of three sweepstakes. The total payoff: 1,200 new fans and 1,800 new email contacts.

How to brew your own success with a Facebook sweepstakes

So, how can your business win big with a Facebook sweepstakes? Let’s take a look at how Door County Coffee did it.

1. Set a goal

  • The first step in any successful social campaign is setting a goal.
  • What is it you hope to accomplish? How will you measure your success?
  • For Erin, the goal was simple: attract new fans and email signups to drive more results from her online marketing.
  • From there, she could build an entire sweepstakes around that goal.

2. Figure out what to offer

As much as people may enjoy the excitement of being entered into a sweepstakes, no one is going to care about your contest unless you’re offering something worth winning. For Erin, the choice of what to offer was easy—coffee … and lots of it. For her first campaign she offered a gift basket full of her finest brews, for her second, a whole month’s worth of free java, and for the third, a holiday gift pack with all of their favorite holiday flavors. “We like to create offers that coincide with what our customers are looking for,” Erin explains. “In the summer we saw a huge bump in ice coffee, so we created an offer around that. In the fall, we know people are looking forward to our seasonal flavors, so that’s what we decided to offer.” If your plan is to use the sweepstakes to clear out last season’s inventory, it’s unlikely your campaign is going to generate much buzz. Instead, pay attention to what customers are looking forward to and create an offer around that.

3. Create an offer and landing page

Being able to create a professional-looking offer and landing page is the secret to a successful Facebook sweepstakes. It’s also the only way to run a contest on Facebook without violating Facebook’s Terms of Service. Erin is able to create a landing page for those who were not already fans, asking them to click “Like” to be able to enter the sweepstakes. She was then able to create a reveal page, where fans could enter the contest by submitting their email address. “It has been the difference between running a contest that makes an impression and one that actually allows us to attract new fans,” Erin explains. “Now, we have a whole new audience to communicate with and we know people are actually seeing our stuff.”

Here’s an example of what each of those pages looked like:


4. Promote the sweepstakes

Part of what makes a sweepstakes so valuable is that it can generate a lot of buzz amongst fans. (A free month of coffee is something people will want to tell their friends about!) But in order to generate that type of buzz, you need to get the word out early. “We always kick it off with email and use the contest as the primary message in our newsletter that month,” Erin explains. “It’s allowed us to convert subscribers to fans and vice versa.” Set it and forget it won’t work for your sweepstakes. Even after you’ve created the campaign and sent out your first email, you’ll want to continue to post about the campaign on Facebook—just make sure you don’t overwhelm your audience.

“We do about 75% fun and entertaining stuff and 25% sales and promotion,” Erin explains. “We try to find a good balance—we want fans to enjoy hearing from us.”


5. Announce the winner and track your results

OK, you did it. You came up with a great offer, created a sweepstakes to catch the attention and imaginations of your fans and email contacts, now it’s time to announce the winner. After announcing the winner and delivering their prize, take the time to see how you did. With Cirqle Media’s contest dashboard, you’ll receive valuable reporting metrics like: audience growth, conversions, click-throughs, and social shares. These metrics can be used to judge the ROI of your campaign and will give you helpful insights of what’s worked and what could be improved.


“It’s helped us make better decisions about what’s working and what we should try next,” Erin explains. “Do an analysis of all your reports—that’s what’s worked for us.”

Keep engaging!

The benefits of any successful campaign will be short lived if you don’t continue to engage your fanbase. You know you hit the jackpot when you see more fans engaging with your stuff on Facebook and more people reading and acting on your email newsletters. Don’t let that success go to waste. Build on that success by offering an online experience customers will want to engage with. That will be the real winning ticket for your online marketing.

Contributing case study by Ryan Pinkham


Contact us to help you engineer a photo contest, sweepstakes, twitter promotion, coupon, or group deals (viral spread) for your craft brewery or pub.

[button link=”” color=”orange”] Easy to launch contests with Cirqle Media[/button]

3 Ways to Boost Social Media Engagement

#1: Crowdsource

It’s a term credited to Jeff Howe, who wrote about the phenomenon for Wired magazine back in 2006. He defined the concept as a “new pool of cheap labor: everyday people using their spare cycles to create content, solve problems, even do corporate R & D.”


