Social sharing – Social media business strategies blog Sun, 25 Mar 2018 22:10:09 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Social sharing – 32 32 5 Alternatives to LinkedIn Elevate for Superior Employee Advocacy Sun, 23 Jul 2017 17:04:53 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Post by Adi Englander


Are you in the hunt for an employee advocacy platform? Would you like some alternatives to LinkedIn Elevate for superior employee advocacy?


Over the years LinkedIn has released several useful features and tools that have helped distinguish the platform as the go-to social network for business. While the other popular social networks only seem to be copying each other’s latest top functionalities, LinkedIn stands apart in this regard. After all, the B2B value of social media use is completely different from B2C uses.

One of the tools released by LinkedIn that has grown to be especially popular is LinkedIn Elevate, an employee advocacy platform. It does exactly as the name suggests, which is making it easy for employees to support their employers’ content distribution efforts – while positioning themselves as industry thought leaders at the same time.

Using an algorithm and/or manually curated links, LinkedIn Elevate finds content that your target audience likes and suggests it to your team members. Employees can sort through these posts and share the content they like most on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Businesses can track these shares to see if they resulted in an increase in brand exposure, traffic, leads captured and talent attracted.


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Most businesses using Elevate see significant traction, which makes sense given the power of employee advocacy as a tactic in general. Data from Smarp, another advocacy solution, indicates that employee advocates have an average of 420 Facebook friends, 400 LinkedIn contacts and 360 Twitter followers. That’s a content distribution opportunity that B2B marketers should not overlook.

While piloting LinkedIn Elevate, Adobe found that the average participating employees drove 80% more job listing views plus three to four trial downloads of Adobe software products. This is because when people check out the profiles and content of your employees, they will also check out the company they work for and the products they offer. What’s more, 83% of people trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising, according to Nielsen.

Another big benefit of using an employee advocacy tool is that it helps employees feel more invested to their companies. This sentiment can help promote a sense of cohesive culture and increase performance.

But to successfully execute employee advocacy, you don’t need to use LinkedIn Elevate. There are several alternatives that specialize in this niche and offer superior features and user experiences. You should be able to find one based on your specific needs and budget with ease, instead of just opting for the one offered by LinkedIn.

Here are my picks for the top alternatives to LinkedIn Elevate.

  1. Smarp

Smarp is an advanced employee advocacy platform, which has several useful features that LinkedIn Elevate doesn’t. These include gamification, internal communications and ROI-focused analytics.

With Smarp, admins can either share link updates or standalone content updates like text and images. Hence, you should be able to share content that will drive both traffic and engagement. You can schedule the update in advance and set a time to archive it in case it is time sensitive. You can even move the content around in the feed of suggestions if you want a specific post to gain more exposure.

Smarp can also automatically pull content from your social media pages and RSS feeds, so that every new post on your blog will automatically aggregate to your Smarp feed of suggested shares. You can use this feature to feed content from trusted niche-relevant publications and co-marketing partner organizations as well.

Employees can share the content you add onto Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, as they can with LinkedIn Elevate, but Smarp also supports additional channels like WeChat, Xing, VK and Weibo, plus the ability to easily share via copy-pasted URLs. Team members can also comment on the updates to engage with others from your company. These discussions can be used to not only share content of maximum interest in the future, but to also to collaborate for creating quality content for your blog. Employees can also easily find content they like, by using the topic navigation tabs at the top of the feed.

Smarp offers a responsive web app, as well as native apps for Android and iOS. This makes it easy for your employees to access suggestions and discussions, so they can share from anywhere.


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As mentioned above, Smarp has a gamification feature, with an employee leaderboard that helps to motivate shares. You can even integrate incentives like company swag, bonuses and charity donations, to sweeten the deal for top sharers. LinkedIn Elevate’s leaderboard, on the other hand, is only available to admins, as part of the analytics – it isn’t a core functionality.

One of Smarp’s best features is its advanced analytics. Employees can access metrics relating to engagement on their own shares, while admins can view company-wide metrics, or drill down into per-channel, per-employee and per-post performance.

Personal analytics has a feature called SmarpScore, which makes it easy to measure how one’s professional influence progresses over time. Another cool feature of the analytics tools here is an “earned media value” metric, which estimates what you might have paid in social media advertising to achieve comparable reach.

  1. Dynamic Signal

Dynamic Signal is another leading employee advocacy platform. You can use it to post your latest industry news and company updates. Employees can access this information via a mobile app and stay informed about your company and the trends that matter in your niche, and they can share updates directly from the mobile app onto social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

It integrates with Facebook Messenger and Slack, too, so that you can push share recommendations and messages to employees via these apps.

You can also boost engagement and get plenty of feedback from employees by using surveys and quizzes. This information can be used to strengthen company culture and to create content employees want to share on social media.

Dynamic Signals

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Dynamic Signal’s analytics tools allow you to track an item’s potential reach, which is based on sharers’ audience size. This allows you to target and engage employees with the right types of content. You can also access rich reports that drill down into each team member’s app use, including logs of logins, posts viewed and shared and even devices used.

This is where Dynamic Signal shines most brightly. The emphasis here is on improving communications between employees and company management.

  1. Bambu

Created by the team from the social media management platform Sprout Social, Bambu is the fourth employee advocacy platform we’ll look at today as a viable alternative to LinkedIn Elevate. Bambu lets you craft and post custom social media updates, so that they are ready for sharing onto Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can include notes along with the content so employees understand the relevance, urgency and/or strategic context of the update.

The analytics reports on Bambu let you identify top sharers and performance per item of content, per channel and per user. The metrics on offer are extremely basic, but the visualizations are clean and accessible.


