.ME creators rewarded for “making the Internet personal.”

.ME creators rewarded for "making the Internet personal."

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED ON EXAMINER

For those webmasters, bloggers, and social networks that have taken advantage of .ME extensions, as opposed to traditional .COM addresses, you could find yourself “reaping the rewards” of innovation in the upcoming weeks.

As of January 4, 2014, .ME Registry personnel have announced “The .ME Loyalty Program” at the 2014 New Media Expo (NMX) n Las Vegas, Nevada. The loyalty program is a platform that connects all .ME users into one community and then rewards them with exciting perks and prizes within the community.

Users can begin collecting points by “checking [.ME] social medias, joining .ME contests, bringing friends to the website, sharing related #hashtags on Twitter or Instagram” …and more! Once points are collected through social action, they may then be rewarded with exciting perks and prizes, “including T-shirts, domain name and hosting packages, gift card vouchers and much more.”

The intent to drive more people to .ME domain extensions for personal and social content creation is the goal of this loyalty program. The .ME extension is becoming more popular in today’s “social society” and .ME registry is creating the opportunity for .ME creators to be rewarded for setting the standard in current web trends and domain destinations.

While a “youngin’” in comparison to .COM destinations, this five-year-old practice has been finding itself gaining momentum and rapidly gaining in web demand. Perhaps this is an attempt to combat the future release of multiple domain extensions that include professions, hobbies and topical interests (i.e. JohnSmith.LAWYER, Grocery.STORE, etc.).

Nonetheless, .ME will continue to grow with demand, due to short addressability, “call to action potential” and the objective of direct social personalization. Currently, there are over 750,000 domain names under .ME control and more than 170 accredited registrars for them, including the popular GoDaddy.com.

The loyalty program was designed to be “clean and easy” while celebrating the .ME community. Users may sign up through traditional means or via Social Sign In (with Facebook, Twitter, etc.). They will then be able to participate in fun activities that allow them to collect points through the program, while saving points to redeem their rewards.

NMX attendees were given an additional incentive through the loyalty program’s grand announcement. They were encouraged to sign up with Facebook and collect points by sharing their ideals on the new program and including photos that they had taken at the .ME booth on Twitter and Instagram, further attaching the #domainME hashtag selected to commence the .ME Loyalty Program campaign.

“As longtime sponsors of NMX, we have developed a truly special relationship with our blogging community. We would like to invite everyone attending the conference to stop by booth number 607 to chat with us, pose for personalized photos and take home swag we’ve designed for the blogger on the go,” said Predrag Lesic, CEO of the .ME Registry. Many did and became the first of what will be many users participating in the .ME Loyalty Program and “making the Internet more personal!”

Be sure to like .ME Registry on Facebook for exciting details on making this year a great year for .ME and you!

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Event Marketing: Raw TRUTH and how so many are doing THAT wrong!

Event Marketing | How to Promote

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED TO EXAMINER

Thousands of events take place each week. Millions take place over the course of a year. A lot of these events, especially in the smaller arena, are only in attendance by a few people — usually part of the “camp” throwing the event — that are non-paying parties. Venue owners want to make their money and are not affiliated with your event. So, they are becoming even pickier on who they allow to use their venue or who they hire to promote events at that venue. 

Ironically, many of these events are awesome! Unfortunately, it usually boils down to how the event was marketed. Awesome events cost money and time for planning and execution. Lack of attendance can lead to lost funds.

This is a borderline topic for me to cover. Normally, I wouldn’t cover an article in the first person or with such a non-traditional writing format. But, this topic is extremely complex and needs to be explained in conversational terms. This is a topic that my infamous “Trade Secret, you will never know” line comes into play. I’m going to try to cover it without giving away my tricks to packing venues. And, I also would like to remind you that you are not paying for consultation at the moment. So, there will be valuable information withheld in the mix.

For those readers who do not know me, I have been involved in the Entertainment Business and Internet Marketing worlds for many years, am extremely experienced and well-studied in the field and practice Social Branding and Event Marketing on a daily basis.