Today, crowdsourcing has become one of the most influential tools in the social media landscape to attract and capture the attention of unique or specific-reach consumers, those that have similar interests and or behaviors. It begins as a community based question, designed to answer or advise on an issue, challenge or just to garner feedback. Crowdsource has enormous potential in today’s craft brew market. Breweries are consistently playing with new seasonal flavors, trying to understand flavor behaviors, by region or demographic – and one of the best ways to appeal to your fan base is to enlist their advice and thoughts.  You can do voting polls, inquire about favorite beers at specific seasons, even dig a little into what other brands and crafts your customer is enjoying.  Knowing where your fans cheat a little gives you valuable insight.  Crowdsourcing can add value to your brewery and it can be a great forum of ideas and shared interests for all your fans.

Crowdsourcing can be a great engagement tactic. Image source: iStockPhoto.

Crowdsourcing has been adopted by many multinational companies and organizations, such as the mining company Goldcorp and NASA. And with the popularity of social media, crowdsourcing quickly spread to Facebook. Social networks have made it easy for businesses to reach out to their community of friends and fans, and recruit new ones. It’s a way for companies to get relevant information from users and target audiences. One reason crowdsourcing is effective is that it gives a business’s audience a voice and an opportunity for recognition. Of course you don’t have to be a huge organization to use the concept. A few years ago, vitaminwater invited its Facebook fans to choose a new flavor via an app called “FlavorCreator.” It was wildly successful and the company ultimately called the winning flavor vitaminwater connect. Vitaminwater’s FlavorCreator app allowed fans to contribute to the first vitaminwater made by the fans for the fans.

vitamin water app

Another example is the t-shirt company Threadless, which depends entirely on crowdsourcing. They asked graphic designers to submit designs for the community to vote on. Threadless uses a basic poll to crowdsource. Threadless invites its users to vote on their favorite designs. The shirts with the most votes go into production and are sold on the website. The designs with the most votes win, and limited runs of the t-shirts are sold online.

The bottom line is that your customers have great ideas and chances are good that they’d love the opportunity to share them with you. So why not take advantage of the wisdom of your crowd? Invite them into the conversation and you should increase engagement.

#2: Introduce/Highlight Your Employees on Facebook


Brand likeability is more than product favorability. Publicly acknowledging the people behind your brand—your employees—on Facebook and beyond is a great way to bring them, and your business, recognition. People like to do business with companies that they feel they “know,” and there’s no better way for them to get to know you than by introducing them to your employees. Plus, when your employees get a nod, your brand may have greater exposure to their friends and friends of friends. Adding this human element can also boost EdgeRank if your posts get more posts and comments than usual. Last week, one of my employees put a funny photo on Facebook of me eating a donut that was nearly as big as my face. It got 66 likes and 18 comments… pretty good for a random status update.

jim eating donut

Our fans like to see that we have real employees and that they do human things, like eat huge donuts.

There are other easy ways to give your employees shout outs* on Facebook. Since Facebook is one of the most personal social networks, and the place where your employees’ friends and family are most likely to be, it’s a great public place to highlight employees’ accomplishments. This inspires a sort of positive cycle because they, of course, want to share their kudos with their friends, and in turn it shines a light on your business. You can highlight an employee every week or every month, making it a regular feature of your Page.

In the image below, ToolSelect shows it’s not a one-man operation but a tight-knit group of professionals. Now you can know exactly who is bringing the website to you.


ToolSelect highlights all of their employees on a Meet Your ToolSelect Team app.

Use a Q&A as a low-maintenance way to get the information you can use to share on Facebook and bring focus to individual employees. Create a simple questionnaire—What’s your proudest accomplishment? What’s your favorite non-work pastime? The best book you’ve read lately?—and ask every employee to fill it out. Get a spontaneous photo of the featured employee or a photo of him/her receiving an award, and give a shout-out to different employees on a regular basis. In the image below, Moment Skis posted a photo of their Production Prep Pro in their factory.

moment skis

This simple concept brought them a large amount of engagement. One word of caution: Not everyone likes to have a light shined on them, so just be sure that your employee is comfortable with public kudos. Highlighting your employees’ accomplishments is a great way to boost likeability and engagement in your Facebook community.