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Bambu’s calming user interface is definitely better than that of GaggleAMP. But the internal communication features aren’t robust enough, and while the “big three” social networks are likely to do the job for many organizations, others are looking to engage elsewhere as well. What’s more, there are no gamification features like on Smarp. This can reduce the number of shares posts get, as you can’t incentivise sharing nor create a sharing contest among employees.

For companies that are already using Sprout for their social media monitoring, measurement and scheduling, it probably makes good sense to add Bambu to the stack. Otherwise, the other tools in this article may be better matches for your advocacy needs.

  1. PostBeyond

One of the more helpful employee advocacy platforms, PostBeyond also offers solutions for brand resource management, employer branding, process management and social selling.

You can create a content library where you add blog posts, job listings, white papers, press releases, etc. either directly or with their browser extension. Content can also be sourced from social media, RSS feeds and even spreadsheets for bulk uploads. Items can be shared with all employees or certain combinations of employees, which are easy to manage via PostBeyond’s “Groups” admin panel.

In addition to native PostBeyond feeds, admins can send employees regular email updates with roundups of key items for viewing or sharing, simply by selecting a Group audience and ticking whatever item checkboxes are relevant.


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Employees can access PostBeyond on the devices of their choice and then share content on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. Channel diversity is limited, but PostBeyond makes up for this shortcoming with the depth of analytics reporting on offer. It’s possible that their product team made a decision to only work with social networks whose APIs can support their rich reporting.

The analytics here can reveal shares, impressions, comments and other engagement metrics, with the ability to easily slice this data according to audience geolocation or PostBeyond Group.

Activate Your in-House Army of Sharers

LinkedIn Elevate might be the best-known employee advocacy platform, but it is hardly the best. As you can see, there are plenty of alternatives, and each has its specialty. Smarp is the only complete tool, as it helps with content distribution, internal communication, gamification and ROI-focused analytics. Dynamic Signal mainly focuses on internal communication, while GaggleAMP is only about driving action on social media and other digital channels.

I recommend that you check out all the tools in detail by signing up for trials and demos, and then pick the one that fulfills all your functionality and budgeting needs.

Which tools do you use for your employee advocacy strategy? How have they worked for you? Please leave your comments below.

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Kimberly-Clark uses social quiz to woo talent Fri, 04 Nov 2016 17:00:56 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Welcome Original Thinkers WOTQuiz Kimberly-Clark WOT

welcome original thinkers quiz halloweenChris AbrahamAre you an original thinker? You can quickly find out by taking the Welcome Original Thinkers Quiz (WOTQuiz)—I’m an Adaptor:

“You enjoy exploring every side of an issue and like a wicked great maestro you tease out the positive in each approach. Your resourcefulness and ability to easily adapt to the latest input often makes you the one who finds answers to the most challenging questions.”

What did you get? Please be sure to let me know in the comments.

Kimberly-Clark created a BuzzFeed-inspired quiz to discover their own Original Thinker type and then are rewarded with a new emoji badge suitable for social sharing, as well as an invitation to find out about original thinkers at Kimberly-Clark.

BOOve over Silicon Valley, Austin, TECHxas, and the Big Apple; welcome original thinkers to Neenah, Wisconsin, where young creative chemical and product engineers can find the job of their dreams.

wotemojisKimberly-Clark is looking for bright, talented thinkers who are eager to explore ideas, solve problems, and be part of collaborative teams and a performance-based culture that is focused on being number one in its markets. They’re using this online quiz to help prospective employees learn what kind of thinkers they are, what kind of jobs they’d best fit, and in the process, show that the 144-year-old paper and personal-care products company and its Neenah home base are cool and offers a balance of life that’s probably more fulfilling than a lot of other places. Kimberly-Clark’s culture is one where employees can and do routinely turn their ideas into winning, profitable and life-changing solutions.

As part of this campaign, my agency, Gerris Corp, is helping Kimberly-Clark get the word out using an extensive and aggressive earned-media micro-influencer marketing campaign in close formation with Kimberly-Clark’s People Strategy department and their AOR, Relish Marketing.

01-ot-emojis-donotsaveover-13I first worked with Kimberly-Clark back in 2008 to help reduce the spread of healthcare associated infections and, after eight more years, we get to work together again. From HAIWatch to WOTQuiz!

Again, this is a campaign where we’re targeting influencer verticals in order to engage them, share the quick fun quiz with them, and then brief them on what the campaign’s about and why Kimberly-Clark is promoting a personality quiz in the first place.

So far, people are in love with the different types of personality types, including the dreamer, analyzer, disrupter, muse, adaptor, nonconformist, maker, and inventor.

Our goal is the same as the goal of the quiz: get folks to take the quiz, find out their Original Thinker type, and then share their emoji badges via social media, sharing with all their friends via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

01-ot-emojis-donotsaveover-14Sounds easy, but easier said than done. “If you build it, they will come” never works so we get to be the vanguard of the movement, sparking and catalyzing all viral-making fun!

In support of this campaign, we’ve built a gorgeous Social Media News Release (SMNR)—the nicest one we’ve ever built for a campaign, and we’ve registered a bespoke domain name,, to make sure everything is very simple and accessible to anyone we message.

Earned media micro-influencer marketing doesn’t need to be limited to consumer campaigns for unicorn companies like Skinny Coconut Oil. Earned-media micro-influencer marketing works beautifully in the service of hearts and minds campaigns such as quizzes, tests, and polls.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you’d like more information, feel free to contact me.

Via Biznology

Best practices for nurturing B2B leads captured via social media Thu, 15 Jan 2015 21:42:01 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Post by Daniel Kushner
Founder, Oktopost

Thanks to the reality of social media’s astounding adoption rates, B2B marketers are finally moving away from the debate as to the value of their activity on the main networks. With so much of the world now spending significant amounts of time on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and the like, it simply makes the most sense to leverage these platforms to reach your intended audience – this is where they are, so this is where you have to be.