Please understand that this information is based on reality and science. If you sense a bit of sarcasm in the mix, this is due to the tedious nature of each task that must be completed just to get to the next step.

A few important elements of successful Event Marketing are as follows:

  • Anticipation
  • Street Teams
  • Event Sites
  • Support
  • Participation
  • Flyers
  • Gain
  • Time Span
  • Press /Media Release
  • SEO
  • Branding
  • ANTICIPATION

NOW, LET’S BREAK THIS SCIENCE DOWN:

Anticipation

I have this one listed twice, because number ONE you guys aren’t building up enough anticipation for your event — no matter how much anticipation is being built up. You aren’t getting people excited about the event. You aren’t giving them time to take part in creating the buzz through Word of Mouth for your event. The best way to get someone to come to your event is to make someone WANT IT so bad that they are anticipating the date that it comes

To build anticipation, you have to sell your product. Your product is your event. How do you sell it and get people anxious to attend? Make sure you are hitting all of the other elements in successful Event Marketing just right. Once you do that, they almost can’t wait for that event to take place! Think of the anticipation built around video games. Think of the anticipation built around movies. Shoot, we all have waited for almost 10-years for “The Hobbit” to come out! Whether it was actually what we expected or not, we all couldn’t wait to see it! Street thug and nerd, alike, we all were dying to see it! Build this anticipation for your event!

Participation

Whether it’s a site created for the brand, a Twitter account, Facebook page or whatever other venues of marketing you are taking into your hands,

MAKE SURE YOU ENCOURAGE ATTENDEE AND POTENTIAL ATTENDEE PARTICIPATION.

If it is an ongoing event, make sure you have a way to keep people interested in your Online presence, whether through contest or event photos being placed on the page.

In writing this, I am assuming that you are not the person putting on the event. Even if the event is a horrible one, you can still keep people interested in the event or at least ones you are affiliated with by creating interaction between the event and the attendee.

You can keep your audience informed on “what went wrong,” and they will support you even more! But if you are, make sure you actually put on a good show in order to keep people talking! That is one way to drag them back with friends and friends of friends every time.

Participation in the discussion about the event or through media gets people interested, passing media virally and makes them talk about “how cool the event is going to be” to friends, colleagues and coworkers. It helps to keep up the momentum of anticipation and almost makes the attendee feel like they know the brand inside and out. They are a “friend” to the brand. They have also participated so much that they now also feel obligated to make it… NO MATTER WHAT!

Street Teams

Street Teams are a two-way street. People like interaction and personalization. They all want to be a part of something. Include those that you KNOW want to be part of something as part of a team. Allow them special privileges in exchange for doing minor Word of Mouth work for you. Some members would actually be honored to work with you — rewards or not!

Online street teams have endless opportunity. They build Klout in a brand. They build followers and likes, because a recommendation from a REAL FRIEND has been set into motion. Knowing a person on a personal level actually creates a reality that marketing, itself, could never do. Additionally, content will be distributed and redistributed consistently, increasing the SEO results.

Physical street teams are always a plus in doing Event Marketing on the physical level. While your role as an Event Marketer on the Online Platform is separate from that of the physical Promoter, it still may be in your possible interests to get a physical street team started. Allow them to promote the event, and make sure they are promoting the Online Presence of that event at the same time! The deeper you get into these elements, you will understand more!

Flyers

I have mixed emotions about actual “event flyers.” It really depends on who is distributing these, how they are distributing these, when and to whom. Often times, people get a flyer and either drop it (lose it), forget about it or throw it away before the event. This is just wasted paper and effort. Yes, it should still be an effort, though.

Interactive and e-flyers still need to be designed and identical to any physically distributed flyer. They need to be created for Online platforms. This includes event sites, Social Network and application presences, websites, landing pages, releases, MMS/SMS distribution and e-mail distribution to attract potential attendees to the event. These must be detailed about the event and highlighted in a description. One must also surround any e-flyer with SEO opportunity, because they will be appearing in search engines and sites that recommend related searches. You might as well take advantage of this.