#3: Reveal New Products and Features


Fans of your brand always want to know what they can expect next from you. Whether you own a bakery or a car parts manufacturing company, people who use your products want to know what you’re working on and Facebook is a great way to inform them. You can design a Facebook app that reveals a new product, service or special offer every day for a month. This gives your business the chance to show off the products or services that are not as well-known to your fans and customers.

Earlier this year, Nescafé in Greece did a campaign that involved the unveiling of some new packaging. They filled an aquarium with coffee beans, buried the new package in it and then told fans with each like, they’d reveal a little bit of the package. Within 22 hours, the company had received more than 3000 new likes and fans got to see the whole package. Many people would say “Who cares?”, but obviously people who were curious played along. The aquarium became the brand’s cover photo, at least for a day.

Check out the time-lapse video.


Medal of Honor

In July, the folks behind the super-popular Medal of Honor franchise invited fans to like poll questions on Facebook in exchange for the early unveiling of a new multi-player gameplay trailer featuring an all-new map. To encourage sharing with a campaign like this, you could say something such as “The more likes we get, the more we’ll show you.” This won’t violate Facebook’s terms of service. Anyone who knows a gamer knows all about the anticipation for a new game. The Medal of Honor app is another example of putting the release of a product in the hands of the fans.

medal of honor app

Iron Man 3

Films have also been promoted this way. Iron Man 3 gave fans a glimpse of what to expect once they had liked a relevant Page.

iron man trailer

Iron Man 3 used the simple act of liking to reveal a trailer, making it easy and fun for fans to get involved. You don’t have to be a huge brand to use some of these innovative ideas. What they’re doing can inspire your own “reveals” on a much smaller scale ideas.

Contributing story: Social Media Examiner

Mobile becomes the fastest growing segment of social advertising

Mobile social ad revenues will grow at a faster pace than desktop social ad revenues to reach $1.47 billion by 2016, according to a new report from BIA/Kelsey.

Facebook mobile use will drive social ad revenues

The fall update to BIA/Kelsey’s U.S. Local Media Forecast reveals that, although mobile social advertising is expected to grow quickly, it will still struggle to capture full revenue share because of several limitations. This is the first time BIA/Kelsey has broken out mobile numbers within its social advertising forecast.

“Right now, mobile social ad revenue is a fraction of desktop spend and it remains a fraction of desktop spend for the life of this forecast,” said Jed Williams, program director for social local media at BIA/Kelsey, Chantilly, VA. “But if you look at the overall growth of mobile social advertising, it has the most explosive or volatile growth of all of the various components of social advertising.

“If you think about where consumers are from a platform perspective, they are on mobile increasingly,” he said. “And, if you think about what they are doing on mobile, increasingly a large share of that is social networking.

“So if you tie those together, wherever you fit in the business marketplace, you have to think about the nexus of those two ideas. You have to reach consumers on mobile devices and you have to reach them in effective ways where they are utilizing those mobile devices.”

The Facebook factor

Facebook’s mobile ad outlook improves

BIA/Kelsey forecasts that the compound annual growth for mobile social ad revenue over the next five years will be 28.5 percent compared to 17.7 percent for desktop and 19.2 percent for social advertising overall.

The growth in U.S. mobile social ad revenues will be driven by Facebook and Twitter. Mobile social ad revenues are expected to top $500 million in 2012 and reach $730 million in 2013.

The factors driving mobile social advertising include rapid growth in mobile social use by consumers, active experimentation by vendors and deep integration of native ad units on the platform.

Overall, the BIA/Kelsey report forecasts that social media ad revenue will total $4.6 billion in 2012 and reach $9.2 billion in 2016. The local segment of social media ad revenues will grow from $1.1 billion in 2012 to $3 billion in 2016.

In recent weeks, the number of ads appearing in users’ mobile newsfeeds has grown, accounting for up to 20 percent of posts, according to recent reports. The jump suggests brands are flocking to Facebook’s mobile offerings in greater numbers – thereby boosting the social network’s mobile revenues – and is causing the company’s stock to rally.

“The increase in mobile ads on Facebook suggests that brands are looking to invest more ad dollars in mobile advertising, and that Facebook offers them an ability to do so, at scale,” said Michael Levinsohn, executive chairman at Archer, Seattle.

Native ad units
Other findings include that social display advertising will continue to account for a higher percentage of revenues, driven by Facebook’s Marketplace Ads and YouTube’s multiple display units.