Despite all the talk about silos being a thing of the past, B2B social media marketing activity is extremely different from B2C. Simply keeping your brand name at the forefront of people’s minds doesn’t cut it in sectors that involve such drawn-out and deliberate procurement processes. When your aim is driving sales for a product that targets fellow businesspeople, social media’s greatest impact is realized when it’s used as a mechanism for lead capture and nurturing.

Channels for Relationships of Trust

At its best, social media is all about conversations and engagement, and that’s the basis of effective lead nurturing too. Marketers who are great at building relationships of trust with relevant leads online prefer to identify prospects, discuss their solutions, distribute content and drive traffic to owned properties via social media. In fact, some 94% of the B2B marketers in the United States use LinkedIn as a key content distribution channel, and 88% use Twitter. What’s more, B2B marketers are increasingly citing LinkedIn and blogs as pivotal customer acquisition channels.

Clearly, social realms have finally matured enough to be considered serious B2B lead nurturing venues. But success here depends on maintaining a clear sense of strategy and goals. We’re easily confused into thinking that a high volume of likes, shares and comments means we’ve succeeded. B2B marketers should instead be thinking about how to encourage leads captured via social media to advance along the sales funnel.

When a stranger or a known prospect comments on a blog, likes a Facebook post, retweets a company tweet or chimes in on a LinkedIn Group discussion, this is an opportunity that should not be wasted. Any of these actions can be considered a micro-conversion and therefore a first step toward a purchase. Even a click from a social channel to your website is an important micro-conversion which, if nurtured properly, can lead to a sale.

Who, Why and What Next

When a B2B lead first interacts with a social media post, he or she is most likely to be at the research stage, and your interactions should be tackled accordingly. He or she may be interested in your product, but that doesn’t indicate that he or she has any idea yet if it will meet his or her needs, if it’s worth the price or if your company has any genuine expertise. Don’t turn people off by getting too sales-y on them.

Rather, this could the perfect time to share some educational content in a private message to start building the case that you have the solution to his or her business challenges. Once each B2B lead has advanced enough to be considered a marketing qualified lead (MQL), your sales team takes over and hopefully finalizes the purchase. Each stage of the funnel has matching content types and engagement styles that are most effective; keep these in mind, and you’ll be able to turn your social media activity into a lead nurturing powerhouse.

If you have access to advanced tracking data via premium analytics tools, you can easily determine each of your prospects’ closest-matching buyer personas and position in the sales funnel by correlating onsite activity with the decision making journey as you’ve mapped it out.

But even if you aren’t yet set up for this level of business intelligence, simply knowing what social media channel and post originally referred your prospect and what type of micro-conversions he or she has performed will already give you lots of clues into who your lead is and how interested in your product he or she is. Use this information to send messaging appropriate to personas and to stages in the funnel. With effective nurturing, getting the right message to your prospects at the right moments is the key to making a sale.

Choosing the Right Message

Follow these general guidelines to successfully use messages for B2B nurturing in ways that match various types of micro-conversions.

  • A lead that first comes to your awareness via a comment on your blog is likely interested in more information about the general topic of the post in question. Use this opportunity to answer the lead’s questions and establish a position of niche thought leadership and trust.
  • When someone initially connects with your company via Twitter, use the opportunity to engage in light, friendly discussion that goes in whatever direction your prospect determines. Provide informative advice and don’t hesitate to tell a prospect they should look elsewhere if necessary.
  • When someone micro-converts on LinkedIn, do some research into the company he or she works for. Determine what kind of issues they may be having and offer some well-thought-out, personalized insights, always emphasizing the benefits of your solution rather than its specs.
  • When a prospect responds positively to an automated email that includes educational content, he or she is likely ready to receive somewhat more sales-oriented content.
  • Once you see someone clicking through often to sales-focused content, address any loose ends you’ve been discussing with the prospect, and then you should be ready to hand him or her over to the sales team.

Tipping Point from Marketing to Sales

Your company’s marketing team nurtures leads until they’re ready for a sales call. If this happens too early, your prospects may feel pressured and jump ship, but if the sales team arrives on the scene too late, the prospect may have already closed a deal with a competitor. Determining the optimal set of circumstances that identify a lead as being sales-ready is a pivotal aspect of social-based nurturing.

As part of your company’s ongoing marketing operations, the sales and marketing teams must sit down together regularly to review trends and redefine what makes a lead sales-ready. Most B2B enterprises use complex lead scoring formulas for this purpose, whereby each lead accumulates points until reaching the magic number. Once a lead has been assigned a specific number of points, he or she is considered to be a MQL and becomes the responsibility of the sales team.

Points are awarded for each type of micro-conversion and any number of browsing activity patterns on your site, but they’re also awarded for segmenting data gleaned from other sources. For instance, a lead captured via LinkedIn might receive more points than one from Facebook. An executive at a company may be worth more points than a lower-level employee.

Additional segmentation patterns are likely to emerge as you engage in a regular sales-marketing feedback loop whereby conversion rates are correlated with MQL factors. For example, you may find that leads captured via social media on certain days of the week deserve more points, or leads captured via specific landing pages deserve fewer points. A good lead scoring program takes all these elements into account, assigns values to each action and parameter, and regularly reviews any needs to tweak these formulas.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

As with any marketing effort, lead scoring and nurturing is not a one-time project. Set up an initial lead scoring point system, but don’t forget to go back to it and rethink what exactly constitutes an MQL. External and internal factors will influence the lead nurturing process, so you need to be open to changing your system as necessary.