Finally, flyers help build a vision of the product… the event. We are able to brand much easier with a flyer. The consumer has a better understanding of crowd and essence before attending. They can also associate this event with your brand and venue choice. They can differentiate it amongst other events that are happening on or around the date of your event.

Stand out from the competition. But, remember, competition also brings out the crowd. So, is there any way that you guys can implement each other into the flyer? People club and bar hop. If you can partner up and trade off flyers, you don’t want 50 different flyers distributed for the same event. Have one official flyer and you will see results!

Event Sites

I hate to say it, but these event sites are the Holy Grail to Event Marketing. While listings alone will not cut it, they work such wonders I am going to have to applaud them with standing ovation.

There are so many event sites out there. Sites like Eventbrite sell tickets directly on the site. Others are just text listing. I love the ones that are 100% customizable and can be built like a Social Media Release.

Sites like Eventful will allow you to literally tag artist and venue profiles to the event. This comes in handy when marketing a party or festival. Many sites even feed into large corporate sites, website widgets and mobile applications.

One thing I love about most event sites is that they help SEO endeavors. Not only is it beneficial to the event — but if done properly, it can benefit the brand, venue, and/or website attached to the event! Backlinking and other possibilities are endless!

Support

In being in the business of Marketing Events, you need to be sure that you have a support team. This is the support of the community, local businesses, business professionals, venues, other promoters, local acts and so on. The relationships that you build can allow you to do things that are almost impossible for an outsider. Barriers to entry are simply invisible.

Through a support team, all parties benefit by helping each other succeed and in creating a promotions web. Shared and Cross Promotion makes the impossible possible.

Expansion into new and target markets through trusted brand affiliates gains new interest in your own brand. Shared crowds ensure that events will be attended, whether attendees stay for the whole event or not, whether they leave and return or return towards the end of the night… THEY WILL ATTEND at some point.

Gain

What do they have to gain from attending this event? Okay, you might not be able to give free drinks or even free products. But, you can work it out where a discount is given for signing up Online for VIP or for the first 50 attendees on the “friendslist” gets will get in free.

How does a contest sound? A sponsorship? A theme?

Maybe you do have pull in getting free drinks or giving out free merchandise. Whatever you can do, make sure you find a way to do it. Not only will these people NOT question why they’re not going to your event, but they will also remember. Look forward to their attendance at your next event!

Timespace

PROMOTIONS TIP OF THE DAY: Give yourself a late start of AT LEAST three weeks to promote your event.

Why? It will take a solid week of hardcore promotion and then a week of personalized promotion, in addition to “Word of Mouth Marketing,” the MOST EFFECTIVE form of marketing to take place.

People like to plan ahead, especially if they work nights and have children (Those that will have the most money to spend, since they are in need of entertainment at ANY cost).

If you are in a major city, business people and tourists like to plan at least 2 weeks ahead and often change their schedule. You need to convince them this is a BIG DEAL! They don’t know your city so marketing is EVERYTHING. Oh, and they are also the ones, who have put money aside to “Get loose” or who are doing it on the company credit card. Think about it.

This was the inspiration for this post. This was a status message that I put on Facebook in transitioning into my Shorty Produkshins Event Marketing Services for discussion on Facebook. I left it untouched, because sometimes it’s these conversational pieces that teach the most in the least amount of words.

Press & Media Releases

Press may seem old fashion to many who question the reliability of the media. I mean, who reads newspapers in 2013, right?!

WRONG!

So many STILL read print. It’s better on the eyes that electronic media. It can be found in almost any location, including in transit on public bus lines, doctors’ offices, diners, libraries and government buildings (to name only a few locations). The reach is limitless and likely to be taken into the electronic realm, because almost every established media firm has an Online Presence available to the audience. Again backlinks, page views, content shares and information awareness is made available to the masses.

Through Press and Social Media Press Release, the press is brought to the attention of your brand and what your brand is doing. A story may be written on the events or products that are being released by your brand, or the brand itself may be the center of media attention.