However, native social ad formats – or branded content that is integrated within a social network newsfeed or content stream – will grow significantly during this period and emerge as a viable alternative to display.

In Facebook’s case, BIA/Kelsey projects that Sponsored Stories and other native ads will account for more than 50 percent of its ad revenues by 2014.

While mobile social advertising is expected to grow, there are also several limitations in mobile ad economics that will make it hard for the mobile social market to drive even further growth during this period. These include the smaller screen size of smartphones compared to desktop, tepid user ad engagement, limited ad inventory and static creative elements.

“There are some hard realities that businesses large and small are confronting with the mobile platform right now,” Mr. Williams said. “Mobile economics in general and mobile social economics are still very nascent and haven’t worked themselves out.

“We are placing a bet that the types of ad inventory being introduced are going to be smart and are going to be engaging with consumers and thus are going to drive demand with marketers and thus create premiums around them,” he said.

Contributing article: By Chantal Tode

Think of Social Posting Like Party Toasting

Social Media Is One Big Cocktail Party

Apply the same skills that you might use to work the room of a cocktail party to build the right relationship with your followers and fans. Many craft breweries struggle with social media because they try to apply the rules of Internet marketing to social media marketing but the truth is that social media resembles a cocktail party or the town square much more than it resembles Web 1.0.

So the way to be successful with social media is to embrace the simple but tried and true rules of relationship and word-of-mouth marketing. After working with hundreds of companies over the past six years, I can tell you that these five rules can help generate effective social media marketing for your business organization.

1. Listen First and Never Stop Listening

For years, listening at scale was impossible. Now social media allows you to listen at scale to your customers, to your prospects, to your staff, even to your competitors. So listen before you join the conversation. Use Twitter’s search function to search keywords that describes your business. If you’re a lawyer, for example, you can search “need a lawyer.” You can literally listen to the people that are asking for your help.

Until social media, marketers and business owners didn’t spend 50% of their resources in communication and listening. They spent 5% or 10% at most listening. They did focus groups, they did surveying, and they did market research. But now with social media you have a 24/7, 365-day focus group to listen to.

2. Tell Don’t Sell

Storytelling has always been a key asset for businesses. But before social media, there were only two ways to tell stories at scale. The first was to hire an expensive PR agency to tell your story to the media and the second was to spend a lot of money on advertising. Those tools were and are time-consuming and expensive and also hit or miss. With social media you can tell your story with a picture, a thirty second video shot with an iPhone, or a “tweet.”

If your story doesn’t resonate, you can tell a different story tomorrow or the next hour. Unlike traditional media storytelling, there is little to no barrier to entry in social media storytelling and little to no penalty for telling a story that doesn’t hit.

What story should you tell? There is an endless list. Tell the story of how you were founded. Tell the story of a customer that has overcome an obstacle thanks to you. Tell the story of a staff member that has grown with you over time. Tell the story of a charitable partnership that you have or acts of service in the community that your team does.

3. Be Authentic and Transparent

This is the hardest rule for older generations to appreciate but the reality is that in the social media age there are few if any secrets anymore. The more open and transparent you are, the more people will trust you. And the more people trust you, the more they’ll want to do business with you. The more authentic you are–showing your true self, your personality, and even your mistakes and vulnerabilities–the more people will be drawn to you.

4. Respond to Everybody

The four most important words in social media are “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry.” Everyone knows companies make mistakes. But the problem isn’t when businesses make the mistakes, it is when they don’t take responsibility. Be prepared if and when customers complain about you on social media. Embrace it, say sorry and fix the problem. When you do that, you not only solve one customer’s problem, you tell the world that’s watching that you’re the kind of organization that cares about customers. Online customer service quickly becomes marketing if you are responsive.

On the other hand, saying “Thank You” is even more valuable when customers have something nice to say. If somebody commented on your business and product in person, you thank them. You might even give them a hug or a coupon. So don’t ignore people that have nice things to say. Instead, say thank you in your own authentic voice and think about how you can reward those customers.

5. Be Valuable

People aren’t interested in your business; they’re interested in helping solve their own problems. They’re interested in their days being made a little brighter. So think about how you can provide value to your audience. Are you educating them? Are you entertaining them? Are you making them smile or laugh? Establish yourself as a thought leader in whatever you do by giving away lots of valuable articles, insights and tips. When people have a need for you, they’ll know you’re the expert and come to you.