And keep in mind that social media is not just about getting likes on photos of kittens. It is an important tool in the lead nurturing process – one that can outperform all others and drive sales when appropriate emphasis is placed on leveraging data for optimized lead scoring and nurturing.

Curalate: A business solution for our visual age Mon, 10 Feb 2014 13:01:47 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Apu-Gupta
Apu Gupta, CEO/co-founder of Curalate: “The whole Web is becoming hi-def.”

Company helps companies & brands track conversations about products

Target audience: Marketing professionals, SEO specialists, PR pros, brand managers, businesses, nonprofits, educators, Web publishers, journalists.

JD LasicaSomewhere along the line, you’ve heard someone refer to the visual age that we’re entering. Fewer of us are reading and writing more than 140 characters, while more of us are watching, browsing, swiping and sharing discoveries on Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

Now the increasing dominance of the visual Web has become not just an interesting observation — it’s a business imperative. How to take advantage of the increasingly visual nature of the Web?

Enter Curalate (tagline: “smarter marketing through imagery”). The Philadelphia-based company launched in May 2012 with “the realization that increasingly consumers were communicating with pictures rather than words,” CEO and co-founder Apu Gupta said in a phone interview. “What we’re betting on is that there’s a fundamental shift in consumer behavior happening. The whole Web is becoming hi-def.”

More than 500 million people are regularly using Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, and most of the communication between users takes place with pictures — to the tune of 200 million photos a day — rather than words.

Curalate: A technology platform to make sense of the visual Web

The Gap, Kraft Foods, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Sephora, Campbell’s & others have hired Curalate to dig into the visual Web and let them know how customers are interacting with their brands.

For instance, a college student might take a photo of a cute pair of jeans at the Gap, but never mention the Gap in a caption, much less enter a #gap hashtag. But that brand moment should still matter to the Gap. Which is why companies like the Gap, Kraft Foods, J. Crew, Neiman Marcus, Better Homes and Gardens, Sephora, Campbell’s, Swarovski and others have hired Curalate to dig into the visual Web and let them know how customers are interacting with their brands.

“Most retailers have a discoverability problem” that Curalate helps solve, Gupta said. “We’re able to bring social data down to the product level.”

Curalate’s underlying technology and team of 30 — including several data scientists — trawls the visual Web and turns hundreds of millions of pieces of digital flotsam and jetsam into actionable data. It works both with companies directly and with marketing agencies representing more than 400 top brands.

“We teach them how to fish,” Gupta said. “They have to unlearn what they’ve been taught through the lens of Facebook. What we find with Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr is that the real engagement is initiated by the consumer instead of the brand.”

The centerpiece of Curalate’s offering is a drool-worthy analytics and marketing dashboard that provides rich details about the kinds of conversations and engagement people are having around brands and products.

“We scan every pixel from every image and we fingerprint it,” Gupta said. “We know how popular the image is, where it came from and who it belongs to. So I can say to the Gap, ‘Your most popular picture is x,’ and the Gap can decide to promote it or run an email campaign or decide to shift its advertising to reflect what people are talking about.”


Curalate identifies keywords associated with products, helping brands discover the language that customers are using.

How brands are using visual intelligence

I first heard of Curalate a few months ago on the SoLoMo Show podcast in a segment highlighting a new study that the company conducted showing which kinds of images get the most traction on Pinterest (multiple colors and reds, not blues; closeups, not faraway shots).

Those general learnings can help inform any company’s marketing efforts. But what’s even more useful is sifting through visual analytics relevant to your brand.

Gupta cited one client, Kahlua, that conducted a social media campaign using Curalate. Prior to the campaign, he said, the data from Curalate showed them that “people were thinking of Kahlua in more ways than just as a beverage.” So they ran a campaign showing how to use Kahlua as a pantry item that can be incorporated into baked goods. The result? Some 16,000 more subscribers to its email list, lots of sharing of content across Pinterest and a larger number of people “who began to think about Kahlua in a completely new way, taking it from the bar to the pantry,” he said.

Other clients have begun using Curalate analytics to update the window displays in their retail stores as the brands’ buying teams log into their dashboards to identify clothing trends.

I think it’s fair to say that Curalate is worth a look. Even if your brand isn’t particularly fetching, your customers are becoming more visual oriented. Sooner or later, you’ll want to learn how they’re engaging with your brand in these nonverbal corners of the Web.

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Swayy helps you find relevant, shareable content Thu, 19 Sep 2013 11:01:08 +0000 Continue reading ]]> swayy

New content discovery tool curates social media for brand managers & small businesses

Target audience: Social media managers, marketing professionals, PR professionals, brand managers, SEO specialists, businesses, entrepreneurs, nonprofits.

Ayelet NoffAs a social media manager, the first and most commonly asked question I get is, “So you just sit around posting on Facebook all day AND get paid for it?” (Please read in the half condescending, half jealous voice.) Here’s the truth: Doing social media in a way that will actually benefit your client is much more complicated than that.

Managing a social media account is about finding the best content for your client and generating the right engagement. Social content is important and it’s worth every penny spent. So, how do you create the best content out there?

We here at Blonde 2.0 manage over 40 Facebook pages for various clients. That means that without fail each of our account managers must come up with about five different posts a day, each focused on a vast array of topics. They all need to be interesting, relevant to the target audience, have some added value that is relevant to the brand, and of course be extremely engaging. That’s 40 posts a day, 240 posts a week and over 1,000 posts a month.

What a social media manager needs to do is find the best relevant content for his client in a hyper-social world, where over 4.75 billion pieces of content is shared on Facebook daily and 500 million tweets are posted on Twitter daily. Finding the right content in this massive sea of information is a big challenge that social media marketers face each day.