Whether product or brand, attention will be brought to future events and products through articles and content that never disappear! Trust gained through viewer loyalty will lead to trust in your brand with automatic “want” to be part of your brand, as well.

Again, the possibilities are endless… especially if it is a niche event or event that the community can and will be able to support!

SEO:

We are not going to cover this topic in too much detail here. But, I do want to make this statement: “Take ADVANTAGE of EVERY possibility for SEO, WHENEVER YOU CAN.” Events give you unique opportunities for legit SEO effort where competitors may not necessarily be making use of it.

Events should be treated as products. Products should be treated as brands. Brands represent a company, affiliate, sponsor and so on.

Take advantage of keywords, backlinks, embeds, and so on. That is all that I am going to say. SEO is a science all on its own!

BRANDING:

Websites and Landing Pages
Creating a full website based around the event and content related to that event may be in the greatest interest of an event. The more time planned and given to the event’s arrival, the more the website will benefit the brand.

The more anticipation and virality the content will gain for the event. Information can be given on the event’s entertainment, amenities, causes, pricing, schedule, directions and ticketing. Public forum can be linked to these websites, as well. This will build attendee participation in anticipation of the event.

Single page websites and landing pages are also great for bringing notice to the brand, collecting attendee data for this and future events, to redirect traffic around web presences and to take advantage of two way SEO options. This topic will not be elaborated upon. But, I am sure you have caught on already.

Applications and Widgets
Participation, interaction, virality, Word of Mouth, engagement, and on and on and on. This is self-explanatory. You have read my blogs on Mobile Marketing and on Social Media, I am sure. If you haven’t, you should.

Incorporating these elements into your Event Marketing campaign is of the best interest of your brand, especially if you can incorporate GPS capabilities into the applications being created. Location-based information can engage participants in interactivity during the event and to locals who have not yet decided if they would like to attend the event but are nearby.

Creating “the life of the party” where everyone can be part of it is so important in encouraging others to join in and those participating to continue having fun, because they are, indeed, having fun together and encouraging local audiences to join in the fun.

If it is before the event, they will encourage “the hype” surrounding the event. If it is post-event, they will rub it in the faces of NON-attendees of how much fun that was had. In the future, non-attendees will be more likely to participate.

The goal of applications and widgets that appear cross-platform is to keep audiences captivated in the upcoming event, feed them with information and updates surrounding the event and to keep them reminded of the event.

We don’t want them to forget the event is happening and when it is happening. There is nothing worse than getting people interested in the event and then they miss it because they mix up the date and time of this event. Reminders may even be set to keep user participation ensured.

Blogs
Blogs work similar to web presences, sites and landing pages. They also function with the capabilities of adding widgets and other content to the body of each post. Their focus will be to support the event and all elements related to the event.

If there will be entertainment at the event, articles about the entertainment may take place. This could include press releases, news, biographies, video, picture content, audio and more.

Similarly, information related to the venue and other focal points of this event may be included. Blogs are frequently added into application and website feeds, while being shared across Social Media platforms around the net!

Event Invites
I am going to be very honest here. As the trend continues, event invites are more often becoming ignored. While one should always create one and try to get users to participate in this feature, please do not count on it.

There are many of us who ignore and even block this feature from ever coming into our awareness. While I promote events, I admit to rarely opening an event invite.

The truth is, many people misuse this platform for reasons other than for promoting events. They even use it too frequently. It almost becomes SPAM and often is the reason that people will not even check their notifications on platforms like Facebook.

On the contrary, I see these event invites work often. Depending on the frequency of the poster and the subject of interest, I have seen participation in these events where users share cross-platform, post content about and to, embed and event connect them to their iCal and Google Calendars, viewable on the wallpaper or widgets of their mobile devices! So, never leave event invites out as an option, but never depend on them as your only option.

In closing this topic off with what little I am willing to share in blog form, I would like to remind you that data collection is key in providing your audiences with the form of marketing that works best for THEM.