10 Must-Have Social Marketing Tools

Are you looking for ways to enhance your social media marketing and expand your craft brew awareness? These programs and products will help you connect, engage and build your social footprint.  Empower your most loyal customers (those that visit your events, stop into your tasting rooms) and encourage them to be social advocates – and share the love of your beer with their friends and family.  Social Media continues its growth as one of the most influential marketing channels for the craft brew industry – especially on a localized landscape.

We asked a group of social media pros for the hottest social media tools they use today.

Check them out to see if these social media tools are a good fit for you!

#1: Unlock to Share Plugin

My favorite social marketing tool of all time is the unlock to share plugin. What is it? It’s a simple plugin that “unlocks” additional content when your web visitors share your stuff on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.

viral lock code canyonMake your site go viral by requiring the user to share your link to unlock content.


Why is this so valuable? Well, today everyone has a Like button on their site. But if you want your audience to share your stuff, you need to give them a little incentive! That’s exactly what this plugin does.

In my most recent experiment, I had 452 people land on a page where they had access to royalty-free music they could use in their videos. If you shared the post, I gave you an additional five music tracks. Out of those 452 visitors, 379 shared to unlock those five extra songs!  That’s 84%!

These unlock to share plugins are everywhere. The one I used was found over on CodeCanyon.

James Wedmore, co-founder of Video Traffic Academy and founder of Video Sales Magic and Video Copy Pro.

#2: SlideShare

This isn’t a “new” tool, but I’m amazed by the number of marketers who still don’t use SlideShare as a main staple in their social media distribution.  According to the latest research from Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs, just 23% of B2B marketers and only 7% of B2C marketers leverage SlideShare (which now sees approximately 60 million users per month).

SlideShare is a great tool to use as part of your company’s storytelling process.

We continue to integrate SlideShare into our visual storytelling, and it’s now a key part of our lead generation process.  It’s a true sleeping giant.

Joe Pulizzifounder of the Content Marketing Institute and author of Managing Content Marketing and co-author of Get Content, Get Customers. 


I use to help build and nurture relationships with supporters, influencers and potential customers on Twitter.

The basic service, which is free, keeps track of your most valuable followers and interactions, rolling up the data into an action-driven dashboard. One glance and you’ll know whom to follow, whom to thank and to whom you need to respond—all of which you can do directly within the tool.

Another big plus: You can quickly spot your most active conversation buddies. tallies up the number of exchanges between you and other Tweeters, indicating whether or not you’re following each other. rolls up your data into an action-driven dashboard.

In addition to the dashboard, has reporting functionality. I love the way it lists hard-to-find stats in one handy place, including new followers, the handles of who stopped following you, RTs of your content, direct messages and total reach. also records this social activity for your Twitter handle, so you can keep tabs on your own contributions and connections in the Twitterverse.

Shelly Lucas, senior marketing manager and leader of social media at Dun & Bradstreet.

#4: YouTube’s Audience Retention Report

You’ve probably read that YouTube search is now optimized for time watched. Effective YouTube marketing demands that we understand (and create better videos based on) how our videos are watched, at least as much as we “optimize” them for SEO, etc.  Those “gurus” who tell you to buy thousands of 5-second views to bump up your view count … yes, that does the search damage you always knew it would.

This is why audience retention is the new view count.

The new Audience Retention Report in YouTube is, without a doubt, the most important social media marketing tool to come around in a long time.  You can now see what kind of retention you’re getting from your videos and how it compares to everyone else’s.  Want to get to the top of the results?  Study this Audience Retention Report like a hawk and update your video making strategies accordingly.

The following video walks you through a couple of reports and offers some insights on how to respond.


Paul Colligan, education czar for Traffic Geyser Inc. and CEO of 

#5: Cyfe

While there are a number of enterprise-level listening and monitoring tools available to assist brands, a new tool that I’ve been a fan of is Cyfe. It provides visibility into social channel and search metrics that typically only admins of those channels/tools have access to.

all in one business dashboard cyfeCyfe is an all-in-one dashboard that helps you monitor and analyze data scattered across all of your online services.