There are different tactics to finding the right content. Finding relevant industry blogs and tracking them using services like Feedly, searching on Google, following influencers on Twitter etc., are all tactics that require the marketer to be extremely active and in constant search mode, which is too time consuming.

Instead of laborious manual searching, Swayy points to target content

Swayy - Hitting the right notes for social media account managers

Swayy – Hitting the right notes for social media account managers

We always try and test new tools and apps, because for us looking for a way to minimize time spent on searching means boosting productivity around the office and freeing account managers to concentrate on other important aspects of the job.

A service that I’ve been really enjoying lately is Swayy. Swayy helps you find relevant and shared content from around the Web for your client’s social profiles. Meaning that instead of spending hours searching for amazing content for clients, you can use this platform and automatically get recommendations for content that is relevant and popular for your audience. (Disclosure: Blonde 2.0 is working on a project with Swayy.)

Once you pick the content you think is most relevant out of the suggestions Swayy offers, you can share it right from the platform and even schedule your content for later if necessary. Swayy crawls about 50,000 pieces of content a day, extracting keywords and topics and then matching content to your profile’s trending topics and circles.

A particularly useful feature is the detailed analytics. For every content you share using Swayy, you get full analytics that help you understand which of your posts are the most engaging for your audience. Pricing runs from free to $5 to $19 per month.

As the social media management business grows exponentially, more and more tools are popping up to help social media managers do the best job they can. Swayy is actually doing a very good job of that. For social media managers, Swayy hits all the right notes by creating a more efficient content curation process and helping social account managers optimize their content. If you’re looking to optimize your social media efforts, you should definitely give Swayy a go.

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Top social travel sites at TechCrunch Disrupt Wed, 11 Sep 2013 11:01:44 +0000 Continue reading ]]> TripTease
A taste of the Triptease site for crowdsourced reviews.

Triptease, OutTrippin, Diveboard ply the new waters of community-powered trips

Target audience: Entrepreneurs, travel companies, social startup managers, digital marketers, advertising agencies, educators, journalists, Web publishers.

JD LasicaOne of the most interesting trends in social media in the past few years has been the rise of social travel sites and apps. The newest of this new breed is on display at TechCrunch Disrupt, ending today in San Francisco.

I’ve attended every TechCrunch conference from the beginning, and rather than write about the entire event, I tend to focus on a handful of startups that catch my eye.

Today, it’s social travel sites taking part in the Startup Battlefield. Tomorrow, it’s photos of tech titans, startup entrepreneurs, industry thought leaders, angel investors and attendees.

Triptease: Visually rich, people-powered travel reviews

Triptease: Community-powered reviews that cover the best of travel.

Triptease: Community-powered reviews that cover the best of travel.

I first met Triptease founder Charlie Osmond at last spring’s Launch Festival and immediately felt lured in the aesthetics of his startup and new site, which has a high-gloss magazine feel to it. You can almost smell the perfume.

“Travel reviews are broken,” with little innovation happening in online review sites over the past 12 years, says Charlie, a former UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year. “Our reviewers cover the best of travel — not just the five-star hotels but quirky trips and fun things to do along with the higher-end travel destinations.”

At the very beginning, the focus was on short reviews of amazing hotel stays, and that still seems the clearest path to profitability. In recent months the scope has felt a bit broader, with a look at the Surajkund Crafts Mela near Delhi, India, the Mount Panorama Bathurst Motor Racing Circuit in Australia and other adventurous, sometimes exotic locales. The reviews are short and to the point — sometimes only a paragraph of text accompanying the eye candy roll of images, provided by the reviewer, the hotel or another source.

Community is at the heart of Triptease. About 100,000 users visit the site (or visit via the tablet app) each month, and people have contributed 10,000 reviews, all for free and all through word of mouth. The point, as in much of social media, is to showcase one’s expertise and good taste (if you want to sock it to a fleabag hotel you stayed at, look elsewhere). And besides, Charlie points out, “if you pay someone to write, you’ll get biased entries.”

Triptease will make money chiefly through partnerships and affiliate fees from hotels, and hotels have begun promoting Triptease to their guests. The community is growing at a robust clip. And now I need to decide which of the venues I visit deserve a writeup in Triptease.

OutTrippin: Pick a travel expert, not a guidebook


I like the premise behind community-powered OutTrippin: Enter where, when and what sort of trip you have in mind. Let OutTrippin go to work, with top-tier bloggers and travel writers pitching you suggestions based on the info you entered and based on their own experiences and knowledge. Then choose your favorite trip and receive a detailed itinerary with hotel and tour recommendations, insider tips, “local hacks” & ideas that only a fellow traveler would know.

There are probably a dozen startups focused on tapping into locals’ knowledge, but OutTrippin is focused on experienced travelers’ knowledge, and it seems to do it well, at least on a small scale.

The expert gets a piece of the action, and the startup gets a piece. Still, at this point, it amounts to just a micro-payment. (I didn’t want to test it out because I don’t have any upcoming trips and don’t want contributors spinning their wheels. But I will in a few months.)

CEO/Founder Kunal Kalro and his team have big ambitions for the brand, with a nascent series of brands — OutTrippin HoneymoonsOutTrippin World Cup 2014OutTrippin Family Travel and OutTrippin Experiences — already live.

The challenge, of course, is to get to scale by creating a thriving marketplace. Are there really enough bloggers and underemployed travel writers out there to power a service like OutTrippin? Maybe, if great brands like Lonely Planet continue to shed employees and slide toward marginalization.

Locish: Travel like you live there


Perhaps the holy grail of location-based travel apps is the ability to get personal, real-time, location-based recommendations from local experts. A raft of startups — including America’s Gogobot, TouristEye and AFAR, Australia’s BagsUp, Estonia’s Like a Local Guide and others I wrote about recently — is taking dead aim at the market opportunity.