In allowing user form submissions, one will be able to survey the best form of marketing for a specific user or to survey the overall reach of viewer trends as related to your brands initiative. While immediate response would be best for this event, be reminded that it will benefit future events to already have this information available.

Some people do not check their Facebook every day but check their text messages every three minutes. Some people don’t even have text capabilities on their mobile device but live on Twitter. There are some who shiver at the thought of technology and you will never know exist until you see them at an event that was broadcasted through the local newspaper. So, please make sure to include all press, Online and Offline in your marketing scope.

Last but not least, enjoy the event that you have promoted. Mingle with your audiences. Find out how they found out about your event. You just may be shocked. Get to know your audiences, and find out your future events will do nothing but ROCK!

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Lack of Social: So Many Businesses are STILL Doing it Wrong!

Shorty Produksins is Internet Marketing Orlando. Brand Social.

PREVIOULSY PUBLISHED TO EXAMINER

According for the Center for Media Research and The Chief Marketing Officer Council in its latest release of industry information: “When asked what elements in the media mix were being localized to address local market segments or better drive interactions at the local level, marketers are focused on localizing strategy, segmentation and messaging (68%) and direct mail and emails (53%). However, fewer than 50% of respondents are focusing on localized media buys, social media interactions, website or even adjusting sales literature or collateral.” Those targeted in the first two groups are based on an already established client base and list of potential consumers collected by businesses on the local level.

If you notice, everything related to actual Internet Marketing and Social Media Marketing is grouped into one item. To boot, there isn’t much of a budget or energy set aside to really take advantage of such powerful tools. In essence, they’re spending money on the strategy and messaging to be compelling, but not using it where it is most effective! This is when they complain that “SOCIAL” simply does not work.

A job done half mass will be a job done “half-_______ed.” Let that resonate the next time you’re involved in a marketing plan. So many put only little effort into their Social Branding and realize that it’s going nowhere.

In reality, they have a stagnant Facebook Like Page that only Brand Loyalists are stumbling upon and liking. Likewise, the brand’s Twitter account is doing just as well while following 500+ “tweeters” and gaining less than 50 actual followers.

Their mistake is the lack of engagement. After all, what good is messaging with no conversation? If there is no interesting content to be shared or repeated, no one will share or repeat it. It’s as easy as that and nothing less to be said.

The Center for Media Research also reported that “despite 59% of national marketers noting that local demand generation was essential to their business growth, only 7% feel they have highly evolved campaigns and measures in place that can activate consumers at a local level.” It’s obvious that some get it. But, it’s sadly pathetic how so many simply do not.

Not to burst any bubbles, but hiring a High School Student or College Freshman isn’t enough either. There needs to be some type of strategy set in line. True, “fresh ideas” are wonderful to have on the team for ideas and content distribution. But, there has to be a strategic call to action set in line. What is the message needed to get across time and time again? What is being sold? How will we convince others to do what we want them to?

We spoke of Internet Marketing as separate from “SOCIAL” earlier. It truly is. Let’s address this now:

Internet Marketing is a broad categorization of multiple marketing channels and styles done within the world of the Internet. There, of course, are subcategories that also branch out into other realms of the marketing mix. Internet Marketing can be summed up as “content and content placement.” Words can be consumed as content. In essence, they are exactly that. Videos, pictures and audio are all the same — content. Where and how it is placed and displayed for awareness is also part of Internet Marketing.

Some people don’t understand the scientifics behind Internet Marketing. All content is a plausible cause for SEO tactic. Defend your placement in search engines and bring awareness to your brand by naming your content, using search terms within your copy and in finding organic results. Organic results happen automatically. However, paid results are just as important. These also help your placement in search engines. Yes, it is all one large algorithm… One that must be understood.

Backlinks, link pyramids, link wheels, blogs, tags, and many other Internet Marketing elements all help a brand’s presence on the net. These are like hand grenades, gutting knives, and darts in defending against and combatting competition on the net!

The littlest things can and will matter. These things MUST be implemented into Social Branding, as well as within company websites, Youtube channels and so on.