For example, we’re able to set up a visual real-time dashboard for GoToMeeting, which provides brand-specific Facebook Insights data, YouTube Analytics, Twitter and Twitter Search information, SEOMoz, Google Trends, Google Analytics and a number of other social or search data points.

As a social media team, we’re often asked for such information from team members who are curious about the community, channel interactions and other related questions. Cyfe has enabled to us to make that data easily accessible to our team members.

Going one step beyond social and search, Cyfe also enables you to bring in your CRM, email marketing and blog data, with new integrations shipping on a regular basis.

Justin Levystrategic advisor on all social media activities at Citrix Online and editor-in-chief of

#6: Cloze

The newest tool that I’m most excited about is Cloze, recommended to me by Jascha Kaykas-Wolff of Mindjet.

Imagine an aggregation and curation system for your social network and that’s what Cloze provides. I’m able to view the activity of people by date in my network and then check them off, respond to them, like them or retweet them directly from the Cloze interface.

clozeCloze helps you increase your interaction with those most important to you.

It’s absolutely genius and is already saving me tons of time, increasing my interaction with those most important to me and reducing the clutter and wasted time of having five channels open that I’m constantly trying to stay abreast of. This is the inbox of the future! Cloze is currently in beta.

Douglas Karr, founder and chief blogger at the Marketing Technology Blog, founder of DK New Media (an inbound marketing agency) and author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies.

#7: AgoraPulse

There is no shortage of social media marketing tools these days, that’s for sure. But despite the overwhelming number of tools out there, it’s still very difficult to find the ones that will really deliver while remaining accessible for a small-business budget.

When it comes to managing our Facebook Page, I’ve been very impressed with AgoraPulse. It focuses on Facebook (at least for now), but provides everything your Facebook Page will ever need.

In addition to contest and promotion applications that are a “must-have” for every Facebook Page, AgoraPulse offers unique features that really make a difference, such as:

  • Detailed benchmark with competitors
    agorapulseAgoraPulse shows you a detailed benchmark with your competitors.
  • Fan ranking and qualification
    agorapulseThe fan management feature shows you fan ranking and qualification.
  • Advanced statistics and personalized content recommendations
    agorapulseYou can also track average users reached by day of week.

They also offer a ton of other great features such as advanced statistics, automated moderation and even admin rights and workflow management. These are the kind of features that used to be only available in expensive enterprise-level solutions. Getting access to such advanced and useful features for a price that every small businesses can afford does make a big difference.

Aaron Kahlow, CEO of Online Marketing Connect and chairman and founder of the Online Marketing Summit and its related educational arm, the Online Marketing Institute.

#8: GaggleAMP

One application that I’ve recently been exposed to and am excited about is GaggleAMP. I talk to many marketers who say, “If only our sales and business development team would share our social media postings, it would help us reach a greater—and more relevant—audience in social media.”

This is especially relevant in B2B companies where you traditionally have a large sales force compared to a small number of people in marketing. That sales force represents a potential army of internal brand advocates who can help make a company’s social media marketing efforts much more effective.

googleampLeverage employees, partners, customers and fans to share your company’s social media messages on your behalf.

With the emergence of GaggleAMP, social media and marketing directors can now utilize the reach of their internal staff to help spread their message in social media, and internal employees have complete control in deciding exactly which messages they would like to share on which platforms and how frequently.

Companies simply sign up to GaggleAMP, create a “Gaggle” (a group revolving around their content), and then request that interested employees join the Gaggle. Employees then authorize their social networks and decide which content they would like to share with their network.

GaggleAMP can send notifications when new content is available to be posted, and there is even a “point” system to gamify social sharing and reward those internal employees who are good sharers.

googleamp memberGaggleAMP tracks activity, allowing you to report on the impact and ROI for every message and campaign.

B2B companies are sitting on a goldmine of brand advocates who work at their company. By using GaggleAMP, they can organize and leverage their internal tribe while ensuring control over social media messages that are sent out externally.

For employees, it’s internal content curation served up on a platter to give them more timely and relevant content to share with their networks and maintain mindshare on whichever social networks the company’s customers or clients are on.

I expect to hear about more companies adopting GaggleAMP in the months to come!

Neal Schaffer, founder of Windmills Marketing, is a leading social media strategist and teaches social media marketing at Rutgers University.