Count Athens-based Locish as a contender, too.

Here’s how it works. Download the app. Register and answer a few quick questions about your taste and preferences. Ask for a recommendation about what to do in a particular city or location. Your question gets sent out to a network of participating online locals “who have a similar lifestyle and taste.” Check out the recommendations, select the one that looks best and get a set of recommendations, including venue, location, contact information and photos.

Tripsidea: Pack in more enjoyment during your next trip


Co-founder Sunil Ayyappan

Co-founder Sunil Ayyappan

Tripsidea offers a simple proposition: How can you be more productive with your fun during your vacations?

They don’t quite phrase it like that, but co-founder Sunil Ayyappan showed me how the site maximizes your free time. Screen one showed a series of random activities that a traveler or family might spend a typical week in the city. But answering a few questions about preferred attractions, things to do, places to eat and things to see, press a button, and behold! Tripsidea will reorder your itinerary so that it makes much more sense, with activities grouped in continguous areas. It then lets you review your itinerary and print out an itinerary of all your destinations, making for a more memorable trip.

As the site suggests, “Focus on enjoying your vacation and let us do the planning for you.”

Sounds good to me. Why not squeeze more fun out of your next trip?

Diveboard: The social network for scuba divers


I love passionate communities that bond over common interests. And while I’m not a scuba diver (I snorkel, though), I’m impressed with the social community that Diveboard has pulled together.

Open since April 2011, Diveboard lets scuba divers track and share their scuba diving experiences by providing them with a multimedia online logbook — chiefly a pretty series of photo albums. You can fetch dive profiles through a plug-in. Through partnerships with non-governmental organizations and universities, Diveboard helps scuba divers get involved in monitoring the undersea world and provide valuable data to scientists.

But the real value to scuba diving enthusiasts comes from its extensive database of diving spots, helping divers spot alluring species and enabling them to plan for their next dive. The service is free and will be supported through affiliation fees, mostly from dive shop operators.

Flights With Friends: Collaborating with friends on trip choices

flights with friends

Oakland, Calif.-based Flight with Friends helps you find and book flights — with a little help from your friends. If you’re traveling with a group of co-workers, family members or friends, agreeing on optimal choices becomes an ordeal when you’re not in the same room, says founder Kyle Killion.

It works like this: Select the friends or colleagues you’ll be traveling with, then select where you are going and when. The site — no smartphone app yet — searches more than 150 sites for airfare and hotel information, pointing to the lowest prices. Once your group comes to a consensus through the site, booking is just a click away. Selecting seats together looks like a fun task because you can see where everyone wants to sit and you can book together.

Spotsetter: An online social search portal


San Francisco-based Spotsetter lets you get personalized recommendations on the best places to go, ranging from weekend brunches to spots for your evening jog to special restaurants. A social search engine for Apple’s iOS devices, Spotsetter mines the big data of your social networks to obtain relevant recommendations based on the content that your friends have created on popular social networks. Definitely worth a look.

Related articles
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Are you using social media to serve your needs? Mon, 10 Jun 2013 10:01:56 +0000 Continue reading ]]> archive
Photo by splorp (Creative Commons)

Evaluate if social tools are helping you personally or professionally

Target audience: Small and mid-size businesses, marketers, entrepreneurs, startups, Web publishers, bloggers, Facebook administrators.

David SparkIam a huge fan of Delicious, the social bookmarking service. I started to use it to store really useful articles that I will “some day get back to.” (If you’re using alternatives like Diigo or a couple of dozen other choices, that’s fine too.)

The problem is that I never get back to them.

The fact that I never revisit is not really a failure on my part nor an issue because Delicious still serves its purpose: It’s a repository for my ongoing social media and search behavior. Every day I’m inundated with endless advice, recommendations, and useful tools. That searching and “check out this article” advice needs to be cataloged in some way even if I don’t systematically go back to the information and take an action on it (e.g., read). In that way Delicious still serves a valuable purpose.

Other people discover content and share it with others without consuming. It’s a way to game the social system to build your online profile, and it’s a really easy way to raise your Klout score.

I recognize the way I use Delicious may or may not be the same way others use the tool. This got me to thinking: What do the social media tools I use deliver for me personally and professionally?

Use social media when it serves a direct need

Using social media isn’t about finding the ROI, it’s about filling a purpose. If we wasted our time trying to calculate return on investment for every action we took, social media or not, we’d never get anything done. We’d waste too much time trying to prove what we’re doing has any financial payback.

Instead, every time you delve into a new social media program, ask yourself what purpose it fills for you personally or professionally. Keep asking yourself that question as it’s hard to determine a tool’s purpose until you start actually using it. That’s why budgeting a little time and money for experimentation is necessary. Testing serves its purpose to determine what’s most valuable for you.

You need to look at how a new social media effort or tool benefits you and your business and not how the creator necessarily intended it to be used. As an application developer, one of the most wonderful aspects of creation is watching how people discover new uses for your tool.

How is your social media use bucking the trend?

Do you use any tool or application that’s contrary to the way others use it? If so, what is it and how has it been valuable to you personally and professionally?


Here’s what’s wrong with social media: Sharing without consumption (Spark Minute)

Why Sharing Online Content Might Be Too Easy (Spark Minute)

10 things startup founders should share on social media Tue, 09 Apr 2013 12:10:57 +0000 Continue reading ]]> startup
Photo by lewicki (Creative Commons)

Give your organization a human face by sharing the right content

Guest post by Maya Sagi
Blonde 2.0
mayasagiYou’ve decided to use social media to promote your startup. Great. Now you have to think about how to promote yourself. The way to go is simple: Self-brand. This will help advance product recognition and general brand awareness, create connections, build a reputation and eventually reach your target audience.