There must be consistency. In fact, the Law of Consistency, as explained by authors Al and Laura Ries in “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding,” is very important to branding as a marketing strategy on any platform — Online or off. Don’t think for one minute that Google hasn’t been programmed to understand this.

There are many reasons why more of a budget needs to be set aside for Internet Marketing and Social Branding in separate categories. Again, hiring students to complete work for the company’s Social Presence is a great idea. But, there must also be professionals on the team getting their hands dirty if a social garden is expected to thrive.

If you are going to invest a dollar into your branding, what is an extra fifty cents if it triples your return and leaves a lasting impression on your consumers? Think about it.

Speaking of consumers, let’s address them real fast. How much of a budget are you putting aside for customer relationship building and customer service? Do you have any particular way of communications with them available around the clock?

The world of media has changed the way we do business. “Always On” culture has changed the way we seek customer service and retain those customers seeking our servicing.

It’s safe to assume that our business hours aren’t always convenient for our consumers who may also be working or busy with children in those hours. After hours may be the only time they have available to reach us. E-mail correspondences, while easily accessible, may take days to address simple fixes, and not always will someone be able to answer the phone to answer hard to ask questions.

Did you know, in customer service and technical support, the same questions are addressed over and over again? So, why not plan for this in the marketing mix? Hiring and training students to work after hours (when many will be wide awake and available), might be one way to cut back on “social” costs because they are only needed on demand but very important in customer retention.

ddressing customer relations in a social forum, while keeping private conversations private, content is created and a solution has been addressed to unexpected and common problems encountered with our servicing and platforms.

Being brutally honest, some consumers will be too lazy or proud to reach out for help. Let’s use monitoring tools to find out their difficulties with our services and products and reach out to them!

Let’s get involved in their conversations and sway negative conversations into testimonies and positive reviews. After all, Word of Mouth Marketing is always going to be the most effective form of marketing. The reason behind this is Brand Loyalty of our trusted friends and family will gain our interests over some advertisement thrown in our face to sell us something.

Similarly, dampening negative conversation about our brand helps dramatically, because negative feedback is twice as damaging as no feedback at all!

Let’s find out true opinions based on customer experience and find out what isn’t working for our brand, why they aren’t “funneling correctly,” and why they are dissatisfied with our products — and listen to them. Making changes surrounding the concerns of our customers is the way to go. After all, the goal is bringing them an end product that they can’t live without. This is how a brand will endure the tough times that every business battles when the economy slows down.

Understanding that social means interaction and keeping our consumer bases (potential and existing) are key to thriving in today’s overly saturated markets, it is mind-boggling that only 28% percent of marketers are event implementing their consumers’ opinions and needs into the marketing mix! This includes monitoring, conversation, customers support and aggregation!

Furthermore, only 6% are actually including IT and engineers into their strategy. Do they not understand the importance of SEO, customer reporting and analysis of data!? True, some data will never be able to be collected in a full spectrum due to the restraints of Cross-Platform Technologies and privacy laws, but there are some things in business that risks are worth taking — especially if you know it is needed.

So, why isn’t more collaboration taking effect? Why are dollars being wasted outsourcing for data analysis and research when it is already available at our fingertips? Why aren’t we splurging areas of our budgeting on Social Media Marketing and Internet Marketing necessities where we stand to see most of our return on investment? Why don’t we allow our existing Social Branding efforts to coexist as customer retention, conversation and support?

Re-adjusting budgets in 2013 and forward is a must! Not only will funding expand to broaden our possibilities, but funding can be set aside to implement Mobile Marketing Strategies to take effect immediately.

Mobile Marketing is social at our fingertips. It is more personal than any other form of marketing out there! But, guess what: Very few brands have begun to take advantage of this, and that is where many are falling behind. “Brand Socially” and see how much of the conversation takes place mobilly.

So, you don’t have a mobile app. But, Facebook does. Twitter does. LinkedIn does. Google is the default for mobile Android browsers. Take advantage of this… NOW! Don’t be a faulty statistic. Make social work for you!

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