#9: SproutSocial

I’ve been enjoying the statistics and tools available on SproutSocial, and am using it to get good Twitter and Facebook overviews of my accounts and for some of my clients’ statistics.

You can also do some Twitter account comparisons, schedule content, bring in your Google Reader to watch for content and share accounts with others.

sproutsocialDeliver beautiful detailed reports to your organization or customers.

If you manage many accounts, you can easily create nice-looking reports that give a good overview of activity and growth and SproutSocial is reasonably priced.

Andrea Vahl, social media coach, speaker and strategist and Facebook community manager for Social Media Examiner.

#10: Reachli

Reachli (formerly known as Pinerly) is the hottest new Pinterest analytics tool. Similar to Facebook and Twitter apps such as Buffer and HootSuite, Reachli allows users to pre-schedule pins and view feedback data such as click-through rates and number of repins. Creating social campaigns on Reachli is easy with its clean and simplified design.

Although the site is optimal for Pinterest analytics, it also allows users to post on any social platform and benefit from similar analyses. Boasting comprehensive capabilities, Reachli is an ideal page-management tool for any brand or community manager.

pinerly analyticsReachli helps you understand what works and what doesn’t to help you optimize your posts.

Social media analytics are essential in providing users with optimal content, as well as discovering hard data to support social initiatives. Offering real-time analytics and best practices data, Reachli helps you optimize your Pinterest content based on the analysis of click-through rates and repin feedback. This beneficial information can result in more effective scheduling and more engaging content.

For a low cost, brands can also employ Reachli advertising, a service that uses a unique algorithm to match content with its most relevant online audience across the social sphere. As Pinterest grows in popularity, brands will find the capabilities of Reachli to be extremely beneficial in most effectively leveraging the social platform.

Dave Kerpen, cofounder and CEO of Likeable, author of Likeable Social Media and the forthcoming Likeable Business.

Contributing writer, Cindy King with Social Media Examiner

QR Codes Key Driver in 2012 Holiday Sales Efforts


Many marketers are turning to various mediums to bolster their holiday marketing initiatives. However, QR codes will be the standout technology that will elevate those campaigns and take them to the next level.

Brands such as Target and Tourneau are incorporating mobile bar codes into their holiday initiatives as a way to not only interact with consumers in a different way, but also help increase revenue. Although there is an ongoing love/hate relationship with QR codes, there is no doubt that the technology will play a big role this year.

“We see lots of QR codes in typical marketing and advertising implementation, but more and more will be used to also activate mobile commerce engagements this holiday season,” said Laura Marriott, CEO of NeoMedia.

“With brands, like Target, getting creative with bar code implementations to drive sales and customer loyalty, we can expect QR codes to help facilitate the mobile purchase for brands and retailers alike,” she said.

‘Tis the season
Last month, Target announced that it would let consumers scan the mobile bar codes featured on several products in-store and buy the items via their smartphones.

Target is using mobile bar codes in-store to promote the season’s 20 most popular toys.

By using the Target mobile application, consumers can scan the QR codes and buy the items.

Additionally, Tourneau also announced that it would use QR codes this holiday season to let its affluent consumers learn more about its products in a more interactive way.

There are many ways marketers can use mobile bar codes this holiday season.

Take mobile rebate, for example.

Marketers can offer to send consumers money back if they buy a product from their mobile device when they scan the QR code.

This will encourage consumers to buy the product immediately, completing the sale.

“Also mobile layaways,” Ms. Marriott said. “Scan the QR code to allow consumers purchase and reserve items they plan to buy so it’s ready for pick-up at bricks-and-mortar locations..

“Keep the consumer buying in retail,” she said. “Showrooming is a significant issue in our space.

“The retailer can keep the consumer in-store by providing an experience that when a customer scans the QR code for a particular item, the retailer can provide content, they control, which provides review, feature, warranty information and instant coupons, which will work to keep the consumer buying in their store.”

According to Strategy Analytics, smartphones have reached more than 950 million consumers.

Furthermore, NeoMedia reports that QR codes have grown by nearly 120 percent from this time last year.

“Holiday shoppers this season have powerful devices at their fingertips and they want to leverage them to make their lives easier, especially to ease the chaos that inevitably comes with the holidays,” Ms. Marriott said. “Brands need to give them this opportunity, and QR codes afford that mutually beneficial opportunity that will bring consumers savings and drive sales for retailers.