However, to prevent you from drowning in a sea of content, here are a few tips to help direct you to the specific type of content that will make your company stand out.

Your personal life

wizard of oz

1Out with the Wizard of Oz mentality of “pay no attention to that person behind the curtain.” Users like to get to know the real person behind the status and profile picture they see. They want a peek into your personal life. As a source of admiration, it’s important to show your followers that you’re no different than they are. You may have kids; you certainly go on vacation and wait in lines, just like they do.

Mistakes you’ve made and lessons you’ve learned

2We’re all human. We all make mistakes. Even if it may be difficult to do, admitting your mistakes and learning from them is a sign of real growth. Everyone has obstacles to overcome and work through. Opening a dialogue in which you and your followers are able to discuss your experiences, what you may have done wrong and what should be done in the future. Create an environment in which a free-flow of ideas, with other industry leaders and individuals can communicate and learn from each other.

Answer questions on Quora

Photo by kmsmith545 (Creative Commons)
3Nowadays, people turn to social media platforms when looking for answers. When it comes to questions, whether it’s general industry trends or about a specific company, trying to Google the answer only gets you so far. Rather than getting lost in a sea of mostly irrelevant links, Quora offers a direct route by encouraging individuals to answer questions in which they are an expert. Seize the opportunity to participate. When you offer answers based on your honed experience and knowledge, you are creating networking opportunities and are branding yourself as a thought leader. Create an environment in which a free-flow of ideas with other industry leaders and individuals can communicate and learn from each other.

Interesting information and articles you’ve read

4Everyone shares information on social media, but unfortunately a simple repost isn’t showcasing the content, or you, in the best way possible. If you’ve found an interesting article, video or link you think is worth sharing, copying and pasting the title won’t help establish you as an expert. The key is contributing your opinion. By adding a quote or reference of your own, it helps to differentiate you as an industry leader and trusted source of information, not just another voice in the crowd.


5Content is king but when it comes to social media and self-branding, using visuals is a powerful way to show, not just tell your brand and personal story. Share interesting or unique photos (the view from office, dinner you just prepared) to help your followers get to know you better. Personal photos are great, but don’t overdo it: no need to take a picture of every one of your meals and upload them every day.

Words of wisdom

6Whether classic literature, lecture or article, if you come across some words of wisdom, share them with your followers. Many insights can be summed up in a sentence, which will help you introduce and expose others to a whole new interesting world they have yet to discover.

Your work

7What do your daily activities include? Are your days filled with meetings (whether new business or old)? Are there any exciting plans you have scheduled? Maybe you have been working on developing a new feature? The things you do, while they may seem unimportant or mundane to you, may be very interesting to others. Share them with your community! Not only will you probably receive feedback on your work — which is important to any entrepreneur — but at the same time you will be building your credibility and enhancing your reputation across other industries.

Information from events and conferences you’re attending

Photo by sacreblue (Creative Commons)
8You’ve already made it to the event, now take a couple of minutes to update your followers on the who and what of the conference (Who’s there? What they’re speaking about? What are your insights?). This is a way for you to leverage a trending topic, track attention and establish yourself as a leading voice.

Jokes and memes

9Viral content is social media gold. They are fun, light-hearted and there’s no reason for you not to use it in the right dosage. When you strike the right chord with this kind of content, it testifies to your awesome sense of humor and to the fact that you don’t live in a world of your own. Refrain from using political or disrespectful content so people don’t get the wrong idea of who you are.

Your startup or product

10The use of social media to receive feedback on every stage of your product life has its advantages. At the beginning, social media is a great way to validate your idea. In the early stages, it can be used as a crowdsourced focus group. Once your product has launched, the platforms can be used as a low-cost promotional tool. Don’t refrain from talking about your product but also don’t let it be the only thing you talk about. It’s important to strike a balance between promotional messaging and conversational posts. Share the information that’s relevant to the feedback you’d like to receive without exposing your followers to all the strategy and information you’ve gathered along the years.

In the end when it comes to social media, there’s no magic potion. You have to try a little of everything until you find what works best for you, whether it’s related to finding the right content or target audience. Ultimately, the more time you invest in discovering and sharing relevant content, the better the outcome and the more likely you are to succeed.

Maya Sagi is the Chief Customer Officer at Blonde 2.0. You can follower her on Twitter at @mayasagi.

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iPhone apps to keep track of what you like Tue, 19 Feb 2013 13:11:35 +0000 Continue reading ]]> iPhone Apps
Photo by Daniel Y. Go via Creative Commons

10 apps to help you store & share your opinions

Guest post by Allen Miller

Whether you’re just trying to keep track of your opinions about the places you’ve visited or are looking to share them with the world at large, the same device that helps you streamline your professional life and manage a variety of business tasks can help you log your likes and dislikes.

These 10 iPhone apps can help you store and share your views on just about anything you can think of.


I Loves It: Keep track of what you love

1The developers of this free app encourage users to skip sharing things that they like, saving their energy for things that they love. With I Loves It, users can share pictures of the things that they “Loves,” add a short description and send it to anyone on their contacts list. Recipients of information about the things that you Loves don’t have to download the app to see your alerts, and you can keep track of those things you’re fond of by looking through your logged Loves history.


Thumbs Up: Real-time sharing for TV enthusiasts

2Television enthusiasts rejoice, there’s finally an app for you to share your real-time reactions and opinions about the shows you like to watch. A free app from developers Fluid Life, Inc., the Thumbs Up app allows you to share your reactions and keep track of everything you liked or didn’t like about each episode of your favorite shows.