“Brands that only use QR codes to bring consumers to a homepage or product page will not see significant success with the technology this season,” she said.

“Those brands who implement creative and strategic QR code campaigns to drive sales will reap the benefits as they ease shopping stress for consumers and turn those scans into purchases.”

Mobile technologies
Deloitte forecasts that mobile would influence $158 billion in the United States retail sales in 2012.
Mobile bar codes are great tools for creating a direct connection with consumers in-store.

“Subsequently we anticipate seeing them everywhere and that due to their reach and frequency, consumers will engage with them,” said Jane McPherson, chief marketing officer of SpyderLynk, Denver.

“Retailers, however, are just beginning to explore the range of digital solutions 2D mobile bar codes can activate, including save-to-card coupons, loyalty programs, purchase engagements and stickier promotions,” she said.

“Once retailers gain experience and begin using 2D mobile bar codes to activate more sophisticated, meaningful solutions for consumers, we believe that mobile bar codes will be used more for their functionality rather than just because of their overwhelming distribution.”

Digital experiences are meaningful everywhere and the portable nature of the mobile phone unlocks the ability for consumers to access digital experiences anywhere.

QR codes let consumers launch contextually relevant digital experiences, crafted by the marketer to meet the consumers’ needs.

Brands must think beyond the impression and extending the value of their media by serving contextually relevant, sticky digital engagements to meet their marketing goals.

“We see smart marketers moving beyond using mobile bar codes to serve consumers a Web site,” Ms. McPherson said.

“We see a movement towards marketers using mobile bar codes to serve consumers integrated experiences in which they can activate their mobile wallets, engage with their Facebook account, save coupons and take advantage of all the evolutions in a more meaningful mobile economy.”

New technologies
Showrooming is becoming a huge issue for retailers.

However, with the help of mobile technologies, such as mobile bar codes, marketers can solve that challenge.

“Due to the showrooming effect, consumers will enter a retail store, check out the product and then leave the store and purchase the same product for less online,” said Mike Wehrs, president/CEO of ScanLife, New York. “Savvy retailers are turning showrooming from a problem into an opportunity by using the mobile channel to engage shoppers, educate them about their products, and deliver relevant deals available only in the store.

“Increasingly their strategies center around QR codes as an easy way to bring shoppers to a controlled and extremely targeted experience,” he said. “Brands, if not already doing so, need to start to think about how QR Codes can be used in more intelligent ways.

“It is critical than ever for retailers to provide an integrated shopping experience across multiple touch points through the path to purchase. For brands, QR codes are an effective way for retailers to close a sale.”

Many marketers are using QR codes to drive in-store traffic.

For example, Home Depot places QR codes in circulars to deliver information on the weekly deals and highlighted products.

The codes deliver a mobile-optimized experience with videos and tips from the experts.

“Hewlett-Packard placed QR codes directly on their printers to give shoppers access to user reviews and offer advice on relevant accessories, such as ink cartridge packs for that specific model,” Mr. Wehrs said.

“Starbucks has also placed QR codes on its coffee bags to give customers an inside look at the flavor profiles, source information, and other recommended roasts,” he said. “This creates a more educated shopper, making it easier to buy a desired flavor of choice.”

Contributing Writer: Rimma Kats

Shock Top Shocks With Creative Launch at GABF

Shock Top Marketing A New Beer Launch

Anheuser-Busch InBev is releasing a new Shock Top brand called End of the World Midnight Wheat, a jab at predictions that the world will end Dec. 21. The new beer — made with wheat, chocolate malt and Mayan chili spice — will make its debut at this weekend’s Great American Beer Festival.

“There’s no better place to give beer lovers a first taste of End of the World Midnight Wheat than GABF,” Shock Top brewmaster Jill Vaughn said. “And since the new beer is brewed in Fort Collins, there’s little chance we’ll run out.”

Shock Top shipped out a survival kit to beer writers that included duct tape and a copy of the book The Official Underground 2012 Doomsday Survival Handbook. It’s an incredible format and approach for a new launch. Keeping true to it’s viral mix of marketing, Shock Top delivers an underground campaign that creates a great storyline. Social Networks continue to give craft breweries the reach, retention and low channel marketing that has the most impact.