Untappd: Track and rate your favorite craft beers

3Are you a craft beer lover? If so, this free app is for you. After helping you find the bars and stores that sell craft beers in your area, review information about beers that are trending and see what your friends think about the beers they’ve recently tried, Untappd lets you track, rate and even photograph beers as you try them. Earn badges as you let the world know which beers you like and which you don’t.


Yelp: Search and rate businesses

4Not only can you search for businesses in your area with the free Yelp app, you can also let the world know whether you liked them or not. Leave reviews for stellar service, record a negative experience and keep track of all your local likes and dislikes.


We Heart It: Curate inspiration boards

5If you want to curate inspiration boards and galleries with images of the things that you like, the free We Heart It app is for you. Integration with Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter allows you to share your love of something with all of your followers, while organization features help you group images by theme or subject so you can always keep up with the things you’re in love with.


Momento: Journal your likes and dislikes

6Sometimes, you need the freedom of a diary or journaling app to truly capture your feelings of approval or disdain. Momento, a 99-cent app allows you to do just that, maintaining a diary filled with your various likes and dislikes. You can even import and archive your online activity to display as part of a journal entry.


Dislike It: Upload and share your dislikes

7Facebook might be one of the most popular social networking sites in the world, but it still only allows you to “like” things. With the free app Dislike it!, you can take pictures and upload them with a “dislike” badge, letting everyone on your friends list know exactly how you feel about something.

goodreads app

Goodreads: Share your literary likes

8Avid reader? You can now update your Goodreads accounts on the go, sharing your literary likes and dislikes from anywhere that has an Internet connection. You can even add books to your list with a barcode scanning feature, uploading your views quickly and easily.


Evernote: Update & access notes on the go

9If you need to keep tabs on things that you or someone important to you like or aren’t so wild about, the free Evernote app will let you do just that, as well as a million other things. You can even collect notes into customizable categories, keeping the information at the ready for quick reference.

pinterest logo

Pinterest: Pin what you love

10Find things that you like and add them to your Pinterest boards, or file images depicting things that you aren’t so fond of to a customized board. You can even pin from your camera, allowing you to snap photos of things as you experience them, sharing your opinions with the world and keeping tabs on them for later reference.

If one of the things that you don’t like is risky behavior or chancing a pricey citation, you’ll remember not to use these apps while you’re behind the wheel. Even if you feel your dislike of something is so strong that a sternly worded review needs to be fired off immediately, you should keep in mind that your safety and that of other drivers on the roads trumps even the worst service.

Allen Miller works for Part-Time Nanny, where this article originally appeared.
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SocialOomph offers essential Twitter tools Mon, 11 Feb 2013 13:33:57 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Social Oomph

Go beyond bulk uploading with SocialOomph’s suite of tools

Chris AbrahamThere are some Web apps that have withstood the test of time — tools that I still use and sometimes abuse. Let’s look at what SocialOomph offers through its Pro account.

Though there are quite a few features that SocialOomph offers, I use it for a couple of things that it does very well: prospecting folks to follow on Twitter based on the keywords as well as the hashtags they use in their profiles and tweets, and also queuing up loads and loads of evergreen bulk tweets that can seed my personal (as well as my clients’) Twitter feeds over time while my team and I are busy being much more responsive and timely with the tweets that we add by hand when we’re online and active. SocialOomph makes this easy and a little more flexible than the other tools I’ve used.

Twitter keyword and hashtag auto-follow

Keywords - SocialOomphI like to follow folks who use the sort of language that I consider interesting or industry-specific, including keywords, keyword-phrases, and #hashtags.

I have done it on auto-pilot before, but that just ended up being madness, resulting in being lured into following spam Twitter profiles because they’re getting better and better at dropping high-value keywords and hashtags into their tweets.

What I do instead is set up the keywords in SocialOomph and then review the results they get. I can reject the false positives or I can choose to ignore them if the error was an acceptable keyword mistake (maybe #smm means Social Media Marketing and Strong Muscle Men — fair game).

I can also block them if they’re phishing on keywords and #hashtags that have nothing to do with what or who they are.

Finally, I can report the worst ones as spam to Twitter, which blocks, bans, and reports them.

If you have the time to go through this, you’ll improve your catch over time.

It’s quite a nice approach and gets rid of a lot of the chaff and spam if you’re willing to put the time in.

Queued bulk tweets

SO - List of Tweets

Another thing I really like to do for myself and my clients is to create a very long list of evergreen tweets. These are things that are less time-sensitive than they are essential in the contextualization of the who, what, when, where, why, and how of each person, brand, or organization behind each Twitter handle.

Twitter is funny. It’s not like a blog. They say that Twitter is a river of news, and like a river — to quote Heraclitus, “ever-newer waters flow on those who step into the same rivers.” As a result, posting the news that Chris Abraham was chosen #15 on a top 23 social media power influencer list really only reaches the folks who happen to look at the @chrisabraham Twitter feed at exactly 3:45am on Friday morning — a pretty low probability — which isn’t enough. It’s essential to get that in there a few times over different time zones so that there’s not only better pick up but different pick up. Caveat: You’ll note that Twitter prohibits one from posting identical tweets but you can post the same link, so you’d need to mix up the wording of the tweets if you want to bulk upload 25 tweets about the same topic.


Evergreen tweets can include articles that have been written about the company, even if that article has been posted before. They can include links to the About Us page or the bio of the management team. It can even include press releases, content, links, visions, business plans, philosophies, ethical stances, and “best of” content — content that at one point was timely but is now not so much stale but not exactly current.

Evergreen tweets are essential. People only care about your tweets (favorite-starring and retweeting them) when they bump into them. If you only tweet them once, they won’t reach their full potential audience.

SocialOomph has one of the most challenging interfaces of any set of social media tools, but it’s worth digging deeper.

I look forward to your comments!